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(NOAH) WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.30~ 14TH APRIL 2019

After technically difficulties delayed the newsletter, we get an extra special edition! Hisame brings us a ton of NOAH news from the past few weeks!

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After technically difficulties delayed the newsletter, we get an extra special edition! Hisame brings us a ton of NOAH news from the past few weeks!

This is going to be a longer newsletter than usual as I have had computer problems for much of the past week.

CURRENT TOUR RECAP

NOAH kicked off Global Tag League 2019 in Osaka, where local nutcase, Atsushi Kotoge, returned to the ring after injury. In the traditional ceremony, the participants came to the ring and lined up together with the winners trophies placed at the fore. In yesteryear in NOAH (and in fact until fairly recently), they had come out wearing sashes with their names on, but this has been done away with now.

It may also be likely that in the future “Global Tag League” may also be renamed as has “Global League”.

Kinya Okada was absent from the tour (although he was seen at ringside in Osaka where he did not look at all well) with a concussion he sustained during training, and NOSAWA Rongai was drafted in as his replacement. Naturally, being NOSAWA, his antics of tagging in and then immediately tagging out again, did not go down well with his partners, who ended up throwing him out of the ring.

Quiet Storm also came down with a concussion and was taken off the 14th April show in Sapporo. Storm had been kicked in the head by Kenoh, and fell to the mat in a daze and was checked on by the referee. He carried on with the match (with the touching help of Yone, who put his arm around him when they had to work in tandem), and went through periods of rallying and then wilting.

No date has been given for the return of either Okada or Storm as of yet.

As per the Global Tag League rules, 50 Funky Powers will lose a point with the team they were meant to face, and The Tough” (Masa Kitamiya & Yoshiki Inamura), get 2 points for a default win.

Noriyuki Yoshida as per tradition when NOAH come to Sapporo each April, joined his old promotion for their weekend shows. He  trained in NOAH in 2004, but due to injury he did not debut until 2006. He left the promotion in 2009, and has been working freelance ever since. The first night of Sapporowas his first match with Marufuji (whose chops he said, hurt). Naomichi Marufuji (now that the heavyweights are preoccupied with Global Tag League, which he has chosen not to enter), is concentrating on the NOAH juniors, which seems to have been provoked by Daisuke Harada’s insistence of putting the juniors on the same level as the heavyweights. He said that in Sapporo he had “bullied HAYATA” (worked on his arm and chopped him), and was looking forward to it being Hitoshi Kumano next.

There appears to be trouble brewing between Stinger and RATELS, which was made all the bizarre by the handshake after the match in Osaka between Yoshinari Ogawa (who instigated it) and Daisuke Harada, who shook his hand.

When asked why, Ogawa said cryptically that, “if you watch a little more, you will understand.” Whatever it is their planning seems not to involve Tadasuke (who none of them want to “invite”). HAYATA wasn’t mentioned.

Elsewhere in the juniors, Hitoshi Kumano defeated Daisuke Harada in a pre-match before the IPW Junior Heavyweight title match, he says he wants the belt as he would like to work Europe. He has never worked it, but he feels he works well with gaijin wrestlers (such as Zack Sabre Jr).

THE INFERNO (Yuji Hino and Maybach Taniguchi) have already proved themselves to be a hard to beat tag team, defeating Takashi Sugiura and KAZMA SAKAMOTO in their first match in the league with Hino no selling Sugi’s elbows. In addition, Taniguchi has now become more vocal both in the ring (he spoke on the microphone, which is rare), in post match promos (where he vowed to crush everyone much to Hino’s surprise. Surprise that is that he was speaking), and on social media.

KAIOH (Kenoh and Kaiyo Kiyomiya) started their trek through Global Tag League by first defeating the team of Atsushi Kotoge & Mitsuya Nagai (aka “The Revolutionary Cloak Heroes”), in which Kenoh was forced to do the “Revolutionary Fist Pose”, and then Kotoge got beat down.

Much to Atsushi Kotoge’s horror, Mitsuya Nagai insists on using the chain, despite the fact that when he does Kotoge puts the cloak around him.

Nagai told him that as his career had come to wearing a cloak that people say makes him look like a robber, then Kotoge should use the chain. Kotoge refused saying that there were small kids in the audience, and teaching them such a thing was not good.

Then he ran off chanting “Revolution! Revolution!”

With Quiet Storm injured and the subsequent change, the match between The Revolutionary Cloak Heroes and Takashi Sugiura and KAZMA had been bought forward. Prior to this, Kotoge had basically been warned by Sugiura not to mess around and concentrate on the match.

Kotoge did just that, and while he might not wish for kids to wield chains, he hit Sugiura with a headbutt that left him (Sugiura) with six stitches. The match was eventually won by KAZMA SAKAMOTO with the trace kick on Nagai. 

AXIZ introduced new sinister ringwear which consists of a black jacket (Nakajima’s is sleeveless) and fringed with black feathers. They destroyed The Revolutionary Cloak Heroes on the first night in Sapporo, prior to that “THE TOUGH” (Yoshiki Inamura and Nakajima’s old tag team partner, Masa Kiyamiya, who he claims not to remember), and then came the big match against KAIOH on the second night. Since the start of the league, KAIOH had declared AXIZ “a wanted team” and tension had been building between them. In their last match, AXIZ had gotten the win over Kiyomiya, and so this match was crucial in the struggle to even (or increase) the score.

The match was intense, and went to a thirty minute draw.

Kiyomiya said they will get their revenge in the finals.

Kenoh said,  “We can’t finish it like this! This will continue! Listen up, assholes! We are going to go to the finals!”

Nakajima asked him if Kiyomiya told him to say that.

Minoru Tanaka defended the GHC Junior Heavyweight title against Kotaro Suzuki; both the GHC Junior Heavyweight and the GHC Junior tag titles are without challengers at the moment.

EVENT RECAPS
Night one – Osaka
Night two – Nara
Night three – Sapporo
Night four – Sapporo

Post match promos – night one 
Post match promos – night two

NEWS

“COME AT ME YOU BASTARDS” ~ Kenoh’s column
Kenoh’s column this week dealt with his experiences of dojo life. Somewhat of a lone wolf, he didn’t want to live in the dormitory with the others while at Meiji College, but he had to bite the bullet and do so when he entered wrestling.

Kenoh recalls the days at Differ with Kenta Kobashi training before NOAH started their training session and left a puddle of sweat on the floor, his preference for training at the dojo, and why he likes to practice alone. He also speaks of the current inhabitants of the dojo and the inspiration of using the equipment that was used by the seniors in NOAH long ago.

There was an accompanying article about the NOAH dojo (“The feeling of life in an apartment of 2KD2 rooms!“) in “Weekly Pro” which gave an insight into the lives of the three currently living there, Junta Miyawaki and the two rookies, Kinya Okada and Yoshiki Inamura. Kaito Kiyomiya does not live at the dojo as his parents live close by, and Kenoh of course calls in as he prefers it to the gym. 

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

TOUR TIDBITS
~ So far Akitoshi Saito has managed to work well with Masao Inoue and not screw him over and pretend he didn’t do anything, make Inoue believe him (kind of) and then do it again.
~ Kaito Kiyomiya has cut his hair blonde and dyed it similar to Kenoh’s
~ Naomichi Marufuji remarked that he always thought that Takashi Sugiura had the strength of the seniors in the All Japan dojo, and recalled how he used to drink beer when cooking Chanko (but he used to hide it to avoid getting in trouble), Sugiura said that Marufuji said he could drink, it, Marufuji’s reaction was “Me?!”.
~ Upon returning from Sapporo, Masa Kitamiya went out to eat, Takashi Sugiura photographed a friend in the men’s room.
~ Yoshiki Inamura believed that the bruising on his chest caused by the kick\chop combination from AXIZ, spelled out their name….

BROADCASTS
G+ will broadcast the 17th April show on April 20th, they will also show the 28th May Korakuen Hall show live.

LINKS
Global Junior Tag League Tour Dates
Mini Interview with 50 Funky Powers
Mini interview with The Return of The Dark Agents
“Preparing For The Top”: Marufuji’s aim of second place
Kaioh’s Course
Masa Kitamiya “I want you to see the intense fight of the new generation of Noah” ~ the 27th & 28th events in Tohoku
“Crush” Masa Kitamiya’s status quo in conquering for the twinks
The feeling of life in an apartment of 2KD2 rooms!
Kaito Kiyomiya – costume research

“A TRIP INTO THE WORLD OF PURORESU”

This is a blog written by Miriam (Flame286), which is about her amazing trip to Japan (and NOAH).

The blog will give you hints and tips on wrestling show etiquette, and rather than focus on behavior entirely, Miriam gives useful advice on things which get overlooked such as getting to a show, finding your seat and streamer etiquette as well as interactions with Japanese fans, how to get tickets, using trains and a whole wealth of information for those planning to visit Japan and puroresu events.

NOAH’S ARKIVE: EPISODE 13
Unofficial English language NOAH podcast
Soundcloud
iTunes 

Music credit
Intro: ‘God’ – Marla 
Outro: ‘Trash Japan’ – Broken Dreams Club 

PICTURE CREDITS: Yoshiki Inamura, Noah GHC, PKDX, Weekly Pro


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Andrew’s AJPW Champion Carnival Results & Match Ratings: 4.9.2021

All Japan’s Champion Carnival kicks off today! The Triple Crown Champion Suwama is in action as well as the Ace of the company Kento Miyahara! Check it out!

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All Japan’s Champion Carnival kicks off today! The Triple Crown Champion Suwama is in action as well as the Ace of the company Kento Miyahara! Check it out!

Now I haven’t kept close eyes on the product last few months, because personally, they weren’t grabbing my interest post Quarantine Comeback. But since my Puro Patronus Mathew Sarpraicone is having some computer issues, I guess I’m covering the first couple of these!

Let’s see how the tournament starts!

Ratings:

  • Shuji Ishikawa vs Koji Doi: Ishikawa wins via Thesz Press @9:09 – ** ½
  • Suwama vs Kohei Sato: Sato wins via German Suplex Hold @10:49 – ***
  • Yuma Aoyagi vs Shinjiro Otani: Otani wins via Overhand Chop @9:51 – *** ¼
  • Jake Lee vs Shotaro Ashino: Jake wins via D4C @3:44 – **
  • Zeus vs Kento Miyahara: Zeus wins via Jackhammer @18:16 – **** ¼

 

Results:

Shuji Ishikawa vs Koji Doi

Doi is the least recognized name in the tournament this year, and last I was aware of his was during the closure of Wrestle-1. Most of his success has come in the tag team division, but he’s no real slouch. Interestingly, Ishikawa is the newest Gaora TV Champion, but also was tied heavily to Suwama and their Violence Giant tag team.

We see Doi come out fast trying to throw Ishikawa into the corners and take him off his base. Ishikawa towers over Doi, so Doi was underneath, literally and figuratively the entire match. As Ishikawa hit most of his signature spots, including the Mushroom Stomp from the middle rope, Doi had a moment where he locked in the Rings of Saturn; but Ishikawa is just too big.

As Doi tried to keep the pressure up, rope runs, big strikes, Murder Lariat attempts from Doi but Ishikawa stifles the surge with a Fire/Thunder Driver. They both stumble up, run the ropes a bit trading lariats and charges, Ishikawa jumps, hits a Thesz Press and manages to keep Doi down for the 3 count!

Suwama vs Kohei Sato

An early card match gives us the Triple Crown champion against one of his more recent challengers! Falling short for the Triple Crown a few months ago, Sato has a little bit to prove.

The match opens as a slugfest, Suwama gets the best of things and rides the power advantage over Sato for a long time. Sato is taller than Suwama but Suwama is more powerful and controlled the pacing. Things went to the outside and the former Violence Giant kept up to the name.

When the match came back in to the ring Suwama looks to try and finish things, goes for the Rolling Lariat, but it gets blocked. Sato starts fighting back, hits a Falcon Arrow for a near fall, and then Suwama starts looking like he’s in trouble. Suwama hits the Double Chop comeback, and tries a Powerbomb, but Sato blocks it, Sato goes for a Powerbomb, but Suwama blocks it. The power struggle is tangible, but Suwama seems to be losing some of the back and forth. Sato rocks Suwama, locks in the German Suplex, and hits the German Suplex Hold.

Kohei gets on the board and avenges his loss! Depending on how the tournament shakes out, Kohei might get another shot at the title in the future.

Yuma Aoyagi vs Shinjiro Otani

The veteran Otani is putting Yuma through the paces early. He’s side stepping Dropkicks and just kicking Yuma to prove a point. Yuma tries to fire back, and then Otani continues to push off certain moves and be funny.

Yuma does manage to take advantage of his youth, but when he goes for the disrespect by attempting the Bootwash, Otani fires, lays out the younger wrestler and hits the Wash. Yuma goes to the outside, and when he turns back to the ring, Otani charges and hits a running Bootwash straight to Yuma’s face.

As Otani takes the role of the cagey veteran punishing the Young Boy, Yuma tries to find ways to come back, but things Otani stays a little ahead of the younger wrestler. Yuma gets a close moment where he locks in End Game, but Otani fights to the ropes. Otani then backs the younger wrestler down, hits Dragon Suplex, then goes for another, but Yuma blocks. Otani counters the block with a lariat, then another Dragon Suplex but Yuma kicks out at 1! Refusing to stay down, Otani goes into his bag of tricks and hits Yuma twice with Hashimoto style Overhand Chops, to finally keep the younger man down.

Jake Lee vs Shotaro Ashino

So there is some fun history between these two when Ashino brought Enfantes Terrible over to AJPW and took JIN down a peg. But then recently, Jake stole the Enfantes members from Ashino and betrayed JIN. Ashino is looking to avenge the turnabout, but Jake is trying to craft his Carnival masterpiece.

Jake definitely has the swagger of an anime villain. He widens his arms like he’s conducting a symphony and moves slowly yet deliberately. Ashino starts quick, hitting a Drop Toe Hold and going to the ground game, but Jake stabilizes. Ashino again brings Jake down after successive German Suplexes and goes for the Ankle Lock! Jake has trouble navigating it for a while, but eventually finds the ropes.

Retreating to the corner, Jake sees the referee, Ashino charges, Jake uses the referee shield and starts taking advantage. A few direct blows to the head, Giant Killing to the back of the head, followed by D4C. Jake drags the referee back, picks up the win and leaves cackling. He’s limping heavily, selling the viciousness of the Ankle Lock even in a short match, but yeah, not what I expected.

The match was used to help build Jake’s new persona and possibly give Ashino a steeper mountain to climb. But the length and abrupt end was definitely not expected. Interesting, but also a little off putting.

Zeus vs Kento Miyahara

Zeus and Kento have had great wars. There was a point a few years ago where Kento was Zeus’ hurdle, but after beating him for the Tag titles, he then gathered momentum. Zeus has beaten Kento for the Triple Crown before, has beaten him in the Carnival, and this has been one of the best rivalries of the last few years in current AJPW. Kento is of course the current generation Ace, and everyone knows that; but given Zeus’ track record and Kento’s stagnation the last year since losing the Triple Crown to Suwama, we could get something interesting.

The match starts with their usual sarcastic respect to one another during breaks and outside the ring moments. Given that they’ve had 2 5 Snowflake classics in the last 3 years, this had a lot to live up to. But at no point did it feel like retreading, since they are both in different positions comparatively, this felt like a whole new book, not an additional chapter. Zeus landed a lot of power spots while Kento combated everything with his Knees.

Kento’s usual attack of Blackouts from different angles rocked Zeus pretty hard. Zeus ate a few, grabbed a Chokeslam and they both landed for a rest spot. Zeus drives Kento into a corner, goes for an Outside-In Brainbuster and starts trying to end things. Kento goes for the Shutdown Suplex, Zeus fires out, a few big Lariats and a Jackhammer from Zeus…AND ZEUS WINS!

 

Overall Score: 7.25/10

Now this wasn’t a bad start to things! Sure the Ashino/Jake Lee match did not go the way I expected, it definitely told enough of a story to prove it’s going somewhere. Shinjiro Otani gets a solid start to things, Shuji Ishikawa won a match he was supposed to and Zeus/Kento ended up being a solid day 1 main event.

Kento has started on the back foot before. I guess we get to see if he wins out until the Final Day, or if he has a larger struggle. Let’s check out the Day 1 Standings!

Standings:

  1. Zeus: 1-0 – (2 Points)
  2. Shuji Ishikawa: 1-0 – (2 Points)
  3. Shinjiro Otani: 1-0 – (2 Points)
  4. Kohei Sato: 1-0 – (2 Points)
  5. Jake Lee: 1-0 – (2 Points)
  6. Kento Miyahara: 0-1 – (0 Points)
  7. Suwama: 0-1 – (0 Points)
  8. Yuma Aoyagi: 0-1 – (0 Points)
  9. Shotaro Ashino: 0-1 – (0 Points)
  10. Koji Doi: 0-1 – (0 Points)

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Champion Carnival 2021 Preview : Will Anyone Dethrone Suwama ?

Val breaks down the 2021 Champion Carnival and gives his take on how he thinks it will shake out! Check out the AJPW round robin tournament April 9-May 3!

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Knock knock ! It’s tournament season at the door !

Here we are ladies and gentlemen, the first few tournaments of the year are starting to take place, and today we are focusing on the biggest upcoming one, All Japan’s Champion Carnival !

With “new” faces entering the field, and a slightly different format yet again, what does this year’s edition has in store for us ?

Let’s discuss that, and more !

As mentioned in the intro, the format of this year’s Carnival, once again, has changed a little bit. Thankfully we do get the tournament during the usual time period, this time from April 9th until May 3rd.

While the number of participants remains the same at ten, this time, there is no block to win, and all the competition to go through. One block, the two men with the most points make it to the finals. A rather simple formula, for a rather complex tournament to fully predict.

This year’s field once again feels quite stacked, with at least 6 potential finalists !

With all of that said, let’s look at all the participants !

Source : @PKDX
  • Jake Lee (Total Eclipse) ; 4th entry

Let’s start with the man with all the momentum going his way as the Carnival approaches : Jake Lee. The leader of Total Eclipse, All Japan’s newest faction, recently turned on Koji Iwamoto, leaving his long-time partner in Sweeper and JIN to formed this new group, with all of the now former Enfants Terribles members, at the exception of Shotaro Ashino, as well as Tajiri sliding in.

With this new shift, Lee enters the tournament with one purpose. Finally winning the tournament, and claim the Triple Crown championship for the first time. Is this the year for Jake Lee to eclipse all the competition once and for all ?

Key match-ups : Suwama, Kento Miyahara, Shotaro Ashino, Zeus.

  • Shuji Ishikawa ; 5th entry, GAORA TV champion

The second man we’ll be talking about is Suwama’s former tag team partner, and new GAORA TV champion Shuji Ishikawa. While he didn’t take too much of step back in last year’s CC, Ishikawa might have to this year given the stacked nature of the field. We ultimately can’t take Ishikawa fully out of the equation, yet this year could be the first one where he doesn’t end up within the higher half of the participants points wise.

Key match-ups : Suwama, Kohei Sato, Koji Doi.

  • Suwama (Evolution) ; 16th entry, Triple Crown champion

While we’re onto the former Runaway Giants, let’s talk about the man with a target on his back in Suwama. The Triple Crown champion has now been carrying the belt for more than a year. He’ll look to cap that reign off with another big time Carnival performance, aiming for the ultimate victory. As it is often the case with champions, he most likely will fall short, but count on All Japan’s veteran champion to find his way near the top of this one block.

Key match-ups : Shotaro Ashino, Jake Lee, Zeus, Shinjiro Otani.

  • Kento Miyahara (NEXTREAM) ; 8th entry, World Tag Team champion, 2020 finalist

As we spoke of the champion aiming for victory, here is the only man in the field to win the Carnival while being Triple Crown champion : Kento Miyahara. Now holding the World Tag Team titles alongside best mate Yuma Aoyagi, it is rather safe to say Kento won’t win the Carnival this year. Reaching his fourth finals in a row isn’t however, and ruling out the possibility of the current All Japan Ace making history that way wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do.

Key match-ups : Jake Lee, Shotaro Ashino, Suwama, Zeus, Shinjiro Otani.

  • Yuma Aoyagi (NEXTREAM) ; 3rd entry, World Tag Team champion

Moving on to the other half of the World Tag Team champion and NEXTREAM lieutenant Yuma Aoyagi. Yuma has been on the rise ever since his first Triple Crown title match against Miyahara, and he now comes across as someone we can rather easily consider as a potential finalist this year. While it may still be early for Yuma to break through to such a degree, this Carnival looks like the perfect field for him to further the statement he made not only against Kento, but against Suwama as well : He definitely belongs as one of All Japan’s top stars.

Key match-ups : Suwama, Shotaro Ashino, Shinjiro Otani, Koji Doi.

  • Shotaro Ashino ; 2nd entry

Let’s now talk about the other man currently caught in the eye of the storm, the former leader of Enfants Terribles Shotaro Ashino. Not only motivated by the wish to do much better than last year, Ashino enters with the prospect of beating the man who took his faction away from him in Jake Lee, and finally get a win over Suwama.

Needless to say Ashino enters this tournament as one of the favourites to reach the finals, given his implication within All Japan’s main arc going on.

Key match-ups : Suwama, Jake Lee, Kento Miyahara, Koji Doi.

  • Kohei Sato ; 1st entry

Surprisingly or not, this is indeed Kohei Sato’s first ever Carnival appearance ! The veteran, one half of Twin Towers alongside other participant Shuji Ishikawa, is no easy foe to take on for anyone taking part in this tournament. While it wouldn’t be shocking to see Sato rack up double digit points, chances are we might actually see him take a step back, as the younger generation comes knocking hard in All Japan, and there may not be enough place around the top of this block for Sato.

One thing is assured, the tower once belonging to ZERO1 will leave broken skulls behind its path.

Key match-ups : Suwama, Shuji Ishikawa, Shinjiro Otani, Yuma Aoyagi, Jake Lee.

  • Zeus (Purple Haze) ; 8th entry, All Asia Tag Team champion, 2020 winner

Now let’s finally look at the defending Carnival winner, and current holder of the All Asia Tag titles. Since losing to Suwama for the Triple Crown, Zeus has sort of fallen back among the hierarchy, if he ever truly climbed a few spots since his sole Triple Crown title run. If there is someone among the current All Japan stars who might fall back this year a little bit, it might very well be Zeus.

Key match-ups : Suwama, Kento Miyahara, Jake Lee, Shotaro Ashino, Yuma Aoyagi.

  • Shinjiro Otani ; 1st entry

And now, let’s take a look at this year’s wild card : The legendary Shinjiro Otani. In the field of veterans still able to work more than decently well as they get closer to 50, Otani ranks more in the upper echelon. Is there much to expect in terms of results ? Hard to say. How much will Otani impact this year’s field should be one of the most interesting things to follow during this Carnival, coming across as the n°1 wild card here.

Key match-ups : Suwama, Kento Miyahara, Kohei Sato, Shotaro Ashino, Yuma Aoyagi.

  • Koji Doi (Total Eclipse) ; 1st entry

Finally, let’s talk about the man who will, most likely, eat a lot of pinfall losses. In such a field, there will be someone taking much more losses than the others and, it’s hard to not look at Doi here. Whether he does fit in such a role, like Kuma Arashi last year or does better than expected record wise, let’s hope he can at least show how talented he is on what likely is All Japan’s biggest stage.

Key match-ups : Shotaro Ashino, Zeus, Shuji Ishikawa, Yuma Aoyagi.

Matches to look out for :

In case this is your first Champion Carnival and / or simply don’t really know which matches to look forward to, here is a list. Most of these matches should impact the standings and help shape up how the tournament will go, with a select few likely being decisive matches. And if they’re not, you will almost be guaranteed a good watch !

  • Yuma Aoyagi vs Shinjiro Otani – April 9th
  • Jake Lee vs Shotaro Ashino – April 9th
  • Suwama vs Jake Lee – April 10th
  • Yuma Aoyagi vs Shotaro Ashino – April 10th
  • Kento Miyahara vs Shotaro Ashino – April 11th
  • Jake Lee vs Shinjiro Otani – April 17th
  • Jake Lee vs Yuma Aoyagi – April 18th
  • Suwama vs Yuma Aoyagi – April 24th
  • Kento Miyahara vs Kohei Sato – April 24th
  • Shotaro Ashino vs Shinjiro Otani – April 25th
  • Suwama vs Kento Miyahara – April 25th
  • Jake Lee vs Zeus – April 25th
  • Suwama vs Shinjiro Otani – April 28th
  • Zeus vs Shotaro Ashino – April 28th
  • Suwama vs Shotaro Ashino – April 29th
  • Kento Miyahara vs Yuma Aoyagi – April 29th
  • Kento Miyahara vs Jake Lee – May 3rd
  • Shotaro Ashino vs Koji Doi – May 3rd

Val’s predictions and thoughts :

As I often brought up while going over each of the participants, this year’s field is rather stacked and thus, more so difficult to predict in general. As you’d expect from the Champion Carnival, in a sense. However, there still is one big guideline allowing us to start somewhere.

Last month, all of Enfants Terribles turned on Shotaro Ashino, leaving him all alone while Jake Lee sided with the now leaderless Enfants, taking over leadership and ditching JIN and his longtime partner Koji Iwamoto in the process. The Lee-Ashino match-up already looked like the main story to build towards last year when the Carnival was finally held, but a different route was taken. Approximately 6 months later, this match-up got pushed towards second gear, and we enter this year’s Carnival with a pretty clear “main arc” to develop.

The question being : Will the tournament revolve around this arc ?

I don’t think I need to preface this : I think that yes, and I would dare say it is rather obvious, that this year’s Carnival is set around Jake Lee and Shotaro Ashino. Thus, I lean towards the same finals match-up I predicted last year, which already was these two facing each other.

With that said, what about the winner of this final ?

Last year, I picked Jake Lee to win the Carnival over Ashino. That also isn’t changing, for two main reasons. The first one being Jake Lee’s ascent, which is obviously linked to Ashino’s “downfall” here. Both men were at a bit of a critical place prior to the landscape shifting moment happening. Lee especially was struggling to find success after his losses to Miyahara, failing to beat Zeus in the Carnival last year, in the A block’s deciding match. He also failed to win Real World Tag League alongside Iwamoto, as JIN came up short against NEXTREAM in the finals, failing at this stage for the second year in a row.

While Ashino comes off two losses against Suwama for the Triple Crown, the situation is different. One can afford to lose in order to keep chasing the one that cannot. The one that cannot drastically changed his ways, in what may be read as a desperate attempt at finally finding success again. Success Lee hasn’t touched since September 2019 when winning the Royal Road tournament.

Therefore, according to my possibly nonsensical and illogical ramblings, Jake Lee will be the Champion Carnival winner this year. And mostly likely end up being the one to dethrone Suwama.

One other aspect I wanted to discuss rapidly in this section is : How is Yuma Aoyagi’s Carnival going to look like ?

Ever since trying to prove his worth against Kento Miyahara last year, Aoyagi has only kept growing and legitimizing his status as one of the upcoming top players in All Japan. Winning RWTL alongside Kento, defeating Suwama and Shuji Ishikawa for the World Tag Team titles, and following a day later with a star-making performance against the same Suwama for the Triple Crown.

Following this match, there is little to no doubt, at least in my mind, that the Carnival should serve as a way for Aoyagi to cement what the Suwama match showcased. By putting very good to great matches of course, but that won’t be enough. Yuma needs to win, and if possible against big names. He needs to end up ranking rather high in this 10 men block. Is making it into the top 5 with double digit points a fair bar to reach for the oldest of Aoyagi brothers ?

With that said, this 2021 Champion Carnival preview reaches its end. What are some of your thoughts, predictions and expectations ? Hopefully, you are looking forward to this year’s edition as much as I do, as this Carnival definitely looks promising.


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