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PRO -WRESTLING NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.34~ 12TH MAY 2019

We’re in between events for NOAH! Hisame brings us updates, need to know information, and of course RATEL’S stuff!

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We’re in between events for NOAH! Hisame brings us updates, need to know information, and of course RATEL’S stuff!

CURRENT TOUR RECAP
The new owners of NOAH seem to have done away with NOAH giving names to their interim tours, and these will now be known as “NOAH The SPIRIT”.

The interim tours between Global Tag League and Global Junior Tag League starting will run for three dates only – the 11th & 12th May and then the the final date on May 19th in Gunma.

NOAH are currently in the grip of an injury bug (three people out, please see below for updates\news), so the cards were changed accordingly with Keisuke Ishii and Kouki Iwasaki being drafted in.  

RATELS and Stinger (without YO-HEY) faced off again, with Tadasuke getting his second win over The Stinger team, this time over Kotaro Suzuki on the 12th by reversing The Endless Waltz into The Pac. Tadasuke, being Tadasuke, became manic saying that he “can’t control myself” and posting the crazy face icon.

In a more sedate tone, Yoshinari Ogawa tried the handshake again with Daisuke Harada on the 12th May event. I am afraid that I don’t know whether Harada took it or ignored it.

Due to his title challenge for the GHC Heavyweight title (9th June) and for the GHC Heavyweight Tag titles (13th June), Takashi Sugiura is now feuding with three people – AXIZ (Go Shiozaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima) and Kaito Kiyomiya. Sugiura and Shiozaki beat the hell out of each other on the 11th May, and there was an equally intense match against Katsuhiko Nakajima on the 12th. Neither the challenger or the champions, however, got the direct win over each other. 

Regarding the title challenges, Sugiura said he is blessed as a wrestler to have them, and even more so that these will take place at the Mitsuharu Misawa memorial shows at Korakuen Hall and Osaka.

Much to their dismay, Kongoh (the new unit of Kenoh, Masa Kitamiya, Yoshiki Inamura and Atsushi Kotoge) lost their debut match on the 11th against Kaito Kiyomiya, Minoru Tanaka and Hi69. Kenoh and Kiyomiya made a beeline for each other, with Kenoh sticking his fist in Kiyomiya’s face (they didn’t roll around fighting in the streamers like two kids fighting in the playground this time).

Takashi Sugiura (intent on winding Kenoh up online, although aside from calling him a “thoughtlessly stupid old man”, Kenoh seems to be ignoring him now), said that their loss was due to having a comedy wrestler (Kotoge was pinned by Kaito Kiyomiya with the Tiger Driver).
Kotoge, however, had other issues other than Kongoh.

His former tag team partner in “The Revolutionary Cloak Heroes”, Mitsuya Nagai, was furious that Kotoge had apparently ditched him for his new crew, and vowed revenge in their singles match which fans had named, “The Revolutionary Showdown”. Making small children cry, Nagai threw Kotoge into the crowd using both the “robber cloak” that Kotoge had given him and the chain that Kotoge had tried to remove from him. Kotoge was given the beat down of a lifetime.

Nagai says he “feels relieved” he doesn’t have to wear the cloak again. 

Kongoh debuted their tandem move on the 12th May, whereby Kitamiya (with the assist from Inamura) slam their opponent from the top turnbuckle, with Kenoh following up with the Diving Footstamp for the win.

After the match, Kenoh got on the microphone and started yelling about not being a “yes-man” to LIDET.

Normally, he would point to their banner, but he found that there wasn’t one in the arena today, and Kenoh being Kenoh (half paranoid, mostly angry), decided that they hadn’t put it up deliberately due to his angry ranting at it.

EVENT RECAPS
Saturday May 11th 2019, Ryumioka Kaikan, Ozaki City
Sunday May 12th 2019: Esupowaru Isanuma, Saitama

Post match promos: Ryumioka Kaikan, Ozaki City

NEWS

COME AT ME YOU BASTARDS (Kenoh’s column)Although the interview was done after KAIOH’S loss at Global Tag League, and Kenoh’s subsequent screaming fit at Kiyomiya leading to the dissolution of their team, Kenoh was actually quite restrained, and not spewing fire against the “22 year old 3 year career boy” as he termed him. Kenoh’s column veered between sounding like a concerned older brother, recounting happier times with him, and a dose of paranoia and anger towards LIDET.

YO-HEY UPDATE
YO-HEY was discharged from the hospital earlier in the week, and told that he must work on building up his strength, and not rush back to work. Various NOAH wrestlers (and others) had visited him in the hospital, with YO-HEY giving them hospital department names (Jiro Ikemen was from proctology and Atsushi Kotoge from mental health). The majority of wrestlers who visited played with the iron grabbing claw that YO-HEY had used to reach for things as he was bed bound with a tube in his lung, and most of the time YO-HEY found himself being pinched with it.

YO-HEY wants to make it clear that he is not returning to RATELS, he will be teaming with HAYATA as a member of Stinger, while HAYATA will remain with RATELS. He says he will address the situation on the May 19th in Gunma. He won’t be wrestling though. YO-HEY, however, did acknowledge that for Global Junior Tag league he wanted to reunite with HAYATA, if only for that event in the future.

Interestingly, there has been no mention of Stinger ever visiting him, while RATELS did (Tadasuke taunted him with cigarettes), but ultimately this may mean nothing.

NAOMICHI MARUFUJI INJURED
NOAH announced at the start of “NOAH the SPIRIT 2019” that Naomichi Marufuji would miss the tour with a lower lumbar back hernia. So, while everyone went off with NOAH, Marufuji was left bored at home in Tokyo (no wrestling and no socializing). He was unable to sleep for the first two nights due to pain, but considered it his body adjusting to the condition when he was finally able to snatch a few hours. I think this injury is probably a left over from his manic year in 2018, although he has taken it easier this year, not appearing in any other promotions, and not participating in Global Tag League. Naturally, he got defensive when asked to take it easy and not rush back.

Although he is undergoing treatment, he has said that he will be back for the big match on the 28th May at Korakuen Hall where he will team with Jinsei Shinzaki and Daisuke Harada against Kenoh (who was Jinsei Shinzaki’s student), Masa Kitamiya and Atsushi Kotoge. The worrying thing is that even if he is not ready to come back, he will for this match, no matter the cost, and most likely the singles match with Go Shiozaki at the Misawa Memorial show on the 9th.

Given that Daisuke Harada and Marufuji can be childish when tagging together (like doing things to wind each other up like wanting to use the same turnbuckle to stand on during an entrance, not tagging each other in, and Harada not letting Marufuji join in with RATELS handshake, and then Marufuji refusing to let them leave by a certain exit), plus Kenoh’s hatred of Marufuji – Shinzaki may well find himself playing the adult. 

Marufuji has also hinted (normally at 1.30am JST) that he is looking for a tag partner…

CURRENT CHAMPIONS


One of NOAH’s new trainees on the tour bus

TOUR TIDBITS
~ Fans were greeted in Saitama by 50 Funky Powers disco ball spinning
~ Yoshinari Ogawa gave RATELS the finger
~ Apparently Kenoh & HAYATA sang an anime theme (translated into “Southern Country Boy”) for Tadasuke, who was planning to sing it on a show “Matsuko Deluxe”, but it was never aired.
~ Kinya Okada (whose nickname is apparently “Chunky”), is working towards his return, although no date has been given as of yet. Takashi Sugiura took a picture of him looking glum on the bus and said he was growing tired of looking at his “steep face”.
~ Two new trainees have been seen at ringside, naturally, we will not know the name of these boys until they debut (and of course, if they debut).
~ Kenoh said that when he used to second Jinsei Shinzaki, he would chant a sutra from Shikoku (his home island, and a sacred place for pilgrimages), that the monks would chant for protection on their travels.

BROADCASTS
The first night of Global Junior League will be broadcast live on G+ on May 28th 2019 at 6.30pm JST.

The 9th June show (the Misawa Memorial from Korakuen Hall, Tokyo and the second to last night of Global Junior Tag League) will be broadcast by G+ on Thursday 13th at 8pm JST.

LINKS
Reiwa’s Pro Wrestlers: Kaito Kiyomiya
Takashi Sugiura to challenge for the title on Misawa Memorial night in JuneTakashi Sugiura’s double GHC challenge at the two Misawa Memorial eventsDouble challenge for the GHC titles, Sugiura’s peak at 49 years old“NOAH The Spirit 2019” autograph scheduleAkitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue “Moving Centre” with a resurrection of The Dark Agents

PICTURE CREDITS: Noah GHC, PKDX, Tadasuke
Newsletter written by Hisame


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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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