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(NOAH) WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.44 ~ 21ST JULY 2019

The Global Junior League is wrapping up, and Marine Day is celebrated by all! Hisame gives the overview on the NOAH course of action!

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The Global Junior League is wrapping up, and Marine Day is celebrated by all! Hisame gives the overview on the NOAH course of action!

CURRENT TOUR RECAP
NOAH started the long trek to the finals (and the GHC Heavyweight Tag match championship) at Korakuen Hall on 15th July on Japan’s “Marine Day” National Holiday. By the 16th they had moved up to Japan’s North to the Shin Yuri Twenty-One Hall, with the dreaded “Demon Staircase from Hell”. 19th July in Morioka, 20th in Akita and the 21st in Aomori.

Kenoh debuted his new ring wear (its all red) and Kongoh got their first win over The Sugiura Army (who all came out wearing the “Company Dog T-shirts”)
Kenoh has vowed to enter the N-1, win it, win the GHC Heavyweight at Sumo Hall, and then return to the provinces with the belt.

Naomichi Marufuji also debuted new ring wear. He said he changed it from red as red was Kongoh’s colors, and he has gone with a black and metallic silver. Black and silver are LIDET’S colors, but Kenoh seems not to have picked up on that yet.

RATELS continued with their periodic squabble (which happens in leagues, and when one of them has a belt which another one challenges for) in a match that one fan termed “speed vs power” with Tadasuke taking on YO-HEY, and defeating him within ten minutes. Elsewhere for RATELS that evening, Daisuke Harada was bloodied by Yoshinari Ogawa, who in turn was bloodied by Harada when he threw him into a table. As YO-HEY said about the match (which he watched on the monitor), that Harada is known for bleeding, but for Ogawa, its very rare.

There was blood everywhere by the end of the match, all over the mat, the mats outside (in pools), and senior Referee Nishinaga’s shirt was smeared with it. Yoshinari Ogawa won with a sneak roll up (see “Rat Boy” in dictionary), and Harada threw one of his famous tantrums and had to be pulled off Ogawa. Ogawa said afterwards that if you think what he did to Harada was bad then he was going to do worse to YO-HEY (who is “not on Harada’s level”). YO-HEY gave a nonsensical confused and rambling promo (please DO NOT GET ME STARTED on it) about hitting Ogawa’s nose on the right side. However, in the event of things, neither bled and it was YO-HEY who took the victory.

The bloodshed resolved nothing between Harada & Ogawa as on the 16th when Harada came out to second RATELS, friction once again rose between them, with a fight breaking out at the end of the match as Harada got into the ring to attack Ogawa.

In the main event at Korakuen when AXIZ clashed with the challengers to their GHC Heavyweight tag titles, Kaito Kiyomiya aimed a missile dropkick to Go Shiozaki’s knee (despite promising that he wouldn’t as he felt that a champion should be “emphatic” at times). Also in the match sparks flew between Chris Ridgeway and Naomichi Marufuji, who had a kick\chop war. After the match they both made the “single match” signal to each other, which is something that fans very much want to see.

After the match (and Go Shiozaki tapping out to Taniguchi), NOAH announced that Shiozaki would be missing time due to a shoulder dislocation. During this time, which was a time of worry for fans and Nakajima, Nakajima came out holding both the tag belts and to AXIZ theme music. Taniguchi made him tap out on the 16th to his modified camel clutch.

Kaito Kiyomiya has now turned 23 (17th July) and fans have started detecting a change of vibe him in, he seemingly has gone from the nice young (slightly naive) boy of 22, to more steely and less sympathetic person. This was seen when talking about Shiozaki’s injury he said something to the effect of, “yeah, we all get injured, and while I sympathize, we are trying to have a title match here”, and in the title match he attacked Shiozaki’s damaged neck and shoulder. In Morioka, he was seen to have slight smirk on his lips (as opposed to his usual worried expression) when he held the belt up to Kenoh at the end of the main event, and Kenoh stalked off.

Go Shiozaki returned to action on the 20th July. He doesn’t seem to have had any further problems, and he says he is fine, but fans think that he is probably a lot worse than he is making it out to be.

The afternoon at Korakuen belonged to the juniors with HAYATA vs Kotaro Suzuki putting on a stellar match, with HAYATA wearing Kotaro Suzuki down by letting him wear himself out. HAYATA wouldn’t quit, he took everything that Suzuki threw at him, and likewise with Suzuki taking everything that HAYATA threw at him. The audience were firmly on the side of HAYATA (as opposed to NOAH’s first born son), and just as Suzuki hit the Tiger Driver, the time ran out.

Hajime Ohara, it must be said, was not in a good way during the closing stages of Global Junior League as the problem with his neck and shoulder flared up again (it had plagued him during Global Tag League 2018 too), so while fans wanted to see him win, it was probably better that he didn’t, especially as he is responsible pretty much for the planning of NOAH’s Kawasaki event. During the match on the 16th, the referee was concerned and asked him if he was fit to continue.

The semi final night of Global Junior League 2019 and the GHC Heavyweight title match came on the 21st July 2019 in the Mutsu Grand Hotel in Aomori. It is a small venue, a hotel, which NOAH created a “big match” atmosphere at.

Takashi Sugiura & NOSAWA Rongai teamed up to take on Minoru Tanaka & Kinya Okada. After the match, which Sugiura naturally won, he said that he wanted Kinya Okada to enter The Sugiura Army. Kinya Okada did (and how could he refuse after being commanded by Takashi Sugiura), and he will have his first match as one of them on the 27th July at Kawasaki when they fight Kongoh. His joining The Sugiura Army is a good move as not only does it mean that he has the chance to be mentored by Takashi Sugiura, it also brings him into conflict with Yoshiki Inamura, who is in Kongoh, and calls him “my rival”.

Global Junior League 2019 came down to HAYATA vs Tadasuke, following their wins over Hajime Ohara & Kotaro Suzuki (HAYATA, who was seconded by YO-HEY) and Tadasuke (who defeated Daisuke Harada earlier in the evening). When they met in the ring later, Tadasuke gave HAYATA the finger.

Daisuke Harada commented, “RATEL’S showdown in the final, I have nothing but jealousy.”

AXIZ defended the GHC Heavyweight tag titles successfully against Kaito Kiyomiya & Shuhei Taniguchi, with Go Shiozaki getting the win with the lariat on Shuhei Taniguchi. They were challenged for the titles by The Return of The Dark Agents (Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue).

Title match will take place at NOAH’s anniversary show on the 4th August.

EVENT RECAPS
Korakuen Hall, 15th July 2019 
Post match interviews

Shin Yuri Twenty-One Hall, 16th July 2019
Post match interviews

Morioka Gymnasium, 19th July 2019
Post match interviews

Serion Plaza, 20th July 2019
Post match interviews (AXIZ only)

Mutsu Grand Hotel, Aomori, 21st July 2019

NEWS

Atsushi Aoki memorial

All Japan announced this week that the memorial for Atsushi Aoki will take place on the 11th August at Korakuen Hall. NOAH wrestlers have been announced to be participating in the event (although he was an All Japan wrestler, Aoki was NOAH  born) with Naomichi Marufuji, Takashi Sugiura, Shuhei Taniguchi and Hitoshi Kumano in attendance.

The main event will see Naomichi Marufuji team with Kento Miyahara and Yuma Aoyogi against Shuji Ishikawa, Shuhei Taniguchi and Suwama. Suwama has wanted a singles match with Marufuji since the Tokyo Sports Award in January, and says that he doesn’t care about the other opponents, he wants Marufuji.

In the semi, Jun Akiyama will tag with Takashi Sugiura against Naoya Nomura and Hitoshu Kumano.

 

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

 

TOUR TIDBITS
~ NOAH have released a Sugiura Army “Company Dog” towel, which features both of Takashi Sugiura’s dogs with his little toy poodle at one end and his beloved Shiba Inu at the other, both barking “Yip! Yip!”
~ HAYATA gave Kotaro Suzuki a slight black eye
~ Kenoh has said that HE will enter the N-1, and if LIDET don’t let him, he will go ahead and do it anyway.
~ Yoshiki Inamura turned on Junta Miyawaki when Miyawaki came in to try and help him after the match in Morioka
~ Minoru Tanaka stole Rocky Kawamura’s apples and ate one in the ring, and posted that the other one was for his lunch. When asked how they were by Rocky, he said they were tasty.
~ Kenoh’s latest bout of paranoia is to claim that LIDET turned the microphone down on him during a promo.
~ Naomichi Marufuji scooped up the white and black feathers left in the ring from Kaito Kiyomiya and AXIZ’S jackets, and putting them in the palm of his hand, blew them into the crowd.
~ Mohammed Yone and Atsushi Kotoge did the Disco Fever vs Revolutionary Pose stand off. This hasn’t happened for a while.
~ RATELS went on a wander while in Akita, and came across a fenced off area because Bears were in the forest. YO-HEY joked that it was Hitoshi Kumano (who’s surname means “Bear”, and also incorporates bears into his persona\merchandise), doing a private autograph session. In one picture, in the background, HAYATA had his back to the camera while he stood by some bushes…
~ Minoru Suzuki vs Naomichi Marufuji will be their first match since the Suzuki Gun invasion of NOAH in summer 2016, although the match at TAKAYAMANIA 2 when this takes place, will not be a singles match.
~ Kaito Kiyomiya turned 23 on the 17th July
~ “The Tadasuke Women” were seen again in force at the Shin-Yuri Twenty One Hall. These middle aged to elderly women I believe are family and friends of Mohammed Yone, but they were given the name “The Tadasuke Women” after he played up to them last year. Minoru Tanaka, who sprained his ankle during the match, said that he had been distracted by them, hence the reason for his injury. Tadasuke behaved himself this year.
~ Masao Inoue suffered the usual sneak videos from Naomichi Marufuji on NOAH’s long bus journey (they have a twelve hour trip on the 22nd back to Tokyo), and then Marufuji bought out his new toy, “FaceApp” and made him into a woman (who looked a little like Betty Boop) and an old man. Marufuji also made himself into an old man, and then into woman. A photograph of himself and Takashi Sugiura as old grey men (looking like they where hosts of a daytime or direct to video art series) made Sugiura remark that they should challenge for the tag titles.
~ Referee Ben, who was kneeling at ringside, was knocked over by a dueling Chris Ridgeway and Tadasuke

BROADCASTS
NOAH’s big Kawasaki Kultz event (and the GHC Heavyweight title, plus the final night of Global Junior League 2019) will air on the 2nd August on G+ at 8.30PM JST

NOAH will be broadcast live on Sunday 4th August at 11.30am JST on G+

LINKS
“Devil Form” Taniguchi – Onslaught on Shiozaki’s Weak Point

PICTURE CREDITS: Noah.co.jp, Daisuke Harada, Naomichi Marufuji, Battle Sports


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Andrew’s AJPW Champion Carnival Results & Match Ratings: 4.10.2021

Day 2 of my fill in stint covering the AJPW Champion Carnival! Can Suwama get in the winner’s column? Can the Ace Kento get on the board? Does anyone pull away so early?

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Day 2 of my fill in stint covering the AJPW Champion Carnival! Can Suwama get in the winner’s column? Can the Ace Kento get on the board? Does anyone pull away so early?

Given the fact the incumbent champion lost his first round, the ace lost and there were a few main event players that picked up hard fought wins but don’t have an easy day today, this should be interesting. What kind of tournament are we looking at?

Since the tournament is 1 block, each person gets 9 matches, similar to the G1. So using G1 logic, 2 losses puts you on the bubble of being out, and 3 losses is basically death with the exception of weird breakers or fun rock/paper/scissors situations.

So for everyone’s sake, let’s hope we end up at mostly parity to continue to keep everyone alive for most of this single block tournament!

Ratings:

  • Yuma Aoyagi vs Shotaro Ashino: Aoyagi wins via End Game @9:22 – ** ¾
  • Kohei Sato vs Koji Doi: Doi wins via Murder Lariat @4:52 – * ½
  • Shuj Ishikawa vs Zeus: Zeus wins via Arm Trap Facelock @10:41 – *** ½
  • Shinjiro Otani vs Kento Miyahara: Kento wins via Blackout @13:23 – *** ¾
  • Jake Lee vs Suwama: Suwama wins via Last Ride Powerbomb @18:23 – ****

 

Results:

Yuma Aoyagi vs Shotaro Ashino

So very similarly to the match against Otani, Aoyagi starts slow. The match begins with a handshake, then he gets driven to the ropes, Ashino slides under his legs during the break to trip him up and starts working over the leg. An early Stretch Muffler indicates that Ashino is most likely aiming to win with the Ankle Lock.

Aoyagi was on the move and constantly clawing for an opening. A few strikes and early knockdown give Aoyagi hope as he goes for End Game, but Ashino powers up and slams him into the corner. Ashino controls most of the tempo until we get a German Suplex trade off spot. Aoyagi ends up taking the worst of it, and Ashino goes for the Ankle Lock.

While in the Ankle Lock, Aoyagi tries to roll through 3 times, but Ashino moves with the roll and holds the move in place. Right before Aoyagi looks like he’s going to tap, he adjusts, grabs Ashino’s head for the Small Package; Ashino manages to kick out. But before Ashino can really re-orient himself, Aoyagi slaps on the full version of End Game. Ashino tries to fight through, but succumbs.

Ashino with two big losses almost writes him out already. Hopefully he makes a small run to suspend disbelief for a little bit and this isn’t his swan song from AJPW.

Kohei Sato vs Koji Doi

Doi comes out of a loss to a major player, Shuji Ishikawa, of current AJPW and Sato avenged his loss to the current Triple Crown Champion Suwama. So at face value, one should think this is a perfect time for Sato to gather some momentum to make sure he gets another shot at the title.

Contrary to logic, this match was interesting. Doi starts off with a quick flurry and picks Sato up into a Torture Rack. Sato eventually fights out and then we get a chop battle, which Sato is notoriously bad at and throws some of the lamest looking chops. Granted, even though he was losing the chops, apparently a well-placed Forearm rocked Doi enough to have Doi selling the forearm for nearly the rest of the match.

Referee Nikkan Lee gets up to seven before Doi starts responding enough to be on the receiving end of a Soccer Ball Kick from Sato. Sato senses the match is over, picks Doi up real cocky for a Brainbuster, but it gets countered into a Brainbuster of Doi’s own! A short range lariat rocks Sato afterward and then off the ropes for Murder Lariat! Sato is stacked up, Doi covers and Doi gets the win!

Well we look to be in an interesting starting spot so far. Who would’ve figured Koji Doi would have more points than Shotaro Ashino…ever. Also for clarity, the low rating is because the match was so abrupt. It wasn’t inherently bad, just not really anything to sink teeth into beyond an upset win.

Shuj Ishikawa vs Zeus

There is history with these two, most notable in my head is during Zeus’ only Triple Crown championship reign, Shuji was his first and only defense. So Zeus looks to continue momentum this year, possibly running back the undefeated record of last year; while Shuji is trying to protect his position and title as Gaora TV champion.

This goes the way most of their previous meetings have, where Shuji tries to overpower Zeus. Because even though Zeus is a bodybuilder, he’s a bit on the short side (5’10”). So with Shuji standing about 6 inches taller and not being of a slight build, Shuji loves to buckle Zeus and play the power struggle. Tests of Strength, Shoulder Tackles, Lariat battles, it’s all great power wrestler spots.

Shuji does however start to catch Zeus. So after a chagrining Lariat into the corner, the middle rope Mushroom Stomp and a few Tsunamis; it looks like Shuji is setting up to win with a Fire/Thunder Driver – but Zeus slips out the back! Zeus locks in the Arm Trap Facelock, and Shuji is dead to rights. Stuck in the middle, twisted about in the move, it only takes a few moments before Shuji is forced to tap and Zeus moves on with 4 points!

Shinjiro Otani vs Kento Miyahara

Dueling boots start the match, which Kento bails after being on the losing end of the exchange. Otani decides to remind him that recovering on the apron isn’t safe, so he charges and lands the Bootwash through the bottom rope sending Kento flying. As the match plays out on the outside, Kento regains his swagger, talks smack to referee Wada and does his “headbutts around the ring” spot.

After rocking Otani, Kento gets cocky, poses back in the ring and the smug Kento from his previous Triple Crown champion days starts making a return. He gives Otani too much space though, charges the corner, and takes a Drop Toe Hold into the bottom turnbuckle, and then Otani revs up the old kicking boot across Kento’s face for a few Bootwashes.

From this point, both men’s stubbornness comes out in spades. Kento gets a little cocky, Otani catches him on the corner, they fight back and Otani refuses to fall before hitting Kento with a Superplex. Then we go into a strike exchange where both are just wailing on one another. Otani manages to rock Kento and then catch him with a Dragon Suplex for a near fall.

Moving quickly, Otani hits Spiral Bomb, but again only two. So he tries a Dragon Suplex again, but Kento fights out. Kento hits a Blackout to the back of Otani’s head, and now they are throwing haymakers. Kento catches Otani with another Blackout, but Otani returns the favor with one of those Hashimoto Overhand Chops that put down Aoyagi yesterday! Otani goes for another, but Kento Blackouts the chop. The clash leaves Otani in more pain, another Blackout and Otani powers out of the pinfall at 1, but is scrambling and stumbling around, unable to find his feet. Kento hits one more point blank Blackout, and picks up his first points of the 2021 Carnival!

Jake Lee vs Suwama

So watching this second tournament match for Jake, I’ve come to realize what I’m referring to him as during this Total Eclipse gimmick. He is very much “Light Yagami” Jake Lee. He’s cackling when he accomplishes something, unbridled frustration and nearly schizophrenic reactions do really scream Death Note crazy Light.

This match was interesting since early on Suwama didn’t really know what to make of Jake, and Jake tried the same stuff he pulled on Ashino, where he was a little awkward, took advantage of situations and tried to bait Suwama into bad spots. The difference is, Suwama is a veteran and Triple Crown champion; so even though Jake got a few early shots, Suwama eventually forced him back into old habits.

Jake was forced to wrestle, hitting interesting flying kick and knee variations, pulled out the old Kitchen Sink and put in a lot more effort than the first match. Suwama managed to stay resilient and push our new Total Eclipse Death Note wielder. This match was built more around Jake coming into his new persona, and yet still not being able to get passed certain old hurdles.

Suwama absorbed a lot, hit some short range lariats, his Double Chop comeback, and the spinning chop. Jake hits the back of the head Giant Killing, attempts D4C, but Suwama blocks. Jake keeps the pressure up, attempts and old Giant Killing/Knee Lift, but Suwama catches the leg, lifts him into a Last Ride, and puts him away!

Suwama finally gets on the bored, and Jake is left stunned and seething. Which plays perfect for Jake to win the Carnival and earn his Suwama shot, and prove his evolution then.

 

Overall Score: 7.5/10

So this ended a little stronger over all than day 1, but both days so far have been a fun start. The mixture of upsets and oddly abrupt matches are perfect for a tournament even if they don’t rank high. In the larger picture of things it’s nice to see that a competitive match can end in less than 5 minutes without comedy tactics.

Seeing how Jake took the loss to Suwama gives me hope for this anime antagonist character. I’m honestly a little surprised that the whole tournament is knotted up except for Zeus at the 2-0 and Ashino at 0-2. I really did not think Ashino would be the slow kid in the pool right now. But I suppose since he was just betrayed he’s still finding his footing. Like I alluded to before, it would be nice if he’s just getting broken down to be built back up and not just putting people over on his way out.

Now since the only unique records are first and last, the rest of the tournament isn’t hard to figure out, but here are the standings! Solid first 2 days so far!

Standings:

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

 


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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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