In preparation for Wrestle Kingdom, enjoy a little All Japan coverage and the true Ace of Japan, Kento Miyahara!
So even if Day 1 was a little underwhelming, you know the energy is different when the top title is on the line.
Jake Lee gets another shot at the Triple Crown Championship and we finally get a new Junior Heavyweight Champion after 7 months of reverence to Atsushi Aoki.
Let’s see how the card shakes out when it’s building to a Kento match!
- Dan Tamura & Masayuki Mitomi vs Izanagi & Utamaro: Izanagi wins via Kick Combination @6:40 – ** 1/4
- Hokuto Omori, Takao Omori, Sushi & Atsuki Aoyagi vs Jun Akiyama, Masanobu Fuchi, Rising HAYATO & Osamu Nishimura: Fuchi wins via Small Package @10:25 – ***
- Yuma Aoyagi, Ryoji Sai, Danny Jones & Ayato Yoshida vs Zeus, KAI, Naoya Nomura & Yoshi-Tatsu: Aoyagi wins via End Game @11:25 – *** 1/4
- Kagetora, Black Menso-re & Nasahiro Takanashi vs Koji Iwamoto, Fumnori Abe & Francesco Akira: Akira wins via Slingshot Cutter @9:30 – ***
- Shigehiro Irie & Lucas Steel vs Shuji Ishikawa & Yusuke Oakda: Steel wins via Sitout Side Chokeslam @11:00 – *** 1/2
- Vacant Junior Heavyweight Championship: Susumu Yokosuka vs Hikaru Sato: Susumu wins via Jumbo no Katchi! @19:50 – **** – TITLE CHANGE!!!
- Triple Crown Championship: Jake Lee vs Kento Miyahara (c): Kento retains via Shutdown Suplex Hold @31:05 – **** 1/2
Dan Tamura & Masayuki Mitomi vs Izanagi & Utamaro – Much like the first day, we open with good energy and a solid match. Dan got to try his hand mostly against Izanagi, with Utamaro picking his spots. Much like most Japanese promotions, if the young boy does a lot of the heavy lifting, he’s going to crumble under the weight. Dan had a desperation Roll-Up that seemed to just annoy Izanagi, Thrust Kick, High Kick and Round Kick put the young wrestler away.
Hokuto Omori, Takao Omori, Sushi & Atsuki Aoyagi vs Jun Akiyama, Masanobu Fuchi, Rising HAYATO & Osamu Nishimura – Still a very odd realization that Sushi is the former Akira Raijin aka Kiyoshi (during his TNA run in the World Elite stable). Everyone got some time to shine, Omori and Nishimura had a short back and forth, HAYATO had a few moments against Hokuto and Aoyagi, but the match picked up when Sushi got tagged in. He thought he’d get Fuchi, but Akiyama got tagged in and poor Sushi had no chance. So we saw a lot of prat falls, poorly executed moves (for comedic purposes) and Akiyama toying with him. Akiyama softened up Sushi so Fuchi could do a few of his signature Scoop Slams, Backdrop and Small Package had Fuchi going over with Sushi looking like the comedic joke he’s supposed to. So this was fun, a decent enough match, but entertaining for the comedic reasons.
Yuma Aoyagi, Ryoji Sai, Danny Jones & Ayato Yoshida vs Zeus, KAI, Naoya Nomura & Yoshi-Tatsu – KAI got subbed into this match after we learned that Suwama was injured during the tag match (sacroiliac joint contusion). So we see Zeus is alright, maybe the match was called short yesterday for Suwama’s sake. It’s interesting to note that Zeus and Sai are on opposite sides, merely a day after losing the tag titles. So not sure if it’s just undercard randomness, or if this means that team is done for the near future.
This was pretty standard, until Zeus and Yuma got tagged in. They wrestled the bulk of the second half of the match, and this was really a huge moment for Yuma. As I’ve stated in previous articles, he’s really the only former member of NEXTREAM to not really break out or ascend to that next level. He showed some resolve and got the visible tap out from Zeus, who is a former Triple Crown champion and a proven main eventer. A great win and great moment for Yuma.
Kagetora, Black Menso-re & Nasahiro Takanashi vs Koji Iwamoto, Fumnori Abe & Francesco Akira – This was a fun and fast paced Junior trios match. Menso-re is hit or miss between his comedy elements and actual wrestling, but he held his own decently. Kagetora and Fuminori Abe had a wonderful exchange that saw quick transitions, frenetic attacks from both, and an energy level that has been missing from the All Japan Junior Division for some time. Takanashi and Iwamoto had a decent exchange early on as well, but Abe and Kagetora stole the match. Akira came in however and made fairly short work of Menso-re with some solid striking and a Slingshot Cutter. Akira continues to stay poised for a potential push this year, and I hope with how well Abe has looked the last two days; they plan on using him throughout the year.
Shigehiro Irie & Lucas Steel vs Shuji Ishikawa & Yusuke Oakda – I always appreciate when they don’t mute Shuji’s entrance music since he comes out to Metallica’s Battery. Yusuke also seems to have parted his hair in a way to resemble Suwama, which is amusing since Yusuke is the youngest member of Evolution and Suwama is Shuji’s Violence Giant tag partner.
The match itself had great action, Okada was trying to prove himself since he’s still the youngest member of the stable. Irie had great moments including a very cool Cannonball onto Shuji’s back while he was draped on the ropes. Steel and Shuji went back and forth in a power battle, which helped legitimize Steel since they’re equivalent height. Okada tried to pick up the pace and finish what Shuji started, but Steel was just too big and strong, even while Okada was trying to focus the legs. The South of Heaven style Chokeslam gives Steel’s team the win. I think Izanagi spoke for the winning team and challenged Violence Giant for the tag titles, but my Japanese ain’t the best, so I guess we’ll wait and see.
Vacant Junior Heavyweight Championship: Susumu Yokosuka vs Hikaru Sato – So the tournament for the new Junior title brings us here, to the final two. Hikaru Sato, the close friend of Atsushi Aoki and Susumu Yokosuka, the Dragon Gate outsider.
This was an impressive match. It started off methodically, but each wrestler turned it up and we got a hell of a bout. Stiff strikes and great ground transitions from Sato, while Susumu brought his own speed and violence, peppered with Suplexes. Both men fought with a lot of heart and it’s hard to really put it into words. Susumu won after a couple of his Jumbo no Katchi! lariats. Great stuff.
-After the match Izanagi, Black Menso-re, Francesco Akira and Fuminori Abe run out to challenge. Susumu allows the crowd to help dictate his first defense, and they choose Akira.
1月3日(金)後楽園ホール 11:30 開始
— 全日本プロレス/alljapan (@alljapan_pw) January 2, 2020
Triple Crown Championship: Jake Lee vs Kento Miyahara (c) – This is Jake’s second attempt at the Triple Crown championship in less than 9 months and his 4th singles match against Kento in the same span of time (finals of Champion Carnival and Royal Road tournaments). Jake managed to win the Royal Road Tournament, but he’s come up short when it really counts. Can he over come the Triple Crown demon that is Kento Miyahara?
Both men start off quickly aiming for the head. Moments where they’d usually give respite for a little gloating or mocking are quickly met with a kick in the face. There isn’t quite the level of disdain that Jake had in his last match, but both men are trying to create openings by striking early and often in the earlier portions of the match.
After a Big Boot from Jake knocks Kento to the floor from the turnbuckle, his countenance changes a bit. Apron PK, and the sarcastic side comes out a little as he mimics the count on the outside with a big grin on his face. He breaks the count to put Kento on the apron, pick his face up to the crowd and then raise a knee into his chin. Kento does manage to turn the tide with an Apron Piledriver, which sets up for a Blackout, and when he goes for a second Blackout, Jake catches it and kicks him in the face for his troubles.
Both men are exhausted and mostly throwing haymakers at this point. Kento with the German Suplex and Blackout, Jake hit his Giant Killing Backdrop, but only for two. It was just last ditch efforts from both, but Jake got caught with a Blackout after Kento countered the Backdrop, and that was the opening Kento needed to slap on the Shutdown Suplex, and make his 9th successful defense.
-Afterwards Yuma Aoyagi looked to be helping Kento put the championship on, but Suplexes him and basically finishes the complete fracture of NEXTREAM. Perhaps Yuma was sick of living in Kento’s shadow and wanted to prove that he could take the next step. But he definitely made his presence felt.
Overall Score: 8/10
Now this show was pretty damn good throughout! Undercard matches set up for the final two since we saw Akira pick up a few quality pinfalls, and now he was the crowd’s choice for number one contender. Plus, coming off his big submission over Zeus, Yuma turns on Kento and throws his hat into the main event scene. Also I think Shuji got challenged for the tag titles, so we got great matches and feuds to build up.
This was a great show to prepare me for New Japan action, as well as, a great show to move All Japan into 2020. The only slightly negative aspect of this day, is regarding Jake Lee. After coming up short twice in a short time span, and having a growing losing record against Kento; how does he rebound? You could follow these stories at www.Ajpw.tv for all the quality All Japan Pro Wrestling.
Expand your puroresu horizons. No better place to start than the company that’s nearly as old as New Japan, with as storied of a legacy.