AJPW looks to be getting back in a groove with roughly weekly empty arena shows. It’s nice to have something outside of the North American television product to look forward to; with some regularity.
On this card we have a few matches intended for momentum, on way or another. Purple Haze looks to get their first win in a while, Enfantes Terrible are trying to establish themselves at the top…but JIN has something to say about that. Plus, we get a World Junior Heavyweight match; which is a rematch of the Finals from when the title was vacant, earlier this year.
Let’s get to the show!
- Takao Omori & Black Menso-re vs KAI & Tajiri: KAI wins via Cradle w/ropes @7:50 – * ½
- Dan Tamura & Yuma Aoyagi vs Hokuto Omori & Shuji Ishikawa: Ishikawa wins via TSUNAMI @6:30 – **
- Jun Akiyama & Francesco Akira vs Purple Haze (Zeus & Izanagi): Zeus wins via Jackhammer @6:15 – ** ¼
- JIN (Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto) vs Enfantes Terrible (Shotaro Ashino & Yusuke Kodama): Ashino wins via Grapevine Ankle Lock @10:25 – *** ¼
- Kento Miyahara & Yoshi Tatsu vs SUWAMA & Yusuke Okada: Kento wins via Shutdown German Suplex Hold @10:45 – ***
- World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Susumu Yokosuka (c) vs Hikaru Sato: Yokosuka retains via Jumbo no Kachi @23:05 – *****
Hikaru Sato comes out to have some words with Susumu Yokosuka. He’s wearing a Blue Flash Atsushi Aoki shirt, so I’m assuming the promo had something to do with his motivation and determination to win for his close friend who passed away. But my Japanese is lacking, so I’m merely taking cues.
Takao Omori & Black Menso-re vs KAI & Tajiri
My biggest take away here was Tajiri calling Menso-re crazy. I mean…if that ain’t some…well you know.
As for the match, there was plenty of comedy with Menso-re and Tajiri, but when KAI and Omori got in, the match stiffened a little. Omori still attempted most of his moves from the Axe Bomber and Reverse Tombstone, but Tajiri and KAI took a few short cuts. Tajiri throated Omori and then KAI went for the cradle with his feet on the ropes. Referee doesn’t see, and counts the pinfall.
Dan Tamura & Yuma Aoyagi vs Hokuto Omori & Shuji Ishikawa
Now this kind of match would look very familiar to New Japan fans. Its two teams of 1 veteran and 1 young boy. The young wrestlers start off, and quickly we see Omori and Ishikawa get an advantage. Ishikawa overpowers Aoyagi, and even Omori gets some decent offense on Aoyagi.
Tamura tried his hardest to try and stabilize things for his team but couldn’t quite reach the mark. Ishikawa toyed with Tamura a little before eventually putting him away with Tsunami. Aoyagi is in a weird spot, because I think he was pushed a bit by Black Menso-re on the last show and was now on the losing side; and not even close to competitive in this match.
Jun Akiyama & Francesco Akira vs Zeus & Izanagi
Well something fun about this show is that they didn’t mute the entrance music. So I’ve been curious as to why Purple Haze seems to rush in as opposed to Zeus’ old slower persona. The Purple Haze theme song is Deep Purple – Burn, so it makes sense that they’d start matches off…hot.
This match was nothing great, even though it was nice to see a few interactions with Akiyama and Zeus. Akira pulled his weight, Izanagi was…present. Since the mismatch lasted a while, you had to assume Zeus was eventually going to overpower the much smaller Akira. So when Akira missed a Diving Meteora, Zeus blew him up with Biceps Explosion and then a Jackhammer to finally give Purple Haze some momentum.
Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto vs Shotaro Ashino & Yusuke Kodama
This was a great match when it comes to the total package. It had good action and told a wonderfully building story. Jake has a tendency to take slights very personally, so when Ashino brought in Kodama and claimed supremacy, Jake stood up for the brand and the locker room.
Kodama and Iwamoto started, which was a great showcase for Kodama since the main story wasn’t about him. Iwamoto managed to get some space with a Judo Throw; then when Jake gets in, everything changes. The pace slows down, he stares down Ashino as he lights up Kodama with Knee Strikes.
Eventually, Kodama dodges a knee and tags in Ashino, so we get the two bulls finally going head to head. Jake had the advantage through strikes, but Ashino found a hope spot which sent Jake into his corner, so Iwamoto tagged himself in. The story takes another step once Ashino starts controlling Iwamoto, gets ready to lock in the Ankle Hold, and stares down Jake. Jake can’t get in to break it up because Kodama has his foot on the apron, so merely inches away, Jake is helpless to watch Iwamoto tap out while Ashino laughs at them and never breaks eye contact.
Pissed off Jake is the best version of Jake. So I really am looking forward to Shotaro Ashino versus Jake Lee in a proper singles match.
Kento Miyahara & Yoshi Tatsu vs SUWAMA & Yusuke Okada
Well this match and the last one are all about stoking the flames for coming singles matches. Yoshi Tatsu made his intentions clear during the previous show that he wanted to challenge for SUWAMA’s Triple Crown championship. This match continued that since Tatsu went after him immediately and took many opportunities to land cheap shots when SUWAMA was on the apron.
SUWAMA was in an interesting position since whenever he tried to get something going, a combination of All Japan’s Ace (Kento) or the new thorn in his side (Yoshi Tatsu) would slow him down. Okada definitely pulled his own weight, landing a bunch of solid moves and having decent showing against Kento in the closing moments. Kento was so desperate for a win, he immediately went for his Shutdown Suplex, instead of his usual normal German Suplex or two before the finisher.
Surprisingly, Shotaro Ashino comes out, most likely challenging Kento as a way to test his mettle. Ashino was arguably the ace of Wrestle-1 before it suspended operations and Kento is AJPW’s ace. So I suppose the Jake Lee match may get even more build, if we see Ashino go right after Kento.
World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Susumu Yokosuka (c) vs Hikaru Sato
This match is a rematch of the Finals earlier this year, after the belt had to be vacated due to Atsushi Aoki’s untimely passing. Hikaru lost the finals match, but can he avenge his loss and his dishonor to his close friend? There’s a lot of respect between both, so let’s see how this goes!
It starts off slow, with both men measuring the other one up, but once Hikaru opens up with a few Hamstring Kicks and Sole Butts, we see a flurry of submission attempts. Hikaru goes for a few Crossarm Breakers and Yokosuka fights out of these.
The pacing in the match was frenetic and that really lead to an edge of your seat feeling. Hikaru had a few minutes where he was slapping on every submission in creation. Like Zack Sabre Jr levels of body manipulation. Yokosuka being the champion proved resilient and counters an attempts headlock with a Backdrop Driver, which gives him a target moving forward. Yokosuka focuses a lot of his offense at the head/neck region, which proves to help him out a bit.
This was just hard hitting and great action once the feeling out period stopped. Hikaru had many chances to end it, but Yokosuka just wouldn’t tap. So a few well-placed Lariats, Yokosuka Driver and a few variations of the Jumbo no Kachi gave Yokosuka a very surprising come from behind victory. A tremendous match, with a great story, hard hits, great mat work…just a treat to watch.
Hikaru remained ever the sportsman, they bow and he even places the belt around Yokosuka’s waist. Yusuke Kodama comes out, probably to challenge; but Koji Iwamoto walks out basically to tell Kodama they have unfinished business.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
This is the type of card I really enjoy. When the earlier matches play a part in the later card, and aren’t all purely filler. We saw a lot of possible storyline movement, from Yoshi Tatsu continuing to poke the bear and Enfantes Terrible basically seeing JIN as nothing more than a stepping stone. Iwamoto is going to try and put Kodama in his place, but what about Jake Lee? Ashino challenging Kento is a very big insult to the status Jake has worked hard to attain over the last few years since his return.
Will JIN continue to be the Vegeta to Kento’s Goku?
The next show is 5.24 – so hopefully we continue to get forward momentum and fun cards that work well with all the pieces involved. Very good show.