Now to those not familiar with All Japan, this is a smaller event. The main event is a World Tag Team Championship match, but this will have many tag matches to set the stage or further establish feuds.
The two Young Boys who made it to the Finals of the Asunaro Cup are in faction action, Yusuke Okada has a chance to prove himself since leaving Evolution and the Aoyagi brothers are teaming together. Plus the main event is actually the All Asia Tag champions versus the World Tag champions, so it’s an interesting clash there since general perception is All Asia is a step below.
It also can’t go unmentioned, yes, this show does have fans. Granted, not done the same way as New Japan, and that could just be because it’s a smaller venue. The seating looks a little more spaced out than usual (walking distance between chairs instead of nearly connected), but definitely less than even 1 foot. All fans do see to be wearing masks, so I guess we’ll see how this one goes.
On to the show!
- Jake Lee, Koji Iwamoto & Tajiri vs Takao Omori, Yoshitatsu & Black Menso-re: Iwamoto wins via Japanese Leg Clutch @7:40 – **
- Atsuki & Yuma Aoyagi vs Dan Tamura & Hikaru Sato: Tamura wins via Texas Cloverleaf @9:30 – ** 1/2
- Enfantes Terrible (Shotaro Ashino & Yusuke Kodama) vs Purple Haze (Zeus & Izanagi): Izanagi wins via Inside Cradle @7:25 – ** 1/2
- Akira Francesco & Kento Miyahara vs Hokuto Omori & Kuma Arashi: Hokuto wins via German Suplex Hold @12:30 – *** 1/4
- Hair vs Hair Match: Yusuke Okada vs Seigo Tachibana: Okada wins via Fisherman Buster Hold @8:55 – *** 1/4
- AJPW World Tag Team Championship: Violence Giant (Shuji Ishikawa & SUWAMA) (c) vs Yankee Two Kenju (Isami Kodaka & Yuki Miyamoto): Ishikawa retains via Giant Slam @19:35 – *** 3/4
Jake Lee, Koji Iwamoto & Tajiri vs Takao Omori, Yoshitatsu & Black Menso-re
This is an understood setting for an opening tag match. Each side has a veteran, a heavyweight and a junior. The main thread I can see to tug at here, is that Jake Lee beat Yoshitatsu a few shows ago, so this could be setting up Jake Lee for a Gaora TV title match. Amusingly, Tajiri’s team decides to play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who starts, Jake loses, so he’s first up!
Jake goes back and forth with Takao a little before Yoshitatsu wants in. Jake amuses it before tying up and moving to his corner to tag out. Yoshitatsu’s interactions were odd in this match. Recently losing a singles against Jake, you’d think he’d have a bone to pick there; but he and Tajiri had some odd interactions. Tajiri seemed to be messing with him, taking a few pot shots, grabbing at limbs to prove he’s still fairly technical…but it seemed off. For those who don’t know, Yoshitatsu beat Tajiri for the Gaora TV title in May of 2019…so being a year ago, that’s a weird thread to tug on.
As it is similar with New Japan, once the two Juniors get in, then we know we’re getting close to a finish. Menso-re incorporates comedy, but he’s looked more and more competent during quarantine. Iwamoto catches him with a Knee Upper, then follows it with the Oklahoma Roll style rope follow, for the Japanese Leg Clutch and victory.
Hopefully this is the momentum Iwamoto needs to propel him through his Junior title challenge and be the first All Japan wrestler to capture the new belt. But I guess we wait and see there.
Atsuki & Yuma Aoyagi vs Dan Tamura & Hikaru Sato
We don’t see it often, but the actual brother Yuma and Atsuki Aoyagi are tagging against Hikaru Sato and newest Evolution member, Dan Tamura. After winning the Asunaro Cup (think of it like the Young Lions tournament), Dan was invited into Evolution. Since I didn’t watch the Asunaro Cup, I can say that Dan has come a long way. He definitely looks like the more polished young wrestler in this match, and compared to most of his experience level, he’s quite good.
Atsuki showed a lot of heart, which is mostly what his role in this match was. Hikaru put on a technical display as he turned Yuma into multiple different styles of pretzels, as to which, Dan decided to join in. Apparently Dan has started using a Texas Cloverleaf as a finish, and when he sunk it in today, he sat down deep and nearly broke Atsuki in half. Very solid match, but as I’ve said before, quarantine shows have generally not been kind to Yuma…so I don’t know where he stands on the card anymore.
Enfantes Terrible (Shotaro Ashino & Yusuke Kodama) vs Purple Haze (Zeus & Izanagi)
Now, I have not been a big fan of the Purple Haze entrance; but FINALLY they do something clever. As Enfantes are in the ring, the music plays a bit before Zeus and Izanagi hit from the sides. It was smooth, looked kinda cool, and took Enfantes by surprise.
This match did two things, it showed Izanagi being less of a dork relying on bad heel tactics, and Zeus versus Shotaro is something I definitely want to see. They worked fairly well in the match, but thanks to Zeus’ build and Shotaro’s “Master of Suplex” moniker, it definitely passes the eye test. Izanagi had a few hope spots even when Enfantes wiped out Zeus to double team the smaller member, so that was really refreshing to see.
As Shotaro goes to the outside to keep Zeus back, Kodama attempts a Swanton Bomb, misses, Izanagi grabs Kodama’s head, pulls him down, then hooks the legs for the nice tight Inside Cradle. He even held on longer than the 3 count, I guess to get the point across.
The finish does well as to make it look like Enfantes just got caught, but not outright beat, and hints towards Zeus/Shotaro which will be awesome.
Akira Francesco & Kento Miyahara vs Hokuto Omori & Kuma Arashi
This is very smart that All Japan has kept Kento with Akira in the tag division. Kento needs some space away from the Triple Crown scene to establish more main event players, and Akira already had a sweet spot in the hearts of fans. So this keeps them both beloved and raises Akira’s status across the board. Plus if anyone can get the visible on Kento, that will immediately raise their profile as well. Just very good stuff.
More context, Hokuto made it to the Asunaro Cup finals, only to lose to Dan Tamura. But in still doing so, elevated himself and sided with the invading heel stable Enfantes Terrible. So he comes out with this Hot Topic Emo Band look. As the rebellious teen look implies, he immediately calls out Kento and has a decent back and forth which frustrated Kento at first so he tags out. Then we get to see that Kento is a bad coach since after taking it to Kuma Arashi, Kento implores Akira to do a Tope, and Kuma catches him, which starts to turn the match.
Hokuto took every pot shot at Kento possible. Tagging in, then attacking Kento when he wasn’t legal, and just being the definition of “a little shit”. After a Crosslegged Fisherman’s Driver, Hokuto hits the German Suplex Hold on Akira for the win as Kento looks on. Since that’s one of Kento’s bread and butter moves, the intent was obviously to insult; then Hokuto flips off Kento as they exit the ring.
Assuming Kento is game to give Hokuto a little bit, this could immediately rocket him up the card if he has a good showing; in what feels like an inevitable singles match.
Hair vs Hair Match: Yusuke Okada vs Seigo Tachibana
My guess is this match was set up during the Asunaro Cup with preliminary tags and what not. Seigo is a freelancer, but also a bit of a Wrestle-1 orphan, so this could be a good way for him to establish himself in All Japan. Seigo comes out looking like every anime interpretation of an upper classman street thug, which also explains his nickname of “Big Bro”; since he’s only 22 but looks about 35.
We get a nice back and forth match that really highlights the athleticism of Okada and the personality of Seigo. In the end, Okada manages to counter Seigo’s attempts, hit a Diving Headbutt followed by a Fisherman Buster Hold to grab the victory. In more general confusion, Okada doesn’t want to shave Tachibana’s head. It’s a nice babyface move, but Yoshitatsu (who came out with Seigo), starts cutting away.
After cutting a few pieces, Yoshitatsu issues a challenge to Okada; for his Gaora TV title. So if I’m confused, you’re prolly confused. Yoshitatsu picks Okada has his opponent, while they kind of tell Seigo to shut up and they’ll get to him later, so that’s solid comedy…but the belt situation is odd. You would think Jake Lee should have a challenge available, but Yoshitatsu gets to pick? This is almost as confusing as when Yoshitatsu kept poking SUWAMA for the Triple Crown and then Shotaro just swoops in for the challenge. I’m looking forward to when storylines are less murky.
AJPW World Tag Team Championship: Violence Giant (Shuji Ishikawa & SUWAMA) (c) vs Yankee Two Kenju (Isami Kodaka & Yuki Miyamoto)
Well we’ve got the All Asia Tag Team champions against the World Tag Team champions. The added interesting part to this, is the fact that Shuji will challenge SUWAMA for the Triple Crown on the 7/25 show; but they are still a well established, and dominant tag team. So it’s unlikely that either will cause the team to lose on purpose, but it should be interesting to see if All Japan allows them to stay tag champions even through the Triple Crown bid.
So initially the size difference is staggering to the point where you’d have to expect shenanigans or a surprise cradle/flash pin for Violence Giant to lose. Which funnily enough, Yankee Two Kenju focus heavily on Shuji’s left leg to bring the big man down to size. Miyamoto shows off a few interesting ways to set up submissions, including a back handspring, that instead of going into a back elbow, he extends for a drop toehold and manages to grapevine the worked over leg. Be it a save or a botch, it looked cool and was smart with the story of the match.
We saw Kodaka counter out of the Splash Mountain multiple times, once flipping through and hitting a Shining Wizard, and another time with a Sunset Flip pinfall attempt. After a tandem Meteora/Diving Knee, it looked like Yankee Two would pick up the upset, but SUWAMA broke it up. Shuji managed to hit the elusive Splash Mountain, but only for a near fall, having to bring out the big guns with the Giant Slam.
Shuji getting the win adds even more credibility to his Triple Crown bid (not like he needed it), but after taking most of the punishment, he powered through to win. So this will be a damn good Triple Crown match.
Overall Score: 6.75/10
This show did a great job at establishing existing feuds and working in the new personas for the stand out Young Boys from the Asunaro Cup. Shuji looked great, Iwamoto looked fantastic, Okada branching out on his own looked really good, and Zeus/Shotaro is something that may pop up again in the Champion Carnival; but it’s still a match up that got a small tease. One last positive could also be, nothing went super long. Some of the complaints with New Japan is that everything goes forever. This show had only 2 matches go past 10 minutes, and nothing went over 20; so a relatively easy watch.
As for downsides, the whole situation with the Gaora TV title is confusing/dumb to me. If certain losses don’t matter against a title holder, the match shouldn’t happen. Also as much as I appreciated the way the tag match made Shuji look, it wasn’t exactly the easiest to suspend disbelief for. Plus I guess as much as I like Kento being as far from the Triple Crown scene as possible, painting him as part of the reason the team lost is interesting. It could be over confidence (he’s never been the most humble). Maybe they break Kento down, through Akira taking the brunt of the abuse? Akira is already a fan favorite, and if it’s starts looking like Kento is giving bad advice, or being responsible for making our favorite Italian gaijin with the Japanese name look bad…that could work.
Hmm…I’m prolly over thinking it, but that would be an interesting way to work the angle.