The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Tournament is in Round Two!
The four teams switch opponents for fresh match-ups! Who goes 2-0 and who goes 0-2 while the others break even?
NOTE: NJPW no longer wants to feed AXS TV now that it is with Anthem and Impact Wrestling. But never fear, I will cover NJPW in the spirit of AXS in providing the most important matches of the show.
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado VS Taiji Ishimori & Gedo; Kanemaru & Desperado win.
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI VS Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato; Hiromu & Bushi win.
PLAY BY PLAY
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado VS Taiji Ishimori & Gedo!
They may have lost in round one, but they’re not losers yet! Who wins this match to still have a chance? And who loses to be mathematically eliminated?
The teams sort out and Desperado starts, calling out the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion! After a Low Sweet, Bone Soldier Reborn accepts the challenge! The fans rally as the two circle, talk trash, and then Taiji tags out to Gedo. Gedo says Desperado isn’t getting at the champ yet, so Desperado tags out. Kanemaru and Gedo circle now, Gedo SLAPS Desperado! Red Shoes reprimands, Desperado tags in, and now Taiji tags in. Gedo eggs Desperado on but Taiji clubs Desperado at the ropes! Taiji rakes Desperado’s eyes and some fans do cheer. Desperado rakes Taiji’s eyes in return! Desperado whips Taiji corner to corner, Taiji slips out, slides in and goes back out to shoulder back in! Taiji springboards but Desperado gets under to knee low!
Desperado SLAPS Taiji, eggs him on and runs, but Gedo trips him up! Taiji basement dropkicks Desperado then hits Kanemaru for protesting. Taiji intimidates Red Shoes, Gedo SMACKS Desperado with his belt! And again! And again! Gedo eggs Desperado on while he LASHES him! “How you feel?!” Gedo puts Desperado in for Taiji and Taiji covers, but Red Shoes knows about the foul play so he ignores it. Gedo undoes the buckle pads, the Bullet Club classic these days. Taiji whips Desperado into the buckles! Desperado writhes, Gedo tags in and Gedo mockingly asks if Desperado is okay. Gedo claws Desperado’s back! Desperado crawls, Gedo lets him get close but then claws him again before he could tag Kanemaru!
Gedo laughs at Kanemaru, drags Desperado back up, and bumps him head first on the bare buckle! Desperado tumbles down, Kanemaru protests but Red Shoes keeps him out. Gedo CHOKES Desperado! Gedo stops before Red Shoes sees and covers, TWO! Gedo argues the count but Red Shoes says it was fair. Taiji gets his shots in then tags in. Taiji drags Desperado up to a cravat and rams his shoulder in over and over! Gedo likes that as Taiji lets Desperado fall. Taiji stands on Desperado’s head, lets off at Red Shoes’ count, but then he bumps Desperado off the bare buckle chest first! Gedo tags in as Desperado writhes and he stands on Desperado’s head now.
Desperado kicks and flails but Gedo gives toying kicks now. Gedo mocks Desperado in Spanish, “Ariba! Ariba!” and then SLAPS Desperado! Gedo even intercepts the retaliation with a rake of the eyes! Gedo runs but Desperado uses Red Shoes as a shield! Gedo pushes Red Shoes aside, Desperado dropkicks the legs out! Hot tag to Kanemaru! Kanemaru steps on Gedo on the way to hitting Taiji! Taiji comes back and attacks, Red Shoes reprimands but Bullet Club goes after Kanemaru together. Taiji whips Kanemaru corner to corner and runs in, but Kanemaru drop toeholds Taiji into buckles! Kanemaru ROUNDHOUSES Gedo fast, then scoops him to the INVERTED DDT! Cover, TWO!
Kanemaru stomps Gedo and whips him to ropes. Gedo holds ropes, boots back and runs, only for Kanemaru to dropkick the legs out! Kanemaru drags Gedo around, hooks the legs, for a FIGURE FOUR! Desperado attacks Taiji to keep him out while Gedo endures! Kanemaru adds as much torque as he can but Taiji rams Desperado into railing to get free! Taiji gets in to stomp away on Kanemaru! Gedo is free, Taiji goes after Desperado again, but Kanemaru goes after Gedo’s legs with stomps! Kanemaru stands on Gedo’s knees, tags to Desperado, and Suzuki-Gun drags Gedo up by his beard. Desperado gives Gedo a SHIN BREAKER, then holds the leg open for Kanemaru’s SHOTGUN dropkick!
Fans actually cheer Suzuki-Gun as Desperado kneels on Gedo’s head. Red Shoes counts, Desperado lets up to pull an arm and stomp Gedo’s head! Desperado yanks the bad leg, and jams it with the knee breaker! Gedo grabs Desperado’s leg and Desperado mocks little Gedo. Desperado rakes Gedo’s eyes in return! Then he splashes down on the leg! Cover, TWO as Gedo rakes Desperado’s eyes! Kanemaru drags Gedo to the corner to SLAM the leg into the post! Red Shoes reprimands but Kanemaru does it again! Desperado stands on Gedo’s head, Kanemaru stands on Gedo’s knee! Red Shoes counts, they both stop at 3, and Kanemaru tags back in. Kanemaru stomps Gedo hard in the chest and Gedo starts begging for mercy. Desperado drags Gedo out to whip him into railing! No mercy for Gedo!
Kanemaru keeps his eyes on Taiji while Desperado rakes Gedo’s eyes again! Desperado drags Gedo up, puts him in the ring and Kanemaru stomps him down. Kanemaru DECKS Taiji, Desperado gets in, and they coordinate, SHOTGUN BACK SUPLEX! Cover, TWO!! Gedo survives and Kanemaru argues the count. Kanemaru hurries to a corner and up the ropes, for the DEEP- NO! Gedo counters the flying DDT with an atomic drop! Gedo and Kanemaru crawl, hot tag to Taiji! Taiji rallies, clobbering Kanemaru and blasting Desperado off apron and into railing! Taiji whips Kanemaru but Kanemaru reverses, only for Taiji to handspring and NEURALIZER! Cover, Desperado breaks it in time! Desperado drags Taiji up to SLAP him!
Suzuki-Gun double whips Taiji corner to corner, Desperado runs in but misses! Taiji dodges Kanemaru and tilt-o-whirls to get him in the dragon sleeper. Desperado runs in, Taiji catches him, INVERTED DDT COMPLETE SHOT COMBO! Taiji drags Kanemaru into the YES LOCK! Kanemaru gets the ropebreak quick but Taiji lets him go quick. Taiji keeps his focus, takes aim and BANG. Taiji drags Kanemaru up, lifts, but no Bloody Cross as Kanemaru resists. Taiji knees low, runs, but Kanemaru arm-drags and basement dropkicks! Fans cheer as both men are down! Kanemaru tags Desperado back in, and Desperado mocks the champion as he scrapes his soles on Taiji’s head.
Desperado drags Taiji up, suplexes but Taiji lands on his feet to waistlock. Desperado breaks free by prying at the fingers, but Taiji KNEES back! Both men are down and fans rally up! Taiji tags Gedo, Gedo brings Desperado up for jawbreaker! But Desperado blocks the superkick to rake eyes! Desperado powers up his fist but Gedo ROCKS him with a right first! SUPERKICK! Cover, TWO!! Desperado lives and Gedo is furious! Fans rally as Gedo takes aim again. Desperado slowly stands, Gedo mule kicks the leg out, but Desperado escapes the clutch to waistlock! Gedo grabs at Red Shoes, but Desperado knows about the low blow mule kick! Gedo dodges Desperado’s punch to waistlock, Desperado grabs at Red Shoes to try the same trick! But Gedo won’t fall for the low blow, either!
Gedo pokes Desperado in the eye, runs but into Kanemaru’s cheap shot! Then he staggers into Desperado’s LARIAT! Taiji kicks Desperado down, dodges Kanemaru and LARIATS him down! But Desperado LARIATS right back! Fans fire up with Desperado as he drags Gedo back up. Desperado underhooks, but Gedo resists and back drops out! Gedo staggers as Desperado rises, but manages the atomic drop! Gedo runs, but into a SPINE BUSTER! High stack, TWO, into Stretch Muffler! Desperado wants the arm, cranks on the leg, and gets NUMERO DOS!! Gedo endures, Taiji attacks Desperado but Kanemaru goes after Taiji! Kanemaru throws Taiji into Red Shoes! There’s no ref so Kanemaru gets the whiskey!
Desperado drags Gedo up, but Gedo fights back! LOW BLOCK for Desperado! SPRINGBOARD SEATED SENTON for Kanemaru! Gedo goes to his bag of tricks for the brass knuckles! Gedo aims at Desperado but Desperado ROCKS Gedo first!! Fans fire up with Desperado as he drags Gedo back up. Kanemaru BOTTLE SMASHES Gedo, then BOTTLE SMASHES Taiji! Kanemaru gets Red Shoes in as Desperado hits PINCHE LOCO!! Cover, Suzuki-Gun wins!
Winners: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado, by pinfall; improve to 1-1, Bullet Club falls to 0-2
Gedo and Taiji tried to cheat but failed, because they were up against Namajague and the Heel Master! And now, Bullet Club has NO WAY of getting into the finals! Will Suzuki-Gun also spoil the chances of their third round opponents in Los Ingobernables de Japon?
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI VS Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato!
These two teams won in the first round and have a lot of momentum in the tournament! But only one team can continue on to be undefeated going into round three! Who takes first place in this four team block?
Hiromu wants to make sure Tenzan is just as clean of foreign objects as the rest but Red Shoes assures him it’s fine. The teams sort out and after an LIJ fist bump, it is the Ticking Timebomb starting against Wato. Wato and Hiromu circle and the fans rally already. Hiromu and Wato tie up, Hiromu powers Wato to ropes but Wato turns it around. Red Shoes calls for the ropebreak, Hiromu lets up and ducks Wato’s spinning back hand! Hriomu whips, Wato reverses and hurdles to drop down and back elbow! Sobat! Wato brings Hiromu up to kick and kick and KICK! Wato runs, Hiromu follows but runs into knees, SWITCHBLADE KICK! Cover, TWO!
Wato keeps his cool as he drags Hiromu up. Hiromu forearms, Wato gives a forearm back. Hiromu throws another forearm, Wato gives another forearm and then gets the edge. Wato runs, but into Bushi’s cheap shot! Wato swings on Bushi but Bushi gets away, but Wato sees the superkick coming! Wato blocks and puts it on the ropes to kick out Hiromu’s other leg! Fans cheer as Wato stomps and runs, but Bushi gets in as Hiromu mule kicks. Bushi dropkicks the legs out, Hiromu basement dropkicks Wato in the head and Bushi decks Taguchi! Wato gets to a neutral corner as Bushi whips Taguchi into railing! Hiromu drags Wato up to CHOP him in the corner. Wato sits down, Hiromu stands him up to CHOP and CHOP and CHOP!
Hiromu digs his boot into Wato’s head then lets off to drag him back up. Hiromu elbows Wato down, tags in Bushi, and Bushi takes off his shirt to choke Wato with it! Red Shoes reprimands, Bushi lets go but with only one hand. Hiromu distracts Red Shoes, Bushi chokes and stomps Wato! Red Shoes takes the shirt away but Bushi drags Wato back up. Bushi CHOPS Wato in the LIJ corner, stomps him, then tags Hiromu. Hiromu drags Wato up, clubs him on the back, then mocks Tenzan before he double CHOPS Wato down! Hiromu taunts Tenzan more before giving Wato more chops! Hiromu drags Wato into a camel clutch and sits deep! Taguchi gets in and uses the Tenzan chops to free Wato! Hiromu stomps Wato and then taunts Taguchi.
Tag to Bushi and LIJ CHOPS away on Wato in the corner! Bushi drags Wato out and hits a neckbreaker! Cover, TWO! Bushi stomps Wato more, drags him up and CHOPS him again. Tag to Hiromu, Hiromu CHOPS Wato again and again and again! Wato falls over and fans cheer as Bushi gets back in. LIJ double suplex but Taguchi runs in to stop them! Taguchi uses the Tenzan chops, runs, but the hip attack misses completely! LIJ go back to Wato for a double suplex! Cover, TWO! Bushi drags Wato around, and hooks on an STF! Wato endures, Hiromu keeps his eyes on Taguchi, but Bushi also rakes Wato’s eyes! Hiromu keeps Taguchi out but Wato drags himself and Bushi to the other ropes. Wato reaches out and gets a ropebreak! Bushi lets go at Red Shoes’ count, but stomps Wato down.
Wato comes back and the two brawl with forearms. Bushi kicks and clubs Wato down then tags in Hiromu. Hiromu CHOPS Wato, whips him corner to corner, and runs in to corner clohtesline! Hiromu rolls Wato but Wato avoids the dropkick to back kick, block the hip toss and flip up to huricanrana! Fans fire up as both men crawl. Bushi tags in to club Wato down! Brushi CHOPS Wato and runs, but into a dropkick! Fans fire up again as Wato and Bushi are down. Wato crawls, hot tag to Taguchi! Taguchi kicks Hiromu and whips him to a corner, hip attack! Hip attack for Bushi! Taguchi has Bushi, Hiromu runs in but Taguchi kicks him, DOUBLE DDT! Fans fire up as Taguchi manages a kip up!
Taguchi starts up the hip attack train! He hits Bushi, then Hiromu, back again and again, then he slides to apron hip attack Bushi back in! Fans fire up as Taguchi aims and springboards for the MISSILE HIP ATTACK! Cover, TWO! Taguchi keeps his focus as he drags Bushi back up. Taguchi snap suplexes, uno amigo! Then another but Bushi slips out. Bushi kicks, Taguchi catches it and ducks the enziguri for the ANKLE LOCK! Bushi endures as Taguchi cranks on the foot, but Bushi rolls to throw Taguchi. Taguchi holds on! Taguchi grinds the leg but sees Hiromu coming, and he drop toeholds Hiromu into Bushi’s ingobernables! Taguchi feeds Hiromu to Wato’s springboard uppercut! Wato FLIES out onto Hiromu with the tornillo!
Taguchi calls upon the powers of Strong Style as he aims at Bushi! BUM-A-YE! Cover, TWO!! Taguchi doesn’t stop, he gets the ANKLE LOCK! Bushi endures, crawls, reaches, but Taguchi really cranks on the foot! Bushi refuses to give up, but Taguchi drags him away and reels him in! Chicken wings, but Bushi slips out to FISHERMAN SCREW! Taguchi is up to ENZIGURI! Both men are down and the fans fire up! Taguchi crawls to his corner, hot tag to Wato! Wato drags Bushi up to kick and kick and kick! Bushi falls over, Wato drags him back up but Bushi blocks the kick to elbow the knee! Wato sobats back, but swings into a DDT! Both men are down again and fans fire up! Bushi crawls, hot tag to Hiromu! Hiromu drags Wato up, whips him to forearm, put him on the rope and kick the rope!
Hiromu then runs and shotgun dropkicks Wato down! Hiromu drags Wato back up, fireman’s carry but Wato fights out and shoves. Wato misses in the corner, Hiromu corner clotheslines and basement dropkicks! Hiromu doesn’t stop, FALCON ARROW! Cover, TWO!! Wato survives and Hiromu grows frustrated. Hiromu drags Wato up, fireman’s carries, but Wato lands out of the spin! Wato deflects the superkick to haymaker and kick! Wato runs, into a LARIAT! Bushi dropkicks Taguchi down! Hiromu gets back up as Taguchi RAMS Bushi into railing. Hiromu fireman’s carries again, for a CORNER DEATH VALLEY! Fans fire up with Hiromu as he drags Wato back up. Hiromu fireman’s carries again but Wato fights out! Taguchi hip attacks Hiromu!
Taguchi spins but the discus hip gets the atomic drop! Wato DYNAMIC DROPKICKS Bushi! Hiromu swings on Wato, Wato dodges for the Dreamcast spinning enziguri! Fans fire up again as all four men are down. Wato rises, sends Bushi into the hip attack! Taguchi goes up, TRIANGLE PLANCHA! Wato and Taguchi coordinate on Hiromu, wheelbarrow lift and BULLDOG FACEBUSTER!! Cover, TWO!?! Hiromu survives and neither Taguchi or Wato can believe it! Taguchi keeps on Bushi while Wato drags Hiromu up, FALL AWAY BOMB! Wato won’t let it end with the “Jumbo Suplex” and he climbs up top. Bushi stops Wato but Wato clubs him away. APRON HIP ATTACK! Wato aims, R P P FLOPS! Fans fire up again as both men in the ring are down!
Wato and Hiromu stir, Wato rises and drags Hiromu up. Wato whips, Hiromu reverses, corner clotheslines and runs, but Wato follows to dropkick Hiromu down! Wato keeps going, Bushi is in to back elbow! Bushi rolls Wato, DROPKICK SANDWICH! Cover, Taguchi breaks it! Bushi throws Taguchi out then runs to DIVE! Direct hit and Taguchi hits railing! Hiromu drags Wato back up, fireman’s carry, but Wato slips off the back. Wato waistlocks, Hiromu elbows but Wato ROUNDHOUSES! Wato runs into DOUBLE SUPERKICKS! Bushi drags Wato up and suplexes, NECKBREAKER BOMB with Hiromu! Cover, TWO!! Wato survives but Hiromu fires up more! Hiromu and Bushi double wheelbarrow FACEBUSTER!! Cover off the “L A T,” Bushi intercepts Taguchi, LIJ wins!!
Winners: Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi, by pinfall; improves to 2-0, Taguchi & Wato fall to 1-1
And it’s LIJ as the 2-0 team in the lead of this tournament, fulfilling Bushi’s promise! Will they go a perfect 3-0 into the finals? As for Taguchi and Wato, can they bounce right back against Bullet Club?
This time, Hiromu gets the mic. “Hiromu-senpai” tells Wato to “quit being a yes man to that old timer,” Tenzan. “Grand Masters aren’t the type to blindly follow, BAAAAAKA! (Moron!) Hiromu apologizes to the fans, he didn’t mean to upset them. But to everyone in Makuhari Messe, thanks for being so loud for them! And LIJ won again, so you know what that means, right? “This may not be worth your time, but let me do it anyway…” This is the Third Time Ever Hiromu-Chan Survey~! Wait, when did he do the first two ever?
But anyway, he asks who the fans think will win the titles. Clap if you think it’s Wato and Taguchi. Some applaud. How about Gedo and Taiji? Even less applaud. Ouch. But what about Kanemaru and “Despy”? More than Taguchi and Wato. Seriously? But then, what about LIJ, Hiromu and Bushi? All the fans applaud! Yes, that’s good! Applaud more! More! MORE! Clap like your hands are falling off! MORE! EVEN MORE!! Okay, stop. They do! “Everyone who came here to see NJPW- No, wait. Everyone who came to see Bushi and Hiromu-chan, thank you! Let’s have more, more, more, more, more, MORE, MORE, MORE fun together~!” Will LIJ be having all the fun they can handle in the tournament?
A great second round for the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team title tournament, and we’ve got great standings going here. LIJ at 2-0, two teams at 1-1 and Bullet Club last at 0-2. Bullet Club can totally play spoiler to Taguchi and Wato in the third round, while Suzuki-Gun could beat LIJ and both teams are 2-1. LIJ is of course a finalist no matter what now, but Suzuki-Gun being the only other 2-1, we’d get an immediate rematch for the finals. Though, any finals match combination would be a rematch… It could also turn out to be LIJ goes 3-0, three teams are 1-2 and you’d have to figure out the tiebreakers. At the same time, I feel like a 3-0 and an 0-3 team are more likely. Taiji doesn’t need to be in the tag title match while he’s singles champion. Either way, round three and the finals are going to be great stuff.
My Score: 8.5/10
WWE 24/7 Championship Results & Report! (4/10/21)
BEHOLD! The Night Panther!!
It’s the epic conclusion to the Legend of the Night Planter!
Mild-mannered Old Spice salesman, Joseph Average, finds himself in the middle of an incredible WWE 24/7 Championship prophecy! But is he hero or villain?
- WWE 24/7 Championship Picnic Panic: R-Truth VS Akira Tozawa & Night Panther; Truth retains the title.
PLAY BY PLAY
R-Truth is having a picnic.
“This is just not your ordinary picnic. We eatin’ good.” And after spraying some Old Spice Night Panther, they’re smellin’ good, too! But Akira Tozawa is sneaking up to snatch Truth’s snacks! Truth goes to reach for some, sees Tozawa, and Tozawa says, “Say cheese~!” What’s Tozawa doing at Truth’s picnic?! And with Ninja Referee (Drew Gulak) and the Night Panther! Truth finds he’s outnumbered! Tozawa and Ninja Ref Gulak grab Truth, and Truth says, “Oh no! Say it ain’t so, Joe!” He went from Average Joe, to Average Ninja! But if you go full ninja, you go evil. But, Joe’s not evil…
Tozawa shouts, “ATTACK!” But stand back, there’s a Hurricane comin’ through! A hurricane? Truth’s insurance covers that. But what is he doing here? What’s he doing here? Everyone knows that hurricanes and night panthers are mortal enemies. Truth confirms. And yet, here Joe is, ruining Truth’s picnic with his baby. Wazzupwiththat?! Night Panther, attack!! Night Panther punches at Hurricane but is blocked and counter punched! Truth breaks free of the kung-fu grip, and hurries with Hurricane to the Truth Cave! AWAY~!
The ninjas pick themselves up and Tozawa blames Night Panther for this. But he tried…! Tozawa takes away Night Panther’s seemingly endless blackbelt. Was this Yokozuna sized? But Tozawa doesn’t care what the prophecy says, Joseph Average is NOT the Night Panther! The “HAH! HAH! HAH!” turns into laughter at Joe’s failure, and Joe runs away in shame. Ninja Ref Gulak tries to talk with Tozawa but he won’t hear it. Will Tozawa ever get the 24/7 Championship away from Truth? Will Joseph Average redeem himself? Or is there truly someone else who the Night Panther mantle is meant for?
Not quite as conclusive as I thought, but this was a pretty great next part to this story with Eric Bugenhagen, aka Ricky Buge, aka The Buge, now Joseph “The Night Panther” Average, who may not even be the Night Panther anymore. I like that we got The Hurricane in this, and if it weren’t for the divide of WWE and AEW, I would love if the cinematic wrestling universe got Matt Hardy involved with this title. Having a brand deal feels right up the “Big Money Matt” gimmick’s alley. I hope Buge returns and proves himself as the Night Panther, or even just as Joseph Average. This is the kind of fun this title needs to be having either way.
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?
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!
- 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 – ****
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!
- Zeus: 2-0 – (4 Points)
- Shuji Ishikawa: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Shinjiro Otani: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Kohei Sato: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Jake Lee: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Kento Miyahara: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Suwama: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Koji Doi: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Yuma Aoyagi: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Shotaro Ashino: 0-2 – (0 Points)
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