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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    All Japan Pro Wrestling

    Discussion of All Japan Pro Wrestling here.

    Where were we? I think we were just talking about Marufuji challenging for the Triple Crown title, right?

  2. #2
    The Brain
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    Yeah, after the most successful Champion's Carnival in a long time, All Japan seems to be on the upswing. I was really enjoy Deg's updates, so if he's still watching I'd love to hear from him what the latest is!

  3. #3
    Puerto Rican dude living in Japan Degenerate's Avatar
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    There hasn't been much happening since the end of the Champion Carnival. The next events on their schedule is the Super Power Series, with two events being streamed live from Okinawa on their service this weekend, so I'll have some more to talk about then. Saturday's show will have a Junior Heavyweight championship match between the current champ Atsushi Aoki and the challenger Atsushi Aoyama, and Sunday will have a TV championship match between long-standing champ Jun Akiyama and a former 4-time TV champ Mensore Oyaji. Nothing huge but should be interesting to see.

  4. #4
    The Brain
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    Looking forward to the Marufuji/Kento rematch for the belt. Still gotta catch up on the top stuff from the Carnival itself too. Too much to watch!

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    I think that match is set for the 24th?

  6. #6
    Puerto Rican dude living in Japan Degenerate's Avatar
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    Yep, May 24th at Korakuen Hall. It should be a good one, definitely looking forward to it.

    I caught part of yesterday's event in Okinawa. It was an average show at best, nothing special. The show looked to be shot in some sort of studio and it looked pretty drab with less than 500 people there.

    The Junior Heavyweight title match was kinda lame, just 11 minutes with very little going on. I checked a few past Junior Heavyweight matches just to familiarize myself a little more, and their division is really bad. New Japan is ridiculously so far ahead in that division that it's entirely unfair to do any kind of comparison. I think one of the main issues is that they need a lot of new and younger talent to give them a boost. Their current champ, Atsushi Aoki, is 40 years old. The previous two champs were Tajiri (who's 47) and Ultimo Dragon (who's 51). That's definitely not sustainable. I don't think All Japan has historically had any type of decent Junior Heavyweight division, so if they're not willing to invest in it they should just cut that division because it looks pretty bad.

  7. #7
    The Brain
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    Yeah, I've not been too drawn to All Japan's juniors. Obviously I'd give that Tajiri reign a chance but by and large it's never had much talk about it, which fits with their image historically as well as it was never really a point of discussion when they were at their peak either, unlike New Japan who had Jushin Liger leading the division.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Yeah, most of what I used to see in the 1990s was NJPW actually, and a lot of that was Liger but also Sasuke, Ultimo Dragon, Kanemoto and Shinjiro Otani. The Jr Heavyweight stuff definitely spread quicker, especially when they were against people who by that point had wound up in the big American feds.


    It seems AJPW doesn't have a huge amount going for it outside of it's very top level, but at the same time... I find I'm pretty hyped up for anything at the ME end of the card at the moment. And that bodes well, because I tend to think if you can get people invested in the top of the card you can get away with all sorts underneath. Look how much of the undercards on stuff in the Austin vs McMahon era was just criminal.

  9. #9
    The Brain
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    For sure, they are still rebuilding and you do that by starting at the top. If things keep going well they should be able to attract a stronger class of midcard talent.

  10. #10
    Puerto Rican dude living in Japan Degenerate's Avatar
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    They do have a decent roster for the most part. I liked most of the guys that I saw in the Champion Carnival. The two concerns I would have is that they're still a bit reliant on outside talent / freelancers (Marufuji, Ishikawa, etc.) and they still have a lot of older guys still on the roster. The older guys can still go (Suwama, Akiyama, Tajiri, Omori, etc.) but I still think they need some young blood there. Some of the younger guys they do have like Dylan James and Naoya Nomura have a ways to go.

    One other thing that kinda bugs me about All Japan is the number of titles they have for such a thin roster and how they're used. Do they really need to have two different sets of tag team titles? The All Asia tag team titles seem pointless to me, especially with its current champions in Akiyama and Yuji Nagata who don't need that at all. And I already mentioned the lack of people in the Junior Heavyweight division, so I would scrap that if they don't have more talent for it. I get the TV title being there as a secondary belt to aim for but based on what I've seen it's rarely used to elevate people on their roster. The current champ, Akiyama, has held the belt for well over a year now. Before that it seems like mostly outside talent held it.

    Maybe I'm looking at it from a perspective of what other wrestling promotions do as opposed to what's traditionally been done in All Japan, though.

  11. #11
    The Brain
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    I don't think the All Asia tag belts are going anywhere, they go all the way back to 1955 before All Japan or New Japan even existed, so yeah, tradition will probably win out there. I could definitely see an argument to drop the juniors though, and I actually didn't even know they had a TV title now so that isn't doing any good now.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    As you mention the TV Title, Akiyama defends this weekend against Survival Tobita of Saitama Pro.

  13. #13
    The Brain
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    See, I've never heard of that person, and there is no chance I will check the match out. So I'm not sure it's doing them any favors right now.

  14. #14
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    No I only mention it because it is being advertised. It's also another match between two guys in their late forties.

    On the subject I see no scheduled defence for the all Asia tag team belts over the next couple of months....

  15. #15
    The Brain
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    Yeah, looking at recent reigns it looks like the AA tag belts get defended about once a month but nothing since March for the latest run. Maybe the logistics of getting Nagata back have caused an issue?

  16. #16
    Puerto Rican dude living in Japan Degenerate's Avatar
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    The last TV title defense Akiyama last weekend did was a strange one where he had to beat his opponent in less than ten minutes or something like that, or he would lose the title. He won with about 3 seconds to spare. It wasn't a fun match.

    Being able to find space to book guys like Nagata is one of my concerns about relying too much on those with main priorities outside of the company. But it's a necessity given how sparse their main roster is anyway. I don't think they can afford to hold on to more people at this time. It's part of the rebuilding process.

  17. #17
    The Brain
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    Aw too bad, that time limit thing sounds like it could be a great gimmick if done well.

    I do agree, they've got to rely on outsiders to some extent right now.

  18. #18
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    Yeah sounds like a needs must situation.

    Akiyama beat Tobita as expected. For his tenth defence it sounds like it'll be Takao Omori, his long-time tag partner. Interesting development. I think they got decent reviews for a match last year?

  19. #19
    The Brain
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    Omori is such a weird one. For ages he was just the guy who randomly showed up in that one 90s Rumble. He's not bad though, he had a really good match with Kento a couple years back. Doesn't really excite me but he's not a shlub either.

  20. #20
    Puerto Rican dude living in Japan Degenerate's Avatar
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    That description pretty much sums up Omori for me as well. Well, that, and also that he was pretty pushy at the merch table during the Osaka show I went to a few weeks ago. I briefly walked by the table he was at and looked at some book or something he was selling and he immediately got into sales mode with me. I don't mean it in a bad way, though. It always makes me chuckle when I see these intimidating bad-ass wrestlers kicking ass in the ring one minute and then trying to sell me knickknacks the next.

    I'm actually kinda looking forward to the Akiyama / Omori match. Omori is a well-established name in the company and he's never held that championship before, so at least there's a possibility of him winning (as opposed to that last match Akiyama had). But if he wins, I still don't understand putting that belt on a 48-year-old guy.

    This weekend I took some time to browse through whatever they have on their streaming service and caught a pretty interesting show from last year. The show was 2017 Summer Explosion from Ryogoku, and there were quite the interesting matchups there:

    - There was a women's match from a promotion I've never heard of before (Actwres girl’Z). It was a decent match for what it was.
    - A 76-year-old Dory Funk Jr. was in a match, believe it or not. It's not fun watching a wrestling match when you're constantly fearing for the well-being one of the participants due to their age.
    - Unexpectedly, none other than Sin Cara (under his current CMLL name Caristico) was in a lucha match against El Diamante.
    - TAKA Michinoku was in the show, winning the All Asia Tag Team Championship match with Black Tiger.
    - Taichi was also on the card as well.
    - Ultimo Dragon won the Junior Heavyweight title from Tajiri. Both guys did okay but nothing spectacular given their legendary status. I couldn't stop thinking about how amazing this match would have been if it had taken place 15 years ago.
    - Big Japan's Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi were the World Tag Team champs during this event and they're awesome. I want to see more of Sekimoto either in All Japan or New Japan.
    - The main event was a great Triple Crown championship match between Shuji Ishikawa vs. Kento Miyahara. This was a rematch from earlier in the year, where Miyahara lost the Triple Crown to Ishikawa after his Champion Carnival win, and Miyahara re-captured it here. Straightforward but really good job by both guys in their roles.

    It was interesting to see all the companies that came together during this match. The show was very good - it kinda sucks that events like this fly under the radar because they deserve some more recognition.

  21. #21
    The Brain
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    Ah, many times have I experienced the merch table push from one of my favorite wrestlers! I admit, I usually come home from a live show loaded with new shirts, because I just want to support these guys so badly. Not sure Omori would get my money though... maybe if I see a few more matches.

    I think I saw a screenshot of that Dory Jr appearance. Dude looks like the Crypt Keeper, but impressive he can still get physical in the ring, even though he probably shouldn't!

    I honestly had no idea Caristico made a trip to All Japan. You'd think that wouldn't be happening, given the CMLL/New Japan relationship being pretty firmly in place. Maybe New Japan doesn't care because All Japan is no threat to them currently? And it's not like Caristo is going to move the needle in Japan. I'm just used to wrestling companies being much more petty about what their talent does.

    Funny, Tajiri vs. Ultimo actually DID happen 15 years ago, but it was only 3 minutes long. These guys just can't seem to meet at the right time! Though I get the impression Ultimo's peak was high but also short, and he didn't stay on that high level past the mid 90s. Could be wrong though!

    Dude, I get shouting out Sekimoto, he's great, but I freaking love Yuji Okabayashi. There's something about the guy that gets me every time, he's built like an actual brick house and feels like he could rip a dude in half at any moment.

    I actually saw that Kento/Ishikawa match! It gets even better if you have a chance to watch that whole series, I remember that match had a lot of really clever callbacks that elevated it to a higher level.

  22. #22
    Puerto Rican dude living in Japan Degenerate's Avatar
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    Thanks for the heads-up on the Kento / Ishikawa series. I think that's the only match of theirs that I've seen, so I'll make some time to look back at those previous ones as well.

    Last night was the Super Power Series show in Korakuen Hall, featuring the anticipated Triple Crown championship match between Kento Miyahara and Naomichi Marufuji. I was only able to catch the last three matches of the show.

    The first match I saw was a six-man tag between the team of KAI, Tajiri, and Kotaro Suzuki versus Keiichi Sato and current World Tag Team champs Ryoji Sai and Dylan James. The match itself was solid, with a decent amount of brawling outside and ended when Tajiri caused a distraction by hitting the green mist on Sai, leading to Suzuki hitting his finisher (a Gory Neckbreaker / Widow's Peak he calls Blue Destiny) on Sato for the win. After the match, KAI and Tajiri went to the timekeeper's table and grabbed the World Tag Team titles to taunt Sai and James with them, so I'm guessing there will be a championship match between those four down the road. I'd never seen Suzuki or Sato before, but they were pretty good.

    The next match featured a returning Jake Lee teaming up with Koji Iwamoto to take on the team of Naoya Nomura and Yoshitatsu. Another good match, with Lee picking up the win with a nasty-looking belly-to-back suplex, literally dumping Nomura on his head. Lee had been out for a couple of months with an injury so we'll see how he figures in the plans for the company during the rest of the year. Everyone did pretty well here (yes, even Yoshitatsu). Although this was obviously a match to bring back Jake Lee in a big way, by the end I felt that Nomura came out looking so much better than everyone else. I'm liking that kid a lot.

    The main event came up next between Miyahara and Marufuji. I enjoyed this match a lot. Miyahara came out cocky and arrogant, ignoring a handshake from Marufuji. It had a ton of back and forth offense between both guys, with both of them evenly matched throughout. There were a lot of times when I thought Marufuji would pull off the victory here, from hitting a piledriver on the ring apron to almost choking Miyahara out to hitting the Shiranui. There were also a lot of times when I thought Miyahara would retain after hitting all of his finishers, but couldn't put Marufuji away. In the end, Miyahara hit a barrage of Blackout knees, and followed it up with his straight-jacket suplex and got a hard-fought win over an awesome Marufuji. The match went about 26 minutes and was a great main event, I highly suggest watching it.

    After the match, Dylan James came out and said he didn't see anyone else come out to challenge him, so he asked for a title shot. Miyahara agreed, they fist-bumped, and Miyahara gave the crowd a speech to send them home happy. I think Miyahara said he would have the title match at the next Korakuen show on June 12, but I don't know if I misheard him or if it's confirmed during that time. It should be an interesting match, especially since I still haven't seen anything that has overly impressed me about James, so this might be the chance to see it.

    I'm happy that All Japan seems to have continued to build on their momentum this year. It was a packed house with 1680 people in attendance. It's funny that the All Japan website actually put (超満員) next to the attendance, which means "overcrowded" so I'm guessing it was standing room only. I hope they keep it up.

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