I watched the entirety of the All Japan show from September 11th. I hadn't planned to watch the whole show, but after starting the video my dog fell asleep on my lap, and as you know, it's illegal to wake a napping dog, so I had to watch the first four matches. I then realized that there were only two matches left.
So anyway, if anyone is interested in seeing a full AJ show, rather than just grabbing the occasional TC defense or tournament match, this is a pretty good one. It's a small show--just 300 people--but the audience is engaged and the wrestling is nice and breezy. Whole show is like an hour and 45 minutes long. Let's dip in, shall we?
1. All Japan Pro Wrestling vs Big Japan Pro Wrestling NEW GENERATION Six Man Tag Match: Takuho Kato , Yuki Ishikawa & Akira Hyodo [Big Japan] vs Hokuto Omori, Dan Tamura & Atsuki Aoyagi [All Japan]
I've never seen the BJ guys, but they all seemed good. AJ's crop of dudes is fine, though they've got the disadvantage of AJ booking, which sticks them in the opening match to wrestle each other permanently.
Hokuto Omori seems like the most advanced of the AJ guys. Not surprisingly, he's the one who got to wrestle in the junior tag league (which I haven't watched).
Dan Tamura comes in at #2 because he's good at getting his character across. The mohawk helps.
Which leaves Aoyagi's brother, who seems fine if very vanilla.
The BJ guys are probably all Omori's level or slightly better, but I couldn't tell you who is who.
Anyway, this was a great change of pace for the young boys, who got to face off against equals who were also not dudes they wrestle every night.
Dan Tamura is humiliated when he taps to a crab hold, the ultimate young-boy killer and something that he shouldn't be losing to anymore, and certainly not to another whipper-snapper, so maybe this is leading to more matches.
Crowd was really into this, and everyone wanted to show off their stuff, so good things all around.
2. Hikaru Sato vs Francesco Akira
Francesco Akira is an Italian wrestler (Northern Italian, I'm guessing, giving his red hair and fair complexion). He's a flippy guy, which is what the AJ junior division needs.
He apparently had a really good match recently with Tajiri, of all people.
Here, you could tell that he was green, with his moves being a bit sloppy
However, the match played out nicely: flippy guy tried to get advantage with flips, and shooty guy tried to nullify his flips by bending, kicking, and otherwise brutalizing his leg
Some wrestling connoisseurs probably think a flippy guy who is selling the leg should stop doing flips; Akira believes that you should still do the flips, but then go "ow my leg" afterward.
He's right, you know.
Eventually, all the flippiness in the world can't save you from your leg getting bent in the wrong direction, so Sato picks up the win.
3. Jun Akiyama x Brahman Brothers ~ Let's Go, Beyond Pro-Wrestling: Jun Akiyama, Brahman Shu & Brahman Kei vs Tako Omori, Atsushi Maruyama & Black Menso~re
I've not seen the Brahman Brothers before, but their thing seems to be spraying the audience and their enemies with water. The fact that more than one audience member showed up with an umbrella suggests that this is so.
They also wrestle like 90s WWE hardcore wrestlers, like Spike Dudley or maybe Hardcore Holly, hitting people with road signs and briefcases and bowling balls.
Which is pretty great because you don't see that stuff in AJ.
I've probably mentioned this before, but if you're unaware: Jun Akiyama has virtually retired to old man comedy stuff, and he is in a forever war against the team of Takao Omori and Black Menso-Re. Usually he teams with Ultimo Dragon, but sometimes it's Atsushi Maruyama. Occasionally they'll add Fuchi to Omori's team, so that Jun can get heel heat by brutalizing the old guy.
This is a pretty frustrating setup--not because of Akiyama's determination to fill this role, but because it means holding back Black Menso-Re, who is the most over junior on the roster, and it also means that Jun and Omori aren't really taking the young guys under their wing. Surely, even broken down, they can teach Dan Tamura thing or two?
Anyway, the switch-up in this match is that Jun has brought in the Brahman brothers to aid him in his battle.
So if shenanigans are your thing, this match is for you. Shenanigans abound.
I was fond of said shenanigans.
4. Koji Iwamoto vs Yusuke Okada
Now the two best juniors on the roster face off.
This is a good match. If you're more familiar with NJ juniors, well, this is a different beast. Almost all AJ juniors wrestle like 90s strong-style heavyweights. The most junior-y Okada gets is a diving headbutt.
The two have a really good, sub-10 minute match, which gives you the idea that they can have a really good match on a bigger stage.
There is a scary part where Iwamoto's judo flip looks like it lands Okada right on his head, and I thought he was dead.
5. Dylan James & UTAMARO vs Yuma Aoyagi & Yoshitatsu
If you haven't seen UTAMARO, he was a Wrestle-1 guy trained by Tajiri and Animal Hamaguchi who went freelance (or was fired, idk), tried to make it in America, and now just shows up randomly. He comes to the ring wearing a camouflage kimono and a fox mask. He's listed as six foot tall and 232 lbs, lol, he's not that big.
He's also very over with a particularly vocal part of the audience.
He's also very OK as a wrestler. Like he will never set the world on fire I don't think, but he's more than adequate ring meat.
Yuma apparently had a great singles match against James recently. Cannot confirm.
UTAMARO wants a piece of Tatsu, and Aoyagi and James are, I guess, rivals, so they more-or-less pair off.
Some fun heavyweight action, including some nice exchanges between Aoyagi and James, and UTAMARO doing a moonsault to nowhere that lands him square in the middle of the ring.
After the bell, UTAMARO gives a promo and points at Tatsu alot, so I assume he's challenging for either the GAORA TV title or the Corona Belt. Either way: more UTAMARO! The fans love it. Hire this weird guy!
6. The Road to 7th Oudou Tournamen Six Man Tag Match: Shuji Ishikawa, Zeus & Jake Lee vs Kento Miyahara, Suwama & Naoya Nomura
This is to get us all jazzed for the Ouduo Tournament, though only Jake Lee and Suwama face off in the first round.
Otherwise, it's basically the top heavyweights in the company on randomized teams.
Shuji and Suwama shake hands right away, indicating that they are bros for life and will not fight each other.
Nomura shoves Kento around a bit to show him he's boss. Fans are into it. Nomura might legit be the #2 guy in the company right now.
And anyway! These dudes all came to wrestle! Though there's some posturing and stuff to start things off, they really go at it. Six-man tags as main events really let everyone go in, do their flashiest shit, and get out.
While I was watching, I was expecting a 30 minute draw, because who takes the pin? You want to keep Nomura and Lee hot; Zeus just won the tag titles; Kento is Kento. But Suwama and Ishikawa are lumbering giants. Hmmmm.
Suwama solves this riddle for us by clobbering Kento when he tries to capture-suplex Ishikawa, letting his fellow giant of violence get the other hand and take the win.
That's kinda weird, since Ishikawa has recently wrestled for the TC. But so has everyone in the match except Jake Lee (who has not wrestled for the TC since his return, BTW).
Everyone gives a promo after the bell. When Suwama grabs the mic, he gets lots of laughs. Shit, the last time I saw Suwama on the mic he got lots of laughs. I'm imagining Wama with an effervescent, Michelle-Wolf-esque comedy persona.
Jake Lee gets the last speech, confirming my suspicion that he's winning the Oudou tournament.