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2022 AJPW Champion Carnival


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I watched Day 3 of the Champion Carnival! It was a good show! Thoughts!

Spoiler

Kuma Arashi vs Yoshitatsu

  • Yoshitatsu has two belts no one cares about. Hurray!
  • Tatsu is better than he gets credit for but still not that great. Both of those things can be true.
  • Match starts with Tatsu gaining the advantage of Kuma and tossing him around a bunch.
  • The Total Eclipse guy at ringside is distracting Nikkan Lee, to the advantage of… Yoshitatsu, I guess.
  • Kuma does not seem as motivated by Tatsu as he was by Kento, go figure.
  • Tatsu’s forearms don’t do much to Kuma, and it’s hard to tell if it’s monster guy no-selling or just bad selling.
  • Kuma’s moves are very crisp, and Tatsu is selling them like death.
  • Fat guy sentons are the best
  • Torture rack! Haven’t seen one of those in a while.
  • Tatsu’s hurricane DDT was only a bit crappy.
  • Just realized that there’s tassels and fake fur in this match. It’s made for me!
  • Kuma gut-wrenches Tatsu into a powerbomb position and then hits … something. Strong dude.
  • Kuma misses a follow up senton and gets rolled up by that dastard Tatsu. I’ll allow it!
  • Is Kuma my favourite wrestler?

Shotaro Ashino vs T-Hawk

  • When I used to go to the local televised wrestling, the promotor put all the chairs on one side and the camera on the other, so the venue looked full. Just sayin’, All Japan.
  • I realize that idea isn’t COVID safe, but neither is being there in the first place.
  • This one starts quick, and enters the classic chop vs uppercut stage early
  • T-Hawk working kinda heelish this tournament. Attacks before the bell and closed-fist punches, etc.
  • Got too into it to make too many notes. Was surprised by how strike-heavy this was. Was expecting submission holds and some flips
  • For a company so full of big heavyweights, it’s nice to occasionally have a couple of blown up juniors pick up the speed
  • T-Hawk eats Ashino’s T-bone suplex (which looks great, BTW), but rolls through and turns it into a pin. He snatches the victory away and has to get carried out of the arena. Good work.
  • That was really fun.

Nomura vs Suwama

  • Suwama is winless, suggesting a Suwama victory, here
  • Suwama busts out his mat wrestling, Nomura tries some submission wrestling. It’s fine.
  • There’s a flurry of strikes, and then Suwama floors Nomura with a lariat
  • Nomura can’t get up under his own power. He eventually stumbles to his feet, eats another lariat, and takes the L.
  • Fun while it lasted?

Jake Lee vs Shuji Ishikawa

  • AFAIK, Lee has never beaten Shuji in a singles match. Lee was Shuji’s sole successful TC defencse
  • There’s also a lot of time left in this video, but not enough for a time limit draw, thankfully
  • “Shuji lies on his back and invites Lee into his full guard” is not something I was expecting to see in an AJ match.
  • Guess Shuji’s still reliving his brief GLEAT appearance
  • Jake actually looked pretty good on the mat
  • Shuji bails to the outside and Jake lies down and invites him into his full guard. Most effective heeling I’ve seen from Jake
  • Shuji has to bail again after some more mat wrestling. We have established: Jake is better at grappling
  • You know what to do, Shuji
  • He does! Some running shoulder blocks lead to Shuji finally getting the advantage
  • Jake is Shuji’s first opponent this tournament to look like an adult beside him
  • Jake with a hurricanrana? What the hell.
  • Way to add babyface moves to your heel character, dawg.
  • Jake says something to the audience to make them laugh while Shuji’s recovering on the outside. Then he runs to the outside and kicks Shuji in the face. What a guy
  • Shuji can’t get over the guard rail on Jake’s first running kick, so they try again from another angle. Success!
  • Shuji powerbombs Jake from the floor to the edge of the apron. That’s the hardest part of the ring!
  • When Shuji is firing on all cylinders, he remains one of the best heavyweights in the world.
  • After playing defensive for a bit, Shuji changes things up by landing as many forearms as possible to Jake’s face, then casually kicks him out of the ring, resulting in a count-out beginning.
  • This is pretty effective, since there have been a couple of KO-like situatiopns already this tournament
  • Jake just gets in at 10 and gets lariated, dragon subplexed, and giant-kneed for a two count.
  • Fucking hell, Wada, you’re awful
  • After what has been an exciting match, Jake’s late control segment gets no response whatsoever and rally dowses everyone’s enthusiasm
  • Shuji brings it back up
  • Jake backdrops Shuji! Always impressive
  • Jake hits his brainbuster! Victory!
  • That was great!

Complete and Objective Match Rankings (Day 3)

Spoiler

1.      Jake vs Ishikawa (4/11)

2.      Kuma Arashi vs Kento (4/9)

3.      Ishikawa vs Irie (4/9)

4.      Ashino vs T-Hawk (4/11)

5.      Suwama vs Yuma (4/9)

6.      Nomura vs Yuma (4/10)

7.      Honda vs T-Hawk (4/9)

8.      Kuma Arashi vs Yoshitatsu (4/11)

9.      Ishikawa vs T-Hawk (4/10)

10.   Suwama vs Nomura (4/11)

11.   Suwama vs Kento (4/10)

12.   Jake vs Ashino (4/9)

13.   Yoshitatsu vs Nomura (4/9)

 

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I watched Day 4 of the Champion Carnival! It was also good! Thoughts!

Spoiler

Ryuki Honda vs Shotaro Ashino

  • Honda brings an A+ sneering game to the match
  • Ashino is so into uppercutting Honda that he tosses the ref aside for interfering. Seems bad.
  • So Honda hits him with the ring steps. You should have seen that coming, dipshit.
  • Like if you’re gonna shove a ref, shove Wada.
  • Anyway, Ashino narrowly avoids getting counted out. When he rolls back in on a 9, Honda has the advantage
  • Ashino turns things around with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex
  • They do some my-turn, your-turn German suplexes. That’s fine.
  • Ashino’s lil cauliflower ears are distracting
  • So many suplexes!
  • Ashino gets the win with an ankle lock!
  • I assume there are some who think that, if your finisher is an ankle-lock, the rest of the match should involve you targeting the ankle. But I think the ankle lock is just death, so Ashino’s goal is to weaken you so that getting out of it is harder. Like, if you’re all pummelled and gassed, it’s going to be harder to crawl to the ropes or otherwise break the hold.
  • Ashino waits for Honda to get up and either pep- or shit-talks him. Either way, it’s good.

 

Jake Lee vs Shigehiro Irie

  • This could be an ugly style clash
  • Nikkan Lee is here, though. So there’s one thing they’ve got going for them.
  • There’s a point where Jake gets Irie sitting up on the top rope and they both look confused about the plan
  • Irie goes for a tope to the outside and Jake counters by kicking him in the head from the outside. This is pretty good.
  • Then he gives the prone Irie a running knee that knocks him off the apron. Excellent. He follows this up by joining Nikkan Lee in the ring-out count. Heelish.
  • Jake Lee moonsault! Kinda looks good in the air but lands in the wrong place. Anyway: surprising!
  • Jake kinda no-sells the flurry of elbows that took out Shuji earlier in the tournament. He goes for a flash pin, Irie kicks out, goes for a flying headbutt and catches a knee instead.
  • LOL: Jake calls for his brainbuster with a finger pointed to the ceiling—Irie grabs it and bites it
  • Irie headbutts Jake 4000x
  • Jake landing the brainbuster just drains all the heat out of the match. I can’t get a read on what the audience wants from Jake. They’re all about cheering him on to a good match, but seemingly don’t want him to win.

Kento Miyahara vs Takuya Nomura

  • There’s an extended feeling-out period. Nomura makes Kento lose his cool by slapping him across the face, then takes advantage of the champ’s loss of composure to bounce his ace and arm off of the ring post, leading to an early advantage
  • Nomura leans into that advantage by gong after the arm. What a crafty lad.
  • Kento finally shifts the momentum by bouncing Nomura’s head off the apron
  • Honestly, this is the first match I’ve been really into Nomura. He’s got good, qhick, and solid offense that works well against Kento
  • Love how cocky Nomura gets to look against Kento, breaking out of a shutdown suplex, kicking his injured arm, catching a running knee and just slapping the shit out of the champ
  • Oh! Ending is a bit abrupt, but he came at the TC champ, didn’t he?

Complete and Objective Match Rankings (up to Day 4)

Spoiler

1.      Jake vs Ishikawa (4/11)

2.      Kuma Arashi vs Kento (4/9)

3.      Ishikawa vs Irie (4/9)

4.      Jake vs Irie (4/13)

5.      Kento vs Nomura

6.      Ashino vs T-Hawk (4/11)

7.      Suwama vs Yuma (4/9)

8.      Nomura vs Yuma (4/10)

9.      Honda vs T-Hawk (4/9)

10.   Kuma Arashi vs Yoshitatsu (4/11)

11.   Ishikawa vs T-Hawk (4/10)

12.   Suwama vs Nomura (4/11)

13.   Honda vs Ashino (4/13)

14.   Suwama vs Kento (4/10)

15.   Jake vs Ashino (4/9)

16.   Yoshitatsu vs Nomura (4/9)

 

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I'M ALL CAUGHT UP!

I watched Day 5 of the Champion Carnival. Thoughts:

Spoiler

Ryuki Honda vs Shigehiro Irie

  • These chunky shorties immediately go at it, and somehow Honda ends up with the advantage
  • Honda is winless so far—you’d think he’d take this to keep it interesting, but also he might just get one big win over Shuji (for example)
  • They filmed this in a dark-ass room
  • I like Honda but he’s looking a little listless on offence
  • A lot of Irie’s offence is just bouncing his round body off of you.
  • Not a complaint
  • Honda survives a top rope splash from the big man and hits a decent sidewalk slam (I think)Irie hits a great backdrop, a senton, and then eats a spear and a  very good lariat from Honda
  • The fans are finally into it
  • Honda hits another good lariat, but it’s not enough. Irie’s muscles are too much for the young boy
  • Irie’s got two wins and has yet to face Shotaro or Yoshitatsu.
  • This was fine.

Yuma Aoyagi vs Yoshitatsu

  • What the fuck is Yoshitatsu wearing?
  • Godspeed, Yuma!
  • It’s the battle of Kento’s most prolific tag partners!
  • Yuma ties Tatsu’s tassles to the ring post and tries to get a count out, but the ref is having none of these shenanigans
  • Tatsu does the Otani facewash spot, getting face heat for a heel move
  • Tatsu hits a perfectly nice fisherman’s suplex.
  • Oh, and a good tornado DDT. We’re getting “Good” Tatsu!
  • A pretty good brainbuster, too! And he’s more-or-less keeping up with the younger guy’s typically much quicker offence
  • Yuma reverses Tatsu’s submission attempt and gets the three-count! That seems fitting: Yuma should be above Tatsu at this point, but Tatsu’s still the senior and deserving of some respect
  • Still sold on my Yoshitatsu-as-Al-Snow idea. Just make him kinda beaten down, maybe smoking a cigarette, etc.
  • That was also fine, though less fun because less beefy.

Shotaro Ashino vs Shuji Ishikawa

  • Fuck yeah, Nikkan Lee is in the ring
  • It’s kinda funny, because Shuji and Kento were two of the first guys Ashino beat in AJ. They established him as real contender, but now they don’t get to serve the role that they do for Yuma and Jake, etc: they aren’t road block/boss level dudes he has to overcome (that’s Suwama)
  • Shuji takes the early advantage after a strike exchange that Ashino can’t hope to win
  • Ashino goes for the tried, tested, and true approach to wrestling tall guys: attack the legs
  • Ashino blows his advantage by trying to German Shuji. “Master of the Suplex,” eh?
  • Shuji lands a more convincing double stomp than usual
  • The next strike exchange doesn’t overwhelm Ashino, so they upgrade to running strike exchanges, which Shuji once again wins
  • HOWEVER: after escaping a giant slam, Ashino works the ankle and then finally lands a German
  • Shuji finally takes it after a V-trigger and a giant slam.
  • Good work, dudes.
  • Is Ishikawa my MVP?

Kuma Arashi vs Suwama

  • Beefy!
  • Kuma refuses a handshake! Outrageous behaviour!
  • Kuma hits some really weak forearms, like he forgets that there’s a camera. Suwama responds with a rare DDT.
  • The wrestlers keep taking it to the outside and then realizes that there’s no room to do anything out there, so they immediately go back into the ring
  • Kuma really oversells some forearms. He knows Suwama is the man.
  • You get a real “splat” when these dudes do a superplex
  • It’s very satisfying to watch Kuma deadlift a prone Suwama into a powerbomb setup
  • Also satisfying to see him eat two backdrops
  • Good stuff

Complete and Objective Match Rankings

Spoiler

1.      Jake vs Ishikawa (4/11)

2.      Kuma Arashi vs Kento (4/9)

3.      Ishikawa vs Irie (4/9)

4.      Ishikawa vs Ashino (4/15)

5.      Jake vs Irie (4/13)

6.      Kento vs Nomura (4/13)

7.      Ashino vs T-Hawk (4/11)

8.      Suwama vs Yuma (4/9)

9.      Nomura vs Yuma (4/10)

10.   Kuma Arashi vs Suwama (4/15)

11.   Honda vs T-Hawk (4/9)

12.   Kuma Arashi vs Yoshitatsu (4/11)

13.   Ishikawa vs T-Hawk (4/10)

14.   Suwama vs Nomura (4/11)

15.   Honda vs Ashino (4/13)

16.   Irie vs Honda (4/15)

17.   Yoshitatsu vs Yuma (4/15)

18.   Suwama vs Kento (4/10)

19.   Jake vs Ashino (4/9)

20.   Yoshitatsu vs Nomura (4/9)

 

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Last two days were ok. Nothing really stood out to me as must watch. Kento and Yoshi continue to have good chemistry.

The last show before the Finals looks good, I like all three match ups.

Spoiler

Guessing Yuma is beating Kento on the 29th, since he rolled him up today, and is facing Jake in the Finals. Go Yuma!

 

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On 4/29/2022 at 1:23 PM, Blue Dragon said:

The finals are set.

  Reveal hidden contents

Jake vs Yuma.

The new generation battle.

 

Spoiler

I still don't think we've properly had the "Jake Lee Era" so, as much as I love Yuma, I'm pulling for Jake to win 2x in a row and really cement himself as Miyahara's successor. 

 

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Enjoyed the last day before the finals for what it was. Crowd was very muted.

Kuma and Nomura didn't really go beyond 2nd gear but I didn't expect it to. 

Suwama-Yoshi continue to have good chemistry. Poor Wada was getting it from Suwama and Yuma on this show. 

Main event accomplished what it needed to, it left me wanting to see a big match between Aoyagi and Miyahara. 

Spoiler

I am guessing Yuma wins. Jake has been to three finals now, pretty impressive even if he doesn't win.

 

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I have been bogged down by personal stuff and do not know when/if I’ll get back to the CC reports. Maybe soon? Maybe skip to the finals and backtrack?

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3 hours ago, sevendaughters said:

enjoyed reading it. how is All Japan these days?

What I’ve seen has all been enjoyable. It goes down smooth, but it also rarely reaches great heights. They really seem to save themselves for TC or Tag Title matches. 
 

For example, I don’t think any of the outsiders had any off-the-charts matches. Good matches, for sure. But thinking back to the pre-COVID CCs, you have guys like Shingo Takagi, Yuji Hino, and Okabayashi really going all out—maybe not in every match, but in a bunch of them.

I haven’t watched some of the recent big singles and tag matches, and they are reasonably well hyped by those who still watch.

But, yeah, the CC has been very solid but mostly unremarkable. In the ranking list I’ve been keeping, I’d probably say, up to about day 6, that the top five matches or so are probably worth seeking out, but nothing is going to blow you away.

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Great final to the Champion Carnival. Go out of your way to see it, the clap only crowd can't help but cheer multiple times. A star is born here with Yuma giving it everything vs last year's winner Jake Lee, who sells his ass off. Best match I've seen all year.

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Agree with the above two posts, incredible tournament final! I have been on the outs with AJPW but renewed my sub as Jake had made the final and this may very well be my match of the year so far, or at least in my top 3 that I can't decide the order of and need to watch all 3 back-to-back. 

I've always been a bit cool on Yuma, but am 100% on board with him as one of the top guys after this. Jake had his best match I think since the Kento January 2020 match which was my previous favourite modern AJPW match until this one. 

And a big thanks to Control and his match rankings, gives me a good guide to go and watch over the weekend. 

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God damn. That final. 

The top AJPW guys (Miyahara, Jake and now Aoyagi) are the best wrestlers in the world. If they could  get on a bigger stage and work with guys like Okada and Takagi I think it would open the casual fans' eyes to how much smarter their work is (while being no less spectacular, but much less gratuitous). 

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I am watching the last show of the carnival! Have I seen the all the preceding shows? No! But her are my thoughts:

T-Hawk , Shigehiro Irie & Issei Onitsuka  besiegen Kento Miyahara, Atsuki Aoyagi & Takuya Nomura  (10:59) nach dem Night Ride von T-Hawk gegen Aoyagi.

-Kento distrusts Nomura, even before the other team makes it to the ring!
-T-Hawk and Kento start us off with some exciting exchanges!
-Nomura tags in hard, and takes on Onitsuka, who is super pumped! Is he always this pumped?
-Onitsuka clears the ring with chops. Kento gets revenge by beating the shit out of him. More angry, salty Kento, please.
-younger Aoyagi is so pretty!
-Kento plays underdog a lot, so it’s nice to see him just shit kick Onitsuka
-Oh shit, Irie got tagged in against Nomura!
-fans are loving all of this so far, but it’s very clear Kento is the #1 guy
-STRONGHEARTS get the win over the younger Aoyagi. Match needed more Nomura and Irie, but otherwise it made a compelling case that Kento should have singles matches against T-Hawk and Irie, and that Onitsuka should get more opportunities to compete in AJ.

AJPW World Tag Team Title Skirmish: Shuji Ishikawa, Kohei Sato & Ren Ayabe besiegen Suwama, Shotaro Ashino & Dan Tamura (10:28) nach einem Fire Thunder von Ishikawa gegen Ashino.

-Team Very Tall is here!
-Ayabe seems like a fetus compared to surly Ishikawa and scuzzy Sato. 
-just a geeky looking motherfucker
-Shuji SLAPS away Suwama’s offered handshake. The dastard!
-Ayabe taunts Dan by offering him an unreachable hookup. Then everyone beats Dan’s ass. Things aren’t looking good for Dan.
-Shuji starts taking liberties with Dan, but Suwama won’t stand for it!
-Dan gets a gut wrench suplex on Sato, allowing Suwama to tag in.
-Suwama and Akiyama are in an unofficial competition to be the next Tenryu. Jun might be in the lead.
-Anyway, I could watch Shuji and Wama wrestle forever
-there has been very little Ashino in this match
-Dan gets Sato with a fireman’s carry into a fall away slam! Does that sound right?
-Suwama inadvertently hits Ashino with a lariat, and the fallen soldier falls prey to a really bad looking fire thunder driver from Shuji, which ends things prematurely
-There’s some strife on team Evolution!
-This was fine but a step down from the previous match 

Champion Carnival - Final: Yuma Aoyagi besiegt Jake Lee (30:24) mit dem The Fool

-There are Jake Lee banners in the audience! Weird!
-Weirder: Jake comes to the ring wearing some fucking dollar store “Ninja Executioner” Halloween costume 
-Personality!
-Wasnt his theme music like The Pogues or something?
-a serious-looking Kento is on commentary (?)
-ok, it’s gonna begin! The crowd is stoked! 
-Yuma immediately mocks Jake’s heel mannerisms
-Yuma almost immediately takes it to the outside and uses the railings against Jake in a way that seems pretty heelish
-there’s something very satisfying about a dragon screw
-even more satisfying when it’s off the apron to the floor
-Jake’s gonna destroy his knees with that moonsault
-we have reached the “sell the exhaustion” part of the match!
-Jake counters some near fall pin attempts works big knee. Excellent
-oh god, Wada, retire already 
-it takes Aoyagi two hook kicks and two of his fisherman busters (the Fool?) to put Jake away. Fans seem legit happy.

Great match!  Top three matches in the show were all worthwhile, and the main event is definitely a worthy Final! That’s a bit of a big deal: if you go to Cagematch and look at both Jake’s and Yuma’s highest rated matches, they’re overwhelmingly matches that include Kento. Then putting this together on their own bodes well for the future!

(I typed all of this out with my thumbs, so there are probably typos)

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, sevendaughters said:

about to sit and watch the final so will return with thoughts. looking at the final night card I see some 22 year old beats Yoshitatsu in 5 mins? what's that about?

They started pushing Honda earlier this year—he was in the finals of the four-man tournament for the vacant TC earlier this year. But then in the CC he lost all of his matches. So, I’m guessing the flash pin of Yoshitatsu was thrown in there to prove that they aren’t completely writing him off.

Edited by Control
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2 hours ago, Control said:

They started pushing Honda earlier this year—he was in the finals of the four-man tournament for the vacant TC earlier this year. But then in the CC he lost all of his matches. So, I’m guessing the flash pin of Yoshitatsu was thrown in there to prove that they aren’t completely writing him off.

I just watched Honda/Shigehiro Irie.  He lost all of his matches?  Strange.

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1 hour ago, DEAN said:

I just watched Honda/Shigehiro Irie.  He lost all of his matches?  Strange.

Honestly, it was his first CC and he’s very young, but I was expecting, at the very least, that he’d get a surprise win on the last day of the tournament.

IIRC, in Suwama’s first CC, he only got one win, but he pinned Muto (of all people).

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30 minutes ago, Control said:

Honestly, it was his first CC and he’s very young, but I was expecting, at the very least, that he’d get a surprise win on the last day of the tournament.

IIRC, in Suwama’s first CC, he only got one win, but he pinned Muto (of all people).

He looked really good against Irie (and Irie looked awesome).  

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