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The 2021 AJPW Champion Carnival


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Participants:
- Suwama
- Zeus
- Kento Miyahara
- Shuji Ishikawa
- Jake Lee
- Yuma Aoyagi
- Shotaro Ashino
- Koji Doi
- Kohei Sato
- Shinjiro Otani 

Cards

Spoiler

 

AJPW, 09.04.2021
Osaka Edion Arena #2

- Champion Carnival: Suwama vs. Kohei Sato
- Champion Carnival: Zeus vs. Kento Miyahara
- Champion Carnival: Yuma Aoyagi vs. Shinjiro Otani 
- Champion Carnival: Shuji Ishikawa vs. Koji Doi
- Champion Carnival: Jake Lee vs. Shotaro Ashino


AJPW, 10.04.2021
Nagoya International Conference Hall

- Champion Carnival: Suwama vs. Jake Lee
- Champion Carnival: Zeus vs. Shuji Ishikawa
- Champion Carnival: Kento Miyahara vs. Shinjiro Otani 
- Champion Carnival: Yuma Aoyagi vs. Shotaro Ashino
- Champion Carnival: Kohei Sato vs. Koji Doi


AJPW, 11.04.2021
Bandaijima Multipurpose Plaza

- Champion Carnival: Suwama vs. Zeus
- Champion Carnival: Kento Miyahara vs. Shotaro Ashino
- Champion Carnival: Jake Lee vs. Koji Doi
- Champion Carnival: Shuji Ishikawa vs. Yuma Aoyagi


AJPW, 17.04.2021
Shin-Kiba 1st RING

- Champion Carnival: Suwama vs. Koji Doi
- Champion Carnival: Zeus vs. Yuma Aoyagi
- Champion Carnival: Jake Lee vs. Shinjiro Otani 
- Champion Carnival: Shotaro Ashino vs. Kohei Sato


AJPW, 18.04.2021
Chiba 2AW Square

- Champion Carnival: Zeus vs. Kohei Sato
- Champion Carnival: Jake Lee vs. Yuma Aoyagi
- Champion Carnival: Shuji Ishikawa vs. Shinjiro Otani 
- Champion Carnival: Kento Miyahara vs. Koji Doi


AJPW, 24.04.2021
Shin-Kiba 1st RING

- Champion Carnival: Suwama vs. Yuma Aoyagi
- Champion Carnival: Kento Miyahara vs. Kohei Sato
- Champion Carnival: Shuji Ishikawa vs. Shotaro Ashino
- Champion Carnival: Koji Doi vs. Shinjiro Otani 


AJPW, 25.04.2021
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

- Champion Carnival: Suwama vs. Kento Miyahara
- Champion Carnival: Zeus vs. Jake Lee
- Champion Carnival: Shuji Ishikawa vs. Kohei Sato
- Champion Carnival: Shotaro Ashino vs. Shinjiro Otani 


AJPW, 28.04.2021
Yokohama City Hodogaya Public Hall

- Champion Carnival: Suwama vs. Shinjiro Otani 
- Champion Carnival: Zeus vs. Shotaro Ashino
- Champion Carnival: Kento Miyahara vs. Shuji Ishikawa
- Champion Carnival: Jake Lee vs. Kohei Sato
- Champion Carnival: Yuma Aoyagi vs. Koji Doi


AJPW, 29.04.2021
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

- Champion Carnival: Suwama vs. Shotaro Ashino
- Champion Carnival: Zeus vs. Koji Doi
- Champion Carnival: Kento Miyahara vs. Yuma Aoyagi
- Champion Carnival: Shuji Ishikawa vs. Jake Lee
- Champion Carnival: Kohei Sato vs. Shinjiro Otani 


AJPW, 03.05.2021
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

- Champion Carnival: Suwama vs. Shuji Ishikawa
- Champion Carnival: Zeus vs. Shinjiro Otani 
- Champion Carnival: Kento Miyahara vs. Jake Lee
- Champion Carnival: Yuma Aoyagi vs. Kohei Sato
- Champion Carnival: Shotaro Ashino vs. Koji Doi

 

 

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So, I’m prepared to be disappointed,  but I assume this one has to go to Jake Lee. He deserves it, he’s practically the only fresh challenger for Suwama, and he’s fresh off a hit heel turn.

They could also opt to fall back on Kento, as their most-over wrestler, or perhaps reward Suwama’s years of service with a win.

Keep in mind that AJ doesn’t break ties like NJPW does. If two wrestlers are tied, they’ll typically have to wrestle a tie-breaker, even if me already beat the other in the tournament.

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It's gotta be Jake Lee. I actually don't think it'll be Kento since they seem to be pushing Aoyogi more in their title run. Lee forming Total Eclipse has given him some momentum and credibility no one has.

I expect either Lee has to beat Kento to win or he beats Kento and has to beat Aoyogi in a tie breaker.

This could set up AJPW's feuds for the next year if they play it right.

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I don’t think they’re behind Ashino enough to go for it, but I wonder if we could end up with Lee/Ashino in a tiebreaker on the last night. That would mean racking up a bunch of wins for Ashino. It would be a good story, given their recent history.

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I think Ashino's redemption is further out. He had his ribs taped up on the last few shows. Could see that play into his tournament performance. I do think he is a better babyface though and him challenging a newly crowned Jake should be a big match. 

Watch AJPW misread the room and have Shuji win to set up a match with Suwama, AJPW's double gold.

I'm hoping that 2020 AJPW was them playing it safe and CC 2021 is them warming things up for post pandemic.

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I find the Carny is the hardest tournament to predict each year. I agree it feels like it's gotta be Jake Lee's time. He had those awesome matches with Kento a couple years ago and failed in all of them (except the #1 contender's tournament deal they do, I think that's the Baba Cup?). He's due for his big redemption moment, and to be The Man Who Beat The Man The Previous Man Couldn't Beat. If Lee dethrones Suwama after Suwama ended Kento's last monster reign, then suddenly you have all this interest in a Lee vs Kento "who's the real ace of AJPW etc etc" type buildup. 

That said, it's AJPW so who knows? They rarely book conventionally. Ashino lost to Suwama twice on this title reign which felt a little funny so maybe, as some are saying above, he will factor into the finals in one way or another. Aoyagi is getting a big push but I don't see them passing over Lee for him. It's hard to say because they give guys late title runs, like Omori, Doering and Zeus, long after it's felt like 'the moment has passed'...there are no Hirooki Gotos in All Japan Pro Wrestling, which is why we love them. Maybe even Ohtani, now that Suwama is chirping at him in interviews? Who knows, looks like a bunch of great matches though. 

Edited by Belgian_Waffle
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I can't commment on who will win. Any news about the upcoming CC and the players in it I will post in here.

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I cancelled my AJPW.tv subscription when the pandemic shut everything down last year, so I'm way out of touch, but it boggles my mind that they've gone over a full year without putting the belt back on Miyahara.

Has Suwama's reign been good?

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It’s been fine. Dude always delivers in title defences, which have all been good, but maybe not great ones.
 

Historically, Suwama has had shit luck with title reigns, so it’s nice for him to get a long run, and doing it now makes sense.

Kinda wish he’d dropped it to Zeus, who is on of my favourites, after his hot Champion Carnival win.

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I'd say his defenses vs Zeus, Aoyogi and Yoshitatsu were fun. I hated the Kohei Sato match. Suwama just has no speed anymore and he was already a slower pace guy. I felt the three I liked all had guys who were able to push the match tempo.

I wanted Ashino to win it the second time. If the plan is Jake Lee in May, then even better.

God I'd love Nomura returning and confronting Total Eclipse. 

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My interpretation was that Suwama is going to hold the title just long enough to possibly break Kawada's record. He won the title by beating Miyahara in what would have been Miyahara's own Kawada record-break, so it makes sense to play with the idea that the record might get broken by somebody sooner than later. Plus like Control said, he's never had his truly dominant, monster run with the TC, and as the guy who held the company together after Mutoh killed the midcard and Kojima flopped as the New Ace (worked hard but has lousy matches), I think he's deserving of the Grumpy Jumbo reign that Jumbo was unfortunately too sick to ever carry out himself. 

 

 

Edited by Belgian_Waffle
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Jake Lee wants to become the centre of AJPW,  me I think he could replace Suwama as "the Strongest" someday. What it means nowadays, second place below Kento.

If the Triple Crown does get disassembled as Suwama wants, all belts could be new designs or slightly modified changed designs, they will be UN, Inter, PWF.

 

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Yuma (25) aims to break Jumbo's (29) youngest winner of the CC record.

Not much news this year pre CC, I guess Tajiri and co are doing a different approach this year. Still got tonights round of news if any appears.

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Posted (edited)

I watched the first day of the 2021 Champion Carnival! Should I spoiler my thoughts? Guess I will.

Spoiler

April 9, 2021
Koji Doi vs Shuji Ishikawa

  • Shuji is rocking some very becoming black and gold duds.
  • Doi has an enviable figure: not a hardbody, no, but a real beefy boy.
  • There’s this weird optical illusion taking place, in which Doi sometimes looks almost the same size as Shuji, and sometimes way smaller. A mystery!
  • I am very happy to see that this midcard Carnival match is given some time to develop, and Shuji isn’t just allowed to walk all over Doi. They put in the time and have a real match. This is already an improvement from last year.
  • Doi’s finisher is, I think, a lariat, and the finish sees him unloading a few of them on Shuji, before Shuji cuts him off with a Thesz press for the win. This is a perfectly acceptable pinning combo for the big dog.


Suwama vs Kohei Sato

  • You have to empathize with Suwama’s yo-yoing weight. He’s the Will Riker of AJPW.
  • Kohei Sato, on the other hand, looks like a real slimeball. He looks like the drug dealer that hangs out with high school kids and is appreciably older.
  • I was expecting more of a stiff potato fest, and what we got instead was a more conventional wrestling match.
  • The fans were into it!
  • Sato hits his shoot headbutt which is gross and should be banned.
  • As you’d expect, Sato gets his win back from the TC champ.
  • Two thoroughly fine matches thus far.

Yuma Aoyagi vs Shinjiro Otani

  • Fans love Otani
  • Like a decade ago, my wife confused Otani for Fuchi. This has proven prescient.
  • Props to Otani for rocking a monk’s tonsure
  • This is great. Salty veteran vs Smug youngster is a good combo
  • They get right to it, with Otani dodging a drop kick and giving Yuma a stinging smack to the back. Yuma gets pissy and tosses his wrinkly ass outside, throws him into barriers, mocks the Fire Festival sword taunt, and then gives Otani a taste of his own face-wash.
  • You’ve got to admit: not many people can manipulate a crowd like Otani. People can get the crowd to love or hate them, but Otani can switch between the two poles very, very quickly.
  • Otani wins with a few lariats, which seems very weird to me. End seems abrupt and I can’t help but think that you shouldn’t job Yuma out to old man Otani, but whatever. Another fun match.

Jake Lee vs Shotaro Ashino

  • This, the most anticipated match of night one, sucked a big one.
  • Ashino starts of tenaciously going after Lee's ankle, which Lee sells like attempted homicide.
  • Lee pulls the ref in front of him to absorb a running attack from Ashino, taking both out. He laughs like a cartoon super villain. It is forced and awful.
  • He beats up Ashino and gets a shit win in what feels like sixty seconds. Fuck me.
  • Fans no-sell the whole thing. Just a shit show all around.
  • Awww fuck I hate the Champion Carnival now

Zeus vs Kento Miyahara

  • Rerun of the 2020 CC finals!
  • Kento’s epic music vs Zeus’s epically shitty music!
  • Kento’s COVID hair vs Zeus’s slick doo!
  • Kohei Wada is NOT reffing this match, so no weird Kento-Wada stuff to distract. Instead, much better Nikkan Lee is in the ring.
  • It’s hard to get into this match from the terrible match hangover from the previous terrible match
  • Zeus tries to get us into it by milking an outside 10-count for maximum drama!
  • These dudes have wrestled quite a bit lately, so it’s hard to keep things fresh. However, Kento is the most popular wrestler in AJPW, and Zeus is the best wrestler in AJPW, so even their “typical” match is good.
  • Got hot at the end, nice finish, very happy to see Zeus win!

 

Complete and Objective Match Rankings:

Spoiler
  1. Miyahara vs Zeus (4/9)
  2. Ohtani vs Aoyagi (4/9)
  3. Ishikawa vs Do (4/9)
  4. Suwama vs Sato (4/9)
  5. Lee vs Ashino (4/9)

Probably no updates until next week because I won't watch the next shows until after the weekend.

Edited by Control
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Sato is the lanky Zero-1 guy who teamed with Sai and has the back tattoo right? Yeah, sleazy. He will also paste you but good IIRC. 

Edited by Curt McGirt
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I enjoyed the first day of the CC, the short matches make the bouts look like fights to me. 

 

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First night was a lot of fun, enjoyed Aoyagi/Otani the most.

Spoiler

Maybe I'm conditioned from New Japan ref bumps but I was really relieved when it didn't result in someone from Total Eclipse running down to interfere. Jake's new look was giving some real Chono vibes. Not as down on the laughing as Control was but I wouldn't miss it if he stopped.

 

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I really enjoyed Zeus-Miyahara and Otani-Aoyogi. Ishikawa-Doi and Suwama-Sato were both fine for what they were. Lee-Ashino was dumb and made both look dumb. Hopefully they are saving this for down the line because I cannot defend that BS.

A good day one despite that. I'd dig Otani and someone vs Miyahara/Aoyogi.

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Day 2 was not as good as Day 1. Felt everything was solid but nothing was special or stood out. 

Spoiler

That was a violent Last Ride from Suwama. I figured Lee was losing here since I expect him to win and challenge Suwama. Miyahara-Otani was probably motn. Zeus-Shuji and Doi-Sato were good big man matches. Glad Doi won but the finish was flat, Doi played dead too long. I started to wonder if he was hurt and they were unsure what to do, looked awkward.

Looking forward to Lee-Doi, curious how they go at it. Lee has had a disappointing tournament for me so far. 

 

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I watched Day 2 of the Champion Carnival. Wrestlers were wrestled! Matches were, uh, matched!

 

Spoiler

Yuma Aoyagi vs Shotaro Ashino

  • I think these guys are 1 and 1 in singles matches. Ashino won a #1 contender’s match against Yuma last year, and then Yuma won the rematch in the Champion Carnival. So: evenly matched.
  • Ashino establishes dominance early through his low centre of gravity and superior haircut. Also grappling.
  • Yuma turns it around perhaps too easily and sells his now hurt knee by limping a lot but maybe not changing up his offence one iota.
  • We get a pretty fun german suplex exchange, that leads to Ashino’s bit where he tenaciously attacks the ankle and counters each counter thrown his way, until Yuma tries for a sneak pin and then transitions it into whatever his submission finish is called for the win.
  • Fun match.

Kohei Sato vs Koji Doi

  • Much smacking! More like what I expected from Suwama/Sato
  • Koji Doi wants to show that he has nothing to fear from lanky greaseball wrestlers. Sato is obviously their chief representative in the tournament and so the onus is on him to defend their honour.
  • Holy shit, Koji Doi just decides to get all jacked up and lariat Sato into non-existence. It works! Surprisingly quick and definitive victory over the guy who just pinned the TC champ!
  • It’s like 3 minutes. Don’t worry about it.

Zeus vs Shuji Ishikawa

  • Ishikawa has missed a step lately, but in my opinion Kento/Zeus/Ishikawa is the power trio of AJ. They always have good matches together. Shall that pattern hold here? Let’s find out!
  • Ishikawa establishes his superior strength early. But don’t be fooled! This is merely a way of setting the bar that Zeus will explosively overcome!
  • The thing about Ishikawa’s offence is that all of it looks convincing as a finisher. He hits Zeus with a running knee and I’m like, “yep, that’d do it.”
  • Zeus escapes the setup for a Fire Thunder Driver and awkwardly transitions into a Misawa-style facelock. Zeus has been tapping bitches with this since the last CC.
  • Add another bitch to the list.
  • Fine match—they’ve obviously had much better, but night two of the CC isn’t when they’re likely to bust out an epic clash.

Kento Miyahara vs Shinjiro Otani

  • Is it Otani or Ohtani? Have we gotten a ruling on that yet?
  • The fun thing about Ohtani is that, because he’s a respected veteran, he can conceivably beat anyone in this tournament. And because he’s old he can lose to any of them. A real wildcard
  • Ah fuck Wada is here. Prepare for drama!
  • Usually, when Kento faces a salty opponent, that salty opponent is his age or younger and clearly lower on the AJ hierarchy (e.g. Jake or Yuma in their heelish phases). Their saltiness comes off as mere petulance! Here, Otani is the veteran, and his saltiness is the genuine article.
  • I would think that the facewash in the corner makes more sense later in the match, when your opponent is exhausted, and not three minutes into the match.
  • OK, while this is fun, I’m actually realizing that Kento’s face act isn’t that different than Otani’s. It’s peppered with heelish antics, involves lots of crowd pump-up moves, and includes some sometimes overdone selling.
  • Kento blocks a lariat (or whatever Otani’s lariat is called) with a knee, and then lands a blackout knee. Otani kicks out at one, flops around like a fish out of water, and then eats another knee for the pin.
  • Entertaining all around.

Suwama vs Jake Lee

  • If Lee pulls the shit from yesterday Imma lose it.
  • Jake begins the match by working the nck with a tenacious headlock, followed by a chin lock, followed by some neck-targeted strikes. It is an uninspiring but workmanlike assault I can enjoy.
  • Lee’s heel antics thus far invlve smiling a lot at Wada and just generally being smarmy when he puts moves on. This is beter than the super villain laugh.
  • OK he just pulled off the laugh but it was less forced. He does it as he limps away from Suwama onon the outside, after he tripped Suwama and made him faceplant into the railing. This was better.
  • See, that’s good: toss Suwama back in the ring and then clap for yourself, encouraging you the audience to applaud your fair play though you are, in fact, a stinker
  • Lee goes for a one-foot-on pin, and Wada refuses to count that shit
  • So, I like Lee/Suwama matches, but I can see why many wouldn’t. There’s very little sense of urgency and not a lot of speed. It’s basically just long control segments, one after the other (in this case, almost all of them Lee). It’s about how many strikes Suwama can endure, and how often Lee can cut Suwama off before falling to a power move. For me, it works.
  • Suwama gets the win after reversing a running knee into a Last Ride (first I’ve seen him hit in a while). Ending seems a bit abrupt, considering the preceding 18 minutes were a straight-up mugging.

 

All-in-all, a fine day of matches.

Complete and Objective Match Rankings:

Spoiler
  1. Miyahara vs Zeus (4/9)
  2. Lee vs Suwama (4/10)
  3. Ohtani vs Miyahara (4/10)
  4. Ohtani vs Aoyagi (4/9)
  5. Zeus vs Ishikawa (4/10)
  6. Ishikawa vs Doi (4/9)
  7. Suwama vs Sato (4/9)
  8. Aoyagi vs Ashino (4/10)
  9. Doi vs Sato (4/10)
  10. Lee vs Ashino (4/9)

 

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21 minutes ago, Control said:

Is it Otani or Ohtani? Have we gotten a ruling on that yet?

Or Ootani. At least I think I remember that being used once upon a time. 

Match was okay except for all the strike exchange crap. I was fine with Wada acting like a dick to Miyahara and Ohtani (I prefer the H) slowly turning into the new Fuchi.

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Oh man Zeus/Ishikawa was a blast. A tight ten minutes of BEEF. Probably my favorite moment was the sheer dickishness of Ishikawa having our boy Zay-oos in a bow-and-arrow hold (I think that's what it's called but I'm afraid I got the wrong name) and he just boots his face into the second turnbuckle. 

I have no idea why Nikkan Lee didn't count the ten on Doi. I'm also surprised to see a puro match that did not even go ten, because I've never seen one of those. 

Ashino has a nice Stretch Muffler and looks like Daisuke Sekimoto's kid brother, who maybe prefers eating out to Midbreath visits.

This is my first time seeing Jake Lee and he didn't make much of an impression. Cocky guy who I guess does a lot of knees. This felt like a very basic match, nothing really stood out to me except the final move which was VERY definitive. I still like Suwama's double chops. 

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Yoshitatsu learned some new moves from Triforce BJJ Japan, sparring with Mitsuyoshi Hayakawa the head instructor. Yoshitatsu said he is competing against the CC.

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