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The 2021 AJPW Champion Carnival


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Not sure if I like this one more than the 2019 Finals but great match. The ending sequence was well done. Glad Lee won, probably his best performance of the tournament beside the Suwama match.

Shuji-Suwama was good as well. I actually expected them to go to a draw. Not sure what Shuji winning means. 

 

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I watched the penultimate day of the Champion Carnival. It was a good one! I'm behind, so I'm not reading any results or posts right now, so I can hopefully view the finals unspoiled.

That also means I've lost track of the math. Who is ahead, who is behind? Beats me!

Thoughts:

Spoiler

Zeus vs Koji Doi

  • Doi out to prove that beefiness > abs

  • He starts off doing a good job supporting this thesis

  • Zeus gets the upper hand with a BICEPS EXPLOSION and then does a kip-up to prove hardbodies > softbodies

  • Super cool spot where Doi gets Zeus up in the torture rack, Zeus (predictably) counters with the sleeper hold, and Doi just muscle through and racks him some more

  • This was good and then there was a very telegraphed and pretty weak double count-out

  • Wonder if part of this was Otani’s injury? He was matched up with Zeus on the last day.

 

Shotaro Ashino vs Suwama

  • Ashino is 0-2 against Suwama, so I expect a victory here

  • Ashino comes storming out of the gate, immediately knocking Wama down and then landing a missile dropkick for a 2. Then he deadlifts a prone Suwama and suplexes him. Well done.

  • The fight goes to the outside, which should make everyone nervous after the last match, but they’re able to take it back in the ring, and Ashino goes after Wama’s leg

  • Trading Germans has been a whole thing in this tournament.

  • Suwama escapes an anklelock attempt and hits Ashino with two very dangerous looking backdrops. He kicks out! Then Ashino eats a massive lariat. And kicks out! Then a third backdrop puts him away.

  • Good match but wrong winner, I’d say.

  • Suwama gives him the respect shake, as if to say: you are bad but I respect your toughness.

 

Jake Lee vs Shuji Ishikawa

  • I don’t think Lee has ever beaten Ishikawa

  • The camera zooms in on Ishikawa’s taped knee—could this be the time Jake gets the W?

  • There’s a pretty cool part when Shuji’s on the outside leaning into the canvas, and Jake stands on the canvas and stomps on Shuji’s shoulder. Things transpire so that Shuji is back in the ring with his head and shoulders hanging out, and Jake does a running knee (on the outside) to Shuji’s head.

  • Lots of brawling on the canvas and on the outside. Shuji turns the table by reversing Lee into the ring post and then hitting a snap german suplex on the outside

  • Shuji’s low-altitude Germans bring to mind Tenryu’s low-altitude ensiguris

  • Hey, this gets real good, turning into a battle of power moves vs strikes. Jake’s heel act lands a bit better, too.

  • Shuji picks up a flash pin with his Thesz press. I am OK with this. As I said, Ishikawa has been set up as a roadblock for Lee, Nomura, and Aoyagi. At this point, Jake is still losing, but Ishikawa can’t just put him away and has to go for a flash pin.

  • This was good! Maybe too much brawling at the beginning, but otherwise very nice.

Yuma Aoyagi vs Kento Miyahara

  • NEXTREAM EXPLODES~!

  • I have the benefit of not seeing this live, so I can see that there are 40 minutes left in the video. This suggests a draw.

  • If they are going broadway, they ain’t showing it: they really come out guns blazing

  • This is great! Yuma really gets Kento out of his tried and true Kento formula. Kento throws some new shit, like repeated elbows to Yuma’s downed head.

  • Holy shit, there’s a lot going on in this match, and it’s very fast paced without a lot of downtime

  • Obviously skipping a lot of action, but there’s a repeated pattern of Yuma reversing Kento’s suplex attempts into guillotine chokes, which sets up some more key reversals later on

  • There’s also a spot where Kento catches Yuma’s hook kick right in the face. Ouch.

  • Kento eventually lands his shutdown suplex without overdoing the struggle too much.

  • Excellent match, one of the best of the tournament.

Complete and Objective Match Rankings:

Spoiler
  1. Zeus vs Suwama (4/11)
  2. Aoyagi vs Miyahara (4/29)
  3. Suwama vs Miyahara (4/25)
  4. Miyahara vs Zeus (4/9)
  5. Aoyagi vs Suwama (4/24)
  6. Lee vs Suwama (4/10)
  7. Aoyagi vs Ishikawa (4/11)
  8. Miyahara vs Sato (4/24)
  9. Ishikawa vs Sato (4/25)
  10. Lee vs Ishikawa (4/29)
  11. Doi vs Miyahara (4/18)
  12. Ashino vs Miyahara (4/11)
  13. Ohtani vs Miyahara (4/10)
  14. Ohtani vs Aoyagi (4/9)
  15. Zeus vs Ishikawa (4/10)
  16. Zeus vs Aoyagi (4/17)
  17. Ashino vs Suwama (4/29)
  18. Ishikawa vs Ohtani (4/18)
  19. Aoyagi vs Doi (4/28)
  20. Ishikawa vs Miyahara (4/28)
  21. Jake vs Aoyagi (4/18)
  22. Ashino vs Ishikawa (4/24)
  23. Zeus vs Sato (4/18)
  24. Ishikawa vs Doi (4/9)
  25. Suwama vs Sato (4/9)
  26. Aoyagi vs Ashino (4/10)
  27. Doi vs Suwama (4/17)
  28. Lee vs Zeus (4/25)
  29. Zeus vs Doi (4/29)
  30. Ashino vs Ohtani (4/25)
  31. Ohtani vs Suwama (4/28)
  32. Doi vs Ohtani (4/24)
  33. Zeus vs Ashino (4/28)
  34. Lee vs Ohtani (4/17)
  35. Lee vs Doi (4/11)
  36. Ashino vs Sato (4/17)
  37. Doi vs Sato (4/10)
  38. Lee vs Sato (4/28)
  39. Lee vs Ashino (4/9)

 

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I HAVE VIEWED THE FINAL SHOW! Thoughts:

Spoiler

Koji Doi vs Shotaro Ashino

  • Ashino going after that Judas Doi!

  • I was expecting more hate, but they go for more of a slow, feeling out process

  • “We got hired by All Japan, dude! Time to run with the big dogs! Let’s hit the gym!”
  • “Naw, dawg! Let’s hit the buffet!”
  •  
  • Doi hits a very nice roaring (rolling?) elbow and follows it up with his sweet swinging sidewalk slam

  • Ashino fires back with European uppercuts and then gets the anklelock for the win

  • Oh nos! Kuma Arashi jumps Ashino and whoops him!

  • Young boys to the rescue! Arashi tosses their asses, but Ryuki Honda comes back for seconds and gets the upper hand, spearing and then suplexing the big man. Ashino raises his hand to thank him for the assist.

  • I assumed they were just going to set up a Arashi vs Ashino match, but Idk, maybe Ashino/Honda vs Arashi/Doi?

Yuma Aoyagi vs Kohei Sato

  • Pretty sure if Sato wins this he’ll be in the lead. So, I assume Yuma’s gonna grab it.

  • I am just speculating, though, as I’ve lost track of the points.

  • Yuma puts Sato in the sleeper on the outside and slides into the ring at 7, hoping to win by count out. Sato starts to get in the ring at 8, and Yuma drop kicks him back out. Sato slides in at 9. Decent fakeout.

  • Yuma gets beaten up a bit and then wins with a Japanese Rolling Leg Clutch pin.

  • Sure, that was fine.

  • Sato offers a fist bump. Aoyagi is skeptical, but Sato refers him. Fists are bumped. Yuma is a man, now.

 

 

Suwama vs Shuji Ishikawa

  • The Violent Giants EXPLODE!

  • Oh shit it’s Wada

  • This is their first singles match since VG broke up, I think.

  • Much clobbering ensues!

  • We get some hardway blood from Shuji’s nose. Violence~!~!

  • In response, Shuji DDTs a prone Suwama from the mat to the floor. Suwama sells it like his neck is totally fucked.

  • Suwama’s really selling it. It’s nice to see them treat what should be a big, dangerous move as actually a big, dangerous move

  • Absolutely nutty sequence where Shuji hits a fire thunder and doesn’t even go for the pin, and immediately follows it up with another. He wiggles his finger, no, to signal that he ain’t done. Tries for one more fire thunder drive, which Suwama manages to fend off, so Shuji hits him with a series of knees and then one more fire thunder, which Our Hero Wama kicks out of. But he’s basically a corpse at this point.

  • Ishikawa wins after landing all of his other moves. Last four minutes of this match were just Shuji murdering Wama.
  • This was actually pretty great.

  • Interesting that Shuji has been beating guys like Zeus and Yuma with quick pins, and then doing heelish things with a guy like Wama.

 

Ah, nice, they bust out the tournament brackets and show that there are a glut of participants now at 10 points, including Kento and Jake. So—surprise surprise—the winner of Jake and Kento will be the champ.

 

Kento Miyahara vs Jake Lee

  • The match that we always knew was going to be the decisive match turns out to be the decisive match

  • Jake concentrates on blasting Kento’s chest with knees, while Kento concentrates on, well, knees

  • Jake kicks out of the shutdown suplex! Too bad there’s no audience to give that a big reaction.

  • Jake steals Yoshitatsu’s shutdown escape (grabbing top rope with teeth), but they aren’t going for that as a rope break, because of course it isn’t. Still, Tatsu must have his revenge
  • Jake gets the win with his new D4C brainbuster move. Jake wins his first Champion Carnival!

  • Great match, though honestly I have it ranked at #3 overall. Still, Jake vs Suwama for the TC should be very good.

Complete and Objective Match Rankings:

Spoiler
  1. Zeus vs Suwama (4/11)
  2. Aoyagi vs Miyahara (4/29)
  3. Miyahara vs Lee (5/3)
  4. Suwama vs Miyahara (4/25)
  5. Miyahara vs Zeus (4/9)
  6. Aoyagi vs Suwama (4/24)
  7. Lee vs Suwama (4/10)
  8. Ishikawa vs Suwama (5/3)
  9. Aoyagi vs Ishikawa (4/11)
  10. Miyahara vs Sato (4/24)
  11. Ishikawa vs Sato (4/25)
  12. Lee vs Ishikawa (4/29)
  13. Doi vs Miyahara (4/18)
  14. Ashino vs Miyahara (4/11)
  15. Ohtani vs Miyahara (4/10)
  16. Ohtani vs Aoyagi (4/9)
  17. Zeus vs Ishikawa (4/10)
  18. Zeus vs Aoyagi (4/17)
  19. Ashino vs Suwama (4/29)
  20. Ishikawa vs Ohtani (4/18)
  21. Aoyagi vs Doi (4/28)
  22. Ishikawa vs Miyahara (4/28)
  23. Jake vs Aoyagi (4/18)
  24. Ashino vs Ishikawa (4/24)
  25. Zeus vs Sato (4/18)
  26. Ishikawa vs Doi (4/9)
  27. Suwama vs Sato (4/9)
  28. Ashino vs Doi (5/3)
  29. Aoyagi vs Ashino (4/10)
  30. Doi vs Suwama (4/17)
  31. Lee vs Zeus (4/25)
  32. Zeus vs Doi (4/29)
  33. Aoyagi vs Sato (5/3)
  34. Ashino vs Ohtani (4/25)
  35. Ohtani vs Suwama (4/28)
  36. Doi vs Ohtani (4/24)
  37. Zeus vs Ashino (4/28)
  38. Lee vs Ohtani (4/17)
  39. Lee vs Doi (4/11)
  40. Ashino vs Sato (4/17)
  41. Doi vs Sato (4/10)
  42. Lee vs Sato (4/28)
  43. Lee vs Ashino (4/9)

OK, good tournament overall, I'd say. Hopefully one or two of you read along, and the ranking list will give you an idea of where to direct your attention if you haven't already been watching.

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