Furious’ AJPW New Year Wars Review
AJPW New Year Wars
January 2 2017
We’re in Korakuen Hall to witness All Japan’s first show of the year. With the kind of roster churn they have who knows what’ll be on this show.
Atsushi Aoki vs. Koji Iwamoto
Iwamoto is familiar to me for his work in DDT but he’s been knocking around All Japan since last spring. DDT create way too many wrestlers and don’t have the space to use them all. This is All Japan’s gain. Aoki hasn’t looked motivated in a while and seems to be winding his career down at this point. The match feels like it’s just going through the motions. Aoki’s job seems to be getting younger guys to improve. Although working this laid back style doesn’t help them or the audience. Aoki takes it with a series of back suplexes.
Final Rating: *1/2
Keisuke Ishii & Fuminori Abe vs. Soma Takao & Yuma Aoyagi
Ishii and Takao have a promotional cross-over ex-best friends feud going on, which has drawn support from these two youngsters. Abe is very young and has only been wrestling for a matter of months. He’s certainly in good company. Aoyagi has basically been wrestling for two years and he’s already a tremendous performer. He knows when to switch the pace and when to get super aggressive. Abe shows flashes of this, although his timing is a bit scattershot at this point. He finds it difficult to balance selling and actually wrestling. Stopping to think about his arm and then ignoring it. It’s paying tribute to psychology without actually indulging in it. Yuma picks him off to win although Abe doesn’t take any nasty bumps in losing. You can tell he’s very inexperienced at this stage.
Final Rating: **1/4
Minoru Tanaka, Rikiya Fudo & Ryoji Sai vs. Zeus, SUSHI & Yohei Nakajima
Fudo is new on me, although he did wrestle for AJPW last year. He looks like a big fat, grumpy bastard. He may be my kind of wrestler. A gaggle of girls in denim enter first to give SUSHI a suitable dance posse. It’s this kind of display that reminds me even the most insignificant of wrestling shows can contain moments of pure joy. Once we get underway it becomes apparent that Tanaka, Sai and Fudo have a major advantage over Team Zeus because only Zeus is tough on his team. Yohei and SUSHI have ‘eating heat’ written all over them. As this is third on the card there’s not much effort involved. Some of the work is borderline slack, apart from Zeus who’s keen on establishing himself as one of the companies top guys. The victory comes from an unlikely source with Minoru strapping Yohei in an armbar for the tap out. It shows how far in advance of Team Zeus everyone on the other side were. This got better towards the end but some of the heat was downright lazy.
Final Rating: **3/4
Get Wild (Manabu Soya & Takao Omori) & Kazuhiro Tamura vs. Axe Bombers (Isami Kodaka, Yuko Miyamoto & Daichi Kazato)
Isami is wearing his serious black gear here, after wearing his more colourful garb, with tail, for Zero1 yesterday. HEAT UP ace Tamura has taken to wearing a samurai top knot, which is really weird looking. Isami has worn his hair that way so he treats it as a personal affront, ripping the hair bobble out and hurling it into the crowd. It leaves poor Tamura’s hair an absolute mess. Omori hits the Axe Bomber for the rapid victory over Kazato. This match did not hang around.
Final Rating: **
Street Bunkhouse Death Match
All Asia Tag Team Championship
Atsushi Onita & Masanobu Fuchi (c) vs. Jun Akiyama & Masao Inoue
Onita broke his pelvis over Christmas and passed out from the pain. Normally that’d be six weeks out of action. Onita? Painkiller shot right into the hip and back to business. In a fucking Death Match! It’s not like he ever takes any bumps but wrestling with a broken pelvis is pretty hardcore for anyone, let alone someone pushing 60 years old. The number of fucks given here total: zero. Onita is soon putting bitches through tables like table spots are going out of fashion. How is he even walking? He gets run into a barbwire board for crying out loud. Obviously the match isn’t technically any good, because Akiyama is the only competent wrestler involved, but it is a spectacle. Fuchi has to take the bulk of the abuse for his team so Onita can bash Inoue with props. The match mostly adheres the rules, with the exception of plunder being brought into play. Everyone waits for tags and there are very few double teams. Fuchi pins Inoue, clean as a whistle, with a backslide to retain, with Akiyama towelling mist out of his eyes.
Final Rating: **
Evolution (Suwama, Joe Doering & Hikaru Sato) vs. NEXTREAM (Kento Miyahara, Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura)
This is Joe Doering’s first match in a year, after recovering from a brain tumour. It’s interesting to me that the NEXTREAM lads were chosen to oppose him, as they’re the future of All Japan (and in Miyahara’s case, the present too). Joe wastes no time in going right after the champ. Given that Miyahara has run roughshod over everyone else, it figures that Joe is probably next in line for a title shot. Doering’s power, combined with Suwama, dominates the match. Doering was never a mega-worker but he’s lost nothing in his year out. He looks like he missed it. He has terrific energy. Miyahara does too and he’s brought up so many matches just by being in them over the last 12 months. The way he gets over on Suwama quite easily is a nice contrast to how he struggles with Doering. Sato gets in a lot of leg work to allow Doering to be the star. Big Joe flattens Nomura with a crossbody for the pin.
Final Rating: ***1/4
New Year Open Battle Royal
Yeah, you’re reading that correctly. The main event is a battle royal. Shigehiro Irie is the only wrestler to get an entrance on TV. His music is a Star Wars knock-off that I love. The battle royal involves pinfalls and submissions, as well as going over the top rope and features everyone from this show. It’s like one of those cheap UK Indies that finishes with a battle royal because they’ve got nothing else to fill the time with. I thought All Japan were better than that. The referee, Kyohei Wada, gets eliminated during the madness, taking a bump off the top to the floor, and blows out his ankle in the process. This is why ref’s don’t generally hit spots from the top rope to the floor. Whenever a threat emerges everyone piles on for the pin, which is how Zeus gets knocked out. The match has a lot of fun action where people attempt pins but gets countered by a third person into a pinfall elimination. Get Wild have a distinct tag team advantage going into the latter stages, although Irie and Takao have historical friendship. Black Tiger (Nosawa) makes a big impact on the closing stages, politicking and manipulating. Axe Bomber puts him out.
Final Four: Get Wild, Irie & Miyamoto. Get Wild team up to get rid of Miyamoto and Irie gets to play massive babyface fighting both of Get Wild. Will AJPW jump on the Irie bandwagon before DDT book their own belt on him? Irie gets bundled out but while Soya celebrates Omori rolls him up for the win. This was decent by battle royal standards but that’s not saying much.
Final Rating: ***