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Thoughts on AJPW’s Champion Carnival Night Three

September 16, 2020 | Posted by Dick Ford
AJPW Champion Carnival

The first two nights of Champion Carnival have seen some BIG upsets. What will be in store for us in night 3, our first of the tournament at Korakuen Hall? If this is your first recap of mine that you’re reading, I write this as I’m watching the show in real time.

Jiro Kuroshio (2 points) vs Zeus (2 points)

If Zeus is going to win the Carnival, he has to win this match, right? Jiro Ikemen just beat Suwama to earn an upset victory during night two. Zeus beat Kuma Arashi. Zeus worked over Ikemen with some of the stiffest chops you’ll see and hear this week. The offense from Ikemen has been centered around the arm of Zeus. He can’t chop if he breaks it off, right?

After a chin lock/cross face type submission hold, Zeus got Jiro to his feet and then blasted him with a chop, for the win. I can almost guarantee you that there will not be another match this week where the finish is a chop. It’s Zeus, if he chops you, he’s going to beat you. More importantly, Zeus is undefeated and has four points.

Yuma Aoyagi (2 points) vs Yoshitatsu (2 points)

The second biggest upset so far in this year’s Champion Carnival was Yoshitatsu tapping out Miyahara. Unfortunately for Yoshi, he had to forfeit his second match with Shuji Ishikawa due to injury. On paper, this could be anyone’s match to win. Yoshitatsu has heavily taped ribs. That didn’t stop Yuma from ramming him into the guardrail several times. There was a spot where Yuma whipped Yoshi to the guardrail but he didn’t make it and fell over. Then, out of nowhere, Yuma ran himself into the guardrail and sold it. I chuckled. I didn’t hate that spot.

Yoshitatsu has a sense of urgency about him. Which an injured fighter would have. Yoshi needs to end it fast. The longer this match goes, the more it favors Yuma. I can appreciate this storytelling. The back injury just isn’t going to allow Yoshitatsu to be very effective as Yuma makes him tap to a camel clutch, for the two points. After the match, Koji Doi just absolutely murders Yuma with a lariat! Doi clearly is not a fan of Yuma Aoyagi. They’re setting up something big between these two for after the tournament. Yuma brushes it off because he has four points and a chance to win the whole thing.

Kento Miyahara (0 points) vs Shotaro Ashino (0 points)

Well, here we are… Two main event level talents, a combined zero points between them. One of these two will be 0-2 after this. If you asked me, which is more likely to happen, I’d tell you that Ashino going 0-2 is the answer. However, could Miyahara go 0-2? Sure, he’s Kento Miyahara! He’s always a hop, skip and a jump away from winning the Triple Crown title. Who does the win mean more for? Shotaro Ashino is the answer to that question. Who does Dick Ford want to win this match? That answer is also Shotaro Ashino.

Kento Miyahara tapped out to a leg/ankle lock in his first match vs Yoshitatsu. Ashino uses the ankle lock to tap guys out. There might be some elements from the first match that also are in play here for this one. It took some outside interference by Enfants Terribles and Ashino is focusing on the leg/ankle of Miyahara. The camera keeps cutting away and showing Yuma Aoyagi who is watching the match from the entrance, with his arms folded in disgust. I don’t have the schedule in front of me but I would venture a guess that he faces Miyahara or Ashino next.

Koji Doi takes out Miyahara at the knee on the outside apron and it’s becoming apparent that his knee is either going to be the reason Miyahara loses or he’s going to overcome. Big time forearm and European uppercut standoff in the center of the ring. Kendo’s Big Adventure stable and Enfants Terribles continue to get the Korakuen Hall crowd involved. I’d love if they just did that and stopped interfering. I’m able to give All Japan a pass with the outside interference for two reasons: 1. It isn’t used as a crutch and 2. It’s only happening Ashino’s matches. A felt the tide was beginning to turn for Miyahara when went for the blackout knee but Ashino turned into an ankle lock.

I think I’ll always love the shutdown suplex struggle spot. This time, Ashino turns it into yet another ankle lock. No matter what he does, Miyahara can’t break the ankle lock. No one in the business of pro-wrestling sells like Miyahara. Once he finally breaks the ankle lock he’s able to hit the shutdown suplex puts this match on ice. Kento Miyahara gets his first two points of the tournament, while Shotaro Ashino has to dig himself out of this 0-2 hole.

Jake Lee (2 points) vs Suwama (2 points)

The Triple Crown champion, Suwama, ate a pin-fall in his last match vs Jiro Ikemen. Which ironically, is who Jake Lee beat in his first and only tournament match. So one of these men will be at the top of the A Block with Zeus, the other will have work to do to catch up. This hasn’t been proven mathematically yet but I can’t imagine the winner of this tournament would have two loses. Which means a loss here by Suwama would all but end his chances of winning. With that being typed, I’m fully expecting a Suwama W here but if the first two nights were any indication, I could be way off.

This has been a Suwama type match, ground and pound. Big chops, suplexes, lariats, submission moves. Jake Lee keeps looking up from the ground, giving me “underdog vibes”. Jake Lee’s offense isn’t as crisp as you’d like for a Champion Carnival match at Korakuen but he hasn’t totally lost me yet.

Jake Lee’s offense got much better as his heat went on and a Suwama lariat is incredible. Lee has worked the left arm over because you can’t lariat someone’s head off if your arm doesn’t work. There’s a lot of focus by Lee on the arm. Suwama does a terrific job selling. His arm is just dangling and looks like he’s in a ton of pain. Since his left arm is no good, he’s throwing right arm lariats. The level of physicality gets ramped up as Suwama gets angry and starts throwing double chops. However, the arm work done by Jake Lee is too much as he gets Suwama to give up to an arm bar submission. Another main event shocker there. The Triple Crown champion has now lost in two straight matches.

The right match was the main event there. I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Ashino/Miyahara. Some say Jake Lee isn’t the future of All Japan? Those who say that are wrong.

Here’s the Block standings headed to night 4, which is on September 21:

A Block – Zeus 4, Jake Lee 4, Jiro Kuroshio 2, Suwama 2, Kuma Arashi 0

B Block – Shuji Ishikawa 4, Yuma Aoyagi 2, Yoshitatsu 2, Kento Miyahara 2, Shotaro Ashino 0

Let Dick Ford know what you think of Champion Carnival on Twitter @ffsford or via email [email protected]!

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AJPW Champion Carnival, Dick Ford