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Thoughts on AJPW’s Champion Carnival Night One

September 13, 2020 | Posted by Dick Ford
AJPW Champion Carnival

The longest running tournament in puroresu is here, after a five month pandemic delay, Champion Carnival is finally underway. The shortened schedule and subsequent shortened field has this year’s tournament feeling like it could be anyone’s to win, well, almost anyone (if you missed my preview column, read it here).

Due to real life not allowing me to stay up into the wee hours of the morning, I watched night one of Champion Carnival on an eighteen hour delay. Also, because night two is tomorrow and I can only consume so much pro-wrestling, I skipped the undercard and went right to the Carnival matches.

Champion Carnival night 1

Yuma Aoyagi (+1000) vs Shuji Ishikawa (+300)

The match started with Ishikawa overpowering Yuma all over the ringside area. Yuma bounced back by working over the bigger, stronger Ishikawa’s leg/knee. While having Ishikawa in a figure four leglock, Yuma was throwing up “too sweet” to the camera, for some reason. Yuma and Ishikawa exchanged near falls and the finish came out of nowhere when Ishikawa scored the pin off a Thesz press. I, personally, like when finishes come out of nowhere. Keeps you on your toes. This is was a great way to open the tournament.

Jiro Kuroshio (+500) vs Jake Lee (-110)

The other day I wrote about how Jake Lee was a favourite to win this tournament. I’m under the impression that you can’t lose more than one and still win this, so my expectation would be that Jake would get the W. The match started with Jake focusing on the knee of Jiro, until the match went outside and Jake accidentally kicked the guardrail. Jiro spent the next several moments doing a number to the legs of Jake Lee. Jiro locked in a knee bar and looked like Jake was in trouble but he got to the ropes and the come back was on. Jake hit a DDT but Jiro wasn’t going to let his knee work go to waste and had Jake in a figure four. Jiro went for a moonsault, Jake got the knees up. A running knee and side suplex later Jake Lee won. That’s two points for one of the favourites. A good second match, Jiro looked strong in defeat.

Kuma Arashi (+750) vs Suwama (c) (+100)

The Triple Crown champion opened his Champion Carnival against Enfants Terribles member Kuma Arashi in a hoss match. If you’re a fan of big dudes running shoulder blocks and forearms then this match is for you. Kuma did a lot of his hoss offense and looked like it was going to be his night for upsetting the champ. However, it was not meant to be. A suplex and a mount ended the night for Kuma. Suwama starts his Champion Carnival off with a victory.

Kento Miyahara (+120) vs Yoshitatsu (+750)

Looking at this match on paper, I couldn’t see a path to victory for Yoshitatsu, who did add a layer to his character with a face paint scheme for the match. It kinda looked like Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas. I thought it was a nice touch.

After some early offense by Miyahara, which included not giving a clean break in the ropes, Yoshitatsu took over but the offense was short lived. Miyahara’s knee ate the ring post and just like that, Yoshitatsu went to work. Wada (referee) had no concerns with the twenty count as both men spent a few minutes outside the ring with no repercussions. Miyahara had Yoshitatsu in a cross face against the ring post, which couldn’t have felt good. Finally, the match made its way back into the ring, the only place where we could get a winner.

Miyahara was very aggressive, Wada had to stomp his legs to break the leg scissors that he was refusing to break once Yoshitatsu got to the ropes. Wada and Miyahara never really get along and during Champion Carnival will be no different. The match turned in Miyahara‘a favor when Yoshitatsu jumped off the apron to the outside but was met by a big boot from Miyahara. A flurry of knees mixed with a suplex saw Miyahara get a two count. Miyahara failed to hit the shutdown suplex, Yoshitatsu hit a complete shot and followed that with a triangle hold style submission. Miyahara got to the ropes for a break. Two knees later, a kick out by Yoshi, then the shutdown suplex also only got a two count and its beginning to look like Yoshitatsu might get the upset.

Yoshitatsu ate a running knee and found a way to dig deep and kick out at two. Yoshi then trapped Miyahara in an ankle hold, and at the 22 minute mark, Miyahara tapped out.

A SHOCKER to end a very good night one of Champion Carnival.

The conversation never ends, tweet (@ffsford) or email ([email protected]) your thoughts of the first night of Champion Carnival.

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AJPW Champion Carnival, Dick Ford