AJPW Excite Series 2017 Night 1 – Junior Battle of Glory Matches Begin
Watch: The RealHero Archive
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato def. Naoya Nomura & Yusuke Okada**1/2
This was fine for what it was and served its purpose as an opener. It went just over 5 minutes so it didn’t really have time to pick up to that next gear but I don’t think it was about that. It was about showing the AJPW audience the newest rookie in Yusuke Okada. He has already improved his body physically since the last time I saw him and will only continue to get better in ring. Look at Aoyagi, Jake & Nomura — all AJPW trained guys 3 years into the biz and look how polished they are. Okada will get there. Nomura did nothing in this match, the focus was all on Okada. Aoki gave him a lot of offense, his best offense move would definitely be the Ricky Steamboat arm-drag he uses. Aoki finished Okada off with a big time Frog Splash.
Junior Battle of Glory Block B: Kazuhiro Tamura def. Atsushi Maruyama***1/4
WHOA, THIS WAS BLOODY TREMENDOUS. One of the best sub 5 minute sprints I’ve ever seen, there was no mucking around here lads. These long time independent boys got down and dirty instantly. This whole match was a shoot, Maruyama did a tope con hilo off the corner ring post. Maruyama used so many head kicks it was great, Tamura used his kicks as well as some fancy stuff like his whisper in the wind. Maruyama impressed the hell out of me here. I think he is one of the most underrated guys in Japan. Tamura won in under 5 minutes with the ‘Minoru Special’.
Junior Battle of Glory Block B: Yuma Aoyagi def. Yohei Nakajima***1/2
I came into this match not with high hopes and I like both guys a lot; but holy Christmas tree terracotta soup this was unbelievably great! I thought following the previous match it would be hard to follow but, my goodness, these guys followed it like champions. Nakajima is much more serious and has a meaner side to him and that’s all he was missing. I would have no problem now with a Yohei Jr. Championship run. He did a really cool missile dropkick off the apron to Aoyagi who was draped over the railing. Yuma is going to continue impressing me every time I see him, from the days of this skinny kid getting beat up by Jun to possibly winning the Jr. Battle of Glory. What a year it has been for one Yuma Aoyagi. This is seriously one of my FAVORITE matches all year, they had me screaming in the closing sequence. One of the best closing sequences to a match you will see I guarantee. Yuma was just incredible as was Yohei. Yuma gets the victory with the Rockstar Buster!
Jun Akiyama, Masao Inoue & Ultimo Dragon def. Takao Omori, Masanobu Fuchi & Osamu Nishimura DUD
This was all the dads and uncles joining forces and fighting in what was a miserable match, if you could call it that. The whole match was based around Fuchi getting sympathy like usual. Nothing was great, Inoue pinned Fuchi with an inside cradle with Ultimo Dragon’s help. Post-match KENSO returned and wants the GAORA TV Title, he will wrestle Akiyama next month for the vacant title.
Junior Battle of Glory Block A: Koji Iwamoto def. Masashi Takeda***1/4
Another shoot if I dare say so myself! This was sub 10 minutes and was worked completely different than the previous two tournament matches. This was Iwamoto fighting from underneath and getting knocked down time and time again until he hits that one big move and the rest is history. Takeda was playing nice until he was sent to the outside and discovered a chair, which he then used to crack over Iwamoto’s skull. He then took control for most of the contest. Takeda’s offense is great, numerous knee strikes and this one awesome tree of woe basement dropkick. He killed Koji with a German suplex into the corner turnbuckles. Then a German suplex hold for a near fall. Koji hit his pop-up knee strike then landed the judo throw for the shock win! Koji Iwamoto beat Masashi Takeda! Possibly the biggest win in this young man’s career. The crowd loved it.
Junior Battle of Glory Block A: Keisuke Ishii def. Minoru Tanaka***3/4
This was a master piece of professional wrestling, what a goddamn match this was. Seriously…I’ve enjoyed every match on this show (minus dad fight) but this blew everything else away so far. This was two world class athletes putting on a flawless match. There was not one botch, slip up or mistake. Everything was perfect. From the leg work on Ishii to Minoru Tanaka’s rapid pace offense, this is why I love pro wrestling as much as I do. Minoru Tanaka is my favorite wrestler on earth (alongside Isami), as him returning to AJPW is exactly what I wanted and I was lucky enough to get it. This is his first big singles match back in the promotion and boy did he impress. I honestly think Minoru Tanaka is the best he has ever been, he is the definition of crisp. Everything from his look to the way he carries himself screams professional. Let’s not forget about Keisuke Ishii being the current AJPW Jr. Heavyweight Champion. He is so unique in ring and brings a different level of viciousness to the table. He can grapple all day but then he can do a backflip knee strike and knock you out. This was a war: the German suplexes, the fisherman busters, the SUPER fisherman buster, the basement dropkicks. This is what you call an ‘Izzac special’. One of my favorite matches all year long just like Yuma/Yohei from earlier in the night. Ishii wins and proves why he is the Jr. Heavyweight Champion with a brutal double arm Brain Buster. I loved this so much.
Ryoji Sai & KAI def. Suwama & Joe Doering***
So this was a pretty good match for what it was, most of it was called on the fly because as you know with wrestling…anything can happen. KAI was concussed early on and as soon as he tagged in Sai he was done. He just laid on the floor for the rest of the contest. So they improvised, and the improvised finish was Sai cradling Joe for the victory. I doubt that’s how it was originally meant to go but oh well. You gotta do what you gotta do.
AJPW World Tag Team Championship: Zeus & The Bodyguard (c) def. Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee***1/2
This was my favorite tag team match these two teams have had against one another, I thought this was super entertaining and the crowd was eating out of the wrestlers hands. Bodyguard challenging for the Triple Crown is a risky move but there is no doubt in my mind Kento will pull off a great carry job. Bodyguard is okay; just very awkward and moves slow but I guess that’s some of his charm. Jake Lee really stepped up here and proved he belonged in the main event of Korakuen Hall. Jake was actually really good in this, always improving. He and Bodyguard wrestled really well together. Kento did Kento things, most notably his beautiful Blackout knee strikes that he always nails with perfection. Bodyguard and Kento’s interactions were heated so I hope their Triple Crown match is fun. In the end Jake looked like he was going to get the fall over Bodygaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah but Bodygaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah used his new finisher ‘The Bounce’ to put away one quarter of Nextream and retain the Tag Team Championships.
AJPW EXCITE SERIES 2017 NIGHT 1 - FEBRUARY 17, 2017
Fantastic - 8.0/10
A wonderful, fantastic show from the AJPW squad. Nothing that's a MOTYC, but 2 matches were incredible and were also 2 of my favorite matches in recent memory. The Ishii/Minoru match is one I will remember for years. Thank you for reading. I'll be back soon with more reviews and podcasts as 2017 kicks into gear.