After the first watchable show of the Champion Carnival was a success, headlined by Takao Omori staying alive at the top of the charts by beating Ryoji Sai, we switch gears to Day 3, which only took place two days ago as I’m writing this; which feels great to say. I love whenever a wrestling product is either aired, or put up on demand quickly, or in this case, aired on NicoNico. There are much more block bouts this time around, with SIX total, including showcases of some talents we haven’t seen yet, but would have on Day 1 have it actually aired in a timely matter. Dory Funk Jr. also appears again on the show, but with no kids entering the ring this time around, it’s going to be a tough show to beat Day 2. However, we have DAISUKE SEKIMOTO VS. JUN AKIYAMA in the freaking main event! Let’s get into the show.
Once again the team of GAORA TV Champion Yohei Nakajima and SUSHI ran wild through the undercard, brothers. I enjoy watching all of these guys so them in a tag opener isn’t the worst thing ever. This felt a little long but nothing offensive. This was another test for Yuma, in which he held his own, and was even placed in a Crab as Yoshie watched on with SUSHI playing security guard. Besides such, the work over didn’t last much longer, and the match got competitive. Some slick double teams and near falls led to Yoshie double suplexing opposition which, in turn, ended the match’s momentum. Yoshie splashed SUSHI for the win.
WHAT THE HELL? This is second on a card. That’s insane, but I’m more than happy to take this in as early as can be. This was a short match, but was as solid as can be. Nothing blow away, but short and to the point. Kamitani’s offense works well for short, medium, or long matches because it has the same build. Whether you’re in a headlock, cravate, or various other locks it means something, especially the Boston Crab. Jake Lee would fight back, but Kamitani was in control for the majority of the time being. A lariat made for a great 2.9 kickout, and a backdrop put Lee away. Two points for Kamitani. Zero for Lee.
A battle of big lads! One of the best things about tournaments is that workers get to be diverse on a match to match basis. This was, especially, one of those times with Kengo Mashimo. Day 1 saw him go 30 minutes vs. Kento Miyahara, Day 2 saw him work with Naoya Nomura for only 10 minutes, but steal the show, and Day 3 saw him work against an even bigger man, stealing the show, in a minor way, yet again. This wasn’t an amazing match but it showed the diversity of Mashimo and showed how improved Bodyguard’s gotten. I don’t dread on a match of his anymore. The match was built as a tale of two half’s. For the first, Bodyguard demolished Mashimo, but Mashimo found an “out” with a dragon screw from the top rope, which Bodyguard sold exceptionally well. This resulted in limbwork but Mashimo still getting overpowered, he kicked out of more lariats at ONE! Then, he squeaked out with a win after a leg trap roll-up. Quite good work from the two.
More Dory Funk Jr.! These two teams are absolutely ridiculous, take that as what you will. A man in a tiger costume, a judo-robed grappler, and DORY FUNK JR. take on veterans, especially showman Masa Fuchi~! This was quite the boring match aside from Dory’s interactions. There was a lot more Funk this time around than the last six man. We got tons of spinning toe holds, and sharp, but ever so sad and slow uppercuts. The other parts of the match saw Sato get dominated by the veterans and Fuchi controlling the pace of the match and heeling it up vs. Funk as per the course. The finish was neat, seeing Funk apply a spinning toe hold for revenge on Fuchi, and Sato tapping out Inoue in an arm bar.
I love how Ryoji Sai’s matches start so abruptly. It gives off a big fight feel. This time it was Aoki who jumped before the gun shot. Sai reminds me of a Japanese Chris Hero, a guy who works like a bully, which in turn makes for FANTASTIC near falls around every exciting corner of the build of a match, and it works being face or heel. This match exemplified that and the Hero comparison, as Sai bullied Aoki, but Aoki, instead of being his usual technical wrestling savant self; had to play the underdog. We were teased with a brainbuster from the top rope, and another brainbuster, but Aoki somehow stayed in. Sai knew this was ridiculous so he kicked out of the roll-ups, but as he lifted Aoki, Aoki countered that into another roll-up for the win! Great match, great finish, great dynamics, loved it all. Mashimo vs. Sai would be amazing but they aren’t in the same block and won’t be in the finals.
Both these guys have lost Triple Crown matches vs. Kento Miyahara. They would like to rebound from both losses by winning the tournament. I don’t know what to say in certain matches where I forget, and/or don’t fully enjoy the build to an awesome finish; I tend to say it was inoffensive – but I struggle with the teeter-totter of build vs. finish in a match and which I should gear towards. With that being said, this match was completely fine up to a sweet finish that elevated it. Omori and Zeus don’t match up to well in the ring, but made it work. It felt like a battle on a small scale. We got tons of fantastic near falls and sells like a piledriver kickout, two axe bombers to Zeus’s back, which in turn was hit on the mat with a top rope backdrop that he still powered out of. Zeus also kicked out of the axe guillotine driver! Zeus hit an axe bomber of his own and a chokeslam but Omori said screw that. However, a beautiful jackhammer put away Omori. OK structure which built to a crazy give it your all type of finish.
It’s the current ace vs. the future ace! Two of the biggest workhorses in the company clashing. Even though this was, once again, a fairly short match; this felt right. These two hit the mighty fine sweet spot of balance in their match. It had desperation, but more importantly, explosiveness. That’s the word I’d use to describe this one. Kento is the big boss you know you will probably lose to but will want to give it your best. Nomura did that for 10 minutes, and did it well. He’s my pick for most improved, in a neck and neck with Mistico from another part of the world; and this match adds to the case. The two crab spots were so well done, the multiple pullbacks and multiple teases kept me on the edge waiting for a tap, because even though I tout Nomura as a big deal, he still has a long way to go; and reality vs. kayfabe vulnerability ads match structure for him. Kento even booted Nomura in the head before applying a desperate crab, but Nomura still fought out. The two tore each other apart, with multiple spears, and Kento eventually countering a spear with a big boot. The two sold the aftermath of their destruction brilliantly. A huge knee to the back of the head and a brainbuster. Nomura still powered out. Nomura took the pin after a huge cycle knee square to the face. Great bout, and one that will be remembered as significant.
It all comes down to this. Holy shit. I was beyond excited for this electric encounter between two of my favorite wrestlers in the world today, and if you already consider Sekimoto a legend, two absolute legends in Japan and the business in general. One of the most hyped matches of the Carnival. I feel like I’m going against my own puroresu fan rep by downplaying this match, but it didn’t over deliver like some would expect. It was consistent and that’s all that counts. I wouldn’t even call it the best match of the tournament out of what I’ve saw. We’re only two days in at this point, and that’s disappointing, but it was consistent and went just about the right time. Daisuke Sekimoto did all he could to tell a story, and I don’t even think Akiyama was up to his usual par in this match. Once again, both men were consistent, but Sekimoto seemed to go above and beyond; with insane facial expressions when Akiyama took damage and dealt it back, taking ridiculous bumps like three piledrivers all over the arena, and pulling out a FROG SPLASH! Akiyama was solid and did his thing, about 17 knees to the face still weren’t enough to put away Sekimoto. This was a constant back and forth battle, with Akiyama taking the reigns a lot of the time. So many knees were delivered, and multiple exploders, but Sekimoto powered out everytime. So many awesome fluid counters, capped off with a cross-armed block lariat, but Akiyama being lariated for a kickout, yet a deadlift German lifting him sky-high out of said position gave Sekimoto the win. This was about on the same level as every other match tonight, but elevated because of these names and this match is a textbook definition of a rock-solid, consistent main event. Nothing more, nothing less, and that’s what I think of this show as well.
Like in the closing for the main event recap, this show was consistent. Solid-great Carnival matchups with the must-sees being Aoki/Sai, Miyahara/Nomura, and the main event for pure spectacle of the two being in the same ring, and a solid encounter. Those three are legitimately tied for match of the night, as there was nothing blow away and each accomplished some awesome things. The rest of the show was alright, with OK Carnival bouts besides the three aforementioned, and passable tag matches. I couldn’t complain about the show, although the matches could have been elevated to huge heights; but then again, these guys have to pace themselves. The coverage is far from over, and so is the potential of this tournament and future shows. Until next time.