On paper this looks amazing. The big thing everyone is talking about is HEAT-UP ace Kazuhiro Tamura challenging for the All Asia tag straps with his pumping bomber partner Takao Omori. Well that’s just my personal excitement. The real big thing everyone is talking about is the Big Japan men making their way to All Japan going up against the three main men of All Japan minus Kento Miyahara. OH AND ISAMI AND YUKO ARE ON THIS SHOW! Should be great fun.
Very good opener of this event. It had everything you want in an opening contest: comedy, athleticism, and crowd involvement. Irie’s All Japan run in 2016 is basically him working openers against the All Japan guys with less experience and going over with the “Beast Splash”. The formula of these matches are the same. Good chain wrestling then the younger worker throws a strike and it turns into a veteran vs. young boy battle. Irie was looking very upset at a moment in this match, he is seriously adorable. The All Japan commentators noted that Takao Omori taught Aoyagi the European uppercut. Aoyagi hit a total of four dropkicks throughout the course of the match. Aoyagi got a close near fall with a Japanese leg clutch but Irie pops up and decks Yuma with a beast bomber but Aoyagi kicks out! Irie then hits a cannonball senton followed by the beast bomb for the 3 count.
Eh this was like not very good at all, WAY too much Fuchi for my liking. He was the focus of this match, I love 66 year old Fuchi but when he does bodyslams and punches for 15 minutes I get very bored. Osamu and Fuchi grappled around to start the match which was fantastic, best I have seen Fuchi go in quite a while. SUSHI and Ultimo did a few Lucha spots during the match but poor SUSHI Kuzou was the punching bag for Ultimo for most of this match. In the end Nishimura pinned Fuchi with a grand cobra pin which is a abdominal stretch pin.
I love all these dudes but I feel as though this was worked in more of a shoot style. I get Aoki and Sato are legit fighters but man they are so much better as wrestlers and it sucks when they just grapple around because I know they can wrestle amazingly. I understand grappling is wrestling but the quote on quote “grapple fuck” is 80% of their offence. Maruyama and Takeda were so great with everything, Takeda was the star of the match. His knees are Shuji Ishikawa level great. Hikaru Sato did a beautiful flying arm bar but Takeda quickly made it to the ropes. This did turn into more of a pro wrestling style match with heat and shine. Aoki made a lovely hot tag and cleaned house. Maruyama did a beautiul tope con hilo, he’s been using that in legit everyone of his matches in 2016. Maruyama Tiger suplexed Aoki and went for a second but Aoki escaped and applied an arm bar for the submission victory.
This was to make Ishikawa look stronger than he already is and I would say they accomplished that! Ishikawa offered a handshake to Lee to begin the match but Lee just paint brushed him right in the jaw. Then I got excited because I thought they were going to fight one another and just go at it but no, they grappled for a good few minutes. That makes zero sense, why would you throw a strike but then just want to grapple? It got pretty violent when Ishikawa threw Lee to the outside. He just beat the ever living shit out of young Jake. Ishikawa won with a Fire Thunder Driver in a little over 9 minutes. I love Ishikawa in short sprints like this.
This was a hoot and the best thing on this show thus far! Amazing back and forth match, much respect to Miyahara for giving Nomura so much offence in this bout. He really let Nomura shine and get over with his maneuvers. Nomura was fired up and took the fight right to the Triple Crown Champion. He nailed Kento with a forearm so strong it sent him over the rope, then he did a phenomenal forearm off the apron! Seriously Nomura has made the spear and his forearms his trade mark offence, simple moves but he executes them to near perfection as he did with a bridging northern lights suplex. Nomura even kicked out of the sheer-drop brainbuster but was pinned following a bicycle knee.
SUSHI! THE ORIGINAL AND BEST SUSHI! I LOVE ME SOME SUSHI IN MY WRESTLING. Nakajima connected early on with a tope suicida followed by a DDT on the floor. Nakajima was dominating the bout early on and not letting SUSHI get in any offence. I never realized this but Nakajima’s kicks are super strong and look as good as anyone’s in wrestling. SUSHI fought back and hit a spinning heel kick followed by a tope con hilo. Awesome back and forth stuff, everything was crisp and flowed smooth like peanut butter on white fresh out of the toaster. Nakajima thought he was performing inside the temple and did a leaping hurricanrana off the apron onto SUSHI! Did not expect Yohei Nakajima to pull that one off. The closing stretch was done so well, the near falls were timed perfectly. I knew that SUSHI lost this match but I honestly thought he was going to win with some of the pins he got on Yohei. Nakajima opens up a superkick party then a German suplex hold for a 2 count. Yohei retains with the spinning heel kick (the one Asuka uses in NXT). This was an excellent junior showcase which turned me into a huge Yohei Nakajima supporter. SUSHI is a good worker but just the fact that his gimmick is that he’s SUSHI is enough for me to love him.
MY GOD TAMURA IN KORAKUEN HALL! THERE IS A GOD! Omori dwarfs his partner as Tamura is a tiny man. This was one of my favorite tag matches of 2016 and in my top 20 matches of 2016. It was incredible. Yes I am going to say that Kazuhiro Tamura was the best worker in the match. His timing and execution is world class and it’s a shame he never gets to shine on a bigger stage. I love HEAT-UP, and that’s Tamura’s baby, but Tamura could be a major player in ANY promotion in Japan. He has fantastic chemistry with both Yankee Two Kenju members but especially with Yuko, I need a singles match with those two! Tamura was beat up by Isami and Yuko for a length of time but when he got to shine he shined bright! I loved Tamura coming into this match but there is no doubt in my mind he is a top 30 worker in the world. I can’t forget about Omori just kicking the younger lads around. He hit a beautiful spinning heel kick. Another great Omori moment was when Isami crushed Kaz with the double knees from the top and Omori just slapped him in the face basically saying “You’re a dick, that move sucks”. The closing stretch was once again out of this world, Isami did a suicide dive onto Omori and Yuko hit a springboard pele kick. Yuko went for a fire thunder driver but Tamura slipped out and hit a Penalty Kick and a head kick for two of the best near falls all night. But Yuko dropped Tamura down and hit a picture perfect moonsault for the victory!
BJW STRONG LADS vs. AJPW STRONG LADS. Bodyguard and Daisuke just run at each other full pelt to start this match, it was glorious. Yuji and Zeus worked a test of strength, the crowd LOVES Zeus. Hashimoto and Akiyama spread to the outside. So many goddamn lariats and elbows and stronk moves, Okaybayashi and Bodyguard are like the same people. They do so much of the same moves and it’s amazing to see them work. When I grow up I want to look like The Bodyguard minus the tattoos, I do want tattoos though. I will never say anything bad about any dix of these men because I know they could all murder me if they wanted to. Hashimoto is beating on Mr. Akiyama, destroying him with kicks and knees! His father would be proud. An awesome spot saw Team BJW having all of Team AJPW in submissions. Akiyama was pissed and just decimated Hashimoto with multiple knee strikes and an exploder for a near fall. Akiyama wins with a wrist clutch exploder on Daichi.
Fantastic show from the All Japan brothers. Two really good bouts and one phenomenal match that will be re-watched sometime in the future. Everything except the second match was good and even the tag match was bearable; I just didn’t want to see Masanobu Fuchi do bodyslams at 10 PM at night. Thank you for reading, I will be back soon with more Puroresu reviews. Check out Trask’s review of the 3/19 Dream Power Series show.