Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium
This is the final night of the Jr. Battle of glory finals which were meant to be Kazuki Hashimoto vs. Atsushi Aoki but K-hash got injured and Sato or Maruyama will face Aoki in the finals. Sato and Maruyama are facing off in the opening contest to determine the second participant in the Jr. battle of glory finals. On paper this looks like a pretty decent card. The main event is pretty big and we have some Doutonbori Pro wrestlers in the second and third match which has to be a hoot.
This was one of the best matches ever that has gone under 5 minutes. It was basically the closing stretch of a BJW main event style match. Maruyama did his awesome looking kick combo and a tope con hilo within the opening minute. Sato countered with a flying cross arm-breaker and then it was back and forth for 2 minutes. Maruyama has greatly improved and I hope he gets more chances to shine like he did here. Sato won with a kimura/double wrist lock.
Doutonbori is represented well in AJPW! So awesome. Dare I say this was awesome! Mixing in the indie talent with the AJPW regulars worked a treat and produced a very fast paced entertaining bout. NJPW is missing the boat on not signing any Japanese indie talent because there are a plethora of talented men making their names in school arenas and small gyms across Japan. Back to this match, I didn’t write notes because there was constant movement and there was so much going on it was hard to keep up. Everyone in this match besides Takeshi Minamino were great. Minamino feels like he belongs in REAL DESPERADO because he is that boring. Billy Ken Kid was the star of this match, he is seriously one of the best Jrs in modern day grappling. Legit this was so good. YO-HEY, Billy Ken Kid and Soma Takao all hit dives at the same time. SUSHI looked to have Minamino beat but Minamino low blows SUSHI which he follows up with a death valley bomb to win the bout.
More indie talent in All Japan! Kuishinbo Kamen is wrestling Masa Fuchi in 2016 brothers! Purely in ring wise, Dave Meltzer would give this minus 5 stars. But it served the purpose of being a comedy match and Masa is always over so there’s no harm really. Kamen was pretty over as well since he wrestles around the area. Nothing to it really. Skip this. Masa won with a inside cradle.
Very solid match from what I saw, I actually got some bad news as soon as I turned on this match so I wasn’t paying 100% attention to the match going on. I like both guys a lot particularly Irie who should be the DDT champion in a world that Isami Kodaka doesn’t exist. May favorite moment of this was when Irie killed Nomura with a lariat, Irie has one of the best in the business. Nomura is always excellent with his dropkicks and spears. I should really watch this again but I really don’t want to when I have tons of other wrestling to watch. Tell me on twitter @Izzacwrestles what you thought of this match. Irie won with a brutal top rope splash.
Akiyama has been wrestling a ton of the younger talent and always going over, but he makes them look so good it’s almost like the result of the match doesn’t matter. Aoyagi would have improved a lot by just sharing the ring with a legend like Jun Akiyama. This was not as good as when Akiyama wrestled Jake Lee but it was nice. Aoyagi jumped Akiyama while he was getting introduced with a dropkick, the dropkick was the story of the match. Basically the only ‘moves’ used in this match was the dropkick from Lee and Akiyama’s signature knees. It was 8 minutes of Aoyagi not being able to pin Akiyama with dropkicks and Akiyama being tired of Aoyogi’s shit and kneeing his head off. When Akiyama realized he couldn’t pin Aoyagi with his knees, he put him away with a killer exploder suplex.
Our Lord Isami is back again! This is the first Isami Kodaka match of 2016 that isn’t ***3/4 or above. This was still a fine match though. Yankee Two Kenju worked so hard which isn’t surprising at all since they are probably the most consistent performers in the world. They actually botched a spot at one point but Isami is such a pro he improvised and applied a real cool armbar. Every dude in this match is very athletic so this was more of a Jr. tag but with selling. Really cool spot where Isami and Yuko locked in simultaneous octopus stretches. Nakajima got a super close near fall when he superkicked Isami to hell. The final 30 seconds were great. Isami took out Omori with a tope suicida, Yuko did the hand spring pele kick on Nakajima followed by a fire thunder driver and Isami comes off the top with the double knees to secure the victory for Yankee Two Kenju.
Very good match the work was excellent but another match where it didn’t click for me. Sato didn’t want to grapple so he just used his kicks right away. Aoki focuses his attack on the left arm of Sato early on. Hikaru Sato at one point blocked a tope suicida with a high kick. The counters in this match were very spectacular and even me as a wrestler didn’t know how they pulled off some of the stuff they did. They both brought there biggest weapons to this match, they both went deep into their arsenal to try to put away their one another. There was a rad spot where the 2 just traded arm bars back and forward. One of the coolest counters in this was when Aoki went for the Yoshiaki Fujiwara headbutt but he was countered into a guillotine choke. Maybe its because I have watched so much wrestling recently but I just never could get 100& invested into this contest even though I knew the work was superb. Aoki won with a crazy looking arm-bar that Sato fought and fought but he eventually had to tap out to. They paid off the story of Sato’s arm being weak which I can respect.
I probably will be in the minority here because I did not think this was a great match. I did think this was a solid match but it did not click on all cylinders for me. The Bodyguard and Zeus are giant men and they just maul their opponents constantly. I don’t really know what to say other than it was a pretty good match and when Miyahara was in the ring the action picked up immensely. Miyahara is my type of wrestler, he isn’t too fancy he will just beat you down with boots and knees. The Big Guns didn’t make Lee come off like a viable contender, it’s not really anyone’s fault but when you have 2 giants against a younger wrestler it is bound to be difficult to make Lee look like a serious competitor. I am 90% sold on Zeus. I know Fray and Lawrence love Mr. Zeus and I do too but I am yet to see him in a great match. He was good in this match and slowed down and was not sloppy at all. Bodyguard is a good worker, believe or not he is more muscular than Zeus. At points during this contest he just felt like another big man that can’t do much but then he did a top rope senton and a head kick! He’s kicks look so good. I am a fan of The Big Guns because they are so different to any other team in Japan. There aren’t a ton of jacked up giants in Japan, there look makes them unique and being unique in 2016 is rare. Jake Lee did shine at moments and even looked to have The Bodyguard beat at one point. Eventually The Bodyguard pinned Jake Lee with the ‘Biceps Explosion’ lariat to retain the AJPW world tag titles. Hoshitango and Shuji Ishikawa are the next challengers.
This was a very easy to watch show with only one stinker. There was nothing of greatness on this card and that is a let down because the top 3 matches could all be great in the right situation. If you were pressed on time I would recommend the top 3 matches with the main event taking precedence. 2016 hasn’t been a great in ring year for All Japan thus far but they have had some incredible matches. I am hyped to watch Zeus vs. Miyahara as soon as I am done writing this outro. Thank you for reading.