My goodness. I know, I know. This is my third straight puroresu show review in less than 24 hours. I know I’m crazy but these are my rocket review gifts to those who are still reading the site on your holidays. This is a neat looking All Japan ‘fan appreciation’ show from earlier this month, which also takes place in Korakuen like the W-1 show I just reviewed~! The card is definitely a wild one. Zeus takes on Omori in a collision of big men, the new team of Jake Lee & Kento Miyahara have their first televised tag vs. the ridiculous team of Irie & Ishikawa, and in the main event, it’s the 10th anniversary of Atsushi Aoki as he teams with Jun Akiyama to face now non-contracted talent Akebono & Yoshinobu Kanemaru. Let’s get to the matches.
AJPW Fan Appreciation Show
December 15, 2015
This was a very fun opener. SUSHI & SUSHI Kozou are a guilty pleasure opening tag. The gimmick(s) are so silly yet it’s really fun to see the duo work. Nakajima let Aoyagi be in the match 90% of the time which was excellent, as Aoyagi is living up to young boy potential in puroresu. The match went more in-depth than I thought it would, as at one point Aoyagi had to power out of more than just one predicament. SUSHI’s went for the final blow after Aoyagi kicked out of their other double moves, where Kozou would leap off of SUSHI’s shoulders for a splash, but Nakajima in a rare appearance in the damn match knocked the tower over. It was down to Aoyagi & Kozou (which is an awesome jr. heavyweight type of pairing that showed up during the match). Aoyagi powered out of the uppercut/roll-up combo from Team SUSHI as well as an inside cradle! He fended off a landslide and got hooks of his own in for the 3 count. Real cool.
Kobashi Jr. (Sato) teaming with Fuchi? What a time to be alive. Nishimura & Hijikata are wrestling in suits. FFS lads, you’re not Low-Ki at Wrestle Kingdom. This was all in good fun and comedy, with an added bit of seriousness via the start of the match with Fuchi & Nishimura trading holds as well as Sato actually trying to win. That translates to the finish, which even I was confused by. Fuchi does comedy very well, and is underappreciated in that sense. He worked his butt off the whole match anyways, trading holds, running around the ring for comedy, and just being an overall carry of the match. Sato added a sleeper to his moveset, after missile dropkicks and strike based offense weren’t enough. However, in a veteran twist, Hijikata actually locked in an ankle lock whilst he was in the sleeper to make Sato tap out within his own dominant position. I had to look at Puro Spirit to see what the hell happened for the finish. More fun undercard stuff.
This is a match that could go one way or another. Good or bad. I have no clue what to expect, but I have higher expectations than ever before as Zeus has improved a lot as seen in work with The Bodyguard and interactions with Akebono this year. This is what I would call the little treat before the main course. No harm was done and we got a nice, fairly short hoss battle. Struggle was the main theme here, with strength battles in play — Zeus dominating the majority of sequences started the match off on the right foot in the first place, as Omori got the fans (albeit not an AMAZING reaction) behind him as they hossed around for this solid exhibition. A powerbomb, lariat, and chokeslam were still not enough to keep Omori down for the count. Zeus then got a taste of his own medicine and had to kickout of a Rite of Passage. Lariats from the front to the back plus an Axe Bomber gets Omori the win. More praise can continue to be given for Zeus. By the end of the 2016 calendar he may just have a ‘Most Improved’ award awaiting him.
This is the most intriguing match on the card, even ahead of the featured Aoki anniversary main event. A newly formed team taking on two of the best big men in the world. This lived up to expectations and was a great match. Jake Lee took a helluva lot of punishment from Team Hoss. Ishikawa threw more knees than I’ve ever seen him do before; you have to feel for Miyahara & Lee’s literal guts being pounded in. It was interesting to see Miyahara not be involved heavily, as Jake Lee had tons of time in the ring in comparison. With that being said, the dynamic they went for worked, and it was Lee being worked over until he couldn’t be saved or couldn’t find the energy to kick out anymore. Just seeing Irie & Ishikawa team together and hoss it up was so entertaining/satisfying, especially when Lee was the one taking the punishment. It was the first test to see how the two would work together, and how Lee would perform. After Lee was saved by Kento, Irie took Kento out and Lee was left alone yet again. Even though Jake hung in there like he did during the match, ramping up his strong style to unseen levels; he was put away with one final Ishikawa knee. Very good work from the guys, as the match didn’t play out like I thought it would. Awesome to see Team Hoss get the win!
Suwama & Sato, the usual Evolution crew team with new recruit Nomura to face the exciting Yankee Two Kenju tag team who are the current All Asia Tag Champs and Masakatsu F’N Funaki. Sato tried to cheat by wearing a gillie suit and switching out with another person but the ref ended up seeing through it before the match even really began. This match went nearly 20 minutes, and was absolutely awesome. Everyone was paired up, we got other combinations as well, and there were times where everyone would be at each others’ throats in a 3 vs. 3 scenario. The pairings were Suwama & Yuko, who had a strength vs. skill dynamic; where Suwama would try and power out of Yuko’s technicality, Isami & Sato, who always had solid interactions and would hit hard, but taking it to a whole other level was Masakatsu Funaki & Evolution young boy Nomura. These guys stole the show in their pairing, and beat the ever loving hell out of each other through hell and high water in the tag. Their interactions were by far the most awe-inspiring and shocking with some of the most brutal torture offense seen all year continuously used to wreck Nomura. Isami’s chest went red from all the chops he received. This was technical graps, a slug fest, and organized chaos all meshed into one huge tag. I call it a massive success too. Suwama would always back Nomura, but when Yankee Two Kenju came up clutch, taking out both Suwama and sneaky Sato, Funaki finished off Nomura (who was STILL fighting and kicking out of things such as a backdrop as well as hitting his spear) with the Hybrid Blaster. This achieved all the goals seemingly set up at the start of the match, and gave me as a fan a helluva watch. Highly recommended.
It’s time for Atsushi Aoki’s 10th anniversary tag match. This one only went 10 minutes, and was a slight disappointment. To be fair these teams never made for something looking amazing, but I expected more, and a bit longer of a time allotment for the match. Kanemaru/Aoki’s sequences were great of course, as also Akiyama originally ran away from Akebono, signifying that even though he beat him for the Triple Crown; he’s still scared that he could fall to the giant. When things were going Aoki’s way, Akiyama would tag back in and take advantage instead of setting himself up for failure vs. Akebono. The rest was literally history as not a lot was memorable, but the finish was neat as the four got everything in that they could before they took it home at just over 10 minutes. Akebono came in for the save of his team mate to counter a previous save on Aoki/Akiyama’s front, but he accidentally elbow dropped Kanemaru. Akiyama hit the exploder and Aoki hit the frog splash but Kanemaru still kicked out. After a struggle, Kanemaru gave up and got hit with the Assault Point as Aoki takes home the win for his anniversary.
Not a bad show from All Japan, as their 2015 comes to a close. Two ***3/4 encounters, as well as two other matches in the *** range out of the six in total make for a solid result. The other two were light-hearted, fun matches to fill out the card which makes things seem better in hindsight. Whether or not you choose to watch, as this isn’t a must-see production, make sure to check out the Lee/Kento vs. Team Hoss tag as well as the 6 man, and if you don’t check the show out; be sad you missed ’em. Once again, Happy Holidays. All Japan was Andy’s favorite wrestling company. I hope I’m doing him justice; no matter how many shows I end up doing.