Welcome everyone and this is my first All Japan Pro Wrestling review for eWN. We’ll be talking about the first show in this year’s AJPW Excite Series.
We have a stacked card with some title matches, Manabu Nakanishi’s retirement tour, and a chance to see if a record will be tied or failed. Along with the regular matches, they also announced the participants for this year’s Champion Carnival.
We got a lot to cover, so let’s just get started and…dive right in.
My Rating System:
- 0 Stars: Dave Meltzer
- 1 Star: Vince Russo
- 2 Stars: Tony Schiavone
- 3 Stars: Eric Bischoff
- 4 Stars: Bruce Prichard
- 5 Stars: Jim Cornette
Six Man Tag Team Match
Hikaru Sato, JR Kratos, & Yusuke Okada vs. Hokuto Omori, Rising HAYATO & Tsugutaka Sato
To open up the show as we have a six-man tag match involving Hikaru Sato, JR Kratos, and Yusuke Okada taking on Hokuto Omori, Rising HAYATO, and Tsugutaka Sato. It’s your typical opening match with the rookies taking on the vets but it’s always good to see the young guys growing in the ring with experienced people. Will the vets get the win or the rookies shock the crowd?
Hokuto has been showing a lot of growth during his year in All Japan; and his opening sequence with Hikaru was a good display of the type of in ring growth expected. The rest of the members were able to get a good amount of action in the ring; Kratos did show some athletic ability despite the botched Powerslam on HAYATO.
However, nothing special, beyond a few moments with Hokuto; since it’s just a basic opening match to showcase some moves and leave. The ending sequence with Hokuto and Yosuke went over well. Yosuke would take the rookie down a peg with a Brainbuster but, Hokuto kicked out at two. Yosuke didn’t waste time though as he went to the top rope for a Diving Headbutt but; Hokuto’s team was able to break it up. The attempt wasn’t enough as Yosuke hits the Sudden Death on Hokuto; getting the victory for his team in a decent bout.
Rating: Tony Schiavone and a half.
Six Man Tag Team Match
Ayato Yoshida, Fuminori Abe & Tatsuya Hanami vs. Purple Haze (Zeus, Izanagi, & UTAMARO)
We have another six-man tag match here with Ayato Yoshida, Fuminori Abe, and Tatsuya Hanami taking on the newly formed faction, Purple Haze, lead by Zeus, Izanagi, and UTAMARO. The faction was officially formed on January 26th and is also known as the Gods of Wrestling; and they have a plan to get all the gold. But before they could do that, they need to have a little warm-up. Will Purple Haze win or does the other team ruin their momentum?
Purple Haze wasted no time charing into the ring before the bell and start to attack their opponents; sending them to the outside to rough them up a little. For the first half of the match, it was just Purple Haze beating down Fuminori. Zeus mostly showed off his power while his teammates got a turn here and there. Fuminori was able to tag Ayato in after a beautiful Dragon Screw to UATMARO. Ayato was able to clean house before tagging in Tatsuya, the rookie. They had a fleeting chance but, Zeus overpower them with a Double Clothesline. After that, Zeus got tagged in officially and was able to finish the rookie off with a Jackhammer, giving Purple Haze the win. They looked strong here and need to keep that momentum going forward as this unit does have a lot of potential and needs to be done right.
Rating: Tony Schiavone and a half
All Asia Tag Tag Title Match
JIN (Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto) (c) vs. Black Menso-re & Takao Omori
The first of four title matches has arrived! Members of JIN, Jake Lee and Koji Iwamoto, defend the All Asia Tag Team Championships against Black Menso-re and Takao Omori. The team has held the belt for over 240 days and has three successful title defenses under this reign; looking to add a fourth with this match here. Will JIN retain or do we get new champions?
Our two juniors, Koji and Menso-re would be starting things off in the match with a couple of nice counters and a dive spot. When Jake went to Irish Whip Menso-re; he would hit a Suicide Dive onto Koji instead of hitting the ropes. Koji would work on Menso-re outside by throwing him around like a rag doll; while Jake and Takao would fight in the ring.
The only real problem that I had was that for a good chunk of it; it didn’t feel like a title match at all. The only time it started to pick up more was when Takao got tagged in. Finally, after Menso-re was being abused and there would be a nice back and forth sequence; until Jake hits a sloppy DDT to end that spot. Once Menso-re got tagged back in, it started picking up. Menso-re rolled Koji up after reversing the Koko no Geijutsu; Jake would hit Takao with a German to stop him but; Takao came back up to hit the Axe Bomber to get them both to the outside. After a valiant effort and some close calls from Menso-re, Koji caught him with the Koko no Geijutsu to retain the titles in a solid bout.
Rating: Eric Bischoff and a quarter
Eight Man Tag Team Match
Dan Tamura, Ryouji Sai, TAJIRI & Yoshitatsu vs. Jun Akiyama, Manabu Nakanishi, Osamu Nishimura & Yutaka Yoshie
We’re now back with eight-man tag action. Dan Tamura, Ryouji Sai, TAJIRI, and Yoshitatu take on Jun Akiyama, Manabu Nakanishi, Osamu Nishimura, and Yutaka Yoshie. This is apart of Manabu’s retirement tour as makes his final AJPW appearance, the last time he was here was in 2018. Will Manabu be able to make the most of his last appearance and win; or will his opponents send him off with a loss?
This one was something you would expect out of this type of tag match; when it’s mostly the vets from varying rosters working together. Not that it’s a bad thing; but it’s one of those where you shouldn’t expect a whole lot to happen. Manabu isn’t someone I would consider a favorite of mine or great in general; but, he seemed to do okay and was able to hit some of the spots he needed. Most of the people in the match were able to do what they needed to do; and Dan looked rather impressive being the youngest participant.
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