There was one spot that I enjoyed and was probably the only real highlight of the match. When Manabu applied the Torture Rack on Dan, as TAJIRI went to spit the green mist; Manabu spun to have Dan hit TAJIRI before he could spit it out. Dan taps out to give Manabu and his team the win. Not the best match but not the worst either as Manabu had his sixth and final match in AJPW.
Rating: Tony Schiavone and three quarters.
Alright, it’s now time for us to reveal the official participants for this year’s Champion Carnival, which will start on April 6th and end on May 5th.
- Kento Miyahara
- Jake Lee
- Yuma Aoyagi
- Naoya Nomura
- Shuji Ishikawa
- Ryouji Sai
- KAI (FREE)
- Takashi Sugiura (NOAH)
- Davey Boy Smith Jr (MLW)
- Gianni Valletta
- Ayato Yoshida (2AW)
- Hideyoshi Kamitani (BJW)
- Shigehiro Irie (OWE)
- Joel Redman (FREE)
- Lucas Steel
For those who follow puroresu, this is a great pool for a tournament. A few first-timers along with fan favorites returning to the Carnival. No Dylan James, The Bodyguard, and Joe Doering opened up the door for more people to come. Andrew and I will be providing coverage for the tournament once it happens, so be sure to check it out when that happens. There’s no official block announcement for it just yet as I’m sure we’ll get that info sometime next month.
AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Title Match
Susumu Yokosuka (c) vs. Akira Francesco
Finally, we reach the first singles match and second title match of the evening; as Dragon Gate’s Susumu Yokosuka will defend the AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Championship against Akira Francesco. Susumu won the vacant title in the tournament finals on January 3rd. Basically the entire division challenged him that day, but the crowd wanted Akira to be the first challenge; and Susumu was happy to oblige. Will Susumu be able to retain in his first defense or will Akira win the title for the first time?
Soon as the bell rang, Akira rushed towards the champion with a Dropkick; followed by a dive to get some momentum in as the crowd loves him. Akira is loved by the fans but, is also missing that something to get him to be considered championship material; but this was also a good step against one of the best Dragon Gate has to offer. Susumu would do some leg work in the match to try and slow down Akira. The match was shorter than one would expect for a title, being only about eleven minutes it’s a little underwhelming; but helped out by the amount of work fit into the short time frame.
The two were fighting by the apron and Akira would hit a beautiful Slingblade and would try to put him away; but Susumu quickly hits the Jumbo no Kachi!gatame, Akira manages to kick out at two since it wasn’t the full maneuver. Susumu had him up on the turnbuckle for the Yokosuka Story but Akira kicks out again! Akira hits the Frankensteiner for a near fall of his own; but Susumu would hit a Lariat setting up Yokosuka Cutter to get the victory in his first title defense. After the match, it looks like Yusuke Okada is going to be his next challenger as the match will take place on February 23rd. Still, a solid bout and enjoyable performances by both of these men probably would’ve added five more minutes.
Rating: Eric Bischoff and a half.
AJPW World Tag Team Title Match
Violence Giant (Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa) vs. Purple Haze (Shigehiro Irie & Lucas Steel)
The semi-main event involves the champion Violence Giant, Suwama and Shuji Ishikawa; defending against Purple Haze members, Lucas Steel and OWE Heavyweight Champion, Shigehiro Irie. Irie and Lucas were able to defeat Shuji and Yusuke Okada in a tag match on January 3rd to get this title match opportunity. With a lot of momentum behind them, they look to upset the three-time Tag Team of the Year winners. Do the Violence Giant retain or will Purple Haze claim some gold?
Before the match would start, Izanagi would talk some smack about the champions and how Purple Haze will take those titles when the match is over; Irie and Lucas would attack them and the two teams would start brawling outside. Before they would all go back into the ring, Irie hits a Suicide Dive onto Shuji and threw him in to get this match started officially. Lucas is someone I’m new to and it looks like he’s relatively new himself; so it was good to see more of him and see how he would do in a title match. I’ll admit, I like his build as it reminds me of Baron Corbin; but he still needs some work and felt exposed a little with his flaws. Violence Giant are still a great team and were able to carry their weight into the match; but at the same time, it feels like that it’s one of their weaker title defenses.
Suwama was able to get in for the hot tag as he starts fighting with Lucas and hits a Belly-to-Belly Suplex. Before he would go for the Last Ride, Izanagi would throw some white powder into his eyes to blind him; as Shuji tries to help him out. Shuji attempted to Irish Whip Lucas but if gets reversed, leading to UTAMARO to hit Shuji with the chair. Purple Haze (except Zeus) would assault the champions in the ring as Lucas ends it with a Big Foot to Suwama. Irie heads to the top rope to go for the Splash; but Shuji positioned himself on top of his partner to soften the blow and take the hit.
Suwama would start to fight them off and wipes out UTAMARO and Izanagi with a Double Lariat. Suwama picked Lucas up for the Backdrop but Lucas got up right away, only to be caught with a second Backdrop and a third for good measure; as they retain the titles in another solid bout. Another little complaint was that it was also short; since the tag title matches usually run close to twenty minutes but this was eleven. Maybe there will be more to come after the Carnival?
Rating: Eric Bischoff and a quarter.
Triple Crown Title Match
Kento Miyahara (c) vs. Yuma Aoyagi
It is now time for our main event as Kento Miyahara defends his Triple Crown Championship against his former partner, Yuma Aoyagi. On January 3rd when Kento retained against Jake Lee, Yuma would betray Kento when he was putting the belt on him and claimed to be the next challenger. This is a big match for Kento because, if he successfully retains his title here; he will tie Toshiaki Kawada for most successful title defenses in a single reign, with ten. Will Kento retain for the 10th time or does Yuma ruin his goal when he’s so close?