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EditorialAJPW Excite Series Results & Review 2/11/2020

AJPW Excite Series Results & Review 2/11/2020

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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.

AJPW Excite Series

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.

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
  • Suwama
  • Shuji Ishikawa
  • Zeus
  • Yoshitatsu
  • 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?

Look at Yuma with his new upgraded look with his attire, it’s like he’s his own person now! Yuma has shown us that he actually can perform at a main event level; after being in Kento’s shadow for so long. The fact that he’s been his partner for so long, he knew what to do to counter most of his stuff.  Initially being proven when he worked on his arm after Kento hits the turnbuckle post. If Kento can’t use his arm, he won’t have a strong grip for his finisher; and Yuma was able to capitalize on it at points during the match. So there was a story to be had, but it didn’t feel completely fleshed out. I wish Yuma had more development instead of feeling like he was tossed in; due to a generally small roster in AJPW.

Yuma would rip the mat off the floor and it looks like he had something in mind as the two were on the apron, but Kento would hit a Piledriver to halt that. Once Yuma got back in, Kento would hit the Blackout along with a German Suplex; but Yuma popped up and returned the favor. While Kento was attempting the Shutdown German Suplex Hold, Yuma fought him off and caught him in the End Game submission. He had it locked in tight, making us believe Kento could tap out; but he was able to grab the rope to break the hold. The two started fighting until Kento hits another Blackout and then Yuma hits him with a spinning kick before catching Kento with the Rockstar Buster; Kento kicked out at two! Yuma is speechless and doesn’t waste any more time when he attempts to hit the kick again but Kento would hit a Blackout along with an Underhook Facebuster. Kento would finally be able to get a hold of Yuma as he hits the Shutdown German Suplex Hold for the victory and has tied the record!

That’s right, Kento was able to retain the title for the tenth time during this reign and is now tied with Toshiaki Kawada for successful title defenses. Now, what do you do after that? You try to break the record of course!

That is what Kento intends to do before the Champion Carnival takes place. After the match, while Kento was talking about how he is now tied with the record, Suwama would come out to make the challenge saying he will stop him from making history and the match will take place on March 23rd. While I wish it was a new opponent, it does seem fitting to fight the former ace for the history-making moment, plus they always work great together and should be another classic.

Congratulations on Kento for making it this far and now he just has to break the record.

Rating: Bruce Prichard and a quarter.

Overall: Honestly, not their best show when you look at the card and the quality from over half the match but it was still not the worst one either. Having shorter Junior and Tag Title matches didn’t really help anything. The main event was the highlight of the show as Kento never disappoints and Yuma was able to show he has what it takes to be a future top guy and hope he keeps that momentum in the future.

Favorite Match: Kento Miyahara vs. Yuma Aoyagi

Least Favorite Match: Ayato Yoshida, Fuminori Abe & Tatsuya Hanami vs. Purple Haze (Zeus, Izanagi, & UTAMARO)

Score: 7/10

For a special bonus, you can see the Triple Crown Championship Match from the Excite Series if you follow the link attached. Hopefully it may peak your interest to watch the Champion Carnival this year.

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