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  1. I think we can all pretty much admit AJPW took a stylistic nosedive after the NOAH exodus. Sure Kawada, Tenryu, and Kojima occasionally had some great matches but, by in large, folks just didn't care to go out of their way to purchase this stuff. Therefore, the internet community didn't have much to go on as far as recommendations. My interest in AJPW post NOAH actually starts when some of the guys went back in 2013 I believe. Akiyama, Shiozaki, Kotaro Suzuki and others decided NOAH was a stagnant pond and head back (at least Akiyama and Kanemaru) to their true home. So, I watched a few matches from that period and saw a couple reviews and whatnot that it caught my interest to explore a little more. I was surprised to find that AJPW was actually pretty darn good...great at times! Mutoh eventually was fading from the scene in ring and stylistically. So, matches that featured athleticism and struggle were being championed over angles and sports entertainment style wrestling. So, I cherry picked a few DVDs from about 2011-2015. I'm a cheap skate so I only got single disc shows so, I'm probably missing out on some big time match ups BUT I was taking a risk. I figure it'd be better to trust my gut with the match-ups than, hope the 2 disc big shows would deliver. Anyhow, for whatever reason I jumped in during the Fall of 2011 and boy was I pleasantly surprised! Let's check out the matches! SUWAMA, Masakatsu Funaki & Takao Omori vs Seiya Sanada, Taiyo Kea & Manabu Soya (09/25/11 AJPW): This is exactly the exciting, hard hitting match that I hoped it would be. It never treads into parody of former AJPW or NOAH territory with unneeded strike battles or meaningless machismo. The characters play their part during the 20 minutes of action. Highly recommended, very good match. Koji Kanemoto vs KAI - Jr. Tournament Finals (09/25/11 AJPW): Holy crap! This was awesome They really beat the crap out of each other. KAI is a guy that I've seen a couple times and liked. I'd not yet say, "Hey gotta search out me some KAI footy!" but, he is one to watch. Koji worked on the leg here, setting up for his Ankle Hold. KAI did very well in selling the leg damage (even though he did do some flying moves). I felt he sold it enough within the narrative: He's young and he's going to work with the moves that got him to the finals. Koji was punk as fuck and the A+ worker that he can be- especially as the tough vet. The match featured loads of stiff strikes, variety and smarts. Both guys were battered by the end. It was a true contest for something important and a classic match in the Jr. tradition. I've never heard anyone mention this match so, I'm glad I got the DVD on this. Stong BJW & Takao Omori vs Manabu Soya, Sanada & Taiyo Kea (10/17): 17 minute match. Things weren't clicking 100% but, that made this bout feel more organic and "real." Strong BJW vs Soya/Sanada is the rivalry at the time and the focus was kept on that here. Kea vs Omori is a struggle that's been going on since the late 90's so, there was something at stake here as well. The action was good with many tags, irish whip moves, and strike exchanges. The finishing segment was fantastic and capped off a very good match. Jun Akiyama & Ricky Marvin vs SUWAMA & KAI (10/17): 19 minute match. I really dug the mind games Akiyama was playing on SUWAMA...not only effecting this match but setting the stage for their 10/23 Triple Crown fight. KAI and Marvin's interactions were rough around the edges and not in the way of the above match. I'll chalk this up to KAI (who I usually like) but, didn't really bring much to the match. He just kept things moving along. It was a very good match with nice action and told a good story. I just remember liking it a heck of a lot more on the first watch a year or two ago. SO, you might disagree with me here...heck If I watch it a 3rd time, I might disagree with myself! Jun Akiyama vs SUWAMA (10/23): Sorry, I don't have my notes handy for this match but, I remember that is was kinda disappointing. I was hoping for a classic but, recall it being just a very good match (like *** 3/4). I want to say the pacing was slow and probably went 5 minutes longer than it needed to. I'm pretty confident in that recollection. Kaz Hiyashi & KENSO vs Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto - RWTL (11/26/11 AJPW): KENSO is another guy that I've come to watch for. He's kinda a heel and uses his belt to choke guys. I like this kind of guy in the 2010's. He's got some moves but, is much more of a character than a world class athlete. I'm kinda tired of guys that are young athletes but, rely upon a gimmick rather than their abilities. They work a parody gimmick but, have no idea how their work matches up to their character. So, they do a bunch moves that their character would/should not do. KENSO is a guy where he's got a charisma about him without being a cartoon character with a 100 moves. Anyways, this match was one long finishing run at 11 minutes. Very exciting rush match. Minoru & Koji are cocky jerks taunting KENSO until he has to smack the taste outta their mouths. At this run time, I highly recommend watching this. Its just very good stuff. Takao Omori & Manabu Soya vs Seiya Sanada & KAI - RWTL (11/26/11 AJPW): Here's that KAI fella again! Omori & Soya have teamed up here as Wild Hearts. The thing is Sanada & Soya were tag partners just a few months ago. Not sure who wanted the split but, they square off right at the bell. Seiya goes for speed and shocks Soya. KAI's in there and they go for the double team. These two young guns look dynamic as all get out! Oh shit! They are fighting in the stands now. Old man Omori's out there choking Sanada with a child's parasol! Hahahaha! Back on inside the ring and KAI's trying Soya but, come on dude! Manabu is a freaking caveman...and not the Fred Flintstone type either. Omori gets in there and wisely slows things down with KAI. The K man eventually finds an opening to get Seiya, the fire plug, going. Omori's had enough and puts big Soy sauce in there. Hey, deadlift suplex a motherfucker, Soya! This is a real back and forth match. Omori's trying to Axe Guillotine Driver KAI off the top now. Great! erase his head from existence! Just tons of double team destruction but, surprisingly never goes into bonkers territory. Both teams were very impressive. This was a great match. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi vs SUWAMA & Takumi Soya (11/26/11 AJPW): Strong BJW have the tag belts but, this is a non title fight. It's a RWTL match-up. So here we go- Takumi smartly WRESTLES Okabayashi...fuck...do NOT get into a power battle with him. Daisuke wants SUWAMA. 'WAMA is a beast eating chops for lunch. Takumi gets back in (at some point) and wrestling smartly but, gets sucked into trading hits and early one his chest is a cherry tomato. BJW is stretching him out like a fat lady in a pair of stirrup pants. Quick tags and repeated hard slams only rub it in. Soya is in trouble. Slam, cover, 2 count, kickout, tag, repeat. SUWAMA's waiting... This match was built brilliantly and paid off in a perfect manner. It starts out being like a ***3/4 match then, a great match like a firm ****+ but, damn this just kept getting better and better. So, I'd call this a classic match. I can't give a number or anything like that but, whew! This did it for me! Awesome closer to an awesome night of wrestling. KENSO & Kaz Hiyashi vs KAI & Seiya Sanada (12/03): I wanted to mention that if you get the DVD of this show, it has a really nice recap segement of the highlights and finishes of many (all?) of the RWTL matches that have taken place up to this time. I know as wrestling dorks, we want to see the full matches BUT it is really nice and fun to see some of these things clipped down to the highlights. They make Akebono matches look watchable. Anyhow, I like everyone here but, wouldn't say I would stick around for an 18 minute match of theirs...but, I was wrong. They managed to keep everything fun and exciting. The action was very good and it really was time well spent. KENSO even busted open KAI's chest, giving meaning to the nomenclature- knife edge chops. Very good match Strong BJW vs Get Wild (Omori & Manabu Soya): This is my jam! BJW are tag champs and damn! do they look it here. Omori and Soya can only hope to slow down the juggernaut team. Of course, the AJ team finds a way but, you know Sekimoto and Okabayashi are not going down without a fight! If you're into Choshu/Hashimoto/WAR/Kensuke type stuff then, you must watch this 20 minute RWTL match. It is so simple from a move/sequence perspective yet, the physicality is remarkable. That's what really keeps you hooked and what moves the story along. Matches like this feel like a battle in the true sense of the term. There are ebbs and flows, bits of luck, acts of courage and desperation - This was a classic match to me. Some of these reviews appeared really early on in the blog but, I wanted to consolidate everything for convenience and reference sake. The first post or so was more than a year and a half ago and I know when I'm doing research on wrestling recommendations, it really helps to have everything right in one spot. Anyhow, I was damn impressed by the above matches. Three matches I would call classics (in that ****1/2 star range). Don't be mistaken there is some so-so matches that I had to sit through, some I had to skip but, I've spared you the write-ups on those. Manabu Soya is one guy that I think is slept on especially as a tag team wrestler. If you dig Strong BJW then, you need to see them go up against Soya and Omori. As winter approaches, I want to try and start on 2012 AJPW which I think I have much more of. So, that is a little project goal. We'll see though Fingers crossed! Thanks for reading!
  2. I exhumed a load of reviews from the grooveyard for this one. I'm psyched to do it though. Jun Akiyama is one of my favorites I hope you enjoy reading and you take the time to go back to good old days of 1990's AJPW! OK let's get this started! vs Al Perez, vs Ted DiBiase (1/15 & 10/23/93): Both of these are worth checking out for that fun house show type of match. Both opponents kept the action and pace going for a couple entertaining matches. Its especially cool to see DiBiase back in AJPW after his very good run back in '87. Akiyama & Takao Omori vs The Fantastics (01/29/95): This was a highlight reel match for both teams. It wasn't heavy on the drama or story but damn! it featured quick action Watch for when Jun gets some Hashimoto nose blood. Good match and fans of these guys should take the time to watch it. Toshiaki Kawada vs Jun Akiyama (Champ Carnival 03/21/95): This seemed like that match people were talking about when they were discussing Kobashi vs. Jumbo back in '91. Just an excellent match that really made Jun look like the future star and it made Kawada look tough yet beatable. Really cool match with Kawada getting really stiff at times. Great Match perhaps a Near Classic Toshiaki Kawada, Johnny Ace & Takao Omori vs Stan Hansen, Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (04/15/95): All Japan had some of the best six-man matches that you'd think they were M-Pro in '96. But yeah AJ was doing it in the late 80's & early 90's and if you didn't know they were even doing them in 1995 too. This was a surprise for me but, I'm not going to fawn over it. 4 out of the 6 guys are bonafide greats, and Omori has got the chops and Ace knows how to hang with the group too. I mean he's got some 5 star matches to his credit, right? So, you put all of them together you're going to get something enjoyable. That's always been my rating scale on all of these...how much I enjoyed them There were so many neat stories here with everyone being Champ Carny runners-up for one then you've got: Hansen beating Kawada a month earlier for the belts, Kobashi & Ace at the same show went toe-to-toe during their tag war, then you've got Kobashi against Kawada who not only went to a draw in Jan. but they went to one during the Carny, and then you've got Akiyama vs. Kawada which is always awesome and the story of him & Omori as up & comers as well as being All-Asia tag partners (either around this time or in the past.) AND you've got Hansen, the last of the old guard showing he can still go. Whew! The fact of the matter is that with all of this they didn't need to do too much to make this great but, being the best promotion of the 90's they sure as hell did AND then some. The more AJPW you watch the better the match is. Classic stuff! Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama vs Steve Williams/Johnny Ace - (06/07/96 Tag Team Titles): A pure 20 minute plus spree of excitement and near falls. Ace has never looked better, and his chemistry with Akiyama is what made this match so great. Doc once out of the limelight really showed his strength as a brilliant tag wrestler. He and Ace were such a standout team because of this dynamic. Akiyama played his role brilliantly and Misawa was ace but also senpai. This was his role here and it was masterful as ever and touched an emotional nerve. The dynamic with Doc and Akiyama was rough in the early going but as it became more heated, one forgot this segment of the action. It was clear this match was for Ace and Akiyama to shine and they did not disappoint. A classic for sure! Kenta Kobashi, Johnny Ace & Johnny Smith vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama & Satoru Asako (08/22/97): This started out pretty routine although Johnny Smith was the clear bright point. He was very adamant about making the arm work something special. It was different and helped slow down Akiyama who was the fireplug of his team. Jun wanted to take it to Ace and Kobashi but, Smith wasn’t going to be ignored. He darn near ripped the Blue boy’s arm out of the socket. That’s alright because he was pumped and gave the match a little depth. Stop the burgeoning contender! Now, that’s not to say the other guys were slouches but, no one else brought the intensity like he did. That is to be expected in a match like this. Akiyama, Smith, and Asako are the one’s with something to prove. The story was about ranking and status but, ultimately the athletic competition. This set the outcome in question and was exciting as all hell. The execution, pacing and timing was flawless from all. Great final match for a TV episode…I’d love to be a teenager again and see this at 10:30 at night before going to bed and thinking about it all the next day at school! Reminds me of ECW Hardcore TV in that way. Very good match. vs Mitsuharu Misawa (04/18/98 Champ Carnival): Whoa! Blue Bomber coming in with the game plan! This might be the birth of Akiyama - the genius. Here he is precise like a surgeon opertating on Misawa. Elbows, dropkicks, leg locks etc. but, the Emerald ace is double tough & plenty dangerous. This 20 minute match showcases excellent timing and pacing that crescendos with a badass finishing segment. A near classic match, damn might even be a classic in my book. Smart and violent wrestling in the AJ tradition. vs Kenta Kobashi (07/24/98): What a match! I really enjoyed Jun's persistant focus on slowing Kobashi down. He had a slew of surprising attacks against the Orange Crush's knee. They felt so organic. Of course, this all would be meaningless if it wasn't for Kenta's masterful selling. This is the timeless Kings Road 'blurred reality' selling where its very difficult to tell if the damage is real or imagined. I liked this match much more than than the Kawada vs Kobashi 06/12/98 bout. I feel that match-up had been done to death. Besides, I felt Kobashi never fully clicked in singles encounters with Kawada. Also, Kobashi refrained from hulking up which always has to be noted at this point in his career Anyhow, I thought this match was a classic! vs Yoshinari Ogawa (09/11/98): Two geniuses go at it in the squared circle! This is an all action bout with lightning counter moves from Ogawa with Jun keeping pace and selling just enough to keep Ogawa in the fight. Rat Boy is underrated a hell and such a breath of fresh air. I loved this match and so did the fans. Great match! Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (10/11/98) – This was a great little tag match. Kawada was just pissed and brutal. He was beating Akiyama, he was beating Kobashi, and he himself got beaten for good measure too! We all win! Akiyama had a spirited showing as well. Kobashi and Taue do show their wear and tear so, this wasn’t exactly everyone in their prime but, this still kicked a fair bit of ass. It’s that unpredictable appeal of very late 90’s AJPW that had me interested in this one for sure. Anyone can win in these matches and more importantly- anyone can lose. Great bout. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (01/07/99) – The first few minutes (?) were clipped from this match. I’m a little bummed of that but, in all honesty I think AJPW’s clippings are superior to let’s say NJ or M-Pro’s clipping of things. They always seem to pick a nice point to pick up the action and ride it on out. Ok so, it starts with the original “Burning” picking apart Kawada’s knee. From there Taue gets in and brings the fire like it’s 1995! He must have gotten a good night’s sleep because he’s kicking with pep. The man’s throwing dropkicks like he’s a youngster. I love it! This is especially the case since Kobashi is all taped up…I think from a bout with Vader perhaps. Anyhow the Holy Demon Army go rabid over this. Akiyama’s there doing his spots and sequences and it’s nice but, Taue really brought the shit tonight! This is an all action match with bags full of energy and pep. The teams were really feeling the electricity in the air on this one. It wasn’t hall of fame stuff but, I still don’t think anyone was doing matches this exciting in 1999 Japan. Great! Burning (Kobashi & Akiyama) vs Untouchables (Misawa & Ogawa) (03/06/99 AJPW): This was a fantastic must see match. That’s not just for very late 90s AJPW either. This was surprisingly awesome. Misawa and Ogawa’s chemistry is great. Burning has come together as a team in their own right and were equally impressive. Plenty of great tag team maneuvers and teases. This was an AJPW style that went back to the early 90s in terms of surprises and timing. This was not the King’s Road pinnacle style yet, there was a glut of excitement and drama nonetheless. I could see anyone who would want to get into the 90s All Japan style to start out here. It’s got everything. It really encourages me to checkout the late 90s AJ scene more. This was a true gem. vs Takao Omori (09/04/99): If you are a fan of either guy then, damn man, you need to watch this!! Knees, lariats, armbars, attacks off the top rope, man! Why did people thing AJ sucked in '99? It has a big match feel, it has a nice early focus on grappling then, organically transitions to big moves but no MKII finishers which was refreshing. This is very similar to 2012-2015 actually Great match! Burning (Kobashi & Akiyama) vs Untouchables (Misawa & Ogawa) (10/23/99 Tag Titles): This maybe one of the greatest action style tag match ever done. Now they did edit out a portion at the beginning but, I can’t think it was too much. The combat here was hot and hard hitting throughout. Ogawa of course brought his chicanery but, worked so fast and tight that he deserved to be in a true title fight. Misawa was not a slouch either, proving he still has it with multiple dives and splashes. Kobashi was Japanese Hercules and Akiyama had finally grown into his boots. The Blue boy brought the moves and stiffness we didn’t really think he had until NOAH. Other than that I can’t say enough good things about the match. So, I will declare it’s not the same match you would expect in the heydays of 93-96 but, it is just an awesome display of grit, drama, and courage. I would seek this match out without hesitation. One of those matches I slept on for awhile but, so glad I finally got it - classic match! Burning (Kobashi/Akiyama) vs NO FEAR (Omori/Takayama) (10/30/99): I hadn’t heard too much chatter about this match until the 1999 PWO Yearbook. It’s certainly one of those matches an AJPW junkie wants to see just in case it’s an overlooked gem. Well, this is an overlooked gem for sure! Takayama is just about on par with the blonde haired bastard from the 2000s. Omori is just a beefier version of the ass kicker from 95-96 that was giving guys a run for their money. So, to give a summary- This was heated and intense. NO FEAR showed they belonged by handing Burning’s ass to them. Takayama was especially brutal. It’s as we’ve come to expect just, a few years earlier that he’s given credit for. It’s a quick match for AJ standards but, it delivers just how you want it to. Very good! Vader & Steve Williams vs AJ Tag Team Champions Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (02/20/00 AJPW): Vader & Dr. Death are a hell of a team and Akiyama was ready to bring it. Kobashi dogged it a bit but, took some good shots and nice bumps so it didn't matter too much. This is the time and place where Vader & Dr. Death shine. Near Classic to classic match. Thank you for reading!!! Now go watch some wrestling!
  3. Otani's invasions of Noah were always great and produced some quality matches. This is no exception. He gets a ton of love from the Korakuen fans which are pretty lively during this and his exchanges with Akiyama are great as they both dish it out on each other with some quality strikes and some big throws. His exchanges with him bullying Kanemaru are quality too. Unfortunately the exchanges with Saito are way too short. That finishing stretch, namely the stuff with Kanemaru and Asako I thought was really great.
  4. Another pretty fun Noah tag match. This is mostly based around Misawa and Otani and the crowd for some reason is fully behind Otani. I thought Ogawa and Omori were OK here and Misawa and Otani just outshined them with their interactions. Despite how fun those exchanges were, I felt this was a bit long and it dragged at times, but when they toned it up it was good fun.
  5. Nifty little big man tag team battle in which everyone looks good in. We get some crowd brawling and big dudes whaling at each other. Fools engaging in slap battles with Rikio is one of my favorite things of 2001.
  6. Another really fun big man tag with Sugiura being an alternate as he was still a Jr. then. Akiyama and Saito do a great job of cutting the ring in half and isolating the smaller Sugiura and even though we don't get the nasty knee to head manjigatame Akiyama has been using, we get an ugly spine bending double crab on Sugiura. Sugiura's comeback is smartly kept short to a spear and then the hot tag to Omori, who unleashes and we get a wild hot, hot finishing stretch starting from there. Sugiura dead lifting people and throwing heavyweights around is a pretty awesome visual here too.
  7. This is far better than it has any right to be. While the lineups indicate it should be a squash match, it turns out it's not as Morishima and Shiga put on a fiery performance. They take up the approach Marufuji did in the previous match against Misawa and they attack NO FEAR before the bell and it's awesome because the crowd gets going and they stick to everything they can and Shiga takes off Omori's shirt and he chokes him with it. Then what was originally a squash for NO FEAR turns against them and they are the ones getting squashed and the fans begin to believe Morishima and Shiga will pull off the upset before Omori smashes Morishima with an Axe Bomber and the sight of an upset is over. Really fun match.
  8. I think I've seen Takao twice in my life--the 1996 Royal Rumble where he didn't do anything, and the 2000 Carny match with Jun...not a whole lot to extrapolate from that marathon. Omori is full of pep and energy in his first big showcase match. Unfortunately for him Team Misawa sees to it that his hopes and dreams are swiftly and efficiently crushed, leaving undoubtedly a bitter cynical shell of a man. Omori gets the absolute snot beaten out of him--even Akiyama gets to act like a grizzled old veteran stiffing the shit out of some young snot. Omori is in peril for a LONG time, and we must go about 15 minutes before Kawada tags in. He's doubtless still working hurt, but when he tags in for the first time it's with Misawa down and vulnerable, and having milked the big showdown for quite awhile the crowd is suitably amped for it. The other running subplot from this and other recent matches is the budding rivalry between Kobashi and Taue--every exchange they've had recently has been stiff and exciting and full of hate. Anxious to see a singles match between the two now, and that's probably the least notable of the Four Corners match-ups. After being on a big hot streak, by the end of this Kobashi is back to being the gutsy overmatched underdog having to hang on for dear life--not necessarily because he's outranked but because the numbers game overwhelms him. Taue eventually puts him away with a nodowa to put more heat on that matchup. I guess this is it for Omori's major involvement in these stable wars, and honestly it's kind of hard to evaluate how he'd place in future matches--he looked promising but he really didn't do a lot besides act as a punching bag.
  9. The infamous seven second match! But this being All Japan nothing is ever as simple as it may seem. Omori attacks Akiyama before the bell, which he actually evades, and hits a big knee knocking Omori down! He then goes for the Exploder, Omori evades it, does an awesome ref shove, blindsights Akiyama with an Axe Bomber and THEN the bell rings, and Omori hits a quick back of the head/regular Axe Bomber combo for the win. Hard to slap a rating on it, but it was an efficient and exciting way of getting someone over, and almost certainly the best executed one in such a short match.
  10. A nice little match, as Nomura attacks Omori before the bell with consecutive Dropkicks and sets the pace for this quick match. Omori looks to hit the Axe Bomber, Nomura looks for the Spear, naturally they run the ropes a lot for that, and it's about as cohesive as it could be. I loved how Omori blocked Nomura's first Spear attempt by just powering through and that the finish included countering the back of the head-normal Axe Bomber, that and the length of the match were a nice nod to the famous Akiyama/Omori sprint, and Nomura's delayed selling was on point. **3/4
  11. Champion Carnival match: Solid chop exchange to start with nice selling by Omori. He reminded me of Tenryu with grimaces and a desire to stop getting smacked in the chest once he know he's beat. Takao works so well in keeping Zeus' defeat a reality despite being like a Japanese Scott Steiner. I mean that positively and negatively. In essence, Omori keeps the pace slower and makes Zeusy take his lumps before he can shrug it off and do his power moves...which are cool but, they could use a little teasing or struggle before busting them out. For 2016 "Indy" AJPW Champion Carnival, they pulled out quite a few stops here. I highly recommend checking this out.
  12. If we take AJPW as an Indy promotion, then our expectations won't be set too high. At this point, AJ is an Indy and nothing like the venerated promotion of the 90's. Well, except for the style. With Akiyama back and in charge it is decidedly a throwback to the early 90s. Omori & Jun play the tough but a little over the hill vets with champ Miyahara teaching Jake Lee the ropes. Lee has good potential as he's young, a stiff worker, and not too handsome. He'll hone his craft rather than worry about modeling and super stardom. This match was very good at telling the above story to the fans. Everyone was solid and the work was snug. There wasn't anything awesome but, there wasn't anything offensive either. Jake Lee made an impression which was the point, I think. Recommended match
  13. Wild Burning (Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori) vs. Xceed (Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara) - AJPW 12/6/14 There have been strecthes in all these 2014 AJPW matches where they are wrestling at a ***** level and it feels like you are watching 90s AJPW again. The action is explosive, urgent, but also with a sense of purpose directed towards winning the match. The best example of this high-caliber of work is towards the beginning. Miyahara has out worked the bigger, older Omori exposing a midsection weakness. This was not enough for Miyahara who was became obsessed with getting his shots in on Akiyama on the apron. Of course, he paid for his negliglence in the form of a wicked big boot by Omori. Akiyama without missing a beat, seized Miyahara and flung him outside to whip him in the railing. He explosively DDTs him all over the floor. It was like nothing else you would see in modern wrestling landscape. Maybe Brock is that explosive, but that is the only thing that comes close. The problem is unlike 90s AJPW they can not maintain the caliber of wrestling throughout a match rather these are fleeting moments of excellence. These stretches elevate the matches from the usual late 00s NOAH fare. I would say the matches are more similart to early NOAH than anything else. Back to the match, I am 100% sure now that Akiyama was the best offensive wrestler in the world last year. It is scary how deep his arsenal is, but without Misawa, Kobashi, and Taue it is going to waste. Akiyama blasts Miyahara with knees and hits a piledriver in short order. When he does not get the pin, he tags out with authority. I am sure Akiyama has a chip on his shoulder regarding Miyahara. Omori bouncing Miyahara head off the top of the steel post for the super back suplex was the best thing Omori has ever done. Miyahara is such a great young talent. I love how when he gets piledriven he is searching for the bottom rope because he knows he does not have the power to kick out. That is a wrestling acumen very few ever reach. As always, since 2000, a suplex struggle signals Miyahara hitting a hard-fought suplex to tag Shiozaki. I will give Akiyama-Miyahara their suple struggles look hard-fought and having seen a lot of perfunctory suplex struggles I am appreciative of it. Miyahara does the smart thing and tags in Shiozaki. I like Shiozaki's hot tag. It is simple but effective. His chop is the great equalizer. It is the only thing Akiyama has consistently sold all year so it feels like a real weapon. He actually blasts through both Akiyama and Omori. I like Akiyama's desperation to stop the bleeding with one of his bombs but Shiozaki has too much spunk to go for that. Shiozaki is looking lariat but eats a knee and Akiyama clamps on a choke. That is good shit. Shiozaki looks to put his team firmly in position to win, but gets caught quickly. Shiozaki powers out. I like how they are putting over Go. Omori comes in and hits his generic offense and the heat dissapates quickly. Shiozaki chops Omori's lariat arm and tags out to Miyahara. After the tag to Miyahara he trades some moves with Omori. One second Miyahara eats a superplex and the next he is kicking off someone's head with a scissors kick. Once Akiyama is in, he is looking for the win and the match kicks into the big finish stretch. I like Akiyama looking for the Exploder seeing Go coming so he lets go to cut him off, but it is too late and eats the lariat. Miyahara gets a flash triangle and his scissor kick/deadlift German combo as nearfalls. He goes for his kill finish the Butterfly Piledriver, but nothing doing and Omori BLASTS him with a wicked lariat. Omori is good for something. I liked the Boma Ye knee/Lariat combo to a sitting up opponent. Go saves. Akiyama runs through his usual offense of knees to the head and an Exploder head drop to polish off the young hotshot. Easily my favorite of the touted 2014 All Japan match as this one combined a ton of action with the great Akiyama/Miyahara story. Omori dragged shit down a bit. I thought Go wrestled well in the beginning and was a decent hot tag. I liked how they treated his chop and his interactions with Akiyama were good. Still, Akiyama/Miyahara made this match special. If they could just replace Omori with the recently retired Sasaki or someone like that, this match would have a real shot at match of the year. As is, it stands as the one All Japan match that can hang with the best of New Japan. ****1/2
  14. Omori is wearing the single ghastliest set of trunks I have ever, ever seen. That includes Jay Strongbow's '70s-couch-cushion pattern. They can barely be described as anything besides "psychedelic leopardskin." Or psychedelic sponge. This is a solid 6-man tag that's hurt by a meandering opening half. It picks up when Kobashi gets caught in the ropes and Kawada starts taking his knee apart, but the Kobashi-in-peril segment doesn't last too long and we quickly go to the hot tag and big 6-man bomb-throwing after that. Fun closing stretch but this isn't at the levels of the classic 6-mans of '91-'93. Omori seems to be in a state of arrested development since showing up in '94, as he still doesn't offer much besides the ability to take a beating. And the teams are more haphazard than the clearer alliances of the Jumbo's Army/Super Generation Army days. That said, it's still fun seeing fresh blood and fresh teams in this setting.
  15. Grimmas

    Takao Omori

    Discuss here.
  16. Jun Akiyama vs Takao Omori - AJPW 6/15/2014 Vacant Triple Crown Championship Wow, this is like an exact copy of Kawada vs Kojima 2005 for the Triple Crown. You have the super worker kick the dogshit out of the generic create a puroresu wrestler in really entertaining fashion only to choke in ridiculous fashion to a barrage of lariats. The only difference was that Kojima was actually over. In defense of this match, I think if you plug in a wrestler with more charisma than Omori this match would be a lot better. Omori is about the most bland wrestler I think I have ever seen. He does the bare minimum in almost every regard, but never really excels at any one thing and especially anything involving emotion. Nothing he did felt earned or like he was overcoming anything because he just started hitting moves. To give Kojima some credit, he does have charisma and there is an energy when he starts to make his comeback. Omori is just so flat. On the other hand, I thought Akiyama's asskicking of Omori was more entertaining than Kawada's asskicking. Akiyama just absolutely destroyed the arm. I love he would just take Omori down at will by the arm whenever he tried to fire up. Akiyama has so many weapons at his disposal strikes, submissions and my favorite throwing Omori's arm into steel objects. At one point, Akiyama hits a crazy cool combination of piledriver into a Boma Ye Knee so sick. Akiyama is grooving into his usual finish stretch (Boma Ye Knee, Guillotine Choke, Exploders) and I am just like this is way too easy and alarm bells start going off. Akiyama is going to choke. Choke big time. Omori hits some weird lariats, which I am going to chock up to selling. Akiyama bursts out with an Exploder, a quick Boma Ye Knee and then another Exploder. Omori kicks out? Bullshit! Omori wins with a barrage of lariats, wow, that was lame. I have said this before matches like don't make Omori look resilient, it makes Akiyama looks like a choke for not being able to polish him off with all his big moves. Omori was perfectly fine at selling, but his comeback was pathetic. Akiyama crushed it offensively. This was probably the best offensive performance of the year in terms of limb psychology and the two EXPLOSIVE big move combinations. Did I watch the wrong match? It is a good match and worth to match Akiyama be a boss, but this seems far away from match of the year to me. I am disappointed because I really want All Japan and Akiyama to be awesome. Here's hoping the rest is great. ***1/2
  17. Talk about it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAwk4WPeZUU&feature=youtu.be
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