July 20, 2020 | News | No Comments
I took in the opening show of the Champion Carnival for All Japan. It was a really hot show, and even though I’m a big supporter of current AJPW even I was surprised by the attendance they did. Korakuen was not far off being packed. Had to be the best crowd they’ve drawn there in a while.
The undercard was fun with the stand-out actually ending up being The Bodyguard vs young Naoya Nomura. The rookie stepped up huge and gave a great performance en route to getting a big upset win. He looked alot more ready for the spot than Jake Lee who faced Atsushi Aoki in the opener. Jun Akiyama vs Super Tiger was on it’s way to being fantastic match when it ended abruptly at the 8 minute mark after Akiyama was KO’d and referee Kohei Wada called for the doctor and the bell rang. Can’t say for sure that it was a work but my instinct tells me it was Akiyama trying to get the outsider over for the tour. It was really well played by Wada and Jun especially. Felt very legit.
The novelty match of the undercard was an 8 man legends tag with a combined age of 436 and 10 months! It was amazingly my second time seeing Dory Funk Jr. wrestle this week. The star of the match was Masanobu Fuchi.
This show was all about the main event though. An absolute classic 30 minute draw between Triple Crown champ Kento Miyahara and Kengo Mashimo. This may have been the best performance of both men’s careers. Miyahara is stepping up in a big way since the departure of Go Shiozaki and Akebono, and the injury of Suwama. The company has been put on his back and he’s carrying it. He looked every bit the ace they need here.
Mashimo was off the charts good. New Japan really missed the boat on him in 2013. He has such a command over the situation when he’s in the ring. His facial expressions are perfect for a greasy heel with a chip on his shoulder trying to knock off a pretty boy ace. This performance he had with Miyahara would have been perfect for a title match with Okada.
The story of the match was Mashimo going at Miyahara’s arm like a pitbull, but the champ firing back with knee strikes and kicks to get a reprieve. It built and built to the point around the 25 minute mark when you realised they were fighting the clock as well as each other. The final few minutes were frantic as a result and the crowd was losing its mind.
Post match, Mashimo glared at the title, and he deserves a shot after this match. A rematch after the tournament could easily do a great crowd because everyone in Korakuen tonight lived and died with this match.
NJPW Invasion Attack Thoughts:
– There was a crazy amount of Naito support. We were seeing Los Ingobernables de Japón shirts from the station by our hotel all the way to Sumo Hall and then at the venue, it was covered in them.
– The line was wrapping around the building which regulars noted was not a normal occurrence.
– The merch was flying off the tables in the building. The scene down by the LIJ section was crazy, and really came across like a super hot product.
– The crowd was insane live, and was really heated the whole way through the show.
– Not many in the crowd knew Will Ospreay going in, but he was a star by the time he left. Many people were asking me about him after his match. In our section, a bunch of the Japanese fans were trying to chant for him, although they found the name a bit tricky!
-All of the confrontations to set up future matches got big reactions, particularly Omega vs. Elgin.
-The atmosphere for the main event was off the charts. The crowd was firmly behind Naito but they were never disrespectful to Okada. Naito’s post-match promo got over big.