AJPW Champion Carnival 2018 Review: Days 9-12 (18/4/18-22/4/18)

Added by Mike Grindle

You can check out the review for days 1-4 of the tournament HERE

You can also check out the review for days 1-5 HERE

Day 9

Block B Match: Dylan James vs. KAI

Things are somewhat back and forth early here, but it’s pretty much Dylan in control all the way to the end here, when KAI gets a cheeky win after reversing a chokeslam attempt into a roll-up. The match is really nothing to talk about, but the story being told with Dylan James throughout this tournament, which is that he has all the tools to win but gets caught out due to inexperience, is a good one and they continue it here.

Block B Match: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Yutaka Yoshie

Marufuji’s performances have been a little uninspired so far in this tournament, and as likable as Yoshie is, he’s not going to blow anyone away in match quality. This match unsurprisingly isn’t great, in fact with all the awkward and slow exchanges it’s pretty much the worst match of the tournament. Yoshie does his usual stuff, Marafuji delivers some strikes and then slices bread #2 and the match is over. Don’t bother with this.

Block A Match: Ryouji Sai vs. Yuji Hino

Technical wrestling would be the way to go you’d think for Sai, but Hino proves early on he can wrestle and outdoes Sai in his own game. As they move onto striking, Hino has even more of an advantage when they switch to striking, and the match is all him thereafter. After dominating the match, Hino thinks he’s got it in the bag and goes for the powerbomb but Sai reverses it and gets the win. Similar to the Dylan vs. KAI match from earlier on in the evening, in that one man is clearly the more beaten up but emerges victoriously.

Block B Match: Jun Akiyama vs. Yoshitatsu

Yoshitatsu fares better early, and delivers a flying knee to the outside on Akiyama. Akiyama gets back in it though with a DDT on the floor and a knee drop to Yoshitatsu on the apron. Akiyama follows with a piledriver and a guillotine but Yoshitatsu survives both. In a great little sequence Akiyama reverse a kick in the exploder suplex, but Yoshitatsu spring up to hit a German suplex, only for Akiyama to spring back up and deliver a knee leaving both men down. Yoshitatsu goes for the submission attempt, but Akiyama counter with a pin for the three. This was easily match of the night, though it didn’t really have much to compete with in all truth.

Day 10

Block A Match: Naoya Nomura vs. Ryoji Sai

Despite Nomura starting off well with some fast paced offence, Sai soon takes over the match and slows things down. Nomura gets back into things with some forearms and the spear for two, but Sai gets the knees up for his top rope splash attempt. A brainbuster from Sai soon follows for the two count, but Nomura soon fights back into it again and gets several near falls, including one from a top rope splash. Nomura goes back up to try and hit the splash again but gets caught for the superplex. Sai follows with his version of the backdrop and a running knee to the corner for the win.

Block A Match: Joe Doering vs. Shingo Takagi

Takagi doesn’t wait for Joe to even take off all his ring gear before attacking, but Joe soon shrugs off the smaller man’s offence and lariats him to the outside. Joe then dominates for a long stretch, until he goes to finish with a powerbomb and Takagi counters it into a backdrop. We end up on the apron, and you know Takagi is thinking Death Valley driver, but after a struggle what we actually get is a big dive from Takagi out to Joe on the floor. Takagi gets some more offence in before Joe hits a big spinebuser, followed by a piledriver for the two. Takagi avoids the resolution bomb again and delivers a series of lariats and a falconry for the 2. Joe wins a striking exchange, hits the big cross body and finally the resolution bomb for the three. Another great match produced by Takagi here.

Block A Match: The Bodyguard vs. Yuji Hino

So bodyguard’s matches had to be moved around due to a legitimate injury and they play off that here, with him limping to the ring. It starts off intriguing enough with the Bodyguard playing old grizzled badass walking into his impending doom. Hino is hesitant, not in a compassionate way but more of a “Are you seriously going to try this?” way. Bodyguard’s strikes don’t have much on them, and Hino practically toys with him throughout the match. Once Hino is done playing around he goes for the powerbomb but Bodyguard avoid it and after a high kick and lariat… he wins?! A big shock win for Bodyguard here, whilst Hino looks a bit foolish for not putting Bodyguard away earlier.

Block B Match: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Zeus

Marafuji is in control early until he makes the decisions to let Zeus get some free shots in, a decision he soon regrets. Its more back and forth from there on, with Zeus hitting a press slam, some big lariats and the chokeslam, whilst Marafuji delivers his trademark kicks and a dive to the outside. In the end Marafuji gets caught with the Jackhammer after a failed attempt at delivering sliced bread #2. Not a bad match and a great win for Zeus. Marafuji continues to look warn out in this tournament though, which is no surprise considering his current schedule and age.

Day 11

Block A Match: Shingo Takagi vs. Ryoji Sai

Takagi targets Sai’s legs, using the barricades and a table to inflict damage, and locking in a sharpshooter back in the ring. Sai gets back into the match though, notably hitting a brainbuster, a punt kick and a superplex. Takagi comes back with a big lariat for two, followed by a falconry for another near fall before slapping on the STF for a submission win. This wasn’t best of the tournament contender, but a good match nonetheless.

Block A Match: Shuji Ishikawa vs. Bodyguard

Bodyguard is limping again, and they keep things short and sweet here. We get a lot of striking and lariat exchanges before Ishikawa hits several piledrivers and knees to get the win. Fine for what it was but you certainly don’t need to seek this one out.

Block B Match: Suwama vs. Naomichi Marufuji

The first half of this isn’t much to talk about, there’s a lot of ringside brawling, rest holds and the odd strike. Around the halfway mark, things really start picking up though, with Suwama bringing the big suplexes and intensity, and Marufuji brings the excellent strikes and little moments of genius (namely his tendency to just backflip out of stuff). After a lot of great back and forth action, Suwama hits an “out of nowhere” backdrop, followed by a second for the two count. Suwama then goes for the last ride, but Marafuji avoid it and hits a high kick and a high knee for a near fall. Suwama comes straight back with a German suplex and a pair of lariats for two near falls, before hitting the last ride for the win. Easily Marufuji’s best match of the tournament and maybe Suwama’s as well. Go give this a watch.

Block B Match: Jun Akiyama vs. Zeus

High intensity start from Zeus in this one, throwing Akiyama into the barricades and then stomping round after him. After a DDT on the outside though, Akiyama soon takes control. Akiyama’s offence seems to revolve around trying to break Zeus’s skull, with brainbusters, piledrivers and so many brutal knees to the face. Zeus survives all of Akiyama’s offence though, and he turns things around in his favour with the chokeslam and some big lariats, softening him up for the Jackhammer which puts Akiyama away. Another great match here, not quite as hot as Suwama vs. Marufuji but had a much better first half.

Day 12

Block B Match Ryoji Sai vs. Shuji Ishikawa

There’s a fair bit of outside brawling early on, as Sai begins targeting Ishikawa’s leg. That’s not enough to stop Ishikawa hitting a dropkick from the middle rope and a diving foot stomp it seems though. Several striking battles follow as well as some big suplexes from Sai but it is Ishikawa who look more dominant as we get to the closing stretch. As Ishikawa goes to put Dai away with the resolution bomb however, Sai counters with a roll up for the win. Another cheeky win for Sai in a descent match.

Block B Match: KAI vs. Naomichi Marufuji

Some nice quick exchanges to start here, ending with Marufuji getting dropkicked to the outside and landing awkwardly on his leg. KAI then controls for a stretch of the match targeting Marufuji’s leg. Marufuji comes gets back into the match with a dropkick, which is a bit silly considering all the damage he takes but at least he remembers to keep selling it. We get a lot of awesome kicks and high knees from both men and the match has a great pacing to it. As we get into the closing stretch, KAI is the one looking stronger as he hits a German suplex and big powerbomb for the two count. He then hits a splash plancha but Marufuji still survives and after some big kicks and knees, Marufuji hits sliced bread for the win. Just when you think Marufuji doesn’t have it anymore, he starts producing great matches again.

Block B Match: Suwama vs.Yoshitatsu

Yoshitatsu uses his speed early on to get the advantage and hits a flying knee to the outside. Suwama gets the better of things once they start brawling around the ring though, and he controls the match for a long stretch thereafter. Yoshitatsu eventually fights back into it, notably hitting a springboard dropkick and a tornado DDT. Yoshitatsu gets caught up top with a superplex, but he shoot right up and the two men exchange a series of German suplexes. Yoshitatsu goes for the codebreaker, but Suwama avoids it and hits a big lariat. Another German suplex and lariat follows from Suwama for two, followed by a backdrop but Yoshitatsu kicks out of that too. Suwama goes for the last ride, but Yoshitatsu manages to counter it into a wonderful little rollup and he gets the win! This match was huge for Yoshitatsu, not just because he got the win over a big name, but he looked more legit then he ever has while doing it. Also this match was just great stuff, so make sure you check this one out.

Block A Match: Kento Miyahara vs. Joe Doering

A rematch here from Miyahara and Doering’s Triple Crown Championship match just a month ago. Doering controls the match in the early going, but Miyahara slowly fights his way back into the match and soon it’s a fairly back and forth affair. Miyahara hits a huge northern lights suplex for a two count, whilst Doering responds with a spinebuster. Doering then wins a striking battle and then delivers an absolutely huge lariat for a near fall. Piledriver by Doering follows for another two count. Doering goes for the resolution bomb, but Miyahara avoids it and delivers a pair of blackout knees and the German but Doering stays in it. After a devastating cross body and another big lariat, Joe hits the Resolution bomb for the three. Another good match here, that’s arguably better than the Triple Crown match they had.
Sai, Ishikawa, Nomura, Bodyguard, Yoshitatsu, KAI, Dylan and Yoshie are now all out of the running for getting a place in the finals. Everyone else is still in it, but only Zeus and Hino hold their fates entirely in their own hands. The match quality has been going up as the tournament progresses, and it will hopefully reach a peak as the tournament draws to a close. Keep an eye out for my coverage of the final days here on the Indy Corner!
Watch the Champions Carnival on demand: https://www.ajpw.tv/