AJPW ‘World Strongest Tag Determination League’ Day 19; This Week in Puro

Added by Luke Hickey

All Japan held their annual Tag league over the course of November and December this year, beginning in the Korakuen Hall and ending in the venue on the 19th day of block competition in front of a packed house of over 1,700 spectators on the 11/December. Violence Giants, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa, entered as last years winners and the current AJPW Tag Team Champions. This review will be accompanied by This Week In Puro with results and news from Puro.

The card featured 4 Tag League matches and an undercard of multi-man tag matches. Atsushi Maruyama & Kotaro Suzuki teamed up in a losing effort against TAJIRI & Gianni Valletta. Kotaro Suzuki had his GHC Junior Heavyweight title with it, as did the GAORA TV Champion, TAJIRI who promised the unveiling of his next challenger. It was a decent opener with Valletta getting the winning pinfall over Maruyama following a TKO. After the match, it was revealed Minoru Fujita would be TAJIRI’s next challenger.

The next match saw AJPW Junior Heavyweight Champion, Koji Iwamoto team with with Masanobu & Ultimo Dragon in a losing effort to the Junior Heavyweight trio of Evolution, Atsushi Aoki, Hikaru Sato & Yusuke Okada. Plenty of fire and fury between Iwamoto and his next challenger Okada, Okada only debuted in March 2017 and looks so good so far in his short career but apart from these two, this match didn’t feature anything to out of the ordinary. Aoki got the pinfall on Fuchi with a small package as Dragon and Sato rolled their respective partners into the pinning position until Aoki got the win. The next match was The Big Guns, Zeus & The Bodyguard with Nishimura vs NEXTREAM, Yuma Aoyagi & Naoya Nomura, who are the reigning All Asia Tag Team Champions with errr, Black Menso-re. Largely a nothing affair with a highlight being Zeus chopping lumps out of Menso-re. Black Menso-re superkicked both his partners, with Zeus getting the win on Yuma Aoyagi following a Jackhammer.

The Sweeper duo of Ryouji Sai & Jake Lee go up against KAI & Kengo Mashimo, who have had a good tournament. A decent match with Sweeper dominating most of it, with a lot of work done on the arm and shoulder region of Kengo Mashimo. The big highlight of this match is KAI finally got the handshake he has been looking for from his partner all tournament, unfortunately they lost as Jake Lee picked up the win on Mashimo following a big knee strike, All Japan have been steadily building Lee following his return from injury. The End, Odinson & Parrow started strong in Korakuen back in November and they finished strongly as they dominated YoshiKen (Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu) for much of the match. They are pretty over with the crowd, All Japan fans love their big strong gaijin and this bruising, incredibly cohesive unit fit the bill. But unfortunately, a Codebreaker out of nowhere from Yoshitatsu on Odinson sent him into the clutches of Miyahara who got the winning pinfall with a bridging German Suplex.

Four legends of Puro in the next match as Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto face Get Wild, Manubu Soya & Takao Omori. While I don’t think Soya has reached his level that he has shown in his matches with Shotaro Ashino this year in Wrestle-1, he and Omori have had a very good tournament. Sekimoto, carrying his Zero1 World Heavyweight Championship and BJW Strong World Heavyweight Championship, not with his usual partner of Yuji Okabayashi, but you know he’s teaming with Akiyama, so that ain’t to bad right? A good match with a nice bit of grappling and stiffness with chops, strikes and lariats for good measure, both teams have been cohesive throughout this years league and work very well together. Sekimoto aids Akiyama’s Exploder with a German but Akiyama is too weak to make the cover following the German. Soya clears Sekimoto and Omori and Akiyama are left all alone to settle it, Omori would get the win on Akiyama following an Omori Bomber.

Now, the finals, the deciding match with both teams on 12 points each, The Bomber, the new team of Dylan James and Joe Doering up against the more experienced duo, in terms of how long they’ve been a team, Violence Giants, Shuji Ishikawa and Suwama, who are the reigning World Tag Team Champions and last years winners. There is a couple of interesting dynamics at play, obviously the experience and cohesion as a team favours the Violence Giants, but Doering’s betrayal of Suwama when he left Evolution can’t be ignored and Doering, somewhat a successor of the big gaijin, Stan Hansen, has taken a younger big gaijin in Dylan James, under his wing. Both teams looked good, but for me personally, it was Dylan James who shined brightest, he’s had a good year since joining All Japan earlier this year and has grown and grown on the King’s Road. This was quintessential All Japan tag team wrestling in this match, classic slow build, excellent ebb and flow between the teams and good teamwork, especially from Violence Giants, I thought it was theirs for the taking as the worked tandem on Dylan James with charging lariats as he’s prone on the ropes, into a Belly to Belly from Suwama and a big running knee strike from Ishikawa. Doering took out Suwama with a big spinning sit out powerbomb and killed Shuji’s momentum with a running cross body. Dylan James took advantage with a Lariat but only got a two count, one final Chokeslam and he gets the winning pinfall on Shuji Ishikawa.

The Bomber, Dylan James and Joe Doering, are the 2018 All Japan Pro Wrestling World’s Strongest Tag Determination League winners.

This Week In Puro:

All Japan: Violence Giants won Tag Team of the Year from Tokyo Sports. This is the 2nd year in a row they have won the award. On January 2nd at Korakuen Hall for New Year Wars 2019, Violence Giants will defend the World Tag Team Championship against The Bomber and Yusuke Okada will challenge Koji Iwamoto for the Junior title. On the 3rd in Korakuen, Black Menso-re & Takao Omori face NEXTREAM for the All Asia Tag Team belts, TAJIRI defends the GAORA TV against Fujita and Kento Miyahara defends the Triple Crown against KAI.

Dragon Gate: As per the post on the English facebook page, the rookie entrants for 2019 tournament

The participants are as follows:
Kaito Ishida
Shun Skywalker
Hyo Watanabe
Yuki Yoshioka
Kota Minoura
Dragon Dia

Tournament pairings and 1st round matches will be held in Kyoto KBS Hall on January 12. Due to the odd number of participants, one will receive a first round bye. Semifinals will be the next day at Edion Arena Osaka. Matches to determine the 5th, 6th, and 7th place order will take place in Mie on the 14th. The finals and a match to decide 3rd place will happen at Korakuen Hall on the 16th.

DDT: Grand Prix Block matches have come to a close and Konosuke Takeshita will face Go Shiozaki in the finals on the 30.12 in Korakuen Hall.

Pro Wrestling NOAH: Naomichi Marufuji won the Special Prize Award from Tokyo Sports, Kaito Kiyomiya won the Fighting Spirit Award. Multiple title changes happened today at Great Voyage in Yokohama, in fact, all titles changed hands. The Backbreakers, Hitoshi Kumano & Hajime Ohara defeated Minoru Tanaka & Hi69 for the GHC Jnr Tag titles, Daisuke Harada defeated Kotaro Suzuki for the GHC Junior title, in the process saving RATEL’S, but YO-HEY has joined up with Suzuki and Ogawa and betrayed RATEL’S, challenging Harada for the belt. Yuji Hino & Taniguchi won the GHC Heavyweight Tag titles beating Go Shiozaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima. Kaito Kiyomiya, in the shock of the year, winning the GHC Heavyweight title, defeating Sugiura for the title. Afterwards, Kenoh made the challenge for Navigation for the future.

Stardom: Utami Hayashishita won Rookie of the Year from Tokyo Awards.

With thanks to sites like PuroLove, Cagematch, IheartDG, Hisame @alljapaneng

Luke Hickey