It’s the last pro wrestling event to be held at this historic venue, before it is demolished for Japan’s 2020 Olympic dreams.
While it became the office and spiritual home of Pro Wrestling NOAH, it was actually All Japan who held the first wrestling show at the venue, so it’s fitting and romantic that they hold its last.
Yohei Nakajima vs Keichi Sato
Slow start between these two juniors, Nakajima has a future title shot at the Junior title. Early focus on chain and technical wrestling as is the modus operandi on the Royal Road. Transitions into more impact related offense with throws and arm drags that Sato had the better off. Nakajima rolls out to get a breather and the technical style returns upon re-entry, which leads to a forearm trade off which Nakajima wins as he snapmares Sato and delivers kicks to his back.
The momentum is now in Nakajima’s favour as he whips Sato into the ropes and executes an arm drag. He stomps on his downed opponent. They return to their feet and Sato gets Nakajima to the floor and does a Senton to the ribs of Nakajima. The match is now back in Sato’s control until another forearm exchange that Nakajima wins, after a few near falls from Sato and a superkick, Nakajima gets the win after a roll up.
Masanobu Fuchi & shikiri vs Osamu Nishimura & Atsushi Maruyama
The two veterans start. Nice bit of mat wrestling, grappling from the experienced duo. Wrestling at its most primal, telling a story by moves and not outlandish scripts. These two go back and forth in a series of holds and positions, the crowd is really into it. Maruyama comes in and it becomes much more aggressive, but Fuchi fights back and puts him in an abdominal stretch. Ishikira comes in and the match up between him and Maruyama has a more modern feel, after a brief squirmish outside, Nishimura comes in again to face Ishikiri, he works him old school.
After scoop slamming Ishikiri and then Fuchi, Nishimura is running out of steam, but its get Ishikiri up for a 3rd to the applause of the crowd. Tags back in Maruyama, sets up Ishikiri on the mat before climbing up top for a Swanton Bomb. Fuchi and Nishimura brawl on the apron as Ishikiri hits Maruyama with a Buzzsaw Kick for the win.
Suwama, Shuji Ishikawa & Hikaru Sato vs Zeus, KAI & Black Tiger VII
The juniors of the trios start things off with some quick transitioning through chain wrestling, the pace is fast between Sato and Tiger, control shifting between the pair. Next in is big Shuji Ishikawa and KAI, which quickly becomes all about power and who is the strongest with Ishikawa challenging KAI to knock him down, but its Shuji who knocks KAI down. Zeus is quickly tagged in and taken down with a Backbreaker. Black Tiger knocks down the ref and tries to break Shuji’s Boston Crab on Zeus with kicks but fails, as Tiger runs to the ropes, big Shuji is there to knock him down. Zeus gets back into a drops Ishikawa with a suplex.
Suwama comes in and he trades forearms with Zeus. Zeus gets the better of Suwama. Suwama is left alone as KAI and Tiger swarm into the ring and knock his comrades off the apron, KAI superkicks Suwama followed by a chokeslam from Zeus and shining wizard from Tiger. Near fall. Suwama takes down Tiger with a lariat, he tries to get up for a powerbomb but Tiger repels as Zeus and KAI come back in from outside the ring, Suwama chops both of them, before taking 3 of them down with a lariat each. The Violent Giants now double team Tiger with help from Sato. Pin is broken. Suwama and Ishikawa take Tiger up for a Double Powerbomb and Suwama gets the pin.
Differ Ariake Special Tag Memorial Match: Jun Akiyama/Takao Omori vs Tamon Honda/Masao Inoue
Jun Akiyama and Takao Omori are 3x AJPW World Tag Team Champions and 1x All Asia Tag Team Champions. Their opponents have a single reign as All Asia Tag Team Champions. This is in the favour of Burning Wild, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori.
They shake hands before the bell. It’s Omori and Inoue kicking things off, sounds like the crowds behind Omori. Collar and Elbow tie up, pushing against each other. Clean break at the ropes from Inoue. Omori has Inoue in a headlock, but its reversed into the ropes and Inoue arm drags Omori. Honda comes in off a tag, Akiyama is tagged in. Some quality old school grappling is on show. Honda tags in Inoue and they toy with Akiyama, isolating him from his partner. Akiyama reverses a headbutt attempt and Inoue and Honda collide heads. Akiyama sends Inoue out of the ring, Omori whips Inoue into the guardrail. It starts turning into a bit of an exhibition/comedy since Inoue won’t re-enter the ring but Akiyama is in the corner away from him. Omori gets tag in and works over the torso area of Inoue. Akiyama tagged back in and they further isolate Inoue from his corner, tag team wrestling 101. Inoue calls for a time out after he takes two running knees in the corner from Akiyama, his pleas fall on deaf ears.
Omori piledrives Inoue, near fall. Inoue fights back and gets a shoulder tackle, gets space and tags in Honda. Honda is in control of Omori, side headlock applied on the mat, wearing Omori down. Akiyama comes in and breaks Honda’s momentum, Omori hits Honda with a spinning heel kick and tags in Akiyama. Inoue comes back and takes Akiyama down with a Russian Leg Sweep. Akiyama hits back with a running knee strike, Omori takes Honda out. Akiyama and Inoue fight in the ring, trading near falls, Exploder Suplex from Akiyama and he gets the pin on Inoue.
Akiyama addressed a situation from Kobe, he stated he does not want Fujita in his ring after his attack on Zeus in Kobe.
Differ Ariake Special Single Match: Atsushi Aoki vs. Kotaro Suzuki
Two juniors start with some technical wrestling before separating to an applause, collar and elbow tie up into a headlock on Suzuki. Before it quickens again off the ropes with a series of submission attempts before another separation. Each pause adds to the story they are orchestrating. Both men looking for any advantage over the other. Aoki starts targeting the neck and head of Suzuki. Kotaro fights back with forearms to the sternum, but his attempts are rebuffed and Aoki has him down again. Again, working the neck and head area of Suzuki. If the tag match was classic tag team wrestling 101, then this is classic singles wrestling 101. Aoki whips Suzuki into the ropes but Suzuki handsprings off and lands an elbow on Aoki.
The match is picking up in pace and Suzuki comes to control, taking Aoki off his feet with a dropkick. Aoki regains his momentum after a suicide dive onto Suzuki. He sets Suzuki up standing in the corner and charges at him with an elbow, he turns his back and Suzuki comes at him but Aoki drops him with a lariat. Belly to Back Suplex, near fall. Both men fighting precariously on the top rope, Suzuki takes him down with an arm drag. Now they go to the opposite turnbuckle, Suzuki in control, looks like he wanted to do a Tiger Driver from the top but Aoki gets a Hurricarana.
Aoki is fired up and the crowd are behind him. Both men are down after another top rope maneuverer, Suzuki going for something big but Aoki reversing into an armbar. Series of near falls, the crowds getting hot. Suzuki is in control though, the crowd call for Aoki. Aoki reverses a double underhook into a Back Suplex, creates distance. He charges at Suzuki with a lariat. Near fall on Suzuki after a Driver. Another near fall on Suzuki after a pinning Back Suplex. Suzuki finally gets a Tiger Driver but it’s only a 2. They trade blows. Piledriver from Aoki, another near fall, crowd gets louder. Aoki sets him up for the Object, gets it and the pinfall victory.
Yuma Aoyagi’s Return Special 8 Man Tag Match: Kento Miyahara, Yoshitatsu, Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi vs. Dylan James, Ryoji Sai, Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto
Kento Miyahara’s next challenger for the Triple Crown, after his fantastic defence against Noah’s Naomichi Marufuji, is against ½ half of the AJPW Tag Team Champions, Dylan James. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi are next to face Jun Akiyama & Yuji Nagata for the All Asia Tag Championships, Yoshitatsu is next to challenge Ryoji Sai for the All Asia Heavyweight belt. The next challengers for AJPW Tag Team Champions, Dylan James & Ryoji Sai competed earlier and they are the Violent Giants, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa.
The crowd chant Kento as Miyahara’s music plays and he makes his way down the ramp, there is no doubt in my mind that he is the face of AJPW going forward. Yuma Aoyagi enters as an individual to a good welcome back from the Differ Ariake crowd.
Dylan James gets in the face of Kento Miyahara as he’s announced, Yuma Aoyagi squares up to Jake Lee as Lee is announced. While this match from before the action starts looks like it’s all about advancing stories, it could be quite heated and action packed.
Lee and Aoyagi start off, feeling each other out, getting their bearings, both are fresh from an injury lay off. Evenly matched, maybe favouring Jake Lee in the early stages. They tag in Yoshitatsu and Sai, Yoshitatsu quickly takes Sai to the mat and looks to apply an armbar but Sai is blocking it. Sai gets a leg bar on Yoshitatsu who reciprocates. They break cleanly after they reach the bottom rope. Currently both teams are on an even footing.
Dylan James is tagged in by Sai, and the crowd immediately chant for Kento Miyahara, Yoshitatsu obliges and tags in Miyahara. James outpowers Miyahara from a collar and elbow tie up, they quicken and trade strikes. Miyahara exits the ring to create breathing space. He comes back in but James takes him to his corner and Iwamoto is tagged in. Miyahara shakes out his arm after James hammerlock and tags in Nomura. It returns to a slower pace as Iwamoto and Nomura feel each other out, but it quickly speeds up as they look to take the other down, providing the best action of the match so far. Nomura tags in Aoyagi and they double team Iwamoto. Aoyagi starts picking apart Iwamoto, isolating him from his corner. They trade forearms and after an uppercut, Aoyagi runs to the ropes but Lee knees him in the back. They brawl outside the ring as Iwamoto takes control of Aoyagi in the ring, wearing him down with a side headlock. The tables have turned as Dylan James is tagged in, he stomps a grounded Aoyagi, he asks Aoyagi for more but he downs him again.
He tags in Sai who continues working on Aoyagi. Jake Lee is tagged and further adds to Aoyagi’s punishment. Jake Lee puts in him a Boston Crab as Nomura and Sai come in and knock Aoyagi’s partners off the apron. Jake Lee stomps a downed Aoyagi after he gets a rope break, toying with him like a cat would with a mouse. Dylan James is tagged in, the crowd rally for Aoyagi. He reverses a suplex attempt, and he tags in Miyahara who brings the fight to James and takes him off his feet, Miyahara tries for a Northern Lights but it’s blocked by the massive New Zealander, who takes Miyahara up and down with a vertical suplex of his own. Dylan James is in control of the Triple Crown champion, until Miyahara reverses a powerbomb attempt with a rana and follows it up with a boot. James quickly shuts him down with a side slam.
James tags in Sai who runs at Miyahara with a boot, who backs into his corner to tag Yoshitatsu in. The match is breaking down and you feel its resolution is near, Sai and Yoshitatsu trade forearms, Sai gets two nice kicks in on Yoshitatsu who falls into the corner. Sai drives his boots into the collarbone of Yoshitatsu. Yoshitatsu comes back and repays the favour in the opposite corner. Dragon Screw from Yoshitatsu. He goes up top but Iwamoto runs interference and James clears Yoshitatsu’s partners from the apron. Sai with a big suplex from the top rope. Aoyagi is tagged in as Lee is tagged in. Lee has the better of Aoyagi. A near fall on Aoyagi after he takes offense from all members of Lee’s team but he’s rescued by his partners. Who are thrown out of the ring, as they leave Lee alone in the ring with Aoyagi. A near fall and a jumping knee from Aoyagi indicate he still has some fight left. All of his partners are now in the ring and they all team up on Lee. Lee’s teammates rescue him from a pinning attempt, Lee and Aoyagi are alone again. They trade forearms. The match descends into chaos before clearing again. Bridging German Suplex from Aoyagi, near fall, the crowds at its peak. Lee gets the win after a beautiful Back Suplex.
The future looks good for All Japan with this talent. Just like NOAH lives, so does AJPW.
But sadly, it’s the end for Differ Ariake.