On September 26, All Japan Pro-Wrestling ran their fifth night of the 2020 Champion Carnival. This show decides who will make it to the finals of the Carnival. It all comes down to either Kento Miyahara, Shuji Ishikawa, Jake Lee or Zeus. Let’s dive into the show and get a feel for which matches were worth watching.
Venue: Odawara Arena in Kawagawa Prefecture
Reported Attendance: 372
Koji Iwamoto & TAJIRI vs. Takao Omori & Black Menso~re
Result: Iwamoto pins Menso~re in 6:24
A decent opener where Iwamoto & TAJIRI shit on Menso~re for the duration of the match. Perfectly fine stuff here where the right person won and really I think that’s the best thing you can get from these All Japan undercards.
Enfants Terribles [Hokuto Omori, Koji Doi & Yusuke Kodama] vs. Yusuke Okada, Masayuki Mitomi & Rambo Kawamura
Result: Doi pins Okada in 6:16
Another perfectly fine undercard tag where we see Rocky “Rambo” Kawamura and Masayuki Mitomi opposite Enfants Terribles, and yet Okada still takes the fall. The highlight for me was seeing Enfants looking good here. Any combination of the four stable members makes me very excited for the Real World Tag League coming up in November.
Champion Carnival B Block: Shotaro Ashino vs. Yoshitatsu
Result: Ashino wins via ref stoppage in 10:13
Ashino was pretty much in control for the whole match, working over the hurt back of Yoshitatsu. I’m glad they slotted the other block matches down on the undercard because, let’s be honest, they aren’t that important. Which unfortunately I feel makes these matches a little more difficult to get into. It was a fine match and Ashino looked good.
I have officially accepted that this is just what they see Ashino as. He’s just another guy on the roster. When they want him to look strong and credible, they’ll give him a decent win. I mean you can see it from the booking of this Carnival. He didn’t get any points until he was already de facto out of contention to win the thing. It’s a sad reality but one I think we should just accept. Maybe he can be the one to eventually get those tag titles off of Suwama and Ishikawa. It’s no run with the Triple Crown, but it’s better than what he’s doing now.
Champion Carnival A Block: Kuroshio “Ikemen” Jiro vs. Kuma Arashi
Result: Arashi pins Jiro in 4:37
Kuma Arashi was the only one to enter this night of the Carnival with absolutely no points. And honestly, I kind of thought they’d have Jiro win here. I’m glad they didn’t go in that direction. Overall, I enjoyed this match for what it was. Kuma dominates at the start of but Jiro fights his way back into a fun comeback spot. But unfortunately for Jiro (and fortunately for my sanity), Kuma puts an end to it all and scores the win.
Yuma Aoyagi & Atsuki Aoyagi vs. Francesco Akira & Rising HAYATO
Result: Atsuki Aoyagi pins HAYATO in 8:26
I’ve sing their praises in previous reviews, but I must again state that both Aoyagis have been great this month. Yuma has been a favorite of mine in the Carnival, and Atsuki has been a favorite of mine in the undercards. I’m really excited for Atsuki’s title challenge against Iwamoto. HAYATO and Akira also both looked very good here. It was a nice, fast paced match where everyone got a chance to shine. All Japan’s booking certainly hasn’t been top tier this year, and judging from the talk from circles I’m in, I think many can agree with me on that. But, I must say that the junior division has gotten a much needed kick in the pants. Fresh matches, exciting title challenges, I got to say whether it’s Ishikawa or someone else booking these juniors, they’re doing a good job.
Post-match, Koji Doi attacks! But this time Yuma is able to fight back. I (obviously) couldn’t quite understand Yuma’s promo but we’re definitely getting a singles program between these two. Interesting that All Japan has singled out Doi as the Enfant to focus a story on. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m also really happy it looks like Yuma will actually get to do something after the Carnival. I was worried he might just go back to lower-card hell. And who knows, he might later on, but I’m going to enjoy him having a story while it lasts.
Evolution [Suwama, Hikaru Sato & Dan Tamura] vs. Purple Haze [Izanagi, Shigehiro Irie & UTAMARO]
Result: Suwama pins Izanagi in 11:58
This was a very fun tag match between Evolution and Purple Haze. Tamura had great “beefy boys pounding one another” spots with Irie. You had some funny comedic spots between Sato and Suwama, the latter of which has a hurt arm which was reported by Tokyo Sports. Seeing Sato trying to work like Suwama made me chuckle. UTAMARO definitely existed in this match. And then Izanagi succeeded in being such a shithead and irritating Suwama to the point of him launching a barricade and a chair into the ring, oh my God! That made me laugh so hard. I honestly enjoyed these past two tag matches a little more than the Carnival block matches that preceded them. Make of that what you will.
Champion Carnival A Block: Zeus vs. Jake Lee
Result: Zeus submits Lee in 10:21
Zeus is the winner of the A Block! I was definitely not expecting that result as I felt for sure that this tournament was for Lee to win. Going into this match, it was promoted as “what would break? Lee’s neck or Zeus’s arm?” As a result there was a mix of some hard-hitting style alongside a technical submission style. Zeus has been an MVP of A Block for me and has done a great job of getting that Misawa Facelock over as a deadly submission. I figured Lee would be the one to overcome the odds, but alas, Zeus picks up the victory and moves on to the finals of the 2020 Champion Carnival.
Champion Carnival B Block: Kento Miyahara vs. Shuji Ishikawa
Result: Kento pins Ishikawa in 20:56
Ishikawa hasn’t had the best run in terms of singles matches this year but I do think he has stepped it up here in the Carnival. I had this feeling in the back of my mind that Ishikawa might book himself into the finals but I’m glad Kento was the one to go in. This was a pretty good match, though sometimes I find Kento dicking around with Wada tiresome. Luckily it didn’t go on too long to tank the quality of the match. I always enjoyed the matches these two have had, and while I wouldn’t call this match of the year standards by any means, what they did here was good. Great Thesz Press spot here as a believable nearfall given his success with it against Yuma.
Overall an alright night of All Japan action. I would say if you’re on a time crunch, the final two block matches are the ones worth watching. Everything else was solidly fine but nothing you need to go out of your way to see. That wraps up this review of the Champion Carnival! The next show will be on October 5 from Korakuen Hall which will be the Champion Carnival finals!
You can watch live and on demand events on AJPW TV! For 900 Yen (about $8.50) a month, you can watch the latest AJPW shows, interviews, and a look back at old All Japan matches with AJPW’s weekly Battle Library which airs every Thursday 20:00 JST!
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