This All Japan Pro-Wrestling event will be a memorial show for Atsushi Aoki. On June 3, 2019, Atsushi Aoki tragically passed away after being involved in a motorcycle accident.
Atsushi Aoki began his career in Pro-Wrestling NOAH, being trained by Jun Akiyama. Here is a list of Aoki’s accolades and accomplishments
- AAA World Tag Team Champion alongside Go Shiozaki in 2010 – 14-day reign)
- 3-time All Asia Tag Team Champion alongside Kotaro Suzuki (2013) and Hikaru Sato (2016, 2017) – 470-day combined reign
- 4-time World Junior Heavyweight Champion (2014, 2016, 2018, 2019) – 810-day combined reign
- 2016 Junior Battle of Glory winner
- 2013 Junior Hyper Tag League winner alongside Kotaro Suzuki
- 3-time Junior Tag Battle of Glory winner (2014, 2015, 2016) alongside Hikaru Sato
- 2014 Hard Hit Second Grappling Tournament winner
- 2-time GHC Junior Tag Champion alongside Naomichi Marufuji and Kotaro Suzuki
- 2010 Nippon TV Cup Junior Tag League winner alongside KENTA
- 2011 NTV G+ Cup Junior Tag League winner alongside Kotaro Suzuki
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s 2006 Rookie of the Year
- Winner of the 2019 Tokyo Sports Lifetime Achievement Award
Atsushi Aoki was also a part of the All Japan office, being a booker and head trainer for the company. He trained Naoya Nomura, Hokuto Omori, Dan Tamura, Yuma and Atsuki Aoyagi.
This article goes out to the friends and family of Atsushi Aoki, a man who the world lost far too soon. Aoki may be gone, but the memory of him is immortal and will live on forever.
Yuma Aoyagi & Atsuki Aoyagi
Enfants Terribles (Kuma Arashi & Hokuto Omori)
We kick off the show with a tag match involving two of the announced Champion Carnival participants. Matches that involved the Carnival participants will be pretty interesting on this tour, as we can get an idea of how much momentum they’ll have going into September. Also, Atsuki Aoyagi will have an opportunity to get some revenge on Hokuto Omori, as the latter really laid into Atsuki after his tag matches opposite Kento Miyahara last month. I’m thinking Enfants get the victory here, probably with Hokuto getting the win over Atsuki.
Related Video: The Champion Carnival Participants are Announced
Yoshitatsu & Yusuke Okada
Enfants Terribles (Shotaro Ashino & Yusuke Kodama)
Another tag match between Carnival participants here. The only difference is Yoshitatsu and Shotaro Ashino will be in the same block. We now get a concrete idea of the type of people Okada will be teaming with going forward. Since he’s teaming with Yoshitatsu and teamed with Black Menso~re last month, you can categorize him under “not really in any kind of faction” which in itself sort of becomes a faction of its own. You don’t want either Carnival participant taking the fall, and Okada has a lot of long-term potential, so it definitely looks like Kodama is taking the fall here which I think is the right choice.
Ultimo Dragon & TAJIRI
Akira Francisco & Rising HAYATO
Ultimo Dragon returns to an All Japan ring for the first time since December of last year. He’s mostly been wrestling in Dragon Gate for the past year, but making an appearance for this memorial show, which is fitting as Ultimo Dragon is someone Aoki has had many tag matches against (53 between 2014 and early 2019). Ultimo Dragon was also the one Aoki defeated to win his very first Junior title in All Japan back in 2014. I don’t think the result is in any doubt here, Rising HAYATO will be taking the fall here.
Related Video: Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato vs. Ultimo Dragon & Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Junior Tag Battle of Glory 2014 Finals
Atsushi Aoki Memorial Tag Match:
Hikaru Sato & Takuya Wada
Kagetora & GOSAMARU
This is the first match on the show that is specifically branded as a memorial tag match. Hikaru Sato and Atsushi Aoki had been tag partners in Evolution ever since 2014. They’ve won the Junior Tag Battle of Glory three years in a row from 2014 to 2016 and are two-time All Asia Tag Champions with a combined 194-day reign. Sato will be teaming with MMA fighter, Takuya Wada who has 20 wins, 6 losses, and 10 draws on his record.
Takuya Wada had participated in Hikaru Sato’s MMA-style promotion Hard Hit and has since then had tag matches with Sato on a few AJPW shows in the past. He also has a history with Atsushi Aoki, as they also teamed together on some AJPW and Hard Hit shows. They’ve even had a singles bout in Hard Hit back in 2015, where Aoki got the victory.
Kagetora is a freelancer who many avid Dragon Gate watchers will be familiar with, as his history with the promotion dates back to the Toryumon days. And GOSAMARU is also a freelancer who primarily wrestles for Ryukyu Dragon Pro-Wrestling. They are both connected to Atsushi Aoki via the wrestling club at Jitsugyo High School in Tokyo (credit to @EasternLariat on Twitter for this information).
Masanobu Fuchi, Dan Tamura, Jun Akiyama & SUSHI
Takao Omori, Koji Iwamoto, Black Menso~re & Osamu Nishimura
Here is a tag match in which everyone has had some sort of history with Atsushi Aoki, but most notable is Jun Akiyama who returns to All Japan for one night after he had slowly phased himself out of the company and into DDT. Atsushi Aoki was trained by Jun Akiyama when he had joined Pro-Wrestling NOAH in 2005. But Akiyama was not just a trainer to Aoki. He was a mentor and a friend. Aoki has been by Akiyama’s side since the beginning of his career. I’m very glad that Akiyama is on this show. I will say though that I figured it would be more fitting to have him on the main event of this show, given his deep history with Aoki, as well as his history with those already in the main event.
All Asia Tag Title Match:
The 109th Champions, Yankee Two Kenju (Isami Kodaka & Yuko Miyamoto)
The Challengers, Purple Haze (Zeus & Izanagi)
On July 25, the Purple Haze team of Zeus and Izanagi won a 3-way tag team match to earn the right to challenge for the All Asia Tag titles. I’m actually quite excited about this match, as I’ve been pretty happy with Purple Haze’s output this past month, and since Izanagi has been scoring so many wins via roll-up there’s a possibility that they could win the All Asia Tag titles here. In fact, I think they will win here with Izanagi specifically picking up the win.
Related Video: Purple Haze vs. Yoshitatsu & Seigo Tachibana vs. TAJIRI & KAI (match starts around 0:30:45 on the VOD)
Atsushi Aoki Memorial Tag Match:
Violent Giants (Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa) & Shigehiro Irie
Kento Miyahara, Jake Lee & Yuji Okabayashi
The main event of this show is also specifically branded as a memorial match. Suwama and Ishikawa were Aoki’s stablemates in Evolution, Jake Lee had been opposite many tag matches against Aoki, and Kento Miyahara’s history with Aoki goes back to his NOAH and Kensuke Office days. Shigehiro Irie and Yuji Okabayashi had also had some matches with Aoki over the years, but I am unsure if their history goes any deeper than that.
This tag match also serves as a small preview for the August 30 main event where Suwama and Ishikawa defend their World Tag Team title against Kento Miyahara and Kuroshio “Ikemen” Jiro. Overall, this should be a fun tag match and a good show in general that I am really looking forward to.
The Atsushi Aoki memorial show will be airing live on AJPW TV on August 15 at 18:30 JST (2:30 am PDT, 5:30 am EDT, 10:30 am BST). You can watch this show alongside other live and on-demand content on AJPW TV for the monthly price of 900 yen.