Puroresu Love: Pro Wrestling Love in Ryogoku Vol 13 - 10/23/11
Posted by Mike Campbell on 12.21.2012
Suwama defends the Triple Crown against NOAH's Jun Akiyama!
PRO WRESTLING LOVE IN RYOGOKU Vol. 13
October 23, 2011
All Japan celebrates their thirty-ninth anniversary by opening their doors to take on the world! Wrestlers from NOAH, Big Japan, DDT, and even AAA come out of the woodwork with their sights set on taking All Japan gold back to their home promotion.
Takumi Soya . . . looks years beyond his experience level in making a throwaway trios match fun to watch.
Masayuki Kono . . . puts on a very respectable showing against one of the shootstyle pioneers.
Jun Akiyama . . . finally wins the Triple Crown ten years after everyone initially expected it to happen.
SHUJI KONDO/BUSHI/HIROSHI YAMATO vs. KAZ HAYASHI/MINORU TANAKA/BLACK BUSHI
Much like the junior trios match from June, this mostly exists to let BUSHI show off his stuff. The three veterans hold themselves back, and Yamato may as well not even be there, all he does is a single spear early in the match. BUSHI's flying is clearly the centerpiece of the match, and while he wasn't nearly as impressive, BLACK BUSHI looked good too. It'd have been nice to see Yamato get used more, even just for BLACK BUSHI to abuse and build to a hot tag to BUSHI. The exchanges between BUSHI and BLACK BUSHI are the best things of the match, although BUSHI finished him with the Firebird splash a bit too easily. The only thing lacking was a real sense of hate between them.
TAIYO KEA/TAKAO OMORI/MASANOBU FUCHI vs. OSAMU NISHIMURA/TAKUMI SOYA/MAZADA
Even though this is the first Takumi match I've seen, I'm already sad that he was forced to retire due to injuries. Most rookies don't show anything in these types of matches, they're just pieces of meat to get killed by the veterans. Not Takumi! He takes quite a beating from Omori and Kea, but manages to get in just the right spot to keep you from counting him out completely. It's certain that he's not going to be winning the match for his team or anything, but he shows enough promise that it seems like a fair bet to say he won't be losing. He definitely doesn't look like someone who'd only been wrestling for nine months. There's not much else to see here, Fuchi and Nishimura have some fun with a head scissors sequence, and Omori and Kea are the grumpy vets. And MAZADA is pretty much only there to eat the fall from Kea’s TKO.
AKEBONO/RYOTA HAMA vs. JOE DOERING/BIG DADDY
This is the first match that's completely skippable, unless super heavyweights throwing their weight around is what someone is into. There's really nothing for Doering to do except for the assist he gives toward the end with the big lariat, and blocking Akebono from making the save after Big Daddy hits the splash. Big Daddy looks like he actually slimmed down quite a bit from his time in the WWE as Big Daddy V, or maybe working alongside Akebono and Hama just make him look slimmer. But yeah, 'Bono, Hama, and Daddy are big guys and use their size and weight to their advantage in the ways you'd expect.
MASAKATSU FUNAKI vs. MASAYUKI KONO
First Kono tears down the house with Suwama during the Carnival, and now there's this gem. It's nowhere nearly as good, overall, as the Suwama match, but it's a boatload of fun. Instead of playing the new bad ass heel on the block, Kono falls back on his legit background, and gives Funaki all he can handle. It's a million miles away from their mediocre Champions Carnival match. Kono takes Funaki by surprise being ready to fight right out of the gate, and forcing Funaki to get extra nasty (such as Funaki trying to hammer Kono's head into the mat to secure the armbar) to stay alive in the match. Kono shows he's done his homework by using a backdrop suplex to escape the sleeper, and shows he's able to stand toe-to-toe and trade strikes with Funaki. Funaki finally downs him with his head kick, but it looks more like a lucky shot than the death blow.
The BJPW team looks much better here as the jerk outsiders. Okabayashi takes a cheap shot at Soya on the apron to let them double team Sanada early on, and when Soya gets his marbles together they hit him with their double German suplex to take him back out. They light up both of the AJPW boys with extra stiff chops and lariat shots, and look like they're trying to put Sanada in a wheelchair with the assault on his back, constantly taking turns body slamming him, and it pays off with how hot the crowd gets when Sekimoto locks Sanada in a crab hold. The only real weak moment of the match is right afterwards, Sanada gets out of the hold and does a Flair flip when getting whipped to the corner and follows with a springboard dropkick. Sanada hot tags Soya right after that and he's just about perfect. Because Soya is such a beast, he's able to give and take just as big a shot as either of the Big Japan guys, and he shows off his own power with his dead lift vertical suplex and catching Okabayashi with a DVD.
The last third or so of the match has taking turns feel to it, both teams bust out some nice stuff, but it's rather easy for either team to take advantage. Again, Sanada comes off like the weak link, even though he's supposed to be the team captain. The big sequence out of the AJPW team is a frankensteiner from Sanada, followed by a diving lariat from Soya and the standing moonsault from Sanada for a near fall. The problem is that the standing moonsault has already proven to not be a successful move for him. While Soya is doing all he can to knock Sekimoto and Okabayashi around the same way they did to them (catching a charging Okabayashi with the DVD was especially nice), Sanada has to fall back on the same spots that didn't have any success before. Even though he drops the fall, the finish puts over Soya as much as possible. Okabayashi hits three big lariat shots and Soya doesn't go down, so Okabayashi just plants him with a powerbomb and drops a big splash to give them their second title reign. If only Sanada had stepped up as much as the other three to make this an improvement over the June match, it might have stolen the show. ***
It doesn't help that Omega decides to fall back on his overly flashy offense, while KAI is the one whose goal seems to be to hurt Omega as much as possible. They also add in a couple of stupid sequences where KAI blows off a Dragon suplex and spikes Kenny with a German, and Kenny sells that for all of two seconds before jumping back up to give KAI another Dragon suplex. Kenny gets spiked on two separate occasions with a reverse rana, the second being off the ropes, and proceeds to get to his feet and hit a stunner and try the Croyt's Wrath off the top for a near fall. When KAI kicks out, Kenny does a regular Croyt's Wrath (the fourth or fifth one by this point) to finally keep KAI down. It's just like Kanemaru with the brainbuster, only slightly worse because I don't think I've seen him use one off the top for a near fall and then go back to the regular one (or maybe I have and I’ve blocked it from my memory).
The first two-thirds isn't bad or anything, but the pace is rather slow, and it feels like they're taking turns. They have a fun feeling out sequence on the mat, then its Akiyama's turn to have a long control segment with typical Jun offense, and then its Suwama's turn with his typical spots. Sure, Jun's back selling is good during this time, but Jun's back being hurt doesn't lead to anything special. Not that anyone would think Suwama could make Akiyama tap out, but the seed was there for a nice tease. Suwama was lacking the confidence of the company ace that he was showing in other matches with outsiders like Omori and Nagata, although Akiyama is a much more accomplished outsider challenger. If you like seeing heavyweights throwing big bombs at each other, then you won't want to skip this, and it's one of the better Triple Crown matches of the modern era, but it's still below par for the Triple Crown's heyday. ***1/2
The 411: Only the super heavyweight tag match and, arguably, the junior title match are skippable. But the rest of this card is the consistent fun that I've come to expect from All Japan. I can definitely recommend picking up this card.