Akira Francesco, Jake Lee & TAJIRI vs. Purple Haze (Izanagi, UTAMARO & Zeus) - 5.5/10
Good short opener. Francesco took most of the match for this team, I don't think Tajiri and Lee did more than 3 minutes combined. Zeus pinned Francesco with a chokeslam to win the match.
Alejandro, Carbell Ito & Takao Omori vs. Evolution (Dan Tamura & Hikaru Sato) & Rambo Kawamura - 6.5/10
Another good short match, this was your usual second match in the card that has some comedy and some good looking action. Rambo and Omori aside, the other four had a good paced match. Alejandro and Ito both had big dives, while Tamura and Sato control most towards the end when Sato submitted Omori. For what it's worth, Rambo ain't that bad.
Chikara, Ryouji Sai & Yoshitatsu vs. Twin Towers (Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa) & Ryuki Honda - 5/10
This was quite meh, one side of the match was a really weak team to really make something out of it. I wouldn't got and call it a squash because Sai did had some offense in, but it really was a Honda and Sato match. Similar to the previous matches, Ishikawa was barely in there. Sato pinned Chikara with a piledriver.
Post-match - Tatsu slapped around Chikara for losing, and then said "We Can Do It". meh.
NEXTREAM (Atsuki Aoyagi, Kento Miyahara, Rising HAYATO & Yuma Aoyagi) vs. Enfants Terribles (Hokuto Omori, Koji Doi, Kuma Arashi & Yusuke Kodama) - 7.5/10
This was also quite short, under 8 minutes, but it was great bell to bell that I didn't feel cheated or anything, I actually enjoyed these 8 minutes more than anything else I've watched this week. HAYATO was the babyface in peril early on, Miyahara got the hot tag, and then towards the end, it came down to Atsuki and Omori with the latter taking the win.
I'm walking out of this match really hungry for a Miyahara vs Hokuto Omori singles match.
Post-match - Omori cut a promo on Atsuki Aoyagi.
February Match Announcements - We're getting a Kento Miyahara vs Abdullah Kobayashi program, including a singles match and a Aoyagi/Miyahara vs Kobayashi/Daisuke Sasaki match!
GAORA TV Championship Hardcore Match
Jun Kasai (c) vs. Black Menso-re - 7.5/10
I'm guilty of not having followed this story, or Black Menso-re's 2020, but for all I know, he's a comedy act and I'm incredibly worried about him, standing opposite of Jun Fucking Kasai. Reaistically, if Kasai had a great match with Hyper Misao, then I had no doubt that he could have a good match with a comedy act like Menso-re.
Match was 3/4s comedy and some weapon stuff, but towards the end, Kasai went for the skewers on Menso-re, which obvsouly didn't work because Menso-re has a big ramen bowl on his mask, so Kasai ripped off the mask. Similar to Desperado, we all know that Yohei Nakajima, but for the sake of this match and specific spot, I didn't see it necessary to remove the whole mask, this could had been perfectly ok with tearing the top off, doing the skewers, and going home. Having said that, I do agree that the mask spot turned the match from comedy and weapons, to some actual drama and babyface appeal from Black Menso, he had been suddenly pulled into an actual Kasai match. At the end, Kasai dropped him with 3 lariats for the win.
Post-match - Kasai cut a promo saying he wanted a deathmatch and made the open challenge. Shuji Ishikawa(!) accepted the challenge. "This isn't just gonna be a weapons match, this is gonna be a deathmatch".
AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Championship Match
Koji Iwamoto (c) vs. Fuminori Abe - 8.5/10
This was great, but sometimes a bit too brutal, to the point that takes you out of the match a bit, especially that one headbutt towards the end of the match. The action itself was great, back and forward, a lot of striking from Abe, leading up to Iwamoto hitting the Koko no Geijutsu (Harai goshi takedown) over and over again until he kept Abe down for the 3 count.
Post-match - Iwamoto and Abe thanked each other. CIMA appeared on the screen and challenged Iwamoto to a match, Iwamoto accepted.
Ashino vs Suwama Video Package - Awesome, it had Morricone's The Ecstasy of Gold as the BGM, made it feel like two bad motherfuckers were gonna clash.
Triple Crown Championship Match
Suwama (c) vs. Shotaro Ashino - 9/10
I'm not the biggest Suwama fan, never been, but I have to accept that this was great, I'd even say that I enjoyed it a bit more than their first encounter for the title in 2020, but it may had been the fan's presence. They worked on each other's legs while also slamming and striking each other at any given chance. We had a couple of good near falls, particularly Ashino having Suwama in the ankle lock for a while. Final minutes saw Suwama go crazy with Backdrop Drivers, but he just couldn't keep Ashino down, so he finished him with a but lariat and one final Backdrop pin for the win.
It's still disappointing to see Ashino lose against Suwama, but this more than the last, we kinda knew he had slim chances at winning the title this time around. As good as they are, Les Enfants Terribles have cooled off a bit since Suwama took the title almost a year ago.
Post-match - Suwama put over Ashino, they even shook hands and all. There was an interesting visual of all of LET looking at Ashino and Suwama make up and being helped to the back.
Suwama cut his winner's promo, thanked the crowd. Suddenly, out came Kohei Sato, who has been smoking since he was five years old and challenged for the title. Suwama accepted. Both Twin Towers going for titles soon.
Good show, it really picked up towards the end. My one problem with AJPW right now is that we've fallen into a swamp where Suwama gets challengers, but the title chance doesn't feel imminent, not because there is more to do with him, but because his challengers don't feel built up.