Since the 2006 All Japan Champion Carnival just kicked off last night, I finally decided to sit down and watch the finals of last year’s tournament.
Show kicks off with RO&D coming out to rile up the crowd, with TAKA introducing Buchanan, Kea, Jamal and himself, while assuring Jamal will win the Carnival, and TAKA himself successfully defending the AJPW Jr. title against Katsuhiko Nakajima despite having Akira Hokuto as the special referee later.
TARU than leads the Voodoo Murders out to interrupt the fun. After TARU & TAKA mouth off a bit, “brother” YASSHI rants something about Keiji Mutoh before VM leave. RO&D rile up the crowd one more time (R-O-D-BOOYAH!) before the show kicks off.
The four Carnival semi-finalists are then introduced to the crowd and the two semi-final matches are announced: Jamal (Block B) VS Satoshi Kojima (Block A) and Kensuke Sasaki (Block B) VS Toshiaki Kawada (Block A).
Nothing to do with the show, but during the commercial break they aired an ad for a CD compilation, and the ad featured the lovely YinLing in a skimpy gold outfit jumping around on a bed. Sweet.Arashi, Toshizo & Ryota Chikuzen VS Masanobu Fuchi, Taichi Ishikari & Akira Raijin
I like Fuchi’s snake-skin Hello Kitty jacket. Fuchi does a short promo welcoming the crowd, and after the official ring introductions, tosses several Hello Kitty souvenirs out to the audience.
Short match with Fuchi’s rookie team mostly getting owned by opposing team. Ishikari was a punching bag and got tossed around like a sack of potatoes by Arashi. Fuchi does his “bodyslam the guy and hurt his back cause he’s old” thing, Raijin gets in a few head butts, but the Toshizo is able to tag in and take out Raijin with his fisherman’s buster in just over 5 minutes.
Not a whole lot to it, but did the job as the opener of the show.Match Rating: ½*
Back from commercial break and we recap the roads traveled by the four Champion Carnival semi-finalists to get where we are today, followed by short comments from the foursome.Champion Carnival Semi-Final: Jamal VS Satoshi Kojima
Jamal controlled the match early on with his size and power, then he missed a big elbow drop on his bar arm and Kojima took over, targeting the big man’s weakness. I like how Kojima messes with the crowd now when doing his “Ichauzo bakayaro!” chant after hitting the corner elbow attack. Kojima hits a diving elbow drop on Jamal’s bad arm and gets a two count. Jamal tries to fight back, but Kojima flips out of a suplex and hits a big DDT. Jamal rolls to the apron, and when he gets up, Kojima hits him hard and he hits the timekeeper’s table, almost knocking the poor guy over!
Kojima tries for a plancha, but Jamal dodges and Kojima hits the floor. Jamal than hits a big shoulder tackle off the apron to the floor and drags Kojima back in the ring for a near fall. Jamal hits his kick combo for another near fall at the 10 minute mark. Jamal hits a corner splash followed by a stink face (running hip attack into a seated opponent in the corner). He hits another stink face that the referee just barely manages to jump out of the way off, and covers Kojima for a near fall.
Kojima manages to pull out a Koji-Cutter out of nowhere, but Jamal gets right back up only to eat a second Koji-Cutter. Kojima covers for a 1 count, and quickly locks on the shoulder submission move of his, again targeting Jamal’s bad arm. Jamal reaches the ropes to break the hold. Kojima than hits a brainbuster (!) for a near fall. Kojima tries for a lariat, but eats a superkick instead, giving Jamal a near fall.
Jamal hits a big powerbomb for a near fall, and quickly goes up top and hits the Flying Sausage for a near 2.9! Jamal goes up for a moonsault, but Kojima catches him and powerbombs him for a 2 count! Enzu-lariat by Kojima, followed by a big running lariat which flips Jamal for another close near fall! Kojima goes for another lariat, but Jamal catches him off guard with an elevated Samoan drop followed by the Flying Sausage for the big win!
A really strong match, and a convincing win for Jamal.Match Rating: ***1/2Champion Carnival Semi-Final: Kensuke Sasaki VS Toshiaki Kawada
Rather long feeling out process at first, but Sasaki than asks Kawada to bring it, and they start exchanging big chops, culminating with Kawada taking down Sasaki with a running face kick. Sasaki goes to the outside, and Kawada kicks him off the apron twice when he gets up, Sasaki hitting the timekeeper’s table both times! Kawada goes out and gives Sasaki’s arm an axe-kick on the guardrail! They get back in the ring and Kawada continues to work Sasaki’s arm, trying to take away the lariat.
Back to the outside, and Sasaki is whipped into the guardrail, and Kawada continues attacking the arm with elbow strikes and an armlock on the apron. Kawada with several armbreakers, an armdrag and tries for a cross-armbreaker. Sasaki manages to roll to the ropes to break the hold and Kawada stomps away on the arm. Sasaki gets to his feet as Kawada pounds on the arm, and explodes on Kawada with a big lariat!
Sasaki pounds away on Kawada despite the pain in his arm and hits a neckbreaker at the 10 minute mark. Sasaki hits 3 coconut crushes and a side-Russian leg sweep, all moves shades of the late Giant Baba. Sasaki with a sleeper now. Kawada gets to his feet and Sasaki hits a running neckbreaker drop, another Baba move! Another coconut crush by Sasaki, and the two start trading elbows and choops, Sasaki winning out with a short lariat and applies the stranglehold for a submission attempt.
Sasaki tries for a lariat, but runs right into a jumping face kick from Kawada! Kawada unloads a barrage of kicks, flooring Sasaki again. Kawada with a running face kick in the corner followed by a suplex. Kawada tries for the running soccer kick to end the match, but Sasaki blocks it. Kawada lands several kicks to Sasaki’s back and tries for a backdrop, but Sasaki escapes and they trade chops. Kawada kicks Sasaki in the face and tries for a lariat, but Sasaki catches him with a powerslam for a near fall. Sasaki now tries for a lariat, and Kawada blocks it with a lariat of his own! Both men’s arms are hurting. Kawada tries for the jumping face kick, but Sasaki bats him out of the air with a lariat, hurting himself again! Kawada quickly up and hits a jumping head kick, but Sasaki pops up to give him a big lariat!
Kawada unleashes a barrage of elbow strikes and a big backdrop, but Sasaki pops up and spears him into the corner! He whips Kawada to the opposite corner and runs right into a big boot. Kawada hits a STO for a near fall. Sasaki escapes a powerbomb attempt and hits Kawada with a lariat. Sasaki tries for the Northern Lights Bomb, but Kawada escapes so Sasaki hits a lariat instead. Kawada pops up and Sasaki hits another lariat for a near fall. Sasaki hits a short lariat followed by the Northern Lights Bomb for the win!
The beginning part of this match seemed to drag on for too long, and it wasn’t anywhere near the caliber of their previous Triple Crown match. Still a solid match though.Match Rating: ***Nobutaka Araya & Nobukazu Hirai VS Taiyo Kea & Buchanan
A short high-sprint match.
Araya & Hirai were given a fair amount of offense in the match, but it still looked like Kea could have handled both of them by himself! They could be doing so much more with Araya instead of this, and that was one really sick iron-claw bomb Araya took at the end where he actually landed head first to drop the fall to Buchanan.Match Rating: *
Build up video for the events leading up to the junior title match, and how Akira Hokuto came to be the referee for the match.AJPW Jr. Heavyweight Title: Katsuhiko Nakajima VS TAKA Michinoku (C)
Special Referee: Akira Hokuto
TAKA takes control and deliberately gets on Hokuto’s case by not breaking submissions when he should just to piss off Hokuto and the crowd. He leaves himself open while arguing with Hokuto and Nakajima unleashes a barrage of kicks at him, sending him to the outside. TAKA gets back in before the 10 count, but Nakajima gives him a stiff kick to the shoulder that sends him back out. Nakajima brings TAKA back in and continues working the shoulder.
TAKA reaches the ropes, but Hokuto doesn’t call it till Kyohei Wada on the outside does! Nakajima continues to work the shoulder till TAKA rakes his eyes and mounts him to land several punches. They get back to their feet and Nakajima hits several middle kicks before pulling TAKA down with a Fujiwara-armbar, continuing the work on the shoulder.
Nakajima continues to his assault, but TAKA reverses an Irish-whip and tries for the Just Facelock. Nakajima escapes to the outside and is kicked off the apron by TAKA, who follows with a plancha but misses! Back into the ring and Nakajima with a flurry of mounted slaps before applying a cross-armbreaker! TAKA gets to the ropes to break the hold. Nakajima misses a corner charge and TAKA lands 3 big kicks to take down the youngster.
They struggle to their feet and Nakajima hits two middle kicks before TAKA connects with a huge slap and a super kick! Springboard kneedrop by TAKA and he applies the Just Facelock! Nakajima manages to gets to the ropes to break the hold. TAKA misses a jumping knee in the corner and Nakajima tries to give him a superplex, but TAKA knocks him off so he hits him with a big spinning heel kick instead! Nakajima catches TAKA with a big dropkick after he escaped a German suplex attempt, but TAKA reverses an Irish-whip into the Just Facelock again! Nakajima gets to the ropes again, and TAKA signals that the end is near.
TAKA tries for the Michinoku Driver II, but Nakajima floats over and tries for the German suplex but TAKA flips over and lands on his feet. TAKA charges right into a sobat kick, but catches a high kick and tries for the Just Facelock again, but Nakajima slips out into a Fujiwara armbar! TAKA rolls out, but Nakajima turns it into a cross-armbreaker! TAKA reaches the ropes and Nakajima tries for the German again, but TAKA escapes and tries for the Michinoku Driver, but his bad arm can’t hold the weight!
Nakajima lands a strike combo that ends with a big jumping spin kick to TAKA’s head which gets him a near fall. Nakajima hits the German-suplex, but only gets a 2.9! TAKA comes back out of nowhere with a jumping head kick, followed by a superkick, but Nakajima gives him several head kicks of his own which TAKA barely is able to block. TAKA suddenly catches Nakajima out of a high-kick and hits the Michinoku Driver II to retain his title in a hard fought battle.
Overall I thought this match was rather sluggish, and they blew the ending spot when TAKA couldn’t lift up Nakajima properly and they had to re-do the spot. Solid match, but it did seem to drag a bit. TAKA actually shows a little respect by rising Nakajima’s hand at the end.Match Rating: **1/2
All the junior heavyweights in All Japan come out and challenge TAKA for the next shot! Taichi Ishikari grabs the microphone, but before he could say anything, TAKA’s theme hits and everyone leaves the ring!All Japan VS Voodoo Murders: Keiji Mutoh, Tomoaki Honma, Kaz Hayashi, NOSAWA Rongai & Kohei Suwama VS TARU, Giant Bernard, Chuck Palumbo, Shuji Kondo & “brother” YASSHI
Big brawl to start off this war before it settles with Honma & Palumbo in the ring. Palumbo wins a strike exchange but runs into a boot in the corner. Honma charges and is backdropped by Palumbo. YASSHI & Kaz tag in and Kaz goes to work on YASSHI with a big dropkick and a nice delayed springboard senton. Muto tags in and give YASSHI the rushing elbow and an STF! Palumbo breaks the hold and Honma tags back in.
YASSHI hits an side Russian leg sweep and tags in TARU, who kicks Honma with a hidden object in his pants! YASSHI tagged back in and he starts talking smack, taunting Muto about being bald and that he has a big head of hair! He than tags back out to TARU, who beats Honma around a bit before tagging in Kondo who kicks him down in the corner. YASSHI tagged back in but is taken down by a big back elbow by Honma, who tags in NOSAWA!
NOSAWA in with a head full of steam, but he…bad mouths YASSHI and VM like what YASSHI did earlier, only no one on his team wanted to tag back in! YASSHI recovers and gives NOSAWA a testicular claw while Bernard distracts the referee. Palumbo tags in and drops a big elbow for a 2 count. Palumbo tries for the 187, but NOSAWA escapes and hits a few punches before getting floored by a big lariat from Palumbo. Bernard now tags in and hits a big lariat followed by a hard slam and a delayed double-arm suplex. Bernard hits a hard knee and tags in YASSHI.
YASSHI & Kondo give NOSAWA a double dropkick to the head before holding him upside down for TARU to give him an axe-kick in the groin. YASSHI charges at NOSAWA in the corner, but the founder of RonKaz ducks and flips him with a big release German and makes the hot tag to Kaz. Kaz hits a spinebuster and a Lionsault for a near fall. YASSHI recovers and misses a heel kick, but he bounces off the ropes and lands on his feet! He catches Kaz with an inverted atomic drop and hits a flipping neckbreaker for a near fall. Kondo tags in and lifts up Kaz in a military press before dropping him in a gutbuster on his knee. Kondo tries for the King Kong Lariat, but Kaz ducks it and tries for a German but Kondo uses his raw power to flip Kaz over by pulling his hair! Kondo charges at Kaz again, but eats a big heel kick.
Honma tags in and goes to work on Kondo with a charging elbow strike in the corner followed by a bulldog. Honma charges off the ropes again, but Kondo again shows his power when he jacks Honma in the air and catches him with a hard slam! TARU tags in and hits a choke-bomb on Honma. Honma flips out of a suplex and hits an enzuguiri before tagging in Suwama.
Suwama overpowers TARU and hits a bodyslam for a near fall. TARU escapes a German attempt and hits an axe kick before tagging Palumbo in. Plaumbo hits a superkick for a near fall followed by a snake eyes and a running face kick for another near fall. Palumbo misses a corner charge and Suwama hits a big shoulder tacjle and tags in Mutoh who goes to work with a pair of low dropkicks and than proceeds to dragon screw everyone of the VM except Bernard who wisely stays out of the ring. YASSHI breaks up a figure four and Bernard is tagged in who pounds on Mutoh, and hits a big lariat for a near fall. Mutoh rolls under another lariat and hits a dropkick before tagging in NOSAWA, who tries to utilize his speed but is met by a big boot for a near fall. Kaz, Honm & NOSAWA hit a triple team dropkick on Bernard and Suwama takes down the big man with a shoulder block setting up Muto to hit a Shining Wizard. NOSAWA, Honma & Kaz hit Shining Wizards in succession and Suwama suplexes the big man before Muto hits another Shining Wizard for a near fall. Everyone brawls to the outside leaving Bernard to hit a big corner splash on NOSAWA followed by a Baldo-bomb for the win.
As fun as the match was, I honestly expected just a little bit more. It probably would have been more interesting as an elimination match.Match Rating: ***2005 Champion Carnival Finals: Jamal VS Kensuke Sasaki
Starts with a faceoff before they start throwing lariats and chops at each other, which Sasaki wins. Sasaki whips Jamal into the corner, but misses a corner charge. Jamal with an armbreaker and starts working Sasaki’s shoulder; there’s a big bruise on his bicep from the previous match. Jamal misses a corner charge Sasaki now works on his bad shoulder which is heavily taped. Sasaki drops Jamal with an armdrag and tries for a cross armbreaker but Jamal rolls to the ropes.
Jamal mounts a short comeback that is ended when both men give each other lariats with their bad arms. Sasaki clotheslines Jamal out of the ring and then misses a corner charge, ramming his bad shoulder into the ring post. Jamal takes advantage and uses the corner post to further work Sasaki’s arm.
Back in the ring and Jamal continues the assault with an armbreker and a leg drop on Sasaki’s bad arm before ramming it into the corner pad. Jamal than hits a pair of stink faces for a 2 count. Jamal hits a bit slam and goes up top, but Sasaki recovers in time to give Jamal a big superplex for a near fall. Back to their feet and Sasaki spears Jamal into the corner and lays into him with short lariats and a face crusher. Jamal battles back, but Sasaki ducks a lariat and gives him a Rock Bottom for a 2 count!
Sasaki hits 2 big lariats before hitting a running neckbreaker drop to take down the big man for another 2 count. They struggle to their feet and now Jamal floors Sasaki with a Rock Bottom followed by a kneedrop for a near fall. Jamal off the ropes but runs into a jumping heel kick from Sasaki! Sasaki tries for a German suplex and hits it! A pin attempt only gets 2, so Sasaki tries for the Tornado-bomb and hits that too for another near fall! Sasaki off the ropes, but now he runs into a big heel kick from Jamal!
Samoan drop by Jamal for a near fall followed by a big powerbomb for another near fall at the 15 minute mark. Jamal hits the Samoan Driver, but only gets a 2.9! Jamal goes for a moonsault, but thinks better of it and hits the Flying Sausage instead, but gets another 2.9! Jamal tries for the moonsault again, but Sasaki recovers and slams him off the top with a crucifix powerbomb followed by a big lariat for a near fall!
Sasaki signals for the kill and actually picks up big Jamal for a Northern Lights Bomb! Instead of pinning him, he gives Jamal a second NLB and covers him to win the Champion Carnival!
Solid match, with a lot of emphasis on both men having bad shoulders, but didn’t really play a factor in the ending of the match so I didn’t really see much point in it. Still, it was a really impressive showing from both men here. Match Rating: ***1/2
Sasaki helps up Jamal and the two shake hands and embrace in a sign of respect for each other. Sasaki then celebrates with his family and Nakajima in the ring, posing with the huge trophy Sasaki won. Sasaki does a short thank you speech and poses for a few more shots with his new trophy to close out the show.Overall:
A lot of fun in this one with a lot of good matches and a strong final to one of the most prestigious tournaments in Japan. I really should have watched this show sooner.