Show kicks off with a fun recap video of the road the four Champion Carnival semi-finalists took to get here tonight.
The live show kicks off with the usual greeting from TAKA Michinoku & RO&D, which is of course followed by the redundant interruption by Voodoo Murders. Same old same old.Kaz Hayashi, AKIRA & Akira Raijin VS D-Lo Brown, Buchanan & Matt Morgan
2 junior heavies and a green horn VS 3 super heavyweights (D-Lo is announced as weighing 300lbs). The match was short with a quick pace, with mostly the bigger gaijin team dominating. Kaz & AKIRA got some good offense in, but there was never really ever any doubt who would win this. Heck, despite this being a big event, the match felt a lot like filler material. D-Lo scored the quick win with the Lo-Down on Raijin while Morgan & Buchanan kept Kaz & AKIRA at bay.Match Rating: 1/2*Champion Carnival Semi Final: Minoru Suzuki VS Taiyo Kea
I liked the video package they played before this and the promo Kea did where he noted how this year’s carnival was special to him because he’s the last All Japan true born left. Seeing that helps bring home the fact that Kea has mostly been forgotten and neglected up till now.
Now this was a really fun match, and interesting the way they booked Suzuki to be the more dominant of the two, but Kea always having the fighting spirit to keep going. And the closing stretch where they were trading counters up to Kea scoring the surprise pinfall countering Suzuki trying to kick out of an armbreaker was excellently done, and got a big pop from the surprised crowd, even Masa Fuchi was clapping from the commentary table. Kea came out looking good, as well as maintaining Suzuki as still being a threat.Match Rating: **1/2Champion Carnival Semi Final: Satoshi Kojima VS Suwama
Despite knowing they still had to fight another match if they got past this one, they still put on one brutally physical match here! There’s a lot of bad blood between these two as pointed out by the highlight video where Suwama first attacked Kojima and joined up with the Voodoo Murders all those months back, following through with Suwama always scraping by a win over the Triple Crown champion.
Kojima was all business tonight with a grudge to settle. He took it straight to Suwama right from the ring introductions, giving him a big backdrop suplex followed by a brainbuster! Suwama was able to take back the advantage thanks to interference from TARU & YASSHI. Interesting to note how Kojima showed one heck of a mean streak in this one, going so far as to no-sell a chair beating on his arm as well as 2 release Germans where he landed right on his bad shoulder! Kojima definitely looked like a really strong champion here, the way any champion should be booked.
The ending of the match was rather questionable, as Kojima and Suwama both fell out of the ring, and the referee laid the count on both of them, and continued the count even though YASSHI got in his face to distract him. Wouldn’t that usually break the count or something? And of course while YASSHI distracted the ref, TARU ran over and whacked Kojima with his pipe, leading to Kojima not being able to have the strength to climb back into the ring. It did make sense that Masa Fuchi left the announce table to complain to the referee about it though, even if the referee’s decision stood.Match Rating: **1/2Yutaka Yoshie, Arashi & Brute Issei VS Kensuke Sasaki, Tomoaki Honma & Katsuhiko Nakajima
Granted he was on the winning team, but I still feel Honma got a bit of a raw deal in this one as he took a beating without getting much offense in, whereas Nakajima was given the rub of flipping Arashi with a half-hatch suplex! We all know any offense Nakajima gets in will result in crowd heat, but the same goes for Honma. Again it’s no wonder he eventually left the company. Sasaki was fun to watch directing traffic for his team. I like his new clubbing lariat combo, but would have liked to see more of him in this match. He only tagged in at the very end and did minimal work before scoring the win on Issei with a lariat.
The super-heavyweight threesome was fun to watch also, the way they were able to come up with a few double and triple-team moves using their girth to their advantage. Too bad Arashi was given the boot from the company as the trio clicked well and Issei was getting a rub from his seniors.Match Rating: *AJPW Jr. Heavyweight Title: Shuji Kondo (C) VS MAZADA
GOOD GOD! How the heck Kondo can even walk after this match is beyond me since MAZADA gave him a frickin’ TOMBSTONE CANADIAN DESTROYER and Kondo landed in a very SICK looking angle right on his head! The match was billed as Strength VS Technique, and lived up to it very well as Kondo battered MAZADA all over the place with his power, whereas MAZADA used his Lucha Techinico skills to counter a lot of Kondo’s offense! It also added to the match that NOSAWA took YASSHI out of the match early so there was no outside interference, making it a true competitive match which ended up as one heck of a slobber knocker with all kinds of insane bumps taken by both men. I guess the only small thing I would have to complain about was how Kondo’s King Kong Lariat finisher didn’t look as hard hitting as all the other sick spots they threw out in the match. But still, this was easily one of the best junior heavy title matches I’ve seen in a long while! Match Rating: ****TARU & “brother” YASSHI VS Keiji Mutoh & Milano Collection A.T.
It was good to see Milano working in Japan again and he fits right in to Mutoh’s AJPW. He’s also still in great shape and hasn’t lost a step with a strong showing against his ex-Toryumon/T2P running mates TARU & YASSHI. Interesting to see Mutoh do a few comedy spots in this one, like using the towel on YASSHI’s pants to wipe his bald head! But much like the other tag matches on this show so far, this just felt like a throwaway as they never really built up to anything other than to showcase Milano to the AJPW crowd.Match Rating: *1/2AJPW 2006 Champion Carnival Finals: Suwama VS Taiyo Kea
Here’s a little something that boggles the mind. You’d think Suwama would be winded after the beating Kojima gave him, instead he’s looking more fresh than Kea who gets winded easily from a few blows! I liked that RO&D chased off the Voodoo Murders and let the two men settle it like it should be done, just like the junior title match earlier. And the results again was a great competitive match, with a good old-school build leading to a climatic finale full of big bumps and near falls! They even did the old Kobashi/Akiyam suplex exchange spot, with Suwama doing half-nelsons and Kea dropping Suwama on his head with the cobra-clutch suplexes! This match was easily levels above their first round match back when the Carnival started, and it was definitely good to see Kea bust his ass to win his much deserved first Champion Carnival win.Match Rating: ****
RO&D celebrate with Kea in the ring. TAKA congratulates Kea, and Kea cuts a short promo in Japanese, challenging Kojima for the Triple Crown and saying that he IS AJPW.Overall:
Despite the rather throwaway nature of the tag matches on the card, the main matches on the card definitely delivered on a grand scale; the two fun semi-final matches which helped to develop on-going feuds, the INCREDIBLE Jr. title match which significantly raised the stock of MAZADA, and the emotional Champion Carnival win of Taiyo Kea, setting the stage for his Triple Crown reign after being forgotten and overlooked for so long. Definitely a great end to the 2006 Carnival, and it will be interesting to see what they come up with for next year!