All Japan "2014 Okinawa IMPACT Vol.1"
review by Kevin Wilson
Date: February 23rd, 2014
Up to this point, this is All Japan's biggest show of the year. Not only did it get their best attendance of the year but it had three title matches including the much anticipated match-up between Akebono and Go Shiozaki. We also have some weird wrestlers on the card I have never seen before and will have to do some research to figure out who they are. Here is the full card:
- Atsushi Aoki vs. RYUKYU-DOG Dingo
Atsushi Aoki vs. RYUKYU-DOG Dingo
Match Thoughts: A decent opener that gave Dingo a bit of a chance to shine on a big event. Dingo wrestles for Okinawa Pro, I would assume that Okinawa Pro assisted with promos/ticket selling and in return got a few of their wrestlers on the card. The winner was never in doubt but Dingo had a few quick near falls. Aoki’s focus on the back was a bit odd since his finisher doesn’t hurt it, and his offense on the back was very very repetitive (lots of elbows to the back). If he had added some variety it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal that it didn’t factor into the ending. So not a bad match overall but a bit pedestrian at parts. Score: 5.0
Gurukun Mask and Captain Eagle vs. Osamu Nishimura and Tiida Heat
Gurukun Mask tags in Eagle, Eagle picks up Heat and throws him into the corner. Chop by Eagle and he hits a second one. Eagle throws Heat into the corner, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Heat hits him in the stomach as he jumps off. Eagle cuts off Heat before he can tag in Eagle, he picks him up, Irish whip, reversed, but Eagle avoids Heat’s dropkick. Eagle waits for Heat to get up and goes off the ropes but Heat catches him with the dropkick and tags in Nishimura. Uppercut by Nishimura to Eagle and then to Gurukun Mask as well. Nishimura picks up Eagle, Irish whip, and he applies the Cobra Twist. Eagle gets to the ropes, uppercut by Nishimura, he picks up Eagle and slams him in front of the corner. Nishimura goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the diving knee to Eagle’s leg. Spinning toe hold by Nishimura and he applies the figure four, but Eagle eventually gets to the ropes to break it up. Nishimura tags in Heat, snapmare by Heat and he dropkicks Eagle. Standing moonsault by Heat, cover, but it gets a two count. Heat waits for Eagle to get up and goes for a cutter, but Eagle pushes him off and hits an atomic drop followed by a lariat. Eagle makes the tag to Gurukun Mask, Gurukun Mask waits for Heat to get up and kicks him repeatedly in the chest. High kick by Gurukun Mask and he hits a butterfly suplex into a cross armbreaker. Heat manages to get to the ropes to force the break, Heat comes in the ring and they throw Heat into the corner. Running lariat by Gurukun Mask and Eagle hits one as well, then Eagle hits a vertical suplex. Somersault senton by Gurukun Mask, cover, but Nishimura breaks it up. Gurukun Mask waits for Heat to get up and goes off the ropes, but Heat rolls him up for a two count. Inside cradle by Heat but that gets two as well. Heat goes off the ropes but Gurukun Mask levels him with a lariat for a two count. Gurukun Mask picks up Heat and slams him in front of the corner, he then goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers the diving headbutt. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winners: Gurukun Mask and Captain Eagle
Match Thoughts: This match wasn’t actively bad but certainly wasn’t particularly exciting either. As I mentioned after the last match, this was no doubt because Okinawa Pro assisted with advertising and/or tickets and to give the ‘home crowd’ something special to cheer for. It wasn’t a bad use for Nishimura since I don’t want to see him in any other match, but these guys appear to be a bit limited. A lot of the match was strikes or submission holds that went nowhere and meant little in the grand scheme of the match. It wasn’t unwatchable, but definitely miss-able. Score: 4.0
Kento Miyahara vs. Takao Omori
Stomp by Omori, he picks up Miyahara and hits him into the corner. Omori chokes Miyahara with his boot until the referee gets him off, he picks up Miyahara and hits a piledriver. Cover, but Miyahara kicks out at two. Omori picks up Miyahara, Miyahara elbows Omori but Omori slaps him back. Irish whip by Omori but Miyahara dropkicks him in the knee and then dropkicks him in the face. Omori lands in the corner, Miyahara charges in and hits a jumping elbow followed by the Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. Miyahara picks up Omori and applies a waistlock, Omori elbows out of it, Miyahara goes off the ropes but Omori catches him with a big boot followed by a back elbow. Omori picks up Miyahara and hits the full nelson slam, cover, but it gets a two count. Omori picks up Miyahara and goes for the Axe Guillotine Driver but Miyahara gets out of it and hits a thrust kick. Miyahara goes up to the top turnbuckle but Omori hits him before he can do anything and joins him up top. Omori hits the superplex but Miyahara returns to his feet and kicks Omori. Omori kicks him back and both men hit lariats as they fall to the mat. Both wrestlers slowly get up, Miyahara charges Omori in the corner and hits a jumping knee. Sit-down powerbomb by Miyahara, cover, but it gets a two count. Miyahara picks up Omori and hits a German suplex hold, but it gets a two count as well. Miyahara picks up Omori again and applies a double underhook but Omori blocks it and hits the Axe Guillotine Driver. Cover, but Miyahara gets a shoulder up. Omori calls for the Axe Bomber, he goes off the ropes but Miyahara blocks it. Rapid fire lariats by Omori, he goes off the ropes but Miyahara catches his arm and applies a cross armbar. The referee stops the match, declaring Miyahara the winner.
Match Thoughts: A bit of an odd match. I have never liked how wrestlers will do a big move (such as the table spots) and then just wait for the wrestler to get up. What is the point of doing a big move and then just waiting for your opponent to recover instead of capitalizing? Just too illogical. I didn’t mind too much the ‘flash’ submission but since it was a new move for Miyahara it would have been better if they had built up to it as it didn’t really seem like a match ender since he had never won a match with it before (and it is a pretty basic looking move). Miyahara did look good though even if some of the selling was a bit suspect, no-selling superplexes is rarely a great idea. So a bit of a mixed bag here, maybe more good than bad but not by much. Score: 6.0
KENSO vs. Suwama
Match Thoughts: A typical KENSO match, which means it wasn’t bad but not a lot happened in it. Realistically speaking KENSO wasn’t going to beat Suwama (Nagai wasn’t even down there to help out), and he never really hit any of his big moves to make you think he was on the cusp of winning. Suwama looked good at the end running though all his moves but the botch on the belly to belly suplex was ugly… no idea whose fault it was, it just wasn’t a good looking spot. Just an average brawl, I can see that KENSO matches will never be the highlight of any event that I review. Score: 5.0
(c) Jun Akiyama and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. SUSHI and Menso~re Oyaji
Akiyama grabs SUSHI and takes him to the other side of the ring so that a new audience could see him slam SUSHI onto the floor. Akiyama finally slides SUSHI back into the ring, he returns as well and knees SUSHI. Headbutt by Akiyama and he kicks SUSHI back to the mat. Akiyama tags in Kanemaru, he picks up SUSHI and hits a scoop slam. Kanemaru then goes out to the apron and hits a slingshot senton, cover, but it gets a two count. Stomps by Kanemaru and they trade elbows, which SUSHI gets the better of. Kanemaru trips up SUSHI and slams him in front of the corner, he goes up to the second turnbuckle and hits a doublestomp. Kanemaru tags in Akiyama, he goes up to the second turnbuckle and hits a doublestomp as well. Akiyama picks up SUSHI and hits a backdrop suplex, cover, but SUSHI kicks out. Akiyama applies a headlock, Oyaji tries to break it up but Akiyama ignores him. Cover by Akiyama, but it only gets a two count. Akiyama tags in Kanemaru, Kanemaru picks up SUSHI, Irish whip, and Kanemaru hits a flapjack. Cover, but again it gets two. Kanemaru applies the Camel Clutch to SUSHI but SUSHI makes it to the ropes. Kanemaru tags in Akiyama, Irish whip from the corner and Akiyama hits the jumping knee. Akiyama goes for a suplex but SUSHI blocks it and hits a suplex of his own. SUSHI tags in Oyaji, Oyaji dropkicks both Akiyama and Kanemaru a few times before kicking Akiyama into the corner. Irish whip by Oyaji and he hits a running elbow strike, Oyaji goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Oyaji picks up Akiyama but Akiyama pushes him off and knees him in the chest. Akiyama tags in Kanemaru, lariat by Kanemaru to Oyaji in the corner and he hits the split legged moonsault. Cover, but it gets two. Irish whip by Kanemaru, reversed, and Kanemaru dropkicks Oyaji in the knee. Kanemaru goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving crossbody, cover, but it gets a two count.
Kanemaru grabs Oyaji but Oyaji lands on his feet when he goes for a suplex and hits a reverse STO. Oyaji tags in SUSHI, and SUSHI hits Kanemaru with a heel kick. SUSHI approaches Akiyama but Akiyama knees him and gets in the ring, double Irish whip to SUSHI but he hits a double dropkick on Kanemaru and Akiyama. Akiyama and Kanemaru fall out of the ring, and their opponents sail out onto them with pescados. SUSHI slides Kanemaru back into the ring, Oyaji hits a running elbow on Kanemaru in the corner and SUSHI follows with a lariat. They do this a few more times, superkick by Oyaji to Kanemaru and he hits the Shiranui. Diving headbutt by SUSHI to Kanemaru, cover, but Akiyama breaks it up. Oyaji throws Kanemaru out of the ring, SUSHI picks up Kanemaru and hits the Fisherman Buster. Cover, but Kanemaru gets a shoulder up. Jawbreaker by SUSHI and he rolls up Kanemaru for a two count. SUSHI picks up Kanemaru and goes for another Fisherman Buster but Kanemaru reverses it into a brainbuster. Lariat by Kanemaru and he tags in Akiyama. Akiyama knocks Oyaji off the apron, elbows by SUSHI to Akiyama and he goes off the ropes, but Akiyama catches him with a lariat. Cover, but Oyaji breaks it up. Akiyama headbutts Oyaji and throws him out of the ring, which gives SUSHI time to recover. Lariat by SUSHI to Akiyama, cover, but it gets two. Back up, jawbreaker by SUSHI and he hits a superkick, but Akiyama catches him with a knee to the face. Kanemaru comes in the ring, they throws SUSHI into the corner and both connect with running strikes. Deep Impact by Kanemaru on SUSHI, and Akiyama hits a running knee to the chest. Cover, but Oyaji breaks it up. Kanemaru gets rid of Oyaji, Akiyama picks up SUSHI but SUSHI hits an elbow. They trade elbows, SUSHI goes off the ropes but Akiyama catches him with a jumping knee. Double armed DDT by Akiyama, he waits for SUSHI to get to one knee and knees him in the back of the head. Cover, but SUSHI barely kicks out. Akiyama picks up SUSHI and hits an exploder, cover, but Akiyama lifts him up. Akiyama goes off the ropes and nails the Running Knee, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winners and still champions: Jun Akiyama and Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Match Thoughts: A pretty fun match. It started a bit slow but they had some good storylines in place like SUSHI for some reason going out of his way to piss off Akiyama and Akiyama responding by taking him apart the rest of the match. Oyaji seemed out of place and didn’t really wrestle that much, SUSHI probably could have found a better tag partner to go after the titles with. The end stretch was really good and they really made you think that Kanemaru may get pinned. But once Akiyama was tagged back in, that was pretty much it since neither of these two were pinning Akiyama. Overall I enjoyed it, some solid fast paced action with a little old man grumpy Akiyama in there too just for added fun. Score: 7.0
(c) Ultimo Dragon vs. Kotaro Suzuki
Ultimo Dragon picks up Suzuki, Irish whip, Suzuki kicks Ultimo Dragon and hits the handspring elbow strike. Jumping knee by Suzuki in the corner and he hits the diving knee of the second turnbuckle for a two count cover. Suzuki picks up Ultimo Dragon but Ultimo Dragon elbows him off, Ultimo Dragon goes off the ropes but Suzuki drops him over the second rope and hits the Tiger Feint Kick. Suzuki picks up Ultimo Dragon and goes for the Blue Destiny but Ultimo Dragon reverses it with an armdrag. Ultimo Dragon charges Suzuki but Suzuki kicks him back, Suzuki goes up to the top turnbuckle but Ultimo Dragon hits him before he can jump off. Ultimo Dragon joins Suzuki on the top turnbuckle and hits a top rope superplex. Ultimo Dragon covers Suzuki but it only gets a two count. Ultimo Dragon picks up Suzuki, Irish whip, and Ultimo Dragon delivers a dropkick. Back bodydrop by Ultimo Dragon, he waits for Suzuki to get up and hits a kick combination. He goes for the Asai DDT but Suzuki hits an inside cradle for a two count. Sunset flip by Suzuki but that gets a two count as well. Frankensteiner by Ultimo Dragon, cover, but Suzuki rolls through it for a two count cover of his own. Dragon screw leg whip by Ultimo Dragon and he applies a cross ankle hold. Suzuki makes it to the ropes after a moment to force a break, Ultimo Dragon charges Suzuki and hits a Victory Roll, and the pair trade pin attempts with no success. Elbows by Suzuki but Ultimo Dragon hits a drop toehold followed by La Magistral for a two count. Ultimo Dragon picks up Suzuki and goes for it again but Suzuki dropkicks him in the knee and hits La Magistral for his own two count. Crucifix pin by Suzuki, but that gets a two count as well. Suzuki picks up Ultimo Dragon and goes for the Tiger Driver but Ultimo Dragon reverses it. Excalibur by Suzuki, cover, but it gets a two count. He picks up Ultimo Dragon and hits the Blue Destiny, cover, but Ultimo Dragon barely gets a shoulder up. Suzuki picks up Ultimo Dragon again and goes for the Tiger Driver but Ultimo Dragon reverses it with a hurricanrana. Enzigieri by Ultimo Dragon and he hits the Asai DDT, he picks up Suzuki and delivers a second one. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Ultimo Dragon
Match Thoughts: This match had a lot of the same spots as the match they had the week prior, which I guess makes sense as in a week they aren’t going to plan a totally different match. So while some of the things looked familiar I did like that the ‘end stretch’ seemed a lot more fleshed out this time. If you watched him wrestle you’d never guess that Ultimo Dragon is 47 years old, no he isn’t as fast he as was back in the mid-90s but he is very fluid and crisp in everything that he does. Truly an ageless wonder, most wrestlers at that age are falling off and he is still going strong. Suzuki hit everything he had except for what beat Ultimo Dragon last time, the Tiger Driver, and Ultimo Dragon just had the experience once he got the advantage again to quickly put Suzuki away. It wasn’t perfect, as some parts did drag and since I just saw them wrestle a week ago some of it was just too familiar, but overall it was an entertaining match. Score: 7.0
(c) Akebono vs. Go Shiozaki
Match Thoughts: Some parts of this match were really good as Akebono is finally really getting into his style and the crowd loved it, but the match layout took me out of it too much. I mean Shiozaki attacks Akebono's leg for five minutes, and Akebono never even pretends like it matters after that. Not even a limp, which negated 1/3 of the match. Plus that was working, keeping Akebono off the mat, but Shiozaki then forgets about that altogether and decides that suplexing Akebono is a good idea. And waiting for him to get up instead of attacking him on the ground, honestly if Shiozaki's entire strategy was keeping Akebono on the mat at all times like he was doing at first I would have probably dug the match. I realize his finisher is the Go Flasher but this is when you use things like leg submission holds and lariats, just common sense stuff made worse by the fact he was doing it at first and then completely abandoned it. I did like the strike battles as well as Akebono's timing, and this was the best Akebono singles match I have seen in a while (maybe ever) so he had that going for him. And the crowd enjoyed it. I just couldn't get into it even though it wasn’t bad overall. Score: 5.5
Best Match: Ultimo Dragon vs. Kotaro Suzuki. A bit of a toss-up here, but I just think that Ultimo Dragon is so good at what he does and Suzuki played his part well of the younger wrestler trying to take down one of the legends of Puroresu. But Ultimo Dragon was just too quick and seemed to stay a step ahead. They had great fast paced spots where everything looked perfectly fluid and overall it was a fun match to watch.
MVP: Ultimo Dragon. As I have mentioned a few times in this review, Ultimo Dragon is still such a pleasure to watch wrestle. His style really hasn’t changed in 20 years, if you put two of his matches side by side you may be able to tell a speed difference but he is still just so technically sound. The crowd was really into the match and Ultimo Dragon was the one leading them along, he doesn’t hit as many of his ‘big spots’ as he used to but he still is a great wrestler.
Overall: The event didn’t have a “classic must-see” match but did have a collection of really solid to great matches on it. The first two title matches were very entertaining, and even though the main event was disappointing for me it was still a really good Akebono match as long as you don’t mind some plodding and selling issues. The Okinawa matches weren’t great but there weren’t any “bad” matches on the card which I rarely say. Definitely an event worth picking up for All Japan fans.
review completed 4/14/14