All Japan "New Year's War 2015"
A casual review by Kevin Wilson

Date:  January 3rd, 2015
Location:  Tokyo Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance:  1,431

So I have decided to go ahead and do 2015 reviews of the big shows.  I know I still have a lot of 2014 reviews to do, but I didn’t want to lose touch with the current product either.  So we dive back into 2015 with the first big All Japan event of the year.  We have three title matches, including Shiozaki challenging for the Triple Crown against Joe Doering.  Here is the full card:

- Yohei Nakajima, Naoya Nomura, and Yuma Aoyagi vs. Kanemaru, Ultimo Dragon, and Masanobu Fuchi
- Atsushi Aoki vs. Takao Soma
- GAORA TV Championship: KENSO vs. Ryuji Hijikata
- Akebono, Shuji Ishikawa, and Shigehiro Irie vs. Jun Akiyama, Takao Omori and SUSHI
- Shingo Takagi and Zeus vs. Suwama and Hikaru Sato
- All Asia Tag Team Championship: Kento Miyahara and Kotaro Suzuki vs. Mitsuya Nagai and Minamino
- Triple Crown: Joe Doering vs. Go Shiozaki

This will be a fun change of pace, let’s get to it.

Yohei Nakajima, Nomura, and Aoyagi vs. Kanemaru, Ultimo Dragon, and Masanobu Fuchi
I don’t know who all of these guys are, so not off to a great start for me personally.  I ended up doing more research to know who they were then the match actually took.  Fuchi and Nomura start off and 60 year old Fuchi has his way with the young kid before tagging in Ultimo Dragon.  Ultimo Dragon dropkicks Nomura, but Nomura tags in Aoyagi.  Kanemaru tags in, Aoyagi has some luck with him before tagging in Nakajima.  Ultimo Dragon comes back in as a few minutes into the match nothing of any substance has happened yet.  They flip around for a bit and do some contrived mat wrestling until Ultimo Dragon tags in Kanemaru.  Kanemaru works over Nakajima but Nakajima snaps off a suplex before tagging in Aoyagi.  Kanemaru uppercuts Aoyagi to another planet and gives him a hard elbow.  The old man is tagged in (not Ultimo, the other one) and hits a super delayed bodyslam, which hurts his own back so he tags in Ultimo Dragon.  Ultimo Dragon twists Aoyagi around and tags in Kanemaru who assists in stomping on Aoyagi.  Kanemaru slams Aoyagi, he goes to the apron and hits a slingshot senton for a two count.  Ultimo Dragon comes back in but Aoyagi dropkicks him back and tags in Nakajima.  Nakajima applies an Octopus Hold but Ultimo Dragon gets away, Kanemaru comes back in and kicks Nakajima in the leg before hitting a suplex.  Diving body press by Kanemaru and he flapjacks Nakajima for a two.  Nakajima mans up and hits an enzigieri, Nomura comes in to help and they beat around Kanemaru before tagging in Aoyagi.  Aoyagi dropkicks Kanemaru, Irish whip, and he hits another one.  Aoyagi goes up top and hits another dropkick, and his friends come in to take care of Ultimo Dragon and Fuchi.  Kanemaru has had enough and starts beating up everyone but Aoyagi regains the advantage, Fuchi comes in and he slams Aoyagi.  Fuchi slams Nomura and Nakajima as well.  Crab hold by Kanemaru to Aoyagi, the traditional rookie finisher, but Nakajima breaks it up.  Ultimo Dragon dispatches Nakajima while Kanemaru finishes off Aoyagi, picking up the win the diving body press.  Kanemaru, Ultimo Dragon, and Masanobu Fuchi win the match.  A pretty typical opener, the young guys had no chance at all of beating the veterans but they gave the youngins a few nice spots here and there.  Score:  4.0

Atsushi Aoki vs. Takao Soma
Soma is a DDT wrestler that I think spends as much time in All Japan as he does in DDT.  Aoki tries shoulderblocking Soma but Soma kips up and knocks Aoki out of the ring before kipping up again.  Baseball slide by Soma and he goes up top, hitting a doublestomp to Aoki’s back as he is getting up.  That was a painful looking move for the second match on the card.  Back in the ring and Soma stomps on Aoki before slamming him to the mat.  Aoki regains the advantage, he beats on Soma and throws him out of the ring before slamming Soma into the guard rail multiple times.  Aoki slides Soma back in and stomps on him before hitting a vertical suplex.  Aoki slaps on the crab hold so they can take a breather, Soma gets to the ropes and Aoki stomps on Soma’s back.  Soma goes for a dropkick by Aoki avoids it, but Aoki can’t avoid the second one.  Soma charges in but Aoki moves out of the way and hits a doublestomp followed by a sliding kick.  Soma goes up top and hits a missile dropkick, Soma bounces off the ropes but Aoki hits a dropkick.  Aoki throws Soma in the corner and hits a jumping elbow.  They trade elbows and headbutts, Soma goes up top after flooring Aoki and he hits a diving body press for a two count.  Quick kick by Soma and he gets another two.  Soma picks up Aoki but Aoki wiggles away and drop Soma.  Aoki drops Soma onto his knee and they trade moves, with Aoki getting the best of it with a lariat.  Aoki hits a backdrop suplex and he puts Soma in a Texas Cloverleaf, picking up the submission victory.  Atsushi Aoki is your winner.  A meh match for me, Soma doesn’t do much for me and Aoki needs the right opponent to really excel.  The action was crisp, just not overly interesting.  Score:  4.5

(c) KENSO vs. Ryuji Hijikata
This is for the GAORA TV Championship.  KENSO is just awful but he knows he is awful, so does that make him good because he understands his limitations?  Just trying to use the logic people use to excuse the existence of Big Show.  Hijikata takes it to KENSO to start things out and throws him out of the ring, but KENSO smartly runs away.  Hijikata catches up with him and beats KENSO around the ring, but KENSO is in his element and turns the tables.  KENSO throws Hijikata back in the ring after a bit and slaps him.  They both trade slaps, KENSO goes for a boot but Hijikata slaps him.  High kick by Hijikata in the corner and hits a vertical suplex before kicking Hijikata in the back.  Hijikata dropkicks KENSO in the knee and hits a Shining Wizard modification for a two count.  Hijikata charges KENSO but KENSO hits a lariat.  KENSO goes up top but Hijikata kicks KENSO in the head and hits a superplex.  Suplex, but KENSO kicks out of the pin attempt.  KENSO throws the referee in front of him so that Hijikata hits him, kicks by Hijikata but KENSO chokes him with his feathery belt.  Brainbuster by KENSO as the referee magically revives and counts the two count.  Hagakure by KENSO and he finishes off Hijikata with a diving elbow drop for the three count.  KENSO is still the champion.  The issue I have with 'ol KENSO is half the match was wasted on outside the ring brawling that any child or rookie could do.  It is just unimaginative.  I liked the conclusive ending though, he killed Hijikata dead with that Hagakure.  Score:  3.5

Akebono, Shuji Ishikawa, and Shigehiro Irie vs. Jun Akiyama, Takao Omori and SUSHI
This is a good example of a match I really don’t want to do play by play of.  I will watch it for you though.  Omori and Akebono are the first pairing, Omori learns he can’t knock down Akebono to everyone’s amazement, and Akebono shoulderblocks him to the mat.  Omori still tries to shoulderblock Akebono over (not a great game plan), he can’t still, so he gives up and tags in little SUSHI.  Akebono immediately levels SUSHI and drops a 700 pound elbow drop on his chest.  Ishikawa is tagged in, he beats up SUSHI a bit and tags in Irie.  Irie does the same until SUSHI hits a heel kick and tags in Akiyama.  I watched some Archer while Akiyama beat down Irie for a few minutes, and Akiyama tags in Omori.  Omori applies rest holds and drops elbows onto Irie.  Omori tags Akiyama back in and Akiyama knees Irie in the corner.  Headbutts by Irie but Akiyama gets the better of it and tags in SUSHI, this should go well.  Everyone attacks Irie in the corner and SUSHI hits a bunch of elbow drops.  SUSHI surprisingly keeps things in control and tags Akiyama back in.  Irie is thrown in the corner and everyone lariats Irie before Akiyama hits a running knee.  Irie snaps off a suplex on Akiyama and tags in Ishikawa.  Ishikawa lariats Akiyama in the corner before hitting a doublestomp.  Akiyama and Ishikawa trade elbows, but Akiyama escapes Ishikawa and tags in Omori.  Heel kick by Omori and he tries to lariat Ishikawa but Ishikawa doesn’t go down.  Omori has had no luck in this match knocking people over.  Knee by Ishikawa and he tags in Akebono.  Akebono hits a body press but Akiyama breaks it up. SUSHI is tagged in and tries to lariat Akebono, horrible idea, it doesn’t work.  Jawbreaker by SUSHI and he hits a superkick.  Another superkick, Akebono is still up.  Body press by Akebono to SUSHI but it gets a two count.  Chokeslam by Akebono and he hits an elbow drop.  Kawazu Otoshi by Akebono and he gets three.  Akebono and company win the match.  I don’t understand why wrestlers are obsessed with hitting Akebono in the chest to knock him over, it’s the stupidest tactic, go for the legs.  Some ok action here and there but the beatdown segments were a bit dull.  Score: 3.5 

Shingo Takagi and Zeus vs. Suwama and Hikaru Sato
Suwama and Takagi start things off and they do some trading submissions holds.  They lock knuckles, Irish whip by Suwama but Takagi can’t shoulderblock him down.  He tries again with no luck, but Suwama can’t do it either.  Takagi tags in Zeus so Suwama tags in Sato.  Zeus follows Sato around the ring, waistlock by Sato but Zeus applies a wristlock.  Side headlock by Zeus and he shoulderblocks Sato.  Zeus throws Sato out of the ring and throws him into the railing.  Takagi helps before sliding Sato back in, and Zeus covers for a two count.  Zeus tags in Takagi and Takagi drops a knee on Sato for a two count.  Takagi tags in Zeus and Zeus slams Sato to the mat.  Another slam by Zeus, Takagi comes in and they both shoulderblock Sato.  Chokeslam/backdrop suplex combination to Sato, cover but Suwama finally comes in the ring and breaks it up.  I don’t think Suwama actually likes Sato, he isn’t being particularly helpful.  Scorpion Deathlock by Takagi but Sato gets to the ropes.  Takagi throws Sato around but finally Sato moves away from Takagi and kicks him in the head.  Sato makes the hottest of tags to Suwama, Suwama knocks down Takagi and covers him for a two.  Irish whip by Suwama and he hits a lariat.  Suwama toys with Takagi, Takagi tries to hit a lariat but Suwama applies a side headlock.  Takagi snaps off a backdrop suplex and he tags in Zeus.  Body avalanche by Zeus in the corner and he hits a second one.  Bearhug suplex by Zeus to Suwama but it gets a two count.  Zeus and Suwama trade elbows but Suwama hits a capture suplex.  Suwama tags in Sato and Sato kicks Zeus into the corner.  Sato tries to pick up Zeus but Zeus blocks it, Sato picks up Zeus and slams him to the mat.  Sato applies a cross armbreaker but Zeus quickly gets a foot on the ropes.  Sato elbows Zeus in the corner and Suwama hits a lariat.  German suplex by Suwama to Zeus and Sato hits a PK.  Cover by Sato but it gets a two count.  Sato slaps on a cross armbreaker, but Zeus powerbombs out of it.  Lariat by Zeus and he covers Sato, but Suwama breaks it up.  Takagi comes in and trades shots with Suwama.  They get out of the ring and Zeus chokeslams Sato.  Zeus picks up Sato and he hits the Jackhammer for the three count victory.  Shingo Takagi and Zeus are your winners.  Better than the last couple matches, Zeus is a brute that works best in small doses and Suwama is ace.  I don’t understand why he would want to tag with Sato but that is one of the Puroresu mysteries, great wrestlers tagging with low ranked ones.  Still a very solid affair.  Score:  6.5

(c) Kento Miyahara and Kotaro Suzuki vs. Mitsuya Nagai and Minamino
This match is for the All Asia Tag Team Championship.  They brawl outside of the ring before they even get started, with Dark Kingdom having the clear advantage.  Minamino returns to the ring with Suzuki, Irish whip by Minamino but Suzuki hits a spinning backbreaker and tags in Miyahara.  Miyahara punches Minamino in the corner and tags Suzuki back in, Suzuki goes off the ropes but Nagai pulls him out of the ring and throws Suzuki into the railing.  Nagai takes Suzuki up in the crowd and throws him around.  Nagai eventually slides Suzuki back into the ring, Minamino picks up Suzuki, Irish whip, and Minamino hits a back elbow.  Cover by Minamino but it gets two.  Minamino tags in Nagai, double Irish whip and Suzuki eats a double shoulderblock.  Texas Cloverleaf by Nagai but Miyahara breaks it up.  Nagai tags in Minamino, he puts Suzuki up in the tree of woe and stomps on his stomach while Nagai chokes him with a chair.  Vertical suplex by Minamino and he tags in Nagai.  Suzuki gets away from Nagai and hits a suplex, giving him a change to tag in Miyahara.  Nagai and Miyahara trade elbows, Minamino attacks Miyahara from the apron but Miyahara has had enough and knocks him to the floor before dropping him on the guard rail.  That should stop him from interfering for a bit.  Back in the ring Nagai knocks back Miyahara but Miyahara sets him up in the corner and knees him in the stomach.  Big boot by Minamino, cover, but it gets a two count.  Nagai catches the next boot attempt and hits a capture suplex.  Nagai tags in Minamino, punches by Minamino and he kicks Miyahara low.  They trade waistlocks but Miyahara boots Minamino and tags in Suzuki.  Handspring elbow strike by Suzuki but Minamino manages to hit another low blow and tags in Nagai.  Suzuki is thrown into the corner and is hit by a pair of strikes, falcon arrow by Nagai and Minamino hits a doublestomp.  Cover by Nagai but Miyahara breaks it up.  Miyahara rights off Minamino but Nagai kicks him to the mat.  Tiger Feint Kick by Suzuki to Nagai and Nagai is planted with a side slam/neckbreaker combo.  Minamino comes in the ring so Miyahara takes care of him and they battle around the ring.  In the ring Suzuki goes off the ropes but Minamino moves, allowing Suzuki to get hit from the apron.  KENSO gets in the ring and he slaps around Suzuki and hits a brainbuster.  Nagai charges Suzuki but Suzuki moves, then Miyahara runs in and boots Nagai.  German suplex by Miyahara, elbows by Suzuki and he covers Nagai for a two count.  Suzuki picks up Nagai but KENSO comes back in the ring and throws powder in his face.  Irish whip by KENSO and he hits Suzuki with a belt.  Suzuki is then popped with a chair right in the head, after KENSO is done Nagai and Minamino return to the ring and Nagai hits a Hyper Knee Kuga.  Cover and Dark Kingdom are the new champions!  I don’t like title matches that end in shenanigans.  I don’t mind the interference,  but ending the match like that while the doofus referee is clueless is just ridiculous.  I’m not a happy panda, even though the action throughout the match was perfectly entertaining.  Score:  5.0

(c) Joe Doering vs. Go Shiozaki
This match is for All Japan Triple Crown.  After the standard opening match strike exchange, Doering wins with a hard shoulderblock.  They lock knuckles and Doering knocks Shiozaki to the mat.  Doering chops the hell out of Shiozaki but Shiozaki chops him back.  Doering wins the battle and Shiozaki rolls out of the ring, but Doering goes out after him and slides Shiozaki back into the ring.  Elbow drop by Doering and he headbutts Shiozaki into the corner.  Shiozaki kicks back Doering but Doering chops him again.  Doering goes for a suplex but Shiozaki blocks it.  Shiozaki hits his own vertical suplex but Doering kicks back Shiozaki.  Chop by Shiozaki but Doering chops him back and they get into it again.  Backdrop suplex by Shiozaki and he kicks Doering for a two count.  Fisherman buster by Shiozaki but Doering gets a shoulder up in a surprisingly close near fall this early in a title match.  Chops by Shiozaki but Doering hits a pair of lariats followed by an elbow drop for a two count.  Delayed vertical suplex by Doering, but he gets another two.  DDT by Shiozaki but Doering gets back up, so Shiozaki hits another one.  Hard lariat by Shiozaki and that finally gets Doering on the mat.  Doering doesn’t look too good.  He slowly gets up but Shiozaki rocks him with another lariat.  I am loving Doering’s selling, that or he is genuinely knocked loopy.  Doering rolls out to re-group but Shiozaki sails out onto him with a plancha suicida as both wrestlers land back into the guard rail.  Shiozaki pushes the dead weight back in the ring and chops Doering in the corner.  Shiozaki puts Doering up on the top turnbuckle and he hits a Frankensteiner for a two count.  Vertical suplex into a sitout slam by Shiozaki but it gets two, he goes for a Limit Break but Doering pushes him away. 

Lariat to the back of the head by Shiozaki but Doering catches him with a spinebuster.  They trade strikes and Doering hits a high speed crossbody for a two count.  Doering goes for a Revolution Bomb but Shiozaki reverses it into a DDT.  Hard lariat by Shiozaki but it gets two.  Go Flasher by Shiozaki, but Doering gets a shoulder up.  Shiozaki puts Doering up on the top turnbuckle, he grabs him in a Burning Hammer position and drops him with the debut of the BURNING FLASHER!!!  But it only gets a two count because who needs big flashy new finishers anyway.  THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.  Shiozaki lariats Doering but Doering lariats him back as now he is recovered, and he hits a crossbody for a two count.  Doering picks up Shiozaki and goes for the Revolution Bomb but Shiozaki lands on top of him for two.  Superkick by Shiozaki but Doering hits a lariat.  They trade lariats and both fall to the mat as I still sit here annoyed that Shiozaki debuted a new move that would look better on a smaller wrestler that was just a mid-match near fall.  Rolling chop by Shiozaki and he hits a few more, lariat by Shiozaki but Doering stays up.  One final lariat by Shiozaki and he picks up the three count, crowning him the new All Japan Triple Crown Champion.  I’ll complain about it one more time and get over it – I like wrestlers that have super finishers.  I think it builds intrigue to big matches like this.  And I love that Puroresu wrestlers just make up moves all the time, keeps things exciting.  So I didn’t like the new whatever move already being killed as just another move.  Once I get emotionally past that, this was a great match.  So hard hitting, I dunno if Doering was selling or not but he really did look out of it a few times.  It felt like an epic title fight from start to finish and I love big heavyweights just taking turns at each other.  Few little issues here and there but overall so much fun.  Score:  8.0

Final Thoughts:

A nothing card with a sublime main event.  That is All Japan in a nutshell for me, I just find their mid card dull as hell.  They have a handful of wrestlers that can really bring it but not enough to fill up seven matches so really you just spend your time waiting for the last few matches.  Dark Kingdom winning the title 99% with shenanigans sucked, cheating during a match is cool but having it completely lead to a title change is not what I ever want to see.  Great Triple Crown match though.  Watch the last match, skip the rest.

Overall Grade:  D+

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review completed on 1/9/15