All Japan "Excite Series 2015" Finale
A review by Kevin Wilson

Date:  February 20th, 2015
Location: Tokyo Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 896

Even though All Japan is basically a super indy at this point, they still have a lot of wrestlers I enjoy so I'm always excited to review one of their bigger shows. This event has the ending of the Jr. Battle of Glory Tournament as well as a World Tag Team Championship match, along with a match celebrating KENSO's 15th Anniversary. Here is the full card:

- Naoya Nomura vs. Shigehiro Irie
- Masanobu Fuchi vs. Yuma Aoyagi
- Takeshi Minamino, Hikaru Sato, Keisuke Ishii, and SUSHI vs. Ultimo Dragon, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Yohei Nakajima, and Takao Soma
- KENSO Debut 15th Anniversary: Akebono, KENSO, and Yutaka Yoshie vs. Go Shiozaki, Kento Miyahara, and Zeus
- All Japan World Tag Team Championship: Jun Akiyama and Takao Omori vs. Suwama and Joe Doering
- Jr. Battle of Glory - Final: Atsushi Aoki vs. Kotaro Suzuki

Only six matches but two are big so hopefully this delivers on some level.

Naoya Nomura vs. Shigehiro Irie
Tie-up to start and they trade wristlocks until Irie hits a shoulderblock. Dropkick by Nomura and a second one gets Irie off his feet. Nomura goes off the ropes but Irie hits a back elbow. Back up they trade strikes, Irie gets Nomura to the mat and he applies a stretch hold. Nomura gets to the ropes and Irie elbows him hard in the face. Back to a stretch hold by Irie but Nomura gets a foot on the ropes and back on their feet they trade strikes again. Nomura fails at his body slam attempt, Irie goes off the ropes but this time Nomura is able to hit the body slam. He comically falls to the mat as if he just picked up Andre the Giant, but gets up in time to hit a jumping elbow in the corner followed by a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. He goes for a second one but Irie clubs him off and hits a vertical suplex. Nomura and Irie trade elbows, Nomura goes up top and he hits a missile dropkick for a two count. Irish whip by Nomura to the corner, reversed, and Irie hits a body avalanche. Lariat by Irie, he slams Nomura in front of the corner and he hits an elbow drop off the second turnbuckle for two. Beast Bomber by Irie, and he picks up the three count. Ok, Irie is not big enough for someone to do the 'that guy was hard to pick up' sell. This was basic but fun, Irie is enjoyable and Nomura shows some potential. Solid way to start off the show. Score: 6.0

Masanobu Fuchi vs. Yuma Aoyagi
They end up on the mat pretty quickly, with Fuchi working the headscissors. Back up Fuchi applies a wristlock and then a side headlock, Aoyagi Irish whips out of it but Fuchi hits a shoulderblock. Aoyagi hits a pair of dropkicks, he goes up top and he delivers a missile dropkick. Fuchi goes for a dropkick but Aoyagi avoids it and hits one of his own. Fuchi blocks the next dropkick attempt, Irish whip by Fuchi and he dropkicks Aoyagi. Body slam by Fuchi and he hits a second one. Inside cradle by Fuchi but it only gets a two count, snapmare by Fuchi and he applies a facelock. Aoyagi struggles for a moment but he then submits to the hold. I am not really sure what the point is here, I mean Fuchi is the age of my father so why is he winning matches, but I can understand Aoyagi is still young. This seems like it could have been done in the dojo, I don't see the benefit of the crowd getting to watch Fuchi submit Aoyagi in such quick fashion. Even without that, still not a very good match although fundamentally sound. Score: 3.5

Takeshi Minamino, Hikaru Sato, Keisuke Ishii, and SUSHI vs. Ultimo Dragon, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Yohei Nakajima, and Takao Soma
Ishii and Soma start off and they trade arm work before Ishii hit a shoulderblock. Slap to the chest by Ishii and he hits a hurricanrana but Soma comes back with a dropkick. SUSHI and Nakajima are tagged in, Nakajima goes off the ropes but SUSHI hits a heel kick. Nakajima rolls out of the ring, SUSHI goes to do a dive but Nakajima pulls him out of the ring and kicks SUSHI in the chest. Back in the ring Nakajima tags in Kanemaru, and Kanemaru hits SUSHI with a back elbow. SUSHI tags in Sato and Sato kicks Kanemaru to the mat for a two count. Back up they trade strikes and Kanemaru tags in Ultimo Dragon, and Sato is hit with a double elbow strike. Sato pushes Ultimo Dragon back and he tags in Minamino. Wristlock by Minamino but Ultimo Dragon rolls out of it and hits an armdrag. Ultimo Dragon takes down Minamino and SUSHI and he hits a spinning headscissors on Minamino. Ultimo Dragon tags in Kanemaru and Kanemaru dropkicks Minamino in the leg. Kanemaru goes up top and he hits a diving crossbody for two. Minamino rakes Kanemaru in the eyes but Kanemaru hits a tilt-a-whirl DDT for a two count. Kanemaru is thrown into the corner and everyone hits running strikes on him. SUSHI goes up top but Minamino covers Kanemaru for a two count. That was a fun miscommunication. The ring is cleared as Minamino is alone, and he is double teamed by Soma and Nakajima. Ultimo Dragon throws Minamino in the corner and he hits a back bodydrop. Diving body press by Kanemaru on Minamino but the cover is broken up. Nakajima dives out on SUSHI and Sato with a tope suicida while Ultimo Dragon hits Minamino with an Asai Moonsault. Kanemaru picks up Minamino and he delivers the Touch Out for the three count. Eight men for a six minute match is just too many, I have no idea what the point was here. Either give them more time (preferable) or save some money and use less wrestlers. Just a nothing match that no one could get going in, even though I do love Ultimo Dragon. Score: 4.0

Akebono, KENSO, and Yutaka Yoshie vs. Go Shiozaki, Kento Miyahara, and Zeus
This match is for KENSO's 15th Anniversary. KENSO and Shiozaki start off and KENSO hits a shoulderblock. Hip toss by KENSO, Shiozaki applies a headscissors but KENSO quickly gets out of it. Big slap by KENSO and he hits a second one followed by a third. KENSO throws Shiozaki out of the ring, Miyahara comes in but KENSO dumps him out also. KENSO then throws Zeus out of the ring, he goes off the ropes and goes for a pescado but all three of them move so he crashes to the ground. Shiozaki throws KENSO into the guard rail before they return to the ring, and Shiozaki hits a scoop slam. Shiozaki tags in Miyahara and Miyahara hits a leg drop for two. KENSO slaps Miyahara a few times but Miyahara hits a shoulderblock. Miyahara tags in Zeus and Zeus chokes KENSO in the corner. Back up they trade chops, which Zeus gets the better of. Zeus tags in Shiozaki and Shiozaki hits a sliding lariat for two. Shiozaki goes for a suplex but KENSO blocks it, and he hits the STO. KENSO makes the tag to Akebono, Akebono throws Shiozaki in the corner and hits a body avalanche followed by an elbow drop for two. Akebono picks up Shiozaki and they trade chops, headbutt by Shiozaki but Akebono blocks the suplex attempt. Shiozaki avoids the body press attempt and he tags in Miyahara. Big boots by Miyahara to Akebono, he goes for a German suplex but Akebono blocks it. Swinging side slam by Akebono and he tags in Yoshie. Irish whip by Yoshie and he hits a body avalanche in the corner. Seated senton by Yoshie and he hits a rolling senton for two. Yoshie picks up Miyahara but Miyahara slides away and goes for a German suplex. Miyahara's insistence on hitting a German suplex on Akebono or Yoshie is incredibly stupid. Miyahara and Yoshie trade elbows but Miyahara hits a boot and he finally hits a German suplex. KENSO and Zeus are tagged in and Zeus lariats KENSO in the corner, Stinger Splash by Zeus and he hit a suplex for two. Vertical suplex by Zeus, cover, but it gets a two count. KENSO chokes Zeus with his belt but Zeus gets out of it with a Samoan Drop. Yoshie and Akebono come in and they both attack Zeus in the corner. Shiozaki comes in but Akebono drops him with a piledriver, then Miyahara arrives but he is smushed by Akebono and Yoshie. Side Russian leg sweep by Akebono on Miyahara and Yoshie goes up top, hitting a diving body press. KENSO grabs Zeus, he goes off the ropes and hits the Hagakure for a two count. Brainbuster by KENSO, he goes up top and he nails the diving elbow drop for the three count. It is cute they let KENSO win on his anniversary, usually it is the other way around. This was a solid but unspectacular match, I really do hate that Miyahara always tries to suplex the big wrestlers, just do your other offense you fool. Everyone got a bit of a chance to shine but team Shiozaki was decimated, it was certainly a complete victory. Best match so far anyway. Score: 6.5

(c) Jun Akiyama and Takao Omori vs. Suwama and Joe Doering
This match is for the All Japan World Tag Team Championship. Suwama and Akiyama start off the match and they trade holds first on their feet and then on the mat. Akiyama tags in Omori and he trades chops with Suwama. Elbow by Suwama but Doering lariats Omori from the apron. Akiyama and Doering both come in the ring but Akiyama kicks Suwama back. Doering lariats Akiyama and he drops him with a piledriver. Omori is dumped out of the ring and he is stomped on by both Suwama and Doering. Suwama and Omori return to the ring and they trade shots to the chest, scoop slam by Suwama and he hits an elbow drop. Doering walks in and they hit a double shoulderblock on Omori. Doering stays in as the legal match but he tags Suwama back in as Omori is double teamed. Suwama punches Omori into the corner and he hits a lariat followed by a powerslam for two. Suwama tags in Doering, Doering and Omori trade chops to the chest, Irish whip by Doering but Omori avoids his charge and hits a backdrop suplex. Omori finally tags in Akiyama, Irish whip by Akiyama and he hits a big knee in the corner. Lariat by Akiyama and he hits a running knee for a two count. Akiyama goes for an exploder but Doering elbows out of it. Akiyama and Doering trade elbows, big boot by Akiyama but Doering hits a spinebuster. Doering tags in Suwama and Suwama hits a belly to belly suplex. Suwama and Akiyama trade elbows, and Akiyama applies a grounded front necklock. Akiyama tags in Omori, Omori goes off the ropes and hits a big boot. Spinning heel kick by Omori and he hits a neckbreaker for a two count. Omori goes for the Axe Guillotine Driver by Suwama knees out of it.

Capture suplex by Suwama and he tags in Doering. Lariats by Doering to Omori and Doering hits a vertical suplex. Doering gets Omori on his shoulders and he hits the Death Valley Bomb, but Akiyama breaks up the cover. Suwama comes in too and grabs Akiyama, and both Suwama and Doering go for powerbombs. Both are reversed and Akiyama hits an exploder on Suwama. Omori grabs Doering and hits the full nelson bomb of sorts, Omori picks up Doering and Akiyama hits the running knee. Doering hits a crossbody on both Akiyama and Omori, and Suwama hits a lariat on Omori. Doering hits an elbow drop on Omori, Suwama and Doering pick up Omori and hit a double fallaway slam for a two count. Double Irish whip to Akiyama and he eats a double dropkick. Doering charges Omori and he nails the lariat, cover, but Omori gets a shoulder up. Revolution Bomb attempt by Doering but Omori hurricanranas out of it and hits a lariat. Akiyama comes in and hits an exploder on Doering but Doering fires back with a lariat. Doering goes for a running crossbody but Omori ducks it, and Omori delivers the lariat for a close two count. Omori picks up Doering and he hits the sliding lariat for the three count. Akiyama and Omori are still your champions! This took a really time to get going, to the point that I wondered if it was ever going to. They didn't kick it into the last gear until the final four minutes or so of the match, which is disappointing since I have seen all four of these guys 'bring it' for longer stretches of time. The ending run was really good, there is no doubting that, it was just a slow journey to get there. Score: 7.0

Atsushi Aoki vs. Kotaro Suzuki
This match is the final in the Jr. Battle of Glory Tournament. They bounce off the ropes to start while avoiding each other's moves, they trade cross armbreaker attempts but neither can get an advantage. Suzuki hits a headscissors, Aoki falls out of the ring but he avoids the pescado attempt. Suzuki throws Aoki into the guard rail but Aoki rams his shoulder into the ring post. Back in the ring Aoki starts working over Suzuki's arm but Suzuki elbows him back into the corner. Aoki yanks on Suzuki's arm and he applies a standing armbar but Suzuki gets out of it and hits a senton for two. Backbreaker by Aoki and he applies a keylock but Suzuki gets to the ropes. Suzuki hits a jumping knee in the corner followed by a diving knee for the two count. Drop toehold into the ropes but Suzuki and he hits the tiger feint kick. Aoki quickly applies a short armbar but Suzuki gets to the ropes. Dropkick by Aoki, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and he hits a missile dropkick. Jumping elbow by Aoki and he hits a Northern Lights Suplex. Keylock by Aoki but Suzuki rolls him up for a two count. Suzuki gets on the top turnbuckle but Aoki dropkicks him while he is still up there and joins him. Aoki goes for a superplex but Suzuki lands on top of him and Aoki rolls out of the ring. Suzuki goes off the ropes and he sails out onto Aoki with a tope suicida. Aoki boots Suzuki and Aoki hits a cross armbreaker takedown in the middle of the ring, but Suzuki rolls to the ropes to force a break. Suzuki goes for the tiger driver but Aoki blocks it and hits a headbutt.

Aoki puts Suzuki on the top turnbuckle and joins him, hitting an avalanche cross armbreaker takedown. Suzuki gets out of it and hits a series of rolling pins but each gets a two count. Aoki goes back to the cross armbreaker but Suzuki powerbombs out of it. Aoki puts Suzuki in the ropes but Suzuki catches him with a tombstone piledriver. Elbows by Suzuki but Aoki fires back with a lariat. Aoki hits a backdrop suplex and then hits another lariat for two. Spiral Poseidon by Aoki but Suzuki barely gets a shoulder up. Aoki goes for the Assault Point but Suzuki gets out of it. Lariat to the back of the head by Aoki and he goes for it again but Suzuki lands on top of him for two. Elbows by Suzuki, cover, but it gets a two count. Suzuki gets Aoki on his shoulders and he delivers the Blue Destiny for the two count. Back up they trade strikes, and Suzuki nails the Javelin for the three count! Suzuki wins the tournament. I am all for strike finishers but Suzuki shouldn't use that one, it just doesn't look strong. I liked Aoki's focus on the arm but Suzuki wasn't selling it except when he was in a submission hold, which was disappointing. The cross armbreaker should be a move that if done in the middle of the ring the match is over, but it wasn't really given a lot of respect. So after the arm work they just took turns doing finishing moves until Suzuki won with an average looking elbow. I enjoyed the arm work and it was never dull, but it didn't feel like an important tournament match and the ending sucked some of the wind out of it. Score: 5.5

Final Thoughts:

The primary feeling after watching this event was disappointment. They built this to be a two match card, with only six total matches and only the last two with any ring of importance. So when those two matches don't deliver, that is a problem. The tag title match was definitely 'good' but it never went past that like you would hope with those four. The final for the tournament was also disappointing, both of them are capable of more but Suzuki was hell-bent on ignoring Aoki's arm work which really hurt the match. There really isn't anything here that anyone needs to go out of their way to see as there are better All Japan Tag Championship matches and the tournament final was not ideal. I was hoping for something special but clearly that hope was misguided, not a good show by All Japan.

Grade: D 

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event reviewed on 3/29/15