Zeus vs Kento Miyahara – AJPW Excite Series 2016 Day 1

Zeus vs Kento Miyahara

Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (vacant)

Taped 02/12/2016, aired 02/28/2016

Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

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(reviewed 01/08/2017) This match is an interesting snapshot of a particular point in time, in which most of us in the Western puro community figured that Zeus would win this match, mostly due to the uncertainty surrounding a Miyahara reign. None of us knew exactly how the young man would carry himself as champion, and thus Zeus seemed like the safer pick, though neither seemed like a particularly welcome option at the time. Many figured that All Japan would be dead by the end of 2016, really. How wrong we were, but I’m getting ahead of myself here. The usual collar and elbow opening sees Zeus strike first with a chop after backing Miyahara into the ropes. A chaining sequence then sees both men avoid the other’s signature strike before brawling out to the floor. Zeus looks to have the advantage in this setting at first, but Miyahara’s speed ensures that he comes out on top, retaining control as they return to the ring. He doesn’t retain it for long, though, as a clothesline from Zeus sends him off the top rope and to the floor, and a second one off the apron repeats the process. This time, floor warfare indeed benefits Zeus as he sends his young opponent head-first into the corner post before crotching him on the guardrail. Back in the ring, Zeus speeds things up a little and unleashes some big offense on Miyahara, eagerly waiting for him to get to his feet for a chokeslam. Miyahara avoids it but is instead nearly caught in a sharpshooter before he gets to the ropes. Zeus continues to unload on his opponent, and Miyahara is only able to turn things around by outmaneuvering the muscle man and keeping him off his feet. He quickly finds himself on the wrong end of an apron clothesline, though, taking a shot to the knee as well as a short suplex off the apron and to the floor. To top it off, Zeus hits a house show dive/clothesline, and Miyahara struggles to make it back in the ring. When he does, he immediately fires up out of a corner splash from Zeus, laying in a few shots to the big man, and after some awkwardness, Zeus traps the kid in a sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. It takes a lot out of him before he gets to the ropes, as does a superplex a few minutes later, though he catches Zeus with a boot as the big man comes off the top with a flying nothing. After a double down, Miyahara connects with a running knee in the corner and a suplex for two, firing up the crowd before hitting a German for another nearfall. Zeus escapes another suplex attempt and lays Miyahara out with a lariat, though he’s unable to capitalize and is selling his knee a bit. Back on their feet, both men trade shots as the commentary team runs down a quick list of some of the people who have won the Triple Crown. Zeus gets the best of the exchange and the crowd isn’t happy about it, especially as he follows it up with another lariat and a chokeslam, but Miyahara finds it in him to kick out of both. Yet another lariat looks to be it for Miyahara, but he again manages to kick out. Feeling it now and gesticulating to the crowd, Zeus goes for a brainbuster, but Miyahara slips free and hits a German before slowly struggling to his feet. They trade a few shots, and Miyahara strings together a few boots to the face before stuffing Zeus with a Blackout knee strike, but Zeus kicks out slightly before two in a well done one count. Another Blackout keeps Zeus down longer, but he’s still able to kick out, doing the same again after a bridging German. The big man fights it, but Miyahara muscles him up for a Shutdown German Suplex Hold for the win. Good stuff here. Nothing blow-away, but an enjoyable Triple Crown main event, in line with the usual mixture of old school sensibilities and modern elements, helped along by the personalities of both men. As you can imagine, this match is a herald of things to come for these two in 2016, as well as the whole of All Japan, and it is a pleasing forerunner to bigger and better things for all involved.

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