Akiyama vs Dibiase. Akiyama goes to the Budokan

Two matches in one week? Either I’m losing it or I have nothing better to do (It’s the latter).

Ths match took place on October 23 1993 in front of the biggest crowd yet in this series (16 300 people) in the famous Nippon Budokan, a legendary wrestling venue in Japan. Akiyama’s opponent for the night is a man who most western wrestling fans are already familiar with, but in a different guise. I’m talking about Ted Dibiase.

Ted Dibiase Sr is an American second generation professional wrestler, best known by mainstream audiences as the evil Million Dollar Man on WWF TV during the Hulkamania era. But Dibiase also managed to clock 30 championships to his name during his career spanning multiple companies. Dibiase worked for All Japan between 1983-1987, and in 1993. This match is from his final run with the company, shortly before he suffers a back injury in the start of the yearly tag league.

The Match:
The match starts off evenly, with Akiyama showing good fire. Akiyama actually gets the early control segment, forcing Dibiase down and going straight for the arm like it had a bullseye on it. Akiyama works over the arm of Dibiase a lot during the start of the match, hanging on until roughly the five minute mark, where Dibiase gets out and flapjacks Akiyama on the ropes before choking him out on the mat with one hand. Dibiase throws Akiyama out of the ring and chokes him on the guardrail for a while before hitting him with a short arm lariat and a couple of elbows in the middle of the ring. After failing to get the pin Dibiase goes for a long, and when I say long I mean long sleeper hold segment, cutting off the pace of the match for a good while, Akiyama fights out of it twice but to no success, only succeeding to get out of it on his third attempt after a bulldog.

This starts Akiyama’s comeback in this match, and he goes at it hard. Among the things he hits is a crisp northern lights suplex, a top rope plancha to the outside and a flying elbow strike from the apron. The crowd is responding well to this, only for Dibiase to cut Akiyama’s fire with a punch to the gut when Akiyama comes off the top rope in what looked like it was supposed to be a crossbody. Dibiase hits a nice backdrop suplex for a pin attempt, but Akiyama kicks out and tries a sloppy small package of his own to no avail. Akiyama tries for the northern lights again but only gets a two, and Dibiase reverses a running elbow into a powerslam for two himself. Dibiase finally puts the match away with a combination of a sleeperhold and a legsweep.

A decent big stage showing from Akiyama here. He had a few slumps in the match (the small package being the most obvious), but he was working hard throughout it and Dibiase worked well with him, both guys looking good out of this. Selling the point of Akiyama being a prodigy and future star, but just not able to take out the senior Dibiase. I personally thought Dibiase relied a bit too much on the sleeper, but it helped get the crowd behind Akiyama so I guess it served its purpose.

Coming up next in the series: Akiyama takes on another All Japan youngling, and another veteran in today’s All Japan who I adore. The wild man, Takao Omori

Stay tuned.

Fuck you, rich boy!

Fuck you, rich boy!

Akiyama vs Al Perez

Aaaand we are back! A bit late but I apologize, I got stuck in the post-vacation hustle and bustle, but here I am with Akiyama vs Al Perez. Before we get to the match itself, let’s take a look at Perez.

Al Perez is an American professional wrestler who for the majority of his career worked in southern united states in various promotions like Mid South, World Class, the NWA and the PWF. But he also had a short stint as a lower carder in the WWF, mainly jobbing to guys like Hercules on TV whilst picking up wins on the house show circuit against guys like the Red Rooster. His career highlight was seemingly portraying the infamous Black Scorpion in WCW and feuding with Sting. But according to Sting, Perez quit when he found out he was going to lose the feud.

Now that we have an idea of who Perez is, on with the show!

This match takes place just a few weeks after Jun’s previous match against Williams. And this match, clocking in at the 15 minute mark, is the longest match Akiyama has had so far. And Akiyama gets a lot more offense in this match than any of the previous ones.

The theme of Akiyama’s offense this match is “Oh, you have limbs? Fuck that, they are mine now!”. Akiyama takes control early with an armlock and forces Perez to the ground, and when Perez finally gets out of it, he goes for a leg takedown and starts working the leg. Perez has to actually put some effort into getting out of all of these locks but he finally gets out of them and starts working over Akiyama. Jun reverses back into an armlock and we a brief flash of the supreme grumpiness he will be known for shows up. Akiyama weathers a storm of offense from Perez by holding onto his arm and grounding him, going back to working the arm, this only serves to piss Perez off as he takes the match out of the ring and makes Akiyama’s chest intimately familiar with the ring barrier. After this escapade to the outside we go back in the ring and Akiyama locks in an armbar, only for Perez to deadlift him off of the ground, before he proceeds to knock Akiyama round for a bit.

Perez takes control and after pummeling Akiyama a bit locks him into a sleeper hold Randy Orton would love. Akiyama gets a comeback and hits a beautiful suplex, and a power struggle ensues. Perez hits a big powerslam and a knee drop after a while to regain control and then tries to choke Akiyama out, even hanging on when Akiyama fights into a suplex. More offense from the man with the mullet before Akiyama finally fights out of the sleeper, reversing an Irish whip into a backdrop. Akiyama goes into the finishing stretch, hitting a powerslam, a crossbody and a couple of nice suplexes, before countering a small package and kicking out of a spinning Razor’s Edge. He has the Korakuen crowd behind him as he almost gets the pin with a bridging O’Conner Roll, Akiyama then hits a Northern Lights suplex and then a German suplex hold to pick up his first ever singles victory in his career.

This match was set up to showcase Akiyama’s offense and put him over as a young prodigy. While his earlier matches where Akiyama spent a majority of them eating offense and just proving that he could take a beating, here he was allowed to show that he could dish offense out as well. He worked the arm of Perez like an animal and showed hints of the fire and hate that is to come in the future. And his suplexes were beauties. This wasn’t a perfect match, but it was a fun lower card match that did its job of showcasing the young star. Definitely worth a watch if you want to see Akiyama’s first win but don’t expect a five star if you are into star ratings.

Next time Akiyama’s foray into foreign opponents continue, as we take a look at his October 23 1993 match against Ted “Millions of dollars” Dibiase. Catch you all then!

Akiyama vs Williams. Aka do not piss off a mulleted man

And we are back. It took a while but my only excuse is life, life and things that can happen on a vacation took some focus away from trying to write this post. But here I am so lets get to it!

The match we are going to talk about today is from January 2nd 1993, and features Akiyama taking on “Dr. Death”, Steve Williams. Williams was a highly regarded foreigner in Japanese wrestling who whilst a respected wrestler in the territories, is more known for his work in Japan. One way to describe Williams is “MAN”. He looks like if he didn’t wrestle he’d either drive an 18 wheeler, throw people out of bars or cut down trees with an axe. He also looks a fair bit like Michael Elgin as some have pointed out. But, we are not here to talk about their potential blood relations, but about the match.

Akiyama is still in the early goings of his career here, so who wins this match should be a no brainer. The start of the match is similar to the Kobashi one, Williams takes control and Akiyama proves he knows how to hang with the veteran. Around the five minute mark Akiyama actually takes control! And starts grounding the gaijin with an armbar and various other attempts at offence. But the difference in levels with these two pokémon soon becomes apparent and Williams fights out and goes to town on the rookie. Akiyama fights back but the rest of the match is firmly in Williams’ corner. Williams finishes the match with a big running powerslam (with two slams into the turnbuckle to boot) to take the W. Akiyama does earn the respect of the veteran tho as Williams shakes the young man’s hand after the match.

Akiyama has only been wrestling for roughly six months here, but you can see that he has evolved a bit since last we saw him. His submission work looks better and he is more fluid than his debut against Kobashi, granted you can also factor in nerves in his debut as well. One of the fun things with this project is that I get to see a wrestler evolve from rookie to main eventer, which will be fun. This match all in all was fun, but not something you need to watch.

Next time, we will be looking at Akiyama vs Al Perez, who I have no idea who he is. I’ll have to look him up….

Until next time!

All that goes up, must come down.

All that goes up, must come down.

Akiyama’s debut: Akiyama vs Kobashi

This is where our journey with Akiyama starts. The date is September 17, 1992. The place is Korakuen hall in Tokyo, a venue that is almost revered in Japanese wrestling, similar to what the ECW arena has meant to American wrestling in a sense. This is in the middle of All Japan’s (AJPW) boom period, and business is definitely good. And he gets to make his debut against one of its biggest stars, Kenta Kobashi.

The match is 16 minutes, 42 seconds long with entrances, and Akiyama as the rookie enters to little pomp and circumstance (he does get a nice bouquet of flowers for his debut tho, that’s nice). The match starts with some fast, ground based amateur inspired wrestling, with both guys testing each other out but neither gaining the upper hand. Akiyama then starts going for the leg to ground Kobashi, but doesn’t manage to get him down. After some more grappling between the two and a test of strength they find the rhythm of the match, which is your standard Royal Road style match (Royal Road being the style worked in All Japan), which means there’s a steady ramp up in pace and intensity. During the match’s first half they are pretty even, with Akiyama reversing Kobashi’s offence and getting to show off his own a bit before he starts trying to trade strikes with Kobashi. And that is where we shift gears.

The rest of the match is spent with Kobashi working over Akiyama, kicking him, chopping him and throwing him around and letting him eat an array of moves. Akiyama’s offence for the rest of the match is restricted to hope spots, upsets and moments of fire, where he shows that he has fighting spirit and won’t be kept down. This is done to get him over with the crowd, which it does.

“Stay down, you little twerp!”

After getting worked over for a while Akiyama starts firing back with the previously mentioned hope spots, actually downing Kobashi and getting a two count on him. But Kobashi’s onslaught proves too much, and true to the tradition of Japanese wrestling Akiyama starts his career with a loss.

This was a good match. Both of these guys are going to work together a lot going forward throughout both’s careers, so with this project we’ll get to see both guys evolve. Akiyama got just the right amount of shine a rookie should get in my opinion. And Kobashi, who was a midcarder at this point with aspirations of main eventing got to look like a star against the rookie.

Next up is Akiyama vs Dr. Death, Steve Williams!

Project number 1: Jun Akiyama

Sternness

Sternness

For my first project, I’ve decided to go with a Japanese wrestling mainstay, Mr. Sternness himself, Jun Akiyama. Those of you who watch Japanese wrestling regularly probably have at least heard the name, and maybe have a bit of an idea of who he is. But for the benefit of those who don’t, here’s a brief summary of Akiyama from his Wikipedia article which can be found here:

Jun Akiyama ( born October 9, 1969) is a Japanese professional wrestler, currently working for All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW), where he is the president, representative director and co-head booker. Akiyama is known for his serious style and outstanding, time-tested work as a tag team wrestler. He also gained notoriety for his innovation of the Blue Thunder Driver and the wrist–clutch exploder suplex.”

Akiyama’s career started in 1992 and has spanned him working full time for two different companies (All Japan and Pro Wrestling NOAH) and he has also done appearances in other companies like New Japan Pro Wrestling in addition to his work in AJPW and NOAH. Akiyama is still wrestling to this day in AJPW as well as being the company president and one of the bookers (the person who directs the company’s creative direction). The plan with this project is to follow and document Akiyama’s career, from his start in AJPW, to his days in NOAH and his return to AJPW as its president. But that is getting ahead of ourselves!

Every career starts with that first match, which is what we will be going over in the next post. Next time: We take a look at Akiyama’s debut from September 1992 against the legendary Kenta Kobashi.

Why hello there!

Welcome to the wrestling review project!

My name is Patrik, and this blog is a passion project of mine were I talk about and review the professional wrestling that I watch. My main idea with it is to do projects of sorts, focusing on a certain talent, team, feud or company. That way I have a red thread to what I watch, which motivates me to write, and a red thread for you people reading.

With that said, let’s get to it!