(04/27) Jun Akiyama vs. Joe Doering

All Japan Pro Wrestling
Osaka Bodymaker Coliseum, Main Building (Osaka, Japan)
2014 Champion Carnival Block B Finals

Booking pro wrestling tournaments is never easy. Laying out a strong tournament requires advance thinking and planning, as well as the ability to think and react on the fly when those best-laid plans are challenged by uncontrollable circumstances. One can assume that those charged with booking the 2014 All Japan Champion Carnival had a plan for the tournament that they liked and that was well thought out in advance. Unfortunately for them, that pre-planning mattered little as soon as Triple Crown Champion Akebono and Go Shiozaki were forced to withdraw from competition mid-tournament due to injuries.

Nothing left to do but to move onto “Plan B”. As far as Plan B’s go, All Japan’s handling of the last day of the 2014 Champion Carnival turned out very well.

Doering and Akiyama tied with eight points apiece in Block B necessitating a tiebreaker match after both wrestlers had already competed earlier in the evening. Akiyama is the (active) elder statesman of All Japan; he is the most obvious active link to the 1990’s glory days of the promotion. Doering – despite being primarily a tag-team competitor during his time with the promotion – is also arguably All Japan’s top gaijin. You could do a lot worse for a backup plan tiebreaker match than the “last link to the glory days” versus “top gaijin”.

It is nice to see that Joe is fully embracing the obvious comparisons to Stan Hansen. He is now sporting a full-on vintage Stan Hansen mustache to complete the look. The resemblance might not be uncanny, but it is certainly noticeable. Doering opens the math by charging right at Akiyama and knocking to the mat with a shoulder block. If not for Akiyama’s bald head, the complete lack of fans in the crowd and the fact this was NOT a 30-minute draw, you *might* think you accidentally slipped in a tape of the 1997 Champion Carnival match between Akiyama and Hansen instead (or maybe not . . .).

Doering is okay as a Stan Hansen doppelganger and Akiyama is still pretty solid in his advanced age. Akiyama spends most of the sub-ten minute match selling and does a fine job. Doering has a bunch of offense and it is a mixed bag, though what he pulls out here is generally acceptable big-man offense of powerbombs, suplexes, and lariats. Towards the end of the match, Akiyama catches Doering with a desperation exploder suplex as he has done many, many times throughout his career. Doering pops right up in a fighting spirit moment but sees his attempted-lariat blocked by Jun who delivers another exploder. The sequence was well done and done so quickly that it negated what is often an eye-rolling and unnecessary moment of no-selling. The match could have ended there but at least they got a strong near fall out of it.

Akiyama does eventually prevail, moving to the finals for only the second time in his career: 1998 when he lost to Misawa and 2013 when he captured his only Carnival championship.

Japan Singles | Common | Importance (Champion Carnival Semi-Final)

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