(04/27) Takao Omori vs. Jun Akiyama

All Japan Pro Wrestling
Osaka Bodymaker Coliseum, Main Building (Osaka, Japan)
2014 Champion Carnival Final 

In no way, shape or form will anyone confuse this match with a Champion Carnival finals classic like – for example – the 1995 Misawa vs. Taue final.  2014 Akiyama and 2014 Omori are not 1995 Misawa and 1995 Taue.  This All Japan is not that All Japan.

What the current version of All Japan is – at least on its best days – is a promotion full of veteran and/or experienced workers who know who they are and have solid matches.  That attainable upside is reflected in the 2014 Champion Carnival finals.  Akiyama and Omori wrestle what can only be descried as a solid match.  They don’t do anything that wows, but they also don’t do much that frustrates.  There is no confusing this year’s Carnival final for a classic but it is a perfectly acceptable professional wrestling match.  Whether that is “good enough” is a trickier question but it is certainly better than many of the alternatives.

The match is worked at a good pace considering both participants are in their 40’s.  They begin with the obligatory strike exchange that is unfortunately almost all but unavoidable in modern Japanese wrestling.  The bright side is that it does not last very long.  The opening minutes also feature a quick back-and-forth cumulating in a brief standoff that was both well-executed and well-placed within the structure of the match.

The rest is standard fare.  The match heads to the floor where Akiyama lands a DDT on the ramp – an old spot of his that he continues to show a fondness for.  Both guys had their necks worked over in their semi-final matches but DDT aside that never really comes into play here.  It is not a big deal because neither wrestler’s neck was ever treated as a legitimate weak spot anytime during the night.

If there is an aspect of this match that best demonstrates Akiyama and Omori’s positive” old pro” attributes, it is that the match never goes overboard into too many moves, fighting spirit spots, or head drops.  Maybe they have learned from the mistake of many of their peers from 90’s-era All Japan or maybe they simply don’t feel like killing themselves in their third match of the evening in front of a small crowd (though decent sized by modern AJPW standards).  Regardless of the motivation, the result is a positive in that they build a match that has an air of importance to it without resorting to those overkill tactics to achieve it.

There were some nitpicky negatives in the match.  Omori does that really terrible looking backdrop tombstone pile driver move.  Akiyama straps on the leg head scissors without much thought when they need a break.  Plus as fine as “solid” is, there is nothing truly memorable or re-watchable here.  The aspect that comes the closest is the story of Omori finally winning the big one which is a nice moment and a fine way to give an otherwise non-descript Carnival some added value.

It is hard to imagine that the plan all along was for anything other than Omori winning the entire tournament.  Akebono needs more challengers not fewer, so it is unlikely he was schedule for the victory.  Shiozaki just recently challenged for the title and lost in what was a fun bout, so a win from either injured participant was likely never in the cards.  Omori will now go after Akebono again after falling to him in a title match earlier this year.  Wouldn’t be surprised if the 2nd time is the charm for him.


Japan Singles | Worthwhile | Quality & Importance (Champion Carnival Final)

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