Following on from a noteworthy Summer Action Series Tour, and on the road to this year’s Oudou tournament (Also known as the Odo or Royal Road tournament), the Summer Explosion tour featured several first title defences for new champions and the entirety of the Junior Tag Battle Of Glory. Here’s a look at the biggest talking points coming out of the tour.
Iwamoto has arrived
Perhaps the biggest story in terms of long term impact coming out of the Summer Explosion tour, was the ascension of Koji Iwamoto to the top of the Junior division. First the twenty eight year old was able to win his first Junior Tag Battle of Glory alongside Tajiri, defeating All Japan’s top Junior team of the last several years in Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato, in the de-facto final. Then, the very next night he finally defeated Atsushi Aoki in singles competition to win the AJPW Junior Heavyweight championship. This was the culmination of another successful slow-burn push by All Japan, and they now finally have a young star who can hopefully lead the Junior division forward. Iwamoto announced Shuji Kondo, who was able to get a roll-up victory over Iwamoto during the Junrio Battle of Glory, as the first challenger to his title. It’s also worth noting that Kaji Tomato was able to get a very similar victory over Iwamoto during the tournament also, so don’t be surprised if he’s next in line if Iwamoto defends successfully.
Mixed results for Nextream
Naoya Nomura was unable to dethrone Bodyguard for the All Asia title early on during the tour, but he and Yuma Aoyagi continued their success against veteran teams with a successful All Asia tag team title defence against the Axe Bombers (Isami Kodaka & Takao Omori). Nomura and Aoyagi are another example of how All Japan slowly pushes its young talent, and their development has been highly rewarding for the more patient fans willing to stick with the product. It proved to be a tough tournament for their Nextream brethren and Ace of All Japan Miyahara though, who failed in his bid for tag title gold against the Violent Giants (whilst teaming with Yoshitatsu) midway through the tour, and was defeated in singles action against Yuji Hino on the final night of the tour. Miyahara and Hino last met in singles action during the Champions Carnival, and Miyahara was able to defeat Hino there and advance to the tournament final as a result. With Hino managing to avenge his loss, there’s certainly some added intrigue to a potential third meeting during the upcoming Odo Tournament (or beyond).
Zeus Makes His First Defence
There would be no easy first defence for Zeus after winning his first Triple Crown Championship win, as he went up against Shuji Ishikawa on the final night of the tour in Chiba. The two men produced a thirty minute battle of attrition, with both men kicking out of multiple finishers, before Zeus was able to put Ishikawa away with the Jackhammer (his second of the night). It was always unlikely that Zeus would fall at the very first hurdle considering the journey he took to get to the title, but now the question remains as to whether he can hold onto All Japan’s most prestigious belt in the long term and remain at the top, as Zeus and the rest of All Japan look towards the Oudou tournament.
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