TOKYO, JP — The 1st Round of All Japan’s Champions Carnival concluded today. It was a close race down to the final day of the competition.

Group A ended up coming right down to the wire, with Triple Crown Champion Yoshihiro Takayama, Keiji Mutoh and Kaz Hayashi all in the running for two berths in the semi-finals. Takayama & Mutoh essentially needed wins to outright clinch spots. If either drew, it would take a Kaz Hayashi win to force a tie breaker. Hayashi on the other hand, needed to earn a win and then hope that either Mutoh or Takayama would lose.

Hayashi was fortunate to draw Seiya Senada for his final match. Senada was winless in his first four matches and easily the bottom feeder in this end of the brackett. Although there were some tense moments, Hayashi did his work, pinning Senada and in the process, essentially forcing Takayama & Mutoh’s hands.

We would find out where we were headed relatively soon, as Takayama was defeated by Osamu Nishimura, a man many people had picked to be a dark horse in the tournament. Nishimura had a mostly dissapointing Carnival, but was at least able to leave his mark, knocking the Triple Crown champion out of the competition with a small package. Takayama’s loss made Mutoh’s match more procedural than anything else, as even in the event of a loss, he held the tie breaker over Tak. Mutoh finished the round strong, defeating Joe Doering with a shining wizard.

Group B was one of the most competetive blocks in quite some time, with four of the five participants having a shot at advancing. Taiyo Kea, who started the competition off strong, faded as time went on and took perhaps his worst loss of the tournament, dropping a decision to last place Zodiac, who to this point had been winless, and thus leaving Kea out of tomorrow’s fesitivites.

The match everyone was eagerly anticipating was Minoru Suzuki’s encounter with last year’s winner Suwama. Given the Kea defeat earlier in the night, it upped the stakes, meaning that the winner of the match would be moving on. After a hard fought 15 minutes, Suzuki emerged the winner, both avenging his loss that cost him the triple crown title to Suwama from last year, and also sending last year’s winner home packing.

The last semi-final spot for Group-B would essentially be a playoff between surprising rookie Ryota Hama & All Japan stalwart Satoshi Kojima. Had Hama won, it’d have awarded him the group by virtue of him being tied in points with both Kojima & Suzuki, but essentially owning the tie breaker over both, and thus expelling Suzuki from the tournament by virtue of Kojima beating Suzuki yesterday. That wouldn’t come to pass however, as Kojima was able to handily defeat Hama in 10 minutes, thus awarding him first place in the group.

That sets up for the semi-finals, which will be held in the new JCP Center tomorrow in Tokyo. Group B winner Satoshi Kojima will face Group A runner up, the upstard Juniors champion Kaz Hayashi in the first semi-final of the night. Group A winner Keiji Mutoh will face Group B runner up Minoru Suuki in the second semi-final immediately there after. The Championship will be held later that night between the winners of the two semi-final matches.

AJPW, 4/11/09 (GAORA TV)
Yokkaichi Australia Memorial Hall
1,200 Fans – Super No Vacancy

1. Champion Carnival – Block A: Kaz Hayashi [7] beat Seiya Sanada [0] (10:57) with the Power Plant.
2. Champion Carnival – Block B: ZODIAC [2] beat Taiyo Kea [5] (14:38) with the Tiger Driver.
3. Champion Carnival – Block B: Minoru Suzuki [6] beat Suwama [5] (14:45) by pinfall.
4. TARU, Minoru & Toshizo beat Shuji Kondo, KAI & Manabu Soya (9:52) when Toshizo used a middle kick on Soya.
5. Champion Carnival – Block B: Satoshi Kojima [8] beat Ryota Hama [4] (10:21) with the Western lariat.
6. Champion Carnival – Block A: Osamu Nishimura [5] beat Yoshihiro Takayama [6] (8:33) with an inside cradle.
7. Champion Carnival – Block A: Keiji Muto [8] beat Joe Doering [4] (14:03) with the Shining Wizard.

BLOCK A FINAL STANDINGS
1. Keiji Muto 4-1-0, 8 Points
2. Kaz Hayashi 3-1-1, 7 Points
3. Yoshihiro Takayama 3-2-0, 6 Points
4. Osamu Nishimura 2-2-1, 5 Points
5. Joe Doering 2-3-0, 4 Points
6. Seiya Sanada 0-5-0, 0 Points

BLOCK B FINAL STANDINGS
1. Satoshi Kojima 4-1-0, 8 Points
2. Minoru Suzuki 3-2-0, 6 Points
3. Suwama 2-2-1, 5 Points
– Taiyo Kea 2-2-1, 5 Points
5. Ryota Hama 2-3-0, 4 Points
6. ZODIAC 1-5-0, 2 Points

Here’s Tomorrow Night’s FULL Card

JPW, 4/12/09 (GAORA TV)
Tokyo JCB Hall

1. Nobutaka Araya vs. Hate
2. KAI & Hiroshi Yamato vs. TARU & Toshizo
3. Champion Carnival – Semi Final: Satoshi Kojima vs. Kaz Hayashi
4. Champion Carnival – Semi Final: Keiji Muto vs. Minoru Suzuki
5. Shuji Kondo, Seiya Sanada & Ryota Hama vs. Minoru, ZODIAC & Joe Doering
6. Osamu Nishimura, Suwama & Manabu Soya vs. Taiyo Kea, Yoshihiro Takayama & NOSAWA Rongai
7. Champion Carnival – Final: Winner of #3 vs. Winner of #4