All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) has been around for almost 50 years, but only recently has the promotion experienced a rise in popularity. This is due in part to AJPW’s archive of content on AJPW.TV as well as their English-translated Twitter page, allowing for more and more fans to experience the history, legacy, and greatness of this longstanding promotion. As AJPW continues to reach a broader audience, there is no better time to introduce new fans to some of the promotion’s biggest names. In this edition of Beginner’s Guide to AJPW, we look at the company’s top stars, examining their impact on the promotion’s growth and the legacy they have left.
Suwama is the reigning Triple Crown Champion, having held that championship for almost a year after ending the reign of Kento Miyahara. Suwama is considered the former Ace of All Japan, having brought AJPW through the 2000s and even into its current modern era.
In tag action, Suwama is one half of the famous team of the Violent Giants (with Shuji Ishikawa). His accomplishments include winning the Real World Tag League multiple times, winning the Triple Crown Champion seven times, and being World Tag Team Champion, five times.
His rivalries with Kento Miyahara, Zeus, Shuji Ishikawa, Minoru Suzuki, Yuji Nagata, and Go Shiozaki are a testament to Suwama’s legacy. He is also the leader of the Evolution stable. For a man in his mid-40s, Suwama’s legend only continues to grow as he is still a force to be reckoned with within AJPW.
Kento Miyahara is considered the current Ace of All Japan Pro Wrestling. His recent reign as Triple Crown Champion was over 500+ Days, that being his second reign over 400+ days already. Kento Miyahara is known as the star that brought AJPW into the current age. With his rivalries against the likes of Shuji Ishikawa, Suwama, Zeus, Joe Doering, Jake Lee, and even Naoya Nomura being recent highlights of company history.
He’s also known for his faction Nextream, with Yuma Aoyagi, Atsuki Aoyagi, and RISING Hayato as members. Kento Miyahara is also currently part of the World Tag Team Champions, with Yuma Aoyagi. Kento Miyahara is also one of the heavy favorites in any tournament he is in, often making it to the finals in a headline spot.
Before the reign of Kento Miyahara that would go to define his career, the person that held the Triple Crown was Zeus. Zeus has been with AJPW since the early 2010s and for many years was considered a tag team worker. With his tag teams with Joe Doering and The Bodyguard finding success. But as Joe Doering went solo to go for the Triple Crown Championship and the injury bug hit Bodyguard, Zeus would gain massive momentum as a singles competitor in 2018 by defeating Kento Miyahara for the Triple Crown Championship, although Miyahara regained the title just 90 days later.
Zeus’s main rivalry in singles action has been against Kento Miyahara. The pair has faced off multiple times with the recent encounter being when Zeus won the 2020 Champion Carnival Tournament by defeating Miyahara in the final. Zeus also has his own faction known as Purple Haze alongside Izanagi, UTAMARO, and Shigehiro Irie. Zeus is currently one half of the All Asia Tag Champions with Izanagi.
When it comes to the future of All Japan Pro Wrestling, Jake Lee is often considered to be one of the candidates to be world champion someday. This is mainly due to the rivalries that he had with Naoya Nomura and Kento Miyahara. Jake Lee’s rivalry with Kento Miyahara was something that defined 2019 All Japan and the tournament scene for that time. While Jake Lee hasn’t won the Triple Crown or Champion Carnival, he has won the Royal Road Tournament in 2019.
Jake Lee is also known for his tag work with Naoya Nomura and being the co-leader of the faction JIN, he is also the former leader of the Sweeper Faction. Jake Lee teams with AJPW’s Junior Heavyweight Ace Koji Iwamoto on a consistent basis. The duo made it to the finals of 2020’s Real World Tag League in a losing effort. Jake Lee, alongside Naoya Nomura, is in the running to be the one to dethrone Suwama.
Shotaro Ashino is one of the newest members of AJPW’s roster, making his debut for the promotion in April of last year. Shotaro Ashino was better known for his work in his former promotion known as Wrestle-1. When he made his debut for the company, he did so with his faction known as Enfants Terribles, bringing in invading stars like Yusuke Kodama and Kuma Arashi to the AJPW Roster.
Shotaro Ashino hasn’t accomplished anything major in the company yet. But has been a major focus in his big rivalry against Suwama. Even being his most recent challenger in the final show of the New Years War Tour. In tournaments, he was unsuccessful in Champion Carnival and was a semi-finalist in the Real World Tag League. Considering his history with Wrestle-1, Shotaro Ashino could be a star in the making for AJPW in the near future.
Shuji Ishikawa has been with All Japan Pro Wrestling since 2015 but has been wrestling since 2003. Since joining, Shuji Ishikawa is a former Triple Crown Champion and was one of the wrestlers to dethrone Kento Miyahara and even won the 2017 Champion Carnival. As mentioned previously, Shuji Ishikawa is better known for his former tag team “The Violent Giants”. This tag-team dominated AJPW’s Tag Division with four Separate reigns as World Tag Team Champions under their belt.
Shuji Ishikawa is ever-present in the main event scene and can challenge for the Triple Crown Championship at any time, he did so recently against Suwama. Ishiawa is also the next challenger for the GAORA TV Championship against Jun Kasai which will take place during the Excite Series tour
Koji Iwamoto has been with AJPW since 2016 and is better known in AJPW as the ace of the Junior hevayweight Division. Koji Iwamoto’s had high profile rivalries with Kotaro Suzuki and the late Atsushi Aoki and the focus around these rivalries was the AJPW Junior Heavyweight Championship. Koji Iwamoto is the current Junior Heavyweight Champion, this is his third reign with the title
His most recent reign as champion could be one of the most interesting in title hitory. He has faced so many different stars like Atsuki Aoyagi, Dan Tamura, Fuminori Abe with his upcoming challenger being CIMA.
Koji Iwamoto’s Influence seems to be growing within AJPW’s Junior Division, so much so that he even participated in the Real World Tag League (a heavyweight tournament) for the first time last year. Alongside Jake Lee he made it to the finals where the duo lost, but going deep in the tournament is a definite success . Koji might just enter the heavyweight scene soon enough.
The honorable mentions are Yoshitatsu and Naoya Nomura. Naoya Nomura while currently injured, was one of the top contenders for the Triple Crown title before hie injury, most notably known for his rivalry against Kento Miyahara. With the championscarnival being in April of this year, Naoya Nomura might be one of the heavy favorites for the tournament if he can recover in time.
YoshiTatsu recentlybecame one of the longest-reigning champions within AJPW, with his recent reign as GAORA TV Champion being the longest in title history. He has notably had a rivalry with Suwama and after Kohei Sato, if Suwama successfully defends, could be the next contender for the Triple Crown Championship for AJPW. YoshiTatsu’s career renaissance within AJPW has been truly admirable
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. Make sure to watch All Japan Pro Wrestling on AJPW.TV.
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