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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

All Japan Pro Wrestling's Triple Crown Tournament
All Japan Pro Wrestling's
Triple Crown Tournament

October 14th to October 28th
Finals: October 28th at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo.


Back in March, SLAM! Wrestling broke new ground with its in-depth coverage of All Japan Pro Wrestling's annual Carnival tournament. Providing history and analysis, predictions and full results of the tournament, SLAM! Wrestling set a new standard of international wrestling coverage. Well, we're at it again. We are proud to present a preview of All Japan Pro Wrestling's tournament to crown a new Triple Crown champion. Fans unfamiliar with the Triple Crown title should check out our story on its history. In handicapping the tournament, we've taken a look at the wrestlers in the tournament. And because this is such a special event, we have insights and predictions from a panel of experts: SLAM!'s own international wrestling junkie John Molinaro and Live Audio Wrestling's Jeff Marek & Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski.

A LOOK AT THE FIELD


Toshiaki Kawada

Best move(s): Jumping High Kick, Stretch Plum
Major titles held: All Japan Triple Crown, All Japan World Tag, Carnival Championship winner.
Video Clip: Kawada defeats Mitsuharu Misawa for the Triple Crown (1 MB)

Genichiro Tenryu

Best move(s): Power Bomb, Northern Lights Bomb
Major titles held: IWGP Heavyweight, All Japan Triple Crown, IWGP Tag
Video Clip: Tenryu wins the IWGP World title from Keiji Mutoh. (805 K)

Steve Williams

Best move(s): Doctor Bomb, Oklahoma Stampede
Major titles held: All Japan Triple Crown, All Japan World Tag, WCW World Tag
Video Clip: Steve Williams executes a suplex on Akira Taue. (898 K)

Stan Hansen

Best move(s): Lariat clothesline
Major titles held: All Japan Triple Crown, All Japan World Tag, Carnival tournament
Video Clip: Hansen faces Jumbo Tsuruta to unify the Triple Crown title. (1.1 MB)

Jinsei Shinzaki

Best move(s): Diving head-butt, top rope splash
Career highlight: Facing The Great Muta at New Japan's April '96 Tokyo Dome show
Video Clip: Shinzaki shows off his aerial expertise. (891 K)

Johnny Smith

Best move(s): Bodyslam into a reverse DDT
Major titles held: British Commonwealth Middleweight, All-Asian Tag
Video Clip: Johnny Smith executes his unique version of a reverse DDT. (917 K)

Mike Barton

Best move(s): His pummelling forearm blows
Major titles held: All Japan World Tag, WWF World Tag
Career highlight: Knocking out Steve Williams in the WWF's "Brawl for All".

Taiyo Kea was scheduled to compete in the tournament, but due to an injury he will not be able to compete. As a result, Johnny Smith recieves an opening round bye.

CARNIVAL TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS

Full Tournament Schedule

1st round Match John Molinaro Jeff Marek Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski
Toshiaki Kawada vs. Steve Williams Kawada Kawada Kawada
Johnny Smith receives a bye Smith Smith Smith
Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Stan Hansen Hansen Hansen Hansen
Gen'ichiro Tenryu vs. Mike Barton Tenryu Tenryu Tenryu


What the experts say

  • John Molinaro: This is Kawada's tournament. He needs to be kept strong in light of the All Japan vs. New Japan feud that is brewing. Coming of a victory on Monday against IWGP Champ Kensuke Sasaki, Kawada should steamroll through this tournament and set his sights on a major program with Sasaki or Hashimoto in New Japan. Hansen will go over because he's been with the company for ages and Mrs. Baba will keep him strong in appreciation for him not leaving for Misawa's NOAH group back in June. Tenryu goes over easily. He's a former Triple Crown Champ and they need him there to give the rub to Kawada in the finals. The wild card in this tournament is the replacement for Taiyo Kea. I suspect they'll just throw in some mid-carder but if they want to really make things interesting, they'll put in Hashimoto or Sasaki in there from New Japan and take the All Japan vs. New Japan feud go to the next level by having them go over Kawada in the final.

  • Jeff Marek: Kawada vs. Williams: There is no way that Kawada is going to lose this match. He is the focal point from the All Japan side in the inter-promotional All Japan vs. New Japan feud and he needs to look strong all the way through this tournament to make the matches against top guys in NJ mean something. This will be a really good match, especially if Williams has his working boots on, and it may even be the best match of the tournament. Shinzaki vs. Hansen: The company needs to have at least one gaijin (foreigner) go past the first round and Hansen (although his best days are light years behind him) will probably be rewarded by Motoko Baba for his loyalty to her late husband and the company by keeping him strong here. Tenryu vs. Barton: I don't see any reason why Tenryu won't or shouldn't go over here. The company just signed him on as a full timer and he will play a big part in the tournament.

  • Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski: Since Toshiaki Kawada is already a prominent figure in the All Japan/New Japan inter-promotional angle, he will be kept very strong in this tournament, therefore he will eliminate Williams. Not sure how good Shinzaki and Hansen will mix style wise, but this victory will go to Hansen because of past Triple Crown wins. And it's a perfect fit with Tenryu (who also has won the Triple Crown before), who will undoubtedly defeat Mike Barton.



    WHO WILL WIN?

      John Molinaro Jeff Marek Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski
    FINALIST A Kawada Kawada Kawada
    FINALIST B Tenryu Tenryu Tenryu
    WINNER Kawada Kawada Kawada


    What the experts say

  • John Molinaro: Tenryu will beat Hansen in the first semi-final. Mrs. Baba may reward Hansen's loyalty by giving him a first round win, but she isn't crazy enough to put him in the finals. Besides, a Tenryu-Kawada final has more of storyline to it, stemming for their days as a tag team. Kawada will win his semi-final match and then go on to face his mentor in the finals. Should be a dandy because Tenryu, even at his age, can still go and Kawada... well, Kawada is Kawada! Look for a physical match, (what All Japan match isn't) and for the crowd at the Budokan to pop big for every move. I see Kawada beating Tenryu with his own move, the Northern Lights Bomb.

  • Jeff Marek: Semi-final #1 - Hansen vs. Tenryu: A good match from a nostalgic point of view. A strong stiff match that Japan fans will enjoy out of respect (it won't be for work-rate) for both performers. Tenryu, again, will go over and will set up the final against Kawada, his former tag partner from a dozen years ago in All Japan. Semi-final #2 - Kawada will win it to take on Tenryu in the finals. In the finals: Kawada vs. Tenryu: A super main event for Budokan Hall which will pack the house and do good business for the company. Both guys will take a ton of punishment and the match will get over by the very presence these two guys in the same ring. Look for Kawada to go over in a "young lion beats aging mentor" style match.

  • Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski: One semi-final will be a battle of the former tag team champions Tenryu and Hansen that will hopefully draw some older fans back to All Japan. But to make the final of the tournament have real impact, Tenryu has to win in order to fight Kawada. Kawada will come out on top in his semi-final match. The finals of the tournament should be interesting with the veteran (Tenryu) taking on the younger man (Kawada) who followed in his footsteps. Tenryu is still able to have good matches and he should be more than motivated with Kawada and being at the forefront of yet another hot angle. Kawada should win the tournament and he will be super strong going into the New Japan feud.


    History of the Triple Crown




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