Kento Miyahara VS Yuma Aoyagi: Shocking The Status Quo

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2023, for better or worse, has been about change, evolution, and progress for the professional wrestling world. All Japan Pro Wrestling has been one of the promotions that have been affected by it the most. After years and years of guys like Kento Miyahara and Suwama at the top, we’ve seen new stars rising and challenging that status quo to bring about a new era. It was finally Yuma Aoyagi’s time to rise to the top as Triple Crown Champion, and he has been stacking up one defence after another. However, for the anniversary show of the promotion, he met his greatest rival, the biggest wall of his career in Kento Miyahara, whom he had never beaten with the title on the line. So, as usual in any TC title match, but especially in this case, Yuma walked in as the underdog even though he was the champion.

But, the way the match played out completely subverted my expectations. Yuma, instead of trying to overcome the challenge, shows up to make a statement. He is one step ahead at every turn. Scouting all the big spots in Kento’s arsenal. Just giving him a proper thumping. He rattles Kento right from the beginning, even in the feeling out process, and is just a total dick to him. Nailing him with an elbow instead of a clean break and throwing away Kento towels from the crowd. He is a fantastic antagonist.

In every segment of the match, Kento struggles to catch up to Yuma in an endless chase of sorts. Something as little as not being able to land in his early control period offence really shakes him to the core. He turned up expecting to face the same Yuma, whom he had been able to handily beat until now. He was never prepared to face this changed Aoyagi, who is a completely different man both in his presence and as a wrestler since the last time they fought for the belt.

Yuma’s control segments rock. He gets proper heat over Kento and does sick work on his neck. Kento tries to build up comebacks but is never able to stitch together more than a couple of moves at a time. The problem is he’s realized that he’s facing a new challenge, but he never comes up with anything new to counter it. He goes for the apron piledriver and is met with a rockstar buster instead.

They build to a crescendo and then just absolutely explode in an electric finishing stretch. When Yuma kicks out of a shutdown suplex, everyone knows it’s over. Kento Miyahara the character is a control freak, who is always able to get past his challenges because he is rarely met with any new adversity and is allowed to stay in his comfort zone by his opponents. Yuma didn’t let him do that. He broke the Kento formula and thus delivered a fatal blow to Miyahara. Even after all these years of being an underdog, this never feels like a passing of the torch for Yuma. Instead, it feels like a proper “fuck you” to Kento and as such results in one of the most interesting moment of the year.

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