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Weekly Spotlight: Shotaro Ashino

Gimme fuel!
Gimme fire!
Gimme that which I desire!

Something about walking to the ring with Metallica, the most well-known heavy metal band in history, makes a wrestler stand out. It’s a choice of music that could be heard in any independent promotion in the world. In All Japan Pro Wrestling, James Hetfield’s ode to high-speed car racing means the arrival of Shotaro Ashino. On Sunday, the “Master of Suplex” will challenge Suwama for the Triple Crown Championship.

The 5’8” 215 lbs. fireplug comes to the ring in black boots, black tights, and perfectly sculpted hair. His stocky build and explosive suplexes harken back to Taz’s ECW run. His offense consists of thunderous lariats and snakey ground game. Ashino can drop an opponent on his skull with a release German suplex or break their ankle with a lock or hyper-extend with a knee-bar. Ashino is a no-frills, no-nonsense ass-kicker. He’s a throwback to an earlier era, which makes him stand out in this era.

An accomplished high school freestyle wrestler, Ashino came up in the Wrestle-1 dojo system under Keiji Mutoh and Kaz Hayashi and debuted in the Mutoh-led promotion in 2014. By March of 2017, Ashino rose to the top of the company defeating Shuji Kondo for his first Wrestle-1 Heavyweight Championship. During his time in Wrestle-1, Ashino feuded with Manabu Soya, Kumagaro, and Jiro “Ikemen” Kuroshio. During Ashino’s record-breaking reign with the W-1 belt, he formed the Effants Terribles with Yusuke Kodama and former rival Kumagaro, now called Kuma Arashi. The faction was a major force in Wrestle-1 until its closing in April of 2020.

From Wrestle-1 to AJPW

One week after Wrestle-1 shut its doors, Ashino debuted with All Japan, a significant pick up for the company. On April 30 Ashino made his in-ring debut teaming with a mystery partner revealed to be Kodama. The duo defeated Takao and Hokuto Omori in their debut. With Kuma Arashi joining a week later, Effants Terribles became a force in All Japan during the pandemic era. They were later joined by Omori and another of Ashino’s former W-1 rivals, Koji Doi. After defeating Yuma Aoyagi, Ashino became the top challenger to Suwama’s Triple Crown Title but was defeated on June 30.

Enfants Terribles invade All Japan

Despite their big debut, Ashino and the Enfants settled into a mid-card, falling short in Championship Carnival and The Real World Tag League. However, on the January 3 show from Korakuen Hall, after defeating Aoyagi, Suwama, the champion, challenged Ashino, marking a significant change in direction for the former Wrestle-1 group. All Japan’s newly-minted 6-man championship titles seemed to be a perfect fit for the stable. Will 2021 be the year Effants Terribles becomes the top force in All Japan?

All Japan Pro Wrestling presents New Years Wars live from Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Live on AJPW.TV.

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