June for both Noah and its fans is an emotional time, as not only does the 13th June mark the anniversary of Mitsuharu Misawa's death, but he would also have celebrated a birthday (which incidentally he shares with Noah's firstborn, Kotaro Suzuki) on the 18th. Today's main event was the essence of the GHC and harked back to those days in Noah, it also gave much needed closure to the last two people remaining who were in the ring on that day in 2009.
Black Spider VII & SUSHI vs FULL THROTTLE (Hajime Ohara & Seiki Yoshioka)
Hajime Ohara started the match by tying Black Spider into knots, but as it was going to be seen, Spidey had far more endurance than SUSHI (although I think he is a lot more graceful, Sushi does not land on the ropes very gracefully).
After the initial lock up, Yoshioka and SUSHI were tagged in by their partners, with Sushi playing to the camera when dodging Yoshioka, this happened twice, Yoshioka kicked him a few times after that.
It was a good opener, and certainly better than last time, but there was nothing really notable to say about it, except maybe for the ending when SUSHI'S hand wasn't even on the floor before he tapped out in a few seconds to the Muy Bien.
WINNER: Hajime Ohara with the Muy Bien on SUSHI (15 minutes, 27 seconds)
The Sugiura Army Juniors (Kendo Kashin, Kaz Hayashi & NOSAWA Rongai) vs Kongoh (Kenoh, Nio & Hao)
Kenoh remarked about Kendo Kashin (who he hated before he even stepped outside the curtain), that NOSAWA had bought yet another "strange thing" in. When this "strange thing" did come to the ring, Kashin spent time menacing the poor trainee holding the rope open for him, before knocking him off the apron, he then decided to point his mace at Kongoh. Kenoh, naturally,wasn't amused. NOSAWA was though, he was loving winding them up. Kenoh spent a lot of the match yelling at them.
Kenoh and Kashin started the match, using their combined backgrounds in martial arts. Then Kenoh tagged in Hao, and Kashin tagged in Kaz Hayashi (who has changed his ringwear from the long blue pants which made him look like Quiet Storm to short pants).
If NOSAWA and Kashin were going to cheat, then Kenoh was going to be just as devious. He held the ref by the back of the neck to force him to look at Kashin and NOSAWA who where outside the ring to distract him from Hao and Nio double teaming Hayashi. NOSAWA however, aimed a low blow back kick at Kenoh (which caused him to roll around basically having a spasm), and he also decided to kick the ref.
WINNER:Kaz Hayashi with the Power Plant on Nio (16 minutes, 30 seconds)
STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA) & Kinya Okada vs Daisuke Harada, Tadasuke & YO-HEY
From the dark look on Daisuke Harada's face, you would have thought that when he stormed backstage at the final night of "NOAH In The Spotlight" on the 12th June, that all he had done was turn around and come back out for this match.
Kinya Okada was on the receiving end of the wrath of the former RATELS, as he was thrown out of the ring the moment he entered it, and STINGER were attacked even before they had properly come down the stairs. The ref had a hard time keeping control in what can only be described as a chaotic match. Daisuke Harada had a face like a piranha, and he all but sunk his teeth into HAYATA. The rules went straight out of the window, Ogawa pulling Tadasuke out of the ring, HAYATA distracting the ref so Ogawa could attack Tadasuke's arm at ringside (something Kinya Okada picked up on, who seems to have learned a lot by teaming with Ogawa), and then Harada lying in wait for HAYATA outside the ring to pounce on him, and Ogawa being triple teamed.
Kinya Okada came very very close to getting his first win over one of his seniors, (which Noah are teasing), and when I say "close" I mean "very close", had Harada waited half a second more he would have got the pin at one point, but today it was not meant to be.
WINNER: Daisuke Harada with Katayama German Suplex on Kimya Okada (19 minutes, 29 seconds)
Once STINGER had gone, Harada left without his IPW belt, which the ref was holding, but he was so blinded by rage, he forgot.
Hell hath no fury like a Daisuke Harada scorned.
GHC JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT MATCH
Kotaro Suzuki vs Atsushi Kotoge
Atsushi Kotoge came out in usual exuberant style, flanked by Hajime Ohara and Seiki Yoshioka. Kotaro came out with Yoshinari Ogawa and HAYATA (who must have only had time to wipe themselves with a towel, tidy their hair and put a fresh t-shirt on). Much to their credit STINGER did not get involved in the match and stayed at ringside; Ogawa with his hands on his hips.
Very good technical wrestling throughout the match, with Kotaro aiming at Kotoge's ribs, driving his knee in and jabbing with his elbows. Kotoge, however, could taste that belt and he fought on until the end, at one point headbutting Kotaro, who was enjoying punishing him. It was a hard match, and I did genuinely think that Kotoge was knocked unconscious at one point.
WINNER: Kotaro Suzuki with the Supermass Driver (24:00)
At this point Kenta Kobashi joined the ABEMA broadcast team.
The Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba & Rene Dupree) vs Kongoh (Masa Kitamiya, Manabu Soya & Yoshiki Inamura)
The GHC Heavyweight Tag belts are currently without challengers, but Rene Dupree took the opportunity today to square up to THE TOUGH. Later in the match he also mocked them doing their pose while trying to stand and pin Yoshiki Inamura.
Masa Kitamiya seems to have bloomed these past few weeks, and his matches with Sugiura are turning into a version of the hard hitting matches that Sugiura and Shiozaki have when they face each other singles in "Golden Era" type matches. Kitamiya was hardly phased by Sugiura trying to bounce off the ropes and knock him down today. However, Kongoh felt they needed to get involved, and knocked Sugi down for him. Kitamiya's tag partner, Inamura, also refused to give in to Sugiura for the most part, although Sugiura did batter him and then later choke him, which is what Sakuraba did to Kitamiya with MMA submission holds.
Young Yoshiki Inamura made valiant efforts, throwing Sugiura around, launching him into the air and into the turnbuckle. Going for the Oklahoma Stampede, Sugiura managed to turn this into the dreaded front neck chokehold, and Inamura tapped.
Winner: Takashi Sugiura with the Front Neck Lock on Yoshiki Inamura (19 minutes, 20 seconds)
GHC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Masao Inoue
Masao Inoue came limping to the ring.
Katsuhiko Nakajima came out smirking.
In an article a few days before the match, the writer had mentioned the annual eruption of "The Inoue Volcano", which usually happens every few years. We did not see that phenomen in this match, instead we saw
~ Masao Inoue offering a handshake, which Nakajima didn't take
~ Nakajima scaring Inoue with a false lunge, and Inoue backing off, then Nakajima's analytical mind working out how best to start.
~ A Nakajima rope break which included smacking Inoue on the head. Inoue didn't like this.
~ Nakajima laughing at Inoue when Inoue got tired of his antics and Cheshire Cat grin. He even offered to hold the rope open for him, but Inoue walked off.
~ Inoue slipping off the turnbuckle, Nakajima pointing and laughing
~ Nakajima bouncing Inoue off the ropes
~ Inoue taking Nakajima's "Shutter Chance" to all four corners of the ring
~ Nakajima using the ref as a shield
WINNER: Katsuhiko Nakajima via referee stop due to sleeper hold (19 minutes, 38 seconds)
Inoue limped backstage (no doubt Toshiaki Kawada was avoiding all calls about his student, while Kenta Kobashi was laughing throughout most of the match), as Nakajima arranged the GHC National title in the ring, and then getting on the microphone, sat down behind it and spoke. He said that he would take any challengers, but it was just a shame that today it has been Inoue. He had hoped that someone would come out to challenge him (I get the impression he was hoping for a junior, and fans were certainly hoping for Daisuke Harada), but he had an idea to make the belt more interesting; he wanted to hold an open openweight tournament for the belt to determine its next challenger. At the time of writing, Noah have not announced any details of this.
Keiji Mutoh & MochiMaru (Naomichi Marufuji & Masaaki Mochizuki) vs Kaito Kiyomiya, Shuhei Taniguchi & Mohammed Yone
Kaito Kiyomiya might not have gotten his singles match today, but maybe that was for the best, as he was given a slice of an older style of wrestling, from someone who was of the same generation as the Four Pillars, although not one of them (Mutoh was in New Japan where he was their equivalent in "The Three Musketeers", sadly there is now no one left in the Four Pillars who can wrestle, so Mutoh is the closest he will ever get).
While the main focus of the match was on Kiyomiya vs Mutoh, Mohammed Yone vs Masaaki Mochizuki turned out to be potentially interesting, as they both come from the same background; BattleArts. Mochi is not appreciative of disco (very few of the Noah roster are), and so wasn't impressed with Yone's Disco Fever rope break. Yone wasn't impressed either when Mochi did it back to him. As for Naomichi Marufuji, his target in the match was Shuhei Taniguchi.
With all the impetuosity of youth, Kaito Kiyomiya fought Mutoh in a brawl outside the ring, and took potshots at him and knocked him off the apron. Mutoh, however, decided to crush the bud of this young man, and attacked Kiyomiya's knee, which was something that Mochi and Marufuji later joined in with, even going so far as to keep Yone and Taniguchi out of the ring at one point. However despite the destruction to his knee, it wasn't Kiyomiya who quit and lost the match, but even after the bell had rung, Mutoh refused to let go.
WINNER: Naomichi Marufuji with the Perfect Key Lock on Mohammed Yone (22 minutes, 55 seconds)
GHC Heavyweight Championship
Go Shiozaki vs Akitoshi Saito
Akitoshi Saito came to the ring, paused and looked at the sky and nodded. He said afterwards that Mitsuharu Misawa was watching over him, and after the match he thanked him for it.
Although there was no Misawa memorial today so to speak, signs of his memory were everywhere in this match; Saito wearing a green memorial wristguard, the photographers and press in Misawa t-shirts, and Shiozaki paying homage to Misawa by using the rolling elbow (which I am not sure he has used much before) and using the Emerald Flowsion, although it did not get him the pin.
Although not a Noah born or the product of the All Japan dojo, Akitoshi Saito has been with Noah since October 2000, and with Go Shiozaki joining in 2003 and debuting in 2004, he has seen him grow up, and so he knew that to keep Shiozaki subdued he needed to work on blocking and taking the power out of his arms, and so he was able to counter a lot of Shiozaki's attacks, although this did not save him from the machine gun chops.
Having grown up in Noah watching Saito from ringside and fighting with him over the years, Shiozaki knew that he would need to bring out everything he had to defeat him, and so he did. The match between them was like an old school classic, and it worked for the best in a way there being no audience, it was like they were two people fighting in a different time in a match that was equally at home in Noah's modern era as it would have been in their Golden one.
WINNER: Go Shiozaki with the Gowan Lariat (29 minutes, 22 seconds)
They embraced, and Saito left the ring. A difficult and painful past had been laid to rest for both of them.
Shiozaki spoke afterwards, and he was proud to have done this with Saito today. He spoke of Noah's soul and how this ring would continue to move. He held up the belt to the sky and said, "I am Noah"
Noah will hold day 2 of "NOAH Go Forward" on 21st June, which will be broadcast live on ABEMA.
With thanks to: Metal Noah, Abeshin
GIF Credit: ABEMA TV
Picture Credit: Noah GHC, NOSAWA Rongai, PKDX