Noah's last event ever at Hakata Stalene, was not without drama as the little blue truck carrying the merchandise broke down, and the wrestlers bus had to be sent out to rescue them, which meant that there was no signing as planned (and as per usual) before the event. However, Noah made up for this in the intermission.
As stated, this will be the very last time that Noah visit Hakata Stalene, and it's not just Noah, no one else will come here again soon. The building has been damaged over the years by seismic activity, and the old venue is crumbling. Due to its construction methods its now too costly to repair, and will be torn down.
Everything will go. Even the ikonic bowling alley (although I think Daisuke Harada might have managed to steal a pin from the lane, as he carried one to the ring).
This has been a place of memories for Noah, some of them good, some of them bittersweet.
It was here that Katsuhiko Nakajima had a singles match with Mitsuharu Misawa (and Kensuke Sasaki and Akira Hokuto came to the venue today to see their semi adopted son), and it was also here that Go Shiozaki won the GHC Heavyweight title for the first time by beating Takashi Rikio for it. The title had been vacated by Jun Akiyama due to injury.
It was also just after Misawa had died, and Shiozaki naturally was too numb to do more than bow to Misawa's flower altar that had been erected, and then sit down and sob at the after match interview with his head in his hands.
However, the big news for today was that Noah streamed the show live from YouTube on their official channel. They had to mute the sound due to copyright issues with some theme music, the picture and the streaming was flawless. There was no commentary, as this is only done for big events that are broadcast on the network.
I have been asked a lot if this means that Noah are going to make this a regular thing. The answer is, I don't know; but I get the feeling that this is them killing two birds with one stone, broadcasting a big event for them and seeing what response they get (about 2.1K people tuned in worldwide).
No one took any notice of the streamer ban again.
RATELS (Daisuke Harada, Tadasuke & HAYATA) vs The Backbreakers (Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano) & Junji Tanaka.
Junji Tanaka appeared in the ring wearing traditional Japanese underwear, which exposed a lot of his ass to the crowd - Tadasuke kicked him in it, and Harada folded him up so everyone got a good look at it. Later in the match, Hajime Ohara got hung over the turnbuckle and ended with his face in Tanaka's crotch - which RATELS made worse by pulling on Tanaka's legs.
The was a big cheer for Hitoshi Kumano (known as Noah's "growing bear"), and even bigger one for his prodigious strength in throwing HAYATA (photogenic as ever) around.
Crowd VERY into the first match which finished with a beautiful HAYATA moonsault.
WINNER: HAYATA with a moonsault on Hajime Ohara (11 minutes and 58 seconds)
Stinger (Kotaro Suzuki & YO-HEY) vs Minoru Tanaka & Hi69
Kotaro Suzuki came to the ring holding up the belt for fans to touch.
Usual YO-HEY lock up, waving his arms around, Hi69 (who seemed pretty grumpy today), gave up and stood with his hands on his hips before attacking him.
YO-HEY & Suzuki worked on Hi69's notoriously bad knees, each working in tandem to keep the GHC Junior champion out of the ring (at one time YO-HEY told him to "go away").
A fast paced match which ended with Hi69 challenging for the junior tag titles, Suzuki told him okay, but he would need to check the weight limits (Hi69 is kind of on the podgy side, so given that Kotaro Suzuki once said that Hitoshi Kumano was "blubber", he will probably demand a public weighing or something).
WINNER: Hi69 with the Stuka Splash on Kotaro Suzuki (14 minutes and 37 seconds)
Katsuhiko Nakajima, Akitoshi Saito, Maybach Taniguchi & Masao Inoue vs Masa Kitamiya, Yoshiki Inamura, Junta Miyawaki & Kinya Okada.
Junta Miyawaki put up a good fight against Taniguchi (who bought the usual Sasumata to the ring, but didn't use it, he also didn't attack the ref today, and Saito didn't need to try and control him).
Brawls outside the ring, with Nakajima fighting with Kitamiya (at one point hitting him with a chair) in a strategy to keep him away from the young rookies on his team. When they did fight in the ring, there was an exchange between them which whipped the crowd up into a frenzy...it was a massive punch exchange which was phenomenal. This match belonged to Nakajima, who was on fire. He grinned evily at Kitamiya at the end, and on the way out (in between posing), threw Okada into the steel barrier, Inamura jumped in to save him, and fortunately for him, Nakajima walked off.
WINNER: Katsuhiko Nakajima with the Vertical Spike on Kinya Okada (14 minutes and 7 seconds)
Naomichi Marufuji vs Yoshinari Ogawa
This was a rare singles match; Marufuji doesn't often wrestle Ogawa, and Ogawa doesn't usually have singles matches (his last one was against Doug Williams in late 2018).
There was a handshake at the beginning of the match, with Marufuji bowing low as Ogawa is his senior (plus the most senior man on the roster).
It was a very technical match with Ogawa torturing Marufuji (Kiyomiya must think this is karma). Marufuji did get a few shots in and Ogawa will be suffering a red chest for the next few days.
At one point, Marufuji tried to escape Ogawa's submission, managed to get away for about a second, and Ogawa caught him and locked him straight back in it.
After the match, Marufuji said he was exhausted, he wasn't able to open any drawers to pull out any moves, not even by a fraction.
20 year veteran he may be, but Marufuji still goes to Ogawa, the master, when he wants advice on technique, and today he was given a masterclass.
WINNER: Naomichi Marufuji with the Boston Crab (19 minutes and 2 seconds)
Takashi Sugiura vs Go Shiozaki
First of all, when Shiozaki and Sugiura collide; don't be expecting any technical moves. These two are going to knock the stuffing out of each other. And they proceeded to do that today, so much so at one point, I thought Shiozaki had been genuinely knocked out (he probably was for about a few seconds though), and the ref had to do a concussion test on him.
Sugiura also gave Shiozaki a slight nosebleed.
At the match, where they both tore the roof off the building (in a match people thought should have main evented and was in fact better than the main), Shiozaki gave momentary concern when it looked like he would have to be helped from the ring, but he managed to walk (although he was a bit wobbly, and slightly fell up the steps).
After the match, Takashi Sugiura said that Noah may have changed, the logo and the mat, and there was a new wind blowing, but one thing would never change; he would always be aiming for the belt.
WINNER: Takashi Sugiura with the Avalanche Olympic Slam (21 minutes and 8 seconds)
Kenoh & Kaito Kiyomiya vs 50 Funky Powers (Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm).
Kenoh appeared first, and then paused as Kaito Kiyomiya stepped out. It made a vivid impression, and an ikonic moment, when Kenoh offered his hand to Kiyomiya and they shook. Kenoh wearing his red jacket and Kiyomiya in the Misawa green, also have a new entry pose when they get in the ring.
Kenoh (however) was still looking sour, although he was seen to smile at Kiyomiya at the end of the match.
There was a massive Kenoh & Quiet Storm, chop kick battle in a stiff main event. Yone joined in too, showing Kenoh that he was not the only one who could kick hard - although he did it on Kiyomiya. Kenoh and Kiyomiya worked well together, with Kiyomiya dropkicking Quiet Storm out of the way from the top turnbuckle and saving Kenoh from the Funky Buster Bomb, and then we saw their tandem move as Kiyomiya put Yone on his shoulders, and then slammed him for Kenoh to do the diving footstamp for the win.
Then Kenoh got on the microphone.
For a moment, from his generally angry tone, you would have thought that he was challenging Kiyomiya for the belt, but no - he was just thanking people for coming to the venue today. Kiyomiya also thanked people, albeit in a far more polite way.
Then they left the ring, and the audience stampeded to the merchandise tables.
WINNER: Kenoh with the diving footstamp on Mohammed Yone (13 minutes and 59 seconds)
With thanks to: Abeshin, Miriam, Purodino
Picture credit: Noah GHC