It has been ten years since that day in Hiroshima.
Ten years since Noah's "Golden Era" ended and the turbulent era began, but to look at Noah today you would never have thought that things had ever been that hard. Sadly, they had been, and in some ways they still were, but there was a real "Golden Era" feel in the air today as the queue for tickets stretched far in a line down past the elevators at Korakuen Hall. The remaining seats were quickly sold out, and then standing room only went, and people crammed the balconies (which Noah had closed off in the past).
The mat had reverted to the original green, (and will be too in Osaka, before going back to the black and white), which added to the feel of Noah when it was in its summertime.
In the main lobby, (with Naomichi Marufuji signing autographs), Noah had erected a Misawa exhibit along with the traditional flower altar. Misawa's robe was on display, and next to it fans could leave offerings of green and white flowers, beer, liquor and touchingly, his favorite cigarette brand too.
Even the hand-wipes that The Leave gave out were green.
The traditional portrait of Mitsuharu Misawa was hung above the ring, the lighting on it was soft and beautiful, and it would remain this way throughout the whole event.
Kenta Kobashi came out to the ring first of all accompanied by the two other Noah commentators to a rapturous welcome and "Kobashi" chants. He spoke to Misawa, spoke of his memories and spoke of the title match this evening. It seemed he was a little concerned about the title match, given the ages of the parties involved and the task of leading Noah, but he wanted to see a good fight.
Then there came always the most emotional part of the evening.
The lights dim, and the ring announcer calls, "Mitsuharu Misawa, GHC Heavyweight Champion", Spartan X plays, and the fans throw green and white streamers to welcome him back to the ring. Afterwards, "Dream on" by Aerosmith played, and the event started.
50 Funky Powers (Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm) & Rocky Kawamura vs The Return of The Dark Agents (Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue) & Mitsuya Nagai.
Akitoshi Saito entered the ring alone, and on entry bowed deeply to Misawa's portrait.
It was also noted that Saito and Mohammed Yone were wearing green armbands instead of wristbands. Everyone on the roster usually wears something, however, Yoshinari Ogawa generally doesn't.
Masao Inoue and Rocky Kawamura started the match, Inoue getting gut punched by Kawamura!
Mitsuya Nagai as ever was up to his old ways, and used the chain.
It was fun opener, and probably one that Misawa would have enjoyed.
WINNER: Mohammed Yone with the Funky Buster Bomb on Masao Inoue (10 minutes, 18 seconds)
After the match Nagai, Saito and Inoue bowed to Misawa.
Global Jnr Tag League 2019
The Sugiura Army (Hajime Ohara & NOSAWA Rongai) vs Junta Miyawaki & Seiya Morohashi
Attacking as soon as the bell sounds is rare\unusual for Hajime Ohara, but he and NOSAWA Rongai did this today, with Nosawa using a chair on Seiya Morohashi outside the ring to isolate Junta Miyawaki.
However, Miyawaki fought back, and managed to get his biggest win (and his second win) of his career so far.
WINNER: Junta Miyawaki with the schoolboy on NOSAWA Rongai (5 minutes, 27 seconds)
Katsuhiko Nakajima, Shuhei Taniguchi, Hitoshi Kumano & Chris Ridgeway vs Kongoh (Kenoh, Masa Kitamiya, Atsushi Kotoge & Yoshiki Inamura)
"Korakuen's on fire"
Katsuhiko Nakajima entered the ring, and slipped his wristband off of his wrist and threw it to the crowd.
Chris Ridgeway (who has said today was a "life goal" - being at a sold out Korakuen on Noah's traditional green mat) started the match against Atsushi Kotoge. Later he was to suffer all four of Kongoh attacking him at once, but the crowd were behind him though.
Shuhei Taniguchi entered the ring, and became what the fans called "The Suplex Machine" as he started suplexing ALL of Kongoh, each time they tried to rush him. They also tasted some pretty nasty elbows too.
The former "Aggression" faced off, with Nakajima smirking.
WINNER: Kenoh via diving footstamp on Hitoshi Kumano (14 minutes, 17 seconds)
Global Junior Tag League 2019
Hi69 & Minoru Tanaka vs HAYATA & YO-HEY
In this match, everything was on the line for HAYATA & YO-HEY. If they wanted their dream of a third win in a row, (and thus beating the record of KENTA & Taiji Ishimori), then they needed to win today.
It was an amazing match with several close falls (i.e. HAYATA kicking out of the Minoru Special), and moments with YO-HEY returning to his old self and doing the lock up where he waves his arms around.Fans said he worked well with Tanaka in particular.
RATELS fans got their wish....
WINNER: YO-HEY with the Super Facial G on Minoru Tanaka (14 minutes, 42 seconds)
Global Junior Tag League 2019
Stinger (Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki) vs Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke
Yoshinari Ogawa entered the ring, threw water over Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke, and then after Kotaro Suzuki had attacked Harada and got rid of Tadasuke, pinned him with the schoolboy.
Harada threw a tantrum.
WINNER: Yoshinari Ogawa with the schoolboy on Daisuke Harada (2 minutes, 27 seconds)
RATELS fans will have to wait another year for the RATELS showdown.
When YO-HEY & HAYATA had gone, Ogawa & Suzuki unfurled a Mitsuharu Misawa banner and posed with it.
Naomichi Marufuji vs Go Shiozaki
Go Shiozaki until today, had never beaten Naomichi Marufuji in a singles match. Not once. Not in all the eight matches they have had since Shiozaki debuted in 2004.
For the match today, Naomichi Marufuji wore the same outfit that he had worn for the memorial in Hiroshima (Noah are not going to go back to the arena any time soon to do another one there, it was just too painful). He will also wear it in Osaka too.
The streamers thrown were so dense, that Marufuji was buried under them and several fan photographs were captioned that he was invisible.
Katsuhiko Nakajima seconded Shiozaki.
This match didn't mess around; a shoulder tackle by Shiozaki, led to a knee by Marufuji. A vicious chop war which went around the ring, and could be heard in all four corners of Korakuen, and of course Marufuji targeting Shiozaki's shoulder. Even the "Perfect Key Lock" came into use, but Shiozaki would not quit.
WINNER: Go Shiozaki with the Gowan Lariat following an Emerald Fusion (17 minutes, 6 seconds)*
*Marufuji later said that the Emerald Fusion that Shiozaki had used on him, was the same Mitsuharu Misawa had used on Jun Akiyama
For those of you who don't know let me bring you up to scratch briefly - Shiozaki walked out of Noah in 2013 with Jun Akiyama, Kenta Kobashi, Atsushi Aoki, Kotaro Suzuki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru in protest over Kenta Kobashi's firing. Shiozaki returned in 2016.
The President of "The Leave" came to the ring, and was given a gift by Shiozaki. Despite his association with Noah for such a long period (nineteen years), the poor man looked a little shy.
Before I move on to other things, I will explain briefly who, "The Leave" are. They are a letting company who have been with Noah since the start, and they have never abandoned them, even when all others did.
GHC HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
Takashi Sugiura vs Kaito Kiyomiya
There was a handshake before the match, lots of paper tape which swamped them, and both were wearing new ring gear, but then all niceties went out the window, and Sugiura gave Kiyomiya a total beating, losing his mouthguard in the latter stages of the match. Kiyomiya didn't start fighting back for about ten minutes. "The 22 year old boy with the three year career" (as Kenoh terms him) held his own against the 49 year old veteran (who for all we know was made by SKYNET), and refused to back down, even when he was choked, battered with elbows, suplexed off the apron and hit by a massive spear.
WINNER: Kaito Kiyomiya with the Tiger Driver (33 minutes, 53 seconds)
Kiyomiya didn't make a victory speech, instead he held his belt up and pointed to the sky (I seem to remember another champion wearing green doing this), as ribbons fell from the ceiling. Each ribbon had a message from a Noah wrestler on it.
After the event, Noah wrestlers were on hand to give the departing fans some candy which The Leave sponsors. Akitoshi Saito was amongst them, and for the first time in a long time in what is such a terrible day for everybody, but which for him is worse, he looked somewhat happy.
Thank you Misawa-san for giving us Noah.
ATTENDANCE: 1,710 (Sold out capacity)
WITH THANKS TO: Metal Noah, Yu-Tsui, S. Masanari, Take, Abeshin, Shinya, Taiki Enomoto, Akiringo, Shishikazu, Fuji, Kei, Munehiro Hashimoto, Ninomy
PICTURE CREDIT: Noah GHC, PKDK