It was a hot afternoon in Tokyo as fans queued outside of Korakuen Hall to attend the Misawa Memorial event to snap up the walk up tickets. Fans felt a sense of excitement but also apprehension, and no one could guess what was going to happen to night. As ever in Noah, what seems like a certainty is never the case.
Unlike previous years the Misawa Memorial was going to be different due to the circumstances, there was to be no streamers, no ring welcome, and even no picture above the ring. Noah made up for this though by playing Misawa's favorite artist, Motoharu Sano, and the Tiger Mask II theme during the show. The lobby was full of flowers, and online old Noah alumni, former roster members and fans remembered him. Noah also opened the merchandise stand exclusively to Misawa merchandise. The green ring did not make an appearance, but the hall was lit up in green and the roster wore green taping (HAYATA wrapped it around his arm) or memorial bands.
Takashi Sugiura turned 51 years old today. Fans couldn't give him presents like they normally would, but in a way today was a kind of present, and like any birthday you inevitably get a gift that you don't want, and he would get just that. Marufuji said cheerfully that today they would both "show what we have been walking together today".
The event was broadcast over three channels; ABEMA, WrestleUniverse and FiteTV, with special guest Kenta Kobashi commentating the GHC National Match...and it's aftermath. You must be a subscriber to be able to view the replay.
Seiki Yoshioka vs Haoh
Due to YO-HEY being absent as he has had to self isolate due to being exposed to Coronavirus, the match was changed from the grudge match between Yoshioka and YO-HEY to a singles match between Yoshioka and Haoh. Although it was an energetic opener, that is all it was, as neither really had any reason to be in the ring together.
Winner: Seiki Yoshioka with the Boston Crab (4 minutes, 50 seconds)
Kaito Kiyomiya, Yoshiki Inamura, Kinya Okada & Junta Miyawaki vs Kongoh (Kenoh, Manabu Soya, Nioh & Tadasuke)
Kaito Kiyomiya came to the ring looking flattened and still moping, despite the fact he was wearing new gear, which did little to brighten thing and he looked as if he had shadows around his eyes. Kenoh, naturally, was immediately irritated by the sight of Kiyomiya and beckoned to him (with a few expletives thrown in) to start the match. Kenoh knocked Kiyomiya down, which made Kiyomiya scream with rage and erupt. As one fan noted, with Kiyomiya like this it all falls to Yoshiki Inamura, which may cause the break between them.
Yoshiki Inamura hit the ring after Kongoh had worked over Junta Miyawaki, and Tadasuke decided to insert himself for some reason between Inamura charging at Manabu Soya. He looked like he had collided with a train as Inamura simply picked him up and ran with him, and then when Tadasuke bounced back, was hit with a massive shoulder tackle. Inamura continued his show of strength by picking up Soya and putting him on his shoulder as if he weighed nothing, and Soya weighs 112 kgs according to the official Noah site.
Earlier, Kenoh had made comments on his Twitter about facing a "piss poor team" (the actual translation is a team that is immature, but it's kind of the same meaning), and he found himself in a kick fight with Kinya Okada. It was by no means a "Kick Fight From Hell" though.
WINNER: Kenoh with the PFS on Kinya Okada (12 minutes, 25 seconds)
Kenoh and Kiyomiya stared at each other afterwards, and after Kiyomiya rolled out of the ring he shook the iron barrier in rage. Kenoh decided to taunt him by saying on the microphone about having something worthwhile to say, and ending with "shut the fuck up". One person who probably wished that Kenoh would "shut the fuck up", is Noah\DDT President and the current target of Kenoh's wrath, Sanshiro Takagi. Kenoh of course cut a long promo about CyberFight Festival 2021, and Takagi. The main gist of Kenoh's rant was that he would "protect Noah".
*Match of The Year*
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Championship Match
STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA) vs Daisuke Harada & Hajime Ohara
The match could only start with Daisuke Harada vs Yoshinari Ogawa, Ogawa even shoved the ref aside to start with Harada as the bitterness between the two runs very deep. Harada fought with gritted teeth, and he was going to need grit as was not only Ogawa playing very clever mind games with him, making him believe that he was going to do something but not actually do it, STINGER also attacked his knee. This was something Harada expected from Ogawa, but not something he had ever seen in the HAYATA he had known, especially when HAYATA would give him his head into getting to the ropes and then drag him back at the last moment. Each time Harada fell outside of the ring, Ogawa was waiting. No matter how much they attacked his knee, no matter how close to fainting he was when Ogawa used the Figure 4, quitting would mean that Ogawa had finally won. It was not an option.
As much as HAYATA had changed some things remained the same, and it was because of this that Harada was able to turn the tide and tag in Ohara. With Harada on the outside, his knee damaged, it left Ohara alone with STINGER who he was at the mercy of. Ohara had his own plan for such a situation, and it was to make Ogawa angry, and so when Harada was able to tag in and take over, Ogawa was not in a position to be anything other than worn down by the attacks to the head and then the Katayama German Suplex for the win.
If you like technical wrestling, then this match is for you.
WINNER: Daisuke Harada with the Katayama German Suplex on Yoshinari Ogawa (26 minutes, 52 seconds)
STINGER retreated back under their rock, while an elated Momo No Seishun limped to the back.
GHC Heavyweight Tag Championship Match
THE AGGRESSION (Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya) vs Funky Express (Mohammed Yone & Shuhei Taniguchi)
Suitable red lights and a fiery pyro greeted THE AGGRESSION as they got off the bus from Hell to walk to the ring. Kenoh sat and looked petulant on commentary.
Throughout the match, Masa Kitamiya seemed to have his mind on other things. He didn't react as he normally did to Yone's Disco Fever rope break, giving him only a gut punch after a pause, and then taking him down the second time with a rough shoulder tackle.
Katsuhiko Nakajima, however, had his big evil smile, and as things were going so well for him he ended up getting cocky and then thanks to Taniguchi outwitting him, ended up accidentally kicking Masa Kitamiya in the face. Kongoh were ready on the apron to get involved as Nakajima was bounced between Taniguchi and Yone. However. Kitamiya rallied and saved him, but there was only so much that he could do, and at least for a few moments Yone got to savor his triumph as victory looked so certain. Demons can be deceptive though and Nakajima got the win.
WINNER: Katsuhiko Nakajima with the Vertical Spike on Mohammed Yone (21 minutes, 5 seconds)
Kenoh left his seat on commentary, and flanked by the other members of Kongoh, asked Kitamiya what the hell he thought he was doing?!
Kitamiya gave his reply to Nakajima;
"What are you doing!? I don't trust you! I have hated you since I entered Kensuke Office! I can't stand you anymore. Kenoh, thank you for your help!"
Then he left, breaking the tag, leaving Kongoh and vacating the title belts. Kongoh gathered their wits about them and left the ring, Manabu Soya hoisting Nakajima on to his shoulder. Backstage Nakajima muttered "son of a bitch...son of a bitch", Kenoh growled "Kitamiya..." on Twitter, and Kitamiya himself saying that he was tired of having to pretend that he and Katsuhiko Nakajima were not "bitter enemies in the same boat" ever since Nakajima entered Kongoh.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship Match
Atsushi Kotoge vs Susumu
Kaito Kiyomiya came out to sulk on commentary as the two old friends\rivals from Osaka Pro and elsewhere faced each other down for the GHC Junior Heavyweight. As STINGER had lost the junior tag belts earlier in the evening, it was now up to Susumu to try and get some pride back.
Kotoge knew that there were two things he had to do in this match, avoid the dreaded face lock and win. Susumu did manage to catch him in it, but Kotoge managed to escape, almost as if he was bolting for the exit.
WINNER: Atsushi Kotoge with the Killswitch (12 minutes, 31 seconds)
GHC National Championship Match
Takashi Sugiura vs Kazushi Sakuraba
Kenta Kobashi (looking as if he was slowly inching his seat away from his co-commentator, NOSAWA Rongai), was at ringside commentary for this. It's probably best that it wasn't Kenoh, who would have gone up in flames on seeing Sakuraba and Sugiura mess around for the first few minutes of the match with Sakuraba twisting Sugi's ears.
The GHC National has come to be characterized by very MMA style matches, and today's match was no exception. Sakuraba exploited Sugiura's weakness in this area by repeatedly pulling him in to ground attacks, and even targeting his knee. Each time he did, Sugi pulled him back up to his sphere, and let loose a flurry of elbows at one point. The MMA ground attacks and Sakuraba's submissions, as Sugiura himself admitted, are not used in wrestling so while Sugiura has a background in it, it is not something he comes across each time in the ring, and Sakuraba's submissions are different as a result and so he had good reason to fear them, but if he was going to win this match then he was going to have to bide his time and catch Sakuraba unawares. Playing him at his own game was going to be no good. He had to play Sugiura's.
WINNER: Takashi Sugiura with the School Boy (15 minutes, 18 seconds)
A handshake and a playful attack from Takashi Sugiura, meant that no lasting harm was done between the two, and that most likely Sakuraba would be paying for celebratory drinks. But there wasn't long to fool around or wait for the next challenger as Super Sasadango Machine had finally found his way into the venue, and he had bought Danshoku Dino with him.
Sugiura commanded them in the same tone as Riki Choshu had once used to not get into the ring. He had to tell them twice, so they had to make their sales pitch, in the form of some printed out PowerPoine sheets, while standing on the apron. Sugiura looked puzzled, while Sakuraba couldn't stop laughing at their match suggestion for CyberFight Festival which was to challenge for their Saku & Sugi belts in a match that Sasadango once did with NOSAWA, when they spun round on the handle of baseball bats. Sasadango was sure this would be at the top of Yahoo News. Sugiura agreed to a match, although sadly not the spinning bats or the "Sugi Saku" titles, and then when the intruders had gone, cheered the crowd with, "1,2,3...Noah"
Keiji Mutoh & Masato Tanaka vs Naomichi Marufuji & Masakatsu Funaki
In homage to his teacher, Naomichi Marufuji came to the match wearing a Tiger Mask. Marufuji has a collection of these masks and had always wanted to be a masked wrestler, it never happened for various reasons, and also Giant Baba wouldn't let him. Keiji Mutoh came out wearing the gown that had been specially designed for him, which he wore to the Misawa Memorial show in 2009.
After a handshake with Keiji Mutoh, the M's alliance went to war with each other. The stiff tough Masato Tanaka who battered his opponents, the flawless Masakatsu Funaki and the last pre-match between Naomichi Marufuji and GHC Heavyweight Champion, Keiji Mutoh. If Marufuji fell into any trap here, it was hubris. Hubris in underestimating Mutoh. Marufuji had said he wanted to get results on this day before Mitsuharu Misawa, but at the end of the line, Mutoh was waiting for him after kicking out of the Shiranui. Tanaka battered Marufuji with the Sliding D, and Mutoh dug in with the Figure 4. Marufuji did the unthinkable, and tapped. As cool as anything, Mutoh simply unlocked the move and accepted the win.
WINNER: Keiji Mutoh via Figure 4 submission on Naomichi Marufuji (18 minutes, 3 seconds)
The ring faded to green and then black as Noah showed a video package of Mitsuharu Misawa to close the show out, and as the official Twitter put it "You will always be in the ring".
With thanks to: Abeshin, Yoriki, Metal-Noah, Tahtaunwa
GIFS taken from WrestleUniverse
Noah's next event: CyberFight Festival, 6th June 2021