It is fast becoming tradition that the first show of Noah's year is always a mystery, and so we won't know the matches in advance, and today delivered some sizzling ones. The event was broadcast live on ABEMA, with the ever exuberant Kuniko Yamada on the team, who was the commentary star, wearing a beautiful, but somewhat startling Kimono, and no one else got much broadcast time. You can watch the show on ABEMA for six days after the time of writing, after that it will be put on WRESTLEUNIVERSE, which you must subscribe to. Although I was at work, I managed to watch via the ABEMA APP, by putting my phone on my desk and hiding it behind my pen holder and mug. It was like trying to sneak watch it at the Mad Hatter's Party as I was watching it through a teacup handle.
Then Atsushi Kotoge and YO-HEY appeared and the image was complete.
Momo No Seishun (Daisuke Harada, Atsushi Kotoge & Junta Miyawaki) & Yasutaka Yano vs FULL THROTTLE (Hajime Ohara, YO-HEY & Seiki Yoshioka) & Kai Fujimura
FULL THROTTLE made a typically chaotic entry, YO-HEY looked like he was about to slip over and then Kai Fujimura came barging past him to get to the ring, much to YO-HEY'S surprise. Hajime Ohara smiled, and Seiki Yoshioka almost burst into laughter. Then, as YO-HEY mimed singing along to Momo No Seishun's music, (and Junta Miyawaki was the only young boy who did not run to the ring), fans were treated to a pre-match between Daisuke Harada and Hajime Ohara. Title matches, pre-matches, league matches, simple tag matches; Hajime Ohara vs Daisuke Harada never fails to disappoint. Throughout their interactions today, which was a masterpiece in technical wrestling, Harada had his shark face on, with that eerie glow on his face.
WINNER: Daisuke Harada with the Diving Elbow Drop on Kai Fujimura (9 minutes, 48 seconds)
Daisuke Harada addressed the crowd, thanking them for coming out today and giving a message of hope and support in the face of the growing Coronavirus issue. That day the Tokyo City Council had announced all restaurants, Izakaya, snacks, bars and Cafes, must shut by 8pm. Sporting events were okay. For now.
Unlike FULL THROTTLE, who left supporting Kai Fujimura and in almost a huddle, there was a sense of cold distance between Momo No Seishun. Kotoge and Harada stood far away from each other, with Junta and Yasutaka Yano, almost as the buffers. Never a close team, this was very marked.
Yoshiki Inamura & Daiki Inaba vs Kongoh (Tadasuke & Manabu Soya)
Tadasuke is a junior heavyweight, who can wrestle as a heavyweight, and isn't scared to go toe to toe with them, even when staring down the larger ones like Yoshiki Inamura, plus he can pull off heavyweight moves (such as the Kodo Fuyuki lariat), while maintaining a junior move set. Tadasuke has always had this potential when it comes to fighting heavyweights, but I don't think that until the Kongoh produce that both he and Noah properly realized this. Tadasuke isn't also scared of the camera, and he took advantage of the static ring one to adjust his glasses. The referee was not as enamored of his Aviator shades as he was, and spent a few seconds telling Tadasuke that he had to take them off.
The match started with Tadasuke (slightly crazy grin on his face) offering Daiki Inaba a handshake. Inaba for some reason trusted Tadasuke, but looked like he was going to go for a slap of the hands. Tadasuke was prepared for all eventualities, and attacked him after pulling his hand away at the last moment.
WINNER: Daiki Inaba with the DDD on Tadasuke (8 minutes, 4 seconds)
Looking thoughtful, Manabu Soya watched his old W-1 rival, Daiki Inaba leave before he turned back to the squished Tadasuke, and helped him from the ring.
Kazuyuki Fujita vs Masao Inoue
Prior to the match Naomichi Marufuji had joked that he hoped the mystery card bought him a singles match with Masao Inoue. Takashi Sugiura said that he wanted a singles match. Marufuji said that they should both gang up on him. When it came to the match it wasn't Marufuji or Sugiura who came out of the curtain.
Masao Inoue froze in terror when he heard the theme music of Kazuyuki Fujita (although somewhere Sugiura, Marufuji and most likely Akitoshi Saito, where laughing). The crowd certainly were.
So Fujita got in the ring, took off his t-shirt, the bell rang, Inoue charged at him, Fujita got him a headlock and Inoue tapped out. Fujita didn't even break a sweat.
WINNER: Kazuyuki Fujita. Front neck lock. 6 seconds.
Mohammed Yone & Shuhei Taniguchi vs Shiro Koshinaka & Akitoshi Saito
This was the first teaming between Mohammed Yone and Shuhei Taniguchi, and sparks flew between them and their opponents, particularly between them and Akitoshi Saito. Saito (unsurprisingly) is more productive when away from Masao Inoue, and Shiro Koshinaka is a good partner for him. Saito did hint backstage that they would be teaming together more in the future.
Shuhei Taniguchi was in monster mode, ever since the bell rang, roaring loudly, with Koshinaka (enraged by Disco Dancing), charging Yone. Yone and Taniguchi also unveiled their tandem move, which involves Yone throwing punches, while Taniguchi does his headbutt to the chest.
Winner: Shiro Koshinaka with the Running Suikurudesu on Shuhei Taniguchi (8 minutes, 35 seconds)
Akitoshi Saito was not done, beating up on Taniguchi and Yone after the match. Yone threw himself protectively over Taniguchi, and Saito left shouting loudly.
Osamu Nishimura vs Kinya Okada
While perhaps having missed the Showa era by two years (it ended in 1989, and he debuted in 1991), Osamu Nishimura put on a somewhat old fashioned style match with Kinya Okada, who is known for wrestling what has been called a "Showa Era style".
Okada (who hadn't even been born by the time Nakanishi debuted), gave good offence and defense against the veteran who had been wrestling for longer than Okada had been on earth. A couple of times, Okada managed to knock Nishimura out of the ring, and Nishimura knew that further measures were needed against this young man who was chewing on the bit between his teeth. Naturally, the victory belonged to the veteran, but Okada had given them both a match to be proud of.
WINNER: Osamu Nishimura with The Grand Cobra Twist (4 minutes, 36 seconds)
STINGER (HAYATA & Susumu) vs Kongoh (Haoh & Nioh)
Although they were still the same dour Spartan Kongoh, a new unity seems to have sprung up between Haoh and Nioh. They seemed closer now that they had the fight at the Kongoh produce out of their system. They weren't the only people to find a new unity, HAYATA and Susumu teamed together for the first time in four years, and HAYATA being HAYATA, came out with hood up, mask on and staring at the floor. He pulled his hood even more down over his face as he approached the camera. I get the impression that HAYATA and Susumu are going to team more together, after all, there are a lot of trainees going to be joining the dojo this year, and Yoshinari Ogawa needs to be able to teach.
Typically fast paced junior match, HAYATA enjoying his moments of sadism, such as driving his boot into Haoh's face. Unlike his interrupted showing in Nagaoya, Susumu was given time to shine, and he is a thousand times better without the mask. Nioh won by using HAYATA'S momentum against him to get the win.
WINNER: Nioh pinned HAYATA (7 minutes, 44 seconds)
The Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba & Kazunari Murakami) vs Kongoh (Kenoh, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya)
If the Noah referees thought they had problems with Tadasuke refusing to remove his glasses, a mass junior brawl, or Yoshinari Ogawa's tactics, then they found that they would probably have willingly exchanged Murakami for them. Right from the start, Murakami started being difficult about being checked by the ref. He would remain arguing with them throughout the match. He should have followed the advice of Takashi Sugiura though when it came to Kenoh, as while he and Kenoh got into a screaming match, Sugi knows better how to deal with him and just ignored him when he was yelled at. Murakami, however, wanted a reaction from Kenoh and wound him up by kicking his head, they then had a slap exchange in an MMA style.
Masa Kitamiya and Takashi Sugiura had one of their trademark shoulder tackle challenges, but there was a twist, as Sugi nipped it in the bud by using a knee on Kitamiya, and then busting him open with headbutts. The Sugiura Army worked on the wounds, with Kazushi Sakuraba repeatedly busted for using a closed fist, so he pretended to use slaps, and went back to using closed fists away from the referee.
WINNER: Referee stopped the match after 17 minutes and 10 seconds, as Kazunari Murakami was choking Kenoh out. Takashi Sugiura and Kazushi Sakuraba had to pull him off of him.
Katsuhiko Nakajima stared at Kazunari Murakami, before bending over Kenoh, while in the background, Kitamiya and Sakuraba butted heads. Backstage, Murakami challenged Kenoh for the GHC National. Kenoh grumbled that no one had consulted him, but he wasn't going to back away, and the match has been set for the 23rd January in Yokohama.
Yoshinari Ogawa vs Kotaro Suzuki
No lock ups, no handshakes, no scoping each other out, Kotaro Suzuki attacked Yoshinari Ogawa right away, and it was on in a bitter technical match, which had a strong element of a wild brawl. Naturally, NOSAWA Rongai with his masked friend, "Part Time Guy", was at ringside, and naturally as Noah law dictates that when you have more than two Noah juniors in any one place, brawls have to break out, the seconds outside the ring (NOSAWA, "Part Time Guy", HAYATA & Susumu), started fighting. Inside the ring, Ogawa was not above using young Yasutaka Yano as a human shield, and then he threw him aside on to NOSAWA and friend.
The brawls between the juniors at ringside generally diffused, and this in itself would have been okay, as it didn't affect the action in the ring. That was until NOSAWA pulled the referee out of the ring, and then he got Kotaro Suzuki disqualified, as he decided to get in the ring, attack Ogawa and throw the ref out. I think fans would have preferred to see Ogawa and Kotaro go full time.
WINNER: Kotaro Suzuki thanks to NOSAWA (7 minutes, 33 seconds)
Go Shiozaki, Hiroshi Hase & Kaito Kiyomiya vs The M's Alliance (Naomichi Marufuji, Keiji Mutoh & Masato Tanaka)
Keiji Mutoh slightly played the old man, which started with his leaning on the shoulder of Referee Shu Nishinaga to get into the ring. I get the impression that with that, and how Mutoh was acting during the match, the pretense that he is just an old man is to lure Go Shiozaki in to a sense of false security and confidence. During the match, Mutoh differed from Shiozaki's other title challengers in that he wasn't interested in attacking his arms, he went for his legs (he also did the same to Kaito Kiyomiya), but it's not Kiyomiya who he is challenging, and this match turned into their one and only pre-match.
Kaito Kiyomiya, young and idealistic and with the capacity to seek out and enjoy experiences that youth brings, bounced into the ring against Masato Tanaka. The last time they met was in 2018, and this was a very different Kaito Kiyomiya, although I don't think that despite their past three matches (never had a singles), this was a very different and far more confident Kaito Kiyomiya than then. Kiyomiya also had the audacity to try and knock his seniors off of the apron, Marufuji ducked, held on and waved him away. The second time, he shook his head at him. Kiyomiya was punished for this disrespect by a Marufuji high knee, which almost knocked Kiyomiya out. Out of everyone, it was Shiozaki who was the most changed for Marufuji, after Shiozaki bested him in a chop war (by no selling him, which is something people rarely do), it was rapidly dawning on Marufuji that this was not the Shiozaki who could never beat him in a singles match, the times that Shiozaki had beaten had not just been a case of Shiozaki getting lucky. He realized that although Shiozaki has always been tough, the title matches in the run he was meant to have, has made him grow even tougher.
WINNER: Go Shiozaki with the Moonsault Press on Keiji Mutoh (22 minutes, 36 seconds)
Go Shiozaki said somewhat sternly on social media, that next time he expects more of Keiji Mutoh. However, in the ring he was all smiles and giggles, especially with Kiyomiya who was hovering near him. Shiozaki spoke on the microphone and said he would raise Noah even more in 2021, by defeating Keiji Mutoh at The Nippon Budokan. "I AM NOAH! WE ARE NOAH!".
Kaito Kiyomiya, the sweet child of summer, promised to bring smiles to everyone with professional wrestling.
Naomichi Marufuji also had something to say, but he said it backstage. He asked Jun Akiyama to team with him at The Nippon Budokan. Akiyama had made Marufuji a promise when he left Noah, that he would wait for him "in any ring". Akiyama had been at "Flight", he and Marufuji had faced each other at "Champions Carnival 2018", but they hadn't yet teamed together. Akiyama is yet to give a sensible answer, but he has joked that if Marufuji wants to team with him, he will do it on one condition, that they face Masao Inoue.
Noah will be back at Korakuen Hall, on Sunday January 10th 2020
With thanks to: Metal-Noah
GIFS taken from ABEMA