"I had been blown away by the whole thing"
Today was Noah's 2000th show, and as it was televised, I had the rare chance to actually see it.
There was also another anniversary today, albeit a sad one, it is the eight year anniversary of the death of Joe Higuchi (he was the GHC commissioner and if you watch the older "Golden Era" matches, you will see him at ringside). Referee Nishinaga visited his grave today, and said that he is sure that Higuchi is watching the league from heaven "with a firm eye" (which is probably something that terrified Kotaro Suzuki because Higuchi used to bust him for cheating).
I like to imagine that both Higuchi and Misawa found a bar they like in the afterlife, and settled down to watch Noah together.
They would have been very proud of it tonight.
In other, more earthly matters, Go Shiozaki manned the merchandise booth, and Takashi Sugiura posed for the fan club (which is rare for Sugiura), and because it was rare, there was a long line of people waiting for him. On the monitor behind him, Noah showed RAN videos and adverts from The Leave.
Tonight belonged to the younger generation.
GHC Match signing
Noah held the GHC Junior Heavyweight match signing today (I thought they were going to hold it on the 17th, the same day as the title defense). Kotaro Suzuki turned up, as did HAYATA (despite the fact it would have been very funny if he didn't like Suzuki did to Harada).
HAYATA being HAYATA, refused to say a word, and didn't even say "Same".
Suzuki, being the kind that likes to provoke a reaction, was a little unnerved by HAYATA, and said somewhat surprisingly, "I have attended this time, there are many things I would like to say, but saying nothing means that you will express everything in the ring. That is the most difficult part. I expect that is what the challenger will show."
After the event, the wrestlers handed out sweets.
Attendance might not have been a full house, but it was impressive for a show run on a Thursday night.
Akitoshi Saito, Kotaro Suzuki and Lin Dong-xuan who will be taking on Quiet Storm, HAYATA and Chang Yu-Feng.
Although Kotaro Suzuki and HAYATA were facing off, Noah did not call this a "pre-championship match" for some reason. HAYATA (who got big cheers for it) completely outmaneuvered Suzuki, and beat him with The Headache. Afterwards he got on the microphone and told him, "Same in Osaka!"
WINNER: HAYATA with the Headache on Suzuki (7 minutes and 48 seconds)
Battle Royale elimination match
There were big hopes for Junta Miyawaki in this match, but sadly it was not meant to be, although Noah are teasing his first win.
It is going to be easier for me to summarize what happened in this via bullet points;
Hitoshi Kumano was awarded with a gift certificate for a stay at a hotel & spa, with en-suite accommodation and half price breakfast.
Hopefully it will be pet friendly, so he can bring his little dog.
WINNER: Hitoshi Kumano via pinfall on Tadasuke and Junta Miyawaki (9 minutes and 55 seconds)
Global League match.
Atsushi Kotoge vs Mohammed Yone.
Not the comedy match that people were expecting (although it is funny when Kotoge charges through crowded areas and expects people to get out of his way, such as photographers and fans), but it was alternately entertaining and alternately stiff (at one point Kotoge headbutted Yone's afro). A middle aged disco dancing afroman and a young "Revolutionary" in a Dracula cape with probable ADHD, knew they were fighting for points that evening, and so got down to business.
During this match, Quiet Storm was on commentary, speaking in fluid and fluent Japanese (although Yone said he was nervous about it). His accent reminded me a bit of Kenta Kobashi's.
You would not have ever believed he was a boy from Brooklyn if you only heard and never saw.
WINNER: Mohammed Yone with the Kin Meat Buster (7 minutes and 36 seconds)
Global League match
Mitsuya Nagai vs Masa Kitamiya
The usual brawl outside the ring heralded the natural start to a Mitsuya Nagai match (that and yelling at the crowd at one point). Stiff match, but not really much else you could say for it.
WINNER: Masa Kitamiya with the side suplex (8 minutes and 20 seconds)
Global League match
Go Shiozaki vs Kazusada Higuchi
Go Shiozaki and Kazusada Higuchi are of similar size and build, the difference being that Higuchi is a former sumo (and it is ironic that there should be someone in a Noah ring by the surname of "Higuchi" that evening). These two collided with each other as soon as the bell rang and tried to knock each other down, a huge crashing sound echoing around the arena as they clashed after bouncing off the ropes and charging at high speed.
It was Higuchi who struck the first chop, which sounded like a gunshot. From Kobashi's reaction, he probably hasn't been chopped that hard since Kenta Kobashi.
This match was pretty much all chops. I wouldn't recommend this match for anyone who wants to see their wrestling as solely technical full of intricate maneuvers and holds; this match was a chop war, and the sweat flew off both of them. An indication of how this match was going to be was when a few minutes in, both had sunburn on their chests. Go Shiozaki thrives in this environment, it is when he is at his best.
The crowd were screaming, and this got even louder when Shiozaki landed the mother of all clotheslines on Higuchi, and almost took his head off.
WINNER: Go Shiozaki with the lariat (13 minutes and 28 seconds)
Global League match
Takashi Sugiura vs Kaito Kiyomiya
"It is an important battle for Kiyomiya."
Kaito Kiyomiya came out wearing a new ring costume of sparkly green and white (green of course being Misawa, and he often wore a white stripe too). Black suited him better, this served to make him younger than he is (22).
At the first rope break, Sugiura (who came out without the belt for some reason), seemed to be fighting the urge to pat him on the cheeks like he had done in the past, which naturally did wind Kiyomiya up. This match was overwhelmingly in Sugiura's favor as the older, the more powerful and the veteran (and who is old enough to be Kiyomiya's father), but Kiyomiya put up a good fight, and even did the Misawa apron dive to the delight of the crowd.
Kaito Kiyomiya got what is probably the biggest win of his career so far, when he got the fluke pin on Takashi Sugiura, (albeit not by knockout or anything). After that he kind of spazzed out by rolling all over the ring in joy, while Sugiura complained to the ref, stared in disbelief and then stalked off.
WINNER: Kaito Kiyomiya with the roll up (13 minutes and 30 seconds)
Global League match
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Kohei Sato
Katsuhiko Nakajima came out smirking, and then he rose to new heights of cockiness, such as:
Nakajima built the tension by taking his time, he didn't even move from the corner when the bell rung, and then slowly locked up with Sato... the match erupted (as did the crowd, who had been in a frenzy since the bell rang), Nakajima bought the chair out, hard kicks, Sato headbutt, and Nakajima fell to his onslaught.
WINNER: Kohei Sato with the German Suplex (10 minutes and 38 seconds)
Global League match
Naomichi Marufuji vs Kenoh
"I will be Noah's ray of light"
Kenoh watched Naomichi Marufuji (who a lot of people commented on was actually looking somewhat well and somewhat rested today (the benefits of staying at home for once and doing nothing more than watching Netflix) enter the ring without moving, and then in an iconic picture, they both squared up to each other.
Then the bell rang, and Kenoh got his wish. He was going to have a singles match with Marufuji.
Marufuji treated Kenoh through it almost like he was an inexperienced rookie, but this didn't change the fact that he got hit with the gunshot kicks. Kenoh took his fair share of beatings, by being thrown repeatedly into the steel barriers and then Marufuji slammed the gate on him.
The match was so stiff at times that I genuinely thought that Kenoh had been legitimately knocked out twice, especially when Marufuji pinned him and his eyes looked as if they were rolling back into his head.
Kenoh bought out the foot stomp moonsault, which he only does on special occasions (I think this is going to be his equivalent to the "Burning Hammer", which Kenta Kobashi only ever did on select opponents as a mark that he considered you a worthy challenger, who had put up a worthy fight)...and then it was all over.
Kenoh had completed part one of his plan.
Afterwards he got on the microphone and addressed Marufuji, (who simply waved him off as he was being helped out by the ringside attendants), and told him that everyone just saw him beat him. He turned back to the audience and told them that he would become the ray of hope for Noah.
Marufuji later posted that it was frustrating to lose, and this loss seemed to go hand in hand with the one to Nakajima. He reflected that this year Global League is interesting compared to the past. Marufuji said that he is not planning to lose anymore, and he says that the leading role will still be himself.
WINNER: Kenoh with the rolling moonsault footstomp (17 minutes and 54 seconds)
WITH THANKS TO: Abeshin, Metal Noah, Maybach Metapoko, Koichiro Takeda, Samurai TV, Noah GHC