Noah held the opening night of Global Junior Tag League on a rainy weekday night in Tokyo. It wasn't a sold out house (but I think Noah were expecting this, given how all the roster asked people to come out to the show if they could, while appreciating it was a work night), but given the fact that it is early in the week, it was a good attendance.
As per tradition, the winners trophies were on display in the lobby.
Chris Ridgeway made his long awaited debut in Noah this evening, as did a new referee called Ben. I am unsure of any other details about him, other than he is American and wore the traditional striped referee jersey. He also refereed some of the earlier cards on the match.
Fans called the time before the event started the "RATELS Evening" as Daisuke Harada manned the autograph booth, and YO-HEY & HAYATA the exclusive fan club pictures.
THE OPENING CEREMONY
The arena was bathed in a green light as the Noah theme played, and the monitor showed the teams for Global Junior Tag League 2019.
Hitoshi Kumano and Chris Ridgeway came out wearing each others t-shirt, and in a nice touch, Kumano held the ropes open for Ridgeway.
Tadasuke and Harada got in the ring (Harada almost trod on senior referee, Shu Nishinaga, who was motioning for Tadasuke to move).
RATELS (YO-HEY & HAYATA with their trophies) stood together. Lots of cheers for YO-HEY (who is still looking thin, but has a bit more color in his cheeks).
Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki refused to attend (typical tactics from them).
50 Funky Powers (Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm) & Mitsuya Nagai vs The Return of The Dark Agents (Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue) & Shuhei Taniguchi.
Nagai (although it looked like he would) did not pose with 50 Funky Powers, BUT they did let him join in when they did their good luck routine at the beginning of the match, and Nagai has never looked so happy.
Mohammed Yone's "Disco Fever" rope break was not appreciated by Maybach Taniguchi.
Mitsuya Nagai told some women in the crowd to "shut up you noisy old bag", Quiet Storm managed to redirect him back to beating up (and biting) Masao Inoue.
Yone lost a wristband after stiff elbows with Akitoshi Saito (the crowd made an ooohing noise as Yone appeared to have really caught him at one point)
Taniguchi debuted a new submission move.
WINNER: Shuhei Taniguchi with a modified camel clutch on Quiet Storm (8 minutes and 5 seconds)
Taniguchi is being stalked by Naomichi Marufuji and Takashi Sugiura. Sugiura who repeatedly posted close ups of Taniguchi's face while out jogging, and later asked him why he was wearing a hat when he was being taped up?
Today after the event, Taniguchi thanked everyone for coming to Korakuen Hall. Marufuji told him that now he could speak, he could say more than that.
Yoshiki Inamura vs Tadasuke
Yoshiki Inamura debuted new ring attire - a new red (its kind of more fuchia really) singlet (which had "Kongoh" written on the back), a Sugiura-esque type Mohican, and most alarmingly he appeared to have shaved his eyebrows. I'm not sure whether this was deliberate, or because he lost a bet or because he was pranked.
Then Tadasuke appeared with his new peroxided hair, fortunately, he didn't offer his hand to Inamura. Who if he did, really shouldn't have shaken it.
Good match between a heavyweight, and a junior who is very much like a heavyweight, especially in that league. The crowd very much behind Inamura, who it is very hard at times to believe is only nine months into his career.
WINNER: Tadasuke with the 2 Pac (7 minutes and 55 seconds)
At the end of the match, Tadasuke pointed at Inamura's (lack of eyebrows).
Global Junior Tag League
The Sugiura Army (Hajime Ohara & NOSAWA Rongai) vs Hitoshi Kumano & Chris Ridgeway.
Hitoshi Kumano and Chris Ridgeway (Kumano again holding the ropes open) entered to Ridgeway's "Paint It Black" (which I am sure the Rolling Stones fan, Junta Miyawaki appreciated). This is Chris Ridgeway's debut in Noah.
I'm not sure what NOSAWA did when his name was called....
These two teams are new tags, and so no one was sure quite what to expect.
Crowd chanting for Ohara first of all when he and Ridgeway locked up, this soon changed when the crowd saw that Ridgeway could torture Ohara just as well as he could. The old Backbreakers later locked up, with Kumano hitting Ohara with a huge resounding lariat.
Nosawa taunted Ridgeway, and when he and Ohara double teamed Kumano on the ringpost, the commentators said they were a "typical combination". He later also pulled the bottom rope away from Kumano when Ohara had him in a hold.
Crowd got right behind Ridgeway when he entered the ring for the second time, especially when they saw how hard he could kick...they were on fire when he reversed the Muy Bien.
WINNER: Chris Ridgeway with the ankle lock on Hajime Ohara (9 minutes and 33 seconds)
Global Junior Tag League
Minoru Tanaka & Hi69 vs Junta Miyawaki & Seiya Morohashi.
Fight got going straight away, and Junta Miyawaki had a baptism of fire - he got two firsts, put through a table by Hi69 doing the Stuka Splash to outside the ring, and he got his first, long awaited and long anticipated win (the commentators commented on the fact that he was only 21, and had debuted a little over a year ago).
Throughout the whole match, Miyawaki (Morohashi pretty much stayed out of the way and left him to it), gave it his all - even when he was hit with a stiff fist (which the audio picked up) by Minoru Tanaka. Noah really teased his win, with Hi69 getting two close pins, and Miyawaki kicking out at the last moment, and Morohashi saving the pin at the last moment.
Korakuen was rising to fever pitch, especially when Morohashi lariated Hi69 and Miyawaki got the pin.
WINNER: Junta Miyawaki with the Jackknife pin (12 minutes and 21 seconds)
Korakuen went mad for Junta Miyawaki getting his first win, people even got up out of their seats and applauded.
Miyawaki himself had a Kiyomiya spaz out, throwing himself around the ring, grabbing the shirt of Senior Referee Nishinaga to make sure it was the three and then hugging Morohashi.
Tanaka and Hi69, however, weren't so impressed. Tanaka grabbed his belt and stalked off.
Kenta Kobashi came out (crowd chanted "Kobashi! Kobashi!") in the interval to do a short interview about the GHC Heavyweight and other things, while backstage interviews took place. Kobashi also announced he would be the special commentator for the maon event that evening.
Kaito Kiyomiya appeared with startling blonde hair, which looks a lot like Kenoh's and kind of clashed with his green t-shirt making him look slightly washed out. His trash talking was also typically polite.
Global Junior Tag League
Stinger (Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki) vs RATELS (HAYATA & YO-HEY).
The long awaited tag of YO-HEY & HAYATA (who seemed to have removed the eyeliner he was wearing at the team presentation earlier) saved the crowd further emotion by coming out to HAYATA'S Judas Priest "Painkiller" theme, and not "Africa", which was for the best as they were ambushed by "Stinger" (I don't think the crowd could have taken "Africa" being ruined). Stinger isolated YO-HEY from HAYATA for the best part of ten minutes, you can guess where they attacked on him. Ogawa did not need his inbuilt sonar which detects weak spots for this. HAYATA watched anxiously, but didn't get involved unless he needed to. Ref spent a few periodic moments asking how YO-HEY was, but he managed to do one of his famous dropkicks, and then tagged "Wife" in.
YO-HEY'S scar was visible from where the tube into his lung had been put in. There was some concern about YO-HEY and how he would cope (or how his lung would cope) on his return, but he seemed fine, although HAYATA had to help him out of the ring afterwards, and he leant on him during the post match promo. YO-HEY did an insane somersault from the top turnbuckle to Kotaro Suzuki, who was in the crowd, this was after a Gamen G off the apron and into the barriers.
The match ended with both teams outside the ring, each getting pulled out and each stopping the other from getting in.
YO-HEY scrambled in, but it was too late. Afterwards HAYATA helped YO-HEY out of the ring.
WINNER: None. Match went to a double count out (19 minutes and 51 seconds)
Naomichi Marufuji, Jinsei Shinzaki & Daisuke Harada vs Kongoh (Kenoh, Masa Kitamiya & Atsushi Kotoge)
This is Jinsei Shinzaki's Noah debut. While this may be the first time for him in a Noah ring, he was good friends with Misawa in the All Japan era, and attended his funeral.
For those who don't know, he is Kenoh's teacher. Kenoh went somewhat Star Wars when he said that he was looking forward to showing Shinzaki how strong he was now (which reminded me of "when we last met, I was but the student, now I am the master"), and he called it nostalgic as he remembered how it had been when he was Shinzaki's second - the entry, the music, everything (I wonder if he chanted sutra for him).
Shinzaki's entry was spectacular, and while I don't know him from Michinoku Pro, I do remember him from FMW, so I can understand Kenoh's nostalgia (you could also tell from the softening of his features that he was deep in thought remembering it). However, he did not have the Lotus Sutra on him (FYI, the monks put these on themselves as it rendered them invisible to evil. The best example of this is the "Tale of Hoichi The Earless").
Masa Kitamiya appeared in new ring wear (red and white, and still modeled on Masa Saito's), while Kotoge (also in red, which suited him), looked like a suave vampire somehow in his high necked cape which was half off of the shoulder. Kotoge was a lot calmer today, and not in one of his hyper manic moods.
Naomichi Marufuji (another cause of worry as fans were concerned that he returned to early) returned from injury to a rapturous welcome. He and Daisuke Harada entered together...and immediately started behaving childishly. Harada didn't let him in the ring as he went to jump the ropes like Marufuji, Marufuji told him to move, Harada (equally stubborn) wouldn't. Harada also refused to shake hands.
As soon as Marufuji got in the ring, Kenoh squared up to him...so Marufuji ran to Shinzaki and hid behind him as Kenoh came over and peeked round him.
Shinzaki is apparently the only one in this match (bar Kitamiya) who is capable of acting like an adult.
Marufuji wound Kenoh up by grabbing his leg when he went to kick him, and putting it gently on the floor.
Kenoh was not impressed.
He later tagged Harada by by a Misawa type tag (Misawa was infamous for tagging his partner in when he felt he had had enough).
Harada was not impressed.
Marufuji also decided to attack Inamura (who was seconding Kongoh) when the fight went outside the ring.
Daisuke Harada was as brilliant as ever, especially with his interactions with Marufuji and Kotoge (Kotoge was his tag partner during their junior days). This was a tough match for him in a way, being the only junior among a match predominantly with heavyweights, and he did get the brunt of it at times (that is when Kenoh wasn't fighting\being wound up by Marufuji).
Then aside from Marufuji vs Kenoh, came the moment that the fans had been waiting for, Kenoh vs Jinsei Shinzaki.
Jinsei Shinzaki is a man of fifty-two years old, but yet he moves like a man of twenty-five years old and went toe to toe with the younger heavyweights, even doing his famous ropewalk on Masa Kitamiya (the commentators said "look at Kenoh" when the camera showed him watching).
Kenoh's attitude to Shinzaki was entirely different to what he usually shows to seniors. He looked focused when he saw him, and didn't have the usual scowl on his face. He didn't hesitate to kick him though, and Shinzaki belted him in the face a few times during their kick\slap war exchange.
All childishness was put aside, however, when Harada and Marufuji (along with Shinzaki) worked together for the win.
Then everyone went back to fighting, Harada threw Kotoge out of the ring (this is Kotoge's second loss for Kongoh), Marufuji squared up to Kitamiya (who swore at him when Marufuji sarcastically tried to shake hands), and while outside the ring Shinzaki spoke to a very reverent looking Kenoh (who looked kind of like Kiyomiya does when faced with seniors).
Kenoh whispered something about Michinoku Pro, and then screamed afterwards about LIDET Entertainment, Marufuji, and how Kongoh would change the face of Noah.
Threw the microphone down and stormed off.
Marufuji picked it up, tapped it to see if it worked (it didn't and the audience screamed with laughter...twice). Harada, however managed to make it work, but it wouldn't for Marufuji!
Afterwards, Marufuji went to shake hands with Harada, practically chased him round the ring, and then Harada threw him out. It seemed however, that they patched up their quarrel as Marufuji could be seen playfully chasing after him to catch up when they were going down the stairs, to smack him on the head.
They also seemed to have patched things up during the after match interview.
WINNER: Daisuke Harada with the Katayama German Suplex on Atsushi Kotoge (24 minutes and 5 seconds)
The Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura, NOSAWA & Hideki Suzuki) vs AXIZ (Go Shiozaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima) & Kaito Kiyomiya.
For Takashi Sugiura this was a three man pre-match, facing AXIZ (who he and KAZMA will face for the GHC Heavyweight titles) and Kaito Kiyomiya (who he will face for the GHC Heavyweight title).
At one point, the fight went into the crowd with Nakajima kicking Sugi on the wooden benches and smirking. Nakajima pretty much had a smirk all the time, ducking Sugiura's punches and kicking him - that was until Sugiura caught him with a knee, and battered him with elbows.
Kaito Kiyomiya had his own entrance, while Nakajima stood and smirked at Sugiura. Kiyomiya got in the ring and squared up to Sugiura (who just stood and stared, not moving. This is a bad sign as it means he's going to fuck you up, even more than usual that is.)
Shiozaki's arms looked stuff with wrappings under his athletic supports, and his shoulder was again taped.
Hideki Suzuki (who has been after Kiyomiya since being in Noah in early 2018), finally got his wish to face Kaito Kiyomiya in the ring, but his priorities would shift by the end of the match towards Shiozaki, especially when they had the chop match (much to Kenta Kobashi's delight), and he is probably one of the few who can stand up to Shiozaki's lariat and is able to manhandle him.
When Suzuki did face Kiyomiya, he drew on his Big Japan experience of dealing with upstart kids, close to Kiyomiya's age.
WINNER: Kaito Kiyomiya with the Tiger Suplex on KAZMA SAKAMOTO (21 minutes and 36 seconds)
After the match, Suzuki and Shiozaki kept fighting. Suzuki grabbed a chair, but Shiozaki snatched it, opened it and sat on it and Suzuki belted him in the face.
Afterwards, the three champions stood in the ring. Sugiura stalked to the back ignoring Kiyomiya who was on the microphone, as Suzuki got on the microphone and challenged Shiozaki. Shiozaki basically told him "any time, anywhere".
Kiyomiya got back on the microphone, and it sounded like he called Sugi "old man" at one point. He also spoke of how he would defend the belt.
The champions then posed in and outside the ring, with Kiyomiya afterwards meeting the fans and going round at ringside. Nakajima stood posing, and Shiozaki walked around with the belt. He also bowed to Kobashi, who beamed and looked proud (Shiozaki is the only son left at home currently).
The commentators rounded off the program by discussing the Mitsuharu Misawa memorial shows and the titles being defended at them (and the camera showing the hall emptying showed how dented the railings were!).
PICTURE CREDIT: Noah GHC, PKDX, Naomichi Marufuji
GIF CREDIT: Noah GHC
WITH THANKS TO: Metal Noah, Abeshin, Akari Purej, Shinya, Pinkie Pie, Dai, Kubo