Noah held their 19th anniversary show at Korakuen Hall in the heat of summer today in the mid morning. It wasn't a sold out crowd, but it was a full house with the usual excited and exuberant crowd.
It was announced on the 2nd August that Harley Race had passed away.
Race had strong connections with Noah which stretched back to before the company was founded due to his time in All Japan, which led to his friendship with Mitsuharu Misawa. During the Golden Era, Noah wrestlers would attend the training camp in Eldon, Missouri, while the wrestlers from WLW\Harley Race's Training Academy, would likewise come to Noah. I'm not sure for how long he retained the position, but after Joe Higuchi's death in November 2010, he was created the chairman of the GHC Heavyweight Championship committee.
Akira Taue (making a rare appearance for Noah) did the honors of holding the picture in the ring while a ten bell salute was sounded for him as the roster lined up around outside. Touchingly, Naomichi Marufuji (who Harley Race had called his "Japanese Son"), had kept the dimes that Race had once given him.
During the interval it was announced that Keiji Mutoh would be appearing at Noah's Edion Arena Osaka show. Later on Twitter, Kaito Kiyomiya said that he hoped for a tag with Mutoh, and that there would be another person appearing in Osaka...but it seems that there would be more than one person, Noah have announced it will be a six man tag, and so far only Kiyomiya and Mutoh have been announced. The rest are "X"...
Kenta Kobashi also came out in the interval and talked about Noah's founding event nineteen years ago. I have to say, it was painful watching him get out of the ring afterwards, as Kobashi seems not frail now (not like Akira Taue), but less mobile.
50 Funky Powers (Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm) & YO-HEY vs Hi69, Hitoshi Kumano & Junta Miyawaki.
Energetic opener to start the show. As predicted, YO-HEY did do the "Disco Fever" pose, but not at the beginning. At the beginning he did his odd pose with his palms facing down which makes him look like he needs an umbrella to dance round with. He did "Disco Fever" briefly at the end of the match, Yone caught him, he denied it, and in any case he came out dancing to their theme music.
WINNER: YO-HEY with the Face G on Junta Miyawaki (5 minutes, 40 seconds)
Yoshinari Ogawa vs Atsushi Kotoge vs RATELS (Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke).
As soon as they entered the hall, RATELS attacked, Harada targeting Atsushi Kotoge (who does look to have lost a lot of weight, but still looks somewhat dead-eyed) who he practically threw around the arena and at one point giving him a brain-buster on a pile of chairs that he had thrown on the floor. However, this was not going to be the last time that Harada would throw chairs that evening. It should also be noted that Kotoge did not enter wearing a cape, or do any "Revolutionary" activities (Stinger do not encourage such things, and Ogawa has made his feelings clear in the past about the cape by wiping his feet on it and throwing it away).
Outside the ring, Tadasuke fought Ogawa, and YO-HEY (who had stayed to second RATELS) even got in on the action with Ogawa throwing him into the iron barrier. Pity referee Ben and Seiya Morohashi in trying to keep control in this one, in what looked like a fight in the playground at some point.
Despite the furious beat down he was getting from Harada (who isn't happy about Kotoge thinking he can abandon the juniors for the hated heavyweights and then come back, playing "weird characters" and wanting belts), Kotoge managed to get the sneak win...
WINNER: Atsushi Kotoge with a kid clutch on Daisuke Harada (10 minutes, 22 seconds)
Daisuke Harada threw an epic tantrum on Kotoge winning, throwing chairs and attacking him, and having to be held back by Tadasuke and YO-HEY. Harada managed to escape their clutches (after a few more chair throws) and attack Kotoge in the ring.
Tadasuke and YO-HEY managed to remove him from it as Kotoge watched from the turnbuckle, and was helped down by Ogawa. Ogawa later announced that Kotoge had joined Stinger, which will now set him in direct opposition with RATELS.
The next day Noah announced that Hi69 & Minoru Tanaka had challenged for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles. Match will take place on the 18th August.
The Sugiura Army (Hajime Ohara, NOSAWA Rongai & Kinya Okada) vs Kongoh (Kenoh, Masa Kitamiya & Yoshiki Inamura)
As Kenoh doesn't really have too much of a hatred of anyone in this match, except perhaps Hajime Ohara (but that isn't on the same level as Takashi Sugiura), the tension was built between the two rookies, Kinya Okada and Yoshiki Inamura, who are developing quite a feud between them which Noah can run with for years, and bring to the new and next generation(s) of fans. Even better and more poignant, they are Noah born.
WINNER: Kenoh with the Diving Foot Stamp on Kinya Okada (5 minutes, 53 seconds)
After this relatively short match, Kenoh got on the microphone and went to start yelling.
However, the microphone didn't work (which will probably make him even more paranoid that LIDET are out to get him), so he was handed another, which worked. The basic gist of Kenoh's promo was to ask why the hell it was that LIDET allowed Kaito Kiyomiya, the champion, NOT to participate in the N-1 (Kenoh seems to refuse to believe that Kiyomiya can be stubborn and once he has made up his mind, that's it, preferring to see it as LIDET controlling him, which is something he has concerns about despite his love\hate relationship with what is termed as his "younger brother"), he also declared that HE himself would win the league. Kenoh it seems has also set a date for the Budokan return, 2020.
The Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura & Hideki Suzuki) vs Kaito Kiyomiya & Shuhei Taniguchi
Hideki Suzuki vs Shuhei Taniguchi was better in some ways than that of Shiozaki vs Suzuki, as Taniguchi (thanks to his background in JSDF amateur wrestling) had a the grounding in Greco-Roman that Shiozaki doesn't, and therefore was able to counter better the techniques that Suzuki did. The match left Suzuki with a new target beyond Kiyomiya and Shiozaki...Taniguchi.
Kaito Kiyomiya made the BIG MISTAKE of getting in Takashi Sugiura's face before the match with the belt. Kiyomiya seemingly did not realize that when Sugiura stands still and stares at you, its not a good sign, and it wasn't....Sugiura went for the infamous choke hold, which Kiyomiya managed to counter once, but Sugiura managed to reverse it and lock it in again for the win.
WINNER: Referee stop when Takashi Sugiura choked out Kaito Kiyomiya (11 minutes, 52 seconds)
As the seconds were bending over Kiyomiya, Sugiura got on the microphone and said that he wanted to challenge for the belt again, but he realized that with the N-1 starting he would have to win the league, and therefore that was what he was going to do.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Match
Minoru Tanaka vs HAYATA
Interesting match in which HAYATA revealed that he can do technical mat wrestling, as well as his normal high flying. He also revealed that through the league his endurance has grown, but still fans were on their feet (along with YO-HEY pounding the apron) screaming for him not to quit when Tanaka locked in one of his submission holds.
WINNER: HAYATA with the Headache (12 minutes, 36 seconds)
After the match, YO-HEY got in the ring and "husband" wished HAYATA ("wife") congratulations on his birthday, gave him a hug to congratulate him on the win, and while he was still hugging him, challenged him for the belt. HAYATA, not one to speak on the microphone, nodded. The match has been set for that traditional RATELS big event city, Osaka at the Edion Arena 1st Stadium on the 16th September.
YO-HEY later said that he knew that HAYATA wanted him to challenge.
GHC Heavyweight Championship
AXIZ (Katsuhiko Nakajima & Go Shiozaki) vs The Return of The Dark Agents (Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue)
Comedy match which later turned very emotional, and as one fan put it, Inoue was the star of this match. Often the butt of jokes by the roster (Takashi Sugiura and Naomichi Marufuji in particular), Inoue's forte is as a comedy wrestler, but a man who was Toshiaki Kawada's trainee counts for much (even if Kawada did once say of him "his stomach goes before everything" before silently wishing he could have had a Marufuji, a KENTA or a Nakajima as a trainee), and when he puts his mind to it and leaves out the bumbling, Inoue can be a force to be reckoned with. Match started with usual silly spots such as Nakajima bouncing Inoue of the ropes continually (Saito yelled at him), and then as things grew more serious, the tension heightened.
At one point Inoue and Nakajima were alone in the ring, and Inoue got Nakajima in an Argentina Backbreaker. Shiozaki was busy outside with Saito, and the audience screamed not for Nakajima to give up; far from being an old vet who has his confectionery stolen, he was becoming a legitimate threat. Fortunately, Shiozaki got back in the ring to break the hold. By the end of the match both Nakajima and Shiozaki had realized this (if Inoue's shock pin in the opening seconds when he almost pinned Shiozaki in a few minutes wasn't enough), and the smirk snapped off. No more playing.
WINNER: Katsuhiko Nakajima with the vertical spike on Masao Inoue (16 minutes, 31 seconds)
No challengers have come forward for the title as the majority of the heavyweights are now concentrating on the N-1.
Naomichi Marufuji vs Kotaro Suzuki
Both Naomichi Marufuji and Kotaro Suzuki were trained by Mitsuharu Misawa, so the terms "older brother" or "senior student" (Marufuji, who is the senior student, despite being younger) and "younger brother" (Kotaro Suzuki), is often applied to them (Suzuki also calls himself "the prodigal son" as he is Noah's firstborn). Their first singles match together was seventeen years ago, since then they have had tag matches, and Suzuki has left Noah and then returned. When he did, he asked Marufuji for a singles match, which sadly never did come about sooner as Marufuji was injured. Suzuki said that he feels that Misawa has had a hand in the arranging of this; the match would have been ideal for the Misawa memorial event, but it turned out to be better and more poignant at the 19th anniversary.
Marufuji admitted in this match that had to reach down deep inside and pull out a lot of things that he hasn't used for a while, and said that he was worn out, but it was fun and nostalgic.
It was a fun nostalgic match, dominated mainly by Marufuji (the heavyweight), who at one point chopped Suzuki (who isn't really used to being chopped and so his chest bust open) and then smeared a line of blood with his finger on Suzuki's cheek....
WINNER: Naomichi Marufuji with the Emerald Flowsion Pole Shift Type (20 minutes, 33 seconds)
After the match, Marufuji gave a long speech, basically thanking everyone for coming, saying he would win the N-1, and finishing by saying "if you want to see Marufuji, come and see Noah".
In his post match interview, Kotaro Suzuki changed this to, "if you want to see Kotaro and Marufuji, come and watch Noah". Suzuki may still be a freelancer, but Noah is his home.
Noah's next show: August 16th
Attendance: 1,288 (full house, but not sold out)
With thanks to: Metal Noah, Abeshin
Picture credit: PKDX, Noah GHC