I was originally gonna post this as a preview to the 2005 Great Voyage show on 1/8/05, but never got around to it due to a busy schedule which limits my tape watching time. Anyways, this was the first big NOAH show of 2003, which featured Masahiro Chono's first NOAH apprearance as he teams with Misawa against the team of Kobashi & Taue. Plus, Akiyama & Saito put the GHC Tag Titles on the line against The Zero-One EMBLEM team of Shinjiro Ohtani & Masato Tanaka!
Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota VS Haruka Eigen & Kishin Kawabata
- The standard old-timers match you get with these four: slaps & chops, giant swings and Eigen spitting into the crowd. They did innovate that a bit by having Momota & Eigen go out onto the ramp-way so Eigen could hit targets further out in the crowd. Nothing special as usual, and these matches were a lot more fun back in the day when Giant Baba was involved.
Match Rating: ½*
Makoto Hashi VS Kentaro Shiga
- Interesting match with Shiga stretching Hashi with his vast array of submission skills. Hashi mounts a good comeback later, and when he was on the offensive, the match was easier to watch, but the youngster still falls short to a guy I feel is very overated.
Match Rating: *3/4
KENTA & Takashi Sugiura VS Takuma Sano & Kotaro Suzuki
- This was fun, but not as good as I expected it to be considering who is involved. Suzuki showed a lot of fighting spirit as he always does in his early days, and it was interesting to watch Sano go back to his Jr. heavy roots.
I’m guessing they toned down their offense a bit so that the other junior tag match later would look better, and not take any thunder off Marufuji’s return.
Match Rating: **1/2
Masao Inoue, Takeshi Rikioh & Jun Izumida VS Yoshihiro Takayama, Daisuke Ikeda & Masashi Aoyagi
- This was a really fun match as Takayama was billed as his return to NOAH after winning the NWF Title at NJPW’s Wrestling World 2003 show, and his team consisted of heavy strikers like himself, too! Takayama also had a big target on his head as he was instantly triple-teamed at the start of the match by the opposing team!
There was even a fun cool spot where Ikeda had Inoue pinned and Takayama counted the fast 3 count to get a laugh out of the crowd, later Inoue had Aoyagi pinned, and Izumuda made the fast three count to get back at Takayama!
Everybody hit their spots well here to make this a fun match overall.
Match Rating: ***
Yoshinari Ogawa & Naomichi Marufuji VS Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
- This is Marufuji’s return match from a nasty ankle injury that forced him to forfeit the GHC Jr. Title during a match with Makoto Hashi a few months prior. This makes for an interesting match as Marufuji & Ogawa are taking on the IWGP Jr. Tag champions, who aren’t embarrassed to show off their belts during the intros. Both champs also seem to have their eye on Marufuji.
Everyone worked well year, including Ogawa surprisingly. Marufuji didn’t even miss a beat and surprisingly still did the flip over spot that injured his ankle in the first place! Kikuchi & Kanemaru were fun to watch usual. This was an OK match, but I didn’t like the ending of it either since it didn’t make much sense to me.
Match Rating: ***
Tamon Honda VS Takeshi Morishima
- A great battle between to big men, and they aren’t shy to bust out the big power moves to toss each other around either! The only real problem I had here was that the match was kinda short, but still fun none the less.
Match Rating: **
GHC Tag Team Titles
Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka VS Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito
- You have to wonder how smart Saito really is when during the contract signing ceremony, he rushed Ohtani who was holding a real, unsheathed samurai sword!
This was originally the main event of the show, but they moved it up to the semi-main on the TV airing of the show. This was a great back and forth match, flawed a bit by Akiyama not selling Tanaka’s elbows, which by right should be hitting as hard as Misawa’s! It got to the point Tanaka took off his elbow pad just so it would have some effect. EMBLEM were the obvious heels here, but the STERNESS squad sort of brought their momentum down by no-selling some of their shots. But they still got in some good offense though, like EMBLEM’s trademark Doomsday Device Diamond-Cutter combination, which looks really awesome! The ending seemed a bit anti-climatic though, and I wish it could have gone longer just a bit more.
Match Rating: ***1/2
Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue VS Mitsuharu Misawa & Masahiro Chono
- This was great match! The fans welcomed Chono with open arms and popped for every exchange he had with Kobashi and Taue! They booed him for awhile when he gave Kobashi a low blow, but still cheered him on later. Kobashi’s first contact with Chono was very heated as they exchanged strikes to the point of brawling on the floor! Taue once again showed that he may be old, but still can bring out the big guns, as he himself pulled out some great exchanges with Chono. Surprisingly, Misawa was the one that didn’t do much here other then his signature spots, as he gave the main focus to Chono. This was another great match I wished had gone on just a bit longer.
Match Rating: ****1/4
This was a very good show, which you definately will want to check out for the two tag main events alone. The Takayama six-man tag was also loads of fun, though I felt the junior tag matches could have been better.