So while New Japan & All Japan were having their epic double title match at the Sumo Hall, NOAH were putting on this fun little Korakuen Hall show, the final stop before the big Budokan show where Kenta Kobashi would defend the GHC Heavyweight Title against Takeshi Rikioh.Mitsuo Momota VS Kishin Kawabata
Kawabata is really growing on me. He’s like Masao Inoue, but more fresh and fun to watch. Why he isn’t a full-fledged Dark Agent is beyond me. Standard old-school match here with a lot of groundwork being done. You also have to admire Momota for still being able to work a good match at his age. He’s kinda like Ric Flair, only he doesn’t bump as much and the fans pop big for every big move he pulls off. It might not be the best looking Axe Bomber in the business, but I hope Kawabata goes somewhere with it, like a GHC Hardcore Open-weight title match at least.Match Rating: *1/2
Tamon Honda & KENTA VS Masao Inoue & Makoto Hashi
Fun bit at the beginning of this one between Hashi & Honda as Hashi frustrates Honda with his headbutts, and then takes advantage of an amaresu challenge from Honda to cheap shot him. KENTA even received a busted lip from one of his exchanges with Hashi, and Hashi even did a cool (if not accidental) headbutt counter to one of KENTA’s kicks. The junior heavy stuff was definitely the best part of this mostly average match. And I hope they push Hashi proper now that he’s a heavyweight since despite throwing everything he had at KENTA, KENTA still kicked out of his finisher. I also think the Go 2 Sleep is a pretty lame looking finisher.Match Rating: **
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura VS SUWA & Ricky Marvin
Technically two heel teams going at it here. SUWA VS Sugiura was a really good confrontation and the two seriously look like they should be tag partners. Marvin continues to impress as he brought the speed to this match and he and Kanemaru work together really well when they face off.
A pretty good match overall, but the big story in this one comes at the end of the match as SUWA beats down Marvin only for KENTA to run in and make the save!Match Rating: **1/2
Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki VS Akira Taue, Takuma Sano & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
Bit of a comedy match in this one as you could say Misawa was bullying around Kikuchi & Taue. Yes, even Taue was doing some fun comedy spots! Particularly with Misawa giving him a “shattered dreams” followed by a leg spread! Kikuchi on the other hand tried trading elbow strikes with Misawa, and as good as he is, his strikes didn’t stand a chance against Misawa’s! Good match overall, which also served the purpose of getting KoSuzuki over for his big tag match with Misawa against the Zero-One team of Ohtani & Takaiwa at the Budokan soon after.Match Rating: **
Jun Akiyama & Jun Izumuda VS Akitoshi Saito & Shiro Koshinaka
Now this was a fun match featuring Sterness VS the Dark Agents. Fun bits at the beginning when Akiyama & Izumuda used Koshinaka’s own hip strikes on him! Heck, even Saito was doing hip-attacks! Saito even did a really impressive delayed slingshot suplex on big Izumuda. The exchanges between ex-GHC tag team championship partners Saito & Akiyama were good too, and even Izumuda stepped up his game for this one. Even Makoto Hashi managed to get involved at one point when he hit repeated diving headbutts off the apron to Koshinaka while Akiyama distracted the referee! One of the best matches on the show so far.Match Rating: **3/4
Scorpio, Doug Williams & Ace Steel VS The Gladiator, Bison Smith & Low Ki
I’ve always liked Ace Steel ever since first seeing him in TNA, and it’s good to see him working in Japan, even if it’s as a comical, over-zealous young lion that rushes into things only to get his ass kicked. Doug Williams on the other hand reminds a bit of Mike Sanders, and he also has a sneaky Yoshinari Ogawa-type style going for him. The sequence where he runs circles around Bison was entertaining, and the guy does have some talent but really didn’t show anything outstanding here.
The six gaijins in this one pulled out a really good TV quality match, complete with a six-man pile up on the outside when Gladiator’s team launched a big aerial assault on Scorpio’s team to the outside, and that really got the crowd going! The closing spot where Bison rolled through a sunset-flip into the Bisontenial was also really cool and this was definitely a fun match to check out.Match Rating: ***Kenta Kobashi, Muhammed Yone & Go Shiozaki VS Takeshi Rikioh, Takeshi
Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji
Don’t know why, but both teams come in through the audience for the main event. This was a great heated main event to close out the show and Shiozaki continues to impress me even if he does have a limited moveset. The crowd popped BIG TIME when Shiozaki hit a BEAUTIFUL German suplex on Morishima, he should have held the pin instead of rolling through into another though. And yes again, Shiozaki has one of the BEST moonsaults I’ve ever seen! There was also some fun brawling into the audience from all six at one point, and they did the tease of Rikioh going for the Muso on Kobashi even. Kobashi remains a force to be reckoned with when it takes both Rikioh and Morishima to take him down, and Kobashi continues to impress when he half-nelsons someone the size of Morishima. Great match and a great way to close out the show and build for the upcoming showdown between Kobashi & Rikioh at the Budokan.Match Rating: ***1/4Overall:
A good show overall with everyone working well and building up the upcoming Budokan show. Your not missing much if you pass on this and just want the big shows, but this definitely fun and recommended TV viewing.