Akitoshi Saito, Masao Inoue & Takashi Sugiura VS Yoshinari Ogawa, Ricky Marvin & Kentaro Shiga
I’ve hardly seen anything of Shiga’s in NOAH, but interesting to note he’s changed his look here from wearing the short tights to black long pants now, kinda like Marufuji. He didn’t show anything here to warrant the big push he received two years back before going on the shelf, but the crowd was behind him to get the win when he was in there.
Ricky Marvin was easily the MVP of the match, as he consistently wowed the crowd with his speed and aerial assault. So naturally when he hit a HUGE frog splash from more than half the length of the ring, Ogawa pulled him off so HE could make the cover! Despite that, it didn’t stop Marvin from saving Ogawa’s ass later by hitting a sweet Shining Wizard on Sugiura when he had Ogawa in an ankle lock!
Sugiura could probably be counted as the MVP for the Dark Agents team as he kept things exciting for his team. I also liked that he constantly had the advantage over Ogawa. I didn’t get why he heeled the commentator by kicking the announce table though.
Saito had some good exchanges with Marvin (thanks to Marvin), and the only thing of note he did was a nice and long delayed vertical suplex. Inoue was also pretty fun, so I guess he works best when put in fast sprint matches, not ones that go too long.
Overall, this was a good opener to the show that the crowd really enjoyed. Interesting to note that the Nippon Budokan was already mostly full by the opening bell.Match Rating: *1/2
Takuma Sano VS Mushiking Terry
Man, if they gave Terry the win here, the crowd would have gone INSANE! The crowd was quiet throughout most of the match, save for some individual cheers from the kids in the audience, but when it came down to it, the crowd was heavily behind him! Story of the match was Terry doing all he could to avoid Sano’s sobat kick of doom, and it genuinely hurts if you see the way he delivers it. Even Misawa, Akiyama & Kobashi sell it like getting shot.
Terry had some good offense in, trying to take out Sano’s sobat leg with some unique leg-locks. I’ve noticed he’s still very ground-based when compared to Kotaro Suzuki. The crowd popped big when he hit his modified tiger-suplex pin. The crowd would definitely have been deafening if he got the 3 count there.
Sano of course playing the grumpy veteran role had a good showing here too. But I still think he should have dropped the fall here after seeing how into Terry the crowd were here. Fun match overall.Match Rating: **
Naomichi Marufuji & Minoru Suzuki VS Shiro Koshinaka & Jun Akiyama
Wow. From the opening crowd reaction, you’d think THIS was the main event, and after watching, it was actually main event caliber! A lot of great action from the get go, and whoever would have thought an old guy would get such a huge pop just for smacking his butt into someone’s face? I actually have a new found respect for Koshinaka here since he actually showed up Suzuki! Actually, both Akiyama & Koshinaka were at their top game here as they seriously irritated Suzuki, who’s usually in that role.
It was fun watching Marufuji try to be a big bad heel against Akiyama & Koshinaka, and it didn’t work! There was even a fun bit where Suzuki tried to distract the referee, resulting in Akiyama giving Marufuji a low blow and Marufuji would complain to the referee about it! There was also a great visual where Suzuki had Akiyama in the sleeper, but at the same time Akiyama had Marufuji in the front neck lock!
And what can I say about the Sterness Dust Gamma? The description of it would be it starts like a wrist-clutch Exploder, and ends in a Sterness Dust! Killer looking move, even if the announcer called it the wrist-clutch Exploder.
This was a great match from start to finish, and the crowd loved it too. It’s pretty obvious at the end that the feud between Jun Akiyama and Minoru Suzuki is far from finished. It was kinda funny that Suzuki choked out Jun Izumuda when he tried to break up a brawl between the two, and Suzuki even tried to toss a chair at Akiyama as he left the ring!Match Rating: ***1/2
GHC Hardcore Openweight Title: Scorpio VS Yoshinobu Kanemaru
The 15 minute rule was in effect here, meaning Kanemaru could win the title by surviving the time limit. The advantage was even more in Kanemaru’s favor when Scorpio injured himself in a very delicate area! So a majority of the match was Kanemaru beating down Scorpio, with some small bursts of offense from the defending champion but not being able to work properly due to his injured gonads. Kanemaru managed to brainbuster Scorpio several times, but one slip up in the end with about 2 minutes left on the clock cost him the match.
The match was one-sided, and I’m not sure if Scorpio’s injury was a work or shoot, but still good overall.Match Rating: *1/2
Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiozaki VS Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima
OH MY GAWD!!! THIS WAS SIMPLY FANTASTIC!!!
If Kobashi VS Sasaki at DESTINY was the Singles Match of the Year, than this hands down gets my vote for Tag Match of the Year!
In an interesting twist, the students came out first, followed by the mentors, and Sasaki & Nakajima wore their All Asia tag titles to the ring. And when the bell rang, the whole match was PURE GOLD! Say what you want about New Japan’s Young Lion System, but I had GOOSEBUMPS watching Nakajima VS Shiozaki here! The chemistry they had for a first time meeting was simply amazing! You can easily tell that years from now these two are going to be main eventing against each other with world titles on the line.
Kobashi VS Sasaki picked up right where they left off at the Tokyo Dome, once again with a great chop battle! But even better were the student VS mentor exchanges! Both Sasaki and Kobashi made the youngsters look like a million bucks! Selling for them where necessary as well as bringing out the best in them. Kobashi even brought out the Texas Cloverleaf, which I believe he hasn’t used in at least 6 years!
There really isn’t a lot more that can be said other than this alone could have main evented the show! A MUST SEE match that alone is worth getting this show!Match Rating: *****!!!
Mitsuharu Misawa VS Genichiro Tenryu
Wow. When this match was first announced, I was one of the few who didn’t expect much from it, knowing the shape these two are in. But there were many who still expected this dream match to deliver, and of course they were all disappointed when the reports said how bad the match was. Well, after watching it for myself, what else can I say but, “I told ya so!”
The problem with the match was basically what I expected it to be. Tenryu is old and stiff, and Misawa is just lazy. There were a few fun bits, like when Tenryu gave Misawa a stiff kick to the head that left an ugly mark there, and Misawa retaliated with one himself later in the match, and a bit of comedy where Tenryu wanted a handshake at the beginning of the match and wouldn’t give up till he got it, only to cheapshot Misawa! But than there were the sloppy bits, like Tenryu losing Misawa on a powerbomb attempt, followed by barely being able to get Misawa up for a brainbuster. Their timing was also a bit off at times. And of course there was the ending of the match where Misawa once again used his running elbow smash for the win, which from the crowd reaction felt very anti-climatic as the match really never felt like it built up to anything.Match Rating: *1/2
GHC Tag Team Titles: Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone VS KENTA & Katsuyori Shibata
KENTA & Shibata came out wearing these cool “TAKEOVER!” t-shirts. I didn’t think it was possible, but KENTA & Shibata actually got me to not want to support them due to their arrogant heelish tactics and personas! I know KENTA has always been a bit of a cocky SOB, but having two guys like that who share the same attitude and an almost identical move set is a bit much even for me!
But when you get down to it, this was a GREAT match, more than worthy of being in the semi-main event spot on the card. Looking at the two in action, you couldn’t tell that this was actually KENTA & Shibata’s first time teaming together, as they worked together so well with some great tandem offense. There was a fun spot where Shibata did KENTA’s strike combo followed by a Busaikyu Knee! And KENTA actually managed to get big Morishima up for the Go 2 Sleep!
Morishima & Yone also worked extremely well together here and it was just fun to watch. Though I noticed Yone tends to go for his Rolling Thunder spinning heel kick more often than I’d like. Despite his girth, Morishima also moved rather well for a big guy, delivering some wicked lariats and killer backdrops!
There were a few miss-timed spots, as well as a few awkward looking bits where Yone or Shibata would just stand there waiting for the other, but the match overall was a lot of fun and definitely worth checking out.Match Rating: ****
GHC Heavyweight Title: Takeshi Rikioh VS Akira Taue
Before the match started, before the introductions were made, even before his entrance music played, there was HUGE Taue chant! Like I said before when this match was announced, the key to making it a success was for both guys to bump their asses off for each other, and that’s exactly what they did here, and that’s exactly why the match worked! Of course, the crowd yelling their lungs out for Taue added a lot of emotion to the match too. There were some Rikioh chants at the beginning of the match, but those were quickly drowned out.
Things started out odd a bit, but once they found their rhythm, they pulled out a solid match with incredible crowd heat that probably would have rioted if Taue lost here. Taue went at it with everything he had, and pulled out everything in his arsenal to keep the champion down.
Rikioh admittedly didn’t show a lot here. He used his power and threw a lot of lariats throughout the match. But to his credit he also pulled off a cross-body block off the top rope as well as a splash! The crowd was severely on his case and booed him when he signaled for the Muso, and didn’t like it any better when he hit it, but was won back when Taue kicked out of it.
Noticeably, Taue was in charge for most of the match which is what brings out the best in him. It wasn’t an easy victory though, he hit two I AM TAUEs and the Chihibu Concrete before hitting a final I AM TAUE to end the Rikioh experiment, and the crowd reaction was INSANE for the win! The fans rushed the ringside area and there were even a few that were CRYING for Taue’s win! NINE YEARS since his last singles title (the All Japan Triple Crown), Akira Taue is the old dog back on top of the hill again.Match Rating: ***1/2
Despite some pitfalls, this show easily rivals DESTINY as one of the best overall Puroresu shows of the year! A whole lotta goodness on the show makes it a show you HAVE to check out!