Interestingly enough, they start off with a clip from earlier in the day of Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi & Haruka Eigen visiting the Tokyo Giants during their training at the Tokyo Dome next door to Korakuen Hall.Mohammed Yone & Daisuke Ikeda VS Tamon Honda & Yoshinori Ota
It’s interesting to see that NOAH aren’t holding down the rookies to just doing basics, as Ota managed to get in a pretty good swinging bulldog on Ikeda, and tried for something out of a fireman’s carry before Ikeda escaped. He also took some wicked punishment including several painfully stiff kicks to the head from Ikeda. I also liked that it was the Ikeda-Lock and not the Boston crab or single leg crab of rookie doom that ended the match.
There was also this really fun spot where Honda locked Yone in a standing shoulder lock, and swung him like a weapon at Ikeda before slamming him down in the Rolling Olympic Hell.Match Rating: 1/2*Minoru Suzuki & SUWA VS Akira Taue & Atsushi Aoki
Hats off to Aoki as he took a heck of a beating, but still showed some fire here. MiSuzuki pulled a Nakamura here when he locked a chicken wing armlock on Aoki out of a German suplex, but Aoki actually managed to fight to his feet instead of tapping out! He also did this sweet armlock counter out of a bodyslam on SUWA!
I like the MiSuzuki/SUWA heel tandem. They just fit each other as a team and it was fun when they played up dissention between them only blindside Aoki! It was also interesting seeing MiSuzuki counter Taue’s nadoa otoshi into an armbar. And Taue of course was just his old fun self to follow.Match Rating: 1/2*Takeshi Rikioh & Takeshi Morishima VS Scorpio & Keith Walker
This was really forgettable. Walker is a big buff American from WLW and resembles Batista a bit, but is still a bit green and has nowhere near the presence Batista has. He didn’t even show anywhere near the level of skill that the rookies in the 2 previous matches had. Give me Bison Smith anyday.Match Rating: 1/4*GHC Heavyweight Title No.1 Contenders Tournament: Shuhei Taniguchi VS Masao Inoue
The beginning of the Masao Inoue Cinderella story, and they seemed to put him as the underdog since the first round as Taniguchi controlled a majority of the match! Taniguchi looks a bit like a young Takao Omori, and is actually bigger than Inoue here and showed some good mat skills. But Taniguchi was given more offense than that, as he was also able to counter many of Inoue’s moves, including the Argentine Backbreaker at one point in the match. Is it just me also, or do all the NOAH rookies have SWEET German suplexes? Taniguchi even almost did a dead-lift German on Inoue!
I’m liking what I’m seeing in Taniguchi, and team of him and Go Shiozaki should make for a great underdog team, if not a heated rivalry.Match Rating: *1/2GHC Heavyweight Title No.1 Contenders Tournament: Junji Izumuda VS Takuma Sano
They both worked hard here, but this was one of those matches that felt like it went too long. There were some fun bits, like Sano breaking a chair over Izumuda’s head, and Izumuda no sold it due to his hard cranium. Izumuda than hit a barrage of diving head butts, followed by Sano hitting a barrage of German suplexes. Sano even managed to hit a second rope brainbuster on big Izumuda, and Izu managed a second rope diamond cutter! The fans were in to it, but not all that much, like me.Match Rating: *Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Ricky Marvin VS Doug Williams, Nigel McGuinness & Eddie Edwards
I guess this match was mostly about pushing Marvin since he has a Global Hardcore Crown title match coming up in a week. I don’t really have any complaints since the guy is seriously talented and entertaining to watch. He even did a tribute to Eddie Guerrero as he hit a springboard frog splash while shouting “Ariba la Razza!”, and I was surprised though that he picked up the win with one of Mike Modest’s finishers.
Ogawa & Marvin worked a brunt of the match, and it was interesting seeing Ogawa trade mat holds with Williams & McGuinness. I enjoy the rather unique offense the two brits bring to the match. Edwards on the other hand was seriously nothing to shout about here. Good look, but nothing much else.Match Rating: **Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kentaro Shiga VS Akitoshi Saito, Takashi Sugiura & Kishin Kawabata
Rather fun start to this one as GHC champion Akiyama came out wearing sunglasses, and he then brought out Shiga who was doing the same! Shiga looked rather bad ass in the shades, compared to his usually dorky look. I think Akiyama is taking Shiga under his wing since they have been tagging together a lot recently.
The match was a good back and forth affair with everyone getting their shots in, and even a bit of comedy from Akiyama & Shiga, Akiyama repeatedly covering Kawabata and asking the referee to count for a handful of 2 counts, and Shiga seems to be playing up a some kind of suave pretty boy look as he adjusts his hair a lot.
There wasn’t a lot from Akiyama in this one, but everyone else worked hard to make it enjoyable. Kanemaru really does seem to be in the process of being phased out as Sugiura controlled a lot of their exchanges, and Shiga and Kawabata had some good exchanges as well, and Shiga picked up the win with a modified cross-armed cradle move.Match Rating: **Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi VS KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji
The story of the match was the rivalry between Kobashi & KENTA, and how they constantly try to cheapshot each other, but sentimental favorite Kikuchi’s performance won the fans over more in my opinion. He took a beating, but more than held his own and dished it out with his younger opponents. Kikuchi even did a awesome modified variation of his Fireball-bomb where he flipped KENTA over and dropped him on his head with a DDT! His facial mannerisms when he blocked KENTA so he couldn’t help Marufuji was priceless too.
I hate to admit that sometimes it’s hard to watch Kobashi with his limited mobility thanks to his bad knees, and I do tire of his heavy chop offense after a while, but it was still fun watching him here. There was this great spot where he did the machinegun chops to Marufuji in the corner, and Marufuji held both his hands up to block the chops, but Kobashi chopped away anyway till Marufuji’s arms hurt and he dropped his defense leaving him open to the chops!
KENTA continues to be the arrogant little bastard as he took every chance he got to cheapshot Kobashi. He really did seem to stiff Kobashi with his kicks now and then too. It’s good that he’s not intimidated by a guy that’s bigger and stronger than him. I really would like to see him have a junior title defense against Kikuchi though.Match Rating: ***Overall:
Good show overall with a solid main event as they start the road to the Budokan and the Cinderella story of Masao Inoue. Check back soon for my review of the Budokan show.