SUWA & Akihito Ito VS Mitsuo Momota & Atsushi Aoki
I would have preferred seeing more of Momota VS SUWA in this one, as they’ve been developing quite a mini feud between the two and their exchanges were pretty heated with the crowd behind Momota. Aoki came off looking a lot better between the two rookies in this one, as Ito didn’t show anything unlike Aoki, who did a nice northern-lights suplex and an armbar on SUWA. It all came down to SUWA more or less intentionally avoiding contact with Momota, hitting the John Woo and the FFF on Aoki before pining him for the win, and than taunting Momota, leading to a brawl between the two all the way back up the ramp to the locker room.Match Rating: 1/2*
Masao Inoue, Kishin Kawabata & Ippei Ota VS Junji Izumuda, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Low Ki
Somebody needs to tell Ota not to hold back on his strikes too much, as they looked really weak with zero visual impact. He did do a fun multi-rotation airplane spin to Kanemaru though. I thought Low Ki and Kawabata had some fun exchanges, and could make for an interesting mini-feud, or at least a singles match. Izumuda delivered one NASTY sounding headbutt to Ota, and that was about it save for a few Mongolian Chops. Nothing much from Inoue either, and despite looking like the weak link of the team, Kanemaru bounced back rather nicely with his trademark moonsault as well as a brainbuster on Ota to score the win.Match Rating: 1/2*
Akitoshi Saito VS Jason Bates
This was really bad, and the crowd couldn’t care less either. It really would have helped “Street Fighter” Jason Bates if he at least tried to heel up the crowd a bit or the atmosphere of the match wouldn’t have been so boring. There was zero reaction for his Jaywalk finisher since the crowd probably also isn’t as familiar with him as he thinks. Saito wasn’t any better, and I didn’t get why Bates had to control most of the match considering Saito’s tendency to no-sell and be the tough guy. This was probably the first toilet break match of the night before the intermission.Match Rating: DUD
Akira Taue, Takuma Sano & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi VS Scorpio, Bison Smith & Bobby Fish
This was some what fun as they added a bit of comedy to the action, like the bit where Sano has Scorpio in a surfboard stretch, and Fish tries to help, but ends up slamming Scorpio on his face! Than, Sano has Fish in a cross-leglock, and Scorpio and Bison try to help but end up hurting Fish more! I think Taue could break the Masterlock also, since he was able to outsmart Bison and break his full-nelson here. Scopio scored the win with his 450’ splash on Kikuchi after an iron-claw-bomb by Bison, but I would have preferred if the gaijin team lost since Fish sucks and probably won’t be back any time soon for future tours.Match Rating: *
Jun Akiyama VS Shuhei Taniguchi
Taniguchi had a really good match with Rikioh at a SEM show, and he had another fun one here against the GHC heavyweight champion Akiyama.
Starts off with Akiyama wearing down Taniguchi with several submission holds, including a really pinfall looking overhead armbreaker, but Taniguchi manages to rebound and counter a suplex attempt into an Exploder! He than gives Akiyama a double-underhook suplex into a cross-armbreaker! Akiyama struggles to get to the ropes to break the hold. Taniguchi than tosses around Akiyama with several Greco-Roman throws, and gets a near fall with a beautiful German suplex-hold! They trade strikes, and Akiyama takes off Taniguchi’s head with a stiff lariat followed by a running knee strike for a near fall. Akiyama clamps on a Boston-crab, and Taniguchi just barely makes it to the ropes to break the hold. The crowd is really into it as they exchange strikes, but Akiyama ends it dropping Taniguchi on his head with a big time Exploder to pick up the win!
Solid effort by Taniguchi, and I really can’t wait to see him lock it up with Go Shiozaki.Match Rating: **
Takeshi Rikioh, Naomichi Marufuji & Kentaro Shiga VS Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Ricky Marvin
WHY would the referee actually overlook the brass knucks Shiga was wearing on his hand when checking the wrestlers for weapons? The guy didn’t notice until Shiga himself and his team mates pointed it out! Shiga is definitely the best “re-created” wrestler in NOAH today, thanks to his “aniki” gimmick and iron-perm. He works the comedy with his technical style really well, and I enjoyed seeing him actually out-wrestle Ogawa and counter everything into various submission or pinning combinations. Hopefully Shiga will quickly catch up to the form he was on before he was sidelined with injuries several years back.
Misawa sat out most of the match, which might not actually have been a bad thing as we got to see Marvin carry the load for his team, and Ogawa had to work some too despite still being an annoying rat that was hard to catch. Rikioh showed some mobility for his size, actually hitting a cross-body block on Misawa at one point, but was still continually foiled by Ogawa. Marufuji scored the win for his team hitting the Shiranui on Marvin for the pin. Enjoyable match overall, nothing too fancy, but gets the job done.Match Rating: **
Before the next match, we get a quick clip of Takashi Sugiura winning the junior battle royal the previous day to earn his title shot against KENTAt. The crowd seemed pretty dead for his win, probably cause it was rather predictable since KENTA did nominate him as his next challenger before the whole battle royal scenario came into play.GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title: KENTA VS Takashi Sugiura
Sugiura has all the Dark Agents and SUWA in his corner, KENTA’s got NOBODY!
You can always count on these two to bring it when in big match mode. The match started off with the usual ground work, but then they took it up a notch and laid it into each other with some really stiff kicking. That’s right, Sugiura pulled out low and middle kicks! He even hit KENTA with his own Busaikyu Knee Kick! I really liked that they kept the out of ring brawling to a minimum, and they even teased a rather dangerous spot where Sugiura tried to Olympic Slam KENTA off the apron to the floor, but at the last second, KENTA flipped over and DDT’d Sugiura on the apron!
They took it another level once they were back in the ring as started with the big throws and heavy slams. They then pulled off one of the best sequences I’ve seen all year when they started giving each other face kicks, which lead to KENTA giving Sugiura a fisherman’s suplex, Sugiura giving KENTA a side backdrop suplex, KENTA giving Sugiura a release German suplex, Sugiura flipping KENTA onto his face with a big release German suplex, and finished with both men colliding in mid-air attempting jumping face kicks!
Sugiura was than able to catch KENTA in mid air out of the Busaikyu Knee and counter it into an ankle-lock! KENTA escapes and Sugiura hits an Olympic Slam for a near fall. Sugiura tries to set up KENTA for a top-rope Olympic Slam, but KENTA counters it into a super fisherman’s buster for a near fall! KENTA scores another near fall with a barrage of hard head kicks. They get to their feet and start exchanging slaps, which soon turn into clenched fist punches! KENTA hits the Busaikyu Knee for another near fall!
Than, out of a page from Kurt Angle’s book, Sugiura catches KENTA’s leg in mid-air out of the Go2Sleep and counters it into the ankle-lock! KENTA fights to reach the ropes, but Sugiura stomps his head several times and drags him back to the center of the ring and drops down in a leg-grapevine! KENTA fights for all he’s worth, but he eventually TAPS OUT to the hold! NEW CHAMPION!
What I really enjoyed about the finish was that KENTA actually tapped out, and the match wasn’t stopped by the referee, making Sugiura’s win all the more credible. A great match overall, with really nothing to complain about. I’m really hoping that Sugiura can be pushed up the heavyweight ranks someday, as he’s got the size and ability to be more than credible.Match Rating: ****GHC Tag Team Titles: Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone VS Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda
Much like when they first won the tag titles two years ago, Kobashi was all about putting Honda over in this one, and Honda delivered again putting in a strong performance much like the last time. Honda took the bump of the night when Yone gave him a Muscle Buster out on the floor, and Honda also had the comeback of the night when after taking a barrage of punishment as well as a second Muscle Buster, he sprang back to life and delivered Dead Ends like there was no tomorrow to both tag champions! The crowd went nuts for him like two years ago, with a “Tamon” chant breaking out as he hit the cross-armed Dead End on Yone to win the belts.
Kobashi’s mobility is shot thanks to his artificial knees, but he still does more on his feet than most healthy workers in this business. I’m still rather surprised at all the ways he’s found to deliver a simple chop. Whether it’s a straight forward machine gun chop barrage, or teaming with Honda to deliver a backdrop / chop combination! He didn’t take any monster bumps like he usually does in big matches, but he take a pair of Morishima backdrop suplexes, as well as getting stiffed the Hell out by the big man’s Vader Hammers. He even took a half-nelson from Yone before rebounding later and giving big Morishima one. But like I said, in the end it was all about giving Honda the spotlight to shine this time around as he held back Morishima, giving him a wicked lariat out on the entrance ramp leaving Honda free to finish Yone.
They lost the match, but the former champions had nothing to be ashamed of in their performance, and walked out with their heads held high.
I didn’t think the match was as good as the first time they won the titles from Akiyama & Saito, but it was a solid back and forth brawl between the young and the old guard. The crowd was into it, and the even though he isn’t a spring chicken, we’re heavily backing Honda and popped big for when he scored the win.Match Rating: ***1/2
The show dragged a bit at the start, but ended up strong. The junior title match is definitely a must see, and the main event is goodness for the Honda fans. Sadly, the main event would be the last big match Kobashi would have before being diagnosed with a tumor in his kidneys, and he’s been out recovering from surgery ever since.