Show kicks off with the in ring contract signing for the main event, as well as a short interview segment. Nice to see one of these things go down without one side attacking the other to build heat for the match.Ippei Ota VS Taiji Ishimori
Not a bad opener with Ishimori showing some interesting mat submission skills and Ota busting out a 38-rotation airplane spin! I get the feeling Ota could end up as the next Makoto Hashi; shows a lot of promise, but will be a LONG while before he gets anywhere. I love Ishimori’s modified package piledriver finisher too. Gotta figure out what it’s called.Match Rating: *Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi VS Takuma Sano & Mitsuo Momota
This match felt like it went longer than it should have and the comedy spots felt too forced and not natural. Even the ending when Kikuchi counted Momota’s cradle looked really weak as Kikuchi didn’t get all his body weight down for the pin. It started off with some promise, but fizzled out by the end.Match Rating: 1/2*Takeshi Rikioh & Mohammed Yone VS Akitoshi Saito & Kishin Kawabata
Fun match. Funny bit where Rikioh tried doing Yone’s long distance running knee attack from all the way out in the audience to the ring side area! Once again I was rooting for Kawabata, my guilty pleasure in NOAH. It almost looked like he had a chance when he no sold Yone’s lariat and caught him with a surprised powerslam for a near fall. I was also surprised that Yone was able to get up Kawabata’s big frame for the muscle-buster to end the match.Match Rating: *1/2
Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Mushiking Terry VS Akira Taue, Kentaro Shiga & Mushiking Joker
Because he’s the super hero, Mushiking Terry comes out by himself first. When the opposition team comes out, Shiga’s carrying a net and a bug collecting box! Taue is even wearing yakuza shades like Shiga! Shiga definitely has one of the most fun gimmicks to come out in a while, and yes, he actually managed to get the net on Terry at one point in the match! If Shiga bulked up just a bit, he could definitely make a more credible heavyweight.
I like Mushiking Joker and all, but I think sooner or later NOAH needs to introduce a new villain to feud with Terry. The two work excellently together no matter how you cut it though. Joker got a little extra in on this one as he actually took down Misawa twice in the match and even outsmarted Ogawa at one point countering his enzuguri with one of his own!
Taue is Taue, and he even managed to kick it up a gear with Misawa as the two had a speedy exchange of strikes and counters at one point. There were even a few funny moments between the two, which I guess they are practicing for when they finally move down to the comedy openers in a decade or two. It wouldn’t hurt if Misawa were a little more flexible like Taue is though.
The ending of the match sort of came out of nowhere though, as Terry used a high-angle Yoshi Tonic type cradle to get the pin. Solid showing from everyone involved at least, with more time given to the younger guys as usual.Match Rating: **1/2Takeshi Morishima VS Masao Inoue
It was a bit disappointing that the live crowd wasn’t much into this one. Even Morishima’s cartwheel corner splash got a dead reaction from the crowd. The crowd really did want to see Inoue get Morishima up in the Argentine Backbreaker though. They didn’t have any big spot moves like usual NOAH main event singles matches would, and the ending was a bit weak for my taste, with Morishima calling for an Argentine Backbreaker of his own, but turning it into a cradle which the announcer called the “Big Package-hold”, opposite of small package-hold, get it? Anyway, it looked rather weak and Inoue could have easily lifted a shoulder instead of struggling during the 3 count. I believe this is the only credible singles win Morishima would have before challenging for the GHC heavyweight title over 6 MONTHS later.Match Rating: **
Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA VS Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Aoki
First contact between Marufuji and Akiyama before their GHC heavyweight title match on 9/09/2006. Structure of the match was mostly the former GHC junior tag champions working over Aoki for most of the match, with short bursts offense between Akiyama and Marufuji in between. What little in match contact the champion and challenger had in the ring was pretty good, and I loved the spot where Marufuji used the referee to help himself get a boost to give Akiyama the Shiranui in the middle of the ring!
I like Aoki and all, and he showed something new I think in this match, a leg cradle backdrop-hold, but I think he sort of recovered a little too quickly after taking a long beating when he suddenly popped back up into the ring to help Akiyama. The kid will be awesome in the junior division in a year or two. KENTA spent most of the match stiffing Aoki around before finishing him with the Go2Sleep.
Solid match, but I’ve definitely seen better from these guys.Match Rating: **
I wonder what all the fireworks over the Tokyo skyline were about since it seemed to start just after the match and was a great visual to show.GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles: Ikuto Hidaka & Minoru Fujita [C] VS Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura
At first I was thinking that the defending champions had the challengers beat as far as team work goes, but they really proved me wrong as the match progressed, pulling out some great tandem offense, including a double brainbuster and Sugiura giving Kanemaru a release German suplex off the top to add more impact to his moonsault press!
The history of their first match also played a big part in the drama of this one as they almost had a similar situation where the referee was about to stop the match when Hidaka had Kanemaru in the Shawn’s Capture, but luckily Sugiura was able to make the save at the last minute. And it was thanks to Sugiura watching Kanemaru’s back that he was able to avenge his past loss and win back the tag titles from the outsider team.
Great match, and definitely on par with the first encounter. I just think the beginning bit where the champions worked over Kanemaru’s leg went a bit too long, but Kanemaru sold it well throughout the match.Match Rating: ***3/4Overall:
A mostly by the numbers show capped off by a great main event. It was interesting seeing the new champions do their interview outside with all the fireworks in the background.