NOAH in Korakuen Hall Day 1 – New Sunrise
January 4, 2020
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. 1539 in attendance. I’ve not been watching NOAH. Ever since they switched to a white ring I switched off. I’ve pretty much missed the entire Kiyomiya title run!
50 Funky Powers (Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm) vs. Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue
50 Funky Powers are one of my favourite tag teams.
How can you not love a disco afro and a beefy short man. Across the ring are the veteran duo of Saito and Inoue. Saito can still go, a bit. Inoue has been quite bad for years. He’s basically a comedy opening act at best. I would love this to be a heavily edited show where you basically just see 50 Funky Powers entrance and the finish of the match because there’s nothing else to see here. Saito, now aged 54, has deteriorated since I last saw him and Inoue totally sucks. The finish is Inoue fluke cradling Yone for the win. This was not good.
Final Rating: *
RATEL’s (Tadasuke & YO-HEY) vs. Hitoshi Kumano & Seiya Morohashi
This is an upgrade. I personally love Tadasuke although he’s trying a little too hard to be a technician here, which isn’t really his strength. He also spends a good chunk of the match essentially hulking up on Kumano, which is an interesting use of the Hogan style. In fact you could argue his entire gimmick in this match is being Hulk Hogan only with a flashier moveset, which is A Choice. He is still fun to watch but I prefer his plucky underdog act that he wheels out against stronger opponents.
Final Rating: **1/2
El Hijo del Dr Wagner Jr & Hajime Ohara vs. Shuhei Taniguchi & Daisuke Harada
A mixed heavyweight/junior tag here with long time rivals Harada and Ohara playing second fiddle to AAA’s El Hijo del Dr Wagner Jr and former masked man Taniguchi. There’s a deeper lying puro vs. lucha backbone with Ohara having trained in Mexico. Harada is no dummy and his ‘coping with lucha’ defensive moveset is quite effective. Taniguchi opting for smashmouth and hoping no one notices the clash of styles. Harada and Ohara, to no one’s surprise, have the best sequences in the match. It reminded me how much I missed NOAH’s junior division. Ohara out-wrestles Harada but Harada promptly overpowers him and connects with a bunch of strikes to set up the German suplex. This was really good when the heavyweights stayed out of it.
Final Rating: ***
Kenoh & Yoshiki Inamura vs. Hideki Suzuki & Kinya Okada
Inamura is a fucking hoss. A big beefy mohawked motherfucker. He’s been wrestling for about 18 months but looks like he’s been around for a lot longer. Okada is a year in and keen to prove himself against a bad dude like Kenoh.
Kenoh stoically refuses to sell *ANYTHING* here. He won’t even move. He stands in the corner and shrugs off everything. He is an absolute bastard. Then he drags Okada into his own corner and forces him to tag Suzuki. This is some elite tier rookie trolling. It’s made additionally funny by everyone else just having a normal match around this behaviour. So Inamura gets knocked flying by a dropkick but the much smaller Kenoh shrugs off three in a row and knocks Okada out cold with a high kick. This was hilarious. I wish more people would treat rookies like total shit. Make them earn their way up the ladder. There’s a great post match with Suzuki choking out a celebrating Kenoh and getting into a brawl with Inamura! Great stuff.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Video Control takes us backstage and Kenoh is still going after Suzuki while he’s trying to conduct an interview!
Doug Williams & Chris Ridgeway vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Minoru Tanaka
Old Douglas is out of retirement and on tour. Wrestling retirements never stick. Doug looks a little rough, which is why he retired in the first place. He’s gained weight and can’t really bump anymore. He can still do mat switches and counter wrestling so the match isn’t a total loss.
It’s weird seeing Riddy go toe to toe with Marufuji. It’s not the smoothest of work but I’m happy another Brit has gotten a Japanese gig and is doing well out there. He seems more comfortable working Tanaka. I wouldn’t call any of his work here ‘good’ but he doesn’t look out of place. Tanaka is hands down the best worker in the match. He’s smooth, stylish and effective. He makes Ridgeway look like a million bucks. Sadly he has no chemistry with Doug whatsoever and they try dodging spots that Doug is too slow for. Chaos Theory finishes.
Final Rating: **1/2
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Michael Elgin
Say what you like about Elgin as a person but the dude is a great pro wrestler and it’s bizarre to me that New Japan let him go. But also he’s complete trash. This feels like an undercard G1 match that nobody cares about. It’s going on right after intermission and Okada, Ibushi and Tanahashi all have matches to come. Elgin puts on a decent performance, as does Nakajima. Both landing some lovely snug looking strikes. Elgin with his upper body power, Nakajima throwing kicks. There is a feeling that the match doesn’t quite hit that higher level that it could. Elgin finishes with three powerbombs. I really liked this but they put on a very good midcard bout rather than going all out to steal the show.
Final Rating: ***1/2
GHC Junior Tag Team Championship
Stinger (Atsushi Kotoge & Kotaro Suzuki) (c) vs. Hao & Nio
What happened to Kotoge being a heavyweight? Did that not stick? Hao & Nio are from Michi-Pro. I’m sure I’ve seen them before but I don’t remember them. Nio does really dumb spots. I like Hao better because his tactic in this match appears to be to run into Suzuki as fast as possible and then get merked. The match feels like it was put together by someone who’s been hit in the head too many times. Nio gets dropped on his head just before the finish and then decides to put both hands down in a weird bump for Kotoge’s Killswitch finisher. This was an odd mess of a match.
Final Rating: **
GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship
HAYATA (c) vs. Yoshinari Ogawa
When did Ogawa last have a good singles match? Asking for a point of reference on this one. It’s been at least ten years. Fifteen? Maybe longer.
Now he looks like Johnny Ramone’s zombie corpse back from the dead to kick someone’s ass. It’s like someone in the back told him he was getting 10 minutes for this match because he couldn’t go 20 anymore and he was all “I’m going twenty fucking minutes pal, and I’m beating the fuck out of this punk while I’m at it”. Ogawa absolutely decimates HAYATA’s leg. It’s a solid fuck you to the younger generation. As the match progressed I started running Ogawa matches through my head trying to remember a singles match on this level. The best I could come up with was his work towards the end of his All Japan run. That was 20 years ago! Wrestling will never cease to amaze me. It’s not just that he tries hard here, like really hard, it’s the structuring of the match and the style and panache of his performance. The timing of everything and the battle that HAYATA has to go through thanks to Ogawa’s relentless assault on his leg. The only bad thing about the match is that HAYATA can’t deliver on his part of the bargain. He can’t sell effectively to make all that leg work mean something. It’s Ogawa who has to carry that part of the match too, showing fatigue and constantly going to the leg to remind HAYATA of his responsibilities and putting everything into making the near falls believable. The match magically switches from HAYATA struggles to Ogawa’s capability to fight from underneath. Absorbing all of HAYATA’s abuse finding counters. The roll up finish has people literally jumping for joy! What a match this was. Not all of the leg work paid off here but enough did for me to give it a pass on the selling and the rest of the structure was great. Ogawa having a great singles match? This is unheard of. It’s the first Ogawa match to be ‘recommended’ on Cagematch in 11 years.
Final Rating: ****
GHC National Championship
Takashi Sugiura (c) vs. Masa Kitamiya
Hey, welcome to another installment of ‘Takashi Sugiura is somehow still alive and well’. In this week’s show Kitamiya dumps him knees first onto the apron and I’m in agony watching it. Kitamiya’s brutal dissection of the leg is not what I was expecting on the back of another leg match but it certainly works. The match has main event elements including Sugiura making a comeback by German suplexing Kitamiya on the floor. They’re not fucking around here. I love that Sugiura has trouble standing so he just kneels down and tees off with forearms until Kitamiya’s eyes roll into the back of his head. There is a major selling issue with Sugiura giving up on selling, which is a pretty big flaw. As with Ogawa before it’s Kitamiya who reminds his opponent of the injury.
The set up work is generally awkward and the urge is always there to just unload big bombs and have a laugh. I’d rather they’d just started the match punching each other in the face but hey, it may take a while to get there but ‘get there’ this match certainly does. After a series of escalating violence Sugiura finishes with the Olympic Slam off the top. Great stuff.
Final Rating: ****
Kaito Kiyomiya (c) vs. Go Shiozaki
I’ve missed Kiyomiya’s entire run. He took up the mantle of leadership in this promotion when it desperately needed someone to succeed. I’m glad he had a good run with the belt.
It seems NOAH fans have finally accepted that Go Shiozaki is at home here, and not just some son of a bitch who took All Japan cash and fucked off there for three years. He’s been back for five! Some people have long memories. Kiyomiya seems a little put off by the crowd reacting favourably for Go and proceeds to attempt to break his arm. Gotta do something to reduce the chop frequency. Go just resist the urge to use his injured arm sadly and we get the third match in a row where a wrestler has targeted a body part to improve their chances and the opponent has been a jerk about selling it. Go does pay tribute a little bit by landing the chop and then selling afterwards. I guess I’ll just have to take that.
Anyway, NOAH main events have an irritating habit of doing a load of nothing for minutes on end and then picking up suddenly and really grabbing my attention. It’s like New Japan main events, only worse because the standard is usually lower. Kiyomiya has made a main event career of doing Misawa’s spots and looking handsome in green. Here’s Go Shiozaki turning up to kick out of Misawa’s spots and look handsome in green. It’s a match made in heaven really. Not that Go is immune from hitting Misawa spots and makes a point of using the rolling elbow. There’s also that Kobashi training influence and Go using the chops, lariat and moonsault. At one point Go hits a lariat so hard that it removes Kaito’s soul. Go makes a bizarre decision on the finish, after slipping on the ropes, and trying to blame it on a bum knee. That was the other match mate! Moonsault finishes. I enjoyed this a great deal but I don’t think it was the classic I keep seeing it billed as.
Final Rating: ****1/4