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NOAH the REBORN & The Global Tag League
Not a huge news month for NOAH since the focus has been on the Global Tag League, which is always a rather uneventful tour/tournaments, but some minor pieces of news nonetheless.
First of all, Impact Wrestling’s Bram was pulled from the tournament three shows in for posting an inappropriate picture of himself on Instagram, which depicts him laying in a freezer in a Japanese convenience store. What would possess this man to think doing such a thing and then posting a picture of himself doing such a thing for the world to see would be a good idea, I don’t know. If I’m invited to Japan for work, I’m on my best possible behavior and doing everything I can to make a good impression. It takes a real idiot to pull a stunt like Bram did. Utter disrespect on his end and NOAH was well within their rights to remove him from the tour and publicly shame him for embarrassing not only himself but the company as well. His partner Robbie E has instead been teaming with KAZMA SAKAMOTO in non-tournament matches. NOAH seems to like SAKAMOTO but for whatever reason doesn’t want to book him regularly. Maybe that’s his choice, who knows. Maybe we’ll see more of him down the line. Can’t help but feel bad for Robbie E though. Very unfortunate situation.
May 3rd and May 4th are back-to-back Korakuen dates as Kaito Kiyomiya and Takuya Nomura take on Cody Hall and Randy Reign, Go Shiozaki and Atsushi Kotoge take on Kenoh and Takashi Sugiura, and Katsuhiko Nakajima and Masa Kitamiya take on Muhammed Yone and Akitoshi Saito on the 3rd, and then obviously the two remaining teams taking on one another on the 4th. Will be interesting to see how those shows draw as well considering the last one they ran on April 14th only drew 824 fans even with a tag title match in the main event, where Naomichi Marufuji and Maybach Taniguchi were crowned new champions. We’ll have to see what happens, because on paper you’d expect a Marufuji tag title match on top to draw. Could have been coincidental, again, who knows. In other news, Hajime Ohara defends his junior title against HAYATA on May 27th in what’s sure to be a fun match. Ohara and Kumano failed to capture the junior tag titles on April 22nd as Taiji Ishimori and Hi69 continue to dominant, so this will be Ohara’s chance to redeem himself.
All Japan Pro Wrestling & The Champion Carnival
All Japan drew 1,588 to Korakuen for opening day of the Champion Carnival on the 16th with Kento Miyahara vs. Jake Lee, Joe Doering vs. Daisuke Sekimoto and Suwama vs. Shuji Ishikawa on top, a rare sellout for the promotion and a nice improvement over the past two years as they did 1,299 for Miyahara vs. Kengo Mashimo last year and 707 for Shiozaki vs. Suwama the year before.
Needless to say, there’s been some clear progression when it comes to attendance this year, all shows throughout the tournament drawing very well. Ishikawa won by defeating Suwama on the 30th, in which you can read my review and full thoughts of on the site at some point. In short, however, I personally didn’t love the tournament as much as some did. Not that it was bad by any means, it’s impossible to have a bad tournament with the names involved, it just didn’t meet my expectations and was solid at best when it had potential to be great. It peaked on opening day and dragged along from there. Miyahara was an obvious standout and had some good matches, Sekimoto was good as always, Jake Lee was probably the MVP with all things considered, KAI, Bodyguard and Suwama stepped up their game and delivered the best they could, Ishikawa was good, Zeus was good, and everyone else was kinda…there. Takao Omori was the only one I’d say was actively bad. So again, by no means was it not a good tournament, it just wasn’t great and most of the shows were entirely skippable, at least in my opinion. Like I mentioned, some did enjoy it.
We also saw the junior title change hands this month as Hikaru Sato defeated Keisuke Ishii in the main event of the April 28th show, which is interesting considering Miyahara wrestled Ryouji Sai in a singles match on that show. I’m not thrilled about Sato being champion but I wasn’t exactly in love with Ishii’s reign either so hey, I’ll take it. It also means that Koji Iwamoto is possibly in line for a title shot since he beat Sato to win the Junior Battle of Glory. Aside from that, this was another light news month for All Japan.
Endless Survivor, one of Big Japan’s biggest shows of the year, takes place on May 5th in Yokohama, headlined by Abdullah Kobayashi vs. Masaya Takahashi for the Deathmatch title and Hideki Suzuki vs. Yuji Okabayashi for the Strong title. Okabayashi earned his shot by defeating Daichi Hashimoto on the 9th, while Takahashi earned his by winning the Deathmatch Survivor tournament the night before, both good matches. Shingo Takagi also made a Big Japan appearance this month as he worked the April 21st Osaka house show where he teamed with Okabayashi against Hashimoto and Hideyoshi Kamitani in what was another good match, though tough to watch because of the terrible production.
Old man Great Kojika returned on the 28th for his 75th birthday anniversary show, held in Korakuen Hall in front of a 1,035 people, which is not a great number by Big Japan standards and considering how weak of a card it was, it’s no surprise why they drew so poorly. I probably wouldn’t bother either if the main event is Abdullah Kobayashi and Ryuji Ito vs. Masaya Takahashi and Takayuki Ueki, and I know some Big Japan fans still enjoy the deathmatch guys but it didn’t draw well, so hey.
DDT & DNA
Konosuke Takeshita and Tetsuya Endo went to a 60-minute draw on the the April 29th Korakuen show as the former friends and now bitter rivals fought to the death over Takeshita’s KO-D Openweight title, presumably setting up another match down the line. In the meantime, Takeshita will be defending against newly crowned tag champion Yoshihiro Takayama on May 28th, a week after challenging him and Danshoku Dino for their titles with Akito, his new tag partner and stablemate. Takayama and Dino also won these titles on the 29th by defeating Masakatsu Funaki and Yukio Sakaguchi. As all DDT Korakuen shows do, it drew around 1,635 and was broadcasted live on DDT Universe. And speaking of tag titles, DDT will be debuting ten-man tag titles on August 20th in Sumo Hall. If there’s one thing you can’t accuse DDT of, it’s being unoriginal, because where else are you going to see ten-man tag titles? Not six-man, not eight-man…ten-man tag titles. It was also announced that Sanshiro Takagi will be taking on Minoru Suzuki on the June 1st Tokyo Dome Street Wrestling show, which is sure to be a happening.
DNA is running Korakuen on May 10th with Mike Bailey vs. Kazusada Higuchi, Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Kouki Iwasaki, Konosuke Takeshita vs. Yuki Ueno, Go Shiozaki vs. Dai Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku vs. MAO and LEONA vs. Mizuki Watase. A lot of big names in there, so I’m sure it’ll draw well.
813 for WRESTLE-1’s April 19th Korakuen, which is around what they usually do nowadays.
Shotaro Ashino retained his title over Shuji Kondo in the main event and was challenged by Manabu Soya, who seems to get a title shot every other month – a testament to how thin the roster is. He gets his shot on May 4th. Koji Doi and Kumagoro also retained their titles over Daiki Inaba and Yusuke Kodama and were then challenged by former W-1 champion Masayuki Kono and…Takanori Ito? I don’t know. Ito’s been wrestling for ten minutes and hasn’t been given any semblance of a push up until this point, so this really came out of nowhere. And lastly, Seiki Yoshioka lost his title to Andy Wu and was challenged by former champion MAZADA, which again is a testament to how thin the roster is, MAZADA having just lost the title to Yoshioka two months ago. Jiro Kuroshio makes his from injury return at the May 4th Korakuen as he takes on Shuji Kondo as well.
JWP shut their doors on April 2nd as they take a hiatus until August, when they’ll return with a new identity known as PURE-J.
Hanako Nakamori retained her title over Tsubasa Kuragaki in the main event in front of 1,180 people, although I’m unsure whether or not she’ll be coming into the promotion as champion upon return. While it’s possible they keep the title on her, it’s also possible they crown a new champion to get a fresh start. We’ll see.
Sendai Girls had a really good show in Korakuen on 6th as well with two of the best women’s wrestling matches of the year in Meiko Satomura vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto and Aja Kong vs. Chihiro Hashimoto where Hashimoto won her title back. 1,050 was the number, slightly less than what JWP did a few days earlier but slightly more than some of the other promotions I’ve talked about, including OZ Academy six days later. Not a great number by any means but not bad for Sendai Girls.
Toni Storm won Stardom’s Cinderella tournament on April 29th and will thus get a title shot against Io Shirai some time in the near future while Mayu Iwatani gets a shot against Kairi Hojo. In other Stardom news, Kagetsu announced that she’ll be stepping away from wrestling for a little while. She gave worked reasoning as to why she was stepping away such as losing a lot of her matches, so I’m hopeful it’s not all that serious and she’ll be back soon.
Odds & Ends
- Kenta Kobashi announced the full card for the June 14th Fortune Dream show. As follows, Daisuke Sekimoto and Suwama take on Shingo Takagi and Kohei Sato, Yoshihiro Takayama and Shuji Ishikawa take on Joe Doering and James Raideen, Yuji Okabayashi and Kaito Kiyomiya take on Go Shiozaki and Takuya Nomura, Meiko Satomura and Mika Shirahime take on Hiroyo Matsumoto and Konami, and Kotaro Suzuki takes on Kazihiro Tamura. Kobashi will also be hosting a special talk battle with Manami Toyota.
- Kota Ibushi showed up in K-DOJO to face TAKA Michinoku at the April 23rd Korakuen, drawing 1,096 as Kengo Mashimo also defended his title against Ayato Yoshida. Isami Kodaka will be getting the next shot at Mashimo on May 28th, Mashimo’s biggest challenge yet.
- It was announced that Suwama will be working FMW in June as part of a feud with Atsushi Onita.
- GUTS World will be running Korakuen on May 5th, the same day as Big Japan’s Endless Survivor and Dragon Gate’s DEAD or ALIVE. Masked Mystery will be defending his title against Daisuke in the main event.
- Sean Guinness won ZERO1’s Tenka-Ichi junior tournament on April 26th, a show that also saw Masato Tanaka retain his title over James Raideen.
- BASARA did 775 fans for their second ever Korakuen show on April 29th, with a main event of Trans Am Ryuichi vs. Ryota Nakatsu, Isami Kodaka vs. Yuji Okabayashi, Dick Togo vs. Yusuke Kubo among other matches. BASARA also announced the blocks for their Itadaki League with Trans Am Ryuichi, Takumi Tsukamoto, Ryuichi Sekine, Yusuke Kubo, Daichi Kazato and new rookie Takato Nakano making up Block A and Trans Am Hiroshi, Isami Kodaka, FUMA, Ryota Nakatsu, SAGAT and Goma Ryu making up the Block B. It starts on May 4th and runs through July 5th.
- DRADITION drew 2,473 to Korakuen on April 20th for Tatsumi Fujinami’s 45th anniversary, headlined by him, Shiro Koshinaka and Riki Choshu vs. Akira Nogami, Vader and Keiji Mutoh.
Recommended Matches (****+)
- Ryouji Sai, Zeus & Jake Lee vs. Kengo Mashimo, Daisuke Sekimoto & Kento Miyahara – AJPW Growin’ Up Volume 1 – March 27th (****)
- Hideyoshi Kamitani, Daichi Hashimoto & Ryota Hama vs. Kohei Sato, Shuji Ishikawa & Yuji Okabayashi – BJW Deathmatch Survivor – March 30th (****)
- Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Hideki Suzuki – BJW Deathmatch Survivor – March 30th (****1/4)
- K-ness, Jimmy Kagetora & Jimmy Kanda vs. CIMA, Dragon Kid & Takehiro Yamamura – Dragon Gate Gate of Passion – April 1st (****)
- Ryo Saito & Jimmy Susumu vs. Cyber Kong & Shingo Takagi – Dragon Gate Gate of Passion – April 1st (****)
- BxB Hulk, YAMATO & Kzy vs. Naruki Doi, Ben-K & Big R Shimizu – Dragon Gate Gate of Passion – April 1st (****1/4)
- Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Ikuto Hidaka – ZERO1 Tenka-Ichi Jr. League – April 4th (****)
- Meiko Satomura vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto – Sendai Girls – April 6th (****)
- Aja Kong vs. Chihiro Hashimoto – Sendai Girls – April 6th (****1/4)
- Atsushi Kotoge & Go Shiozaki vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya – NOAH Countdown to Global Tag League – April 11th (****)
- Masked Mystery, Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Fuminori Abe vs. Daisuke, TORU & Joji Otani – GUTS World Bukotsu Shobu – April 11th (****)
- Masa Kitamiya vs. Atsushi Kotoge – NOAH Countdown to Global Tag League – April 14th (****)
- Kenoh & Takashi Sugiura vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi – NOAH Countdown to Global Tag League – April 14th (****)
- Jake Lee vs. Kento Miyahara – AJPW Champion Carnival – April 16th (****1/4)
- Joe Doering vs. Daisuke Sekimoto – AJPW Champion Carnival – April 16th (****)
- Suwama vs. Shuji Ishikawa – AJPW Champion Carnival – April 16th (****1/4)
- Seiki Yoshioka vs. Andy Wu – WRESTLE-1 Tour 2017 Cherry Blossom – April 19th (****)
- Kengo Mashimo vs. Suwama – AJPW Champion Carnival – April 22nd (****)
- Kento Miyahara vs. Joe Doering – AJPW Champion Carnival – April 22nd (****)
- Hi69 & Taiji Ishimori vs. Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano – NOAH Global Tag League – April 22nd (****)
- Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya – NOAH Global Tag League – April 22nd (****)
- Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Kento Miyahara – AJPW Champion Carnival – April 25th (****)
- Konosuke Takeshita vs. Tetsuya Endo – DDT Max Bump – April 29th (****)