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NOAH the REBORN
A newsworthy month for NOAH as they wrapped up the Global Tag League with back-to-back Korakuen shows on the 3rd and the 4th, the former drawing 813 fans and the latter drawing 1,390, a pretty solid number for them. GHC tag champions Naomichi Marufuji and Maybach Taniguchi won the tournament by defeating Go Shiozaki and Atsushi Kotoge in what was one of the better tag matches this year, and were then challenged by Cody Hall and Randy Reign, who beat them on April 29th. Also on that show was Muhammad Yone knocking out Katsuhiko Nakajima in the semi-main event, thus setting up a GHC title match for June 4th, where Hall and Reign will get their shot and Kenoh will take on Kotoge to determine Nakajima’s next challenger once he beats Yone as well.
Hajime Ohara lost his junior title to HAYATA on the 27th in Osaka, a result I personally am not very fond of. Ohara was arguably the best junior champion NOAH had in years and was arguably the highlight of the promotion this year, where as HAYATA, while not a bad wrestler, has not yet established himself as someone who should be holding the title. He’s defending it against Ishimori in June so maybe he’s being used as a transitional champion, but why not just have Ohara lose to Ishimori? Who knows. Speaking of juniors, the junior tag league will be taking place between July 13th and July 27th. Teams have not yet been announced.
In a huge piece of news, Quiet Storm will be making his return on June 20th in Yokohama as he and the King of Funk Style Muhammad Yone take on Marufuji and Maybach in a non-title match. Unbelievably huge piece of news there. It appears NOAH has some pretty big plans for Brian Cage as well as they had him beat Shiozaki in a nine-minute singles match on the 27th. He faces Takashi Sugiura on that June 4th Korakuen show. Lastly, the Emerald Spirits Misawa memorial tour will take place between the 16th and the 22nd of June.
All Japan Pro Wrestling
Kento Miyahara lost his Triple Crown title to Shuji Ishikawa on May 21st in Korakuen as All Japan presumably builds towards the Sumo Hall show in August where Miyahara will inevitably get his win back. Everyone was shocked when the news broke but once you think about it for a second it makes sense. Ishikawa is one of the hottest wrestlers in the country, so he was their best option to headline with. Kengo Mashimo and KAI also beat Zeus and Bodyguard for the tag titles on that show in what was a very short match. Interestingly enough, Zeus and Bodyguard defended the titles against Daichi Hashimoto and Hideyoshi Kamitani a day before. Utterly bizarre booking. It was one of many Korakuen shows William Regal attended while scouting for NXT, also including Big Japan, Stardom, Dragon Gate, New Japan and NOAH, which was part of the reason everyone was alarmed by the results. It drew 1,315 fans, one of their better crowds this year.
Ishikawa defends against Miyahara’s tag partner Jake Lee on June 11th, by far the biggest match of Lee’s career and a good defense for Ishikawa in terms of both storyline and quality. His next challenger will be determined on the same show as Miyahara takes on Suwama. Other upcoming title matches include Hikaru Sato vs. Yohei Nakajima for the junior title, which Sato retained over Black Tiger in Korakuen, and Jun Akiyama vs. Yutaka Yoshie for the GAORA TV title, which Akiyama retained over Mitsuya Nagai in Korakuen.
Big Japan Wrestling
A big month for Big Japan with their two huge shows in the May 5th Endless Survivor and the May 25th Korakuen, headlined by Abdullah Kobayashi vs. Masaya Takahashi for the Deathmatch title (won by Takahashi) and Hideki Suzuki vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani for the Strong title (won by Suzuki) respectively. Endless Survivor drew 1,850 fans to the Yokohama Cultural Gym, slightly down from last year’s show with Ryuji Ito vs. Masaya Takashi and Yuji Okabayashi vs. Shuji Ishikawa. Suzuki defended his title against Okabayashi and Daisuke Sekimoto teamed with Masato Tanaka against Kamitani and Daichi Hashimoto on the same show. Korakuen was also down from all of their previous shows even with a strong main and semi-main event in Suzuki vs. Kamitani and a tag title match between Sekimoto and Okabayashi and challengers Ryota Hama and Yasufumi Nakanoue, only drawing 912 fans. Sekimoto and Okabayashi, obviously retaining over Hama and Nakanoue, went on to defend against the Speed of Sounds on the 28th in what was an excellent house show match. Yoshihisa Uto and Daichi Hashimoto will have a singles match sometime in June to determine Hideki’s next challenger. With Uto and Hideki being in the same group and with Uto having already gotten a shot at the Strong title earlier in the year, expect Hashimoto to win there.
Big Japan announced the return of their junior title early in the month as they run a six-man round-robin tournament to crown a new champion, which will end at the July 17th Sumo Hall show. Kazuki Hashimoto, Shinobu, Tatsuhiko Yoshino, Takuya Nomura, Toshiyuki Sakuda and rookie Yuya Aoki are the six participants. For those unaware, Homicide was the last man to hold this title.
DDT & DNA
Yoshihiro Takayama was injured at the beginning of the month and was thus pulled from all events he was scheduled for, including the May 28th Korakuen where he was scheduled to take on Konosuke Takeshita for the KO-D title. He was replaced by veteran Yasu Urano, who wrestled his last match as a member of the roster. As a result of him being injured, Takayama also had to vacate the tag titles he and Dino won not too long ago, with new champions being crowned in Kazusada Higuchi and Shigehiro Irie as they defeated Takeshita and Akito in a decision match on the 21st. First in line for a shot are HARASHIMA and Soma Takao on June 11th. Speaking of Higuchi, he has his last DNA match on July 4th in Korakuen as him and Ryota Nakatsu take on Kouki Iwasaki and the future star of the brand Naomi Yoshimura. He had a really good match with Mike Bailey in the building on May 10th, drawing 796 fans to DDT’s 1,384 on the 28th. Koji Kanemoto vs. Mizuki Watase and Shunma Katsumata vs. Yuki Ueno are the other announced matches for July 4th.
King of DDT begins on June 2nd in Shinjuku FACE with Daisuke Sasaki taking on Akito, Masa Takanashi taking on Kazuki Hirata, KUDO taking on Soma Takao, Tetsuya Endo taking on Mike Bailey, Yukio Sakaguchi taking on Shunma Katsumata, HARASHIMA taking on Higuchi, Keisuke Ishii taking on Danshoku Dino and Shigehiro Irie taking on Mad Paulie. Lots of good matches there. By the time you read this the results will already be known.
WRESTLE-1 drew 904 to Korakuen on May 4th with Shotaro Ashino defending his title against Manabu Soya in the main event. Masayuki Kono and Takanori Ito beat Kumagoro and Koji Doi for the tag belts and MAZADA beat Andy Wu for the cruiserweight belt on the show as well, with the tag match especially being great. Ito looked like a million bucks and is probably the best thing the company has produced in years, so keep an eye on him. Imagine Kevin Owens if Kevin Owens did Masaaki Mochizuki kicks and moved around like a junior, because that’s basically him. Ashino retained over Soya, who gets a title shot every other month but always delivers. Not a bad show for a promotion that has had a super dry year.
June 6th is when they return to Korakuen, with Ashino defending again Koji Doi, Kono and Ito defending against Soya and Ganseki Tanaka, MAZADA defending against Kaz Hayashi and Jiro Kuroshio taking on Shuji Kondo in a rematch from the 4th, this time with the stipulation that Jiro will be stripped of his jacket should he lose. Another pretty fun card there, though ballsy with a main event like that. I guess this is Ashino’s chance to prove himself as a draw considering Doi is still relatively new and none of those other matches are particularly special from a business perspective.
A one-day tournament was announced for July 12th consisting of eight men, with the winner going on to challenge the champion two months later at the big Yokohama show on September 2nd. WRESTLE-1 is also sending their rookie Kohei Fujimura on excursion to Mexico this summer, which is a pretty big piece of news since it’s rare that they send their rookies away. Considering how they used Yusuke Kodama upon return, it must mean they have plans for Fujimura and see something in him.
Kairi Hojo and Io Shirai are both jobbing on the way out of the territory as Hojo heads to Florida and Io gets ready to defend her title against Mayu Iwatani, who already beat Hojo for her title and will obviously beat Io as well as Stardom positions her as their top star. As reported by Dave Meltzer, Io will not be participating in the Mae Young Classic (what a stupid name) since she has to wrap things up in Japan before she reports to the Florida territory with Hojo. Io and Toni Storm went to a 30-minute draw in front of 968 fans in Korakuen on the 14th, the second of two great matches on the show next to Hojo vs. Iwatani. Toni Storm may be another name Stardom is losing since WWE is bringing her in for the tournament, which is unfortunate for them considering they’ve built her up as a key player in the promotion for the past year now and is very popular.
Aside from that, this was an extremely quiet month for joshi. Very few big matches, no big announcements. Rina Yamashita headlined two Korakuens for WAVE and SEAdLINNNG respectively, losing to Misaki Ohata in WAVE on the 3rd in front of 488 fans as part of their Catch the WAVE tournament and then to Yoshiko on the 24th in front of 924. Hikaru Shida became the top contender to Hiroyo Matsumoto’s OZ Academy title by defeating Mayumi Ozaki on the 14th. Lastly, Risa Sera retained her title over Akane Fujita on the May 28th Ice Ribbon show in a hardcore match.
Odds & Ends
- Atsushi Onita holds his retirement show on October 31st in Korakuen.
- Hideki Suzuki will be replacing Takayama on the June 14th Fortune Dream show as him and Ishikawa take on Joe Doering and James Raideen.
- Kazuhiro Tamura vs. Daisuke Kanehira was announced for the August 12th HEAT-UP Korakuen.
- Two wrestler produce shows were announced with Daisuke Masaoka vs. Minoru Fujita being the main event of Jun Kasai’s Korakuen show on July 5th and Yankee Two Kenju vs. Strong BJ being the main event of Yuko Miyamoto’s show in Hiroshima on September 23rd, which may or may not be for Strong BJ’s Big Japan tag titles.
- Atsushi Onita, Ichiro Yaguchi and Hideki Hosaka vs. Suwama, Atsushi Aoki and Hikaru Sato is the main event of the June 8th FMW show as the feud between Suwama and Onita rolls on.
- Kikutaro and Koharu Hinata vs. Kotaro Suzuki and Heidi Katrina, Kaz Hayashi and BxB Hulk vs. SUSHI and Chikara, Kazushi Sakuraba and Machine Gundan vs. Hikaru Sato and Rocky Kawamura and Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Yuko Miyamoto are the announced matches for the July 19th Tokyo Gurentai. Unfortunate use of Hulk but otherwise a decent card.
- Masashi Takeda will be wrestling for Game Changer Wrestling on June 3rd in New Jersey.
- Michinoku Pro is running a rare Korakuen show on June 18th with a main event of Jinsei Shinzaki and the Brahman brothers vs. Sasuke and the new Sailor Boys (Brahman brothers being the former Sailor Boys). Ikuto Hidaka and Minoru Fujita will defend their tag titles against Yapperman 3 (Misaki Ohata) and Yapperman 4 on the show as well.
- Daisuke won the GUTS World title by defeating Masked Mystery on the May 5th Korakuen, which did 703 fans. Dick Togo and Yuko Miyamoto had a very good match on the show.
- Shinjiro Otani and Tatsuhito Takaiwa lost their NWA International Lightweight titles to Ikuto Hidaka and Takuya Sugawara, Kotaro Suzuki retained his junior titles over Sean Guinness, Hideki Suzuki and Kohei Sato lost their NWA Intercontinental tag titles to KAI and Yusaku Obata and Masato Tanaka retained his title over Shogun Okamoto in Korakuen on May 21st for ZERO1.
- Isami Kodaka defends his newly won K-DOJO title against TAKA Michinoku sometime in June as former champion Kengo Mashimo moves on to challenge Kaji Tamato and Taishi Takizawa with Tank Nagai on June 4th. Nagai’s other tag partner Yuki Sato, also known as Kenbai in Michinoku Pro, will be making his way over to America for Powerbomb TV’s Break the Barrier show on June 11th.
- Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Kagetsu – OZ Academy SAKURAHANASAKU – April 12th (****)
- T-Hawk & El Lindaman vs. Ben-K & Big R Shimizu – Dragon Gate Gate of Passion – April 23rd (****)
- CIMA & Dragon Kid vs. K-ness & Jimmy Kanda – Dragon Gate Gate of Passion – April 23rd (****1/4)
- BxB Hulk & Naruki Doi vs. Cyber Kong & Shingo Takagi – Dragon Gate Gate of Passion – April 23rd (****1/4)
- TAKA Michinoku vs. Kota Ibushi – K-DOJO 15th Anniversary Club-K Super Evolution 15 – April 23rd (****1/4)
- Tank Nagai & Yuki Sato vs. Kaji Tomato & Taishi Takizawa – K-DOJO 15th Anniversary Club-K Super Evolution 15 – April 23rd (****)
- Kento Miyahara vs. Zeus – AJPW Champion Carnival – April 26th (****1/4)
- Zeus, KAI & Ryouji Sai vs. Kento Miyahara, Daisuke Sekimoto & Kengo Mashimo – AJPW Champion Carnival – April 30th (****)
- Shuji Ishikawa vs. Joe Doering – AJPW Champion Carnival – April 30th (****1/4)
- Koji Doi & Kumagoro vs. Masayuki Kono & Takanori Ito – WRESTLE-1 Tour 2017 Triumpth – May 4th (****1/4)
- Shotaro Ashino vs. Manabu Soya – WRESTLE-1 Tour 2017 Triumpth – May 4th (****)
- Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi – May 4th (****1/4)
- Arisa Nakajima & Tsukasa Fujimoto vs. Nanae Takahashi & Sareee – SEAdLINNNG Golden Go! Go! – May 5th (****1/2)
- Masato Tanaka & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani & Daichi Hashimoto – BJW Endless Survivor – May 5th (****1/4)
- Hideki Suzuki vs. Yuji Okabayashi – BJW Endless Survivor – May 5th (****)
- Kairi Hojo vs. Mayu Iwatani – Stardom Gold – May 14th (****)
- Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm – Stardom Gold – May 14th (****1/4)
- Keiji Mutoh, BxB Hulk & YAMATO vs. T-Hawk, Cyber Kong & Shingo Takagi – Dragon Gate Shingo Takagi Homecoming – May 14th (****)
- Akito & Konosuke Takeshita vs. Kazusada Higuchi & Shigehiro Irie – DDT Road to Ryogoku ~ Dramatic Dream Tower – May 21st (****)
- Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi vs. Hercules Senga & Tsutomu Oosugi – BJW Death Market 38 – May 28th (****)
- Konosuke Takeshita vs. Yasu Urano – DDT Audience – May 28th (****)