OCTOBER 1, 2017

This Sunday, NOAH returns to Yokohama’s Cultural Gymnasium for Pro Wrestling NOAH GREAT VOYAGE 2017 in YOKOHAMA vol.2. As the show’s name implies, this will be NOAH’s second time at the building this year. Their previous stop was in March; headlined by an excellent match between Katsuhiko Nakajima and Go Shiozaki. Like last time, NOAH has brought in quite the varied cast of supporting characters to fill out an eleven-match card. I’ll be attending the show and we will have a review up shortly after the show airs on October 8th.

Yoshinari Ogawa, Ashley Istria & Seiya Morohashi vs Masao Inoue, Tadasuke & Junta Miyawaki

If I remember the details correctly, this was originally supposed to be a tag match with Masao and Tadasuke against Ogawa and Bullet Club member, Scott D’Amore. Unfortunately, D’Amore was forced out with a knee injury. Fun fact: D’Amore’s last match in Japan was at Ryogoku for AJPW in 2008: he teamed with an unmasked SUSHI and Joe Doering against Shuji Kondo, “brother” YASSHI and Aaron Aguilera.

A quick who’s who: Longtime AJPW/NOAH fans will be familiar with veterans Ogawa and Masao. RATEL’S member Tadasuke recently signed full-time with NOAH. This will be my first time seeing Australian Ashley Istria, but he’s been working in NOAH since August. From the little I’ve seen, Morohashi basically does a Chris Benoit tribute act. I think Ogawa will beat the rookie, Junta. Prediction: Yoshinari Ogawa, Ashley Istria & Seiya Morohashi

Kenoh & Daisuke Ikeda vs Ross Von Erich & Marshall Von Erich

Daisuke Ikeda has been back in NOAH since this August. Along with Ogawa, Masao and Marufuji, Ikeda is one of four wrestlers on this card that also wrested on NOAH’s first ever show back in August 2000. Outside of NOAH, Ikeda is most well-known for his work in Battlarts.

I haven’t seen this generation of the Von Erichs. They have been listed on the NOAH roster page for years, but have not worked in the company since November 2013. In fact, since their last NOAH tour almost four years ago, they have apparently worked a total of seventeen matches. Although my expectations for this match aren’t very high, Kenoh is one of the best wrestlers on the roster. It’ll also be cool to see Ikeda in person for the first time. I expect Kenoh to pin Marshall. Prediction: Kenoh & Daisuke Ikeda

Cody Hall vs Eli Drake

Eli Drake is the current GFW (?) Impact World Heavyweight champion, but I haven’t seen him work since his short NXT run in 2013. I have no idea what kind of match these guys will work, but I imagine it will take me back to time in Central Florida. I’m expecting Drake to win this. Prediction: Eli Drake

Hajime Ohara & Ultimo Ninja vs Hi69 & Garza Jr.

I’m honestly not familiar with Ninja or Garza, but Ohara and Hi69 are both excellent. In fact, I would have liked to see both guys in a more prominent role on the card. Nonetheless, this should be a good, short, and fun sprint. I expect Ohara to get the win for his team. Prediction: Hajime Ohara & Ultimo Ninja

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Hitoshi Kumano vs Minoru Tanaka

This match is a last-minute addition to the card and one of the biggest singles matches of Kumano’s career. At NOAH’s recent Korakuen show, 44 year-old freelancer Minoru Tanaka announced that he would be coming to NOAH with the goal of winning the GHC Jr. title. I assume this came about due to Tanaka’s relationship with new NOAH boss Masayuki Uchida. Tanaka is one of my favorite wrestlers ever and I’m excited to see him in this environment. This is Tanaka’s first match in NOAH since an epic junior tag with Jushin Thunder Liger against Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi on April 7, 2002.  I expect Minoru to win in his NOAH return. Prediction: Minoru Tanaka

Tatsumi Fujinami, Mitsuya Nagai & LEONA vs Maybach Taniguchi, Akitoshi Saito & Shiro Koshinaka

I did not expect to see Tatsumi Fujinami taking on Heisei Ishingun members in NOAH the REBORN, but I’ll take it for nostalgia alone. Prediction: Tatsumi Fujinami, Mitsuya Nagai & LEONA

Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya vs Moose & Yuji Okabayashi

I am very surprised to see Katsuhiko Nakajima in what might be a pre-intermission, non-title tag match. He has been the focal point of NOAH the REBORN since defeating Takashi Sugiura for the GHC title back in October 2016 in this building.  He and Kitamiya had a failed, tag title challenge back in July, but I suppose they will be focusing on that division in the short-term.

Moose returns to NOAH for the first time since their last BunTai show (the venue’s Japanese nickname Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan). The outright randomness of a Moose/Okabayashi tag team is a good enough reason to check this show out. Okabayashi worked some NOAH shows back in 2014/2015. He’s a great addition to any card, particularly in a tag team match with a hard-striking and/or similarly burly opponents. That’s exactly what we got, and my expectations are high. I’d like to see Moose pin Katsuhiko to set up a singles match, so that’s my prediction. Prediction: Moose & Yuji Okabayashi

GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: HAYATA & YO-HEY (c) vs Shunma Katsumata & MAO

Shunma and MAO earned this title shot by beating the current champions back on July 15th during NOAH’s junior tag league. This should be a great junior sprint tag. I expect the champions to retain against the young DNA duo. Prediction: HAYATA & YO-HEY

GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title: Taiji Ishimori (c) vs Daisuke Harada

Harada earned this title shot by winning a short two-night tournament; beating Ohara in the final on August 12th. This doesn’t seem like a fresh match-up, but these guys haven’t actually had a singles match since August 2013. This will be crisp and could even steal the show. I expect Ishimori to win in his second defense. Prediction: Taiji Ishimori

GHC Tag Team Titles: Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge (c) vs Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm

Shiozaki and Kotoge have been linked closely since the latter turned heavyweight. After a short rivalry to start the year, GoToge (credit: me) made it to the finals of the Global Tag League in May, but lost to Maketara Owari (Marufuji & Taniguchi; it means “If we lose, it’s over”in Japanese). They eventually ended the title run and partnership of Marufuji and Taniguchi by capturing the tag titles in August.

50 Funky Powers (Storm and Yone) were supposed to get a title shot last December, but Quiet Storm missed 6 months with a bicep injury. I think this match will be pretty brutal; I expect GoToge to be successful in their first defense. Prediction: Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge

GHC Heavyweight Title: Eddie Edwards (c) vs Naomichi Marufuji

Eddie abruptly ended Katsuhiko’s long GHC reign back in August at Korakuen. I really enjoy Eddie in this environment. I haven’t seen his recent work in other promotions, but he always works hard on the green mat. It seems like NOAH fans accept him as a one of “their” guys. The timing of the title change is a little weird heading into their biggest show of the second half of the year. I guess NOAH just wants to save Marufuji versus Katsuhiko: they haven’t faced each other in almost three years.

Marufuji is an interesting first challenger for the new champion: he has been kept away from the title picture since losing his V1 defense against Takashi Sugiura in January 2016 in this very building. When motivated, Marufuji is still an elite worker. I expect these guys to go all out for a traditional NOAH-style epic in the main event. Marufuji is by far the biggest star on the NOAH roster and would be a good pick to win. As I’ve been saying all year, I’m just not sure where the ark goes next. Prediction: Naomichi Marufuji