Pro Wrestling NOAH
Great Voyage in Yokohama VOL.2
December 16, 2018
Yokohama Bunka Gymnasium

Lin Dong Xuan, Mizuki Watase def.  Kinya Okada, Yoshiki Inamura

Nothing of note happened here in our first match. The majority of this match just lacked a sense of urgency.  This match featured Mizuki Watase from DDT. Unfortunately, he did nothing to impress me here, as this match was mostly centered around the 2 rookies. Inamura was solid here, as he showed good fire, and the audience generally reacted to him ( something that would be a problem on this show), Okada still has a lot more to work on. Dong-Xuan submits Okada with a Boston crab

50 Funky Powers (Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm), Akitoshi Saito & Shiro Koshinaka def. Hooligans (Cody Hall, KAZMA SAKAMOTO & Mitsuya Nagai) & Masao Inoue 

The Hooligans (as per usual) attacked their opponents before the bell, with some crowd brawling ensuing. This was lifeless. Nothing they did in these five minutes elicited a response from the crowd. To add to that, the finish came out of absolutely nowhere. This was just a nothing match, that served to get the rest the hooligans on the show. The two teams continued brawling post-match. 

RATEL’S (Tadasuke, YO-HEY, HAYATA) def. Koji Kanemoto, Seiya Morohashi, Junta

This match was noteworthy as it could’ve been the last time RATEL’S teamed together. This was much better than the previous two matches. They were given more time, but they made use of it, and it never felt like it dragged. Everyone got a chance to shine and show their stuff. Miyawaki was also given plenty of time in this (this is relevant for later) and was solid. He seems to have gained confidence and looks much better in the ring than before. Kanemoto was also pretty enjoyable here, and I’d like for him to stick around in NOAH. RATEL’S are victorious in what could be their last tag match. 

Masa Kitamiya, Atsushi Kotoge, KENOH def. Kazusada Higuchi, Kota Umeda & Nobuhiro Shimatani

Similar to the previous match, they also made good use of their time here. The DDT guys here were given much more offense and time than their contemporaries. The final few minutes just flew by. The exchanges between Kenoh and Umeda, in particular, were a joy to watch, and I would definitely watch further action between the two. Shimatani also played a good underdog, only to be defeated by Kenoh.

Doug Williams def. Yoshinari Ogawa

Doug Williams recently announced his retirement, and as such came back to have one last match in NOAH. Unfortunately, I regret to say that I am not familiar with a lot of Doug Williams’s work (despite many recommendations). This match didn’t necessarily make me want to go out of my way to watch more. I can appreciate what they tried to do here, as they tried to have a much different match than others on the show. They had a more technical/grappling based match up, with Ogawa working on William’s knees, and Williams returning the favor by targeting Ogawa’s arm. Williams is 46, and Ogawa is 52 (and rarely works singles matches anymore), so I wasn’t expecting a barn burner here, but I can’t help but be slightly disappointed. It doesn’t help that the crowd was dead for the majority of this. This wasn’t bad but had nothing that stood out.

Post-match the two shake hands and Williams is given a final round of applause, before exiting through a NOAH curtain for the final time.

GHC Junior Tag Team Championship
Back Breakers ( Hitoshi Kumano and Hajime Ohara) def. Hi69 & Minoru Tanaka (c) 

This was our first title match of the night. All of these guys are talented, so I was looking forward to this.

This match was notable as it featured Kumano’s first title win of his career. As a guy who originally was indifferent to Kumano, this Back Breakers team has done wonders for him, and I’m enjoying him currently more than I ever have. Teaming with Ohara seems to have given him new life. The crowd was firmly on the side of the back breakers. The champions however targeted Kumano from the get-go, and isolated him, not allowing him to tag in Ohara.

The match picked up when Kumano managed to tag Ohara in, and after that, the match kicked into high gear, with the Back Breakers doing all they could to unseat the new champions. The champions did all they could to put down the challengers, but Kumano would not give in and managed to survive everything that was thrown at him. He eventually got the win on Hi69 with the Argentine Backbreaker. 

This was far from a blow away match, but the stuff they did here was solid, and I enjoyed the story they told. The payoff to the Back Breakers story was satisfying, as they were FINALLY able to get it done.

The ending was a feel-good moment, and Kumano getting the win for his team felt right. It’s unfortunate that the finish was slightly botched (with Kumano dropping Hi69 the first time he had him up for the Argentine backbreaker) but overall, this was a fun watch.

Post-match, Seiya Morohashi and Junta Miyawaki came out to challenge the new champions. Ohara reminds the audience that Miyawaki has yet to pick up a win yet, and as such should have an evaluation match before giving him a title shot (A non-title match between Miyawaki and Morohashi vs the champs was scheduled. While they probably have no chance of winning, it’ll be interesting to see how Miyawaki ( who has yet to get a win) fairs in a serious environment.

GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship
Daisuke Harada def. Kotaro Suzuki ©

These two have been involved in an intense feud over the past couple of months. Suzuki’s return to NOAH has been full of great matches, and his dismantling of RATEL’S has made for a compelling narrative. In the time he’s been in NOAH, he defeated Harada during the Global Jr league, beat YO-HEY in the finals of said tournament, beat Harada again for the title, and then went on to defeat both HAYATA and Tadasuke to retain his championship.  Suzuki granted Harada a rematch, but only under the condition that if he lost, RATEL’S would be forced to disband. Throughout the buildup to this feud, Harada has been furious, showing a side he has never shown before. 

I thought this was really good. As their interactions have been very intense, they wasted little time and went at it right at the start of the bell. Harada fought like hell and threw all he could muster at Suzuki, to save his stable and his title. The offense was brutal ( at one point Harada frighteningly dropped Suzuki on his head with a vicious beach break). The only criticism I have of this match is that the finish came slightly out of nowhere, but other than that, this was great. I’m not sure if I prefer this to their previous matches, but if you’re new to NOAH, I can safely recommend all of Suzuki’s matches since his return.

Post-match, YO-HEY superkicks Harada, Tadasuke, and HAYATA, and leaves with Ogawa and Suzuki. While I loved RATEL’S the way they were (trust me, I needed some time to recover from this), the fact that YO-HEY and Harada are going to feud for the strap is definitely something I’m looking forward to. Harada works best when he’s angry, and if it’s one thing the eventual match between the two will have, it’s heat. Count me in.

GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Maybach Taniguchi and Yuji Hino def. Go Shiozaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima (c)

Yuji Hino was recently brought into NOAH as a new member of the Hooligans stable. Hino is someone who (deservedly) gained a lot of exposure amongst western fans with his solid performance in this year’s Champion Carnival. Since his debut in NOAH, he’s mocked both Nakajima and Shiozaki and made his intentions to challenge for their titles known

The goals of this match were obvious, make Hino look like a beast, and attract sympathy for Shiozaki. While they may not have succeeded due to a quiet crowd, they tried their damn hardest.

I enjoyed the story they told here. Go was busted open very early in the match, and lost an INSANE amount of blood (like JBL-Guerrero level of blood), and the Hooligans took advantage of this, isolating him immediately. Hino would chop Shiozaki, and blood would permeate the air. Go did his best to survive, and after a relentless beatdown, was able to make the hot tag to Nakajima. I enjoyed a lot of the stuff they did here, especially the story of Go surviving, and Nakajima picking up the slack to give Go time to recover, all while making Hino look like a beast. The champs at one point looked like they were about to grab the victory, but Nagai pulled the ref out before he could count the 3 and the Hooligans ran wild. Kotoge ran out for the save, and was doing quite well, until Hino stopped him right in his tracks. The challengers then made quick work of Shiozaki and won the tag belts.

Your enjoyment of this match will depend on how much you care about the crowd in a wrestling match. The lack of reactions despite their best effort was disheartening, but I still legitimately enjoyed this. Hino looked dominant, and I’m looking forward to seeing him more in NOAH, as he gives the Hooligans some legitimacy.

All that aside, the visual of a bloody Shiozaki barely surviving is something that will stick with me well into the new year.

GHC Heavyweight Championship
Kaito Kiyomiya def. Takashi Sugiura (c)

This match was to decide the future of NOAH.

Kaito Kiyomiya has had a historic year. He returned to NOAH a nervous young man, unable to deal with the newfound spotlight. He unsuccessfully challenged Kenoh for the GHC, and to find his footing, teamed with Go Shiozaki. Under Shiozaki, Kiyomiya was able to adjust to his new role, winning Noah’s tag league, and eventually winning the GHC tag titles for his team. He then went on to become the youngest person to win Global League, pinning the champ on his way to the tournament finals, and challenging Sugiura after his tournament victory.

Sugiura has had no less of a notable year. Despite undergoing surgery, he came back, and at age 48, has put forth a legit WOTY case, with his incredible title reign. He’s had so many great matches, with such a wide variety of opponents, and he’s definitely not getting enough recognition for his great work.

In a show where all three other title matches went under 20 minutes, if there was one match that deserved to go long, it was this one. 

While I do not know if this is up there with the other defenses in the Sugiura reign, I thought that the action here was great. Kiyomiya finally overcoming the beat was great to see. He withstood everything Sugiura threw at him, and just wrestled the better match, despite Sugiura fighting like a madman to keep his title. The only thing holding this back was the fact that the crowd was not nearly as loud as one would think they should be. Kiyomiya finally beat the unbeatable champion, and the reaction he got when he won definitely did not reflect that. I still highly recommend this, but the reaction was slightly underwhelming. 

Post-match Kenoh comes out and challenges Kiyomiya. The match is set for January 6. One year later, we’re in the same spot, with the roles reversed. I’m really looking forward to how their match will differ from their encounter last year, as both wrestlers now find themselves in two completely different situations. I fully expect Kiyomiya to walk away with the win and start a long title reign.

Final Thoughts

This show was a mixed bag. The crowd was inconsistent throughout the whole event, even utterly silent in some matches. Apparently, they were mic’d poorly, as fans who were in attendance stated that the crowd responded well to the show. Moreover, a lot of the undercard dragged, and it took a while for the show to get going.

This show was nothing if not newsworthy, though. We got four title changes, heel turns, and the payoff to many feuds. We saw Kumano win his first title in his career, Harada saved his stable, only to get betrayed, Yuji Hino was established as a dominant force in NOAH, and Kiyomiya finally accomplished the impossible, hopefully ushering NOAH into a new era. While this show featured no MOTY contenders, I can safely recommend all four title matches. With four new champions, a fiery challenger, and a stacked roster, now is the best opportunity to board the ark.