Pro Wrestling NOAH
NOAH 20th Anniversary NOAH The Chronicle Vol.4
Yokohama Budokan
Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan

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Mohamed Yone and FULL THROTTLE (Hajime Ohara, Seiki Yoshioka & YO-HEY) def. Junta Miyawaki,  Kinya Okada, Yasutaka Yano & Yoshiki Inamura

NOAH has a tremendous crop of young talent coming up right now. Junta looks like a natural in the ring, Okada has star potential and Inamura got great fire. I also like what I’ve seen of Yano so far though it’s a very limited set of evidence obviously since this was only his fifth match. Full Throttle is solid as an undercard act but I don’t need to see them in another title match again. They are perfectly fine trying to heat up the crowd in one of the first three matches on every show.

Kotaru Suzuki & Salveje de Oriente def. Kongo (Tadasuke & Hao)

A quick and entertaining match. Suzuki has had a low-key great year. But in kayfabe, he has now hit rock bottom. He has lost everything now his faction and his title. Suzuki’s big mystery party is a literal mystery as I have no idea who this is supposed to be. Rumors point to either Andy Wu or Jun Tonsho, but it also could be a new trainee or someone completely different. The match was too short to get a good view of the mystery man’s working style. Match itself is worked at a nice crisp pace and Suzuki is smooth as always. Mystery Man gets the pin in just over five minutes, which is the perfect length for this.

Sugiura-gun (Kazuyuki Fujita, NOSAWA out of the Question & Kendo Kashin) def. Kongo (Nio, Masa Kitamiya & Manabu Soya)

Ok match. Probably the weakest on the show but at least it was quick. A bit lumbering but that was to be expected given the participants. Not much of note happened and it’s also unlikely to factor into any of the ongoing storylines. It was a match that happened on this show.

Keiji Muto def. Shuhei Taniguchi

Took a bit to get going but ended up better than expected. Given that it’s Taniguchi who is 40 and has always been inconsistent and Muto who is 57 and on his fourth set of knees this was fine. Muto gave Taniguchi a lot, which isn’t necessarily always the case with his matches these days. His bump card is severely depleted so he’s fairly selective with who he is bumping for. Really felt like both men realized that this was a big show and gave it a big show effort as much as they could these days.

GHC Jr Tag Title
Stinger (Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA) def. Momo No Seishingun (Atsushi Kotoge & Daisuke Harada) (c)

Feels like 90% of this match is just Ogawa having Kotoge and Harada in holds. Not that I’m complaining he’s pretty good at that. The match goes too long though. But it’s better than their first match. The quality of the match drops significantly whenever Ogawa is not in there and Kotoge seems off as well. The less said about HAYATA the better. I hope he gives Ogawa regular back massages because it has to be sore from how much Ogawa has to carry him. Suzuki comes out to challenge. Brawl breaks out between Ogawa and Suzuki. That match should be great if it’s mostly Suzuki and Ogawa.

GHC National Title
Kenoh (c) def. Kaito Kiyomiya

Kenoh has dominated Kaito early in the latter’s career but Kaito won their last two matches. Can Kaito move the record closer to .500? Super fiery start as expected of these two. They just beat the shit out of each other right away. This feels like it’s a personal issue between these two, not just a match. Crazy leap by Kaito on a tope con hilo. His athleticism is not often talked about but it’s off the charts. He could probably do a 450 if he wanted to. Kenoh feels like he is working even stiffer than normally if that’s even possible. Kenoh nearly knocks Kaito out with a disgusting looking spin kick to the back of the head, but Kaito rallies back by dropkicking Kenoh in the face. He gets a deep nearfall with a Tiger Suplex. Then Kaito taps out to a sleeper. That was a very curious booking decision. Loved the match but the finish is suspect. Really felt Kaito should have won this. Though in the long term he’ll be fine since he is clearly going to become the ace of the promotion next year.

GHC Heavyweight Tag Title
Sugiura-gun (Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba) (c) Vs. M’s Alliance (Naomichi Marufuji & Masakatsu Funaki)

M’s Alliance comes out with Jurina Matsui who is a former idol that did some wrestling training with Tofu Pro Wrestling and now does commentary for NOAH sometimes. Sugiura-gun comes out with Chono wearing his sunglasses so they are instantly the cooler team. This is a fairly slow match which is not surprising given the miles on all of the participants. Marufuji just drops Sugiura headfirst onto the edge onto the apron with a nasty looking piledriver. Sugiura as the face in peril is a choice. He is actually fairly decent at but it’s weird to see him in this role. Normally he is not the type of guy that works from underneath.

Sakuraba gets the hot tag and we get a good chop battle between him and Marufuji. Sakuraba taps out Marufuji shortly thereafter. It was a match. The middle was a bit boring but a fine match otherwise. Good palate cleanser between the two big singles matches though. In the post-match Chono gets Jurina and Muto, who all did commentary for the match, to come into the ring. He tries to convince them to join Sugiura-gun but after pretending to go along with it they blow him off and Jurina slaps him. So that was a thing that happened I suppose.

GHC Heavyweight Title
Go Shiozaki (c) def. Katsuhiko Nakajima

This is the battle for NOAH’s soul. Go represents the honor of NOAH paying tribute to the pillars that came before him. Nakajima instead wants to tear it all down and rebuild the promotion in his image. Both men are just feeling each other out early on and you can feel the tension in the air. Go has acclimatized as champion really well and this has easily been the best run of his career. Nakajima takes an absolutely sick bump to the outside. He just barely missed the edge of the ring.

Go nearly gets shoot counted out and the ref has to remind him to get back in. Seemed like he wasn’t paying attention and lost count. Go’s arms being worked over for months finally catches up to him as he tries to chop Nakajima to no effect. Go summons the last strength left in his arms for some very stiff chops and lariats. Nakajima likewise is trying to cave in Go’s chest with kicks. Each time they hit each other a thud echoes through the arena.

Really good structure to the match. Nakajima entered the match as the heavy favorite to win but they build this match so well that I can’t help but root for a Go win. Super scary bump or a potential botch on a top rope Frankensteiner

Go almost gets knocked out and Nakajima just keeps pounding on him on the ground. This is just vicious stuff as Nakajima is trying to win at any cost and Go is desperately trying to fight back with whatever strength he has left. Go’s arm is so fucked that he can’t even hook the leg on a cover after a picture-perfect moonsault.

Holy shit Go wins

Absolutely amazing match. A top tier performance by Go who really carried this match. Nakajima was great too, but this was all about Go and him saving the company he loves from the devil. Sugiura challenged Go and Sakuraba challenged Kenoh afterward.

Final Thoughts

A solid overall show with two great matches. Kenoh vs Kaito delivered just as I expected it to, and Nakajima vs Go even managed to exceed my already high expectations. That match will definitely make my match of the year list and has a very good shot at the number one spot. The rest of the show was fine though nothing else even came close to the two singles title matches. Still, as long as the big matches keep delivering as they are right now, NOAH will remain one of the best promotions in Japan and the World.