Pro-Wrestling NOAH
NOAH Destination 2021
February 12, 2021
Nippon Budokan
Tokyo, Japan



Akitoshi Saito def. Kinya Okada

Yasutaka Yano, Atsushi Kotoge & Daiki Inaba def. FULL THROTTLE (Hajime Ohara & YO-HEY) & Kai Fujimora

M’s Alliance (Masaaki Mochizuki & Masato Tanaka) def. Mohammed Yone & Shuhei Taniguchi

Sugiura-gun (Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kazunari Murakami, Kendo Kashin & NOSAWA Rongai) def. Kongo (Katsuhiko Nakajima, Masa Kitamiya, Manabu Soya, Tadasuke, Hao & Nio)

The undercard was very solid and it’s a shame that most people that watched the show live did not see it. Saito vs Okada was the usual young boy squash opener. Okada should hopefully soon move on from opening match duty. He has a lot of potential but is already in his late 20s so if NOAH wants to build him up properly they need to start soon.

The Tanaka & Mochizuki vs Yone & Taniguchi match was a great hart hitting sprint. Hopefully, we get more of the Mochi & Tanaka tag team going forward as they have very good chemistry and their styles mesh very well. The Sugiura-gun vs Kongo tag match went as expected as well and everyone got their brief moment to shine. I know everyone is a fan of Murakami wrestling in a suit. But honestly, he looks like a dope and the suit looks like shit. It is a bit of a shame that Nakajima after his great 2020 was relegated to a match like this. With that said he has a tag title match coming up so he’ll bounce right back up the card soon.

GHC Junior Tag Championships
Stinger (Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA) (c) def. Kotaro Suzuki and Ikuto Hidaka

This was good for a NOAH Junior tag title match but there is a limitation on how good these matches can be. It definitely helped that the three good workers in the match were the ones taking the majority of it. HAYATA did not stand out in this match and his team with Ogawa is incredibly one-sided talent-wise. I hope Ogawa leaves this dead weight behind quickly once this title reign ends.

I am happy to see Hidaka get more bookings in bigger promotions recently. He had been Japan’s best kept junior heavyweight secret since he mainly wrestled in Zero1, whose junior division gets zero buzz. He would be a great veteran presence in the NOAH junior division though I wouldn’t mind if he kept bouncing promotions around a little so more people get exposed to this great wrestler. I hope that this is finally the end of the Stinger vs Suzuki feud and both sides can move on to something else now.

GHC Junior Championship
Seiki Yoshioka def. Daisuke Harada (c)

This absolutely kicked ass. I’ve been a fan of Yoshioka since his turn in WRESTLE-1 to join Strong Hearts. Beforehand he had been a somewhat bland babyface and was just a face in the crowd although obviously talented. That turn really elevated him to another level and showed that he could be more than just a guy. This match presents a similar elevation for him. Winning the belt on the first show back in Budokan from the guy that had been carrying NOAH’s junior division in the past couple of years is a big deal and hopefully, his reign will reflect that going forward.

Best match of Harada’s reign and the best match of Yoshioka’s career so far. Just hard-hitting fast-paced action all throughout. Yoshioka now has a ton of fresh matchups with the entire NOAH junior division and I hope he isn’t just a quick transition champ to another Kotoge title reign. ****

Kaito Kiyomiya & Yoshiki Inamura def. Jun Akiyama & Naomichi Marufuji

This match was all about putting over the new generation, which is the right call. Especially Inamura was getting put over big time. He just threw around two of the promotions biggest legends like they were nothing. It really feels like Inamura is being built up as NOAH’s next big hoss. Kaito meanwhile took most of the heat in this match as he usually does. But the combined force of Jun Akiyama and Naomichi Marufuji not being able to put him down shows his resilience and in the end, he was the one to get the win for his team.

At first, it seemed like they were going to set up a Kaito vs Akiyama singles match, but based on them having a chat post-match it seems like this might have been just another Akiyama one-off. With NOAH and DDT likely working together a lot more going forward and Akiyama winning the K-OD title, a match between them is not off the table entirely.

Very good effort by both teams and the right decision made by the booking team. This felt like a passing of the torch moment as NOAH is now moving on from the Marufuji era to the Kaito Kiyomia era. Kaito is ready for the top spot and based on the post-match of the main event he will get there very soon.

GHC National Championship
Kenoh (c) def. Masakatsu Funaki

A great if somewhat short match. All of Kenoh’s title matches since he started facing off against former MMA guys have been on the shorter side and hopefully, that continues with his next challenger. I am not very excited about Kendo Kashin being the next challenger. He wasn’t very good 20 years ago and he definitely is not good now.

Funaki was in control for almost all of it but Kenoh escapes by the skin of his teeth. This was a great showcase for Funaki to show off his offense and Kenoh showed some grit managing to survive Funaki’s onslaught. On the other hand, it doesn’t exactly portray Kenoh as a strong champion either. Nevertheless, both men did very well in this match and it felt like a title match on a big show.

Kenoh cuts a nice post-match promo about fulfilling his dream of taking NOAH back to the Budokan.

GHC Heavyweight Championship
Keiji Muto def. Go Shiozaki (c)

This match was a sloppy mess and I loved it.

Muto may barely be able to bend his legs but he knows how to make it feel like a big match. From the video package to the entrances, to the match all the way to the finish and the post-match this felt like a big deal. Muto is simply one of the biggest legends in wrestling and even at 58 years old him challenging for one of the major belts for the first time is something special. As I said before the match itself was incredibly sloppy but that also did not matter at the same time. It still gripped you at an emotional level as you could feel both men desperately wanting to win the match.

Muto easily could have gone out there and put in a mediocre effort and it wouldn’t have hurt his legacy one bit. Instead, he chose to go out there and push his broken body as much as he can one more time. He even teased the moonsault but obviously, he retired that one years ago and his legs would likely fall off if he did it. With that said if he had actually done it and won the title that way I would have given this five stars. Nevertheless, I felt that the finish of this was actually perfect. It encapsulated both its sloppiness as well as its emotional component. Muto pulling out one of the sloppiest Frankensteiners you’ve ever seen and then just holding his opponent down by the throat as Shiozaki is desperately struggling to kick out but ultimately failing. Just an absolutely beautiful spot.

After the match, Kaito Kiomiya comes out to challenge the new champion and the final image you get from the show is Kaito standing alone in the middle of the ring determined to claim his crown. Now obviously I would have preferred if Kaito had been the one to win the belt on this show but I feel like they pulled the story they wanted to tell about as well as they could have. I am actually excited for the Kaito vs Muto rematch now and hopefully, Muto is willing to push his body one last time to put over the new ace. Great match and a fitting main event for NOAH’s return to Budokan. ****1/2

Final Thoughts

Even with all of the restrictions in place, NOAH managed to pull off a very entertaining show. Nothing on the show was bad and it basically flew by. While it was a far cry from NOAH Budokan shows of the past, it nevertheless was a proper return for the promotion to the venue. The whole show from the presentation and the feeling of the matches was big time. Also, shout out to the English commentary team of Mark Pickering and Stuart Fulton. They did very well on this show and showed good knowledge about the promotion and threw in some nice puro history references as well.