Pro-Wrestling NOAH
The Glory 2021
April 29, 2021
Nagoya Congress Center
Nagoya City, Japan

Watch: Abema, Fite, Wrestle Universe

My slow burn from constant, and excessive, NJPW reviewer into less than part-time NOAH reviewer continues. I’m hoping both of these mindsets within me can find a way to co-exist. We are live in Nagoya as NOAH presents The Glory 2021. NOAH’s old and broken heavyweight champion Mutoh is still heavyweight champion much to the chagrin of many. Be that as it may, he is main eventing tonight against the hopeful spirit of Masa Kitamiya. Could he be the one to put an end to this elder god of wrestling’s title reign? Probably not. Hopefully, Mutoh can somehow convince me to give him a solid rating once more. 

I’m glad I’m getting away with reviewing this show after giving the previous Mutoh title match ****. I’m also impressed I didn’t hear about it more. I’m kind of hoping it happens again for teeth-gnashing and eye twitching purposes. In fact, I’m going to blatantly be open about having a Mutoh curve and start the match with a one-star handicap just because there’s no law saying I can’t. (I may or may not be bluffing.) That’s how it going to be. On the undercard, we have Junior Heavyweight Tag Championship and National Championship defenses to look forward to, which have the potential to be pretty damn fun. Throw in some possibly fun multi-person tag matches and we could be in for one entertaining show indeed. Enough of the introduction, let’s get right into it!

Hajime Ohara & Seiki Yoshioka & YO-HEY def. Atsushi Kotoge & Daisuke Harada & Yasutaka Yano

It has always been my belief the opener is important. It doesn’t have to be high-end or ever too above three stars, but it’s got to be good enough to get me pumped and hyped for the rest of the show. A good primer for things to come. This match definitely succeeded at being that primer. Energy and full of action that rarely took a break but was never so ridiculous that it was over the top and felt crammed. Constant movement but well placed all the same. I could focus on each performer individually but I’ll focus on Yano and say he continues to impress and improve throughout these matches, even though he takes loss after loss (as he should, of course). He really gets sympathy out of you and you root for him when he gets an opening, or a hot tag, to showcase what he can do. He’s really quite good at this stage, which bolds well when he starts to really hit his stride. This match was a lot of fun and succeeded at the things an opener needs to succeed at in order to get you ready for the rest of the show. Well done. ***

Katsuhiko Nakajima & Nioh def. Akitoshi Saito & Junta Miyawaki

Saito trying to get his funk on. I’m… unsure if I’m buying the funk he’s attempting to exude but god bless him for trying. Nakajima doesn’t exude funk, just sexy devilish energy. I was prepared for this match to exist in its space, to be one of those matches that neither excite or offend. Fine for what it offered and out of my mind moments later. As it was, this match was good and fun. Saito versus Nakajima’s actions was entertaining in that “grumpy men hitting each other” way, Nioh was gamed to perform and Junta Miyawaki is a lot of fun and easy to root for. Of course, being easy to root for doesn’t exempt you from taking the fall which naturally Miyawaki did. He looked good though in both his offense and his selling. I must admit, I went into this match short-changing it. I’m not going to over-sell you, it’s not high-end, and it’s not something that’ll stick with you, but for an undercard tag I was entertained by it, and at times, that’s all you can really ask for or want. I’m actually interested in seeing Saito versus Nakajima go against each other one on one; especially if it means they spend good portions of time kicking each other really (REALLY) hard. ***

Kotaro Suzuki and Yuya Susumu went to a time limit draw

I think Susumu is okay, Suzuki is a bit above okay. To be honest, I had a fear this match would be one of those mere blips on my radar that instantly vanished. As I feared when Suzuki was in control, I was indifferent, bored even. To be perfectly honest, I was close to indifference when Susumu was on offense as well.  That sums it up. I was pretty indifferent to this match. As I was expecting with the above match, this match existed and I moved on. It didn’t excite me, and I really struggle to say anything about it in this write-up, even as short as it is. It’s not a disappointing match, that would mean I had significant expectations for it. The type of match that both take up space but at the same time feels empty. Half-hearted, half-speed, and could’ve been halved in time and we would’ve lost nothing. It didn’t even go long. The perfect match to let play in the background as you prepare yourself a snack or a drink instead of watching it. The bathroom break match that you can use for your own personal intermission. Oh, it also ends in a very unsatisfying draw which feels like the perfect way for this match to come to a conclusion. **

Kazushi Sakuraba & Kazunari Murakami & Kendo Kashin def. Muhammad Yone & Shuhei Taniguchi & Masao Inoue

FUNK! We got a half-assed, half-spirited, and half-speed attempt at funk earlier, but in this match, we are finally presented with the general article of funk and as always I am here for it. Yone brings the funk, Taniguchi brings the funk, Inoue… is trying! Match quality be damned, we got the funk! I got to damn the match quality because this match involves Kendo Kashin! The match quality was already damned before I even made the personal decision to do so. My love of funk notwithstanding, and you got to have the funk, this match was bad. We’re not talking that 90s slang use of bad, we’re just talking straight-up bad. Murakami’s garbage bag-looking suit is the type of outfit that prepares you for a match that should just be tossed in the trash. I was hoping for some minimal fun, and everything about this match was minimal: the fun, the good wrestling, my enjoyment. Not my cup of tea, but we got funk so I’ll give it points. Wait? Funk lost! Never mind, I award you zero points and may God have mercy on your soul. DUD

GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA © def. Ikuto Hidaka & NOSAWA Rongai

Match went in with some potential things going against it. Those potential things being people such as HAYATA were wrestling in it. I felt going in if this was kept short it had the potential of being a good sprint of a title match, which even then maybe I was putting the expectations high. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Ogawa is the best thing in this match. At his age, he can still go and completely rules. At one point he goes back and forth with tosses and body slams before falling down exhausted and I loved it so freaking much. In a way I feel guilty. This is a title defense and I am reviewing it. I should be focused on it so I can give you my best and most accurate opinion, but this is the kind of mind I continue to find my mind drifted into a stream of conscious mode where I think about the most random of things but not the match itself. Then I blink and Ogawa is getting the pinfall victory (which is good), allowing HAYATA to continue to be a titleholder (which is bad). In the end, this match was fine with a capital F. It didn’t do much for me, but what I did enjoy, mainly Ogawa, was enough for me to not completely rip it apart like a blooming onion.  Oh, afterward YO-HEY and Yoshioka came out and challenged. So if that’s something you want to sink your teeth into, start biting. I think I’ll fast for a bit. **3/4

6-Man Tag Team Match
Naomichi Marufuji & Masaaki Mochizuki & Masato Tanaka def. Kaito Kiyomiya & Yoshiki Inamura & Kinya Okada

The IMPRESSIVE SLAB OF BEEF that is Inamura now graces this girl with his presence and I am ecstatic. In truth, I was ecstatic about the prospects of this entire match! Inamura? HELL YEAH! Okada? HELL YEAH! Kiyomiya? HELL YEAH! Tanaka, Mochizuki and Marufuji ON THE SAME TEAM OMG FANGURLING INTENSIFIES!!!!! *ahem* Sorry about that, I was really giddy going into this. Let me get it out of the way, this freaking ruled. I loved and adored this match. Such a collection of talent gelling and synching together to give me a fun match filled with energy, intensity, emotion. I rooted for Okada to get that big victory in the end so hard, and I rooted for him to stay up near the end when I knew he had nothing left. My favorite thing in the match though was the IMPRESSIVE SLAB OF BEEF that is Inamura. He might be one of my favorite things in wrestling to watch right now. He brings intensity, strength, and I’m drawn to watching him perform when he’s in the ring. Tanaka, Mochizuki, and Marufuji were as great of a trio as I was hoping. Okada got a bloodied mouth, Inamura pushed around legends, everyone else ruled. As we are now in the top three matches, things begin to pick up way more, and the quality of this match surpasses everything else on the show so far. Watch it. ****

GHC National Championship
Takashi Suigura def. Kazuyuji Fujita ©

While I’ve never been on board the Fujita Express, to say he doesn’t come out and at times knock me out with some excellent bouts would be wrong. I loved his match with Kenoh. Sugiura’s bonafides are well known and documented. No introductions needed. What I hoped for with this match was a fight. Two slabs of humanity striking each other hard and often. WATCH THIS MATCH. See those all caps? That means I’m damn serious. This ruled. Hard-hitting as all fuck. I’m told I need to cut down on the cursing, it’s warranted here. There’s a slap fight in the final portion of this match and Christ the crowd gasps at points and it’s deserved. Suigura throws everything he can at Fujita and Fujita is like that monster who just keeps coming, is unfazed. Meanwhile, Suigiura, who is rightfully a tough bastard himself, is doing his best to survive and make it to the end of the match in hopes of finding an opening to put the monster Fujita down. This had emotion and intensity; not the “we hate each other” energy, but the “we respect each other but only one of us can be the baddest dude on the planet” energy. Neither one is interested in saving the president though, they just want to kick as much ass they can.

Sugiura winning, in the end, feels hard-earned. At times I felt he was simply still standing out of spite and stubbornness. Throwing bomb after bomb only for Fujita to respond taunting him, at times pushing him away as if swatting away an annoying gnat. Fujita is made of iron, and Takashi Sugiura’s strikes have to get harder and harder just to dent the natural armor of Fujita. When Fujita finally starts to show weariness, to slow down, the damage taking its toll, the journey to that point feels well earned. At one point Suigura’s only success is a long ankle lock that pays dividends, and while the submission is sweet, beating down this Icon of Inokiism is what brings complete and utter satisfaction. Fujita falls in his first defense, and he falls hard. But it’s a defeat you can be disappointed in but not ashamed of. He threw every bomb he could against Takashi Sugiura. In the end, Sugiura, his body visibly displaying the damage, can proudly say not only did he live to tell the tale, but now he gets to narrate the story. Loved this, absolutely loved this. That first chapter? SAKURABA. HELLS YEAH!. ****1/4

GHC Heavyweight Championship
Keiji Mutoh © def. Masa Kitamiya

Remember that Mutoh scale I was considering? That rose-colored glasses advantage I was going to allow? It has been removed after the previous match. Mutoh and Kitamiya are going to have to end it. I’d have a higher opinion of this match if I had more to say about the first fifteen minutes or so. There’s not much you can say about it when one went for the arm, and the other went for the leg for long stretches of time. In the end, though, my opinion isn’t needlessly low either. I thought this was another acceptable title defense. Near the end was particularly good, even if I cringed at Kitamiya’s shoot headbutt while he had Mutoh in the Prison Lock. Understand, I know it’s a callback, but seeing Kitamiya doing damage to himself and bleeding from it almost took me back out of the match after they succeeded in getting me into it near the end. That’s a success as that took a lot of work. Mutoh’s mind and spirit is willing but his body is beaten and broken. You have to work both with and against (when the match calls for it) to make the match work. You then have to avoid the weaknesses that will successfully bring the match down. These tasks are difficult and were done with mixed results, giving me mixed feelings on the overall match.

At times, the match felt in slow motion, which is okay if the motion is at least watchable therefore I have much to talk about. There were chunks this wasn’t true. I felt we got slow motion and the motion gave me nothing to work with. It was the final portion of this match I felt we were in another gear, even though I won’t call it high gear. In this portion of the match, I felt both men were working hard to make this main event good. It was a good match, lowercase g style. Mutoh having to wreck Kitamiya with shining wizards, including a flying one off the back of a downed referee, was legit entertaining and a good way to end the affair. This is not an awful main event. It is the main event though that the rose-colored glasses are snatched off me, finally catching up to seeing Mutoh as many now see him. An elderly, broken man with two title defenses of a championship that is now two title defenses too long. For the best and worst of reasons it will feel satisfying to many when he is finally topped, and with the conditions of his knees toppling SHOULDN’T be that hard. Mutoh does not care about “shouldn’t,” he only cares about what he is going to do. Alas for Kitamiya, what Mutoh ended up doing was winning. Even with the shoot headbutt, even with moments of fighting spirit that allowed him to withstand Mutoh’s best shots, it was not enough. Another challenger has fallen against the frail, fragile Mutoh, who with metaphorical duct tape keeps together what shouldn’t move, and who with metaphorical WD40 keeps active what should be inactive. At some point he shall break, he shall shatter. God will bleed, and Marufuji is next to attempt to cut him. In the end, though, we might need a devil. ***1/4


Mutoh’s reign WILL end, but will it come soon enough for those who wish it to do so? Will Marufuji be the one to put him down? I do not have those answers, but Fujita did fall and he fell hard, the only way he could. That is my match of the night (Fujita/Sugiura) and I recommend you watch that if nothing else. The legend of Mutoh continues on, but reality is gunning for him, and it will inevitably break him completely.