Pro Wrestling NOAH
Cage War
June 26, 2021
NOAH Studio

Watch: FITE

Hello once more, it is I, your favorite (only) Magic Writing Girl once again reviewing NOAH. GOOD NEWS EVERYBODY, there isn’t a Keiji Mutoh match for me to give a high rating to and cause you to roll your eyes backward at me. BAD NEWS EVERYBODY, The Great Muta is wrestling tomorrow so brace yourselves. But that’s tomorrow, today we got a cage match with hair on the line. THE FIRST CAGE MATCH IN NOAH’S HISTORY! Makes it come off a big deal. I love a worthwhile cage match. Well, I love it when it’s executed well, there’s a legit reason for it, and it’s not just thrown out for the sake of having a gimmick. There’s definitely beef between Nakajima and Kitamiya after what Kitamiya has done. I don’t mind the cage situation here. All that said, I wish they had several matches beforehand that settled and solved nothing before we got to this point. This has the potential to be awesome, imagine how electric it would be with more build. Wrestling, I know we are in the age of instant reaction but we don’t have to fast forward to the end all the time.

Rush job or no rush job, the main event has every potential to kickass, and I am here for it. I hope the undercard can uphold its end of the bargain and give us some fun content leading up to the big battle. I have my cat in my lap, I got me some taquitos from seven-eleven (We’re all allowed poor choices. Some of us choose to pretend the Alexis Bliss stuff is good, I like to pretend to eat a plethora of these taquitos ain’t going to come back and haunt me anytime soon), and above all else, I’m getting ready to watch a main event cage match that is actually… worth my time? YES!

Manabu Soya def. Kinya Okada

I love Kinya Okada a lot, I seem to get more into him the more and more I see him perform.  We got ten minutes (and some change) of a fun opener. Okada hit some good chest kicks and showed the usual underdog determination while Soya used his strength and ability to take punishment to eventually put Okada down for good. Okada got to look resilient despite losing in the end. Nothing over the top, nothing extravagant, and not a go out of your way to see, but a solid start to the evening’s affair. You always know Okada is going to lose, but you want to be there for when/if he gets that victory. It’s going to be a good feeling when he does. Lady’s three to start things off as I’m in a good mood and am willing to be generous. ***

Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA def. Kai Fujinami & Yasutaka Yano

There is…. certain things I must accept and come to terms with when I review NOAH shows. One of those things, I’ll have to subject myself to is HAYATA’s existence. On the upside, Ogawa is always a part of it, and that rules. Ogawa’s the wrestler you want your young pups to be in the ring with. He still knows what to do, when to do it, and there is knowledge there to be soaked in. Yano and Ogawa open the match up with some fun exchanges and Yano is able to prove his abilities and growth. The exchange ends with a NASTY back body drop over the top rope that did not look pleasant for Yano to receive. Kai Fujinami also came off quite well in this match. He brought that underdog determination that is always appreciated and loved. Okay, I guess time to be nice to HAYATA. He hit a nice moonsault press to earn the victory. Straight forward, simple, achieved its objective.  You know what, good enough for me. Ladies three once again. ***

Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kendo Kashin & Kazunari Murakami) def. Funky Express (Muhammad Yone, Shuhei Taniguchi, Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue)

Top ropes can cause eliminations here. THE POWER OF FUNK! One of my guilty pleasures (I’m not that guilty about it though) is here to grace us. Then there is Sugiura’s Army. What a team of badasses… and Kendo Kashin. The opening stages of this match was Kendo Kashin getting abused, which in theory is a positive. Alas, not even the power of FUNK could make a Kendo Kashin beat-down entertaining. Sakuraba hits a plancha at one point eliminating himself which is always dumb in any match. Kashin has to try TWICE to allow his elimination to happen and it looked awful. Sugiura ends up being all by himself against the Funky Express. Inoue and Sugiura have a shoulder tackle battle (To Inoue’s dismay) that I was way more entertained by than I expected, and eventually would lead to Inoue’s elimination. Our final two would be Taniguchi and Sugiura. Their short one-on-one is a lot of fun before Sugiura gets the victory. The first half, maybe even two-thirds of this is not good. I didn’t get much out of it but when it got down to 2 against 1 I was entertained. Under three stars but credit Sugiura, Inoue, Taniguchi for doing their best to get it above it. **1/2

Naomichi Marafuji & Masaaki Mochizuki def. Kaito Kiyomiya & Yoshiki Inamura

Watch the opening exchange between Kiyomiya and Marafuji…. then proceed to skip to about the ten-minute mark. That is where this match gets stupid…. stupidly good. Marafuji and Kiyomiya have fun exchanges with each other and are a definite highlight of this match. Kiyomiya is currently on a losing streak and tries to find himself back to where he feels, and many others feel, he should be. This puts a chip on his shoulder and a determination to prove himself once more. Marafuji is the current champion so he’s not going to let anyone, regardless of statue and accomplishment show him up. This leads to an energetic effort where neither man wants to give an inch, while at the same time trying to take each other down.  Mochizuki rocks and his kicks are painful to listen to. At one point Kiyomiya hits a sweet as hell dropkick on Mochizuki and I loved it.

You all know how I feel about Inamura by now. As per usual I am obligated to call him an impressive slab of beef. Inamura, bulldozes, tosses, and muscles his way through his offense. At one point Mochizuki and Marafuji team up with strikes again him only for Inamura to say “Oh screw that noise” and shoulder tackle them both down and it rules. I love the Kiyomiya/Inamura team so much. I want to see Inamura continue to get elevated, and I’m invested in Kiyomiya righting his course, so the pairing works as a dual purpose in keeping me watching. The match comes down to Mochizuki and Inamura with Mochizuki being able to chop Inamura down for good. Inamura continues to impress me and I’m all on board with him, but you already know that. Match got good after the ten-minute mark. I can’t go close to 4… but this match finally breaks this show above the three-star mark. ***1/4

HAYATA def. Daisuke Harada, Hajime Ohara, Junta Miyawaki, Seiki Yoshioka, Nioh, Haoh, Tadasuke, NOSAWA, Ikuto Hidaka, Eita, YO-HEY, Yuya Susumu, Kotaro Suzuki, Yoshinari Ogawa

Top ropes count as eliminations in this match. The last man standing gets a GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title shot tomorrow. Done Royal Rumble Style where we start off one on one and more and more people enter as time goes on. Harada and NOSAWA started things off if you wanted to know. We get a surprise entrant in YO-HEY and he and Seiki brought the SPEED against each other! All three members of Kongo are all like “fuck one after one” and come out together which no one bothers to stop. Susumu entered the match as well unannounced. I appreciate we do get surprises though. That’s a nice touch and I like it. The ring really fills up without any eliminations.

Kotaro Suzuki enters as a third surprise and with everyone in there things start to finally feel like they are happening. Things picked up, things become a bit more interesting. It’s like they waited for everyone to show up before the party actually got started and until then they did awkward small talk and some drinking.  Yoshinari Ogawa and HAYATA come out of nowhere and enter the match which I probably should’ve expected. That’s on me. I will not attempt to list the eliminations, just know once Ogawa and HAYATA entered things picked up and the match kept in constant and mostly entertaining motion. I will mention Miyawaki eliminates two of the KONGO members and I loved it. At this point I confess to myself I am enjoying the hell out of this. The final two are YO-HEY and HAYATA. I begin to grimace at the potential winner at this point, but at the same time that nervousness brings me in more. I appreciate being down to the final two they didn’t go straight to a winner and let things play out. Good false finishes and overall good stuff from both. HAYATA ends up winning. While I’m nowhere near a HAYATA fan after being so entertained and the effort of the final two, I’m not even mad. A miracle. Ultimately, this was a mess, chaotic, hard to follow, and I enjoyed it. *** 1/2

Post-match, Atsushi Kotoge comes out and speaks a few words to HAYATA. HAYATA kicks him and drops him in response. That’s on Kotoge. That should’ve been expected.

HAIR VERSUS HAIR CAGE MATCH
Masa Kitamiya def. Katsuhiko Nakajima

I promise zero Nakajima thirst in this review. Kenoh is out there watching in a red suit. The bloodthirsty in me hopes that insinuates we gonna get a little color this match. Before the match begins I love the feel of the pre-match presentation and an especially nice touch with KENOH being the one who locks the cage.

I got to get my negatives out of the way. Things started a bit boring and feeling too drawing things out. That hurt my initial being able to get into the match. The other negatives is this was a cage match and the cage came into play very little. Really the only time the cage was used was Nakajima throwing Kitamiya into it and two big spots from both (I will address below). The other negative I have is I LOATHE five counts/rope breaks in a cage match. Takes away the grudge aspect of the match to me. Just let them be dicks to each other to their hearts’ content. That took me out of things at times. These negatives definitely can’t be ignored and were drawbacks.

Drawbacks that ultimately don’t change the fact I fell in love with this match the more it went on. I hoped for blood and dear lord did I get it from both men. It wasn’t from the cage though it was from headbutts they delivered to each other. I cringe and was uncomfortable with the head butts, I cannot deny, but it doesn’t change the fact it added blood, drama, and intensity to the match. Both men were not afraid to take shots and both men took a beating. Kitamiya in particular had his back and chest abused by the kicks of Nakajima. Nakajima beat the fucking hell out of him. Kitamiya came off as a tough-as-hell bastard coming back from being nearly knocked out to win in the end. Both men with their deliberate and hard hits felt made it feel personal, made it feel like they were digging deep and just didn’t want to win, but to humiliate and hurt the opposing bastard. I appreciate that. I appreciate I could feel the tension, the grudge, the disdain. When Nakajima would get cocky and take his time, smile at the drone, before striking again I could feel the devil himself shiver.

There were too big cage spots. Nakajima hit an awesome dropkick from the top of the cage. Kitamiya missed a senton from the top of the cage and his bouncing off the mat caused me to give a verbal “OH SHIT”. While I wish the cage was used more they were still able to achieve the violence, hate, blood a cage match should have. I respect them for that. I appreciate the majority of things done felt like they meant something, felt like there was a point. Ultimately I think I just appreciate both men treated this gimmick as serious business, even if in the end I think this match would’ve still worked without the gimmick.

Two Saito suplexes and Kitamiya puts down Nakajima. Nakajima sits in the chair as he is forced to allow Kitamiya to cut (Most) of his hair. Kitamiya then leaves, not even looking at Kenoh. His point proven, Nakajima’s hair taken, Kitamiya gets to stand tall. Nakajima? He sits back down and tells Kenoh to finish cutting his hair. Kenoh is unsure but ultimately complies. Kenoh and the rest of Kongo stay at ringside as Nakajima, beaten, bloodied, bald, walks away in defeat. Walks away mostly bald. Walks away… with the stinging reality that no stitch can heal. Kitamiya was the better man. That’s not a wound you can simply sew up and expect to heal anytime soon. ****1/4

Final Thoughts

Flaws and everything I dug the main event. For a first-time cage match in NOAH, I think they got something they can look back at and improve upon when/if they choose to go back to the gimmick. It is used for the first time made it feel special and unique in an age where it’s mostly played out, tedious, and used for the flimsiest of reasons. I was much more into the second half of the show so I’ll say if you want to watch, allow that to be your focus. I’ll see you all for my next review where we’ll be digging into Kenoh versus Great Muta!