Pro Wrestling NOAH
Cross Over Sendai 2021
July 11, 2021
Sendai Sun Plaza Hall
Sendai, Japan

Watch: AbemaWrestle UniverseFite 

Here I go
Here I go
Here I go again
What is my weakness? Men? WRONG!!!!

No disrespect to Salt N, Peppa (I can’t disrespect them due to serenading Bret Hart at WrestleMania XI) but my weakness has been and always is pro wrestling. It is this weakness that brought me to the realm of stupid o’clock to review Noah’s most recent show. A show that featured Marafuji’s first defense of the GHC Heavyweight title in his current reign. The Junior Heavyweight tag titles will also be on the line. We also got Keiji Mutoh and Yoshinari Ogawa teaming up against Kaito Kiyomiya and Kotaro Suzuki in a special tag team semi-main event. A potential fun and eventful card if luck plays out for all of us. No need for a long intro. The coffee is hot, my cat is asleep, the wrestling is about to begin!

Nioh def. Yasutaka Yano

It was an opening match. I usually very low-key enjoy the opening affairs at these shows. This wasn’t the case. Nothing about it really stood out or stuck out to me. Simple, straightforward, basic. Nothing was wrong, but nothing stood out. It was nothing more than it wanted to be, but wish I had a little bit more Yano showcase before he took his inevitable loss. He did hit a nice crossbody from the top which was probably the most ‘notable’ thing about this match. I am generous/notorious for giving these opening matches ***, but I can’t even do a lady’s three here. **1/2

Masato Tanaka, Masaaki Mochizuki def. Junta Miyawaki, Kinya Okada

This will get the lady’s three. After all 1. I give them out at my leisure, and 2: I love both Tanaka and Mochizuki. Both of them have put on the years and have earned their mileage, but they are still pretty damn good and entertaining. The Old Guard pretty much made easy work of these young hungry wrestlers in Miyawaki and Okada. That probably should’ve been expected Feel they didn’t get a lot to showcase as I would’ve liked, but what they did get to show was adequate enough. Not capital F fun but I’ll give it a lower case fun rating. I can be a generous match rating mistress at times. ***

HAYATA, Seiki Yoshioka, Yuya Susumu def. YO-HEY, NOSAWA, Ikuto Hidaka

HAYATA succeeded last show I reviewed in having me enjoy his work. Can he make it two matches in a row? The answer: maybe? Honestly, his energy when he got tagged in later in the match finally helped get me into the proceedings. Before that things felt run off the mill and paint by the numbers. Things settled down, but my attention stayed with the match from there. Everyone seemed to put their working boots on and we got an entertaining low card affair. Short, sweet, got energetic in the second half. Nothing you need to go out of your way to see but I respect it for giving me a bit of needed life after the previous two matches. Damning with faint praise? Sure, but this isn’t a lady’s three, I feel it earned it. ***

Kazushi Sakuraba, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kendo Kashin def. King Tany, Mohammad Yone, Akitoshi Saito

ARE YOU READY FOR FUNK! GREAT! SO AM I! ARE YOU READY FOR A TOP-TIER MATCH? NEVER MIND THAT SHIT, HERE COMES KENDO!!!! To be fair, remove Kendo, I’m not sure you’d get better either. I think my love affair with the FUNK is coming to an end. It was fun while it lasted, but straight-up awful, boring, uninteresting matches such as this are a major nail in the coffin. This has been a very underwhelming undercard. There was an everyone gets a leg lock spot if you want to look for highlights? I guess that was kind of fun? Then they all tapped and that was kind of ridiculous (except Sakuraba, but he wasn’t the legal man so no winner). I almost mistook this match as KENTA’s finisher, as it came close to making me go to sleep. I guess the match picked up a bit near the end, which… didn’t help at all. Also, Kashin got the win, I’m deducting points what little points they had. I’m moving on to Smooth Jazz. *1/2

The first half of the show, whew, skip. I’m taking the time out of this review to let you know, there’s nothing of value, nothing of interest, nothing worth your while. SKIP!

GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles
Daisuke Harada & Hajime Ohara (C) def. Haoh & Tadasuke

Here is where you hope shit gets good. At the very opening sequence between Haoh and Harada, things already felt different. Felt like, okay here’s where the effort finally starts to happen. When Harada gets hot-tagged in early in the match you can just feel things hitting a different level. Harada is damn good like that. Tadasuke was an excellent pairing in this match and their back and forth was highly entertaining. Can’t ignore OHara and Haoh either, they are extremely fast and their speed combined with how in sync they were made for some highly entertaining exchanges. A shot in the arm this show desperately needed is what this match was. If I was to make a movie reference, it is Vincent Vega improbably getting an adrenaline shot into Mia Wallace to bring her back from O.Ding. This show was dying and this match gave it the strength/energy to bring it back.

All four men work hard, and the clap-only crowd gets into it, helping bring more life into the affair. When all four men are down the crowd clapping gets louder and more built up as if they want to will the competitors to continue. You feel that the titles are something Haoh, Tadasuke legit want to claim. They are doing what they can to win those titles. Haoh and OHara are left together at one point with Haoh getting some near falls and coming closer to earning the titles, but alas he misses a 450, which leads to a sequence of roll-ups between both wrestlers with at least two causing me to bite which was nice. Everyone works well in this match, and I find myself biting on several near-fall attempts from both teams as it gets to the point I’ll buy either as a winner. In the end, Harada catches Haoh in a submission and secures the victory in what was a damn entertaining tag match. A match this show needed, thank you all very much. ****

Yuya Susumu and Seiki Yoshioka challenge next.

 Kenoh, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Manabu Soya def. Masa Kitamiya, Yoshiki Inamura, Atushi Kotoge

The show went into high gear the last match, so let us hopes things continue here. I am bound by my personal oath to once again state Inamura is an impressive slab of beef. No, I will not do this.  I loved watching him and Soya early in the match ram into each other to see who was the hardest slab of beef of all. Kotoge goes through a stretch of abuse, and it’s admittedly not all that interesting or gripping.. . . That is until Kotoge and Kenoh go at it. Once that ends the Kotoge abuse and Inamura gets tagged in, we got ourselves the good stuff. It should be no surprise at this point that Inamura brings it and brings it well. Kenoh/Inamura is good stuff and I’d love to see a future one on one between them as it would highly entertain me if that got put on. There is also a BEAUTIFUL release belly to belly that Inamura does to Nakajima that rules.

Of course, you get Kitamiya/Nakajima going at each other in this match, that should be expected going forward. Both men aren’t afraid to bring disrespect and hate for each other. Nakajima with the “You took my hair, but you haven’t taken me down” attitude that keeps things going. Whenever they are in a multi-man match together, they will find each other, they will end up in the ring, and they’ll continue settling their differences. Good. They have a long forearm exchange at one point and it’s not just the forearms thrown, it is the stubbornness and “weight” thrown in them that make them worth your while. They interacted really well and when we get that inevitable next singles match between the two, I’m all for it. We get Soya getting splashed/sentoned all over which I thought would be the ending. It’s not and Soya survives it and is able to powerbomb Kotoge three times to get the win in what was a blast of a match. I loved this. ****

Keiji Muto & Yoshinari Ogawa def. Kaito Kiyomiya & Kotaro Suzuki

I personally feel that he’s no longer champion (and has gotten his Muta victory against Kenoh) Muto needs to be done. He is not though, and I don’t make those calls. Well, I do, they just don’t get returned, probably for the best. Ogawa was going to have to carry his team more than likely, and he and Ogawa open the match with some fun exchanges. Match was fine enough. Muto can’t do much of course, but he stuck to what he could do and did his part. Suzuki and Ogawas had good moments and exchanges, and Kiyomiya brought the youth into this match. After the previous two matches, this felt like a step-down, but overall it didn’t embarrass as the semi main event while at the same time not being a blow away you need to go see. Ogaga/Kiyomiya/Suzuki carried an excessive amount of the load.

Muto (who defeated Kiyomiya as his first challenger) would end up in the ring with Kiyomiya and the exchanges were fine, and you kind of get the feeling of wanting to see Kiyomiya avenge his loss. It wouldn’t be a title, but it would be something. It is Suzuki though who takes it hard to Muto. He wants more notches in his belt, and even if Muto is aged, a win against Muto in the record books is a win against Muto. They isolate Muto at the twenty-minute mark (I don’t feel this needed twenty minutes) and Suzuki hits a tiger driver I sincerely thought he would pin Muto with because it was so nicely hit. Suzuki gets dragon screwed to hell and then a shining wizard gives Muto a victory he definitely no longer needs. I’m deducting points. I really wish Kiyomiya got a victory on Muto there. I should’ve known better, I never do, but I should. *** 1/4

GHC Heavyweight Championship
Naomichi Marafuji (C) def. Takashi Sugiura

Naomichi’s first defense. In case you are wondering what Sugiura’s mood in this match is, he uses the apron to hit an assisted neck breaker on bare concrete before we even hit the ten-minute mark. That spot aside the first ten minutes of this match is slow. Not even, we need to build up to the next gear mode. More “we’re going long so let us conserve our energy and wait until we feel we are supposed to make this match interesting” slow. Doesn’t do itself any favors in making me want to see a long title defense. Between the 10-fifteen minute mark, Takashi Sugiura rains forearms into a defiant/stubborn Marafuji sitting in the corner and it was pretty damn fun. It was also where things started picking up. It was still slow, but it was no longer a crawl, it was a gradual incline you hope to continue to go up and up. Marafuji even busted out a nice springboard moonsault to a standing Sugiura

Sugiura bruises and batters Marafuji, a back body drop on the apron, spearing him through the ropes, and a stalling superplex all in his arsenal. A man who wants to put the champion down and claim it as his own. Crowd claps along in support/encouragement throughout. Marafuji is consistent, but when he hits they are plus, impactful, significant. All it takes is one hard knee to put him back in things. After some submission spots where both men get control, we get to Sugiura dominating once more with strikes and his Olympic slam, but it doesn’t get the job done. Sugiura is a dominating challenger putting Marafuji in a position to have to fight to keep his championship.

A top turnbuckle Shinauri puts him back into the game in a great counter spot. The crowd builds with the match, clapping when needed/appropriate, adding to the match as best a clapping crowd can. I’m really getting into this match. It’s not a set your face on fire pace, but it’s consistent, deliberate, ebbs, and flows when it needs to. It knows what speed to settle into and makes it work and worth your time from there. Both men sell exhaustion as they exchange strikes but Sugiura puts Marafuji down with HARD forearms. Sugiura dominating with his, Marafuji trying to hang in there with his responses. Energy building up and up as Marafuji begins to run out of energy and stamina digs in deep and starts hitting with his knees/kicks into a rolling knee. This match has me.

Sugiura has had a lot of control, but Marafuji knows enough to bring the match back into his grasp long enough to have his moments of potential victory. Challengers go up against great performances and lose. Champions go up against great performances and find a way to win. Marafuji is finding ways to win, he just has to find one that works. …. and with much digging, grit, the heart he finds it and gets the win to win his first defense. Marafuji is pushed to the limit by Sugiura who was the aggressor, at times the dominant force. Marafuji had to pick his spots, take his opportunities, weather the assault and then once he got complete control not let it go until he put Sugiura down with a pole shift emerald fusion. Yes, I complained about the first ten minutes but they are now just a memory with a great effort between it and the conclusion. A great first defense. ****1/4

Final Thoughts

Pretend the first half doesn’t exist. Nothing happened, nothing matters, nothing is there. The second half, watch. Watch the second half. That main event (if I can dive into Pulp Fiction a second and final time) is some serious gourmet shit.