Pro Wrestling NOAH
The Best 2021
November 28, 2021
Yoyogi National Stadium Second Gymnasium
Watch: Wrestle Universe (Free)
Okay, the Magic Writing Girl is finally back on NOAH duty, and I picked one heck of a take to do so as we got title versus title in Kenoh versus Nakajima tonight. It is hard for me to fully explain to you how hyped I am for this encounter. I absolutely loved their N-1 Finals match, and I got a feeling this match will be no different in the kick-ass department. The rest of the card feels like a hodgepodge. While there is some meat on the bone in some matches, others feel like an “oh okay, I guess we can have that.” type deal. Either way, this has a chance to be a very fun show and I’m excited to review it. Let us dig in!
Kinya Okada def. Kawei Fujimura
I’m a fan of both of these guys, and this was a fun energetic opener from both showcasing their growing abilities and skill. They both just seem to crisp in their offense and they put together a fun little opening match effort. Not shocking they didn’t do “a lot” but what they did worked really well, was in sync, and made for enjoyable viewing. They both continue to show off more skills and abilities though, and they can both be happy with this performance. Nothing special, but definitely a good showcase of improvement which is exactly what you want to see. Approved. ***
YO-HEY & Kotaro Suzuki def. Susumu, Yoshioka Seika
Yoshioka and YO-HEY’s interactions against each other were by far the best thing of this match. Not that anything else was actively bad, but there interactions, moves, and transitions against each other added another element to the match that elevated things. This was overall a lot of fun. Filled with energy and good wrestling. I really enjoy YO-HEY whether he’s on offense or defense and I find that he works quite well with Suzuki. Susumu/Yoshioka is also a good pairing but doesn’t click with me as well as the previous pairing mentioned. Good and fun match that I definitely enjoyed. We’re doing alright so far in this show two matches in. ***1/4
Between this and the next match, KENTA appeared in a video packaged and it was announced he’d be at the 1/1/2022 show. That kicks all the ass.
King Tani, Muhammad Yone & Akitoshi Saito def. Masa Kitamiya, Daiki Inaba & Yoshiki Inamura
As I am legally obligated to do so when I review NOAH, and I haven’t gotten to in a while, Inamura is an impressive slab of beef! Feels so good to get that out of my system once more. I love him so much. One of my favorite things in this match was Saito’s long-delayed suplex on Inaba. That too many may not speak too well to this match, but I am a sucker for long-delayed suplexes. Saito actually worked pretty hard in this match and I enjoyed him. This match was better than I expected. Not saying it was anything special, but both teams seem motivated to work together, and the clap crowd being into it helped also. Inamura got to display his beef slabbiness which makes me a happy fangirl. I want to see him start doing more at some point, he’s great. I don’t regret watching any of this. I do regret Inamura losing to King Tani, but I can’t have everything in my life apparently “pouts”. *** 1/4
Kaito Kiyomiya, Daisuke Harada, Atsuhi Kotoge, Hajime Ohara & Yasutaka Yano def. Manabu Soya, Tadasuke, Nioh, Aleja & Haoh
I always love when Kongo fights as a unit, so much red. This show while hasn’t had anything go out of your way to see, and I didn’t expect it to at this point, has been pretty much a breeze. Which considering I really want to get to the main event is appreciated. Nothing is going longer than I feel it needs to. When you have eight and ten men person tags there are a lot of moving parts and if something disconnects or goes out of sync it’ll detach me or make everything a hard-to-follow jumble. Thankfully that didn’t happen here and this was again quite the fun match. I really liked it. A common theme for this undercard, which is acceptable. Kongo not surprisingly works really well as a unit and makes these matches work quite well with how in sync they are. The other team is quite the collection of talent to put together but they do a good job of working together and feeling like a unit. Also just to end this match review, Harada’s german suplex makes me giddy. Good good stuff. *** 1/2
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA def. NOSAWA & Eita (c)
Ugh, HAYATA time. I know he has his fanbase, and I respect that, I’m just not one of them. But this match does have Ogawa in it, and that makes it worth watching for me. Not surprising to anyone who reads my reviews (some of you do read them right? RIGHT?) Ogawa is my favorite thing in this match, then again his competition for favorite doesn’t have a lot to go by. Well, Eita’s good, but he’s paired with NOSAWA who I also can’t stand. Had a hard time focusing on the match. Just wasn’t doing anything for me, and when they announced ten minutes I realized I had been zoning out on it a lot. This makes for a hard fair review but also lets you know that the match was failing to grip my attention. The match started to pick up a little but not enough and then the match ends with Eita getting tied up in the ropes and getting counted out…which gives the titles to…Ogawa and HAYATA! ARGHGHGHHGHGHGHHG. Don’t watch this. Ogawa still rules though. ** 1/2
Keiji Mutoh, Naomichi Marafuji & Masato Tanaka def. Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba & Kazuyuki Fujita
2021, and Keiji Mutoh has held single and tag titles in NOAH. Yes, I enjoyed his world title reign more than most (until I didn’t) but that…. that just doesn’t seem like something I should be able to say. Yet, here I am saying it you know? Wrestling, it be like that sometimes. This match is cranky old people hitting and hurting each other. Fuck yeah. this match was the good stuff. There were some slow periods for sure, but it was made up for grumpy old dudes just going at it with each other. Some of the interactions (such as Marafuji versus Sakuraba and Sugiura versus Tanaka for example) were fun as hell, and these types of matches prove to be perhaps the best use for Mutoh. I really really into this and it washed away instantly the bad taste in my mouth from the previous match. All parts of this match worked. You want to watch all of this. Lots of fun, entertaining, old guys proving they still got shit in the tank, and not being afraid to just hit each other and go at it. It goes twenty plus and I enjoyed every minute of it. The ending strike exchanges between Tanaka and Sugiura rules. **** 1/4
GHC National and GHC Heavyweight Championships
Kenoh (c) vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) – Time Limit Draw
AND HEREEEEEEEE WEEEEE GOOO!!! LET GET OUR KICKS ON! Confession: I almost wrote Nakajima down as stupid sexy devil Nakajima. Applaud my restraint. I love Nakajima’s strategy in this match. He goes after Kenoh’s dominant leg making his striking offense involving kickers harder for him to execute/less effective. Kenoh making so to sell it both on defense and offense helps elevate the strategy and plant in your head it has had an effect. That’s the good stuff right there. The simple things that can elevate a match beyond. Nakajima is confident, cocky, sexy… I mean strategic. Kenoh is also confident, determined, and talented enough to keep up with whatever Nakajima’s strategy is. This match is paced slow for quite a bit, but it’s never boring if you focus on what Nakajima’s trying to do and Kenoh’s desire and ability to endure it until he can get back to even keel and go toe to toe with the world champion.
The striking exchanges do come and they are worth the wait, with Kenoh getting more confident and moving better, but his leg still affected all the same and something he has to battle back from. Nakajima in return doesn’t put up with anything and delivers hard strikes of his own in a way that reminds Kenoh you may be National, but I am THE TOP champion. Kenoh for all intents and purposes is presented as the underdog, fighting underneath, but that is something he is more than capable of doing, doing what he can to find answers to Nakajima’s strategy and onslaught. When he does get offensive control he doesn’t waste it, but always goes back to reminding us his leg is hurt and is affecting him. Small touches, simple aspects of psychology and storytelling. Top pro shit.
You know this is going long, and you hope it can keep up gripping you once it passes the twenty-minute mark. Kenoh gets more and more openings. Waiting for him to start taking control ends up be worth the journey, and he begins to get revenge and deliver on Nakajima’s leg as well. Giving the devil his own medicine. A NASTY DRAGON SCREW followed by A NASTY DOUBLE STOP onto Nakajima’s leg in the guardrail makes me cringe and mutter “Oh Shit”. Kenoh don’t care Nakajima is in his unit. He wants that title, and he’ll cripple the devil to do it. The match builds and builds, and both men injured by each other must now dig deep, and you can feel the desperation from both as they both know their biggest weapons are compromised. This is beautiful. When Nakajima is overconfident and thinks he has Kenoh, Kenoh comes back and gives himself just a bit more life to continue. The crowd is clapping, and so am I. They begin to slap the ever-loving hell out of each other, and their looks of defiance/determination says it all. They’ll switch to kicks, taking and swallowing the pain done to it. I am fully into this if you can’t tell. This match has built to this, this match has earned this. Two men, two wrestlers just trying to chop each other down.
I can feel the exhaustion and pain from both men. This match is MAKING ME FEEL IT. Everything they do just feels like it takes extra effort, extra energy as if they have to give a part of themselves up just to deliver anything. 40 minutes in and I’m not tired of this match at all, but both men clearly are. They both hit big moves, they both go for near falls, both could’ve easily been the end, but there’s too much stubbornness left in them. Not even a BRUTAL AVALANCHE DRAGON SUPLEX/DOUBLE STOMP from Kenoh can finish off the devil. I begin to wonder if one of them will have to kill the other to win. The thought of a draw goes to creep into my mind as we hit 45 minutes. At 50 minutes they begin to strike each other once more, you feel any strike could be the end, you can sense they feel it also. They slap the taste, the sound, the feel, the smell out of each other. Then right when it looks like the Devil is done, he comes back with almost an unworldly burst of energy. At 55 minutes I am confident this is ending in a draw, and I’m still leaning forward and hooked. Kenoh just can’t put the devil away, and you know he doesn’t have much left. Nakajima can’t put him away. Both men can make the other kiss death, but neither can make the other embrace it. Then mercifully, the match ends. There is no winner, except us. This was an insane draw. Nakajima had more in the tank at the end, but not by much, and not enough to finish the deal. Some will say the draw was predictable. I don’t care. They went hard for the majority of it. This match gripped me, engaged me, exhausted me, made me feel it. Reeled me in and pulled me out of the water and never put me back. Beautiful and brutal. Both men are spent, I’m spent, this was amazing. I love pro wrestling, and matches like this is absolutely why. *****
Then after all of that Go Shiozaki makes his GLORIOUS RETURN! Welcome back! Kenoh leaves the ring as Nakajima is exhausted in the ring. Go and Nakajima will happen at Budokan, and everything is right in the world, even if only for this moment. HELL YEAH!
The bottom of the card is fine, inoffensive, but the top two matches are what you want to watch. Even then if you only watch one thing from this entire show, make it the roller coaster, the ride, the experience, the purely emotional and exhausting main event that is Kenoh/Nakajima. I can’t say anymore great things about it, it is simply amazing.