NEW Sunrise 2022
January 4, 2022
Watch: Wrestle Universe
Meet your reviewers
Paul Völsch: As the undercard of Wrestle Kingdom was less than stellar, I managed to take notes for the NOAH show that was happening at the same time. After watching the top matches on this show after Wrestle Kingdom, I decided to review both shows because I’m hardcore.
Jon Hernandez: The cure for a boring Wrestle Kingdom undercard? A rock-solid NOAH show. Or maybe a different hobby? Or just going to sleep? I don’t really know. Help me out on Twitter, @OldJonHernandez
Yasutaka Yano def. Kai Fujimori
Paul: This is a new sunrise as Yano picks up the first singles win of his career. Both him and Fujimori are on the smaller side and are likely going to remain juniors for their entire career. But given the chemistry that they have already developed I could see this grow into a pivotal feud for the junior division in a couple of years. A good start to the show.
Jon: As displayed by the first two matches on this show, the current crop of NOAH rookies can go. I like Yano a lot, and was hoping to see a slightly more decisive win that would define his offense a little more. He ended up squeaking by with a roll-up. Quick, fun rookie stuff, an easy watch to start the show.
Funky Express (Mohammed Yone & King Tany) def. Kinya Okada & Junta Miyawaki
Paul: Well so much for this being a new sunrise as the young guys predictably fall to the old guys. Overall the match was fine but I can’t help but be disappointed with this result. The Funky Express is stuck in the station and going nowhere fast. So what better opportunity to give Okada and Miyawaki a win over an established team to kick off their year. Obviously, there is plenty of year left to start pushing these two but for now it’s same old same old.
Jon: If I’m being honest, I normally skip the Funky Express matches on these shows. The days are short and the NOAH matches long. If I gotta watch ’em though, I’ll happily take a bout against Okada and Miyawaki. Tany and Yone were fiercer here than I’ve seen them in a while, likely due to having a pair of youngins to beat on. Both Miyawaki and especially Okada seem ready to take a step up soon. They kept things competitive but, unfortunately, it wouldn’t be enough. Yone put Okada away with a Muscle Buster.
Los Perros del Mal de Japan (Eita & NOSAWA Rongai) def. Kongo (Hao & Nio)
Paul: A fun little undercard match as Eita and NOSAWA put themselves back in the hunt for the junior tag titles. As I have mentioned before I consider Eita to be a massive boon for the NOAH junior division and he showed why here. He is simply crisper and more well-rounded than most of the juniors in the promotion. That is not surprising given that he is used to main event big shows in Dragon Gate but it has the added bonus of elevating the others in his match as well.
Hao has always been one of the best juniors in the promotion but the other two in this match are not normal. Here though it looked like NOSAWA and Nio were trying a lot harder than they normally are and that made this into a surprisingly exciting match.
Jon: While the PDM pairing of NOSAWA and Dragongate’s Eita has been a ton of fun, I’ve mostly been excited to see Eita mix it up with some fresh NOAH blood. That’s been frustratingly rare — he squashed Kotoge, a burgeoning feud with Ogawa wrapped abruptly, and he was matched up against Ultimo Dragon at Budokan. With that in mind, this match got exciting when Hao (who, coincidentally, was fantastic in a Dragongate appearance last year) and Eita faced off. It was fast-paced and slick, playing to both men’s strengths. Eita continued looking like a monster, downing Hao fairly quickly with Trauma, that pump-handle-knee-strike deal that looks like murder. This was short but was a blast while it lasted.
Atsushi Kotoge def. Seiki Yoshioka
Paul: Great singles match between these two with an expected winner, as Kotoge has a singles match on the joint show with New Japan. They showed what the NOAH junior division is capable of. Especially Yoshioka is great and deserves a proper run with the title not just the transitional reign that he got. He has been amazing for years now and is still someone that is massively underrated. He is not just one of the best juniors in NOAH, he is one of the best juniors in all of Japan. It doesn’t seem like he will be someone that will factor into the top mix of the NOAH junior division this year but he absolutely should.
Jon: These two are among the sharpest juniors in a division so stacked it still sometimes surprises me. Kotoge is headed into a big match against New Japan Pro Wrestling’s SHO at the end of the week, not to mention a potential rematch with Eita, so it was never in doubt he was going to win this. With a dance partner as dynamic as Yoshioka, it’s not surprising that this match punched above its role on the card. Kotoge was able to sustain Yoshioka’s kick onslaught long enough to land the Killswitch for the win. Really strong junior-y stuff here. ***1/2
Sugiura-gun (Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba & Kazujuki Fujita) def. M’s Alliance (Masatao Tanaka & Masaaki Mochizuki) & Daiki Inaba
Paul: Lots of wrestlers in their 50s in this match but it still delivered. These guys show that you can still go even at a higher age with the right combination of skill, luck and taking care of your body. Although taking care of your body isn’t really a thing Tanaka is known for. However, it’s clear that he is doing as much outside of the ring because he wouldn’t be able to take all of the punishment otherwise. Inaba continues his streak of taking a beating at the hands of Sugiura-gun like he did at the New Year’s Day show and gets pinned.
Jon: We’ve got an old dude all-star game here. Five of the men in this match were over or damn near 50, and it’s nice of them to babysit Daiki Inaba for the night. In most promotions, a median age of 51 would be a complaint (or an influx of younger viewers for NXT 2.0) but this lineup featured three of the best wrestlers in the world and two legendary shooters for the Inoki fetishists.
To Inaba’s credit, he’s a total fireball in the ring (if his killer N1 performance didn’t already sell you on that). That made him great fodder for world-class grumps like Saku and Fujita. The intensity rose when Inaba was finally able to escape and tag out to Tanaka. The match hit on a few already proven matchups. Fujita and Tanaka clashed after their thirty-minute draw on 12/27. Mochizuki and Sugiura renewed the rivalry from their National Title match in October. Inaba retook the spotlight for a fun closing stretch with Sugiura. Of course, he was eventually pounded into mincemeat (side question: what exactly is mincemeat?) by the Sugiura-gun veterans before being finished with an Olympic Slam. This one provided all the meanness and physicality you’d expect and hope for from this list of names. ***1/2
Yoshiki Inamura, Hajime Ohara, Masa Kitamiya, Daisuke Harada & Naomichi Marufuji def. Kongo (Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kenoh, Aleja, Tadasuke & Manabu Soya)
Paul: I love Yoshiki Inamura. He is quickly ascending up the ladder of my favorite wrestlers. He has really started to figure out how to use his power and is just wreaking havoc on his opponents. He also withstood tandem kicks from Nakajima and Kenoh, which is not something that seems like it’s pleasant to take. The juniors were mainly there as warm bodies to fill the match as this was all about the heavyweights. This match set up two feuds as Soya and Kenoh challenged Marufuji and Muto for the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team titles as well as for the GHC Heavyweight title.
In my excellent review of NOAH The New Year, which you can find here, I remarked on Kitamiya being lost in the shuffle recently. Well lost he is no more. Masa Kitamiya will be the next challenger for Nakajima’s GHC Heavyweight title and he got it by pinning the champion himself. It was weird that he get to take Nakajima’s hair and that there hasn’t been any follow up on that. But now he has a direct fall over the current champion. He doesn’t have a good chance of winning but he gets another chance to establish himself as a credible title challenger.
Jon: Led by the reigning GHC Heavyweight and GHC National champions, heading into a marquee Wrestle Kingdom matchup against Los Ingobernables de Japon, it seemed certain we were looking at a simple showcase for Kongo. Then, they lost.
Paul covered most of the deets here, but I will disagree with him on one thing: the juniors were the glue that turned this from a segment setting up title matches to a bangin’ multiman tag that could stand on its own two (or twenty?) feet. Stretches between Ohara and Aleja followed by Harada and Tadasuke were highlights in the best multiman tag to take place in Tokyo this January 4th. Special shout to Inamura who continued to standout following a career performance on the 1st. He’s not the most exciting GHC challenger, but Kitamiya delivered against Nakajima in the Cage War and again in the closing stretch here. Hell, I’ll give it a shot. ***1/2
Kaito Kiyomia def. Go Shiozaki
Paul: The Kaito Kiyomiya redemption tour starts here. Hopefully. Maybe. While they’ve had a match since then in the N-1, the last time Kaito and Go faced off on January 4th in 2020, Go ended Kaito’s GHC heavyweight title reign. This match felt like a redemption for that after Kaito lost to Kenoh a few days earlier in the same way he did in 2018. January has generally been an important month for Kaito ever since he’s come back from excursion.
Now he has beaten the man that beat him on this day two years ago. This could be the start of the arc that takes Kaito back to the top of the promotion but we’ve been at this point before and NOAH has refused to pull the trigger on Kaito again before. However, this result definitely makes him someone to watch in 2022 going forward as this could be the year that determines the course for the rest of his career. Go meanwhile has to show that this isn’t just kayfabe ring rust and that he’s still a top guy in NOAH. THis makes him another fascinating figure to watch. The match itself was good but is more interesting viewed as a setup for the rest of the year for both men.
Jon: These two were both coming off title match losses at The New Year, which gave this match added stakes — who was going to take consecutive falls? The last time these two met on January 4 was two years ago in one of the best matches of 2020. This time looked a little different. Then Kiyomiya, a bleached blonde champion decked in emerald green, was only just finding his footing on the tail-end of a year-long GHC Title reign. Today, he’s taken a darker appearance, decked out in black gear inspired by a rough (for both him and, at times, the viewer) feud with Keiji Muto.
His in-ring approach is also looking less friendly. He took it to Shiozaki from the opening bell, pushing the pace and attacking the same arm that plagued Go’s last GHC reign. Shiozaki persevered and was able to answer with increasingly brutal chops and lariat attacks. At around fourteen minutes, however, Kiyomiya stunned Go with a knee and snagged a Tiger Suplex for the quick win. It’s a big and much-needed victory for Kiyomiya, and one that Go can write off to his long injury layoff. This doesn’t reach the heights either man achieved at The New Year, but it’s well worth a watch. ***3/4
GHC Junior Tag Team Titles
Stinger (Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA) (c) def. Los Perros del Mal de Japon (YO-HEY & Kotaro Suzuki)
Paul: This felt like the junior singles title match at the New Year’s show but as a tag match. There was excellent stuff between Ogawa and Suzuki here and some very sloppy stuff between HAYATA and YO-HEY. Basically, it was exactly what you would expect when you look at the participants of this match.
One thing I found disappointing was the lack of tension between Ogawa and HAYATA. They heavily teased a breakup after HAYATA beat Ogawa three days ago, with Ogawa refusing to shake his partner’s hand and leaving his half of the junior tag title in the ring. No sign of that here as Ogawa comes out with the title around his waist. During the match, there was also no signs of dissension between the partners as it was just a straightforward match. I expect the tension to resurface once they lose the belts but it’s disappointing that they didn’t build on the previous show.
Jon: Even with the GHC Jr. Titles on the line, it was a bold move to have this match follow Shiozaki and Kiyomiya. I’m not sure it paid off. I’m not as down on HAYATA as some others are, but I can’t wrap my head around having a junior division this talented and having HAYATA completely dominate it.
There were some fun factors on the table here to play with. There was potential tension between the champs after HAYATA defeated Ogawa on the 1st. There was the veteran pairing of Suzuki and Ogawa that flew off the screen whenever they were in the ring together. In the end though, the match mostly just revolved around HAYATA and YO-HEY, yielding a disappointing main event to cap off an otherwise exciting show. There’s not much more to say about it. That’s the problem. **3/4