JUNE 12, 2022

Watch: Wrestle Universe

Meet Our Reviewers

Ewan Cameron: Ewan is going to be that guy who will complain about not enough Ganbare representation on the card. He doesn’t normally watch NOAH, but likes these big crossover events to get a sample of what they have to offer. He still thinks that Ultimate Party 2019 has not been topped. You can view his ongoing list of best matches of 2022 here.

Gerard Di Trolio (@EmeraldFlowShow): Gerard thought that last year’s CyberFight Festival was one of the best shows of the year. He thinks they have a chance to achieve that again, though is a bit wary about how some of the booking may go in the NOAH related stuff. He also apologizes for missing the pre-show but he was watching the All Japan show that ended just before the main show got underway, and you can read that review on this very website. Listen to his podcast on the Voices of Wrestling Podcast Network, the Emerald FlowShow.


Muscle Sakai & Yukio Naya def. Soma Takao & Kazuki Hirata 

Ewan: LOL didn’t watch.

Nao Kakuta, Mahiro Kiryu, Moka Miyamoto, Arisu Endo & Kaya Toribami def. Hyper Misao, Yuki Aino, Raku, Pom Harajuku & Haruna Neko

Ewan: A few years ago, I would have said that the TJPW undercard is easily skippable and the main event scene is where it’s at, but on this card, it’s the TJPW minnows who I’m most excited to see. This match reminded me of those times when DDT would have TJPW offer matches, where you’d get to see the lasses in a different setting in front of a new audience perhaps not familiar with them. It’s the sort of context that brings out the best in the wrestlers. Also, because everyone’s at the same level more or less in the hierarchy (well Misao [age unknown] is obviously higher, but she’s not the sort of person to care about her rank), then it actually makes for a more exciting match, because any one of these wrestlers could have come away with the victory. Well, maybe not Yuuri.

As it was, it was Mahiro [age unknown] who picked up the win for her team. Mahiro winning is like when your friend tries to get you to buy-in to some bitcoin knockoff- “dude I swear it’s gonna moon like crazy…just give it a few months’. Should I go all-in on Mahiro right now? Does this pinfall mean that we are finally entering a bull market for Mahirocoin? I don’t know. I feel like we’ve been here before.

Shout out to Pom Harajuku [age unknown], who is sneakily having a very good year and upping her game tremendously. I don’t think she’s ever going to win the POP title, but, I think she’s done more than enough so far to get an IP title shot. This was just some great friendly girl wrestling and, whisper it, was a bit better than the other TJPW tag later in the show. ***1/2

Eruption (Yukio Sakaguchi, Saki Akai & Hideki Okatani) def. Ken Ohka, Yuna Manase & Mizuki Watase

Ewan: Well Ganbare fans, there’s always next year right? Right?! You know those underdog wrestlers who always lose, but they have great fighting spirit and you kinda love em? In promotion form that’s Ganbare.

This was very good, too good in fact to be here on the pre-show, especially given the effort they put in in building this, which included a Ken Ohka kidnap angle. Eruption came across as a well-oiled machine and Team Ganbare brought some of that heart-on-sleeve passion that defines their brand. In particular I want to highlight Mizuki Watase, who I’ve enjoyed as a wrestler since his DDT days, but who never seemed to get the backing of management there. Since joining Ganbare, he’s slotted in nicely to the upper midcard and has been having a good year in the ring, with a solid showing against Ken Ohka in April. This was a good showcase for him and a post match angle with him despondently cutting his hair as a token of his commitment to a rematch was well done. ***3/4

Main Show

Kinya Okada & Kai Fujimura Def. Toui Kojima & Yuya Koroku

Gerard: Everyone in this match has a ton of potential, and I’ve been saying for a while now that NOAH needs to start moving Okada up the card. I thought Kojima and Okada worked well together despite a couple of botches. Kojima got a good amount of offense in against the older Okada, but in the end Okada made Kojima submit to a Boston Crab. This was a really good opener showing just how dynamic each of these young wrestlers are, which is the exact point of a match like this. ***½

Ewan: I was just writing up my notes about how this was a really nice and crisp tag team match when there were two really bad botches in a row. Nevertheless, this was a fast-paced and competent opener, and given the placement on the card, indicates that DDT and NOAH have confidence in this new batch ***

121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh) & Juria Nagano Def. Hikari Noa, Suzume & Yuki Arai

Gerard: I should deduct stars from this because the audio during Itoh’s entrance sounded off. This was a lot of fun with the highlight for me the Suzume vs. Yamashita sequences. The finish was awesome with Yamashita looking like she nearly decapitated Suzume with a high kick. Nagano didn’t do a lot here, and while she has a lot of hype with some saying she could be a stop star for TJPW, she has a ways to go. This was a good tag match to highlight some more TJPW talent on the main card, though you can quibble if this was the best use of Itoh and Yamashita on a show this big. Still, the wrestlers involved here were always going to deliver. ***½

Ewan: Gerard, are we sure that the audio sounding ‘off’ was just Itoh’s natural singing voice?
At the start, TJPW teased us with a brief Juria Nagano vs Yukia Arai face off, which will probably be used as part of a clip montage for when these two battle for the POP title at Yes Wonderland! 2025.

Suzume is too good at playing the underdog to stay there for much longer and while I enjoyed her exchanges with Miyu, you know that no matter how much offence she gets, there’s an inevitable Miyu skull kick waiting for her down the line. Koda, please get a clue and let’s give the bee something to sink her teeth stinger into this year. 

Match was good, and if you’re watching Cyberfight having never seen TJPW before, then it would be hard not to be entranced just a little by the spark from these six. ***1/4

Pheromones (Yuki “Sexy” Iino, Yumehito “Fantastic” Imanari & Danshoku “Dandy” Dieno) & Akito def. Shinya Aoki, Sanshiro Takagi, Yumiko Hotta & Kendo Kashin

Gerard: I am not a Pheromones fan. I’m not anti-comedy in wrestling, and I do watch DDT, but their act is repetitive and it overwhelms any match they’re in. I’m not a Kashin fan either, but I did like how he attacked Pheromones with a Nivea cut-out before the match. I was actually digging Hotta taking it to Pheromones but then all of the shenanigans with Iino’s butt began. Akito now has assless trunks like Iino. Takagi tapped out to Aktio’s Chicken Erect Hold. Yes, that’s the name of this move. This was probably always going to be the nadir of the show, so things can only get better from here. I will say that Stewart Fulton is a consummate professional as he sold like this match was interesting on commentary. I usually don’t give this rating, and I never have for a Pheromones match before, but I am in this case because of the non-finish. DUD 

Ewan: Normally comedy matches are the palate cleanser, but after watching Shinya Aoki give Yuki Iino a prostate exam in closeup corner-cam vision, you’ll need an eye wash. I can’t deny that Pheromones bring a certain amount of giddy enthusiasm to their matches, but this one-note joke has gone on long enough. Go watch Imanari have serious matches in Ganbare instead. *

Princess of Princess Championship Four Way #1 Contendership: Rika Tatsumi Def. Mizuki, Yuki Kamifuku & Miu Watanabe

Gerard: This match to me, was going to be a sign if TJPW would start to mix up their main event scene more, or stick with the usual suspects. Hakuchumu ended up going at each other pretty early on, their friendship on hold for his match. Watanabe did an impressive Giant Swing to Tatsumi and Mizuki at the same time. This was just one of several awesome looking things Watanabe did in this. This was a standard four way match in many ways, with some of the wrestlers on the outside while there were two in the ring. That being said, it was still non-stop action though there was a bit of sloppiness but it was not too distracting. Kamifuku, the weakest worker in this match, had her participation kept to a minimum which helped. The result was what I expected, Tatsumi winning. Though I did not expect her to pin her tag team partner Watanabe. Could this be part of a story about a Hakuchumu break up? Anyway, I actually think Watanabe should have won this, she was really the star of this match based on her performance, but given the title match from this is happening at Ota Ward Gym, I don’t think Watanable is ready to headline a building that size for TJPW, though she really should get a title show sooner rather than later. ***½ 

Ewan: Apart from a botched cutter so bad they had to redo it, Miu put on a stellar performance here and demonstrated why she belongs in the title match conversation. The problem is that TJPW’s booking is so predictable and slow that had she won, there would be zero chance of her actually winning the POP title.

I had predicted Mizuki to win this, which was almost certainly wishful thinking, as she seems the most likely out of anyone in TJPW to be the next first time POP champion. Rika winning feels like a safe bet kind of move, because you know you’re going to get a great match, but are we not just cycling the same people into title matches again and again? Match was very good, although it suffered from the perennial problem of multi-person matches where you just end up with people rolling out the ring to have various 1vs1 combinations. I felt they could have been a bit more inventive, especially with Rika and Miu being tag partners and the Rika crushing on Mizuki arc. ***1/2

Michael Elgin, Simon Gotch & Sugiura-gun (El Hijo de Dr. Wagner Jr., René Duprée & Timothy Thatcher) Def. Sugiura-gun (Takashi Sugiura & Kazuyuki Fujita), Masa Kitamiya, Daiki Inaba & Shuhei Taniguchi

Gerard: Watching Fujita and Thatcher tangle is always cool, and I say that as someone that is very hot and cold on Thatcher. This was what you’d think it would be. Everyone getting their shit in and lots of big moves. Elgin pinned Inaba after the Elgin Bomb. I know Inaba eats a lot of pins, but him doing the job over Taniguchi was somewhat surprising. Elgin getting the pin here is also a sign that the company is going to keep pushing him, which is going to upset a lot of people. Anyway, while this had a predictable formula, it was good. ***½ 

Ewan: Pretty fun tag match overall. Question: could El Hijo de Dr Wagner Jr also be called Dr Wagner III? Simon Gotch had a pretty good showing here, but this was all about Elgin, who had a good showing here, looking dominant as he picked up the win for his team. ***

Disaster Box (HARASHIMA & Naomi Yoshimura) & CDK (Masahiro Takanashi & Chris Brookes) Def. The 37Kamiina (Shunma Katsumata, Yuki Ueno & MAO) & ASUKA

Gerard: This was wrestled at a frenetic pace. And it was also a good example of how DDT can do lighthearted spots well that don’t drag the match down. There were some incredible performances in this, with Asuka, Ueno and Yoshimura being standouts. Ueno especially looked like one of the best wrestlers in the world in this. HARASHIMA pinning Katsumata seemed like a bit of a surprise because 37Kamiina’s entrance felt like this was going to be a big moment for them, but that hardly took away from this match. ****¼  

Ewan: This was a fantastic showcase for DDT’s midcard engines. There’s something special about Asuka, Mao and CDK’s rivalry right now and they brought that hugely creative and innovative energy to this match. I don’t even know if there’s a word for the style they are proponents of, but if I could describe it, it’s like a steady rhythm of big moves, intricate choreography and spots you’ve never seen before. Everyone else was on top form here too and there’s a few people like Yuni Ueno and maybe even Naomi Yoshimura that you could see as future KO-D champions.

The on-screen chyrons with people’s ages reminds us that Asuka is only 23, which is always a wow moment, as her skill and the way she carries herself is of someone more mature. Her legendary lightube match would have happened when she was only 20. I’d argue that she’s one of the best wrestlers in the world right now and most wrestlers at that age are still learning the ropes, yet she brings a supreme amount of confidence and ability to her matches and is a joy to watch, especially teaming or against MAO.

This was the first great match of the show, and coming back to this after seeing the whole thing, was probably the best thing on the card. DDT’s showing at this event was kinda poor, but this demonstrated that they do have a core of talent who can go toe-to-toe with the best in the world. ****1/4

Rob Van Dam & Stinger (Yoshinari Ogawa and Hayata) Def. Kaito Kiyomiya, Daisuke Harada & YO-HEY

Gerard: Well, I will say that RVD looked better here than during his last run in Impact. He still shows his age in many ways, but he’s moving a lot better than when I last saw him in 2019. It is funny to watch Kiyomiya sell for him though. This was another fast paced match, with Harada and Kiyomiya holding it together. Those two also worked well with RVD. Harada was pinned after the Five-Star Frog Splash from RVD. Maybe I’m the high man on this, but I thought this was pretty damn good all things considered. ***¾  

Ewan: Imagine going to a music festival of emo bands and then Iron Maiden show up and start playing their hits which, rather than being out of place, ends up being a feel good moment for everyone. That’s what it’s like watching Rob Van Dam at Cyberfight Festival. It shouldn’t work. But it does. He’s clearly from a different generation, but there’s a reason he’s still in demand. Yeah this was a match purely for him to go through his moveset, but in case you need reminding, RVD has a pretty great move set and he can still hit the five star frog splash better than some wrestlers 30 years his junior. We even got the best use of the shaky corner camera all night when it beautifully captured the split legged moonsault, like some BBC nature documentary filming a frog leaping into a pond. I don’t really know the other guys in this match as I’m not a regular NOAH watcher but I remembered Kiyomiya from that awesome tag match from last year’s CyberFight festival. While this was the Whole F’N Show, everyone got a little chance to shine here. Good stuff. ***1/2

Katsuhiko Nakajima, Atsushi Kotoge, & Yoshiki Inamura Def. Burning (Tetsuya Endo & Jun Akiyama) & Kazusada Higuchi via ref stoppage

Gerard: So after some incredible entrances, this match was shaping up to be something very good. But then Nakajima delivered a massive slap to Endo who immediately hit the mat and his head bounced off of it. The referee stopped that match and Akiyama came over and looked pissed at Nakajima and chewed him out, with Nakajima looking like he knows he fucked up big time. I highly doubt this was a work, especially with this all going down only five minutes into the match. Nakajima, who got heat for his weak drawing ability as GHC Heavyweight Champion, is definitely in the doghouse now after that slap. NR

Ewan: Gerard’s already explained what happened here, and it’s a real shame and to be honest it put a real damper on the rest of the show. Hope Endo recovers from this and if he does, is Endo/Nakajima (with Endo going over) pencilled in, or are they going to put this all behind them? NR

No Disqualification Match: Kenoh Def. Daisuke Sasaki

Gerard: Sasaki had a spooky themed entrance with zombies. Kenoh had an incredible one with people in robot costumes with red lights and a live performance of his theme. Kenoh’s hair was done up like he was a Super Saiyan. Sasaki put on what looked like a Gundam pilot’s helmet and then Yoshihiko got thrown into the ring. Kenoh then threw Yoshihiko into the crowd. Only a few minutes in and we had Kenoh hit the PFS on Sasaki through a table on the outside. Damnation TA and Kongo members started brawling on the outside after MJ Paul attacked Kenoh. Masakatsu Funaki rode a bike down the ramp trying to hit Sasaki, but Sasaki got out of the way and Manabu Soya was hit. Sasaki hit a top rope elbow drop to the outside across the barrier to a seated Kenoh that looked insane. A coffin was brought out and it got filled with thumbtacks. Sasaki tried to get Kenoh in there, but Kenoh ended up slamming Sasaki into it. Sasaki missed what looked like an elbow drop of a ladder, then Kenoh kicked him in the head several times. Kenoh then climbed to the top of the ladder and hit the PFS and got the win. 

This was fun for what it was, though it was not some kind of high end hardcore match like we have seen from Masashi Takeda. It did go a little too long and there was a lot of time wasted setting up spots, but there were definitely some spectacular spots in this. ***½ 

Ewan: I think at this point, deep in the show, I was already a bit worn out and the incident from the previous match had mentally checked me out for this match. As I said I don’t watch NOAH, but seeing Kenoh’s attitude and antics at Cyberfight Festival last year made me an instant fan. This was a decent enough plunder match from two clashing personalities. I just couldn’t concentrate on it given what had just happened in the ring beforehand. ***1/2

Princess of Princess Championship: Shoko Nakajima (c) Def. Yuka Sakazaki

Gerard: Both women got great entrances, with the dinosaurs in Nakajima’s being a highlight. To the surprise of no one, this began at a quick pace. Things did slow down a bit in the middle when Sakazaki may have injured her left arm after getting thrown outside the ring by a Frankensteiner. But after some holds, the match picked up again. Sakazaki missed a Springboard 450 Splash which allowed Nakajima to regain momentum and pinned Sakazaki soon after following a top rope Senton. There was a lot of good action in this, though there were few sloppy looking spots. My biggest issue with this match was that I thought there wasn’t a ton of drama like near falls in the closing stretch. While Nakajima didn’t dominate the match, it didn’t feel like Sakazaki was on the verge of pulling off a victory at any point. Still, this was one of the better matches this year from TJPW. ***¾

Ewan: I’ve written previously that Shoko’s senton finisher is very unglamorous and can feel a bit anticlimactic as top rope moves generally take longer than average to set up. Yet, the more she keeps racking up wins with this, the more impactful the move is going to be. Yuka may or may not have had the boo-boo face during the entrance. Or she may have just been concentrating on the dance moves. At least she sold the finish this year and didn’t storm off down the ramp after losing. This match was pretty decent, and was laid out well. The early lucha-style exchanges were fast and proved that if TJPW were going to choose two wrestlers to co-main event, then these two were more than capable of rising to that level. That’s the real problem with TJPW right now. They are stuck in a rotation of the same handful of main eventers, but at the same time, have failed to really bring up many people to that level either. Sooner or later it’s going to take a leap of confidence to start moving people up. 

There wasn’t anything totally egregious, but there was a bit of sloppiness in the middle. I’m a big fan of Shoko, but the 619 is legit one of the worst moves in wrestling. The set up is so contrived and the execution always looks weak too, as it did here. Match felt like it was missing 5 minutes and an extra spark, but it wasn’t bad at all. ***¾ 

GHC Heavyweight Championship: Satoshi Kojima Def. Go Shiozaki (c)

Gerard: Kojima had a great entrance with the dancers, but Shiozaki’s ancient Rome inspired entrance with the long cape may have been the best entrance I’ve ever seen in wrestling. In fact I can’t think of a show with more great entrances than this one. Even some Wrestle Kingdoms with great entrances, didn’t have as many as this one had in a single show. 

While everyone knows that Kojima can still go, we haven’t had a performance from him like this in a long time. He can still do an epic main event style. Shiozaki was of course great as well. Kojima hit a Shining Wizard as a tribute to Keiji Muto and Shiozaki used the Emerald Flowsion as a tribute to Mitsuharu Misawa. As the match went on, the crowd started making audible noise, especially as both men started using Lariats in the closing stretch. After a second massive Lariat, Kojima got the pin. This was a result I did not expect, especially given Muto had announced he was retiring, making a Kojima vs. Muto match unlikely. 

After the match Kenoh came out to challenge Kojima for the Budokan show on July 16. This was a great match, though not quite as balls out as some GHC title matches of the past few years, but hey Kojima is almost 52 and the crazy stiff stuff was never his style. ****¼ 

Ewan: As I’ve said, I’m not a regular NOAH watcher, so perhaps there’s some sort of story I’m missing, but if you’re hosting a show called Cyberfight, intended as a festival of promotions under the Cyberfight banner, then why is a guy from NJPW headlining the show? Not only that, but why is he beating the presumed top guy of your flagship promotion? Make it make sense to me, NOAH fans. 

That said, I liked this match a lot for what it was. Kojima was obviously a vet here, but he wrestled very smoothly and matched Go chop for chop. This pace ramped really nicely although it didn’t end up in a huge kickout or head drop fest, which was kinda refreshing actually. Good stuff. ****

Overall Thoughts

Gerald: Overall, I thought this was a good show, but it didn’t reach the levels of last year, and unfortunately, there was the Nakajima and Endo incident. And the Keiji Muto news was somewhat expected, but it is still wild to think he is finally retiring.

Ewan: In general, I have to say that Cyberfight Festival 2022 didn’t live up to last year. Remember Kenoh riding the bike? 37KAMIINA, Imanura and Kiyomiya putting on a MOTYC? Akiyama and Yoshihiko dancing on the stage? There was a certain sublime joy to last year’s festival that just didn’t really manifest this year. Indeed the curtain call after the final match felt more perfunctory than celebratory.

While of course the Endo/Nakajima incident is a big reason for the deflation, the card itself felt a bit uninspired too. It’s questionable why Eruption/Ganbare was on the preshow and not the main card. Obviously Ganbare is the least well known of the Cyberfight properties and so surely this was the stage to give them some extra promotion. There’s a lot of talent in Ganbare that was absent from this, underrated workhorses such as Ishii and Iwasaki for instance, that could have put on a great exhibition here.

On a technical note, the addition of full on dance teams for the big match entrances was spectacular. Go Shiozaki’s Roman emperor themed set being a memorable one as was Shoko’s dancing dinos. As a criticism, the use of on screen chyrons telling us people’s age, height and weight was probably not a good idea overall. I get it, wrestling’s a pseudo sport, and that’s what a real sport would do, but wrestling is also a show and understandably, wrestlers don’t want to always pull back the curtain and demystify things. This reached farcical proportions when half of the joshi’s chyrons had two blank spaces for their ages and weights. Bring back the DDT power rankings instead! Finally a quick shout out to Stewart Fulton who did an amazing job carrying the English comms for 6 hours.