This was to be one of the ‘big’ shows from NOAH this year. Plenty of names on the card that should – in theory – draw well (it didn’t) and elicit good crowd heat (it didn’t). The show was set up fairly well and returned to the Ariake Colosseum (the location of Kobashi’s legendary title fight against Honda in 2003 – trust me, watch it!) for the first time in quite a while. I was personally looking forward to it, and so without further ado, here is how the event matched up to my expectations:
1. Taniguchi Shuhei & Aoki Atsushi vs Taue Akira & Inoue Masao
Essentially a match that was an acceptable opener. Mildly entertaining moments revolved mostly around the typical Inoue shtick and the seemingly endless stream of young ladies ever willing to scream out AAOOOKIIII.
– Rating 38%
2. Bison Smith, Keith Walker, Ishimori Taiji & Ricky Marvin vs Mohammed Yone, Saito Akitoshi, Hirayanagi Genba & Shiga Kentaro
Genba is brilliant in this. And Bison plays off of it so well. Part comedy match, part crazy hachinin tag match. And it works very well. Genba is quite over considering he always loses, and he was in fantastic form here. I had great fun laughing at his antics (and the reaction of the other wrestlers) and then eventually watching him get demolished by Bison Smith who carried a fantastic edge of amusement with Genba. Fun, fun, fun.
– Rating 60%
3. Sasaki Kensuke, Ogawa Yoshinari & Nakajima Katsuhiko vs Akiyama Jun, Sano Takuma & Hashi Makoto
Whenever I see Hashi in a match I grin. partly because I remember back before the injuries when he was actually very very good. Now I grin because well, he still carries some of that with him. The Hashi/Nakajima and Akiyama/Nakajima sections were great. Pity that the rest was terribly ordinary.
– Rating 54%
4. Taniguchi Ryusuke & Prince Devitt vs KENTA & Eddie Edwards
Inter-promotional matches thrive on home support and heat. This match didnt have enough of it really. KENTA and Taguchi had moments of hate, and Edwards showed up well, but this match was (incredibly strangely for what you’d think it’d be on paper) simply just there to pad time and get KENTA on the card.
– Rating 56%
5. Morishima Takeshi vs Yoshie Yutaka
Epic boobies collide! Yoshie wasn’t really at his best in this, but the match was a decent watch. Lots of fat man vs fat man spots and some cool moments. If they clipped the match about 8 mins shorter – so Yoshie wouldn’t gas out completely – this could have been excellent.
– Rating 61%
6. GHC Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Kanemaru Yoshinobu vs Marufuji Naomichi
If you know these two guys, you know what to expect. Kanemaru is good when he lifts his game, and he does in this match. Marufuji mails it home a bit, but the background to the match and some of the super-cool spots make this a match definitely worth seeing. It also isn’t a mindless spotfest, and doesn’t venture into overkill territory. Highly recommended.
– Rating 78%
7. Shiozaki Go vs Tanahashi Hiroshi
I thought the match was very very poor. Tanahashi didn’t impress even the slightest even before the jaw smash. Continual crowd appeals don’t replace a match. Shiozaki seemed a bit lost without a good match leader. Chemistry? These two have it. Just the horror kind that produces deformed matches of unquestionable blandness. A terrible disappointment.
– Rating 66%
8. GHC Heavyweight Championship Match: Sugiura Takeshi vs Takayama Yoshihiro (Human Bull vs Don Frye Sculpture)
OH HELL YES! About half way into the match I was kind of so-so about it. But then all sorts of disgusting things happened and I lapped it up with bloodthirsty glee. They offered each others heads at the sacrificial altar of epic BASH. Ugly has never been this beautiful. I wouldn’t say it’s as good at the Nakamura/Takayama epic – even if only because Ariake were carrying the ‘this crowd sucks’ gimmick – but it is right up there with the best matches of the year so far. Stupidly glorious.
– Rating 82%
Overall, I say watch this show. You will be happy. There’s a nice variety of all sorts of things and the overall quality never gets too bad. If you’re really pushed for time, jump straight into Marufuji/Kanemaru and Sugiura/Takayama.