NOAH "The Second Navigation" 2009
An Enhanced Review by Kevin Wilson
Date: March 1st, 2009
It is that time of the year again when I review a NOAH event. I was pimping NOAH a bit in last week's Weekly Thoughts, so in order to further talk about it I decided to review their last big event. And what a big event it was. First, Kobashi makes his big return after being out for 9 months. Then we get to see heel Rikio and Suzuki, which I had talked about before, along with another heel team of Yone, Kanemaru, and Hirayanagi. Also, Nakajima and KENTA battle for perhaps the last time in the foreseeable future in a feud that has been building for over half a year. And finally, Akiyama attempts to take back the GHC Heavyweight Championship from Kensuke Office. Quite a show, huh? Here is the full card:
- Kenta Kobashi Return Match: Kenta Kobashi vs. Masao Inoue
This is an Enhanced Review, so expect more pictures and more analysis. Let's get started.
Kenta Kobashi vs. Masao Inoue
Match Thoughts: A fine novelty match, but certainly not a "good" match in the traditional sense. People dreaming of Kobashi being GHC Heavyweight Champion again need to accept the fact that Kobashi as we knew him is gone. I love Kobashi as much as the next guy, but he physically can't go anymore. All that is left for him is big tag matches and a passing of the torch or two. Anyway, the match was even more choppy then most Kobashi matches but the crowd enjoyed it and Inoue has fun facial expressions. It was too long though, clocking in at almost 15 minutes, they really could have accomplished the same goal in a 7 or 8 minute match. Quite a bit of unnecessary downtime. But it was good to see Kobashi again and even though he is broken down he still has the charisma and fight to help overcome his physical restrictions. Score: 5.0
Taiji Ishimori and Ippei Ota vs. Takashi Okita and Kento Miyahara
Match Thoughts: Fun, harmless Jr. Heavyweight tag match. This is the start of where Kensuke Office invading really helped NOAH, as it took out some of the "randomness" on their cards. Here we have three young wrestlers and one veteran to hold the match together given a chance to keep the crowd warmed up before the big matches start, and they certainly did the trick. All the wrestlers hit their spots well and Ishimori got to show off a little bit without doing a lot of big moves that might take away from the bigger matches on the card. It went under 10 minutes, which was good as it allowed them to stay focused and not fill the match with a lot of dead time. This isn't the type of match that will make anyone giggle or make any MOTY lists, but it was a solid low card match that was exciting and allowed the younger stars a chance to shine. Score: 6.5
Akira Taue, Naomichi Marufuji, and Aoki vs. Buchanan, Roderick Strong, and Davey Richards
Aoki goes back to the arm but Richards breaks it up. Aoki charges Strong in the corner but Strong moves out of the way, he picks up Aoki on to his shoulders and delivers the double knee gutbuster. This gives Strong time to tag in Richards while Aoki tags in Marufuji, Richards goes off the ropes and he slams Marufuji back into the corner. Richards ducks an Marufuji enzigieri and chops him in the corner, Irish whip, but Richards hits a handstand rebound spinning heel kick for a two count cover. Richards picks up Marufuji and they trade elbows, Marufuji goes off the ropes but Strong runs in and kicks him in the face. With Strong still in the ring they nail a Powerbomb/Lung Blower combination to Marufuji, cover but Richards but it is broken up. Crowd is really buzzing. Richards goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick, he goes off the ropes and delivers a kick to Marufuji's head. German suplex hold by Richards but it gets a two count. Richards grabs Marufuji but Taue comes in the ring and chops Richards in the head. Richards goes off the ropes, so does Marufuji, but Richards rolls up Marufuji for a two count. Rolling sole butt by Marufuji, he goes off the ropes but Richards catches him with a lariat. Double wrist-clutch German suplex hold by Richards, but Marufuji kicks out at two. Richards goes for the DR Driver but Taue breaks it up. Taue chops Richards into the corner, he throws Richards into the other corner and both Aoki and Marufuji deliver running strikes. Nodowa Otoshi by Taue, Aoki hits a diving body press and Marufuji ends with a modified double underhook suplex for a two count. Richards tries to fight off both Marufuji and Taue, but it doesn't work and they drop him with a Union Shiranui/Nodowa Otoshi for the three count pinfall. Your winners: Akira Taue, Naomichi Marufuji, and Aoki
Match Thoughts: I can happily report this is one of only two random (meaning the teams don't really mean anything) matches on the card... I realize it goes the traditional Native vs. Gaijin route but it still didn't have a real purpose or back story to it. At least it had a few big stars in it though and I really do love Marufuji. The only real surprise here was how much offense Richards got in, he pretty much had Marufuji beaten until Taue came in the ring and attacked him. Taue was pretty useless, which is the norm at this point, but the other five showed some fire and tried to put on a fun match. And it wasn't bad, just meaningless in the grand scheme of things as Aoki didn't get the pinfall which might elevate him, and Marufuji/Taue don't gain anything from this type of match besides just being on the card. But not bad overall. Score: 4.5
Takeshi Rikio and Kotaro Suzuki vs. Yoshihiro Takayama and Ricky Marvin
Suzuki tags in Rikio, he picks up Marvin and applies a modified abdominal stretch. Rikio goes for a backdrop suplex but Marvin lands on his feet, Marvin goes off the ropes but Rikio knocks him down with a shoulderblock. Irish whip by Rikio but Marvin springboards off the ropes with a dropkick and makes the tag to Takayama. Takayama knees Rikio in the corner and hits a double armed suplex before applying a headscissors. Takayama knocks down Suzuki when he runs in the ring and nails a jumping knee onto Rikio, cover, but it gets a two count. Back up Rikio fights back and lariats Takayama to the mat. Rikio tags in Suzuki, elbows by Suzuki but Takayama returns fire and gets the better of it. Suzuki goes for a springboard attack, Takayama catches him and goes for a German suplex, but Suzuki lands on his feet. Irish whip by Suzuki to the corner and he delivers a jumping knee followed by a jumping knee off the top turnbuckle for a two count. Suzuki goes for a vertical suplex but he can't get Takayama over, Suzuki goes off the ropes and hits a series of kicks before finally hitting the vertical suplex for a two count. Waistlock by Suzuki but Takayama elbows out of it and knees Suzuki hard in the stomach. Takayama tags in Marvin, back kick by Marvin, Irish whip, Suzuki goes off the ropes and goes for a handstand rebound attack but Marvin dropkicks him in the arm as he goes for the handstand. Irish whip by Marvin to the corner and he hits a jumping kick, and then Takayama drops Suzuki with a knee to the stomach. Cover by Marvin but Rikio breaks it up. Takayama and Rikio battle in the corner as Marvin powerbombs Suzuki, he picks Suzuki back up and nails the Blue Destiny. Cover, but Rikio breaks it up. Rikio and Marvin trade blows, Rikio throw down the referee when he tries to catch him but then Takayama boots Rikio in the face. Takayama follows Rikio outside while in the ring Marvin picks up Suzuki and hits two vertical suplexes. Marvin goes up to the top turnbuckle but Suzuki gets his feet up when he jumps off. Uppercut by Suzuki and he drops Marvin with the Blue Destiny. Cover, but the referee is still woozy. He has no recovered, Suzuki yells at him, and while he is yelling at the referee he is rolled up from behind by Marvin. Suzuki blows mist into Marvin's face however, reverses the roll-up, and he gets the three count pinfall! Your winners: Takeshi Rikio and Kotaro Suzuki
Match Thoughts: Besides the flat ending, which I will talk about in a minute, this was exactly what I was talking about. Normally this would have been your normal "you respect me, I respect you, lets trade elbows" match. Instead, we get evil heel Rikio, who impressed me for the first time in years, sneakily bastard Suzuki, and a fired up Takayama and especially Marvin. Rikio snapping when Marvin kicked him when he was on the apron was just fantastic, in the old ways he would have just sadly returned to the apron. I also liked that Rikio won the exchanges with Takayama, as Takayama is the Freelancer who should be giving those little rubs to the contracted wrestlers. Marvin was just on-point and on fire the entire match, whipping out his crazy moves like it was nothing and trying to upstage Suzuki by beating him with his own move. Takayama played his part well, as he gave the heels some offense but showed that with just one move he was able to regain the advantage due to his overwhelming strength. It was perfect up to the ending, which didn't work for a few reasons. First of all, the referee stopped counting before Suzuki had rolled Marvin over. Secondly, you couldn't see Suzuki use the mist unless you looked really hard, so neither I nor the crowd knew that Marvin had been misted and that is why the reversal worked. Finally, due to those two things above the crowd got really flat as they cheered loudly when Marvin rolled up Suzuki but went to dead silence after it was reversed as it made no sense to the casual viewer. But I did like Suzuki cheating to win. Heels in NOAH = awesome. This was just a mid-card match but it shows what can happen when the heel/face dynamic is done well. Score: 7.0
Mohammed Yone, Kanemaru, and Genba Hirayanagi vs. Morishima, Hashi, and Akihiko Ito
This gives Ito time to tag in Morishima, but Yone's team mates quickly run into the ring. Morishima lariats all three of them in rapid succession however (crowd enjoys it), Morishima throws all three of them into the same corner and gives him all a running butt smash. Morishima throws Yone down, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers a missile dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Morishima goes for the backdrop driver but Yone gets out of it and kicks Morishima twice in the head for a two count cover. Yone goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, but Morishima doesn't go down. A second attempt doesn't work, and when Yone goes off a third time Morishima knocks him to the mat and makes the tag to Ito. Yone also tags in Kanemaru, Irish whip by Ito, Kanemaru goes for a sunset flip but Ito rolls throw it and dropkicks Kanemaru in the chest. Double arm suplex hold by Ito, but Kanemaru kicks out at two. Ito goes up to the top turnbuckle but Kanemaru joins him and delivers a superplex. Cover, but Ito kicks out. Kanemaru picks up Ito and goes for a suplex, but Ito goes down his back and hits a German suplex hold for a two count. Ito picks up Kanemaru, scoop slam, he goes up to the top turnbuckle again but Kanemaru gets his knees up when he goes for a diving body press. Crab hold by Kanemaru, but Ito makes it to the ropes. Kanemaru goes for a backdrop but Ito lands on his feet and hits an enzigieri followed by a jumping elbow. This gives him time to tag in Hashi, Mongolian chop by Hashi and he gets Kanemaru into the corner. Irish whip by Hashi but Kanemaru boots him in the face. Hashi comes back with a lariat however, cover, but it gets a two count. Scoop slam by Hashi, he goes to the second turnbuckle but Kanemaru kicks him as he jumps off and tags in Hirayanagi. Hirayanagi elbows Hashi in the corner and delivers an elbow drop, cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Hirayanagi, Hashi tries to kick him as he charges in but Hirayanagi kicks him low. Backdrop suplex by Hirayanagi as his team mates come in the ring, Kanemaru holds Hashi and Hirayanagi hits a diving elbow drop to his groin. Suplex by Hirayanagi to Hashi, cover, but Ito breaks it up. Hirayanagi waits for Hashi to get up and goes for the SHORYU-GENBA, but Hashi ducks it and hits a back fist followed by a lariat. Hashi picks up Hirayanagi as Morishima and Ito get in the ring, Ito and Hirayanagi hit running strikes and Morishima delivers a sidewalk slam. Hashi then goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the diving headbutt, cover, but it is broken up. Hashi picks up Hirayanagi, Hirayanagi fights him off and goes off the ropes but Hashi catches him with a lariat. Hashi picks up Hirayanagi and delivers a Michinoku Driver, cover, but it gets a two count. Hashi grabs Hirayanagi and hits his Tenchu Karasu Otoshi for the three count pinfall. Your winners: Morishima, Hashi, and Akihiko Ito
Post match: Everyone brawls. For several minutes. Especially Suzuki and Aoki. And its fun.
Match Thoughts: Morishima is even bigger then last time I saw him, wonder if that is by design or he ate too many treats over the holidays. Like the last match, this one was helped out by the new heel stable with Yone and company... not sure if its an official stable but some variation of these wrestlers fight together quite a bit. Morishima was still the star of the match and got the loudest reactions, but the chaotic feel that Yone and his friends created was what really helped the match. I really enjoyed when Morishima got the hot tag that all three wrestlers attacked him at the same time instead of going one at a time like traditionally happens... Morishima still beat them all up but their strategy was sound. Hirayanagi has really grown in the ring since last time I saw him and even though he got pinned he did hold his own very well. A fun multi-man tag match that went just about the right length of time and put over not only Morishima but also the heel group, with Kotaro Suzuki adding his bit from the sidelines to make the faction lines forming in NOAH even more clear. Score: 6.0
Akitoshi Saito, Bison Smith, and Doug Williams vs. Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa, and Shuhei Taniguchi
Saito clubs Taniguchi in the back and kicks him in the chest, Irish whip by Saito and he knees Taniguchi in the stomach. Saito picks up Taniguchi and he delivers a delayed vertical suplex, cover, but it gets a two count. Lariat by Saito, he quickly picks up Taniguchi and hits a backdrop suplex. Cover, but Taniguchi barely gets a shoulder up. Saito tags in Bison, lariat by Bison and he throws Taniguchi into the corner. Snapmare by Bison and he applies a reverse chinlock. Taniguchi gets to the ropes to force a break, and Bison tags in Williams. Uppercut by Williams, Taniguchi tries to fight out of the corner but Williams applies a headscissors and drops a knee onto Taniguchi for a two count cover. Williams dumps Taniguchi out of the ring, and outside Saito throws him into the guard rail. Saito throws Taniguchi into the ring post, then Bison holds Taniguchi against the post so that Saito could deliver a lariat. Saito slides Taniguchi back into the ring, cover by Williams but it gets two. Williams tags in Bison, clubs to the back by Bison onto Taniguchi and he delivers a powerbomb. Cover, but it is broken up by Misawa. Misawa and Ogawa give Bison a double Irish whip but he lariats both of them to the mat. Bison tags in Saito, clubs to the back by Saito and he kicks Taniguchi in the chest. More kicks by Saito, Taniguchi absorbs the blows and hits a few elbows, but Saito levels him with a lariat for a two count cover. Saito tags in Bison, Bison puts Taniguchi onto the top turnbuckle, he then applies the Iron Claw on the top turnbuckle. Taniguchi gets out of it by tossing Bison to the mat, which gives him time to tag in Misawa. Irish whip by Misawa to Bison and Misawa hits an elbow followed by a senton. Misawa picks up Bison, Irish whip to the corner, reversed, but Misawa elbows Bison when he charges in. Misawa goes off the ropes but Bison catches him with a powerslam. Bison then goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving shoulderblock, cover, but it gets a two count. Back up, Bison applies the Iron Claw, Misawa gets out of it but Bison lariats him to the mat.
Bison tags in Saito as Misawa tags in Ogawa, and Ogawa hits Saito with an enzigieri followed by a backdrop suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Ogawa goes off the ropes, kick by Saito, he goes for a scissors kick but Ogawa delivers a dragon screw leg whip. Ogawa goes off the ropes but Saito kicks him in the leg and makes the tag to Williams. Williams picks up Ogawa, Irish whip to the corner but Ogawa kicks him back. Ogawa tries to roll up Williams but he reverses it and gets a two count cover. They trade pin attempts but neither are able to get the three count. DDT by Ogawa and he makes the tag to Taniguchi, Taniguchi gives Williams a boot in the corner followed by a jumping knee. Double arm suplex by Taniguchi, cover, but it gets a two count. Taniguchi picks up Williams and goes for the Fisherman Suplex, but Williams blocks it. Williams kicks back Taniguchi and goes off the ropes, but Taniguchi catches him with a spinebuster. Misawa and Ogawa come into the ring and hits a combination of moves onto Williams, ending with a running knee by Taniguchi. Cover, but Saito breaks it up. Karelin Lift by Taniguchi, but Williams returns with a running elbow smash. Williams kicks Taniguchi back and hits a corkscrew elbow off the second turnbuckle, cover, but it gets a two count. Williams throws Taniguchi into the corner and hits a jumping knee, he then goes off the ropes and hits a knee lift followed by a suplex. Cover, but Taniguchi kicks out. Williams goes for the Chaos Theory but Taniguchi shakes him off. Bison comes in the ring and cleans house, he and Saito give Taniguchi an Irish whip and both hit lariats at the same time. Iron Claw Bomb/Backdrop Suplex combination by Bison and Saito, cover by Williams but Ogawa breaks it up. Bison and Saito clear the ring while Williams throws Taniguchi into the corner, jumping knees by Williams, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and he nails a diving knee drop. Cover, but it gets a two count. Taniguchi fires back with elbows and applies a small package, but Williams kicks out. Back up, Williams reverses a waistlock and delivers the Chaos Theory, picking up the three count! Your winners: Akitoshi Saito, Bison Smith, and Doug Williams
Match Thoughts: First of all, I won't condemn this match as being random, but I will criticize it for being boring. I realize now that I don't really like Williams, I am not a big fan of still doing the chain wrestling/rest hold submission holds over halfway through the match, that type of thing should really be reserved for the first few series since it doesn't nothing to further the match along. Neither team really showed any enthusiasm or interest, Taniguchi tried to show a little fire but he wasn't getting much in return. The Bison/Misawa encounters got a lot of reaction but they naturally didn't hook up that much in response. In 2008 at least half the matches on every card were like this one, lackluster multi-man matches, so I am happy that it was less frequent on this card even though I feel that NOAH will insist on always having matches like this for reasons I can't understand. Score: 4.0
Takashi Sugiura and Go Shiozaki vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Milano Collection A.T.
Nakamura charges Shiozaki. in the corner, Shiozaki. kicks him back and goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Nakamura kicks Shiozaki. down over the ropes to the floor. Nakamura goes outside the ring but Sugiura greets him, but Milano comes over and attacks Shiozaki. Nakamura rolls back into the ring while Milano continues attacking Shiozaki. on the floor, but he finally rolls Shiozaki. back in. Nakamura stomps on Shiozaki. and goes after the leg, which had been slammed by Milano into the railing a moment earlier. Nakamura tags in Milano, Milano and Nakamura both grab Shiozaki.'s legs and yank on them. Leg lock by Milano, Shiozaki. starts to fight back but Milano regains the advantage and tags in Nakamura. Elbow to the leg by Nakamura but Sugiura comes in the ring, elbowing Nakamura repeatedly in the head. Sugiura knocks down Nakamura with a shoulderblock, but Nakamura recovers before Shiozaki. and connects with a few elbows. Shiozaki. comes back with a chop and the two trade blows. Nakamura goes off the ropes but Shiozaki. catches him with a chop, but Nakamura boots him back. Nakamura goes off the ropes again but he is caught with a superkick. This gives Shiozaki. time to tag in Sugiura, who spears Nakamura and knocks Milano off the apron. Sugiura picks up Nakamura but Milano comes in the ring, double Irish whip to Sugiura but Sugiura spears Milano and then slams Nakamura to the mat. Running boot in the corner by Sugiura, and he connects with two more. German suplex hold by Sugiura, but Nakamura kicks out at two. Irish whip by Sugiura but Nakamura delivers a back kick. Nakamura goes off the ropes but Sugiura kicks him back, Sugiura goes off the ropes but Nakamura hits a powerslam. Inverted powerslam by Nakamura, cover, but it gets a two count. Nakamura picks up Sugiura and puts him on his shoulders, but Sugiura gets off and drops Nakamura on his head with a release German suplex. Sugiura goes for a running kick but Nakamura ducks it and hits a release German suplex of his own.
Both wrestlers are slow to get up, and they trade elbows once they return to their feet. Slaps by Sugiura, but Nakamura returns with a hard right to the face, getting loud boos from the audience. He goes for a second punch by Sugiura knocks him down with a lariat. Sugiura is up first and tags in Shiozaki., Shiozaki. knocks Milano off the apron and goes back to Nakamura. Nakamura and Shiozaki. trade strikes, Irish whip by Shiozaki. from the corner and he delivers a running chop. Kicks to the chest by Nakamura, but Shiozaki. catches one and clubs Nakamura in the chest. Irish whip attempt by Shiozaki. but Nakamura slams on the breaks and applies a triangle choke. He goes for the cross armbreaker, but Shiozaki. keeps his hands locked until Sugiura can save him. Nakamura gives Sugiura a pair of high kicks and makes the tag to Milano. Milano and Shiozaki. trade chops, double Irish whip by Nakamura and Milano and both hit strikes on Shiozaki. in the corner. Face crusher by Milano and he nails Shiozaki. with a superkick. Cover, but Sugiura breaks it up. Nakamura throws Sugiura out of the ring, Milano picks up Shiozaki. and goes for the Victoria Milanese, Shiozaki. reverses it and goes off the ropes, but Milano avoids Shiozaki.'s attack. Irish whip by Milano but Shiozaki. reverses it and delivers a Fisherman Buster. Shiozaki. goes up to the top turnbuckle but Milano protects himself with the referee, and then gets up and goes for a powerbomb, but Shiozaki. reverses it with a hurricanrana. Milano and Shiozaki. trade blows, but Shiozaki. nails a lariat for a two count. Shiozaki. picks up Milano with Sugiura, double Irish whip to the corner, chop by Shiozaki. and Sugiura holds Milano on his shoulder so that Shiozaki. can hit a diving knee drop to Milano's chest. Cover by Shiozaki. but Nakamura breaks it up. Nakamura kicks Shiozaki. in the chest and goes for the Landslide onto Sugiura, but Sugiura slides down his back and delivers the Olympic Slam. Milano and Shiozaki. are back up trading blows, superkick by Shiozaki. and he delivers another one with Milano on his knees. Lariat by Shiozaki., but Milano barely gets a shoulder up. Shiozaki. picks up Milano and goes for a lariat, but Milano ducks it. Enzigieri by Milano and he hits a backslide, but Shiozaki. gets out of it. Small package attempt by Milano, but Shiozaki. rolls through it and nails the Go Flasher. Lariat by Shiozaki., cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winners: Takashi Sugiura and Go Shiozaki.
Match Thoughts: A notch below the NOAH vs. NJ match at the Tokyo Dome, but still a really good match. Milano fought hard and held his own, but he was still clearly the odd man out in this match. The crowd was great for the match, getting very vocal at the key parts, and the last few minutes were very well done. Sugiura perhaps showed the most, not that the others weren't good, but he was really fired up and the crowd was behind everything he did. Nakamura heeling it up a bit fit well as they were in the enemy's territory, and Shiozaki. continued to grow as he went toe to toe with Nakamura and picked up the pinfall. It dragged a few times, but nothing serious, and overall it was a very solid match with a hot crowd. Score: 7.5
(c) Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. KENTA
KENTA runs at Nakajima but Nakajima dropkicks KENTA in the knee. KENTA gets back to his feet, kick to the leg by Nakajima and an Irish whip, but KENTA hits a flying elbow followed by a pair of lariats. Vertical suplex by KENTA, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers a diving lariat for a two count. KENTA picks up Nakajima and goes for a backdrop suplex, but Nakajima lands on his feet. Kicks by Nakajima but KENTA returns fire, sending Nakajima back in the corner. Running boot by KENTA but Nakajima comes back with one of his own. Back kick by Nakajima in the corner and he delivers a running dropkick to the face as KENTA sits on the mat. Nakajima pulls KENTA out of the corner and hits a snap suplex followed by a DDT. Missile dropkick by Nakajima, cover, but it gets a two count. Nakajima picks up KENTA and goes for a suplex, but KENTA blocks it and puts Nakajima onto the top rope. Kicks to the chest by KENTA, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and goes for a knee drop, but Nakajima moves out of the way and delivers a slingshot doublestomp. Nakajima then runs in the ring and dropkicks KENTA under the bottom rope to the floor. Nakajima goes outside as well and Irish whips KENTA into the guard rail. Nakajima then picks up KENTA and drops him leg-first onto the railing at ringside. Back up, Nakajima throws KENTA into the ramp before going up there himself. He goes to grab KENTA who is still standing on the floor leaning against the ramp, but KENTA gets Nakajima onto his shoulders and slams Nakajima to the floor. KENTA returns to the ring with Nakajima slowly following, and KENTA knocks him back with a springboard dropkick. Running kicks by KENTA in the corner and he nails a sit-down powerbomb. Cover, but it gets a two count. KENTA applies an STF but Nakajima makes it to the ropes. KENTA goes for a suplex, Nakajima elbows him off, but KENTA hits a powerslam for a two count. KENTA picks up Nakajima but Nakajima gets out of the suplex attempt and both wrestlers go for dropkicks. Ankle lock by Nakajima but KENTA quickly gets to the bottom rope. Back kick and a scissors kick by Nakajima, but KENTA comes back with a kick of his own. Tombstone by Nakajima and he kicks KENTA in the back of the head. Cover, but it gets a two count.
Nakajima goes up to the top turnbuckle but KENTA kicks him before he can jump off and joins him. They battle on the top turnbuckle but KENTA delivers the superplex. KENTA goes up to the top turnbuckle but this time Nakajima kicks him, he goes up top with KENTA and goes for a Frankensteiner, but KENTA reverses it with a powerbomb. Diving doublestomp by KENTA, cover, but it gets a two count. KENTA picks up Nakajima and hits a strike combination, but Nakajima catches him and delivers an uranage. They trade strikes, but KENTA levels Nakajima with a lariat. KENTA picks up Nakajima and hits a strike combination, he goes off the ropes but Nakajima catches him with a heel kick. Both wrestlers slowly get up, and they trade boots in the middle of the ring. Nakajima catches one and goes for the ankle, and he gets the ankle lock applied with a grapevine. KENTA gets out of it and applies the STF, but KENTA makes it to the ropes. KENTA picks up Nakajima and goes for a Tiger Suplex, but Nakajima lands on his feet and delivers a running high kick. Brainbuster by Nakajima, cover, but it gets a two count. Nakajima picks up KENTA and goes for a backdrop suplex, KENTA elbows him, but Nakajima picks KENTA onto the top turnbuckle before putting him in the Tree of Woe. Kick to the face by Nakajima, he picks up KENTA and hits a German suplex hold for a two count. Nakajima goes for the Death Roll, KENTA ducks it and goes for the Go 2 Sleep, but Nakajima gets out of it. KENTA ducks a Nakajima high kick and delivers the Tiger Suplex hold, but it gets a two count. KENTA is up first and charges Nakajima, hitting the Busaiku Knee Kick for another two count. KENTA picks up Nakajima and goes for the Go 2 Sleep, Nakajima tries to reverse it with a hurricanrana, but KENTA reverses that with a powerbomb for a two count. He goes for the Go 2 Sleep again, but Nakajima reverses it with a roll-up for a two count. High kick by Nakajima, he picks up KENTA and nails the Death Roll. Cover, but KENTA gets a shoulder up. Nakajima picks up KENTA and goes for a suplex, but KENTA elbows out of it. He then catches a Nakajima kick and delivers the Go 2 Sleep, cover, but Nakajima kicks out! KENTA picks up Nakajima to a seated position and kicks him hard three times in the head, cover, but again it gets a two count. KENTA picks up Nakajima and they trade elbows and slaps, superkick by Nakajima but KENTA catches his high kick attempt, gets Nakajima onto his shoulder and nails the Go 2 Sleep. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and new champion: KENTA
Match Thoughts: An exciting Jr. Heavyweight match, these two have wrestled each other quite a bit so far in 2009 and have a pretty good rhythm to their matches. I wasn't a huge fan of the blown off leg work, Nakajima did such a good job with it that I was disappointed it was so quickly forgotten... it was pretty much a non-issue the last ten minutes of the match. Still, they kept the pace at a fever pitch for the bulk of the match and the crowd stayed really into it. The end was well done as they know each other's moves so well that they were both reversing everything, until KENTA finally caught Nakajima. But to the last moment you still didn't know would would win and they really kept the suspense up. Not an epic due to some issues here and there, but still definitely entertaining. Score: 7.0
(c) Kensuke Sasaki vs. Jun Akiyama
Chops by Sasaki to the front and back of Akiyama, cover, but it gets a two count. Sasaki picks up Akiyama and applies a reverse chinlock, cover, but it gets two. Jumping elbow drop by Sasaki, cover, but again it gets a two. Sasaki chops Akiyama in the chest, Akiyama returns fire but Sasaki lariats Akiyama back to the mat. Sasaki goes for a powerbomb but Akiyama back bodydrops out of it. Sasaki goes for a lariat but Akiyama blocks it and hits an exploder. Sasaki springs to his feet and charges Akiyama, but Akiyama applies the front facelock. Cover, but it gets a two count. Akiyama charges Sasaki in the corner but Sasaki catches him and throws him down. Ipponzei by Sasaki and he charges Akiyama, but Akiyama knocks him back. Akiyama goes to the second turnbuckle by Sasaki joins him and delivers a Frankensteiner. Sasaki goes for the Tiger Suplex, Akiyama blocks it, but Sasaki hits the King Buster for a two count cover. Strangle Hold Gamma by Sasaki but Akiyama makes it to the ropes to force a break. Back up they trade strikes, Sasaki goes off the ropes but Akiyama knees him in the stomach. Running knee by Akiyama, cover, but Sasaki kicks out at one. Akiyama hits Sasaki with a lariat but Sasaki returns with a lariat of his own. Both wrestlers are staggered, Sasaki goes off the ropes but Akiyama catches him with a trio of exploders. Cover, but Sasaki kicks out. Akiyama goes up to the top turnbuckle but Sasaki lariats him when he jumps off. Sasaki goes off the ropes and hits another lariat, he picks up Akiyama and delivers the Northern Lights Bomb. Cover, but Akiyama gets a shoulder up. Sasaki goes off the ropes but Akiyama catches him with a jumping knee. Akiyama picks up Sasaki and nails a wrist-clutch exploder, cover, but it only gets a two count. Akiyama goes off the ropes and knees Sasaki in the back of the head, he then picks up Sasaki and debuts a new modified Sternness Dust Alpha! Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and new champion: Jun Akiyama
Match Thoughts: Pretty disappointing, I like both these guys but the match was flat. There were way too many dead periods (minute long headscissors, Akiyama taking 45 seconds to get back in the ring, etc.) and it took both me and the crowd out of it for a bit. Their submission moves made sense as they were targeting the chest/neck/head region which are the areas their finishing moves effect, but the submissions weren't applied with any force or meaning. The last few minutes were good, I liked that Sasaki went for the normal "trading big moves" spot but Akiyama stopped it from happening, but it was just so slow leading up to that point. It didn't help the match that the two previous to this one were fast paced and full of action, but I kept having to stop myself from fast forwarding, which is never a good thing. Score: 4.5
Best Match: Takashi Sugiura and Go Shiozaki. vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Milano Collection AT. Once again the NOAH vs. New Japan feud just brings it, and this match had it all... a hot crowd, big moves, and intensity. Milano being in the match took it down a bit as he isn't the level of wrestler as the other three, but to his credit he really held his own and looked like he belonged. Hopefully this feud will continue as it really seems to inspire the wrestlers to put on an intense and exciting match.
MVP: Takashi Sugiura. In the best match on the card, Sugiura gave the best performance as he defended NOAH against the invaders. The crowd was solidly behind him and even though Shiozaki. picked up the pinfall it was Sugiura that had the most memorable performance.
Overall: This event was a huge improvement over what I saw from NOAH in 2008. One can never underestimate the value of having defined heels and faces. Not only does it make the crowd more excited, but for some reason the wrestlers fight with more fire and energy when they have a purpose in the match. With three matches with Kensuke Office vs. NOAH, two with defined heels and faces, and one New Japan vs. NOAH match there were lots of reasons for the crowd to stay into it. Not all the matches were great as there was still a slow lackluster multi-man match and the main event was disappointing, but overall I'd recommend this event as a good place to start again if you haven't watched NOAH in awhile.
review completed on 3/22/09