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AJPW Champion Carnival Finals Ratings & Joint Review

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We come to the end of the Champion Carnival. A Block Winner, Triple Crown Champion Kento Miyahara and the B Block Winner, Naomichi Marufuji, face off in the main event for the Carnival Trophy.

Taking a different angle to this article, Mathew Sarpacione and I will be doing a joint review of the entire April 30th show, since the Block separation is now over. So, with everything we saw, history and quality, how does this last show measure up?

 

Masanobu Fuchi & Osamu Nishimura vs Takao Omori & Yutaka Yoshie

In typical Japanese fashion, the opener has some veterans that the crowd appreciates, but my rating system doesn’t. The match was what’s to be expected. A few signature spots, Fuchi gets in a few Scoop Slams on Omori…and then the finish happens. But the crowd liked it, so, at least they know their audience.

The match was harmless, but not something to write about that it was mostly slow and sloppy. The crowd loved Fuchi so I guess in a way it made them happy. – Mathew

Winner: Takao via Axe Bomber

Rating: *

 

3 on 3 Elimination Match: Atsushi Aoki, Hikaru Sato & Yusuke Okada vs Atsushi Maruyama, Koji Iwamoto & Yohei Nakajima

At first, they didn’t fully explain what type of elimination it was with over the top rope or pinfall/submission, but they clarified it and showed that the match was gonna be a little bit sloppy. I was impressed with Hikaru Sato mostly in the match and cared about him more than the Junior Champion. Sucks for Yusuke Okada getting injured and I hope the best for him. Curious to see Maruyama and Aoki fighting off next due to Josh being off the tour, but should be good. – Mathew

Ya basically everything Mathew said. The match was average, a few fun spots for eliminations, but Okada getting injured on his elimination is just unfortunate.

Winner: Murayama via Cradle

Rating: **

 

Violent Giants vs Yoshitatsu & Naoya Nomura

I’m always happy to see Violent Giants being back in the ring together are they’re one of my favorite tag teams right now. The match was solid and I keep saying Naoya was gonna be a star in the company one day and he keeps showing it recently during the Carnival, and Yoshitatsu didn’t do too bad either for himself and hopefully he goes back again. The ending is what sold it for me with Suwama refusing to let go of the Manriki Sleeper on Yoshi after the match since it adds more progression to the story since we forgot about the one with NOSAWA. – Mathew

Suwama feeling insulted during the Carnival since Yoshitatsu not only beat him, which caused him to lose the block, but also got him to submit. A little extra anger from Suwama and a lot of Ishikawa making fun of Yoshitatsu putting his hand in front of his mouth made for an entertaining match. Not a lot on the line besides pride, but still a solid match.

Winner: Suwama via Manriki Sleeper

Rating: *** 1/2

 

KAI & Tajiri vs Ryoji Sai & Dylan James

This match, is a means to an end. Sai and James need opponents for their Tag Team Titles, so what better way then to lose a non-title match. It would’ve been nice for the match to have been better, but the ending sequence was fun and helped the overall perception of the match.

Really not a whole lot to say about it since it was a little bit short, but felt like it would be all over the place at times, specially with the outside spots. Loved the green mist spot with TAJIRI and KAI picking up the win right after that. Also had to admit that Ryoji chasing TAJIRI down was kinda funny and hopefully the title match is better. – Mathew

Winner: KAI via Frog Splash after green mist

Rating: ** 1/4

 

Bodyguard, Zeus & Shingo Takagi vs Jun Akiyama, Yuji Hino & Joe Doering

Definitely my favorite tag match on this show since most of them delivered except for Bodyguard since his stuff felt so out of place compared to how well the others did. I loved the interaction between Zeus and Yuji Hino since it made me wanna see them wrestle one on one and soon, plus they both did fantastic in their respected blocks and matches, more of Yuji Hino if he’s free. Shingo is still great and not much more to say since I’ve been praising him in all of my articles and glad to see him get that well deserved respect. Joe winning was the right call since he does need momentum if he plans on getting revenge on Kento. Also the last interaction with Hino and Zeus after the match was fantastic. – Mathew

Zeus and Shingo need to be a tag team, not Bodyguard. Bodyguard is clumsy, sloppy and looks out of place in any match with upper mid card talent or better. Yuji Hino and Zeus need to have a match though, it just needs to happen. The back and forth strong style spots, the chop battles and even the way they interacted after the match, shows a lot of respect and what could be a great match.

Make it happen All Japan!

Winner: Doering via Revolution Bomb on Bodyguard

Rating: *** 1/2

 

Champion Carnival Finals: Naomichi Marufuji vs Kento Miyahara

With all the emotion and history that went into Marufuji’s match with Akiyama, one had to wonder, exactly what he had left in the tank.

Marufuji came out with a little extra pop in his step, and you could see he wanted this. Highlights of the match being a big Springboard Curb Stomp, the Crescent Kick around the post, Piledriver on the apron as well as a collision of knees, Marufuji’s Bicycle Knee met Kent’s Blackout and both men went down for a few moments.

Both men kicked out of the other’s signature moves, so Marufuji decided to bring out the homage to his friend, his trainer, nearly an adoptive father to him, Misawa’s Flowsion. After landing the Flowsion, Marufuji picks up the pinfall and the NOAH banner waves in victory at AJPW Champion Carnival.

I never thought that they would be able to top Marufuji vs. Akiyama since that match was something else, but these two have raised the bar for sure as two of Japan’s best going at it in the ring. We definitely saw shades of Kobashi, Misawa, and Kawada in Marufuji in this match and you can tell how much this Carnival meant to him and to getting this far, you knew he wanted it more than Kento.

Both of these men just click with every sequence and every move they have done to each other, the close calls, the story, the everything about this match is something that needs to be seen by everyone that is a fan of wrestling since they get that magic and spirit of puroresu in this match right here. I’m glad Marufuji won and I know they said he wasn’t interested in the Triple Crown title due to wanting to focus on the GHC title match that takes place five days after Power Series, but we get the match anyway. Also liked that he invited Kento to come work a match at NOAH if All Japan would allow it. – Mathew

Winner: Marufuji via Fisherman Flowsion

Rating: ***** 1/4

 

I thought the Carnival was fantastic and definitely much better than last year’s for sure. I like that the match quality has gone up ever since they announced a streaming service since they want to have more eyes on their product with more subscribers. If they can keep up this momentum and get more freelancers/partnerships, I think we can see them rising higher here and then some. – Mathew

With the increase in match quality, the increase in Carnival attendance and the electricity in the crowd for the Finals and Akiyama/Marufuji’s match a few days ago, shows a lot of good potential for All Japan. Hopefully the Power Series manages to retain this momentum instead of relying on the last few days of title matches.

Also for the record, Mathew and I guess correctly on the winner in the Uneducated Feat article. We may have gotten the pairing wrong, but Marufuji won, and much like the NCAA tournament, people only care if they guessed the winner right. Until next Carnival everyone!


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NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.118 ~ 18TH JANUARY 2021

The GHC National competitors continue to heat up right before their clash on the 23rd! The NOAH Juniors also stay…well the Juniors. Hisame explains if you don’t know!

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The GHC National competitors continue to heat up right before their clash on the 23rd! The NOAH Juniors also stay…well the Juniors. Hisame explains if you don’t know!

NEWS

Kenoh vs Kazunari Murakami

Kenoh and Kazunari Murakami had their one and only pre-match on the 16th January at Yokohama Radiant Halls. Murakami was repeatedly told off during the match for punching (mainly Kenoh) with a closed fist. However, it was Tadasuke who he choked out, and the referee stopped the match.

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Afterwards, rather than scream and swear (like he would if it were Kaito Kiyomiya, Takashi Sugiura, Naomichi Marufuji or really anyone who Kenoh hates), Kenoh studied Murakami almost as if he was trying to work him out. Backstage Kenoh said in a promo which didn’t involve angry swearing, that although he hated Murakami “from the bottom” of his heart, he would play him at his own game. Was it okay to punch with a closed fist while wearing open fingered gloves? “Was that wrestling?” Kenoh has sworn he will show him “the true Kenoh”. Title match will take place on the 23rd January at the Osaka Edion Arena.

STINGER retain against Kongoh; challenged by mortal enemies

Although Nioh’s hubris led him to say that if he had two victories over HAYATA in a row, a third would follow, he and Haoh were unsuccessful in capturing the tag team titles and swinging the balance of power in the volatile NOAH juniors to their favor, when HAYATA pinned Haoh to retain the titles. Although it was never said by Yoshinari Ogawa, fans got the impression that HAYATA was walking a very thin line.

After the match, STINGER were celebrating their victory, when they were jumped by Kotaro Suzuki, NOSAWA Rongai and Ikuto Hidaka, who threw HAYATA from the ring, kept Susumu (who had been at ringside) out, and stamped down on Yoshiari Ogawa, before Kotaro challenged for the titles saying, “The next is Hidaka and I. You can’t refuse. The place is the Nippon Budokan”. The pair of them threw the tag belts down that NOSAWA had draped over them, as HAYATA crawled back into the ring. For the second time, it was up to quiet shy HAYATA (who managed to keep his back to any cameras) to accept the challenge. Laconic as ever, HAYATA simply said “Next…you”.

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Match has been set for the 12th February at The Nippon Budokan. The pre-matches, however, start on the 23rd January.

You can watch the title match for free here (NOAH streamed it through Periscope)

(This made my Match of The Year 2021 list)

EVENT RECAPS & POST MATCH PROMOS

ELSEWHERE IN NOAH

~ Shuhei Taniguchi tried “Disco Dancing”, except it looked more like some crazy jig.

~ Seiki Yoshioka is slowly discovering why HAYATA gave up speaking, by first of all reacting to YO-HEY verbally and wondering what he was talking about, and then reacting with “…?” after YO-HEY had babbled something about peanut butter.

~ Go Shiozaki and Naomichi Marufuji had a chop challenge. On Atsushi Kotoge’s chest.

~ Yoshiki Inamura has declared that the Musou will be hunting Jun Akiyama at The Nippon Budokan.

~ NOAH are teasing a GHC Heavyweight tag title match by The Aggression. Nakajima has started talking about “natural” it feels, with Masa Kitamiya saying how much The Sugiura Army (especially Sugiura) irritate him.

~ Manabu Soya carried Tadasuke of the ring after being choked by Kazunari Murakami, as if he was going to Avalanche slam him.

~ NOSAWA Rongai told Kotaro Suzuki and Ikuto Hidaka that they had bad fashion sense, Hidaka’s clothes were as bad as his promo skills, and that he felt sorry for the champions on that account.

~ Although the steel plate in his jaw was difficult to remove, Kaito Kiyomiya has made a good recovery and returned to the NOAH dojo. Naturally, he has not shown any pictures of his face.

~ The last time Go Shiozaki took a headbutt from Atsushi Kotoge, his head was split open and his teeth knocked out.

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

THIS WEEK IN NOAH

Thursday 21st January: Go Shiozaki (39)

Saturday 23rd January: NOAH “Higher Ground 2021” (Osaka Edion Arena 2nd Stadium)

BROADCASTS

 NOAH’s Yokohama Radiant Halls event will be broadcast on WRESTLEUNIVERSE on the 19th January. The event on the 23rd January in Osaka will be broadcast on WRESTLEUNIVERSE on the 26th January. You must be a subscriber to view these events.

LINKS

Why did Yuki Sato, Dick Togo’s apprentice, become “Haoh” in Noah?

The key point is “craziness” in the battle with Murakami to the “dream” of The National GHC defense at The Budokan

Pictures taken from Noah GHC

 


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NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.117 ~ 10TH JANUARY 2021

Hisame recaps a storied Junior rivalry that helped kick of the NOAH New Year! As well as a pre-match with Mutoh and an original member returning for at least one match in NOAH!

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Hisame recaps a storied Junior rivalry that helped kick of the NOAH New Year! As well as a pre-match with Mutoh and an original member returning for at least one match in NOAH!

NEWS

HAOH & NIOH CHALLENGE STINGER FOR THE GHC JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG BELTS

HAYATA and Susumu took on the Kongoh Juniors, Haoh and Nioh, on January 4th at NOAH’s first show of 2021. The typically fast paced junior match ended with Nioh getting the pin on HAYATA by using HAYATA’S own momentum against him. After that, in true STINGER like fashion, Nioh made the title challenge by yelling loudly. Because Yoshinari Ogawa was not in the match and Susumu not the champion, it fell to an unwilling HAYATA to accept the challenge, which he did (after Susumu had kind of blocked his way to prevent him from leaving), by saying “Next…100 wrestlers” and then walking off quickly. The title match has been set for the 16th January 2021 at Yokohama Radiant Halls.

The only pre-match between the two teams, took place on the 10th January 2021. Yoshinari Ogawa (the champion who doesn’t like being challenged), threw his belt down when he got in the ring in front of Haoh and Nioh as if he wanted to say, “The only way you will ever get these belts, is if I give them to you”. Worse was to come than an Ogawa temper tantrum however, when the match ended again with Nioh getting the win over HAYATA.

KAZUNARI MURAKAMI CHALLENGES KENOH FOR THE GHC NATIONAL TITLE

Despite being introduced with the potential for a feud with Katsuhiko Nakajima and\or Masa Kitamiya, it was with Kenoh that the true sparks flew with for Kazunari Murakami. After a vicious strike war, which ended with Kenoh eliminating him at The Sugiura Army produce, Murakami choked out Kenoh at NOAH’s New Year show on the 4th January. Backstage he saw that both Takashi Sugiura and Kazushi Sakuraba (who along with the referee had tried to pry him off of Kenoh) both were holding a championship, and after hearing that Kenoh was a champion who he had just choked out, Murakami decided to challenge. Kenoh said he had no choice but to accept (he claimed he was unconscious when the challenge was made), and the match has been set for 23rd January with a pre-match on the 16th.

 

NOSAWA’S “PART TIME GUY” UNMASKED

Thanks to Yoshinari Ogawa ripping off the mask as HAYATA and Susumu held his arms on the 4th January at Korakuen Hall, NOSAWA Rongai’s silent, masked and heavily concealed, “Part Time Guy” companion, turned out to be Ikuto Hidaka.

Hidaka has lots of links to NOAH, both personal and professional (i.e. he’s an old friend of Hajime Ohara, and like Mohammed Yone is a former BattlArts guy), has appeared in NOAH sporadically since 2003, even once winning the GHC Junior Heavyweight tag titles in 2006 at the Nippon Budokan when he teamed with Minoru Fujita, when they defeated the then junior heavyweight Takashi Sugiura and the long departed from NOAH, Yoshinobu Kanemaru. His relationship with NOSAWA Rongai he has known (ironically) from DDT in 1998, but mainly in ZERO-1. Hidaka teamed properly with NOSAWA and Kotaro Suzuki (who he knew better in ZERO-1 than in NOAH), and has declared that he will “make war on the NOAH Juniors”.

MASATO TANAKA JOINS THE M’S ALLIANCE

Masato Tanaka was revealed to be the new member of the M’S Alliance on the 4th January, much to Takashi Sugiura’s chagrin. When Sugi asked Tanaka why he joined them and not with his old Bullet-Yankee’s tag partner, Tanaka said that Naomichi Marufuji asked him first. He had been waiting for Sugiura to call him, but he never did. Like everyone else, Naomichi Marufuji said that he wants to see them fight.

“I WILL WAIT FOR YOU IN ANY RING”, JUN AKIYAMA IS COMING TO THE BUDOKAN

When they met in a tag match before Jun Akiyama left NOAH in 2012, Akiyama promised Naomichi Marufuji that no matter what the future held, one day he would meet him again for a tag match, and until that time he promised Marufuji that “I will wait for you in any ring”.

Naomichi Marufuji made a request to Jun Akiyama on the 4th January to team with him on the 12th February. They had fought at Champions Carnival 2018 (when the long bitterness between NOAH and All Japan was finally laid to rest), and Jun Akiyama had later appeared at Naomichi Marufuji’s 20th anniversary, “Flight”, with their last match being in 2019 in a six man tag, when Akiyama’s team defeated Marufuji’s. As Marufuji pointed out, they had fought, but they hadn’t tagged. Akiyama’s initial response was to joke that he wasn’t going to do it unless the opponent was Masao Inoue, but he did eventually give his consent that he would appear, and the match was announced on the 10th to be Jun Akiyama & Naomichi Marufuji vs Kaito Kiyomiya and Yoshiki Inamura, in what NOAH have called a “Generations Match”.

DAISUKE HARADA RETAINS AGAINST HAJIME OHARA, CHALLENGED BY SEIKI YOSHIOKA

 After an amazing match on the 10th January in which he defended the GHC Junior Heavyweight against Hajime Ohara, (who Harada called “my rival” but paid tribute to by saying that Ohara was the opponent in the NOAH Juniors, who out of everyone “drains your strength”), Harada was challenged by Seiki Yoshioka who was inspired by what he saw. The match has been set for the Nippon Budokan.

Yoshioka has challenged Harada for a title before (GHC Junior Tag) and he has challenged for the GHC Junior Heavyweight before (Kotaro Suzuki), and this will be their first singles match ever. Harada and Ohara doesn’t need too much of a build up, fans know what they are going to get and as NOAH save it for special occasions, it is highly anticipated. Yoshioka vs Harada will be a new thing for both of them, and for the fans.

“I EXPECTED MORE”, GO SHIOZAKI DEFEATS KEIJI MUTOH IN THE FIRST PRE-MATCH

Go Shiozaki defeated Keiji Mutoh in a mystery card\pre-match on the 4th January at Korakuen Hall, by using (much to Mutoh’s shock), his own move against him, The Moonsault. Shiozaki commented that he expected more of Mutoh, but to be honest I think that Mutoh being a wily veteran is playing the old man card here as which started with his leaning on the shoulder of Referee Shu Nishinaga to get into the ring. I get the impression that with that, and how Mutoh was acting during the match, the pretense that he is just an old man is to lure Go Shiozaki in to a sense of false security and confidence. During the match, Mutoh differed from Shiozaki’s other title challengers in that he wasn’t interested in attacking his arms, he went for his legs (he also did the same to Kaito Kiyomiya), but it’s not Kiyomiya who he is challenging, and after the win, Shiozaki said somewhat sternly on Twitter that, “I expected more”.

FULL THROTTLE PRODUCE

No further details have been announced as of yet, but FULL THROTTLE will be holding their very first produce at Yokohama Radiant Halls on March 6th.

EVENT RECAPS & POST MATCH PROMOS

EVENT RECAP: New Sunrise 2021 (Korakuen Hall, January 4th)

POST MATCH INTERVIEWS: New Sunrise 2021 (Korakuen Hall, January 4th)

EVENT RECAP: Higher Ground 2021 (Korakuen Hall, January 10th)

ELSEWHERE IN NOAH

~ Daiki Inaba made the mistake of accepting a handshake from Tadasuke. Why do people trust him?

~ The Harada brothers were arguing again. Older brother, Akio, asked for an Osaka NOAH poster to be told by Harada that they weren’t out yet, and maybe he should stick a picture of himself as a kid up? Harada posted one, and his older brother retaliated by posting one of Harada.

~ Both Naomichi Marufuji and Takashi Sugiura were hoping for a singles match with Masao Inoue at NOAH’s mystery card on the 4th January. It turned out to be Kazuyuki Fujita, who destroyed Inoue in 6 seconds.

~ NOSAWA Rongai refused to high-five Kotaro Suzuki, as he said he didn’t and doesn’t trust him.

~ The majority of people answered with a definite “No” when asked if they were going to Takashi Sugiura’s PPV after show party.

~ Kenoh was strangely unsympathetic when Naomichi Marufuji complained to him about Manabu Soya after bouncing off him during a match.

~ In typical fashion, Hajime Ohara said that he was sad that he had lost the pre-match, but was happy that young Kai Fujimura had worked hard during the match. This was a direct contrast to Daisuke Harada, who only talked about himself.

~ FULL THROTTLE appeared on part 1 of “Pro Wrestling Susume” on Samurai TV. We discovered that YO-HEY is good at things that involve anything whirling and high colored (Hajime Ohara isn’t) and that Seiki Yoshioka can beat Ohara at shuttlecock, and Ohara us good at things blindfolded.

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

THIS WEEK IN NOAH

Wednesday 3rd January: Tadasuke (35)

Wednesday 3rd January: Part 2 of FULL THROTTLE on Susume (Samurai TV)

Saturday 16th January: NOAH “Higher Ground 2021” (17:30 JST)

BROADCASTS

“Higher Ground 2021” on the 16th January, will be broadcast on WRESTLEUNIVERSE on January 19th at 17:30 JST. You must be a subscriber to view this.

LINKS

Event recap: Naomichi Marufuji at SwanDive

Tour dates: February & March 2021

 

Picture credit: m_shsankus & Noah GHC
GIFS taken from WRESTLEUNIVERSE & ABEMA

 


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