Go Forward Day 1 was headlined by Shiozaki’s emotional defense against Akitoshi Saito; and now we get his tag team partner putting the National title up. The challenger wasn’t known until yesterday, since they had an entire number one contender tournament. Manabu Soya made it through the tournament, and he’s one of the scariest ones that could’ve come out. Powerful, decorated, just with being newer to NOAH; he needs to establish some momentum.
Aside from that, we’ve also got the Junior Heavyweight championship being defended against a name many will know; Kaz Hayashi. Two veterans, should put on a decent match, but neither of these matches promise to be fast paced or high energy…so let’s hope the rest of the card fills out well.
Let’s check it out! You can check it out too, since it will be free on Abema tv for the next few days: https://abema.tv/channels/fighting-sports/slots/C72bJdLCFwa2wR
- Akitoshi Saito vs Shuhei Taniguchi: Time Limit Draw @15:00 – ***
- Rene Dupree vs Mohammed Yone: Dupree wins via Flying Elbow @9:25 – ** ½
- KONGO (Kenoh, Hao & Nio) vs FULL THROTTLE (Atsushi Kotoge, Hajime Ohara & Seiki Yoshioka): Kenoh wins via Diving Footstomp @16:05 – ***
- Yoshinari Ogawa, HAYATA & Kinya Okada vs Daisuke Harada, YO-HEY & Tadasuke: Harada wins via Hurricanrana @24:50 – *** ¼
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kaz Hayashi vs Kotaro Suzuki (c): Suzuki retains via Tiger Driver @20:20 – *** ½
- Go-Kai (Go Shiozaki & Kaito Kiyomiya) vs The Tough (Masa Kitamiya & Yoshiki Inamura): Shiozaki wins via Gowan Lariat @19:15 – ***
- Sugiura-Gun (Kendo Kashin, NOSAWA Rongai, Kazushi Sakuraba & Takashi Sugiura) vs M Alliance (Keiji Mutoh, Naomichi Marufuji, Masaaki Mochizuki & Yuko Miyamoto): Mutoh wins via Shining Wizard @20:15 – ***
- GHC National Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) vs Manabu Soya: Nakajima retains via Vertical Spike @28:20 – ****
— プロレスリング・ノア (@noah_ghc) June 21, 2020
Akitoshi Saito vs Shuhei Taniguchi
This is a big chance for Shuhei since he’s a perennial upper mid carder, with a chance to upset someone who just challenged for the GHC Heavyweight championship. On the other hand, you can say that Saito needs this to not go on to huge of a slide; but this is a bigger chance for Shuhei.
We get a big strong boy match for a while. Early tie ups, shoulder tackles and strikes prove to be ineffective against one another. It’s not really until Saito hits a Piledriver on the exposed floor where the crowd would be, that we see some damage add up. Shuhei starts favoring the neck, which is perfect for Saito since his finisher is the Death Sickle (Jumping High Kick).
As the battle rages, Saito continues to work the neck with chops and kicks; as Shuhei tries to hold on and pick spots. Shuhei goes for the Maybach Splash, but it’s countered. As Shuhei builds momentum, a Death Sickle comes out of nowhere, but the cover is too slow, so Shuhei kicks out. Chokeslams, Powerslams and big moves all around, Saito hits one more desperation Death Sickle as both men lay out exhausted; while the time limit bell rings. Really solid Draw, showing toughness for both and that Shuhei won’t just get bowled over by those higher on the card.
Rene Dupree vs Mohammed Yone
Yone is a weird case man, he’s a solid worker, with a unique gimmick…but maybe TOO unique. The Disco Stu look alike is just very hard for me to take seriously, so I find myself a little less than invested in his matches; though I realize he’s a good wrestler.
Everything in this match was solid, if not a little slowly paced. Dupree looked great, pulled off a few heel tactics, but it was mostly a clean match. Glad Yone didn’t get the win and then have to search for a new partner to face Dupree and Hijo de Wagner for the tag titles. Nice Rolling Sol Butt, Thrust Kick combo laid out Yone and the Flying Elbow got the pinfall. Decent, if not a little too slowly paced for empty arena.
KONGO (Kenoh, Hao & Nio) vs FULL THROTTLE (Atsushi Kotoge, Hajime Ohara & Seiki Yoshioka)
Fun match where Hao got handled for the first half; as we got to see a decent bit of personality out of the Full Throttle members. Ohara seems the most excited for the gimmick, saying the team name after tandem moves and even doing a rev up motion during a triple pose moment. But the funny thing was just taking in how serious Yoshioka is. He seems to work well with the team, he’s just not going to do the goofy gestures.
Full Throttle dominated the Kongo Juniors, and it wasn’t until Kenoh came in, that the tide really turned. Kenoh kicked around Yoshioka and relived a little bit of his rivalry with Kotoge. This allowed Hao and Nio to get in a few run-in shots and also clear the ring enough for Kenoh to finish the match. Overhead Kick and Diving Footstomp gives Kongo a solid team win.
Yoshinari Ogawa, HAYATA & Kinya Okada vs Daisuke Harada, YO-HEY & Tadasuke
This felt very similar to the brief time YO-HEY turned his back on RATEL’S last year, but Harada is the one to take the HAYATA betrayal personally. Ogawa toyed with Harada’s emotions by keeping HAYATA out of the match, and only picking or choosing spots.
Interestingly, this match bucked the normal trends of using younger wrestlers. Kinya Okada is being heralded as a breath of fresh air; being called the Showa Wrestler. Showa being the period of time from 1926-1989; so he’s being compared to classic wrestlers like Jumbo Tsuruta, Rikidozan, Riki Choshu, and those of that ilk. It could be for that reason that he got in solid offense against established names, and didn’t eat the pin.
As the match broke down, the former RATEL’S members got their hands on HAYATA and did their signature Triple Thrust Kick. Again, many similar threads as to when YO-HEY turned on them, but Harada seems more fired up against HAYATA. Harada pins HAYATA and they challenge for the Junior tag titles currently held by Ogawa and HAYATA.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kaz Hayashi vs Kotaro Suzuki (c)
A well-paced match between two veterans that suffered mostly from the empty arena setting. Both men worked sections (Kaz focused Suzuki’s arm and Suzuki focused Kaz’s mid-section). It was because of that style of work, that slowed down the first half of this match a little too much for the setting.
Once the action picked up, we saw both men pull of great back handsprings, interesting counter variations and a plethora of signature moves. Kaz hit the Final Cut and Crossface, but only teased Power Plant once. Where Suzuki hit Blue Destiny, Excalibur, Tiger Feint and Endless Waltz for only near falls. The Tiger Driver finally finished a hard fought match, that really could’ve been bigger if the situation was different. Still pretty solid, but felt like it dragged at times.
YO-HEY comes out with the rest of the former RATEL’S to challenge for the Junior title.
Go-Kai (Go Shiozaki & Kaito Kiyomiya) vs The Tough (Masa Kitamiya & Yoshiki Inamura)
So if this wasn’t a filler match, then I don’t know what it was. Since Nakajima has a singles match, it made sense to throw the old Go-Kai team together for a tag match, but there’s no story here. Perhaps if Kitamiya won, then we could argue this was building him a challenger for the GHC Heavyweight title; but that doesn’t matter now.
As a match it was fine, Inamura had some great offense, and even nearly won the match if Go didn’t slip out of the Splash Mountain. Kaito is in a weird spot since he wants Mutoh, but isn’t involved in the same match with him for this show. Hopefully the next match helps to make sense of all this, cause the match was decent, but it didn’t matter in the least bit.
Sugiura-Gun (Kendo Kashin, NOSAWA Rongai, Kazushi Sakuraba & Takashi Sugiura) vs M Alliance (Keiji Mutoh, Naomichi Marufuji, Masaaki Mochizuki & Yuko Miyamoto)
Veteran warfare! The youngest person in this match was Miyamoto (who was a surprise) at the age of 38. Everyone in this match can go, even if Kendo Kashin looks like a complete dweeb with a Lidet tattoo on his chest.
This is one of those matches that nothing really important happened, it was all just solid, perhaps a little on the long side, especially since the show itself just surpassed the 3 hour mark. Mutoh got worked over a lot by Sakuraba and Sugiura, so it only made sense to have him finish the match. All of Sugiura-Gun lands a move, NOSAWA tries to disrespect Mutoh by doing all the Mutoh gestures before a Shining Wizard, but Mutoh blocks. M Alliance clears out the ring, triple team move NOSAWA and then Mutoh hits HIS Shining Wizard for the win.
Mutoh getting the pinfall probably plays into him maintaining momentum before the eventual Kaito match. This just really was another filler match though.
GHC National Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) vs Manabu Soya
Even if he’s a cocky bastard, Nakajima told a great story about having some pride in this championship. Soya dominated with his power early, and it wasn’t until Nakajima got in some desperation kicks and took it to the outside, that we saw more of an even trade. An apron Penalty Kick, mixed with an assortment of barricade spots, gave the champion his first semblance of momentum. With the pace he took, you’d almost feel he was milking the count so he’d roll in at 19 and just win, but he threw in Soya first and they were both in at 19.
Great striking and big hope spots for both were at a surplus. Soya hits a Death Valley Driver and Avalanche Power Slam, but only for two. After a strike exchange, Nakajima hits a Death Valley Driver of his own and it becomes anyone’s match really. A few more strikes, suplex attempts, Nakajima finally pulls off the Vertical Spike to retain his championship.
Overall Score: 7/10
Not a bad show, but I will admit that it suffered from a few aspects. Since New Japan has started to do roughly 2 hour empty arena shows, it makes this nearly 4 hours…feel just too long. Also, they didn’t do anything unique like the Fujita and Shiozaki match; so the emptiness and length was more prevalent than usual. Plus as you see from the match times, everything except 1 match went 15 minutes or longer. So when everything has substantial time, it makes the time feel like a heavier burden.
Nothing on the show is bad, each match has solid wrestling, and some just could’ve been excluded because the story wasn’t really there. So if you’ve got the time, check this out, or at the very least; check out the main event!