Pro Wrestling NOAH gives us a show filled with title matches, legends and possible history! Keiji Mutoh is trying to prove he still has what it takes to try once more for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. So he has to go through NOAH’s rising star Kaito Kiyomiya. Not to bury the lead of course, the GHC Heavyweight and GHC National Openweight are both up for grabs in a winner take all match!
A grudge match between Daisuke Harada and HAYATA for the IPW UK Junior belt will fill out our big talking points.
Who walks out champion? Do we see yet again, another double champion in 2020?
- Tadasuke & YO-HEY vs Haoh & Nio: Haoh picks up pinfall after Tadasuke betrayal @8:15 – ** ½
- Stinger (Yoshinari Ogawa& Kotaro Suzuki)& Kinya Okada vs Full Throttle (Seiki Yoshioka, Atsushi Kotoge & Hajime Ohara): Seiki wins via Crucifix Pin @11:00 – ** ¾
- M’s Alliance (Naomichi Marufuji, Masaaki Mochizuki & Yuko Miyamoto ) vs Katsuhiko Nakajima, Shuhei Taniguchi & Mohammed Yone: Marufuji wins via True Tiger King @15:40 – ***
- IPW UK Junior Heavyweight Championship: Daisuke Harada (c) vs HAYATA: HAYATA wins via Headache @15:05 – *** – TITLE CHANGE!!
- Sugiura-Gun (Kendo Kashin, Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba) vs Kongo (Masa Kitamiya, Manabu Soya & Yoshiki Inamura): Sakuraba wins via Sakuraba Lock @15:20 – *** ¼
- Keiji Mutoh vs Kaito Kiyomiya: Mutoh wins via Figure Four Leglock @27:10 –*** ¾
- GHC National Openweight & GHC Heavyweight Championship Double Title Match: Kenoh (c) vs Go Shiozaki (c): TIME LIMIT DRAW @60:00 – ***** ¼ – No Title Changes!
Tadasuke & YO-HEY vs Haoh & Nio
Most likely as a way to reinforce the fact this show is bigger than most, the opening tag match is a different than usual dynamic. It’s not an assortment of veterans and younger wrestlers; it’s two former RATEL’S members against the two Junior members of Kongo.
What we get is a lot of solid action, Tadasuke and YO-HEY proving that even if they faction is no more, they still have tag team chemistry. Nio and Haoh were holding their own, but after the tandem attacks of Ganmen G and Obi Trice, we see YO-HEY getting ready to finish things off. As YO-HEY hits the ropes, probably for Face G, Tadasuke takes his head off with a Lariat.
Tadasuke making a very impactful statement that RATEL’S is definitely a thing of the past. Curious what he’s going to do in the future.
Stinger (Yoshinari Ogawa& Kotaro Suzuki)& Kinya Okada vs Full Throttle (Seiki Yoshioka, Atsushi Kotoge & Hajime Ohara)
There’s some clever storytelling early on, when Kotaro Suzuki stops Seiki Yoshioka from doing an Asai Moonsault. Kuniko Yamada (the female comedian from a few shows ago when Seiki overshot the moonsault and landed in her lap basically), is back on commentary, and as a nod to protecting her, Kotaro gets over big with Kuniko and the crowd, while Kotoge consoles a baffled Seiki.
The beauty in some of the interactions here is that after their inter-faction tussle for who was leader, Full Throttle seems more united. Seiki runs interference while Ohara let’s Kotoge be the psychopath he is. Seiki even pulls out the Asai Moonsault again, but to the crowd side. Commentary playfully calls it the Kuniko Special, and I’m curious if that will stick.
Kotaro and Seiki get a good bit of time together, and in a surprising turn of events Seiki manages to grab a Crucifix and pin Suzuki to end the match. Yes there was a botched Styles’ Clash attempt, but Suzuki saved it and they moved on (botch as in slipped and sloppy, not tucking a chin).
After the match, Seiki challenges Kotaro for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship.
M’s Alliance (Naomichi Marufuji, Masaaki Mochizuki & Yuko Miyamoto ) vs Katsuhiko Nakajima, Shuhei Taniguchi & Mohammed Yone
This is solid for giving N-1 Victory hints. Taniguchi and Marufuji are in the same block, whereas Nakajima and Mochizuki could always be a Finals preview. Also there’s a little history from last year when Mochizuki was Nakajima’s only win in last year’s N-1.
Aside from that, this is just a solid showing from 6 veterans who know how to put on good matches. Nothing flashy beyond Marufuji’s slight bickering with his team when they all got Scoop Slammed on him, or Mochi and Shuhei giving Nakajima back a little cocky retribution.
The finish was cool since Yuko Palm Strike’s Yone between the eyes, Mochi hits the Triangle Kick, setting up for Marufuji to win the match. Signature moves from Marufuji like the corner combination, Hook Kick, KO-OH and finished with the True Tiger King.
IPW UK Junior Heavyweight Championship: Daisuke Harada (c) vs HAYATA
A match that was built out of frustration and pride. Harada’s inability to beat HAYATA and repair the broken bonds of RATEL’S, forced him to accept a challenge for the IPW title. He had a point to prove, and still had something that HAYATA wanted to take away.
This should’ve been a bitter grudge match, and you could see on Harada’s face that it was very personal, but the story and the execution felt a little disconnected. HAYATA with the fake out kicks seemed silly, especially with too long of a pause. A sloppy roll through and attempted Crucifix from Harada was just compounded with a Tornado DDT that went nowhere.
They did work through the weirdly botchy middle part, and started to make a little more sense, but it was a little disappointing. With how much bad blood these two had, the match felt lacking. While decent save for the sloppy portion, it should’ve been visceral.
Afterwards, HAYATA throws the IPW UK title in the trash. So at least we can put that question mark behind us on what’s going to happen with that lineage.
Sugiura-Gun (Kendo Kashin, Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba) vs Kongo (Masa Kitamiya, Manabu Soya & Yoshiki Inamura)
This is a similar set up to the last 6 man, where many of these men will see action in the N-1 Victory. Inamura and Sugiura are in the same block, where Sakuraba is in the block with both Kitamiya and Soya.
We start off with Sakuraba and Soya, which is really interesting. Most of us know Sakuraba is one of the most legit guys in the business still, but he shows a lot of hesitancy to Soya, even asking Kendo and Sugiura if they want in instead. When Soya gets a little too comfortable, Sakuraba picks and angle, or works in a Cross Armbar. So Sakuraba has taken more of like, a Kung Fu comedy master gimmick, where he seems to be a little dawdling and old, but then will snap your arm and use it as his walking cane.
Keiji Mutoh vs Kaito Kiyomiya
Kaito’s biggest test to date. The Young Emerald Light of Hope, against the King of Kings, Great Muta’s alter ego, Keiji Mutoh. Mutoh has been looking forward to this match, because if he can overcome Kaito, he feels it will invigorate him to make a push to challenge for the GHC Heavyweight Championship, which is one of the few titles to elude the legend. Kaito of course has no intention of being nothing more than an infusion for Mutoh, he wants to establish why he is the future of NOAH, by overcoming such a huge persona of the past.
Mutoh came into the match with the game plan of attacking Kaito’s legs. Dragon Screws, Low Dropkicks to the knee and leg focused submissions ruined the young prodigy’s base. Mutoh did every direction of Dragon Screw, even using the barricade at one point…this was very deliberate. Kaito had a great moment late in the match when he fires up, tries to ignore the pain and rattles off German Suplex Holds and a Tiger Suplex Hold; but can’t quite keep the legend down.
After shrugging off a few Shining Wizards, Mutoh goes back to working on the legs. A dropkick from the bottom rope, focused at the banged up knees, opened up Kaito enough for one more Figure Four attempt and Kaito verbally submits.
— プロレスリング・ノア (@noah_ghc) August 10, 2020
GHC National Openweight & GHC Heavyweight Championship Double Title Match: Kenoh (c) vs Go Shiozaki (c)
Kenoh has been on a warpath to prove himself, and with his victory over Katsuhiko Nakajima; it only leaves one more target in his sights. Shiozaki being the heart and soul of NOAH, and having a pretty awesome redemption angle as a champion, it more than happy to oblige the challenge. These two don’t need a huge build up since their characters are built for this, and they’ve both been mainstays of the main event for the last few years.
Both men start off slowly, gauging the other and more or less sticking to their usual gameplans. Shiozaki loves to chop your soul out of your body, followed with either a lariat or suplex for emphasis. Kenoh however, loves to treat people like the Light Up Dummy from 3 Ninjas, and will kick you in the skull until it caves in.
This was a good amount of the offense, until we started to get towards the deep waters of the match. Kenoh looked for more chances at Dragon Suplexes, Brainbusters and tried to focus on the head region to record yet another Knockout victory. Kenoh went so far as to bring back flashes of the Tiger Suplex Misawa did to Kobashi off the ramp in their classic 2003 match.
— プロレスリング・ノア (@noah_ghc) August 10, 2020
This was made a little more poignant since Kobashi was watching and Shiozaki is Kobashi’s pupil. Go fought back with a Fisherman’s Buster on the outside, and both men crawl in around 18/19, as another nod to the epic match between Kobashi and Misawa. Another small part of beauty to this match, is pinfalls didn’t really start until about three quarters of the way through the match. You really got the impression they knew what they had to do to weaken one another, and weren’t gonna mess around.
Shiozaki sold his ass off, making Kenoh’s kicks look devastating. Shiozaki was checked on multiple times through the match for possible knock out, and the referee even started the knocked down count a few times. Shiozaki did fire with familiar offense, Misawa Rolling Elbows, Kobashi Spinning Back Chop, a lot of old NOAH memories and of course his own chest destroying chops and lariats. We get a small glimpse of how far Kenoh is willing to go, when he tries for the Avalanche Dragon Suplex, Shiozaki blocks, so Kenoh shoves him from top rope to the floor, then hits a Double Foot Stomp from inside out, for good measure.
Tension was palpable throughout this whole match, each kick out was more labored, but showed the resolve of both champions. I also loved Kenoh grabbing Shiozaki’s foot to delay the moonsault, just as one more act of defiance. Moonsault lands, but Kenoh starts rolling, Shiozaki tries to cover, but time is called.
This match was the perfect kind of double title match with great story telling, great spots and the finish was *chef’s kiss*, just fantastic.
Overall Score: 8/10
What a tremendous show. You have a betrayal, a legend showing he’s not washed up just yet, and your two top champions ending on equal footing, showing strength for the future. Then there’s also a champion being pinned in a tag match, to setup the challenge. So many fun wrinkles and just great wrestling.
My only question regarding Mutoh is I wonder if Sugiura’s little Mutoh gestures during his match are to imply that Mutoh might have one more speed bump before trying to become on the third person to hold the AJPW Triple Crown, IWGP and GHC Heavyweight titles. That might also help to lengthen things out to the new year. CyberAgent talked about wanting CyberFight to run the Tokyo Dome, and it’s hard to think that Go Shiozaki vs Keiji Mutoh wouldn’t be a solid draw (fan capacity and pandemic permitting).
A wonderful show, that at the time of this article is still free on abema.tv