Mike Reviews – NOAH The Best Final Chronicle (06/12/2020)

Hello You!

I enjoyed the last NOAH show on FITE TV and the Main Event from this one was getting a lot of hype, so let’s give the show a looksee!

I haven’t been a regular watcher of the product for going on 10+ years, but I’m sure the NOAH fans we have on here will be able to pick up on anything I miss. Thankfully there will be some English commentary, so they should be able to update me on the relevant story points.

The event is emanating from Tokyo, Japan on the 6th of December 2020

The English announce team are Stuart Fulton, Mark Pickering and Muhammed Yone

Opening Match
Kinya Okada Vs Yasutaka Yano

This is two younger lads going at it, with Yano only debuting back in October, where he lost to Okada in fact. Sadly the audio is out of time a little bit to the action, which is a shame as the last presentation on FITE went off pretty smoothly. Yone is doing his commentary in Japanese and the two English speakers have to translate for him, which kind of kills the momentum the two guys are going for and it’s not like it’s really adding anything to the broadcast either.

Okada has been going for two years at this stage, so he has the better of things for most of the match and mostly lays a whupping on Yano with snug strikes and painful submission holds. There’s nothing overly exciting, but it’s solid action and Yano does a good job selling it all and shows some fire to fight back a bit. Yano gets some quick two counts on Okada and the crowd is behind him, and then keeps kicking out of Okada’s moves before finally getting put away with a Blockbuster Slam into a bridging pin.

WINNER: KINYA OKADA
RATING: **

Good opener. Nothing flashy, but some good fire from Yano and Okada’s stuff all looked solid

Okada gives Yano a pat on the back for having a good try.

Match Two
Daisuke Harada, Atsushi Kotoge and Junta Miyawaki Vs Tadasuke, Haoh and Nioh

Tadasuke, Haoh and Nioh are all part of Kenoh’s “Kongo” stable, whilst Harada is the current GHC Junior Heavyweight Champ. Yone continues to be a momentum killer on commentary. Stuart and Mark seem to have a good grasp of what’s going on, do we really need to have them translating stuff for Yone that they could just say themselves? It just torpedoes their flow to have to keep stopping and relaying Yone’s stuff. Team Harada runs wild in the early going, with all three guys getting a chance to shine for a bit.

Kongo bump around well to get the oppositions stuff over, with Haoh in particular giving a good account of himself on that front. They fight back with Kai-En-Tai style triple teaming, and their stuff is fluid and looks good. Harada ends up getting Tadasuke with a wacky roll up against the run of play though, which is enough for three. That’s an interesting result as he’s supposedly defending the belt against him on the 19th.

WINNERS: HARADA, KOTOGE & MIYAWAKI
RATING: **1/4

Fun six man action with some nice triple team spots from Kongo

Harada mocks Tadasuke following that. I wonder if that means the belt is changing on the 19th or not?

Match Three
Hajime Ohara, YO-HEY and Seiki Yoshioka Vs Katushiko Nakajima, Masa Kitamiya and Manabu Soya

Nakajima, Kitamita and Soya are in Kongo as well, with Nakajima having a MOTYC with Go Shiozaki on the 20th Anniversary Show. Their opposition are known as Full Throttle, and tend to be more high flying whilst Kitamiya and Soya are bigger lads who like to throw down, with Nakajima being adapt at strikes and submissions. He also has a creepy grin on his face like some kind of wacky Manga villain.

I would like to second my comments from the last show where I like NOAH putting up a quick graphic during the match showing what every wrestler looks like along with their Twitter handle, which makes it much easier to know who everyone is if you’re new to the product. There’s a good segment early on where Yoshioka and Nakajima trade kicks, with Yoshioka doing a decent job hanging there and holding his own. Full Throttle use their quickness to do some triple teaming on the bigger Soya, which finally leads to them chipping away at him and bumping him. He replies by giving them all body slams though in a funny spot, which leads to Kitamiya squishing them all with Hiro Saito like senton splashes.

YO-HEY shows some good personality and charisma, but Ohara is the most impressive guy in-ring for Full Throttle, getting some nice offence and showing some star quality. Despite being the bigger team physically, Kongo spend a fair amount of team on the defensive, with Ohara almost submitting Nakajima at one stage until Kitamiya and Soya make the save. Nakajima and Ohara do a nice finishing sequence following that, which ends with an impressive looking hanging Brain Buster from Nakajima for the three to re-heat following his loss to Shiozaki.

WINNERS: KONGO
RATING: **3/4

More solid undercard action that achieved what it needed to

Nakajima doesn’t even really bother celebrating and is out of there pretty quickly.

Match Four
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Champs: Yoshinari Ogawa and HAYATA Vs Kotaro Suzuki and Salvaje de Oriente

Ogawa started out in All Japan and then moved on to NOAH, where he actually won the GHC Heavyweight Title at one stage. Oriente debuted on the 20th Anniversary Show to back up Suzuki and hasn’t revealed his real identity yet. Ogawa and HAYATA are part of heel stable STINGER. NOSAWA and a masked chap come down to watch from ring side, so I’m guessing they’ll be involved with one or both of the teams once this is over. STINGER only recently won the belts at the 20th Anniversary Show, so I’m not sure they’d change them again so soon, but you never know I guess.

Suzuki used to be a member of STINGER and Ogawa played a role in him getting kicked out, so he of course wants vengeance as well as the Titles here. Ogawa is up for that and the two start slugging away at one another outside the ring, with Ogawa of course heeling it up with eye pokes and cheap shots when the opportunity arises. Suzuki replies by hitting him right in the GHC’s though, fighting dirty fire with dirtier fire. It’s a really good segment actually, with both man getting the chance to stick it to the other and the work is good due to both men being so experienced. Ogawa eventually catches Suzuki with a spinning neck breaker and tags out, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of those two scrapping with one another.

Oriente is really slick on the mat and looks good whenever he gets in there, with HAYATA looking decent too and compliments the crafty Ogawa well as a partner. There isn’t really what I’d consider a proper heel heat segment, with both teams instead trading the momentum. STINGER do get to control Oriente for a bit and make quick tags to wear him down, in a good display of tag psychology, but he manages to survive that and brings in Suzuki so he can go at it with Ogawa some more. Sadly the audio being out of sync ruins the near falls a bit, as the sound is always slightly ahead of the picture, meaning you know whether a wrestler will kick out before the referee has finished counting.

The near falls themselves are well done, with the crowd getting into it and clapping along with each kick out. It’s mostly Suzuki trying to hold Ogawa down whilst Oriente keeps HAYATA at bay, only for him to then turn on Suzuki and lay him out with a Tiger Driver so that Ogawa can get the pin.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: STINGER
RATING: ***1/4

I dug that and didn’t see the finish coming. It seems a bit too early to be already splitting the new team up when they’ve been together for something like two weeks at most, but the action in the match itself was a lot of fun, especially when Ogawa and Suzuki were letting the hate flow

Oriente unmasks and is revealed to be Yuya Susumu, who isn’t a guy I’m overly familiar with. He can work anyway. NOSAWA and his masked guy come into the ring following that and shake hands with STINGER, only to then sneak attack them to send a message that they want the tag belts. Let’s hope NOSAWA has better luck with his masked guy than Suzuki did. Speaking of Suzuki, it looks like he’ll be joining up with NOSAWA following that. Well, he does need backup, but can he trust NOSAWA? This will be one to keep an eye on I think.

Match Five
GHC National Title
Champ: Kenoh Vs Kazushi Sakuraba

The National Title can only be defended in Japan. Kenoh is the leader of Kongo and kind of looks like a character from one of the Yakuza games brought to life. Sakuraba started out as a Pro Wrestler but then moved into MMA, where he got the nickname of the “Gracie Hunter” after beating some of them in shoot fights. He was a huge star for PRIDE at one stage until he ran afoul of Wanderlei Silva and was never really the same afterwards despite still being a draw. He is currently one half of the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with Takashi Sugiura.

This one is done as UWFi/BattlArts “shoot style”; with both men trading on the feet and looking for MMA styled submissions on the mat. I quite like that style, so this works for me, but it might not be for everyone. The crowd is with it and seems to be behind Sakuraba in his quest to win a singles Title in pro wrestling. Kenoh eventually gives up on the shoot style by heading up top for a double stomp, but Sakuraba sees it coming and is able to dodge it. I like that as a bit of storytelling actually, as Kenoh was talking big about beating the PRIDE Era Sakuraba, but when faced with that Sakuraba he had to voluntarily turn the match into a standard pro wrestling bout because he was losing. That is reflected in the finish too, as Sakuraba has Kenoh beat in a submission hold, but Kenoh turns it into a pin counter (Which of course wouldn’t count in PRIDE) and picks up the win.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: KENOH
RATING: ***

I loved that finish as it basically turned a clean pin fall victory into a heel act, which isn’t something you ever see. The match itself told a good story and I enjoyed it, but I concede that it wouldn’t be for everyone

Kenoh points to his head following that to suggest that he is now “The IQ Wrestler”, which was formerly Sakuraba’s moniker.

Semi-Main Event
Naomichi Marufuji, Keiji Muto, Masakatsu Funaki and Yuko Miyamoto Vs Kaito Kiyomiya, Shuhei Taniguchi, Daiki Inaba and Yoshiki Inamura

Marufuji’s Team all have the connection that they have a name beginning with M, be it the forename or surname, and the group is called “M’s Alliance” as a result. Technically I’d be eligible to join as well under those criteria, but I’m not expecting a phone call anytime soon if I’m honest. Shame, as I’d love to be a member of any team, group or faction that included the ultra-cute Jurina Matsui. Kiyomiya is the future top babyface and gives off vibes of Tanahashi and Ibushi. Taniguchi had a match with Muto on the 20th Anniversary Show where he got Shining Wizarded.

It’s still amazing to me that Muto is still going, especially with his history of knee problems. His switch to a more ground based style at the turn of the millennium added untold years onto his career. Inamura and Miyamoto would strike me as the respective “cannon fodder” guys on their team, which means one of them is likely to end up looking at the lights depending on which team ends up winning. The match is your standard 8 Man in the early going with everyone getting a chance to do something, which all leads to a heated segment between Marufuji and Inaba, which I think stems from Inaba jumping over to NOAH from Wrestle-1 in June and not being especially welcome.

Inaba acquits himself well in that segment but ends up in the wrong corner and that leads to M’s Alliance working him over with all of their traditional spots, which he sells well. Kiyamiya eventually gets the hot tag and does a nice comeback on the M’s, getting a good reaction from the crowd in the process. I’ve seen this guy twice now and I’m already convinced that he’s money. He’s only 24 too, so he should have a bright future provided he stays healthy. Kiyamiya runs afoul of Funaki and takes some stiff shots before tagging in Taniguchi, who runs wild with body slams before clocking Marufuji with POLISH HAMMER before getting a choke slam and heading up top with a splash for two on Marufuji.

We head into the finishing stretch following that, with Miyamoto and Inamura doing a nice segment together that leads to everyone running in to hit a move of some kind. It’s good frenetic chaotic action, and the crowd is into the near falls. Its classic King’s Road stuff actually, with any long-time fan of All Japan or NOAH knowing what to expect. Inamura eventually puts Miyamoto away with Takeshi Rikio’s old Muso move (Ha! Called it!) after a really fun closing stretch.

WINNERS: TEAM KIYOMIYA
RATING: ***1/2

Marufuji and Inaba keep fighting after the match to set something up down the line.

Main Event
GHC Heavyweight Title
Champ: Go Shiozaki Vs Takashi Sugiura

Sugiura was a member of the first NOAH roster and came back from a heart attack of all things to continue wrestling. He’s been the GHC Champ before and I remember seeing him wrestle Dave Mastiff for it at the Broxbourne Civic Hall back in 2011. Shiozaki was a protégé of Kenta Kobashi and left NOAH for a while before coming back and now his catchphrase is that “I Am NOAH”. Sugiara told him that he doesn’t have a right to say that about himself until he defeats him, hence this match. There’s been a lot of hype for this one, and if it’s anywhere as good as Go’s Title match with Nakajima at the 20th Anniversary Show then we’re in for a darn good time!

Go looks like he’s just walked out of a Warriors Orochi game in his entrance jacket, and we get a handshake to start. One bonus is that the sound has mostly sorted itself out here now and pretty much has since the previous tag match. Still not great that a large chunk of the show had funky audio, but at least it’s been worked out in time for the big matches. Go has tape all over his arms and shoulders, which is a visual representation of how gruelling a reign this has been. They build it gradually by working holds in the early going, with them eventually moving on to strikes. The execution is spot on, as you’d expect from two guys so experienced. Go controls things after the initial strike exchange, dropping knees and working holds, with Sugiara selling it really well. Some of Go’s chops have been so stiff that Sugiara is already bleeding from his chest.

Man, some of these chops from Go are just reverberating through this building. It’s almost astonishing how much welly he gets behind those things. Sugiara catches Go with a knee though and then attacks Go’s previously injured right arm, including bending it over the metal railings outside the ring. Go sells all that really well, even throwing weaker chops to get across the idea that the arm work is hampering his performance. Go eventually fires up though and hits Sugiura with ALL the chops in the corner before getting a lariat for two. Normally I’d be annoyed at someone kind of ignoring the arm work, but Go made sure to get across that it was hurting but he was just powering through it because of his fighting spirit, which I can get on-board with.

Sugiura gets a terrifying spear from inside the ring to the outside on Go, which is pretty crazy for a 50 year old heart attack survivor to be doing in all honesty. Sugiara busts out the CW Anderson hanging Brain Buster off the second rope back inside, but doesn’t go for the pin and instead goes to THE DREADED YOUNG LION BOSTON CRAB in an attempt to gain a submission victory. Go sells that big and eventually manages to drag himself to the rope to break the hold after a great submission tease. If you get it right, a submission tease can be just as good as a near fall sometimes, and that was a good example of it.

We get the big strike trade off, with Go at full choppage once again, but Sugiura keeps bringing it and tries a superplex. Go fights that off with a head and arm choke before getting a modified Falcon Arrow from the second rope for a double down. Sugiara just KEEPS coming though, getting a lariat and then taking Go out onto the apron for a gut wrench suplex attempt. Go fights that with everything he has because he wants to live, and finally manages it, only for Sugiura to kick him in the head and then remove the mats at ringside so he can give him a neck breaker onto the floor. Ooof, that didn’t look fun to take, but it also looked safe at least.

Go does the count out tease from that, selling fantastically, and finally makes it back in as we get the 30 minute call. Sugiura viciously attacks Go with elbows once he gets back in, but Go fires up and makes sweat literally fly with some more chops. You could send sheep scattering with the sound of those chops. Sugiura fights him back down again though and gets a head drop German Suplex followed by a running knee strike for 2.9 from the referee. Sugiura busts out the Olympic Slam for another super close near fall. Go is the master of the last moment kick out I must say. Go refuses to stay down and lariats Sugiura for another double down before following up with an Undertaker no hands plancha to the floor. Is this match a suicide pact? Because it feels like they are actively trying to kill one another with some of these dives to the floor.

Go gets a big sit out power bomb back inside for two, followed by a lariat for another two, as Sugiura is holding on. This has all the hallmarks of a “wear down the guy with multiple finishers” ending, that All Japan basically made famous, but Sugiura puts a stop to that by getting a punch and a knee to buy himself some time with our third double down. They’ve spaced them out well though, so it hasn’t felt overdone as a spot. Now it’s Go trying to hold on as Sugiura hits him with big knee and elbow strikes for multiple two counts, with the three seemingly getting ever closer with each near fall.

Sugiura goes for the Everest Olympic Slam, but Go manages to fight him off and gets a Russian Leg Sweep from up there as we get the 45 minute call. They tease a double count out from that, and after how much they’ve battered one another I’d buy that as a finish, but both men manage to drag themselves back up and Go gets a lariat for two before following with the Limit Break (Pumphandle styled side slam neck breaker) for another two. Go decides to give his doctor nightmares by heading up for a moonsault, but Sugiura gets his knees up and then locks in a simple front facelock for a submission tease.

People in NOAH have won with that hold before, so it’s not unheard of, but Go powers out of it, only for Sugiura to turn it into a guillotine choke. Go however powers out AGAIN, into an improbable suplex and then literally tries to chop Sugiura down as we get the 50 minute call. It’s not like they’ve been killing time to make it up to 50 either, they’ve been WORKING and have earned the match length. Go finally decides he’s had enough of this mother loving Sugiura in this Monday to Friday Main Event and lariats him once more to finally keep him down for three. GO IS NOAH!!!

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: GO SHIOZAKI
RATING: ****3/4

I personally thought Go Vs Nakajima was better because there were periods in that match where I honestly thought that Nakajima might win and I didn’t really think Sugiura was ever going to win this one, even when he really had Go on the ropes. Despite that, it was still an incredible effort from both men. I’d honestly be fine with Go getting WOTY at this stage, and I’ve only seen him have two matches all year, but those two matches were THAT good that I wouldn’t question it

Sugiura gives Go a thumbs up following that as he’s carried to the back in a cool moment. Keiji Muto joins us following that to congratulate Go on his victory and lay down a challenge. Go accepts to set up possibly the best match between two physically wrecked men of all time. Go does the big speech and says he’ll continue fighting for the fans before adding that he’s NOAH and the crowd are NOAH too.

In Conclusion

Sound issues on FITE aside, Go delivered the bacon yet again, so seek that match out if nothing else!