Today we start a new series where we talk about champions in different promotions. we talk about some of the defences, what is going right in their reign, what is difficult about their reign and more.
Today I am talking about the current reigning GHC world heavyweight champion Go Shiozaki.
Shiozaki began his 4th reign as GHC world heavyweight champion on January 4th 2020 at New Sunrise when he defeated Kaito Kiyomiya in an incredible match.
As of writing Shiozaki has had two defences of his title. Against Kazuyuki Fujita and Akitoshi Saito.
Defence one – Vs Kazuyuki Fujita
A match between Fujita and Shiozaki had been brewing for months even before Shiozaki was the heavyweight champion. Fujita had stolen Shiozaki’s tag belts and the tension has been building ever since.
The preview matches were as brutal as we thought they would be. Both men brutalising each other. Fujita with his slaps and Shiozaki with his chops. Shiozaki was bruised. Shiozaki also has his eardrum burst due to the brutal nature of Fujitas slaps.
The match took place on the 29th of March at Korakuen Hall. The match was originally going to take place earlier in March but due to the coronavirus the match was postponed. Also due to the coronavirus there would be no crowd as public gatherings had been suspended. The match that followed was a match that could only take place in an empty arena. This match got the wrestling community talking
The bell rung and Shiozaki and Fujita were staring at each other. Five minutes go by and not a single movement with both men still staring at each other. 10 minutes and Fujita still staring moves to the other corner. 15 minutes go by and they were still staring at each other. The referee tries to get them going but to no avail. The quiet in the empty area is eerily deafening. Who would blink first and make the first move.
This keeps up until the 30-minute mark. The tension would finally snap as Fujita attempts to take down Shiozaki.
The match had begun.
This early part of the match consists of mat wrestling before they go to the outside.
On the outside Fujita continues the attack even spitting hand sanitizer on Shiozaki. Fujita then decides he wants to take Shiozaki up to the rafters so he calls an elevator but much to his dismay the elevator doesn’t come so he kicks the door. Eventually they make it up to the top of the rafters and Fujita attempts to throw Shiozaki off and to the floor luckily Shiozaki escapes.
When the action finally gets back to the it goes back to a Noah style match with two bulls hitting each other with all the have. Eventually Shiozaki picks up the win with the Gowan Lariat.
Defence 2 – Vs Akitoshi Saito
On the 24th of May Go Shiozaki (who had been missing because of appendicitis) announce that he would be back in a Noah ring on the 14th of June. He was interrupted by Akitoshi Saito who produced a letter of challenge to announce his intentions of challenging Shiozaki for the GHC world heavyweight championship. Shiozaki accepted and the match would take place on the 14th of June.
This match is drenched in emotional backstory. These two men were involved in the legendary and founder of Noah Mitsuharu Misawa’s last match. Where unfortunately Misawa died in the ring. Saito had hit a backdrop driver and something was wrong. It was just a freak accident. It was considered highly unlikely that his death was the result of Saito’s backdrop.
Saito wasn’t to blame. Saito had to fight through personal demons like blaming himself for the accident and thinking about taking his own life. However, Saito vowed to keep wrestling after seeing a portrait of Misawa on the next Noah event. Misawa had actually written a letter in case this was to happen.
Two years before the accident, Misawa had entrusted a letter to a close friend with a message “if I ever die in the ring, please give this to the person when it happens”. “You trusted me, and applied your technique with all your strength…” “…and I couldn’t respond to it. It was a betrayal of trust. I am sorry”.
“I want you to continue wrestling…” “It may be painful, but I want you to continue…” “Misawa left a message knowing that his last opponent would suffer pain.Saito says he was inspired by that thought”.
Saito also talks about using the backdrop driver
“I think I have to move forward, for Misawa”. He only uses it now for important matches. Whenever he does it, he still has complicated feelings towards it. “After all, the time is right, but I still think about my opponent, “please get up”. I want you to stand, but don’t stand up right away. Both are true feelings”
The last time these two face for the GHC Heavyweight championship was a few weeks after Misawa’s death. That match was very difficult considering the circumstances.
Now 11 years later they would go to battle over the GHC Heavyweight championship again.
This match is as emotional as you can get. Early on Saito worked on Shiozaki’s arm to nullify the chops and lariats that he uses so well and for the most part the strategy works with Shiozaki’s selling being top notch as for me he is one of the best sellers in the wrestling today.
The two continue to fight and battle in a very old school style match. Shiozaki broke out the rolling elbows and an Emerald Flowson in tribute to Misawa. Saito pulled out the backdrop driver and an iron claw slam in tribute to Bison Smith (his former tag partner who had died). When these moves hit the emotion grew and grew. When the dust settled both men were exhausted but it was Shiozaki who had his hand raised in victory. It was a very hard hitting match that had powerful emotional scenes in it. Again like I said earlier very old school style match.
What has gone well in the reign
Shiozaki’s reign so far for me has been very strong. He was dealt a tough hand with the global coronavirus pandemic. His matches have been very high quality and very different to each other. One being a spectacle and the other being a very emotional affair.
I have liked the variety of challengers so far. Usually you will get the usual suspects from Noah’s main event scene. While they are great wrestlers sometimes it is nice to have a little bit of variety. This was Akitoshi Saito’s first heavyweight title challenge since the 3rd of June 2012 where he was defeated by Takeshi Morishima. It was also Fujita’s first ever title challenge. The variety has for me has been refreshing to see and while I don’t think everyone on the roster should get a title shot it is good to see other people getting a title shot.
He has done well to carry the belt through a very difficult time for wrestling. I think he deserves more credit than he is getting currently.
What can have been done better
Honestly not a whole lot. Most of the stuff is out of Noah’s control. I do feel like the lack of crowd may have affected the matches. More the Saito match than the Fujita match because if there was a crowd it would have been a whole different match. The Saito match for me with a crowd would have been even better but that is a slight nit-pick on my end.
What comes next
Well as of writing no contenders have come forward to challenge for the championship. With Noah getting back to having crowds very soon I would expect to see a challenger come forward soon. So Shiozaki will probably continue to be in tag matches for the foreseeable future although I do expect a challenger will come forward from those tag matches.
Predictions for the rest of the reign
I believe Shiozaki will hold the title for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. As for defences this is who I think Shiozaki will defend against
- Takashi Sugiura
- Shuhei Taniguchi
- Naomichi Marufuji
- Mohammed Yone
These matches aren’t in any type of order this is just the challengers for the championship
It is quite hard to predict just who will defeat Go Shiozaki for the GHC world heavyweight championship. Originally I had Naomichi Marufuji to beat Shiozaki. I also originally had Katsuhiko Nakajima to win the N1 Victory and to lose to Shiozaki again in the battle of AXIZ members. However if Nakajima was to lose it would have lost his last 3 title challenges.
So personally I think it will be Katsuhiko Nakajima that will defeat Go Shiozaki to end his reign and become a 2 time GHC world heavyweight champion. the battle will be between tag partners but not as fierce rivals but as good friends.
That is the end of the first Champion’s Corner. How did you find the concept? What did you enjoy? What didnt you enjoy? What sections could be add? Let us know.
Thanks to Hisame for the details of what Misawa’s letter said and Saito’s feelings towards the backdrop driver. To check out the full article click the link (http://puroprogramtranslations.blogspot.com/2019/06/noah-testament-of-misawa-letter-to.html)