A lot of people already know that Katsuhiko Nakajima is Kensuke Sasaki and Akira Hokuto’s practically adopted son. He was originally scouted by Riki Choshu at the age of 14 in December 2002 and made his wrestling debut in January 2004, but moved further and continued his wrestling training with Sasaki under Kensuke Office as their first member.
Nakajima is not the only Kensuke Office graduate. They have had hot prospects debut, but unfortunately had to retire not long after. However, two other graduates have stood the test of time and are two big success stories.
The first is a former Four time All Japan Triple Crown Champion, Kento Miyahara. Miyahara debuted in February 2008, but it took him joining All Japan in August 2013 for his career to move to the next level.
And the other is Masa Kitamiya. Originally debuting under his real name of Mitsuhiro, Kitamiya was trained by Sasaki and Masa Saito (it’s likely Nakajima and Miyahara had a hand in his training too) and he debuted in September 2011. Kitamiya is a Four time (and current but we’ll get into that later) GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, once with Kenoh and three times with Nakajima. And he has had some singles success but he came up short in the 2016 Global League finals to Minoru Suzuki and has unsuccessfully challenged Takashi Sugiura (twice), Nakajima, Kaito Kiyomiya and Keiji Muto for the GHC Heavyweight Title.
Despite the success that Miyahara has achieved since he left Kensuke Office, Nakajima is always going to be the first of two names you think of when Kensuke Office is mentioned (the other being Sasaki himself, duh). He had wrestled in New Japan, All Japan, Pro Wrestling NOAH, Dragon Gate, Michinoku Pro, ZERO1, etc and was an All Japan World Junior Heavyweight Champion, all before Miyahara had even debuted. And wearing the flag, representing Kensuke Office in each and every single promotion.
Nakajima is well regarded as Kensuke’s protoge but he could not wrestle any different to his mentor. Sasaki was always a beefy heavyweight who threw mean laraits and meaner chops. Nakajima was more in the mold of a Toshiaki Kawada, Koji Kanemoto and future rival, KENTA, in that his kicks were his most deadly weapon. And deadly they are. He didn’t name his early finisher, a spinning high kick from the middle turnbuckle to the back of his opponents head, a Death Roll for nothing.
Kitamiya, on the other hand. You can see a lot of Sasaki in him. Since he beefed up and moved up to being a heavyweight, if he chose to, he could be Kensuke Sasaki V2. But he chose to honour his other original mentor, Masa Saito, adopting Masa as his new ring name and taking inspiration from Saito by making the Saito Suplex and Prison Lock his own.
When Kitamiya applied to join Kensuke Office, Nakajima was on the judging panel that decided the fates of all the applicants. So, despite being the same age (both born 1988 with Nakajima only 7 months older), Nakajima far out-ranks Kitamiya as his senior in wrestling.
But they are family in a loose sense of the word. You can’t pick your family and you can’t pick the wrestlers you will train and grow up with. Especially not with such a close knit group like Kensuke Office was. So Nakajima and Kitamiya will always have a fraternal bond.
Kitamiya made his Pro Wrestling NOAH debut in February 2012 as Nakajima’s tag partner in a loss to Naomichi Marufuji and Taiji Ishimori. Both were then junior heavyweights – I know, can you even imagine Kitamiya as a junior heavyweight??? – and they did not have their first ever singles match until March 2013 where Nakajima predictably defeated his junior at a Diamond Ring show (Kensuke Office having re-branded to Diamond Ring the day before Kitamiya made his NOAH debut) but it took him almost 18 minutes to do so.
Their next match was a year later in March 2014, again Diamond Ring, again unfortunately not taped as Nakajima, again, beat Kitamiya. However this would prove to be the last ever full Diamond Ring show, Kensuke Sasaki having an unannounced retirement match where Nakajima finally beat his mentor the month prior. Sasaki made the decision to step away from wrestling so his two remaining trainees main evented the last show.
Both made Pro Wrestling NOAH their homes afterwards so they took their fraternal rivalry to the emerald green ring. But October & December 2014, March & October 2015 all had the same result of Nakajima winning.
In April 2016, both men now officially heavyweights, Kitamiya adopted Masa as his new ring name and the two former Kensuke Sasaki students entered the Global Tag League together. But the birth of what would become The Aggression had a rough start, only winning 3 of their 7 matches. However, they did beat the winning team and future GHC Heavyweight Champions, Marufuji & Toru Yano, however they lost their title match.
Katsuhiko Nakajima finally claimed the GHC Heavyweight Championship in October 2016 after beating Takashi Sugiura, a then member of Suzuki-Gun. Nakajima would make his first defense against the 2016 Global League winner, Suzuki himself, and it was these two victories that helped expel Suzuki-Gun from NOAH and end two years of conflict. So his second defense was against the Global League runner up – Masa Kitamiya.
It’s been well over a year since their last singles match. Kitamiya has grown quite considerably in physical size and wrestling experience in that time and the two are now tag team partners. And this is the first time that two Kensuke Sasaki students have battled with a singles title on the line and it’s happening in Korakuen Hall in the main event of the final NOAH show of 2016.
A spike brainbuster would secure Nakajima his second defence of what is a quite underrated and well worth checking out GHC Heavyweight Title reign. After the match Nakajima places an ice pack on Kitamiya’s neck, raises him to his feet and shakes his hands. They are still tag partners. Brothers. Even friends.
They entered the 2017 Global Tag League and won their first 4 matches, but lost their last 3 so failed to qualify. However, they beat the brand new GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Marufuji and Maybach Taniguchi in the first match and just one week after they’d won the belts. When their title opportunity happened in July, Marufuji and Taniguchi retained.
It took them until March 2018 when they finally claimed those belts, beating Muhammed Yone and Quiet Storm. So they were champions when they entered the 2018 Global Tag League. But they again failed to qualify for the finals with 5 wins and 2 losses. One of those 2 losses came against the eventual winners, Go Shiozaki and Kaito Kiyomiya. And the team of Shiozaki and Kiyomiya would take the belts from The Aggression. In their first defence.
That lit a fire under The Aggression as they returned the favour and took the belts back from Shiozaki and Kiyomiya in their first defence, just one month later. However… They would again lose the belts in their first defense to Marufuji and Akitoshi Saito in July 2018.
There was no real big break up to The Aggression. No falling out, no violent feud. They just drifted apart. Kinda like a family does after what was holding them together, usually a parent, is no longer in the picture. Nakajima ended up gravitating towards Shiozaki and the two formed AXIZ. Kitamiya found himself a founding member of Kongoh with Kenoh and Yoshiki Inamura.
Global League 2018. Katsuhiko Nakajima needs a win to win his block over Marufuji. Masa Kitamiya is already eliminated and he’s in it just for pride. Seven matches between them already. Seven victories for Nakajima. Something needs to change. And Kitamiya needs to finally beat his “big” brother.
And he does. It happens. Kitamiya beats Nakajima. For all intents and purposes, Nakajima has now lost his block and it’s all because of Kitamiya. However fortune would smile on the cheshire cat that is Nakajima as Marufuji has to withdraw due to injury. Nakajima wins a threeway over Kenoh and Kohei Sato to win his block but loses to the other blocks winner, Kiyomiya, later in the night.
The two new alliances would collide that December when AXIZ beat Kongoh (Kitamiya and Kenoh) in the finals of a tournament to crown new GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions after Marufuji and Saito had to vacate due to Marufuji’s injury.
Kitamiya with different partners would unsuccessfully attempt to take the belts from AXIZ twice more in 2019 but there wasn’t much of a big issue or feud between them and their alliances. It was all competition for the gold.
But then, there was a massive shift at the end of August 2020. Nakajima turned on Shiozaki, ending AXIZ, but more shockingly he joined Kongoh. Nakajima and Kitamiya were now in the same stable together again. However…. They didn’t have much to do with each other for a few months.
In December, they teamed together as a trio several times with Manabu Soya. Then at the end of that month, Kenoh booked the two to team together at a Kongoh Produced show. It was there that they showed sparks of their former team as they beat Yoshiki Inamura (who had left Kongoh in October) and Kinya Okada.
The two did not voice any objections to teaming together again in the future. So in January they beat the soon to be christened Funky Express along with a Sugiura Army team. Everything seemed prime and ready for the two to challenge Takashi Sugiura and Kazushi Sakuraba for the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles.
And on March 7th 2021, now fully calling themselves The Aggression again, they beat Sugiura and Sakuraba to win those belts for the third time. It was Kitamiya who secured the victory after he knocked out Sugiura with a headbutt while having him trapped in the Prison Lock.
Kongoh were now riding high. The Aggression had the heavyweight tag belts. Kenoh was GHC National Champion. So after Keiji Muto beat Kiyomiya to make his first defense of the GHC Heavyweight Title, Kitamiya stormed down to the ring and dropped the champion with a Saito Suplex.
The Aggression were able to beat Muto and Marufuji in a preview match but Muto was able to overcome the beast that is Kitamiya at the end of April.
Kitamiya had a wave of momentum but it came to a crashing halt with the loss to Muto. However he and Nakajima still held the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team belts and they had to defend them. Funky Express stepped forward as the challengers and the match was made official for the Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial show on the 31st of May.
This is The Aggression’s third GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title reign. The previous two had both ended in their first defense. So…. Third time lucky right?
And it was! The Aggression beat Funky Express and retain! They break the curse! And…. Kitamiya drops Nakajima with a Saito Suplex after the match.
What the actual eff?
Kitamiya takes the microphone to say that he hates Nakajima. He always has. He can’t stand Nakajima anymore. He then thanked Kenoh at ringside and abruptly left Kongoh to walk his own path.
Backstage Kitamiya said that he had to hide how much he hated Nakajima the entire time he was in Kongoh whereas Nakajima could only call Kitamiya a son of a… Well, you can imagine.
So, Kitamiya turned on Nakajima and emphatically ends The Aggression. Vacant GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles again, right?
Neither man refuses to give up their possession of the physical title belts. At a press conference the next day, Kitamiya proposes a cage match to prevent any Kongoh interference. Nakajima retorts to also make it a hair against hair match. And then the two brawl to end the press conference.
The match is made official for Saturday June 26th. Hair vs Hair. AND…. for the very first time in NOAH’s almost 21 year history, a Steel Cage match.
With only an explosive build up over a short period of time, a cage match is usually reserved as a feud ender – or because it’s a certain month of the year for western promotions.
But despite how quickly these two imploded and a cage match was suggested, this feels right. NOAH has not overplayed cage matches. This is the first ever cage match and it’s between two former partners, two brothers with a 10 year relationship with each other.
They’ve only clashed the once in the ring since then, when Nakajima and Tadasuke beat Kitamiya and Okada after Nakajima knocked Okada out after a vicious kick.
I am really excited for this match. And while I don’t want to imagine a bald Nakajima… I also don’t know if it’s right for Kitamiya to lose again. He’s having a great 2021 and deserves to be in the main event scene.
Nakajima, however, has been re-energised since AXIZ ended, and his work as a heel has really given him a killer edge and he more than deserves another reign with the GHC Heavyweight Championship.
So the winner is not cut and dry.
How can I watch?
Tomorrow’s show can be watched two ways for Western fans.
Firstly tomorrow and Sunday’s show (featuring The Great Muta vs Kenoh) can be purchased as a bundle through Fite TV.
Or alternatively if you subscribe to Wrestle Universe you can watch both shows, for free, as a new member. However the free period is calendar month only so you will be charged from July 1st.
With Wrestle Universe you not only get live and archived shows from NOAH but DDT and TJPW too. So it’s well worth the money.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the show and the match!
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