On Sunday the 22nd of May, English promotion Wrestle Carnival announced they had a partnership with Japan’s Pro Wrestling NOAH. It was announced that NOAH would be involved at The First Anniversary, taking place on Sunday the 7th of August.
The first Pro Wrestling NOAH name revealed was GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, HAYATA.
HAYATA was mentioned at the back end of that article as he was one of the four final NOAH wrestlers to appear in England in January 2019. The RATEL’S stable of HAYATA, Daisuke Harada, YO-HEY and Tadasuke was brought over to take part at an IPW:UK show which crowned a new Junior Heavyweight Champion in a one-night tournament.
NOAH were not the promotion they had been: rebuilding the promotion after the darkest days of the Suzuki-Gun invasion and a relationship turned sour with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). The promotion was only seeing an upward swing in momentum at home, while internationally the focus was on other Japanese promotions. Namely NJPW. So interest in NOAH was at a low point too.
HAYATA, despite being a former GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion with a brief reign in 2017, may not have gotten the recognition he deserved back then.
Since the pandemic, NOAH’s heavyweight division told simple, effective stories, while the junior division has been chaotic. The catalyst of said chaos is the person this article is written for, to inform you on the career of HAYATA.
What kind of wrestler is HAYATA?
While trained in Lucharesu, HAYATA isn’t your typical flashy high flying junior heavyweight you’d find in a promotion like Dragon Gate. He doesn’t tend to take to the air for high-risk moves unless absolutely necessary. That’s not to say that he isn’t capable – he is very athletic and does bust out a running tope over the top rope and a moonsault from the top. Plus he is very quick on his feet and loves to use a handspring back elbow.
The Lucharesu style sometimes has wrestlers go the other way and focus on technical, mat-based, hold for hold, submission wrestling – and while HAYATA has great wrestling knowledge – his offense isn’t just technical-based. Nor does he have any particular affinity for strike-based offense although he does use a superkick to great effect.
HAYATA is essentially a good all-rounder. He doesn’t excel in any one particular area but he isn’t weak in one either. And his finishing move, a spiked hurricanrana driver, is aptly named as The Headache.
When Wrestle Carnival announced him they called him one of the best junior heavyweight wrestlers in the world. I think, if you’re expecting a junior heavyweight to be a high flyer, you wouldn’t agree with that. And if you were wanting a very technical, advanced wrestler, HAYATA wouldn’t be that either. But he is very good at what he does and is a deserving four-time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion.
HAYATA debuted in July 2006 with Wrestle Gate. Wrestle Gate was founded by HANZO, more commonly known by Hanzo Nakajima to mid-1990’s Michinoku Pro Wrestling fans. HANZO suffered an injury in 1998 which put an end to his full time wrestling career so he went into training and eventually opened a gym and a wrestling school. This school would be responsible for training Yuya Susumu, HAYATA and Seiki Yoshioka’s initial training to show the connection between the three long before they were STINGER members in NOAH over a decade later. Wrestle Gate trainees all studied the style mixing Puroresu and Lucha Libre, Lucharesu as it’s coined.
His debut match saw him wrestle under his birth name, Yohei Hayata, as he teamed with his mentor HANZO and future stable mate Susumu. Wrestle Gate was not a full time promotion, usually running once a month at best so HAYATA and others had to freelance to wrestle in other promotions for the experience. AJPW, Dove Pro Wrestling and ZERO1 all booked him but he was more closely linked with Dove.
Wanting a full time wrestling schedule he joined Osaka Pro Wrestling in April 2010 where he met Harada and Tadasuke. HAYATA & Kuuga, as members of JOKER alongside Tadasuke, would win the Osaka Pro Tag Team Title’s in October 2011. But JOKER would disband and HAYATA, Tadasuke and Harada would become a stable known as Glare in July 2012. HAYATA won the Osaka Pro Tag Team Title’s a second time with Tadasuke now as his partner.
Harada would decide to leave Osaka Pro in April 2013 and join NOAH the next month. HAYATA too would leave Osaka Pro at the same time but decide to go freelance. Tadasuke remained with Osaka Pro for the time being.
HAYATA roamed the same companies he had before. Wrestle Gate and Dove but in late 2013 he and a few friends, including Kuuga, formed their own promotion – Dotonbori Pro. And it was at their first show that he teamed with YO-HEY for the very first time.
As a freelancer he strengthened the bonds he’d made with Yuya Susumu, Tadasuke, YO-HEY and Seiki Yoshioka by either partnering with them or facing them in a variety of promotions in Japan. In late 2016 he and Susumu won the King Of FREEDOM Tag Team Title’s and he still held those belts when he first appeared in NOAH.
Because in late 2016, at the end of the Suzuki-Gun invasion storyline and NJPW’s business relationship with NOAH, NOAH announced that they were inviting freelance wrestlers into NOAH to try and booster their depleted roster. HAYATA,YO-HEY and Tadasuke all joined NOAH at that time.
Just the day before HAYATA & Yuya Susumu lost the King Of FREEDOM Tag Team Title’s, HAYATA challenged for his very first GHC Title when he and YO-HEY were unsuccessful in winning the vacant GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s against Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 in February 2017.
Shortly afterwards, HAYATA, Harada, YO-HEY and Tadasuke all came together to form RATEL’S. And they became one of the most popular stables in NOAH. Most likely the most popular stable in NOAH at that time. And their dominance was shown when at the end of May, HAYATA beat Hajima Ohara to become the new GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion.
He may have lost the belt just 29 day’s later to Ishimori. However HAYATA challenging for and winning the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship so soon into his NOAH career showed the faith and confidence they had in him. HAYATA was definitely being positioned to be a possible ace in the junior heavyweight division.
HAYATA & YO-HEY won the Global Junior Heavyweight Tag Team League in July 2017 and then took the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s from Ishimori & Hi69 in August. They held the belts for 154 days and made three successful defenses before losing them back to Ishimori & Hi69 in January 2018. HAYATA also lost his first attempt at reclaiming the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship against fellow RATEL’S member Harada.
August saw HAYATA & YO-HEY win the Global Junior Heavyweight Tag Team League for the second year in a row. However they failed to beat Hi69 & Minoru Tanaka for the tag belts. HAYATA would again fail to become GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, falling to Kotaro Suzuki in November this time.
Late 2018/early 2019 saw the beginnings of STINGER, a junior heavyweight stable to rival RATEL’S. Originally formed by Yoshinari Ogawa & Suzuki, it was a surprise when YO-HEY left RATEL’S and joined them at the first show of 2019. Even more awkwardly the four members of RATEL’S were booked to go to England together and take part in a one night tournament to crown a brand new IPW:UK Junior Heavyweight Champion.
Tadasuke and YO-HEY were eliminated in the first round. Harada eliminated HAYATA in the semifinals before going on to win the final and become the Champion. As said earlier in the article, IPW:UK were not the right promotion to bring over NOAH at that time so the show was not greatly attended. Hopefully HAYATA gets a bigger audience reaction at Wrestle Carnival on August 7th.
Back in Japan, HAYATA seemingly left RATEL’S to join YO-HEY in STINGER. However it was all a ruse as HAYATA rejoined RATEL’S shortly afterwards although he wasn’t able to tempt YO-HEY immediately back with him. That took a month or two longer. But YO-HEY did return to RATEL’S and the pair made their third Global Junior Heavyweight Tag League finals in a row however this time they came up short.
Entering the 2019 Global Junior Heavyweight League, HAYATA made the finals where he beat Tadasuke. And then was successful in beating Minoru Tanaka for his second reign as GHC Heavyweight Champion. This reign would be a fair bit more successful as he made three defenses, twice over YO-HEY and then Chris Ridgeway before he eventually lost the belt to Ogawa in January 2020 after 154 days.
And this is where we get to 2020 and a rebirth in popularity year for NOAH. However the junior division was a hot mess. And it was HAYATA and the implosion of RATEL’S that caused it.
HAYATA & YO-HEY took the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s from the STINGER team of Suzuki & Atsushi Kotoge on March 29th. This was one of the first no audience wrestling shows to take part anywhere in the world. They made the one successful defense over Ohara & Yoshioka (who had only just joined NOAH after the closure of Wrestle-1 so was now in the same promotion as HAYATA again) before May 9th happened.
What should have been a routine GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title match between HAYATA & YO-HEY against Ogawa & Suzuki ended in a No Contest when HAYATA turned on his partner, left RATEL’S and joined STINGER. For real this time. The belts were vacated and the very next night the new team of HAYATA & Ogawa beat YO-HEY & Tadasuke to become GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions.
This caused the end of RATEL’S as Harada, YO-HEY and Tadasuke all agreed that the RATEL’S name was done. And established STINGER as the dominant stable in the junior division. Plus it gave birth to a very successful tag team as HAYATA & Ogawa held those belts from May 2020 to May 2021 with only 42 days from October to November where Harada & Kotoge beat them for the belts but then lost them right back to them.
Splintering from the former RATEL’S occurred when Tadasuke also turned on YO-HEY in August and would join Kongo. In September Ohara & Yoshioka kicked Kotoge out of FULL THROTTLE and welcomed YO-HEY as their new member. Which lead to the feel good moment of Harada & Kotoge reuniting and Momo No Seishun having that brief GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title reign.
STINGER wasn’t exempt from the drama either. With Ridgeway stuck in England on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, they were a trio of HAYATA, Ogawa and then GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, Suzuki. But miscommunication between HAYATA and Suzuki in an inconsequential six man tag team match against Kongo in October saw Suzuki inadvertently strike Ogawa after the match and then both HAYATA and Ogawa attack him and kick Suzuki out of STINGER.
Suzuki attempted to refuse help from those already within NOAH and introduced a masked mystery wrestler to partner him against his former colleagues. However the masked man would betray Suzuki in their GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match in December and reveal himself to be Yuya Susumu. Finally all of the Wrestle Gate boys were now in NOAH.
And that connection held true after all those year’s when in May 2021, Yoshioka turned on his FULL THROTTLE team mates YO-HEY (I’m beginning to think YO-HEY has some serious bad luck with partners) and Ohara to join his friends Susumu and HAYATA in STINGER. While May would end in a downer as HAYATA & Ogawa lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s to Harada & Ohara, HAYATA rebounded in a big way just a few weeks later.
June 26th, HAYATA won a 15 man battle royal (with eliminations happening via pinfall, submission or over the top rope) when he beat YO-HEY in the end. And then the very next night he beat Kotoge to win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship for the third time.
This would be his most successful title reign to date as he made defenses over Ikuto Hidaka, YO-HEY, Suzuki, Harada, NOSAWA Rongai, Aleja and then he and Ogawa won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s again to make HAYATA a double Champion.
After beating Tadasuke, his next challenger came from close to home as it was Ogawa. To show how serious he was, Ogawa attacked HAYATA to set up their match at the Nippon Budokan on January 1st 2022. In the battle of the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, HAYATA again retained.
Ogawa refused a handshake after the match but the two were able to successfully defend their belts three days later against YO-HEY & Suzuki. Now both members of the new rudo stable, Los Perros del Mal de Japon. Before they eventually kicked YO-HEY out. Yeah, YO-HEY does not have the best of luck when it comes to picking his friends.
HAYATA was able to walk into the NJPW vs NOAH show on January 8th as the reigning GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion but he lost the belt just two days later to Harada. Also, he and Ogawa were stripped of the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s when Ogawa contracted Covid-19 so could not make a scheduled title defense on the 22nd. January had started so promising but he was belt-less by the end of it.
NOAH put on their biggest ever junior heavyweight division only show on April 29th in Sumo Hall, Ryogoku Kokugigan. And it was in the main event of that show where HAYATA became a four time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion when he beat Los Perros del Mal de Japon member (and Dragon Gate contracted wrestler) Eita for the belt.
Since then he’s made the one defense over Extreme Tiger (known as Tigre Uno for a spell in TNA) and he will face Ohara on June 23rd.