On Saturday the 30th of October, Pro Wrestling NOAH present their seventh and final live show this month. Like the previous six, this will air live on Wrestle Universe. And it has English commentary too.
We have two GHC Title matches on the card. In the main event, the new GHC Heavyweight Champion, Katsuhiko Nakajima, defends his belt against Masato Tanaka.
And HAYATA looks to make his fifth defence of the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship over NOSAWA Rongai.
Plus, Keiji Muto faces Kaito Kiyomiya again in a six man tag team match and former GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions take on former GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions in a first time ever match.
With this airing on Wrestle Universe, the show will be live and available for replay not long after the show has ended. With a 4pm start time in Japan, that’s 8am in England, 3am East Coast USA and Midnight West Coast USA. So ideal to have replays available straight away if you can’t watch live.
If this is my first ever preview piece you are reading (and if it is, thank you) or if you’ve not already seen on Twitter, Wrestle Universe is FREE for October, November and December. Sign up now and only pay from January 1st. It’s a steal of a deal.
It’s an eight match card, so let’s get right into it!
MAIN EVENT – GHC Heavyweight Championship – Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) vs Masato Tanaka
This is their Fourth singles match against each other. And the previous three happened during varying stages of Katsuhiko Nakajima’s career.
In September 2012, Nakajima was far from a rookie. He’d debuted in January 2004 at the age of 15. But he’d debuted and remained a junior heavyweight for all of that time. Yes, he had faced heavyweights in the past, but the results were usually pretty much one sided.
But at that moment in time, Nakajima was definitely making it known that he was soon moving up to a heavyweight. He was about to enter NOAH’s Global League (a heavyweight tournament and the precursor to the N-1 Victory) in November. So, on a Diamond Ring show (the renamed Kensuke Office), he challenged himself against a heavyweight and a former Heavyweight Champion – Masato Tanaka.
Former ECW World Heavyweight Champion. Former FMW Double Champion. A two time former ZERO1 World Heavyweight Champion at that time. Tanaka was a 19 year veteran at that time and had made his mark in Japan and America. So him against Nakajima was a worthy main event.
It was the longest match these two have had against each other as of this writing and it took Tanaka over 20 minutes to pin Nakajima after a Sliding D.
And NOAH have very kindly uploaded this match for free to YouTube.
Nakajima officially moved up to a heavyweight in 2013. And while he challenged for the GHC Heavyweight Title several times, he came up short against KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji and Takashi Sugiura before he finally beat Sugiura for the belt in October 2016.
I’ll be honest, NOAH was at the back end of its darkest days at that time. It was the tail end of the Suzuki-Gun invasion which put NOAH into a bad spot. Interest in NOAH was an all time low and crowds had been turned off the promotion. So Nakajima had the unenviable job of being the champion during a lull.
And he did a great, but underrated, job. His reign was fantastic. He had great matches against Minoru Suzuki, Masa Kitamiya, Takashi Sugiura, Go Shiozaki, Muhammad Yone, Atsushi Kotoge and Brian Cage before he lost the belt to Eddie Edwards in August 2017.
Tanaka returned to NOAH for the Global League that same year and he and Nakajima were in the same Block. Their match didn’t happen until the final night of the block stage and, showing how good we have it now with Wrestle Universe, it wasn’t taped! It is a massive shame this match was not recorded.
Because in 2017, Nakajima was firmly a heavyweight, he’d just held the GHC Heavyweight Title for 10 months. But he’d also just lost the belt, so his confidence was rocked. He and Kenoh went to a 30 minute draw on night one, if they both won their matches on the final night, they would have a rematch to determine the Block winner.
But it was not to be as, after just over 13 minutes, Tanaka beat Nakajima. Nakajima may have been a different man. He’d bulked up. His hair had grown out. He’d proved himself as GHC Heavyweight Champion. But… Tanaka could still beat him.
Their next singles match took place last month. It was, again, during a tournament, with the N-1 Victory replacing the Global League. It wasn’t the last night this time either. It was opening night so should set the scene for the rest of the tournament.
Nakajima had won the 2020 N-1 Victory but failed to beat former partner Go Shiozaki for the GHC Heavyweight Title. He did see some success regaining the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles with his partner prior to Shiozaki, Masa Kitamiya. But much like how Nakajima turned on and betrayed Shiozaki, Kitamiya did the same to him.
The two former Kensuke Office students faced each other in NOAH’s first ever steel cage match but Kitamiya was not to be beaten on that night. Not only did he win, but an added stipulation saw the loser sacrifice their hair. Defeated. Shaved. But not quite broken as Nakajima sat defiant while he was shaved.
The 2021 version of Nakajima was as different to 2017 as he in 2017 was to him in 2012. He’d still not reclaimed the GHC Heavyweight Title he lost in 2017 but his attitude, his nasty streak had increased tenfold. And it wasn’t just him joining Kongo that was responsible for that. Nakajima had always had a dark side but in the past few years he’d allowed that side to consume him and really let loose.
However that still was not enough for Nakajima to beat Tanaka. After just over 14 minutes, Tanaka once again got the victory after a Sliding D. Three matches and three victories for Masato Tanaka.
Nakajima would end up going undefeated with victories over Kotaro Suzuki and Kazushi Sakuraba in order to win his Block. Then he beat Masakatsu Funaki in the semifinals and then his Kongo leader, Kenoh, in the Finals. Winning two N-1 Victory tournaments in back to back years.
On October 10th he dethroned Naomichi Marufuji to become GHC Heavyweight Champion for the second time. But there was no rest for the wicked as his first challenger would soon emerge. The man who beat him in the block stage. The man who he has never beaten. Masato Tanaka.
They’ve had three preview matches since their GHC Heavyweight Title match was confirmed to take place. On Sunday the 17th of October, Tanaka & Sugiura beat Nakajima & Mochizuki in an incredible tag match. Tanaka’s team took the win when he once again pinned Nakajima after a Sliding D.
On Sunday October 24th, Tanaka & Marufuji beat Nakajima & Manabu Soya after Tanaka pinned Soya after another Sliding D. The last show before this one, Thursday 28th, saw Nakajima finally pin Tanaka in a 10 man tag after a delayed brainbuster. The grin was back in full force afterwards.
Can Nakajima get a singles victory that has eluded him for the past 9 years? He’s proved he can pin Tanaka just 2 days before this title match. In his last reign, he beat former GHC Heavyweight Champions in Minoru Suzuki (who was technically an outsider too), Takashi Sugiura and Go Shiozaki. He beat one outsider in Brian Cage but lost the belt to another outsider in Eddie Edwards. Can he redeem himself here?
Tanaka lost his ZERO1 World Heavyweight Championship to Takashi Sugiura. Can he get revenge and take the GHC Heavyweight Title to ZERO1? He wouldn’t first non-NOAH wrestler to hold the belt but an outsider hasn’t held the belt since Eddie Edwards (if you even include him, as he spent several years in the NOAH dojo. And I’d say Keiji Muto but he’d practically signed a contract before he won the belt).
M’s Alliance (Keiji Muto, Naomichi Marufuji & Masaaki Mochizuki) vs Kaito Kiyomiya, Masa Kitamiya & Daiki Inaba
Masaaki Mochizuki beat Takashi Sugiura on Thursday the 28th of October in an amazing Title match. The Dragon Gate contracted wrestler has been a perfect fit in NOAH and I am so pleased to see him hold the GHC National Title.
He won’t get too much rest time, as Kenoh hit the ring to challenge him and that match has already been made official for Saturday 13th November in Yokohama. But in this match, he doesn’t have to worry about his next title challenge.
Last year, he and Kiyomiya displayed excellent chemistry together in a 30 minute draw during the N-1 Victory. This year he had a great little match against Inaba. So I’m looking forward to seeing the new GHC National Champion against all three of his opponents.
But this match is going to be another edition to the on-going Muto vs Kiyomiya saga. I know people are not high on Kiyomiya spending so much time being unable to beat Muto so far. But I have to believe there will eventually be a pay off. Eventually.
I have a gut feeling that we will see Muto vs Kiyomiya IV (although it’s not A New Hope) in Nippon Budokan on January 1st 2022. The first Budokan show was closed with the shot of Kiyomiya in the ring while he stared down the victorious Muto.
But, as we’ve got some time before then, I think there’ll be another way to extend their feud. The recently forgotten GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s. Kiyomiya & Kitamiya won those belts in July and have not defended them or been challenged for them yet.
Since winning the belts, they’ve not even teamed as just a tag team the once on a main, live, NOAH show. They did team on the special feature NOAH The Universal. But otherwise it’s been six man tag team matches with Inaba.
Muto beat Kiyomiya & Kitamiya in GHC Heavyweight Title matches this year, so I could see a title challenge being made. Most likely for Demolition Stage In Yokohama on November 13th.
As for Muto’s partner, Marufuji lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship earlier this month. Perhaps he doesn’t want to lose momentum and take another GHC Title to replace the one he lost.
Inaba seems to be the one left out in this match. But maybe, providing Mochizuki beats Kenoh, Inaba could put himself forward.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship – HAYATA (c) vs NOSAWA Rongai
This is NOSAWA’s first singles Title shot since September 2017. He challenged Masaaki Mochizuki for Tokyo Gurentai’s Tokyo World Heavyweight Championship.
And the last time he held a singles title, it was that same belt, which he lost in September 2011. So NOSAWA has not held a singles belt in over a decade.
I’ll be honest, I am not NOSAWA’s biggest fan. I remember watching him in ROH and PWG in the mid 2000’s and not being impressed. And then he’s spent time in every single Japanese promotion. All Japan, New Japan, Dragon Gate, DDT, Wrestle-1, etc.
So my impression of him was that he wasn’t a great wrestler, but a character. Someone that stood out on account of his look. But I never cared for his wrestling.
Rightly, or wrongly, that was always my thoughts on him. And when I really got back into NOAH again at the beginning of last year, NOSAWA wasn’t doing anything to change my mind. But obviously he’s a good hand in order to wrestle as long as he had in so many different promotions in Japan, Mexico and America.
When Eita & NOSAWA won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s in such dominant fashion, it was not a surprise that NOSAWA wasn’t in a competitive, back and forth match. Los Perros del Mal de Japon overwhelmed and caught Kotoge & Ohara short and were able to win before the champions could mount any kind of comeback.
But NOSAWA did show he could still wrestle a straight singles match when he took HAYATA to a 20 minute draw on the 24th of October. I’m not a fan of non-title matches happening right before the title matches, but that match actually did more to build NOSAWA as a threat than any of the previous preview matches.
That may have been spoiled a little when NOSAWA was pinned by the NOAH rookie, Yasutaka Yano, two days before this title match. This was a special day and special victory for Yano as he celebrated his one year anniversary in wrestling to the day, originally debuting on October 28th 2020.
But this match is here and happening now. And it’s not their first singles match either. It will be their fourth. Their first match happened on the 23rd of January 2020 during the Global Junior League and they went to a double countout in under 7 minutes.
Their second happened on the 3rd of April this year, back when NOSAWA Rongai & Ikuto Hidaka were challenging HAYATA & Yoshinari Ogawa for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s. NOSAWA would pin HAYATA after a low blow and roll up, all in just over two and a half minutes.
Hence why I assumed their next match, the one that just happened six days before this match, would end up being a non-match. More of an angle than a match. However NOSAWA proved me wrong by wrestling a relatively clean match, taking HAYATA to the 20 minute draw and claiming to have found HAYATA’s weakness as a result.
HAYATA has been a strong champion since he won the belt from Kotoge. He’s already made successful defenses over Ikuto Hidaka, YO-HEY and Kotaro Suzuki. This is his third reign with the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship since he first won the belt back in 2017.
His first title reign ended in its first defence. His second in its fourth. If HAYATA defeats NOSAWA, he’ll have achieved more than he has in previous reigns. So HAYATA will be extra determined to make it to four this time.
Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura, & Kazushi Sakuraba) vs Momo No Seishun (Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge)
Bit of a dream tag team match that I never knew I wanted or needed until it was booked. Sugiura & Sakuraba are former GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with one reign as a pair. Harada & Kotoge are former Four time GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions as a team.
When NOAH books heavyweights against juniors, it’s usually lower in the card. Veterans against rookies. Especially when it comes to tag team matches when the teams are not mixed.
But this match feels like something else. You have former tag team champions of each division facing off against each other. It would not be hard to imagine this match being more competitive than at first glance.
Sakuraba is on the lighter side of heavyweight on account of his many years excelling in MMA. Kotoge did move up to a heavyweight a few years ago and did have a run with the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles with Go Shiozaki. He even challenged for the GHC Heavyweight Championship.
Sugiura has just lost the GHC National Title to Masaaki Mochizuki, two days ago at the time of writing. Harada has always had the potential of trying his hand at being a heavyweight and would do very well for himself on GHC National Title level.
When it comes to experience and success as a tag team, Momo No Seishun have the advantage and then some. But when it comes to actual ring experience and singles success, Sugiura Army has the advantage there.
I do have high hopes for this match. It may be randomly thrown together but this match announcement caught the eye of many NOAH fans, myself included.
Los Perros del Mal de Japon (Eita, Kotaro Suzuki & YO-HEY) vs STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa & Seiki Yoshioka) & Yasutaka Yano
Yasutaka Yano scored the biggest victory of his young career when he pinned NOSAWA in an eight man tag team match when he teamed with STINGER against Los Perros del Mal de Japon.
So this is a rematch of sorts while HAYATA defends his GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship against NOSAWA later in the night.
I thought the presence of Yano in the previous match indicated who the fall guy was going to be, so seeing STINGER win was a surprise. But the bigger shock was Yano himself getting the win.
Will he get lucky a second time round? Well the person he pinned isn’t in this match and Los Perros del Mal de Japon will likely take him more seriously now.
I think what showed Yano’s growth was before the match even began, he didn’t run straight to the ring like all of NOAH’s youngsters do. He walked out slowly and measured, right behind Yoshinari Ogawa and before Seiki Yoshioka and HAYATA.
STINGER may have found an unlikely ally here. But Los Perros del Mal de Japon are still a strong team. Eita is half of the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions and a third of Dragon Gate’s Open The Triangle Gate Champions. YO-HEY is a former GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. Suzuki is a former GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion as well as GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion.
Could STINGER end up winning here again order to put Eita & NOSAWA Rongai on notice? Or will Los Perros del Mal de Japon win and inspire NOSAWA later in the night to make it a clean sweep for the group?
Kongo (Kenoh & Manabu Soya) vs Funky Express (King Tany & Muhammad Yone)
Kenoh ended the last NOAH show two days ago by challenging Masaaki Mochizuki for his newly won GHC National Championship.
Manabu Soya won his match that night but Kongo team mate Aleja was the one to get the pinfall. Soya, disappointed and frustrated by his lack of success in the ring, once again did not seem happy about this turn of events.
And Funky Express suffered another loss, this time to the team of Wrestle-1 and NOAH’s young aces, Daiki Inaba & Kaito Kiyomiya.
Even though it’s not likely for Funky Express to get the win, they are still not going to go down without a fight.
And Kenoh & Soya are definitely going to make them fight. Kenoh is going to need a tune up before his GHC National Title match against Mochizuki on Saturday November 13th. And Soya will be desperate to get the deciding pinfall himself in a match.
Ikuto Hidaka vs Aleja
These two have only crossed paths twice in a wrestling ring before. Both times happened this year.
The first time happened in March at a Real Japan show where Hidaka & Super Rider beat Aleja(ndro as he was known back then) & Fuminori Abe.
And the second time Kongo beat Los Perros del Mal de Japon in a 4 vs 4 elimination match. It was Aleja who directly pinned Hidaka as the first elimination to take place in that match.
So this is Hidaka’s chance at revenge. He hasn’t had much title success since he rejoined the NOAH roster late last year, although he is a former GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion from 15 years ago.
Aleja could end up being the focal point of the NOAH junior division in the near future. So beating a junior heavyweight legend like Hidaka will be a good start.
Kongo (Tadasuke, Haoh & Nioh) vs Hajima Ohara, Kinya Okada & Kai Fujimura
The Kongo juniors open the show against two rookies and Ohara. And I say rookies but Okada is about to celebrate three years in wrestling so should be higher than where he is right now.
But that’s my drum to keep on banging. And I’ll say it until something happens and Okada advances up the NOAH roster. Whether that happens or not is another matter.
This should be fast paced and exactly what you want to start the show with. Tadasuke was making motions earlier in the month towards challenging for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship.
So he should be extra motivated to get the win for his team if he wants to be the next challenger.
And that’s your lot.
I know the opening matches were rushed so I’m sorry about that.
But the top four matches are going to be well worth your time. Nakajima vs Tanaka could end up being a classic.
Thank you so much for reading. Thank you for supporting Pro Wrestling NOAH. And I hope you enjoy the show.