It was on August 5th & 6th 2000 that Pro Wrestling NOAH presented their debut shows. NOAH had a 10 year anniversary in 2010 where they repeated the two-show Departure format. And then they did the same in 2020 but dropped the tag team main event bleeding into a singles match the next night by main eventing with a GHC National and then Heavyweight Title match.
They are sticking with promoting the two shows to celebrate their 21st Anniversary this year, set to take place on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th of August. Both shows are taking place at Korakuen Hall and they both start at 18:30 in Japan (10:30 England, 05:30 East Coast USA & 02:30 West Coast USA).
However, Night 1 airs on Wrestle Universe. Which is a subscription service which is FREE for the first calendar month and under £8 a calendar month going forward.
Night 2 on the other hand airs on ABEMA. Now ABEMA is a Japanese streaming service but live view is available worldwide. Replays, unfortunately, are not. So if you miss the show live, it will be put on Wrestle Universe a week later.
There are 7 matches on Night 1 and 6 matches on Night 2 and I have very stupidly decided to write this piece with a very short time frame so let’s get right into it!
MAIN EVENT – Naomichi Marufuji & Takashi Sugiura vs Kaito Kiyomiya & Kotaro Suzuki
Four generations battle in this match but 17 years separate the first graduate from the last. And 14 years separate third and fourth too for that matter.
Naomichi Marufuji debuted first in August 1998 and was the only one of the four to spend time in an All Japan ring.
Takashi Sugiura debuted second in December 2000 but while he joined the All Japan dojo, he followed the majority of the All Japan roster to NOAH and made his wrestling debut in a NOAH ring.
Kotaro Suzuki was the third out of the four to debut but he was the first official graduate of the NOAH dojo in December 2001.
Lastly, and by no means least, Kaito Kiyomiya debuted in December 2015. The 11th graduate of the NOAH dojo, only 8 out of 15 remain with NOAH today. But only he and Go Shiozaki (the second graduate in July 2004) have been GHC Heavyweight Champions out of the entire graduates list.
On paper, you’d expect Marufuji & Sugiura to have a significant advantage. Both are heavyweights whereas Suzuki is a junior. They are the more experienced. They have a history as a team and are two-time GHC Heavyweight Champions together. And Sugiura is the current GHC National Champion with Marufuji the current GHC Heavyweight Champion.
Kiyomiya & Suzuki will be fighting from underneath. Although Kiyomiya is one-half of the current GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with Masa Kitamiya, he has been on a long losing slump. Suzuki is a junior heavyweight who gives up a lot of weight to both his opponents but he is a 4-time former GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion and 5-time former GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion where, as an individual, he has held those belts longer than anyone else and made the most defenses.
Wrestling isn’t always just about the statistics on paper. It was in the main event of the very first NOAH show that Jun Akiyama, the wrestler with the least experience in that match, choked Mitsuharu Misawa, within minutes of the first fall. And further stamped that he was (or should have been….) NOAH’s ace going forward by attacking Kenta Kobashi post match.
But this match isn’t 2 out of 3 falls like 2000 and 2010 were. This is one fall to a finish so it will be much less urgent than those matches were.
Marufuji will not have a challenger for his belt until after the victor of the N-1 Victory has been confirmed. Sugiura defends his GHC National Title on August 15th against former Dangan Yankees tag partner, Masato Tanaka.
Kiyomiya & Kitamiya have had no challengers come forth for their GHC Heavyweight Tag Team belts but I could see Keiji Muto/Great Muta step forward there.
Suzuki has been without a title belt since November last year when he lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight belt to Daisuke Harada. He has challenged for the Junior Heavyweight Tag belts twice since then but came up short.
With Suzuki not far away from his 20th Anniversary as a pro wrestler, a win or outstanding performance in this match could give him momentum to challenge his former STINGER stablemate, HAYATA.
Even with not much at stake – other than personal pride – and no obvious title matches to be set up, this still has the potential to be a great tag match.
Kongo (Kenoh & Manabu Soya) vs Sugiura Army (Kazushi Sakuraba & Kazuyuki Fujita)
Two rivalries are renewed in this match. It was back in December that Sakuraba challenged Kenoh for the GHC National Title but was beaten on the night.
And Fujita and Soya are two big beasts who consistently butted heads in tag matches between the two stables and Fujita has won both singles matches between the two (much to my chagrin).
They were supposed to collide again in a tag match on August 1st but Soya had to withdraw from this and the previous show due to an eye infection.
Sakuraba on August 1st competed in the longest wrestling match in his entire singles career when he unsuccessfully challenged Marufuji for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. With him and Sugiura losing the GHC Heavyweight Tag belts in March and losing to Sugiura himself for the GHC National Title, where does he go from here?
Fujita lost his first belt in NOAH, the GHC National Title to Sugiura at the end of April. Since then he’s bounced around in tag matches and doesn’t appear to have much direction.
The same could be said for both Kenoh and Soya. Kenoh lost the National Title to Fujita and then was struck down by Covid-19 not long after. Since returning he’s been completely out of the title picture.
And Soya recently lost a match for the vacant GHC Heavyweight Tag Team belts after he himself was pinned by Kiyomiya. I felt for sure that this was his moment to no longer be the loss post in Kongo and show the form he had in Wrestle-1, Big Japan, and All Japan. But it wasn’t to be.
With the N-1 Victory 2021 around the corner, you could have four entrants here in this match. For the first year, you have 16 competitors taking part in 4 blocks, so the field is wide open.
STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa, HAYATA, Seiki Yoshioka & Yuya Susumu) vs Kongo (Tadasuke, Haoh, Nioh & Aleja)
STINGER had a clean sweep on August 1st. Yoshioka & Susumu beat Daisuke Harada & Hajima Ohara to become the new GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. And HAYATA beat former friend turned rival, YO-HEY, to successfully defend his GHC Junior Heavyweight Title for the second time.
With all that gold you’d think STINGER is the most dominant stable in the NOAH junior division. However, on July 27th, STINGER, Los Perros del Mal de Japon, Momo No Seishun, and Kongo all competed in an 8 man tag team elimination tournament.
Kongo eliminated Los Perros del Mal de Japon. Momo No Seishun eliminated STINGER. And then Kongo beat Momo No Seishun to reign supreme in the junior division on that night.
No challengers came forth for any of the junior belts on August 1st. I can imagine that if Kongo is victorious in this match then we could see both belts being challenged. As for how Kongo would split that, I’m not so sure.
Tadasuke & Haoh were defeated on July 11th. Haoh & Nioh were beaten back in January. Haoh, Tadasuke & Nioh have all been beaten in singles Junior Title matches over the past year.
Aleja has been undefeated in his three NOAH shows thus far. The former Alejandro has only challenged for a singles title once so far in his 5-year career and that was an unsuccessful attempt at the Wrestle-1 Cruiserweight Title in April 2018.
So I could see him potentially challenge HAYATA with the other three Kongo members deciding amongst themselves as to who will challenge for the tag belts.
Providing they win of course. STINGER has dominated the NOAH junior division, especially the tag belts, over the past year. And the stable now contains the current and former GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Champions so they are a force to be reckoned with.
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Hajima Ohara
A decade ago and this would have been a marquee match for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title. But Nakajima has been a heavyweight ever since Ohara joined the NOAH roster in May 2013.
While this is not their first singles match, it will be their first to be televised. They have had three matches to date. August 2013. February 2014. And February 2017.
Nakajima won all three. And all between 10 and 15 minutes. With the weight advantage and with his heavy, heavy kicks, Nakajima should make quick work of Ohara.
But Ohara will not go down easy. Not in the slightest. He rarely gets singles matches against heavyweights and he forced Takashi Sugiura to break a sweat when the two faced each other in April.
If these two have half as good a match as I imagine they are capable of, then this could be a hidden midcard gem as Ohara uses his technical skills against Nakajima’s deadly feet.
Momo No Seishun (Daisuke Harada, Atsushi Kotoge & Junta Miyawaki) vs Los Perros del Mal de Japon (Eita, YO-HEY & NOSAWA Rongai)
Dragon Gate wrestler Eita hasn’t been seen in a NOAH ring since he debuted in June. But NOSAWA has promised more appearances from the former Open The Dream Gate Champion, and Eita has been confirmed for both Departure shows.
Los Perros del Mal de Japon has been undefeated in all their trios tags with Eita involved. NOAH’s newest stable has become their freshest as I doubt many people expected Ikuto Hidaka to be revealed as NOSAWA’s masked mystery friend. And especially not an interpromotional member as R.E.D’s Eita joined.
Four of the six people involved in this match will have had plenty of experience in Lucharesu trios matches. Harada & Kotoge were trained by and debuted in Osaka Pro. Eita is a graduate of Dragon Gate, as was YO-HEY over a decade ago.
So this could end up being very fast-paced and a good learning experience for Miyawaki as he learns different wrestling styles. And I’m sure NOSAWA can lurk and sneak attack to attempt to cut the legs out from his opponents.
The NOAH’s junior division has always been a melting pot of different styles and it works at its best when you have opponents (and teammates) from different backgrounds all coming together.
M’s Alliance (Masato Tanaka, Masaaki Mochizuki & Yuko Miyamoto) vs Funky Express (King Tany, Muhammad Yone & Akitoshi Saito)
Two words – Hard. Hitting.
Three words – Funky’s. Gonna. Die.
Tanaka, Mochizuki AND Miyamoto??? Yeah, that’s a bad-ass trio. And one I don’t think Funky Express is equipped to deal with.
But in all fairness, outside of the funk, Taniguchi, Yone, and Saito are some heavy hitters in their own right. And while they’re not exactly troubling the main event scene, they are still an obstacle the (younger) lower card are yet to overcome.
And while M’s Alliance should have this in the bag, Funky will go down swinging. Although yet another loss could prove an issue for King Tany and the dour Saito…
Masa Kitamiya & Yasutaka Yano vs Kinya Okada & Kai Fujimura
This is an exact rematch of the opening match from July 27th. And other than that match, we haven’t seen Kitamiya in the opening match for quite some time. He’s broken away from Kongo, beat Nakajima in NOAH’s first-ever steel cage, and reclaimed the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team titles with Kiyomiya as his chosen partner.
But I’m going to enjoy this rare opportunity to see Kitamiya mix it up with the younger generation in Okada, Yano & Fujimura. Okada especially. Yeah, Kitamiya is going to steamroll over both his opponents (and his partner too if he needed to) but I’d love to see Okada stand his ground and be able to hold his own. If only for a few minutes.
Yano and Fujimura continue their budding rivalry. Fujimura, despite debuting in Wrestle-1 in 2019, has adapted to the NOAH style well. He really does deserve a full-time contract with the promotion.
And Yano is wrestling with experience beyond his October 2020 debut. Yeah, he’s been on the losing end of most matches but he’s clearly showing the potential that he could lead the NOAH junior division into the future.
Right, and that’s Night 1 done.
Ready for more? Good! Because here’s Night 2.
MAIN EVENT – M’s Alliance (Naomichi Marufuji, Keiji Muto & Masakatsu Funaki) vs Kongo (Kenoh, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Manabu Soya)
Marufuji gonna chop and kick. Kenoh, Nakajima and Funaki gonna kick, kick and kick. Muto gonna Shining Wizard and Shining Wizard. Soya gonna clubber and eat those pins.
I fully expect the Kongo trio to all be entered into the N-1 Victory 2021 and this is the match for them to have their face-off with Naomichi Marufuji and make their intentions known towards the GHC Heavyweight Title.
I really hope Muto doesn’t enter. Even with it being 4 blocks with 4 wrestlers each, I think Muto having 3 singles matches (even spaced out) would dampen how special it is to see him in a singles match. But then with NOAH needing 16 wrestlers to take part and with it happening over 3 weeks, it is a possibility.
One wrestler I really do hope takes part in the N-1 is Masakatsu Funaki. The thought of Funaki smashing dudes in a NOAH ring really does make my heart happy.
So what to expect from this match other than my opening paragraph? Well, Kongo has the clear teamwork advantage as their stable is military-like in their precision with working together, even if Nakajima does stand apart.
But M’s Alliance has the experience advantage and while they don’t team as often due to the freelancer status of most of its members, but when they do team they have been a cohesive unit.
Honestly, I’m going to go on record and state that I think the N-1 has only three choices of a winner. And two out of the three are in this match – Kenoh and Nakajima. But with Nakajima winning last year, it could be Kenoh’s year again. He and Marufuji is still a rare singles match and has never had a title on the line. So pay special attention to how those two interact in this match.
Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba) vs M’s Alliance
Oh God yes, I am here for this match! This match alone is worth staying up late, being up early, or watching through your lunch if you live in the Western world. Just to make sure you are able to watch it live as ABEMA is live only with no replays until it’s moved to Wrestle Universe a week later.
But I for one am not waiting. As soon as this match starts I am going to take my lunch and watch this glorious violence unfold. That is how ready I am for this match!
Sugiura defends his GHC National Title on August 15th against Tanaka but it doesn’t just end there. Tanaka’s ZERO1 World Heavyweight Title is also on the line. This will be the first time that the ZERO1 World Heavyweight Title will be defended in NOAH.
It’s not like it’s the first time the belt has been defended outside of ZERO1. It’s been defended in New Japan and Wrestle-1 and also changed hands in both promotions. Tanaka himself lost the belt to Yuji Nagata in New Japan in October 2008. And Masakatsu Funaki beat Kohei Sato to win the belt at a Wrestle-1 show in July 2014.
And it’s not like this is the first time these two have faced off either. While they are more well known as a tag team together, they have clashed twice in the past.
Global League 2014 and Global League 2015. Tanaka won that first match but Sugiura would end up winning the league that year. Sugiura would win their rematch but neither would make the finals.
Two matches against being former NWA Intercontinental Tag Team and GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. They won back-to-back Global Tag Leagues in 2014 & 2015.
But over recent years they have teamed together very infrequently. Their last tag team match was in March 2020 against Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi in ZERO1 (well worth watching if you can find it!). And before that, it was January 2019. The last time they teamed together in a NOAH ring was on the 5th of August 2018 so it will be 3 years to the day from this match.
There was a surprise when Tanaka re-debuted with NOAH in January this year. Surprise that he came back as part of M’s Alliance instead of part of the Sugiura Army.
When he was asked how it happened to join M’s Alliance over Sugiura Army, Tanaka’s response was that Sugiura never asked him and Marufuji instead did ask him to re-join NOAH.
So it seemed like there was no bitterness. No drama. But for me the subtext was clear – Sugiura never asked Tanaka. The two former tag partners had drifted apart and the lines of communication had been shut down.
They have had three tag matches against each other in June and July. Tanaka & Marufuji beat Sugiura & Sakuraba in two of those tag matches. But Sugiura Army won an 8 man tag team match.
But there’s something different about this tag match and his name is Masaaki Mochizuki. Mochizuki & Tanaka are unbeaten in straight tag matches in a NOAH ring. And Sugiura and Mochizuki have only shared the ring on three separate occasions so I can’t wait to see them face each other too.
STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa, HAYATA, Seiki Yoshioka & Yuya Susumu) vs Los Perros del Mal de Japon (Eita, Kotaro Suzuki, YO-HEY & NOSAWA Rongai)
Providing STINGER is able to beat Kongo the day before, they could have new challengers set up here. Or, if they fall to Kongo AND Los Perros del Mal de Japon, then the floor is wide open for challengers.
STINGER and Los Perros del Mal de Japon were the first two teams eliminated from the 8 man tag team elimination tournament. On that night they felt like the weakest stables in the NOAH junior division.
Of course, STINGER rebounded and then some by winning and keeping all of the GHC Junior Heavyweight belts on August 1st.
And one casualty of that winning sweep was YO-HEY. A lot of people felt like it may have been his time to finally win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title but it wasn’t to be.
In regards to HAYATA’s potential next challenger, I can see in this match. The first is Eita. He arrived in NOAH in a big way and many felt like he could have won the GHC Junior rumble which was eventually won by HAYATA and led to his third reign.
The second is Kotaro Suzuki. He has a history with HAYATA and an errant superkick from HAYATA led to Suzuki being kicked out from STINGER after his rage got the better of him.
Suzuki had a one-man mission against STINGER and it was that undying need to take down STINGER which saw him, NOSAWA & Hidaka first team up and create the foundations that would become Los Perros del Mal de Japon.
It feels like Suzuki challenging HAYATA seems like a natural progression. But we’ll see what happens.
Kaito Kiyomiya, Masa Kitamiya & Daiki Inaba vs Funky Express (King Tany, Muhammad Yone & Akitoshi Saito)
And also, another providing the results of the night before, providing Funky Express have anything remaining of them after the M’s Alliance match, they aren’t going to have an easy team against these three.
Kiyomiya & Kitamiya are the current GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Could Funky Express challenge them? They were the last team to challenge before The Aggression imploded.
But it feels like there’s inner turmoil inside Funky Express that needs to be resolved before they can challenge again. That or another failed title shot which will be the catalyst for a big change to Funky Express… Or an ending.
Daiki Inaba returned after injury in a main event. But now after a loss to Kiyomiya, he again feels like an afterthought. Hopefully, he will find some fire, some drive that propels him forward to the NOAH upper midcard/main event scene. I would be very happy to see him get a surprising good run during the N-1 this year.
Kongo (Tadasuke, Haoh, Nioh & Aleja) vs Momo No Seishun (Daisuke Harada, Atsushi Kotoge, Hajima Ohara & Junta Miyawaki)
A rematch of the finals from the one-night 8 man elimination tournament. Kongo picked up the victory that night with Tadasuke pinning both Miyawaki and then Harada to be the sole survivor.
But there will be no eliminations here. No over-the-top-rope rules. It will be one pinfall, one submission, one victory.
Harada & Ohara made an absolutely fantastic tag title defense over Tadasuke & Haoh. That match made me gutted that they lost the belts to Yoshioka & Susumu.
Hopefully, there will be a chase for Harada & Ohara as there could be a lot more mileage in that team. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Tadasuke & Haoh team up again in the future.
This will definitely be a fast-paced 8 man tag team match so you better keep your eyes open for this match.
Kinya Okada vs Yasutaka Yano
Yano made his debut on October 28th, 2020 with a loss against Okada. They’ve had four singles matches with Okada unsurprisingly winning all of them.
The result of this match is not going to be any different. And it’s not like Okada winning is going to elevate him any further than where he already is.
But it’ll be interesting to watch this match against Yano’s debut to see how far both have come in that short time frame.
And that’s your lot.
If you haven’t already watched the August 1st show I would recommend you do so.
I hope you enjoy both shows and keep supporting Pro Wrestling NOAH in 2021 and beyond!