This Thursday, the 28th of October, Pro Wrestling NOAH present their Sixth show of the month! But this another big one. Airing live on Wrestle Universe with English commentary, we have a GHC National Championship match in the main event as a first two singles match between two future legends.
Plus you have two more preview matches for the GHC Heavyweight and Junior Heavyweight Title matches taking place on Saturday October 30th. It’s a Six match card and that main event is going to be one to watch.
Airing live from Kumamoto, Go On To The Demolition Stage Night Three starts at 6:30pm in Japan. That’s 10:30am in England, 5:30am in East Coast USA and 2:30am in West Coast USA.
As it’s airing on Wrestle Universe, it’ll be up for replay not long after it’s finished if you can’t watch it live. And English commentary too handled by the excellent duo of Mark Pickering and Stewart Fulton.
Wrestle Universe is FREE for the months of October, November and December. You only pay from January 1st 2022. So please, if you haven’t already, give them a chance and sign up today.
Anyway we have six matches to cover, including a personal dream match of mine, so let’s run down the card!
MAIN EVENT – GHC National Championship – Takashi Sugiura (c) vs Masaaki Mochizuki
If you haven’t gathered already, I am very excited for this match. If you were watching NOAH and Dragon Gate in the mid 2000’s, I would not be surprised if you fantasy booked this match when you thought of NOAH vs Dragon Gate dream matches. Marufuji vs CIMA. KENTA vs Shingo Takagi. Sugiura vs Mochizuki.
Dragon Gate was and remains a promotion of primarily junior heavyweight wrestlers. Mostly wrestling with a blended style of Mexican and Japanese wrestling styles taught by Ultimo Dragon which has been coined as Lucharesu. So Mochizuki, who started his career in WAR in 1997, and had guest spots in Michinoku Pro and New Japan, was not the same as anyone else in Toryumon Japan when he joined in 1999.
But that’s what helped him stand out. In a promotion full of fast paced, high flying wrestlers or grounded, extremely fancy and technical wrestlers, Mochizuki was someone who just kicked hard and had a basic mat game. It may sound simple but when you do what you do very well, you don’t need to get fancier than that.
Mochizuki was already over three years into his career by the time Sugiura debuted in December 2000. Just a couple of months later, Mochizuki won the MPW British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship in Michinoku Pro; which he took to Toryumon Japan where it became the promotions top singles title. He also won the El Numero Uno tournament while champion that year.
Sugiura stood out when he debuted in NOAH too. Other juniors like Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Marufuji and Kenta Kobayashi (before he became KENTA) were more typical junior heavyweight wrestlers. Fast paced and high flying. Sugiura, on the other hand, was more stocky, more grounded and leaned heavily into his amateur wrestling background.
This in turn helped him achieve his first GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship reign in September 2003. Although it was only a short reign, he lost it in the highest profile possible – losing it to a junior heavyweight legend, Jushin Thunder Liger, in the Tokyo Dome on January 4th 2004.
2004 was a big year as Toryumon Japan broke away from Ultimo Dragon and Dragon Gate was formed in July that year. CIMA, as last Ultimo Dragon Gym Champion, was awarded the Open The Dream Gate Title to be Dragon Gate’s first Champion. But he would lose the belt to Mochizuki in December 2004 at the biggest Pay Per View in the company’s history at that point.
So 2005 saw Mochizuki at the top of Dragon Gate and Sugiura as one of the top juniors in NOAH along with Kanemaru, Marufuji & KENTA. Mochizuki would make successful defenses over Ryo Saito, Don Fuji, TAKA Michinoku and (a young) Shingo Takagi before losing the belt to Magnitude Kishiwada in November 2005. By that point, Sugiura & Kanemaru had ended Marufuji & KENTA’s almost two year run with the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s.
And Sugiura still held that belt when he won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship for a second time to become a double Champion and the main man in the NOAH junior division in June 2006. Mochizuki would remain in the main event scene in Dragon Gate, including winning King Of Gate 2006. But he would only challenge for the Open The Dream Gate Title, failing to win it.
Sugiura moved into NOAH’s heavyweight scene in 2007/08, while Mochizuki began branching out, holding his own produced Buyuden shows to work with wrestlers outside of Dragon Gate. He also freelanced in other promotions like ZERO1 and Kensuke Office, as well as some New Japan appearances.
December 6th 2009 was a massive night for Sugiura as he claimed the GHC Heavyweight Title for the first time in the main event in Nippon Budokan. But, coincidentally, that same night on a much smaller show in Sapporo at a Dragon Gate show, Mochizuki beat Davey Richards to win the FIP World Heavyweight Championship. FIP, Full Impact Pro, was the Sister promotion to Ring Of Honor based in Florida. Obviously the two title belts are leagues apart, just thought it was worth noting.
Davey Richards would win the belt back in America just the next month. But that title victory, despite how brief it was, would put Mochizuki back in the main event picture again. He would challenge new Open The Dream Gate Champion, YAMATO, in May 2010 in a match that still holds up today if you have the Dragon Gate Network. And Open The Freedom Gate Champion, BxB Hulk, in Philadelphia in July which I was very lucky to be front row at.
In NOAH, Sugiura WAS the main event scene. With GHC Heavyweight Title victories over Hirooki Goto, Togi Makabe, Yoshihiro Takayama, Jun Akiyama, Go Shiozaki, Chessman, Takeshi Morishima, Bison Smith, Giant Bernard, Trevor Murdock, Minoru Suzuki, Dave Mastiff, Kotaro Suzuki, Claudio Castagnoli before losing the belt to Shiozaki in July 2011.
Before that happened, in April Mochizuki beat Masato Yoshino to win the Open The Dream Gate Title for the second time. It’s crazy to say this now but as it had been well over five years since the last time he held the belt, the 41 year old Mochizuki said his title victory, given his age, could be a last hurrah but he would do his best. Well 10 and a half years later, the 51 year old Mochizuki is still wrestling to the same high quality standard that he was back in 2011 and before.
So Sugiura and Mochizuki were the Champions in their promotions at the same time for a few months in 2011 so if you were to fantasy book a NOAH vs Dragon Gate match ten years ago, Sugiura vs Mochizuki would still be high on everyone’s lists.
Mochizuki beat YAMATO (another incredible match), Yasushi Kanda, BxB Hulk, Cyber Kong, Akira Tozawa (brilliant match), Ryo Saito before losing the belt to CIMA in December.
From there both still remained in the main event scene but Mochizuki wouldn’t challenge for the Open The Dream Gate Title again until November 2015 where Shingo Takagi beat him. Sugiura would challenge for the GHC Heavyweight Title against KENTA in May 2013, Yuji Nagata in March 2014, Marufuji in December 2014 and Minoru Suzuki in September 2015 (very recommended one to watch). He did manage to become a two time GHC Heavyweight Champion when he beat Marufuji in January 2006, after betraying NOAH to join Suzuki-Gun.
He’d lose the belt twice in 2016, first to Go Shiozaki in May but then won it back in June. Then finally to Nakajima in October which started Nakajima’s first run with the Title. Heart issues would see Sugiura take a few months away from the ring in mid 2017 but while Sugiura was out, Mochizuki again reminded people just how good a 47 year old wrestler could be by beating YAMATO in September for a third (and so far final?) reign with the Open The Dream Gate Title.
Mochizuki would renew old rivalries by beating Susumu Yokosuka and Ryo Saito early in his run but then focus on the newer generation with victories over Kzy, Ben-K and Big R Shimizu before losing the belt to Yoshino in June 2018.
Much like in 2011, Sugiura and Mochizuki reigned at the top of both of their promotions as on March 2018, Sugiura ended Kenoh’s first (and so far only) GHC Heavyweight Title reign to become Champion for the Fourth time (and so far his final run too). Seven years apart and the same two men stood at the pinnacle of their promotions. So in 2018, this was a dream match.
Kaito Kiyomiya would be the man to dethrone Sugiura in December 2018. But neither he nor Mochizuki showed any signs of slowing down in 2019. In fact, in September of that year, Mochizuki began appearing regularly in NOAH after joining the first ever N-1 Victory. They were in separate blocks so never faced each other, and Sugiura won his block before losing to Kenoh in the finals. However, while Mochizuki failed to win the block, he did get a direct victory over Kenoh.
The GHC National Title was introduced to NOAH in November 2019 when Sugiura beat Michael Elgin to become the first person to hold that belt. And then in January 2020, Mochizuki & Marufuji beat AXIZ (Shiozaki & Nakajima) to become the new GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions.
Now both held title gold in the same promotion, meaning that the dream match I and many others wanted in the mid 2000’s, in 2011, and in 2018, actually seemed like it could become a reality in the not too distant future.
Mochizuki became a founding member of M’s Alliance and Sugiura had his Sugiura Army. Naturally these two groups would be competing against each other to be the top stable in NOAH. But matches involving both Mochizuki and Sugiura were rare, mainly on account of Mochizuki juggling his Dragon Gate and NOAH commitments.
They only had one match against each other in 2020 where Mochizuki, Marufuji, Keiji Muto & Yuko Miyamoto beat Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kendo Kashin & NOSAWA Rongai in June.
In 2021, they’ve had six tag team matches against each other. In May, Mochizuki & Marufuji beat Sugiura & Kazunari Murakami, which made me desperate to see this singles match finally happen. Then, in June, the Sugiura Army team of Sugiura, Sakuraba, Murakami & Yoshiaki Fujiwara beat Mochizuki, Marufuji, Masato Tanaka & Miyamoto.
August saw Sugiura & Sakuraba beat Mochizuki & Tanaka. They’ve faced each other three times now this month. October 3rd, Sugiura, Sakuraba & Kazuyuki Fujita beat Mochizuki, Muto and Tanaka when Sugiura directly pinned Mochizuki after an Olympic Slams. All my dreams of seeing Mochizuki challenge Tanaka for the GHC National Title seemed dashed with that direct victory.
But then on October 10th, Mochizuki, Tanaka & Masakatsu Funaki beat Sugiura, Fujita & Kashin. And Mochizuki was the one to have pinned Sugiura himself after a KO Kick to the head. Needless to say that when Mochizuki took the mic after the match to challenge Sugiura for the GHC National Title, I was practically jumping up and down for joy in my living room.
And last weekend, Sugiura & Tanaka beat Mochizuki & Nakajima in their one and only preview match before their title matches takes place on the 28th. That match was incredible. You had the GHC Heavyweight Champion facing their next challenger. The GHC National Champion also facing their next challenger. Two stablemates in Mochizuki & Tanaka on opposite sides as they chase their own title ambitions. And two old tag teams who hadn’t teamed in a decade and half a decade respectively reuniting as they had common goals.
That match ended when Tanaka pinned Nakajima as build up to their GHC Heavyweight Title match on October 30th. So Sugiura and Mochizuki are tied at one pinfall apiece over each other.
You could argue there’s not been that match build for this match. But when you have the opportunity to see Mochizuki face Sugiura, one on one, with a title on the line in a main event, first time ever dream match, you damn well grab it with both hands.
I am genuinely so excited for this match. Both men, even at 51 years old, are still two of the best wrestlers in the world. Their age does not define them or even limit their capabilities. This is going to be a hard hitting spectacle and I can’t wait for Thursday!
Kongo (Kenoh, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Tadasuke, Haoh & Nioh) vs M’s Alliance (Naomichi Marufuji & Masato Tanaka), Momo No Seishun (Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge) & Hajima Ohara
The final preview match for the GHC Heavyweight Title before Nakajima makes his first defense against Tanaka on Saturday October 30th.
And, realistically speaking, he should have an advantage here. Kongo as a unit are represented as a unit front here behind the champion; while Tanaka has fellow M’s Alliance member Marufuji in his corner. The rest of his team is made up by another group who rarely interact with M’s Alliance.
Tanaka has always had Nakajima’s number. He beat him in September 2012 in the main event of a Diamond Ring show, back when Nakajima was still on the line between junior heavyweight and heavyweight. He beat him in the 2017 Global League. And he’s just beaten him in the 2021 N-1 Victory, giving Nakajima his only loss before he went on to win the tournament and taking the GHC Heavyweight Championship from Naomichi Marufuji on October 10th.
A grinning Nakajima held his newly won belt high on his shoulder and his grin seemed to get larger as Tanaka came to the ring to issue his challenge. For Nakajima, this not only offered the chance of redemption for his earlier loss to Tanaka (and losses for the matches in previous years), but to start his second run with the GHC Heavyweight Title with a strong message – He is better than he was in 2016/17, during his first reign.
That grin may have been wiped from his face when Tanaka again pinned Nakajima in their first preview match on October 17th, with Tanaka & Sugiura beating Nakajima & Mochizuki in an incredible tag team match that went almost 30 minutes. And Tanaka got another win on October 24th when he & Marufuji beat Nakajima & Soya after Tanaka pinned Soya after a Sliding D.
This is now Nakajima’s last chance to get any kind of momentum, any kind of victory over Tanaka before their GHC Heavyweight Title match on Saturday. Otherwise Tanaka will be looking more and more like the favourite in his first ever GHC Heavyweight Championship match. And the champion will be facing his biggest threat straight out of the gate meaning that his second reign may be over before it even has chance to begin.
Kenoh fell short to his Kongo colleague in the N-1 Victory Finals. And then Marufuji dropped the GHC Heavyweight Title to Nakajima the week after. With the Nippon Budokan on January 1st looming, where does either man go from here?
Marufuji was on the winning side at the last show when Tanaka pinned Soya. So far the tag team of Marufuji & Tanaka are unbeaten so that’s something to keep in mind the next time the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s are defended, if Kitamiya & Kiyomiya ever defend the belts they won in July.
Kenoh was part of a losing Kongo team as they lost to Momo No Seishun and friends (with Yano). He and Sugiura were the only heavyweights in that match so it was very junior heavyweight centric. Chaos, in other words. Here he gets chance to team with another heavyweight in Nakajima as they face Tanaka & Marufuji. Kenoh and Tanaka are no strangers to each other either. They had three singles matches in 2017 with a win each and a draw.
So if, worst case scenario, Nakajima was to fall to Tanaka and lose the GHC Heavyweight Title to him, Kenoh would quickly step up to challenge. Although on October 17th, Tanaka did promise a Title match to Sugiura.
And the Kongo juniors and Momo No Seishun and friends continue their ongoing feud. Not like there’ll ever be an end to these teams or any other of the junior teams feuding. The GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship is currently with HAYATA in the STINGER camp. And the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s are with Eita & NOSAWA Rongai in Los Perros del Mal de Japon.
So these two teams only have pride on the line and the battle to put themselves forward as the next challenger for either Junior Title belt. Harada pinned Nioh at the previous show and, technically, they had a weaker team at the last show by partnering Yano. No disrespect to him, but he is more likely to be a weak link to any team he’s on.
Tadasuke, Haoh & Nioh will want to beat Momo No Seishun in this match, especially if Tadasuke plans to challenge the winner of the HAYATA/NOSAWA match on Saturday October 30th.
STINGER (HAYATA, Yoshinari Ogawa & Seiki Yoshioka) & Yasutaka Yano vs Los Perros del Mal de Japon (NOSAWA Rongai, Eita, Kotaro Suzuki & YO-HEY)
And another final preview match, this time for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship. HAYATA and STINGER (with Yasutaka Yano) face NOSAWA Rongai and Los Perros del Mal de Japon.
It’s a full quartet for Los Perros del Mal de Japon, including the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, as they face a STINGER trio with a rookie.
And this rookie will be celebrating his one year anniversary to the day on this show. It was on October 28th 2020 that Yano, the 15th graduate of the NOAH dojo, made his wrestling debut at Korakuen Hall with a loss to Kinya Okada.
It may have only been a year but the progress Yano has made is great. While he still looks like a rookie, he does wrestle like someone with more than a year to his name. Kai Fujimura debuted in 2019 and Yano wrestles like his equal.
Being an odd one out with STINGER, in regards to both his ring experience and demeanour, he’ll be the weak link in this match for Los Perros del Mal de Japon to exploit. But then again, Yano was surprisingly not the one to take the loss and was on the winning side on the last NOAH show.
I actually owe an apology to NOSAWA. I assumed that his match against HAYATA on the last show would be a trap, a bait and switch. Anything but a normal regular wrestling match. I’m so used to seeing NOSAWA do anything to avoid wrestling a straight wrestling match and using short cuts and cheap heel tactics that, while I acknowledge NOSAWA’s long and diverse career with experience in Japan, Mexico and America, I don’t ever expect him to use that wrestling experience.
Well, he proved me wrong with his 20 minute draw with HAYATA. No outside interference. It was largely HAYATA vs NOSAWA with not as much breaking the rules as I expected. NOSAWA showed, for the most part, why he’s had a career as long as he’s had and how he’s managed to move from very different promotions across the world.
That match actually put NOSAWA forward as a legitimate threat to HAYATA’s GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship. While he and Eita won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s in dominant fashion, it seemed more like they caught Kotoge & Ohara by surprise. Now HAYATA has an idea not to get caught out like that, but NOSAWA has shown that NOSAWA can wrestle and go the distance.
I’m surprised to see Yuya Susumu absent and hope he’s back soon. Him and Yoshioka could have put themselves forward to challenge Eita & NOSAWA in the future. But maybe Ogawa & HAYATA could attempt to win back the belts that they held for almost a year. Or, Ogawa & Yoshioka could begin a new team. Or Ogawa, after going the distance with Kiyomiya for 30 minutes, may leave the rest to wrestle at a faster pace.
Kaito Kiyomiya & Daiki Inaba vs Funky Express (King Tany & Muhammad Yone)
Kiyomiya and Ogawa went to a 30 minute draw on October 24th. Ogawa beat him in June after almost 40 minutes but with the 30 minute time limit in this match, the two former GHC Heavyweight Champions were unable to put the other away in time.
So this will be a change of pace for him. He and Kitamiya still hold the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s but have not once defended them, been challenged for them or even referenced them really. Funky Express were the team that The Aggression beat right before they split up so dramatically.
Could Funky Express challenge again? I don’t think so. But it would be nice for NOAH to acknowledge that they exist seen as it’s been over 3 months since the belts were won by Kiyomiya & Kitamiya.
And they’ve not really been seen much outside of the lower card matches over these past few months. But NOAH and it’s fans love a good underdog story.
Kiyomiya & Inaba have teamed five times before. Once in Wrestle-1 before it closed, where they beat Nakajima & Shotaro Ashino. A week after Inaba debuted in NOAH with a loss to Kiyomiya, the two teamed together to beat Kotoge & Yoshioka. Then they beat Marufuji & Miyamoto. The two were finally beaten by Kenoh & Jinsei Shinzaki. And then the last time the two teamed as a tag team in December 2020, they beat Marufuji & Kinya Okada.
So 4 wins, 1 loss. Not a bad record. And likely better than Funky Express in 2021. In fact, the Funky Express team of King Tany & Muhammad Yone have won 5, lost 9 and drawn 1. They never the favourites to win a tag match, let’s be honest.
You’d think the former aces of NOAH and Wrestle-1 should have this one in the bag. But you just never know what may happen on any given night.
Kongo (Manabu Soya & Aleja) vs Masa Kitamiya & Kai Fujimura
Soya and Kitamiya both did not have the performances in the N-1 Victory that they wanted. Soya lost all three of his matches while Kitamiya only won one out of three.
At the N-1 Victory Finals on October 3rd, a six man tag featuring those who had performed the weakest in the tournament took place. Soya was fired up and driven on that night as he was the one to pin Kitamiya to get the win for his team.
On the 10th of October, Soya & Aleja beat Kitamiya & Junta Miyawaki when Aleja pinned Miyawaki. Soya, despite being on the winning team, seemed incredibly annoyed and frustrated that he wasn’t the one to win the match for his team.
And on the 17th and 24th, Soya was again on the losing end in his matches. The 24th he was pinned directly by Tanaka. I wonder where this will eventually lead him. He has to have watched the progress Yoshiki Inamura and Kitamiya have made since leaving Kongo and be thinking if that’s the next step he has to make in order to succeed in NOAH.
Because, even with what I said about Kitamiya in the N-1, he still beat Nakajima in NOAH’s first ever steel cage match. He was still the one responsible for shaving his “older brother” bald. Him and Kiyomiya still managed to beat Nakajima & Soya to win the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s. So, past month aside, he’s not had a bad 2021 at all.
Realistically Soya & Aleja should have the advantage here. They beat Kitamiya & Miyawaki and Miyawaki has 2 years experience on Kai Fujimura. And, little known fact, Aleja and Kai are brothers. Aleja is the oldest of the two by 2 years and has 3 years more ring experience.
Kai was the first to debut in November 2020 and became a rival to Yano. It took Aleja until July 2021 before he joined NOAH but the distance between the two was massive. Kai joined at the very bottom. Aleja joined as the newest member of Kongo and is already positioned highly in the junior ranks of the stable.
So you have two former Kongo brothers against each other. And two real life brothers against each other. You can’t get better story telling than that.
Ikuto Hidaka vs Kinya Okada
Last week Okada lost to Kotaro Suzuki. The loss was to be expected but for it to happen in 5 minutes and as a roll up pinning combination had to be frustrating for Okada.
I thought that Okada would be finally moving up the card by now. He debuted in December 2018 so isn’t far off his three year anniversary with no major injuries or downtime. He had his Seven Match Series as most young rookies do this year.
Of course he lost all 7 matches, as is customary. But all 7 matches took place as part of the NOAH The Home sessions on YouTube. Those 7 matches were against King Tany, Daisuke Harada, Atsushi Kotoge, Muhammad Yone, Ikuto Hidaka, Masa Kitamiya and Kaito Kiyomiya.
So this is a rematch of match five. You can watch that match through NOAH’s own YouTube channel here (the match starts at 24:33)
Okada was born in 1993. Hidaka started his career in 1997. So he’s been wrestling since before Okada even started school.
Yes, Hidaka is going to win this match. I just hope for Okada to have a good showing and maybe, finally, having the big break out year he deserves in 2022.
And that’s your lot.
I wrote almost 2,000 words about the main event alone. That’s just how genuinely excited I am for this match and I cannot wait.
Thank you so much for reading all of this. And I hope you enjoy the show!