Pro Wrestling NOAH have already put on four shows this October. And they have another Three before the month is over. Their fifth show takes place this Sunday, the 24th of October.
All seven shows already have or will air live on Wrestle Universe. Which, in case you hadn’t read any of my previews or on Twitter, is FREE for all of October, November and December. You only pay from 1st January 2022.
So with live shows from Pro Wrestling NOAH, DDT and TJPW, plus VOD shows and a back catalogue, it’s well worth taking the plunge and giving it a shot.
This Sunday’s show takes place in Niigata and starts at 5pm in Japan. That’s 9am in the UK, 4am East Coast USA and 1am West Coast USA.
There are six matches on this show. The main event is a preview match for the GHC Heavyweight Title match set to take place on Saturday October 30th (airing live with English commentary). And, surprisingly, we have a singles match between GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion and Challenger happening on the lower card.
Plus a highly anticipated rematch between two former GHC Heavyweight Champions who had an almost 40 minute classic in June this year, Kaito Kiyomiya and Yoshinari Ogawa.
Let’s get right into the show then, shall we?
MAIN EVENT – Kongo (Katsuhiko Nakajima & Manabu Soya) vs M’s Alliance (Masato Tanaka & Naomichi Marufuji)
Masato Tanaka has now pinned Katsuhiko Nakajima in all three of their singles matches, including on the opening night of the N-1 Victory 2021 on the 12th of September. Tanaka challenged Nakajima straight after he won the belt from Naomichi Marufuji on October 10th and last weekend, Sunday 17th, Tanaka again pinned Nakajima in a tag team match.
And what a tag team match that was. Nakajima and Masaaki Mochizuki had an absolute war for almost 30 minutes against Tanaka and Takashi Sugiura. I would very much recommend that you use your Wrestle Universe account to watch that match as soon as you get a chance.
But now, Nakajima and Tanaka have another tag match against each other, this time with new partners. Last time they had old partners who they are no longer affiliated with. Now their partners are more recent and closer to home as they team with stablemates.
Nakajima has fellow Kongo member and the heavyweight of their group, Manabu Soya, on his side. While Tanaka has fellow M’s Alliance and the former GHC Heavyweight Champion, Marufuji, teaming with him.
So there’s an extra wrinkle there. Nakajima is not only facing the next challenger for his belt but also the man he had to beat to hold it. Tanaka will be motivated to claim another win over the champion, but Marufuji will be extra motivated to show that he can beat Nakajima if the opportunity ever arose for a rematch to reclaim the belt.
The Kongo team do have experience teaming together, although it did not have the result they desired. When Kitamiya turned on Nakajima, breaking up The Aggression while they still held the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles, each man took physical possession of a belt each.
Kitamiya selected Kiyomiya to be his partner, Nakajima picked Soya and in the end it was Kiyomiya who pinned Soya for them to become the 56th GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. That is the one and only time they have teamed together as just a regular tag team.
For Tanaka & Marufuji, this will be their third time teaming together since Tanaka returned to NOAH at the beginning of this year. And they are undefeated with both their victories happening in separate tag team matches over Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba, former GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions too might I add.
The Champion is the one with the obvious bulls eye on his head. But Soya has a point to prove as well. It seems like he is getting tired and more and more frustrated at his lack of success in a NOAH ring. More often than he’d like he is the one with his shoulders on the mat or tapping out. And just the other week, when he and Aleja won a tag match with Aleja being the one to take the deciding pinfall, Soya seemed frustrated at his lack of ability to be the one to finish a match even when he wins.
So there is a little story growing about Soya’s ongoing disappointment. Anyone who has read any of my previews will know that I rate Soya higher than most. I’ve been a fan since his All Japan days and his tag team with SANADA (back before the caps lock). The guy is a great hoss, fully committed and is a former Big Japan Strong Heavyweight Champion and two time Wrestle-1 Champion, so NOAH could be doing more with him.
It seemed like he and Marufuji have always had a little thing going in previous matches as they have faced each other during those matches and event kept on fighting after the match has ended. So hopefully that leads somewhere and Soya has a program with the former GHC Heavyweight Champion to help move him into more of an upper card role and give him some more credibility.
In January this year, as part of the build up to Masakatsu Funaki challenging Kenoh at Nippon Budokan, they had a tag match with Funaki teaming with Tanaka and Kenoh with Soya. It was as hard hitting as you expect and under 20 minutes it just flew by. Soya and Tanaka clashed a few times in that match, and it was not their first meeting either.
So all four have history. All four have displayed great chemistry against each other. While this match didn’t jump out at me as much as Nakajima/Mochizuki vs Tanaka/Sugiura did, this is definitely a main event worthy match.
Kaito Kiyomiya vs Yoshinari Ogawa
Yoshinari Ogawa is a staple of NOAH. As Misawa’s right had man and tag team partner, he is as synonymous with NOAH as Misawa is and was. He’s been an integral part of training in the NOAH dojo since the very beginning until today.
He’s a hand in training all 15 graduates of the NOAH dojo. From Kotaro Suzuki who debuted in December 2001 to Yasutaka Yano in October 2020. Meaning he was hands on in Kiyomiya’s training who was the 11th graduate in December 2015.
Kiyomiya grew up as a massive fan of Misawa. It was Misawa’s influence that saw him join NOAH above all others as he wanted to be in the promotion that Misawa founded. And he debuted during the middle of the Suzuki-Gun invasion, arguably NOAH’s darkest days.
Having Misawa’s second in command and long-term tag partner, Ogawa, as head trainer meant Misawa was still around. And Giant Baba too, for that matter. As long as their teachings are still passed on, they will never fade away or be forgotten.
Ogawa faced and beat Kiyomiya eight times in singles matches between December 2015 and May 2016. Only two were taped, but none of them were long matches and all under 10 minutes. with the longest being 8 minutes 12 seconds.
Kiyomiya left for international excursion in mid-2017 and was no longer a young rookie on his return in early 2018. He earned the nickname of Supernova when he became GHC Heavyweight Champion by the end of the year, the youngest to ever hold that belt.
So the two rarely interacted while Kiyomiya held the GHC Heavyweight Title through all of 2019. They were in two separate weight divisions now with Ogawa remaining in the junior division despite being the third ever GHC Heavyweight Champion and the person to win the belt in the shortest match length.
Last year they still only had rare matches with a six-man tag team match representing those who had come to NOAH directly from All Japan, Ogawa, Marufuji & Sugiura faced the NOAH born trio of Kotaro Suzuki, Go Shiozaki & Kiyomiya the main event of Night One of the 21st Anniversary of the Departure shows.
June this year, they had their first singles match since Kiyomiya had become the rising ace of NOAH. But Kiyomiya was not the champion he was in 2019. Losing the belt to Shiozaki, losing a GHC National Title match to Sugiura in February, losing to Keiji Muto in August, the finals of the N-1 Victory 2020 to Nakajima, losing another GHC National Title match this time to Kenoh in November, losing a GHC Heavyweight Title match in a rematch against Muto in March this year and then singles losses to Masato Tanaka to NOSAWA Rongai really saw the former ace struggling to find his place without the belt.
Their match lasted almost 40 minutes and in my eyes, it was a classic. I know a lot of comments were mainly about the length of the match. It is true that a majority of Japanese promotions have matches that go long for the sake of going long, especially Title matches. NOAH has been especially guilty of this in the past but there’s enough promotion right now that shoulders the blame.
But this was a technical masterclass to show why Ogawa is the head trainer of the NOAH dojo. Why he spent years as Misawa’s partner. Why he was able to be a part of the heavyweight scene in NOAH despite being a junior due to his stature and why he is a former GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champion and former GHC Heavyweight Champion.
Kiyomiya for his part showed why he was a NOAH dojo graduate and a student of everyone who trained him and who came before him. And showed why he was the Supernova and why he became the youngest GHC Heavyweight Champion in history.
However he still could not beat his trainer and his senior. Kiyomiya’s terrible run of losses and heartbreaks over the past 18 months continued.
Now, Kiyomiya was able to turn things around a little in the N-1 Victory. He came out with a new look, new ring gear and dyed black hair to replace the blonde. And with this change of look he was able to get back to winning ways, with back to back victories over Soya and Sugiura. However Muto would still be his white whale with a 30 minute draw. He won his block, but the draw with Muto had to hurt.
And his perennial rival Kenoh was able to surprise him with a pinning reversal which saw Kiyomiya eliminated in the semifinals. This was not the redemption that Kiyomiya was searching for and in desperate need of.
Therefore, Kiyomiya’s redemption will be longer. He has more miles to go before he can sit at the top of NOAH again. He beat NOSAWA before the N-1 Victory began. Now he has someone else he needs to beat. And Muto has to wait.
Now it’s Ogawa. He has never beaten him. Ogawa was there beating him at the start of his career. Which, let’s be fair, was to be expected with the experience gulf between the two by that point. But the loss in June showed that Kiyomiya has a lot more to learn. And he’s here and ready to learn.
Kongo (Kenoh, Tadasuke, Haoh Nioh & Aleja) vs Takashi Sugiura, Momo No Seishun (Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge), Hajima Ohara & Yasutaka Yano
Takashi Sugiura teams with the NOAH juniors as Momo No Seishun and friends (with Yano replacing the injured Junta Miyawaki) face off with Kongo who are backed up by their leader, Kenoh.
The Sugiura Army no longer has any juniors of its own. Hajima Ohara and Seiki Yoshioka left in May last year to form FULL THROTTLE. Kaz Hayashi left to join GLEAT full time. NOSAWA Rongai has splintered away from Sugiura Army, forming Los Perros del Mal de Japon. And Kendo Kashin is Kendo Kashin but is more of a heavyweight now.
So it’s nice to see Sugiura mixing it up with the juniors again. He spent the first six years of his career as a junior heavyweight before he moved up to heavyweight. If he’d come to wrestling and NOAH just ten years later, he’d have great feuds with Harada, Ohara, Tadasuke and Haoh.
And Kenoh has also spent his time in the NOAH juniors. He and Ohara are former GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions while they were part of Cho Kibou-Gun. Plus he’d challenged Harada and Ohara for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship.
There are no titles on the line here. Kotoge & Ohara just lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s. Harada lost his shot at the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship. And Tadasuke has been making waves at saying that he’s going to challenge HAYATA for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title.
So the Kongo juniors and Momo No Seishun and friends will be like cats and dogs in order to position themselves at the top of the junior division in order to try and get a future Title shot.
And Sugiura against Kenoh is always good. Sugiura is the man to end Kenoh’s one and only GHC Heavyweight Title reign. And then Sugiura defended the belt against him. Kenoh did get a measure of revenge by beating Sugiura in the 2019 N-1 Victory Finals. But in their last meeting, Sugiura again beat Kenoh in the next year’s N-1 Victory.
Sugiura may have been the first person to hold the GHC National Title and the first to hold it twice, but Kenoh holds the record as longest reigning Champion with the most defences so far. So the two are naturally going to still have a deep competition with each other.
Masa Kitamiya, Seiki Yoshioka & Kai Fujimura vs Daiki Inaba & Los Perros del Mal de Japon (YO-HEY & Ikuto Hidaka)
A change to the original card as Yano is pulled from this match. And it’s a shame as originally this match had three distinct rivalries for the future here. Kitamiya and Inaba. Yoshioka and YO-HEY. Yano and Fujimura. And in fact the last two seem to already be in place.
But Kitamiya and Inaba already seem to have established a hierarchy where Kitamiya is above. Which, considering he is older with more experience and has been in NOAH since practically the beginning of his career, is fair. I’d like to see the two become more equal rivals as they are of a similar age and could be mixing it up in the GHC National Title scene before both being in the GHC Heavyweight Title picture.
Yoshioka and YO-HEY have an ongoing feud after Yoshioka betrayed YO-HEY and put an end to FULL THROTTLE. Both are highly athletic, fast paced wrestlers and I could absolutely see the two of them at the top of the junior division in the near future. Yoshioka is already a former GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion although he did not get the reign many of us liked. But YO-HEY is yet to hold that belt despite repeated attempts.
Not the near future but absolutely in a few years could I see Yano and Fujimura being the leaders of the NOAH junior division. Yano is days away from his one year anniversary as a wrestler. Fujimura is now over two years but had to start from scratch almost from joining NOAH.
But now Fujimura lines up against Hidaka. And there is no chance Hidaka is going to go easy on him. Hidaka has already beaten him in a singles match as part of NOAH The Home YouTube series of matches between the less experienced NOAH roster members and their seniors. You can watch that match here:
These guys aren’t exactly all on the young side either. Hidaka is 49. Inaba, Yoshioka and YO-HEY are all 33. Kitamiya 32. Fujimura 26 (it would have been a younger match with 21 year old Yano). It’s only really Yano and Fujimura who could have a decade or two in front of them. The rest might only still be in peak condition for a few more years.
But NOAH, rightly or wrongly, has come to feature the elder, more experienced statesmen. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see Hidaka available and bring some consistency in teaming with his Los Perros del Mal de Japon teammate. We just really need the younger generations to have a fire lit under them and really begin to take charge.
HAYATA vs NOSAWA Rongai
Just six days away from their GHC Junior Heavyweight Title match, the two face off in a singles match. NOAH have done this before. Just last month HAYATA and Harada had a 30 minute draw before their title match. Back in July Marufuji and Sugiura had a 10 minute draw before their GHC Heavyweight Title match.
I don’t tend to get non-title matches happening right before the title matches when the title match was booked first. It’s a common and lazy trope in the west to win a non-title match to earn the title match, but at least that I understand.
NOSAWA has not had the best strategy of thinking pre-matches before his title shot. Los Perros del Mal de Japon as a whole came out to challenge HAYATA but as only one at a time could, HAYATA himself picked NOSAWA. In return, NOSAWA stated that he would pick their matches in the build up to their match on Saturday October 30th.
This likely will not be a 30 minute draw. And it’s not been announced as a 10 minute time limit match either. So it stands to reason that NOSAWA may have an ulterior motive for this match. Four out of five Los Perros del Mal de Japon members are in the building and on this show.
Could this be an elaborate trap? A sting to just get HAYATA out by himself without STINGER? I can’t see this being a straight singles match regardless. There is definitely going to be some wrinkle. Some way NOSAWA can afford a fair fight.
With it only being the second match on the card, it shouldn’t go too long. There’s likely to be some drama so we’ll have to see what happens. And hopefully it will build anticipation for the Title match.
Kotaro Suzuki vs Kinya Okada
Last week Suzuki went to a 20 minute draw against Inaba. And last week Okada submitted to Junta Miyawaki in a tag team match showing that, despite looking like Okada will eventually move up to heavyweight, right now he’s going to lose to everyone with more in ring experience than him.
This is a first time singles match between the two. Suzuki was the first ever NOAH dojo graduate and Okada was the 14th. December 2001 to December 2018. There’s a 17 year experience gap between the two and a 15 year age gap.
Suzuki had to really persevere and it took over 3 years before he was able to beat anyone with more experience than he had. And even then it took several more years and trying out different gimmicks before he was really able to move beyond just being the first NOAH dojo graduate.
And this is a pain that Okada is feeling all too keenly right now. He celebrates his third anniversary in December and other than over Yano and Fujimura, wrestlers who debuted after him, he is still yet to get a singles win over anyone on equal footing or more experienced.
Yoshiki Inamura has well established himself as higher than Okada and he only debuted months before. Miyawaki is a junior but because he has a year on Okada, he is still about to beat him.
It must be incredibly frustrating for him and for all fans of him like myself. But while Suzuki while empathise with his situation, he’ll remember how much his seniors used to beat him and what he’d learn from it. So Suzuki will take Okada to school.
And that’s your lot.
Six matches in an area that Pro Wrestling NOAH doesn’t run often – twice a year by this year’s standards. But you have Nakajima vs Tanaka in another preview match for their GHC Heavyweight Title match. Kiyomiya vs Ogawa is a big match especially considering their previous match.
The big shows on Thursday the 28th and Saturday the 30th are going to be the ones to go out of your way to watch. But NOAH could always end up over delivering on smaller shows like these.
As always thank you so much for reading this. And keep supporting Pro Wrestling NOAH.