After an incredible N-1 Victory Finals, Pro Wrestling NOAH are not stopping and present Grand Square 2021 in Osaka this Sunday, the 10th of October. N-1 Victory 2021 winner Katsuhiko Nakajima challenges Naomichi Marufuji for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. HAYATA defends the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship against Daisuke Harada.
And Atsushi Kotoge & Hajima Ohara defend their GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles against the Los Perros del Mal de Japon team of Eita & NOSAWA Rongai.
Those are the three GHC Title matches on the show but it’s a nine match card. Keiji Muto and Kaito Kiyomiya will once again clash, this time in a tag match with odd partners. Sugiura Army collide with M’s Alliance in a beefy six man tag team match. And then there are Three other tag matches and one six man tag team match to finish the card.
The show starts at 4pm in Japan. That’s 8am in the UK, 3am East Coast USA and Midnight West Coast USA. So early morning/late night depending on where in the West you are.
The show will air live on Wrestle Universe, meaning it will be up for replay not long after the show has ended. There will also be English commentary.
If you haven’t already signed up for Wrestle Universe, do it now. The site has been revamped and you will get October, November and December all for FREE and only pay from 1st January 2022.
4 months for the price of 1. And the new HD camera they used for the first time at the N-1 Victory Finals looked great. CyberFight have clearly put a lot of time, effort and money into NOAH and it’s been worth it so far.
With 9 matches to talk about, let’s get right into it!
MAIN EVENT – GHC Heavyweight Championship – Naomichi Marufuji (c) vs Katsuhiko Nakajima
Katsuhiko Nakajima may not have been the first person to win two Global League’s/N-1 Victory’s but he was the first to do it in back to back years. He beat Masakatsu Funaki in the semifinals and then his Kongo leader, Kenoh (the only other man to have won two) in the final.
Last year he was unable to dethrone Go Shiozaki in an incredible main event. Now he gets a second chance to right that wrong but now Naomichi Marufuji is the man to beat to become the new GHC Heavyweight Champion.
Nakajima has held that belt once before. He beat Takashi Sugiura in October 2016 and made successful defenses over Minoru Suzuki, Masa Kitamiya, Sugiura, Shiozaki, Muhammad Yone, Atsushi Kotoge and Brian Cage before he lost the belt to Eddie Edwards in August 2017.
Marufuji, however, is in his fourth reign as Champion. His first took place in September 2006 when he dethroned Jun Akiyama and made successful defenses over Nigel McGuinness and KENTA before losing the belt to Mitsuharu Misawa in December 2006. It took him until July 2014, when he beat Yuji Nagata, to begin his second reign. He made successful defenses over Nakajima, Takeshi Morishima, Maybach Taniguchi, Daisuke Sekimoto, Sugiura and Satoshi Kojima before losing the belt to Minoru Suzuki in March 2015.
He would reclaim the belt from Suzuki in December 2015 but lost it to Sugiura in his first defense in January 2016 after Sugiura had turned on NOAH and joined Suzuki-Gun. It did feel like, with Marufuji having his Vice President job and being an ambassador for NOAH in promotions in Japan and internationally, that maybe his days carrying the main event scene were done.
But Marufuji proved me wrong in June this year when he beat Keiji Muto to win the GHC Heavyweight Title for the fourth time at the big Cyber Fight show. That match main evented over Title defenses from DDT & TJPW on account of the experience of both men in the match. Since then Marufuji has made successful defenses over Sugiura and Kazushi Sakuraba with Nakajima his third challenger.
Six years separate them in experience with Marufuji debuting in August 1998 to Nakajima’s January 2004. But 11 years separate them in age with Marufuji at 44 to Nakajima’s 33. So Marufuji has the edge in regards to age, experience and Title match knowledge.
This is not their first singles match against each other. It will be their Seventh. They are tied at three wins each. Marufuji won their first three matches. Nakajima has won their last three.
That first match happened in February 2010 at a Kensuke Office show. Nakajima was already a former GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion and Kensuke Office was firmly attached to NOAH. It took almost 30 minutes for Marufuji to beat Nakajima showing that, despite the junior to heavyweight disparity, Nakajima was every bit Marufuji’s equal that day.
Global League 2012 was a much shorter affair as it only took Marufuji over 12 minutes to put Nakajima away. This was right as Nakajima was moving up from junior to heavyweight but he was not able to make an impression in his first Global League as he finished last in his Block. Quite the world away from winning in 2020 and 2021.
The two became stable mates at the end of 2013 when Nakajima joined BRAVE. Being in the same stable would not stop Nakajima challenging Marufuji and being his first defense after he beat Yuji Nagata to begin his second reign. It was another lengthy match and it took Marufuji over 25 minutes to retain the GHC Heavyweight Title in July 2014.
We didn’t have long to wait for a rematch as on the opening night of Global League 2014, Nakajima got his first win over Marufuji in the main event. It was slightly shorter at just under 20 minutes but it proved one thing – Nakajima could beat Marufuji.
2015 and 2016 was dominated by the Suzuki-Gun invasion. Marufuji did not get to challenge Nakajima while he was GHC Heavyweight Champion so 2014 remains their only Title match before this show.
Global League 2018 saw another quick match before Nakajima this time beat Marufuji in under 13 minutes. And then their last match before now took place last year. It was the final night of the Block stage of the N-1 Victory 2020. Marufuji was already eliminated but beating Nakajima would prevent him from winning the Block. However after over 16 minutes, Nakajima beat Marufuji to win their Block. And he would go on to beat Kaito Kiyomiya in the Finals and win his first N-1 Victory.
So, six matches over 10 and a half years. Nakajima has won their last three, but Marufuji won the only time before now that they clashed with the GHC Heavyweight Title at stake. Their longest match was their first but I could see this going long if Marufuji’s defenses over Sugiura and Sakuraba are anything to go by.
The champion had a chance to rest up during the N-1 Victory, however. That means he’s not wrestled since the 14th of September. Nakajima, after losing to Tanaka on the 12th of September, has won his following four singles matches over Kotaro Suzuki, Kazushi Sakuraba, Masakatsu Funaki and Kenoh; with the latter two happening in the same night.
And those last two matches were wars – so don’t be shocked to see Nakajima still wearing bruises on his neck and chest from Funaki and Kenoh’s strikes and kicks. But that also means that Nakajima is battle hardened and ready for Marufuji. I only hope the champion is ready for his challenger.
Keiji Muto & Kazushi Sakuraba vs Kaito Kiyomiya & Kenoh
The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Maybe not in this match, as M’s Alliance’s Muto teams with Sugiura Army’s Sakuraba and Kongo’s Kenoh teams with the unaffiliated Kiyomiya.
Muto and Sakuraba have only shared the ring as opponents, while Kiyomiya and Kenoh were partners before they were opponents. In 2017, before Kiyomiya left for Canada as part of his international education, he and Kenoh briefly teamed. And Kenoh was his final opponent before his expedition.
On his return, a newly crowned GHC Heavyweight Champion Kenoh was Kiyomiya’s first opponent back. But that match and subsequent non-title rematch didn’t see the two fall out and they, on again off again, continued to team together.
Even when Kiyomiya won the GHC Heavyweight Title at the end of 2018 and made his first defense against Kenoh, the two still teamed together in the Global Tag League in 2019. But the two failed to reach the finals and the origins of Kongo were formed not long afterwards.
The two haven’t teamed together since April 2019. They’ve spent the past two and a half year’s fighting each other. It was only one week before this show that Kenoh beat Kiyomiya in the semifinals to lose to Nakajima in the finals of the N-1 Victory. And before the N-1 began, Kenoh lastly eliminated Kiyomiya to win an 8 man elimination tag team match.
But they have a lot more experience teaming together than their opponents do. Muto and Sakuraba may outrank them in age and overall wrestling experience, but Kiyomiya and Kenoh will always have that familiarity with each other that takes years to develop, as both partners and rivals.
Sakuraba has no dog in this fight so to speak. But beating an N-1 semifinalist and finalist can’t be too bad. He’s faced and lost to both in the past year so beating either would be a slight redemption.
However Muto is going to have a bulls eye on his forehead from both men. Kenoh because he is raging against NOAH becoming, and I quote, a retirement home. That and The Great Muta beat him in June. But for Kiyomiya, this is very personal.
A lot has been said about Muto and Kiyomiya. I know, because I’ve said a lot of it. But the crux of the matter is that Muto has beaten Kiyomiya twice and those losses really affected him. At the beginning of the N-1, Kiyomiya changed his attire and hair to all black. But that still wasn’t enough to finally beat Muto and instead he took him to a half hour draw.
It does feel like a fourth match is inevitable. For my money I’d have it happen on January 1st in the Nippon Budokan. But right now Kiyomiya will be laser focused on Muto.
Can Kiyomiya and Kenoh co-exist long enough to beat the Puroresu and MMA legends? Will their volatile relationship prove to be their undoing? Muto and Sakuraba have no cause to team but then they don’t have any reason not to trust each other and work together to beat the two young hot heads. Will Kiyomiya finally get a pinfall victory over Muto and issue the challenge for Budokan?
GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship – HAYATA (c) vs Daisuke Harada
Both debuted in 2006, only a week apart. HAYATA debuted on the 30th of July under Wrestle Gate. Harada debuted on the 5th of August under Osaka Pro Wrestling. Wrestle Gate would infrequently run shows so HAYATA freelanced and joined the Osaka Pro roster in April 2010.
May 2010 is when they had their first singles match. And between May 2010 and April 2013 they had Nine singles matches. None of them were taped at all unfortunately. But the result was always the same (more or less) – Harada won. He beat HAYATA outright Seven times. Won via DQ the once. And they went to a double countout once (that’s the less).
Harada would join Pro Wrestling NOAH just a month after their final Osaka Pro match, May 2013. So the two didn’t cross paths again for over three and a half years until HAYATA also joined the NOAH roster. In another untelevised singles match, Harada yet again beat HAYATA in November 2016 in their spiritual home of Osaka.
RATEL’S formed in March 2017 as Harada, HAYATA, YO-HEY and Tadasuke. HAYATA would bring the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship into RATEL’S in May 2017 when he beat Hajima Ohara. However he would lose it to Taiji Ishimori in June.
HAYATA & YO-HEY would win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s from Ishimori & Hi69 (now known as Nioh) in August and Harada would beat Ishimori for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship in October. So at the end of 2017, RATEL’S dominated the junior division.
While both were members of RATEL’S, HAYATA challenged Harada for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title in March 2018. This was their 11th match and their first to be televised. Every single GHC Title changed hands that night… With the exception of the Junior Heavyweight. It took 17 and a half minutes but Harada, once again, beat HAYATA and retain his title.
Their next match took place in England in January 2019. All four RATEL’S members came over to take part in a one night tournament for the vacant IPW:UK Junior Heavyweight Title. Harada would once more beat HAYATA in the semifinals on his way to winning the belt.
And then 2020 happened. HAYATA betrayed RATEL’S to join STINGER in May. RATEL’S as a name ceases to exist after this. In a junior heavyweight centric show in June (televised and on Wrestle Universe!) Harada vs HAYATA main evented the show. Their 13th match together and Harada once again won… However only through DQ when STINGER got involved.
That match resulted in a rematch in August with the IPW:UK Junior Heavyweight Title on the line. Match number 14 between the two. And it took 14 attempts but it finally happened – HAYATA beat Harada. It took just over 15 minutes but for the first time in his career, HAYATA beat Harada in a singles match. And then promptly threw that worthless belt into the bin. 14 tries over 10 years. And you can watch it on Wrestle Universe too!
This was their last singles match before Harada stepped up to challenge HAYATA for his belt after he had beaten Kotaro Suzuki on September 3rd. The Title match was set for October 10th. But surprisingly NOAH booked a singles match between the two to take place on September 15th.
Non-title and on an untelevised show, NOAH even went to the trouble of live streaming the main event through their Instagram. It’s crazy we live in a world where the majority of NOAH shows are now taped and shown online the same day through Wrestle Universe and now NOAH are even taping matches through Instagram!
That match went to a half hour draw. A month before their big title match on October 10th, the two wrestled for 30 minutes but neither was able to beat the other.
So 15 previous singles matches. 12 won by Daisuke Harada. 1 double countout. 1 30 minute draw. 1 won by HAYATA. And last week, Harada pinned HAYATA after a German suplex but HAYATA’s body was on top of Harada enough to force his shoulders down and resulted in a double pinfall.
The two are both 34 years of age. They debuted within a week of each other. But Harada had managed to step forward first and HAYATA seemingly always trailed behind him. HAYATA was never able to beat him in over 3 years of Osaka Pro. It took him 10 years and 14 attempts before he finally beat him.
But a lot has changed in the past year. HAYATA broke away from RATEL’S and under Yoshinari Ogawa’s guidance, he has had title success. He’s a three time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion and four time GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. He and Ogawa held those tag belts for practically a year with only a month without them (Harada & Kotoge won them but lost them back to STINGER).
This is HAYATA’s big moment to show he has surpassed Daisuke Harada. However it’s also Harada’s chance to become a five time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion and create his new age for the NOAH junior division.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships – Atsushi Kotoge & Hajima Ohara (c) vs Los Perros del Mal de Japon (Eita & NOSAWA Rongai)
I was surprised to see Kotoge & Ohara dethrone Seiki Yoshioka & Yuya Susumu on the 12th of September. Even while I was doing my preview piece for that show I dismissed their chances despite noting how similar to Kotoge/Harada, the original Momo No Seishun, the team looked on paper.
The GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles have changed hands three times this year with STINGER (Ogawa & HAYATA) losing them to Harada & Ohara on May 31st. They would then lose them to Yoshioka & Susumu after just the one defence and 62 days on August 1st. And they would then lose them to Kotoge & Ohara after just the one defence also and 42 days on September 12th.
So the belts have been hot potato-ed lately. After STINGER’s dominance over 2020 into 2021, the junior heavyweight tag division did need freshening up. We’ve had brand new teams in Ohara with Harada and now Kotoge. Yoshioka & Susumu both only joined the NOAH roster last year. Kongo’s newest recruit Aleja joined NOAH this year and he was part of a challenging team last month. And Eita only joined NOAH this year too.
In fact, Los Perros del Mal de Japon was really only formed this year and it’s origins only began at the end of last year. NOSAWA Rongai introduced a new masked wrestler while he was tempting Kotaro Suzuki to join them. Suzuki eventually relented and the masked wrestler was revealed to be Ikuto Hidaka at the beginning of this year. YO-HEY joined the group in May after the death of FULL THROTTLE and quarter named themselves Los Perros del Mal de Japon officially from then. And then Dragon Gate contracted wrestler Eita joined NOAH as a part of the newly founded group in June.
Los Perros del Mal de Japon, STINGER and the currently untitled group with Momo No Seishun & Ohara & Miyawaki (which I keep referring too as just Momo No Seishun until they give the group a name) are the only stables in NOAH that solely contain junior heavyweight wrestlers. So those three and the Kongo juniors are in constant war for supremacy.
Eita and Kotoge have only faced each other twice. The first, a six man tag in August – Los Perros del Mal de Japon of Eita, NOSAWA & YO-HEY beat Kotoge, Harada & Miyawaki. And they had a singles match last weekend. Eita dominated that match, expertly cutting off Kotoge every time he tried to gain momentum and ultimately pinned him in just under 10 minutes.
He not only beat the former three time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, but he humiliated him in the process. And to add further insult to injury, Eita put his foot on the chest of Kotoge’s body while he was laid out and then poured a bottle of water over his head while he posed with the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title.
Kotoge went into that match alone. Now he’ll have Ohara to pack him up. And I can’t wait to see Ohara against Eita. Both are directly and indirectly products of Ultimo Dragon and the Dragon Gate system. Ohara was trained by Ultimo himself as part of Toryumon Mexico, the generation that didn’t make it to Japan so were not involved in Dragon Gate at all. Eita came up directly from Dragon Gate so was trained by those who were trained directly from Ultimo. He didn’t meet the man himself (to my knowledge) until Ultimo (re)joined Dragon Gate in 2019.
So Ohara facing Eita is going to be extremely interesting to me. The wildcard in this match is NOSAWA Rongai. He’s been wrestling since 1995 so has already celebrated 25 years and, to my surprise, because he’s been everywhere, he’s only 44. He first travelled to Mexico in 1999 so is fully adapted to the Lucharesu style that his partner and opponents were all trained in.
He’s wrestled in America for early PWG and TNA back when it was NWA:TNA. He wrestled for All Japan and the New Japan USA dojo at the same time. He must have made good friends with Keiji Muto as he spent years in All Japan while able to freelance in other Japanese promotions, Mexico and USA, and he was part of Wrestle-1 from the very beginning.
NOSAWA had made sporadic appearances in NOAH before he officially joined full time in 2019 as part of Sugiura Army. But now he looks to be completely out of Sugiura Army and is solely a member of Los Perros del Mal de Japon. Honestly, I appreciate everything NOSAWA has done in wrestling, but in the ring he doesn’t do much for me.
He has the grounded lucha libre style. He can bring an energy and chaos, same as Kendo Kashin, but I tend to find wrestlers like that bring down matches instead of enhancing them. Unless they are SUWA where he could make that style absolutely work.
But that’s just my opinion. NOSAWA & Hidaka vs Ogawa & HAYATA wasn’t horrible earlier this year but that was a novelty to see the STINGER team against other heels and to see Ogawa get absolutely wound up.
Eita against both Ohara & Kotoge should be great. And NOSAWA will bring something different to the match. This match could genuinely surprise but will most likely be outshined by the other Title matches.
Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura, Kazuyuki Fujita & Kendo Kashin) vs M’s Alliance (Masakatsu Funaki, Masato Tanaka & Masaaki Mochizuki)
Jesus Christ, would you look at that M’s Alliance trio. A former Triple Crown Champion in Funaki, a former multiple time ZERO1 World Heavyweight Champion in Tanaka, and a former multiple time Open The Dream Gate Champion in Mochizuki.
And the Sugiura Army trio isn’t much to be sniffed at either. Sugiura is the current ZERO1 World Heavyweight Champion and GHC National Champion, while Fujita is a former multiple time IWGP Heavyweight Champion. And then there’s Kendo Kashin.
Last week I thought Mochizuki may get the win for his team and challenge Sugiura for the GHC National Title. Well, I was dead wrong and Sugiura pinned Mochizuki. Maybe I was a week out and Mochizuki will gain a measure of revenge and pin Sugiura in order to make his challenge at this show instead.
Either that, or Funaki will be the one to challenge Sugiura. He semi-main evented the Nippon Budokan in February when he challenged Kenoh for that same belt. He went undefeated in his block in the N-1 Victory, only losing a hard fought war to the eventual winner Katsuhiko Nakajima. So Funaki is very much a real threat to Sugiura’s Title.
That match would be amazing and something I’d want to see equally as much as Sugiura vs Mochizuki. And I wouldn’t even grumble if Tanaka claimed a rematch for his ZERO1 World Heavyweight Championship, which he he lost to Sugiura – even if I would be disappointed about Sugiura not appearing in ZERO1 (or if he goes to ZERO1 only for that match against Tanaka if it takes place there).
Even taking the GHC National (or ZERO1 World Heavyweight) Title out of the equation, you’ll have a good to very good match here. Any of M’s Alliance against Sugiura and Fujita will be good. Any of M’s Alliance beating the hell out of Kashin will be great.
Expect a hard hitting fight in this match and a challenger for either of Sugiura’s titles to step forward.
STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa & Seiki Yoshioka) vs Los Perros del Mal de Japon (Kotaro Suzuki & YO-HEY)
With HAYATA defending the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship and Yuya Susumu absent, this is the first time that Ogawa & Yoshioka have teamed together as a tag team. They have always had Susumu or HAYATA with them as a trios or quartet.
And Suzuki & YO-HEY have only teamed together just the once as a tag team after Los Perros del Mal de Japon formed. But a critical difference between the two teams is that Suzuki & YO-HEY have years of experience as opponents back when Suzuki was in STINGER and YO-HEY was in RATEL’S and then FULL THROTTLE.
They’ve faced each other in the Global Junior League 2018 final. The Global Junior Tag League 2019 final. A GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title match. A GHC Junior Heavyweight Title match. And plenty of tag, six and eight man tag team matches since Suzuki rejoined NOAH.
Ogawa & Yoshioka do not have the luxury of years of experience together in the ring as opponents. They only had Three six man tag team matches against each other in August 2020 in the build to Kotoge & Ohara challenging Ogawa & HAYATA. And then we skip forward to May 2021 where Yoshioka betrayed his FULL THROTTLE team mates to join STINGER and reunite with Susumu.
Yoshioka achieved that betrayal by attacking YO-HEY. So you have an extra level there between these two. They’ve had two singles matches since then and Yoshioka won both.
And if you want to talk more heat, I’ve long since documented how Suzuki has lusted for Ogawa’s blood over the past year. Ogawa & HAYATA kicked Suzuki out of STINGER at the end of October last year, back when the group was just the three of them.
They’ve had multiple tag and multi-man tag team matches against each other. But they’ve only had the one singles match against each other, January 4th this year, which ended in a DQ. They are having another match on October 15th so this tag match will act as a preview to that.
Kongo (Manabu Soya & Aleja) vs Masa Kitamiya & Junta Miyawaki
A Wrestle-1 roster reunion, which I wouldn’t have noticed if the Wrestle-1 nostalgia twitter hadn’t pointed out. Manabu Soya is a former two time Wrestle-1 Champion and was there from his return from injury (Soya was injured from March 2013 to February 2014, while Muto broke off from All Japan and took a good chunk of their roster to form Wrestle-1) until their very last show.
Aleja is a Wrestle-1 graduate who debuted in March 2016. While he didn’t achieve any singles glory, he was a former Wrestle-1 Tag Team Champion with Masayuki Kono. Whereas Soya joined NOAH immediately after the closure of Wrestle-1 in April 2020, Aleja would spend a little bit longer freelancing and gaining more experience before joining NOAH and Kongo in July this year.
You could have two great rivalries here. Soya and Kitamiya were a former tag team back when Kitamiya was a member of Kongo. As opponents they have had two singles matches and Soya won both (the few times Soya wins a singles match!). Both are big hosses and seem to have natural chemistry as potential rivals.
Miyawaki is NOAH born, so a NOAH dojo graduate but a year after Aleja, August 2017. And they come from two completely different backgrounds. Aleja debuted under Wrestle-1, so under Muto’s Pro Wrestling Love style of wrestling and then travelled to Mexico to learn lucha libre from its source. Miyawaki debuted under NOAH, so under Misawa’s Kings Road style of wrestling.
It has taken Miyawaki a while to find his footing, and it took him returning from an injury where it’s just begun to click for him. He challenged for a title belt for the first time, in March this year. He entered ZERO1’s Tenka-Ichi Junior Tournament where he reached the semifinals, which is the biggest achievement of his career so far.
The two may seem like chalk and cheese with their different backgrounds and styles but sometimes great rivalries are born from these differences. And the two could learn a lot from each other. They are closer to each other in age and experience than most of the other wrestlers on the NOAH roster.
Funky Express (King Tany, Muhammad Yone & Akitoshi Saito) vs Kongo (Tadasuke, Haoh & Nioh)
I feel like I’ve seen this match before. Because yes, yes I have. On the 22nd of May this year, to be exact. Both trios are completely unchanged.
On that night, Funky Express beat the Kongo juniors. That’s just what happens when a heavyweight team faces a junior heavyweight team. Whichever team has the weight advantage is naturally bound to win.
And that’s not just in NOAH. That is the case for the majority of Japanese promotions that keep heavyweights and juniors for the most part separate.
What’s changed since May? Honestly… Not a lot. Shuhei Taniguchi won a four way match over his Funky compatriots to be crowned leader of Funky Express and quite literally crowned to become King Tany. But that didn’t stop him from failing to be selected to take part in the N-1 Victory and then losing a qualifying match for it afterwards.
Saito was surprisingly selected for the N-1 Victory but finished his Block dead last with 3 losses. So the Funky Express team will be angry. Or they should be. Odds are they’ll just boogie and beat the Kongo juniors.
I wish I could offer any hope for a Kongo victory. I believe I tried to will them to a win in May but it wasn’t to be. So I’ll just say that I would be delighted to see them win but have to be realistic.
Daiki Inaba & Kai Fujimura vs Kinya Okada & Yasutaka Yano
Our opening match sees another Wrestle-1 reunion. Inaba is another former two time Wrestle-1 Champion and he entered the All Japan dojo not long before Muto led the exodus into creating Wrestle-1. So he made his Japanese wrestling at Wrestle-1’s first ever show on September 2013. So he was there from day 1 until the promotion folded in April 2020.
Kai Fujimura, like Aleja, is another Wrestle-1 graduate and was one of the final ones to make their debut before the promotion folded. Inaba went straight to NOAH with a few months off but Fujimura had to freelance before finding a home with NOAH.
Fujimura and Yasutaka Yano already look to have become generational rivals as they are around the same age with relatively the same experience. But Fujimura has surprisingly found himself losing to Yano despite debuting the year before. He’s still trying to find his feet in a new environment.
If you’ve read any of my previews before then you know I think very highly of Kinya Okada. He’s that great mold of NOAH wrestler with strong kicks who could be a great prospect for the future. But despite him debuting in December 2018, so he’s almost at 3 years of experience, Okada is still considered a young boy in NOAH who is 99% of the time going to lose and be the one to take the pinfall unless he’s teaming with Fujimura or Yano.
Him and Inaba could be a great undercard rivalry as both are pushed up to main event over time. With Kitamiya, Soya, Inaba, Okada and a few others you could have a very healthy and vibrant GHC National Title scene (even if I believe Kitamiya should be higher than that now).
But we’re just going to have to see what happens as NOSAWA’s booking is very different to what others may do in his place. But in this match you’ll have youthful fire and potential for the future.
And that’s the full card. 9 matches, 3 GHC Title matches and all airing live on Wrestle Universe with English commentary.
I’m torn for the result of the GHC Heavyweight Title match. On the one hand Marufuji deserves the chance to headline the Nippon Budokan as GHC Heavyweight Champion for the first time since he lost the belt to Mitsuharu Misawa in December 2006.
But on the other hand Nakajima deserves a second reign with that belt and it would absolutely suck for him to win the N-1 Victory two years in a row but fail to win the GHC Heavyweight Title two years in a row too.
I’ve got my heart set on Kenoh being the challenger at Nippon Budokan no matter who wins this match. I don’t know how likely that is but after everything Kenoh has said over these past almost 4 years, he deserves to headline Nippon Budokan.
Marufuji vs Kenoh is a match NOAH has rarely done and never for a title. Have NOAH been saving it for a big show like Budokan? Nakajima vs Kenoh only just happened last week as the N-1 Victory Finals but could easily headline Budokan. And you don’t even have to rush into the Kongo implosion yet if you don’t want too.
I don’t know. I know what I’d love to see but I don’t know if that meshes well with NOAH’s current booking. What do YOU guys want to see? Let me know @cobystag
Thank you so much for reading this. I hope you enjoy this Sunday’s show and continue to support Pro Wrestling NOAH.