It was on the 13th of June 2009 that Pro Wrestling NOAH founder, Mitsuharu Misawa passed away at the age of 46. Tragically it happened in the main event of a NOAH show after years of hard bumps had taken it’s toll on his body.
Since then NOAH has held memorial shows in his honour but the last official Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial show took place in 2015. They’ve held shows in June which had a strong connection to their fallen leader but this is the first time they’ve titled a show as a Memorial in 6 years.
Originally scheduled for Sunday the 30th at the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan’s on-going state of emergency has seen venues forced to close until mid-June (at present, this may get extended) with only specific venues allowed to run at reduced capacity. Fortunately Korakuen Hall is allowed to hold shows and was available the day after, Monday the 31st of May.
Starting at 6pm JST (10am GMT, 5am EST & 2am PST) the show can be watched, with English commentary, on both Wrestle Universe and Fite TV.
Wrestle Universe is a paid for subscription service and has promised greater video quality for this show going forward. The first calender month is FREE and it’s under £8 per month after that. Plus not only do you get NOAH but you get DDT and TJPW as well.
Fite TV is a one off payment of $19.99 with unlimited replays.
There’s 7 matches on the card, most likely due to Covid restrictions. That and several NOAH wrestlers have unfortunately tested positive for the virus so have been pulled from this show.
But with 7 matches on the card it should mean that each match gets time. We have four GHC Title matches and a main event to preview the GHC Heavyweight Championship match which headlines the first Cyber Fight Festival taking place on Sunday 6th of June.
Let’s get right to it!
(all images used belong to Pro Wrestling NOAH/CyberFight)
Seiki Yoshioka vs Haoh
Originally announced as Yoshioka vs YO-HEY, YO-HEY is one of the unfortunate ones to have been diagnosed with Covid recently. That match would have had more story to it as before the beginning of May both were members of FULL THROTTLE.
Yoshioka turned on YO-HEY mid-match to join STINGER. YO-HEY in turn joined NOSAWA Rongai’s nameless junior stable. And former FULL THROTTLE leader Hajima Ohara joined Momo No Seishun.
So there is no history between Yoshioka and Haoh. No story, no drama. But if you were to pick two NOAH juniors and just tell them to go out and tear the house down, you couldn’t pick a better two than them.
Both have been quite underrated and utilized since they joined the NOAH roster, Haoh in December 2019 and Yoshioka in April 2020. And I say that with Yoshioka even winning the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship at Budokan in February but he only held the belt for a month.
This is the third singles match to take place between the two in a NOAH ring. Haoh beat Yoshioka in May. Yoshioka then beat Haoh in June. Both matches were around 12 minutes and were sprints.
Expect no different here. As opening match and in Korakuen Hall, I have high hopes that their great chemistry together will prove to be a great start to the show and to honour Misawa’s memory.
Kongo (Kenoh, Manabu Soya, Tadasuke & Nioh) vs Kaito Kiyomiya, Yoshiki Inamura, Kinya Okada & Junta Miyawaki
Kenoh and Kiyomiya can never escape each other. And it seems like Kiyomiya is becoming more like his perennial rival as he has become moody, sulking and even violent.
Kaito has been on a long downward spiral. He lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship to Go Shiozaki in January 2020 after a career making year plus reign. He lost to Keiji Muto in August. He lost the N-1 Victory Finals to Katsuhiko Nakajima in October. He lost to Kenoh in November for the GHC National Title in November. He and Yoshiki Inamura lost to Takashi Sugiura and Kazushi Sakuraba for the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s in December. And then in March he lost to Muto, again, this time with the GHC Heavyweight Title on the line.
To top it all off, last weekend he was hit by a chair and bloodied in a singles match against NOSAWA Rongai. I’m talking Muta scale level blood. So after losing that match via count out, he even knocked friend and tag partner, Inamura down when he gave chase. And then the next night Marufuji and Sugiura opened up that wound in order to beat him and Inamura. This along with losing to Masato Tanaka in singles and tag matches have pushed the once reserved Kiyomiya close to breaking point.
And if anyone can push Kiyomiya past his breaking point, it has to be Kenoh. Kenoh had a bit of a rise while Kiyomiya was down, but he too has crashed down recently. He lost the GHC National Championship he held from August and had made 6 successful defenses before losing it to Kazuyuki Fujita in March. Kenoh then unfortunately caught Covid in April and has only recently returned to the ring after a hospital stay and a month off so he had lost weight.
Kenoh will be back and back with a vengeance. He’s already declared war on DDT and their President Sansihiro Takahi and Kongo will be in a match against DDT at Cyber Fight. This will be a great opportunity for Kongo to get team experience, after several of them being off due Covid and having to self isolate, before the Cyber Fight match takes place.
This is Kongo vs NOAH born. Kiyomiya is the most experienced out of his team mates but all of his opponents have practically double the experience that he does. But like true NOAH born they won’t let that stop them and be defiant to the end.
I’m especially looking forward to seeing Inamura and Soya lock up. It’s easy to forget that just over six months ago Inamura was a part of Kongo and was team mates with all of them. Kitamiya, Soya and Inamura were the heavyweight bruisers of Kongo until Inamura decided he needed to grow by himself. And it really has worked for him with how his career has rapidly progressed since.
Inamura and Kiyomiya also have a big match at Cyber Fight as they take on the DDT team of Konosuke Takeshita and Yuki Ueno. But that shouldn’t stop Okada and Miyawaki trying to step out of their seniors shadows before their own test as they face DDT rookies.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s
STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA) (c) vs Momo No Seishun (Daisuke Harada & Hajima Ohara)
I’ve used Momo No Seishun for this team despite the fact that it’s usually Harada & Kotoge. When Junta Miyawaki joined them it felt more like Momo No Seishun + Miyawaki. Now with Ohara joining them it feels more like a stable. Whether they will continue to use Momo No Seishun for the four of them in the future I don’t know. But I’ll leave it as this for right now.
What a difference a month makes! The NOAH juniors seemed settled (even while fighting) and you had STINGER, Kongo, Momo No Seishun + Miyawaki, NOSAWA’s group and FULL THROTTLE. But in the course of one match Seiki Yoshioka betrayed YO-HEY and Hajima Ohara in order to join STINGER. YO-HEY left Ohara to join NOSAWA’s group. And a broken and dejected Ohara joined Momo No Seishun.
FULL THROTTLE is sadly no more and now both former leaders, Kotoge and Ohara, are part of Momo No Seishun. And the issue between STINGER and Momo No Seishun is far from over and has only escalated.
Since Ohara joined on the 2nd of May, STINGER has largely gotten the better over Momo No Seishun. They won a 4 vs 4 tag team match the very next day. Keiji Muto, Ogawa & HAYATA beat Naomichi Marufuji, Harada & Ohara on the 15th. And on the 22nd in another 4 vs match, this time under elimination rules, STINGER won again when HAYATA outlasted Ohara after just under 40 minutes.
However at the last show before this one, Kotoge, Harada & Ohara beat Susumu, Ogawa & HAYATA. So they are capable of beating their opponents. But can they do it when the belts are on the line?
Harada last lost to STINGER with Miyawaki as his partner on March 21st. Before that he and Kotoge lost the belts they had only just won from the STINGER pair a month prior in November. Ohara last challenged in August when he and then partner Kotoge lost to STINGER. So both Harada and Ohara have known loss against them.
STINGER are currently on 5 successful title defenses. If they can get past this match, they’ll be the most dominant tag team champions since Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki back in 2012 who made it to 7 (the most defenses remains the inaugural champions of Marufuji & KENTA who got to 9).
Yoshinari Ogawa, along with Nakajima, Yone, Taniguchi and Sugiura, are the only wrestlers on this show who were at the show where Misawa passed away 12 years ago (Marufuji was injured at the time). Ogawa was Misawa’s long standing tag partner and they even teamed just two days before his death. This is the first time that Ogawa will be in a high profile title match on a show to honour his long time friend. I can’t imagine Ogawa will want to lose here.
GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles – The Aggression (Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya) (c) vs Funky Express (Muhammad Yone & Shuhei Taniguchi)
This will be The Aggression’s first title defense since they won the belts from Sugiura & Sakuraba on March 7th. Kitamiya became busy with his pursuit of Muto’s GHC Heavyweight Championship and he lost that match on April 29th. The Aggression stated they wanted “young” challengers but instead they got Funky Express.
On paper, it’s a mismatch. Yone & Taniguchi only decided to become a full time team at the end of December and they have only won 4 matches, drawn 1 and lost 5. 2 of those losses were already against Nakajima & Kitamiya with both matches under 10 minutes.
But NOAH loves a good underdog story. Wrestling loves a good underdog story. And you can’t get more underdog than Yone & Taniguchi in this match. While both are multi-time Tag Team Champions, it has always been with different partners. This is still a new, inexperienced team.
You’d think The Aggression should have this in the bag. Nakajima is already a main event player. Kitamiya has got to be a future GHC Heavyweight Champion. Yone & Taniguchi, despite their best efforts, seem to have had all hopes of a star singles run firmly out of view (and I am saying this with Nakajima having begun his career before Taniguchi but starting much, much younger). But, stranger things have happened.
Either way this will be a hard hitting affair. All four of them can throw strikes and chuck out bombs (please, no more headbutts Kitamiya!). I have no doubt that this will be a good match and definitely go longer than their previous two matches. I wish Korakuen could have a vocal crowd as there’s nothing better than a Korakuen crowd getting behind the underdogs.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship
Atsushi Kotoge (c) vs Yuya Susumu
This is Susumu’s first opportunity at singles gold since joining the NOAH roster in November. And technically this is his real chance at gold in NOAH as his one and only GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team title match was a ruse to inflict more damage and betrayal to Kotaro Suzuki.
I have to be honest, I thought Susumu had to be injured or something in his early months in NOAH. He was always in tag matches and rarely shined. He seemed a more than adequate wrestler but nothing stood out about him. I’m pleased to say that he turned my opinion around on him and he had a great singles match against Ohara in March which showed what he could truly do.
He was then bogged down by the STINGER vs NOSAWA’s group feud but now NOAH has rewarded him with Kotoge’s second GHC Junior Heavyweight Title match and another opportunity to show what he can bring to the table in a singles match.
I like that Kotoge’s reign hasn’t just been the usual suspects so far. He made his first defense over Nioh who hadn’t had a shot at the belt since back when he was called Hi69 in May 2018. And now he gives Susumu his first ever GHC Junior Heavyweight Title match.
Stylistically the two are not generally know for being high flying junior heavyweight wrestlers. Kotoge’s match against Nioh ended up being a lot more hard hitting than anyone expected so maybe this will play out more like that.
Susumu made the challenge on the 3rd of May after he had pinned Miyawaki to win a 4 vs 4 match for STINGER over Momo No Seishun. On the 15th of May Susumu directly submitted Kotoge after a grounded Facelock which looked more akin to a Crossface/Yes Lock. Kotoge gained a measure of revenge when he pinned Susumu after a Killswitch on the 22nd of May in a 4 vs 4 elimination match.
Both men have beaten each other now. But this is a first time ever singles match between the two who teamed together in Big Japan and Osaka Pro back in 2009. This will be the first time they have been in the ring along together and I don’t see STINGER or Momo No Seishun interfering.
GHC National Championship
Takashi Sugiura (c) vs Kazushi Sakuraba
The second time the GHC National Title belt has been defended within Sugiura Army. The first time saw inaugural champion Sugiura become the first two time National Title holder when he beat Kazuyuki Fujita.
This is a first time wrestling match between Sugiura and Sakuraba as they had an exhibition MMA match in October last year which Sakuraba – as the MMA veteran – won.
Sakuraba got brought into NOAH through NOSAWA Rongai as a member of Sugiura Army late in 2019 but didn’t team up with Sugiura himself until the very first Sugiura Army produced show on the 27th of December. They were successful whenever they teamed and they became GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions at the end of August.
They made 3 title defenses and were voted Tokyo Sports Tag Team of the Year before they lost the belts to The Aggression on March 7th. And it’s not like the two have become heated enemies since the title loss. They are fighting over a belt and that’s it.
This isn’t Sakuraba’s first attempt at the GHC National Title. He had a very good match against Kenoh in December which he only lost because Kenoh was able to use his weight and reverse a submission into a pinfall.
Sakuraba has never held singles gold. The first title that he ever held was the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team belts with Sugiura. So despite being a legend in the MMA community and high profile matches in NJPW and NOAH since his return to wrestling, Sakuraba took a long time for his first “success” in wrestling.
They only had the one preview match where Sakuraba submitted Sugiura after an ankle lock. It’s one thing to note that Sugiura, when he first debuted as a junior, took a lot of inspiration from Kurt Angle and uses the ankle lock as a staple from his own arsenal.
I’d imagine this match will be similar to the Kenoh match where Sakuraba will use his MMA expertise and Sugiura, with a more traditional wrestling background, will be able to grapple with him but will need to rely on strikes and power moves to keep Sakuraba down. I see the finish to this match being more decisive than the Kenoh one.
Keiji Muto & Masato Tanaka vs Naomichi Marufuji & Masakatsu Funaki
The second and final preview match before Marufuji challenges Muto for the GHC Heavyweight Championship in the main event of the massive interpromotional Cyber Fight show on Sunday 6th of June.
Muto & Tanaka have only teamed together as part of six-man tag matches, always with Marufuji as the third man. Marufuji & Funaki unsuccessfully challenged Sugiura & Sakuraba for the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s in November so they do have more experience as a tag team, albeit in a loss.
In the previous preview match, Muto’s team beat Marufuji’s when Ogawa submitted Ohara and Muto had Marufuji trapped in his signature figure four leglock. And while Marufuji has never faced Keiji Muto before he has faced and lost to The Great Muta back in late 2019.
And the last time Tanaka and Funaki were in the ring together it was as partners in a great match against Kenoh and Manabu Soya. They haven’t faced each other since their one and only singles match four years ago and I’m excited to see the two square off against each other.
All four were wrestling while Misawa was alive but only Marufuji, Muto and Tanaka ever shared the ring with him. Misawa was a mentor to Marufuji. Muto was a star from a rival promotion who also ascended to being President of a promotion. So they both shared a deep connection with Misawa, albeit of different levels.
I think Misawa would be happy with where Pro Wrestling NOAH is in 2021 after they were on a decline right before his passing.
And that’s it.
However you watch the show, I hope you enjoy it.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my ramblings, I do greatly appreciate it.
But thank you even more for watching this show and continuing to support Pro Wrestling NOAH.