Pro Wrestling NOAH are holding five events in April, with four of them being shown live. They start the month this Saturday, the 3rd of April, in Yokohama Radiant with the first of their live shows.
The show starts at 17:30 in Japan. That’s 09:30 GMT, 04:30 EST & 01:30 PST. It’s available through Wrestle Universe which costs under £8 per calendar month. Plus, your first calendar month is FREE! So you can get three live NOAH shows this month for free.
Truthfully, Yokohama Radiant is not an especially big venue, and past delayed airing shows have been hard camera only. With there being no title matches on this card, it may be hard camera only. But NOAH will put on a fun show, so let’s run down the card!
MAIN EVENT – Kongo (Kenoh, Masa Kitamiya, Haoh & Nioh) vs Kaito Kiyomiya, Yoshiki Inamura, Atsushi Kotoge & Daisuke Harada
A tale of two stories on both sides. Kenoh lost the GHC National Championship to Kazuyuki Fujita on March 21st. Kaito Kiyomiya failed to beat Keiji Mutoh on March 14th for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. The “leaders” of both teams suffered championship defeat last month.
Masa Kitamiya made himself Mutoh’s next challenger and announced it with a Saito Suplex; after his mentor and Mutoh’s former tag partner, Masa Saito. That match happens on April 29th. Atsushi Kotoge became the new GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion on March 14th, after beating Seiki Yoshioka. Haoh stepped up as his next challenger on the following show. That will happen on April 18th.
So the only direct lead in to a title challenge in this match is Kotoge vs Haoh. But Kenoh and Kiyomiya have loads of history together. Kitamiya wants to make another big impression on top of his GHC Heavyweight Tag Team victory and gets to face Mutoh’s last challenger. Yoshiki Inamura is a star on the rise in yet another main event.
How will Kenoh react to the loss to Fujita? He was the longest reigning GHC National Champion in it’s short existence. He is also a former GHC Heavyweight Champion and has not challenged since Kaito Kiyomiya was champion.
I was hopeful that Kiyomiya would be the one to dethrone Mutoh, but he’s failed to beat him twice now and failed in his first challenge for the belt since he lost it at the beginning of last year. He suffered a concussion in the Mutoh match and this will be his first NOAH show back since then. He has said he’ll stop at nothing to get the GHC Heavyweight Championship back and redeem himself against Mutoh, even if he has to start from the ground up again.
Masa Kitamiya has challenged for the GHC Heavyweight Championship four times before now. September 2016 against Takashi Sugiura. December 2016 against Katsuhiko Nakajima. September 2018 against Takashi Sugiura again. And, lastly, February 2019 against Kaito Kiyomiya. This match against Mutoh will arguably be his biggest match of his career. While he has faced legends like Kensuke Sasaki, Yoshihiro Takayama and Kenta Kobashi at the very beginning of his career, it was always in tag matches. This is the first time he has faced a legend in a singles match. Right now, in this match, he’s facing a former GHC Heavyweight Champion in Kiyomiya and someone who I would be confident in saying is a future champion in Inamura so he gets to prove he belongs as part of NOAH’s future.
And I am confident in saying Inamura will be a future champion. All going well, he could have a rise like Takeshi Rikio, but hopefully a reign more like Takeshi Morishima’s second run with the belt. I don’t see Inamura beating Kiyomiya’s time in debut to GHC Heavyweight Champion; as he’d have to do it before September of this year. But I have no doubt that he will be a champion in the near future.
Atsushi Kotoge and Nioh have never had a singles match together. This will be their first after being in NOAH together, teaming with, and facing each other, over the past four years. They only have the one title match against each other; when Kotoge and Kotaro Suzuki, both members of STINGER at that time and GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, beat Haoh and Nioh.
Nioh has only challenged for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship once before, losing to Kotoge’s tag team partner, Daisuke Harada, in May 2018. Kotoge, on the other hand, is in his third reign with the belt and is a seven-time GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, four of those reigns with Harada.
Kotoge’s career progression was pretty straightforward. He started in Osaka Pro and then moved to NOAH. Nioh has been more of a journeyman wrestler who started his career twenty years ago in Puerto Rico, and has spent time in Michinoku Pro, All Japan, KAIENTAI-Dojo (from their first ever show), Big Japan, Apache Pro and FREEDOMS. Once he joined NOAH in late 2016, while he still made a few odd shows for other promotions, NOAH quickly became a homebase for him.
I can’t see this match not being good, even if it’s mainly a vehicle for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship. And Kenoh against Kiyomiya is always a good combination.
Kongo (Katsuhiko Nakajima, Manabu Soya & Tadasuke) vs Naomichi Marufuji & FULL THROTTLE (Seiki Yoshioka & YO-HEY)
No title implications here, but I’ll never not be happy to see Marufuji against both Nakajima and Soya. Soya especially, as they had some heated tag matches in the past, but it never came to a singles match between them. Marufuji has done this with both Soya and Daiki Inaba, two former Wrestle-1 Champions, so I hope we do eventually get those singles matches down the line.
Marufuji also seems to enjoy teaming with FULL THROTTLE. As someone has spent the majority of the beginning of his career as a junior heavyweight, he relishes the chance to interact with the youthful and vibrant FULL THROTTLE. Although I don’t know how vibrant Yoshioka will be. He lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship to Kotoge on March 14th and then was pinned in under two and a half minutes in a tag match on the next show on the 21st.
So it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. He and Nakajima had a great kick battle in September, so I’m excited to see them face off again in this match. YO-HEY and Tadasuke are former stable mates turned enemies, so they will have good chemistry together.
I don’t think this match will mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but it will be fun to watch the moving parts in this match.
STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa & Yuya Susumu) vs Kotaro Suzuki & Ikuto Hidaka
Suzuki and Hidaka failed to take the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team belts from Ogawa and HAYATA at the Budokan. And when Ogawa & HAYATA beat Daisuke Harada & Junta Miyawaki at the last show, Hidaka decided that he wanted another shot at the belts but with NOSAWA Rongai as his partner.
The history between Suzuki and Ogawa has been long documented by myself in previous preview pieces. The long and short of it is right now they hate each other. They see red every time on sight. So removing Suzuki from the equation takes out an emotional element, which means NOSAWA will be a calmer head (which very rarely happens, let’s be honest).
Susumu finally had the kind of breakout match in NOAH I was hoping for when he faced Hajima Ohara in a match that wasn’t originally scheduled and the card had to be changed. I am definitely excited to see him and Hidaka mix it up.
The title match itself takes place on April 29th – this is one of several matches taking place between now and then. So we’ll know fully what to expect when we get to the title match.
HAYATA vs NOSAWA Rongai
And the above match isn’t the only preview match for that tag title match on this show! A rare singles match for the pair of them. Last year, NOSAWA only had four singles matches in NOAH. HAYATA had five and one unscheduled singles match this year.
This is not their first singles match against each other. Their one and only singles match happened in January of 2020 as part of the Global Junior League, and ended in a double count out in under seven minutes. As it was not televised I have to assume that NOSAWA was responsible for that.
Will this match have a different outcome? Hard to tell. It’s still early in the build up. It’s not actually a “big” show so this might not have a conclusive ending.
Takashi Sugiura vs Hajima Ohara
Second match on the card. I’ll be honest, I am more excited for this than any other match on this show. I know its card placement means it won’t live up to the hype in my head. Sugiura and Ohara have been on the same roster together for almost eight years since Ohara joined NOAH in 2013; and this will be only their third singles match. First one televised.
I know, I know. It’s still only the second match on the card on a smaller show that could be handheld camera only. But Ohara is a fantastic technical wrestler. Sugiura has an amateur wrestling background. Sugiura started as a junior heavyweight so I don’t think he will have any issues in treating Ohara not that far off an equal despite the weight difference.
Both are former GHC Junior Heavyweight singles and tag team champions. There’s only a four year experience difference between the two with Sugiura coming from the amateur wrestling background and the final graduate of the All Japan dojo who was the first wrestler to make their wrestling debut in NOAH. Ohara was trained by Ultimo Dragon in Mexico so he is proficient in the lucharesu style that you’d find in Dragon Gate. I can’t help but feel these two are going to gel really well.
I am most likely setting myself up for a disappointment. Ohara is still a junior and there’s no chance of him winning, so there’s no element of surprise there. It could end up being very short and neither feeling in a mood to bring it. But if they do decide to bring it, even for 10-15 minutes, I’ll be happy.
Funky Express (Muhammad Yone, Shuhei Taniguchi, Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue) vs Kinya Okada, Junta Miyawaki, Yasutaka Yano & Kai Fujimura
This is a typical oldies vs youngsters NOAH match. The new quartet of Funky Express (and I’m assuming all four are known as Funky Express due to the Anti-Wrestlers Alliance of Saito & Inoue losing to Yone & Taniguchi) take on four potential future’s of NOAH.
Opening match. Old guys vs young. Yeah, NOAH’s future don’t stand a chance. Even with Masao Inoue being on that team. However…. Are Saito and Inoue going to adapt to being funky? Saito is usually dour and grumpy, unless he’s laughing at watching Inoue getting beaten up. Inoue is the long suffering loss post on the NOAH roster for all the other heavyweights – but he can still beat a young junior.
But are they genuinely going to work well together as a team, with the team that recently beat them and effectively forced them into joining them and their funky lifestyles?
Realistically, the heavies are going to win. Not only are their opponents much younger and much less experienced, but Okada is the only one that is still on that line between junior and heavyweight. Miyawaki, Yano and Fujimura are all definitively juniors.
I want to see big things for Okada this year. Miyawaki really went all out in his first title match on March 21st and really was the stand out star in that match. Yano is still less than six months into his career, and if he continues then he could be someone to keep an eye on. Fujimura is yet to sign a contract with NOAH and the former Wrestle-1 trainee could be part of NOAH’s future.
Just don’t expect to see the future realized in this match.
And that’s the card!
The shows on April 3rd, 24th and 29th are all live on Wrestle Universe. April 29th will even have live English commentary. The April 4th show will be put on Wrestle Universe on the 7th, and April 18th is at Korakuen Hall. I’m assuming it will be on ABEMA, but it’s not been confirmed yet.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the show!