After an incredible show on January 1st at the Nippon Budokan, Pro Wrestling NOAH are not slowing down as they are running shows on January 4th and 5th at Korakuen Hall.
January 4th, New Sunrise, starts at 6:30pm in Japan. That’s 9:30am in England, 4:30am East Coast USA and 1:30am West Coast USA.
January 5th, Reboot, starts at 3pm in Japan. That’s 6am in England, 1am East Coast USA and 10pm (January 4th) West Coast USA.
NOAH have only announced the card for New Sunrise, so I will focus on this show.
You have a GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title match in the main event as STINGER defend against Los Perros del Mal de Japon. Plus you have a singles match between the two losers of the GHC Heavyweight Title and GHC National Title matches.
It’s an eight match card so let’s get right into it!
MAIN EVENT – GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship – STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA) vs Los Perros del Mal de Japon (Kotaro Suzuki & YO-HEY)
I genuinely feel like STINGER’s reign is under threat here in this match. There is a legitimate chance that Los Perros del Mal de Japon could take the belts here.
Not only do you have the shared history between Yoshinari Ogawa and Kotato Suzuki plus HAYATA and YO-HEY. But STINGER are showing signs of cracking.
Just three days before this match, HAYATA beat Ogawa to retain the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title. Title matches between stablemates are common place, it doesn’t always mean that there’s strife between the two.
Even when Ogawa attacked HAYATA to make his challenge, he was just showing that he was serious and committed to facing HAYATA, despite them being partners and GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions together.
But when HAYATA pinned Ogawa at the Budokan, reversing what looked to be Ogawa going for a single leg crab into HAYATA pushing Ogawa down and putting his entire body weight down onto him with their legs still trapped, Ogawa had a temper tantrum.
He was annoyed at the manner in which HAYATA had pinned him, the second time in a week too for that matter that HAYATA had pinned Ogawa after a sneaky roll up variation, and refused to shake HAYATA’s hand, threw his tag title belt down onto the ground at HAYATA’s feet and stormed off.
So the champions enter Korakuen Hall divided. Who even knows if they will have spoken between the Budokan and now. Ogawa may be 55 years old and prefers to wrestle a calm, collected technical style but he’s also a hot head and that can be his downfall.
No one brings out that attitude in Ogawa more than Suzuki. Suzuki was Ogawa’s very first ever student who graduated from the NOAH dojo in December 2001. And they had a good relationship together for years. When Suzuki rejoined NOAH in late 2018 after almost six years away, Ogawa was the first one to welcome him back and he became a founding member of STINGER with Ogawa. Of course, Suzuki would be kicked out of STINGER in October 2018 by Ogawa and HAYATA; but Suzuki took the betrayal by Ogawa the hardest. Since then, the two have been at each other’s throats.
Now Ogawa and Suzuki had a mentor/student relationship. HAYATA and YO-HEY were friends. They are of a similar age, relatively similar in ring experience and started as a tag team in November 2013. They travelled the Japanese indy scene together for several years before ending up in NOAH together, and would eventually form RATEL’S with Daisuke Harada and Tadasuke.
Their friendship came to an end in May 2020 when HAYATA betrayed RATEL’S and joined STINGER. This effectively put an end to RATEL’S. Since then they have found themselves on opposite sides of the ring a few times. HAYATA successfully defended his GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship against YO-HEY on August 1st 2021.
Suzuki tried twice to take the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles from STINGER. He was betrayed by what turned out to be Yuya Susumu in December 2020. And him and Ikuto Hidaka failed to win the belts in February 2021 at the Nippon Budokan return show. YO-HEY has not once challenged STINGER since the night that HAYATA betrayed RATEL’S. They have even teamed up twice in 2021 as a result of chaotic booking. But the issues between them since that betrayal run deep.
STINGER are the longest running stable in the NOAH junior heavyweight division. But I don’t know if they’ll even survive the first month of 2022 if they lose the belts here.
Go Shiozaki vs Kaito Kiyomiya
Both suffered heartbreak at the Budokan. Kaito Kiyomiya was knocked out by a kick to the head by Kenoh in his challenge for the GHC National Title, while Go Shiozaki fell to a Northern Lights Bomb in his GHC Heavyweight Title match against Katsuhiko Nakajima.
These two teamed together five times in December, following Shiozaki’s return to the ring. They had three tag matches against Kenoh & Nakajima, winning two. They also had one six man tag and one ten man tag team match against Kongo, winning neither.
The two men have their own history together, too. It was Shiozaki that ended Kiyomiya’s first (and so far only) reign with the GHC Heavyweight Title on January 4th 2020. They had a rematch on the final day of the block stage during the 2020 N-1 Victory on October 4th. That match would see Kiyomiya pick up the win, putting him into the finals in the process.
Kiyomiya made his wrestling debut in December 2015. By that time, Shiozaki had been wrestling for eleven and a half years, having debuted in July 2004. He was already a two time GHC Heavyweight Champion, had left NOAH in December 2012 to join All Japan Pro Wrestling where he was a one time Triple Crown Champion. He had returned back to NOAH in November 2015.
They first teamed together in July 2016 when Shiozaki held the GHC Heavyweight Title again during his brief third reign, and their tag matches were against Suzuki-Gun. Global League 2016 saw their first singles match against each other on November 8th, with Shiozaki easily putting the youngster down after just over nine minutes. The two had a rematch on June 4th 2017 at Korakuen Hall, where Shiozaki took under 15 minutes to beat Kiyomiya this time, showing the youngster’s progression.
Kiyomiya would return to Japan in January 2018. It was announced that Shiozaki & Kiyomiya would team together to take part in the Global Tag League. But before the league started they had their third singles match March 11th, with Shiozaki once again picking up the win.
Their team would be successful however as they won the Global Tag League by beating Kenoh & Takashi Sugiura in the finals. The two would then go on to take the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles from Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya on April 29th.
On May 29th, they lost the belts back to the former champions in their first defence. And they stayed together for a little while after. During Global League 2018, November 21st they had their fourth singles match.
That match would unfortunately be untelevised; a real shame as I would have loved to have seen Kiyomiya’s eventual win over Shiozaki. It took over 17 and a half minutes but Kiyomiya defeated Shiozaki. Kaito would go on to win the Global League and beat Sugiura for the GHC Heavyweight Title on December 16th.
By the end of 2018, Shiozaki & Nakajima had formed the AXIZ tag team, meaning the Kiyomiya/Shiozaki duo was done. Kaito would spend all of 2019 as GHC Heavyweight Champion. Of course, Shiozaki would be the one to end that reign on January 4th 2020. And in their final singles match before now, Kiyomiya won on October 4th 2020.
So Shiozaki has won four of their matches to Kiyomiya’s two. The only time a Title has been on the line, Shiozaki won. But the last time they faced each other, Kiyomiya won.
Both men wanted and hoped for better results at the Budokan. But now they have to start again and one has to beat the other to begin that climb back up the rankings.
Kongo (Kenoh, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Manabu Soya, Tadasuke & Aleja) vs Naomichi Marufuji, Masa Kitamiya, Yoshiki Inamura, Daisuke Harada & Hajima Ohara
It was a clean sweep in the co-main events for Kongo, as Kenoh retained his GHC National Title and Katsuhiko Nakajima retained the GHC Heavyweight Title.
No challengers for either title stepped up at the Budokan. And that makes me wonder if we’ll get one or perhaps both from this match.
Naomichi Marufuji retained his GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title along with Keiji Muto over Masato Tanaka & Masaaki Mochizuki at the Budokan. He was the man who lost the GHC Heavyweight Title to Nakajima on October 10th. Could he invoke a rematch?
Masa Kitamiya pinned Nakajima on June 26th in NOAH’s first ever steel cage match. As a result of that victory, Kitamiya took Nakajima’s hair. That was the biggest loss of 2021 for Nakajima so, despite Kitamiya having a rough second half of the year, he could be coming for Nakajima’s belt.
Yoshiki Inamura had an incredible showing against KENTA. He may have lost the match but when KENTA said that NOAH is in good hands with guys like Inamura, you know he’s genuine. Perhaps Inamura will use those words as inspiration to go after a Title. National or Heavyweight. But, personally, I’m thinking a ZERO and a 1.
Everything may be great for the top half of Kongo but Manabu Soya, Tadasuke & Nioh suffered another loss at the Budokan. This time to Funky Express. Soya was increasingly frustrated at the end of 2021, on the losing end of a lot of matches. And now 2022 has started the same way. Soya has been having big hoss matches with Kitamiya and Inamura both. If he needs to keep himself relevant and put himself in any kind of Title picture, he needs to start getting victories. Losing to Funky Express was not the start to the year he needed.
On the other hand, Daisuke Harada & Hajima Ohara were able to start January 1st with a bang as they, Atsushi Kotoge & Ultimo Dragon beat Los Perros del Mal de Japon.
Momo No Seishun and friends were unsuccessful in the title picture since Kotoge & Ohara lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. Harada lost his GHC Junior Heavyweight Title challenge that same month and Momo No Seishun lost on Christmas Day to Kotaro Suzuki & YO-HEY.
Can they keep the momentum going and make 2022 their year? They’ve had success over the Kongo juniors who have seemingly found themselves only above the rookies in regards to their place in the NOAH junior division.
Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba & Kazuyuki Fujita) vs M’s Alliance (Masato Tanaka & Masaaki Mochizuki) & Daiki Inaba
The Sugiura Army trio were all victorious at the Budokan while M’s Alliance and Daiki Inaba all ended up on the losing side. Masato Tanaka & Masaaki Mochizuki lost their GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match against Muto & Marufuji. Daiki Inaba, Kitamiya & Inamura lost to Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba & KENTA. Two thirds of that Sugiura Army team remains intact here. And they will partner KENTA again on January 8th, when they face Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & TAKA Michinoku).
But tonight, they have Kazuyuki Fujita who, along with Kendo Kashin, beat Masakatsu Funaki & Ikuto Hidaka at the Budokan. It was Fujita who pinned Hidaka after one hell of a powerbomb.
M’s Alliance & Inaba are already at a disadvantage. The Sugiura Army trio are all team mates and have experience teaming together. Inaba has no experience teaming with Tanaka & Mochizuki, only facing them. And losing to them.
The last time this Sugiura Army trio teamed up they did lose to the M’s Alliance team of Tanaka, Muto & Marufuji. However the time before that they did beat Tanaka, Mochizuki & Marufuji.
Mochizuki and Sugiura had an incredible GHC National Title match on October 28th in which Mochizuki did beat Sugiura to win the belt. They’ve had great interactions between each other and I can’t wait to see more.
Mere hours before the Budokan, Sugiura beat Tanaka for the second time in six months to make his first defense of the ZERO1 World Heavyweight Championship. These two went over 20 minutes in Korakuen Hall and that was the first of Sugiura’s two wins that day. And the first of Tanaka’s two losses. On the last NOAH show of 2021, Tanaka and Fujita wrestled to a 30 minute draw at the Sugiura Army show on December 27th. That wasn’t Tanaka’s only 30 minute draw in a NOAH ring, as he and Sakuraba also went to the time limit during the N-1 Victory.
Daiki Inaba, the poor lad, has lost to pretty much everyone in this match whether it be through singles or tag matches. And while Inamura & Kitamiya are getting praised for their fire in the Budokan, Inaba has once again been an afterthought. Something needs to change for the guy in 2022. I hope he finds the spark he’s missing, the one that helped him become a two time Wrestle-1 Champion. Because until then he’s going to end up the loss taker.
Atsushi Kotoge vs Seiki Yoshioka
This is a rematch from March 14th last year where Atsushi Kotoge beat Seiki Yoshioka for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship. That was Yoshioka’s first defense and, in my eyes, it was an upset. I and many others expected Yoshioka to have a much longer reign.
Yoshioka would bounce back by winning the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles on August 1st with Yuya Susumu. But in their second defense on September 12th they lost the belts to Hajima Ohara and, yep you guessed it, Atsushi Kotoge.
Kotoge has been Yoshioka’s kryptonite when it comes to GHC Title matches so far. But their relationship had a much better start to it.
Yoshioka joined NOAH in April 2020 after the closure of Wrestle-1. Originally a member of Sugiura Army with Hajima Ohara, after Kotoge left STINGER in May, Yoshioka & Ohara also decided to leave Sugiura Army to join Kotoge in a new group – FULL THROTTLE.
And FULL THROTTLE were a hit with the fans in NOAH. They were loved by the audience but that never translated into Title success. And they determined the reason as to why that was is because their group lacked leadership. All of them were equals but when talk came up about a leader, all three felt they should be it.
Therefore they had a round robin so that the winner would become the leader. Kotoge beat Yoshioka. Ohara beat Kotoge. Yoshioka beat Ohara. So they were tied at one win each. An impromptu three way elimination match took place to determine the winner. Kotoge eliminated Yoshioka via over the top rope. Then Kotoge beat Ohara to be crowned leader.
Despite a pretty conclusive victory like that, Kotoge’s reign as leader was short lived. Just under two months. Because when Kotoge attempted to save his former partner Harada from a beat down, Yoshioka & Ohara kicked Kotoge out of FULL THROTTLE. And they welcomed YO-HEY, the man who had originally attacked Harada, into FULL THROTTLE.
When the reunited Momo No Seishun won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s, Yoshioka & YO-HEY were their first and only successful Title defense. Further proving that Kotoge is Yoshioka’s white whale.
He’s never beaten him in a singles match and he even lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship to him. So, if Yoshioka wants 2022 to be any different for him, he has to start here.
Los Perros del Mal de Japon (Eita & NOSAWA Rongai) vs Kongo (Haoh & Nioh)
Eita & NOSAWA Rongai lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s on November 28th to STINGER. For the first time in the history of any GHC Title, the belts changed hands via count out. Now that is a rare finish. And I’d argue that it means Los Perros del Mal de Japon deserve a rematch down the line.
Of course, things would get messy if the other Los Perros del Mal de Japon team of Kotaro Suzuki & YO-HEY win the belts in tonight’s main event. But titles being fought for within stables has been nothing new this year. But if Kongo were able to beat them, that should put them further up the line for a GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title shot of their own.
Haoh & Nioh have already challenged for those belts twice before. On January 4th, 2020, they lost to the STINGER team of Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Kotoge. On January 16th, 2021, they lost to the STINGER team of Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA.
Nioh, back when he was Hi69, has experience as a GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. He’s held them twice before, once with Taiji Ishimori and once with Minoru Tanaka.
But he hasn’t been a champion since December 2018. That’s well over three years. And he changed his name to Nioh and joined Kongo on December 2019. But so far he’s had little success with the new name and attitude.
If the Kongo team win here, they could make a challenge. They’ve challenged for the belts two Januarys in a row. Could they make it three? And would third time be the charm?
Funky Express (King Tany & Muhammad Yone) vs Kinya Okada & Junta Miyawaki
Both teams were victorious at the Budokan. Kinya Okada & Junta Miyawaki beat the rookies, Yano & Fujimura in the opener.
King Tany & Muhammad Yone, along with Akitoshi Saito beat the Kongo trio of Soya, Tadasuke & Nioh.
I’d love to be able to tell you that Okada & Miyawaki stand a chance here, and that 2022 is going to be the year that they are no longer at the bottom half of the NOAH roster and are beginning their ascent. I’d love to tell you that Okada will finally move up to heavyweight and slot into the GHC National Title picture. The man has thunderous kicks and has always been impressive, even in defeat. And Miyawaki, who has already had a GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title match, could move into the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title picture.
But alas, the Funky ones will win. King Tany debuted in December 2005 as Shuhei Taniguchi and is one of only three heavyweights that the NOAH dojo produced, the other two being Go Shiozaki and Kaito Kiyomiya. Tany just never found that missing ingredient that would put him as anything more than midcard. He’s an accomplished tag team wrestler and even had a gimmick change as Maybach Taniguchi to try and unleash his killer instinct but it never worked. It’s a massive shame as I’ve always had a soft spot for him. I remember being happy when he was announced for the NOAH UK shows in May 2011. But he’d had five and a half years of experience and was still positioned as someone who was still yet to find their place.
I don’t want that to be the fate of Okada who already has three year’s of in ring experience but is still treat like a promising young rookie. Keep him losing matches and that promise will fade.
Yasutaka Yano vs Kai Fujimura
The two rookies on the roster have their sixth match against each other. Kai Fujimura debuted in Wrestle-1 in July 2019. Yasutaka Yano is the latest NOAH dojo graduate in October 2020.
There’s a five year age gap between the two as well. Fujimura is 26 to Yano’s 21. And so far Fujimura has won every single one of their singles matches.
December 2020. March 2021. May 2021. Two matches in September 2021.
Both are showing a lot of promise, Yano specifically. Despite being only over a year into his career he’s proving himself a great all rounder. His size and stature means that he’ll always be a junior heavyweight.
But both could be the future of the NOAH junior division. Fujimura has made NOAH his full time home since November 2020 but isn’t under contract yet. Hopefully 2022 changes that.
And that’s your lot.
The main event and Shiozaki vs Kiyomiya should both be well worth watching. Plus there’s the intrigue as to whether anything will happen in the Kongo match.
NOAH have said that they aimed to start strong at the Budokan and then continue it through the year.
They did start strong on January 1st, in particular the second half. Will this show be as strong? No. But it will move thing’s along. And could set up thing’s for the next few months.
Thank you so much for reading this. I know NOAH faces incredibly stiff competition on January 4th and 5th. But depending on when you watch it, or if you even cherry pick matches, I hope it’s worth it.