Pro Wrestling NOAH have an incredibly busy weekend. By the time this preview is uploaded, they’ll have already held a show on Friday, October 15th. But they’re holding another show on Sunday the 17th.
And when comparing the two shows, this is the big one. Three GHC Titles are going to be defended by the end of October, and challengers will face the champions of all three belts on this very show.
NOAH The Sanctuary takes place at Club Citta Kawasaki and it’s a very early start/late night for the West. Beginning at 12:30pm in Japan, that’s 4:30am in England, 11:30pm on Saturday night for East Coast USA and 8:30pm for West Coast USA.
Fortunately though, it’s airing live on Wrestle Universe, which means a replay should be available not that long after the show finishes.
Have I mentioned how Wrestle Universe is FREE for all of October, November and December and you only pay from January 1st? I most likely have. But it bears repeating over and over and over again until everyone who reads these previews have signed up.
We’ve got former GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions reuniting in the main event. Not only that but they are facing a team who have not teamed together since 2009 but were very successful for the brief time they were together. AND it’s a GHC Heavyweight Title preview AND GHC National Title preview match.
Honestly, I got very happy when I saw this match announced so let’s get right into the show so I can wax lyrical!
MAIN EVENT – Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masaaki Mochizuki vs Masato Tanaka & Takashi Sugiura
On the surface, this is just a GHC Heavyweight Title preview match before Nakajima defends against Tanaka on Saturday October 30th. And a GHC National Title preview match before Sugiura defends against Mochizuki on Thursday October 28th.
But there’s more to it than that. Nakajima & Mochizuki were once a tag team, over a decade ago. They had their first match against each other back in December 2004, when Nakajima was just less than a year in to his career but already hailed as a prodigy. They began teaming together in 2005 and Nakajima was invited to become an unofficial member of Mochizuki’s stable in Dragon Gate, Final M2K.
This was while Kensuke Sasaki was freelancing and was having the time of his life being a Florida Brother in Dragon Gate. But Sasaki eventually decided to fully commit to All Japan which meant that his pupil Nakajima did too.
In 2007, Sasaki started out putting on Kensuke Office shows for his students against All Japan, NOAH and freelance talents. And in 2008 Kensuke Office would leave All Japan in order to move to NOAH.
But it was through these Kensuke Office shows and Mochizuki’s own produced Buyuden shows that Nakajima & Mochizuki were able to team and face each other again in 2008 into 2009.
They decided to enter Dragon Gate’s Summer Adventure Tag League together but first had two incredible singles matches against each other in the space of 2 weeks in 2009 (Double KO at Buyuden and then Nakajima won at a Kensuke Office show) right before the tournament began.
The two had an amazing match against Shingo Takagi & YAMATO that went to a 20 minute time limit draw during the group stage and scored enough to reach the semifinals. There they beat BxB Hulk & Masato Yoshino but lost a rematch to Shingo & YAMATO in the finals.
It was only a short time teaming together but the two certainly made an impression. Especially on myself as I was heavily invested in both NOAH & Dragon Gate at that time and Nakajima & Mochizuki were favourites of mine even back then.
That Finals match on 26th August 2009 was the last time the two have teamed together as just a tag team. And they had 10 years in-between singles matches as they were in the same block in the N-1 Victory 2019 and on the opening night, Nakajima KO’d Mochizuki.
Mochizuki was able to gain a measure of revenge a few months later when he and Naomichi Marufuji defeated Nakajima & Go Shiozaki for the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s but it was Shiozaki that Mochizuki pinned.
And now here we are. Nakajima is the new GHC Heavyweight Champion and Mochizuki the next challenger for the GHC National Title. They’re not really considered enemies despite being in different stables. And when they faced during the N-1 Victory 2019 and for the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s, the matches were heated just in the spirit of competition and for glory. So I am ecstatic to see this team reunite.
Speaking of reunions, Sugiura & Tanaka haven’t spent as long apart as Nakajima & Mochizuki did. In fact their tag team didn’t start until long after Nakajima & Mochizuki ended. It was at the beginning of 2014 that Sugiura & Tanaka teamed at a ZERO1 event, the two took the name of one of Tanaka’s former stable, Dangan Yankees, but the two hit the ground running across both ZERO1 and NOAH.
First they won the NOAH Global Tag League 2014 (ironically over Nakajima & Marufuji). Then they won the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Title’s in ZERO1. Then the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s. All within three months of teaming.
So a lot more success than Nakajima & Mochizuki managed. They lost the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s after 224 days in their fifth defense but rebounded by winning back to back Global Tag League’s. However they failed to win the belts back and lost the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Title’s after 397 days in their seventh defense.
Their team only lasted little less than two years but they made a big impact. They held the main Tag belts in NOAH and ZERO1 at the same time. Back to back Global Tag League tournaments. A Tag tournament in ZERO1 too. They faced and beat the best in both promotions. And they even won the Tokyo Sports Best Tag Team Award.
They packed a lot into their short time together. But when Sugiura betrayed NOAH to join Suzuki-Gun, it effectively ended Dangan Yankees at that time. Which is a shame as it would have been interesting to see Tanaka representing NOAH against Sugiura. But it never happened.
Tanaka did return to NOAH in 2017/18, but Dangan Yankees never truly reformed even if they never really broke up. They just drifted apart. And Tanaka took a break from NOAH for a few years. When he returned on January 4th this year, it wasn’t a surprise.
What was the surprise is that Tanaka re-joined NOAH but did not join Sugiura Army and his old tag partner. He joined M’s Alliance. When Tanaka was questioned why he returned to NOAH but not to join his old friends stable he simply replied that Sugiura never asked him.
Now it’s not like M’s Alliance and Sugiura Army were in a blood feud. But with only a handful of groups/stables in NOAH it was eventual that the two former partners would meet. Marufuji became GHC Heavyweight Champion and Sugiura was his first challenger. Marufuji selected Tanaka to be his partner and when the two former partners collided, it was electric.
Marufuji retained his belt over Sugiura but Kazushi Sakuraba stepped up as his next challenger. That same tag match was repeated but this time, with Sakuraba and Marufuji focused on each other, Sugiura and Tanaka were able to beat the crap out of each other. And they did. Oh damn did they.
After the match, Tanaka challenged Sugiura for the GHC National Title. Sugiura fired back to tell Tanaka to put his ZERO1 World Heavyweight Championship on the line at the same time. Both agreed and the Title vs Title match was made official for August 15th.
If you haven’t seen that match yet, do yourself a favour and set aside 40 minutes to watch it as soon as possible. Wrestle Universe is FREE for several months after all remember. So after 40 hard hitting, violent, glorious minutes, Sugiura beat Tanaka to become a double Champion.
And now the two men have to team together. There was no hard feelings between the two. It was just in the spirit of competition, the same as Nakajima vs Mochizuki.
But both teams should be on the same page. Champions need to send a strong message to their challengers. But challengers also need to show why they are to be taken seriously as a threat.
And with each team being a mix of Champion and Challenger, there’s only going to be one Champion and one Challenger that makes a statement.
The two teams work because they are both very similar to each other. Nakajima & Mochizuki specialise on hard kicks. Sugiura & Tanaka are specialists on hard elbows. Each man is very alike the other and that’s what made their teams so revered and special.
I can’t wait for this match. It would have rocked in 2009. It would have rocked in 2014/15. And it will absolutely rock in 2021.
Naomichi Marufuji, Yoshinari Ogawa & NOSAWA Rongai vs Kaito Kiyomiya, HAYATA & YO-HEY
I had to re-read that line up a few times. And the double check the match graphic more than twice to make sure it was right.
The Los Perros del Mal de Japon team of NOSAWA Rongai and YO-HEY are on opposite teams. As are STINGER members, and long standing tag team Ogawa & HAYATA. Marufuji and Kiyomiya against each other is par for the course. But why are stablemates against each other?!
Because NOSAWA Rongai. That’s why. When HAYATA nominated NOSAWA as the next GHC Junior Heavyweight Title challenger, NOSAWA agreed on the provision that he decided all the preview matches before Saturday October 30th.
I understand the thought process there. Book your own matches to have the advantage over the champion. But I still don’t quite understand this particular match.
Marufuji would be ambivalent to NOSAWA. Sure, the two have faced in tag matches, but Marufuji would regard NOSAWA as no more than a pesky, annoying, nuisance more than anything. But NOSAWA really got under Ogawa’s skin when they clashed over the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s and did something few have managed to do – wind Ogawa up to the point he was losing control.
Now it’s up in the air as to whether Ogawa will be a part of this match. He pulled out of Friday’s show and a match against Kotaro Suzuki on account of thoracic and lumbar sprain. Basically a muscle or tendon injury in your upper or middle back. Google says a minor sprain can heal in a few days. Something less minor is weeks. So more than anything I hope Ogawa takes the time to rest and heal.
But in regards to his opponents, HAYATA, obviously, makes sense. And if Ogawa is in this match, and if he doesn’t throttle NOSAWA, will be interesting to see how the two would interact as opponents. Why YO-HEY? He’s a stablemate so why would NOSAWA put one of his partners against himself? Unless they have thought of a failsafe to ensure NOSAWA wins…
Now if NOSAWA wound Ogawa up, imagine what he did to Kiyomiya. He bust him open to a 8 or 9 on the Muta scale in a singles match. NOSAWA even won that match via count out. And NOSAWA continued to antagonise and humiliate Kiyomiya over the summer. Kiyomiya eventually got his revenge in a singles match before the N-1 Victory began.
Does that mean Kiyomiya is done with NOSAWA? Most likely not. He’ll likely jump at the chance to attack and beat NOSAWA up again. So why book him against yourself when you had the potential to face anyone? Why choose someone who hates your guts???
The match is done and booked now so no point pondering now. It may get changed on account of Ogawa’s injury but we’ll see.
NOSAWA and HAYATA have their first encounter since their Title match was made official. Him and Eita won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s in dramatic fashion when they beat Kotoge & Ohara in just over 4 minutes. So NOSAWA has momentum.
But HAYATA too is riding a wave of success as he made his Third defense of his GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship over Daisuke Harada. HAYATA last made three successful defenses in his last reign so is hoping for a win over NOSAWA in order to break his own record.
Kiyomiya will most likely be trying to get his hands on NOSAWA but that’s not to say we aren’t going to see him against Marufuji either. This will be Marufuji’s first appearance since he lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship to Nakajima last week. Where does Marufuji go from here? And for Kiyomiya who fell in the semifinals to Kenoh, what’s next for him?
Kenoh vs Seiki Yoshioka
A match I never knew I needed until this moment. Yoshioka had two underrated singles matches against Nakajima and Marufuji at the back end of last year that were short and compact but really good.
He’s the obvious underdog but is explosive enough with fast moves and hard kicks that doesn’t make it look too much of a stretch that Yoshioka could hang and look a threat against a heavyweight.
All of Nakajima, Marufuji and Kenoh were juniors at the beginning of their careers so they have no issues in showing a junior heavyweight being capable of a god showing against a heavyweight.
This will likely be similar to Yoshioka’s match against Nakajima last year. In that Kenoh will use his own hard kicks and power to slow Yoshioka down and trying to keep the pace and the tempo of the match to his own advantage.
Yoshioka only had a short reign with the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship this year, beating Harada in Nippon Budokan but losing it in his first defense to Kotoge. Him and Yuya Susumu reunited this year but their run with the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team belts was all too brief too.
Kenoh started the year as GHC National Champion but lost the belt in March to Kazuyuki Fujita. He had a great run in the N-1 Victory, culminating in reaching the final where he lost to stablemate Nakajima. Nakajima would go on to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship so where does the Kongo leader stand now that his number two holds the biggest prize in NOAH?
Don’t expect a long match. But if they get the time this could be yet another banger of a singles match that will largely be ignored by the end of the year.
Daiki Inaba vs Kotaro Suzuki
Another match that could turn quite the few heads given the chance. Both men had the same outcome in their N-1 Victory Blocks. They lost their first two matches but were able to win their final match on the last night of the block stage.
They were both in tough blocks. Inaba had Kenoh, Mochizuki and Kashin. Suzuki had Sakuraba, Nakajima and Tanaka. Inaba was able to out trick Kashin to win via count out. And Suzuki was able to use his ring smarts to use Tanaka’s momentum after a Sliding D in order to roll him into a crucifix pin.
I’d argue that Suzuki got the bigger achievement out of the two of them, pinning the next challenger to the GHC Heavyweight Title. But neither man looked like a slouch, even in the matches they lost.
Suzuki should have had a long awaited singles match against Ogawa on Friday which was pulled on account of Ogawa’s injury. Instead he faced and beat young rookie Kai Fujimura. Inaba also faced and beat a young rookie, Yasutaka Yano on Friday’s show.
So this will be a test for the pair of them. Suzuki has over 11 years of experience over Inaba but Inaba is a former two time Wrestle-1 Champion and was the face of that promotion, being there from the first show to the last one. It took Suzuki a long time before he finally became the face of the NOAH junior division but more than delivered with his ace reign in 2011.
I’m excited for this match. I think these two will work well together. And despite it being a lower card match with nothing at stake, I still think these two will get 10-15 minutes to showcase themselves. Something Inaba needs more of to be able to stand out and not get lost in the shuffle.
Funky Express (King Tany & Muhammad Yone), Momo No Seishun (Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge) & Hajima Ohara vs Kongo (Manabu Soya, Tadasuke, Haoh, Nioh & Aleja)
This is a bit of an odd one on paper. The Kongo juniors are feuding with Momo No Seishun and friends because everyone in the NOAH junior division are feuding with everyone else.
Friday’s show ended with all the juniors in the ring after trying to ascert their own dominance. Tadasuke took the mic to allude that he was going to challenge for HAYATA’s GHC Junior Heavyweight Title.
Manabu Soya is the heavyweight muscle in Kongo so you’d think they would have the advantage. But Momo No Seishun and friends have Funky Express in their corner. Kongo has the team work but Funky and Momo have the heavyweight advantage.
King Tany and Soya have an ongoing battle as they have great chemistry together and always have an entertaining hoss fight.
Lot of bodies and a lot of action. But with it only being the second match on the card, it’s not likely to be a long one either. Which, with Harada and Kotoge both wrestling a long match on Friday, will be ideal for them.
Masa Kitamiya & Junta Miyawaki vs Kinya Okada & Yasutaka Yano
Kitamiya’s N-1 Victory did not go to plan. It went nowhere near what he and many others envisioned for him. He lost to Fujita and Funaki with only a victory over Saito to his name.
Now he’s away from the main event scene as his partner, the man who he betrayed, the man whom he beat in NOAH’s first ever steel cage match and shaved bald, Katsuhiko Nakajima now stands on top as the GHC Heavyweight Champion.
So Kitamiya is going to be forced into working his way back up to the top if he wants that rematch against Nakajima and another shot at the GHC Heavyweight Title.
Kinya Okada debuted new gear at the last show so hopefully this is a sign that he is going to be moving himself up the card. But teaming with Yano most likely means another loss, even if he isn’t the one taking it.
Yano is first approaching his one year anniversary as he debuted on October 28th 2020. There’s a lot of potential there for the future but if he’s anything like Okada, he’ll still be in the opening matches two years from now. I hope NOAH really pull their finger out when it comes to the booking of their young dojo graduates. Kiyomiya and Inamura, to a lesser extent, are the exceptions and not the norm.
It’s taken Miyawaki over 4 years to move himself up the card but he’s still likely to be the one to take the fall to end the match. So I hope things change in NOAH before the poor booking choices of the mid to late 2000’s come back to haunt them.
And that’s your lot.
That main event is going to be well worth taking your time to watch.
And it’s all building to the big Title matches on October 28th and 30th.
As always thank you for taking the time to read this. I really do appreciate it.
I hope you enjoy the show!