Pro Wrestling NOAH present NOAH The Glory on Thursday April 29th. Airing live with English commentary on both Wrestle Universe (calendar monthly paid for subscription service with NOAH, DDT & TJPW shows available) and Fite TV (one off payment for this show only), the show features three GHC Title matches; with Keiji Mutoh’s second defence of the GHC Heavyweight Championship the main event.
Coming live with an audience (maybe for the last time for a while) from Nagoya, the show starts at 3pm JST. That’s 6am GMT, 1am EST & 10pm Wednesday PST. So an early or late watch for those of us in the West.
Before I get talking about the card and the show itself, NOAH have exceeded themselves with the posters and graphics for this show. They have a poster for Kazuyuki Fujita vs Takashi Sugiura which makes it look the match is going to be Godzilla vs King Kong.
After the successful reception to that poster, they also did a Showa Era movie style poster for Keiji Mutoh vs Masa Kitamiya. These posters will be for sale at the venue, hopefully they put them online for Western fans.
But let’s get on with the show!
MAIN EVENT – GHC Heavyweight Championship – Keiji Mutoh (c) vs Masa Kitamiya
Mutoh makes his second defence of the GHC Heavyweight Title against one half of the current GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Masa Kitamiya. They have only shared the ring twice in the build up to this match.
The first was on March 14th, after Mutoh had made his first successful defence over Kaito Kiyomiya. Kitamiya stormed the ring to make his challenge. But Kitamiya did not just use a hard stare or words, he left Mutoh laying after a Saito Suplex.
On April 18th, the two met in their one and only preview match, where Kitamiya and Nakajima beat Mutoh and Marufuji. The finish came when Kitamiya had Mutoh trapped in the Prison Lock, an alternate version of a Figure Four leglock, and then headbutted him so hard both men were bleeding and the referee called for a stoppage as Mutoh was unable to defend himself.
There are only three men to have held the GHC Heavyweight and GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s at the same time – Kenta Kobashi in 2003, Takeshi Morishima in 2012 and Go Shiozaki in 2020. Kitamiya is hoping to be the fourth. Kobashi was the most successful out of the three, as he held both belts for over five months, while Morishima was a matter of two weeks and Shiozaki just oneday.
The 32 year old Kitamiya debuted in September 2011 at the age of 22. By that time, the now 58 year old Mutoh was seen as a legend, whose run at the top seemed to be at an end. But since Kitamiya debuted, Mutoh has split from All Japan to form Wrestle-1, was the second ever Wrestle-1 Champion and after an almost six year gap without challenging for any titles, beat Go Shiozaki to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship.
In those six years, Kitamiya has failed to become GHC Heavyweight Champion in four previous attempts. Takashi Sugiura in September 2016. Katsuhiko Nakajima in December 2016. Sugiura again in September 2018. And, finally, Kaito Kiyomiya in February 2019. This is his first shot at the GHC Heavyweight belt in over two years.
They are generations apart, but there is a common thread between them. Two, in fact. Kensuke Sasaki was Kitamiya’s direct trainer and one of Mutoh’s biggest opponents, despite being a generation behind. Sasaki was the first to achieve the trifecta of holding the top belts in New Japan, All Japan and NOAH. Hopefully, Sasaki will have been on hand to impart some words of wisdom to his former student.
The second is Masa Saito. Saito was the other of Kitamiya’s trainers and also has history with Mutoh. It is from Saito that Kitamiya decided to change his ring name to Masa from his given name of Mitsuhiro, and adapted the Saito Suplex and Prison Lock into his own arsenal. Kitamiya has used both of those moves – and his headbutt – to devastating effect against Mutoh.
This will likely be the last GHC Heavyweight Title match to take place before the June 6th Cyber Fight supershow with NOAH, DDT and TJPW all represented.
Mutoh is currently the Cinderella man. The aging fighter who gets the upset victory over a younger champion and is trying to stay on top, even with his broken down body. But, like I’ve said before, how long can he keep it up before the clock strikes midnight?
I have no doubt that Kitamiya is a future GHC Heavyweight Champion. He had his first big push at the end of 2016. So, almost five years later, it is high time that he ascends to the top where he belongs. Will this be his night? The smart money would have Mutoh retain for a bit longer. But it would not be inconceivable for Kitamiya to get the win either.
GHC National Championship – Kazuyuki Fujita (c) vs Takashi Sugiura
Godzilla vs King Kong. A big Kaiju fight for the ages. Hard hitting. Hard staring. Hard heads. This is going to have it all.
But, real talk, if you want two old dudes who are willing to strike each other very hard and chuck bombs at each other, this is very much what you are looking for.
A rare inter-stable match, as both are a part of Sugiura Army. This is a first time ever singles match between the two. Fujita is a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, IGF Champion, Real Japan Champion and now GHC National Champion. Sugiura is Mr GHC (unofficial nickname from myself) as he has held every single active GHC Title during his 20+ year career.
This is a battle of Inoki-ism against NOAH-ism. It has long been said that Fujita achieved the success he did in New Japan and pro-wrestling because of his victories in MMA and that Antonio Inoki favoured him as a result. Fujita is not everyone’s cup of tea, not by a long shot, but it can’t be argued that he brings something different to the table and with an intensity not often found.
Sugiura may not technically have been a part of the NOAH dojo as he joined the All Japan dojo originally just before the split, but he will always be the first person who made their wrestling debut in a NOAH ring. Starting late at 30 years old when he debuted, Sugiura rose through the ranks as a junior heavyweight winning both singles and tag belts and then moved up to heavyweight to win their tag and then singles belts.
If Go Shiozaki can say that he is NOAH, then Sugiura is definitely Mr GHC. He and Shiozaki are tied at four reigns each with the GHC Heavyweight Championship, but Sugiura has made more successful defenses than anyone else by quite a considerable margin. He was also the first ever GHC National Champion and this is the first time a former champion has challenged for the belt.
In their one and only preview match, Fujita & Kendo Kashin beat Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba after Fujita repeatedly kicked Sugiura in the face like his head was a football. The end result saw Sugiura’s side of his face immediately swollen due to the impact of those kicks. There’s stiff and then there’s that.
Despite them being in the same stable and them even being friendly during the press conference, choosing to instead share beer instead of trash talk, you know they are not going to hold back on each other at all in this match.
M’s Alliance (Naomichi Marufuji, Masaaki Mochizuki & Masato Tanaka) vs Kaito Kiyomiya, Yoshiki Inamura & Kinya Okada
The NOAH next generation army have an incredibly tough time ahead of them against three veterans and three former multiple time champions in the M’s Alliance.
I’m excited for this match for several reasons. Firstly, it does seem like Kiyomiya and Marufuji are being positioned for a singles match in the future to be Mutoh’s (or Kitamiya’s) challenger at Cyber Fight, or the most likely to directly challenge at the end of this night.
Next, Kiyomiya and Mochizuki had a great half hour draw during the N-1 Victory last year, so I would love to see anything be set up for a rematch. Also, Okada is a youngster who loves kicks. Mochizuki is a grouchy old man who loves to kick. I want to see these two face off here too.
And, lastly, Masato Tanaka has made a career out of facing challengers of all shapes and sizes. Especially big sizes. So who better to take on Tanaka than NOAH’s resident big boy, Inamura? I thought before Shiozaki had to take time off for shoulder surgery that NOAH may have been positioning him for a match with Tanaka. However I would not be opposed for Inamura to slide into that match instead. The young unit could learn a lot from a guy like Tanaka.
There is a lot to like about this six-man tag. All six are great wrestlers, even if Okada has barely had opportunity to show it on his behalf. The NOAH young lads have a world of potential and could carry the promotion for years to come. Big matches against talents like Marufuji, Mochizuki & Tanaka are great learning experiences for them.
Every single match up in this line up has potential to me. I don’t think there’s a bad combination in this match and this is going to be a good to great match.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships – STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA) vs NOSAWA Rongai & Ikuto Hidaka
It has been a month of low blows, disqualifications and walking out of matches. Hopefully it all comes to an end here in this title match. But don’t expect the drama and shenanigans to come to an end, because NOSAWA.
The NOAH junior division has been in a constant state of turmoil over the past year. The world gets turned upside down and the junior division has reflected that. Chaos. Mass fighting. Betrayals. Being constantly knocked down and kicked in the d*ck. The NOAH junior division is 2020/21 in a nutshell.
But hopefully it’s coming to an end soon. Or at least this feud will. Right, here’s the lowdown that explains how we got where we are today:
-Kotaro Suzuki is kicked out of STINGER
-NOSAWA attempts to recruit him but he’s not interested
-Suzuki brings in a masked wrestler, Salvaje de Oriente, who was a complete unknown to face STINGER
-NOSAWA brings in his own masked mystery wrestler, name unknown
-STINGER beat Suzuki and de Oriente when de Oriente turned on him and is revealed to be Yuya Susumu, someone who has close ties with HAYATA
-NOSAWA and masked friend save Suzuki from a further beatdown so he reluctantly joins them
-Masked friend is unmasked in a six-man tag against the new STINGER trio and revealed to be Ikuto Hidaka. Someone who is very known on the Japanese scene and is a former GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion from 2005
-STINGER beat Suzuki and Hidaka at the Budokan
-NOSAWA and Hidaka challenge STINGER a month later
-NOSAWA kicks HAYATA in the dick for a quick victory
-Suzuki and Hidaka damage Ogawa’s knee to the point they just walk away from their tag match
-NOSAWA’s team tries to walk away from a six-man tag but STINGER drags them back. NOSAWA kicks Susumu in the dick to lose via DQ
-NOSAWA kicks Ogawa in the dick for a quick victory
Will we see a title change on account of a kick to the dick? Will they surprise us all and have a clean title match? Will there be yet more drama and shenanigans yet to come in this match? Because NOSAWA.
Hopefully this will be the end of the feud. Hopefully Suzuki and Susumu will have a normal wrestling match earlier in the show and will not interfere in this match. I know I’m not the only NOAH fan who have been frustrated by all the low blows, DQ’s and cheap endings. So hopefully the junior division can move on after this match.
Sugiura Army (Kazushi Sakuraba, Kazunari Murakami & Kendo Kashin) vs Funky Express (Muhammad Yone, Shuhei Taniguchi & Masao Inoue)
Funky Express like to dance and have fun…. Well, maybe not Masao Inoue. These three members of Sugiura Army like joint manipulation and to make their opponents suffer. Poor Masao Inoue.
Yone and Taniguchi are at least heavy hitters and can throw out some big strikes. So they can try to hold their own against Sakuraba and Murakami. Kashin now relies on more underhanded tactics, so if they got Kashin alone, they could conceivably win this.
However, if Inoue gets thrown to the wolves, it’s game over. If either Sakuraba or Murakami get their hands on him it’s job done.
Kotaro Suzuki vs Yuya Susumu
This is a match that I hope delivers on the night. On paper the two are very alike and you can see why Suzuki attempted to bring Susumu into NOAH as the masked Salvaje de Oriente. Of course that didn’t work out, but if they can’t be good partners then they could be great opponents.
I am hoping for none of the bull that has surrounded the rest of their feud. They have their own story and their own drama that can be kept separate from STINGER and NOSAWA. It’s just a good old fashioned story of betrayal, which is a classic.
If these two go all out, they could have a mini-classic and a match that is a future GHC Junior Heavyweight Title match. But I am having to remain cautiously pessimistic on account of the bigger picture around this match.
Kongo (Katsuhiko Nakajima & Nioh) vs Akitoshi Saito & Junta Miyawaki
Back when Nakajima was a junior, he would have lost to Saito. Since Nakajima moved up to heavyweight, he has won every single singles match between the two. Plus Nioh outranks Miyawaki considerably due to experience.
So the Kongo team have a heavy advantage as Nakajima can beat both Saito and Miyawaki, and Nioh can beat Miyawaki. But Saito, alone with Nioh, can beat him. Miyawaki is steadily improving, and every dog could have it’s day and Miyawaki could catch Nioh out.
I expect this to be slightly scrappy. There is nothing to lose for Saito and Miyawaki and everything to gain if they can beat Nakajima and Nioh. Nioh is also recovering from a slight injury.
FULL THROTTLE (Hajima Ohara, Seiki Yoshioka & YO-HEY) vs Momo No Seishun (Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge) & Yasutaka Yano
The FULL THROTTLE vs Momo No Seishun mini-feud continues. There is drama and history here but as an opening match, I’d be more inclined to think this will be a sprint.
YO-HEY has made repeated inferences that he was intetested in challenging for Kotoge’s GHC Junior Heavyweight Title but has made no such claim and was the one pinned in their last tag match.
Yoshioka is the previous champion but while he was seen watching Kotoge’s first defense over Nioh, he did not come forth with a rematch challenge either.
Ohara was the last man pinned by Harada when he was still champion at the beginning of this year so may find himself pushed all the way to the back of the line.
I feel the next GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship match may be set up as a result of this match. A dark horse, with Harada maybe challenging his own partner.
And that’s the card.
I’m really sorry for how late it is.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I do greatly appreciate it. Enjoy the show!