What a spectacular show Pro Wrestling NOAH All The Best 2021 was! For the second year in a row the GHC National Champion and the GHC Heavyweight Champion went to a 60 minute draw. Kenoh was again the GHC National Champion but this year it’s Katsuhiko Nakajima he took to an hour draw after doing the same with Go Shiozaki last year.
And Go Shiozaki! After eight months away due to shoulder surgery and not a single word from the former GHC Heavyweight Champion, Shiozaki returned at the end of the night to issue a challenge to his former AXIZ partner Nakajima for a GHC Heavyweight Title match at the Nippon Budokan.
Speaking of returns, a video package at the start of the show announced that KENTA would be returning to a NOAH ring at the Budokan! KENTA was synonymous with NOAH for a lot of fans until he left in May 2014. Only making one return since he was Hideo Itami in WWE at Naomichi Marufuji’s 20th Anniversary show in September 2018. So the current New Japan Pro Wrestling IWGP United States Champion will be on a NOAH show just one week before the NJPW vs NOAH show on January 8th 2022.
Plus we have new GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions as STINGER, Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA beat Los Perros del Mal de Japon, Eita & NOSAWA Rongai. The Title change happened via count out for the first time in NOAH’s history so the former Champs have a strong rematch claim. But Momo No Seishun, Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge plus another Los Perros del Mal de Japon team of Kotaro Suzuki & YO-HEY have already put forward challenges.
HAYATA became a double champion as he already holds the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship which he’ll defend on Sunday December 5th against Tadasuke.
Also on December 5th will be a rematch of an incredible tag team match as Kongo of Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kenoh face Go Shiozaki & Kaito Kiyomiya. Last November, Shiozaki was the champion as Nakajima was going to be his challenger. Now the roles are reversed.
The Warroad 2021 in Nagoya will air live on Wrestle Universe. Now December is your final month to get Wrestle Universe completely for FREE as long as you pay on January 1st, and then you get all of January too.
That’s the Budokan show and, on a week delay, the NJPW vs NOAH show. So you’ll get two months for the price of one. And it’s not just NOAH you get on Wrestle Universe. It’s DDT, TJPW and Ganbare too.
The show starts at 3pm in Japan. That means it’s an early start for us in the West. 6am in England, 1am East Coast USA and 10pm West Coast USA on Saturday 4th December.
With it being on Wrestle Universe, the show will be up for replay almost as soon as it’s ended. So get some sleep and stay off social media in the morning and then watch it unspoiled.
It’s an eight-match card, so it’s a big one! Let’s get right into it.
MAIN EVENT – Go Shiozaki Return Match – Kongo (Kenoh & Katsuhiko Nakajima) vs Go Shiozaki & Kaito Kiyomiya
As already mentioned, this is a rematch from November 2020. NOAH uploaded that match to their YouTube so you can watch it below:
Now, I have to be honest here. While I was waiting and hoping for Shiozaki to return and wanted it to happen in time for the Budokan, I never expected him to be straight into the main event.
It’s a completely Western idea to have a returning from injury star to be placed straight back into a title match. In Japan it is much more common for them to work their way back up to their former position.
So Go Shiozaki is the exception, not the norm for him to return and challenge for the belt he lost at the Budokan in February just gone.
However, I am overjoyed to see Shiozaki back and looking so healthy. When Nakajima first said “I Am NOAH” (in Japanese instead of English like Shiozaki did), I wanted to believe but tried to stay realistic. Nakajima did say “I Am NOAH” during his 2016/17 first reign with the GHC Heavyweight Championship, so if anything Shiozaki took that from him but changed it up by saying it in English.
I reasoned with myself that Nakajima was saying that as a sly dig against his former partner. Shiozaki had no return date and when he does return, he’ll have to work his way back up to the top. I had to stay realistic and not let my feelings get the better of me.
When the Nakajima vs Kenoh Double Title match was announced for NOAH The Best, I did ask why was this match happening now instead of at the Budokan. That match felt like a Budokan main event. NOAH couldn’t do a bigger match. Unless….
Full disclosure, when the lights dimmed and Go Shiozaki’s music hit, I absolutely lost my mind. Shiozaki was back. He was here. And he only had one reason to return at that show, at that particular moment at the end of the main event – To challenge Nakajima for the GHC Heavyweight Championship.
I wrote a very long article about the history of Shiozaki vs Nakajima before their November 2020 GHC Heavyweight Title match took place which you can read here
The two had 15 years of history by that time, so the article has a lot of ground to cover. I know it’s over a year old but I’m still really proud of it & would be grateful if you gave some time to read it.
Since that was written, Shiozaki beat Nakajima in a 42 minute epic. A lot of buzz was generated for Shiozaki’s next defense over Takashi Sugiura which big bad Dave Meltzer gave the full 5 stars to. But, for my money, the Nakajima match was better.
Shiozaki would lose the belt on NOAH’s return to the Budokan after over a decade. He would lose it to Keiji Muto in the main event and the month after announce that he required shoulder surgery so would be taking an undetermined amount of time off.
It turned out that 8 months off was all he needed, and he was ready to come back after Nakajima and Kenoh had beat the absolute stuffing out of each other for 60 minutes.
But even that war against each other did not split the two. They still remain members of Kongo with Kenoh as its leader. Nakajima has long outlasted expectations for how long he’s been a member of Kongo and been second in command to Kenoh.
Kenoh & Nakajima have only teamed together as just a tag team three times before now. A victory over Shiozaki & Kiyomiya in November 2020. A 30 minute draw against Sugiura & Marufuji for NOAH The Universal in September this year. And then a loss to Masaaki Mochizuki & Masakatsu Funaki in November.
Shiozaki & Kiyomiya have much better history than that, even if it did them no favours in their first tag match against Kongo. Together they won the Global Tag League in 2018 and are former GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Although they did lose the belts in their first defense.
The history between Kenoh and Kiyomiya is long, not as long as Shiozaki and Nakajima however! They have been intrinsically tied together, especially since Kiyomiya returned from international excursion. His first action back returning to Japan, returning back to NOAH was to challenge the then GHC Heavyweight Champion, Kenoh.
They’ve teamed together. Fought against each other for the GHC Heavyweight and National Championships. And ever since Kenoh formed Kongo, they’ve been on opposite sides.
Except… Just the under 2 months ago. October 10th, to be exact, Kenoh & Kiyomiya teamed together for the first time in years to beat Muto & Kazushi Sakuraba.
The challenger’s team will be on the backfoot. Shiozaki has only just returned from eight months away, so will be rusty. And it’s customary for wrestlers to lose their first match back from injury. Kenoh & Nakajima have gone through two wars against each other in just the past two months and, if anything, that’s only strengthened their bond in Kongo.
That November tag match posted earlier was a perfect prelude to the GHC Heavyweight Title match. Now NOAH liked it so much they are running it for two shows, here on December 5th and at Korakuen Hall on the 7th too.
So no matter which team wins here, the other will want revenge just two days later. And I have no complaints with seeing this match on almost back to back days.
M’s Alliance (Keiji Muto, Naomichi Marufuji, Masato Tanaka & Masaaki Mochizuki) vs Funky Express (King Tany, Muhammad Yone, Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue)
I did NOT expect to see Funky Express in the semi-main event. Although they have been quietly amassing some wins lately. They beat Sugiura Army (Sugiura, Sakuraba & Kashin) in a six man tag team match. And on the last show they beat Masa Kitamiya, Daiki Inaba & Yoshiki Inamura in another six man tag team match.
King Tany, before he was crowned and was just Shuhei Taniguchi, engaged in a mini feud with Muto where he was soundly defeated. Maybe the disco dancing is the edge he needs to beat Muto….?
Most likely not. Funky Express have been well established as the loveable losers of the NOAH roster. However every dancing dog can have it’s day and Funky Express have shown they can pull out the win when the chips are down.
On paper, M’s Alliance have the advantage and then some. The two previous GHC Heavyweight Champions in Muto & Marufuji. The previous GHC National Champion in Mochizuki. The previous ZERO1 World Heavyweight Champion in Tanaka (who faces Sugiura in a rematch on the January 1st ZERO1 Korakuen Hall show, likely early in the morning before the Budokan).
Marufuji has long since taunted and annoyed King Tany. And he also loves to torment poor, suffering Masao Inoue who seems to only be in matches to be picked on by his opponents.
But Funky Express have made bold claims towards challenging for the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s again. The belts currently held by Muto & Marufuji. So definitely expect Tany & Yone to come after Muto & Marufuji with everything they have.
This will be Mochizuki’s first NOAH appearance since he lost the GHC National Title to Kenoh in his first defense. He actually got knocked out by Kenoh and woke up to find himself having lost the belt.
So Funky Express may find themselves on the wrong end of Mochizuki’s wrath as he attempts to put himself back into title contention again. Him and Kenoh have ridiculous chemistry so I hope we see them have another match together again.
Plus, as already mentioned, Tanaka has a ZERO1 World Heavyweight Title rematch to prepare for. So Funky Express may serve as the punching bags in the gym.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship – HAYATA (c) vs Tadasuke
This will be the Ninth singles match between the two since their first meeting happened in Osaka Pro Wrestling in May 2010.
The two are around the same age with HAYATA only a year older and with one year more of experience, debuting in August 2006 to Tadasuke’s July 2007.
However Tadasuke began his career in Osaka Pro. HAYATA started in Wrestle Gate but would end up having to freelance a few years later. So when he joined Osaka Pro he had to start from the bottom again.
Rookies in Japan have to do Trial Series against the more senior roster members in the promotion. HAYATA had to do a Trial Match Series in Osaka Pro and Tadasuke was his seventh match. Tadasuke would win that match in under 8 minutes.
They would have rematches in July, August and September that same year. Tadasuke won them all. HAYATA would be a member of JOKER from early in his Osaka Pro days and Tadasuke would join them in early 2011.
The two were actually a tag team for over a year before winning the Osaka Tag Festival 2012 tournament, JOKER splintered into GLARE and the two won the vacant Osaka Pro Tag Team Titles in July 2012. They would hold them for 251 days, losing them in March 2013.
Their next and fifth singles match took place in DOVE Pro Wrestling in February 2014. Naturally, they happened in Osaka. But this time it would be HAYATA who got the win.
They would join Pro Wrestling NOAH within weeks of each other in late 2016. HAYATA moved over to NOAH first so Tadasuke’s first NOAH match was teaming with HAYATA in a loss to Momo No Seishun, Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge.
In January 2017, HAYATA would beat Tadasuke in a singles match. That was Tadasuke’s only third match in NOAH. And HAYATA would win a rematch in April.
But that April match would have been after they along with Daisuke Harada & YO-HEY formed RATEL’S. Meaning they would spend a lot more time teaming together than facing each other.
So their last singles match against each other took place in July 2019 as part of the Global Junior League. The finals, to be exact. And there, for the fourth match in a row, HAYATA beat Tadasuke. That victory would see HAYATA then beat Minoru Tanaka for his second reign with the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship.
In 2020, HAYATA would be the cause of RATEL’S break up as he left them to join STINGER in May. The former RATEL’S said the team name was done from that point but continued to team together. However Tadasuke would be next to leave the team in August when he joined Kongo.
New GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions HAYATA & Yoshinari Ogawa would beat Tadasuke & Harada in July, before Tadasuke defected. That would be the last time these two have had a title match together.
Tadasuke would help the newest Kongo recruit, Aleja, make his challenge for HAYATA’s GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship but he would come up short on November 13th. So Tadasuke himself challenged HAYATA afterwards.
This is Tadasuke’s first opportunity at the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship since December 2020. And his fourth title challenge over all after losses to Harada, Kotaro Suzuki and Harada again.
He’s not been a singles champion since he lost the Osaka Pro Championship in July 2016. It’s been over 10 years since he beat HAYATA in a singles match and he’s lost the past four to him.
They are two very different wrestlers. HAYATA is tall and more of a technical wrestler than a high flyer. Tadasuke is a short, stocky bruiser who can fight and has a Jumbo Tsuruta-esque lariat.
This is HAYATA’s third and most successful reign to date. He won’t want it to end here, especially when he’s just become a double Champion after he and Ogawa regained the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s on November 28th.
Plus this is likely to be the final title match of any GHC Title in 2021. Who will walk into the Nippon Budokan as the GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion?
Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura, Kazuyuki Fujita & Kendo Kashin) vs Masa Kitamiya, Daiki Inaba & Yoshiki Inamura
On the one hand, Sugiura Army have the advantage as they have former GHC Heavyweight and IWGP Heavyweight Champions in Sugiura and Fujita. But on the other hand they have a disadvantage as they have Kashin on their team.
Inamura has only just returned from a four mouth injury so, as is the custom, has been on the losing end of his matches for the most part. Inaba is still struggling to find his place on the NOAH roster. And Kitamiya, despite looking like he had the world at his feet in the summer, did disastrously in the N-1 Victory and then lost the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s in his first defense.
The youngsters should be extra motivated here. We are nearing the end of 2021 and they need to be putting themselves in a higher position before the Budokan comes.
At the last Budokan show, Inamura was in a high profile tag match representing the current generation of NOAH against the old guard of NOAH. Sugiura, Fujita and Kashin were all in a large multi-man tag team match against Kongo, which Kitamiya was a part of back then. And Inaba was part of an undercard six man tag team match.
It’s not even known if Sugiura will be on this Budokan show as he’ll be defending the ZERO1 World Heavyweight Championship he won back in August for the first time that same day against the man he won it from, Tanaka. Assuming that the ZERO1 Korakuen Hall show will be taking place before the Budokan show, Sugiura could easily work both.
Kitamiya has history with Sugiura. He was the one responsible for taking the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles from Sugiura & Sakuraba after a TKO Headbutt while he had Sugiura trapped in a Prison Lock.
And Inamura has a score to settle with Fujita. The former three time IWGP Heavyweight Champion has man-handled the young NOAH big boy on every occasion that they have clashed.
And Kashin has been a nuisance to Inaba in the past. Like he has been to many including his own partners.
This will be hard hitting and a hoss fight whenever Sugiura, Fujita, Kitamiya and Inamura share the ring. And Inaba is no slouch either. Kashin…. Is Kashin.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs Hajima Ohara
Now this got a buzz of excitement when it was announced. It’s not the Oh My God, Main Event Epic type of buzz. Just two very damn good technical wrestlers facing each other for the very first time.
And it’s technical wrestling from two very different backgrounds. Sakuraba was an amateur wrestler in school before moving to professional wrestling. He was trained by Nobuhiko Takada and Yoji Anjo in shoot wrestling and Billy Robinson in catch wrestling. This experience gave him a lot of success in the MMA world.
Ohara on the other hand began his career in Mexico at Toryumon Mexico, being trained by Ultimo Dragon and Jorge “Skayde” Rivera. There he learned the blended mix of lucha libre and puroresu. Or Lucharesu as I’ve seen it coined before.
Sakuraba is considered a heavyweight but he’s on the lighter scale. His rank as a heavyweight is primarily on account of his success in MMA and how dangerous he can be. So him and Ohara aren’t too far apart in height and weight. In fact Ohara actually weighs more but Sakuraba is taller.
You can just watch two wrestlers and know that they are going to enjoy wrestling each other. That they are going to find common ground and have a match that works to both of their strengths.
These two are going to have chemistry together. I can just feel it. It’s the kind of match you’d hope would be booked seen as they are both on the roster but know it might be an Impossibility on account of their standings. One being a heavyweight and the other a junior and all.
But I am absolutely made up that this match has been booked and I can’t wait to watch it. If you are a fan of technical wrestling with some urgency (because I cannot imagine this match going long) then this match may absolutely be for you.
STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa & Seiki Yoshioka) vs Los Perros del Mal de Japon (Kotaro Suzuki & NOSAWA Rongai)
Ogawa & HAYATA beat Eita & NOSAWA Rongai to become three time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champions. It wasn’t a clean victory either. For the first time in recent memory and the first time ever for a GHC Title, the Champions lost their belts visa count out when Ogawa prevented Eita from getting back in the ring before a 20 count.
It feels like the issue between the new Champs and former may not be over. But right now STINGER have two new challengers in front of them. Momo No Seishun (Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge) plus the other Los Perros del Mal de Japon team of Kotaro Suzuki & YO-HEY.
Those two teams will face each other on December 25th to determine the number one contenders. So if you fancy some NOAH on Christmas Day, it airs live on Wrestle Universe.
But before then, Suzuki gets the chance to strengthen their claim by facing Ogawa & Yoshioka.
Suzuki and Ogawa have unresolved issues that has lasted well over a year now and sees no sign of ending. They were supposed to have a match in October which was cancelled due to a brief injury to Ogawa.
So their feud keeps ongoing. And NOSAWA has been riling up Ogawa something fierce this past year and losing the tag belts to him has got to hurt. So NOSAWA will get a chance at revenge for that loss here.
It’ll be fast when Suzuki and Yoshioka are in there. Slower and more calculating with Ogawa. Cheating with NOSAWA.
Daisuke Harada vs YO-HEY
Former RATEL’S members collide. These two have not had a singles match since YO-HEY left the disbanded RATEL’S to join FULL THROTTLE in September 2020. Let alone when YO-HEY joined Los Perros del Mal de Japon.
Their last singles match took place in June 2019 during the Global Junior League and Harada won. Before that Harada beat him in a GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship match in January that same year.
That was 2 out of their 4 singles matches. The others happened in 2017 – January and May to be exact. That January match was YO-HEY’s second ever match in a NOAH ring. And then RATEL’S was formed very early in 2017 so these two were linked very closely into YO-HEY’s career in NOAH.
YO-HEY has not got the best singles record against his contemporaries as I’m discovering each time I write these previews. HAYATA mostly always got the better of him. Tadasuke also. And now I find that Harada is 4 and 0 against him.
But it has been two and a half years since their last match. These two are meeting in a tag team match on December 25th to determine the number one contenders to the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s.
Since YO-HEY joined Los Perros del Mal de Japon, there is a change in attitude with him. He does come across as more aggressive, more mean spirited. He’s not as playful and care free as he once was.
If there’s any time for YO-HEY to change his fortunes against Harada, then now is as good a time as any.
Kongo (Manabu Soya, Aleja, Haoh & Nioh) vs Atsushi Kotoge, Kinya Okada, Yasutaka Yano & Kai Fujimura
Opening match and it’s the rest of Kongo facing the NOAH rookies and Kotoge. Realistically this is a match I should be able to say with confidence that the Kongo team will win this.
Nioh debuted in 2000. Haoh 2005. Soya 2007. Aleja is the baby at the group at 2016.
Now the other team, Kotoge debuted in 2005. Okada 2018. Fujimura 2019. And Yano 2020.
Aleja almost has as much experience as Okada, Fujimura and Yano combined! If Kotoge had debuted any later than 2005, Nioh would have had more experience than all of his opponents combined.
The experience gulf is something that Kotoge’s team will find hard to bridge, no matter how much heart they show, no matter how determined they are.
But at least you can guarantee that Okada, Fujimura and Yano will perservere regardless. They will do their absolute best even if they are going to go down swinging.
And that’s your lot.
There are five NOAH shows in December, four at least being confirmed to air on Wrestle Universe. Three of them live.
So if you sign up to Wrestle Universe now, you’ll get two months for the price of one.
Thank you so much for reading this.
NOAH have only announced two matches for December 7th. A rematch of this shows main event and Sugiura Army (Sugiura, Sakuraba, Fujita & Kashin) vs Kitamiya, Inaba, Inamura & Okada.
I don’t think they’ll announce the full card until after this show and leave me absolutely no time to get a write up done. Probably for the best.