“We have lived too long off the account of our seniors, and now there is nothing left”- Naomichi Marufuji
This will be a mix of both a review and an account of Noah in 2018. Noah has always been in mind due to the legend that created it, Mitsuharu Misawa, the legends that worked there, Kenta Kobashi and the protégé turn genius that is Naomichi Marufuji.
Noah had sadly fallen from their heights, after the sad death of founding father, all but biological father to many of his trainees, Misawa and the Yakuza scandal that rocked the boat that ultimately led to the cancelling of their TV deal. Kenta Kobashi’s retirement was the last time Noah ran the Nippon Budokan, at Final Burning In Budokan in 2013.
In 2015, the opening day of the Global League drew 983 at the Korakuen. It’s second day at Differ Ariake, which is in a way, the home of Noah only drew 797. The opening day of Global League in 2013 before the scandal drew 1,600 in Differ Ariake and drew 2,000 at the Korakuen on its final night. A big decline for a great puroresu promotion. It hit them. When they reached out to NJPW for help and Jado became booker, it plugged some stops but the impact of having Suzuki-gun and New Japan guys beat down Noah guys while, it itself was down, was too much and attendance continued to fall.
2017 brought an improvement after the Estbee purchase and Suzuki-gun/NJPW departed. And in 2018 I’ve made more of an effort to not just watch classic Noah but new Noah. A Noah in transition. Great Voyage in Yokohama and Niigata had been great shows. But Day 10, Navigation with Breeze, at the Korakuen. Headlined by Sugiura vs Marufuji for the Global Honoured Crown. This will tell a lot about where Noah is heading.
I’m just going to list the opening 4 matches as results, as they were quick matches, designed to get the crowd into it.
Back Breakers (Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano) defeat Akitoshi Saito & Junta Miyawaki.
RATEL’S (HAYATA & YO-HEY) defeat Seiya Morohashi & Yoshinari Ogawa.
50 Funky Powers (Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm) defeat Cody Hall & Masao Inoue.
Maybach Taniguchi & Mitsuya Nagai defeat KAZMA SAKAMOTO & KENSO.
None are bad matches, if you’re a RATEL’s fan, if not, their teamwork and skills are incredible. 50 Funky Powers are very fun, but a very good heavyweight team. Maybach Taniguchi is a good heel worker, really came across well.
The night really starts with former champion, Kenoh taking on Atsushi Kotoge in 1 on 1 action. Neither could afford to lose here, Kenoh wanting to get back in GHC Heavyweight contention after losing the belt to current champion, and former tag partner, Takashi Sugiura. Kotoge is just after suffering a defeat to Sugiura at the Great Voyage in Niigata event and needs to strengthen his position if he wants back in the championship picture. This was a really good match with two men that Noah can back, some really nice action in this, at once point Kenoh being bloodied at the forehead after an exchange of forearms. The final sequence was beautiful, a Posioned Hurricarana from Kotoge, Pele kick from Kenoh, spinning heel kick from Kotoge, Dragon Suplex then a Penalty Kick from Kenoh to a downed Kotoge, Kenoh delivers a double foot stomp from the top to his downed victim for the win.
First title match of the night saw Hi69 & Minoru Tanaka defending their GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships against RATEL’S duo, Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke. In a way, from my perspective at least, the champions need to win to keep all the junior belts away from RATEL’S as Harada is the singles champion. YO-HEY & HAYATA are out supporting their RATEL’S brethren, while Yoshinari Ogawa is out in support of the champs. RATEL’S controlled the action for large portions of the match, paying back double any attack they received. All men looked good, Minoru Tanaka still has it. It wasn’t until the last duel between Hi69 and Tadasuke where I thought the champions might successfully defend, Tanaka took Harada out of it as Hi69 got near falls on Tadasuke, after Tadasuke kicked out of a Penalty Kick, Hi69 went up top for a splash and got the win.
Post-match, GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, Daisuke Harada had a stare down with Yoshinari Ogawa.
The GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match saw the new champions and Global Tag League 2018 winners, Go Shiozaki & Kaito Kiyomiya defend against the team they deposed at Great Voyage in Niigata, The Aggression, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya. The Aggression attacked Shiozaki & Kiyomiya right after they won the titles, a real sense of hatred is felt, especially from The Aggression. The Aggression target the left leg of veteran Go Shiozaki, and continues to hobble around the ring throughout the match, the psychology of this match was fantastic. Every time Kiyomiya got them back into the game, and Shiozaki’s attempts of mustering offense, it gave hope to their cause, but every time The Aggression shot them down. It would come down to Nakajima and Shiozaki, Nakajima clocks Shiozaki on the head with a kick before delivering a punt kick to the downed, injured Shiozaki, he picks him up for a Brainbuster and reclaims the championships for The Aggression.
The build for the clash between GHC Heavyweight Champion, Takashi Sugiura and Naomichi Marufuji goes back to the dark winter, under the rule of Suzuki-gun, who Sugiura had defected too, which hurt Noah and Noah fans. Marufuji was champion and Sugiura defeated him for the belt with the help of Suzuki-gun. But before then, Marufuji took the belt from Suzuki, back to Noah and as Sugiura raised Marufuji arm, he dropped him with an Olympic Slam and went up the ramp to join Suzuki-gun. The defection hurt, the cheating to win the GHC hurt. I think, if you look at the pictures, it hurt Sugiura. He was a Noah boy.
This wasn’t the Noah way. Noah deserved better.
And this time it was done the Noah way. It was without an invading army. It was two elder statesmen of Noah going at it, for the GHC Heavyweight Championship, at the Korakuen Hall, potentially for the final time. And it was great. It built slowly, the crowd quiet, not in boredom, but admiration. The classic tale of the strong and powerful Sugiura defending his belt against the faster, leaner Marufuji. In the end, it was an Olympic Slam followed by a chokehold that submitted Marufuji.
And it was beautiful.
After the match, Kenoh and Kaito Kiyomiya came out to put themselves forward, they’ll have a number 1 contenders match to decide Sugiura’s next victim. The Aggression also came out with their reclaimed championships, not challenging Sugiura, but challenging Suigura & Marufuji who are to team in the future.
This is the old era of the likes of Sugiura and Marufuji versus the new era, like Kenoh and Nakajima. Those who knew Misawa and those who came after.
Noah is better than it was, and looking solid in 2018. Those who came after Misawa will be the future of this company. Kenoh. Kiyomiya. The Aggression. Young wrestlers that this company can mould its future around.
There will never be another Four Pillars, but they sure can try.
*Translations of Noah Promos and its history comes from Hisame’s blog http://puroprogramtranslations.blogspot.com/
Attendances figures from Cagematch.net