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Furious Flashbacks: NOAH Great Voyage in Nagoya

March 25, 2015 | Posted by Arnold Furious
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Furious Flashbacks: NOAH Great Voyage in Nagoya  

NOAH Great Voyage 2015 in Nagoya

 

11th February 2015 (Aired 15th February 2015)

 

We’re in Nagoya, Japan. 1,200 in attendance for this show. The card is highlighted by Suzuki-gun’s invasion of NOAH. They’re in action tonight with Killer Elite Squad coming after TMDK’s newly won GHC tag team titles.

 

Yoshinari Ogawa, Zack Sabre Jr. & Jonah Rock vs. Masashi Aoyagi, Hide Kubota & Yasu Kubota

 

Aoyagi has been around forever. He came through around the time of Jushin Liger and was in that junior division in the early 90s for New Japan. He’s been with NOAH since 2000, having tried out various other promotions in the between years including the WWF where he had a cup of coffee in 1994. The Kubota Brothers are twins but they’ve both made it to 40 without making a major splash anywhere. NOAH’s gappy roster has allowed them to be welcomed back here. Sabre Jr. is going through a spell of being awesome against absolutely anyone so even though this is a totally disposable opener I’m even interested in it, thanks to Zack. His opening arm work is far superior to anything Ogawa or Rock can think up. He’s a technical marvel. It’s almost cartoonish how bad the other two are by comparison. It’s like watching two guys from the 1920s tag in a modern wrestler. Ogawa stomping the mat along with headbutting someone’s fingers is downright embarrassing. Sabre doesn’t have an awful lot to work with but still manages to make himself look gold, even if he can’t get anyone else over. It’s starting to frustrate me that NOAH keep putting him in matches like this, where the upside is *** tops instead of working guys like Harada where the sky is the limit. Jonah wins this one with Sister Abigail’s Kiss. Rock has good entrance music and is a passable powerhouse wrestler. Nobody is on Zack Sabre’s level though and he, once again, was the outstanding wrestler here.

 

Final Rating: *3/4

 

Cho Kibou-gun (Hajime Ohara, Kenou & Mitsuhiro Kitamiya) vs. No Mercy (Akitoshi Saito & Genba Hirayanagi) & Quiet Storm

 

With Suzuki-gun having invaded NOAH Cho Kibou-gun have become somewhat redundant and most of their matches are now just filler. Hence this one and the next match getting all of CKG out of the way well before the midcard. With them relegated to secondary heels Ohara switches personas to a hand-slapping babyface. Kenou doesn’t look pleased about it. Kitamiya’s recent series to test his potential sees him upgraded to new gear (he joined CKG in January) and trading with Saito. The beer-bellied veteran is just too strong through and handily demolishes all his opponents with ease. Then he tags in Genba, who must have been either sick or on a crash diet as he looks anorexic. His skinny ass gets isolated for heat, which takes up the bulk of the match. Kitamiya looks really confident and the presence of the junior tag champs must help that. Kenou miscues with his kendo stick again so Kitamiya grabs Quiet Storm and Kenou misses again, this time with wonderful comedy timing, donking poor Kitamiya in the cranium. This leads directly to Kitamiya getting into trouble and Quiet Storm batters him with a lariat for the pin. Kenou is like 0-43 on that kendo stick shot. He hasn’t hit one in 2015 yet. I enjoyed Kitamiya here and the CKG antics were acceptably amusing. Adding Kitamiya does give them another capable young guy. Now if they can only find a way to make Taniguchi not wrestle and Morishima not wrestle badly and we’ll be onto a winner.

 

Final Rating: **1/4

 

BRAVE (Katsuhiko Nakajima & Taiji Ishimori) vs. Cho Kibou-gun (Takeshi Morishima & Maybach Taniguchi)

 

Before we even start my head is screaming “Ishimori takes the loss”. Japan’s obsession with juniors always getting beaten by the heavyweights is actually becoming a little weird to me. Not even the WWE has that level of size obsession nowadays. Especially when you’ve got two useless lumps like Taniguchi and Morishima. Although seeing as CKG are blatantly going over maybe Morishima will actually put some effort in tonight. He’s a bit unpredictable in that respect. At least Taniguchi is always useless. You know what you’re going to get with him. Morishima isn’t even bringing predictable hair as he’s got wispy platinum blonde locks on the go here. The kind of hair you’d expect from an ageing starlet in Hollywood rather than the puroresu ring. The encounter between Morishima and Ishimori is downright ugly. Ohara & Kenou flat out run in, right in front of the ref, so at least someone will take bumps for Nakajima’s kicks in the match but that’s just ridiculous. How is that not a DQ? At least attempt to hide this shit. The match gets even worse from there with Taniguchi botching a ref bump and the resultant low blow. Then he starts bumping lucha spots for Ishimori before winning with a powerbomb and, as I called it, Ishimori takes the pin.

 

Final Rating: *1/4

 

Video Control gives us highlights of the Suzuki-gun invasion so far, which includes a lot of cheating from the invading group.

 

Atsushi Kotoge & Hitoshi Kumano vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Taichi)

 

If Kumano beats anyone in Suzuki-gun I will mark the fuck out. Kotoge is the junior champion suggesting Suzuki-gun might be coming after that belt too. I hope it’s El Desperado rather than Taichi. I love the interaction at the start with Kumano stepping up and Kotoge offering a wry smile as he does so. It’s Kotoge who bosses the match, as he should do, until Suzuki-gun cheat to get over on Kumano. At least they position the referee for a Taichi chair shot but then he uses it right in front of the ref and shoves him over for protesting it. So, that would be a disqualification. No? I really don’t understand how certain heel groups are allowed to get away with this shit and with two major heel factions filling almost every single match this might be a long night. I often refer to people as underdogs (Honma in particular) but Kumano really is the ultimate, ultimate underdog. He never wins. Ever. Unfortunately Suzuki-gun don’t give him moments to make it look like he will in this match. Instead selling for Kotoge’s headbutts and precious little else. Basically Taichi is a dreadful storyteller and Despy is only as good as the people that are around him. Taichi being his partner actually drags Desperado down. So what should be a fun match never is. Every stupid sequence is squarely down to Taichi’s unending idiocy and lack of understanding in what makes wrestling great. The match finally gets going as Kumano gets some near falls and Suzuki-gun start bumping around for him. Taichi wins with a fucking belt shot, which suggests he’ll challenge Kotoge in what will be a horrible match. Much like this one.

 

Final Rating: *

 

Shelton Benjamin vs. Mohammed Yone

 

When they started this invasion angle I was actually excited to see all the fresh new match-ups but every match they’ve put together so far hasn’t appealed because Suzuki-gun, Minoru and Davey Jr. aside, aren’t very good. Shelton only performs when he feels like it and a 1,200 crowd is unlikely to get his juices flowing. Yone brings the Japanese equivalent of Iron Mike Sharpe in the selling stakes here by screaming “ARRRRRGH, ASHI GA ITA MI MA SU”. “Ashi” is leg if that helps. The match sees a lot of Yone overselling before Benjamin plants him with Paydirt for the win. Yone got next to nothing here, which is bizarre. NOAH’s desire seems to be to get Suzuki-gun over enormous so their eventual defeat will mean something. Much like the WWF did with WCW. No, wait, they did the exact opposite of that.

 

Final Rating: ½*

 

Takashi Sugiura vs. Takashi Iizuka

 

The Takashi’s collide! Suggy is obviously a far, far superior all-round worker. A better wrestler by a country mile, even when Iizuka actually cared about the quality of his matches during his youth. While the overall theme of this show is keeping Suzuki-gun strong, there’s only one sensible winner. It takes Iizuka about 3 minutes to actually find the ring, which about sums up his level of competence. His opening move in the ring is biting Sugiura’s foot. This is perhaps the most wrestling Iizuka has done in years, as Suggy tries to force the style of the match and yet Iizuka still spends most of it doing garbage. It’s an awful match. Iizuka’s moves are all bullshit. Chokes, eye rakes and nothing approaching a legal hold. I actually love watching Iizuka…until he starts wrestling. He should just be a manager. Eventually the ref gets sick of every single Iizuka move being illegal and disqualifies him for using a chair. Absolute garbage. Sugiura even gets laid out with the Iron Glove after the match. Sugiura just about kept this out of negative stars.

 

Final Rating: DUD

 

Minoru Suzuki vs. Daisuke Harada

 

When I heard this match was on the card I felt obliged to watch it. I probably should have just watched this match and skipped the rest of the card. Harada jumps Suzuki during Kaze-ni-nare actually making this feel like an important match. Suzuki looked as if he’d walk in and dominate so Harada’s early aggression makes the match work. Suzuki’s ability extends beyond simple beat-downs though and his defensive wrestling allows him to catch Harada on the ropes. Suzuki is an absolute dick on his comeback, using a chair and the rail to try and break Harada’s arm. Harada came in expecting a competitive wrestling match, only to get taken down with the garbage. Which is a major issue with this show. Every match has a full-on heel presence. This match could have been something special, given Harada’s incredible junior skill-set, but Minoru just wants to keep himself heel and it doesn’t happen. Suzuki does manage to mangle Harada with one of the most brutal looking half crabs you’ll ever see though. When they actually wrestle, it’s pretty good. Harada’s plucky comebacks are really energised and Suzuki’s mat skills and super-stiff slaps are appreciated. Harada is allowed to escape the sleeper once but a second time sets up the piledriver for Suzuki to win. This felt like the tease for a second, better match. Harada looked great and when Suzuki felt like it the match took place at a belting pace. Shame about Suzuki’s insistence at being a bad guy first and a wrestler second.

 

Final Rating: ***

 

Naomichi Marufuji vs. TAKA Michinoku

 

This is somewhat of a dream match, although perhaps not with Marufuji as a dominant heavyweight and TAKA as a veteran. With them both at their peaks as juniors, Maru around 2003 and TAKA in 1997, this could have been ****+ easily. TAKA the veteran is the weak link, using the same cheap shortcuts that everyone else has used tonight. Although it is fun watching Marufuji just beat the shit out of him. TAKA fakes a knee injury to take over and I’m ashamed of Marufuji for falling for it. TAKA’s response is to go after Marufuji’s knee, which is a bit tame apart from a picture perfect Ringpost Figure Four. Marufuji sells it a little bit before shaking it off and that’s the limb work done! There’s something cursory about almost all limb work in Japan nowadays. It fills a space but never goes anywhere. Apart from TAKA’s K-Dojo match with Kengo Mashimo recently, which was nothing but leglocks and was almost terminally boring. TAKA freaks the crowd out by getting REALLY close near falls off roll-ups. There’s a sense they might even allow TAKA the victory via inside cradle, just to rub in the dominance of the Suzuki-gun group. But if there’s one guy who can’t lose, especially to an undercard guy, it’s Marufuji and he beats TAKA clean with the Shiranui. Good showing from TAKA, who quickly abandoned the heel tactics and turned this into a perfectly fine back and forth wrestling match. Naturally Suzuki runs out to attack Maru after the bell, setting up their big showdown in March for the GHC title. Make no mistake about it, this storyline is here for the long haul. Unless Suzuki-gun get blanked at the supercard. But that’s unlikely.

 

Final Rating: ***1/4

 

GHC Tag Team Championship:

TMDK (c) vs. Killer Elite Squad

 

KES represent Suzuki-gun. This is a rare all-gaijin main event for a Japanese show. TMDK have gotten over as NOAH fan favourites courtesy of their efforts in representing the company and won a blinder against Tanaka & Sugiura to claim these belts. The crowd’s response is tepid though and only a few streamers fly in for Shane Haste to do his turnbuckle spinning nunchucks entrance. They’re still the hometown boys though, against the invading Suzuki-gun so that’s the story. I’m not sure why they switched the titles just to do this match as Dangan Yankees would surely have gotten even more love from the crowd. But they weren’t at the Dome show in January so here we go.

 

TMDK look every inch megastars, running KES out of the ring in the early going and creating a stunning visual with Haste running up the middle of the ropes, freaking KES out and then moonsaulting back into the ring to pose. These guys are so good they could literally do anything in wrestling. Their hybrid style is reminiscent of the Can-Am Express and they eventually made it to the WWE, where they wrestled against Davey Boy Smith, whose son is in this match playing the role of his own Dad. If Archer was replaced by Tyson Kidd, as a surrogate Owen Hart, this match would be phenomenal. Actually that’s probably a stretch as Haste & Davey have little to no chemistry and Shane resorts to being power-murdered by Archer instead. Pleasingly, despite other issues, this avoids the other Suzuki-gun detrimental work. So outside interference and cheating in general is severely limited. KES deciding to take a different tack and just dominating with their superior size. First working lengthy heat on Mikey, then on Shane. And I mean “lengthy”. The match is 30 minutes long, which feels like an eternity in the modern era where matches rarely make it to 20 minutes let alone 30. Keeping in mind these 30 minutes are then filled, by and large, with KES heat. 30 minutes of armbars and headlocks.

 

The theory is that TMDK lose here to set up a rematch, or rematches, to tell a feud storyline. An opening act doesn’t always have to be boring and depressing though, as almost every film series tends to go darker on the second one. The idea being that the first time is fun, the second time is serious and the third time is redemption. I have no problem with KES going over here but do they really have to boss the entire match too? It’s fortunate that TMDK are accomplished bumpers and both find ways to sell the beating they’re taking but it just goes on for too long with a lack of enthusiasm. I place the blame squarely on KES, who don’t do enough of interest throughout the match, although that does intensify TMDK’s high spots. There is a theory in wrestling that if you’re a heel then you can’t hit high spots but that is bullshit. Some heels shouldn’t be hitting high spots, depending on what they are, but it’s your personality and reasoning that makes you a heel, not what spots you hit. Plus selling (bumping especially) is key for a truly successful heel and KES hardly sell anything. Naturally it gets more exciting toward the conclusion, as it would be impossible not to. Killer Bomb finishes Shane at the first time of asking though with Mikey moving through treacle to try and make the save. This was not a good match and probably the first big disappointment I’ve had watching TMDK. In a way I’m glad Suzuki-gun didn’t cheat, as that’s all they’d done all night, but in another sense maybe they should have to make TMDK look stronger. Not keen on this one.

 

Final Rating: **1/4

 

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You can also follow me on Twitter @ArnoldFurious

 

 

4.5
The final score: review Poor
The 411
Adding a second massive heel faction to NOAH’s roster must have seemed like a good idea at the time but the actuality of NOAH having Suzuki-gun and Cho Kibou-gun in it is horrendous. The entire card struggled to get going and the samey nature of the undercard was borderline depressing. Suzuki-Harada had moments of quality about it and the Marufuji-Michinoku match delivered against expectations but the rest of the card was a waste of time. Giving the main event 30 minutes scuppered any shot it had of delivering a good match and some of the undercard bouts were downright dreadful. Half-assed performances from the likes of Benjamin, Taichi and Iizuka were most unwelcome. The overall storyline has potential, even now, as a big blow-off show, where the NOAH guys crush everyone in Suzuki-gun and send them packing back to New Japan, could be excellent. Getting there however is going to be a chore.
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