wrestling / Video Reviews

The History Of Pro Wrestling NOAH – Pt. 2

November 4, 2003 | Posted by Mike Veloza

The History of Pro Wrestling NOAH Pt. II – by Mike Veloza

With the first two shows in the can, it was now time to run the promotion’s first tour. One of the many differences between American and Japanese wrestling is the schedule. While the WWE features house shows all weekend and just about every weekend of the year, major Japanese companies run tours. Usually what that means is that they’ll run five or six shows a week for about three weeks, take a couple of weeks off and then come back and do it again.

The name of the first tour was “Exceeding our Dreams 2000,” which was fitting for an upstart group who planned on making an impact in the wrestling world. The opener was a huge success as NOAH filled the Minase Village Tokoton Yama Camp to capacity on August 15th, a building that holds over 6,000 people, setting an early company attendance record.

In fact, all six shows on the first tour were sellouts. Everything was going to plan early on. Guys like Misawa, Akiyama & Kobashi were quickly established as top guys, carrying over their success from All Japan. Misawa, even at age 38 was still dominant, while the younger Kobashi (33) and Akiyama (29) were seasoned enough to be considered in the same class as the boss. Misawa and long-time partner Yoshinari Ogawa were one of the featured tag teams, and the bruising unit of “No Fear“ was also dominant in the tag team ranks.

Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori were both only thirty-years old when they left All Japan with Misawa and the duo mauled opponents with their hard-hitting, bruising in-ring style. As former Double Crown Tag Team Champions in AJ, they had already tasted some success. During the company’s October tour, NOAH introduced their first foreign wrestlers when Vader, Scorpio & Richard Slinger made their debuts. There was some controversy as to whether or not NOAH would use American wrestlers, but that was quickly put to rest with the appearance of the three veterans. Vader, a former heavyweight champion in All Japan and New Japan, was dominant on his first tour winning all three of his singles matches in less than four minutes. He put himself in the same league as Misawa, Akiyama & Kobashi immediately, especially given his success in Japan over the last decade. He also formed a formidable team with long-time ally, and fellow Colorado native, Scorpio.

NOAH planned a huge show at the Tokyo Ariake Colosseum on 12/23 that would be broadcast via tape-delay on Japanese pay-per-view the following night on Christmas Eve. It was to be headlined by two terrific matches, one with Misawa being challenged by the veteran Vader, and a rematch from the company’s second show, with Jun Akiyama facing Kenta Kobashi. The event set another attendance record, drawing another sell-out, this time with 12,000 people present. Misawa beat Vader in the show’s semi-main event, fending off the challenge of the vicious American, while Kobashi was able to get revenge and beat Akiyama this time out in just over thirty-five minutes. The match was fabulous and Kobashi & Akiyama now each had a 1-1 record against each other in Pro Wrestling NOAH.

The promotion announced that on its third tour of 2001 they were going to crown their first heavyweight champion, who would be dubbed the “GHC Heavyweight Champion.” The “GHC” stood for “Global Honored Crown” and there was going to be a sixteen-man tournament loaded with NOAH superstars that would vie for the title. Misawa outlasted everyone, winning the title on 4/15/2001 in the finals against 1/2 of “No Fear” when he defeated Yoshihiro Takayama in front of another sell-out crowd at the Ariake Colosseum (again, 12,000 people). Misawa had a really difficult road to the championship, beating Akitoshi Saito, Yoshinari Ogawa (his tag team partner), Jun Akiyama, and Takayama in the end. His semi-final match with Akiyama was almost decided to be a draw when both men were counted out, but not wanting to give the fans a match with no decision, they re-started the match and Misawa surprised his younger counterpart with an cradle for the victory. This was a match that would not be forgotten by Akiyama.

Misawa’s first defense was against former All-Japan Triple Crown Champion, Akira Taue, at the Hokkaido Sports Center in front of close to 6,000 people on May 18th. Misawa defeated the veteran in a grueling match. However, after his title defense, Misawa wanted to focus on bringing in new fighters to the company. He decided to go to the United States to scout talent and decided that one of the places he would visit would be Hayward, CA. It was there that he watched Michael Modest wrestle Donovan Morgan in a fantastic match that few were privileged to see and decided right there that the two had to be apart of Pro Wrestling NOAH.

After years of wrestling in the United States and building their names on the independent scene, Morgan and Modest were off to wrestle in Japan for one of the biggest pro wrestling companies on the planet.

Part III coming soon!

Mike Veloza is a writer for www.prowrestlingiron.com.


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