NOAH Winter Navigation at Korakuen Hall
December 22 2017
We’re in Tokyo at Korakuen Hall. This won’t be one of my full show reviews because I find NOAH’s undercard unbearably tiresome. So we’re skipping into the business end of this show. If you’re watching this on the Real Hero Drive skip ahead to the two hour mark for the reviewed matches. This involves skipping a lot of tags. I can live with this. It saves me two hours for starters. Undercard:
Heisei Ishingun (Akitoshi Saito, Shiro Koshinaka & The Great Kabuki) defeat Go Shiozaki, Masao Inoue & Yoshinari Ogawa
This was apparently Kabuki’s last match, although I’m not convinced. Wrestling retirements tend to not stick. I’m sad Go Shiozaki found his year ending in such a manner. He’s tried really hard.
Back Breakers (Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano) defeat Seiya Morohashi & Tadasuke
The Back Breakers are a pretty cool team. Kumano will come along being mentored by Ohara and I like that they’re working on tag stuff together.
Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya defeat Cody Hall & Sheldon Jean
Cody seems to be cycling through partners in NOAH, as if they know they want Cody but can’t find someone who suits him. Nakajima has fallen badly down the card after losing the strap. He’s being rebuilt and will hopefully get another shot at the mains before too long.
XX (Hi69 & Taiji Ishimori) & Atsushi Kotoge defeat LEONA, Mitsuya Nagai & Yuko Miyamoto
I considered watching this but I need to be merciless in cutting stuff off if I’m going to make any progress at the target of watching more shows and less crap. This looked like a fun trios match. Hopefully LEONA got battered.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match
RATEL’S (HAYATA & YO-HEY) (c) defeat Gurukun Mask & Shuri Joe
This was another one that was borderline in making the review but I wanted to keep to a strict two hour limit so it missed out. It was probably pretty good.
GHC Tag Team Championship
Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm (c) vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi
Yone tests the patience of Taniguchi with disco dancing. It turns out Maybach is a miserable old curmudgeon now, who doesn’t care for disco. I know, right? It’s a shock. 2017 has been a weird year for Maybach, with him finding happiness with a new love after the dissolution of Cho kibou-gun. Marufuji has shown him its ok to be a miserable prick as long as you stick to the rules. Meanwhile Quiet Storm has learned he can actually beat decent heavyweights and its given him a new lease on life. One that presumably involves eating cows whole to keep up the required protein requirements. Storm vs. Marufuji is actually pretty damn good. They just chop each other really hard while I chuckle to myself.
Yone does a good line in looking like a goofy fucking bastard while Marufuji roundhouse kicks him in the face. His selling, and afro, are a credit to his house. Maybach is strangely subdued and eats a knee from Marufuji because he’s too slow to move and a pissed off Taniguchi stomps a hole in his partner. That’s the end of that team then. Better open the ‘stick with your wife’ barrel and send Taniguchi back to his evil ways. Obviously this was quiet storyline heavy toward the end but it was a solid enough match. Quiet Storm was probably the stand-out.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Moose vs. Takashi Sugiura
I hope Sugi batters Moose so bad that he can’t do that stupid “Moose” arm pump thing for at least six months. I guess it’s credit to Moose that he got invited back here to do a tour after a couple of one-off shots earlier in the year. The relationship with Impact hasn’t wielded many success stories but this is one of them. Once Moose is actually wrestling, and not “Moosing”, he’s actually quite enjoyable. This isn’t one of his most dynamic performances. He plods around the ring, twice, and Sugi is left to take the abuse. Hurled into the rail and powerbombed on the apron….which is the hardest part of the ring. Moose insists on doing more “Moosing” so Sugiura keeps elbowing him in the face. I really don’t blame him. If I was being Moosed at elbows would be flying. Moose looks like he’s 80% where he needs to be. He’s ever so slightly rough around the edges so his dropkick doesn’t quite look right. He can’t seem to get his stride pattern right when he’s moving around the ring so he runs weird. All the components are there but he can’t quite put them together.
It helps his cause that Sugiura has great timing and doesn’t ever stall or wait on Moose’s stuff. He’s right in there, closing the distance. It’s when Moose is on offence that the issues occur, although he takes a horrible bump off a clothesline at one point. Like I said earlier; it’s not his most dynamic performance. NOAH clearly wanted to get a look at him to see if he’d be worth a singles push. Olympic Slam puts Moose away and he didn’t pass the Sugi Test.
Final Rating: **3/4
GHC Junior Championship
Daisuke Harada (c) vs. Minoru Tanaka
Minoru Tanaka is 45 years old but he doesn’t seem to have aged, at all. He’s currently a freelancer after leaving Wrestle-1 and he’s appeared mostly in AJPW but he’s available so he’s here.
Both these guys are really, really good at the technical wrestling. Harada’s mat work is on a different level to most wrestlers in Japan. However Minoru takes him to school. Where Harada is a little too loose on a hold Minoru is right in there, like a shot. Where Minoru excels, in the flying stakes, Harada is quicker to the punch and shuts him down regularly. The strikes come out even but it’s a lovely game of chess from two hybrid wrestlers. Tanaka is in great condition and brings the experience level to tell stories in there too. So he’s after armbars throughout, telling a coherent storyline around that arm. Harada’s plan seems more scattershot. Hitting random moves in the hope that he can catch Minoru by surprise. The evergreen Tanaka won’t stay down though, or even slow down. Finally Harada finds his way in front, by battering Minoru with forearm strikes and breaking down his defences. But even then Minoru has an answer; kicks and lots of them! Tanaka’s arm focus keeps coming back to bite Harada in the ass. Harada finds fresh offence in defending his arm though, and clocks Minoru with the majority of his best offence in the match in defence of his arm. Usually be throwing strikes to block grapples. I’m a little peeved he wins with the German suplex, as it requires two healthy arms to bridge but everything that set up the German was solid. I figure there was nothing wrong in flattening Tanaka with the Upper Knee instead of using it as a near fall.
Final Rating: ****
Eddie Edwards (c) vs. Kenoh
On the Kenoh vs. Kenou debate I’ve ended up with Kenoh for one reason; it’s what his Twitter is. I need to have a standard spelling, how he’s a big fucking deal.
Eddie has done a reasonable job of carrying the GHC belt since taking it from Nakajima. He’s quick, clever and capable of matching Kenoh hold for hold. Considering Kenoh’s recent junior background it shows his capability as champion. Kenoh is smart to this and tries to use his other advantage; outside the ring shenanigans. This ends badly for him; overhead belly to belly suplexed into the guard rail. It looks really painful. Someone is going to break their leg on that spot and I hope I’m not there to see it. So Kenoh sees his dreams slowly sliding away, faced with a new age hybrid champion who can do it all. Plus Eddie is bigger than him and hits harder. Kenoh’s one strength is his kicks and he starts to rely heavily on them. He also has the ankle lock and the kicks set up that as a second avenue of attack.
— Arn~! (@ArnoldFurious) January 4, 2018
Of course it can all come crashing down at a moments notice due to Eddie’s explosive offence. Edwards does a fine job of conveying that he is an unassailable champion. The perfect guy to carry on the legacy of the green ring. He has every attribute covered, including the famous fighting spirit. Eddie Edwards is walking the King’s Road. Kenoh introduces him to NOAH Main Event Strong Style, which means taking a head drop on the apron. Hell, he’s lucky, it’s normally a head drop off the apron. As the war continues it seems as if Eddie doesn’t have the stomach for a long, drawn-out battle in this environment. Kenoh’s kicks start getting heavier. The sound those kicks make when they hit Eddie’s chest are nothing short of brutal. Eddie gives as good as he gets but holy shit those kicks, baby. It is a War of Attrition. When Kenoh completely ignores a clothesline that him saying ‘no more’. He’s drawn a line in the sand and Eddie takes his head off for it. Eddie starts looking for ways to put Kenoh away, including the Tiger Driver and the Piggyback Stunner. They either connect and don’t get the pin or are avoided. Eddie is no closer to winning. In his frustration he tries more extreme solutions, which involve the ropes. This is where Kenoh exploits his desire to close up the match and takes charge. Now it becomes about who wants it the most because Eddie still has weapons in his arsenal and he’s willing to use them. Kenoh again goes to the kicks and his high kick floors Eddie. It kills the poor guy dead. A few double stomps make sure and Kenoh is the new GHC Champion!
Final Rating: ****1/2
The aim of skipping the undercard and going into the meat of the show is that I can watch more wrestling that actually means something. I spent a lot of 2017 watching meaningless undercard bouts, occasionally getting excited at a prospect but more often than not watching the same recycled matches over and over again. This could become policy for 2018. All killer, no filler.