Pro Wrestling NOAH was probably the first puro promotion that I actively followed in "real time." They had an English language website, top talent appearing on ROH DVDs, and of course Misawa, Akiyama, Taue & Kobashi. Having never seen any of their 5 star classics, keeping tabs on NOAH was the closest thing for me at the time. They had great photos of fights & a nice archive of results. Looking back, I think I got in at the tail end of their golden period in 2006. However, it wasn't until years later that I got to see the actual matches from that year. I'd like to sort of pull back from the 2010's for a bit and this seems like a good start...even if it is just 4 years earlier
Naomichi Marufuji & Kotaro Suzuki vs KENTA & Ricky Marvin (01/08/06): This match was just what I wanted. It was really quick and right on point with execution. The middle segment controlling Marvin and breaking apart his knees fell a little flat because the crowd wasn't really buying it. Marvin was screaming though which was a nice touch. Of course, as most of his offense is dependant upon his legs, the long term selling of the damage wasn’t great. Still, he limited his activity to one or two bursts of energy. Plus he did hobble and slow his running down…so I think this was more of an “audience not getting it” situation. Ricky did what he needed to in order to keep up the excitement level but not brush off the damage. The small town fans just wanted to see Marufuji and KENTA. They were not disappointed.
Akira Taue vs Jun Akiyama - (GHC Title) (01/22/06): This was as fantastic as it needed to be. It was very brutal in the spot oriented match sense. Two of my Dad’s least favorite (in a sense) wrestlers murdering one another. It was fun to show him this one! This was quite gruesome at times especially when there were a couple occasions where I thought each guy was crippled. Still, I admire both guys and it warmed my heart when people were cheering for Taue at the opening. Here we saw Akiyama as dominant ace...if only for a moment. Yeah NOAH, yeah! Great match
Low Ki vs Kotaro Suzuki (02/17/06): A fun Junior contest between two guys who are brilliant on offense. Their defense was less than developed although Low-Ki showed an avenue of genius. Still this was a fun, highly athletic and competitive bout. Ki was going to win because he out ranked Kotaro but, it was dramatic and exciting.
Kenta Kobashi, Tamon Honda & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Takeshi Morishima, KENTA & Mohammed Yone (02/17/06): Oh sweet Jeebus this match was all kinds of fun. It was a drag with Yone as the crowd seemed to collapse when he was in there, the same with Honda & Kanemaru too for that matter. Eventually, it turned into K-Hall pandemonium. It was as if the Funks with Jumbo were fighting Abby, the Sheik and Brody. I never thought that they’d get back in the ring! The highlight and focus was KENTA vs. Kobashi, they brought Budokan level stiffness for sure. Oh my goodness this was brutal. Eventually, Honda and Kanemaru were getting hot and Morishima was pure ruler here too. I mean, Morishima vs. Kobashi seemed just as great. If they could have held the excitement in the slow parts in the beginning, this would have been one of those secret Korakuen gems. It’s one of those matches where Kobashi is Mr. Puro!
Austin Aries vs KENTA (ROH 06/24/06): My formal introduction to the awesome talents of Austin Aries and KENTA and boy, is this a match! Just an athletic Jr. weight match that is so damn stiff at just the right times. And the crowd is electric and both guys just eat it up and go for broke. The commentators make note that they’re mirror images and I was thinking, “Now let’s get real…” but, man Aries is great here and matches the future Mr. Itami. This truly may be one of Aries' best bouts. A proper "swing for the fences" match with a great enthusiastic crowd. Nice build, great crowd reactions, beautiful execution; just an awesome match…this is an overlooked ROH classic. I loved it the first time I saw it but, was surprised just how good it is on the rewatch. See this if you want to remember who KENTA was!
More 2006 NOAH rewind to come! Gonna try to be a chronologically consistent as I can Thanks!