I got interested in the Atsushi Aoki & Kotaro Suzuki team from watching 2013 All Japan. Their bouts against Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka are some of the best this year. So I was curious what they were doing in NOAH a year before they jumped to AJPW. Let's take a look!
Suzuki & Aoki vs Nakajima & Kajiwara - (NOAH 01/15/12) - Story here is Aoki is gunning for Nakajima's Jr. Title. Man do we get that. Aoki is like Kawada or KENTA by going after Nakajima every chance he gets. He even leaves his lesser opponent Kajiwara (new to me) in the ring in order to injure Nakajima's leg. Suzuki plays the supportive partner by keeping the attack on or defending. Aoki and Nakajima's work makes me want to watch their title fight. Very good match.
vs Ricky Marvin & Super Crazy (03/18/12): This was fun with lots of cool moves but was excessive. And I'm not sure it told much of a story. I think if it was 15 minutes, you could get away with that and I'd say it was a great fireworks match. Just too many fireworks from start to finish with no build up or downtime.
vs Marvin & Sabre Jr - (NOAH 04/22/12) - Very good small show match. Slow or perhaps insignificant first part but then we get the pairings of Aoki vs ZSJ and Marvin & Suzuki and it gets cooking.
vs Marvin & Ishimori - (NOAH 04/29/12) - Basically the closing 5-7 minutes of a match presented as the whole thing. Sequence after sequence especially by Marvin & Ishimori. Kotaro gets annihilated! Pretty cool but not quite a full match as its more of a sprint. Fun though!
Shiozaki, Suzuki & Aoki vs Otani, Hidaka & Hashimoto - (NOAH 05/09/12) - OMG, I loved this match. Korakuen hall 6 man tag magic here with every pairing offering something interesting or outright exciting. The big story is young Hashimoto being able to hang in there with Noah top dogs especially Shiozaki. Otani keeping Go in check was enjoyable as all hell since Shinjiro looks like someone's buff dad. I think what made this great beyond the actual talent was the pacing. It was around 20 minutes and built up steam little by little until at the end, the excitement was at a fever pitch. Never did they over do it or go down a road narrative wise only to abandon it. In fact the story finished what it began with twists and turns along the way. I think this was a classic 6 man tag.
vs Naomichi Marufuji & Taiji Ishimori (05/13/12): Great match but not without its faults. The hyper pace is so untenable and renders so many cool moments forgettable. They never let anything sink in. And that can work if you have a shorter match of like 10-15 minutes but they went double that. It's too much. Still there were so many cool moments that I guess they accumulated into something special.
vs Marvin & Super Crazy - (07/22/12: THIS is the definitive version of this match-up! Under 20 minutes, all fireworks still but the slimmed down version of their March match. They wrestled it as Aoki vs Crazy in the first half and then Marvin vs Kotaro in the second. Of course there were double teams and break -ups but the legal guys really broke down like that. I respect their decision to do this. It made for a much better match. A fitting end and on a high note. Great fireworks match!.
This mini project has been OK. It at least reaffirmed my lukewarm interest in later day NOAH. But there are some diamonds in the rough - shorter matches are better is a good rule though. There is a lot of what I don't like about contemporary wrestling here as well (and this was 10 years ago!). Aoki & Suzuki's work in 2013 AJPW is so much more substantive than many of the fireworks displays here. The 6 man match above was the highlight without a doubt though! That was a under the radar awesome match and very similar to the stuff I loved in AJ '13.