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Found 99 results

  1. There was one really great FUTEN-esque exchange between Ikeda and KENTA in this. I can see KENTA having a pretty great career in BattlARTS/FUTEN or WAR just acting like a kickboxer. Unfortunately, Sugiura & KENTA immediately cooled that excitement down by working a rather lame control segment. Taue does almost nothing in this, but the 2 times or so he is in he really kicks people in the face or ragdolls KENTA around, so it's fair to say that he rules. It picks up again for the finish and Ikeda even gets to pick up the win with the Kinniku Buster in a nice moment.
  2. I took a small break from my New Japan 1988 project to cherry pick a few Golden Era Ring of Honor matches that I had been wanting to see. The theme I guess would be Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson but, KENTA is in two of the three matches. So its really Joe, Danielson plus KENTA matches that I wanted to see AND are free on ROH's Youtube channel. I've had these bookmarked for months and been waiting to see for more than a decade. There's no time like the present to check these out! Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH Title, Midnight Express Reunion 2004): I've seen their 2003 match and heard that this was their best. It is considered a classic and in 2004 with the storyline of Joe post Punk encounter #1, I can see giving it that status. I'm not going to take that away in honesty because, I'm sure there are wrinkles that I've missed in 2020. That being said, I thought as a stand alone title fight this was very good (and perhaps great). I think the story was Dragon trying to force Joe to go long (like Punk had) but, also try to systematically dismantle the champ. That and Danielson post NJPW tour could hit with the hardest so, Joe didn't stand a chance. However, the Samoan Submission machine was in Terminator mode not only eating what Danielson was throwing but, dishing out some sickening blows himself and possession "the choke" or Coquina Clutch as TNA would brand it, I've read comparisons to 90's AJPW and I can see that as there were few slams and suplexes compared to strikes and submissions. Where this differs is the organization department. Most notably Joe's need to fit in the Ole kicks 2/3rds of the way in. This is the point where my excitement went off track. Each guy was desperate to close the fight and now Joe finds it necessary to do his showboat/insult move? He should have just faked it out and just chest kicked Danielson or something more visceral. And that's the thing... the match was at a gut level violent...like Tsuruta vs Tenryu then, Joe (and I don't really blame him in '04) inserts an Indy fan service move. A bit of wind went out of my sails. My other quibble is Danielson's attack psychology. The awful 2004 announcers (whom I muted on the 2nd watch) even acknowledge the change in gameplan. This is so heavy handed on their part frankly...they're explaining rather than letting the wrestler do so with their actions. Anyhow, I would have preferred a Liger-like focus from Bryan on Joe's leg or neck early on then settle into the middle of the match only to call-back to that to set up the ending portion...even if it would not lead to the finish. Instead, it doesn't seem like he can commit to a single plan of focus and neither can Joe from a selling standpoint. So, the story of the challenger doesn't come across as strongly as it should have, Those things would have made this an all time classic in my eyes...I think this was the time where Gabe S. was really pushing the long matches = great match ideology for ROH. The above flaws would have been less bothersome if this was 5 -10 minutes shorter. Not that it NEEDED to be but, they story would have been tighter and the earlier portion would have look less like time-filler. Nevertheless, I watched the damn thing twice in two days and enjoyed it both times so, I gotta recommend watching this. Samoa Joe vs KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (In Your Face 2006): This is another match that I'd been wanting to see for a decade plus. I'd seen clips from the ROH Live Wire from another DVD and thought this looked awesome but, perhaps too good to be true. I was wrong. This was precisely the match I'd hoped it would be. A high intensity, ultra stiff action packed 3 way match during their peak.Honestly, 2006 was the peak of their peak and this was special. A classic match that doesn't go too long or get too cute. Perhaps an all time classic if I'm going to be honest with myself. The shorter match length (20+ minutes I think) kept everything mean and showing how much Joe & Bryan had improved in just over a year...and ROH for that matter. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs Samoa Joe & Bryan Danielson (Best In the World 2006): I watched this bout right after the above and if you have the luxury, I suggest you do the same. It plays off of (and in real time sets-up) the heat between Joe & KENTA beautifully. Not only that but, we have 4 of the best wrestlers in 2006 facing off and this is probably the closest to a AJPW Big 4 match as ROH did. Some have given this **** but, that's the bare minimum in my view. This match deviated from the balls to the wall fest that many were hoping for and instead provided all kinds of build ups and cool-downs that only master wrestlers can do. And I'm not talking about kickouts but, they achieved this by scaling up the intensity and urgency through body language, speeds, how hard they through their strikes, when they chose to tag, etc. It was a thing of beauty and like all true classics, I could have watched this all night. Even when a error was made, it was forgiven and forgotten as a miss rather than a mistake. If you are a fan of these guys and this style, check this out. You may not think as highly of it as me but, you will have fun. That goes for all of the above! Three remarkable matches available for free on ROH's 'tube page. I'd like to get the DVDs of the ones featuring the NOAH guys since I'm old school but, if not I'm stoked that I saw them. Thanks for reading! We'll get back to NJPW 1988 next week for sure!
  3. Talk about it here. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x19v3f2_kenta-c-vs-takeshi-morishima-noah_sport?search_algo=1
  4. This was a lot of fun. You got some brief interactions between Kobashi & Misawa, and those were pretty wild as you'd expect, then you got KENTA & Marufuji doing their thing - some fast paced, energetic sequences. My favorite thing though was just seeing KENTA & Kobashi kick Marufuji's ass - my goodness their offense looked so great & Marufuji sold the beating well. Great match. ****
  5. The match is mostly dominated by Kensuke who just beats the shit out of KENTA. KENTA sells really well for him & gets some great big comebacks in. A very well told, great Heavyweight vs. Jr. Heavyweight story. ****1/2
  6. This is such an amazing match. Tenryu gives a hellacious beating to KENTA - who sells it fantastically. Tenryu was just so good in this delivering that asskicking & being the grumpy vet. KENTA was tremendous as the underdog selling his ass off while getting some brief comebacks in - only for Tenryu to cut them all off. Tenryu beating up anyone is a winning formula & then you get KENTA as the underdog which is another winning formula - you combine those 2 and you get fantastic pro wrestling match. ****3/4
  7. I'm pretty confident in calling this the greatest under two minute match of all time. I was wondering how some of these NOAH matches would hold up for me but this one absolutely did. The match start off with probably theg reatest blindsight dive of all time, you've seen the spot where one wrestler attacks the other before the match starts a thousand times, and a fair share of those have been junior dives, here KENTA is just normally walking around the ring and Marvin comes out of nowhere crushing him. His next move is getting KENTA back into the ring and John Woo Dropkicking KENTA. That's a move that looks badass by itself, but here KENTA's skull crashes into the bottom turnbuckle. Marvin follows it up with a Powerbomb for an early nearfall setting the insane pace. That is followed by KENTA's transition back into control, which has KENTA try a couple of counters that Marvin adjusts to-first by Savate Kicking him, and then when Marvin bounces off the ropes and you already see KENTA countering that with a Front Head Kick Marvin does this amazing Jackie Chan kip-up combo. I really have nothing against flips in wrestling nor anyone wrestling any style, my problem most of the type is simply that many wrestlers don't possess the creativity and wrestling intelligence that Marvin displayed here. You could also have a situation where Marvin would do five of those while his opponent did some other flips, but that doesn't really convey the sense of struggle in that flashy move it did here, where Marvin legitimately looked like a kung fu master. KENTA takes all of Marvin's shots and still comes back with a Discus Lariat. This could've bothered me, but with their difference in hierarchy and how the match was worked I deemed it fitting. From then on it's a game of cat and mouse with KENTA blasting Marvin with huge kicks and attempting the G2S while Marvin attempts desperate flash pins and counters. The second time he goes for the same counters KENTA is ready-and he catches him, counters his counters, knees him and kicks him in the head and goes over. Wonderful pro wrestling. ****
  8. This rocked my world. I was super excited for it because I am such a Hideo fanboy & I've been watching lots of his stuff recently - I didn't have too high hopes for the match though as Roode doesn't impress me at all. Thought his matches vs. Nakamura were absolute shite. But here, goddamn. The man gave such a great performance. The beginning w/ him going for the Glorious taunt only for Hideo to attempt the ultimate murder-death-kill machine that is GTS was, pun intended, glorious. Loved Hideo being one step ahead during the early stages of the match - real good stuff. Once it was time for Roode to get the advantage & work the heat on Hideo, I thought the match could die down because Roode has a long history of boring ass control segments, but fuck me, he was so great here. He worked over the neck of Hideo in fantastic, compelling fashion. Hideo's big comeback was great; coming back into things with a straight up pimp slap. Classic Hideo. Roode hurting his shoulder after hitting the ringpost was tremendous - that lead to ol' Hideo targeting that arm w/ his brutal kicks & submissions, naturally. Awesome. Roode's selling was perfect. His hope spot Spinebuster was great. Still selling the shoulder perfectly. The brawl outside the ring was so well done - great battle for control; Hideo running wild again, only for Roode to get the advantage after he ducked Hideo's big dropkick & Hideo hit the stairs, hurting his leg. Love it. Hideo's selling of the leg injury was really great - he hit a couple of moves where he used the leg, but every time he did that, he sold the damage done to his leg big time. The whole finishing stretch was tremendous w/ a nice strike trading section (which Hideo obviously won, as he should've), Hideo not being able to hit the GTS due to the damage done to his leg, him nailing Roode w/ that GTS, only for him Roode to roll out of the ring - very nice of them to protect the move, Hideo slapping the shit out of Roode, great counters. Tremendous stuff. Easy MOTN & my #2 WWE MOTY behind Reigns/Braun from Payback now. ****3/4
  9. Borderline great NOAH 6 man action. Really fun opening, BURNING try isolating Taue only to eat a bunch of boots to the face and Taue ends up teasing the apron chokeslam on Kobashi with Ikeda helping him. We get some brief exchanges where you can't tell what the layout is going to be and then Taue takes out Kobashi with the big chokeslam on the floor anyways. In 1995 this probably would barely phase Kobashi but in 2002 this takes him out for a long time and we get a long heat segment with KENTA taking a huge beating while Shiga desperately tries to save him. That they were able to get serious heat for something like a Sleeper Hold in Differ Ariake speaks volumes about they excellent job the rudos did here. Ikeda was in top form, hitting hard, constantly running in to cheap shot dudes and almost knocking KENTA out with high kicks and spin kicks. Kobashi ends up coming back altough looks badly wounded. We get a really fun finishing run with Ikeda laying into Kobashi, doing a great job selling a big suplex, Shiga busting out his awesome submissions. Bison manhandling the little dudes etc. Great postmatch too, Taue rules.
  10. Jeez, I've been watching a lot of NOAH lately. I suppose it's because I'd turned a blind on it for so long after so many drawn out strike battles, over long "epics", and a roster that resembled a pop talent show more than puro company (at least from their names and appearances..more on that later). Eddie Edwards is one of those guys that I've come to consider a favorite of mine recently. I'm not exactly sure why however. He doesn't have a real remarkable look and he doesn't seem like a real 'character.' He seems very much like an athlete who's chosen profession is wrestling. I suppose that's why I like him. So, I was pleased to see that he popped back up in NOAH (on a talent exchange) last year. For those that don't know (or care), Edwards developed a true professional over in the NOAH promotion in the mid-2000s. So, when he came into ROH (again as sort of a talent exchange) he was looking like top talent in the making (except for his braided Jason Newsted haircut). I pretty much forgot about him for awhile (3 years perhaps?) as I focused on other promotions and older puro. Occasionally, his name would pop up in tape/DVD listings or reviews. It was good to see that he was still around and thriving. So many of those mid card guys in ROH had a lot of potential but, something happened and their careers never blossomed (Erick Stevens and Brent Albright are two I recall). I think the match that put Eddie on my radar as a serious talent was a 2011 match in NOAH vs Kotaro Suzuki. Kotaro had the GHC belt and much like Eddie, it was fantastic to see a lower ranked guy was getting pushed AND was doing well. This match had gotten some praise at the time and probably was one of the the more positively reviewed matches in NOAH at the time. Or at least that I can recall...2011 wasn't getting a lot of love. Gosh, to be honest after that, it probably wasn't until 2015 where for whatever reason, I thought I'd give PWG & ROH a try again that I started seeing Eddie Edwards clips on the 'tube. But, I'm rambling because all I want to cover in this entry is Eddie Edwards short lived but, historic GHC title run. A transitional champion? Yes but, the first non Japanese to hold the belt. Plus, he's the man to have ended Katsuhiko Nakajima's 307 day, 7 defense reign (the longest since KENTA's 2013 championship reign). That's pretty significant to me even if NOAH is in umm...transition??? Nevertheless, Eddie's involvement (through Impact's agreement with NOAH) helped bring me back into the viewership. Plus he really cut his teeth during his early years on the ARK so, it was a bit of a coming home story with him winning the title. So, let's take a little look back: Eddie Edwards & Ricky Marvin vs Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi (08/23/08): I am expecting fireworks from the get-go but, it begins with conservative striking and grounded holds. This is the first five minutes until Nakajima gets a bug up his ass about Marvin. He gets in the ring like a junkyard dog off his chain to save Ibushi. Then it picks up with the combos like Marvel vs Capcom 2. None of it is really engaging me though. Everyone is doing a bunch of running, kicking, and jumping. It's not that I even care who is doing it OR why. It's pure fireworks for the sake of going:'Oh wow!' *BANG* 'Cool!' *POP* 'Oh that was neat...' until you kinda get bored until the spectacular finish where all kinds of shit is blowing up. Sounds familiar with some wrestling matches, right?? That was this 100% to me. It was good but, nothing more. Eddie however (since this is his little feature) looked the strongest to me. He was most in contol of his movements as well putting forth the most effort for the longest period of time. A. Ito & I. Ota vs Ricky Marvin & Eddie Edwards (09/06/08): This is how you do a tag match- bring some hate, desire to win, desire to inflict pain or embarrassment...something right? You've got to have some energy! 8 minutes of great shit beats 21 minutes of blech. Marvin & Edwards were flipping awesome here. Ito & Otis looked good too but, mainly vehicles to put Rick & Ed over. Fun stuff so, I'd recommend going outta your way to watch this as it's under 10 minutes. Eddie Edwards & KENTA vs Prince Devitt & Ryusuke Taguchi (Apollo 55) (07/10/10): An all action match that I never knew happened. Apollo 55 was pretty big at this time so, it was a big deal for them to be in a NOAH ring. KENTA & Edwards look as good as any team against them. In fact, they looked better. Maybe it was the different environment or the green ring but, 55 seemed a little of this evening of combat. It's nothing embarrassing or even noticeable but, KENTA & Eddie were hell of a hard hitting tandem compared to the more Junior move-centric Devitt & Taguchi. Nevertheless, it was a very satisfying fantasy match up come to life. Very Good match! vs Kotaro Suzuki (01/29/11): GHC Jr. strap is on the line. They set a really good pace here for a title match. The highspots were simple but, spectacular. Both guys sold the exhaustion & pain from the match and it appeared that it was a struggle to win an athletic contest- not a performance of some maneuvers. It looked like a title fight. It really clicked for me. I am a fan of both guys but, in a way that makes me a harsher critic. I wanted to see both guys kick ass and if either were dogging it, I took note. I mean Kotaro's elbows looked tired toward the end. But to be honest, I think he was rattled as all hell. Eddie did not go easy on him and wouldn't put over the elbows until it was believable. If it was all selling then, double kudos to them for getting the story across that well. This was a great match! So I'll only do a little bit for Eddie's title fights because it was an unfortunately quick run... vs Katsuhiko Nakajima (08/26/17): A nice quick pace. The intensity and the drive to win for Edwards is really apparent. Whoa! he almost crippled Naka' on that tope! Ed's working the back...very nice. The strikes are there but, there are a variety of them as well as actual moves. At least 3 Evel Knievel suplexes. This feels like NOAH from a decade ago! A minute or 2 could have been shaved but, this was a great match! You should check this one out. vs Naomichi Marufuji (10/01/17): Marufuji had been competing in Impact (TNA) so, this in a way an Impact & TNA event (ya know how ROH & NJPW do co-shows?). Anyhow, I liked this but, it felt a little too smooth to me. The crowd was sedated as a psych ward too. That was a bummer but, it was still a Very Good match. It would have gone over better in front of the Impact crowd I think...it certainly was wrestled in that style. vs KENOH (12/22/17): I really got into this one despite KENOH looking like a Blade Runner Brian Jones. These guys had great chemistry together and put on a fantastic match where I'd like to see them compete again or team up in the future. Great match for sure! I think Edwards gave the company a shot in the arm in terms of experience and talent. NOAH feels very unfamiliar to me in 2018. There are few faces from the past to root for & those there seem unenthusiastic or uninspired (Shiozaki & Sugiura). The newer guys like KENOH have an off-putting look about them. It's sorta like whatever glamour B.S. Marufuji & Ibushi (and Tanahashi) brought to puro really rubbed off on these guys (HAYATA & YO-HEY). Masa Kitamiya doing a Masa Saito tribute and Nakajima channeling Ashura Hara is promising though. But, I looked on the NOAH roster page a moment ago and thought, "Who are these guys? and why should I watch this?" I get a very 'local independent wrestling' promotion vibe from NOAH. They have guys you know and maybe bring in big names but then have a load of guys you may be heard of or saw in a match or two that have a goofy name or look (much like Eddie Edwards early on) or complete no-names. I guess it behooves me give them a chance though. KENOH, who may look the goofiest of the bunch & has an all CAPS name, is A-OK in my book. He let his wrestling do the talking much like Edwards did in late 00's ROH. So, perhaps it's fitting that Ed lost the title to him. Changing of the guards? Maybe...who knows? Again, it would be great to see Ed in that green ring with KENOH in some shape or fashion. NOAH might be heading in a good direction. Again, who know? Good stuff and a fun little spotlight for me Thanks!!
  11. Pro Wrestling NOAH after Misawa's passing is uncharted territory to me. I know that it exists and I've even seen a little bit of it but, I tend not to wander around too long. This cluster of matches popped up because I wanted to do a brief "Shiozaki vs the Stars" post. Like most wrestling projects, I got sidetracked Here we have a sort of triple main event for NOAH's Great Voyage in Tokyo show. GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Ricky Marvin vs Katsuhiko Nakajima: 18 minutes- Nice striking, clean execution so, it was a very good match from a mechanics standpoint. The story and energy wasn't engrossing however. Nakajima worked on Ricky's leg and the Rick man sold it like death during his time on 'defense ' but, his offense was counter intuitive. If you have hurt knees then, for god sakes! Don't do a knee drop or double foot stomp! I'm not saying don't fly... 'cuz you gonna fly Ricky...but think before you leap man. Still...I liked it but, you know... :-/ Triple Crown Heavyweight Title Match: Jun Akiyama vs Taiyo Kea: 23 minutes - This was like a '99-'00 Triple Crown bout. It has a slower pace and an emphasis on telling a story. This is my preferred style for title matches. So, this starts very grapple heavy until Kea gets a cheap one in on Akiyama. The fighting begins and soon spills over to the floor. Referee Wada has something to say about this & I loved it! He & Jun were priceless! Taiyo takes the opportunity however, and puts his tri-laser Predator beam on Jun's bandaged shoulder. I'm not going to spoil anything else! This was very much a 'story match' and had me interested from bell-to-bell. The veteran pair never tried to upstage the GHC title match in the top slot. They instead just put on a Triple Crown match with a steady building pace that felt organic and never rushed. A great match! GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Go Shiozaki vs KENTA: 27+ minutes - I watched this twice in order to form a better opinion. Both guys are Kobashi protege. This is an action oriented bout where there's no greater story than, 'I'm Tough!'...'No! I'm Tough!'. Thankfully, this did not descend into aimless dueling strikes for 15 minutes. Of course, they hit each other but, in a practical and purposeful way. Go stuck to his chops and KENTA mixed it up with damn near everything else but chops! They had their spots and everything was really quite good. I long for the days when wrestlers struggled to hoist each other into throws though. Think about Misawa fighting with all his might to lift Kawada into a Tiger Driver or German suplex. These two just lifted each other with the greatest of ease deep into the fight...this detail really bugged me. Its probably what holds it back from being a classic match. If you're more interested in or familiar with 2010's puro then, you probably won't mind this- and that's cool! To me, it didn't feel right...but then again, we're watching two Kobashi kids kick butt...so maybe I am blowing hot air! Quibbles aside, this match was very much worth the time. Both guys were very impressive and the final third of the match was dramatic and brutal. A great match! So, all 3 matches were a good time with the two Heavyweight title fights being in the **** area. You may even get a bit more out of them if you're interested in newer stuff. If you're liking an older style then, the Kea-Akiyama bout might be more your speed. In any case, a sweet bit of puro for November 27th, 2011! Thanks for reading!
  12. This was really underwhelming given the sides involved. Quiet crowd and the action isn't as fun as the other multi man tag Noah matches. There was an FIP segment here with Kenta, but I would've preferred if Kikuchi was the one in the role as he's more polished at this point and a much better guy in that role than Kenta. The highlights of this for me were Kenta getting tossed out of the ring by Kanemaru and hiding going under the ring before Akiyama gets his hands on him and then hiding behind Kobashi and Rikio squashing everyone except Akiyama when he got the change to. Skippable match.
  13. This was a much, much improved version six man tag of Jun Akiyama, Kentaro Shiga, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takeshi Morishima vs. Kenta Kobashi, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, Takeshi Rikio & Kenta Kobayashi (Noah The Final Navigation 2000 12/02/00) withouth Morishima or Rikio of course. Kobashi teasing the Burning Hammer on Akiyama in a house show six man tag was interesting. The crowd was also more lively here than in that previous eight man tag and the finishing stretch here was really great. Really fun match.
  14. The final installment of my 2006 NOAH Navigation. It is pretty stacked so let’s get on with it! Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone vs Takeshi Rikio & Takashi Sugiura (11/17): To be up front, I was not excited about this match. 3 out of 4 of the guys are good only in tags or short matches so, I’m tuning in for Takeshi M. Frankly, this starts out bland as unsalted popcorn. Even the Korakuen krowd were not into this! Business eventually picks up and this is actually fun to watch. Wait a minute! This is actually something I’d recommend to fellow Morishima Maniacs…damn this just gets better & better. False Finishes & saves abound! It’s a blast! Both teams really worked their butts off to put on a great match. It wasn’t really deep or anything but, their effort really made this something special. Shinjiro Otani, Kazunari Murakami & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi (12/02): Akiyama vs Otani is dream match-up stuff to me. I’m excited. Also I’ll say that I miss Makoto Hashi. He was a tough impactful scrapper type of guy. Sort of a utility wrestler who go in any spot he needed to. I will say that I don’t miss his bouncy bosom though :I Its here in full effect but, shit he gets hardway juice from a Murakami headbutt and gets his face eliminated by Otani so, jiggle away my man! In all seriousness, this is some very nice 6 man wrestling. Once Akiyama gets in there to save Hashi, this opens up like a cheap bag of chips. Akiyama is directing rush hour traffic here and it’s wonderful. Guys are going everywhere, Hashi’s bleeding from the head and mouth- this is Sterness vs Zero-1 for sure! This never steps outside of it’s place on the card and that is a testament to Otani & Akiyama. It’s something I’d highly recommend checking out. KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (12/02): 2006 methodical surgeon, Bryan Danielson? Yes, please! Oh man it’s been awhile seeing Dragon work this style and it is a joy. He takes the reigns here and forces KENTA to restrain himself- both real and in-ring. This is brilliant because it only magnifies KENTA’s explosive ferocity. When he gets an opening, he’s like a Tasmanian Devil. That being said, this is more of a dry athletic contest than their ROH title fight in October. I could watch this forever though. It was really perfectly executed and perfectly matched competitors. For that I’d say it was a near classic encounter and should be watched right along with their others. I will say this style really shows the limitations of KENTA however. He doesn’t seems to really add much of anything different to the bout despite this being a different style. He just does his thing when he gets a chance. This is OK but, it does really show that Danielson (and Marufuji indirectly) are superior workers. Nonetheless, these two work so well together, it was just an awesome competetive match. Takeshi Morishima vs Go Shiozaki (12/10): This starts really solid with Go being like 1995 Jun Akiyama. Morishima is a generous fellow here but, that soon wears thin. Its time to show Go who’s the Tag Champ. This is over way too soon for my liking but, got the point across with both guys. Recommend this match to fans of either. Akira Taue, Mushiking Terry, Taiji Ishimori & Atsushi Aoki vs SUWA, TARU, Shuji Kondo & "brother" YASSHI (12/10): This is a fine match to show friends and loved one who are used to traditional heel/babyface dynamics. Taue is the man in this and the younger babyfaces bring all kinds of fireworks when its their time to shine. The heels are dastardly and feed the faces at just the right times. This is fun, fun stuff for non-fans and wrestler dorks alike Naomichi Marufuji vs Mitsuharu Misawa (12/10): GHC belt is on the line. A quick cardio opening shows us that not only can Misawa go but, much better than his peers (see 03/05 & 04/23 Marufuji matches). ‘Fuji baits Misawa to gain control and locks in a fierce stepover facelock. Misawa again uses his elbows to create space but, the champ is using his brain and is damn quick. He focuses in on the challenger’s legs like a laser. Naomichi is almost heelish in his ruthlessness. Misawa calls for the ref to break Marufuji on two occasions. This appeal to the official is a clear departure from the collected Mitsuharu of youth. Further, Naomichi seems to welcome the legendary elbow strikes. He’s proving that Misawa is no longer the invulnerable hero & that he IS the rightful holder of the GHC championship. Of course, our Emerald Hero finds an opening and hits back hard. He has to or this is going to be over before it begins. They’re both wounded and desperate- shit gets good! An organic, excellently executed and paced bout. The escalation of violence and the moves chosen have contextual significance. They wrestlers don’t just do things because that’s when they’re supposed to do the big moves. Additionally, the omission of some key attacks are also significant. The finish was just fantastic as well- Very reminiscent of Hansen/Kobashi 07/93 in my opinion. It felt like a struggle up until the end. And let’s be honest- that’s how it is supposed to be! The fans storm the barricades after the bell like White Walkers at Hardhome. Classic match man. Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Takashi Sugiura (12/23): GHC Jr. belt on a SEM show. SEM was (is?) like a 205 Live of NOAH shows. This is fought like a NJPW NEVER championship match. Seriously…stiff as a starched shirt, good power moves, and transitions of control based on toughness/powering through more than finding openings. Sugiura eventually has to use his Cro-Magnon brain to save himself from the Japanese Karl Pilkington Terminator. But damn if, Sugiura isn’t a beast himself. Holy Shit! No doubt this would be a 4.5-5 star match if this were in NJ today. I’ve watch a nice chunk of the G1 and this fits right alongside the touted matches from the tour. Likewise, I don’t think it was classic stuff nor even a great match on the whole. It WAS a great display of toughness & neck-death though! Highly recommended. ****** Pro Wrestling NOAH 2006 is completed in my books! Woo-hoo! It’s been one of those watch-projects that I’ve been putting off for about 3-4 years. I had seen a few matches that I really dug back then and heard about on the NOAH USA website. Plus this year was really strong in various opinion polls and boards. So, I got a few DVDs with the purpose of watching the stuff that seemed most interesting to me but, like all of us, got sidetracked. I think what was most interesting was that I realized I hadn’t seen a Misawa singles match in probably a couple years. That is so strange considering he was ubiquitous in my formative puro watching years and even in those early NOAH explorations. So, I was pleasantly surprised with his classic bouts against Morishima & Marufuji. He really still had “IT” in 2006. Unsurprisingly, Morishima & Marufuji’s stock went up with me as well. I’ve always liked them but, they had some high quality performances this year. Naomichi especially shone bright. I think his big push to be champion was well deserved despite it being so short. Takeshi Morishima had one classic singles match but, felt like the glue and future star of NOAH in 2006. KENTA is one person whose stock fell a little bit. He seemed really one dimensional. It’s a good dimension to have in pro-wrestling but, other than his match with Danielson, he didn’t show a lot of variety. This is not terrible since he frequently brings the intensity of the Sun at noon in the middle of July. Still, I would put him below Marufuji & Morishima at this point. This is a big shift in perspective for me since KENTA was near the top of my list for the 2000’s for a long time. He’s most likely top 10-15 still but, that’s still a downgrade. Also want to mention Taue & Akiyama being really fantastic as well. 2006 was about the elevation of the Marufuji, KENTA, and Morishima so, these two legends played a great supporting part in that as well as delivering some standout performances both in singles and tags. I want to see what ’07-’09 holds although probably not as in depth. I’m really interested to see Go Shiozaki develop to challenge Morishima, KENTA, & Marufuji. Sugiura gets pushed but, that seemed to be out of necessity than talent. I’m hoping that he gets a bit better in crafting his matches since he does play a big role in the GHC title later in the decade. Also, I want to see more of Taiji Ishimori. I remember not really caring for him at the time but, in today’s puro climate he’s relatively moderate. Top 5 Matches of the Year: KENTA vs N. Marufuji 01/22 KENTA vs K. Kobashi 03/05 T. Morishima vs M. Misawa 03/05 N. Marufuji vs KENTA 10/29 N. Marufuji vs M. Misawa 12/02 Biggest Letdown: N. Marufuji vs K. Kobashi 04/23 Biggest Surprises: Misawa/Akiyama vs Takayama/Sasaki 07/16 Shiozaki/Taue vs Shibata/KENTA 09/09 Morishima/Yone vs Rikio/Sugiura 11/17 2006 Akira Taue in general Big take away from this venture- 2006 NOAH is comparable to contemporary NJPW in my eyes. The crowd excitement, atmosphere & presentation may not be as slick as NJ but, the quality and style is very similar. I’ve said this in various reviews yet, I think it’s worth stating again especially coming of the 2018 G1 tournament where people raved about similar or lesser matches. Seriously…go back to NOAH 2006, it’s just as good or better.
  15. So, I decided to make this a 4 parter after all. There was way more NOAH that I wanted to watch than I thought. So, this installment will cover July to October. There's a ton of stuff at the very end of the year so, I figure that can have its own entry. Takeshi Rikioh & Takeshi Morishima vs Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA (07/16/06): This is a tremendously exciting match where they did a sprint without going over board with moves or sequences. Morishima vs. KENTA was of course the sweetest thing here but Rikioh was a good partner for him while Marufuji was um not as good as could as he could have been. He was best during the double team segments but his super complex spots were just silly in a hard-hitting match like this. It helped that Rikioh usually made 'Fuji pay for his trickiness. Once the match picked up both were pretty awesome in their roles as back-ups. A good way to get past Marufuji is to consider him as this generation's Yoshinari Ogawa: weak strikes but speedy, crafty & exciting. It harkens back to the late 80s/early 90s when you didn't need to kill the guy to have a great match. The main difference is that Marufuji indulges in the unnecessary or esoteric where Ogawa "Keeps It Simple Stupid." There are some cock-ups that keep this from being a classic encounter. The stuff with KENTA & Morishima was awesome. Great match Jun Akiyama & Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kensuke Sasaki & Yoshihiro Takayama (07/16/06): Takayama return dream match. Kensuke is filling in for the ill Kobashi. Everyone looked really good in this hard hitting, action filled NOAH big time tag match. They didn't exactly empty their tanks but, fantastic effort and nice Kobashi tribute spots helped make this a great match. 16 minutes in duration. This doesn't get the talk like the Kobashi return but, man this is still a nice dream bout. It delivers like Dominoes, fool! ...man, that's lame. Ah screw it, I'm going with it! Katsuyori Shibata & KENTA vs Akira Taue & Go Shiozaki (09/09/06): Shibata starts with Taue and gets all karate on the old timer. Taue is like, "Fuck yo' karate, man!" Yes! Akira Taue don't fake the funk, Shibata or not. This reminds me of when Baba would fight Tenryu in a 6 man match. Tenryu (like Shibata) would open a can of whoop ass on Baba...to the extent that Baba might get hurt. But! It would only turn Grandpa Baba into Badass Baba who would just hit some indignant mean ass chops and neckbreakers. So, yeah this is Taue. Everything is up in the air with this puppy. A slept on great match. 15 minutes of action. Jun Akiyama vs Naomichi Marufuji (09/09/2006): GHC belt is on the line. Spoiler in this review so, skip to end of this if you'd like to see this match. I've come to like this match a bit more than when I first saw it. I "get" 'Fuji now and the look on their faces after the bell is rung for the win is timeless. Marufuji is elated and Akiyama while upset has got a grin on his face like, "I can't believe he beat me without beating me." The thing is Akiyama in AJ held the same spot Marufuji does...the guy who got elevated quick and has to take his lumps in the ring but is damn athletic & damn talented. The ring work is mostly spots akin to a RVD/Jerry Lynn match so; it's entertaining and amazing but also not capable of "greatness." Akiyama is like Jerry Lynn in giving the match a skeleton from which to operate. It's more like, "Did you see that move? I can't believe he did that!" Still it's really fun and probably a neat way to start someone out on puroresu especially someone who's younger and wants to see wrestling instead of crud. It bit off more than it could chew at times but it's still quite good. Highly recommended KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (ROH 09/16/2006): ROH title match. This probably is the closest thing to prime 90's junior puroresu that we'll see in the United States. Both men brought everything to the match- intensity, stiffness, psychology, & pacing. The only reason it's not rated any higher is because there is some noticeable stalling, especially for the top rope moves. When put in comparison to the rest of that night's card & ROH in general, this flaw is barely noticeable. In an era where legends are fading away and style is valued over substance, it is reassuring that wrestlers like KENTA & Danielson are out there. This match had its goofy American-indy moments and the aforementioned stalling but, its greatness cannot be diminished. In a post-Baba, post-Misawa world, this is required viewing. Jun Akiyama vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (10/13/06): Jun's in his old AJ gear. This is a pretty entertaining match where Jun destroyed Kikuchi and that gravel throated bastard shows how tough he is. I'd recommend this if you're coming home after a long day at work and you wanna grab a beer, a sandwich, and some simple but, entertaining wrestling. Naomichi Marufuji vs KENTA (10/29/06): Title match ya'll. This certainly wasn't your typical NOAH main event and looked so far away from traditional AJPW it was astonishing. This style they were wrestling or maybe always wrestle with is more a derivative of Michinoku Pro or even Ring of Honor than AJPW. It's no secret that both were in the midst of their ROH touring and which direction the influence rubbed off...well, I debate that with myself sometimes. They always seem to want to go back to the spectacular spots which is unfortunately the legacy of their seniors but hopefully is not the legacy that 90's AJPW has left the wrestling world. To speak more specifically about KENTA & Marufuji, they are Junior wrestlers not apt to use deep tactics in their offense. They play with the idea but, tend to go for the high-impact moves when push comes to shove. With all of that said, this was an excellent display of skill & athleticism and even a bit of psychology. Of course, they didn't sell it once it was time to do the spots but neither did 90% of the great NJPW Jr. wrestlers. So with that in mind, like many of the great Jr. matches the work done cannot be denied it's due. Re-Watch: I'd have to say this stands up with the best Jr. matches that NJ produced. Seriously, I can only think of a couple matches that were as satisfying as this one. Granted I don't know as much about stories in NJ as I do with Noah but, from a wrestling standpoint this was pretty awesome and about as good as you can get. So, I go back to a point that I made in a post on the main page that the 2000 Juniors were more influenced by NJPW Jrs. There was a little overkill at times but they brought it back so that the finish was believable and logical. If you could shave 5 minutes of it would have been better but, as it stands it's still fantastic and one of the better matches that the 2000's had. I'd keep the rating and call it the Jr. version of Misawa/Kobashi 03/01/03. Not the BEST but, still a classic. Whew! Some heavy hitters this round! Last but not least, November and December in part 4. Thank you for reading! Hope this helps you get excited to watch wrestling.
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