This is the first NOAH show i've seen that wasn't a Dome show, it's a much smaller arena with a short stage, probably only 12 foot long and a more intimate setting, felt very house show like, house lights on the ring only.
1) Kentaro Shiga & Masaji Aoyagi v. Tamon Honda/ Mitsuo Momota- 2
The Seniors tour is out first (sidenote: I recently saw Aoyagi get his ass handed to him by Lyger in a "shoot" fight, fun stuff). I can completely forgive the fact that these guys are elderly but are still going out there and competing, laying in some shots here and there, running the ropes at a near crawl and no-selling half the shots they get, doesn't mean I can recommend the match to anyone though. No spitting spots, just some old men slapping tits on each other. No highlights to speak of here.
2) Kotaro Suzuki & Ricky Marvin v. Yoshinobu Kanemaru/ Gemba Hirayanagi- 4
Marvin is fun to watch and brought the stiffness more than the other 3 men here, snapping off kicks left and right. He kept the pace fast as well, but slowed down when anyone else was in. Hemba was a submission guy, locking in holds left and right which made for an interesting dynamic against the other team. He pulled off a suicide dropkick to the floor, ala Benoit in his New Japan days. Kanemaru continues to not stand out, even if he is a solid in-ring performer. The finish got real messy while trying to work near falls and pin breaks with guys swarming in and out to no real rhyme or reason, it hurt the score of the match.
3) Nigel McGuiness v. Junji Izumida- 4
A great example of how far Nigel has come since 2001 or so when me and the guys used to go watch him in Springdale working the HWA showcase with a porky redneck woman as his manager. Junji' s not far off from her figure, but they work a fairly entertaining match and I think the credit can go to Nigel. He has quite a few fans in the crowd as well. Great forearm exchanges from both guys and Nigel goes to work on his arm/elbow quite early on and keeps attacking it, but Junji isn't really paying attention to the sell of it. Nigel uses his spiked hair as an offensive weapon during the comedy portion of the match and there are some decent near falls that lead up to a trip to London' s Dungeon. Like I said, loved Nigel's subtlety in setting up the finishing submission hold. Fun little match here.
4) Takeshi Morishima/ Mohammed Yone v. Takashi Sugiura/ Ippei Ota- 5
Morishima shows how much seasoning he's gained from his ROH exposure and becomes the force behind this match. Every time he gets in he steps up the intensity and gets the crowd back. Yone has more experience but is pretty bland as a performer, strikes are okay but he doesn't pull off his move set as well as you would hope until the finish, where he pretty much feeds off of Mori's momentum. Opposition are pretty okay as well, Ota being the more vibrant. This feels like a squash in some parts, but Morishima works some great big man stuff with Ota where he keeps going for suplexes on the big man and finally hits a few which Mori sells like Vader, big huge bumps for all when it wasn't called for. This match is also fun and picks up near the end with more excitement than anything else on this show. Keep seeing the same spots where one guy gets kept outside in a brawl while the other two finish the match.
5) Mitsuharu Misawa/ Yoshinari Ogawa/ Taiji Ishimora v. Bryan Danielson/ Raptor/ BJ Whitmer- 5
This was an interesting match that really didn't materialize into expectations. Ishimora was a workhorse here, and has shown tons of potential over the last few years. He geled well with both Danielson & Raptor who was a muscular high flyer in a mask- kind of thought he might be that Jason Cross who did some TNA X division stuff back in '03. He played babyface martyr very well, selling enthusiastically even with mask on and busting out some cool high flying stuff. Danielson and Ogawa worked several well timed and crisp sequences and the best Ogawa has looked in NOAH that I"ve seen. Misawa and BJ played the Gunslinger roles of the heavy hitters, yet neither were effective, Misawa barely participating in the match, except for a few spots and BJ not really beating anyone up just playing transition guy on the gaijins offense. The match ended with the same "everyone brawl outside while two guys do the finish" spot that has been all over this show and was the only Danielson v. Misawa interaction, some sloppy forearms. Decent action but not memorable.
6) Bison Smith/ Akitoshi Saito v. Akira Taue/ Masao Inoue- 2
Wow......what is this? This match didnt' even feel like it was on the same show, nonetheless a NOAH show. This felt more like it belonged in a high school gym in Skokie run by a couple toothless good old boys. Inoue and Saito worked the majority of the match and they both struggled to simply sell. Bison belongs in a pasture somewhere, not in a wrestling ring. He feigned so many shot and was blantantly obvious about it, this looked like a community theater trying to put on a production of "Kickboxer." Taue looked eerily like Baba and only came in twice, but actually sold very well and was bringing the stiff with his shoulderblocks. The rest of this diahrrea dump was lazy and uninspired. Same battle outside the ring while two guys finish the match spot and it's really getting old. Saito tried a clothesline near fall at the end and his arm looked like a soggy macaroni noodle. IF YOU CAN'T FUCKING DO A CLOTHESLINE IN JAPAN, GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE INDUSTRY! This couldn't lift Fujiwara's old pruney dick.
7) Jun Akiyama/ Takeshi Rikio/ Atsushi Aoki v. Yoshihiro Takayama/ Takuma Sano/ Akihito Ito- 5
I like the dynamic to this match, the natural order of things is for the two juniors to start the match out, Aoki and Ito, they were fast paced and had some cool reversals, obviously knew each other. Then, Sano and Rikio come in, your lower tier heavys and do some big man spots, and you build up to your top guys in the match, Akiyama and Takayama who never tangled for very long. There were several things going on here: some comedy early on where Sano held both Rikio and Akiyama in leg vices where the other guy would try and help to break the hold, but everytime they kicked Sano, it put more pressure on their partner's leg. Jun was especially whimsical with his pissed off look when he was getting strecthed. Then you had Akiyama and Takayama both brutally punishing the young boys in the match, Takayama just kicking the snot out of Aoki every chance he got, stomping his face and such. And Jun making it look effortless to knock the beejezus out of Ito with heavy clotheslines. We had the same token two guys in ring finish match thing again while the other ones brawl errantly outside. Does every tag match end like this? Did I miss something during the last 20 years? Well, good finish anyways and all 6 guys showed intensity and kept the match very competitive.
8) Naomichi Marufuji / KENTA v. Kenta Kobashi/ Tsuyoshi Kikuchi- 7
Here's our main: This is Kikuchi's 20th year in the ring and he gets a nice celebration before the match. There is a lot going on here, the match runs nearly 35-40 minutes. KENTA is the freakin' star of this match and this show. He really makes it a worthy main event by working really hard, taking tons of punishment and just being a true warrior in the ring. He and Kikuchi have many exchanges during this long match, where the vet holds his own for the most part. KENTA explodes so many kicks on both he and Kobashi's chests and heads, i'm surprised they didn't detonate at one point. Kobashi's offense is off and on, mostly relying on chops and my god were they just as devastating as always. All of the stuff out of the ring was pretty tame (ddt on ramp, messy brawling) and the biggest problem was the structure of the match, as in it basically had none. A guy would take a beating then come back to give one moments later, so the ebb and flow was really off. That being said, it got pretty intense as it neared it's climax. KENTA got worked over for quite a bit, with Marufuji playing heel role of not wanting to get in ring unless a guy is down. Kobashi was sort of treated more like the star and bigger threat and kind of took over the spotlight of the match in several moments, one where he was being brutalized by both opponents but tried to stage a comeback. A ton of near falls near the end, which both excited and pissed me off: KENTA and Kikuchi were brought back in at the end for basically a singles match, trading kicks and forearms and reversing moves with passion and fire leading to KENTA cleanly pinning the legend, in a great way to put someone over, with a Go to Sleep that induces comas, the Out for Justice Steven Segal kind, but on the outside, Kobashi and Marufuji took turns holding each down or headlocking the other near the apron as their partners tried to pick up the win. Stuipd thing was as each guy's partner got the advantage inring, they traded it outside, but with no real brawl or anything, just grabbing the guy and trying to hold him down like a big brother would do. Really dumb to have that colliding with the awesome in-ring work going on for the finish.
All in all, not a very good show, especially by NOAH standards, did feel very much like a house show.