Saturday, August 20, 2011

You Had Me At Goodbye #1: NOAH 1/15/11

Brian: I came up with the idea to do this project. Back in the day, Jessie and I liked stuff from Japan, but besides the random Highspots or RF Video mail order, we didn't get to see a whole lot of it. Nowadays we're able to essentially follow it as it transpires a la mainstream American product, etc. with advances in technology and resourcefulness. We all thought it'd be an interesting company to tackle in watching their entire output for a year as a big talking point in the Internet wrestling world is that puroresu is effectively dead. Many write it off almost entirely without actively watching any of it to form such a damaging opinion. We figured instead of agreeing with popular opinion and trends we'd actually watch every second of it and come to our own conclusions. That project begins... now!

Jess: Whenever we used to make tape orders from Highspots, or any number of places on the web, NOAH was always my go to fed, for big shows (the double tape order) Take any number of factors (loss of TV, Misawa’s passing, legends being hurt, not making new stars) and it would seem as if you can just write NOAH off completely, as many on the web have. But sometimes when people are at their lowest they fight even harder. Time for us to find out if that’s true here.

Adam: NOAH was the first Japanese fed I ever really followed on a regular basis. My love affair with them started back at their peak in ’05 when I saw the Joe vs. Kobashi match from ROH and then KENTA and Naomichi Marufuji on ROH Final Battle ’05. During this time, whenever I would go to ROH shows in the area, I would pick up the latest NOAH commerical release they had and would also constantly follow their activity on the NOAH US website. Myself, Brian, and a few others had the opportunity to see some of the top NOAH guys such as KENTA, Takeshi Morishima, and Go Shiozaki live in Dayton on an ROH show in ’07 and Brian, Jessie, and a host of other made a trip to Philly to see Misawa live later that year. Now, it seems as if NOAH has fallen on hard times and has been left for dead by most internet scribes who trash current puro. Henceforth, in the coming weeks and months we feel it is our duty to clue everyone in on what they are missing out on in 2011 NOAH … starting in 3…2…1…NOW!

Pro-Wrestling NOAH - "THE FIRST NAVIGATION 2011"
Jan., 15, 2011
Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium
3,400 Fans

#1: Akira Taue, Yutaka Yoshie [Freelance] & Ricky Marvin vs. Masao Inoue, Taiji Ishimori & Masashi Aoyagi - B: 3 J: 3 A: 3

Brian: So it begins like this! Each team has a flier, a geriatric, and a wild card (in this case a meathead and a doughboy). Aoyagi needs better detergent -- his pants are more faded than Mike Awesome's suicide note. Inoue's strikes are weaker than the script for White Chicks. Taue's tweaking Masao's nipples during an abdominal stretch with all the unspoken intent of an elderly man checking out a nurse's ass in a retirement home. Man, Home Alone would have been so different if it was more like reality and the burglars would have just stepped over the toy cars and marbles and killed the little boy. The right guy went over. Kind of your stock opener but while never boring never got too engaging either.

J: I actually think this was better than most openers from the past. The pairings they came up with actually enhanced what is usually a nothing match. Granted, as you said, Inoue as well as Yoshie’s strikes were as gentle as a summer breeze and looked like they hurt as much as stepping on a saltine with bare feet but I can’t discount the sickening splat Yoshie’s top rope splash made. Taue’s appearance fluctuates, he now looks younger than he did in 2007 but much older than in 2010? The juniors helped the flow too.

A: Since NOAH was the only Japanese fed I followed on a regular basis, I have a general idea of who everyone is and don’t have to look these things up. Taue, the old, arthritic, lumbering giant seemed more content with the idea of doing mainly “tittie twisters” than anything else. Marvin and ishimori, representing the juniors divison (no, not that shitty juniors divison on Smackdown back years ago) easily were the ones who saved this from being just a complete waste of time, and bumped it up a point alone based on their in-ring action.

#2: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Genba Hirayanagi vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima [Kensuke Office] & Kento Miyahara [Kensuke Office] - B: 4 J: 3 A: 3

Brian: The NOAH boys were downright mean to the Kensuke Office chaps, including dragging Nakajima out to the floor, removing the mat, and giving him a DDT on the concrete. The story is simple and direct: this is our turf, bitch. If Kanemaru wants to wrestle on the middle of the card for the rest of his life he feels that's his inalienable right. Then it's time for Nakajima to kick out the jams like MC5 minus the protopunk baggage. Genba nearly died eating a Katsuhiko kick while up on Kento's shoulders. Fun stuff, and really, better than your average 6 min. Miz TV bout so I'm already prepared to tell the naysayers to eat a whole bag of fudge-covered dicks.

J: Favorite thing of the match was the outside mauling of Nakajima. More of Kanemaru’s inner dialogue “Kensuke picked your punk ass as his protégé? Wrong move, man.” Best selling of Nakajima the whole match was outside. Besides that, I didn’t feel the hate in the ring.

A: I liked the fight on the outside as well and the stomps on Nakajima from the NOAH contingent were really stiff. I found myself more engrossed in the Kensuke Office team than the NOAH team and they brought a good energy, where as the NOAH guys just seemed to be resting on their laurels. The kick that Brian mentioned that Genba nearly broke his neck on was pretty insane as well.

#3: Kotaro Suzuki & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Eddie Edwards & Bobby Fish - B: 3 J: 3 A: 3

Brian: Maybe watching this at 3AM after my toddler's middle of the night wake-up as he rocks dazedly in his swing as Oobi plays on the TV wasn't the best time. I think the other reason I found it ineffectual is I've recently seen a lot of last year's NOAH Junior Heavyweight Tag League stuff and this doesn't hold up well in comparison. Edwards' partner in that was Roderick Strong who felt a more natural fit as Fish is sort of banal and white-bread. The finish was the sort of trickery that rarely comes across smooth.

Jess: Good call on Fish; he’s completely bland and thought it was funny at one point he tries to pump the crowd up into his comeback but he doesn’t go all the way with it and looks like a guy talking to himself. Nobody brought much in this match, I kept waiting for someone to show some intensity and it was just guys’ going through the pace. Ogawa looked the sharpest actually.

A: I dug the nearfall off a moonsault by Fish, but other than that, he looked like he should’ve been vaccuum sealed, frozen, and sold by Gorton’s. Edwards’ kicks and strikes were the best out of everyone. Have to agree with Jess, nobody here really went all out.

#4: < 3 Big Singles Match Series -1 > Takeshi Morishima vs. Mohammed Yone - J: 5 B: 4 A: 5

Jess: So all NOAH pundits say Morishima is the biggest disappointment for this promotion, as he was to be the guy that carried them to glory. This was a step back in that direction. Yone is known for crazy hair, pudgy cheeks and stiff elbows, all which were on display here but Mori never backed off his attack. I generally loved his succession of huge moves at the end to get the duke.

Brian: These guys were hitting each other so hard I was waiting for someone to get knocked loopy and start stumbling around like a drunk trying to C-Walk. I did not know Mohammed had a flying legdrop off of the top in his repertoire but it was hot. Yone does some of the best dazed selling anywhere, his face after taking the match-ending Backdrop Driver was akin to someone being unceremoniously woken up in study hall by a loud sound.

A: Two giant bruisers just pounding the shit out of each other describes this perfectly. Yone was selling Morishima’s stuff like he’d had one two many at the sushi bar the night before. Morishima not only looked as if he’d lost some weight, it looked like he has returned to his past ways of just dropping people on their head and not caring. An absolutely great back drop driver capped this one off much to my enjoyment. Found the middle section a little slow though.

#5: < 3 Big Singles Match Series - 2 > Takuma Sano vs. Kensuke Sasaki [Kensuke Office] - J: 6 B: 6 A: 5

Jess: These two dudes look tired; you think that stopped them from wrecking each other’s weeks? Hell no. Kensuke’s Twilight hair looks odd as he absorbs huge amounts of punishment; started thinking maybe he had diamond skin too. Sano looks like a gremlin, honestly but his back kicks were just as careless and nasty as in ’90 when pounding Liger into the mat. These guys sort of worked a bigger match feel into this, with any number of clotheslines or kicks seemingly signaling the end. One thing I was disappointed about was Sano takes this gnarly Olympic throw onto the ground outside but camera positioning ruined the shot; which sucked even more because he was out of it for a good long time. Sasaki’s arm must have felt like a stick of licorice after this match but I really enjoyed the fight.

Brian: I liked the opening chop/kick/strike battle as it established them as near equals in that respect. Also loved Sano rebounding off of the metal guardrail like, "You've got me pissed now!" charging at Kensuke who simply caught him and poweslammed him on the floor for his hubris. Sano's double foot stomp from the top is the reason Agamemnon went to Troy. The second and third ones were just the cherry on top the sundae, or in my case, the maraschino cherry on top of my Cherry Coke whenever I go to Red Lobster. I love in NOAH you still see a lot of the roster crouching down at ringside cheering on the competitors, nice to see guys like Inoue and Genba reacting to nearfalls, etc. This match was a treat like if they announced a new season of Feasting on Asphalt.

A: Can’t say that I liked this as much as my two colleagues but it was still a rather good match. Sano’s double foot stomps were completely insane, especially the first one that Kensuke sold like his intestines had just exploded. The powerslam on the outside was pretty wild as well. I was expecting a big epic finish but didn’t get it. The strikes, chops, and kicks from both guys were on the money though. Speaking of which, Sano’s elbows late in the match directly to Kensuke’s jaw made him wobble like a stationary heavy bag when you kick it really damn hard.

#6: < Jun Akiyama Return Match > Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Go Shiozaki & Shuhei Taniguchi - J: 7 B: 6 A: 6

Jess: I actually really dug this. Akiyama’s comeback and it’s more like his funeral. Both his opponents are vicious against him and he leaves the match with a chest redder than Candido’s the first time he slayed Sunny on her “special time of the month.” Saito also stepped up; know there’s a lot of residual guilt on his conscience for the role he played in Misawa’s tragic death but he seems to be able to let it go because he drops Go on his head repeatedly. This got a good amount of time too, what did you guys think?

Oh, ps. Finish was best decision

Brian: I'm glad to see Akiyama back as I've been a fan for a decade or so now. Jessie wasn't kidding, Jun takes more shots than Ted Nugent at a firing range. His chest was more bruised and bluer in color than the prehensile tongue of an okapi. You don't count out Akiyama, though, man's tougher than Jessie's dad's homemade deer jerky. It may have been Saito's suplex that killed Misawa but its his hairstyle that kills good taste. Shiozaki deserves some frequent flier miles as he was soaring off of a few Saito suplexes. Shuhei's dead-lift German suplex looked like a Jenga tower slowly toppling over. Go was chopping Jun down like a tree which called to mind Earl Sinclair's job for the WESAYSO Corporation on Dinosaurs. I guess that'd make Taue B.P. Richfield then since he owns the place. Go winning with the Go Flasher on Akiyama, well, not sure if I entirely agree with Jessie, albeit can't really argue that it wasn't the most fitting ending, either. I assumed Taniguchi would do the job to the returning vet since he's lowest on the totem pole. Good stuff overall, physical, kept me guessing, had the crowd hot, etc.

A: Akiyama definitely bore the wounds of war. His eyebrow got split open courtesy of the ringpost and by the end of the bout his chest was as red as Gatorade Fruit Punch. Saito was delivering lariats like he was swinging for the fences in a tryout for the Yomiuri Giants. I loved the exchange between Akiyama and Taniguchi which culminated in the aforemention ringpost spot. Not to be outdone though, the exchange near the end with Akiyama and Shiozaki, with Go’s chops echoing like gun shots across the arena, was even better. I would’ve preferred Akiyama going over in the end since it was his return match but overall I rather enjoyed this.

#7: < 3 Big Singles Match Series - 3 > Yoshihiro Takayama [TAKAYAMA-DO] vs. KENTA - J: 7 B: 7 A: 7

Jess: Fuck it, another 7. KENTA actually just beat Takayama’s ass like his name was Don Frye for the first portion of this. That being said, got a little hard to swallow. Takayama wasn’t even pretending to fight back just taking punishment so it looked quite cohesive. But once this thing turned into the next gear, it got brutally stiff. At one point they were just punching each other in the face like Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Robots. Some really nasty suplexes as well that garnered some good near falls. Gave you an old school NOAH feel.

Brian: I dig this pairing and while this isn't their best match together it was full of more pain than falling down the Great Smokey Mountains. Takayama's face looks like a roadkill possum. I dropped a pizza on the kitchen floor the other night and it exhibited more grace. I loved KENTA trying to wail on Yoshihiro's casserole face and Takayama just drilling him with a grotesque headbutt. I love this sort of barbaric battle.

A: I was expecting this to go a bit longer but at the rate they were assaulting each other, there was no way this was going past 20 minutes. First thing I thought was “why isn’t Takayama fighting back?” Eventually, when he started fighting back, he just destroyed KENTA with a flurry of suplexes and stiff knees. I’m surprised that no one else dug KENTA’s double stomp to the floor. Looked better than Sano’s during his match with Kensuke Sasaki. This was everything you could expect from a singles bout between these two.

#8: < GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title > Naomichi Marufuji & Atsushi Aoki © vs. Momo no Seisyun Tag (The youth tag of the peach?) {Atsushi Kotoge [Osaka Pro] & Daisuke Harada [Osaka Pro]} - J:4 B: 5 A: 5

Jess: Could be biggest disparity of the show but this felt being dropped in the desert from a helicopter, told to find your way out and the only path you can walk goes in a circle. No I didn’t just describe an episode of Man v. Wild or a Cormac McCarthy novel. It just felt like they were working despite themselves here. Nothing really built up, nor did I ever come close to popping for any big spot or sequence. Never got into this.

Brian: Marufuji did a powerbomb on Kotoge on the floor but put him down as gently as you would a good book. The Osaka Pro boys had what I thought was a really stellar showing in this year's Chikara King of Trios weekend. I loved Harada hitting an overhead belly-to-belly release suplex on Marufuji into the corner on a seated Aoki. Naomichi's hair resembles the doormat at an Arby's. The Osaka squad were busting out the double-teams, but if one thing, Aoki's ugly, and if two things, also resilient. Aoki was eating savate kicks like he was devouring them for Man v. Food Nation. Even though my score's only slightly higher, unlike Jessie, I actively enjoyed this. Aoki busted out the Assault Point for the finish.

A: Unlike the junior heavyweight stuff earlier in the show, this was actually pretty stellar. I thought the floor powerbomb that Brian referenced was rather good. The Osaka Pro boys really had a good showing here, busting out double team moves and kicking their opponents into oblivion. Kotoge during introductions looked like a nervous high schooler about to go out on his first date but I’ll give him props, boys got some mad skills. Not sure who got the worst of the big Spanish Fly move but I do know that it looked better than Sin Cara’s. The nearfalls were quite good too but they weren’t quite enough to push it up to the recommended level, but it was very close.

#9: < GHC Heavyweight Title > Takashi Sugiura © vs. Bison Smith - J:5 A: 5 B: 7

Jess: not really a fan of either guy but there’s too much death going on to not give this a good score. Match has no pace really it’s just a collection of big , nasty shit. And these guys really do eat their own faces several times from being dropped so violently on their necks. Some early sequences looked weak esp. Suguira’s spear that almost appeared to be a friendly family hug. But there was some gnarly bumps in this, maybe not quite on the level you’d find on the Best of Necro Butcher in Japan tape but close. Finish took forever to setup and looked soooo cooperative but it could have caused another serious earthquake in Japan with it’s impact. Could see others recommending for the style they ran with here though.

A: The fight in the crowd at the outset was rather fun and those chairs didn’t give much either. Case in point Sugiura taking two giant bumps on them. Saito’s hairstyle is reasonable compared to Smith’s. I want to know what drunken barber school drop-out thought that was a good idea. I found the majority of the in-ring work to be rather bland, with the exception of Sugiura getting thrown rather rudely into the corner. I liked the ankle lock attempt but Smith seemed so unemotional reaching for the ropes while he was locked in it. That finishing move was sick and I think I felt my couch rattle from its impact.

Brian: Am I the only one who wish we could have gotten more out of Bison's ROH run? Who booked that shit? Never mind. Smith is essentially doing Mike Awesome's shtick just better. Smith's landing off an Olympic Slam onto a row of chairs was about as good as Flair's in that plane crash. I wonder if Ric sold that? He probably just popped up amid the fiery wreckage in a fucking cornfield somewhere and started strutting and dropping elbows onto vegetation. Sugiura usually has short, bristly hair, but his dirty blonde mop-top here makes him look like Tony Hawk circa '89. He just needs a pink Powell Peralta t-shirt. Smith has more of a chance of his kids winning a lottery to get into a charter school than the GHC championship. The poewrbomb Takashi ate into the corner was so ill. This was way too stiff and fun to not recommend guys. I haven't seen someone having such meaty shots land on their head and face since Brett Rogers' wife.

1 comment:

Geo said...

Nice rev. God, I loved Takayama vs. KENTA. So stiff!