Pro Wrestling Noah 20th Anniversary: Chronicle Volume 4: Struggle
Pro Wrestling NOAH 20th Anniversary: Chronicle Volume 4
Date: November 22, 2020
Location: Yokohama Arena, Yokohama, Japan
I’m going to make this very clear: this is likely to be a disaster. A commenter on a site I contribute to thought I would like to try some Japanese wrestling outside of New Japan so here I am with a 4+ hour show with only Japanese commentary and a bunch of wrestlers I don’t know. This is going to be completely based on the action and whatever I can pick up out of any videos they might have. Hold on because let’s get to it.
If it wasn’t clear, I’m coming into this completely blind and have no idea of any stories, characters or really any names save for a look at the card.
Commentary welcomes us to a mostly empty arena. I’m not sure if this is a pre-show or if there are no fans allowed but it appears to be a rather small (though good looking) arena. There are a few fans sprinkled throughout the building so I’m assuming some very limited attendance limits.
Commentary talks for a bit until one of them holds up a chart. I’m not sure what it means but it is divided into a bunch of sections with pictures of wrestlers inside. There are graphics included so I’m thinking this is a chart of stables maybe? Some of the sections have titles and the commentator moves them around, which I guess are his predictions? I’m probably wrong on all of this but this doesn’t seem to be the most serious part of the show.
We look at some clips of someone being beaten down by two people, costing him a match in the process. If the chart idea is right, this might have been someone being kicked out of a stable.
Commentary talks about the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title match and messes with the charts a bit more.
The chart is put away….and the commentator pulls out another one with a completely different set of wrestlers, belts and sections.
Here’s a tweet of a wrestler with what looks to be the female commentator.
We see a clip from two weeks ago with a champion (or at least someone holding a belt) shouting at someone down on the floor. Commentary finds this funny and that might be the main event tonight.
The female commentator holds up a sign with an M on one side and hearts on another. The M seems to be a faction logo.
Masahiro Chono says I AM CHONO.
Now it’s on to the Tag Team Title match.
I think we move onto the World Title match, which is apparently chronicled (Maybe?) in something called AXIZ Photobook.
We look at what seems to be English commentary. I bet they couldn’t work a chart like the Japanese team.
The bell rings and the lights go out, sending us to the real opening video. The main focus is GHC Heavyweight (World) Champion Go Shiozaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima, as it should be. Other matches get some attention as well.
We run down the card, I believe in the order it will air ala New Japan.
Hajime Ohara/Seiki Yoshioka/Yo-Hey/Mohammed Yone vs. Junta Miyawaki/Kinya Okada/Yasutaka Yano/Yoshiki Inamura
Oh yeah because I’ll be able to figure out eight different people. Ohara/Yoshioka/Yo-Hey are part of the Full Throttle faction. I believe it’s Ohara vs. Yano starting things off with a headlock takeover not doing much on Yano, who is right back up with a bunch of forearms. Okada comes in for a shoulder and a kick to the chest, meaning it’s Yo-Hey coming in to take Ohara’s place.
Miyawaki comes in to forearm away and runs the ropes into a wristdrag. A dropkick puts Yo-Hey down but he’s right back up with one of his own, drawing in all of his partners for the quadruple teaming. Yone comes in to knock Miyawaki silly with a forearm and drops a leg for a bonus. We hit the neck crank, with Yane spinning him around the ring for a change of pace. The Figure Four necklock sends Miyawaki over to the ropes for the break but he’s back up to slug away.
That earns him another forearm for a big knockdown but Miyawaki is back with a running elbow. The hot tag brings in Inamura (the big man on the team) to clean house, including knocking Full Throttle off the apron. Some splashes in the corner and another on the mat get two on Yane but he’s back with a kick to the face. It’s off to Yoshioka to kick away until he gets caught in a belly to back suplex. Okada comes back in for a dropkick and backbreaker, plus some shouting.
Yoshioka kicks him in the chest and then the back of the head, allowing Ohara to come back in. The STO plants him in a hurry and it’s back to Yano as everything breaks down. Everyone gets together to shoulder and suplex Okada with Yoshioka having to make a save. A double dropkick puts Inamura on the floor and Yo-Hey hits a big flip dive to send him into the barricade. Back in and Ohara puts on a kind of half crab Liontamer (pulling from underneath instead of from above) to make Yano tap at 10:39.
Rating: C+. This was fun and a nice way to open things up (thankfully with graphics, including the Twitter handles, when people came in to make things a lot easier) as starting with a bunch of people having a fast paced match is a good way to go. Yo-Hey had a lot of charisma and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was the star of the team. Rather fun opener here and the show is off to a nice start.
Haoh/Tadasuke vs. Kotaro Suzuki/Salvahe De Oriente
I think Haoh/Tadasuke are called Kongo. Oriente, who might be a mystery partner, starts with Haoh as this seems to be a junior heavyweight match. Haoh gets armdragged down to start and a dropkick puts him on the floor. Tadasuke gets double teamed and a basement dropkick sends him outside as well. Suzuki hits the big running flip dive and Haoh is sent back inside so Oriente can put on something like an Octopus hold.
Haoh comes back with something like a hurricanrana into a running kick to Suzuki’s face. It’s back to Tadasuke to run over both of them, setting up a delayed suplex to drop Suzuki. Suzuki comes back up and snaps off some strikes to the face, setting up the handspring elbow. That allows for the tag off to Oriente who hits a DDT, only to walk into one from Tadasuke. Haoh comes back in for a running headscissors, meaning it’s time for some running shots to Oriente in the corner.
Back up and Haoh tries a super hurricanrana on Oriente but Suzuki runs in with a dropkick on the way down. They seemed to mistime the heck out of that one as I had to rewind it to see what they actually did. Anyway a 619 into a Falcon Arrow drops Haoh for two, with Tadasuke making a save. Suzuki plants Tadasuke with a spinning Tombstone and Oriente gives Haoh a double underhook into double knees to the chest for the pin at 6:01.
Rating: C. This was fast paced and a fine way to keep things going. I’m going to assume that the one with the long blond hair (Tadasuke) was on the heel team here, though this felt like it was more about flying around at a pretty fast pace. You can always use a cruiserweight tag match on a show like this and it worked well enough here.
Kongo vs. Sugiura-gun
That would be Manabu Soya/Masa Kitamiya/Nio vs. Kazuyuki Fujita/Kendo Kashin/Nosawa Ronagi, because the idea of a singles match is an evil concept around here. Kongo jumps them before the bell and the beating goes straight to the floor. Back in and Kitamiya stomps on Nosawa, setting up a string of Kongo elbows. Kongo’s posing is broken up by Kashin, who gets the same treatment, but with backsplashes added in before the posing.
Soya comes in and whips Nosawa around some more, with Kitamiya coming in to help. Nosawa finally dropkicks Soya’s knee out though and the hot tag brings in Fujita to trade the big man shoulders with Soya. For some reason Soya tries to strike it out and gets beaten down like he owes Fujita money. They take turns no selling suplexes and then clothesline each other down to keep things mostly even.
Kashin comes in but gets dropkicked down by Nio, who connects with a Lionsault for two. Kitamiya and Soya come in for a running clothesline from both sides but Nio’s top rope splash hits raised knees. Back up and Kashin rolls Soya around to set up a cradle for two. With that not working, Kashin cranks on the leg to make Soya tap at 6:45.
Rating: D+. I wasn’t feeling this one as it felt like one of Sugiura trying to beat up the trio at once and then repeating the process with someone else. Kongo felt like they worked well together, but people kept coming and going from the match so much that it didn’t get to flow at all. Not terrible, but it was pretty messy.
Keiji Muto vs. Shuhei Taniguchi
Well at least I recognize him. It’s bizarre to see him as the angry old man without the pain but I think he’ll be fine. They go with the grappling to start with Muto working on a headlock but having to go to the ropes to save his arm. Muto takes a breather on the floor but comes back in…and gets taken down into a bodyscissors. That earns Taniguchi a kneebar, meaning it’s time to even up the rope breaks.
Taniguchi is back with a headlock into a chinlock to slow things down a bit. Muto slips out in a hurry but gets suplexed down, meaning it’s time to go to the apron. Another shot takes Muto down and Taniguchi starts working on the leg on the floor. Back in and Muto shows him how it’s done, with a dropkick to the knee and a dragon screw legwhip. A hanging swinging neckbreaker drops Taniguchi again and a half crab into an STF makes it even worse. Make that a Crossface, as I’m assuming Samoa Joe is a Muto fan.
The Power Drive elbow into a cross armbreaker has Taniguchi in even more trouble but he rolls to the rope, at least somewhat in desperation. There’s another dragon screw legwhip but the Shining Wizard is blocked by a forearm to the knee. Back up and Taniguchi hits an ax handle to the chest for two but Muto kicks out the knee again. They strike it out until Taniguchi hits a German suplex into a chokeslam for two.
What looked to be Punt to the arm keeps Muto in trouble and a pair of top rope splashes give Taniguchi two more. Muto is right back with another pair of dragon screw legwhips and the Shining Wizard connects. This time it’s Taniguchi up first but Muto kicks his way out of another chokeslam. A Shining Wizard to the back of the head sets up a regular version to pin Taniguchi at 13:53.
Rating: B-. Muto looked old, but there was something to the idea of him using the classic offense that got him here, even against a younger guy like Taniguchi. There is always something to be said about the old dog having one more big win in him, and given that he would win the World Title soon after this, that seems to be the story they were telling. Muto was a little repetitive in there, but what are you expecting from someone pushing 60?
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: Stinger vs. Momo No Seishun Tag
That would be Stinger (Hayata/Yoshinari Ogawa) challenging Momo No Seishun Tag (Atsushi Kotoge/Saisuke Harada) and egads I’m never going to keep this straight. I believe Harada is also the Junior Heavyweight singles champion, or at least he has another title with him. Stinger jumps the champs before the bell and Kotoge hits a Side Effect for two on Hayata. That’s enough to send Hayata to the floor but he comes back in for the slugout with Harada.
Everything breaks down in a hurry and the champs nail stereo elbows in the corner. Some running kicks put Hayata on the floor as Momo, who seem to be the faces here, are starting very fast. Stereo dives put Stinger down on the floor again and it’s Hayata being thrown back in for two. A toss into the air leaves him crashing back down so Ogawa tries his luck for a change. That means another trip out to the floor for all of two seconds, followed by Harada hitting a discus forearm back inside.
Kotoge adds a missile dropkick for two and it’s a figure four necklock over the ropes to keep Ogawa in trouble. With that broken up, Hayata comes in and it’s time to start working on Kotoge’s arm. Ogawa drives in some knees to the arm to set up a hammerlock as things slow down for the first time. The arm is wrapped around the rope so Ogawa can get in a chop, followed by Hayata’s jumping kick to the arm.
They head outside with the arm going into the barricade as the target is fairly clear at the moment. Back in and Hayata grabs the keylock so Kotoge gets a foot on the rope. Hayata puts on a short armscissors as Ogawa holds Harada back in a smart move. A rope is finally reaches and Kotoge suplexes his way to freedom. That’s not enough for the tag though as Ogawa is right back in to send the bad arm into the corner, followed by the post for a bonus. The seated armbar goes on and this time it’s Hayata cutting off Harada. Dang that is going to be a heck of a hot tag after this much build up.
Harada finally breaks free and makes the save, allowing Kotoge to score with a superkick. Kotoge comes out of the corner with a running knee and that’s enough for the hot tag off to Harada. House is cleaned with a variety of running forearms and Harada has to fight both of them off at once. Ogawa grabs the referee to block a suplex and kicks Harada down but he’s right back up with a shot to the ribs.
Harada goes up but dives into a knee low, allowing the tag off to Hayata for two off a middle rope moonsault. Hayata’s rather complicated rollup gets two but Harada catches him in a belly to back suplex. The hot tag brings in Kotage to start cleaning house (it’s rather dirty this match) but gets in a strike off with Harada.
Back up and Harada pulls him into a snap DDT for a breather but Ogawa comes in with a DDT of his own. Everything breaks down again and it’s Ogawa getting double teamed, including a kick to the head into a Samoan driver for two. Hayata gets kneed in the face and it’s a top rope elbow into a top rope splash. Kotage hits a knee to Hayata but Ogawa is right there to tie the legs up for the pin and the titles at 23:29.
Rating: B. This got the time and built up throughout, making a heck of a title match and change. I liked the ending a lot, as Ogawa didn’t really so much beat Kotage as much as he caught him, which makes sense given what they were doing here. This was the best match of the show so far by a good while and felt like a special moment with the title change. Good stuff here, as both teams were feeling it by the end.
Post match here is Sugiura-gun for what seems to be a brawl and a challenge to the new champs.
We get a video on I believe the next match. This aired earlier in the night.
National Title: Kenoh vs. Kaito Kiyomiya
Kenoh is defending and has a bunch of people in red shirts behind him (seems to be part of Kongo). They go straight to the slugout to start and trade some strikes to the face for one counts, meaning it’s an early standoff. Kaito works on a headlock and hangs on despite a top wristlock attempt. A slam into a jumping elbow has Kenoh in trouble so they head outside, where Kenoh whips him hard into the barricade. A suplex brings Kaito over the barricade and they head back inside for a reverse chinlock.
Kenoh drops some knees on the back for two but Kaito is right back with a running clothesline. A spinning middle rope shot to the face drops Kenoh again and the fans approve, though not as much when Kenoh is sent outside. The really big flip dive has Kenoh in more trouble but Kaito is down with him. Back in and Kaito’s missile dropkick gets two but a dropkick to the knee is countered into a jumping stomp to the ribs (that was sweet).
That puts them both down again but it’s Kenoh up first with a running dropkick to the back of the head. Kaito flips over to the apron and comes back in with a slingshot shoulder to the back of the knee to get creative. There’s a belly to back suplex for two but it’s time to strike it out and glare at each other a lot. An exchange of forearms goes to Kaito but Kenoh nails an enziguri to set up an ankle lock. That’s broken up so Kenoh hits some middle rope moonsault knees (freaking ow man) into a top rope double stomp for another near fall.
That means it’s time to go up again but this time, Kaito dropkicks him out of the air. Kenoh grabs a sleeper but Kaito breaks that up as well and they’re both down. A spinning kick to the head rocks Kaito but he’s right back up with a dropkick. The running knee rocks Kenoh and a German suplex drops him again. A tiger suplex gets two and Kenoh is done. Kaito slowly picks him back up but gets pulled into a sleeper with Kenoh on his back. It doesn’t take long to put Kaito down and he taps out at 19:28.
Rating: B. Another good match here with both guys feeling like they had a game plan until one of them actually worked. Kaito looked like he was trying to pick Kenoh apart while Kenoh was looking for an opening to steal a win. It was another hard hitting match where you could figure out what is going on throughout. On top of that, it was nice to have the other Kongo guys just stand there instead of get involved. They were there and then they didn’t do anything but watch. How nice is that?
We recap the Tag Team Title match. The champs were challenged and they accepted. Then we get a Masahiro Chono cameo where he shouts I AM CHONO. Again, this aired earlier.
Tag Team Titles: Sugiura-gun vs. M’s Alliance
The Alliance (Masakatsu Funaki/Naomichi Marufuji) is challenging Kazushi Sakuraba/Takashi Sugiura. The Alliance also has a woman and two older men with them and they don’t get their Twitter graphics. Chono is here with the champs (I would know those sunglasses anywhere) along with another guy not important enough to get a graphic. Funaki and Sakuraba go to the mat to start with Funaki getting the better of things, including getting a bodyscissors and trying a choke.
A cross armbreaker is countered as well so Sakuraba goes to the ropes to avoid a kneebar. Sakuraba goes for an armbar (which seems to be a big deal), sending Funaki to the ropes for a change. Back up and Funaki hits him in the face, which draws quite the gasp. Sugiura comes in to slap Funaki in the face so Funaki strikes away and grabs a rear naked choke. The ropes save Sugiura as well so it’s off to Marufuji and his shiny pants.
The MMA style ends in a hurry with a piledriver onto the apron to knock Sugiura silly. Sugiura pulls himself up for the slugout but it’s off to Funaki for some kicks in the corner. Something like a crossface chickenwing sends Sugiura to the ropes so Marufuji hits a running double stomp for two. It’s back to Funaki to strike away until Sugiura snaps off a German suplex to a very positive reaction. Sakuraba comes back in to choke Funaki but gets dropped on his head instead.
Marufuji comes back in to chop Sugiura, who is right back with a release gordbuster. A delayed superplex plants Marufuji for two as Sakuraba and Funaki fight to the floor. Marufuji grabs a short armscissors but gets reversed into a guillotine to put him in even more trouble. Funaki is back in with a chinlock to break it up (that’s kind of a new one) and Marufuji grabs Sliced Bread for two more.
Not to be outdone, Sugiura nails a spear and they’re both down for a bit. Sakuraba comes back in to knock Funaki off the apron and prevent a tag, like a good partner should. We get the big Marufuji vs. Sakuraba chop off with Marufuji kicking him down. A big kick to the face gives Marufuji two but Sakuraba is back up with a pretty nasty (and weird) leglock on Marufuji. It’s switched into a more traditional kneebar and Marufuji taps at 21:23.
Rating: B. Another good and hard hitting match with both teams feeling a lot more serious than in other matches. This definitely had more of an MMA feel to it and that made for a rather intense match. What we got here worked, though I have no idea what the deal was with Chono etc. The good thing is that it didn’t seem to mind, which is the sign of a pretty good match. Nice stuff here, again.
Post match Chono gets in the ring and orders the woman and older man who came to the ring with the Alliance to come inside. Chono yells at them but shakes the woman’s hand and they all pose. The older man tells the woman something and she slaps Chono in the face. The two of them leave but Chono poses with the champs and seems rather pleased. More posing ensues.
We recap the main event, which seems to involve challenger Katsuhiko Nakajima winning a competition of some sort to become #1 contender. Go Shiozaki seems ready for the challenge.
GHC Heavyweight Title: Go Shiozaki vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
Shiozaki is defending and Nakajima (I believe part of Kongo) sits on the turnbuckle during the Big Match Intros. They start rather slowly as we see Shiozaki’s taped up shoulder. Nakajima is backed into the ropes for a clean break, complete with a hard stare. A charge into the corner sends Nakajima bailing to the floor for a breather as they seem to have a lot of time here.
Back in and Shiozaki hits a flying shoulder for the first big knockdown and a chop gives him the second. Another missed charge lets Nakajima score with a superkick in the corner though and it’s time to choke on the apron. Shiozaki blocks a kick though and snaps off an exploder suplex, with Nakajima landing head first on the apron for the terrifying crash. Kongo checks on Nakajima and thankfully he gets back inside.
Nakajima manages to knock him outside for a needed breather and a running kick from the apron drops Shiozaki again. There’s a hard whip into the barricade and Shiozaki makes it worse by chopping the post. Back in and….they head outside all over again so Nakajima can wrap the bad arm around the barricade. The arm goes into the post and Shiozaki has to dive back in to beat the count. Nakajima kicks at the arm some more and the seemingly not that bright Shiozaki uses the bad arm to chop.
This manages to put Shiozaki down and the cross armbreaker has him getting straight to the rope. Back up (as we are somehow fifteen minutes into this) and Shiozaki hits a boot in the corner, followed by a middle rope shoulder. The rapid fire chops (with the bad arm) set up a clothesline for two and a fisherman’s buster gets the same. Nakajima manages an abdominal stretch but Shiozaki makes the rope and comes back with a hard clothesline. Another clothesline drops Nakajima again and they both need a breather.
They get up and chop it out again with Shiozaki starting to Hulk Up. Shiozaki’s chops stagger Nakajima, who comes right back with some hard kicks to the chest. You can see Nakajima’s chest breaking up and they trade suplexes, with Shiozaki getting the better of things. They get back up for another strike off but you can feel the energy going down. It’s Nakajima bending first this time off a big chop but he says bring it on and they pick up the pace until an exchange of strikes put both of them down again.
Back up again and Nakajima hits some superkicks, only to have Shiozaki hit something like a suplex into a Rock Bottom. Nakajima gets smart by taking him down into a seated armbar, which he switches into a cross armbreaker with Shiozaki’s other arm trapped underneath. That’s countered as well so Shiozaki goes up, earning himself a spinwheel kick to the face.
Nakajima’s super hurricanrana is blocked but they nearly crash to the floor anyway. Another whip sends Shiozaki into the barricade but he bounces back with a hard lariat to put them both down on the floor. Back in again and Shiozaki hits a spinning slap to the head and something like an arm trap belly to back gets two. The moonsault hits raised knees and Nakajima kicks him in the head for a rather dramatic knockdown.
Something close to a Punt knocks Shiozaki even sillier and Nakajima rains down hard forearms. The referee checks on Shiozaki but he pulls himself up, only to get brainbustered back down for two. Nakajima can’t believe the kickout and somehow Shiozaki manages a cobra clutch suplex.
There’s another lariat for two on Nakajima and now the moonsault connects, but Shiozaki bangs up the arm so the delayed cover is only good for two. Another lariat drops Nakajima again and he looks a little spent. Yet another lariat gets two, with Nakajima needing the ropes for the save. Shiozaki is just done with this and picks Nakajima up for a standing lariat to retain at 42:40.
Rating: A-. The word that kept coming to my mind here was “struggle”. This felt like a fight until one of them could no longer stand up and that made for a heck of a showdown. The exchange of strikes with both of them slowly being broken down got me pulled into the match and Shiozaki came off like the one who survived in the end. The arm being used so much was a bit much, but other than that, this was a heck of a fight and I wanted to see how it was going to end.
Post match we get a staredown between I believe Kazushi Sakuraba and Kenoh from earlier but they both leave. A guy in a black shirt stays and seems to praise Shiozaki, which the fans appreciate. Shiozaki says something and they shake hands, with the guy in the black shirt leaving. I believe Shiozaki thanks the fans and shouts NOAH a lot to wrap it up.
Commentary talks for a few minutes to wrap up the show.
Overall Rating: A-. This didn’t start off great but they hit a stride and got into a heck of a groove a little over halfway through. The action was mostly awesome and while I have almost no idea what is going on here (though I could get the gist of things through the videos), I had a good time with a show which didn’t feel as long as it was. Noah isn’t exactly the top level promotion, but this was a very good show with all kinds of action. The main event was a blast, which doesn’t surprise me given what I’ve seen from Shiozaki before. Rather awesome show here, assuming you can find it.
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