Written by: Colin Rinehart
NOAH NOAHful Gift in Differ Ariake 12/24/10
December 24th, 2010
Differ Ariake Arena, Tokyo, Japan
This is part of the annual show that NOAH holds every year on Christmas Eve. It’s usually just a minor show with lots of filler, but for the sake of the completist in me I’m reviewing it anyways. There is a solid main event though in Koji Kanemoto and Tiger Mask IV defending the GHC Jr. Tag titles against Naomichi Marufuji and Atsushi Aoki tonight.
Akira Taue vs. Takashi Okita
Taue comes out to the ring with a Santa hat on, throwing gifts of some kind into the crowd before the match. Lockup to start and Okita pinches Akira’s nipples. Well that’s not how you treat the Japanese Santa Claus. Okita tries to grab Akira’s hand for a knuckle-lock test of strength, but he’s too short. Pure comedy stuff here and that’s really usually what these holiday NOAH shows are, a more light-hearted affair. Okita tries a full nelson lock for awhile but Taue is just playing with him, and hits a weak boot into the corner. Taue returns the nipple-twister from earlier and this match just needs to hurry up and end. Suplex gets Okita a two count. Okita goes for a sunset flip but Taue just sits on him and gets the abrupt 3 count at 6:54. Just a nothing comedy match to start the show off, quick and inoffensive for the most part. ½*
Taiji Ishimori/Ricky Marvin/Ronin vs. Kento Miyahara/Satoshi Kajiwara/SUGI
Ronin and SUGI are two masked youngsters visiting from AAA and both have great ring attire. Throwing in some AAA guys with some of the leftover junior heavyweights should result in a pretty fun match here hopefully. SUGI immediately starts getting worked on by Ronin, Marvin, and Ishimori, all three men trading quick tags. Miyahara tags in and he and Ishimori trade wristlocks while Ronin and SUGI begin brawling on the outside of the ring by the ramp. SUGI gets bodyslammed on the rampway by Ronin while Miyahara works an armbar on Ishimori inside the ring. Back inside Ishimori tags in Marvin who delivers a series of dropkicks for a two count before tossing him to the outside. On the other side of the ring SUGI springboards off the top rope into a hurricanrana to the floor on Ronin! Damn those two are great. Big running dropkick from the ramp gets Marvin a two back in the ring. Big springboard hurricanrana-superkick combo from Marvin on Miyahara gets him another close two. SUGI tags in and hits a 619, and then springboards into a tornado DDT for two. HUGE tilt-a-whirl backbreaker practically breaks SUGI in half. Ronin tags in now and simply tosses SUGI into the air and then powerslams him for two. Crowd is pretty dead here even by Japanese standards, which kind of sucks because the action is good. Big double-stomp off the top from Marvin on SUGI, and Ronin follows with an awkward frog splash for two. Things break down outside the ring as Ronin hits some sort of Go 2 Sleep-suplex combination that makes me do a double take, and then SUGI comes back and takes his head off with a kick. Guys are just coming in and out of the ring as they please at this point, hitting high spots on eachother. Frankensteiner off the top from Marvin, then both he and Ishimori moonsault out of the ring onto Miyahara and Kajiwara. Sugi hits a springboard dropkick from one side of the ring to the other and then hits the old Rey Mysterio springboard hurricanrana-pin combination for the win at 13:56. Crowd does not care, at all, and it completely drained the life out of a match that had very good in-ring work put into it by all six men. Ronin and SUGI looked awesome, but nobody cared. **¾
Yoshinobu Kanemaru/Mohammed Yone vs. Yoshinari Ogawa/Kentaro Shiga
Kanemaru is just coming off of dropping the GHC Jr. title to Kentaro Suzuki three weeks ago. Kanemaru and Shiga start us off with a nifty armdrag-wristlock exchange. Headscissors for Kanemaru and he attempts t choke Shiga out with the strength in his legs to no avail. Ogawa tags in and he does a hot sequence with Kanemaru before Yone tags in. Shiga comes back in and hits a few elbows on Yone for a two count. Kanemaru tags back in with a slingshot splash for a two count. All four men begin brawling outside the ring and Kanemaru get’s racked on the steel post. Back in the ring Yone gets a two count on Shiga with a legdrop. Yone slams on a headlock, reminding me of why I hate him so much. Kanemaru tags back in and slaps a camel clutch on Shiga for a bit now, following up with forearms and knee strikes. All four men are in the ring now and Ogawa hits a bit Saito suplex on Yone for a two count. Kanemaru tags in now and hits a headscissors/body press combo for two on Ogawa. Shiga tags in and starts laying in knee strikes to Kanemaru’s mid-section, followed by a pumphandle slam for a two count. Eventually Kanemaru gets a backslide combination for the win at 11:36. This just felt kind of flat, not much heat or rhyme or reason to the whole thing and I simply can’t stand Yone. *¾
Kotaro Suzuki vs. Genba Hirayanagi
The GHC Jr. title, which Suzuki won a few weeks back for the second time, is not on the line here for some reason. They fight right to the floor almost immediately and begin brawling into the crowd. Hirayanagi dominates Suzuki for a bit, tossing him around back in the ring with a powerbomb. Hirayanagi works a bow-and-arrow submission on Suzuki’s back while his chest is in the corner, and then gives him two big t-bone suplexes. They fight back outside again very deep into the crowd, where Suzuki gets bodyslammed on the concrete. They’re fighting near a door now and Suzuki get’s shoved into a room, apparently being locked in by Hirayanagi. Genba runs into the ring and tries to get the count-out win, but Suzuki runs in at the last second, which prompts Hirayanagi to grab a chair from outside and slam it into Suzuki for the DQ at 6:40. Wow, that was completely and utterly pointless in every way. What a bizarre six minutes of wrestling this was. ¾*
KENTA/Go Shiozaki/Akitoshi Saito vs. Yoshihiro Takayama/Katsuhiko Nakajima/Masao Inoue
Hopefully this should pick things up as this has just been a bad show so far. Saito and Inoue start off, locking up and trading power moves. Go tags in and they do a comedy spot with Inoue tiring himself out having to keep jumping over Shiozaki on the mat off the ropes. Takayama and KENTA both tag in KENTA is like a little pitbull, slapping the shit out of Takayama and laying in vicious forearms and stiff kicks. Things are getting unbelievably stiff now as Takayama basically just bare-knuckle boxes with him and then lays in a headbutt so stiff that it immediately splits Takayama’s forehead wide open! Takayama is such a sick, vicious bastard and I love it. He kicks KENTA with one of his tree trunk legs for a two and then tags in Nakajima, who initially made a big name for himself with a string of excellent matches against KENTA a few years back. They trade forearms and kicks, with KENTA inevitably winning the battle of the feet and tagging in Shiozaki. Nakajima kicks his head off and tags Inoue in. Saito tags back in and gives Inoue an impressive hesitation suplex for a two count, showing off his strength. Takayama tags in now and tries a cocky pin with one foot after a meager kick. Saito takes him down with a shoulder-block and tags KENTA, who springboard’s in with a dropkick and then hits a trio of dropkicks on Takayama in the corner before delivering a big suplex to Takayama, a man atleast twice his size! He even tries for the Go 2 Sleep but simply slams him instead. Damn, didn’t know KENTA was so strong. Nakajima tags back in and hits a snap suplex-missile dropkick combo for a two count. KENTA tries a springboard but Nakajima chops him down on the ropes and then delivers a big Saito suplex! 1-2–NOO! Nakajima comes off the top for a knee strike but is met by KENTA’s spinning kick to the face! Shiozaki tags in now and trades strikes with Nakajima then gives him a brainbuster for two. Big powerbomb from Shiozaki followed by a double-stomp from KENTA but Takayama breaks it up. KENTA takes Takayama out with more lethal kicks, sending him to the outside. Inoue tags in now and hits his Russian leg sweep for a two count. Match breaks down from here with everyone in the ring, teaming up on Shiozaki who gets the wind-up lariat from Inoue for two. Inoue puts Shiozaki up in a Torture Rack suddenly, but it’s quickly broken up by KENTA and Saito. They do a little comedy spot with Inoue and then Shiozaki finishes him off with the Go Flasher at 19:23. See now this is how you work comedy into a match and not have it hurt the affair like in the previous outings tonight, Inoue was good for the comedy, Takayama and KENTA were stiff as hell on eachother and were the highlight of the entire thing anytime they locked up, and Go gets the big win. After the match they celebrate with the oppposing team, and then give Inoue a noogie of sorts and scamper off. Just an all-around entertaining match. ***½
Takashi Sugiura/Takuma Sano vs. Takeshi Morishima/Shuhei Taniguchi
Morishima and Sugiura had an excellent title match a few weeks back, so it’s only fitting we see them matching up again. Sano and Taniguchi start us of with your basic feeling out process; lock-ups, waistlocks, and wristlocks. Sugiura tags in then and Taniguchi takes it right to him, holding his own with the reigning GHC Heavyweight champion. Sano tags in and Taniguchi kicks Sugiura right off the apron. Sugiura hits the ring and they trade a few stiff slaps. Sugiura and Taniguchi take their fight to the outside, trading forearms and headbutts. Sano comes off on Taniguchi with an incredibly weak double-stomp (Damn Sano! You got like 2 feet of airtime there Jordan!). Back inside Taniguchi and Sugiura can’t stay away from eachother, trading shots at every occasion. Sano hits a double-stomp off the second rope for a two count on Taniguchi. Morishima tags in now and hits a missile dropkick off the top for a two on Sano. Sugiura tags in and hits a snap suplex for two on Morishima. Big sidewalk slam from Morishima and then he tags Taniguchi back in, who promptly eats a big running Yakuza kick from Sugiura! They both try for a gut-wrench suplex on the other, which Taniguchi eventually wins. Big overhead belly-to-belly suplex from Taniguchi and then a powerslam. Sano comes in and gets a powerslam of his own while Tanguchi hits a fisherman suplex for two. Morishima and Sano battle to the outside while Taniguchi gives Sugiura an awkward German suplex. Sugiura tries the shining wizard but Taniguchi locks him in a sleeper-hold. Big Everest German suplex gets Taniguchi another two as Sano breaks it up and German suplexes Taniguchi himself! Big German suplex from Sugiura and a Shining Wizard to Taniguchi! 1-2–NOO! Morishima breaks it up. Sugiura tries another German but this time Taniguchi kicks out at one! He rises to his feet and begins laying in forearms and slaps. Briding full-nelson suplex gets Sugiura two, and then Takashi finishes it with the Olympic Yosen Slam at 20:54. Bit of an abrupt ending and it took awhile to get going, but once it did it was entertaining and made Taniguchi come off as a legit badass completely capable of going toe-to-toe with the world champion in Takashi Sugiura, clearly building for a title match down the line. Probably could have used 5 minutes cut off of it though. ***
GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match
Koji Kanemoto/Tiger Mask IV (C) vs. Naomichi Marufuji/Atsushi Aoki
TMIV and Koji won the titles back in August during an interpromotional event off of Ricky Marvin and Taiji Ishimori, and this is NOAH’s shot at winning the titles back for the home promotion. About as basic as your interpromotional feuds go in other words, and there’s nothing wrong with that when you’ve got four wrestlers this talented. Things start off hot immediately as they brawl still with the streamers in the ring. TMIV locks an armbar on Aoki in the ring while Koji and Marufuji brawl on the outside. Marufuji and Kanemoto tag in now and Koji does the facewash spot on Marufuji to a ton of heat from the crowd, seeing it as disrespectful in the Differ Ariake, a building that was literally built by and for NOAH. Tiger Mask tags in now and locks on a modified armbar, wrenching away on Marufuji. Koji and TMIV double team Aoki for a bit and the crowd is really booing the shit out of the New Japan guys, which is refreshing to say the least. Ankle lock-crossface combo by Koji/TMIV on Aoki only pisses them off more. Koji tags in now and lays into Aoki, who crumbles to his knees after a few weak punches. Koji and TMIV trade tags for a bit, isolating Aoki and working on his arm. They toy with him for awhile, taunting him while beating him down. Koji misses a senton and Aoki hits a big spinning heel kick and gets the hot tag to Marufuji! Of course Tiger Mask and Koji immediately try double-teaming Marufuji then but he fights both of them off and then gives Kanemoto the big facewash spot, returning the favor from early in the match. Big superkick and Marufuji tries for Sliced Bread, but gets hung in the tree of woe and eats a dropkick to the face. Tiger Mask tags in and hits a very weak Tombstone that barely connects, only for a two count. Marufuji tries a dropkick off the top but hits his own partner accidentally. Pele kick and Aoki tags in and hits two rolling Northern Lights suplexes for a two count. Koji tags in and gives a big belly-to-belly to Aoki, but Aoki comes back with a missile dropkick off the top taking both Koji and TMIV to the outside, where Marufuji meets them with a big plancha! Aoki slingshots to the outside and takes out Kanemoto. Back inside they do a big powerbomb-superplex tower-of-doom spot and then Marufuji springboards in with a frog splash, but Koji the knees up! Koji slaps on the ankle lock on Aoki for a bit, even grapevining the leg similar to Kurt Angle, but Aoki won’t give up. Tiger suplex gets Koji two! Moonsault for another two count! Aoki will just not be put away. Koji tries the ankle lock again but it’s broken up and everyone’s in the ring now. Big German suplex-dropkick combo from Aoki and Marufuji which Aoki follows up with a big frog splash, but only for a one count as Koji breaks it up. Big superkick-German suplex combo on Kanemoto! 1-2—NOO! Aoki is getting frustrated, and he eats a leg lariat from Koji. Big headbutts from Aoki and hits a brainbuster for two. Finally he hits the Assault Point suplex on Kanemoto for the win and the titles at 23:18! Crowd pops nicely for the title win. Another slow-starting match that got great down the stretch, and Aoki getting a clean pin in a big match like this on Kanemoto is a big deal for him. While it wasn’t a match-of-the-year type candidate, it was definitely the match of the night. ***½
After the match all four men shake hands in the ring, burying the hatchet. The crowd is chanting Aoki’s name and this could finally be a breakthrough point for a guy that’s been trying to get past the hump to the next level for awhile now. He and Marufuji shares their thoughts with the crowd and an announcer after the match, ending the show effectively.
This was actually a surprisingly entertaining show. It wasn’t great by any means and the undercard was really bad, but the last few matches delivered. They managed to make a minor show pretty entertaining here so I’ve got go with the mild Thumbs Up on the last show of 2010 for Pro Wrestling NOAH.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.