Written by: Colin Rinehart
NOAH The First Navigation Tour 2011 (1/23/11)
January 23rd, 2011
ACROS Fukuoka, Fukuoka City, Japan
We’ve arrived at the next stop on NOAH’s first tour of 2011, this time a much smaller show from Fukuoka City in a much smaller building with only a little over 700 in attendance. It gives the show a more laid-back, independent kind of feel in my opinion. Tonight’s card includes a six-man tag main event pitting Bobby Fish, Eddie Edwards, and Bison Smith against Go Shiozaki, Kotaro Suzuki, and Yoshinari Ogawa. We’ve also got the GHC Heavyweight champion Takashi Sugiura taking on Atsushi Aoki in a non-title match and a few other random tag matches, so let’s get to it.
Kentaro Shiga vs. Genba Hirayanagi
Just your basic opening contest here between two lower-midcarders to get the show started. We get your basic feeling out process to start with the exchange of wrist and headlocks. Shiga tries working an armbar for a bit, grinding Hirayanagi down on the mat. Shiga gets tossed to the outside now and Hirayanagi takes him all the way to the entrance doors of the small gymnasium, slamming Shiga into the steel doors. Hirayanagi tries locking Shiga in the door and getting the countout victory, but Shiga makes it back at the count of 19. He applies a dragon sleeper on Hirayanagi but he can’t hold onto his grip, so he tries an STF instead. Hirayanagi gets the rope break, but not before the damage has already been done. DDT from Hirayanagi gets a quick two count. They start trading open-hand slaps and then they begin to fight to the outside, where Shiga get’s suplexed on the floor. They start brawling into the crowd again and Hirayanagi tries tying Shiga’s leg to a support beam and running back in the ring for the countout win, but Shiga unties himself, gives a few stiff kicks to Hirayanagi and then rolls back into the ring right at the count of 20 to get the countout victory at 11:28. Pretty boring opener here, they focused mainly on trying to get eachother counted out and as a result the match never really got a chance to go anywhere interesting. *½
Yoshinobu Kanemaru/Mohammed Yone vs. Masao Inoue/Ricky Marvin
Pretty random tag pairings here as there’s no story or real reason for these guys to be teaming up or wrestling eachother. Marvin and Kanemaru start things off hot with a hurricanrana to the floor and Marvin teasing a tope to the floor. Back inside Inoue gets the tag and slaps a wristlock on Kanemaru. He puts a sleeper hold on for a moment that turns into a choke, so he has to break it. Now Kanemaru applies a sleeper of his own and Inoue starts screaming and pointing to his neck, trying to convince the referee that this sleeperhold is a choke as well (which it clearly isn’t). Yone and Marvin both tag in now and start trading kicks to eachother’s thighs. A very stiff kick to Yone’s face gets Marvin a two count. Inoue tags back in now and starts laying in elbows on Yone. Kanemaru gets the tag and hits a split-legged moonsault for a two count. Yone and Marvin start double-teaming Inoue on the outside, Yone hitting a running clothesline, and then they toss him back inside for a quick two count. Marvin gets the tag now and he tries fighting both Yone and Kanemaru off for a bit. Lionsault from Marvin gets another quick two. They counter suplex attempts and then Kanemaru hits a big tornado DDT and gets the tag to Yone. Yone comes off the top with a legdrop, but again only for two. Marvin evades a lariat and tags Inoue back in, who gives Yone he signature russian legsweep for two. All four men are fighting in and out of the ring at this point. Rollup from Inoue almost gets the three, but Yone comes back with a lariat and then finishes Inoue off with the Kinniku Muscle Buster for the win at 12:40. Not bad, Kanemaru and Marvin tried their best to make what limited time they had seem exciting. Just your average thrown-together tag match you can see on any NOAH show though. **
Yoshihiro Takayama/Takuma Sano vs. KENTA/Taiji Ishimori
Takayama and Sano are the current GHC Heavyweight Tag Team champions, but this is a non-tile match. Ishimori and Sano start us off with a few headscissors takedowns. Each man tries to target a limb on the other, but neither can get a good grip. Hurricanrana off the top from Ishimori and Sano bails to take a breather. Back inside KENTA gets the tag and he wants a piece of Takayama, so Sano tags him in. These two faced off in a stiff match-up a little over a week before this, so there’s still obviously bad blood between the two. KENTA starts laying in a flurry of kicks, which takes Takayama down briefly, but he’s up quickly and drags KENTA into his team’s corner, tagging Sano back in. Ishimori gets the tag now and hits a dropkick for a quick two. Ishimori gets tossed to the floor now, and Takayama holds him down while Sano comes off the apron with a doublestomp. Back inside Sano tries a figure four leglock, but Ishimori gets the ropebreak. Sano and Takayama start trading frequent tags, isolating Ishimori in their corner now. Ishimori gets the tag though and KENTA springboards in with a dropkick to Takayama. Flying forearm off the top gets KENTA two. He tries for a dragonscrew legwhip, but Takayama is too big and he just drives his knee into KENTA’s midsection. Sano tags back in and comes off the top with another doublestomp on KENTA for a quick two count. Ishimori gets the tag now and hits a slingshot splash for a two count. He handsprings into a pele kick, but again only for a two count. Takayama gets thrown to the outside and Ishimori comes off the top with a swanton for yet another close two count. 450 splash attempt from Ishimori is blocked by Sano’s knees! Doublestomp off the top from Sano, but KENTA breaks it up just in time. Powerbomb gets Sano a two count, and then he finishes Ishimori off with the Northern Lights Bomb at 15:10. Decent tag match here as I’m really growing to like the Takayama/Sano tag team, but this seemed really underwhelming for a match with these four that got almost 15 minutes. **½
After the match Yoshinobu Kanemaru comes down to the ring and says something to KENTA, which I wish I could understand, but alas, I am not fluent in Japanese.
Takashi Sugiura vs. Atsushi Aoki
This should be good, Sugiura is your current Heavyweight champion and Aoki has been building a ton of momentum over the last few months, especially since wining the Jr. Heavyweight Tag titles with Marufuji in December. This is a non-title match though. Waistlock exchange to start with each man jockeying for position, trying to grab onto a limb and start working on it. Sugiura applies a sleeper while wrapping his legs around Aoki’s waist, but it’s quickly broken up. Aoki blocks an armbar and applies one of his own, but Sugiura quickly escapes. Big headbutt sends Sugiura outside, and Aoki follows him out with a tope suicida. Missile dropkick off the top and a big German suplex gets Aoki a two count. Senton off the top and a Northern Lights suplex gets Aoki another quick two count. He tries for the Assault Point suplex but it’s blocked and Sugiura gives him a running knee into the corner. Rollup from Aoki, but Sugiura grabs the ankle and applies the ankle lock. Aoki counters that though and tries for an armbar, but again Sugiura counters out of it and locks the ankle lock on. Back on their feet Aoki slams Sugiura’s arm into the mat from the second rope and then gives him an armbreaker. Sugiura misses a spear and Aoki comes off the top with a big frog splash for a two count. Aoki keeps working on Sugiura’s left arm, but he gets a German suplex that practically takes him right out of his boots and a big running knee for a two count. Sugiura catches Aoki in mid-air off the ropes and delivers a big German suplex! 1-2–NOO! Aoki kicks out. Sugiura hits the Angle slam though and finishes Aoki off at 10:23. Aw man this really could have used another five minutes, it’s not like they couldn’t have shaven off a few minutes from some of the other random tag matches. As it is this was a mildly enjoyable contest, it just wasn’t given enough time to fully develop. **½
Jun Akiyama/Naomichi Marufuji/Shuhei Taniguchi vs. Kensuke Sasaki/Katsuhiko Nakajima/Kento Miyahara
Akiyama just returned to NOAH about a week ago after an extended break, so you’d think they would give him a more meaningful match here, but alas, instead we’ve just got a thrown-together six man. Everyone involved is a fine worker though, so this should be good enough. Sasaki and Akiyama start us off with a lock-up. They trade a few chops and then Akiyama tags Taniguchi in. He starts laying in forearms on Sasaki but Sasaki just shrugs them off and Marufuji tags in. Marufuji tries to trade chops with Sasaki too, but again Sasaki’s famous chops are too much for him to handle and he tags Akiyama back in. Miyahara and Taniguchi tag in now and they trade big boots. Nakajima and Marufuji tag in and they trade big boots of their own. Nice wristlock-armdrag sequence between the two, and then Sasaki tags back in. He slams Marufuji a few times to loud applause and then tags his protege Nakajima back in. Nakajima puts a leg vice-grip on Marufuji, which prompts Taniguch to do the same to Nakajima, Miyahara to do the same to Taniguchi, and then Akiyama to do the same to Miyahara. Instead of joining in on the fun though Sasaki just flips Marufuji over into a Boston crab, the momentum of which flips half of the bodies on the mat along with it. Cute little spot there. Miyahara and Taniguchi start fighting up the aisle into the crowd now. Taniguchi tries to suplex him right there on the stairs, but Akiyama is able to break it up. Taniguchi then gets a big running start an sprints up the stairs to give Miyahara a big elbow smash. Back inside Taniguchi tries a camel clutch but Sasaki breaks it up and he tags Akiyama back in. Akiyama applies a Boston crab to Miyahara and both Nakajima and Sasaki try to come in to break it up, but Marufuji and Taniguchi are standing there waiting, covering Akiyama like he was the flag in a game of Capture the Flag. That’s actually a really cool little subtle bit of psychology there and it’s something I’ve never seen before. Miyahara tries his best to fight all three of them off, but they just isolate him in their corner, trading quick tags and never giving Miyahara a chance to breath. Double-underhook suplex gets Taniguchi a two count on Miyahara. Eventually Miyahara is able to tag out and Nakajima and Marufuji start going at it. Missile dropkick off the top gets Nakajima a two count. Taniguchi tags back in now and delivers a pair of big Yakuza kicks into the corner followed by an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for a two count. Nakajima tries a spinkick, but Taniguchi gives him a half-nelson suplex. Everyone gangs up on Taniguchi and things start to break down from here as Miyahara and Taniguchi are the only ones in the ring. Big fisherman’s suplex from Taniguchi, but it’s broken up. Crowd is getting into it now as Miyahara and Taniguchi start trading near falls. Miyahara tries a bridging reverse rollup, but Taniguchi grabs ahold of him and applies a rear naked choke! Beautiful counter there. Towering German Suplex on Miyahara finishes him off though and Taniguchi & company get the win at 23:41. This started off a bit slow, but it picked up nicely towards the finishing stretch. There were a few creative spots thrown in as well and even a bit of psychology, so this was quite entertaining while it lasted. ***
Takeshi Morishima/Yutaka Yoshie vs. Akitoshi Saito/Yuto Aijima
Yikes, this doesn’t look like it’s going to be very good. I’m not very familiar with Aijima as he’s apparently been a curtain-jerker for All Japan and other various indy promotions in recent years. Yoshie and Aijima start us off, trading forearms. Aijima tries for a body-slam but he gets slammed himself. Saito and Morishima both tag in now, locking up and trying to out-power each other with running shoulderblocks. Greco-Roman lockup now as both men test eachother’s strength. Aijima gets the blind tag and comes back in, choking Morishima in the corner with his boot. Yoshie tags back in and takes Aijima down with a shoulderblock. Morishima and Aijima start fighting into the crowd now, fighting up the stairs to the last row in the seats before coming back down to ringside, where Aijima eats a DDT on the thinly matted floor. Yoshie applies a modified version of a bow-and-arrow submission briefly, but Saito breaks it up. Big spear from Aijima and he gets the tag to Saito. Scissors kick and a sideslam get Saito a quick two count. Big German suplex and a lariat gets him another super close two count. He tries for an exploder but fails, and Yoshie tags back in. Aijima gets the tag and hits a Saito suplex for a two. Morishima and Yoshie start double-teaming Aijima, and Yoshie gets a big splash, but Saito breaks the count up before three by pulling the ref out. Surprising that’s not a DQ. Yoshie comes off the top though and gets the 3 count anyways with a splash at 14:03. Really average stuff here, Aijima didn’t look particularly impressive so I’m not sure we’ll be seeing much more of him in the future. *¾
Bobby Fish/Eddie Edwards/Bison Smith vs. Go Shiozaki/Kotaro Suzuki/Yoshinari Ogawa
This looks awesome on paper, so hopefully this will end the show on a high note. The match starts and it’s instant chaos with all six men going at it. Shiozaki launches Edwards into a big European uppercut from Suzuki, Ogawa gives him an enziguri, and then finally Suzuki gives Edwards a huge side-suplex for a two count. Really hot and heavy action to start here, they aren’t wasting any time at all. Big German suplex from Edwards gets a two count on Suzuki. Bison and Fish start beating down on Suzuki into the crowd now, and Bison hits him with a big chair. They all make their way back to the ring eventually though and things settle down a bit. Fish tags in now and gives Suzuki a snap suplex, but instead of going for the pin he tags Bison Smith in. Bison applies a chinlock on Suzuki for a bit, wearing him down and then powerbombing him for a close two count. Edwards tags in now and he reverses a hurricanrana into a Boston crab! Awesome counter there. Fish tags in and hits the domination of Suzuki continues with all three men going to town on him. Bison tries for the old claw but Suzuki counters out and finally tags Shiozaki in. Go is fired up here, laying in strikes and delivering a snap suplex for a quick two count. Big German suplex and a lariat, but again Bison kicks out. Fish tags in now and hits a Falcon Arrow for a two count of his own on Go. Exploder suplex and a diving headbutt off the top from Fish, but again Shiozaki kicks out. They do an awesome little sequence, reversing eachothers suplex attempts until Shiozaki rolls through and suplexes Fish. That takes a TON of strength to do. Ogawa and Edwards tag in now and Edwards comes off the top with a missile dropkick. Ogawa gets thrown to the outside, and Edwards slingshots himself over the rope to the floor, taking out Ogawa. Back in the ring Ogawa blocks a suplex by grabbing the referee’s shirt and he tags Suzuki in. Flying knee off the top gets Suzuki a two count. Edwards evades a crucifix attempt and then its a bit jawbreaker, but Suzuki counters into a rear naked choke. Things have totally broken own at this point now as all six men do battle in the ring. Edwards gets thrown to the floor and Suzuki tries for a tope, but he’s met by a stiff kick to the face instead from Edwards, who grabs Suzuki and delivers the Die Hard (his finisher) right on the apron! That’s the hardest part of the ring, so you know that had to hurt. Edwards slides Suzuki back inside and delivers a few superkicks and then he finishes with another Die Hard at 17:33. After the match they continue fighting and Edwards powerbombs Suzuki onto a folded up table in the ring and has to be stretchered out, setting up their GHC Jr. title match next week. Really fun main event here as they didn’t bother wasting any time and just skipped right to the good stuff. Lots of creative counters and double (sometimes triple) team moves as well. Throw in the progression of the Suzuki-Edwards program and we’ve got a main event that’s both fun and important. ***½
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.