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NOAH – The New Year Review – 1.1.2023

1 year ago

NOAH – The New Year Review – 1.1.2023

By: Syn Fritz

The Ark has returned to Tokyo and has docked at the Nippon Budokan for NOAH, The New Year. Great matches and surprises abound, let’s take a look at what went down in Tokyo!

Yasutaka Yano vs Taishi Ozawa

It was honestly surprising how short this opener was between two young wrestlers. Both were racing to the ring for this one. Yatsutaka Yano stayed in control for most of the match. Oddly, it feels like Ozawa has grown more as a wrestler, but at the same time it feels like his growth as a in-ring performer has stalled a little. Ozawa may need that extra push or inspiration to get him to that next level in his journey. Short match, just over 6 minutes to get the crowed warmed up.

Winner: Yasutaka Yano

Masa Kitamiya & Daiki Inaba & Yoshiki Inamura vs Muhammad Yone & Akitoshi Saito & Shuhei Taniguchi
6-Man Tag Team Match

Seeing Taniguchi team up with his fellow former faction members, Saito and Yone, was a treat. Inamura stood out once again, seeming ready for some gold around his waist, heavyweight singles or heavyweight tag. Masa is working light tonight as he was working against Masato Tanaka in Pro Wrestling Zero 1 mere hours before for the Zero 1 World Heavyweight Championship.

Funky Express was in solid form tonight as Saito and Yone picked apart Inaba during the match. In the end though, Kitamiya, Inaba and Inamura were just too much for the vets.
Yoshiki Inamura picks up the victory for his team by flattening Yone with his finish, the Muso!

Winners: Masa Kitamiya & Daiki Inaba, & Yoshiki Inamura


Ninja Mack & Dante Leon & Alejandro vs Shuji Kondo & Tadasuke & HIROKI
6-Man Tag Team Match

KONGO’s own are on display as well as three members of NOAH’s main faction of juniors heavyweights, Ninja Mack, Dante Leon as well as Alejandro.
The crowd just ate up everything Ninja Mack and Dante Leon brought to the match. Both teams were able to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats during the whole match. Alejandro rolls up HIROKI for the the victory and his team.

Winners: Ninja Mack, Dante Leon, & Alejandro


Hijo del Dr. Wagner Jr. & Atsushi Kotoge & Seiki Yoshioka vs Masaaki Mochizuki & Susumu Mochizuki & Mochizuki Jr.

The Mochizuki team surprisingly showed up to the ring on scooters. It was even funnier than you would imagine.
Masaaki Mochizuki should be proud of his son as he stood out here and shows a lot of promise. He has a bright future in the business. As for the match itself, there were few to no standout moments. The pace was fast, as expected from the 4 Juniors and their heavyweight tag partners.
It is satisfying to see how far Mochizuki Jr. has come since his debut on June 3rd of last year. Susumu Mochizuki picks up the victory for his team with the Yokosuka Drive around the 10 minute mark.

WINNER: Masaaki Mochizuki & Susumu Mochizuki & Mochizuki Jr

Masakatsu Funaki & Masakatsu Funaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima & Manabu Soya & Hajime Ohara vs X & Kazuyuki Fujita & Kendo Kashin & Rongai NOSAWA
8-Man Tag Team Match

There was some speculation around who X was going to be in this 8 man tag team match, as a mysterious masked man walked ot the ring with Kendo and his team.
Kashin revealed that it was MMA fighter Shinya Aoki and wasn’t X, but the big reveal was no disappointment. This time around X was none other then the 62-year old legend Hiroshi Hase, who is now the Governor of Ishikawa Prefecture. Looking at him, you would think he wouldn’t do much in the match, but in his eyes you could see he missed being in the ring.

So much so that he was taking bumps from Soya and is going head to head with Katsuhiko Nakajima. At his core he is still a pro wrestler, and that will never change.
In the end though, Hiroshi Hase was able to secure the victory for his team with the Northern Lights Suplex, a move he invented many moons ago. Hopefully this won’t be the last time we see Hase in the ring.

Winners: Hiroshi Hase, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kendo Kashin, & Rongai NOSAWA

Timothy Thatcher vs Jack Morris

Jack Morris has been on a non-stop uphill climb of success ever since the N-1 Victory tournament last year since be heat Kaito Kiyomiya. Here though, he has to deal with Timothy Thatcher, one of the best catch-can wrestlers on the planet.
Ground and pound, submissions, the works from Thatcher in this match as he picked apart the younger challenger. Ten minutes in, the momentum shifts and it becomes anyone’s match between the both of them.

A Tiger Driver a few moments later and Jack Morris take home the win:

Winner: Jack Morris

Mere moments after Jack is declared the winner, his music is cut off… and Jake Lee walks out to the ring, and looks to form either a team with Morris— or he is introducing himself. Either way, Jake Lee showing up is a big surprise.

AMAKUSA (Champion) vs Junta Miyawaki (Challenger)
GHC Jr. Heavyweight Championship Match

This was Junta’s return from his excursion to Mexico and he isn’t the same man that left to train, this is also AMAKUSA’s first Junior Heavyweight title defense after dethroning Dante Leon. Both men go out of their way to try and steal the show before the double main event. The champion is put on the ropes early on, but bounces back.

Middle of the match, Miyawaki seems to have victory in hand after hitting a springboard armdrag on AMAKUSA from the apron to the floor, knocking the wind out of him. A neat 20-count followed by a spike DDT only gets a 2. The match goes back and fourth for a bit,
leaning toward Miyawaki, but in the end, AMAKUSA slips by with a crucifix pin for the victory to retain his championship.

Winners: AMAKUSA

Takashi Sugiura & Satoshi Kojima (Champion Team) vs Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA (Challenger Team)
GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match

Going into this match, there were some reservations. It had been a very long time since KENTA and Marufuji last teamed together. The reservations turned out to be justified. The match itself feels like 2 separate singles matches happening at the same time, Sugiura vs KENTA, Kojima vs Marufuji and vice versa.

Even backstage after the match, Marufuji tells KENTA that they can’t get by without communicating like when they were young. There were some moments of brilliance, like the top rope Shiranui/Powerbomb combo from MaruKen, but as a wonderful person said on Twitter “KENTA is kind of like the son who only comes home at New Years.” Hopefully KENTA will return home again soon for a reprise.

All in all, a fun match from top to bottom, but Sugiura and Kojima retain the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championships.

Winners: Takeshi Sugiura & Satoshi Kojima 

YO-HEY & Kzy (Champion Team) vs Yoshinari Ogawa & Eita (Challenger Team)
GHC Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match

On paper, the team of Eita and Ogawa shouldn’t be happening as they’ve been feuding for the past year, but crazier things have happened in NOAH’s almost 22-year history.
The match starts out slow betwen YO-HEY and Eita, before Ogawa and Kzy are tagged in to pick up the pace, before it’s slowed down again five minutes later. Its strange to see Ogawa working well with Eita in this match, but in wrestling some of the most bitter feuds create great tag team partners. The newly formed tag team champions are not working as well together as the challengers, and it shows 10 minutes into the match, as Ogawa and Eita have cut off YO-HEY from Kzy.

A hot tag to Kzy though brings it to Ogawa, but unable to keep him down for his take on the frog splash, Kzy Time. After some back-and-forth, nearing the 20 minute mark Eita is able to land after a massive super kick, modified go to sleep and a second super kick to become new Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion… with Ogawa???

Winners: Yoshinari Ogawa & Eita

Kaito Kiyomiya (Champion) vs Kenoh (Challenger)
GHC Heavyweight Championship Match

These men! You could tell as soon as they got into the ring tonight that they had something to prove, as they weren’t closing the show.
Kaito literally destroyed his body in this match for the sake of the GHC Heavyweight Championship. From diving over the turnbuckles
to taking a falcon arrow from the top turnbuckle to the ring apron. Kenoh took an equal amount of physical punishment.

The GHC Heavyweight championship means so much to these two. The sacrifice they’ve made tonight will go down in history. It was a back-and-forth fight but in the end, after a poisonrana, modified powerbomb, and a modified shining wizard, Kaito pulls out the victory to retain the GHC Heavyweight championship. Without a doubt, this is already a possible match of the year contender.
Sadly as this wasn’t the true main event of the night, no challenger announced his run for the championship.

Winner: Kaito Kiyomiya


Great Muta vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Special Single Match

Closing the show is another stop on the Great Muta’s retirement tour, but this was to be his final singles match.
Shinsuke Nakamura, currently contracted by WWE is his opponent. A few months ago it was thought this match wouldn’t happen, but due to management changes within WWE, it has. Many WWE fans are probably too young to remember how groundbreaking and innovative Great Muta was during his time in America. But his legacy in Japan cannot be denied, and his match with Shinsuke is evidence of that.

Both men, even Muta, gave the best performance they could in the ring at this age.
Nakamura and Muta fought on the inside of the ring, outside of it, around the ringside area. Grabbing cables and chairs to use as weapons. The ref was ever lenient with this match because he knew this was a moment in time that would last.

Two different colored mists to the face of Shinsuke (red, then black) was not enough to keep Nakamura down— not even the shining wizard. A Third mist (green) attempt by the Great Muta is attempted, but Nakamura steals the mist from him and sprays it in the face of Muta, following it up with a Kinshasa for a three-count.

After the match, Muta leaves the ring and walks up the aisle with his back turned, but Nakamura grabs the mic and Thanks Muta for the treasured match in Japanese. Once that is said and done he says, in English, “Bye bye, my idol, Great Muta,” making Muta stop and turn back to look back at the man, wait for him and walk beside him backstage.

Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura


It was a fun show from beginning to end, but I do question why NOAH would put the GHC Heavyweight Championship match as the semi-main. It could be related to the contract negotiation that brought Nakamura over from WWE. That would explain his entrance, music, the calling of his finish, and possibly being in the main event. But it has to be stated here: you’re never going to convince NOAH fans that a match on an old wrestler’s retirement tour should be more significant than a world title match. It’s just bad for the prestige of the title, and the promotion at large. And yes, you can argue that someone else could have used the rub more, but the finish to Nakamura/Muta was good stuff. In pro wrestling, you go out on your back. And the Great Muta did just that.

Don’t miss out on this show. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again.