Pro Wrestling NOAH 12/23/00
As it is hard to find full shows from NOAH before the past couple of years, I went to Ditch's site and picked a few matches from a single show. For those that have no knowledge of Pro Wrestling NOAH, after Giant Baba's death, there was a power struggle in AJPW. Misawa left and took much of the roster with him, forming the group known as NOAH, because symbolism only comes heavy handed in Japan.
Kentaro Shiga/Takeshi Morishima/Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Masao Inoue/Takeshi Rikio/Takeshi Suguria
This is Sugirua's pro wrestling debut. Morishima and Rikio start the match. They would form a tag team later on. Morishima is completely unrecognizable as he has short hair and is significantly lighter than what he would be in his ROH appearances. They trade some stiff shots, with Inoue winning the exchange with a shoulder block. Morishima then does a series of lariatooos. Sug and Shiga are tagged in. Sug was an accomplished amateur wrestler, while Shiga was trained in shoot style. They have an amateur exchange before Kanemura and Inoue are tagged in. Morishima is tagged back in and hits a hard back elbow. In comes Sug. Dropkick. Shiga is tagged in soon after and he and Sug have a forearm battle. Shiga wins it. Rope assisted Boston crab to Sug. Shit and Sug take it to the floor. Sug is put on the guard rail and Shiga holds him as Kanemura stomps on his back. High angle Boston crab from Shiga. Morishima is back in. Sug tries to fight out of the corner, but Morishima puts him down and does a big suplex. Sug hits a snap suplex and tags out to Inoue. Lariatoo is ducked and countered with a superkick. Inoue hits a rebound lariatooo anyway. Cobra clutch Russian leg sweep. Things are breaking down. Inoue gets Kanemura in a torture rack, but it is broken up by Shiga. Kanemura does a low blow an in ring Asai moonsault. He tags out to Morishima, who is immediately powerslammed. Rikio is tagged in and does a bear hug into a suplex, then a weird chokeslam. Sug is back in and hits a spear on Morishima. The second was countered with a kitchen sink. Shiga tags in and is right away caught in a belly to belly and rolling Karelin Lift into a cross arm breaker. Shiga gets to the ropes and then applies a Fujiwara arm bar. It is broken up. All three men hit moves in the corner on Sug. Shiga makes Sug tap out to a rolling cross arm breaker. Nothing special, but Sug looked pretty good for a guy in his pro debut.
Shinya Hashimoto vs Takao Omori
This was a big deal because this was between Hashimoto leaving NJPW and starting Zero-One. Zero-One was still in the planning stages at this point, but wouldn't run a show until March of 2001. They immediately start by slapping the shit out of each other. Omori tries uppercuts and kicks, but Hash won't have any of it. Hash slaps on a headlock. Slam and big elbow drop. They start trading chops again, which Hash seems to go a little too stiff on, and then kicks Omori in the face. These two clearly aren't on the same page. Hashimoto gives a few more stiff kicks that Omori doesn't seem to like. He stays on the mat for quite a while, seemingly refusing to get up. When he finally does, Hash gives another stiff kick that puts him back down. Hash goes for a DDT. Omori shoves him into the corner and hits an Axe Bomber. Hash tries to no sell it. The second one takes him down. Dragon suplex from Omori. Hash blocks the next Axe Bomber with a chop and hits a brainbustaaaaaah for the win. The real story is that Omori felt Hashimoto wasn't cooperating and called for the finish early, which led to him getting Zigglered and eventually future endeavored.
Mitsuharu Misawa vs Vader
This was kind of Vader's revenge run, trying to make up for his WWF run. He had a few matches in AJPW in 1999 and made the jump to NOAH with most of the AJPW roster. He opts to start this match without his mask and flips the double birds during entrances. They trade slaps and then elbows. You can't trade elbows with Misawa. Vader ducks an elbow and JESUS FUCKING CHRIST TRIES TO KILL MISAWA WITH A GERMAN SUPLEX. Misawa rolls to the floor, which seems like a good idea. Misawa gets back in the ring and they have a collision. Vader gets Misawa in the corner and starts unloading. Series of corner splashes and more punches. Short arm lariatooo. Huge powerbomb. Misawa dodges the next corner splash and hits some elbows and a dropkick. German suplex to Vader. Vader bails to the floor. Misawa comes right out with an elbow suicida. Once they get back in the ring, Vader starts doing headbutts and punches. Misawa counters another short arm lariatoo into a cross arm breaker. Misawa hits a big elbow combo that knocks Vader down, but he kicks out. Misawa blocks another German suplex, so Vader does a modified powerbomb instead. Lariatooo to the back of the head followed by a chokeslam. Misawa comes back with an inverted cross arm breaker. Misawa starts throwing a ton of elbows at Vader's arm. Vader gets sick of it and just wallops Misawa with the other arm. Vader Bomb! Vader hit his elbow on the way down and couldn't make the pin. He goes back up, this time for a second rope moonsault. Misawa kicks out. Misawa goes back to the arm and does some spin kicks. Big elbow to the back of the neck, then one to the jaw. Then another. A running elbow puts Vader down for the count. Ditch described this as "Two old guys huckin' bombs at each other" and it is pretty accurate.
Jun Akiyama vs Kenta Kobashi
At this point, Kobashi's body is torn to hell. He's in really rough shape. In fact, this would be his last major singles match for about 2 years. But being in bad shape means nothing to Kobashi. Jun tries a few elbows and is immediately dropped with a massive chop. Kobashi blocks the high knee, Jun blocks a chop and hits a drop kick, but Kobashi comes right back with a shoulder block. You can't fuck with Kobashi's chops. Strike battles make no sense against him when you know he's going to cave in your chest with a chop. Jun takes Kobashi down and goes into full mount. Kobashi rolls over and gets to the ropes. Kobashi gets sick of this shit and starts unloading with chops, including a spinning back chop in the corner. They go to the floor. Kobashi is kicked over the railing. Snake eyes on the railing. Jun throws some mean elbows to the neck/shoulder in the corner. High knee. DDT on the ramp. Jun runs the whole length of the ramp to hit flying forearm. Kobashi responds with a stalling suplex on the ramp. Kobashi blocks an exploder off the ramp and instead hits a DDT. Another DDT back in the ring. Pretty rough looking chin lock from Kobashi. Neck chops. Standing guillotine, which is then turned into a suplex. Kobashi holds on to a headlock even after a back suplex. Jun hits a low dropkick to the already heavily wrapped knee. Lariatooos don't work on Kobashi and he hits a half nelson suplex. Jun gets up and hits an explodaaaah and high knee. I feel like puro companies can get away with that kind of stuff because fighting spirit is a big part of pretty much every form of puro and of the Japanese culture in general. When tiny white guys in ROH do it, it isn't quite the same. Jun attacks the chopping arm. Lots of nasty work, using the turnbuckles, ropes, and guard rail. Jun is trying to break it. Sleeper suplex OUTTA NOWHERE. Kobashi tries a powerbomb on the ramp. He's back dropped. He instinctively does a spinning back chop, only to damage his arm further. Half nelson suplex on the ramp. Koboshi won't allow the ref to count Jun out. Jun kicks out of a powerbomb in the ring. Vertical suplex into a Kanyon Cutter! Jun dodges two burning lariatooos before getting hit with the third. He kicks out! Kobashi went for the moonsault and got caught with a powerbomb. Kobashi is able to block an apron exlpodaaah in mid air. He wasn't able to block whatever Jun did off the apron that the camera missed. Nor the explodaaaah on the exposed floor. Jun hits a double arm DDT in the ring. He comes off the top with a diving forearm to the back of the head while Kobashi is getting up. Explodaaaah. 2 count. Wrist clutch explodaaaah. Jun attempts a super explodaaah. Kobashi lariatooos that shit off. After Jun kicks out of a few more lariatooos, Kobashi maxes out the special meter to win with the Burning Hammer. Pretty awesome match.
I paid a lot of attention to NOAH in the first few years. I always liked it. AJPW would turn into a completely different company after Keiji Mutoh took over. In 2013, a number of NOAH guys would jump to AJPW (including Jun and Kobashi, though Kobashi is retired and the PWF Chairman) and there would be another mass exodus, this time with Mutoh leaving and taking half the roster with him to form a new company.