Pro Wrestling NOAH Destiny 7/18/05
NOAH's 5th anniversary show, and biggest show ever. Live from a jam packed Tokyo Dome. Note: The video seems to freeze around the hour and forty minute mark. Don't worry. It misses a few seconds of ring introductions and then continues.
Katsuhiko Nakajima/Mitsuo Momota/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs SUWA/Takashi Sugiura/Masashi Aoyagi
Nakajima is Kensuke Sasaki's protege. Momota is the son of Rikidozan, the father of all puroresu. Kikuchi spent the first 12 years of his career as a mid carder in AJPW, patterning himself after the Dynamite Kid. SUWA was one of Ultimo Dragon's first trainees, being a pillar of the early years of Toryumon and making a handful of appearances in WCW. Aoyagi was a journeyman throughout the 1990s, working just about every major company before choosing NOAH as his home promotion. Sugiura made his debut in NOAH, still being one of its top stars as of 2016. Now that that's all out of the way, let the match begin. SUWA is a real fuck head. Nakajima kicks the shit out of him for it. I'm really waiting for Nak and Sug to lock it up. Aoyagi's Dynamite impression leaves a lot to be desired. Momota, despite being a little old dude, can surprise the shit out of you. There are two things Nakajima does: kicks and German suplexes. He does both of them quite well. SUWA gets the win with the FFF, a pedigree variant. Strong showing for Nakajima, who was only about a year into his career. Eddie Edwards was a young boy for this show, with a braided/dreaded undercut. The fuck?
Mohammed Yone/Takeshi Morishma vs Go Shiozaki/Tamon Honda
Much like Nakajima, Go Shiozaki, trainee of Kenta Kobashi, is about a year into his career and expected to be one of the next generation stars in puro. He kind of ended up being one, although being the top guy in dying NOAH and dead AJPW leaves a lot to be desired in the success category. He attacks before the bell. Morishima does not appreciate it. Frequently knocking Honda off the apron also is not appreciated. Shiozaki is the main focus of the match, spending the majority of it in the ring for his team. Honda's spots are sporadic, but the fans are into it whenever he got in the ring. Yone pinned Go with the Kinniku Buster. If you didn't come out of this wanting to see Go and Morishima knock the shit out of each other for 10 minutes, I don't know why you watch wrestling.
Akitoshi Saito/Kishin Kawabata/Masao Inoue/Shiro Koshinaka vs Akira Taue/Haruka Eigen/Jun Izumida/Takuma Sano
A lot of experience in this. Taue and Koshinaka begin. Oh shit, hip attack from Taue! Saito does a ridiculous delayed suplex to Sano. 30 seconds long. Sano is not a little dude anymore. Inoue pinned Izumida with a small package. I don't want to say it was a lighthearted affair, but it was a light match for a bunch of vets and a young guy to make the crowd giggle and pop for well known spots.
Mushiking Terry vs Black Mask
This is a mirror match of sorts, based on the Mushiking arcade and card game. If you've never heard of it here's the plot: "A long time ago, there was a forest full of trees inhabited by insects and fairies. A fairy, named Popo, was a friend of the insects of the forest. He refers to the Japanese beetle as "Mushiking". One day, giant beetles from parts unknown arrived in the forest to wreak havoc, under the control of Adder, a wizard exiled from the forest who wishes to conquer it. Popo enlists the player's help to fight against Adder".
Big entrances and big spots. A compact, fast paced sprint with almost no down time. The kids in the audience seemed to love it. These dudes are so fast. Christ. Terry won with a Tiger Suplex 85, which is half tiger, half dragon suplex. And it was fucking gross. The kind of shit that makes people retire years sooner than they should.
KENTA vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru GHC Jr. Championship
IMMEDIATE bombs being thrown. God damn. The first 30 seconds probably had 3 concussions. Kanemaru injures his arm. KENTA has no sympy and does everything he can to fuck it up more. KENTA has so much swag and attitude. I don't know how he lost it all by the time he got to NXT. KENTA strays away from the game plan and gets crushed with an avalanche DDT. Then a jumping one from the apron to the floor. Kanemura then sticks to working on the neck of KENTA, which luckily he can do without having to use both arms. A nice little story has developed, in stark contrast to the previous junior match, which was a (fun) sprint. The reversals and near falls have the crowd losing their shit. You think they're obviously heading into the finishing stretch, but NOPE. It goes on for another big chunk. And not in the "why is this still going on" kind of way, but in the "this is fucking great" kind of way. KENTA wins after a GTS, kick combo, and Busaiku knee. New champion. Pretty god damn rad match. I particularly enjoyed that the points of focus of each men didn't prevent either from doing their big moves, so you didn't run into something like a guy gets his leg worked for 15 minutes, but since he's a high flyer he still jumps all around the ring like nothing happened. It was awesome.
Jun Akiyama/Makoto Hashi vs Minoru Suzuki/Naomichi Marufuji GHC Tag Team Championships
Hashi has his head all taped up. Did this dude have brain surgery before the match? He and Marufuji start out, and they seem to not like each other one bit. Hashi hits a diving headbutt to the floor about a minute in. Have some restraint, man. Akiyama gives no fucks about Marufuji. Marufuji is still a junior at this point, and Akiyama has no intention of letting a junior make him look bad. Akiyama tries to fight both guys on the ramp. That ended with his head bouncing off of it. This was after Hashi was powerbombed on the floor. The champs are in clear control here. Hashi gets the shit knocked out of him, but he keeps fighting back. The noise he made after getting kneed in the stomach was gross. Sounded like the death scream of a SNK boss. Suzuki seems pretty amused with it all until Akiyama gets tagged in. They slap the shit out of each other until they both have to use the ropes to stand. Don't try your flippy roll up shit on Jun Akiyama. He will knee your head off for it. Marufuji pins Hashi after an avalanche shirunai. Titles retained. This was also a pretty damn rad match. Marufuji/Suzuki is an interesting pairing. Marufuji seemed to pick up a lot of Suzuki's cuntiness, which in turn made him lose a lot of his dumb shit Marufujiness. Suzuki really seemed to be enjoying himself, and the crowd was very into Hashi's repeated comeback attempts.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Takeshi Rikio GHC Heavyweight Championship
Coming into this, Tanahashi is the NJPW U-30 champion, but his title is not on the line. Tanahashi is already an invader trying to take the top title at the biggest show. Slapping the shit out of the champion who is much bigger than you is probably not the best of ideas. I think he's going to regret it. He does get slapped back, but Tanahashi surprisingly controls much of the match. His speed is a bit of a hassle for Rikio. Which makes it even better when Rikio does a crushing top rope crossbody block as a fuck you. Tanahashi crashes hard on a suicide dive, hitting both is face and his balls. He does two more dives and they don't go right, either. He gets tangled in the ropes on one, crashes into the railing again on the next. Rikio got the win with the Muso. Another war. This was at its best when Rikio would get pissed and used his size advantage, which interestingly really didn't come into play that often. Tanahashi negated it pretty well with his speed, and he's strong enough that he could throw Rikio around if he needed to. His cockiness was his undoing, though. He wasn't quite the great Tanahashi of even a year or two later, but he was still obviously a great talent. Rikio was no slouch, either.
Genichiro Tenryu vs Yoshinari Ogawa
This should be a murder. I hope. Ogawa was the first to throw a strike. It sure was a bad idea. The only chance Ogawa has here is if he outwrestles Tenryu, as Tenryu wasn't much for a mat wrestler even as a young man. And it works. Kind of. In the sense that Tenryu can't hit quite as hard from his back as he can standing up. But he can still hit pretty hard from his back. No idea what Ogawa was thinking trying Tenryu's own spots against him. A powerbomb and lariat get the win for Tenryu (after a brainbuster). Clearly the breather match for the next two wars coming up. Which says something when a surly old Tenryu beat down is the cool down before the real violence.
Kenta Kobashi vs Kensuke Sasaki
I'd be surprised if there are any moves besides chops and lariats in this. Maybe powerbombs. Well, the very first move is a back drop, so I'm already wrong. Then chops. Then lariats. Wow, I've never heard a crowd so loud for a test of strength lock up. The opening minutes establish that the two are very evenly matched, in power and in moves. From there, Kobashi gets the advantage and works on the head/neck/chest. Then they do wacky shit like pescados and super ranas. Once the chops start, they don't stop. Seriously. The stand trading chops for a minute and a half, and then they do it in the corner for another two minutes. Then back and forth again in the center of the ring for minutes. Both chests are purple. Neither guy giving in. A war of attrition. Both guys are clearly tired and in pain, but neither wants to be the first to stop. It takes a running one from Kobashi that was as much an elbow to the throat as a chop to finally put Kensuke down. And himself down. Kobashi then takes the opportunity to try to break Kensuke's neck. And Kensuke responds in kind with a northern lights bomb on the floor. At least Kobashi showed some restraint by not taking it from the apron. Kensuke's chest looks disgusting. Then the lariats come. JESUS FUCK sleeper suplex. Kobashi finally gets the win after multiple spinning back chops to the head, then a final Burning Lariat that was more like a club to the face. God damn what a war. Both guys leave to a standing ovation. A true spectacle.
Toshiaki Kawada vs Mitsuharu Misawa
This is Kawada's first match in NOAH, and the first interaction he and Misawa have had since the formation of NOAH. Kawada was one of two talents to stick with AJPW when Misawa left to form NOAH. As if there needed to be more drama and backstory for this match. Their last encounter was in a 6 man tag on 6/2/2000, about a month from the mass exodus. This will be their final encounter. Weirdly, Kawada looks nervous. Despite the familiarity with each other, both are tentative in the opening minutes. And then start unloading on each other. Elbows, kicks, tiger drivers. Do they really need to set up all these moves? I would say no, considering they have about 2000 matches to play off of. They know what they have to do to win. Kawada appears to be taking out 5 years of resentment on Misawa's face. Tiger driver on the floor! The transitions in this match are all "Fuck you, I'm so sick of your shit" and then they try to kill the other dude. It's kind of awesome. Ramp powerbomb from Kawada. Obviously they aren't the athletes they were a decade prior, but they're making up for that with hatred. I've never seen a match where Misawa was so vocal and expressive. AH FUCK GANSO BOMB. You know what Misawa hates most of all? When someone starts elbowing him. Misawa gets the win after what seems like about 100 elbows in a row. Kawada wouldn't return to NOAH until after Misawa's death in 2009.
God damn what a fucking show. Has to be in the top ten of all time. Everything from Mushiking/Black Mask is great. KENTA vs Kanemaru is amazing. The tag title match is great. Rikio/Tanahashi was great. Ogawa/Tenryu was perfect for what it needed to be. Sasaski/Kobashi was a fucking spectacle. Kawada/Misawa was great. SO MUCH GREATNESS. I'm hard pressed to think of a super show as good in quality from top to bottom as this. Even the meaningless undercard matches were solid and fun. What a great show.