NOAH was once a promotion I was an avid follower of. These days, however, it’s a promotion I don’t really go out of my way to watch. I rarely, if ever, watch full shows and generally just watch the odd match here and there. Since the death of Misawa, NOAH has had many difficulties, both financially and creatively. What was once a super hot product which performed in front of packed arenas of appreciative fans, has since become a lukewarm product which performs in front of semi-full halls. It’s a shame that this is the case as there is a lot of great talent in the locker room: KENTA, Marufuji, Sugiura, TMDK, Morishima, Nakajima etc., but it just isn’t as vital as it once was.
This year, however, for the first time in a while, a dozen bouts have stood out to me. It’s no coincidence or surprise that KENTA features in virtually all of them. He has long been one of the best workers in wrestling and is the true MVP of NOAH. His long awaited GHC heavy title reign has been a real breath of fresh air to the promotion. Yes, some defences haven’t been great (Toru Yano/Maybach) and I’m personally sick of seeing everyonekick out of at least one Go 2 Sleep, but on the whole, his transition to Heavyweight has been a success and he should feature prominently in any Wrestler of The Year lists.
Takeshi Morishima vs. KENTA (GHC Heavyweight Title, Jan 27th) ***3/4
Kenta Kobashi, Keiji Muto, Jun Akiyama & Kensuke Sasaki vs. KENTA, Go Shiozaki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Maybach Taniguchi (May 11th) ****1/4
KENTA vs. Takashi Sugiura (GHC Heavyweight Title, May 12th) ****3/4
Naomichi Marufuji vs. Takashi Sugiura (Jun 13th) ****
KENTA vs. Naomichi Marufuji (GHC Heavyweight Title, Jul 7th) ****1/4
KanaProMania : Advance, 2/25/2015 [Wed] 18:30 @ Korakuen Hall in Tokyo 997 Spectators
(1) Shu Shibutani vs. Kanjyuro Matsuyama ◆Winner: Shibutani (7:35) with the Time Machine ni Notte. (2) Pro-Wrestling Mania Mask vs. Buffalo ◆Winner: Mania Mask (9:53) via foul, mask rip. (3) Konami’s Debut Match: Kana vs. Konami ◆Winner: Kana (6:53) with a Chicken-wing Face Lock. (4) Taiji Ishimori [NOAH] & Tsutomu Osugi [FREE] vs. Isami Kodaka [UNION] & Hercules Senga [FREE] ◆Winner: Osugi (9:40) with a Small Package on Senga. (5) Hiromitsu Kanehara [RINGS] vs. Ryuichi Sekine [K-DOJO] ◆Winner: Kanehara (5:25) with a Rear Naked Choke.
(6) KENSO [AJPW] & SUSUMU [FREEDOMS] vs. Jun Kasai [FREEDOMS] & Kengo Mashimo [K-DOJO] ◆Winner: Kasai (8:53) with the Pearl Harbor Splash on SUSUMU. ~ Kana challenged KENSO for a shot at the GAORA TV belt after the match. She even kicked KENSO between the legs and grabbed the belt and held it as she is serious about the challenge. KENSO appeared to have accepted her challenge.
(7) Shinjiro Otani [ZERO1] & Koji Kanemoto [FREE] vs. Yuko Miyamoto  & Katsuhiko Nakajima [DIAMOND RING] ◆Winner: Kanemoto (17:10) with an Ankle Hold on Miyamoto. ~ Miyamoto appears to be aligned with Kana’s army following the match.
(8) REINA World Tag Championship Match: [16th Champions] Kana & Arisa Nakajima vs. [Challengers] Syuri & Hikaru Shida ◆Winner: Shida (19:52) with the Tamashi no Three Count on Kana. ~ Champions fall on thier 2nd defense. Shida & Syuri become the 17th generation champions.
~ The next KanaPro show will be on May 27th at the Korakuen Hall and it will be called “Desire”.
GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Yuji Nagata (c) vs. Mohammed Yone ***¾
In notable happenings from the May 17th show, held in front of a hot Korakuen crowd: KENTA bid farewell to NOAH in an excellent doubles clash. The other participants, Marufuji, Sugiura and Nakajima, were perfectly chosen, as they were all integral parts of Kenta Kobayashi’s career in Pro-Wrestling NOAH and his greatest matches were, arguably, with these three men. It was genuinely emotional seeing KENTA leave, and with his mentors, Kobashi and Shibata looking on, he went out in style and had a great match, as expected. Whilst it wasn’t too stiff or crazy, it was a fitting goodbye to one of the best workers to have laced up boots in the promotion. KENTA scored the winning pinfall after 28 minutes of action, after nailing Nakajima with the Go 2 Sleep. He shall be sorely missed, but the question now remains: where does NOAH go from here?
The main event, Nagata and Yone’s GHC Title contest, was another excellent bout, that turned out much better than I expected. It was probably a little too long (a problem I find with most GHC Heavy matches) and the ending was never really in any doubt, but they had an exciting, hard hitting encounter, which Nagata, who is really turning in some great performances in NOAH, won at the 26:26 mark with the Backdrop Hold. His next challenger on May 31st is Marufuji, which could be fantastic.