NOAH "The First Navigation" on 1/24/15
A Casual Review by Kevin Wilson

Date: January 24th, 2015 
Location:  Osaka Bodybuilder Colosseum #2 in Osaka, Japan
Announced Attendance:  1,100 (Super No Vacancy)

While we are on a roll, we are just continuing on with NOAH's First Navigation Tour, the only event to review after this one is the climax. We have an all our war here between NOAH and Suzukigun in an Elimination Match, as well as a defense of the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Championship in the main event between two of my favorite NOAH wrestlers. So I am sure that will be good. Here is the full card:

- Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
- Kenou and Hajime Ohara vs. Yoshinari Ogawa and Hitoshi Kumano
- Quiet Storm, Jonah Rock, and Buffalo vs. Takeshi Morishima, Maybach Taniguchi, and Mitsuhiro Kitamiya
- Takashi Iizuka, TAKA Michinoku, and El Desperado vs. Takashi Sugiura, Akitoshi Saito, and Genba Hirayanagi
- Elimination Match: Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Benjamin, and Taichi vs. Marufuji, Yone, Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls, and Ishimori
- GHC Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Atsushi Kotoge vs. Daisuke Harada

Some potential here for goodness from top to bottom.

Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Nakajima and Sabre jockey around to start, trading submission holds until Nakajima gets in the ropes. Takedown by Sabre and he goes for Nakajima's arm, but Nakajima gets to the ropes again. Kick to the back by Nakajima and he kicks Sabre again. Sabre stomps down on Nakajima's arm and applies a wristlock, but Nakajima reverses it. Big boot by Nakajima and he boots Sabre out of the ring. Nakajima goes on the apron and goes for a kick, but Sabre ducks it and kicks Nakajima in the ropes before hitting a leg sweep. Sabre kicks Nakajima in the arm and takes him to the mat, twisting on Nakajima's fingers. Sabre stomps down on Nakajima's arm again, kicks by Sabre but Nakajima kicks him away. PK by Sabre but it gets a two count. Wristlock by Sabre but Nakajima hits a dragon screw leg whip. Big boot by Nakajima, he goes up top and hits a missile dropkick. Nakajima goes for a backdrop suplex but Sabre blocks it. Jumping kick by Sabre in the corner and he kicks Nakajima in the arm. Sabre kicks Nakajima in the arm but Nakajima kicks Sabre in the chest. Superkick by Nakajima but Sabre hits a tornado DDT. Sabre gets Nakajima's arm but Nakajima lands in the ropes and breaks the hold. Nakajima drop toeholds Sabre into the corner and he hits the backdrop suplex. Cover, but Sabre gets a shoulder up. PK by Nakajima, cover, but it gets two again. Kicks by Nakajima, he picks up Sabre and he hits a brainbuster for another two. Sabre wiggles away from Nakajima and hits a cross armbreaker takedown, cutback by Nakajima but this time Sabre gets out of the cradle and re-applies the cross armbreaker. He has a hold of Nakajima's arm still, but the time limit expires so the match is declared a Draw. This was a really good technical match and a solid opening to the show. For this style of match I thought that Nakajima blew off the arm work too easily to hit his run of moves, but at least Sabre didn't forget about it and it really felt like Sabre was going to win when the bell rang. Good way to start things off. Score: 7.0

Kenou and Hajime Ohara vs. Yoshinari Ogawa and Hitoshi Kumano
Ohara and Kumano start off and Ohara applies a stretch hold. Side headlock by Kumano and he hits a shoulderblock. Dropkick by Kumano but he is hit from the ringside. Ohara twists Kumano in the ropes and both he and Kenou rake his face. Dropkick by Ohara to Kumano and he tags in Kenou. Kenou and Kumano trade elbows and Kenou rakes Kumano in the eyes. Kenou throws Kumano into Ohara's boot and tags him in. Ohara hits a scoop slam on Kenou and he applies a single leg crab hold. Kumano gets to the ropes, Ohara grabs him but Kumano blocks the suplex and hits a vertical suplex of his own. He make the hottest tag to Ogawa and Ogawa hits a neckbreaker to Ohara followed by a drop toehold to Kenou. Ohara rakes Ogawa in the eyes and hits a jumping kick. Spinning backbreaker by Ohara and he applies Muy Bien, but Kumano breaks it up. Ohara tags in Kenou and he hits a jumping knee on Ogawa in the corner. Ankle hold by Kenou to Ogawa but Ogawa gets to the ropes. Ogawa moves when Kenou charges in, and Kenou goes into the ring post. Ogawa tags in Kumano and Kumano hits an elbow. Dropkick by Kumano and he hits a vertical suplex. Kumano goes off the ropes but Kenou moves the referee in the way so he gets hit instead. Kenou gets a kendo stick but he hits Ohara by accident. Ogawa hits both Kenou and Ohara with the kendo stick, fisherman suplex by Kumano to Kenou but it gets a two count. Kumano picks up Kenou but Kenou kicks him in the ribs. Ohara runs in and hits Kumano in the corner, and Kenou hits a diving doublestomp to Kumano for a two count. Kenou picks up Kumano and he hits the Shubou for the three count. Nothing wrong with this one but not great either. I really like Kenou but his tag matches tend to be pretty not exciting and I've never been a fan of Ogawa. Nothing here to really note one way or the other. Score: 4.0

Quiet Storm, Jonah Rock, and Buffalo vs. Takeshi Morishima, Maybach Taniguchi, and Mitsuhiro Kitamiya
Buffalo and Kitamiya are in the ring first and Buffalo hits a lariat. Kitamiya throws Buffalo out of the ring, Taniguchi rolls him back in and Kitamiya hits a back elbow. Kitamiya shoulders Buffalo in the corner and tags in Taniguchi. Taniguchi kicks Buffalo in the corner but Buffalo hits a vertical suplex. Taniguchi stomps Buffalo and tags in Morishima. Morishima throws Buffalo in the corner and stomps him down. Running butt smash by Morishima while Taniguchi brings in his metal pole. Kenou hits Buffalo with a kendo stick, then Taniguchi uses his stick followed by a Morishima body press. Morishima hits a lariat on Buffalo, cover, but it gets a two count. Morishima picks up Buffalo but Buffalo avoids Morishima's charge and hits a backdrop suplex. Buffalo tags in Rock, headbutts by Rock to Morishima and Rock kicks Morishima in the head. Rock hits a body avalanche in the corner followed by a crossbody for a two count. Rock goes off the ropes but Morishima hits a hip attack and tags in Taniguchi. Rock kicks Taniguchi back but Taniguchi hits a spinebuster for two. Eye rake by Taniguchi but Rock hits a shoulderblock. Rock tags in Storm, kick by Taniguchi to Storm but Storm hits a vertical suplex. Lariat by Storm but Taniguchi kicks him back. Suplex by Storm but the pin attempt is broken up. Storm goes off the ropes but Taniguchi hits a powerslam and tags in Kitamiya. Storm and Kitamiya trade elbows and Kitamiya hits a suplex. Taniguchi lariats Storm in the corner as does Morishima. Spear by Kitamiya to Storm, cover, but it gets a two count. Kitamiya slams Storm to the mat but Storm hits a fisherman buster for a two count. Brainbuster by Storm, but the pin attempt gets broken up. 50cm Arm Lariat by Storm and he gets the three count. Some of the wrestlers in this match just aren't very good so naturally that impacted the match quality. Some of the heel shenanigans were fun and it kept the match action varied, but still not a great match. Score: 5.0

Takashi Iizuka, TAKA Michinoku, and El Desperado vs. Takashi Sugiura, Akitoshi Saito, and Genba Hirayanagi
Saito is attacked to start the match but he hits a double lariat. Saito lariats Michinoku in the corner and tags in Hirayanagi. Hirayanagi elbows Michinoku and hits a testicular whip, but he is pulled out of the ring. Everyone brawls at ringside, with Suzukigun getting the advantage. Iizuka and Michinoku return to the ring, and Hirayanagi eventually gets back in so he can be stomped down. Michinoku applies pressure to Hirayanagi's groin and he is choked in the corner. Desperado is tagged in and he headbutts Hirayanagi. Ankle hold by Desperado and he hits a back elbow. Iizuka chokes Hirayanagi with some rope, hanging him over the top rope. Stomps by Iizuka and he chokes Hirayanagi in the corner. Hirayanagi hits a missile dropkick and makes the tag to Sugiura. Sugiura spears Iizuka but Michinoku and Desperado run in to help. That didn't work, and Sugiura knees Iizuka in the stomach. Big boot by Sugiura and he hits a running knee. Running knee by Sugiura and he elbows Iizuka, and Iizuka hits an atomic drop. Iizuka tags in Michinoku, and Sugiura hits a big boot to Michinoku. Sugiura tags in Saito and Saito kicks everyone. Hirayanagi is tagged in, Hirayanagi goes up top but he is knocked off to the mat. Hirayanagi is attacked by everyone in the corner, boot by Michinoku and he gets a two. Spinebuster by Desperado and Michinoku kicks Hirayanagi in the head for a two count. Michinoku goes for a Michinoku Driver but Hirayanagi rolls him up and gets a three count. Short-ish Suzukigun matches by definition aren't going to bad, as they know how to heel and keep the action moving. An entertaining match that continues putting over Suzukigun, as even though they lost it came across as fluky. Score: 6.0

Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Benjamin, and Taichi vs. Marufuji, Yone, Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls, and Ishimori
This is an Elimination Match. After they brawl to start off, with Suzuki being attacked by everyone. Yone tries to throw Suzuki over the top rope but his teammates help prevent it. Yone tags in Nicholls, Nicholls tries to dump Suzuki over the top rope but again it is blocked. Nicholls tags in Haste and Haste uppercuts Suzuki in the corner. He also can't dump Suzuki over and Ishimori is tagged in. Suzuki applies a front necklock to Ishimori and tags in Benjamin. Scoop slams by Benjamin and he tags in Archer. Lariat by Archer and he hits a body slam. Archer tags in Taichi and Taichi lariats Ishimori in the corner. Suzuki applies an armbar over the top rope to Ishimori and Smith stomps on him. Scoop slam by Smith and they keep up attacking Ishimori until he finally gets away and tags in Yone. Yone elbows Suzuki and they trade blows. Kick to the back by Suzuki and he tags in Archer. Shoulderblock by Archer and he tags Suzuki back in. Yone tries to dump Suzuki out of the ring but Suzuki applies a sleeper, Gotch-style Piledriver by Suzuki on Yone and he picks up the three count. Mohammed Yone is eliminated.

Suzuki chops Ishimori in the corner and tags in Benjamin. Dropkick by Ishimori, he gets on Benjamin's shoulders and hits a hurricanrana. Ishimori goes for another one but Benjamin catches him and hits a powerbomb. Cover, and he gets the three count. Taiji Ishimori is eliminated.

Haste elbows Benjamin but he is hit from the floor. Suplex by Benjamin to Haste and he dumps Haste out of the ring. Suzuki twists Haste's neck in the guardrail until rolling him back in, cover by Benjamin but it gets two. Smith and Archer shoulderblock Haste and Smith hits a legdrop. Vertical suplex by Smith, Benjamin comes in and he trades elbows with Haste. Jumping kick by Haste and he tags in Marufuji. Marufuji kicks Benjamin back and he hits a lariat. Kick combination by Marufuji, Benjamin puts Marufuji on the top turnbuckle and joins him, and Benjamin hits an avalanche belly to belly suplex. Benjamin charges Marufuji but Marufuji pulls down the top rope and Benjamin tumbles out of the ring. Shelton Benjamin is eliminated.

Taichi and Suzuki run in and stomp Marufuji, and everyone attacks Marufuji in the corner. Taichi and Marufuji trade superkick attempts but Marufuji sneaks in a backslide and he picks up the three count. Taichi is eliminated.

Suzuki stomps on Marufuji and applies a leg submission hold. He tags in Archer and Archer hits a back bodydrop. Smith is next and he hits a double arm suplex. Stretch hold by Smith, Marufuji tries to fight back but Suzuki is tagged in. PK by Suzuki but it gets a two count. Marufuji and Suzuki trade chops, Suzukigun runs in and clears the ring, but Marufuji superkicks Suzuki out to the apron. Suzuki applies a sleeper over the top rope and pulls him onto the apron with him. Superkick by Marufuji on the apron and another one, but Suzuki catches one and applies a kneelock. Marufuji flops down to the floor, and Naomichi Marufuji is eliminated.

Haste and Suzuki trade strikes in the ring but Suzuki applies an armbar. Smith goes for a powerbomb but Haste punches out of it. Jumping heel kick by Haste and he dropkicks Archer. Irish whip by Haste to Smith but Archer comes back and they drop Haste with the Killer Bomb. Cover, and Shane Haste is eliminated.

Nicholls knocks down Smith and hits a sliding lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. Smith and Nicholls trade elbows but Smith hits a jumping knee and tags in Archer. Assisted lariat to Smith but the cover gets another two. Nicholls fights off Archer and lariats Smith in the corner. Suzuki runs in and applies a sleeper to Nicholls, he throws him to Smith and with Archer they hit the Killer Bomb. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Suzuki, Smith, and Archer are your survivors of the Elimination Tag Match. One thing I liked about the match is they didn't go the predicable route and have the good guys have a big comeback in the end, as there just wasn't any way they were going to come back against Suzuki, Smith, and Archer. This was timed well as everyone knew when to run in, and even though a few of the beatdown segments went a bit long the match never slowed down as they had seven eliminations in under 25 minutes. Only one elimination was lame (Benjamin's), the rest were pretty solid. A simple way for Suzuki and company to assert themselves as they beat some of the best that NOAH has to offer, and this really is Suzuki at his best. Score: 7.0

(c) Atsushi Kotoge vs. Daisuke Harada
This match is for the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Championship. They push each other around the ring to start the match, with neither getting a clear advantage. Harada gets Kotoge to the mat but Kotoge pushes him into the ropes and kicks him. They trade holds, Harada gets Kotoge in the corner and Kotoge delivers a dropkick. Harada falls out of the ring, Kotoge slides out after him and hits a superkick. Kotoge throws Harada into the railing and hits a scoop slam on the floor. Kotoge slides Harada back in and applies a cross arm submission. Kotoge and Harada trade elbows, and Harada elbows Kotoge hard in the chest. Elbow by Harada and he hits an overhead suplex. Pescado by Harada and he slides Kotoge back into the ring, and Harada hits a jumping elbow in the corner. Death valley bomb by Harada, and he gets a two count. Kotoge gets on the apron and goes for a cutter, Kotoge sends Harada to the apron but Harada rolls in the ring and hits a cutter. Henkei Knee Upper by Kotoge but it gets two. Harada goes for a suplex but Kotoge lands on his feet and hurricanranas Harada over the top rope to the apron. Kotoge gets back up onto the apron but Harada gets him onto his shoulders. Kotoge gets away and hits a superkick, but Harada hits a release German suplex on the apron. Back in the ring and Harada hits a backdrop suplex. Elbow to the chest by Harada and he hits a brainbuster onto his knee for two. Harada puts Kotoge on the top turnbuckle and joins him, Kotoge knocks him off but Harada hits a jumping elbow. Harada gets Kotoge on his shoulders and hits an avalanche death valley bomb. Harada picks up Kotoge but Kotoge superkicks him as he charges in.

Another superkick by Kotoge, he goes up top and hits a front flip Killswitch. Kotoge and Harada trade elbows and slaps until they both fall to the mat. Running kick by Kotoge, he goes for a Killswitch but Harada gets out of it. German suplex hold by Harada, but it gets a two count. Henkei Knee Upper by Harada and he hits a roaring elbow. Harada hits the Turn Over Knee to Kotoge, but Kotoge barely kicks out. Harada picks up Kotoge and goes for a suplex but Kotoge headbutts out of it. Another headbutt by Kotoge and he hits a til-a-whirl DDT. Kotoge picks up Harada, Harada tries to roll away but Kotoge hits a Onsoku Leg Shot to the back of the head. Spike Killswitch by Kotoge, but Harada kicks out. Kotoge drags Kotoge to his feet again and hits a modified overhead Killswitch, finally picking up the three count. Kotoge is still your champion! Really enjoyed this match as I think both of these guys are fun wrestlers and they seemed motivated by being in the main event. I didn't mind Kotoge hitting so many Killswitches, as it was a title match and it hadn't been put over as a super death move or anything. Plus those last two were really hurt-y looking variations. They didn't bother with limb work, which is good since both have finishers that target the head, and the time just flew by as they found a variety of ways to do damage to each other. The German suplex on the apron was sick and they weren't pulling any punches. Both aren't high flyers so there weren't just random flying spots all over the ring, just lots of suplexes and strikes. Really entertaining main event, definitely worth a watch. Score: 8.0

Final Thoughts:

This was definitely the best NOAH event so far in 2015 and may end up being one of the better top to bottom shows of the year. They started with a very solid technical match, had two fun heel/face brawl style matches and then had a great main event with two young stars of the promotion that I hope will be a focus in the promotion for a long time. The only real knock on the card is it only had six matches, which isn't a lot on a big card, and none of the matches went really long to explain the lower number (I realize the reason is ten wrestlers were in one match, but it wasn't a really long match). Overall this was a really solid and varied card that I think most fans of puroresu will find something on to enjoy. New Japan isn't the only fish in the sea, just the most consistent one, and other promotions deserve an occasional look as well.

Grade: B
review completed on 2/8/15