NOAH at the Budokan
review by Kevin Wilson

The Date:  March 1st, 2003
Location:  Tokyo, Japan
Attendance:  16,700

Whenever people talk about classic Puroresu feuds, there are two that you will hear first:  Misawa vs. Kawada and Misawa vs. Kobashi.  By 2003, all three men were worn down from injuries, but when the big match came, they brought the goodness.  Up to this point in his career, Kobashi had never defeated Misawa when a major championship was on the line.  Would he have any luck tonight?  We'll see.  The complete card was as follows:

- Haruka Eigen and Kishin Kawabata vs. Rusher Kimura and Mitsuo Momota
- Akira Taue, Modest, and Donovan Morgan vs. Sano, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, and Kotaro Suzuki
- Naomichi Marufuji and KENTA vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Makoto Hashi
- Bison Smith, Superstar Steve, and IZU vs. Morishima, Takeshi Rikio, and Daisuke Ikeda
- Scorpio vs. Yoshinari Ogawa
- Masao Inoue vs. Yoshihiro Takayama
- Jun Akiyama and Akitoshi Saito vs. Tamon Honda and Takashi Sugiura
- GHC Heavyweight Championship: (c) Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi

Even though I keep up with the promotion, this is actually the first time I have seen a full NOAH card, so it should be a fun experience if nothing else.

Haruka Eigen and Kishin Kawabata vs. Rusher Kimura and Mitsuo Momota
Eigen and Momota start things off.  Tie-up, waistlock by Eigen reversed into an armbar by Momota, but Eigen gets to the ropes.  The two run off the ropes Warrior/Hogan style, but have another stalemate.  Eigen gets Momota into the corner after another struggle and Kawabata is tagged in.  Chops by Kawabata follow and he elbows Momota repeatedly in the back of the head.  Hammerlock by Kawabata into an armbar and he takes Momota down to the mat.  Kawabata kicks Momota in the leg and then applies a simple leg lock.  Eigen is tagged back in and he gives Momota the Big Swing of pain.  Cover, but it only gets a one count.  Eigen gives Momota a headbutt, sending Momota from the ring.  Eigen pretends like he is going to follow out with a tope, but remembers that he is almost 60 years old and crawls out of the ring instead.  An Irish whip by Eigen outside the ring follows, sending Momota into the guardrail.  Momota fires back with a chop though, and Eigen spits into the crowd when he is hit, hitting some poor woman.  Back in the ring, Kimura is tagged in and he gives Eigen a clubbing blow as he spits into the crowd again.  Momota is tagged in again, but Eigen regains the advantage and tags in Kawabata.  Kawabata and Momota exchange chops, which Momota gets the better of as he kicks Kawabata to the mat.  Kawabata tags in Kimura who slaps Kawabata in the stomach.  Another slap by Kimura follows, but Kawabata chops him back and gives him a stiff headbutt.  Another headbutt by Kawabata, but Kimura headbutts him back, leading Kawabata to tag in Eigen.  Eigen and Kawabata take turns chopping Eigen, and finally Eigen manages to kick Kimura down.  More chops by Eigen, but Kimura sneaks in a chop of his own, leading Eigen to (of course) spit into the crowd once again.  Man I love his gimmick.  Eigen tags in Kawabata after the spitting and he kicks Kimura in the gut.  Kimura and Kawabata exchange blows and Kimura tags Momota back in.  Momota and Kawabata trade chops, and Kawabata gets the first real move of the match with a sidewalk slam.  Cover by Kawabata, but it only gets two.  Irish whip by Kawabata into the corner, but Momota gets a foot up when he charges and plants him with a DDT.  Cover, but it gets two.  Back up, Irish whip by Momota, he goes for a back suplex, but Eigen runs in to break it up.  Momota tosses Eigen from the ring, Irish whip my Momota on Kawabata, reversed, and Kawabata nails a Samoan drop.  Cover, but Momota kicks out.  Kawabata ascends to the top turnbuckle, but Momota avoids the missile dropkick.  Irish whip by Momota, reversed, Momota manages to apply the backslide and he gets the three count pin.  Your winners:  Rusher Kimura and Mitsuo Momota

Match Thoughts:  If my math is right (which I can't guarantee), the combined age of these four men was 209 years old at the time of the match.  Which is even more interesting considering that one of the wrestlers was only 37, really bringing down the average.  Needless to say, in terms of workrate, there really wasn't much to this match.  I can't really say it was a disappointment though, one look at who was in the match and you knew what you were getting.  For an opener it wasn't horrendous, but anywhere else on the card and this match would have been unacceptable.  Score:  3.0

Akira Taue, Modest, and Donovan Morgan vs. Takuma Sano, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, and Kotaro Suzuki
Suzuki and Taue start things off.  Tie-up, Taue gets Suzuki into the ropes, and gives a clean break.  Tie-up again, side headlock by Suzuki, but Taue Irish whips out of it and knocks Suzuki down with a shoulderblock.  Another shoulderblock by Taue knocks Suzuki down again, and this time Suzuki slowly gets to his feet instead of getting back up quickly.  Once he has regained his footing, the two tie up again, wristlock by Taue, reversed into an armbar by Suzuki, but Taue gives Suzuki the claw, trying to get out of it.  Suzuki maintains the hold though until Taue gives him a few chops to the head and Suzuki is knocked to the mat.  Irish whip by Taue from the corner, but he misses the big boot and is dropkicked into the corner.  Kicks by Suzuki, he slaps on a front facelock and tags in Kikuchi.  Punches by Kikuchi to Taue's head, but Taue connects with a swinging kick and tags in Modest.  Dropkick to the back of the head by Modest, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Modest applies a front facelock and tags in Morgan.  Morgan performs a quick takedown on Kikuchi, but Kikuchi struggles back to his feet and manages to take in Sano.  Sano quickly applies a leg submission on Morgan, Modest tries to break it up, but Sano maintains the hold.  Morgan eventually rolls out of the submission hold and hits a dragon screw leg whip on Sano.  Morgan tags in Taue, Taue goes for a suplex, but Sano reverses it and tags in Kikuchi.  Kikuchi and Sano work on Taue's legs, and after Sano leaves the ring Kikuchi goes for a figure four.  Taue reverses it however and applies his own leg submission.  Back on their feet, Kikuchi manages to reach over and tag in Suzuki, but Taue fends them both off with a spinebuster on Kikuchi and a big boot to Suzuki.  Taue chucks Suzuki out of the ring, allowing Morgan to Irish whip him into the guardrail.  Suzuki gains the advantage on Morgan, Modest tries to help out, Suzuki gets back in the ring without taking further damage but is immediately knocked down by a big boot from Taue.  Taue slowly picks up Suzuki and drops him over the top rope.  Morgan is tagged in, he nails a suplex, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Irish whip by Morgan, but Suzuki reverses it into a sunset flip for two.  Morgan quickly takes Suzuki back down and Modest is tagged in.  Punches by Modest in the corner and he hits a charging attack as Suzuki slumps down in the corner.  Cover, but Suzuki kicks out.  Back suplex by Modest, cover, but Kikuchi breaks it up.  Going back to Suzuki, Modest picks him up and tags in Morgan.  Double team by Morgan and Modest, and Modest stays in as the legal man. 

Modest tags in Taue, who picks Suzuki up and tosses him to the mat.  Cover, but Suzuki kicks out at two.  Taue goes for a suplex, but Suzuki goes over his back and hits a flip dropkick.  This gives him time to tag in Kikuchi who immediately goes to work on Taue.  Taue fights back with chops to the head, but Kikuchi hits a running elbow attack and a spinning heel kick, followed by a fisherman's suplex for a two count.  Taue hits another chop, and drops Kikuchi with a DDT.  Morgan is tagged in, Irish whip by Morgan, and he hits a clothesline in the corner.  Morgan follows that up with a pair of suplexes and a fisherman's suplex, but Kikuchi kicks out at two.  Irish whip by Morgan, reversed, but Morgan hits a swinging fisherman's drop.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Back up, Morgan goes for another suplex, but Kikuchi elbows out of it and knocks down Morgan with a Zero-sen kick.  Kikuchi tags in Sano, who immediately goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick on Morgan.  Morgan tries to fight back, but Sano will have none of it and floors him with a release German suplex.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Quickly back to their feet, Morgan gives Sano an Irish whip to the corner, Sano gets his foot up with Morgan charges, but Morgan still hits the overhead belly to belly suplex and tags in Modest.  Irish whip by Modest, reversed, but Modest delivers a side Russian leg sweep.  Sano connects with a few punches, but Modest gets him down again with a throat-clutch falling face-crusher.  Cover by Modest, but Sano barely kicks out.  Modest drops Sano with a scoop slam while Morgan goes to the top turnbuckle, Modest runs over and headscissors Morgan off the top with the intention lf making him land on Sano, but Sano moves out of the way.  Sano kicks Modest in the corner, Irish whip, and Sano hits a release German suplex.  Suzuki is tagged in, he goes up top and hits a flying crossbody followed by mounted punches.  Irish whip by Suzuki, reversed, and Modest clotheslines him in the corner.  Modest goes up top, but Suzuki headscissors him off.  Irish whip by Suzuki and he nails the handstand springboard elbow attack on Modest.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Back up, Irish whip by Suzuki and he hits a running forearm smash followed by a leapfrog face-crusher.  Cover again, but again Modest kicks out.  Another Irish whip by Suzuki, this time it is reversed, but Suzuki still manages to apply a christo hold.  Taue and Morgan quickly break it up however, Morgan and Modest try to double team Suzuki, but Suzuki dropkicks Modest into Morgan.  Suzuki goes for a hurricanrana, but Modest catches him and reverses it into the Reality Check.  Cover by Modest and this one is over.  Your winners:  Akira Taue, Michael Modest, and Donovan Morgan

Match Thoughts:  As far as six-man tags go, this one was in general pretty entertaining.  Most the wrestlers in the match could work, and Kotaro Suzuki is a great young talent with a lot of potential.  Modest was impressive as well, and Taue was the only one that came across as behind the others in terms of workrate (which is no real surprise).  While you have to throw out match elements such as pyschology and fluidness in a six-man tag match this early in the card, it still did a good job in showcasing the talent and kept me interested all the way to the finish.  Score:  6.5

Naomichi Marufuji and KENTA vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Makoto Hashi
KENTA and Kanemaru start things off.  They begin the match quickly, exchanging stiff kicks and forearm shots.  Irish whip by Kanemaru, reversed, and KENTA hits a kick to the stomach.  This brings in Marufuji and Hashi, and while Kanemaru is bent over, Marufuji jumps off his back and hits a spinning heel kick on the incoming Hashi.  Hashi falls out of the ring and Marufuji follows him out with a pescado while in the ring KENTA goes off the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick.  Brainbuster by KENTA, but Kanemaru kicks out.  Up quickly, KENTA hits a combination of kicks and punches, goes off the ropes, but Kanemaru meets him with a clothesline.  Hashi is tagged in by Kanemaru, tie-up, and the two exchange slaps.  Hashi gets the better of it and kicks KENTA down.  Back up, elbow by Hashi, but KENTA fires back with kicks to the chest and head and tags in Marufuji.  Marufuji tosses Hashi in the corner and hits him with mounted punches followed by a savate kick to the head.  Hashi fights back though and floors Marufuji with a headbutt.  Elbow to the back of the head by Hashi and he tags in Kanemaru.  Irish whip by Kanemaru, reversed, and Marufuji hits a dropkick.  Back up, Marufuji throws Kanemaru into the corner and tags in KENTA.  KENTA assaults Kanemaru with kicks to the chest and finally knocks him down with a stiff kick to the head.  KENTA and Marufuji together choke Kanemaru in the corner, Irish whip by KENTA and he elbows Kanemaru down.  Marufuji is tagged back in and he enters the ring with a springboard elbow drop on Kanemaru from the apron.  Cover, but Kanemaru kicks out at two.  Marufuji applies a reverse chinlock, but Kanemaru gets his foot on the ropes.  Neckbreaker by Marufuji, cover, but it only gets two.  Marufuji then applies a modified camel clutch while KENTA comes in the ring and kicks Kanemaru in the head.  Cover by Marufuji, but it only gets a two count.  Marufuji tags in KENTA, Irish whip, but Kanemaru whips off a quick back suplex.  Hashi takes the opportunity to pull KENTA to the apron and gives him a reverse DDT on the apron before tossing him back in the ring.  While Hashi holds KENTA with his head over the apron, Kanemaru jumps over the top rope and drops down to the floor, hitting KENTA in the head on the way.  Kanemaru then tosses KENTA up onto the ramp and scoop slams him back down to the floor.  Kanemaru tags in Hashi, and Hashi goes outside the ring to beat on KENTA before tossing him back into the ring.  Cover by Hashi, but it gets a two count.  KENTA tries to fight back, but he gets hit with a series of Mongolian chops.  Cover, but again it only gets two.  Hashi hits a headbutt on KENTA, another cover, another two.  Kanemaru is tagged back in, double Irish whip, and they knock down KENTA with a double clothesline.  Hashi runs over and hits Marufuji in case he was thinking of coming in while Kanemaru puts KENTA up in the tree of woe in the corner.  With him hanging there, Kanemaru hits him with a dropkick and Hashi follows with a diving headbutt.  Cover by Kanemaru, but KENTA kicks out.  Kanemaru applies the Boston crab, but KENTA manages to reach the bottom rope and Kanemaru breaks the hold. 

Kanemaru tags in Hashi, KENTA tries to fight off both men, but Kanemaru knocks him out with a kick.  Hashi slowly picks up KENTA, Irish whip, but KENTA reverses it into a sunset flip for two.  Back in control, Hashi slaps KENTA into the corner, Irish whip, but KENTA gets his foot up when Hashi charges.  KENTA then charges Hashi but gets a headbutt to the stomach, but KENTA still manages to hit an enzigieri and he tags in Marufuji.  Knees to the gut by Marufuji, he grabs Hashi's arm and springboards off the ropes to arm drag him down, and while doing that he simultaneously dropkicks Kanemaru who had just come into the ring.  Running elbow smash by Marufuji to Hashi in the corner, he puts him in the tree of woe to attempt the full ring springboard dropkick, but from the outside his legs are grabbed by Kanemaru.  Kanemaru throws Marufuji into the guardrail and follows up with a guillotine legdrop while Marufuji is hung over the rail.  Kanemaru tosses Marufuji back into the ring, Hashi picks him up, Marufuji fights back with forearm shots, but Hashi regains the advantage with a Goriman's driver.  This gives him plenty of time to tag in Kanemaru, Irish whip by Kanemaru, reversed by Marufuji, Marufuji avoids the quebrada by Hashi but Hashi lands on his feet, the two exchange forearms, but Marufuji delivers a drop toehold followed by a dropkick to the head.  Marufuji tags in KENTA, Irish whip by KENTA and he hits a powerslam.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Irish whip by KENTA into the corner, Kanemaru gets his foot up when KENTA charges, but KENTA hits a quick hurricanrana and reverts it into a jujigatame.  Marufuji flies across the ring to knock Hashi off the apron with an elbow, but in the ring Kanemaru has managed to reach the ropes.  Marufuji comes in the ring to help KENTA, Kanemaru fights them off for a moment, but he is put away by a thrust kick from Marufuji followed by a Fisherman's buster by KENTA.  Cover by KENTA, but Hashi breaks it up.  Marufuji comes in to toss Hashi from the ring, while KENTA goes to the top turnbuckle.  KENTA goes for a diving hurricanrana, but Kanemaru catches him and powerbombs him to the mat.  Scoop slam by Kanemaru, he goes up top and nails the moonsault.  Cover, but it gets two.  Kanemaru goes up top again, waits for KENTA to get up, hits the diving DDT, cover, but KENTA barely kicks out.  Kanemaru picks KENTA up, goes for a brainbuster, but KENTA wiggles out of it and hits the knee smash.  KENTA makes the hot tag while Kanemaru also tags in Hashi.  Hashi quickly knocks Marufuji down, but Marufuji gets back up and hits an overhead kick to Hashi's head.  Cover, but it only gets two.  Marufuji goes up top and hits a great dropkick to Hashi while he is still getting up.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  KENTA comes in to toss Kanemaru from the ring, Marufuji hits a thrust kick on Hashi, but Hashi fires back with a clothesline.  Cover by Hashi but Marufuji barely kicks out.  Back up, Hashi delivers his version of a fisherman's brainbuster (while holding his opponent's arm between their legs), cover, but again it gets two.  Frustrated, Hashi goes up top and hits a diving headbutt, cover, but again Marufuji can not be pinned.  Hashi places Marufuji up on the top turnbuckle and goes for a back suplex, but Marufuji flips out of it and goes for the Shiranui, but Hashi tosses him off.  Hashi goes for a reverse DDT, but Marufuji reverses it into a modified cradle and gets the three count fall!  Your winners:  Naomichi Marufuji and KENTA

Match Thoughts:  From the fast beginning to the quick ending, this match was almost non-stop action.  I think there was only one rest hold in the entire match.  While all four of these wrestlers have bright futures, Marufuji and KENTA really have set the bar high for junior heavyweight matches in NOAH and put on a good show on a consistent basis.  The moves done here were crisp and well executed, and there literally was hardly a dull moment.  While it is a shame that they did not do any of their big finishers or do very many dives or spectacular moves (probably due to it being lower in the card and not being a title match), the match was extremely entertaining and very well done.  Score:  7.5

An interview with Misawa is shown, then with Kobashi.  Both are ready for their fight tonight and say they will give it their all.

Bison Smith, Superstar Steve, and IZU vs. Takeshi Morishima, Takeshi Rikio, and Daisuke Ikeda
Morishima, Rikio, and Ikeda jump their opponents from behind to start the match, with Rikio and Steve staying in the ring to become the legal men.  Steve knocks Rikio to the outside, and as Rikio gets up on the apron, Steve knocks him off with a springboard dropkick and follows him out with a pescado.  Ikeda comes up to help, but Steve Irish whips him into the guardrail and tosses Rikio back in the ring.  Cover, but Rikio easily kicks out.  Steve tags in IZU who goes to work on Rikio's arm.  An armbar by IZU is applied, but Rikio fights back to his feet.  Mongolian chop by IZU and he tags in Smith.  Irish whip by Smith and he knocks down Rikio with a shoulderblock.  Front facelock by Smith is applied, roll-up by Smith, but it gets two and he re-applies the facelock.  Smith tags in Steve, Steve pushes Rikio in the corner, Irish whip, reversed, and Steve goes flying out of the ring when he hits the turnbuckle.  Ikeda goes outside the ring to Irish whip Steve into the guardrail, and Morishima hits Steve with a big boot before throwing him back into the ring.  Cover by Rikio, but it only gets a two count.  Scoop slam by Rikio and he tags in Morishima.  Irish whip by Morishima and he hits the back bodydrop.  Cover, but it only gets two.  Morishima hits a snap suplex, another cover, but another two count.  Ikeda is tagged in next, snapmare by Ikeda and he kicks Steve hard in the back.  Side Russian leg sweep by Ikeda, cover, but Steve kicks out.  Ikeda tags Rikio back in, Irish whip by Rikio and he hits a spinning elbow attack.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Rikio punches Steve into the turnbuckle, Irish whip, and Rikio nails the running clothesline.  Rikio follows that with a two handed choke slam, cover, but Bison runs in to break it up.  Morishima comes in to toss Bison out of the ring.  Once outside though, Bison gets the better of Morishima and applies the claw hold.  Meanwhile, in the ring Steve uses a headscissors to drop Rikio head-first into the second rope and then hits a dropkick.  This allows him time to tag in IZU, (we see a clip of Morishima lying by a toppled table, I would assume at the hands of Bison) Irish whip by IZU and he hits a scissors kick in the corner.  Another Irish whip by IZU to the other corner, but Rikio gets his foot up.  Unphased, IZU fends off Rikio and takes him down with a front leg sweep.  Cover, but Rikio kicks out.  Back up, Rikio hits IZU with a few forearms, absorbs a kick, and knocks down IZU with a clothesline.  Rikio tags in Ikeda who hits IZU with a variety of kicks and charges before finally knocking him down with a clothesline.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Bison and Morishima go at it again outside the ring, while in the ring Ikeda bites IZU only to fall to the chokeslam.  Steve comes in to help, and he hits the catapulted leg kick in the corner with the help of IZU.  Snapmare by Steve, cover, but Ikeda kicks out.  Steve quickly goes off the ropes, but Ikeda connects with a kick to his head and both men are down.  Ikeda recovers first, but Bison grabs him form the apron, leading Rikio to come over to try to help.  Meanwhile in the ring Steve hits a swinging neckbreaker, cover, but it only gets two.  Scoop slam by Steve, he goes up top and hits the frog splash.  Cover, but Ikeda kicks out.  While carnage continues outside the ring, inside of it Steve goes up top again, but Ikeda catches him up there.  Before Ikeda can perform his muscle buster, however, Bison runs in and assists Steve.  This brings in Morishima and Rikio, but Bison gets the double claw on both of them.  With Ikeda's help they get him off however, double Irish whip, and they shoulderblock him down.  During all of this Steve has managed to regain control on Ikeda, Irish whip, and he hits an elbow smash in the corner.  Arm drag takedown by Steve, he goes up top, but misses the diving headbutt.  Ikeda goes off the ropes and hits a diving front kick, goes up top and hits a diving Dai-Chan Bomber (lariat).  Cover, but IZU breaks it up.  Rikio comes in to take care of IZU, Ikeda hits another Dai-Chan Bomber, but Bison breaks up the pin attempt.  Morishima hits a backdrop suplex on Bison, while Ikeda hits Steve with a backdrop suplex as well.  Cover, but Steve kicks out.  With his partners keeping an eye on their opponents, Ikeda gives Steve a Dai-Chan bomber one last time, and this one gets the victory.  Your winners:  Takeshi Morishima, Takeshi Rikio, and Daisuke Ikeda

Match Thoughts:  Funny to think that two years later Rikio is the GHC Heavyweight Champion, it would have been hard to guess from this match.  Not to say he did poorly, but no one was really given the chance to shine as the match was such a cluster.  In fact by the time the match was over, I really couldn't distinguish one wrestler from another since there was so little rhythm in the match as random attacks just took place until the pinfall.  To make matters worse, Ikeda's last clothesline on Superstar Steve that put him away was actually the weakest looking clothesline that he had hit in the match.  So while the match was far from bad, it was equally far from good and came across as simply filler.  Score:  4.5

Scorpio vs. Yoshinari Ogawa
This is the first I have seen of Scorpio since 1997 or so, so it should be fun.  Scorpio meets Ogawa on the rampway as he makes his entrance and tosses him into the ring.  Punches by Scorpio and he clotheslines Ogawa down.  A dropkick by Scorpio sends Ogawa out of the ring, Scorpio dropkicks Ogawa through the second rope while Ogawa is standing on the outside, but skins the cat and brings himself back in the ring.  Scorpio then sails over the top with a pescado, but Ogawa sidesteps it.  Ogawa tries to Irish whip Scorpio into the guardrail, Scorpio blocks it and goes for a thrust kick, but Ogawa ducks that and plants Scorpio with a DDT.  Ogawa slams Scorpio into the ring post before tossing him back in the ring.  Mounted punches by Ogawa and he chokes Scorpio when Modest (who came to the ring with Scorpio) gets on the apron to argue with the referee.  More mounted punches by Ogawa and he applies a wristlock.  Ogawa releases the hold and tries to throw Scorpio onto the ramp, but Scorpio reverses it and it is Ogawa who comes flying out.  Scorpio follows Ogawa with a slingshot kick to the head.  Scorpio then goes for a double legged moonsault, by Ogawa mostly rolls out of the way of it.  Both men slowly get to their feet, Scorpio goes to hit Ogawa, but Ogawa grabs his crotch and Scorpio flinches back.  Releasing his death grip on Scorpio, Ogawa nails him in the head with an enzigieri.  Ogawa follows up with a backdrop suplex on the ramp and re-enters the ring.  Modest and Morgan go over to revive Scorpio, but failing to do so they just slowly roll him back towards the ring before tossing him back in.  Another backdrop suplex by Ogawa follows, and a third one after that.  Ogawa hits a fourth, cover, but Scorpio barely kicks out.  Scorpio slowly struggles to his feet, Ogawa pounds on him, but Scorpio absorbs the blows and nails a cross-armed powerbomb.  Scorpio then goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a high leg drop.  Scorpio pops up quickly, goes back to the top turnbuckle, and this time hits the Drop the Bomb (moonsault legdrop) attack.  Cover by Scorpio, but Ogawa kicks out at two.  Scorpio calls for the 450 splash, goes up top once again, nails it, cover, but somehow Ogawa kicks out of it.  Scorpio calls for the 450 again, hits it again, and this time Ogawa does not kick out.  Your winner:  Scorpio

Post match (Post match action, with puroresu?  How rare.):  Ogawa pretends to be congratulating Scorpio, but instead he clotheslines him down.  Morgan comes running in, but he gets an enzigieri.  Modest runs in next, but Ogawa quickly plants him with a backdrop suplex.  Bison Smith then comes in, manages to get the claw on Ogawa, but Ogawa kicks him low and leaves the ring.

Match Thoughts:  Well that was a weird little match.  Before I dissect it though I first need to say how great it is to see Scorpio in good shape again, as he was losing his step (no doubt due to drugs) the last time I saw him.  Even though he was 37 when the match took place, he hit his top rope moves with ease and still had a lot of quickness in his step.  As for the match itself, it was very oddly laid out.  After a fasted paced start, Ogawa hits one of his best moves (the backdrop driver) four times, but can't get the win.  Then we quickly transition to Scorpio hitting most of his big moves (cross-armed powerbomb, high elevated leg drop, Drop the Bomb, and his 450 Splash) with virtually no fight given by Ogawa before winning with another 450 Splash.  The match was relatively short (around seven minutes), so I guess instead of having a section of the match that slows down and the wrestlers wear each other down, they skipped it and went straight from hot start to hot finish.  It was a fun match, especially for me seeing Scorpio again, but it utterly lacked flow or substance.  Bonus points for the aftermath though, always a special treat.  Score:  6.5

Masao Inoue vs. Yoshihiro Takayama
They circle each other to start, tie-up, and Takayama pushes Inoue back into the corner.  Tie-up again, Takayama pushes Inoue into the ropes, but just gives him a slap before stepping back.  A third tie-up, Inoue hits a kick and an eye rake before grinding his face against the top rope.  Snapmare by Inoue and he stomps on Takayama while he is down.  Inoue tosses Takayama from the ring and Irish whips him into the guardrail.  More eye raking by Inoue and he tosses Takayama back in the ring.  Forearms to the back by Inoue, a side headlock is applied, but Takayama reverses it into a headscissors submission.  Inoue is almost knocked out by it, but he reaches the bottom rope.  Back up, Irish whip by Takayama, but Inoue gets his foot up when he charges and comes off the top with a diving shoulderblock.  Irish whip by Inoue, he goes for a clothesline, but Takayama absorbs the blow.  He goes for another one and gets the same result, but finally knocks down Takayama with the third one.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Inoue calls for the Argentine Backbreaker, but Takayama fights out of it and tosses Inoue in the corner.  Jumping knee attack by Takayama followed by a double-armed suplex, cover, but Inoue kicks out.  Snapmare by Takayama and he kicks Inoue down.  Cocky cover, which angers Inoue and he is back up quickly.  The two exchange forearm shots, eye rake by Inoue, and he knocks down Takayama with a running forearm smash.  Cover, but it gets two.  Inoue picks Takayama up and Irish whips him into the corner, but when he charges all he gets is a boot in his face.  Takayama then charges Inoue, but Inoue catches him and hits a fall away slam.  Cover by Inoue but it only gets two.  Inoue goes for the Argentine Backbreaker again and this time manages to get Takayama up, but Takayama locks his head in a headlock and Inoue lets Takayama back down.  Inoue elbows out of the hold, bounces off the ropes, avoids the kick, and gets a roll-up pin attempt for a one count.  Big boot by Takayama, he goes for his Everest German Suplex, but Inoue ducks out of it and gets another roll-up for a two count.  Back up, Takayama hits Inoue with a quick knee to the gut, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Takayama slowly picks Inoue up, hits the Everest German Suplex hold, and he gets the three count.  Your winner:  Yoshihiro Takayama

Match Thoughts:  Solid match, with the typical big wrestler vs. smaller wrestler story tied along to it.  Never was really sure who was the heel or the face, since usually the bigger wrestler is the heel, but in this case Inoue was using moves such as eye rakes which is usually heelish.  Regardless it wasn't a bad match, but was too short (around seven minutes again) to really get much going before they had to go to the finish.  Score:  6.0

Jun Akiyama and Akitoshi Saito vs. Tamon Honda and Takashi Sugiura
Saito lays out Honda before the match can even start, he is rolled into the ring by Saito and Akiyama, and Akiyama attacks him with kicks in the corner.  With Honda slumped in the corner, Saito hits a running knee smash, cover, but it only gets two.  Saito picks Honda up, but Honda fights back with a series of forearm shots and calls for Akiyama to get in the ring and try to take him down.  Akiyama obliges, Akiyama and Saito give Honda a double Irish whip, but Honda clotheslines them both down.  Honda hits Akiyama with the Dead End (high angle release German suplex), he goes for it on Saito as well, but Saito elbows out of it, so Honda hits a backdrop suplex instead.  Honda goes back after Akiyama, but Saito comes up from behind and kicks him out of the ring.  While Saito holds Honda's leg, Akiyama comes off the apron with a knee attack.  Saito kicks on Honda some more and casually tosses him back into the ring.  After re-entering the ring, Saito continues working on Honda's left leg with a variety of leg attacks.  After he was done, Saito pulls Honda back to the middle of the ring and applies a single leg Boston crab.  This brings in Sugiura, who breaks the hold with a spear.  Akiyama comes running in, so Sugiura spears him as well.  Sugiura then picks up Akiyama and tosses him onto Saito, and after that drags Honda back to his own corner so that he can be tagged in.  Sugiura immediately hits Saito in the corner with another spear and follows it up with an overhead suplex.  As Saito lays on the mat, Sugiura goes out to the apron and hits a springboard forearm smash.  Cover, but Saito kicks out at two.  Back up, Saito fights back with kicks, but Sugiura gets him down with a release German suplex.  Cover, but it gets two.  Saito recovers quickly however, Irish whip, and he nails a modified uranage on Sugiura.  Saito tags in Akiyama, Saito Irish whips Sugiura into the corner and hits a jumping knee attack, Saito adds in a big boot, and finally Akiyama tosses Sugiura to Saito so he can powerbomb him.  Cover by Akiyama, but Sugiura manages to kick out.  Akiyama lifts Sugiura up, bounces off the ropes, and delivers a stiff clothesline.  Cover, but again it gets two.  Exploder by Akiyama, cover, but it gets a two count once again.  Akiyama goes for another exploder, but Sugiura reverses it into the Olympic Slam.  This gives Sugiura plenty of time to tag in Honda, who immediately applies the Rolling Olympic Hell 0.  Sugiura tries to hold back Saito, but Saito eventually gets through and breaks up the hold.  Saito then dropkicks Honda in the knee, he holds Honda's leg up, and Akiyama hits a jumping knee attack of the top turnbuckle down onto it.  Akiyama applies a single leg Boston crab, and the referee almost immediately stops the match.  Your winners by referee stoppage:  Jun Akiyama and Akitoshi Saito

Match Thoughts:  I only knew it was referee stoppage and not submission because it was listed as such in the official match results.  Not sure why they went that route, but that is another story.  I was actually very disappointed in this match, not because it was bad, but rather because I was expecting so much more from these guys.  I have seen other Akiyama and Sugiura matches and know how entertaining they can be, and Saito/Honda have been known to tear it up as well.  While the ring psychology was solid with the focusing on Honda's leg, they didn't really have the time to fully develop the match until it was oddly and suddenly over.  Overall a solid effort, but it could have been a lot better.  Score:  6.5

(c) Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi
This match is for the Global Crown Heavyweight Championship.  Tie-up to start, Kobashi gets Misawa into the ropes, goes for a rolling back chop, but Misawa ducks it.  The two exchange chops/forearm shots, Irish whip by Misawa, Kobashi goes for a backdrop suplex, but Misawa reverses it and lands on him.  Quick takedown by Kobashi, but Misawa is up quickly and both men face each other once again.  Tie-up, Misawa applies an armbar to Kobashi, Kobashi slowly makes his way back to his feet, Misawa reverts it into a hammerlock, reversed by Kobashi, reversed again by Misawa, Kobashi regains position, Misawa slides out and tries to bring Kobashi down and finally does and applies an armbar.  Kobashi struggles to his feet again, arm wrench by Misawa, Kobashi tries to reverse it, does, but Misawa flips through.  Kobashi goes for a half nelson suplex, Misawa arm drags Kobashi to get out of it, and promptly drops Kobashi right on his head with a backdrop driver.  Kobashi rolls outside the ring, writhing in pain, as Misawa gets on the top turnbuckle and hits a diving forearm down on Kobashi.  Misawa then gets up on the apron and hits a cannonball on Kobashi as he is just starting to get up.  Kobashi is tossed back into the ring and Misawa hits a missile dropkick from the top.  Misawa goes up top once again and hits a Tiger Body Press.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Misawa quickly applies a reverse cross armbreaker, but Kobashi makes it to the bottom rope and Misawa releases the hold.  Misawa picks Kobashi up and continues wrenching on the arm.  Kobashi pushes Misawa into the corner and gives Misawa a quick chop.  Misawa fires back with a forearm, re-applies the arm submission, Kobashi hits a series of chops and bounces off the ropes, but Misawa catches him with an elbow to the face.  Misawa goes back to the arm submission, but Kobashi gets back to his feet.  Forearms by Misawa in the corner, Irish whip, reversed, Kobashi catches Misawa in a sleeper hold, but Misawa wiggles out of it and dropkicks Kobashi out of the ring.  Misawa hits a baseball slide and dives from the apron, but Kobashi dodges him and Misawa goes face first into the guardrail.  As Misawa bleeds from a cut under his mouth, Kobashi picks him up and guillotines him over the guardrail twice.  Kobashi goes for a half nelson suplex outside the ring, Misawa fights it off for a moment, but Kobashi nails him with it anyway.  Kobashi rolls back into the ring as he tests his injured arm before going back out to get Misawa.  Kobashi elbows Misawa a number of times as his head lays on the top turnbuckle and finally brings him back in the ring.  Delayed inverted suplex by Kobashi, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Kobashi cranks on Misawa's neck, but Misawa makes it to the ropes.  Stiff chop by Kobashi to Misawa's neck, he chops him more, but Misawa returns the blows.  Savate kick by Kobashi followed by a scissors kick, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Kobashi applies a side headlock on Misawa, cover, but Misawa kicks out.  Kobashi picks Misawa up and tosses him out onto the ramp.  Kobashi follows him out and hits a DDT.  Back in the ring, cover by Kobashi, but it only gets two.  Chops by Kobashi in the corner, Irish whip, reversed, but Kobashi drops Misawa head first into the top turnbuckle.  Kobashi quickly hits a half nelson suplex, then another one, and finally applies a full nelson submission hold on Misawa.  Misawa rolls close enough to the ropes to get his bottom foot on it however, and Kobashi breaks the hold. 

More chops by Kobashi knocking Misawa to his knees and he hammers on him some more.  Misawa starts absorbing the blows however and exchanges shots with Kobashi, but Kobashi gets him back down with a backdrop suplex.  Cover, but it only gets two.  Misawa fights off Kobashi again, hits a release German suplex, but Kobashi bounces right back up.  Tiger suplex by Misawa, but again Kobashi is back on his feet even before Misawa is.  Misawa gives Kobashi a forearm shot, Kobashi replies with a rolling back chop, but Misawa knocks Kobashi down with another elbow strike.  Misawa goes for the Tiger Suplex  '85, but Kobashi fights him off.  Misawa then goes for the Tiger Driver '91, but again Kobashi will have none of it.  After pounding on his back, Misawa hits a rolling kick to knock Kobashi back down.  Tiger Driver by Misawa, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Now Misawa nails the Tiger Suplex '85, but Kobashi kicks out of it at two.  Misawa is naturally up first and he applies a quick side headlock on Kobashi.  Misawa hits another Tiger Driver, cover, but again Kobashi will not stay down.  Misawa goes for the Emerald Frosion, but Kobashi slides off his back and hits a half nelson suplex.  The move has no effect on Misawa however, so Kobashi nails a sleeper suplex.  Misawa feels that one.  Both men slowly get back up, Misawa tries a springboard attack from the corner, but Kobashi clotheslines him in the back of the head when he jumps off.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  After a forearm from Misawa, Kobashi hits the Burning Lariat, but Misawa kicks out of the pin attempt.  Feeling the burning spirit, Kobashi picks up Misawa, but Misawa blocks the brainbuster attempt and flips over Kobashi, landing on the ramp on the other side of the ropes.  Misawa brings Kobashi over the top with a vertical suplex, and both men are on the ramp.  After getting back up, Misawa goes back into the ring and comes sailing out onto Kobashi with a tope between the second and top rope.  Misawa then goes for a Tiger Driver '91 on the ramp, but Kobashi fights it off.  After a few clubs to the back, Misawa sets Kobashi up and delivers a vicious Tiger Suplex from the rampway down onto the floor below (damn that looked painful).  Both men are slow to recover, but both men roll back in the ring on their own strength.  Cover by Misawa, but Kobashi kicks out at two.  Misawa hits Kobashi with a knee attack to the head, cover, but it only gets another two.  Ready to finish the match, Misawa fights off Kobashi's chops and hits an elbow smash.  Emerald Frosion by Misawa, cover, but somehow Kobashi kicks out right before the three count.  Misawa goes for the Tiger Driver '91 once again, but Kobashi reverses it with a back bodydrop.  Both men hit each other with clotheslines, but Kobashi knocks Misawa down with the Burning Lariat and gets a two count pin attempt.  Kobashi slowly gets to his feet, nails a killer brainbuster, but Misawa kicks out once again.  Going with his move that never fails, Kobashi grabs Misawa, puts him on his back, and drills him into the mat with the Burning Hammer.  Cover, and we have a new GHC Heavyweight Champion!  Your winner:  Kenta Kobashi

Match Thoughts:  Needless to say, this match was off the charts.  Now I realize that they are a little older here then they were in previous fights, and while it might not have been as good as some of their other matches, that doesn't take away from the fact they put on a very entertaining and painful looking encounter here tonight.  Kobashi and Misawa didn't pull any punches and dropped each other on their heads whenever they got the chance.  I was able to get a lot of moves for the dictionary from this match alone, as they almost literally go through their entire arsenal of moves to try to put each other away.  There were a few slow moments here and there, but that is to be expected anytime you have a match that is over 30 minutes long.  If you want to see what Misawa and Kobashi are capable of in the current NOAH scene, then this is the match you have to watch.  Score:  9.5

Final Thoughts:

Overall, this was a very solid NOAH card from top to bottom.  Obviously the main event was huge, and there was really nothing awful on the entire card.  So while I can easily recommend it, I can't give it my highest recommendation because there was really only one great match on the card and a handful of average to solid matches.   As I have said in the past, if I gave +/-, then this event would have pulled a B+.  If the Akiyama/Saito match had put on a stronger effort or if there had been a Jr. Heavyweight Championship match on the card then the event would have been elevated a step, but as it stands it is mostly a one match show because the rest of the action is consistent with what can be found on many other NOAH cards.   But Misawa/Kobashi was awesome, so go out and buy the tape so you can see what you are missing by only watching wrestling on Monday and Thursday nights.


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