review by Jason Manning
Date: May 6th, 2002
Location: Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
NOAH taped a fairly big show on April 6th, 2002, a day before the real tour climax of “ENCOUNTERING NAVIGATION 2002.” The first aired here match sees Kentaro Shiga face his former mentor, Jun Akiyama, in what could be a really good match. And in the main event, Wild II defend their GHC Tag Team Title against the first champions, Vader & Scorpio.
Jun Akiyama vs. Kentaro Shiga
This was fucking great with Shiga looking better than ever and Akiyama bumping all over the place for him. These two had a match in All Japan where Akiyama just played with young Shiga and beat him easily, but Shiga’s stronger now and for the first half of the match, he KILLED Akiyama time and time again. He hit Akiyama with two Tornado DDT’s from the APRON into the CROWD at the start, and then spiked Akiyama with one on the ramp, using the ropes. The crowd LOVES Kentaro Shiga. Shiga busted out some DELAYED SELLING after Akiyama caught him with an Exploder (early on, so it makes sense), and then delivered a Tornado DDT from the top with Akiyama on the second rope! Akiyama countered a vertical suplex with a brainbuster soon after that, which led to his offensive portion. Akiyama beat on Shiga for a bit and Shiga tried to come back for more, but Akiyama KILLED HIM DEAD with an Exploder ’98 for the 3 count (7:42). Really, really, really fun match. Shiga’s already over, but this did even more for him. The crowd was loving every second of this and popped big for the near falls. They really wanted Shiga to get the upset, but Akiyama’s of course too strong.
Daisuke Ikeda vs. Jun Izumida
This match could be described as two things. It was OK at times thanks to Ikeda, but crappy at times thanks to Izumida. They worked in a little psychology, Ikeda working over Izumida’s arm. Izumida did a decent job selling, too. He controlled a large portion of the match and that’s where things really slowed down, as he blows up easily and doesn’t have much of a moveset. Ikeda eventually made a comeback and trapped Izumida in a sleeper hold for the win (9:35). OK match with decent psychology at the start and a decent finish, but really sluggish at times.
Takao Omori & Takashi Sugiura vs. Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
This was pretty OK but also pretty disappointing considering the who’s involved. Omori and Sugiura worked over Kanemaru for a while and it really dragged at times. Saito’s involvement of course didn’t improve things, since he isn’t anything special. Omori looked really out of it here at times. Things picked up for the finish a bit though, and Saito hit Sugiura with his Sickle of Death for the win (12:36).
Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & KENTA vs. Akira Taue, Tamon Honda & Masao Inoue
This was your pretty standard NOAH 6-man, with a bunch of average sequences, but it goes SO long. Everyone involved isn’t anything special, so the pace isn’t great. Taue’s team isolated KENTA for a while, and it got boring. Only Taue has that offense that really punishes the rookie, but even he couldn’t keep things interesting. Misawa vs. Taue isn’t even the sequence you want, since Misawa’s so washed up nowadays. Inoue vs. KENTA at the start was OK, but everything after was really dry, with no real emotion or goodness. Misawa did manage to add *something* to this, busting out some charisma. He pushed down the referee and also threw his partner (KENTA) into the corner for a tag to Ogawa because KENTA was getting beat on too much. Taue also busted out the charisma, threatening to hit Misawa, but stopping and flopping his hand at him as if he wasn’t worth his time. Things picked up for the finish, but a decent finish isn’t enough to save 12-15 minutes of boring stuff. Inoue eventually trapped KENTA in his Argentine backbreaker for the win (20:13).
Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Takuma Sano
UWF-I~! Well, this wasn’t exactly an ode to the old federation, as Takayama basically squashed Sano with some crappy and boring offense. Sano did some cool countering and such, but had no chance. Takayama eventually delivered a high-angle German suplex hold for the win (6:11).
GHC Tag Team Title
Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio [c] vs. Vader & Scorpio
Surprisingly, this was pretty good. It’s surprising because Wild II are still pretty young and Vader is really washed up. However, Scorpio brought his great moveset to the ring and Wild II really stepped up and worked a smart match beyond Scorpio’s spots and the usual Vader. All Vader has to do is hit things and the crowd will like it, so the crowd was into things and the match worked out well. This built really well and there was never a boring moment, because either Scorpio was hitting some of his nice moves, Wild II were showing off their brute strength, or Vader was flat-out beating the SHIT out of Wild II. Scorpio was the star here since he kept this moving. He didn’t bring any special psych to the table, but him hitting his spots is good enough to keep the match at least interesting. Wild II are REALLY improving and working hard to prove that they deserve the huge push they got. They did a cool thing near the end, just mauling big Vader with a bunch of lariats in an attempt to take him out. They rule as the young guys who can kick your ass. The finish was good, with a bunch of near falls and big heat. The gaijin controlled Morishima (with the crowd getting behind him), and Scorpio did a cool thing by going for a twisting front cradle (the same cradle he used to actually beat Morishima earlier in the tour), but Morishima refused that and soon NAILED Scorpio with a lariat for the win (19:34). And the crowd LOVES it. Everyone worked hard here to keep this together, and it clicked well. Scorpio brought the speed and flight, Wild II brought the spunky big men role that works so well, and Vader brought the STIFFNESS. Morishima almost threw up after the match because of him. Good match.
Final Analysis: Pretty decent show. The first match and main event were both good, but everything else in between was nothing to really write home about. Still, Akiyama vs. Shiga and the tag title match were good enough for me. This is Recommended.
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