NOAH Great Voyage 2005 on 1/8/05
review by PdW2kX

Haruka Eigen vs. Mitsuo Momota

Both men do some slight showboating and light comedy, then go into the "chop leads to spitting into the crowd" segment. Haruka even hits a multi-revolution Giant Swing, which is pretty cool. Both men get a few pinfalls on each other, but it's Haruka that manages to pull out the win at 7:48 when he reverses an attempted abdominal stretch into a crucifix pin.

Analysis: A novelty match, but the novelty never wore off. These two have faced each other countless times, and they always manage to work in some well-known spots, which were all hit in this match. The sole psychology behind the match is that they're two old wrestlers that have had a bunch of matches against each other and still want to prove whose best, but I liked it for that. It was a fun match to see, and while it may not get the adrenaline flowing, it'll at least peak your interest. **¾

Akitoshi Saito, Masao Inoue, and Sugiura vs. Jun Izumida, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, and Kishin Kawabata

Kawabata and Inoue do some basic test-of-strength and counter-to-counter spots, then there's a cool comedy segment where Kikuchi and Izumida try to prove who has the harder noggin by forcing Sugiura to make them headbutt each other. Sugiura obliges, and the startling realization that headbutting each other will actually hurt reaches Kikuchi and Izumida too late, as both men feel the power of each other's skulls and Sugiura takes advantage of the opportunity. After that, Kawabata is cut off from his teammates, sometimes heelishly so, until he and Saito badly stiff each other. Kikuchi and Izumida fight amongst themselves again and there are a few nearfalls for both teams. Eventually, Inoue traps Kawabata in an Argentine Backbreaker while his teammates hold Kawabata's teammates at bay, giving Inoue a submission victory at 14:51.

Analysis: A solid big-man multi-person match with a few alternating stories that helped move it along: Kikuchi wasn't enough of a team player to overlook Izumida's brashness, Jun Izumida didn't want to take any **** from Kikuchi, Kawabata couldn't control either one of them and really had no obligation to try, Saito and Inoue were a good tag team anyway and felt right at home, while Sugiura tried to not be the odd-man-out, and made up for being the less-imposing of all six by cheating if he had to. While I liked the story and appreciated it for how many things it got across, when broken down move-by-move and/or spot-by-spot, this wasn't anything I hadn't already seen before, though I didn't mind seeing it again. Everything went over smoothly even if most of it was plenty standard. ***

Yoshinari Ogawa, SUWA, and Ricky Marvin vs. Mohammed Yone, KENTA, and Kotaro Suzuki

KENTA tries to stiff Ogawa a few minutes into the match, but Ogawa evades and out-wrestles him until SUWA is tagged in. In an infinitely heelish moment, SUWA absorbs some KENTA kicks before soccer-kicking the guy right in the nuts, right in front of the referee. He's rewarded with a huge "SUWA!" chant for that. After that, Yone mauls SUWA for a bit, then Kotaro Suzuki tags in, only to get jumped by all three of his opponents, leading to a cluster-****, SUWA getting triple-teamed, and an "everyone takes out everyone else" spot. Kotaro Suzuki gets triple-teamed again, and SUWA hits the F.F.F. at 6:59 for the win.

Analysis: A match that felt extremely rushed, because it was. Given ample time, I actually would've pegged this one as really good, despite how I barely like Kotaro Suzuki, think Ricky Marvin is usually average, and have some borderline hate of Yoshinari Ogawa. I'm a big fan of KENTA, Yone, and especially SUWA; because I know they can go the distance and produce great things. But this was just a complete spotfest with no rhyme or reason going for any of its segments. The spots were alright, but this was just an average spotfest, and an average match. **½

Akira Taue and Takuma Sano vs. Tamon Honda and Go Shiozaki

Go hits a through-the-ropes dive to Taue a couple minutes in, then tries a Nodawa Atoshi on Taue, but ends up getting one himself. Go is then beaten on until Takuma Sano comes in and manages to get in a Double Stomp to Tamon Honda. Go gets killed with a Release German Suplex, and then is further obliterated with a Nodawa Atoshi/Double Stomp combo. Takuma Sano plants Go Shiozaki with a Northern Lights Driver at 13:10 to get the win.

Analysis: A nice "teach Go a lesson" storyline fueled this one, with Taue and Sano both looking to kill Go in any way possible, while Honda was simply there for support. Sano was the good all-around ass kicker, Taue was himself, and Honda was Taue's foil. Go tried hard to prove himself amidst all the veteran wrestlers, but veteran instinct and lots and lots of stiffness ended up too much for him. The match felt a bit bland at times, but nothing ever dipped below passable, with the action sometimes being exciting. ***

Takeshi Morishima Return Match: Takeshi Morishima and Marufuji vs. Jun Akiyama and Hashi

Morishima starts off the match by grounding Akiyama, and then Marufuji and Hashi stiff each other. After that, Makoto Hashi is able to get in a couple leaping headbutts off the apron onto Marufuji. Naomichi is able to get in a small measure of revenge by vaulting off Morishima and drilling Jun with a Shirunai. Hashi can't seem to suplex Morishima, but finally manages to do so after a lot of headbutts and Mongolian chops. Hashi's momentary glory doesn't last all that long, though, as he's spiked down to the mat with a huge lariat and then planted with a backdrop at 12:18, giving Morishima and Marufuji the win.

Analysis: A good "return match" with a nice "return match" story: Morishima wanted to take it easy, but Jun was, of course, Jun- if Morishima didn't want to go all-out, Jun would simply force him to. Meanwhile, Marufuji and Hashi concentrated mostly on each other, but were all-too-willing to take it to their bigger, veteran opponents. Mix in some good offense, always-solid execution, and only a bare few amount of pacing issues, and you've got another good match. ***

G.H.C. Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa

Both come out blazing, as Takaiwa hits two powerbombs on Kanemaru, and Kanemaru responds with a Death Valley Bomb. Yoshinobu is in control for a while after that, at least until he's nailed with an Inverted Piledriver by Takaiwa. Kanemaru then gets hit with another Death Valley Bomb, and five consecutive powerbombs. Yoshinobu tries to mount some offense after a low blow, and even manages to get in a brainbuster…right before he's powerbombed into a corner. Takaiwa then hits an Inverted Piledriver off the second turnbuckle, but Yoshinobu is able to put his foot on the ropes. Following that, Takaiwa hits an Avalanche Death Valley Bomb and a lariat, but still only gets 2¾. Yoshinobu is able to pull out a victory at 18:21 following an Avalanche D.D.T., five brainbusters, and an Avalanche Brainbuster.

Analysis: Stupid. An absurd amount of over-kill crippled this match. This match over-killed its over-kill. There was no psychology aside from "let's kill each other", no real energy, and way too many match-ending moves used as opening-match highlights. I don't care if you're Tatsuhito Takaiwa, it does not take six ****ing brainbusters to put you down. I found no shred of appeal for this match, and the only thing that saved it from complete failure was the lack of any botching, and the variety of killer moves. They were over-used to hell, but they were very well executed. Still, this one escapes suckage only by a small margin. **

Mitsuharu Misawa and Takeshi Rikio vs. Genichiro Tenryu and Shiro Koshinaka

Mitsuharu Misawa starts out the match with a huge running elbow through the ropes to Shiro Koshinaka, but Genichiro Tenryu drills him with a suplex on the floor. Then, Tenryu and Misawa stiff the **** out of each other. Rikio and Shiro swap some sleeper holds before Misawa is briefly isolated and Rikio comes up on the receiving end of an enzugiri by Tenryu. Rikio is then isolated from Misawa, but eventually tags him in, leading to a great Rolling Elbow to Tenryu, which is followed by all four men brawling in and outside of the ring. Rikio almost pins Shiro Koshinaka a couple times with both his own offense and some help from Misawa, the highlight being Shiro getting driven into the mat with a swank Emerald Frosion. Rikio ends up having no choice but to bust out the Muso, but it ends up leading him to victory, as Rikio gets the pinfall following the Muso at 15:53.

Analysis: A highly entertaining, emotionally-fiery, stiffness-abounding classic-style match. Loved most of it, liked all of it. Everyone had their own unique role to fill, which I was really liking: Rikio was out to prove himself and wouldn't take anything without firing off his own salvo, Tenryu was old-school and arrogant as hell, Misawa had a personal problem with Tenryu and wanted to settle some scores, and Shiro Koshinaka just wanted to win and show how he's still the badass multiple-hip-attack guy. Everything felt like it meant something, and the match always seemed like it was progressing logically, with an alternating brisk-and-fiery and slow-and-methodic pace complimenting the different ways both teams handled each other: Rikio had a different game-plan for Koshinaka then he did for Tenryu, Tenryu adapted his moveset differently to deal with Rikio and to deal with Misawa, etc. Overall, it was one of the best matches of the night. ***¼

G.H.C. Heavyweight Championship Match: Kenta Kobashi vs. Minoru Suzuki

Kobashi tries to get into Suzuki's head by trying to mat-wrestle him, but Mr. Pancrase simply shrugs it off and out-wrestles Kobashi. Suzuki quickly and royally pisses off Kobashi by continuously dodging and striking, and looks to be enjoying himself quite a lot. Kobashi finally manages to get Suzuki in a headlock, and keeps it on for a long while, even latching it on outside the ring and dragging Suzuki back inside the ring, with the submission synched in all the while. Kobashi nails some vicious Machine Gun Chops and follows it up with a Rolling Kesagiri Chop, but his momentum is stopped dead in its tracks when Suzuki gets in a vicious armbar across the ring ropes. From then on, Minoru Suzuki picks apart the ligament, but eventually becomes so arrogant that he's blindsided and drilled with a nasty, skull-first Sleeper Suplex. Minoru nails the Gotch Piledriver in retaliation, Kenta responds with a Half Nelson, Minoru responds to that response with a backdrop, Kenta tries the Half Nelson again, and Minoru stops the "fighting spirit" exchange by trapping Kobashi in an Octopus Hold. Kobashi fights back hard, and even hits the Jackknife Powerbomb, but Suzuki seems like he's always one step ahead. Kobashi finally one-ups Minoru with a Burning Lariat, and immediately gives him four neck-first backdrops before giving one last Burning Lariat, then pinning Minoru Suzuki at 25:22 to successfully retain the G.H.C. Championship.

Analysis: This one also suffered from a bit of over-kill with all the end-of-match backdrops, but otherwise this was a highly enjoyable contest. There was some great character interaction between the two, as Minoru's cockiness helped him in the early-going, but the later happenings of the match proved that you better not stay cocky in the ring with Kenta Kobashi for long, as a loss of cockiness usually goes hand-in-hand with a loss of consciousness when you're dealing with him. With that said, Minoru responded very well when he realized that he couldn't shrug off Kobashi, and Suzuki's focus and energy helped the match in many a moment where Kobashi's more-knowledgeable and longest-standing flaws came into play. Kobashi is Fighting Spirit personified, and still has that unique charm where you're begging to get behind him once he gets into his routine, but Kobashi has never been able to sell arm damage long-term. You'd think something as simple as using his left arm when his right arm is shot would've taken place, but Kobashi simply stopped selling all that good arm damage Minoru put on him in the beginning-to-middle portion of the match, and went back to the same old standard of a bunch of lariats and suplexes. But what else is new? I'll look past that long-standing-flaw (though it still irks me) since Suzuki was sporting all kinds of heelish goodness, Kobashi held his own end of the match quite well, and this was an impressive match and a nice way to end the show. ***¼

Final Thoughts: The plain fact is that this NOAH show actually felt subpar. After watching both Great Voyage 2000 and Great Voyage 2004, I'd place this one at the very bottom. Rikio/Misawa going against Koshinaka/Tenryu was a bright spot on this show, but Great Voyage '04 had that completely awesome tag-match that really eclipsed this one. Likewise, Great Voyage '05 benefits from a very nice Kobashi/Suzuki encounter that I was a big fan of, but 2000's Kobashi/Akiyama encounter trumps this one in just about all fields. And, of course, 2000's and 2004's event had their fair share of good matches, and this one did too, but the 2000 and 2004 shows didn't have anything that I outright disliked, while this show's Takaiwa/Kanemaru match really sunk the boat for me. It hurts a bit to say because, without a doubt, these guys and their promotion got me into Puroresu, but this is one of the weakest NOAH shows I've ever seen.

Yet even when taking all that into consideration, I still think this is worth a buy. Sure, it's underwhelming, there may even be a bad match on there, but you're still going to get some quality wrestling. It's not what I expected, but it's not something I disliked. I'll still happily put this one in my collection, but I just can't shake the feeling that it pales in comparison to some other shows. There just isn't that much of an all-around kick-ass feel that makes so many NOAH shows have that "jack-of-all-trades" vibe. But in the end, if this show interests you, there are far worse things to spend some change on. You needn't steer clear of buying, since there are a couple good matches that'll make the show worth the price. All that NOAH goodness you love is still present in this show, it's just not the same standard you might be used to.

Overall Rating for Pro Wrestling NOAH "Great Voyage 2005": ***

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