NOAH Summer Navigation on 7/12/09
By Alan Counihan

This show marked the beginning if the NTV Cup junior tag league, and more importantly the beginning of Akira Taue's reign as company president.

1. Handicap Match: Genba Hirayanagi vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Takeshi Morishima

So this match was supposed to be Genba vs. Morishima, but Genba came out with his new boy Kikutaro (clad in pointy toe Triangle Of Terror boots) and said to Morishima "hey sucka how 'bout you face me and my buddy in a handicap match". Mori wasn't down with it and said "yo I'm cool with Kiku joining the match, but I should get a partner too, fair is fair". Genba and Kiku were all like "sure biatch, who ya got?". Morishima said "MY PAL KENSUKE" and they were like "oh...that guy.... shit". So the man himself came out in jeans and a t-shirt, looking slightly puzzled but still ready to roll. Genba started getting cocky about the situation and looked to his buddy to step up to the plate with him but then Kiku suddenly remembered "awww crap, I forgot I had that thing to do.. over there..... good luck brah... let me know how it goes" and he ran for the locker room. So the new Road Warriors killed young Genba with the Doomsday Device/Double Impact in a minute (not before Genba eye raked Kensuke, low blowed Mori and locked in the Power Special). Greatest match ever.

2. Akitoshi Saito, Bryan Danielson & Roderick Strong vs. Masao Inoue, Ricky Marvin & Kikutaro

Yes, this match really occurred. All Kikutaro based comedy early, aside from a brief fast paced Marvin/Strong exchange. At one point Kiku called out Mighty Inoue (who I believe was the referee) and he and Danielson exchanged Mighty's signature spots. The last few minutes had some really good wrestling thanks to Marvin and the gaijin. It came down to Kiku and Roderick, with the former getting killed by Strong's kick combo for the pin. Really fun stuff.

3. Akira Taue, Yoshinari Ogawa & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Yoshihiro Takayama, Takuma Sano & Eddie Edwards

Not too much to this one. A lot of it was built around getting over Taue as "Shin Satchō" - the new boss. At one point Ogawa was caught in a submission and was yelling "Satchō Satchō" to try to get Taue to break it up. Later when Edwards was trapped in Taue's corner he started taking cheap shots at him and yelled "Satchō" before each one. Edwards actually looked good in this and showed a lot of personality. At one point he kind of fluffed a springboard evasion deal but saved it with his reaction and the crowd responded to him. Taue pinned the gaijin with the Ore Go Taue.

4. Jun Akiyama & Akihiko Ito vs. Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone

Pretty decent match. It was kept kind of short, which is definitely for the best as those 30 minute Rikio/Yone tags were a chore. Ito looked good with everything he did. Akiyama didn't do anything too crazy so he's obviously taking it easy as he makes him comeback from his (brief) time out. Yone won with the Kinniku Buster on Ito.

5. Go Shiozaki & Takashi Sugiura vs. Kenta Kobashi & Shuhei Taniguchi

Sugiura went right after Kobashi from the get go and things were pretty intense from that point on. Taniguchi has his limitations but he can take a beating and he did so here. At one point Kobashi had had enough and walked around to the opposing corner, called Sugiura down to the floor, beat him up, then beat Go up and then just angrily walked back to his corner. Awesome. There was a bigtime exchange between Kobashi and Shiozaki, mentor and protege. It was filled with chops, obviously. As they battled on the outside, Taniguchi was left with Sug and he fought hard, hitting some big suplexes before being eventually killed with a huge German, a knee, and an Olympic Slam. He then stormed off as he's been doing a lot recently. Good match.

6. NTV Cup Block B: Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kento Miyahara vs. Kotaro Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

There were a couple of questions going into this match - how would Nakajima and Kotaro, two of the best in the world, gel in one of their first matches against each other? How would Miyahara perform in his first match of this kind? Would we get lazy or motivated Kanemaru? Obviously the quality of the match depended a lot on the latter two questions, as it was fairly obvious Kotaro and Naka weren't going to let us down to any great degree.

The crowd got behind Suzuki & Kanemaru early, and the Kensuke Office office team responded by taking it to them in extremely aggressive fashion. Nakajima can work like a vicious little bastard when he wants to and this was a prime example of that. They got the heat on Kotaro after a sick 3D style move which seemed to legit injure his neck (unless he was selling REALLY well). Nakajima lead his younger partner in beating the dog out of Kotaro for the next 5-10 minutes and it was tremendous. They generated a ton of heat for the inevitable hot tag, and when Kanemaru got it the place exploded and he ran wild. This was definitely the motivated Yoshinobu. The champs then isolated Miyahara and worked him over with some stretches and heavy strikes.

When Nakajima got back into the mix, the pace quickened. He laid out the champs with his signature kicks, but they fired back with bigtime offense like Kanemaru's Asai Moonsault Body Block, and Suzuki's awesome looking Tajiri handspring elbow. Nakajima busted out Chris Jericho's Code Breaker counter to a top rope move so he's been watching his Smackdown tapes. The first big nearfall came off a German Suplex by Kotaro on Miyahara. Kento rebounded, a few minutes later hitting a sweet Northern Lights Suplex/Triangle Choke combination. They really teased the tapout well, as Nakajima stopped Kanemaru breaking it up by catching him in the Hirooki Goto arm submission. WIth both guys in submissions the crowd exploded, but Kotaro got the ropes. Miyahara followed this up with a HYOOGE nearfall off a victory roll counter to the Requiem.

Another big nearfall came when Nakajima dove from out of screen to break up a pin attempt after Miyahara got laid out with a Doomsday Shotei and a Blue Destiny. Crowd were going nutty at this point. It's impossible to go through everything that happened in the last two minutes, but basically both teams went absolutely crazy trying to finish each other before the time limit expired. Miyahara reached a level he's never reached before during this sequence and answered a lot of questions of how good he is going to be (answer = VERY). Just brilliant stuff. The 30 minutes expired as Nakajima nailed one last German Suplex on Kotaro. Go out of your way to see this match, brilliant stuff all around. It felt like a real war. ****1/2 for me. Totally exceeded my expectations.

7. NTV Cup Block A: KENTA & Taiji Ishimori vs. Atsushi Aoki & Kota Ibushi

Talk about a dream match! No way this was going to be anything less than awesome and it didn't disappoint. You could make a case that KENTA, Ibushi and Ishimori are the three most talented guys in the world right now and they showcased it here. The focus of the match though was Aoki, whose rise through the ranks this year has been one of the more compelling stories in wrestling.

In the early stages he was getting picked apart by the re-united KENTA and Ishimori, who looked like they hadn't missed a beat. Eventually he broke away to tag Ibushi and he faced off with Taiji. Those two had a MOTYC singles match in April and they picked up from where they left off there with some mind blowing exchanges (they were hitting the ropes like Yoshino at his fastest). Things slowed down a bit when they tagged out and soon Aoki found himself isolated again. The former champs turned up the heat and the crowd started to get behind him as he fought from the bottom. After laying out KENTA with a spinning heel kick, Aoki tagged in Ibushi who fought off both KENTA and Taiji and in a sequence you have to see to believe - he rana'd Taiji to the floor, jumped over KENTA in one corner, ran to the corner diagonally opposite it and delivered his ridiculously awesome Asai Moonsault onto Taiji. The crowd erupted.

After that KENTA caught a diving Ibushi with an ace crusher, and Taiji hooked him up in an Indian Deathlock whilst doing his coked out bodybuilder poses. Aoki had enough of this posing crap and tried to interrupt but Ishimori caught him in a German Suplex whilst STILL keeping Ibushi in the submission. After another patented Ibushi/Taiji "how do they even do that???" exchange, Aoki and Ibushi got control. That didn't last long as Taiji caught Ibushi with an effortless running top rope rana leading to a KENTA double stomp.

Team Taiji then looked to finish as they uncorked a new double team maneuver combining an ace crusher and a double knees to the stomach. That wasn't enough to get the pin so KENTA decided it was Go 2 Sleep time, but Aoki countered with an AWESOME Regal Plex for a nearfall. The rest of the match came down to Ibushi and Taiji trying to hold each other at bay while KENTA and Aoki duked it out in the ring. KENTA busted him open with a series of lethal head kicks and looked for the G2S again, but Aoki countered again with his pet hold, the cross armbreaker. KENTA fought valiantly for the ropes and the crowd started to really unglue. Then as a Taiji breakup was intercepted with an unbelievable spear by Ibushi, the roof came off. The crowd senses KENTA was in major trouble, and he was. 21:11 in and KENTA tapped out to Atsushi Aoki.

The fans erupted with an "A-O-KI, A-O-KI" call as Ibushi embraced his triumphant partner who had just earned the biggest win of his career. It was an awesome, memorable moment. Another great match. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it was mine, so this match like the last, gets ****1/2.

Top to bottom maybe NOAH's best Korakuen this year. There was a lot of fun stuff in the first 4 matches and the last 3 really delivered, particularly the junior tags.

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