review by Jason Manning
Date: March 24th, 2002
Location: Kyoto KBS Hall
This show was taped on March 24th, 2002 during NOAH’s “ENCOUNTERING NAVIGATION 2002” tour. Looks pretty standard.
Rusher Kimura, Mitsuo Momota & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Haruka Eigen, Jun Izumida & Kishin Kawabata
JIP. The comedy boys drag Suzuki into a world of suck so bad that he manages to botch heading up to the top rope. Boy, this was sucky. Izumida hit Suzuki with a lariat complete with nice bump from Suzuki for the 3 count (10:33).
Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & KENTA
This was pretty fun. Kanemaru and KENTA clicked and had a some great sequences (especially one at the start that was filled with rich matwork) and Kikuchi brought out the act where he could stand up to Saito because he really is older and more experienced than him. Kikuchi got right in Saito’s face early on as if to say, “When you were a rookie working shitty matches in W*ING, I was getting my ass beat by Jumbo. So fuck you.” Saito kind of dragged things down, not because he did anything bad, but because he’s a heavyweight and things slowed down when he involved himself. Kikuchi also kind of worked Saito’s heavyweight-not-wanted-in-junior-environment style, but was still looking fine. Saito was involved more than Kanemaru actually, which kind of sucks. Kanemaru busted out some LIGER later on, nailing KENTA with a shotei. The finish was pretty fun, with Saito preventing Kikuchi from getting involved as Kanemaru tried to take care of spunky young KENTA. He eventually delivered a brainbuster for the win (14:14).
Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone vs. Richard Slinger & Superstar Steve
This was some solid, but unspectacular wrestling. There’s really not much to say about this. Everyone looked fine, although Steve was clearly outclassed. Yone delivered a muscle buster to Steve for the 3 count (12:38).
Akira Taue & Masao Inoue vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura
This, much like the last match, was solid, unspectacular wrestling. They don’t do anything wrong, but they don’t do anything to take it above really, really average. Inoue caught Sugiura with a schoolboy cradle for the flash win (14:36). Ikeda and Sugiura don’t like each other afterwards but the ring boys break it up.
Takeshi Morishima vs. Bison Smith
This was decent for a power match, but kind of boring too. They just kind of traded wrestling moves for 7 minutes in unspectacular fashion, and the dead crowd didn’t help matters. This show is REALLY dragging. Morishima delivered a backdrop suplex for the 3 count (7:02). As I’m writing this sentence, I’ve forgotten about this match already.
Takao Omori & Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Tamon Honda & Kentaro Shiga
Shiga broke off from STERNNESS right before this tour started, so formed a little team with Honda. This was pretty OK with Shiga looking more credible as a heavyweight, trading moves with No Fear (complete with No Fear selling for him). After Saito joined STERNNESS, Shiga went from being Akiyama’s #2 to a midcarder at best. Hopefully, Shiga will get more with this new push. This went pretty back-and-forth with nothing standing out, much like the previous matches. Just kind of boring and through the motions, with Shiga being the only slight highlight. The end came when No Fear took Shiga out of the ring and Omori hit Honda with an Axe Bomber for the win (6:21). Wow, that finish was DEAD.
Jun Akiyama vs. Makoto Hashi
This was pretty OK for what it was, with Hashi pushing his mentor far. It went a bit too long, though. The story throughout the match was Hashi getting in offense on Akiyama and Hashi looking strong, but in the end, this didn’t at all come off as, “Wow, that Hashi kid can take a lot,” nor “Hey, that Hashi kid is strong.” Some of the stuff they did was kind of filler like going outside and such, but the match itself was solid all the way through. Hashi hit a LOT of headbutts and Akiyama sold for pretty much all of them. Hell, I think Hashi got in more offense than Akiyama did here. But, as expected, Akiyama finished Hashi off, using a Northern Lights suplex hold and two Exploders for the win (14:33).
Mitsuharu Misawa, Ogawa, Takuma Sano & Marufuji vs. Vader, Scorpio, Modest & Morgan
When you put eight capable guys in an 8-man tag for 11 minutes, you should hope for greatness. But, nope. This was pretty fun throughout, but nothing too great. Vader vs. Misawa was disappointing (pretty heatless, too), and everything else was just kind of there. This match unfortunately saw the big injury to Naomichi Marufuji, which came during a sequence with Scorpio (not Scorpio’s fault, though). Marufuji leaped from the apron and did a springboard backflip, but landed awkwardly on his left leg and slid outside. Marufuji was out for around 9 months because of this, although Misawa having him wrestle the already-scheduled Jr. Title match with Hashi on the tour climax did even more damage. The finish was weak, with Ogawa delivering a backdrop suplex hold on Morgan out of nowhere for the 3 count (10:43).
Final Analysis: Good GOD, this was a DEAD show. Just NOTHING of note; a bunch of thrown together matches. Almost all of them went long too, and most of them didn’t need to go as long as they did. I reviewed his over like five days because I just wasn’t interested in seeing any of the matches. The best match was Saito/Kanemaru vs. Kikuchi/KENTA, and after that there was just a bunch of REALLY bland stuff. Even the old man comedy seemed worse than usual. The show wrapped up with two decent matches, but they couldn’t save this. This is NOAH at its absolute worst. A couple solid things, but a lot of badly-booked and really boring stuff. This is Not Recommended.
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