NOAH Accomplish Our 3rd Navigation DVD
Jun Akiyama vs. Yuji Nagata 6:29. A great matchup should eventually deliver a great match, but this second try took a big step in the wrong direction by only delivering a finishing sequence. They fought on the outside with Akiyama delivering repeated DDTs on the ramp and his exploder on the floor for a near count out. The surprising early out of the ring damage (though only slightly modified from a segment that came later in their 1/4/02 NJPW match) helped when they returned to the ring because with Nagata already “just about beaten”, the fans actually believed in Jun’s front necklock. Unfortunately, Nagata came back with hot moves, so again build was out the window. They worked together on a level that exceeded 1/4/02, perhaps by a considerable margin, but the brevity was retarded. While certainly exciting, it was more like a TV version of a G1 Climax match where there’s a day or two worth of big league matches to cram in to an hour of World Pro Wrestling, so they air the hot final third. I enjoyed what was here, but there was a lot missing, for instance an actual body. **3/4
GHC Tag Title Match: Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Shinya Makabe 27:13. Kobashi is obviously still capable of a great long match, but if you were booking, wouldn’t you give 27 minutes to Akiyama vs. Nagata and 7 to a match with Honda, Takayama, & Makabe? The heat was on Kobahi, so Honda played gatekeeper, insisting on starting the match to keep the opposition from wrestling Kobashi until they earned the right. Honda took a beating, especially from Takayama, and as you’d expect none of this was very good. Kobashi finally made the hot tag, shooting the decibel level up. Unfortunately, Makabe was even more mediocre in a heavyweight setting because he didn’t have an opponent providing interesting offense that might distract you from his Goldturd Jr. offense. Makabe is normally more watchable than Takayama and Honda, but he shockingly brought nothing, while Takayama at least had his moments and Honda gave his all. Makabe did manage to make his new pairing with Takayama seem to be a real tag team; Kobashi & Honda simply fought as individuals, showing none of the double teaming their opponents pulled. There were a few bright spots such as Honda German suplexing Takayama over the top into the ring and Kobashi DDTing Makabe on the floor and bludgeoning him until he bled, but there was way too much basic unskilled and uninteresting action. Kobashi wasn’t healthy enough to save the match, but even in the most uphill battle, he’ll always work long and hard. The final minutes were good, deceiving the audience several times with near finishes, and they at least worked up to them. Given they tried a ridiculously long match, it could have been a lot worse, but it could have been a lot better if they instead attempted a match the wrestlers were suited to manage. **1/2
First GHC Junior Tag Champion Decision Tournament Final: Jushin Thunder Liger & Takehiro Murahama vs. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA 24:27. NOAH ran a dream match to decide the first junior tag champions, but unfortunately it was as poorly laid out and substanceless as most of it’s present day counterparts, really only notable due to the great talent involved. First this or that aside, it’s basically your typical very good junior tag, perhaps notable for being a little longer, especially on the finishing segment. Liger has easily had a thousand better matches than this one. Hell, virtually any NJPW junior tag from 1997 is has superior timing, execution, build, and though the offense might not be as flashy, the level of difficulty is actually much higher. Of course, familiarity and chemistry are big parts of that, but being a different dream match and a match of the year candidate are two different things. While certainly an enjoyable match, it’s extremely disappointing given it’s not even in the class with the Marufuji & KENTA’s excellent subsequent title defense against Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi on 9/12/03.
KENTA caught Murahama with a wild swandive attack over the guard rail, while Marufuji soon gave Liger a super quebrada over the rail. While the quick start was impressive, the intensity being there was more important than the hot moves. Unfortunately, Murahama was barely recognizable, not showing any of his trademark quickness or submission skill. Just as it was appearing to be all flash, Liger seemingly changed things up by incorporating the submission aspect, which Murahama gladly followed up on since that’s one of his strengths. Murahama is an armbar specialist though, and they instead momentarily attacked KENTA’s back and knee then went back to doing more spotfu.
Surprisingly, and obviously disappointingly, Liger didn’t manage to get Marufuji or KENTA to wrestle any differently, certainly not any smarter, than normal. Liger vs. Marufuji was still excellent on talent alone, and obviously their overall ability translated to some good things in their other pairings. However, it was way too much spectacle and too little thought and selling to allow the audience to take the “dramatic near finishes” seriously. KENTA got beat on a lot, which was the best role for him since his offense isn’t as solid as the others. Though he has a few very graceful flying moves, right now his kicks are so rushed he may connect somewhere with something between the toe and the knee. Marufuji won with the Liger invented shooting star press. ***1/2