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NOAH Nippon Budokan SP GREAT VOYAGE '03 1/10/03
-3 1/2hr. Q=Near Perfect. 2 DVDs

Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota vs. Haruka Eigen & Kishin Kawabata 8:39. Kawabata did an early spit spot to Eigen, who soon avenged, propelling Kawabata to the floor. Good thing these guys are doing old man's wrestling rather than participating in the old man's game of golf! Kawabata did two or three moves, but they essentially just chopped and kicked because it takes some actual ability to give and receive moves. The setup for the finish was truly pathetic. Eigen was struggling to keep his balance to avoid falling into Momota's sunset flip, so Kawabata stumbled in for reasons known only to him and stood with his back to Eigen until Kimura ambled across the ring and pushed him into Eigen, leading to the pinfall. -*

Kentaro Shiga vs. Makoto Hashi 11:02. Had it's moments, but they were too infrequent and the quality was inconsistent. I felt like they had the ability to do a good match, but it was woefully lacking in direction and they were only going to put so much effort into a match so short and so early on the card. Hashi didn't take a Dragon screw well, but was doing a good job of putting over how the knee Shiga was working over was hampering his own offense, his leg giving out on a bridge and such. That was the only story, but for some reason they abandoned it and instead had Shiga get the submission with the Shiga sleeper after a manjigatame. *3/4

KENTA & Takashi Sugiura vs. Takuma Sano & Kotaro Suzuki 13:49. Kotaro did his best to make the match, coming out as a little jumping bean and pushing the action toward his athletic strength, including an early triple dive sequence. Unfortunately, they injured his knee when they took over, and that really cramped the flying aspect of the match. KENTA & especially Sugiura did a good job of roughing him up with high impact offense. I'm not used to liking Sugiura this much, but he was an absolute beast here, putting extra impact and instilling malicious intent into everything. Suzuki did manage some neat and/or innovative athletic moves later including a reverse corkscrew splash off the 2nd and a leapfrog facecrusher, but Sano had little involvement, and KENTA was hit and miss. Actually, KENTA was mainly good until the finish, which didn't work at all. He kicked out of a Misteriorana then did his overly choreographed, no impact martial arts forms combo followed by some sort of flying movie kick that grazed Kotaro's side. **3/4

Masao Inoue & Takeshi Rikio & Jun Izumida vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Daisuke Ikeda & Masashi Aoyagi 18:27. Completely nondescript match of the plodding and deliberate variety. It's obviously better than the opening comedy match, but worse in a way because they are half Rusher's age yet can only kick, chop, and play to the crowd. The big entertainment here was Takayama & Ikeda repeatedly elbow dropping Rikio then Takayama quick counting and raising Ikeda's hand in victory. Later, Rikio & Inoue avenged the repeated elbow drops on Aoyagi with Izumida doing the flash 3 count. *

Naomichi Marufuji Return Match: Yoshinari Ogawa & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 15:48. Marufuji returned from a 9 month absence, blowing out his knee in a junior title defense against Makoto Hashi on 4/7/02. It was far from his greatest match, but Marufuji you were very confident about him going forward, as he already looked fully recovered and appeared to be as athletic as ever. There was a lot of nice stuff from him & Kanemaru, who were pushing for a more creative and athletic style of match, and putting their quickness on display. They did some excellent athletic spots, with Marufuji making all his aerial moves look so easy, but the match was still somewhat disappointing because the old guys aren't capable of giving them much help and had to do a more basic style, striking and working the knee that kept Marufuji on the shelf. It was much better when Ogawa & Kikuchi were apart because they killed the pace and had no offense to make up for it. That was most of the time though, as Ogawa learned from Misawa to spend almost the entire match on the apron, but be active and motivated for the couple brief segments you do work. Kikuchi & Ogawa did bring experience, and Kikuchi was at least good at setting people up. Overall, a bit sloppy but a quality match that had a few really good moments. ***

Tamon Honda vs. Takeshi Morishima 6:54. I felt the match should have been putting over Morishima, who at least has some future as a bruiser. Morishima is rather graceless, but at least works hard and comes off credibly as a tough guy. He blitzed Honda at the outset and Honda stood there making some goofy faces to sell his overwhelming attack. We were supposed to be impressed by Morishima's power, but I was mainly grinning at Honda's teeth clenching. Otherwise, it wasn't bad when Morishima was on offense, but Honda turned it around and Morishima was inexplicably just done. There's nothing about Honda that makes me believe he should be able to turn the tables and overwhelm a guy like Morishima. I mean, Honda has no skill and lamer moves, is smaller, weaker, and less inspired. It was something of a rough match with Morishima getting a bloody nose and Honda a bloody mouth, though that was more due to their not being precise wrestlers than to any extraordinary stiffness.

Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Masahiro Chono 22:19. One of those dream matches that was no longer a dream by the time it finally took place. Everyone worked hard and made it a more than acceptable Budokan feature attraction (I'm sure no one will argue that people were buying tickets to see Saito). It was more conservative than in the past, which is fine with me in theory, but didn't help the match any in actuality. Especially with Chono involved, I hoped that they'd finally go back to using their heads for thinking, but their heads just weren't involved in thought or droppings. Well executed and a good show, but nothing tremendous beyond the crowd reactions. The audience was going nuts because they never thought they'd see Misawa & Chono shaking hands before the opening bell and Chono standing toe to toe with Kobashi. You can't go wrong with any key match where Misawa & Kobashi are squaring off, but the problem here was it's selling point; once the awe factor of seeing Chono against the old All Japan guard wore off, it was impossible to see him as anything more than a shell of his former self who couldn't raise his level to anything approximating an average older Misawa big match. Kobashi was psyched, but Chono couldn't amp it up and Kobashi couldn't will Chono to his level. Almost all of Chono's blows looked lame by NOAH standards (his enzuigiri was nice), and what's worse is he couldn't come up with anything to make up for it. Some time after his chops failed, he tried to pit his yakuza kicks against Kobashi's chops, but he still showed me nothing that should make a dent in a man who has survived Kawada's fiercest. Kobashi gave a strong no knees Kobashi performance and Taue, though over the hill and far away, was able to raise his level to something suitable to the occasion. Misawa is the only one who can still do a good imitation of their peak form, but the others were smart in knowing their limitations, minimizing their weaknesses as best as they could, and using their aura to get extra pops from the crowd. The early portion was almost all striking with Chono carrying a lot more of the load than was expected or beneficial. Shifted from striking to attacking the knee was what Chono needed to improve his end, but Kobashi popped up from his kneecap dropkick and came back with chops, which was goofy but with Kobashi having missed so much time in the past 2 years I'm willing to consider this a smart way of getting the knee attack out of the way without having Kobashi to actually take much impact on them. They did a few special spots, with Chono earning points for following Misawa's elbow suicida with a graceless suicida of his own, which Taue quickly avenged. The final 2 1/2 minutes were much better than the rest. The key sequence saw Kobashi & Taue go to town on Misawa after Taue saved Kobashi from the emerald flowsion, but Chono recovered just in time to make a diving save after they combined for a nodowa otoshi off the 2nd/powerbomb. ***1/2

GHC Tag Title Match: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka 23:03. Disappointing, formulaic EMBLEM match that was far too much about attitude and far too little about that translating into a high quality match. It was a good match, but they didn't setup or perform anything of any real difficulty although the timing was very good, and it's hard to get excited about seeing Otani & Akiyama for no discernible reason be 1/10th of the wrestlers they were in the mid to late 90's. The early portion was a big ego fest. They exchanged punches, kicks, and slaps, mostly of the not so interesting pro-wrestling style rather than the more interesting martial arts based striking. Saito did some of his karate, but this isn't exactly the fired up Saito with major heat on him that we saw in his earliest days in NJPW, and he doesn't have talent to burn like Akiyama or Otani. Saito was largely selling for EMBLEM (a good thing). Their heel routine succeeded in being annoying, doing their signature punkish tag spots and poses, but the heat was nowhere near the previous match. It may be unfair to expect Otani & Tanaka to get anywhere near the reaction of Chono, but the fans would have been better if they were wrestling near their capability. Tanaka threw a chair into Saito's head and tried to follow by clocking him with the title belt, but the ref restrained him and Joe Higuchi ripped the belt from Masato's hands and scolded him. The match picked up with Akiyama's hot tag, and became a genuinely good effort even if in a conservative and safe style. Tanaka finally kicked into high gear, and when he was wrestling the way he was capable of he was several notches above the others. Akiyama & Tanaka did some nice sequences, and there's a ton of potential in that match if Tanaka can be elevated to the level of being a real threat and Jun can be coaxed into really showing up. Unfortunately, those two were the only ones that did enough wrestling to talk about. Saito was way out of his depth, though given the simplistic nature of the contest I can't say he specifically hurt the match in any way, and Otani could have been any punkish heel. Saito pinning Tanaka just added insult to injury. 22:03. **3/4

NOAH GREAT VOYAGE '03 DVD 1/10/03 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-3hr. Q=Master. 2 DVDs
NOAH GREAT VOYAGE '03

Mitsuharu Misawa & Masahiro Chono vs. Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue 22:19. One of those dream matches that was no longer a dream by the time it finally took place. Everyone worked hard and made it a more than acceptable Budokan feature attraction (people weren't buying tickets to see Saito). It was more conservative than in the past, which is fine with me, but especially with Chono involved I hoped they'd finally go back to using their heads. Well executed and a good show, but nothing tremendous beyond the crowd reactions. The audience was going nuts because they never thought they'd see Misawa & Chono shaking hands before the opening bell and Chono standing toe to toe with Kobashi. You can't go wrong with any key match where Misawa & Kobashi are squaring off, but the problem here was it's selling point; once the awe factor of seeing Chono against the old All Japan guard wore off, it was impossible to see him as anything more than a shell of his former self who couldn't raise his level to anything approximating an average older Misawa big match. Kobashi was psyched, but Chono couldn't amp it up and Kobashi couldn't will Chono to his level. Almost all of Chono's blows looked lame by NOAH standards (his enzuigiri was nice), and what's worse is he couldn't come up with anything to make up for it. Some time after his chops failed, he tried to pit his yakuza kicks against Kobashi's chops, but he still showed me nothing that should make a dent in a man who has survived Kawada's fiercest. Kobashi gave a strong no knees Kobashi performance and Taue, though over the hill and far away, was able to raise his level to something suitable. Misawa is the only one who can still do a good imitation of their peak form, but the others were smart in knowing their limitations, minimizing their weaknesses as best as they could, and using their aura to get extra pops from the crowd. The early portion was almost all striking with Chono carrying a lot more of the load than was expected or beneficial. Shifted from striking to attacking the knee was what Chono needed to improve his end, but Kobashi popped up from his kneecap dropkick and came back with chops, which was goofy but may have been a way to get the knee attack out of the way without having Kobashi actually take much impact to them. They did a few special spots, with Chono earning points for following Misawa's elbow suicida with a graceless suicida of his own, which Taue quickly avenged. The final 2 1/2 minutes were much better than the rest with Kobashi & Taue going to town on Misawa after Taue saved Kobashi from the emerald flowsion, but Chono recovering just in time to make a diving save after they combined for a nodowa otoshi off the 2nd/powerbomb. ***1/2

GHC Tag Title Match: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka. Very disappointing match that was far too much about attitude and far too little about that translating into a high quality match. Early portion was wasted, just a big ego fest. Turned into a good match later due to Akiyama & Tanaka, who did some nice sequences but unfortunately were the only ones that did enough wrestling to talk about. Saito is way out of his depth, though Otani did little to separate himself from Saito. What was shown here is Akiyama vs. Tanaka has a great deal of potential if Tanaka is allowed to be considered a threat. 22:03. **3/4

Yoshinari Ogawa & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi. Tremendous quickness on display early from Marufuji & Kanemaru. Their stuff was generally excellent athletic spots, with Marufuji making all his aerial moves look so easy. Kikuchi & Ogawa slow the match down a lot, but they bring experience and Kikuchi was good at setting people up. It was better when Ogawa & Kikuchi were apart because they killed the pace and had no offense to make up for it. Overall, a bit sloppy but very exciting.15:48. ***

Yoshihiro Takayama & Daisuke Ikeda & Masashi Aoyagi vs. Masao Inoue & Takeshi Rikio & Jun Izumida. Out of control start showed some "promise", but they quickly made the mistake of settling down. With everyone fighting at once their mediocrity was somewhat masked, but once it was a conventional the mediocrity was glaring. Just dull unskilled boredom containing little more than the lousy kick, punch, stomp type of striking. Takayama & Ikeda were the only ones that distinguished themselves, but aside from a few stiff kicks that was mainly because they played to the crowd more. 18:27. *

1/13/03 Kyoto KBS Hall: Kenta Kobashi & KENTA vs. Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka. Kobashi chops more than ever to limit his steps, but despite his injury woes still feels he should be working the better portion of the match. I thought this team with KENTA would be a really good idea, but Kobashi didn't show much faith in KENTA, and KENTA was to sloppy to prove Kobashi wrong. All that being said, even though it was a small show with no titles on the line, they blew the tag title match out of the water. Ego, as it should be, was put aside in favor of working together to have a quality match that makes everyone look good. They bothered to tell a story this time, and even though it was the obvious story of Kobashi being the best and KENTA being the little inexperienced guy that didn't belong, often the most obvious stories are the best ones to tell. Stylistically, they did a mix of stiff wrestling and junior style. I could have lived without Tanaka jumping backwards when Kobashi chopped him and Otani trying to strike with Kobashi being treated as comedy, but an overly strong #1 does help make up for an overly weak #4. 19:36. ***1/2

AJPW & NOAH Mitsuharu Misawa ~Green Ark~ DVD Box Set
-17hr 35min. Q=Perfect. 12 DVDs

Disk One AJPW:

4/22/83: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Shiro Koshinaka

8/26/84 Tiger Mask II (debut): Tiger Mask vs. La Fiera

6/21/85: Tiger Mask vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi

11/27/85: Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid

3/13/86: Tiger Mask vs. Riki Choshu

6/1/86: Tiger Mask vs. Genichiro Tenryu

3/9/88: Tiger Mask vs. Jumbo Tsuruta

5/14/90: Tiger Mask II & Toshiaki Kawada vs. Yoshikai Yatsu & Samson Fuyuki. Tiger unmasks

6/8/90: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jumbo Tsuruta

Disc Two:

7/24/91: Mitsuharu Misawa & Tosihaki Kawada vs. Terry Gordy & Steve Williams

9/4/91: Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue

8/22/92: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Stan Hansen

10/21/92: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada

3/5/94: Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs. Giant Baba & Stan Hansen

Disc Three:

6/3/94: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada

7/28/94: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Steve Williams

4/15/95: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Akira Taue

12/9/95: Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue

10/21/97: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi

Disc Four:

1/26/98: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jun Akiyama

5/1/98: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada

10/31/98: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi

5/2/99: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Vader

8/25/99: Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Takao Omori & Yoshihiro Takayama

Disc Five NOAH:

8/5/00: Mitsuharu Misawa & Akira Taue vs. Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama

12/23/00: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Vader

1/13/01: Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Alexander Otsuka

4/15/01: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Yoshihiro Takayama

4/7/02: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kodo Fuyuki

1/10/03: Mitsuharu Misawa & Masahiro Chono vs. Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue

1/10/04: Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Yuji Nagata & Hiroshi Tanahashi

Disc Six:

7/10/04: Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Keiji Mutoh & Taiyo Kea

1/8/05: Mitsuharu Misawa & Takeshi Rikio vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka

7/18/05: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada

12/10/06: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Naomichi Marufuji

11/3/07: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. KENTA

5/6/09: Mitsuharu Misawa & Go Shiosaki vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Takeshi Morishima

6/4/09: Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue vs. Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito & Bobby Fish

NOAH NOAH's voyage 1/26/03 The First Navigation, '03 taped 1/13/03 Kyoto KBS Hall
-2hr. Q=TV Master

1/10/03 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, GHC Tag Title Match: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka. Very disappointing match that was far too much about attitude and far too little about that translating into a high quality match. Early portion was wasted, just a big ego fest. Turned into a good match later due to Akiyama & Tanaka, who did some nice sequences but unfortunately were the only ones that did enough wrestling to talk about. Saito is way out of his depth, though Otani did little to separate himself from Saito. What was shown here is Akiyama vs. Tanaka has a great deal of potential if Tanaka is allowed to be considered a threat. 22:03. **3/4

Takuma Sano & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Masashi Aoyagi 11:40

Vader vs. Makoto Hashi

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Tamon Honda & Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Akira Taue & Takashi Segiura 18:52

NOAH di colosseo 2/17/03 The First Navigation, '03 taped 1/24/03 Kochi Kenmin Taiikukan
-2hr. Q=TV Master

Navigation for the Victory, GHC 4/1/01 Fukuoka Kokusai Center

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Takeshi Rikio

Takuma Sano vs. Vader

GHC Heavyweight Tournament 1st Round: Jun Akiyama vs. Takao Omori

The First Navigation '03 1/24/03 Kochi Kenmin Taiikukan

Akira Taue & Jun Izumida & Takashi Sugiura vs. Scorpio & Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka 14:33

GHC Tag Title Match: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tamon Honda & Masao Inoue 25:24

NOAH Kobe World Kinen Hall SP The First Navigation '03 Final 1/26/03
-3hr 15min. Q=Near Perfect

Haruka Eigen & Masashi Aoyagi vs. Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota 8:33

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Kishin Kawabata 9:22

Akira Taue & Jun Izumida vs. Donovan Morgan & Ron Harris 8:33

Scorpio & Michael Modest vs. Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki 9:07

Tamon Honda vs. Masao Inoue 2:00

Takuma Sano & Kentaro Shiga & Takashi Sugiura vs. Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Makoto Hashi 19:06

Kenta Kobashi & KENTA vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Naomichi Marufuji 16:18

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Koji Kanemoto & Jushin Thunder Liger 27:11

NOAH di colosseo 2/9/03 1st Differ Cup Sodatsu Junior Tag Tournament taped 2/8/03 Tokyo Differ Ariake
-1hr 55min. Q=Near Perfect

1st Differ Cup Sodatsu Junior Tag Tournament 1st Round:

KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Great Takeru & Kappa Kozou 20:44

Ultimo Dragon & YOSSINO vs. Gran Naniwa & Jun Kasai 15:47

MIKAMI & KUDO vs. Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Chocoball Mukai 18:11

Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki vs. Ikuto Hidaka & Masao Orihara 16:31

1st Differ Cup Sodatsu Junior Tag Tournament Semifinals:

Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki vs. MIKAMI & KUDO 15:21

Ultimo Dragon & YOSSINO vs. KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki 11:49

NOAH Differ Ariake SP 2/9/03 1st Differ Cup Sodatsu Junior Tag Tournament
-2 1/2hr. Q=Near Perfect

Great Takeru vs. Kappa Kozou 10:28

Masao Orihara vs. Ikuto Hidaka 12:47

Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Chocoball Mukai vs. Gran Naniwa & Jun Kasai 21:25

1st Differ Cup Sodatsu Junior Tag Tournament 3rd Place Match: KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki vs. MIKAMI & KUDO 24:52

1st Differ Cup Sodatsu Junior Tag Tournament Final: Ultimo Dragon & YOSSINO vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki 20:27

NOAH di colosseo 2/13/03 G+ COLOSSEO JUNIOR CUP taped 2/8/03 & 2/9/03 Tokyo Differ Ariake
-2hr. Q=TV Master

1st Differ Cup Sodatsu Junior Tag Tournament 1st Round:

Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Chocoball Mukai vs. MIKAMI & KUDO 2:50 of 18:11. A big demotions for FMW’s former heavyweight champion Kuroda to be in another promotions junior division, but Kodo Fuyuki condemned FMW to having zero credibility in NOAH when he signed them up to come in and challenge for the lowly and meaningless Asia Tag Titles. I wouldn’t bet on 18 minutes of Chocoball, but what aired was a decent combination of flying and garbage. MIKAMI is a Hardy wannabe, utilizing a ladder for his swanton bomb finisher, but while also not being well rounded, he’s actually a tremendous athlete with excellent body control who performs his moves accurately and in impressive fashion. Today’s highlight was a crazy swandive body attack over the guard rail, landing on the first row chairs.

Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki vs. Masao Orihara & Ikuto Hidaka 4:25 of 16:31. The FEC team of Orihara & Hidaka were pushing the favorites, with the fans reacting big time to their near falls. Hidaka worked his ass off as usual, executing with his superb combination of speed and precision. He’s really spiked the complexity of his spots, adding more and more midair and grasp position changes. Takaiwa was an excellent opponent for him because he’s such a good base for flying moves. Hidaka & Takaiwa would go back and forth with Hidaka being the aerial aggressor, but Takaiwa sometimes crushing him with a powerful counter. Even though Sasaki, who was undoubtedly miles out of his depth, was basically cut out from what aired, I’d bet they really dropped the ball in not showing this whole match as Hidaka vs. Takaiwa appeared to be at least as good as anything NOAH’s junior division produced all year. Seemed to be an excellent match.

KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki vs. The Great Takeru & Kappa Kozo 8:52 of 20:44. Looked like a good match, but was hardly in the class with the previous Hidaka match. Takeru & Kozo work for a nothing league (IWA Japan), but made a solid showing, appearing to be energetic performers. Their highlight was Takeru holding Suzuki horizontal and Kozo slingshotting himself over the top with a leg drop. KENTA was good with both opponents, while Suzuki was hidden by the editing. Looked like a good match.

Ultimo Dragon & Yossino vs. Gran Naniwa & Jun Kasai 7:04 of 15:44. The worst match by far with Kasai & Naniwa, true to form, being the least motivated team by a wide margin. Dragon was worlds above the others, but he was basically on his own. Average at best.

1st Differ Cup Sodatsu Junior Tag Tournament Semifinals:

Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki vs. MIKAMI & KUDO 13:32 of 15:21. The DDT team really should have been Takaiwa & Sasaki’s first round opponents. G+ gave the semifinal a lot of air time it really didn’t seem to deserve. Not that it was bad as a whole, but Sasaki & KUDO are two of the worst workers in the tournament and the crowd was dead for the mediocrity they delivered. The highlight, in a way, was Takaiwa trying to powerbomb MIKAMI off the ladder, but MIKAMI turning it into a Frankensteiner for a hot near fall. The problem is this spot took forever to set up. **3/4

Ultimo Dragon & Yossino vs. KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki 11:42. They postponed the anticipated Dragon vs. KENTA meeting to build anticipation, with the legend and new sensation delivering when they finally took their turn. Upstarts Yossino & Suzuki are just outclassed at this point, but they did their best. Suzuki was featured since he was jobbing, looking as good as ever since Dragon, who is still really quick and explosive, was carrying him. The Dragon vs. Suzuki pairing was far superior to KENTA vs. Yosshino, as they had good timing together. Kind of short, but they got about as much mileage as one could hope. ***

1st Differ Cup Sodatsu Junior Tag Tournament 3rd Place Match: KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki vs. MIKAMI & KUDO 24:50. The pleasant surprise of the tournament was the exceptional quality of what I figured would be a routine good junior tag. Actually, it was more similar to a heavyweight match with a slower pace and an impressive level of stiffness. I may have spoken too soon about KUDO, as the DDT team seemed to save it for this match. KUDO particularly shined in this setting since he could trade kicks with KENTA. MIKAMI tried to forward roll over a kick, but got blasted when he didn’t clear KENTA’s leg. They shifted to high gear for the final quarter, with the fans really getting into the numerous credible near finishes. MIKAMI’s big ladder spot of the match was getting suplexed off by KENTA. ***3/4

1st Differ Cup Sodatsu Junior Tag Tournament Final: Ultimo Dragon & Yossino vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki 20:27. Dramatic well worked match with effective counters and near counters. The goal of the match was to make you almost believe Dragon & Yossino couldn’t win because Takaiwa & Sasaki were such tough rat bastards. It was pretty clear the way it was worked that Toryumon would score the “upset” win. However, as Dragon over Sasaki was actually the expected result from the outset, the backbone of the match was simply passing off the illusion that the ZERO-ONE team was too tough for Toryumon. Takaiwa really got his dickish attitude going here. Dragon might be the idol of many a junior, but Takaiwa & Sasaki weren’t giving him much respect, generally putting the boots to him. That’s more than Yossino got, as they just laughed him off and slapped him around. Takaiwa carried the match in his deliberate power and attitude style, with Dragon & Yossino using athletic counters to get their oft sparse offense in. The fans were excited when Yossino got hope spots, usually a counter into a near fall. Dragon finally made the hot tag and started taking it to Sasaki, only to have Takaiwa jump right in and lay him out with his Death Valley bomb. Takaiwa was clearly the star, but given who else was involved we needed a little more from Dragon to elevate it to an excellent match. A flash pin would actually have worked better here since the Toryumon team had been punted all match, particularly if Yossino scored bit but that’s asking too much given all the leagues involved, so they settled on Ultimo over Sasaki with the Dragon sleeper. ***3/4

NOAH di colosseo 2/24/03 Navigate for Evolution '03 taped 2/16/03 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-2hr. Q=Near Perfect

Haruka Eigen & Jun Izumida vs. Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura 9:46

Daisuke Ikeda & Takeshi Morishima vs. Michael Modest & Scorpio 9:21

Naomichi Marufuji & Takeshi Rikio vs. Akira Taue & Kotaro Suzuki 10:49

Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Kishin Kawabata 11:19

Makoto Hashi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. KENTA & Takashi Sugiura 14:04

Akitoshi Saito & Jun Akiyama vs. Bison Smith & Donovan Morgan 4:08

Masao Inoue & Mitsuharu Misawa & Takuma Sano vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 21:05

NOAH NOAH's voyage 2/23/03 Navigate for Evolution '03 taped 2/18/03 Kanagawa Yokosuka Shi Taiikukan
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Mitsuo Momota vs. Haruka Eigen 7:47

Michael Modest vs. Kotaro Suzuki 7:53

Akira Taue & Jun Izumida vs. Takeshi Morishima & Kishin Kawabata 11:15

Masao Inoue vs. Superstar Steve 11:40

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Takuma Sano vs. Scorpio & Bison Smith & Donovan Morgan 12:51

Takeshi Rikio & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura 12:22. Pretty good match, but awfully short. Marufuji kept it entertaining without doing anything particularly dangerous. His best stuff was putting his quickness and creativity against Sugiura's brutality and submission. Sugiura was a positve, mixing his tough guy offense with sprinklings of junior offense. Ikeda did a lot of kicking on the outside, doing a windsprint jumping kick and keeping his opponents from making saves. If they were taking it seriously and going 20 minutes, I have no doubt it would have been good. **

Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & KENTA vs. Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi 22:33

NOAH Osaka Furitsu Taiikukan SP NAVIGATION FOR EVOLUTION '03 2/21/03
-2hr 35min. Q=Near Perfect. 1 DVD

Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Michael Modest 20:00

Takeshi Morishima & Masao Inoue & Jun Izumida vs. Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Makoto Hashi 15:39

Akira Taue & Daisuke Ikeda & Masashi Aoyagi vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & KENTA 22:52

Takeshi Rikio & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura 15:00

Scorpio & Bison Smith & Donovan Morgan vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki 13:37

NOAH G+ Classics 6/15/17 NAVIGATION FOR EVOLUTION '03 taped 3/1/03 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-3hr 20min. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota vs. Haruka Eigen & Kishin Kawabata 8:47

Akira Taue & Donovan Morgan & Michael Modest vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Takuma Sano & Kotaro Suzuki 15:46

Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi 16:35 Match couldn't live up to it's spectacular opening, as Marufuji & KENTA could continue to hit hot moves, but no one took the time to develop the match so it never built any momentum. Kanemaru & Hashi weren't offering much in return. Kanemaru had some nice offense, but he didn't set it up very interestingly, and that was really the problem with the match, they just hit moves without putting any effort into incorporating them through sequences and counters. It was mainly Marufuji doing spectacular stuff, KENTA mixing spectacular with blistering kicks, Kanemaru taking and throwing in an occasional hot move, and Hashi killing the match in every way imaginable. Hashi wasn't so much bad, as he simply doesn't fit the junior style, and doesn't understand how to make himself an alternative. He should be the power guy like Takaiwa was in the NJ tags: instead he was just the guy that stalled the match, killing the pace rather than truly changing the style. Hashi just kind of stood around, doing something of a Skidrow bum's version of Tenzan. KENTA is ever quicker and more explosive than Marufuji, but he's also very erratic. Marufuji wasn't at his sharpest here either, with the finish not coming off right. Still, it was an entertaining match, as there were quite a few really impressive meaningless flashy stretches in between a few meaningless boring ones and some kind of lazy junior action. ***

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Bison Smith & Superstar Steve & IZU 12:39

Scorpio vs. Yoshinari Ogawa 6:20. Should have been so much more than it was. Started out like the good old Scorpio matches with him developing sequences and counters, but quickly turned into the kind of standard back and forth match guys that aren't particularly skilled do. Scorpio wasn't at his sharpest during the good portion then just rolled out all his big flying moves the next time. In between, Ogawa did a few moves, but it's hard to get excited about a guy who is pulling out the scroto squeeze. *1/2

Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Masao Inoue 7:02. Both need to be carried. They didn't screw up, but very little looked all that good. Takayama is the better of the two because he's figured out how to do his offense and transitions more quickly. Short nothing match. *1/4

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tamon Honda & Takashi Sugiura 7:31. Too short and mostly the two slugs Saito & Honda, but at least some thought was put into what they did do. It looked like Akiyama was making a flashy entrance with a Kabuki theatre mask on, but instead he snuck out from the crowd. Saito took Sugiura out then jumped off the apron to spike Akiyama's piledriver of Honda. It was perhaps goofy that Sugiura didn't resurface for about 6 minutes, while Honda who definitely took the more deadly move was the one working that portion, but they seemed to be protecting Sugiura, who has a lot more future than Honda. Saito worked over Honda's knee until Sugiura cleaned house. Fans took the near finishes seriously, but I would have liked to see Akiyama actually do some things before they went home. **1/4

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi 33:28. Maybe more than ever, these are two of the most talented wrestlers around. There was much to admire about this match, starting with the fact they went all out for 33 minutes to deliver a classic. If you never saw their 1/20/97 or 10/21/97 or hell, any singles match they had together, I can understand the overwhelming enthusiasm, but this was far closer to as bad a match as they are capable of having than as good of one. As a spectacle, this might still be a heavyweight match of the year candidate, but it just felt like a stale rerun. 5 minutes in, Misawa was using the kind of moves he'd use against Hansen 15 minutes in, and their matches were usually 10-15 min shorter than this. The moves just kept escalating until they became numbing. Misawa dominated the early portion, working the lariat arm some but without any real conviction. The tide turned when Misawa missed an elbow off the apron, busting himself open hardway. Kobashi attacked the neck, but again it was so spot oriented I never believed it. They tried to sell, but the selling was undermined by the countless bombs. The moves were great, particularly when Misawa did his elbow suicida with Kobashi on the runway then Tiger suplexed him off, which they even sold effectively. The execution was great as always. Misawa did all the moving because Kobashi's knees are so bad, but they worked around this problem to the point it wasn't something you thought about. What you couldn't help but think about is the lack of meaning we've seen in all their matches since their 1/20/97 encounter that was one of the apexes of heavyweight wrestling precisely because they laid it out in a way that made everything was perfectly worked in and ordered to achieve maximum value. Yeah, there was a killer new invention or two, but essentially we've seen this match over and over starting with 10/21/97, and even if we haven't seen it in NOAH, it just feels like a rewind of their '98 & '99 matches. 10/21/97 was fresh and revolutionary because it was heavyweight legends doing a crazy junior style match, but now it's heavyweight legends just running through moves like guys that are 20 years younger and don't know any better. I want to care about things like Kobashi kicking out of the emerald flowsion, but they not longer wanted to give me reason to. 33:28. ***3/4

NOAH Special NAVIGATION FOR EVOLUTION '03 taped 3/1/03 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi 16:35 Match couldn't live up to it's spectacular opening, as Marufuji & KENTA could continue to hit hot moves, but no one took the time to develop the match so it never built any momentum. Kanemaru & Hashi weren't offering much in return. Kanemaru had some nice offense, but he didn't set it up very interestingly, and that was really the problem with the match, they just hit moves without putting any effort into incorporating them through sequences and counters. It was mainly Marufuji doing spectacular stuff, KENTA mixing spectacular with blistering kicks, Kanemaru taking and throwing in an occasional hot move, and Hashi killing the match in every way imaginable. Hashi wasn't so much bad, as he simply doesn't fit the junior style, and doesn't understand how to make himself an alternative. He should be the power guy like Takaiwa was in the NJ tags: instead he was just the guy that stalled the match, killing the pace rather than truly changing the style. Hashi just kind of stood around, doing something of a Skidrow bum's version of Tenzan. KENTA is ever quicker and more explosive than Marufuji, but he's also very erratic. Marufuji wasn't at his sharpest here either, with the finish not coming off right. Still, it was an entertaining match, as there were quite a few really impressive meaningless flashy stretches in between a few meaningless boring ones and some kind of lazy junior action. ***

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Bison Smith & Superstar Steve & IZU 12:39

Scorpio vs. Yoshinari Ogawa 6:20

Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Masao Inoue 7:02

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tamon Honda & Takashi Sugiura 7:31

Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota vs. Haruka Eigen & Kishin Kawabata digest

Akira Taue & Donovan Morgan & Michael Modest vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Takuma Sano & Kotaro Suzuki digest

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi 33:28

NOAH NAVIGATION FOR EVOLUTION '03 DVD 3/1/03 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-2hr 20min. Q=Master

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi 33:28. Maybe more than ever, these are two of the most talented wrestlers around. There was much to admire about this match, starting with the fact they went all out for 33 minutes to deliver a classic. If you never saw their 1/20/97 or 10/21/97 or hell, any singles match they had together, I can understand the overwhelming enthusiasm, but this was far closer to as bad a match as they are capable of having than as good of one. As a spectacle, this might still be a heavyweight match of the year candidate, but it just felt like a stale rerun. 5 minutes in, Misawa was using the kind of moves he'd use against Hansen 15 minutes in, and their matches were usually 10-15 min shorter than this. The moves just kept escalating until they became numbing. Misawa dominated the early portion, working the lariat arm some but without any real conviction. The tide turned when Misawa missed an elbow off the apron, busting himself open hardway. Kobashi attacked the neck, but again it was so spot oriented I never believed it. They tried to sell, but the selling was undermined by the countless bombs. The moves were great, particularly when Misawa did his elbow suicida with Kobashi on the runway then Tiger suplexed him off, which they even sold effectively. The execution was great as always. Misawa did all the moving because Kobashi's knees are so bad, but they worked around this problem to the point it wasn't something you thought about. What you couldn't help but think about is the lack of meaning we've seen in all their matches since their 1/20/97 encounter that was one of the apexes of heavyweight wrestling precisely because they laid it out in a way that made everything was perfectly worked in and ordered to achieve maximum value. Yeah, there was a killer new invention or two, but essentially we've seen this match over and over starting with 10/21/97, and even if we haven't seen it in NOAH, it just feels like a rewind of their '98 & '99 matches. 10/21/97 was fresh and revolutionary because it was heavyweight legends doing a crazy junior style match, but now it's heavyweight legends just running through moves like guys that are 20 years younger and don't know any better. I want to care about things like Kobashi kicking out of the emerald flowsion, but they not longer wanted to give me reason to. 33:28. ***3/4

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tamon Honda & Takashi Sugiura. Too short and mostly the two slugs Saito & Honda, but at least some thought was put into what they did do. It looked like Akiyama was making a flashy entrance with a Kabuki theatre mask on, but instead he snuck out from the crowd. Saito took Sugiura out then jumped off the apron to spike Akiyama's piledriver of Honda. It was perhaps goofy that Sugiura didn't resurface for about 6 minutes, while Honda who definitely took the more deadly move was the one working that portion, but they seemed to be protecting Sugiura, who has a lot more future than Honda. Saito worked over Honda's knee until Sugiura cleaned house. Fans took the near finishes seriously, but I would have liked to see Akiyama actually do some things before they went home. 7:31. **1/4

Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Masao Inoue. Both need to be carried. They didn't screw up, but very little looked all that good. Takayama is the better of the two because he's figured out how to do his offense and transitions more quickly. Short nothing match. 7:02. *1/4

Scorpio vs. Yoshinari Ogawa. Should have been so much more than it was. Started out like the good old Scorpio matches with him developing sequences and counters, but quickly turned into the kind of standard back and forth match guys that aren't particularly skilled do. Scorpio wasn't at his sharpest during the good portion then just rolled out all his big flying moves the next time. In between, Ogawa did a few moves, but it's hard to get excited about a guy who is pulling out the scroto squeeze. 6:20. *1/2

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi vs. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA 16:35. Match couldn't live up to it's spectacular opening, as Marufuji & KENTA could continue to hit hot moves, but no one took the time to develop the match so it never built any momentum. Kanemaru & Hashi weren't offering much in return. Kanemaru had some nice offense, but he didn't set it up very interestingly, and that was really the problem with the match, they just hit moves without putting any effort into incorporating them through sequences and counters. It was mainly Marufuji doing spectacular stuff, KENTA mixing spectacular with blistering kicks, Kanemaru taking and throwing in an occasional hot move, and Hashi killing the match in every way imaginable. Hashi wasn't so much bad, as he simply doesn't fit the junior style, and doesn't understand how to make himself an alternative. He should be the power guy like Takaiwa was in the NJ tags: instead he was just the guy that stalled the match, killing the pace rather than truly changing the style. Hashi just kind of stood around, doing something of a Skidrow bum's version of Tenzan. KENTA is ever quicker and more explosive than Marufuji, but he's also very erratic. Marufuji wasn't at his sharpest here either, with the finish not coming off right. Still, it was an entertaining match, as there were quite a few really impressive meaningless flashy stretches in between a few meaningless boring ones and some kind of lazy junior action. ***

NOAH NOAH's voyage 3/23/03 NAVIGATION taped 3/16/03 Tokyo Differ Ariake
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Tamon Honda vs. Takuma Sano 11:44

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Akira Taue & Kishin Kawabata 14:36

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Jun Izumida 14:28

2/3 Falls: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi & Takashi Sugiura vs. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki 14:18, 9:12, 13:06. Tons of potential, but didn't really live up to it. The action was inspired from start to finish, which is pretty impressive for a 37 minute match, but it never gained momentum so it was consistent and long rather than outstanding. Suzuki seemed eager to show off his athleticism, but although there was good offense from the outset, Marufuji's team never really showed their best offense. This was a match where Kanemaru really needed to make his presence felt, but he did his best Misawa imitation, hiding on the apron. This left Hashi & Sugiura, who just aren't juniors, to dictate the style of the match. Hashi was the only one in the match who really answered the call and worked above his head. He did a good job of putting a beating on his opponents, and generally got by on effort. Sugiura was a disaster though. A junior such as Takaiwa who can muscle the opposition is a nice change of pace, but they need to be able to participate in fluid sequences and take graceful moves, even if they aren't giving them out. Sugiura was as flexible as the tin man out there, so he was really impossible to work with, making the segments into disjointed steps. Everyone else was good, with Marufuji looking extremely smooth, KENTA being at his fiery best, really brutalizing the opposition with his kicks, and Suzuki showing tons of potential. ***1/4

NOAH Korakuen HALL SP Encountering Navigation '03 3/21/03 Tokyo
-2hr 35min. Q=Near Perfect. 1DVD

Mitsuo Momota vs. Haruka Eigen 8:13

Jun Izumida & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Kishin Kawabata 17:30

Michael Modest & Donovan Morgan vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura 13:30

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Akira Taue & Takuma Sano & Kotaro Suzuki 15:21

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Bull Schmidt & Vinnie Valentino 12:25

Tamon Honda vs. Scorpio 11:05

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Makoto Hashi vs. Kenta Kobashi & Masao Inoue & KENTA 25:37

NOAH Fukuoka SP Encountering Navigation '03 3/30/03 Hakata Starlanes
-3hr. Q=Near Perfect. 1DVD

Mitsuo Momota vs. Kotaro Suzuki 8:03

Scorpio & Vinnie Valentino vs. Donovan Morgan & Bull Schmidt 8:31

Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura vs. Takeshi Rikio & Masashi Aoyagi 5:54

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Takuma Sano & Jun Izumida 16:46

Kenta Kobashi & Masao Inoue & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Akira Taue & Daisuke Ikeda & Kishin Kawabata 24:32

Takeshi Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Jun Akiyama & Makoto Hashi 14:44. The intensity and enthusiasm made the match. Hashi was fired up, Marufuji was spunky as ever, and even Akiyama managed to care. The match was mostly Marufuji getting abused, but as a means to both get the fans behind him and elevate him. They picked on him on the outside early, including Hashi's diving headbutt and reverse DDT. Morishima had a brief hot tag where he cleaned house, but for the most part Marufuji had to sink or swim on his own. Akiyama was smacking him around, so the fans went nuts when he took the opportunity (after sliding through the ropes to counter Hashi's whip) to pull Akiyama to the floor and deliver a big superkick. Marufuji finally got the pin on Hashi then gave Akiyama a shiranui for good measure, with he and Morishima dragging Akiyama's fallen partner onto him then standing on them to pose. ***1/2

GHC Heavyweight Title Next Challenger Decision Match 2: Tamon Honda vs. Akitoshi Saito 13:32

GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Michael Modest 19:16. Both were good, but their tendency not to push the pace wasn't beneficial to the match quality. The majority of the match was good move then 30-60 seconds of dead time with a rest hold or stalling. Thus, the match took a long time to gain momentum. It was always good, but the little push they made in the final few minutes didn't come close to elevating it to the next level. ***

NOAH NOAH's voyage 4/12/03 Encountering Navigation '03 taped 4/3/03 Hiroshima Sports Center
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Masashi Aoyagi vs. Haruka Eigen 7:09

Akira Taue & Jun Izumida vs. Takuma Sano & Makoto Hashi 11:19

Tamon Honda vs. Kishin Kawabata 5:44

Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue vs. Scorpio & Vinnie Valentino 13:13

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Michael Modest & Donovan Morgan & Bull Schmidt 12:20

Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kotaro Suzuki 17:50. Suzuki's effort led to a better than expected match where they made a genuine effort to act like they cared. Kikuchi came out fast, working a nice junior sequence with Kotaro, and that seemed to put them in the proper frame of mind, as everyone remained active throughout. Suzuki would sporadically impress with an athletic maneuver, but mainly Kobashi & Kikuchi were active because Suzuki was taking all the bumps and pounding. Misawa was hardly in, of course, but provided quality rather than quantity, doing his fast athletic stuff. He mainly worked with Kobashi, and it seemed as though they wanted to follow their 3/1/03 match up with something at least interesting while it lasted. Kikuchi kept his comedy persona to a minimum here, wrestling straight apart from a funny spot where Misawa backed Kikuchi into the corner and tagged, but Kikuchi ignored Suzuki hitting him from behind as if he were a fly, instead staring Misawa down and elbowing him. ***

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura 16:50

4/5/03 Kanazawa Ishikawa Industrial Exhibition Hall #3, GHC Tag Title Match: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Takeshi Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji 19:15 of 25:58. Mediocre match that was nothing special in any regard, lacking any semblance of a big match feel, but mainly just lacking any actual quality. No one stood out. Morishima gave the best effort, but that's wrestling without grace and timing. Then again, that pretty much summed up the match. They just had no chemistry. They didn't screw up too much, but they didn't pull anything off with any sense of style or flair. It was all very standard, very vanilla. **

NOAH Ishikawa Sangyo Tenjikan SP Encountering Navigation '03 4/5/03
-3hr. Q=Near Perfect. 1DVD

Haruka Eigen vs. Mitsuo Momota 6:46

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi vs. Masashi Aoyagi & Kotaro Suzuki 13:47

Michael Modest vs. Vinnie Valentino 9:09

Akira Taue & IZU vs. Scorpio & Donovan Morgan 8:01

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Takeshi Rikio & Masao Inoue 18:51

Tamon Honda vs. Bull Schmidt 4:37

Yoshihiro Takayama & Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura vs. Kenta Kobashi & Takuma Sano & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 25:46

GHC Tag Title Match: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Takeshi Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji 25:58

NOAH Ariake Coliseum SP Encountering Navigation '03 Final 4/13/03 Tokyo
-3hr. Q=Near Perfect. 1DVD

Akira Taue & Takuma Sano & Makoto Hashi vs. Scorpio & Bull Schmidt & Vinnie Valentino 18:34

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura vs. KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki 16:46

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue vs. Takeshi Morishima & Daisuke Ikeda & Naomichi Marufuji 22:04

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tom Howard & Steve Corino 11:06

NWF Heavyweight Title Match: Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Takeshi Rikio 15:03

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Kenta Kobashi vs. Tamon Honda 26:55. Kobashi has the best work ethic of any wrestler I've ever seen. Even though the GHC Heavyweight Title had, for the most part, been nothing special for the first two years, he still thinks it should have the credibility of the Triple Crown, and that a big show main event should be an epic great match. He can't change the laziness and ineptitude that came before him, but despite his severely broken body, he can still will himself to much better. Kobashi won the title in his same old match against Misawa a month earlier, a match that's mostly notable for finally happening again, as they did the same things much better in '97 when they still managed to have two of the freshest and most unbelievable heavyweight matches of all-time. Misawa could still go when he wanted to, but Honda? The sun often shines on Toyotas, but this is the only time Honda's rear got any tan. This is the sort of match that shows how good wrestling could be if the performers simply had the desire because it's really all effort. I mean, Kobashi is half dead by this point, and Honda is half a wrestler if you want to be generous. Kobashi was able to lead Honda through the formula that allows any marginal Japanese wrestler to have a good match with a great opponent, with Honda simply working his ass off and just being a competent wrestler who launched a basic but well focused attack. Honda controlled the match, working the bad knees and the bad arm, though all of this really went nowhere as Honda lacks even finishing moves that can threaten Kobashi, much less arm submissions. Honda doesn't really have a move set to begin though, so thriving on his opponent's weaknesses as long as he can, mixing in variations of his dead end to maintain the intrigue, is actually his best bet to navigate safely through a long singles match. He hits a dead end taking Kobashi from inside the ring to the ramp early, and another off the 2nd rope midway through. The fact that Kobashi can survive these doesn't bode well when he does the regular version late, but by then Honda had won the fans over with his heart and effort, even if there still wasn't anyone who truly believed he was going to win. The match had no real drama, but the crowd got really into it because they respected both men tremendously for pulling off what was clearly the match of Honda's life. I felt like the match was purely AJPW overmatched underdog in a big match formula, which is fine because you can't expect someone who isn't used to the basics of the big match to suddenly do a great title match, especially a guy who is never in a big singles match for a reason. The match was more memorable than a lot of better 2003 matches because instead of being one of a dozen matches a really good wrestler might have on this level, it's basically the beginning and ending of Honda's career recommended singles match list. It's a "Holy shit, Honda did something truly worthwhile!" But it's at best a par for the course Kobashi title defense. If it is better, it's because Honda tried harder, not because he suddenly learned how to wrestle overnight. ***1/2

NOAH Kakutogi Hour The Ring 5/1/03 Encountering Navigation '03 Final taped 4/13/03 Tokyo Ariake Coliseum
& NOAH Kakutogi Hour The Ring 5/29/03 Navigation with Breeze '03 Opening taped 5/9/03 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-1hr 45min. Q=Near Perfect

4/13/03

NWF Heavyweight Title Match: Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Takeshi Rikio 15:03

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Kenta Kobashi vs. Tamon Honda 26:55

5/9/03

Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & KENTA vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura 24:08

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Akira Taue & Takuma Sano & Kishin Kawabata 20:50

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP Navigation with Breeze '03 Opening 5/9/03 Tokyo
-2hr 35min. Q=Ex. 1DVD

Jun Izumida vs. Haruka Eigen 6:43

Takeshi Morishima vs. Tommy Drake 9:53

Naomichi Marufuji & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Makoto Hashi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru 15:27

Bison Smith & Doug Williams vs. Fly Guy Cannon & Scorpio 12:30

Kotaro Suzuki & Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Akira Taue & Kishin Kawabata & Takuma Sano 20:50

Akitoshi Saito & Jun Akiyama vs. Masao Inoue & Takeshi Rikio 16:05

KENTA & Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura & Yoshihiro Takayama 24:08

NOAH NOAH's voyage 5/17/03 Navigation with Breeze '03 taped 5/11/03 Tokyo Differ Ariake
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Mitsuo Momota vs. Haruka Eigen 8:20

Takeshi Rikio vs. Tommy Drake 8:28

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura & Makoto Hashi vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki 18:48. The bad ear Kikuchi match. The match exceeded expectations even though the guys I'd expect to need to step up to do so, Kanemaru & KENTA, didn't play a big role. Sugiura, Hashi, & Kotaro were hungry though, and came to fight. If they tried to do a junior match throughout with Sugiura & Hashi, it would have been underwhelming because they really aren't made for the style, but by brawling early it had some intensity and allowed everyone to eventually do their thing. Hashi & Suzuki exchanged early until Suzuki cold cocked Hashi with a punch in the mouth. Hashi then exchanged with Kikuchi, whose ear began to bleed, I believe from repeatedly headbutting Hashi. Sugiura elbowed Kikuchi's ear and Hashi headbutted it, but this unexpected ear storyline was abandoned too soon. The action spilled to the floor with everyone brawling on the outside before Suzuki transitioned to a junior match for the climax. A spot or two of Suzuki's didn't quite come off smoothly, but overall it was an effective match. ***1/4

Yoshihiro Takayama & Doug Williams vs. Takeshi Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji 14:16. Takayama was on today, being quite nasty, particularly in picking on little Marufuji. He was knocking Naomichi off his feet with every big blow, including a couple of wicked elbows. Marufuji got to run on Takayama's back and give him a sliding kick to the face to set up the hot tag, but that was about it. Morishima was disappointing, as he generally at least gives you effort. Marufuji vs. Williams was nothing special either, as they did Williams technical style, and didn't challenge each other with sequences or counters until the final seconds. *3/4

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tamon Honda & Jun Izumida 5:41

Scorpio & Bison Smith vs. Kenta Kobashi & Masao Inoue 12:44

Akira Taue & Daisuke Ikeda & Takuma Sano vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Kishin Kawabata 21:46. Hot start with Taue attacking Misawa on the way to the ring, backbody dropping him in and hitting a nodowa otoshi and Ligerbomb. Unfortunately, the intensity quickly disappated when Misawa & Taue took their familiar places on the apron, and the others mostly went through the motions for the next 15 minutes. There were sporadic highlights such as Sano catching Ikeda with his tope when Kawabata avoided, but Kawabata should never be in a main event, and it was the sort of match where Sano thought about following his missile kick with a kip up, but decided not to bother. Sano & Ikeda at least woke up down the stretch, and Misawa was entertaining when he was actually in. **

NOAH Toyama Techno Hall SP 5/16/03 Navigation with Breeze '03 taped 5/14/03
-2hr 35min. Q=Ex. 1 DVD

Mitsuo Momota vs. Haruka Eigen 6:58

Takashi Sugiura vs. Kotaro Suzuki 10:48

Akira Taue & Takuma Sano vs. Scorpio & Tommy Drake 11:59

Bison Smith & Doug Williams & Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio 15:23

Yuji Nagata vs. Masao Inoue 13:46

Daisuke Ikeda & Jun Izumida vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa 12:26

Captain's Fall Elimination Match: Akitoshi Saito & Jun Akiyama & Makoto Hashi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Tamon Honda & Kenta Kobashi & KENTA & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 35:56

NOAH NOAH's voyage 6/6/03 Navigation with Breeze '03 taped 5/31/03 Hokkaido Sapporo Media Park Spica
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Daisuke Ikeda vs. Tommy Drake 2:43

Scorpio & Doug Williams vs. Akitoshi Saito & Masashi Aoyagi 14:24

Jun Akiyama & Makoto Hashi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Yoshinari Ogawa & KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki 16:54. They were angry and aggressise. KENTA was particularly fired up, charging in and firing away. It was more of a nice start to a match than a finished product though, as they stiffed each other, but didn't do much in the way of offense. ***

Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda vs. Akira Taue & Masao Inoue 17:45

Yuji Nagata & Takuma Sano vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 17:05. Nagata showed up, but the NOAH guys weren't invigorated by his presence. Nagata got them to work a little, but there was a shocking lack of intensity for the interpromotional rivalry and the NOAH guys did nothing without him. Nagata vs. Misawa was the best, but they were mainly exchanging elbows. *3/4

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Bison Smith & Takashi Sugiura 22:18. Started slow, but they eventually made an effort since it was the main event. Marufuji vs. Sugiura was genuinely good while it lasted, but they were largely apart until the finish. The big guys plodded around, sometimes hitting each other hard. Marufuji had fun with his size advantage when he was in with Takayama & Bison. I expected a better effort from Morishima & Rikio. *3/4

NOAH Sapporo Media Park Spica SP Navigation with Breeze '03 6/1/03
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Mitsuo Momota vs. Haruka Eigen 8:13

Jun Izumida & Doug Williams vs. Takeshi Rikio & Kotaro Suzuki 14:04

Takeshi Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Masao Inoue & Masashi Aoyagi 14:35

Yoshihiro Takayama & Bison Smith vs. Scorpio & Tommy Drake 11:50

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Kishin Kawabata 17:05

Yuji Nagata & Takuma Sano vs. Akira Taue & Takashi Sugiura 16:45

2/3 Falls: Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & KENTA vs. Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi 21:43, 15:18, 2:01

NOAH Nippon Budokan SP Navigation with Breeze '03 Final 6/6/03 Tokyo
-3hr 5min. Q=Near Perfect

Makoto Hashi vs. Kotaro Suzuki 10:12

Takeshi Rikio & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Mitsuo Momota & Masashi Aoyagi vs. Masao Inoue & Jun Izumida & Haruka Eigen & Kishin Kawabata 12:31

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura vs. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA 15:36

Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Takeshi Morishima 5:12

Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Daisuke Ikeda 7:54

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Takuma Sano 15:21

Yuji Nagata New Japan vs. Akira Taue 15:53

GHC Tag Title Match: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda 26:54

NOAH Korakuen HALL SP SOLIDARITY: THE UNION 6/8/03 Tokyo
-2hr 15min. Q=Near Perfect. 1DVD

Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Kishin Kawabata 9:37

Takuma Sano & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Tamon Honda & Jun Izumida 14:27

Takashi Sugiura vs. KENTA 2:39

Takeshi Morishima & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Takeshi Rikio & Makoto Hashi 14:20

Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Naomichi Marufuji 10:00

Jun Akiyama vs. Masao Inoue 8:47

16 Man Battle Royal 8:47

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP Accomplish Our 3rd Navigation '03 Opening 6/29/03 Tokyo
-2hr 40min. Q=Near Perfect. 1DVD

Michael Modest vs. Mitsuo Momota 6:29

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio vs. Takuma Sano & Makoto Hashi 11:39

Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue vs. Akitoshi Saito & Jun Izumida 13:57

Jun Akiyama & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Scorpio & Donovan Morgan 11:07

Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Superstar Steve 14:49

Jushin Thunder Liger & Takehiro Murahama & Ricky Marvin vs. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki 16:31. Super fast paced match from start to finish. Everyone was motivated and wanted to be involved to the point they were flying in from off the screen. As quick as it started, the speed and intensity only kept increasing until the finish. They somewhat paired stars Liger and Marufuji, strikers Murahama & KENTA, and athletic guys Marvin & Suzuki, but generally every pairing was clicking. Murahama stood out for his out and out quickness, but Marufuji was able to use his speed the best to pull off some outstanding counters. Marufuji was the best in the match, working well in all facets from a great striking sequence with Liger to speedy timing counters with Murahama. ****

Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Akira Taue & Daisuke Ikeda & Kishin Kawabata 24:43

NOAH NOAH's voyage 7/13/03 Accomplish Our 3rd Navigation taped 7/1/03 Morioka Iwate Prefectural Gymnasium
-1hr 55min. Q=Near Perfect

Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda vs. Takeshi Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji 18:01

Daisuke Ikeda & Kotaro Suzuki vs. KENTA & Ricky Marvin 11:40

Takuma Sano vs. Donovan Morgan 8:21

Takeshi Rikio vs. Jun Izumida 12:01

Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue vs. Scorpio & Michael Modest 17:30

Mitsuharu Misawa & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Mitsuo Momota vs. Akira Taue & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Superstar Steve 16:57

Yoshihiro Takayama & Shinya Makabe & Takashi Sugiura vs. Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Makoto Hashi 13:47

NOAH di colosseo 7/26/03 Accomplish Our 3rd Navigation 7/6/03 Tokyo Differ Ariake
-2hr. Q=Ex

Akira Taue & Takashi Sugiura vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Ricky Marvin 15:09

Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Superstar Steve 13:38

Daisuke Ikeda & Takuma Sano vs. Donovan Morgan & Scorpio 18:36

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio vs. Masashi Aoyagi & Yoshinari Ogawa 10:13

GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Tournament First Round Match: KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Mitsuo Momota & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 16:04

Akitoshi Saito & Jun Akiyama & Jun Izumida vs. Kenta Kobashi & Masao Inoue & Tamon Honda 23:44

NOAH Accomplish Our 3rd Navigation DVD 7/16/03 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan
-2hr. Q=Master
NOAH Accomplish Our 3rd Navigation

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

NOAH NOAH's voyage #56 8/23/03 taped 8/16/03 Ogawara Town Hanekko Arena
-2hr. Q=Ex

Takuma Sano vs. Masao Inoue 15:00

Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuo Momota vs. IZU & Haruka Eigen 14:08

Tamon Honda & Takeshi Morishima vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Kotaro Suzuki 18:02

Yoshinari Ogawa & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & KENTA 21:31

Mitsuharu Misawa & Akira Taue vs. Takeshi Rikio & Kishin Kawabata 11:35

7/16/03 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan, First GHC Junior Tag Champion Decision Tournament Final: Jushin Thunder Liger & Takehiro Murahama vs. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA 24:27

NOAH di colosseo 9/8/03 Navigation, Over the Date Line '03 8/23/03 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-2hr. Q=Ex

Kotaro Suzuki vs. Richard Slinger 10:40

Takuma Sano & Masao Inoue & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Kishin Kawabata & Mohammed Yone 20:23

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio vs. Ron Harris & Donovan Morgan 10:10

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Akira Taue & IZU 13:13

Bison Smith & Michael Modest vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura 14:20

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA 27:27. A one night flashback to early 90's All Japan when they cared about going all out at Korakuen Hall and utilizing the younger and lower card wrestlers. There was major heat on the Burning vs. Sternness rivalry, and the action was just combustible. Simply a fantastic effort, wrestling the entire match with conviction, urgency, and intenity. Trying to ignore Saito vs. Honda, the pairings were strong and they started with them, going in order from bottom to top before mixing things up. This allowed KENTA & Hashi, who were all fired up, to set the tone with intense exchanges. Akiyama was a real grump today in the best sort of way, challenging the opposition and relishing putting a hurting on them. He just stood there and took KENTA's best shots then laid him out with a front kick when KENTA charged at him. After Hashi tagged in, KENTA got revenge putting him down with a dropkick then charging the corner and nailing Akiyama with a revenge front kick. The match took off from there with everyone brawling around the building then Marufuji started to go off with surprisingly dramatic early near falls on Hashi with a frog splash and his shiranui. The wrestlers put that extra little effort into everything they did and the crowd was going wild from this point, which is something you never see midway through a NOAH match that isn't at Budokan (and even then it's rare). The match really peaked in the middle, but they were able to sustain the quality and intensity throughout a lengthy segment of dramatic near falls. KENTA, Hashi, Marufuji, & Akiyama were the key performers. Kobashi was fine, but the match was memorable long before he announced himself. ****1/4

NOAH NOAH's voyage 9/1/03 Navigation, Over the Date Line '03 taped 8/24/03 Twin Messe Shizuoka
-1hr 55min. Q=Near Perfect

Kishin Kawabata vs. Haruka Eigen 7:53

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Mitsuo Momota 11:51

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone vs. Takuma Sano & Jun Izumida & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 13:45

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Michael Modest & Donovan Morgan 12:21

Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura vs. Akira Taue & Kotaro Suzuki 14:04

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Masao Inoue 17:49

Bison Smith & Ron Harris & Richard Slinger vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & KENTA 17:33

NOAH Nagoya International Conference Hall SP Navigation, Over the Date Line '03 8/26/03
-1hr 55min. Q=Near Perfect

Jun Izumida & Makoto Hashi vs. Mitsuo Momota & Kishin Kawabata 12:57

Takuma Sano & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 18:58

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio vs. Michael Modest & Donovan Morgan 10:21

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura & Masashi Aoyagi vs. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki 16:52

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Akira Taue & Mohammed Yone 12:58

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Ron Harris & Richard Slinger 20:42

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Kenta Kobashi vs. Bison Smith 23:32

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP Navigation, Over the Date Line '03 9/6/03 Tokyo
-2hr 25min. Q=Ex

Donovan Morgan vs. Haruka Eigen 6:23

Akitoshi Saito & Mohammed Yone vs. Takuma Sano & Masashi Aoyagi 15:54

Akira Taue & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Takeshi Rikio & Masao Inoue 18:08

Takeshi Morishima & Kishin Kawabata vs. Ron Harris & Michael Modest 5:46

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Bison Smith & Richard Slinger 1:42 + 8:48

Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda vs. Jun Akiyama & IZU 18:35

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Makoto Hashi vs. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA & Mitsuo Momota & Kotaro Suzuki 23:25

NOAH Nippon Budokan SP Navigation, Over the Date Line '03 Final 9/12/03 Tokyo
-3hr 45min. Q=Ex

Richard Slinger & Masashi Aoyagi vs. Haruka Eigen & Kishin Kawabata 8:46

Tamon Honda & Takuma Sano & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Takeshi Rikio & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Mitsuo Momota 13:06

Akira Taue & Daisuke Ikeda & Mohammed Yone vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue 15:35

Yoshihiro Takayama & Bison Smith & Donovan Morgan vs. Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Jun Izumida 15:08

WLW Heavyweight Title Match: Ron Harris vs. Takeshi Morishima 14:29

GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Match: Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi 25:31

GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Michael Modest vs. Takashi Sugiura 19:11

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Kenta Kobashi vs. Yuji Nagata 30:13

NOAH Navigation, Over the Date Line '03 DVD 9/12/03 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-2 1/2hr. Q=Master. 2 dvds
RECOMMENDED!

GHC Heavykyu Senshuken: Kenta Kobashi vs. Yuji Nagata 30:13. Great 1998 style All Japan main event: not the psychological masterpiece of the first half of that decade, but a very fundamentally sound bout that picked and ordered the spots with the mental aspects in mind. They didn't leave out the moves you'd expect, just did them once when they'd make some impact. They showed some of the patience that was so lacking in the overrated 3/1/03 Kobashi vs. Misawa match, generating more heat early without using any offense invented after they were born. They were in each other's face with something to prove to everyone, and the fans immediately responded to the intensity. Kobashi is the best heavyweight in NOAH because he still has the desire and work ethic, but too often he reverts to being a less athletic and healthy version of his old self, which only makes us long for '93 Kobashi. Nagata finally got him to embrace his limitations; this was stationary Kobashi as a matter of pride and ego rather than necessity. It reminded us of the Kobashi of old in a good way; similar to Kobashi's best stuff against Toshiaki Kawada, it was toughness measured through toe to toe trading. The first half was more Nagata's offense, and the second more Kobashi's, the logical progression since Nagata is credible conservative moves and Kobashi is high impact high spots. Instead of head drops Nagata injured Kobashi's arm by posting him. Kobashi no sold an exploder, but that was his only goofiness, and it wasn't even that bad since he was soon putting over Nagata's other big suplex, the backdrop. The heat was often disappointing for Nagata's offense in the later stages, as the fans have been repeatedly shown submissions don't work, but the match would have been far worse if they went for pops. The match would have worked better if Nagata injured Kobashi's knee as he has legitimate leg submissions with his Nagata locks, but it seems Kobashi's knees are so bad they don't want to risk it. ****1/2

GHC Junior Heavykyu Senshuken: Michael Modest vs. Takashi Sugiura 19:11. Modest carried the match, getting as much out of Sugiura as possible. Sugiura was mostly along for the ride. he lacks the offense for a match of this length, repeating his German suplex around 10 times, and does too much no selling for such an unimposing guy. Modest wrestled as if he were trying to have a memorable match in that he was pulling out all the spots moves wise, but it was like a "bad" Kobashi vs. Akiyama match with nothing going anywhere to the point they are rolling through spots on the ramp so as not to bore those weened on dud culture. Still, a bad Kobashi vs. Akiyama match is good for anyone else, and even if it was deliberate there were a few nice counters to go along with every move in their arsenals. They could have a better match if they put more thought into it, but they gave it their all, and given what they are this was probably as good as they could have done. ***1/4

GHC Junior Tag Titles: Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi 25:31. One aspect that's foolishly been thrown out of junior matches is the segments of quick athletic counters early on. If you look at '80's matches of great juniors like Tiger Mask or Owen Hart, they'd wow the crowd repeatedly without doing any damage to their opponent. It was not only good for the fans, but for their bodies. Marufuji has their athleticism, and today he showed signs of utilizing it more fully. He did a beautiful segment with Kanemaru in this vein early on, and though they slowed things down stuck to good little to no impact offense early on. KENTA and Hashi had nothing going on in the early portion, with Hashi looking out of place and keeping the match from gaining momentum and KENTA's kicks looking awfully light when they even connected. Hashi kept using a reverse DDT on the apron as a big move, which makes no since as it's so much harder to set up and unless you've actually been in a ring you are liable to assume it does the exact same amount of damage as it would in the center. Marufuji brought a ton of energy and was working on such a high level with fluid, fast, and graceful movements. Kanemaru was also damn good here. He is able to do a far wider variety of techniques than KENTA, and executes them a great deal more precision. What made this match is they put more and more energy into it, working all the tag and save possibilities in a frantic and dramatic fashion. The timing was excellent, and they just kept finding ways to extend the match. The fans were going crazy during the last several minutes, which were exceptional, because they kept thinking the match was going to end at any moment. It was definitely more exciting than the more famous Liger & Murahama vs. Marufuji & KENTA match from 7/16/03. ****

NOAH NOAH's voyage 10/25/03 Navigation, Against The Current ’03 taped 10/15/03 Chiba Port Arena
-1 hr. 55 min. Q=TV Master

Juventud Guerrera & Ricky Marvin vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Kotaro Suzuki 13:25. High energy junior action from start to finish. Better than expected efforts, probably due to it being one of the series of dry runs for Guerrera & Marvin’s 11/1/03 GHC Junior Tag Title shot at Marufuji & KENTA. The offense was crisp and precisely executed with Marvin pushing the high flying to a surprising extent given they were wrestling in a gym before six rows of fans. Suzuki, the youngest and least experienced of the four, was actually the one most likely to slow things down with a rest hold, though I think it’s mostly due to possessing a far shallower move set. Suzuki is very promising, but was generally outclassed with Marvin making the match with his hard work and spectacular offense. Marufuji looked good when he was in, but generally gave Suzuki the experience. Suzuki, was, of course, pinned since he’s the one not in the title match. Marfuji got together with KENTA in the locker room only to be jumped by Juventud, who tried to further intimidate the champs. ***1/4

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio vs. Mohammed Yone & Kishin Kawabata 12:16. The work ethic was pretty good, but aside from Yone the match generally consisted of simplistic brawling. Kawabata traded strikes with Wild II the entire match despite it being a losing proposition. Yone was the change of pace, showing the only decent offense, but he might as well have balanced his checkbook while waiting to enter. **

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Takuma Sano & Masao Inoue 10:47. Akiyama & Sano shouldn’t be involved in the worst match, but it was short and rather lazily structured. The bout started promisingly with Sano & Inoue launching a consistent attack on Akiyama’s knee, which unfortunately was totally scrapped as soon as Akiyama made the hot tag. Much of the problem was the match was too short to legitimately tell any story. I mean, once Saito got back in it was time for the finishing sequence, which he made look a bit awkward. Akiyama thus had to quickly return healthy to get his spots in, closing Inoue out with his exploder. *3/4

Akira Taue & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura 11:18. Taue straddled the line between making the spots difficult to successfully execute and simply doing nothing. Ikeda worked a fast pace to balance Taue’s snail pace, delivering a big house show performance that single-handedly made the match. Ikeda largely worked with Sugiura, who proved carryable. **

Captain's Fall Elimination Match: Yoshinari Ogawa (c) & Mitsuharu Misawa & Scorpio & Richard Slinger vs. Kenta Kobashi (c) & Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & KENTA 45:05. An impressive match on all fronts, not only successfully building to Ogawa’s 11/1/03 GHC Title Match against Kobashi, but also being one of Misawa’s most consistently entertaining house show matches in years. They did the good sort of long match, though they weren’t going to bring their top draw material for 45 minutes, they kept it lean and made sure there were no real dips in quality. There was no great psychology, but the structuring and the utilization of the 8 performers were very intelligent. Kobashi & Ogawa started to heat up the rivalry for the big match, but they rotated everyone in and out quickly for the first 17 minutes. KENTA was the early standout, having a particularly nice kick exchange that Slinger surprisingly stole with his spinning leg sweep. Scorpio really began to shine after 17 when they finally made an effort to eliminate someone, shifting to the first finishing sequence. Scorpio’s diversity was very much apparent as he worked the most fluid sequences, taking big bumps and major stiffness depending upon his opponent’s strengths, and of course delivering some spectacular aerial offense. After several saves, Scorpio scored the first pin, squashing Kikuchi with his 450 splash, but the fast paced spot oriented action continued until a little after Honda took Slinger out with rolling Olympic hell at 22:10. Misawa isn’t going to log a lot of ring time in the big tags, but he gave an excellent effort when he was in, pushing the pace and delivering his most exciting wrestling. Kobashi always wants to work at least as long and hard as anyone, but though certainly good, he wasn’t as effective in a format where everyone was spotted. Kobashi can build a match around his chops, but if that’s all he’s going to do, KENTA is more likely to make a bigger impression with his athleticism and lightning quickness. Until the final minutes, Kobashi’s best segment was clearly with Scorpio, who taunted Kobashi after each of his best shots, eventually allowing Kobashi to no sell and show him how blistering shots are done. Ogawa eventually resorted to attacking Kobashi’s knee, with Scorpio coming in and screaming “MORE (pressure)” when Ogawa was working the ½ crab, and throwing in a few knee stomps for good measure. With his team down 3-2, Kobashi came on big after the 40-minute mark, dragging out his suplexes to clean house. However, sneaky Ogawa turned Kobashi’s half-nelson suplex into an outside cradle for the flash pin. Ogawa took the title belt and alerted Kobashi it would soon be his, dropping it at Kenta’s feet after offering to kindly return it. Scorpio then clipped Kobashi’s knee and Ogawa put the boots to it until Misawa held Ogawa in the corner and calmed him down. ***3/4

NOAH Hiroshima Kenritsu Sogo Taiikukan SP Navigation, Against the Current '03 10/24/03
-2hr 55min. Q=Ex. 2 DVDs

Jun Izumida & Mitsuo Momota vs. Kishin Kawabata & Masashi Aoyagi 11:17

Scorpio vs. Masao Inoue 11:34

Takashi Sugiura & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Donovan Morgan & Michael Modest 12:25

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio vs. Takuma Sano & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 9:56

Juventud Guerrera & Richard Slinger & Ricky Marvin vs. KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki & Naomichi Marufuji 18:32

Mitsuharu Misawa & Mohammed Yone & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Akitoshi Saito & Jun Akiyama & Makoto Hashi 19:26

GHC Tag Team Title Match: Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda vs. Akira Taue & Daisuke Ikeda 31:29

NOAH NOAH's voyage SP 1/5/04 Navigation, Against the Current '03 taped 11/1/03 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-1hr 55min. Q=Near Perfect

GHC Junior Tag Title Match: Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Juventud Guerrera & Ricky Marvin 29:19. No real structuring, build, or sense of attrition just wild junior fireworks from start to finish. Started with 3 or 4 in the ring doing lucha, and the timing was totally on. Really, the impressive aspect of the match is Marufuji & KENTA doing Guerrera & Marvin's style so well. It settled into something more toward the usual Japanese style, particularly stiffer than lucha and with more credible submissions, but it was still very choreographed. Aside from some lousy punches and elbows, Marvin was really on and carried his team. Juvi was much better than he usually is in NOAH, a few sketchy moments early put really picking it up in the 2nd half after the hot tag. He had the more credible offense, you believed a finish was possible when he countered the shiranui with the Juvi driver then hit a 450 splash, but no longer works as smoothly as Marvin. Marufuji was excellent as always, doing everything well. KENTA was something of a change of pace, but did Juvi & Marvin's match more than forcing his own strike exchanges which is clearly Marvin's weakness. ***1/2

Mitsuharu Misawa & Takeshi Rikio vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Takuma Sano 5:47 of 12:27

WLW Heavyweight Title Match: Takeshi Morishima vs. Mohammad Yone 12:18

GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Takashi Suguira vs. Gedo 14:20

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Kenta Kobashi vs. Yoshinari Ogawa 23:50

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP Navigation, Uprising Spirit '03 11/14/03 Tokyo
-2hr 25min. Q=Ex

Michael Modest & Ace Steel vs. Jun Izumida & Kishin Kawabata 11:22

Akitoshi Saito vs. Masao Inoue 11:04

Akira Taue & Takuma Sano vs. Scorpio & Richard Slinger 10:05

Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Mitsuo Momota vs. Jun Akiyama & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi 22:51

Tamon Honda & KENTA vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kotaro Suzuki 18:33

Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Doug Williams 15:26

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Mohammed Yone & Takashi Sugiura 25:05

NOAH NOAH's voyage #59 11/29/03 Navigation, Uprising Spirit '03 taped 11/16/03 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-1hr 55min. Q=Near Perfect

Takeshi Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Richard Slinger 15:08

Takuma Sano & Takashi Sugiura vs. Michael Modest & Ace Steel 13:10

Doug Williams vs. Masao Inoue 14:31

Daisuke Ikeda & Mohammed Yone vs. Akira Taue & Kishin Kawabata 18:31

Yoshinari Ogawa & Scorpio vs. Takeshi Rikio & Jun Izumida 10:37

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & KENTA & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 30:44

NOAH di colosseo 12/15/03 Navigation, Uprising Spirit '03 Final taped 12/6/03 Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan
-2hr. Q=Ex

IZU & Mark Godeker vs. Kishin Kawabata & Masashi Aoyagi 10:42

Akira Taue & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Tamon Honda & Masao Inoue 15:14

Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Mitsuo Momota & Makoto Hashi vs. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA & Kotaro Suzuki 13:52

SHURA (Jun Akiyama) & The Death (Akitoshi Saito) & Rey Maruterio (Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Michael Modest & Doug Williams & Ace Steel 13:56

Yoshihiro Takayama & Takuma Sano & Takashi Sugiura vs. Yoshinari Ogawa & Scorpio & Richard Slinger 13:26

Kenta Kobashi vs. Mohammed Yone 11:25

NOAH di colosseo 12/22/03 Navigation, Uprising Spirit '03 Final taped 12/6/03 Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan
-2hr. Q=Ex

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Shiro Koshinaka 18:39

GHC Tag Title Match: Yuji Nagata & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio 28:34. The strongly pro-NOAH crowd was the best thing about the match, almost willing it to eventually get good. The match was way too long for Wild II, with a far too lengthy portion of Rikio vs. Tanahashi early where they didn't know what to do with each other because, well, what can one do with Rikio? They exchanged elbows and slaps, Rikio did a few elbow drops and used himself as a bowling ball. This portion was okay filler because it had some intensity, and they worked the NJ team playing heel in here and there, but for the most part anything with Tanahashi was forgettable even though he himself was alright. Nagata was really the only one to watch, as even though he's mostly a striker, he kept figuring out how to incorporate moves that Wild II could actually take. No one else did much until the later stages, but they did step it up when it counted and turn it into a compelling contest through sheer effort. Wild II worked well together as a team, and the fans were really into all their near falls starting with their double impact on Tanahashi. **3/4

12/11/03 Tokyo Korakuen Hall, GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Match: Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Mitsuo Momota & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 20:11

NOAH TV 12/14/03 Navigation, Uprising Spirit '03 taped 11/30/03 Hokkaido-ken Sogo Taiiku Center
& NOAH TV 12/21/03 THE ORIGIN taped 12/11/03 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
& ZONE 1/7/04 Bob Sapp vs. Akebono K-1 Dynamite Special 12/31/03
-1hr 25min. Q=Near Perfect

11/30/03

GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Takashi Sugiura vs. KENTA 15:55 of 24:22. Well structured and dramatic basic match that's about as successful a Sugiura style junior match as you are going find. Sugiura wanted to control KENTA to avoid his big kicks, so he played ball control early, leading into his big power moves later on. It wasn't Toryumon fireworks by any means, but they built it up pretty well and although Sugiura doesn't have much offense, they worked in enough quality moves, often at the right time, to keep it interesting. KENTA came out on fire, but was never able to really get going as Sugiura would quickly cut him off with a spear. It was mainly Sugiura dictating, and it was generally pretty smart, although I felt they missed the boat by not playing the spot where KENTA finally avoided the spear, sending Sugiura crashing into the turnbuckle, up as KENTA's big opportunity. The big highlight was KENTA countering a powerbomb by Frankensteinering both over the top to the floor. They built up to a mega strike exchange just before the finish, but this was kind of disappointing because there were too many obviously fake blows and they (mainly KENTA) were overacting. ***1/2

12/11/03

GHC Junior Tag Title Match: Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Mitsuo Momoto 20:11

12/31/03

Bob Sapp vs. Akebono. Shows all the pre and post match stuff such as their families and their training, as well as the match itself.

NOAH Differ Ariake SP NOAHful Gift in Differ '03 12/24/03 Tokyo
-2hr 25min. Q=Ex

Kenta Kobashi vs. Takeshi Morishima 10:00

Yoshinari Ogawa & Takeshi Rikio vs. Tamon Honda & Haruka Eigen 10:55

Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura & Makoto Hashi vs. Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki 20:08

Mr. Xmas vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 9:48

Takuma Sano & KENTA vs. Mohammed Yone & Kishin Kawabata 16:33

Akira Taue & Jun Izumida & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Masao Inoue & Mitsuo Momota 16:44

NOAH 1/4/04 Playback GHC '03
-4hr. Q=TV Master

1/10 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, GHC Tag Senshukenjiai: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka. Very disappointing match that was far too much about attitude and far too little about that translating into a high quality match. Early portion was wasted, just a big ego fest. Turned into a good match later due to Akiyama & Tanaka, who did some nice sequences but unfortunately were the only ones that did enough wrestling to talk about. Saito is way out of his depth, though Otani did little to separate himself from Saito. What was shown here is Akiyama vs. Tanaka has a great deal of potential if Tanaka is allowed to be considered a threat. 22:03. **3/4

1/24 Kochi Kenmin Taiikukan, GHC Tag Senshukenjiai: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tamon Honda & Masao Inoue

3/1 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, GHC Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi

3/30 Fukuoka Hakata Starlanes, GHC Junior Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Michael Modest

4/5 Ishikawa Sangyo Tenjikan, GHC Tag Senshukenjiai: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Takeshi Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji

4/13 Tokyo Ariake Coliseum, GHC Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Kenta Kobashi vs. Tamon Honda

6/6 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, GHC Tag Senshukenjiai: Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda

7/16 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan, GHC Tag Senshukenjiai: Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Shinya Makabe

7/16 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan, Shodai GHC Junior Heavykyu Tag Oza Kettei Tournament Kesshosen: Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Takehiro Murahama

8/26 Aichi Nagoya Kokusai Kaigijo, GHC Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Kenta Kobashi vs. Bison Smith

9/12 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, GHC Junior Heavykyu Tag Senshukenjiai: Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi

9/12 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, GHC Junior Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Michael Modest vs. Takashi Sugiura

9/12 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, GHC Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Kenta Kobashi vs. Yuji Nagata

10/24 Hiroshima Kenritsu Sogo Taiikukan, GHC Tag Senshukenjiai: Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda vs. Akira Taue & Daisuke Ikeda

11/1 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, GHC Junior Heavykyu Tag Senshukenjiai: Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Juventud Guerrera & Ricky Marvin

11/1 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, GHC Junior Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Takashi Sugiura vs. Gedo

11/1 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, GHC Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Kenta Kobashi vs. Yoshinari Ogawa

11/30 Hokkaido-ken Sogo Taiiku Center, GHC Junior Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Takashi Sugiura vs. KENTA

11/30 Hokkaido-ken Sogo Taiiku Center, GHC Tag Senshukenjiai: Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda vs. Yuji Nagata & Hiroshi Tanahashi

12/6 Kanagawa Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan, GHC Tag Senshukenjiai: Yuji Nagata & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio

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