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NOAH Differ Ariake SP The First Navigation '06 Opening 1/8/06 Tokyo
-3hr 55min. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

Mitsuo Momota vs. Haruka Eigen

Daisuke Ikeda vs. Tsutomu Hirayanagi

Takuma Sano & Minoru Suzuki vs. Takashi Sugiura & SUWA

Tamon Honda & Takeshi Rikio vs. Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue

Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiosaki vs. Scorpio & Dakota

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone & Kishin Kawabata

Naomichi Marufuji & Kotaro Suzuki vs. KENTA & Ricky Marvin

Jun Akiyama & Kentaro Shiga & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Akira Taue & Junji Izumida & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

NOAH Nippon Budokan SP The First Navigation '06 Final 1/22/06 Tokyo
-3hr 55min. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

Kentaro Shiga & Mitsuo Momota vs. Kishin Kawabata & Haruka Eigen

Takuma Sano & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Dakota vs. Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue & Tsutomu Hirayanagi

Yoshinari Ogawa & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Tamon Honda & Daisuke Ikeda

Scorpio & Minoru Suzuki & SUWA vs. Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

Mitsuharu Misawa & Takashi Sugiura & Mushiking Terry vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima & Mushiking Joker

Takeshi Rikio & Akebono vs. Kenta Kobashi & Junji Izumida

GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: KENTA vs. Naomichi Marufuji 29:19 excellent

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Jun Akiyama vs. Akira Taue 20:31. Though Taue will forever be remembered as Toshiaki Kawada's partner, the Holy Demon Army holding the World Tag Titles a record 6 times, through hard work he elevated himself into a legitimate Budokan singles main eventer in the mid '90's. Although he had just one brief 61 day reign with the Triple Crown, his failed attempts, particularly 9/10/95, were memorable, and even if he wasn't Misawa, Kawada, or Kobashi, you certainly never minded seeing him on top of the marquee because it would still most likely be a great match. While it may be more obvious how Kawada suffered in All Japan without Misawa, Kobashi, Akiyama, or Taue to square off against, NOAH was never really Taue's company in the ring, his corner of heaven seemingly given to the younger Akiyama, while the veteran was relegated to the upper midcard. In only his 3rd Budokan headlining appearance in the now 6 year old company, it seemed only fitting that Akiyama would swoop in again, leaving Taue again as a brief (78 days) one time champion in NOAH as well. This is not to say the result wasn't justified, in a sense Taue was lucky to have this run because the purpose of it was more to get the belt off the flopping Takeshi Rikio & find a way to move forward. It was clear when Akiyama took over with a series of jumping knees that injured Taue's neck after Taue started off with several minutes of offense that Jun was far more Dynamic than the near 45-year-old T, but Taue was from a generation that was always going to give what he had in a big spot like this, and once he loosened up he did his legend justice. As Taue's big matches tended to be, the bout was a sprint highlighted by a crazy nodowa otoshi or two (off the ramp & off the top rope!), but it was Akiyama's match through and through. Even with Taue, he was able to push the pace to almost a jr. heavyweight level, but that was always Akiyama's downfall as well. Though he came up during the era Kawada & Misawa were taking psychology to new levels, his reading was never deep, and I've always kind of felt that he attacked the neck endlessly because he felt that was what you were supposed to do in a big match, have that focus, but he never grasped the subtlety, so his matches always lacked creativity & spontaneity. I mean, they have more than their share of explosive sequences & counters, but that's because they are fast, highspot oriented contests where the action itself is the payoff not because they take an art form to another level. Most of what Akiyama did was super impressive in an action star kind of way; here's a guy who clearly displays all the necessary tools, but display is the key word because what you get is a flashy exhibition rather than the mastery of the Budokan mains of a decade ago. This feels like a video game, but if you want a Go! Go! Go! dash, this is certainly pretty spectacular for heavyweights, particularly of their age. ***1/2

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP Navigate for Evolution '06 Opening ~ Haruka Eigen Sayonara Tour~ 2/17/06
-3hr 15min. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

Mitsuo Momota & Kikutaro vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Haruka Eigen

Takuma Sano & Atsushi Aoki vs. Kishin Kawabata & Tsutomu Hirayanagi

Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue vs. Akira Taue & Junji Izumida

Low Ki vs. Kotaro Suzuki

Takeshi Rikio & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Doug Williams & Ricky Marvin

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Takashi Sugiura vs. Bison Smith & Nigel McGuinness & Dakota

Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone & KENTA

Minoru Suzuki & SUWA vs. Jun Akiyama & Kentaro Shiga

NOAH Nippon Budokan SP Navigate for Evolution '06 Saishusen ~ Haruka Eigen Sayonara Tour~ 3/5/06 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-3hr 55min. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

Haruka Eigen Budokan Last Match: Tamon Honda & Kentaro Shiga & Mitsuo Momota vs. Yuhi Sano & Jun Izumida & Haruka Eigen 9:00

Low ki & Mushiking Joker & SUWA vs. Dakota & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Mohammad Yone 12:21

Nigel McGuinness & Bison Smith & Doug Williams vs. Dark Agents (Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata & Akitoshi Saito) 14:38

Takeshi Rikio vs. Yoshinari Ogawa 8:19. All leagues are their own little world utilizing logic that is often alien to actual functioning human beings, but rarely do they produce a match that's so out there that good & bad don't really define it, that all you can do is sit there with your mouth hanging open & gasp at this nonsensical relic from another planet. Rikio comes out first, & while the crowd is busy not giving a shit about him, Ogawa runs out behind him & attacks him from behind then pulls him into the ring & takes Rikio's robe off since that clumsy thing might actually get in the way of Rikio beating him up. Freed of his garb, Rikio immediately takes over, crunching Ogawa with a corner lariat & pinning him with a deadly slap... except that Ogawa actually managed to barely survive the killer slap & get his foot on the rope at 2.9, the time keeper just missed this & rang the bell, so the ref had to wave him off so Ogawa didn't become the first guy who last in 20 seconds to a bitch slap. While Rikio is busy arguing with the ref that he won the match, Ogawa starts crawling back to the locker room, but regains control with a low blow & has the opportunity to win via ring out off a wakigatame, but he dives head first through the middle rope at the count of 17 because obviously it would take him more than 3 seconds to just walk through the ropes like everyone else, & his dive is so clumsy he breaks the count by accidentally kicking referee Nishinaga in the gut, a blow so deadly that Nishinaga winds up halfway across the ring by the time he's done leaping & rolling. Forget Ebessan, this may already unintentionally be the greatest comedy match of all time! The comedy began to get more intentional though, as Ogawa & Nishinaga got into it when Ogawa was working a hammerlock with his legs, with Nishinaga responding to Ogawa's push by pushing Ogawa down, which just put a ton more pressure on Rikio's arm. Ogawa went in for the kill wih his backdrop in the center of the ring, but Rikio press slammed his way out of the pin so powerfully he guillotined Ogawa on the middle rope. Ogawa continued working the arm that wasn't actually injured, so Rikio would come back with elbows with his arm that was half sleeved up, selling the healthy arm in between. Eventually, Rikio stopped Ogawa's backdrop & took over. Ogawa made a last ditch attempt turning Rikio's muso into a sunset flip, but Rikio pulled him up by the throat, slapped him, & hit the muso for the win. If there was some reason to what went on in this match, you felt like Ogawa knew it was going to suck, so he just hammed it up. If that's the case, it worked in the sense that the corniness made it memorable, but a forgettable match may have been more advisable.

Naomichi Marufuji vs. Akira Taue 13:23. Having lost the GHC Heavyweight Title at the previous Budokan show to the guy who took his place at the top of the cards, Taue is now asked to be the first heavyweight star to put over the guy who is theoretically going to take the next generations place at the top of the cards (or rather Akiyama's since he is the next generation). Taue would probably be justified in being selfish & not giving his all, but actually, as much as anything, it's his great attitude that makes the match. Rather than sulking that it was time for another younger guy to go over on him and sabotaging the match, he showed what a class act he is, and decided that if this was to be his swansong, he might as well make every effort to have one of his final memorable singles matches. Whereas Taue was absent on an intellectual level in the title loss to Akiyama, Taue really came through for Marufuji here, putting together a match that accentuated Marufuji's athleticism, and allowed Marufuji the heavyweight to still be his junior self. Though they did obvious things in the sense of being Taue's size & strength vs. Marufuji's speed & quickness, this wasn't merely an excellent match because it was fresh, it had thought & creativity, and was genuinely exciting because they did such a good job of playing off each other's signature moves. When the big man vs. little man match is done right, as it was here, it allows the little man to transcend his size, to make it irrelevant, & that is the key because then any result becomes acceptable. Taue was a beast, totally manhandling Marufuji early. I was annoyed by how he was overdoing his selling, especially given Marufuji hadn't really done anything to him yet, but he toned it down after the start and gave a genuinely solid performance. Marufuji took control with a dropkick to the knee when Taue was on the apron half through the ropes and a Tanahashi style Dragon screw in the ropes. This was the equalizer, and Marufuji would try to use the knee injury to regain control when they were in transition, including a great spot where Marufuji backflipped out of the nodowa and hit a kneecap dropkick to take over. As the match progressed, it was pretty clear Taue was calling upon his sprints against Misawa pretty heavily, though any association to their series is a good thing. Taue had a few awkward moments, but they worked really well together, telling simple stories and thinking up cool counters because they could. There were any number of important counters to big moves, but I probably marked out the most for Taue turning Marufuji's schoolboy into a triangle because it was so organic. I mean, no one ever tries a schoolboy on Taue & Taue never does a sankakujime, so where did he come up with this counter? They built heavily around the nodowa, with Taue's most damaging offense being a wicked nodowa into the ring post, but Marufuji actually stopping a corner charge & hit one off the 2nd rope on the master. However, rather than this focus leading to the seemingly inevitable Taue victory over the Lilliputian, which could have come perfectly when Taue countered Marufuji's 2nd shiranui with the nodowa, it actually set up the shocking finish where Marufuji again landed on his feet for the nodowa otoshi, this time off the top, and was able to get past Taue via flash pin. I don't know that this match measures up to the best AJ/NOAH big matches because it's maybe got 7 top notch minutes as opposed to 15 or 30, but it's clearly an elevation match of the highest order, and might be the best midcard non-title match in the history of the company. ****

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Takeshi Morishima 18:35

Kenta Kobashi vs. KENTA 21:57. KENTA announced his arrival to the heavyweight division with this fantastic that was totally KENTA while also being totally NOAH big match heavyweight style. KENTA brought an amazing level of intensity from opening to closing bell, and while this match may have been somewhat limited in scope, it was a riveting display of all out aggression & brutality from start to finish. KENTA brings the beating on himself by not only standing up to, but taunting every opponent no matter how big, tough, &/or legendary, but although Kobashi should be a terrible matchup for him because he's the heaviest hitting heavyweight striker, KENTA used his speed to create momentum that somewhat evened up the power difference. Most importantly, Kobashi treated KENTA as an equal from the outset, to the point where apart from the sequence Kobashi trapped KENTA in the corner & went to town with his machine gun chops, you never felt like Kobashi would or even could just finish KENTA off any time he felt like it the way that, for instance, the late '90's Misawa vs. Akiyama matches always felt like Misawa would just say that's enough, time to go home. KENTA could obviously run circles around Kobashi if he wanted to, but his game is striking & he couldn't care less that Kobashi's is also; KENTA wanted to win, but he was going to be himself & do so on his own terms, so moments of evasiveness were self limited. As with any crippled Kobashi match, it's obviously not as multi dimensional as prime Kobashi, but the fact that Kobashi cares so much about having memorable matches that he still works 10 times harder than almost anyone who is half his age & healthy makes up for it & has the fans on the edge of their seats & applauding. To his credit, Kobashi actually adjusted his offense as much as he could away from striking because KENTA doesn't have the bulk to take a Kensuke Sasaki type of beating, but althought it wasn't Kobashi's stiffest match, this diversity also benefitted the match in a number of ways & made it seem like Kobashi had turned the clock back a bit. The purpose of the match was to help transition KENTA from a top junior into a heavyweight contender, so KENTA controlled the bulk of the action, gaining traction early when he began working over Kobashi's lariat arm. I love how he'd mix in kicking Kobashi to the face when he was down just in case anyone might have forgotten what a disrespectful young punk he was. The striking was the base, but they did a great job of breaking it up with big moves when they got hold of one another. Kobashi was going to put KENTA in his place with a bone crunching suplex anytime KENTA got too careless, most perfectly exemplified by taking an armbreaker but then grasping KENTA from behind & responding with a sleeper suplex. Meanwhile, cocky KENTA had his own bag of tricks, including a Frankensteiner off the ring apron when Kobashi was unloading with chops. While Kobashi/KENTA lacked the creatitivity of Taue/Marufuji, it was a more consistently high end match that nonetheless kept building momentum. Though I obviously have much more affinity for the young gun defeating the long established star result of Marufuji/Taue than the typical establishment prevailing result of Kobashi/KENTA that long term keeps everyone but the fans where they belong , I feel the level throughout the 22 minutes here was, on average, consistently higher, so considering that shouldn't be the case given Marufuji/Taue would have a much easier time going harder throughout given they are only doing 13 minutes, I feel Kobashi/KENTA deserves slightly higher marks even though Marufuji/Taue was somewhat more memorable due to the upset finish. ****1/4

GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura vs. Minoru Fujita & Ikuto Hidaka 26:51 ***1/2

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Jun Akiyama v Minoru Suzuki 28:15 ***

Puroresu King #49 3/31/06 KENTA in Mexico taped 3/12/06 Mexico Arena Azteca Budokan
-1hr 45min. Q=Perfect

Rey de Reyes digest

NOAH stars visit Mexico. Features include KENTA eating a mango, climbing a pyramid, meeting Oriental's kids and buying a ton of masks.

Mini Cibernetico & Mini Histeria vs. Mini Oriental & Panterita

Solar I & Ultraman vs. Mano Negra & Rambo

La Diabolica & Miss Janeth vs. Carlos Amano & Chikayo Nagashima

KENTA & Taiji Ishimori & Oriental vs. Histeria & Psicosis & Gran Apache

NOAH Ishikawa-ken Sangyo Tenjikan SP Haruka Eigen Retirement Match 3/25/06
-3hr. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

Dakota vs. Akihiko Ito

SUWA vs. Atsushi Aoki

Haruka Eigen Retirement Commemoration Match: Masao Inoue & Mitsuo Momota vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Haruka Eigen

Takuma Sano & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Akitoshi Saito & Kishin Kawabata

Mohammed Yone & Takashi Sugiura vs. Akira Taue & Shuhei Taniguchi

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio vs. Jun Akiyama & Junji Izumida

Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda & Kentaro Shiga vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Ricky Marvin

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP Spring Navigation '06 Opening 4/2/06 Tokyo
-3hr 25min. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

Mohammed Yone & Daisuke Ikeda vs. Tamon Honda & Yoshinori Ota

Minoru Suzuki & SUWA vs. Akira Taue & Atsushi Aoki

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio vs. Scorpio & Keith Walker

GHC Heavyweight Title Next Challenger Decision Tournament Round 1: Masao Inoue vs. Shuhei Taniguchi

GHC Heavyweight Title Next Challenger Decision Tournament Round 1: Takuma Sano vs. Junji Izumida

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Ricky Marvin vs. Doug Williams & Nigel McGuinness & Eddie Edwards

Jun Akiyama & Kentaro Shiga & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Akitoshi Saito & Takashi Sugiura & Kishin Kawabata

KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 27:16. If we could run this through a simulator with each man in his prime, we'd certainly have something special as these are the two best native action oriented teams in the AJ/NOAH cannon. Unfortunately, we can't take the '92 Asia Tag form of Kobashi & Kikuchi & transfer it to 2006. Kobashi still fairs very well here, as his frisky opponents run & jump at him & KENTA would rather stand toe to toe & strike anyway, but it's kind of sad watching Kikuchi because he's trying so hard, strugging with his body, wanting so bad to eek some flexibility & nimbleness out of a beat up body that no longer possesses it. There's an early elbow exchange between KENTA & Kikuchi where, although Kikuchi doesn't quite have the speed or impact on them you'd really like, you think what he needs to be doing is figuring out a way to improve his striking to the point he's credible enough that he can win some exchanges & thus actually be able to rely on them offensively. Granted, the size difference allows Kobashi to get away with doing the heavyweight style a lot easier, but Kobashi continues to succeed because he's altered his style to the point he bears little resemblance to the guy who teamed with Kikuchi in Kikuchi's heyday whereas Kikuchi mainly still does the same things more mechanically, with a lot less speed & energy, in between making corny stink faces. All that being said, this is quite a good small show main event for NOAH even though Kikuchi carries a heavy load. Despite Kikuchi's strong effort, all the heat is on Kobashi to the point Kikuchi seems that much more disappointing than he is. One would think they'd be transferring the heat to Kobashi vs. Marufuji because that's the upcoming Budokan match, but KENTA was clearly not over his 3/5/06 loss to Kobashi, & was stealing the show by taking cheap shots at him, for instance coming in & giving a downed Kobashi the running face kick that everyone puts over as an injuring cheap shot. The Kobashi/KENTA stuff was excellent despite the disappointing fact that KENTA wasn't quite as competitive here, as Kobashi was set on putting him in his place after KENTA's soccer practice, beat him up all around the arena & putting the wood to him enough that KENTA was edging more toward an annoyance who continued to incite him at every opportunity than the equal we saw at Budokan. The level & intensity when Kobashi was in was pretty high, as Kobashi holds himself & everyone else to a certain level of effort, & squaring off with guys like Marufuji & KENTA you don't exactly need to prod them to deliver the goods. Although the match would somewhat stagnate when Kikuchi was in because no one was that interested in him, the fact that Kobashi was incensed by KENTA's actions somewhat distracted from that, especially when Kikuchi was doing things in the ring while the camera followed Kobashi brawling on the floor. Marufuji got to get one up on Kobashi of sorts as he took him out with his shiranui, allowing KENTA to finish Kikuchi off with his busaiku knee kick, but as awesome as you knew Marufuji/Kobashi should be, these two weren't paired with one another enough to present the audience with an ample tease and coming out of this match, you really just wanted to see KENTA programmed with Kobashi until he could get a win over him. The problem here is that although they got the elevated emotions between Kobashi & KENTA right, that was really something they threw into an otherwise meaningless tag match to kill some time, not something the bookers actually asked them to do to add to a greater story of a long term program with a hugely important payoff. ***

NOAH Hakata Starlanes SP Spring Navigation '06 4/16/06
-3hr 50min. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Yoshinori Ota

Masashi Aoyagi & Kishin Kawabata vs. Mitsuo Momota & Kentaro Shiga

Jun Izumida & Shuhei Taniguchi vs. Akihiko Ito & SUWA

Takuma Sano & Takashi Sugiura & Akira Taue vs. Nigel McGuinness & Scorpio & Keith Walker

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Eddie Edwards & Doug Williams

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone vs. KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji & Ricky Marvin

GHC Heavyweight Title Next Challenger Decision Tournament Final: Masao Inoue vs. Akitoshi Saito

Tamon Honda & Kenta Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

NOAH Nippon Budokan SP Spring Navigation '06 Final 4/23/06 Tokyo
-3hr 55min. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

Yoshinori Ota & Ricky Marvin vs. Akihiko Ito & Mitsuo Momota

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura & Shuhei Taniguchi vs. Atsushi Aoki & Jun Izumida & Kentaro Shiga

Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Kishin Kawabata & Akitoshi Saito

Takuma Sano & Akira Taue vs. Eddie Edwards & Scorpio

Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone vs. Nigel McGuinness & Keith Walker & Doug Williams

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. SUWA & Minoru Suzuki 14:45

Kenta Kobashi vs. Naomichi Marufuji 26:30. Though Marufuji is larger than KENTA & actually has a recent victory over one of the top heavyweights (Taue), today's story takes a much different route than last month's Kobashi vs. jr. trying to be heavyweight match. KENTA was competitive from the outset because of his striking (even though they're not Kobashi weight of shot strikes) & his never back down attitude, but Marufuji was smart enough to know he can't match Kobashi at his own game & tried to bob & weave & generally avoid getting clobbered. This did not go well for him at all though, as Kobashi missed a few shots, but he has the reach & the strength to manhandle Marufuji anytime they're locked up, so Kobashi was quickly beating the crap out of Marufuji to the point he was on overwhelming him. This freed Marufuji up to attack Kobashi's bad knees because he desperately needed an equalizer, & because he was the underdog to begin with, the crowd didn't turn on him for this. As such, the first half wound up being more of a thematic heavyweight style match with Marufuji using submissions & kicks to the knee & Kobashi coming back with chops, trading advantages when someone left themselves prone. Marufuji knew he wasn't going to win with this strategy, he just needed to bring Kobashi down a few notches so he could get into the match. In the second half, Marufuji got his own game going, as Kobashi was now often prone when Marufuji dove at him & wouldn't just suplex his way out of the shiranui. When Marufuji kicked it into high gear, it turned into the junior style heavyweight match Kobashi loved to fight until his body gave out, which obviously Marufuji was more at home with. Though it was obviously clunkier since Kobashi lacks the mobility, speed, & flexibility of the previous decade, Marufuji began to really go off, & the match actually credibly went from smart, well planed fun to thrilling spectacle as they pulled a whole a series of crazy things, including Marufuji hitting a breathtaking swandive missile kick to the floor where he flew from inside one corner over the adjacent top rope. They did a great spot playing of Marufuji's flash pin of Taue where Marufuji blocked the half nelson suplex & Kobashi flipped him over to counter the shiranui, but Marufuji hooked a Tiger suplex position & dragged Kobashi down for a famous pinning predicament, but Kobashi just kicked out. That was actually one of Marufuji's only near falls, as it was more about him continuing to build momentum. His push climaxed when he hit his shiranui & set up the finish with the shiranui kai, but Kobashi turned it into a ridiculous avalanche style half nelson suplex where Marufuji flew & rolled so far he was nearly in the opposite corner, which arguably bought him the time to kick out. Marufuji survived a little longer, but this was a match of the kill shot rather than a series of close calls, & once Kobashi hit that crazy suplex you knew he was going to again maintain order over the junior. Ricky Marvin was carrying Marufuji to the dressing room on his back, but Kobashi dragged Marufuji back in the ring, shook his hand then raised it so he got a big ovation for his excellent performance. Although Marufuji is the better wrestler, at this point KENTA's style seems to work better in a heavyweight setting as long as he's taken seriously because striking is the basis of his style & that style. Marufuji had to avoid where KENTA could up the intensity by exchanging, so even though Marufuji brings more spectacular offense & has the seniority & standing, he seemed slightly less competitive based on what he actually brought himself. What I liked about the match is they didn't just pretend Marufuji was a threat & they didn't prove that to us by giving him a bunch of near falls; it wasn't that contrived sort of booking where a certain number of close failures is supposed to indicate to the audience that you're actually a success, or at least will be soon. Instead, they had Marufuji doing things he does well, thinking, adjusting, being competitive through his creativity in countering & negating what his opponent was going to do. Marufuji wasn't at Kobashi's level at the start of the match, but he worked his way into the match, played even with him for a lengthy period once he got going, & took things all the way to the point he was on the cusp of victory with the shiranui kai, he just couldn't surmount the legend on the first try. The match may not have been everything you could have asked for from either, but I felt like it worked in a very real way after starting out looking like it might only work in a contrived manner. ****

GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: KENTA vs. Taiji Ishimori 21:04. Ishimori was rewarded for jumping from All Japan with a title match in his NOAH debut. On paper, this isn't a great matchup because Ishimori is a tag specialist & while KENTA will look great doing KENTA things, he isn't the guy to lead someone through a big singles match. Ishimori was dying to get over though, & KENTA is nothing if not a really hard worker who cares about stealing the show, so they found a way to make it work, which, of course, is made a hell of a lot easier by both being great individual talents. This wasn't a deep match with much selling, & the structure wasn't very elaborate, but it actually worked perfectly given their strengths, as Ishimori's style isn't the most credible (you don't watch Ishimori for credibility, you watch it for jaw dropping athleticism), but KENTA kept cutting him off with a brutal strike, so it wound up being a very back & forth match where both showed the dominance & brilliance of their style, but neither got long runs. They started out in spectacular lucha mode to get the crowd excited & show Ishimori's strengths, but then KENTA started putting the boots to Ishimori, & I mean he was absolutely brutal, hitting like a pissed off heavyweight to the point he gave Ishimori a bloody mouth & nose. KENTA was really sending a message to Ishimori, for instance when Ishimori tried a sunset flip, KENTA just held his face & slapped him so hard he hurt his own hand. This incited Ishimori to step up & bring the fight to KENTA, but, of course, a battle of pride is not necesarily a winning battle, especially when it entails trying to stand up to KENTA with strikes. Ishimori does have the one move that perfectly takes advantage of his flying to garner enough impact, and through his handspring enzuigiri he turned the tide & got his own style going, quickly showing why he belongs in a singles title match. Ishimori still took a hell of a beating, but he kept having breathtaking answers. I remember when the moonsault was spectacular, oh, it still is, but Ishimori does a moonsault while holding KENTA in bodyslam position, and he's so athletic it's a better looking pure moonsault than 95% of the guys who do it without powerslamming an 170 pound opponent in the process. Ishimori was really on today. He struggled to get over in New Japan, All Japan, & lucha indies, certainly not having near the success a guy this ridiculously spectacular should, but he was determined to change things in this new home, & probably delivered the best singles match of his career. It was pure spectacle on his part, but the beating he took in order to get these moves in gave the match an entirely different feel than your usual flippy junior fliers, & the speed, precision, timing, & impact of virtually everything was just on another level. I mean, these guys wrestled a lot better from an athletic capability standpoint, the only thing keeping it from being a great match is they really just did a better version of an exhibition as opposed to generating drama through it. ****1/4

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Jun Akiyama vs. Masao Inoue 23:14. Some promotions use rankings to ensure the proper guys get title shots, & some promotions just pull things out of their ass, but even with the later, it's hard to fathom what crevise the idea to give Inoue, a guy who literally had one singles win the entire year over the mighty rookie Akihito Ito, a spot in their #1 contender's tournament. Of course, a #1 contender's tournament should have some guys that are actually contenders, but Inoue managed to get his 2nd, 3rd, & 4th singles wins of the year over the murderer's row of Shuhei Taniguchi, Takuma Sano, & Akitoshi Saito, lucking out that he missed the mighty drifter Kishin Kawabata. None of these matches were even main events on the tours small leadup shows. I was always under the impression that the GHC Openweight Hardcore Title was the only NOAH title that could change hands via ring out, but they wouldn't even let Inoue defeat big bad Saito legitimately, so they not only actually propelled this supposed potential new champion to the only Budokan main event of his career through this chicanery, they thought that it was the way to make him credible, that hey if he can beat Saito via ring out we should believe he could beat Akiyama that way too, therefore he's championship material. Realizing there was no way to actually make Inoue legitimate at this point and fearing a malaise would set in after to showstopping matches that weren't going to be approached much less topped, Akiyama started with a finishing sequence where Inoue jumped him & hit his cobra clutch suplex & his Argentine backbreaker, but rather than actually make anyone think Inoue had the slightest chance by being nearly taken out by Inoue's only two high end moves, Akiyama came right back with his exploder because he's always going to be a moves or logic guy. Nonetheless, they had my attention until Inoue showed the heart of a champion by just running away from Akiyama's attempts to wrestle for the next 3 minutes. What was more intollerable than the stalling itself, was the realization it was actually a ploy; the only story we were going to get here is that Inoue is going to try to sneak in one good or at least last second move so he can win via ring out, so he's just going to wait Akiyama out, trying to sucker him into chasing him around on the floor. They began going to work on each other's eyes because if they couldn't see how bad this was, they'd be better off! The NOAH fans are so nice or so masochistic that they supported Inoue and his lame attempts to perpetuate this farce, basically cheering against their own interests & thus booing Akiyama, the actual wrestler of the two. Akiyama ran with it, playing heel because the fans chanted for Inoue for trying to win cheap then booed him anytime he used any of Inoue's shortcuts against him, thus making Inoue more of a loveable loser. Inoue's best attempt to earn a win via ring out, if that's not an oxymoron, came through a figure 4, their mad clumsy dash & dive into the ring being lamer than Ogawa's earlier on, as at least that was humorous & lamely creative. Akiyama did some of his moves to Inoue on the floor to set up the tease where Inoue would make one lucky move & sneak in first. At this point they began something of a traditional match, or at least did a halfhearted comical version of what a big match between the two would look like if it took place in the center of the ring with someone trying to take a traditional path to victory, but my brain had already turned itself off. Inoue's best chance at this point was getting a flash pin with a schoolboy, & that's just not what you want to see in a heavyweight title match, but they didn't know that before Yoshinari Ogawa's pitiful reign, & are more or less going further & further toward not making the title a thing again with each match since Rikio ended Kenta Kobashi's great run that made us start to think the GHC Heavyweight Title could sort of resemble what All Japan's Triple Crown once did. Kobashi gave a great performance to carry an unworthy title challenger actually worse than Inoue, Tamon Honda, to the best singles match of his life on 4/13/03, but if you thought Akiyama was going to do the same then you don't really pay attention to the drive, to the level of desire & pride in their work that Kobashi & Akiyama respectively have. Akiyama was okay here, performing technically efficiently on autopilot, but you never felt like he cared or was taking having a good match seriously. In fact, the whole challenge of trying just seemed beneath him from the start. Masao had fun at least, enjoying his moment in the spotlight, but alas he's normally out of the spotlight because he's a really ordinary worker, I mean, most of what made KENTA/Ishimori so good is the way they can execute what they're doing, whereas Inoue doesn't have the general speed or athleticism to make whatever basic moves & sequences he's walking through look more than passable, at best. *1/2

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP Northern Navigation '06 Opening 5/19/06 Tokyo
-3 1/2hr. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

Akihiko Ito & Jun Izumida vs. Mitsuo Momota & Shuhei Taniguchi

Bobby Fish vs. Atsushi Aoki

Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Takuma Sano & Akira Taue

Takashi Rikio & Takashi Sugiura vs. Jun Akiyama & Kentaro Shiga

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Ricky Marvin & Scorpio

Tamon Honda & Kenta Kobashi vs. Jason Bates & Bison Smith

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Low-Ki & SUWA vs. Taiji Ishimori & KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji

NOAH Sapporo STV Spica SP Northern Navigation '06 Final 6/4/06
-3hr 25min. Q=Perfect. 2 DVDs

SUWA & Akihiko Ito vs. Mitsuo Momota & Atsushi Aoki

Junji Izumida & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Low Ki vs. Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata & Ippei Ota

Akitoshi Saito vs. Jason Bates

Scorpio & Bison Smith & Bobby Fish vs. Akira Taue & Takuma Sano & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

Jun Akiyama vs. Shuhei Taniguchi

Takeshi Rikio & Kentaro Shiga & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Ricky Marvin

GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: KENTA vs. Takashi Sugiura

GHC Tag Team Title: Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP 5th Anniversary ~Let's have fun!~ 6/9/06 Tokyo
-2 1/2hr. Q=Perfect

Tamon Honda & Masao Inoue vs. Akitoshi Saito & Kishin Kawabata

Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Ricky Marvin vs. Takuma Sano & Akihiko Ito

Jun Akiyama & SUWA & Atsushi Aoki vs. Junji Izumida & Kentaro Shiga & Ippei Ota

Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone & Takeshi Rikio & Go Shiozaki vs. KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura

SEM Battle Station 7/17/06 SEM #3 taped 6/29/06 Tokyo Differ Ariake
-2hr. Q=Perfect

SUWA vs. Yoshinori Ota

Mohammed Yone vs. Akihiko Ito

Charly Manson & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. El Angel & Taiji Ishimori

Takeshi Morishima & Takashi Sugiura vs. KENTA & Go Shiozaki

TAKA Michinoku & Ricky Marvin vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Atsushi Aoki

NOAH Differ Ariake SP Summer Navigation '06 ~VIVA MEXICO~ 7/1/06 Tokyo
-3hr 25min. Q=Perfect

SUWA & Masao Inoue vs. Mitsuo Momota & Yoshinori Ota

Abismo Negro & Charly Manson & Psicosis vs. Oriental & Taiji Ishimori & El Angel

Takashi Sugiura & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Takuma Sano & Atsushi Aoki

Mohammed Yone & Takeshi Morishima vs. Kentaro Shiga & Jun Izumida

KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji & Takeshi Rikio vs. Go Shiozaki & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Tamon Honda

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Akitoshi Saito & Kishin Kawabata

Akira Taue & Ricky Marvin vs. Jun Akiyama & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

NOAH Nippon Budokan SP Summer Navigation '06 ~VIVA MEXICO~ Final 7/16/06 Tokyo
-3hr 25min. Q=Perfect

Mitsuo Momota vs. SUWA

Abismo Negro & Jun Izumida & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Atsushi Aoki & Oriental & Mohammed Yone

Dark Agents (Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata & Akitoshi Saito) vs. Tamon Honda & Takuma Sano & Kentaro Shiga

Katsuhiko Nakajima & Akira Taue vs. Yoshinari Ogawa & Yoshinori Ota

El Angel & Taiji Ishimori & Mushiking Terry vs. Charly Manson & Mushiking Joker & Psicosis

Go Shiozaki vs. Minoru Suzuki

Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs. Wild II (Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio) 30:00. The fans took this junior vs. heavy match seriously. They were not only really into it, but seemed willing to accept Marufuji & KENTA as wrestlers who could compete in any weight class. The heat combined with the intensity of the performers (mainly KENTA) went a long way toward making the match work. It was interesting seeing how Marufuji & KENTA went about taking on the bigger men. Marufuji tried to use surprise, guile, quickness, and athleticism. He'd slide through their legs, duck their lariat, kick them in the knee, and then try to knock them over. KENTA refuses to even consider slighly backing down from anybody, so he just stood toe to toe and blasted away. Marufuji's classic little man vs. big man tactics were more plausible, but KENTA's style was far more entertaining. Marufuji was good, but not at his best, and it was mainly KENTA vs. Morishima that was really good. I liked Morishima here because he showed a nice mix between his normal overpowering big man style and some junior style moves. He'll never be the most skilled or graceful, but Morishima was at least able to adjust well to the opposition. Rikio, on the other hand, showed as little diversity as ever and was pretty much dead weight. He didn't kill the match, but Rikio standing on the juniors and bowling them over isn't my idea of top shelf Marufuji & KENTA. I felt this was a well booked and successful match because it reinforced the idea they've been getting across on 2006's big shows, proving that Marufuji & KENTA could be taken seriously at this level. ***1/2

Yoshihiro Takayama & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Jun Akiyama & Mitsuharu Misawa

SEM Battle Station 8/14/06 SEM #4 taped 7/22/06 Tokyo Differ Ariake
-1hr 55min. Q=Perfect

Taiji Ishimori vs. Atsushi Aoki

KENTA vs. Yoshinori Ota

Takeshi Morishima vs. Mammoth Sasaki

Mohammed Yone vs. Go Shiozaki

Naomichi Marufuji & Mushiking Terry vs. Mushiking Joker & SUWA

NOAH Differ Ariake SP Navigation 8/13/06 Tokyo
-3hr 55min. Q=Perfect

Taiji Ishimori vs. Yoshinori Ota

Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Mitsuo Momota & Naoki Sano

Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone vs. Kishin Kawabata & Akitoshi Saito

Mitsuharu Misawa & Mushiking Terry & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Mushiking Joker & Kentaro Shiga & Akira Taue

Takeshi Morishima vs. Masao Inoue

KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Aoki

GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Match: Minoru Fujita & Ikuto Hidaka vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP Shiny Navigation '06 Opening 8/26/06 Tokyo
-4hr. Q=Perfect

Kotaro Suzuki vs. Ippei Ota

Mohammed Yone & KENTA vs. Takuma Sano & Ricky Marvin

Takashi Sugiura vs. Taiji Ishimori

Akira Taue & Mitsuo Momota vs. Akitoshi Saito & Kishin Kawabata

Takeshi Rikio & Takeshi Morishima vs. Scorpio & Joe Legend

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

Naomichi Marufuji vs. Masao Inoue

Jun Akiyama & Kentaro Shiga & Yoshinbou Kanemaru vs. Bison Smith & Keith Walker & Ace Steel

NOAH Nippon Budokan SP Shiny Navigation '06 Final 9/9/06 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-3hr 55min. Q=Perfect

Mushiking Terry vs. Atsushi Aoki

Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata vs. Scorpio & Joe Legend & Ace Steel

Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Takuma Sano & SUWA

Kentaro Shiga & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Mohammed Yone & Ippei Ota

Akira Taue & Go Shiosaki vs. KENTA & Katsuyori Shibata

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Bison Smith & Keith Walker

Takeshi Rikio & Takeshi Morishima vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Jun Akiyama vs. Naomichi Marufuji 27:29. Marufuji should be the perfect opponent for Akiyama since Jun has long wanted the big heavyweight match to be more similar to a concussive junior style match. Surprisingly, they showed a good deal of restrainst, actually keeping it more under control than the typical Akiyama vs. Misawa or Kobashi. While a good thing in and of itself, the fact that Marufuji tried to do a heavyweight match rather than Akiyama doing his typical quasi-junior match was perhaps a bad thing, as in the end, the match wasn't really Marufuji or Akiyama. You knew they lacked the psychology, but when you took away the craziness, it became somewhat pedestrian, both for Budokan main event and even their own standards. The match did have enough of the speed and athleticism to be Marufuji. It started really well with the quick action leading into Marufuji's knee attack. Akiyama came back countering Marufuji's charge with a back body drop over the top onto the runway. They seemed to lose their way after this, or rather, they generally lacked any particular direction and had no idea where they were taking things. The match didn't tell a story or have any particular focus. If anything, it was built around Marufuji's shiranui, but that move isn't particularly over due to it's lack of credibility, so the variations were greeted with relative silence whereas Marufuji's other favorite moves, for instance the thrust kick that's his setup for the shiranui, got consistently good reactions. The athleticism did set it apart from other GHC Heavyweight matches, and Jun did a few different things to fit, for instance a nadare shiki Frankensteiner that got a huge pop. Even though they sometimes don't really work, for instance, Marufuji's shiranui over the guard rail today, I love how Marufuji is always thinking of new ways to do things. He wanted to knock Akiyama off the apron to the floor, so he did a short swandive missile kick, which wasn't dangerous for him because he was able to push off Akiyama so he'd land in the ring. Marufuji wasn't ready to win the title push wise, but they decided to toss it on him anyway. In the typical halfhearted booking, they concocted some series of counters so Marufuji could beat Jun without really beating him. It might have looked awesome if they could have pulled it off as it was so intricate, but they wound up just sort of doing things as fast as they could, so it sometimes broke down, and generally didn't come off. I would have no problem watching this match a couple more times, as it was never dull, but I was hoping for more than goofy fun. ***1/2

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP Autumn Navigation '06 ~European Catch~ 10/6/06 Tokyo
-4hr. Q=Perfect

Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Go Shiozaki vs. Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Aoki

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kentaro Shiga & SUWA vs. Makoto Hashi & Tamon Honda & Mitsuo Momota

Takuma Sano & Akira Taue vs. Are$ & Scorpio

KENTA & Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone vs. Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata & Akitoshi Saito

Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Nigel McGuinness & Ricky Marvin

Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinori Ota & Takashi Sugiura vs. Manabu Hara & Kazunari Murakami & Katsumi Usuda

Naomichi Marufuji & Takeshi Morishima vs. Doug Williams & Murat Bosporus

Extra match: Tsutomu Hiranayagi vs. Shuhei Taniguchi

NOAH Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan SP Autumn Navigation '06 ~European Catch~ 10/13/06
-4hr. Q=Perfect

Makoto Hashi & Tamon Honda & Shuhei Tangiuchi vs. Tsutomu Hiranayagi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kentaro Shiga

Are$ & Murat Bosporus & Scorpio vs. Masashi Aoyagi & Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata

Yoshinari Ogawa & Yoshinori Ota & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Atsushi Aoki & Ricky Marvin & Takashi Sugiura

Jun Akiyama vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Go Shiozaki

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kazunari Murakami

SUWA & Akira Taue vs. Nigel McGuinness & Doug Williams

KENTA & Akitoshi Saito vs. Takuma Sano & Yoshihiro Takayama

NOAH Nippon Budokan SP Autumn Navigation '06 ~European Catch~ Final 10/29/06 Tokyo
-3hr 55min. Q=Perfect

Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Tsutomu Hirayanagi vs. Mitsuo Momota & Atsushi Aoki 9:46

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & SUWA vs. Ricky Marvin & Taiji Ishimori 10:33

Tamon Honda & Shuhei Taniguchi vs. Scorpio & Murat Bosporus 12:10

Doug Williams & Nigel McGuinness & Are$ vs. Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata & Ippei Ota 16:27

Akira Taue & Kentaro Shiga vs. Akitoshi Saito & Go Shiosaki 11:43

Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone vs. Jun Akiyama & Makoto Hashi 14:38

Yoshihiro Takayama & Takuma Sano & & Takashi Sugiura vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki 25:57

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Naomichi Marufuji vs. KENTA 35:34. These two very clearly surpass their previous best every time they wrestle each other. They decided to just be themselves, so they were in full junior heavyweight mode despite Marufuji's heavyweight title being on the line, but that was the wise decision because by relaxing and adding new riffs to the numerous aspects that make this a great rivalry, they were able to not only once again set a new standard for themselves, but put themselves in the conversation when you think about the better matches and rivalries, particularly of this decade. Heavies of juniors, they lacked nothing in the stiffness and intensity departments, which were top notch by any standard. The work was off the charts, and the match was just insane with too many wild and innovative spots to list. A couple spots didn't work, including a top rope quebrada to the floor from Marufuji that saw his neck smash the guard rail and his foot (or knee?) bust KENTA open, but when you have the rare individuals who have the chemistry, athleticism, and skill to try spots and sequences that others wouldn't dream of, much less dare, that's an acceptable, occasional downside. The crowd might not have been the biggest, causing Misawa to make the wrongheaded, shortsighted panicy decision to immediately put the title back on himself, but you can't put one of the least interesting undercards in the history of Budokan sports beneath two essentially new headliners and expect any different. Maybe some people stayed away because something in the league with the best the NJ juniors could ever offer isn't their idea of an AJ/NOAH Budokan main event, but the fans in the building were reacting to every single spot. ****3/4

SEM Battle Station 11/20/06 SEM #5 taped 11/1/06 Tokyo Differ Ariake
-1hr 55min. Q=Perfect

Kotaro Suzuki vs. Ippei Ota

Kentaro Shiga vs. Tsutomu Hirayanagi

Takeshi Morishima & Ricky Marvin vs. Makoto Hashi & Shuhei Taniguchi

Takashi Sugiura vs. Go Shiozaki

SUWA & "brother" YASSHI & Shuji Kondo vs. Mohammed Yone & Taiji Ishimori & Atsushi Aoki

GPWA ~Realize~ 11/14/06 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-3hr 25min. Q=Perfect

NOAH & ZERO-1 MAX: Atsushi Aoki & Taiji Ishimori & Yoshinori Ota vs. Ikuto Hidaka & Osamu Namiguchi & Shota Takanishi

Katsuya Kishi & Kikutaro & Muneki Sawa vs. Manabu Hara & Tsutomu Hiranayagi & Kappa Boy

El Dorado: El Blazer & Jumping Kid Okimoto & Milanito Collection at vs. Brahman Kei & Brahman Shu & Manjimaru

Kaientai Dojo: JOE & Mike Lee Jr. & Mr. X & Yasu Urano vs. Yuji Hino & Saburo Inematsu & SUPER-X & Yuu Yamagata

DDT: Danshoku Dieno & Kota Ibushi vs. Daichi Kakimoto & KUDO

NOSAWA & Minoru Suzuki & Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Takeshi Morishima & Kohei Sato & Shuhei Taniguchi

Katsuhiko Nakajima & Go Shiozaki & Takuya Sugawara vs. HARASHIMA & KAZMA & Ryoji Sai

NOAH Korakuen Hall SP Winter Navigation '06 Opening 11/17/06 Tokyo
-2hr 25min. Q=Perfect. 1 DVD

Kishin Kawabata vs. Tsutomu Hirayanagi

Masao Inoue & Junji Izumida & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Takuma Sano & Mitsuo Momota & Shuhei Taniguchi

Kentaro Shiga & Taiji Ishimori & Atsushi Aoki vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & SUWA & Shuji Kondo

Yoshinari Ogawa & Ippei Ota vs. Doug Williams & Wade Chism

Akira Taue & Tamon Honda vs. Jun Akiyama & Makoto Hashi

Bryan Danielson & Bison Smith & Eddie Edwards vs. KENTA & Ricky Marvin & Akitoshi Saito

Mitsuharu Misawa & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Go Shiozaki

GHC Tag Title Decision Tournament Round 1: Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone vs. Takeshi Rikio & Takashi Sugiura

NOAH Sapporo STV Spica SP Winter Navigation '06 11/26/06
-2hr 50min. Q=Near Perfect. 1 DVD

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Ippei Ota vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Taiji Ishimori

Kentaro Shiga & Kishin Kawabata vs. Junji Izumida & Mitsuo Momota

Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue & Tsutomu Hirayanagi vs. Tamon Honda & Masashi Aoyagi & Atsushi Aoki

Yoshinari Ogawa & Go Shiozaki & Ricky Marvin vs. Doug Williams & Bryan Danielson & Wade Chism

Takeshi Rikio & Takeshi Morishima vs. Jun Akiyama & Makoto Hashi

Mohammed Yone & KENTA vs. Bison Smith & Eddie Edwards

Naomichi Marufuji & Takashi Sugiura vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kotaro Suzuki

GHC Tag Title Decision Tournament Semifinal: Yoshihiro Takayama & Takuma Sano vs. Akira Taue & SUWA

NOAH Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan SP Winter Navigation '06 Final 12/2/06
-3hr 55min. Q=Perfect

Kentaro Shiga & Go Shiozaki vs. Junji Izumida & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata vs. Akira Taue & Tamon Honda & Tsutomu Hirayanagi

Bison Smith & Wade Chism & SUWA vs. Takeshi Rikio & Takashi Sugiura & Atsushi Aoki

Doug Williams & Eddie Edwards vs. Yoshinari Ogawa & Shuhei Taniguchi

Shinjiro Otani & Kazunari Murakami & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi

Mitsuharu Misawa & Mushiking Terry vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Mushiking Joker

KENTA vs. Bryan Danielson 25:21. Extremely effective slow paced match in Danielson's style. In fact, one of the most believable junior matches. The selling was awesome, and they suitably restrained themselves with Danielson making KENTA pay every time he tried to use a running sequence to open the match up. Danielson was on top of his game, wrestling with calculated and precise brutality. He does nothing by accident, and today he viciously debilitated KENTA's left arm. Danielson hurt his knee on a dive, and never forgot it the rest of the match. This wasn't the typical selling where he hopped around then grabbed his knee; he actually was unable to do a lot of what he wanted the way he wanted because the knee wouldn't allow it. For instance, he could do a German suplex, but couldn't hold the pin. It was just a fantastic job of altering his wrestling style to fit his physical status. Unfortunately, KENTA was kind of exposed in this match. He was able to follow Danielson, but looked really out of his element and really didn't add anything. Basically, he could react well enough to go along, but he wasn't really comprehending what was going on to the point he could think or improvise any touches of his own. He couldn't even come up with anything to abuse the knee. This was nearly a great match anyway because Danielson was so fantastic, but should have been a great match because KENTA should find a way to bring some of his skill to the table to go along with his commendable willingness to try to do something out of the ordinary. ****1/4

GHC Tag Title Decision Tournament Final: Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Takuma Sano

NOAH Nippon Budokan SP GREAT VOYAGE '06 12/10/06 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-4hr. Q=Perfect

Tamon Honda & Junji Izumida & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Kentaro Shiga & Kishin Kawabata & Mitsuo Momota

Yoshinari Ogawa & Ricky Marvin vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Masao Inoue

Takeshi Morishima vs. Go Shiosaki

Jun Akiyama & Makoto Hashi vs. Akitoshi Saito & Shuhei Taniguchi

Akira Taue & Mushiking Terry & Taiji Ishimori & Atsushi Aoki vs. SUWA & TARU & Shuji Kondo & "brother" YASSHI

GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Title Match: Takashi Sugiura & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. NOSAWA & MAZADA 26:06

Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone & KENTA vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Minoru Suzuki & Takuma Sano

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Mitsuharu Misawa 25:32. Misawa vs. Jun a decade later. It was an excellent match because Misawa knows he isn't near what he used to be physically, and was willing to go along for the ride, adding some of the mental things he does well such as structuring the match and selling. Though Misawa still wasn't up for any real psychology, he is one of the best wrestlers at segmenting a match, so even though the match didn't tell a story as a whole, all the individual parts were entertaining and effective. Misawa is also a diverse enough wrestler that he can work his style, making slight alterations so it's Marufuji's style too. For instance, they did the requisite elbow exchanges, but Marufuji would win them because he'd use his quickness to change them up, catching Misawa with his lariat or kneecap dropkick. Misawa was selling for Marufuji from the outset, but Marufuji really took over Dragon screwing Misawa in the ropes, which began a lengthy though fruitless knee attack. As with the juniors, this played a minor role in the second half of the match, which simply showcased the excellent work and highspots of Marufuji. Though Marufuji lost, Misawa went way out of his way to put him over, allowing him to kick out of an avalanche style Tiger suplex '85 and emerald flowsion before catching him in an avalanche style emerald flowsion. ****

SEM Battle Station 1/22/07 SEM #6 SEMful Gift in Differ '06 taped 12/23/06 Tokyo Differ Ariake
-2hr 50min. Q=Perfect

Taiji Ishimori vs. Yoshinori Ota 9:23

Kotaro Suzuki vs. Atsushi Aoki 12:11

SUWA vs. Tsutomu Hirayanagi 7:10

Kikusan Hansen vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru 4:47

Ricky Marvin vs. Mohammed Yone 10:23

Takeshi Rikio vs. Shuhei Taniguchi 11:37

Naomichi Marufuji vs. Go Shiozaki 15:25. This isn't a match of the year, but then you shouldn't really expect that when the man who just lost the GHC Heavyweight title meets up with an upstart who hasn't even been wrestling for 2 years. Within that context, it was a really nice story match where both men showed a lot of skill. Marufuji dominated working the arm that Go injured on the ring post. He was extremely focused and showed a nice variety of technical moves, throwing in the occasional well themed highspot such as an Otani style swandive knee to the arm while Go was holding the top rope. Go finally seemed to make a comeback, but he had to release the bridge on his German suplex because his arm hurt too much. Go had a little offense here and there, but never fully seemed in control. Eventually, they had a striking showdown, and Marufuji did a nifty although I'm not sure perfectly executed manuever where he caught Go's lariat and spun into a Tiger driver armbar that he actually got the submission on! I was so excited that all this smart wrestling didn't result in the usual finish where the guy just wins with their finisher, which of course has nothing to do with what they've been doing the entire time. This wasn't a super effort, but it was a really consistently good house show match that's a great example of how to be consistently interesting and effective without killing yourselves. My only complaints are it didn't need to be this one-sided, and it feels like the midcard match that it is. ***

KENTA vs. Takeshi Morishima 20:00. Really good, highly competitive big man vs. small man matchup. Morishima made the match by refusing to play the size card. Sure, he tossed KENTA around and used his girth to his advantage, that's his or at least Terry Gordy's style, but he didn't cop an attitude and refuse to sell much for KENTA because he's less than half his size. Instead, he let KENTA give him a good ass kicking with all his powerful strikes. The match started off great with KENTA coming out firing until Morishima leveled him with a lariat. Morishima got a near fall with a big backdrop, but KENTA came back with his go 2 sleep for a near fall. The match slowed momentarily from there, and never really regained the dynamite intensity of the initial segment, although it was at least good throughout. They picked things up on the outside with KENTA putting the boots to Morishima, and a little later with Morishima hitting two DDT's on the ramp. Morishima began to use his size advantage, knocking the wind out of KENTA by jumping on his stomach, but KENTA came back with a powerslam of all things. They continued to go back and forth, playing more or less even. Morishima may have had a 5 to 10% advantage, but you never felt like he had KENTA beat, or was ready to win. The time limit was a little short, but I felt as though it was actually a good finish as the match was about the two up and coming stars playing equal. ***1/2

GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Takashi Sugiura 22:31. A punishing battle of the power juniors. It was the opposite of Marufuji vs. Go, all effort and desire but not much skill and technique. Neither guy was going to be able to step up and carry this, so it meandered for a while then turned into a fun match when they started hammering each other. It wasn't pretty, in fact somewhat clumsy, but they pulled out all sorts of suplexes, bombs, and drivers, and the impact on those was also very impressive. Takaiwa had two really killer moves, a jackknife powerbomb off the ramp that actually drew a few boos I think for being too nasty and an avalache style Takaiwa driver. Sugiura pulled out a few different things as well such as a rolling Dragon suplex and KENTA's go 2 sleep, though neither were confidently performed. Takaiwa was totally in his element, but Sugiura always seemed to be pressing to match him, as if he knew he needed to deliver added wallop but wasn't quite coordinated enough to do it gracefully. ***

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