Thursday, November 5, 2015

NOAH: The Great Voyage in Osaka 2015 Review

NOAH had a loaded card on September 19th for their Great Voyage in Osaka event. The promotion has been hit or miss in 2015, but this is said to be one of their best shows this year and there's only one way to find out if this is fact or fiction.

The first few matches seem to be throwaway's for the most part despite a few being a part of the Junior Tag League. Therefore, I'm only reviewing the crux of this card in the form of the final six matches. The results for the opening contest can be found below, though.

1) Akitoshi Saito, Muhammed Yone, Quiet Storm & Yoshihiro Takayama defeated Hajime Ohara, Kenou, Captain NOAH & Genba Hirayanagi

2) El Desperado & Taka Michinoku defeated Kota Umeda & Mitsuhiro Kitamiya

3) Billy Ken Kid & Buffalo defeated Super Crazy & Hitoshi Kumano

4) Zack Sabre Jr & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Masamune & Taji Ishimori
It's my first time seeing everyone here except my top mate ZSJ. I'm going british, ladies and gents. None the less, this was a pretty fun junior tag match. Sabre is always a joy to watch and it was no different here. He & Ishimori had a fantastic exchange early on that sold me. They kept me interested throughout and delivered some hot action down the stretch. If the crowd was a bit more alive, this could possibly have neared the higher end of the three stars. They were there, but not fully into it despite giving proper reactions to most things. A good match regardless. Sabre gets the win for he & Ogawa with a BRUTAL looking submission, I don't even know how to explain, you should just see it for yourself and I'll let you decipher it.

Match rating - ***1/4

5) Shelton Benjamin (w/ Taka Michinoku) vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima

It's 2015 and Benjamin has somewhat re-emerged in a notable form as a member of Suzuki-gun here in NOAH. He hasn't been doing much of note, but this was easily his best singles match that I've seen in the past year or two. Nakajima is obviously the fan favorite due to Benjamin's Suzuki-gun affiliation so when Nakajima charged Benjamin right after the bell, the audience got right behind him. A nice flurry ends up being nothing more than that as Benjamin takes over and slings Nakajima into the railing several times. Despite the early transition periods with both guys getting a little time in control, particularly Benjamin, we end up with the two men trading kicks to the head in the center of the ring. Nakajima does a genius spot where he superkicks Benjamin into the corner 8 times as the crowd counts along. I have no clue if that was intentional, but dude, in this age of superkicks, how has no one thought of that spot. Instead of punches in the corner, do superkicks with the crowd counting along. Wow, I really sound like an advocate for killing the legitimacy of a superkick so I need to stop. The superkick was a vital part of this match though as Benjamin would end up hitting two on Nakajima followed by some sort of jumping facebuster for the victory after a number of momentum shifts and several near falls.

Match rating - ***3/4

6) Atushi Kotoge vs. Naomichi Marufuji

I slept on this and that was a mistake. I've seen some say the same, but I don't think they even enjoyed this as much as I did. The crowd didn't wake up until the final minute or two however everything here was awesome. Marufuji being the veteran and Kotoge being the quick up & comer made for a great dynamic. Marufuji brutalized & reddened the chest of Kotoge every chance he got. Kotoge's way of getting an advantage was his speed that comes with being the younger talent here. Marufuji could never hit a dive due to Kotoge moving out of the way. The speed couldn't help Kotoge escape a brainbuster on THE RING APRON! He still managed to kick out at two once they crawled back in the ring, though. And that was after Marufuji followed it up with a coast to coast drop kick to the head. The two men went into a heated, stiff exchange in the last few minutes. Headbutts, kicks, it was good stuff. In the end, Marufuji is finally able to put Kotoge away with the sliced bread in the corner. What a battle. I loved it.

Match rating - ****

7) Mayback Taniguchi defeated Takashi Iizuka

8) Taichi (c) vs. Daisuke Harada - GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match

I didn't have as much love for this as some others. Sure, it was good fun and the final sequence ruled. However, it was also riddled with interference so I can't consider it a MOTY caliber contest. For what it was, it was really good, though. The opening spot was perfect as Harada went right for the suplex that he pinned Taichi with in a tag match not long before this. It earned him the victory and this title match. Taichi escapes and ends up earning a bit of an advantage although things were extremely back & forth here. Suzuki-gun interfered on several occassions. You had chair shots, ref bumps, and even a mid-match brawl with Atsushi Kotoge running down and having an awesome moment for himself by taking out the bad guys. The two men actually involved in the match go into a high impact, drama filled finishing run that ends with Taichi retaining his title after a number of false finishes.

Match rating - ***3/4

9) Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer) (c) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) - GHC Tag Team Title Match

This was the exact battle you'd expect. I didn't see the first meeting between these two teams in ROH in August so I can't compare it to that match although I will say this one is gonna be pretty hard to beat. Hanson & Archer started out the contest in fine fashion with a big man showdown. They backed into their respective corner and charged each other. It was a stalemate so they went to the outside of the ring and did the same thing. This really signifies how this entire match was, simply a slugfest between a bunch of big bastards. It's no Strong BJ esque match, but it's loaded with enough heavyweight action to satisfy the majority of fans. Hanson got isolated after that early sequence and Rowe got the hot tag. He looked awesome. This was the start of the final half which was what this entire match was building towards. Action upon action with several close falls. Hanson got a fighting spirit spot in before finally being put away by KES. War Machine definitely seemed to make an impression here. Great tag match.

Match rating - ****

10) Minoru Suzuki (c) vs. Takashi Sugiura - GHC Heavyweight Title Match

Wooooow. I heard rave reviews for this one, but damn. I honestly thought it would have a hard time living up to expectations however it did just that. A truly awesome match is the best way that I can put it. Both men are up in age and to see them put on a performance like this was just fucking unreal, to be honest. This match obviously stemmed from the war within NOAH between Suzuki-gun and the rest of the roster although they also tied in the history between these two men that dates back to 2011 where Sugiura defeated Suzuki to retain the GHC Title. All this backstory made for quite the match. Suzuki came off as the king of the mountain that was fighting to keep his spot and his ego whilst his followers in Suzuki-gun watched. They built towards the moment that Suzuki finally got knocked on his ass by Sugiura and the crowd literally gasped for it, as did I. They traded slaps & punches, all in the most stiff fashion possible, I'm surprised someone did end up with a bloody mouth or broken jaw here. This was really everything you could ask for out of this match and then some. The best NOAH match I've seen this year. Epic stuff!

Match rating - ****1/2

This show is definitely worth a look.


  1. Hey Ethan - do you know where I can get this NOAH event on DVD? (I live in the U.S.). Also - I'm newer to the Indy scene, but I recently got 5 PWG DVD's and I LOVE every one of 'em. I just found out about smartmark video, and would like to try some new promotions, so what would you say are your top 5 favorite independent DVD's? (Chikara, Beyond, Evolve, AAW, etc.). Thank you Ethan!

    1. First off, thanks a ton for reading! I really appreciate. And sorry, for the late reply, been very busy lately which explains the decreased amount of content on the blog.

      BUT, back to the main point of this, your question.

      NOAH and other Japanese companies don't have a DVD market in the US. It sucks, but there are ways to watch them all. Cheap ways as well. Most puro (Japanese wrestling) is posted by people for free on sites like Dailymotion. That's where I found the matches I wanted to watch from this show. You just have to search around. I'm not a regular watcher of NOAH, but this show is obviously worth a look. I'd recommend promotions like NJPW, Dragon Gate, & BJW. Those tend to be my favorite and are all pretty different from each other.

      As for Indy DVD's outside of PWG, that's a tough one, being a massive PWG fan. I love CHIKARA from 2005-2012, I haven't watched any new stuff, but you can't go wrong with virtually any of their Best Of's from those years. I'd say CHIKARA "Best of 2009" would be a good place to start there. Another favorite of mine from Smart Mark is C4 Wrestling in Canada. The first volume of their "Best Of" compilations is good, specifically the 2nd & 3rd discs, if you're a fan of Mike Bailey of PWG, definitely check that out for his early work. Um, their Best on the Indies series is cool. I love Chris Hero's volume. It features a 6-7 hour interview and a disc of matches. They have so much on there that it's hard to say. I've reviewed a few Beyond shows, they're usually fun, but also usually only worth it for the final match or two. From SMV, CHIKARA circa 2005-2012 and the BOTI series have been my favorite purchases. A lot of people like AAW too, but I've never watched extensively so I can't say.

      I know you mentioned Smart Mark specifically, but have you ever checked out ROH? I know you said you're new to the Indies so that's why I ask. There's just so much out there haha.

      Hope I helped you out some! Thanks again for reading and commenting!

    2. I was thinking that NOAH might not have US DVD's available, but I really appreciate you giving me the heads up on where to find some of their matches.

      I watch ROH's weekly program once in a while on their website. I am just really loving PWG's mix of incredible matchups of different styles, usually top notch matches, and then the comedy thrown in here and there, as well. I figured I might as well go with what works so I just purchased 10 more DVD's from PWG and that's my wrestling budget for a while. However, I did check out CHIKARA on youtube, etc. and you're right, really good stuff. My next purchase I'll include some CHIKARA.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to respond, Ethan. Have a great Holiday!