Been a while since I looked at the GHC matches from 2001 – 2005 (link here), but here’s the continuation of that including Misawa’s final title run and new faces coming into the title picture who would be mainstays for years to come, as the landscape of NOAH starts to change.
Now like before there are a few matches I was unable to find so reviews will be added in the future if I comes across them, other than that lets go!
22/1/06 – Jun Akiyama vs. Akira Taue (c)
Taue’s third and final defense as Akiyama takes it off him in what I think is a really good match, but doesn’t seem all that regarded by many.
I thought they worked it well though, Taue gets a bit of control early on and then Akiyama starts going after Taue’s neck giving him the control.
Taue has a bit of trouble coming back into things until he hits a Nodowa Otoshi off the ramp, from there he starts trying to put Akiyama away even hitting his Ore Ga Taue but Akiyama won’t stay down. this is followed by a good finishing stretch with Akiyama finally getting the win after hitting a series of running knees with the last one hitting Taue in the back to get the 3 count.
Winner: Akiyama (via running Knee) ****
5/3/06 – Minoru Suzuki vs. Jun Akiyama (c)
Suzuki steps up to the plate in Akiyama’s first defense in a match that’s very good though a little anti-climatic. I like how it’s mostly set out, Suzuki controls a good majority of it going after Akiyama’s taped up ribs and punishing him with holds, in particular an Octopus Stretch for a lengthy a mount of time.
Akiyama gets back at him though locking in the Guillotine choke. It then begins to descend into one big slap exchange that goes on forever but unlike the Sasaki/Kobashi chop battles, starts to get a bit tedious which is partly due to the rather lukewarm crowd. When its done it doesn’t take long for Akiyama to hit a wrist-clutch exploder to successfully retain. Really enjoyed the build-up throughout, but the climax was a little disappointing.
Winner: Akiyama (via Wrist-clutch exploder) ***3/4
23/4/06 – Masao Inoue vs. Jun Akiyama (c)
So somehow Inoue gets a shot and to be fair to him this is actually a really solid match and probably one of his best performances. He’s clearly seen as underdog here and the crowd are quite behind him with Akiyama getting booed at times. The opening is great as Inoue hits akiyama right away with a lariat and follows it up with a cobra-clutch suplex and torture rack. However Akiyama gets slips out of the rack and locks in a Guillotine choke before landing an exploder. From there It’s mainly Inoue taking a beating, but he gets some offense in and tries to be tactical by using eye rakes, pin clutches and almost getting a couple of countouts. He doesn’t stay down easily either, pumping himself up at times but in the end a Wrist-Clutch exploder keeps him down for a 3 count. Certainly the best Inoue match I’ve seen.
Winner: Akiyama (wrist-clutch exploder) ***3/4
9/9/06 – Naomichi Marufuji vs. Jun Akiyama (c)
Marufuji steps in as another underdog, but manages to win the big one for the first time. This is a great little match hurt by a lukewarm crowd. Marufuji tries his best to match-up to Akiyama and manages it to a certain extent.
Early he tries a strategy of going after Akiyama’s leg, but Akiyama shrugs it off after back body dropping Marufuji out to the ramp and then bodyslamming him off it. From there Marufuji uses his agility to his advantage and manages to hit some big offense, but can’t seem to keep Akiyama down who just seems to get a little pissed off at Marufuji managing to do so well. He gives Marufuji his fair share of punishment but in a superb final sequence after a bunch of quick countering, Akiyama tries the wrist clutch exploder, only for Marufuji to slip out and get Akiyama in the ‘perfect inside cradle’ that gets him the 3 count and wins him the title much to the surprise of everyone at the time.
Winner: Marufuji (via perfect inside cradle) ****
16/09/06 – Marufuji successfully defends against Nigel Mcguinness in ROH.
29/10/06 – KENTA vs. Naomichi Marufuji (c)
After having a corker of a match for the Jr. title earlier in the year, which KENTA won. KENTA decides he wants some of Marufuji’s heavyweight title glory himself in one of my favourite matches. It’s far from perfect but this is a match I saw on the The wrestling channel in the UK back in 2006 and loved it.
These guys go 35 minutes and throw pretty much everything at each other with Marufuji having to bust out a new move to get the win and retain his title.
Early on both guys have their own portion of control, Marufuji going after Kenta’s neck and Kenta targeting Marufuji’s mid-section. These segments are probably the matches biggest weakness as there are a few moments that are a little too slow and could have been cut down to make the match more concise. Once that’s all out the way though the match turns into one big back and forth with some awesome action. Crowd aren’t the liveliest to begin but they definitely liven up more as the match goes on. Overall though it’s an incredible match from two of NOAH’s best and one that will continually stick in my mind for years to come.
Winner: Marufuji (via Pole Shift) ****3/4
10/12/06 – Naomichi Marufuji (c) vs. Mitsuharu Misawa
Misawa comes in and puts an end to Marufuji’s rather short reign winning the title for the first time in over 3 years in a Great match. There’s some leg stuff in the that ends up being a bit of a waste but the rest of it is very enjoyable. Marufuji doesn’t go down easy managing to kick out of both an Emerald Flowsion Kai and Tiger driver ’91 but an avalance Emerald Flowsion finally ends it for him.
Winner: Misawa (via avalanche Emerald Flowsion) ****
21/1/07 – Misawa defends against Morishima, couldn’t find the full match but watchs an MV off it which made it look good.
28/4/07 – Misawa defends against Takuma Sano
3/6/07 – Misawa defends against Bison Smith
15/7/07 – Mitsuharu Misawa (c) vs. Akira Taue
far from a classic or epic but a solid enough match, most notable for Misawa hitting probably the most devastating emerald flowsion kai he ever did. It’s around this time that these guys really started to slow down and with their best days behind them, they still pull out some good stuff though, just nothing spectacular.
Winner: Misawa (via Emerald Flowsion Kai) ***1/4
Bonus: 18/8/07 – GHC Title Tournament Block B: Takeshi Morishima vs. Go Shiozaki
so in August of 2007, NOAH held a big tournament to determine the next no.1 contender for Misawa’s GHC Titles, this was one of the first matches from it that got aired and it’s a very good one. Shiozaki clearly wanted to prove himself and really puts in the effort here.
He comes at Morishima hard in the beginning before Morishima manages to slow him down, from there Shiozaki adopts the strategy of going after Morishima’s leg to get the control which doesn’t really go anywhere except lead into the finishing stretch which is match’s biggest flaw really. The end stretch is pretty great though with Shiozaki throwing it all at Morishima but he just can’t keep him down for the count and unfortunately in the end it’s a backdrop driver that takes Go down for a 3 count. Go would go on to lose all his matches in the tournament though, he certainly began showing his potential as a main eventer.
Winner: Morishima (via backdrop driver) ***3/4
Bonus: 9/9/07 – Block B Semi-final match: Takeshi Morishima vs. Jun Akiyama
Good match between these two as they battle for the finals. This was a big match for Morishima as he hadn’t managed to beat any of the biggest names in NOAH in singles action at this point, so it was an important win for him. Both guys get their own portion of control and dish out some good punishment before vying for the win in a short fun finishing stretch where it’s a sudden lariat that gets Morishima the victory.
Winner: Morishma (via lariat) ***1/2
Bonus: 9/9/07 – GHC no.1 contender Finals match: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Takeshi Morishima
So Marufuji comes out right after the previous match ends to do the finals match, so he gets the advantage of getting some rest to reenergise but that don’t mean Morishima will go down easy, kicking out of two shiranuis and an one off the top, as well as dishing out a fair share of punishment on Marufuji. In the end though Marufuji manages to actually hit a pole shift on te big lad giving him the 3 count to make him the new No.1 contender. Very solid little 9 minute match, used their time well.
Winner: Marufuji (via Poleshift) ***1/2
29/09/07 – Naomichi Marufuji vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (c)
Almost 10 months since Misawa took the title off him, Marufuji uses the shot he earned to try and take it back, unfortunately this match doesn’t hold up like their previous encounter, in fact the whole thing feels a bit off. It’s a solid enough match , but it kinda feels like they are just going through the motions, running at an oddly slow pace and padded out with holds. Misawa also gets a bit stumbly quite often and they end up messing up a avalanche tiger driver spot.
There’s is still some good stuff here, but it’s overall quite disappointing with Misawa still managing to retain.
Winner: Misawa (via Emerald Flowsion Kai) **3/4
27/10/07 – Mitsuharu Misawa (c) vs. Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe invades to challenge Misawa in a match I remember being very disappointed by at the time and is still nothing spectacular but decent I guess, Joe is quite dominant for a lot of it and they incorporate a fair number of holds.
The finishing stretch is pretty short too with only a few big moves actually being hit before Misawa finally ends things with an elbow to the back of Joe’s head that looked a little weak.
Winner: Misawa (via elbow to the back of the head) **3/4
3/11/07 – Mitsuharu Misawa (c) vs. KENTA
Misawa’s final defence of 2007 takes him to ROH against KENTA looking to succeed in his second ever attempt for the title, unfortunately he fails again, but the match itself is really solid and elevated by a very reactive ROH Crowd who help give it a good atmosphere despite being similar to most of Misawa’s matches on this title run.
By that I mean its padded out with a bunch of holds and steadily done, but this does have a nice finishing stretch with a good nearfall from Kenta after he hits his Go 2 Sleep.
Winner: Misawa (via Emerald Flowsion KAI) ***1/2
2/3/08 – Takeshi Morishima vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (c)
Misawa’s 1+ year long weak title run finally comes to it’s overdue end with Morishima winning the belt for the first time in a great match-up which is probably the best one Misawa had during that run. He really put the effort in to help out Morishima over and it worked with the crowd reacting well.
Compared to some of the previous bouts that are quite heavy on the holds, this only has one while Morishima is in control and he is pretty dominant throughout match,.
Misawa still doesn’t make it easy for him though he busts out some big elbows and offense that gives him a couple of nearfalls and manages a few kick outs before finally falling to a backdrop driver. Morishima hadn’t long come off of a reign as ROH world champion so this was definitely the right time for him to be GHC champ and a great end to Misaw’s reign.
Winner: Morishima (via backdrop driver) ****
14/6/08 – Takeshi Morishima (c) vs. Takashi Sugiura
So Morishima’s first defence is Sugiura making his first challenge for the belt, I think its a very good match, one that is competitive and full of big moves but also overstays its welcome a little.
I think they could have cut out some nearfalls and moves, especially Sugiura who does alot of stuff including 3 olympic slams that Morishima kicks out of. Making the champ look tough is good and all but it felt a little much.
Aside that I still enjoyed what they put out just could have been more concise and flowed better.
Winner: Morishima (via Backdrop Driver) ***1/2
18/7/08 – Takeshi Morishima (c) vs. Takeshi Rikio
Rikio has another stab at glory only to fail in a solid match that only lasts about 13 minutes but has some nice exchanges including some good lariats and strikes.
Rikio manages to hit two Muso’s but it’s not enough to get him the win and backdrop driver from Morishima puts him down for the 3 count.
Winner: Morishima (via backdrop Driver) ***1/4
6/9/08 – Kensuke Sasaki vs. Takeshi Morishima (c)
Helluva contest between these two, they go full on with each other from the get go and keep at it with a good pace. Both guys certainly don’t go down easy and dish out some great offense, but in the end it’s a second Northern lights bomb from Sasaki that gets him the win, making him the new champion.
It also makes him the first person to have won the GHC, Triple Crown and IWGP Heavyweight belts, an achievement currently only shared with Yoshihiro Takayama.
Winner: Sasaki (northern Lights bomb) ****1/4
27/9/08- Kensuke Sasaki vs. Mohammed Yone
So this match surprisingly ruled alot, not that I thought it would be bad but I certainly didn’t expect it to deliver this much.
It has quite unique opening for a Title match with Yone dragging out Sasaki during his entrance and them brawling right away. It’s pretty hectic with Yone on top form putting on one of the best performances I’ve seen him do. He is filled with determination certainly got fierce at times.
Yes Sasaki mainly just throws a boatload of lariats and there’s arguably too many Muscle Busters, but it’s a totally compelling and intense contest that was highly enjoyable. Sasaki retains with the Northern lights bomb.
Winner: Sasaki (via Northern Lights Bomb) ****1/2
7/12/08 – Kensuke Sasaki successfully defends against Akitoshi Saito
1/3/09 – Kensuke Sasaki vs. Jun Akiyama
Akiyama steps up to the plate and takes the title away from the Kensuke Office, but Sasaki certainly doesn’t make it easy in this great hard hitting match.
Both guys get their own bit of control which slows the match down a little, but the good stuff is real good including kickouts of both the Northern Lights bomb and Wrist Clutch Exploder. In the end though Akiyama busts out a new version of the Sterness dust to finally get the win and become champion again.
Winner: Akiyama (via Sterness Dust Omega) ****
19/4/09 – Jun Akiyama successfully defends against Go Shiozaki
-on 13/6/09 Misawa tragically passes away in the ring. The day after Akiyama vacates the title due to a back injury and almost retires in the process.
That same day Go Shiozaki and Takeshi Rikio face off for the title with Shiozaki getting the victory to win his first GHC title in what must have been very bittersweet moment given the circumstances. 😞
27/09/09 – Go Shiozaki vs. Akitoshi Saito
Shiozaki’s first defense in a show dedicated to Misawa, so of course these two gave it a good go and put on a really good match.
Saito seemed to dominate a lot of it, first working Shiozaki’s arm and then hitting a fair amount of big offense, but Go gets back into it well in the finishing stretch as they both try hard for a win.
Go ends up busting out a bunch of Misawa’s moves, including the facelock, rolling elbow and emerald flowsion but it’s a Go Flasher that makes him successfully retain.
Feel like the match did lack a bit of cohesion, they put in a lot of nearfalls that mostly lacked the impact and drama they needed and it sometimes felt they were going through the motions busting out moves, but it was still very enjoyable.
Winner: Shiozaki (via Go Flasher) ***3/4
6/12/09 – Takashi Sugiura vs. Go Shiozaki
Tremendous match. From the get go they just start throwing strikes at each other and it doesn’t take very long before they start busting out the big offense and keep it up throughout including a couple of moves on the ramp, a gutwrench suplex off the apron, throws into the turnbuckles, ‘plexes on the head and stiff strike,s the whole shebang!
Go throws everything at Sugiura including the Go flasher and Gowan lariat but Sugiura will not stay down for the 3.
Go also won’t go down easy though and ends up taking 3 Olympic slams, but one final one from the top rope finally takes him out making Sugiura the new champion. just a terrific effort from both guys they really worked hard with barely any downtime and it was highly enjoyable.
Winner: Sugiura (via avalanche olympic slam) ****1/2
Thus begins a lengthy reign for Sugiura heading into 2010 and that’s where we will leave it for now. A bit mixed in places, mainly during Misawa’s run but the majority of matches here provide some real good stuff.
Standouts for me are definitely Marufuji/KENTA, Suigura/Shiozaki, Sasaki/Yone and Sasaki/Morishima.
Hopefully won’t take me another year and a half to complete the next set, but we’ll see I’m all over the place at the moment.
Thanks for reading.
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