Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Matches from NOAH 1/30/20

Akitoshi Saito/Masao Inoue vs. Mohammed Yone/Quiet Storm

ER: Silly little tag match, made sillier by the hilarious presence of Quiet Storm. At this point he looks  like he's playing the Danzig role in the Misfats, except he is somehow even shorter than Glenn Danzig. And it took me the entire match to figure out that unlike Masao Inoue's comedy offense, Quiet Storm's offense was actually supposed to look good. NOAH has always had comedy guys filling out their cards, but their comedy guys used to do some actual interesting stuff. Quiet Storm just does a bunch of weird smoker's cough "Come on baby!" as if gaijin warming up a Japanese crowd hasn't evolved one second past Jericho working WAR 25 years ago. His shoulderblocks don't look like they would budge a guy like Saito, he does one of the absolute worst drop toeholds I've ever seen, and he has all of these stupid flatliner variations (with the worst being a sliding one he delivers to a kneeling Inoue). Yone was a Batt guy but hasn't worked as a stiff Batt guy for years. Saito had some nice moments, with my favorite him buckling QS with a savage leg kick, and I always get a kick out of Inoue's foot stomps and sad sack persona. It took Inoue 18 seconds to get out of his t-shirt before the bell, and he's one of the few guys who can pull off Super Porky "cry while being hit" comedy without it being derivative. QS hit one very nice lariat down the stretch, but there was a lot of lame offense in this one.

Daisuke Harada vs. Hajime Ohara

ER: This is our first semifinal of the Global Junior League (I am more excited for the other semifinal) is a juniors main event epic with several matches to go until the main event. Harada was already doing dramatic swoons and holding his back 5 minutes into this match. I am not excited to see him in the main event, jerking and throwing his head back in a howl while selling like he's Kate Bush's Hounds of Love dance partner. Ohara doesn't throw great strikes, but I loved the way he attacked Harada's back. You want backbreaker variations? Ohara will give you backbreaker variations, all of them good. He rolls Harada from a fireman's carry into one, hits a pumphandle one, tilt a whirl, reverses a headscissors into one, drops a couple classic style in (while holding and pressing down on Harada's chin!), all cool. The problem is that Harada sells the first one exactly the same as he sells the 5th one, exactly the same as he sells the 10th one. He's already in agony, Ooooooooooomy baccccccckkkkkkkkkk, as he goes on to be not slowed down for one second in his offensive comebacks. Any of his offense that would have been done with a hunky dory back got done here, only here we had to put up with him showing all of his teeth after every move. Oooooooooit hurts my back when I do moooooooooooves! But I MUST do MOOOOOOVES! His has a lot of fruity cute  offense, stupid indy offense that needs to die, like making Ohara bunny hop into a fake armdrag that is actually a kneelift. When Harada isn't trying out for Godspell, he had a hard lariat that wrecked Ohara, and his running double knees looked like it should have absolutely shattered Ohara's jaw. That kind of brutality instead of bad acting would have really put the match ahead, but I thought the Harada drama was really bad.

Dick Togo vs. Yoshinari Ogawa

ER: This felt like a hot 1st act that segued directly into a hot final act. Both acts are really awesome, but it felt like a section was trimmed out of the middle. There pace was fast as hell throughout, so it didn't look like either was hurt or had an empty gas tank. It started with a bunch of snug fast arm twisting go behinds spun into headlock takeovers. Both guys rolling up bodies to jump from limbs to heads and back. I could have watched them work 15 minutes of just that kind of expert mat scrambling, felt more like tight World of Sport than the floaty mat stuff that started off Harada/Ohara earlier in the night. Togo works a nice surfboard and Ogawa works a killer figure 4 variation. Togo's selling in the figure 4 is really strong, as is Ogawa's in applying it. Ogawa was tightening it, occasionally kicking at it with his free boot, and when Togo finally reversed it he turned it into a nasty modified calf crusher. This is where the 2nd act should have been, but they quickly go into an energetic finishing sequence, with Togo's perfect standing dropkick, a missed senton, several close nearfalls on sunset flips and majistrals, and a battle over Togo's painful crossface. I was thinking the crossface would make a cool finish for the match, Ogawa working roll up counters to it while Togo rolled back to center them, but I was surprised the finish came relatively quickly. Maybe I was just loving this unseen pairing too much, two favorites matching up in the best way, and I just wanted even more. It's probably that.

PAS: The matwork in this was really cool, you don't see this kind of lucha maestros stuff much in Japan. This really felt like a good Primera Caida of an awesome match, but we never really get the other two falls. Both guys are killer on the mat, loved all of the work around the Indian deathlock, love that hold, it has always been a weak sister to the figure four, but it looks awesome and has a bunch of stuff you can do around it. I also loved the rolling around with the crossface, again just a nasty move with a bunch of opportunities to adjust and twist in and out. Still this felt like a bit of a tease, I wanted this to be longer and hit a couple of different notes, great appetizer, but I am still hungry.

28. Hideki Suzuki/Kazuyuki Fujita/Takashi Sugiura vs. Go Shiozaki/Katsuhiko Nakajima/Shuhei Taniguchi

ER: Take a look at Sugiura-gun! What a collection of goons, doing all of their pre-match stretching as  AXIZ is making their way out. These guys mean business, and this match was all about dishing out that business. Fujita is nearly 50, hasn't been fully involved in pro wrestling for two decades, and I like the old spry shooter for hire vibe he brings. He's lumpy, he's got that famous cinderblock dome, and he still has surprising speed. He also has no problem welting up every member of AXIZ. There is a lot of stand and trade in this match, and while that style isn't really my favorite, it's hard not to like a lot of what we get. Fujita throws deadly elbow strikes, and if you think his right hand slap hits hard, just wait until you feel the left directly after it. Shiozaki winds up with big red marks on his neck, looked like his head had been surgically reattached at the jawline. He stands with Fujita, but Fujita is pretty monstrous and just comes back with more elbows, more slaps, and gutbusting kneelifts. Down the stretch Sugiura-gun separates Taniguchi from the pack and treats him like they're jumping him into (or out of) their gang. I think it's tough to make the "guy being pinballed between strikes" look good, but I got really into watching these goons take turns trying to be the one to knock Taniguchi down. Taniguchi gets a great showdown with Fujita, where he throws some killer headbutts right into Fujita's collarbones. Taniguchi wasn't trained by any of the NOAH headbutters, but he keeps a favorite part of NOAH alive. My favorite section of the match was Suzuki vs. Nakajima, as Nakajima was the stiffest member of AXIZ, and I dug how he actually punished Suzuki. Suzuki is tough as hell, but Nakajima looked like a total badass kicking away at him, standing on his neck in the corner, and I dug the story that Suzuki was a killer in stacked attacks but kept getting wasted when separated from his pack (is the Suzuki/Nakajima TL draw a couple weeks later worth watching?). I thought this match did a great job setting up future singles matches and tags, all of which I am now interested in seeing.

PAS: This was a bunch of fun, a solid approximation of a 90s WAR six man tag. Suzuki wrestles primarily in slow burn matches with lots of matwork, but he is also great in these kind of wild brawls. Suzuki wasting Taniguchi with a spinning neckbreaker on the floor was the biggest spot of the match, as much of this was nasty kicks and punches. Shiozaki takes a big beating here, Fujita really tries to murder him, but he really needed to land something nastier then B- chops. Nakajima gets his head nearly kicked off at the finish and I love that Fujita has fully embraced crowbarhood in his old age.

7. Dick Togo vs. Daisuke Harada

ER: A fitting junior league final, and thankfully worked in a bubble. I was kind of dreading seeing Harada drama queen sell his way through his prior match back injury, but thankfully he went in as if nothing had been done to his back all evening. They work a cool juniors style, and Harada guided by Togo is so much better than Harada left to his own. Togo works a completely different match than he worked against Ogawa, and Harada really dominates him early. I like the idea that Togo and Ogawa went really aggressively at each other, and Harada runs at Dick right at the bell, nailing him with a dropkick and a fine German suplex, then crushing him into the guardrail with a great tope. Togo's selling really made it look like he pulled something in his back, just the difficulty in being dragged back to his feet alone made me feel for him, and then Harada puts an exclamation point on it with a double stomp as Togo is getting to his feet.

Togo is on the ropes for the first several minutes, and that's when we get DICK out of mothballs, opportunistically hiptossing Harada over the top (and I love how it wasn't a clean spot. Togo wasn't overtly selling the back, but it wasn't a clean leap over the top, Togo almost not having enough strength to get him over), then wraps Harada's leg around a guardrail with a dragon screw, then continues to pick apart Harada's leg. Harada not putting full weight on a leg is much more palatable than Harada selling his back, and heel DICK really starts being mean with him, throwing punches (and I don't think a single punch was thrown in his match with Ogawa), then challenging Harada to hit him back, dodging, and kicking his leg out. He kicks his leg out at a couple of convenient spots, then uses submission work on the injured leg to set up strong attempts at the crossface. We get a fantastic DICK tope con hilo, and he starts splatting Harada with pedigrees on the floor and off the middle buckle.

Togo made me buy into Harada'a comeback, eats knees on a missed senton, and Harada gets to use a weapon that I like: his fakeout punch into a hard shoulder strike to the gut that takes Togo's wind. Harada builds to a couple of big German suplexes, not always able to bridge because of his leg (and impressively not being such a baby about his knee), and I loved the sequence of Togo flipping out of one, missing a lariat but getting run into the ropes chest first, and Harada using that momentum to absolutely toss DICK on his neck and shoulders. The nearfalls down the stretch were strong, and made this come off like a real torch passing match (even though Harada has somehow wrestled way more matches than Togo), and plays as a shining example of Dick Togo not having lost a single step into his 50s.

PAS: This was really good. Togo is obviously a master, but I thought Harada brought some cool stuff to the match. All of the Togo legwork was super nasty, reminded of the period right before Sasuke had knee surgery, where every match Kaientai would tear his leg apart. After Togo smashes him with the Shiryu flip dive (a nice shout out to his KDX homeboy) Dick takes over, and crushes him with a Pepsi plunge and a pedigree. I loved how Harada desperately clutched at Togo's ankle, delaying Dick enough for him to get his knees up on the Senton. A nice bit of strategy and selling. I also really dug how he kept countering those big windup Togo punches by forearming him in the ribs and guts, Harada's body shot forearms were way nastier then his forearms to the head and I loved how he kept going back to them to slow Togo down. Harada hits some pretty solid snap Germans and you can just see Togo's age catching up to him. Easily the best Togo I have seen since his return from retirement and up there with his great retirement tour stuff.


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