September 29, 2007


For some reason or other, footage of this card in full doesn’t seem to exist. The two title matches were shown later on; they were added on to the airings of the respective NOAH 10/7 and 10/16 cards. So, for the sake of organization, I’m going to slap them together here.



The opening stretch of the match shows some promise. The DG team attacks at the bell, complete with Yoshino running interference on the floor to put even more heat on them. And it’s neat to see them target Marvin’s arm with some simple and effective work instead of using flashy spots and elaborate double teams like one would probably expect. Genki even busts out a juji-gatame, which is just about the last thing that anyone would expect to see. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the high point of the match. Once Ricky is able to tag out, the arm story disappears and nothing else comes in to replace it. Ricky and Suzuki were more flash than substance, which didn’t allow for much as far as storytelling or long term selling. Their flashiness allows for some cool moments, such as Ricky’s cradle to counter Doi’s sliding dropkick (along with Doi being smart enough to play to the crowd after the Doi 555 to explain why Ricky was able to pull off the counter), and they do some heelish things like Ricky walking the ropes and hitting Genki (who was standing on the apron) with a dropkick, and Suzuki tagging in and cleaning house, including unloading on Yoshino.


But, at the end of the day the overall match isn’t much more than just another spotfest. The crowd reacts to the big moves when they come out, like Genki’s backslide and Beach Break, and Suzuki’s Blue Destiny. But the only reason they get any sort of reaction is because they’re recognizable finishers. This is an especially big failing for the match because Suzuki and Marvin had already turned back Doi and Yoshino in May. So, there’s no reason to think that Doi can team with someone ranked lower and be any more successful, and the way that the match goes doesn’t do anything to change that perception. It could be argued that Suzuki digging out the Requiem to beat Genki gives him some rub, but not with how the finish plays out. Suzuki had already countered the Beach Break into the Blue Destiny and that would have finished him off if Doi hadn’t made the save. Genki doesn’t get in any more meaningful offense or surprise counters or even outright cheating to suggest that the DG team will be able to turn things around. This is a pretty fun ride for pacing, heat mongering, and execution (setting aside Suzuki’s awkward looking bridging block of Genki’s backslide, and Ricky and Doi’s suplex and pop-up sequence), but not so much for selling, drama, and storytelling.



Well, this was certainly an improvement over their title switch from the previous December. Watching Misawa can be unsettling at times, it’s easy to see just how bad shape he was in and how close to the end he really was. He only takes a handful of big bumps throughout the match, but even something that looks innocuous, like the drop toehold into the guardrail, still seems like he’s inching his way that much closer to forced retirement. The match really only gets out of hand in the last few minutes; after the Tiger driver from the top rope goes bad. Misawa follows up with a regular Tiger driver and Marufuji no sells it in order to hit a seated dropkick. Then Marufuji wants a twisting head scissors that may have been intended to be countered (possibly into an Emerald Frozion) but Misawa winds up dropping Marufuji, and then they go right to the finishing sequence, with Misawa getting a couple of more near falls and then a brainbuster into the Frozion ending it.


Thankfully, that rough patch is more the exception instead of the rule. For the most part, the match they work is rather simple and straightforward. Marufuji’s speed, agility, and kicks are a nice counterpart to Misawa’s size, strength, and elbows. There are plenty of smart touches in the first twenty-or-so-minutes of this. And it shows that, for as much as Misawa’s body may be broken down, he’s still got at least some of the smarts that led to all of those great, classic, and legendary matches. A good example of this happens relatively early on, after Misawa had been singling out Marufuji’s back. Misawa whips him into the corner and charges in for a monkey flip but changes his mind and hits him with an elbow and then does the monkey flip. It initially seems awkward, but it makes sense in the vein of Misawa knowing how athletic Marufuji is, so he gets in one more good shot just to make sure that Marufuji can’t do something like land on his feet and surprise Misawa with a superkick or running lariat. Unfortunately, that’s what happens to him right afterwards. Marufuji rolls to the floor and Misawa charges for the elbow suicida and leaps right into a superkick and that allows Marufuji to take over the match. Their early filler work is fun to watch too, even though it doesn’t really go anywhere. Misawa has never looked as much like an early 90’s Jumbo as he does when he locks in the surfboard and lets it go just so he can throw another round of elbows into Marufuji’s back. Marufuji’s holds while working Misawa’s neck are another nice touch. Not that anyone thinks that Misawa would actually submit, but the holds themselves are unique (especially the grounded cravat), and Misawa’s selling gives both Marufuji and the holds some perceived credibility.


Misawa’s selling isn’t just limited to those early neck holds either. No, he’s never been in the same class as guys like Kawada, Steamboat, or Yamazaki, but he’s perfectly adequate with his selling here. His reactions to Marufuji’s superkicks are pretty much spot on, nothing gets blown off, and when Marufuji tries to ramp up his offense, Misawa shows some real urgency. For his part, Marufuji does what he can to add to Misawa’s good performance here. Aside from the Tiger driver spot, Marufuji’s selling is just as good as Misawa’s and a lot of their exchanges and sequences look natural. Early on, they have a strike exchange and Misawa’s elbow sends Marufuji reeling backwards but he stays on his feet, and it winds up being a natural opening for him to fire back with a superkick. Misawa’s two big spots on the floor are put over as much as possible. The Tiger suplex off the apron isn’t as insane as the one he gave Kobashi off the ramp, Marufuji was seated on the apron and Misawa standing on the floor. But it was a decent sized bump and Marufuji treated it as such. The front Tiger driver across the guardrail was put over even better, with a very well done count out tease, complete with Marufuji collapsing at the count of nineteen and making the crowd think that he couldn’t beat the count.


The one story element to the match is that Marufuji is able to find success when he sticks with his basics; he can use his kicks to stun Misawa and he puts his speed to good use to surprise Misawa with a sliding dropkick or get him disoriented and hit the running lariat. But, when Marufuji strays from that and tries to get more ambitious, Misawa is always right there to stop him in his tracks. Marufuji may have gotten one over on him early with the superkick counter to the suicida, but Misawa returns the favor several times over. The first big one comes when they have a strike exchange while Misawa is on the apron, Marufuji springs up to the top rope and Misawa hits an elbow to the knee and sends him crashing into the ring, and it allows Misawa to take over and use his size to his advantage with a slingshot splash and then a senton. Later on, Marufuji thinks he’s got Misawa trapped on the top and climbs up to do something, perhaps a superplex or a rana. Once again, Misawa hits a single elbow and it crotches Marufuji on the top rope and then another elbow sends him to the floor, and Misawa does what’s probably the biggest spot of the match, he dives off the top onto Marufuji, who’s still laying on the floor.


In a way, this is similar to the Misawa/KENTA match from ROH. With the idea that the underdog puts up such a good fight that Misawa finds himself forced to dig out the bigger guns in order to put him away. The bungled attempt at the Tiger driver off the top, and the messy sequence afterward, is the only black mark on the match, and it’s completely unnecessary because they’d worked a great sequence a few minutes before, which would have made a terrific finish. Marufuji goes for the Pole Shift, his ultimate in big gun moves, and Misawa escapes and goes right for the Emerald Frozion which Marufuji escapes in turn. Marufuji looks for the Shiranui and Misawa counters into the facelock and when it seems like he’s going to put Marufuji out with it, Misawa lets it go and pins him for a near fall. If they’d tweaked things slightly and instead of going right for the pin, had Misawa do a sliding elbow after the facelock (similar to Shibata’s sleeper to PK sequence) it would have made a just about perfect finish. Marufuji had already been doing a great job of putting over the elbows anyway and it would have played into the idea of Misawa once again outsmarting Marufuji and using something that’s long been a familiar spot from Misawa, but hasn’t been treated as a real threat, to finally put him away. But it’s just not a NOAH main event unless they do something batshit crazy, no matter how needless it is or how little business that someone in Misawa’s shape has doing it. Regardless, this is still a damn fine match. This doesn’t quite hit the same level as the KENTA match, although between his grumpiness and selling, Misawa’s performance here is head and shoulders above that one (not to mention knees and toes above some of his others during the year). For as much as Misawa had looked like he was all but finished throughout the year, it’s nice to see that he still had a little bit left in the tank. ***1/4


Conclusion: The GHC match is definitely worth a look. If this wasn’t something of a lost show, it’d probably have been talked about a lot more. The junior tag match is fun but doesn’t hit the level that you would expect.