By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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Pro Wrestling Noah “Great Muta Final ‘Bye-Bye'”
Replay available via FITE.TV
January 22, 2023 in Yokohama, Japan at Yokohama Arena
This was billed as Great Muta’s final match (we now know he has at least one more, against Tetsuya Naito, next month). This is a large building. There is English commentary from two British men.
I admittedly don’t know NOAH at all; when I watched the NOAH vs. New Japan show a day earlier, it was the first time I had seen every NOAH wrestler except Naomichi Marufuji, who I know from his appearances in ROH. For me, this show is all about the main event. I do know several talents here: Dante Leon, Timothy Thatcher, Ninja Mack and Jungle Kyona.
1. Hajime Ohara and Hiroki defeated Atsushi Kotoge and Seiki Yoshioka at 6:48. Ohara and HIroki wore matching red pants. Yoshioka wore blue; Kotoge wore white, and he has a splash of red hair. Basic opener with either Ohara or Hiroki hitting a frog splash to pin Yoshioka.
2. Jungle Kyona and Saori Ano vs. Sumire Natsu and Maya Yukihi at 13:44. Yukihi wore white. Natsu wore red with what can only be described as metal cones over her breasts; it looks like something Madonna wore 30 years ago (yes I am old.) Kyona wore purple; she has appeared in several U.S. indies in recent months. Ano wore a light blue outfit, and she has shorter hair. Natsu and Yukihi are reminding me of Angelina Love and Velvet Sky’s “Beautiful People” run, and they are the heels, and they worked over Kyona early on. Natsu slammed her crotch suggestively in Kyona’s face in the corner.
Kyona hit a fallaway slam and made the hot tag to Ano at 5:30. Ano hit a nice Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall. Natsu grabbed her whip — yes a whip — and hit Ano with it. Ano hit a German Suplex; Yukihi fired back with an enziguri at 9:00. Natsu and Kyona both tagged in and traded more hard blows. Yukiki hit a missile dropkick on Kyona. Natsu hit a top-rope crossbody block on Kyona for a believable nearfall.
Kyona hit a double suplex and she was fired up, then a clothesline for a believable nearfall on Natsu. Natsu hit a double-arm DDT. Natsu hit a Shining Wizard on Ano. Kyona hit a clothesline in the corner on Natsu, then her Samoa Joe-style Musclebuster for the pin. That was a really good match; I came away impressed with all four.
3. Timothy Thatcher defeated Masaaki Mochizuki in a “best of iron man” match at 8:44. Thatcher, of course, is known for his runs in NXT and Evolve. NOAH’s on-screen graphics show the age of most competitors, and Masaaki is 53. (A handful of wrestlers’ ages are unlisted.) Thatcher power-walked to the ring in a blue robe, looking as pissed off as ever. Thatcher tied him in a pretzel on the mat immediately. Masaaski applied an anklelock, and it appears this could be a match where they are always down on the mat. They got up and Thatcher hit some European Uppercuts in the corner at 5:00.
Masaaki hit a Mafia Kick and Thatcher looks deranged. (I would never recommend losing your front teeth, but it sure makes him look maniacal.) Now that they are on their feet, it is clear that Thatcher is a full head taller than his opponent. Thatcher went back to a cross-armbreaker on the mat. Masaaki went back to an anklelock. Masaaki hit a brainbuster for a nearfall at 8:00; I think that was the first cover of the match. Thatcher slapped on a Fujiwara Armbar, and Masaaki tapped out; that ended quickly.
4. Alejandro, Yasutaka Yano, and Junta Miyawaki defeated Eita, Yoshinari Ogawa, and Nosawa Ronga via DQ at 7:26. Alejandro wears the mask that reminds me of Ultimo Dragon, or Laredo Kid. Junta is in white trunks. Eita looks like a young Shinsuke Nakamura, with his slick, long curly hair and shaved sides. Eita’s team are the heels, and they attacked at the bell. Ronga has black paint streaking down his cheeks. Yano wore the baby blue trunks he must have stole from Yuji Nagata; he is listed as just 22 years old. The heels worked over Yano early.
Alejandro tagged in, but the heels kept him grounded. Eita ripped at Alejandro’s mask; when the ref tried to stop him, Eita shoved the ref to the mat, causing the DQ. The heels finished ripping the mask off and beat down on Alejandro. This was solid while it lasted. The babyface trio are all quite young and promising. Ronga grabbed a pair of scissors and cut a tuft of hair off of Junta’s head.
5. Jake Lee, Jack Morris, and Anthony Greene defeated Masa Kitamiya, Daiki Inaba, and Yoshiki Inamura at 10:49. Greene, of course, also competed in NXT and Evolve. Twin Cities native Jack Morris won more games in the 1980s than any other pitcher in baseball and took far too long to reach the Hall of Fame. Oh, wrong Jack Morris; this one is a white male who looks like a young Scotty Riggs, and the announcers say he’s from Scotland. Masa is the thick bull of a man who I compared to Tomohiro Ishii. Jake Lee, who is Japanese, wore a black outfit and robe right from the Darth Vader collection; I did the height conversion and he’s 6’3″.
Masa and Lee started, and Lee dropped him with a shoulder tackle. Greene entered to battle Inaba, who wore orange and white pants. Jack Morris entered at 3:00 to face Inamua; who wore a singlet; I would say is a Japanese version of Scott Norton. Greene hit a top-rope crossbody block on Inamura for a nearfall at 5:30. Masa hit a Samoan Drop and a senton on Greene. Morris hit a Lionsault Press. Masa hit a spear at 8:00.
Morris and Daiki traded punches and Morris nailed a flying knee. Inamura hit an impressive brainbuster; I stand by my Norton comparison, as this guy is wide. Everyone started fighting at 10:30, with four on the ground. Jake Lee hit a Helluva Kick in the corner to pin Inamura. That finish seemingly came out of nowhere.
* A commercial aired with a list of matches for the Keijo Muto final match event on Feb. 21.
6. Kazushi Sakuraba defeated Kotaro Suzuki at 10:37. This match doesn’t have pinfalls; you must win by submission. Sakuraba is 53. So, they wrestled on the mat; this looks like the Thatcher match but not as intense. Sakuraba moves like a man who is even older, and this makes me think of Shibata’s Wrestle Kingdom return match, as they are just a little tentative in what they are doing. Sauraba finally applied a Triangle Choke, and Suzuki tapped out. The crowd was rightfully quiet; this match did nothing for me.
7. Amakusa, Ultimo Dragon (w/Sonny Onoo), and Ninja Mack defeated Yo-Hey, Kzy, and Dante Leon at 11:37. Ninja Mack is really short; he had a good run in GCW. I’ve seen a fair amount of Leon in indies in the Midwest; he wears tye-dye shirts and has green and black hair. Yo-Hey had a really good match a day earlier against El Desperado, and he has orange and purple in his hair. Kzy (pronounced ‘Kay Zee’) hyped up the crowd while dancing on the way to the ring, much like R-Truth would. Amakusa is an impressive high-flyer; he wears a Flair-like robe; he exudes the same sort of snobbish arrogance as Deonna Purrazzo. Ultimo Dragon got his own entrance, with Sonny Onoo joining him.
Amakusa and Kzy started with quick reversals. Mack and Leon squared off; I have to believe they’ve shared a ring in the U.S. before. They also traded quick moves and had a standoff at 2:00. They began trading forearm shots. Amakusa tagged back in and battled Yo-Hey. Leon hit a flip-dive stunner out of the corner like what Sol Ruca has been doing in NXT at 7:00. Ultimo Dragon tagged in for the first time and got a nice pop, and he hit some quick kicks to Leon’s thighs, then a back body drop on Kzy. He applied a leglock on the mat on Kzy.
Amakusa hit an incredible twisting dive through the ropes on Leon at 10:00. Yo-Hey immediately hit a dive. Ninja Mack did several cartwheels in the ring before hitting a dive. Ultimo Dragon teased setting up for a dive, but Kzy cut him off and got booed. Funny. In the ring, Ninja Mack hit a top-rope corkscrew 630 senton on Yo-Hey for the pin. Really good match. Ultimo Dragon wasn’t asked to do too much, but everything he did looked really good.
8. Kaito Kiyomiya, Hijo del Dr. Wagner Jr., Takashi Sugiura, and Satoshi Kojima defeated Kenoh, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Masakatsu Funaki, and Manabu Soya at 18:35. Kenoh’s “Kongo” team all wore red; they had the singles matches a day ago against the “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” faction from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Sugiura and Kojima wore their tag title belts. Kaito came out last to his own entrance; he’s got blond hair similar to Kazuchika Okada, and of course, will now fight Okada on Feb. 21; so, all four babyfaces had a title belt.
Wagner, wearing a mask, started against the red-haired Soya. Kenoh, allso with blond hair, entered at 2:30 to face Satoshi, with Satoshi hitting his rapid-fire chops in the corner. Funaki, age 53, entered at 5:30 and tied up Satoshi on the mat, and the Kongo team worked him over extensively. Satoshi finally hit a top-rope elbow drop on Nakajima for a nearfall at 9:30. Nakajima fired back with a brainbuster.
Sugiura entered for the first time and battled Kenoh, trading kicks to the thighs. Sugiura hit a running knee to the jaw in the corner, then a second-rope superplex for a nearfall at 12:00. Kaito entered for the first time and hit a second-rope twisting forearm shot, then a top-rope missile dropkick for a nearfall. Kenoh fired back with release German Suplex. Kaito and Funaki traded overhand chops, and this was hard-hitting stuff. Kaito hit a dropkick, and they were both down at 15:00.
Soya and Wagner tagged back in and traded more hard chops. Wagner nailed a superkick and an enziguri. Soya nailed a spear, then a brainbuster for a believable nearfall. Soya hit a Bulldog Powerslam for a believable nearfall. Suddenly, everyone was in the ring and hitting their finishers. Wagner hit a Michinoku Driver for a believable nearfall on Soya, then a top-rope moonsault for the pin. Good match.
9. Great Muta, Sting, and Darby Allin (w/the Great Kabuki) defeated Hakushi, Akira, and Naomichi Marufuji at 22:22. Each of the six had separate entrances, so that took a long time. I don’t know Akira; he wears a wig with long red hair. I was a huge fan of Hakushi when he debuted in WWF 30 years ago. Muta and Hakushi started, and Muta spewed green mist straight up in the sky. They traded mat holds. Sting entered at 3:30 and stood nose-to-nose with Marufuji. Sting no-sold a couple chops. Darby tagged in; Akira entered at 5:00 to face him, and they traded punches. Sting and Hakushi got in and squared off, and Sting sent Hakushi to the floor. Hakushi got on the ring apron, but Sting shoved him off, with Hakushi crashing onto a table near ringside at 7:30.
On the floor, Muta choked Hakushi with a robe. In the ring, Muta’s team took turns working over Hakushi, who was bleeding from his forehead. Muta applied a Crossface on the mat, but Akira entered and broke it up at 12:30. Hakushi executed a dragon screw leg whip on Darby. Marufuji hit a spin kick to Darby’s head. Darby dove through the ropes and barreled into Marufuji at 14:30. In an insane spot, Darby leapt off the top turnbuckle and hit a doublestomp on Marufuji’s chest, as Naomichi was seated near ringside.
Sting and Akira got in the ring, and Sting applied a Scorpion Deathlock at 16:30, but Marufuji broke it up. Muta entered and hit a basement dropkick on Akira’s knee, then a dragon screw leg whip. Akira hit a frogsplash on Muta for a nearfall. Hakushi hit a top-rope shoulder tackle on Muta at 18:30, then a top-rope Kokeshi falling headbutt for a nearfall. Hakushi hit a thrust into Muta’s throat, and Muta was down. Hakushi did an Old School tightrope walk. Muta sprayed green mist into Hakushi’s face, and he nailed a Shining Wizard for a nearfall at 21:30.
Sting hit a Scorpion Death Drop on Hakushi. Darby nailed the Coffin Drop. Muta then nailed a Shining Wizard on Hakushi to score the pin. Entertaining match, with everyone moving in and out of the match and no one staying in too long. Muta picked up a wood stick and jabbed it into Hakushi’s face. Muta then began ‘finger painting,’ putting Hakushi’s blood on the flat wooden board. Sting, Muta and Sting stood in the ring together to close the show. Muta walked up the ramp, turned to the crowd, and once again sprayed some green mist into the sky, before turning and leaving.
Final Thoughts: I tuned in for the final match, which delivered. Just like the Ricky Steamboat final match a few weeks ago, putting Muta in a six-man tag is the right way to go. He can get in, do a few things, get out, and not get too winded. He wasn’t asked to do too much, and what he did, looked good.
I said this already, but I don’t know Pro Wrestling NOAH at all; I saw most of these guys for the first time a day earlier on the crossover show with New Japan. There are definitely a lot of wrestlers worth checking out on this roster. While I admittedly didn’t care for the MMA-style match, most everything else worked for me.
Not only was I glad they had English commentary, I found their on-screen graphics super-helpful, with names, ages, height and weight. For a first-time viewer, that that helped me keep track of so many new faces.