Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

NOAH NOAH's voyage #162 6/23/08 Encountering Navigation '05
taped 4/24/05 Tokyo Nippon Budokan

Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiozaki vs. Jun Akiyama & Genichiru Tenryu 17:30. A great example of how to make something out of nothing. Everyone knew Shiozaki was going to get his ass kicked and do the job, but the hatred, desire, effort, and intensity elevated the match well about the level of what they were doing, making the audience feel as if they were seeing something truly special. The brutal stiffness certainly contributed mightily to the illusion, but it was more that they were giving their best to prove a point to the opposition. The match was about Tenryu vs. Kobashi with Tenryu giving the finest tag performance he’s capable of. He established his disdain for Kobashi from the first moment, fueling the fire even when Akiyama & Shiozaki were going at it by walking around the ring and whipping a water bottle into Kobashi. Kobashi actually chopped Tenryu’s chest bloody early on, but Tenryu found a better revenge than simple turnabout. Kobashi is the mentor and father figure of his young new partner Shiozaki, so it hurt him more to see Shiozaki pummeled than to get beat up himself. Knowing this, Tenryu would throw his hardest possible chop, lariat, etc. then pause to taunt Kobashi with a stare. Nothing makes Tenryu happier than laying in to some young punk, so he was feeling his oats today. Kobashi was excellent when he was in, but in the end his main role was encouraging Shiozaki to answer the call for the next beat down. ****

GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Takeshi Rikio vs. Akitoshi Saito 25:06. Saito was about the worst possible choice for Rikio’s first title defense. The hardcores were generally against Rikio to begin with, ready to pounce when he proved as shoddy a replacement for their idol Kobashi as they knew he’d be. What Rikio needed was a solid veteran who could carry him, for instance Yoshinari Ogawa or Takuma Sano who were more overdue for another shot than Saito (granted Sano’s a tough go if the first defense is at Budokan, but Ogawa is also a good story since Rikio’s first GHC shot was a loss to Ogawa). Saito was essentially only selected because he’s someone Rikio could beat, but he’s generally as weak a worker as Rikio is (more ability, but less effort). Both gave their best effort to step it up, but it was a difficult task given neither do much particularly interesting or well. Rikio doing a shoulderblock off the apron might be a big deal by his standards, but it’s hardly going to excite fans used to watching Naomichi Marufuji & Ricky Marvin fly all over the building. Saito actually managed to find something of a move set, and given he’s a martial artist the injured arm storyline wasn’t as much a reach for him as for your typical body builder. Rikio stopping Saito’s suplex on the apron led to the big softening up spot, Saito DDTing him on the apron, though Rikio took such a pitiful bump his head barely grazed. In any case, this weakened him enough that Saito could begin taking apart the arm, which made for a fairly good body. The storyline almost protected Rikio, as he did such a good job of showing he had to use his off (left) arm or was hampered on the rare occasion he used his right that you almost forgot his offense is almost that bad when he’s healthy. Still, it was one of the poorest executed GHC Heavyweight title matches, with Rikio even managing to only graze Saito with a footstomp off the 2nd. The big spot of the match was Saito’s death cloak off the ramp, which he used to regain the advantage. Rikio managed to come up with something of a muso off the middle rope, but it looked pretty lame because it started as a back suplex and he simply turned 180 degrees on the way down for the switch. They didn’t put the move over at all, just using it as a routine near fall. I give them a passing grade due to there being enough effort and length to make it worthwhile, but neither are remotely championship material. ***


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