Spoiler-free review by Buck:
NOAH 10/09/2004. Navigation Against the Current tour, first show of the tour, from the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
I didn't really think this card looked very good from top to bottom to be honest. Still, I had heard about Kobashi vs. KENTA, and a few of the other matches looked good (especially the juniors tag) and I decided to buy this as one of my first NOAH DVDs.
1: Donovan Morgan vs. Mitsuo Momota:
Easily the worst match of the night. This didn't need to even be on the card in my opinion. Momota has grown on me because of his comedy and facial expressions, but those couldn't save the general blandness of Morgan. Morgan probably shouldn't be in the ring unless he's in a tag match with a charismatic partner or two. In singles, against an opponent that certainly can't carry him to a good match, a train wreck ensues. There were some funny moments, but overall, pretty bad match. It also went too long in my opinion, as it shouldn't have gone over 5 minutes. I'm giving it * for effort. Easily skippable.
2: Shiro Koshinaka vs. Go Shiosaki:
Mostly a squash match, but certainly better than the opener. Koshinaka uses a helluva lot of hip and ass-based moves. It must be pretty humiliating to be knocked out by iron buns. Luckily, though, this was solid action, unlike the opener. It was fun to watch, there were some good moves from both guys, and a decent story was told. Overall, this should've been the opener in my opinion, as I found it pretty enjoyable.
3: Daisuke Ikeda & Mohammed Yone vs. Tamon Honda & IZU:
A very enjoyable tag match, though I must say, some white face paint and funny goggles don't serve to make Jun Izumida any more interesting in my opinion. It started slow, but built steadily with some nice back and forth action. It truly got going when Ikeda and Yone started hitting some brutal chair moves on the outside. I'm still scratching my head as to why NOAH referees don't seem to care when wrestlers hit each other with chairs. That's fine with me though, as a DQ finish for those chair shots would've sucked in my opinion. Anyway, some brutal moves later, and the match really picks up. I especially liked when Honda got his payback later on, as it's rare to see him show that kind of intensity. It was rad. The finish kind of came out of nowhere, but it was nicely done regardless. Overall, good tag match.
Rating: ** 3/4.
4: Ricky Marvin, SUWA & Low Ki vs. Naomichi Marufuji, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Kotaro Suzuki:
This one, I was expecting a little bit more out of. Apart from Kobashi vs. KENTA, this was the match I was looking forward to the most on this DVD, and I feel it disappointed a bit. Despite that, it was a solid match, with good, fast-paced action and some nice comedy too. They gave it just the right amount of time, it told a pretty good story, and in general I liked it. My problems with the match were it did seem to get boring at parts. Also, Low Ki never once squared off with Marufuji in this match, which disappointed me because I really wanted to see them hook it up. Near the finish, it really got exciting, and that was probably the best part of the match, but the excitement didn't go on too long before it was over. Overall, pretty good, I just thought it'd be a little better.
Rating: ** 3/4.
5: Doug Williams, Michael Modest & TAKA Michinoku vs. Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi:
Another solid 6-man, but nothing really great in it. Some of the confrontations with TAKA and Akiyama were the highlights, and some of the TAKA vs. Kanemaru parts definitely made me want to see their Jr. Heavyweight Title match from 10/24, which was the goal of this match. Overall though, it was a relatively standard 6-man, and I think it went on for too long as well. Apparently it went about 20 minutes, but when I was watching it, it felt it like it was 30-40. It was pretty entertaining though, and certainly got the job done.
Rating: ** 1/2.
6: Akitoshi Saito, Masao Inoue & Takashi Sugiura vs. Bison Smith, The Gladiator (Mike Awesome) & Trevor Rhodes:
Another serviceable 6-man, but once again, nothing truly special. The three American hosses going up against the Japanese mainstays is pretty much tradition in Japan, because it works pretty well. I like Bison Smith and Trevor Rhodes, and Mike Awesome (RIP) was amazing in NOAH in my opinion. However, the Dark Agents don't tickle my fancy nearly as much. I like Saito, but Sugiera strikes me as a guy that has what some people (namely Truthslayer) call “Lance Stormitis”, which means he's a very good wrestler but terrible at generating emotion and making me care about what's going on. That's just my opinion though, as many people I talk to are very high on Sugiura, so take that for what it's worth. As for Inoue, he's not even a good wrestler in my opinion, let alone the emotion part. I think this match would've come off better if the Americans had better opponents to deal with. What was here, though, was solid, and I enjoyed it. Like most NOAH 6-mans though, it's not worth going out of your way to see.
Rating: ** 1/2.
7: KENTA Single Match Trial 6th: Kenta Kobashi vs. KENTA:
Simply put, this is the reason to buy this DVD. This had everything you'd want in a great Puro match. An excellent story, breathtaking stiffness, believability, just great stuff overall. If you're introducing a friend to NOAH for the first time, this would be an excellent match to show them first, because the story is simple enough for anyone to understand, yet deep enough that it can be appreciated by die hard fans as well. It's also a just plain fun match, that you can watch when you're really tired and don't feel like wrapping your head around something really complicated. This match has everything, it's just phenomenal. The stiffness is awesome. You can actually see Kobashi's face bruising more and more as KENTA kicks him repeatedly, and the slaps and chops echo throughout the arena. Everything was also sold perfectly, and Fighting Spirit was used at the perfect time and in the right way. The best part is, there wasn't a single strike in this match that was just stiffness for the sake of stiffness. Every strike had tons of story and meaning behind it, as well it should.
It wasn't super long, but it didn't need to be, as there was never a dull moment in it. The only complaint some people have against this match is they say it's just a glorified squash. I don't personally agree with this, but if it is indeed a squash, then I'm 99% sure it's the greatest squash match in the history of wrestling. Watch the match if you haven't already. It truly is that good.
Rating: **** 1/2.
8: Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Takeshi Rikio vs. Akira Taue, Takuma Sano & Kishin Kawabata:
A decent way to close out the show, but to be honest, this felt more to me like a midcard 6-man, despite the main-eventers captaining each team. Even still, this match did its job. Each competitor pulled his share of weight, a decent story was told, and the action was generally fun. The finish wasn't too great. It got the job done, but it didn't really have that big match feel or very much desperation, it was just a standard midcard 6-man finish. Therein lies the problem with this match. It would've been very good in the midcard, but as the main event, and especially following an act like Kobashi vs. KENTA, I was pretty disappointed. It was fun though, all things considered, and I enjoyed it.
Rating: ** 3/4.
This show is a tough call for me. There's really only one match on here that's really worth seeing, which is Kobashi vs. KENTA. While it is incredible, it's so easy to find online. In fact, it's one of the first videos that pops up when you type the search terms “Kenta Kobashi” into the YouTube search engine. I will defend this DVD, however, by saying that YouTube's video quality is garbage, and it really doesn't do this match justice. This DVD is full quality, and in my opinion, that's the only way you should view this match. Of course, if you have a powerful PC, you could probably download the match somewhere in close to DVD quality, I suppose. However, as other reviewers have said, IVP is extremely cheap. In my opinion, Kobashi vs. KENTA in full DVD quality is worth 3 dollars.
If you're expecting an awesome show though, steer clear. This is a one-match show in its truest form. If you buy this DVD, and enter with the mindset that you're buying this for Kobashi vs. KENTA, and the rest of the matches are just a nice little extra added bonus, you'll probably come away pretty happy. Overall though, there are better top-to-bottom shows littered all around this site.
Overall Rating: ** 3/4.Rating: [3 of 5 Stars!]