Red's Pro-Wrestling #70: 2023 kickoff NOAH & AJPW

Match Ratings

  1. GHC Tag Team Titles: Kojima, Sugiura (c) vs KENTA, Marufuji ***3/4
  2. GHC Heavyweight Title: Kaito(c) vs Kenoh ****1/2
  3. Great Muta vs Nakamura ***1/2
  4. AJPW World Tag Titles: Miyaken to Takuya(c) vs Voodoo Murders ***
  5. Triple-Crown Title: Kento(c) vs Nomura ****1/4

Digest

It's a new year and both NOAH and All Japan kicked us off with a handful of pretty noteworthy matches. Both are trying to consistently find where they belong in the modern puro scene, so their first of the year outputs tend to be pretty important for figuring out how their annual trajectory might go.

I am indeed still working through 2022 content, for those keeping track. I make the rules though and have decided it's fine to cover more recent stuff, too.

NOAH's The New Year event featured three matches that hit my pull list.

The brand's top tag team division got the first spotlight as the duo of Kojima and Sugiura, a team I call Brave Bulls, bested the reunited KENTA and Marufuji pairing. The latter happens to be one of the best tag teams of all time so it was pretty sweet seeing them reigniting the flame here. It's worth noting that while I will admit that this did not hit the levels I had expected, it was still a great encounter in all. I'd actually really dig a rematch.

Next, we have the first MOTYC of 2023 as far as I'm concerned with Kenoh and Kaito hitting play once more on their great running rivalry. A definitive match representing what modern NOAH is all about and a true battle of fighting spirit. I strongly recommend this excellent title defense!

The last match from that show saw the final Great Muta contest as he faced off with WWE's Shinsuke Nakamura. His entrance was the first time we've really seen the old Naka in a while and you could tell that's exactly the fire we'd be getting when he came out from the back. There was a lot of respect on display and I loved the finish, personally. It'll be remembered as iconic for many, I'm sure. Muta's far past his prime at this point but it's hard to ignore the effort and passion.

Pretty good, but I know for a fact that mileage will vary greatly with this one.

The post-match interviews from the soon to be fully retired legend were fucked.

AJPW's New Year Giant Series Nights One and Two were the sources for my final two pulls of the set.

Their World Tag Team Championship defense with Suwama and KONO falling to Kento and Namura should have been far better but sadly failed to land as well as it should have. The best news here is that the new champs are a major upgrade, at least.

The better news is that we closed this edition with a fantastic battle between the new tag champs with the Triple Crown on the line. Considering the latest talent jumps in All Japan, they really needed something strong to spark 2023 and this was it.

Leave it up to Miyahara to step up and carry the All Japan name on his shoulders.

Let the dude just hold the Triple Crown until he retires at this point.

I largely enjoyed tuning in for these and recommend that you check out anything that interests you from the set. Thank you, as always, for reading.