This year, 2015, marks the 15th anniversary for Pro Wrestling NOAH. NOAH has reached the highest peaks and lowest of lows throughout their span, to this point in time, but regardless is known for having some of the most outstanding caliber of matches that an professional wrestling promotion could dream to offer.
Below I, BushidoRX, have chosen to take an interesting approach to these last 15 years by offering a match from each year that has, in my opinion, helped define the promotion for what it is known for throughout the years. Keep in mind that I also had to stick within the boundaries of what is actually online and what is in decent enough quality to view.
Without further ado let’s jump into the list starting with the promotion’s beginning in 2000…
2000 – Kenta Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama from December 23, 2000.
A match that set a high standard in NOAH, both Kobashi and Akiyama look to build towards a strong standing in the new upstart of the green ring. The two would feud for the first half of NOAH’s run and this match showcased them as worthy champions in the future.
2001 – Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Yoshihiro Takayama, from April 15, 2001.
2002 – Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama & Yuji Nagata from February 17, 2002.
2003 – Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi, GHC Heavyweight Championship, from March 1, 2003.
Noted as one of the best matches to ever take place in the green ring and still holds that honor to this day. You have two of the foundations of NOAH competing on the grandest stage. Both men pulled out all big matches moves at their disposal to try and put the other down for the proverbial three count.
2004 – Kenta Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama, GHC Heavyweight Championship, from July 10, 2004.
This match meant so many things in many aspects, one it featured Akiyama receiving the highest spot imaginable in the main event of the Tokyo Dome and two of him finally vying to break away from being the shadow of Kenta Kobashi. As mentioned earlier this two had a strong feud going for years at this point and this would be the final culmination before Kobashi’s repeated setbacks in regards to his health.
2005 – Kenta Kobashi vs. Kensuke Sasaki from July 18, 2005 at the Tokyo Dome.
One of the biggest dream matches of the era. Two of the stiffest choppers, heaviest hitters, in the business finally squaring off one on one in the ring.
Both Kobashi and Kensuke are solid competitors and are known to be almost unmatched when it comes to their heart and determination to withstand tremendous amounts of abuse. Which this match showcases plenty of that with the famous back and forth chop battle that transpired during the bout.
2006 – Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiozaki vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima from November 5, 2006.
The follow up match to the big singles encounter. This match is almost better to me than the singles match. Not only do the two big brawlers go at but also the two junior get their chance to shine as well in the match. A must watch for sure if you couldn’t get enough of the match the year prior.
2007 – KENTA & Taiji Ishimori vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Kota Ibushi from July 15, 2007 at the Nippon Budokan.
Four of the best junior heavyweights in the business at this time and for the years to come. Great highlights from all the competitors and a match that helped showcase the strong junior heavyweight scene that NOAH offered.
2008 – Kenta Kobashi & KENTA vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima, from June 14, 2008 in Yokohama.
2009 – Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. KENTA, March 1, 2009
2010 – Go Shiozaki vs. Shinsuke Nakamura from August 22, 2010.
A continuing of the NOAH vs. NJPW feud that has taken place since NOAH’s early days. The up and coming ace of NOAH taking on NJPW’s young ace Shinsuke Nakamura. A match that wasn’t necessarily asked for at the time, but one that the fans could ultimately respect once it was all said and done. Both men showcase what they had and then some as they fought for the rights of their own promotion.
I originally wanted to go with the GHC defense Takashi Sugiura vs. Yoshihiro Takayama, from July 10, 2010, but due to it not being avaiable online I had to find something else appropriate for that year. Keep in mind that Sugiura had a solid year as the GHC Champion at this time and he was a fighting champion that NOAH needed at that time.
2011 – Kotaro Suzuki vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, from March 5, 2011.
One of the strongest outings of any junior heavyweight match in NOAH, especially that year. Both men pulled out all the stops in a hectic contest that saw heavy blows and big drops. Definitely a must see in my opinion as it showcases Nakajima at his best and Kotaro Suzuki showing the lengths that he would go to be a fighting champion.
2012 – Go Shiozaki vs. Takeshi Morishima, GHC Heavy, from July 22, 2012.
2013 – KENTA vs. Yuji Nagata, GHC Heavy, from December 7, 2013.
KENTA finally achieved the biggest prize in the NOAH ring and looked to prove that he was the rightful man to hold the belt. Of course NOAH had some up and downs by this point, but Nagata was sure to step up to give KENTA a match that he needed to prove himself. Nagata is top form as well as KENTA.
Honorable mention – Kobashi’s retirement match: Kenta Kobashi, Keiji Mutoh, Kensuke Sasaki & Jun Akiyama vs. Go Shiozaki, KENTA, Maybach Taniguchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru, from May 11, 2013 at the Nippon Budokan.
2014 – Taiji Ishimori vs. Daisuke Harada, from March 8, 2014 in Tokyo.
One of my favorite matches from this year, Ishimori is coming in with a solid run as the GHC Jr. Champion and Harada ever looking to prove himself as a singles competitor. This match had everything and then some when it come to what NOAH was all about in terms of competition in the ring and Harada showing that he could be a strong champion when that time called.
2015 – Minoru Suzuki vs. Takashi Sugiura, from September 19, 2015 in Osaka.
The final match in this listing and I could say that it is indeed the match of the year so far for NOAH. This match comes about with NOAH taking on Suzuki-gun (Suzuki Army) which is run by Minoru Suzuki. Suzuki and his group have been running rampart over everyone in NOAH and Sugiura, who has beaten Suzuki in the past, comes in to try and stop the invader from belittling the promotion any further. This match means a lot for Suzuki as he has repeatedly fallen to Sugiura in the past, but Sugiura is doing his best to fight for the respect of the fans and the NOAH ring.