It’s been almost exactly a year since Minoru Suzuki and his army invaded NOAH and captured every belt of the promotion. After a war that was set to conclude in December, things just got even crazier! Naomichi Marufuji had won the belt back from Suzuki, but then he was turned on by his longtime friend Takashi Sugiura, who aligned himself with Suzuki! That brings us to the new year. It’s January and the first big event for Pro Wrestling NOAH is about to happen tonight. GREAT VOYAGE 2016 IN YOKOHAMA is set to be the ending to a storied rivalry that we haven’t seen in wrestling, much less Puroresu in a long time. Will Marufuji retain his belt and drive Suzuki-gun out of NOAH? What is the bomb that Minoru has set, that he says is still ticking? All these questions shall be answered tonight! This is a preview and predictions for all 9 matches for tonight’s blockbuster event.
THIS IS IT
NOAH x SUZUKI-GUN
(1) GREAT VOYAGE 2016 in YOKOHAMA Opening 8 Man Tag Match: Yoshihiro Takayama, Quiet Storm, Hajime Ohara & Genba Hirayanagi vs. Yoshinari Ogawa, Akitoshi Saito, Hitoshi Kumano & Kaito Kiyomiya
The opening match of the night is an 8-man tag that should give people some decent entertainment before the real show starts. Nothing against these guys, but other than Quiet Storm I could care less.
Prediction: Takayama, Quiet Storm, Ohara & Hirayanagi should get the win here.
(2) Special Single Match: El Desperado [SUZUKI-GUN] vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru [NOAH]
Okay now we’re getting into the meat of the event, the NOAH x Suzuki-gun storytelling as El Desperado takes on Yoshinobu Kanehara. Desperado has done very well since returning from CMLL and improved quite a bit; always seems like when guys come back from CMLL they’re much improved, case in point Kamaitachi…Anyway, it’s Suzuki-gun vs a man who has the record for most NOAH Jr Heavyweight titles. Kanemaru may have been with AJPW for 2 years after leaving NOAH, but with the way Suzuki-gun has a stranglehold on the company, I think Kanemaru is a greatly needed veteran who Marufuji can certainly use at this point.
Prediction: This match will give a slight nudge to the main event’s outcome in my opinion. Every match on this card can go either way and that unpredictability is something Jado should teach Gedo. Let’s just go with El Desperado, he has a few wins during this tour, so maybe they’re pushing him. If Suzuki-gun leaves, I see him staying with another gimmick.
(3) Special Single Match: Shelton X Benjamin [SUZUKI-GUN] vs. Mitsuhiro Kitamiya [NOAH]
Match three continues the theme of Suzuki-gun x NOAH as the former gold standard, Shelton X Benjamin takes on the ever-improving young talent of Mitsuhiro Kitamiya. This should be a well worked, fast paced match. Let’s see if Kitamiya can keep up with the super-athletic Benjamin.
Prediction: I could see them giving this to Kitamiya, but the way they have treated Shelton in NOAH has me believing he’ll win this one; he’s the resident monster of the promotion in my opinion.
(4) Special Single Match: Maybach Taniguchi [NOAH] vs. Takashi Iizuka [SUZUKI-GUN]
I don’t even know what to say about this match…Both gimmicks are strange, but it should be entertaining none the less. It’s the man named after a sports car who looks like the gatekeeper to hell vs a crazy-man who is lead around on a leash…Oh Puroresu…this is why I love you.
Prediction: Maybach will use his…trident…thing…to reign Iizuka in and finish him with probably a Maybach Splash or bomb.
(5) GHC Junior Tag Championship Match: [25th Champions] Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge [NOAH] vs. [Challengers] TAKA Michinoku & Taichi [SUZUKI-GUN]
I am very excited for match 5 because on paper it looks like it’ll be amazing. Harada and Kotoge are a great tag team and work very well together and the same can be said for TAKA and Taichi. TAKA is one of the hardest workers in NOAH and I just love Taichi’s J-Rocker gimmick, including the Moi dix Mois theme song he comes out singing to.
Prediction: As much as I love TaiMichi (Give it time it’ll catch on!) I know like everyone else that Harada and Kotoge will rightfully so leave with the belts. Harada and Kotoge are the future of the division and if NJPW ever absorbs NOAH could be great in the Jr division.
(6) GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: [30th Champion] Taiji Ishimori vs. [Challenger] Kenoh
I love this match, I’ve paid close attention to every match these two have been in during this tour and I just love the chemistry between the two. Ishimori is arguably the best Junior that NOAH has ever had; his record for longest title reign is a testament to that. Kenoh cut his teeth under the tutelage of the great TAKA and it shows in his in-ring performance. I’ll be happy either way, but I feel Ishimori would benefit greatly from the chase.
Prediction: Ishimori will retain his belt after a great 4-star match. I expect Kenoh to win the belt within the next 4 months though.
(7) GHC Tag Championship Match: [33rd Champions] Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. [SUZUKI-GUN] vs. [Challengers] Muhammad Yone & Katushiko Nakajima [NOAH]
Match 7, wow it’s match 7 and we still have two more! What a stacked card…Anyway, we have Killer Elite Squad trying to defend their GHC tag titles for the 6th time, however if Yone and Nakajima have anything to say about it, it will be the beginning of the fall of Suzuki-gun in NOAH.
Prediction: This one is damn-near unpredictable. I have no idea, but I have to think they’ll lose the belts, six title defenses is just crazy, plus if it is in fact time for Suzuki-gun to leave then they must drop the belts. I’m going to say K.E.S. lose the belts. I could actually see them dropping them regardless, because they’re a dominant force even without them.
(8) Special Single Match: Go Shiozaki [NOAH] vs. Minoru Suzuki [SUZUKI-GUN]
This match will steal the show. Shiozaki is arguably the best talent in Japan who isn’t signed to NJPW and the hottest free-agent in years. Look for Go and Minoru to put on a very exciting, violent MMA-style fight. Can Shiozaki defeat Suzuki and declare himself the next challenger to the title? We will see…
Prediction: Go has to win. Go absolutely has to win this and he will, decisively and impressively. Minoru will put on a great program with Shiozaki and help propel him to the top of NOAH and with a win over the leader of the most hated faction in the history of Japanese wrestling, NOAH and Marufuji will finally welcome Shiozaki into the fold. I expect a brutal, violent, show-stealing match between these two.
(9) GHC Heavyweight Championship Match: [24th Champion] Naomichi Marufuji [NOAH] vs. [Challenger] Takashi Sugiura [SUZUKI-GUN]
This is it…the main event…the colmination of a months worth of build. Sugiura has stabbed Marufuji in the back and is determined to cement himself as the new leader of NOAH; even though that means NOAH will be no more. The story behind this match and the build to it will make it the most intriguing match of the night and should put a nice little bow on the Suzuki-gun invasion. Or will it?…That bomb Minoru set is still ticking.
Prediction: I have no idea…If Marufuji wins then Suzuki-gun in theory have to leave NOAH…but if Sugiura wins then NOAH will “die”. I could see a scenario where Marufuji retains, but the bomb Minoru planted was someone in the business room, akin to a storyline you’d see in WWE…god I hope not…So either Suzuki’s bomb is a person or a situation or something…but what if that bomb blows up in his face? The finale of this epic story is bound to go out with a bang; no pun intended.
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