Match Point: Go Shiozaki vs. Naomichi Marufuji (8/5/20)

Naomichi Marufuji

Match Point is an on-going series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. In this edition of Match Point, we look at an upcoming showdown between two legends of Pro Wrestling NOAH and the history leading up to their encounter as Naomichi Marufuji and Go Shiazaki go head-to-head at NOAH Departure.

Pro Wrestling NOAH, a promotion that at a time was established by many legends of the professional wrestling industry. In one rivalry, Kenta Kobashi would have a brutal series with Mitsuharu Misawa. After the series would go on for multiple more years, both men would have students. Both students would go onto become two of the top stars of Pro Wrestling NOAH, Naomichi Marufuji, and Go Shiozaki. Two men who are considered the very top of Pro Wrestling NOAH at the moment and who will main event the second night of Departure. Now, how important is this? Let’s start at the beginning.

Naomichi Marufuji and Go Shiozaki do have a history of singles matches together, usually in tournament fashion or just normal singles matches. But one match that has alluded them is the GHC Heavyweight Championship match. The GHC Heavyweight Championship being the top prize within Pro Wrestling NOAH.

Both men have a history with this championship, with Naomichi Marufuji being a two-time champion, while Go Shiozaki has held this championship on four separate times, with his current reign being at 200+ days, going into his 3rd title defense against Marufuji. But things weren’t always so good for Go Shiozaki and even Marufuji. Both men had trials to deal with.

In April of 2019, Naomichi Marufuji faced off against the possible future Ace of NOAH Kaito Kiyomiya. He would lose this title match and has not challenged for the GHC Heavyweight Championship since that match.  In the months after that match, Marufuji would fail in the N1 Victory and have a mini rivalry with The Great Muta, which later turned into a small tag team.

Marufuji continued to change his personality, while he becomes more important to the corporate side of Pro Wrestling NOAH and got more international exposure going to IMPACT Wrestling. Naomichi Marufuji’s challenge to Go Shiozaki only really happened after he pinned him in a tag match on July 17th. What was Go Shiozaki doing in that same time?

Go Shiozaki would form one of the top tag teams in NOAH with Katsuhiko Nakajima. He would go on to have multiple GHC Tag Title reigns and in recent times both members of AXIZ have dominated the top of the card with Katsuhiko Nakajima holding the new National Championship (Nakajima lost this title earlier today) and Go Shiozaki holding the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Including described as the “Savior of Pro Wrestling NOAH” Shiozaki’s tag history was great – he defended those GHC Tag Championships with Nakajima for months, but eventually, AXIZ would lose those championships. Marufuji would team with Masaaki Mochizuki to dethrone AXIZ not long after Shiozaki captured the heavyweight title.

Go Shiozaki and Naomichi Marufuji are the two princes of NOAH. Both are princes to the former kings of Pro Wrestling NOAH, Kenta Kobashi and Mitsuharu Misawa. It’s what makes it really astounding that these two have never had a singles title match. Especially at the event that personifies Pro Wrestling NOAH. The event known as “Departure” is a landmark event for Pro Wrestling NOAH. All the way back in 2000, the first event NOAH ever did was “Departure.” Years that followed always had legendary matches.

With this match, under the circumstances allows NOAH to have another legendary moment with this first-ever encounter for the GHC Heavyweight Championship between the two top stars of this company. While these two have faced off in tournaments and special singles matches. It just felt like a normal match between these two. This feels completely different where it’s unknown what’s next for the company. Especially in this new era for the company. Will Go Shiozaki continue to be the savior of Pro Wrestling NOAH or will Naomichi Marufuji continue to become one of the more important stars in this new era for the company. Everything will be known at Departure when we find out who the true PRINCE of Pro Wrestling NOAH truly is.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. Make sure to watch PRO WRESTLING NOAH on Wrestle Universe in the coming future.

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