Preview: Pro Wrestling NOAH – NOAH THE NEW YEAR 2022 (1/1/22)

NOAH THE NEW YEAR 2022
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Pro Wrestling NOAH returns to Nippon Budokan once again for NOAH THE NEW YEAR 2022! This event features a stacked card, including the NOAH return of KENTA and a headlining GHC Heavyweight Championship match. The latter will see former AXIZ members collide with Katsuhiko Nakajima batting Go Shiozaki. Here is a look at the rest of the card. 

Full NOAH THE NEW YEAR 2022 Card

Junta Miyawaki & Kinya Okada vs. Yasutaka Yano & Kai Fujimura

King Tany, Mohammed Yone & Akitoshi Saito vs. Manabu Soya, Tadasuke & Nioh

Seiki Yoshioka & Yuya Susumu vs. Aleja & Haoh

Ultimo Dragon, Daisuke Harada, Atsushi Kotoge & Hajime Ohara vs. NOSAWA Rongai, Eita, YO-HEY & Kotaro Suzuki

Kazuyuki Fujita & Kendo Kashin vs. Masakatsu Funaki & Ikuto Hidaka

• GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: HAYATA (c) vs. Yoshinari Ogawa

• GHC Tag Team Championship: Naomichi Marufuji & Keiji Muto (c) vs. Masato Tanaka & Maasaki Mochizuki

Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba & KENTA vs. Masa Kitamiya, Daiki Inaba & Yoshiki Inamura

• GHC National Championship: Kenoh (c) vs. Kaito Kiyomiya

• GHC Heavyweight Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) vs. Go Shiozaki

Ultimo Dragon, Hajime Ohara, Daisuke Harada, and Atsushi Kotoge vs Kotaro Suzuki, YO-HEY, Eita, and NOSAWA Rongai

This is a deep-rooted junior tag team battle on the NOAH THE NEW YEAR 2022 card. This is true in recent memory with Kotoge and Harada losing to YO-HEY and Kotaro Suzuki in a GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship contender’s match. However, this match has deep roots in Mexico as well. Hajime Ohara was trained under Ultimo Dragon in Mexico at Toryumon. Meanwhile, NOSAWA spent much of his time in Mexico, as did Eita. Ohara gets to team with his mentor, but the opposition is out for blood.

When Ultimo Dragon returned to Dragon Gate, one of the first people to take offense to this was Eita. Eita leads the R.E.D. unit and they began a mission to rid Dragon Gate of Ultimo Dragon. It didn’t work out that way, but there’s no doubt that desire still is there. Furthermore, NOSAWA wants to unmask Ultimo Dragon in front of the world. Things can turn chaotic quickly in this one. What will transpire in this all our junior war?

GHC Tag Team Championship: Keiji Muto and Naomichi Marufuji (c) vs Masato Tanaka and Masaaki Mochizuki

This all M’s Alliance battle came about when Masato Tanaka picked up a win in an eight-man tag match with Mochizuki, Muto, and Marufuji. Afterward, he asked his fellow M’s Alliance members if he and Mochizuki could challenge on the grand stage of the Nippon Budokan. Muto asked member Jurina Matsui to decide, as he didn’t know what they should do. Jurina said she felt it was a great idea in the spirit of pro wrestling.

The two teams had a series of singles matches with Muto beating Mochizuki. Tanaka beat Marufuji, and afterward, Tanaka expressed his gratitude to NOAH for booking him when ZERO1 was in a tough spot. Tanaka is gaining momentum, but one has to wonder given he had a ZERO1 World Championship match earlier that day. Will Tanaka be rested enough to help Mochizuki take the GHC Tag Team Championship?

GHC National Championship: Kenoh (c) vs Kaito Kiyomiya

The storied history between Kaito Kiyomiya and Kenoh is extensive. However, recently, their feud was reignited due to both wanting to provide results. Kenoh defeated Kaito Kiyomiya to advance to the finals of N-1 Victory, and surely Kiyomiya wouldn’t forget that, as he gained a clean victory over Kenoh and challenged once again for the GHC National Championship. They had a title match during Kenoh’s last reign, but Kiyomiya failed. However, things are much different now than they were last year.

Kaito Kiyomiya is approaching his third attempt at taking the GHC National Championship; will the third time be the charm? Outside factors that have to be taken into consideration include Kenoh’s quest to stand side by side with Katsuhiko Nakajima at the top of NOAH. One must also consider that Keiji Muto has his eyes on the ‘red belt,’ so perhaps this is Kiyomiya’s way of getting another chance to beat Keiji Muto. Does Kaito finally capture the National title at NOAH THE NEW YEAR 2022, or does Kenoh turn him back yet again?

KENTA’s Pro Wrestling NOAH Return Match

At the start of the show NOAH THE BEST 2021, it was announced in a video package that KENTA would make his first Pro Wrestling NOAH appearance since 2018. KENTA was one of the most prominent stars to come out of that promotion, being its former Ace of both the heavyweight and junior heavyweight divisions. KENTA was synonymous with Pro Wrestling NOAH. Therefore, when it was announced that KENTA was returning to NOAH, it was significant. Besides a one-off appearance as Hideo Itami, KENTA hasn’t had a match for NOAH since 2014.

KENTA will be teaming up with Kazushi Sakura and Takashi Sugiura against Yoshiki Inamura, Masa Kitamiya and Daiki Inaba. KENTA used to be teammates with Takashi Sugiura. KENTA and Takashi Sugiura were known as No Mercy at the time. KENTA did make a one-off appearance on the final show of NOAH’s 2021 recently to meet up with his teammates going into their upcoming match.

Outside Factors

KENTA is currently signed with New Japan Pro-Wrestling and will be defending his IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 16. This deal between Pro Wrestling NOAH and NJPW could be the start of something major for both companies. When it comes to this match, it seems like an easy win for KENTA, Sugiura, and Sakuraba due to experience alone. However, KENTA is also a bit untrustworthy since joining Bullet Club. This should be fun for the NOAH fans who haven’t seen KENTA in a long time.

GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: HAYATA (c) vs. Yoshinari Ogawa

In the only junior title match of the show, HAYATA will be defending his GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship against Yoshinari Ogawa. This match could be described as one a year in the making. HAYATA held the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship for over 6 months, including having seven title defenses. With the consistency of his title matches happening, it could be predicted that HAYATA might be going for the defense record held by Taiji Ishimori at 10 title defenses. HAYATA is facing someone who is responsible who has defeated him before.

In January of 2020, Yoshinari Ogawa would defeat HAYATA for his singular GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship reign. While the reign was short-lived, soon after, Ogawa brought HAYATA into STINGER. This tag team would dominate for most of 2020, even becoming the current GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. After HAYATA defeated Tadasuke, he was attacked and then challenged by Ogawa at NOAH THE NEW YEAR 2022

Worries for Ogawa

Yoshinari Ogawa has been one of the staples of his faction in STINGER. He’s the leader of the group, and HAYATA’s reign of dominance terrifies him as it could lead to Ogawa losing to the person he saved from RATELS. It may also lead to Ogawa being usurped of his status in STINGER. This could be a shining moment for HAYATA or a major upset if Ogawa wins. The matches they’ve had since the match has been announced have been in favor of HAYATA, including defeating Ogawa in under one minute. If we were to call this NOAH THE NEW YEAR 2022 showdown, we would call HAYATA to win.

GHC Heavyweight Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) vs. Go Shiozaki

At the end of NOAH THE BEST 2021, Katsuhiko Nakajima would defeat Kenoh via a 60-minute time-limit-draw to retain his GHC Heavyweight Championship. After the match, Go Shiozaki made his Pro Wrestling NOAH return after an 8-month hiatus due to multiple injuries. Shiozaki challenged Nakajima for his championship in a match to determine the true personification of Pro Wrestling NOAH. 

Go Shiozaki was the former GHC Heavyweight Champion, his reign lasting for over a year. During this reign, Shiozaki faced off against Nakajima. Nakajima turned on Shiozaki in 2020, disassembling the AXIZ tag team that dominated NOAH’s tag scene for most of 2018 and 2019. Since Shiozaki became injured, Nakajima underwent a drastic transformation in his career.

A Very Different Katsuhiko Nakajima

From June of 2021 to now, Katsuhiko Nakajima is completely different from 2020. This “revived” Nakajima went on to win the N-1 Victory for the second year in a row. From there, he won the GHC Heavyweight Championship by defeating Naomichi Marufuji a week later. Nakajima had two successful title defenses, with Shiozaki marking Nakajima’s third title defense. 

Their recent matches saw them on primarily level footing. Shiozaki and Kaito Kiyomiya would go in a series of matches against Katsuhiko Nakajima and Kenoh, their tag bouts being a high advantage for Shiozaki and Kiyomiya. However, in other matches, such as trios or more, Nakajima and Kenoh dominanted. This match is hard to call because the implications don’t just revolve around the title in this match.

Stipulations Put Forth

There are two other stipulations to this match, one of them being who can rightfully declare, “I AM NOAH.” Katsuhiko Nakajima had this phrase earlier on in his career before it was taken by Go Shiozaki. While Shiozaki says the phrase in English, Nakajima says it in Japanese. The other stipulation that was added was that if Shiozaki wins, AXIZ would reform, even if Nakajima was relucant. This is one of the most important matches in Pro Wrestling NOAH. Who is the personification of NOAH? We will figure out the answer to that question at NOAH THE NEW YEAR on January 1st, 2022.

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. You can watch Pro Wrestling NOAH as well as DDT, TJPW, and more on Wrestle Universe and ABEMA.