THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
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A few weeks ago I had the chance to review the British debut of Japanese promotion Pro Wrestling NOAH, with their European Navigation ‘08 DVD. It was a cracking DVD, but the tour didn’t end there. The following night the NOAH crew, along with some British talent, travelled to Faringdon in Oxfordshire for European Navigation ‘08 Night Two. This show had a slightly different theme, NOAH versus The World. Commentary on this DVD was handled by “The Twisted Genius” Dean Ayass and “Irish” Stu Allen.
The show kicked off with tag team action, and Taiji Ishimori and Atsushi Aoki taking on the BritRage team of Mark Sloan and Wade Fitzgerald. It’s an impressive opening match, very much in the NOAH style, with young Fitzgerald putting in another good performance. I’m quickly becoming a fan of this lad. Wade acted as the proverbial punching bag in this match, before getting the hot tag to Sloan, who got the winning pin by reversing Aoki’s arm bar takedown attempt with a schoolboy roll-up for the pin. Nice stuff.
The second bout saw Yoshinobu Kanemaru against Zack Sabre Junior. This one featured some great exchanges early on, with some good solid wrestling action. It was one of those matches you just didn’t want to end, but sadly it did, in a twenty minute time limit draw, which kind of felt like the right result, given what had gone on beforehand.
Then it was on to Naomichi Marufuji, taking on Joel Redman. Marufuji was still missing his wrestling gear, with French baggage handlers have lost his luggage during a stopover. It’s another good, solid match, with Redman carrying on from where he’d left off the night before. Marufuji was, as always, very good, and we even got a slight heel turn from him when the youngsters in the crowd turned against him. Another match with plenty of false finishers, with Marufuji getting the win after taking Redman out with sliced bread number two.
After the interval, it was on to six man action, with Jun Akiyama, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi and Junji Izumida going up against Muhammad Yone and the Hubba Bubba Lucha team of El Ligero and Bubblegum. Some of you may be a little confused here, with Yone representing “The World” against the NOAH regulars. This match began with a nice touch of comedy, with the smaller British stars trying to take former sumo wrestler Izumida off his feet. The experienced Japanese team looked great, putting together some great sequences as they took the young British stars apart. However, it was Yone who got the pin for his team, against the run of play as it were, pinning Kikuchi after his version of the muscle buster. This was a good match, but I couldn’t help but feel that Hubba Bubba Lucha were a little overmatched against their much larger Japanese opponents.
More singles action followed, with Dave Moralez facing Takeshi Morishima. Morishima was another of those wrestlers to suffer at the hands of the French baggage handlers. Moralez has put on a lot of weight since I first saw him at a Future Championship Wrestling show back in 2004. This was the quickest match of the show, and also the poorest. As a certain other commentator who shares my initials would say, it was bowling shoe ugly, with Morishima getting the pin after a backdrop suplex. I was really disappointed with this one, especially given Morishima’s pedigree.
The main event saw the late, great Mitsuharu Misawa and Kotaro Suzuki taking on American monster Bison Smith and hometown hero Mark Haskins. A very fast paced match at first, with both teams showing great chemistry in the ring. It was kind of weird seeing Smith in a baby face role, given that I’ve seen him as a monster heel during my recent Ring of Honor reviews. Haskins also put on a good display, as did the Japanese visitors. Sadly, Haskins didn’t get the win, with Suzuki getting the pin after taking him out with the blue destiny move. He did get a good reception from the fans afterwards though, which capped off a very good match.
In conclusion – this was a very good show, one which I enjoyed, for the most part. However, it didn’t really feel like a proper Pro Wrestling NOAH show, it felt more like a regular British show. That’s probably to due with the fact that the NOAH stars were, for the most part, matched up against British stars, and the fact that the crowd were completely different from the first show as well. Dean Ayass himself made the point that the first show was watched by hardcore NOAH fans, who knew what the product was about, and who knew who the wrestlers were, while this show featured more families in the audience, who didn’t necessarily know who the visiting Japanese stars were, and it’s for these reasons that dedicated NOAH followers may be disappointed with this release.
With thanks to Mark Sloan for supplying a copy of this release. Pro Wrestling NOAH European Navigation ‘08 Night Two is available to buy online at www.a-merchandise.co.uk.