Differ Ariake (Tokyo, Japan)
GHC Heavyweight Championship
There is not a ton to say about Nagata’s first GHC Heavyweight Championship defense other than it was a surprising match on two fronts. For one, a title change appeared imminent when the match was announced. Nagata appeared to be a transitional champion in order to get the title back on KENTA when he did not end up in the WWE. KENTA’s title shot was rushed – something KENTA apparently acknowledged himself upon its announcement – all of which pointed to a title switch that ended up not occurring after all.
Secondly, the match was a bit of a surprise in how good it was. It is a step (or more) below the best stuff from this month and this year, but exceeded my expectations.
The Differ Ariake crowd was far from hot, but they maintained some level of noise throughout the entire match yelling for KENTA which helped. This wasn’t as back-and-forth as some NOAH and some KENTA matches can be. Nagata controlled a decent portion of the match and looked good doing so. Nagata is rather middling at this point in his career – if he hasn’t always been – and the lackluster title win versus Morishima did little to inspire confidence for his GHC Heavyweight title run, but he was good here. The pacing and the selling were also a bit more my style in this match, which I cannot say about a ton of NOAH matches.
The ending was well-executed with several teases and near falls on the backdrop suplex before he finally catches KENTA in it a final time and puts him down. Good match overall, but unfortunately KENTA is probably one of the better (best?) opponents for Nagata in NOAH so I still don’t have high-expectations for his title reign.
Japan Singles | Common| Quality & Title Match