Korakuen Hall (Tokyo, Japan)
GHC Heavyweight Championship
This match is a relatively rare example of a match that is given too much time but where the best work comes in the later stages of the match.
Most of the time when a match goes “too long” it is because it builds to a high point and then keeps going, going, and going. With the GHC Heavyweight Championship on the line, Morishima and KENTA are sluggish getting out of the gates. The first five or so minutes are not only slow, but sort of disjointed as well. Both guys bail out of the ring early on not so much as a stall tactic but just because. There is no real flow. Mid-match things start to pick up and by the near fall stretch at the end, it feels like a pretty good little title match. The ambivalent crowd gets into the near falls, Morishima throws some big lariats and other power moves, and KENTA keeps fighting. It is a good stretch run without move overkill or one-count near falls which is a far rarer occurrence in big time matches than it perhaps should be.
The match is too long but if KENTA and Morishima went home five minutes earlier, the match would have never gotten the chance to go from “nothing” to “pretty good” like it did. Who’s to say they still wouldn’t have started off sluggish even if five minutes of their allotted time was chopped off before the match, as well.
Morishima as champion once again certainly is not fresh but I am not sure NOAH had a lot of other options at that moment. It appears that both Shane Haste and Mikey Nicholls are being slowly elevated but neither is quite at that level yet. Morishima is clearly a step or two slower from his best work in Ring of Honor but he was really good down the stretch, at least in this match. Perhaps giving him some fresh opponents will keep him going. This was not a head-turning start to his latest title reign, but it was a good start.
Japan Main Event Singles | Watch It | Title Match