One of pro wrestling’s best stories in all of 2020 concluded Pro Wrestling NOAH’s 20th anniversary show, The Chronicle Vol. 4. Former best friends and tag team partners, Katsuhiko Nakajima and Go Shiozaki battled for the Global Honored Crown (GHC) World Heavyweight Championship Saturday in Yokohoma’s Budokan Hall.
As AXIZ, Shiozaki, and Nakajima were a major force in NOAH, winning the company’s tag titles on three separate occasions. After failing to win their fourth, Nakajima turned his back on Shiozaki and lay a vicious beating on the champion. Nakajima later aligned himself with GHC National Champion KENOH and his KONGO faction. Nakajima’s treachery propelled him into the spotlight. Finally, Nakajima had the attention and acclaim he long sought in trying to escape the long shadow of his mentor, the legendary Kensuke Sasaki.
In October, Nakajima won the N-1 Victory tournament, securing the championship match. Shiozaki also competed in the N-1 but suffered multiple losses, as the toll from four long reigns as GHC champion had laid waste to his broken body. It’s been a tale of friendship, betrayal, and revenge.
Both men stepped into the Budokan ring as part of one of NOAH’s newest and greatest rivalries. After the bell rang, the two stared at one and another for over a minute, building tension and fury. This wasn’t a contest; it was war. Nakajima viciously laid in a bevy of savage kicks, while Shiozaki fought valiantly against both his former ally and his withering body.
With both of the champion’s shoulders heavily taped, Shiozaki’s right arm became the focus of Nakajima’s attacks. Shiozaki battled back with a series of chops, echoing the spirit of his mentor, the great Kenta Kobashi. After holding off a wave of Nakajima kicks, Shiozaki, rallying with the crowd’s thunderous claps, finished his opponent with a moonsault and a wicked lariat to retain the title.
In the GHC National Championship match, KENOH shockingly retained the belt, defeating the company’s would-be ace, Kaito Kiyomiya. In a battle of kicks and suplexes, the finish came after KENOH secured a rear-naked choke and Kiyomiya surprisingly tapped out.
The GHC tag team titles were on the line in a match of Japanese combat sports icons. Sugiura-gun (Takashi Sugiura and MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba) battled NOAH stalwart Naomichi Marufuji and MMA pioneer Masakatsu Funaki, the latter famed for his work in UWF, Pancrase and PRIDE.
After a furious battle of chops, Sakuraba defeated Marufuji by submission with a modified heel hook. In the post-match, New Japan Pro Wrestling luminaries Keiji Mutoh, who accompanied the challengers, had a verbal war of words with his long-time rival, Masahiro Chono. The session ended with Japanese actress and YouTube star Jurina Matsui slapping Chono. The segment was a tad odd, considering the spotlight placed on former MMA and New Japan stars on a show celebrating NOAH’s twentieth anniversary.
In the emotional aftermath of the main event, Sugiura and Sakuraba came out to honor both warriors. KENOH immediately challenged Sakuraba. Sugiura, a former GHC champion, dared Shiozaki to call out his new battle cry, “I Am NOAH,” before the crowd. The champ obliged, while Suguira nodded approvingly, seeming to lay out his intentions to challenge Shiozaki in the new year. The show ended with Shiozaki addressing fans with a chant of “WE ARE NOAH.”
Pro Wrestling Noah The Chronicle Vol 4 replay is available on FITE.tv