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Righting The Ark: A Preview of Pro Wrestling NOAH’s 20th Anniversary Show

In 2000, All Japan Pro Wrestling’s top star, Mitsuharu Misawa, left the company with most of the AJPW crew to form Pro Wrestling NOAH. Misawa appropriately named his company after the Biblical champion who saved the world after the Great Flood. After a tumultuous 2019, NOAH has found not only a new owner but a renewed creative vigor. This Sunday, the company celebrates its twentieth year with its biggest show, The Chronicle Vol 4.

In January, after being purchased by DDT Pro-Wrestling’s parent company, CyberAgent, NOAH seems to have found a sense of stability and purpose. That security shined through in the company’s top two storylines, which have been masterfully interwoven this year. In the main event, Global Honored Crown (GHC) Champion and longtime NOAH stalwart, Go Shiozaki, will face his former tag team partner, Katsuhiko Nakajima. While KENOH defends his GHC National Championship against his longtime rival and the man many see as the future company ace, Kaito Kiyomiya.

These two stories have run in parallel throughout the year. On January 4th, Shiozaki defeated Kiyomiya for the GHC championship. At the time of Shiozaki’s win, many had hoped the youthful Kiyomiya would be similar to  New Japan putting the IWGP title on Kazuchika Okada in 2012. At only 22, Kiyomiya, while talented, seemed to be uncomfortable in the role of champion and company leader. However, leading into his match with KENOH, Kiyomiya has found a confidence and swagger that eluded him last year.

The veteran Shiozaki, who came up through the NOAH dojo and spent the majority of his career in NOAH, has relished his fourth reign at the top of the company. At the same time, he formed a tag team with Nakajima called AXIZ. The pair had three separate reigns with the GHC tag titles..

The veteran Shiozaki, who came up through the NOAH dojo and spent the majority of his career in NOAH, has relished his fourth reign at the top of the company. At the same time, he formed a tag team with Nakajima called AXIZ. The pair had three separate reigns with the GHC tag titles.

KENOH and Nakajima

Nakajima became a fixture on the Japanese scene as the teenage protege of the legendary Kensuke Sasaki. After collecting championships across the country, Nakajima had a failed run as GHC champion in 2016. Following his loss to Eddie Edwards, Nakajima reinvented himself as an edgy striker with a mean streak. In May, Nakajima defeated Takashi Sugiura for the GHC National title. AXIZ then held both Noah heavyweight singles titles. However, Nakajima suffered a surprising loss to KENOH on August 4, surrendering the red belt.

KENOH is the charismatic leader of the KONGOH faction with a lethal kick (ed. note: the latter fact no doubt a fruit of his early success as youngest All Japan kenpo karate champion ever). KENOH and Kiyomiya’s history stretched back to Kiyomiya’s unsuccessful challenge of KENOH’s GHC title back in 2016. However, over the past three years, Kiyomiya seemed to have passed KENOH in development and became NOAH’s ace, a spot which KENOH believes should belong to him. KENOH won the 2019 N-1 Victory tournament but unsuccessfully challenged Kiyomiya at last year’s Chronicle show.

During the summer, Nakajima turned on Shiozaki, dissolving the AXIZ team. In a surprising move, Kakajima joined KONGO shortly after losing the National belt to KENOH. KENOH was more than happy to accept the merciless Nakajima into the fold and strengthening his faction. However, many have wondered if Nakajima’s move was more in service to his plans than bolstering KONGO.

At this year’s N-1 Victory tournament, Nakajima defeated KENOH in their rematch early in the A block. In the B block final, Shiozaki, struggling with shoulder injuries, lost to Kiyomiya, who advanced to Nakajima’s final match. In an exciting tournament final, Katsuhiko Nakajima won the N-1 Victory crown and a title shot against his former ally, Go Shiozaki. The multi-layered feud boiled over last week, as KONGOH team defeated Shiozaki and Kiyomyia in an explosive match after Nakajima pinned the champion.

Can Nakajima repeat on Sunday, or will the heart and fighting spirit that’s defined Shiozaki’s reign carry through? Will KENOH be able to vanquish the rising star, or will this be another step on Kiyomyia’s ascension to greatness?

Pro Wrestling NOAH presents The Chronicle Vol. 4 this Sunday. The pay-per-view is available exclusively on FITE.tv.

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