NOAH Junior Heavyweight Tag League & Departure 2018 Recap

Consecutive Champions

Another Junior Tag League is in the books, and it was the defending champions YO-HEY & HAYATA who would once again win the tournament with a victory in the finals over the Back Breakers (Hajime Ohara and Hitoshi Kumano). It was a pretty even tournament, with every team finishing on either six or eight points, with the exception of Junta Miyawaki and Seiya Morohashi who finished with no points. Morohashi was actually meant to be teaming with LEONA throughout the tournament, but LEONA had to pull out due to an injury suffered in their first match against YO-HEY and HAYATA, so Morohashi found himself teaming with youngster Miyawaki instead. With their victory, YO-HEY and HAYATA become the first team to win back to back Junior tag tournaments since Kenta and Taiji Ishimori won the first two tournaments back in 2007 and 2008. YO-HEY and HAYATA are now likely to receive a shot at Minoru Tanaka & Hi69’s Junior tag titles in the near future, but it seems YO-HEY has other tournament ambitions in mind as well…

Return of the Singles Junior League?

Following their victory in the Junior tag league, YO-HEY requested for the return of NOAH’s singles Junior league, asking the crowd if they would be interested in seeing such a tournament again (the answer by all accounts was yes). Chairman Uchida stated that he would take the request into consideration, if there were enough wrestlers interested to make the tournament worthwhile. Despite some setbacks in recent times (Such as the loss of Ishimori) NOAH still boasts one of the strongest Junior divisions in Japan, so a Junior league seems not only a plausible and exciting prospect, but its arguably almost criminal that we don’t already have this. The possibility of NOAH bringing in wrestlers from outside of the promotion to fill the tournament also opens up a whole world of interesting possibilities too. For now though we’re just have to wait and watch this space.

The Veteran Army Holds all the Gold

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Throughout the year we’ve seen a rivalry developing between the veterans and youngsters of NOAH, a rivalry that the veterans seem to have been winning for the most part so far, thanks in large to Takashi Sugiura’s dominant GHC Heavyweight title reign. Well, the veterans scored yet another big victory over the youngsters on this tour, with the team of Akitoshi Saito & Naomichi Marufuji defeating the aggression (Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya) to claim the GHC Tag Team Titles. This now leaves the veteran group with all of NOAH’s heavyweight titles, an amazing feat considering the combined ages of the three champions equals one hundred thirty-eight years, with Marufuji being by far the youngest at thirty-eight and Saito the oldest at fifty-two. It wasn’t all bad for the youngsters though, as Go Shiozaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kenou & Masa Kitamiya managed to score an eight man tag victory over the champions (and Masato Tanaka) at the Korakuen hall ‘Departure’ show. Afterwards, Kenou and Kiyomiya challenged the new tag champions, although it seems the Aggression are looking for a rematch as well. Go Shiozaki will also be challenging for Sugiura’s GHC Heavyweight title on the 18th, so it will be interesting to see if the youth of NOAH can turn things around, or if the veterans will continue to dominate.

With a new buzz around the Junior division, big title matches and the one night return of KENTA (ok, Hideo Itami) at Marufuji’s 20th anniversary show, it certainly seems to be an exciting time to be a fan of NOAH right now, and it will be interesting to see how things play out for the promotion over the next few months.

By @MikeGrindle 

Follow @PuroresuRoad to keep up to date with the latest news and articles on Japanese pro wrestling! Also please like and share if you enjoyed this article

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