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NOAH’s future in the post-Misawa era

By Zach Arnold | June 14, 2009

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There has been an outpouring of emotion amongst Japanese fans in the media within the last 24 hours to the news of Mitsuharu Misawa’s death. Newspaper sites and blogs are being flooded with comments from fans who are expressing shock and sadness to yesterday’s tragedy in the ring. There have been other major deaths before in Japan (Giant Baba in 1999, Shin’ya Hashimoto a few years ago), but Misawa’s death has hit a national nerve in the country due to his stature and popularity in the wrestling business in the golden age of the 1990s. Examples of fan reaction in Japanese can be found here, here, and here. According to Searchina, which is a Japanese site that tracks online trends, Misawa’s name has been the most searched online since the story of his death broke yesterday. Searchina also notes a huge spike in traffic for Misawa’s name being searched on YouTube.

NOAH went ahead with today’s scheduled show in Fukuoka at Hakata Star Lanes. There was the traditional 10-count gong ceremony in the ring, but this ceremony was anything but traditional. Yoshinari Ogawa, Kenta Kobashi (holding a picture of Misawa), Mitsuo Momota (the son of Rikidozan), and Akira Taue stood in the ring while the gong count and “Misawa” calls from fans flooded the building. (Direct image link here). Momota told the press that Misawa’s family will have a private funeral. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi and Atsushi Aoki, working for New Japan in Tokyo, had a ten-count ceremony at NJ’s Korakuen Hall show.

There was a ton of media at NOAH’s Fukuoka event. Asahi Shimbun and several other major newspapers covered the show and all of the various fan reaction. There were fans praying, crying, and paying their tributes to a makeshift memorial floral tribute area in the building. Asahi Shimbun has pictures of the fan reactions and the paper also noted that walk-up sales for NOAH’s show were huge. (NOAH currently lacks major support without Nippon TV backing them.) Kyoko Hamaguchi, the famous daughter of pro-wrestler Animal Hamaguchi, expressed great sadness at the news of Misawa’s death.

As for the future of NOAH, the current stance publicly is that the company will continue forward. As for the future of the GHC Heavyweight title (that was held by Jun Akiyama), it was vacated due to the fact that he has a hernia. The promotion held a title match on Sunday in Fukuoka (announced crowd – 2,600) between Takeshi Rikio and Go Shiozaki, who was Misawa’s partner on Saturday and considered the promotion’s big prodigy. Shiozaki won in 22’37 with the Go Crusher to win the belt.

Topics: Japan, Media, Pro-Wrestling, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

6 Responses to “NOAH’s future in the post-Misawa era”

  1. rainrider says:

    Misawa possesses the image of “serious country boy”, but in fact he was a funny guy. He was known for telling erotic jokes.

    “Shin guards help me position myself when I bang my girl” I heard this joke the last time I saw him on a TV show.

  2. liger05 says:

    I hope Noah can continue strongly but how much pressure will now be on Kobashi?

  3. Mark says:

    I think the pressure will be on Go Shiozaki more than anybody, since he was Misawa’s young boy.

    I’m not sold on Go carrying them. He’ll get heat on the “I’m fighting in Misawa’s memory” angle since he was his young boy, but he won’t carry it nearly as long as Inoki rode Rikidozan’s memory to superstardom. But as long as Misawa’s lowrider doesn’t get blown up, at least they’ll treat the tragedy with far more dignity than Americans would.

  4. liger05 says:

    I hope Go can do it but since Noah started there hasnt been anyone other than Kobashi who could really carry the promotion.

  5. Chuck says:

    So…..what’s the over/under that Go Shiozaki will defend the GHC title in Ring Of Honor? It happened before (Naomichi Marufuji’s first title defense) and i can bet it will happen again.

    And in ROH news, Austin Aries won the ROH heavyweight title, becoming the first person to win the title on more than one occasion. It was a given that it would happen. No way Jerry Lynn’s title reign was going to last long.

    I hope NOAH gets a TV deal of some sort.

  6. Ultimo Santa says:

    “But as long as Misawa’s lowrider doesn’t get blown up, at least they’ll treat the tragedy with far more dignity than Americans would.”

    Saying that someone has more dignity than the WWE is setting the bar pretty low.

    Unless someone literally urinates on Misawa’s corpse live on Samurai TV, it’s pretty much a given they have more class than Vince McMahon.

    I agree 100% with liger05:

    Go Shizaki is an amazing young talent, no doubt. But if Jun Akiyama, Kensuke Sasaki and Akira Taue have all fallen short of significantly elevating the promotion, then Go has a loooong road ahead of him.

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