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NOAH successfully invades England
By BRIAN ELLIOTT - SLAM! Wrestling


Pro Wrestling NOAH invaded the United Kingdom on Saturday evening, for what was said to have been one of the greatest wrestling events ever held in Europe.

The Coventry Skydome - which has a capacity of 4,200, though significantly less made available for this event - was the venue for a show in which Kenta Kobashi and protégé Go Shiozaki faced Mitsuharu Misawa and Naomichi Marufuji in a main event that would not have looked out of place at Budokan Hall. It was the first time that a Japanese wrestling company had made an appearance in the UK, since Michinoku Pro enjoyed a short tour in 1996.

"For sheer emotion and spectacle, the main event was the best bout of the evening," said fan Alan Counihan, who travelled from Dublin, Ireland specifically for the event. "Between that and the KENTA and Taiji Ishimori vs. Bryan Danielson and Eddie Edwards bout, these were easily two of my favourite matches of the year. In fact, There have probably only been four or five matches this year I would consider better than or equal to these."

Speaking to SLAM! Wrestling, show promoter Mark Sloan was in total agreement. "From a wrestling point of view, the event was a great success, and one of the best events in Europe in a long time," Sloan said. "The NOAH guys went out of their way to give the fans a great show."

The idea for such an event - which was supplemented by a second card in Farringdon, on which all of the crew, minus Kobashi, worked - came up several months ago during discussions between Sloan, and NOAH's UK contact, Doug Williams. And from a business perspective, and not just a wrestling one, the show was a success.

"Business-wise, the show went well, and there were no real problems, aside from Morishima and Marufuji's luggage getting lost on the way from Japan - there was a bit of a mad dash around Coventry to find something that would fit Morishima!" joked Sloan. "But in general the wrestlers were delighted with how the show went. We do hope to continue the link with NOAH, and have them back in the UK at some time in the future."

"After the show, I didn't see a face that wasn't smiling from ear-to-ear," said Counihan. "I don't think you can ask for much more from a wrestling show than that. It was an unforgettable experience, and everyone from the promoters to the wrestlers did a hell of a job."

Results: A. Pre Show Match: Bubblegum, El Ligero, Luke Phoenix beat Dave Morales, Mark Haskins, Zack Sabre Jr.
1. Atsushi Aoki vs. Joel Redman (15 minute time limit draw)
2. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi/Junji Izumida beat Wade Fitzgerald/Martin Stone
3. Nigel McGuinness/Doug Williams beat Takashi Sugiura/Kotaro Suzuki
4. Bison Smith/Jun Akiyama beat Takeshi Morishima/Muhammed Yone
5. GHC Junior Tag Titles: KENTA/Taiji Ishimori beat Bryan Danielson/Eddie Edwards
6. GHC Junior Title: Yoshinobu Kanemaru beat Jay Briscoe
7. Mitsuharu Misawa/Naomichi Marufuji beat Kenta Kobashi/Go Shiozaki

Brian Elliott is sports writer for the Belfast Telegraph newspaper. He has a standing offer to go for a "pull-around" with Dave Finlay, and thus fears for his general safety. He can be visited online at http://spaces.msn.com/brianelliott.