#WhatToExpect: Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Naomichi Marufuji (GHC Heavyweight Championship)

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Photo / Pro Wrestling NOAH

On March 10th, Pro Wrestling NOAH will be having a special event called Great Voyage in Yokohama 2019 and the main event of that show will be Kaito Kiyomiya defending the GHC Heavyweight Championship against Naomichi Marufuji. I was originally going to write a preview about the whole show but I feel like this is the match people are more excited to see that I wanted to talk about this match alone and what to expect. I’ll be talking a little bit about both of these individuals in the match, the history behind it, what to expect, and possible outcomes along with the future of the match after. So let’s talk about the match and the competitors involved, shall we?

We first have our current and defending GHC (Global Honored Crown) Heavyweight Champion, Kaito Kiyomiya who returned to NOAH in late 2017 after his excursion in Canada and has made a big name for himself in 2018 where he first won the Global Tag League with Go Shiozaki and would even win the GHC Tag Team Championships with him in the process. Later on in the year though, he would win NOAH’s big tournament, Global League after defeating Katsuhiko Nakajima and would, later on, defeat Takashi Sugiura, who was arguably the greatest champion in 2018 to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Kaito has had about two successful title defenses under his belt against Kenoh and Masa Kitamiya. After his match with Masa, Naomichi Marufuji would make the challenge to Kaito for a shot at the title at this show.

Photo / Pro Wrestling NOAH

A lot of people should know about Naomichi Marufuji right now at this point of his career and if you don’t know about him, shame on you and you should stop reading this article right now to go watch his work. Marufuji is known as the Ace of NOAH and has earned that claim over the years, giving us memorable matches that some consider not only the greatest in Japan but ever in the history of professional wrestling. Marufuji would keep himself busy this year where he would go to All Japan Pro Wrestling to participate in their Champions Carnival and would even win the whole thing but failed to win the Triple Crown Championship later on. After failing to win the title, he would focus more of his time in NOAH as he won the GHC Tag Team Championships with Akitoshi Saito and would hold them until they had to vacate the titles due to Marufuji having a shoulder injury.

So what’s so important about this match in particular? Well, this is more of a test for Kaito who is considered to be the next Mitsuaru Misawa of the company or the next future Ace of NOAH. Now that is a really big claim to have by the fans, management, or whoever and that is what he used 2018 to do and try to solidify that claim, which he has been doing so far when he did defeat Takashi Sugiura as one of his big tests since Sugiura would dominate the year, including Marufuji as one of his victims during his historic reign. One thing I should mention here is that the two were originally supposed to fight in the Global League Finals since they both won their respective blocks in the tournament but since Marufuji was injured before the final show, he had to be taken off and be replaced by someone else from Block A, meaning the big match would have to be held perhaps another time. This could be a blessing in disguise since a match for the GHC Heavyweight Championship sounds like a better scenario instead of a tournament match as this will be the ultimate test for Kaito. If Kaito can defeat Marufuji this Sunday, then he can really solidify his claim as NOAH’s future.

Photo / Pro Wrestling NOAH

Another reason why it’s an important match is because NOAH is actually under new management as they would make some new changes with the company such as getting rid of the green mat, changing the logo, just a new environment, and now the only thing that they’re missing at this point is the direction they wanna go with the company. Do they want to go for the complete change and have Kaito retain the title along with being their next future guy or do they wanna go with Marufuji to still keep his spot as the Ace? This really is a tough scenario since they could go with either direction and definitely has no negative side. If you have Kaito win, then he’ll be the future of the company and could have exciting new challenges with a fresh new reign in the company while also being able to create more top stars in the company. If you have Marufuji win, then he’ll have that one last big final run the company kinda like how Sugiura’s reign last year felt like. Another positive story approach to Marufuji winning it that it’ll feel like another test for Kaito since it’ll seem like he wasn’t ready to go for that and was only there due to Marufuji being injured. Another thing about this is that Marufuji was actually rumored to win the Global League against Kaito, so you can say that Kaito just got lucky and didn’t fully earn it, meaning he has more to prove and we can have a great chase with another payoff. Another fact I would like to point out is that the two would fight each other twice in singles action since 2016 and both times, Marufuji would defeat him but that was when he was considered a young lion and not the fully developed wrestler he is right now.

Photo / Pro Wrestling NOAH

So what’s my take on this match? As I said in this article, I feel like this match is important for NOAH to complete the new management of the company. Kaito has improved a lot over the years and he’s only 22 years old, which is crazy as he could be considered one of the best if he keeps it up in the next five years or so. If you haven’t checked out Kaito’s work before then I would recommend his matches with Katsuhiko Nakajima and Takashi Sugiura to get more familiar with him before his match this Sunday. I’m really excited for this match with the story, the wrestling, and the future of NOAH since they do deserve more recognition as they need to fully revamp themselves more. Who do you have winning this match? What direction you feel like NOAH will take? We’ll find out who walks out GHC Heavyweight Champion and find out. Hope you all watch it when it happens and enjoy since you don’t wanna miss it.

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