With a crunching Saito Suplex, during NOAH’s legendary Mitsuhara Misawa memorial show, Masa Kitamiya stabbed Katsuhiko Nakajima in the back. Breaking up the Aggression tag team. Breaking up the reigning GHC Tag Team Champions. Breaking the fans’ hearts.
On what was a great night for Pro Wrestling NOAH, the protruding memory was the Aggression’s break up. Astounded, NOAH fans waited for more information on the backstabbing. We got just that the following day, as in an eventful press conference Kitamiya made it clear to the world that he “hated” Nakajima.
They duelled words and fists as bad blood boiled towards the major match announcement. June 26th, Hair vs Hair Steel Cage Match.
Kitamiya and Nakajima last faced one on one in 2018, with Masa getting the victory over his “big brother”. Since then they’ve teamed together with great success – capturing the GHC Tag Team titles for a third time back in March, after an intense war with Sugiura and Sakuraba.
This was followed by a successful defence against the glorious Funky Express during the Misawa Memorial show, before their partnership crashed.
Now they battle in NOAH’s first ever cage match. Cage War.
This could well be Masa Kitamiya’s chance to reach the very pinnacle of Pro Wrestling NOAH. I believe he’s capable of being one of the biggest stars in the promotion. Kitamiya is yet to hold singles gold in NOAH, but a cage match victory over his former tag team partner could be the catapult he needs.
Of course, it isn’t a guarantee that Kitamiya will win (especially with the way NOAH books currently), but it could be monumental if he does.
I would argue the upside of a Kitamiya win greatly outweighs that of a Nakajima victory, as a star is born if Masa wins. NOAH has an extensive roster, but they would be massively benefited if Kitamiya becomes a top star of the promotion. Taking him from somewhere just below the main event scene to well and truly in the mix.
Kitamiya is one of the best wrestlers in modern day NOAH, and he could be the very best if he’s given greater opportunities. His match against Keiji Muto, for the GHC Heavyweight Championship, is my favourite of Muto’s reign so far, and that’s down to the relentless challenger.
Masa is renowned for his brutish strength, unrelenting power and great move-set. Now outside of his quality tag team with former GHC Heavyweight Champion, Katsuhiko Nakajima, he’s capable of reaching lofty singles ambitions.
Kitamiya and Nakajima were once inseparable – like a bond between brothers – but now it has all evaperated. It was the moment in the Funky Express’ title challenge (on May 31st), when Nakajima accidentally thrust kicked him, that Kitamiya realised he couldn’t trust his partner. He could only trust himself.
The most important part of their split is where it leads. With Kitamiya now separated from KONGO he is factionless. Standing as a lone wolf, Kitamiya could have great success in NOAH’s main event scene, as he’ll be unique. His physique, move-set and whole demeanor already mean he stands out from the rest of the roster, but without factional ties he would be an entirely different beast.
Masa Kitamiya has turned his back on Katsuhiko Nakajima, and will perhaps raise himself in the process. Of course, the key to any tag team split is making sure each wrestler is elevated. However, I would argue the break-up would’ve been more effective and warranted in at least a few months time.
Kitamiya has made waves in the promotion with his backstabbing of Nakajima, but the sky really is the limit for Pro Wrestling NOAH’s beast.
The attack also caused changes to the much anticipated CyberFight Festival (June 7th), with a KONGO vs DDT 14-man tag becoming a 12-man as Kitamiya was removed. Instead he’ll face DDT’s Hideki Okatani in a singles match.
Kitamiya’s first match after he broke ties with KONGO will surely be an intense encounter. It’s a chance for Masa to dominate a comparably small opponent while proving his power and strength. Lots of eyes will be on the CyberFight Festival show as NOAH, DDT, TJPW and Ganbare fans come together for a headline supershow, so it’s certainly a chance for Kitamiya to shine in the spotlight.
The split will have a monumental impact on NOAH as a whole, and the KONGO faction specifically, as the promotion’s landscape radically shifts. The attack shattered not only their tag team, but Kitamiya and Nakajima’s brotherly bond.
Nakajima may be heartbroken, but Masa Kitamiya will look to break him completely in their Cage War. As, Aggression is no more.