However, in Meltzer’s latest entry, it was another Japanese promotion that scooped the plaudits: Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Having staged a significant resurgence throughout 2020, thanks in large part to the backing and distribution of new owners CyberAgent, NOAH’s first 5 star match rating in over 16 years was a fitting way to cap off the term.
The match itself pitted current GHC Heavyweight Champion Go Shiozaki against 50 year old former champion Takashi Sugiura, in the main event of the promotion’s Final Chronicle 2020 card.
Shiozaki, who has strung together a series of superlative title defences this year, retained his belt in a match that went over 50 minutes, after drilling Sugiura with a series of thundering lariats.
Of the bout, Meltzer noted:
Shiozaki’s title retention over Sugiura was one of the best matches of the year. There are natural comparisons between this and Shiozaki’s win over Katsuhiko Nakajima, which a lot of people talked about for match of the year. Both matches were exceptionally hard hitting. This match was even longer, had more variety, and peaked better. I think the pacing for this match was perfect and it went 51:44, and obviously felt long, but not that long because of the slow pace and the great selling of every move. To go that long given the restrictions on cheering is a risk. I’m sure some would feel it went too long but I never got the feeling watching it because it was always intense and never felt either slow or rushed. I don’t know about match of the year, but I would say it’s a match that if you vote for match of the year, you should go out of your way to watch.
Victory here will see Shiozaki’s title reign surpass the one year mark, as he is not slated to defend the belt against until February 2021, where he’ll be challenged by another veteran in Keiji Muto.
Prior to this contest, NOAH’s last 5 star rating came back in 2004, when legendary grapplers Jun Akiyama and Kenta Kobashi faced off at the promotion’s Departure event.