In January 1999, All Japan founder and promoter Giant Baba died, leaving the company in the hands of his widow Motoko Baba as owner and Misawa as president. However, disheartened with Motoko Baba's proposed direction for the company, Misawa departed the promotion on May 28, 2000 to form a new promotion called Pro-Wrestling NOAH. All but two native stars (Masanobu Fuchi and Toshiaki Kawada) and two gaijin (Stan Hansen and Maunakea Mossman) followed Misawa. The promotion's name alludes to the Biblical story of Noah, in which the people and animals in the ark survive the flood and make a new beginning in the world, a story which was seen as a parallel to the wrestlers' departure from All Japan. NOAH's promotional symbol, an ark with a dove holding an olive branch, refers to this.
Pro-Wrestling NOAH is essentially a continuation of All Japan's promotional system in the 1990s, with a slight leeway to allow wrestlers from other promotions to compete, which is something that Giant Baba had forbid. NOAH also features a strong junior heavyweight division, which was something that All Japan had been relatively lacking in the 1990s due to lack of pushes for the younger stars (such as Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Kenta and Naomichi Marufuji, who quickly became NOAH's junior aces).
Despite not being considered the #1 promotion in Japan, NOAH has been able to outdo its rivals in many ways since 2005 and has managed to outdraw arch-rival New Japan Pro Wrestling in several key places (such as the Tokyo Dome). The Wrestling Observer also named NOAH as the best promotion in 2004 and 2005, as well as having the best weekly television show in 2003.
A spinoff league called Pro Wrestling SEM was recently launched. Similar to New Japan Pro Wrestling's "Young Lions" system, it will function as a training facility for rookies, with Naomichi Marufuji and Kenta acting as trainers. Pro Wrestling SEM is also a reference to the Biblical story of Noah, with Sem being Noah's eldest son.
On June 13, 2009, Misawa teamed with Go Shiozaki against Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith at Hiroshima Green Arena. After taking a belly to back suplex from Saito, Misawa lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital. He was pronounced dead in the hospital at 10:10 p.m. JST due to spinal damage. On June 27, 2009, Akira Taue was named as Misawa's successor and is the current President of Pro-Wrestling NOAH. Also in 2009, NOAH lost their weekly television show on Nippon TV.
In 2010 Pro Wrestling NOAH announced a new 'Global League tournament' comprising twelve of NOAH's top heavyweight stars.
The promotion celebrated its 10th anniversary in summer 2010. They had a series of special events planned to commemorate the milestone. In March 2012, it was revealed that NOAH management had ties to the Yakuza crime syndicate, which resulted in the promotion demoting General Manager Ryu Nakata and Counselor Haruka Eigen and enforcing new anti-Yakuza protocols.
On December 3, 2012, Noah released Kenta Kobashi from his contract, reportedly leading to several key wrestlers, including Go Shiozaki and Jun Akiyama, announcing that they were not going to re-sign with the promotion after their own contracts expired in January 2013.
Read more about this topic: Pro Wrestling Noah
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