As we know, it’s magical tournament Christmasland in Japan! As Stardom starts to wind down, AJPW is about halfway done and G1 starts tomorrow…NOAH’s N-1 Victory kicks off as well! This first day is free on Wrestle Universe.
We see the mad wolf betrayer, the current GHC Heavyweight Champion, the prodigal son, and grumpy grumpy Kenoh in this first day. Kicks, chops, slams and an assortment of submissions should be all over the results.
Oh I guess it’s customary to put down a pick to win:
Katsuhiko Nakajima is who I think will win, because there’s money in the grudge match with Shiozaki.
Let’s see who gets on the board first!
- B Block: Yoshiki Inamura vs Takashi Sugiura: Sugiura wins via Front Neck Lock @9:11 – ***
- A Block: Masaaki Mochizuki vs Kaito Kiyomiya: Time Limit Draw @3000 – *** ¾
- A Block: Go Shiozaki vs Manabu Soya: Shiozaki wins via Gowan Lariat @16:54 – *** ½
- B Block: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Kenoh: Nakajima wins via Vertical Spike @17:19 – **** ½
B Block: Yoshiki Inamura vs Takashi Sugiura
NOAH’s young tank faces off against the Killing Machine to kick off N-1 action! This is a great opportunity for Inamura to try and prove himself against a NOAH born veteran whose legacy just keeps getting longer.
Inamura shows no fear, but Sugiura plays a few early head games with the clean yet condescending rope break and a few early spots to show superiority. This fires up the young power wrestler, and we get a hell of a brawl once Inamura drops a big hamhock across Sugiura’s chest as his rope break response.
Quick but effective spots on the outside into the guardrail gave Inamura a lot of chances to push for an upset. Big Slams, his Sumo Style Corner Vault, and that Diving ShoulderTackle; had Sugiura a little surprised. Once Sugiura started buckling down, he stayed on the younger wrestler. Smothering him with a few quick pinfall attempts and then keeping the Front Neck Lock sunk in, even when Inamura tried to power out, but Sugiura rolls through with the choke locked in, forcing the tap out.
A Block: Masaaki Mochizuki vs Kaito Kiyomiya
Kaito has had an interesting year so far. Returning at the tail end of 2017, he spent 2018 building himself in matches with Marufuji and tagging with Shiozaki and Sugiura. Then in 2019 he achieved the status of youngest GHC Heavyweight Champion and a brother/rival in Kenoh. But this year has been the deconstruction of NOAH’s new Emerald Hope. After losing the title to Shiozaki, he’s been struggling to gain momentum and hitting walls against veteran wrestlers. Mochizuki, a well-respected veteran with most of his larger accolades in Dragon Gate, was Marufuji’s surprise tag partner at the beginning of this year when the upset AXIZ for the titles. Since then he hasn’t been involved in any big stories, but this could be a turning point to end strong.
Early on Mochizuki works over Kaito’s legs with a variation of kicks, Figure Four Leg Locks, Indian Death Locks and Knee Bars. This match seemed to be heading toward a quick finish, until Kaito hits a Hip Toss, which he transitions into a Keylock and then starts working on Mochizuki’s arms.
This match did feel like a microcosm of Kaito’s year where it’s been hard and he has so much hope, but his youth just causes pitfalls that are unavoidable.
There were a few clunky spots when Mochizuki went for the Triangle Kick, and it was more just on the impetuous nature of youth. Kaito seemed to jump for the Dropkick a little too early, and it was quickly recovered, but then a stutter step from Mochi before hitting the Triangle Kick on the apron showed a small crack in the match.
Luckily for the match, it became extremely compelling from there forward. Mochi used his legs to barely reach to the ropes to break Tiger Suplex pinfalls, or even the Chickenwing Facelock. You could see the exhaustion and desperation on both men’s faces, so that helped to buy in to every suplex, Brainbuster, strike combinations; everything became life or death.
If there was a little more experience with one another, this could’ve been special, but it was still damn good. Especially for a first day tournament match.
A Block: Go Shiozaki vs Manabu Soya
Shiozaki comes into this tournament looking like more trainer tape than man. His shoulders and arms down to the elbow are covered. This is a testament of two things, Shiozaki recently went through the dissolution of AXIZ when Nakajima turned on him after failing to attain the vacant tag team titles; and the fact that he has a known history of elbow issues. So Soya being a heel and a damn good wrestler in his own right, goes after the plethora of bullseyes.
This is especially devastating for Shiozaki since his most effective offense are his chops. I believe Chris Hero and Alexander Hammerstone have agreed they are like getting hit in the chest with street signs. So if you take that away, it becomes much easier to escape unscathed.
Soya is dominant for the early goings, Shiozaki tries to reverse some Irish Whips, but Soya’s power keeps him in control. Soya absorbs some lame early attempts at chops, while he laughs and tosses him around with suplexes and Samoan Drops.
The entire match showed the fighting spirit of Shiozaki that he fired himself up from nothing to garner some openings with his Flying Shoulder Tackle, pushed through to deliver the Machine Gun Chops, and really just fought not only Soya but also his own body. A sudden adrenaline surge helps Shiozaki bring things to parody and then he hits a Go Flasher, to settle things down. Soya tries to regain his balance and pick apart the wounded champion, but Go gets away, hits the ropes and lands a big Gowana Lariat, to barely limp away with an early win.
B Block: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Kenoh
Kenoh’s not a dumb as he looks at times. Nakajima offered the friendly handshake to begin with, but given the fact that he just betrayed Shiozaki to join Kongoh, Kenoh just stares at him blankly. Nakajima didn’t recently adopt the nickname Mad Wolf, because he’s a standup guy.
This starts off very pensive. Both circle for a few seconds, try to engage in a lockup, but back away quickly. Both were very familiar with one another before being a part of the same faction, so it’s no shock things will start slowly. Especially given the last two big victories were taken by Kenoh and he managed to knock Nakajima out twice.
After the slow start, they start measuring one another with traded kicks and the “anything you can do, I can do better” mentality. But once one stings, the pace sharply quickens. To say strikes were traded is an understatement. I mean, if you watch this, you’d be hard pressed to remember they are in the same faction.
Kenoh gets an advantage and goes for a few of his Double Foot or Double Knee dives, while Nakajima opens up slightly altered spots. He applies a Cobra Twist, pulls out his old Diamond Bomb, to go along with a flurry of kicks and his corner cocky pose spot. This match was less of a kickfest than usual, but still contained all of the grit and aggression that we’ve come to expect from their matches.
After lighting up Kenoh with a Punt Kick, he goes full mount and rains down elbows on what looks like a barely conscious body. But instead of looking for the knockout, Nakajima makes a point to win with the Vertical Spike.
Yes there was a ton of strikes and just classic Kenoh/Nakajima action, but this definitely takes their rivalry to a different level.
Overall Score: 7.75/10
A great first day for the N-1 Victory and a main event to capture attention; if it wasn’t already there to begin with. The Draw between Kaito and Mochizuki was a little unexpected, but it will play a big role in how the story of the block gets told. Sugiura, Shiozaki and Nakajima getting on the board early isn’t really a surprise, so things are going as to be expected on this first day.
No bad matches, great story telling and seeds planted for the future make for a fantastic tournament.
- Go Shiozaki: (1-0) – 2 Points
- Kaito Kiyomiya: (0-0-1) – 1 Point
- Masaaki Mochizuki: (0-0-1) – 1 Point
- Manabu Soya: (0-1) – O Points
- Kazushi Sakuraba: (0-0) – 0 Points
- Masa Kitamiya: (0-0) – 0 Points
- Katsuhiko Nakajima: (1-0) – 2 Points
- Takashi Sugiura: (1-0) – 2 Points
- Kenoh: (0-1) – 0 Points
- Yoshiki Inamura: (0-1) – 0 Points
- Naomichi Marufuji: (0-0) – 0 Points
- Shuhei Taniguchi: (0-0) – 0 Points