Pro Wrestling NOAH brings us the third day of N-1 Victory action! Headlined by the veteran battle of Naomichi Marufuji vs Takashi Sugiura! Will that steal the show?
Aside from the huge main event, it should be interesting how the first two matches go. A collective 0-3-1 implies that the first two matches are quite important. Remember, it’s only a 12 person tournament, so that means 5 matches a piece. Gathering a second loss so early in the tournament could really be game over before it really even starts.
By the way, the show is free for the next 6 days on Abema.tv!
Let’s see what happens!
- B Block: Kenoh vs Shuhei Taniguchi: Kenoh wins via Rear Naked Choke @9:40 – *** ½
- A Block: Kaito Kiyomiya vs Masa Kitamiya: Kitamiya wins via Saito Suplex @14:32 – *** ½
- A Block: Kazushi Sakuraba vs Go Shiozaki: Shiozaki wins via Gowan Lariat @8:35 – *** ¾
- B Block: Takashi Sugiura vs Naomichi Marufuji: Time Limit Draw @30:00 – **** ¾
B Block: Kenoh vs Shuhei Taniguchi
The match starts off rough for Kenoh. Shuhei charges him and knocks him down repeatedly, Kenoh tries to open him up with some kicks, but Shuhei catches a kick, T-Bone Suplex and then a Soccer Ball kick right to the skull sends Kenoh to the outside to rethink his life choices.
Once Kenoh rolls back in, Taniguchi keeps softening up the back with Slams, driving power moves and sits down in the Wyvern Clutch for a good bit of time before Kenoh can get to the ropes. Kenoh continues to try and fight back with kicks, but always getting caught. An attempted PK gets dodged by Shuhei and as Kenoh turns he gets greeted with a Polish Hammer in the chest.
Shuhei charges a beleaguered Kenoh, but he Low Bridges the top rope, bounces to the apron, cartwheels over Shuhei’s strike attempt and then lands an Overhead Kick. Kenoh thought he had something, but again, whenever he tries to strike with Shuhei, it fails. Kenoh goes for a strike exchange, loses since Shuhei has a unique Headbutt to the collarbone way of doing strikes. Another Soccer Ball kick to the head makes things look bleak for Kenoh, but he manages to avoid the Maybach Splash.
As both get to their feet, Kenoh dodges a lariat and looks for the back in desperation. He hooks a body scissors as he rides down Shuhei, then locks in the Sleeper aspect of the Rear Naked Choke, and Shuhei passes out. So again Shuhei loses a match which he was in a comfortable position, losing to a desperate maneuver.
A Block: Kaito Kiyomiya vs Masa Kitamiya
In the battle of I will be referring to both by their first name! We see Kaito needing a win, since his first match was a Time Limit Draw; and Masa also needs the win since he fell to KONGO stablemate Manabu Soya on Day 2.
Both men need the win, and you can tell that from how they decide to wrestle this match. They focus knees, arms, just hunting for different body parts to try to take apart, while Masa demonstrates his power. Early on he torques Kaito’s ankles and knee, but Kaito turns the tables nicely. A few well-placed strikes, give us a well shot moment when Masa tries to shoot Kaito into the corner, but his knee gives out and it looks car crashy, but sells the injury as legit.
Masa starts fighting his leg and Kaito, as Kaito tries to employ some ankle holds of his own. When Kaito goes for the Tiger Suplex, we see Masa turn the tables with some strikes and then a Saito Suplex. Kaito kicks out after the first, which fires up Masa. He bounces off the ropes to hit a spear (making sure to nearly skip as he sells the knee along with an adrenaline surge). Then there’s a spot where both trade cradle attempts, but Masa holds on, floats over and hits 3 Saito Suplexes in a row, to grab himself a win in this tournament!
Masa showed great heart to fight through the injury and overcome the Emerald Prodigy.
A Block: Kazushi Sakuraba vs Go Shiozaki
Sakuraba definitely proves his 200 IQ veteran status with how he starts the match. Slowly measuring Go with some leg kicks, and when Go smothers him into the corner, there is a cheeky chop attempt instead of the clean break. To which Sakuraba ducks out of the way and scurries to the other side of the mat looking like he’s trying to avoid a murder.
After a few more kicks, Sakuraba baits Go into catching a kick, which allows for them to both go to the mat, Sakuraba repositions beautiful and hunts for the Cross Armbreaker. Go fights it for a little while before he goes to the ropes, then powders out. But Sakuraba stays on him, showing a bit of a vicious side as he laces Go’s arm in the guardrail and starts wrenching on it.
In a very clever wrinkle of storytelling, Sakuraba allows Go back in, continues the low kicks and dodges the chop. But he stops himself and does the old “You know what, Chop me”. Go chops, but it’s ineffective since it’s the arm Sakuraba was working over. Nice element to show it’s useless at the moment.
The first spot is after Sakuraba absorbs another chop and toys with the champion a little, Go catches the leg, bring his banged up elbow down on the knee, sells the pain, and then unleashes a hellacious chop which sends Sakuraba retreating to the corner, as Go goes down to a knee clutching his still damaged arm. But the adrenaline flows, seeing the damage he did to Sakuraba gives him motivation, and he goes to the Machine Gun chop spot, looking like the chop hurts him…ALMOST…as much as Sakuraba.
Go attempts either a Brainbuster or Go Flasher a few times before Sakuraba fights off, hits a German Suplex and then starts dropping knees into Go’s ribs. Then floats over beautifully for an Armbar, which he transitions to a Russian Armbar, but Go keeps rolling and manages to end up in the ropes. Go fights off the Sakuraba Lock attempt with a Brainbuster.
Relentless with the Lariats, Go rocks Sakuraba. Sakuraba does catch one Lariat and goes for a Sakuraba Lock, but Go uses his free arm to club Sakuraba away, then does one armed Go Hammers, followed by a Gowan Lariat for the win.
— プロレスリング・ノア (@noah_ghc) September 22, 2020
With how banged up Go is, it’s hard to think he’ll get many more wins, but damn was this nice psychology, selling and a logical finish.
B Block: Takashi Sugiura vs Naomichi Marufuji
We see these two start with early mat grappling work, neither can seem to get a hold or find an opening to float over. So it’s a tempered start, but has a pretty epic feel. The chess game continues for a while after that, with Arm Wringers, then an escape, ducking lariats, escapes, pushing to the ropes, a cheap shot, but then a stalemate.
Marufuji is the first to break the stalemate and immediately starts working on the arm. Kicks, twists, Double Wristlocks, driving Sugiura shoulder first into the turnbuckle. It’s all deliberate to set up either for the Perfect Key Lock, or True Tiger King, since that uses a Hammerlock set up. They roll to the outside and Marufuji continues to focus the arm, but Sugiura finally gets some space to break after a big Apron Neckbreaker.
Once Marufuji beats the count, we see this as the portion of the match where Sugiura takes over a bit. Marufuji tries to fight back with strikes, but Sugiura wins the power game and just leans on Marufuji. Taking him to the corner and just choking the breath from him with his feet. Marufuji manages to find some space after ducking a lariat, grabbing the arm, KO-OH’s the arm and then sending Sugiura to the outside with a Dropkick.
After this point it becomes a hell of a tradeoff. Neither man can seem to get much going before the other slips a hold, or has a counter. Sugiura hits a huge Superplex and German Suplex, but Marufuji finds the resolve to flip out of one and send them to the apron. Sugiura tries to grab Marufuji, but Marufuji does an Armbreaker over his shoulder, and hits the signature Apron Piledriver. When Sugiura crawls back in, Marufuji pulls the Springboard Curb Stomp out of the playbook, but only for 2!
Marufuji tries the Shiranui, Sugiura counters it by draping him Tree of Woe style, and running a big Kitchen Sink style knee into the hanging body. Marufuji proceeds to eat a dozen or so elbow strikes from Sugiura, and he rises up from the corner, as Sugiura keeps peppering him. A small hesitation gives Marufuji the chance to land a low KO-OH to the stomach, followed by a Shiranui, but also, ONLY 2!
Both men start realizing the match is going long, so they might be approaching Time. We see Marufuji go for a few Hook Kicks, but Sugiura eats em, then just tosses Marufuji. Two Running Knee Lifts, and an Olympic Slam, but Marufuji kicks out. Sugiura takes him to the ropes for an Avalanche Olympic Slam, but gets an Avalanche Shiranui instead! A slow cover means no pinfall, so Marufuji hits the Cobra Clutch KO-OH and then True Tiger King…BUT SUGIURA KICKS OUT! Marufuji looks to be aiming for the Fisherman Flowsion, but Sugiura catches him with the Front Neck Lock.
The Front Neck Lock, wrestles him down, and Marufuji is in the hold for at least 30 seconds…but the Time Limit bell rings!
— プロレスリング・ノア (@noah_ghc) September 22, 2020
There’s a show of respect afterwards between the two veterans, and Marufuji motions for another 1 on 1 match. Tremendous match to cap off a really damn good day!
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Now I’m pretty sure I enjoyed the Sakuraba match more than most people, but I love simple wrestling when it boils down. A little facial selling, attacking a body part and an easy story of fighting through the damage is gorgeous in its simplicity. Kenoh is going to have a lot of trouble trying to repeat winning if he keeps absorbing so much offense and Kaito…well, this has been his story this year. I’m happy for Kitamiya, since he tends to get overshadowed and not get solid wins like this. Kaito is still growing, and this is perfect.
Marufuji and Sugiura is the match of any tournament I’ve watched these last few weeks. These guys are two old veterans with a lot of history together and in NOAH. They put on a clinic with great pacing, tug of war offense and just really great to stay invested for the full 30 minutes.
This also adds a wrinkle for Sugiura, since he was pacing the tournament; but now even though he still has the most points, only getting 5 of a possible 6 could bite him.
- Go Shiozaki: (2-0) – 4 Points
- Manabu Soya: (1-1) – 2 Points
- Kazushi Sakuraba: (1-1) – 2 Points
- Masa Kitamiya: (1-1) – 2 Points
- Kaito Kiyomiya: (0-1-1) – 1 Point
- Masaaki Mochizuki: (0-1-1) – 1 Point
- Takashi Sugiura: (2-0-1) – 5 Points
- Naomichi Marufuji: (1-0-1) – 3 Points
- Katsuhiko Nakajima: (1-0) – 2 Points
- Kenoh: (1-1) – 2 Points
- Yoshiki Inamura: (0-2) – 0 Points
- Shuhei Taniguchi: (0-2) – 0 Points