N-1 Victory 2020 – Night 1
September 18, 2020
Nagoya Congress Center
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Watch: Wrestle Universe (FREE)
N-1 Victory 2020 Block B Match
Takashi Sugiura  def. Yoshiki Inamura 
Wrestle Universe went down right at the beginning of the show but luckily it was back up by the time this match started. In a way, it’s a good sign for NOAH that interest in the tournament is so high that it crashed the streaming service. Plus, the show is free so anyone who wanted to check our Night 1 still can, you don’t even need to sign-up or give an email. One thing I noticed was how dark the arena was, I actually thought that it was a no fans show at first.
This was a good little match and the right way to start the tournament. Inamura has a ton of potential and has a chance to show it in this year’s N-1. Sugiura meanwhile is still great even at 50 years and it’s a shame that he isn’t in the Champion Carnival since he was included in the original field in spring. He is giving Inamura a lot in this match who lays into him with some very stiff forearm shots and overall great big man offense. In the end, though Sugiura catches him and taps him out.
N-1 Victory 2020 Block A Match
Masaaki Mochizuki  vs. Kaito Kiyomiya  – Time Limit Draw
A great match and my favorite of tournament season so far. It was quite clear from the beginning of the match that this would go long but they managed to build a compelling match nonetheless. Mochizuki has been taking a few more bookings outside Dragongate recently since he is not involved in the current three-way faction war. He’s had quite a bit of success in NOAH too, becoming tag champ with Marufuji for a bit.
We get some grappling to start out, which both men are quite good at so it was nice to see. However, before long Mochizuki takes control and dominates the majority of the match from there. Mochizuki looks like he has the match won on a number of big moves and submissions but Kaito manages to escape every single time. Kiyomiya is great at getting his ass kicked but I hope that this isn’t going to be the structure for every one of his tournament matches. He needs some dominant performances as well if he is to become the ace of the promotion in the future. With that said he is amazing at the fiery comeback though.
We get some great veteran stuff from Mochizuki such as him hitting Kaito in the leg on a kick-out to regain control for another close near fall. That’s the kind of stuff you only learn from doing this for decades. The match turns into a war of attrition by the end as both men are visibly tired after having given it their all. Funnily enough, Mochizuki actually looks fresher than the man less than half his age. His stamina continues to be baffling even at 50 years old. The match was losing me for a bit but they manage to bring me back by the end. They just start hitting each other with big moves to try and get a late win but its not enough as time expires. As I said before an amazing performance by both men that everyone else in this and the other tournaments will have to live up to.
N-1 Victory 2020 Block A Match
Go Shiozaki  def. Manabu Soya 
This match was the story of two halves. In the first half, Soya is mostly working over Go’s arms, which are literally held together by tape. But despite that Go manages to come back with some pretty stiff chops as you would expect from him.
In the second half, it develops into more of a back and forth match with both men throwing some big bombs. Overall a solid match but it was lacking that special something that elevates a match to the next level. Fun fact Go Shiozaki is actually 3 years older than Soya even though Soya looks about 10 years older than him.
N-1 Victory 2020 Block B Match
Katsuhiko Nakajima  def. Kenoh 
This is one of if not the most anticipated match of the entire tournament. Nakajima recently betrayed Go to join Kenoh’s Kongoh faction and now faces off against his new boss. These two had a great match just last month where Kenoh beat Nakajima for the GHC National Title. This match has a proper big fight feel and you can feel the tension in the air before the match. Katsuhiko wants to shake hands but Kenoh is having none of it.
We get a very intense and lengthy standoff at the start before Kenoh starts laying in some very stiff strikes and we are off to the races. This match is worked at an incredibly high pace and you can feel that there are still unresolved issues between the two despite them being in the same faction now. Intensity has always been the thing that Kenoh has excelled at and this match is no exception. Both men just really lay it in on their kicks and palm strikes and you can hear them echo throughout the arena.
They tease Kenoh knocking out Nakajima a couple of times in a call back to their finish last month but he manages to stay conscious this time. Ultimately he manages to get revenge for his loss in the title match and starts off strong in his quest to win the whole tournament and unseat his former friend Go as GHC Heavyweight champion.
The match also showed that Nakajima’s character has not changed much since joining Kongoh as he did not show the leader of his stable a ton of respect throughout the match. He did try to pull him up after the match but Kenoh again was having none of that. Seems fairly obvious already that Nakajima will eventually turn on Kenoh and try to take over his stable. Another great match between these two as they have amazing chemistry and styles that match up perfectly. Katsuhiko Nakajima adds another stellar performance to his growing Wrestler of the Year case, which will only get stronger with more performances like this in the N-1.
NOAH hits it out of the park with this show. What an amazing way to start off the tournament in a big way. All of the tournament matches were at the very least good with two matches – Kiomiya vs Mochizuki and Kenoh vs. Nakajima being a must-watch. If NOAH can keep this up the N-1 Victory will have a chance to rival New Japan’s G1 Climax this year.