Pro Wrestling NOAH
NOAH N-1 Victory 2020 Night 5
Bandaijima Multipurpose Plaza
Watch: Wrestle Universe
NOAH’s N-1 Victory tournament is winding down, and night five was the only show of the tournament to air on delay (it went up three days after it took place). We should be grateful, though, in past years, the wait for N-1/Global League shows was much longer, and many of the shows never aired at all. Night 5 featured Naomichi Marufuji and Katsuhiko Nakajima needing a win to stay alive, Masaaki Mochizuki and Manabu Soya facing off in an eliminator match, and Masa Kitamiya (and Kazushi Sakuraba) needing to upset GHC Champion Go Shiozaki to have any chance of winning the tournament. Let’s get into it!
FULL THROTTLE (YO-HEY, Hajime Ohara, & Seiki Yoshioka) def. Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura, NOSAWA Rongai, & Kaz Hayashi) in 8:43 when YO-HEY pinned Rongai with the Face G
Kongoh (Hao & Kenoh) def. Kaito Kiyomiya & Kotaro Suzuki in 13:51 when Hao rolled up GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion Kotaro Suzuki with a reversal to the Endless Waltz
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Stinger (Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA) & Kinya Okada vs. Momo No Seishun Tag (Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge) & X (Junta Miyawaka) went to a double-count out in 16:22
Some interesting stuff on the undercard. YO-HEY got the pin in his first match as the (presumed) new leader of FULL THROTTLE. Hao pinned GHC Junior Champ Kotaro Suzuki, and Momo No Seishun Tag took the GHC Junior tag champs, Ogawa & HAYATA, to a double count-out, teaming with X Junta Miyawaka, who returned from a shoulder injury and now seems to be allied with the group. It was announced Hao will receive a junior title shot, and Momo No Seishun Tag will receive a junior tag shot (in their very first 2v2 tag after reforming) on the N-1 Finals show, October 11th in Osaka EDION Arena #1. Its very cool that last year, when it was announced NOAH was running EDION 1 for the N-1 Finals, it was a big deal, and expected to flop, but after the show’s success, drawing 2,597 fans, it almost isn’t notable anymore.
N-1 Victory B Block Match
Katsuhiko Nakajima  def. Yoshiki Inamura 
Nakajima entered this one in a unique position, controlling his own destiny in the B Block, yet needing a win to stay alive at all. The first thing I noticed here was that the audio was significantly louder in my right earphone. I just got these last week, so hopefully its a problem with the feed! The second thing I noticed was how hard these two were hitting each other. The two are technically faction mates in Kongoh, but Nakajima was Kongoh’s big rival for much of last year, and Inamura lost the biggest match of his life in a GHC Tag Team title challenge to Nakajima and Nakajima’s former AXIZ partner Go Shiozaki on NOAH’s biggest show of 2019: NOAH The Best ~ Battle of Aesthetics.
Those battle wounds were clearly still fresh. Inamura got in a significant amount of offense here, but Nakajima was just better. He was quicker, he hit harder, he was more experienced. Inamura kicked out of the soccer ball kick for a close near fall, and escaped the Vertical Spike to hit a pounce and a top rope shoulder tackle, but Nakajima was able to fight out of the Irish Curse, unloaded on Inamura with kicks, and hit the Vertical Spike for the win in an awesome opener. With a better crowd, this would be in notebook territory. Inamura is THERE. He’s ready. Where he’ll slide into the card I’m not sure, maybe a tag title challenge? The singles division is stacked. ***1/2
N-1 Victory A Block Match
Masaaki Mochizuki  def. Manabu Soya 
This battle, an elimination match in A Block, has a clear story from the get-go: Mochizuki’s technique and striking ability against the raw power of Manabu Soya. The story was simple, Mochizuki would lock on a submission attempt and Soya would power out of it and hit a big move, but it was executed very well for such a tried and true formula. Mochizuki hit the triangle kick for the win. There’s not much to say, you’ve seen this match a million times, but this was two veterans going out and doing it very well. Another match that would float with **** with a crowd. I’d recommend it. ***1/2
N-1 Victory B Block Match
Naomichi Marufuji  def. Shuhei Taniguchi  via True Tiger King (18:21)
The wrestler of the N-1 to this point, big match Shuhei Taniguchi, took on one of the greatest ever, Naomichi Marufuji in what was a win or go home match for Marufuji. The two stared down at the bell, and Shuhei shoved Marufuji down to the canvass. The crowd was just so bad here, even on the “clap-crowd adjusted” scale. About a minute into the match, Taniguchi hit a punt kick on Marufuji, causing him to roll out of the ring and the referee to check on him. They’ve really made Taniguchi come across as a badass in this tournament despite his low point total, and Marufuji looked dead for a solid minute here.
Afterward, the match really slowed down, I mean, my eyes were glazed over, and I’ve loved Taniguchi’s work in this tournament – he’s just more of a 12-15 minute guy than one that should be closing in on 20. The lack of a good crowd and announcers really hurt this one. I’ve said before that having announcers, even ones that speak a language you don’t understand, can really add to a match. See the Japanese commentary from YOSHI-HASHI vs EVIL from the G1 Climax night four to see what I’m talking about.
The match finally started to pick up around the 12-minute mark, as Taniguchi kicked out of a Shirunai and then unloaded on Maru with a chokeslam, another punt, and a body splash followed up by two punts that completely whiffed on Marufuji (which I think was the idea, but if not they looked terrible). Maru nailed a desperation Ko-oh to give himself some time and we moved into the strike exchange portion of the match. This was pretty good but never really grabbed me. Marufuji unloaded with a series of knees and hit a pair of modified Ko-ohs for the win. This was long and not super interesting. *1/2
N-1 Victory A Block Match
Go Shiozaki  def. Masa Kitamiya 
As Kitamiya came out for this one, I wondered what the main event breakdown on this tour looked like, so see below:
- Go Shiozaki – 3
- Takashi Sugiura, Kaito Kiyomiya – 2
- Kenoh, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Shuhei Taniguchi, Naomichi Marufuji, Manabu Soya, Masa Kitamiya, Masaaki Mochizuki – 1
- Yoshiki Inamura, Kazushi Sakuraba – 0
As I had thought, they spread out the main events very well on this tour, with only psuedo-young boy Yoshiki Inamura and outsider (??) 51-year old Kazushi Sakuraba not getting a main event. Still, I figured Kitamiya would put in a lot of effort here in what was his biggest match of the tournament.
The story of this N-1 has been the continuously worked over arms and shoulders of GHC Champion Go Shiozaki, and Kitamiya continued the trend here, fighting for his (and Kazushi Sakurbaba’s) tournament life. The work here wasn’t particularly exciting, but it made sense in the broader story of Go’s tournament, and helped his comeback, as the GHC champ winced with every chop he threw during the requisite strike exchange.
A spear and piledriver combo for Kitamiya only got two, and Kongoh’s big man went for the Saito Suplex he used to finish off Kaito, but Go reversed. Kitamiya then nailed a headbutt and threw the ref out of the way. It should be mentioned, no interference in this tournament, that’s pretty cool. Go popped up and hit the Go Flasher to reset the match and the two struggled to their feet as the crowd showed some energy for the first time all night. The two exchanged strikes and Go finished Kitamiya with the Gowan Lariat using the bad arm to pick up two more points and eliminate Kitamiya, as well as Sakuraba. Decent single-cam show main event. ***1/4
Go Shiozaki: 6
Kaito Kiyomiya: 5
Masaaki Mochizuki: 5
— ELIMINATED —
Kazushi Sakuraba: 4
Masa Kitamiya: 2
Manabu Soya: 2
Katsuhiko Nakajima: 6
Takashi Sugiura: 5
Naomichi Marufuji: 5
— ELIMINATED —
Shuhei Taniguchi: 2
Yoshiki Inamura: 0
Final Night Card:
– N-1 Victory – Block B: Shuhei Taniguchi vs. Yoshiki Inamura
– N-1 Victory – Block A: Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Manabu Soya
– N-1 Victory – Block A: Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Masa Kitamiya
– N-1 Victory – Block B: Takashi Sugiura vs. Kenoh
– NOAH Junior Rumble: Featuring Atsushi Kotoge, Seiki Yoshioka, Kotaro Suzuki, Junta Miyawaki, Tadasuke, Yoshinari Ogawa, NOSAWA Rongai, Hao, HAYATA, Kaz Hayashi, Nioh, YO-HEY, Daisuke Harada, and Hajime Ohara
– N-1 Victory – Block B: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
– N-1 Victory – Block A: Go Shiozaki vs. Kaito Kiyomiya
Big Tom Fischii Scenarios:
If Mochizuki does not win against Kitamiya early in the night, he is eliminated, making the main event winner take all with Go advancing in the case of a draw
Shiozaki Win OR Shiozaki Draw AND Mochizuki Loss/Draw -> Go Shiozaki wins Block A
Kiyomiya Win + Mochizuki Loss/Draw -> Kaito Kiyomiya wins Block A
Mochizuki Win + Shiozaki Draw -> Masaaki Mochizuki wins Block A
Kiyomiya Win + Mochizuki Win -> Playoff between Kaito Kiyomiya and Masaaki Mochizuki to win Block A
Essentially, Go needs to get at least draw and get at least as many points as Mochizuki does on the final night to advance, Kiyomiya needs to win and have Mochizuki not win, and Mochizuki needs to win and the main event to draw, with Kiyomiya and Mochizuki advancing to a playoff in the case of both winning.
Sugiura needs to win in the first match or is eliminated, Kenoh only needs to not lose, and a Kenoh win in the first match eliminates Marufuji before Marufuji even hits the ring.
Nakajima Win OR Nakajima Draw + Kenoh Loss/Draw-> Katsuhiko Nakajima wins Block B
Kenoh Win + Nakajima Loss/Draw OR Kenoh Draw + Nakajima Loss -> Kenoh wins Block B
Sugiura Win + Marufuji Win -> Playoff between Takashi Sugiura and Naomichi Marufuji to win Block B
Essentially, Nakajima needs to at least draw and get at least as many points on the final night as Kenoh gets to advance, Kenoh needs to at least draw and get more points on the final night than Nakajima to advance, and Sugiura and Marufuji both need to win and for the other to win to force a playoff.
This was an alright single-cam show that featured some solid action and some buildup for the upcoming junior and junior tag title matches, but, for the love of god, please skip Shuhei Taniguchi vs Naomichi Marufuji if you watch this show. The worst match of the tournament, and maybe the worst of tournament season.