N1 Victory 2020 Preview

N1 Victory 2020 Preview

On the 18th of September Pro Wrestling NOAH’S, N1 Victory will begin. The tournament will run from the 18th of September to the 11th of October. With 2 stacked blocks and a shot at the GHC Heavyweight championship at stake, who will emerge from the blocks and win the N1 Victory 2020?

What is the N1 Victory?

The N1 Victory (formerly known as the Global League) is a round-robin tournament. Competitors are split into two blocks. This year, it’s blocks of 6. They will face each person in their block once each; the wrestler that finishes top of their block will advance to the finals. The point system is as follows:

  • A win grants 2 points
  • A draw grants 1 point
  • A loss grants 0 points

The two block winners will fight in the finals. With the winner getting a GHC Heavyweight Championship shot on the 11th of October. 

if they are in bold means that I think they are key matches

Block A

Credit (NOAH)

Go Shiozaki

GHC Heavyweight Champion. 6th appearance. 2017 finalist.

Credit (NOAH)

Unlike last year the GHC Heavyweight champion will be in the tournament.

Shiozaki will be entering the tournament with a big target on his back. He is the GHC Heavyweight Champion and all the people in the block will be looking to score a win over him. If they do manage to pin him then they might not even need a tournament victory to get a title match.
With that target on his back, Shiozaki will be under pressure in every match. One slip up could mean defeat and a possible title defence against the person that beat him. if he can’t deal with that pressure he could be in trouble.

If he can deal with the pressure Shiozaki will aim to win the N1 Victory for the first time. If he does so, he will be the first-ever heavyweight champion to do so. With the year he is having he will be one of the favourites to advance from the block.

Matches: Soya (18/9), Sakuraba (22/9), Mochizuki (23/9) Kitamiya (26/9), Kiyomiya (4/10)

Kaito Kiyomiya

3rd appearance. 2018 Winner.

Credit (NOAH)

The only person in this block to have won the N1 Victory. Kiyomiya will be entering this tournament hoping to get back what he lost at the start of the year. The GHC Heavyweight Championship. Having distanced himself for the GHC title scene so he can improve himself. Most notably wanting and getting a match against the legendary Keiji Mutoh. Now with that match in the rear-view mirror, he will want to re-focus and have a good tournament.

If he does win he will be only the second person to win the N1 Victory twice. A win here will really help solidify him as the ace of the company. He is having a sneakily great year and win here would help cap off a great year for him. Kiyomiya will be entering as one of the favourites to win this block.

Matches: Mochizuki (18/9), Kitamiya (22/9), Soya (23/9 Day), Sakuraba (23/9 Evening), Shiozaki (4/10)    

Masa Kitamiya

6th appearance. 2016 finalist.

Credit (NOAH)

A man that always seems to be on the cusp of a big breakthrough. Kitamiya enters this tournament hoping that this will be it. Though he is mostly a tag team wrestler he is a good singles wrestler as well. He is the last of the people in this block that I would call favourites to advance. Alongside Shiozaki, he is the most experienced in terms of N1 Victory experience. He will be looking to use this to advance and get that big breakthrough. A win will give him his first singles achievement and will cement him as an upper card singles wrestler.

Matches: Soya (20/9), Kiyomiya (22/9), Sakuraba (23/9 Day), Shiozaki (26/9), Mochizuki (4/10)

Manabu Soya

1st appearance

Credit (NOAH)

Probably the strongest man in this block. Soya makes his first-ever appearance in the N1 Victory. Soya joined NOAH in April after his previous home promotion WRESTLE1 closed. He aligned with Kongoh straight away and has had a decent start to his NOAH career even challenging for the National championship. Although he was unsuccessful in that attempt. Soya with his power could do well in this tournament. He will be looking to cement himself in the upper card in his new company. Soya is a real dark horse in this block. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was still in with a chance of advancing come the last day of the tournament.

Matches: Shiozaki (18/9), Kitamiya (20/9), Kiyomiya (23/9 day), Mochizuki (26/9), Sakuraba (4/10)  

Masaaki Mochizuki

2nd appearance

Credit (Dragon Gate)

The Dragon Gate stalwart is competing in his second N1 Victory in a row. After finishing his first N1 Victory in 3rd place in his block. Mochizuki will be looking to go all the way this year. He joined the M alliance this year which currently is more of a veteran group with Mutoh, Marufuji and Miyamoto. He had one of the best matches of the tournament with Kenoh last year. Showing that age is a number in between the ropes. I expect Mochizuki to play spoiler this year. Although he is 50 he is still a great wrestler. With his age, I don’t expect him to get out of the blocks. Expect to see Mochizuki stop someone from advancing.

Matches: Kiyomiya (18/9), Sakuraba (20/9), Shiozaki (23/9 night), Soya (26/9), Kitamiya (4/10)

Kazushi Sakuraba

1st appearance

Credit (NOAH)

The legendary Gracie hunter makes his first appearance in the N1 Victory. A member of Sugiura-gun it was a surprise to see him announced as a competitor in the tournament. A surprise to be sure but a welcome one. It will be cool to see him grapple against some of NOAH’S top stars. He will tie them up in knots and teach them some valuable lessons. I expect Sakuraba to play spoiler here. He will get one or two upsets but not enough to see him near the top of the block or advancing to the next the finals of the tournament.

Matches: Mochizuki (20/9), Shiozaki (22/9), Kitamiya (23/9 day), Kiyomiya (23/9 night), Soya (4/10)   

Block B

Credit (NOAH)

Kenoh

GHC National Champion. 4th appearance. 2017,2019 winner

Credit (NOAH)

For the first time, the GHC National Champion enters the tournament.
Kenoh comes in as last year’s winner. Kenoh is the best competitor in the N1 Victory’s history in terms of success. In 3 appearances he has won in twice. He is the only person to win the tournament twice.

While unsuccessful in his challenge last year. he finally managed to get himself a championship. His first since 2018.
With him entering as champion. He has a target on his back. People will be gunning for him. Not only to get the points but to earn themselves a GHC national championship shot.

As not only last year’s winner but also as the GHC National Champion. Kenoh might have the most pressure on him in this whole tournament. He will want to be the first person to win back to back tournaments and will also want to make sure he doesn’t have to defend his championship against anyone in his block.
He will be near the top of the block but time will tell if he will advance.

Matches: Nakajima (18/9), Taniguchi (22/9), Inamura (23/9 day), Marufuji (23/9 Night), Sugiura (4/10)

Naomichi Marufuji

10th appearance.  2015 Winner.

Credit (NOAH)

A man with a point to prove after last year’s N1 Victory. NOAH’s resident genius comes into the N1 Victory off the back of an unsuccessful GHC Heavyweight title challenge.

Marufuji has a point to prove after his performance in last year’s N1 Victory. Last year Marufuji didn’t win a single match. He ended bottom of the block with 0 points. He will be hoping for a better performance.

After an excellent match with Shiozaki for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Marufuji will be looking to try and get a rematch. Marufuji is one of the most experienced when it comes to the N1 Victory having competed in all of them bar one.   

He may be one of the favourites in this tough block. With a mix of the past, present and future of NOAH in this block. While his body may not be what it used to be. Marufuji is still dangerous and could be near the top block.
He will be near the top of the block but time will tell if he will advance.

Matches: Inamura (20/9), Sugiura (22/9), Kenoh (23/9 night), Taniguchi (26/9), Nakajima (4/10)

Takashi Sugiura

10th appearance. 2012, 2019 finalist. 2014 winner.

Credit (NOAH)

NOAH’s final boss. The man who only seems to get better with age.

The leader of Sugiura-Gun. Sugiura comes into this tournament having not done much in the second half of the year. for the first half, he was the GHC National Champion. He then lost that in May to Katsuhiko Nakajima. Since then he has only competed in multi-man matches. Sugiura is one of the most experienced when it comes to the N1 Victory having competed in all of them bar one.

He will be looking to get back the GHC Heavyweight Championship. A belt he lost in 2018 after an incredible reign.
Even at the age of 50 Sugiura is still very dangerous. After losing in the finals last year Sugiura will be looking to go all the way this year. He will be a favourite to go the whole way.

Matches: Inamura (18/8), Taniguchi (20/9), Marufuji (22/9), Nakajima (23/9 night), Kenoh (4/10)

Katsuhiko Nakajima

9th appearance. 2018 finalist

Credit (NOAH)

The former GHC National champion comes into this tournament after losing his national championship in August.
After earning his first singles championship in NOAH since 2017 and holding it just shy of 3 months. Nakajima will be looking to rebound by winning this tournament and setting up a GHC Heavyweight match against his AXIZ partner and homie Go Shiozaki.

At only 32 he is the second youngest in the block. After a ‘failed’ ace run he completely reinvented himself to become one of the most complete wrestlers in the company. He will want to prove that he can be the top wrestler in the company and be the GHC Heavyweight champion.

Going into this block Nakajima will be one of the heavy favourites to win this block. One of the only people not to have won the N1. With his new persona, he will want to get back to the top and the quickest way will be winning this tournament.

Although it will be interesting to see if Nakajima lets his cockiness get the better of him like it has previously.

Matches: Kenoh (18/9), Taniguchi (23/9 day), Sugiura (23/9 night), Inamura (26/9), Marufuji (4/10)

Shuhei Taniguchi

10th appearance.

Credit (NOAH)

 A man who had sort of a career renaissance in the last year or two.

Since dropping the Maybach name and going back to Shuhei, He has been putting on great matches.    

He joined forces with NOAH’S young ace Kaito Kiyomiya and were a tag team since last year. They were recently joined by new NOAH recruit Daiki Inaba. 

He is one of the most experienced in this tournament only missing one. However, this doesn’t mean he has been successful. He hasn’t advanced to the final once. Last year he finished second in his block.

If anyone was going to be the dark horse in this tournament it would be Taniguchi. He has gotten a lot of people on the Taniguchi train with his work. he has been looking dangerous this year adding the punt kicks to his arsenal. Taniguchi may go all the way this year but it’s going to be tough.

Matches: Sugiura (20/9), Kenoh (22/9), Nakajima (23/9 day), Marufuji (26/9), 4/10 (Inamura)

Yoshiki Inamura

1st appearance

Credit (NOAH)

His first time appearing in the N1 Victory. It really is a good chance to show how much he has improved since his debut. This is also a good chance for him to gain a big singles win in NOAH. So far in singles action, he has only every beaten fellow rookie Kinya Okada.

Inamura is no stranger to a tournament like this. He took part in BJW’s Ikki Tousen Strong Climb tournament which is similar to the N1 Victory. Inamura actually managed to pick 2 wins finishing on 4 points. He will be hoping to do the same in this tournament.

Inamura, unfortunately, is the least likely to advance from this block. Still early in his development. This tournament will be a huge learning opportunity. It could the opportunity he needs to kick it to the next level. I think he will score his first big singles win in NOAH here in this tournament. He might even play spoiler and stop someone’s path to the final.

Matches: Sugiura (18/9), Marufuji (20/9), Kenoh (23/9 day), Nakajima (26/9), Taniguchi (4/10)

Dates and Matches

Friday September 18th: (18:30 JST, 5:30 EST, 2:30 PDT, 9:30 GMT)

Go Shiozaki vs Manabu Soya

Kaito Kiyomiya vs Masaaki Mochizuki

Kenoh vs Katsuhiko Nakajima

Takashi Sugiura vs Yoshiki Inamura

Sunday September 20th: (16:00 JST, 3:00 EDT, 0:00 PDT, 7:00 GMT)

Masaaki Mochizuki vs Kazushi Sakuraba

Masa Kitamiya vs Manabu Soya

Takashi Sugiura vs Shuhei Taniguchi

Naomichi Marufuji vs Yoshiki Inamura

Tuesday September 22nd: (18:30 JST, 5:30 EST, 2:30 PDT, 9:30 GMT)

Go Shiozaki vs Kazushi Sakuraba

Kaito Kiyomiya vs Masa Kitamiya

Naomichi Marufuji vs Takashi Sugiura

Kenoh vs Shuhei Taniguchi

Wednesday September 23rd: (13:00 JST, 0:00 EDT, 21:00 PDT, 4:00 GMT)

Kaito Kiyomiya vs Manabu Soya

Masa Kitamiya vs Kazushi Sakuraba

Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Shuhei Taniguchi

Kenoh vs Yoshiki Inamura

Wednesday September 23rd: (18:30 JST, 5:30 EST, 2:30 PDT, 9:30 GMT)

Go Shiozaki vs Masaaki Mochizuki

Kaito Kiyomiya vs Kazushi Sakuraba

Kenoh vs Naomichi Marufuji

Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Takashi Sugiura

Saturday September 26th: (18:00 JST, 5:00 EDT, 2:00 PST, 9:00 GMT)

Go Shiozaki vs Masa Kitamiya

Masaaki Mochizuki vs Manabu Soya

Naomichi Marufuji vs Shuhei Taniguchi

Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Yoshiki Inamura

Sunday October 4th: (11:30 JST, 22:30 EST, 19:30 PST, 2:30 GMT)

Go Shiozaki vs Kaito Kiyomiya

Masaaki Mochizuki vs Masa Kitamiya

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Manabu Soya

Naomichi Marufuji vs Katsuhiko Nakajima  

Takashi Sugiura vs Kenoh

Shuhei Taniguchi vs Yoshiki Inamura

Sunday October 11th: (16:00 JST, 3:00 EDT, 0:00 PDT, 7:00 GMT)

N-1 Victory Finals: The winner of Block A vs the winner of Block B

My Prediction

For me, this might be the most unpredictable tournament since there could be many winners. The blocks are great. Especially that B block where you could make a case for 4 of the competitors.

A Block

Anyway, let’s go onto the A block. To me, there are only 2 options to advance. Kaito Kiyomiya and Masa Kitamiya. Both men are the next generation of NOAH. Kiyomiya the young ace a previous winner and he will want to bounce back after a poor loss to Keiji Mutoh. Masa Kitamiya, on the other hand, will see this as his chance to get that big breakout moment as a singles star.

They face off against each other on the 22/9 show. This match could be a big factor. The winner could easily win the block. On the final day, Kitamiya faces Mochizuki while Kiyomiya faces Shiozaki. Both tough matches. Although I would argue that Kiyomiya’s match is tougher because he is facing the GHC Heavyweight Champion.

In the end, I have to go with Kitamiya advancing to the finals. Not only does this help establish him as one of the top competitors after slipping into more of a tag team role lately. It also plays into the story going into the finals which I will get to in a bit.

B Block

Now we get to the harder block to predict. Like I said you could make a case for 4 men. Those 4 being Taniguchi, Sugiura, Marufuji and Nakajima.

Taniguchi has been a roll and been putting on great matches. he really stepped up his game last year and was able to show what he could do. Adding to his arsenal and improving a good deal. IMO he has more than earned a title shot or a tournament win. Taniguchi will be looking to get his first GHC Heavyweight title shot since 2016

Sugiura is NOAH’S final boss. The man is incredible. Since losing the National title he has been doing much in terms of singles action. He could win and set up a match with Shiozaki. Those two have had great matches in the past.

Marufuji will be looking to do better than last year. he earned no points losing every match. After a low-key start to 2020 mainly competing in tag matches, he will be fresher than he was last year. Marufuji will be looking to set up a rematch with Shiozaki and prove that he is the real NOAH.

Nakajima will be looking to get back to the top of the NOAH once again. After what many consider a failed ace run, Nakajima completely reinvented himself. If he does win it sets up a match against his tag partner Shiozaki.

It wouldn’t be shocking if all 4 men were still in with a chance on the final night.

However, the matches they are in are crucial. Taniguchi goes up against Inamura and I could see Inamura getting an upset here and knocking him out of contention.

Sugiura goes up against the National champion Kenoh. This match should be a hard-hitting affair. Just like last year’s finals, I think Kenoh will win.

This leaves Marufuji and Nakajima who face each other. The record between them is 3:2 in Marufuji’s favour. I expect Nakajima to beat Marufuji tie the record and advance to the finals.

The finals  

So the finals come down to Masa Kitamiya and Katsuhiko Nakajima. Former tag team partners. They won the GHC Tag Team Championships twice together. They come face to face in the finals. A big match in both men’s career.

For Kitamiya a break out win and a chance to capture the GHC Heavyweight Championship for the first time. A chance to show that he is a viable top contender and not just a tag team wrestler.

For Nakajima, a chance to set up a match with current tag partner Go Shiozaki and a shot at the title that has alluded him for 3 years. A chance to show how much he has evolved since then.
In the end, I think that it will be Katsuhiko Nakajima that will win in the finals.

My prediction: N1 Victory 2020 winner Katsuhiko Nakajima

Let me know what you guys think. Who will be the winner? Who will surprise us all with a great performance? Will the winner best Go Shiozaki and become the new GHC Heavyweight Champion?

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