The 2nd to last live show before Pro Wrestling NOAH’s N-1 Victory 2021 begins. And for Kotaro Suzuki, this show is of critical importance. In the main event he challenges HAYATA for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship. If he wins the belt he will be the first current GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion to enter a Global League/N-1 Victory.
Also on the card is Kaito Kiyomiya getting his long awaited revenge on NOSAWA Rongai. It was on the 22nd of May this year that NOSAWA bloodied and humiliated Kaito and now he wants his vengeance.
Airing live on Wrestle Universe from Yokohama Radiant Hall on Friday the 3rd of September the show starts at 6pm in Japan. That’s 10am in England, 5am East Coast USA and 2am West Coast USA.
Wrestle Universe is a paid for subscription service which runs per calendar month. The first month you join is absolutely FREE! So if you join September 1st you get all of September for free and only pay from October 1st.
It’s only under £8 per calendar month from then on out and you get live shows from NOAH, DDT & TJPW. Plus VOD shows too. You’ll get three out of six N-1 Victory shows live. And one that originally aired on ABEMA on Sunday 12th will be on Wrestle Universe by the 19th.
There are only 6 matches on the card on account of the on-going Covid-19 global pandemic and it is very junior heavyweight centric, most likely to give them a showcase before the heavyweights take center stage.
Let’s get right to it!
MAIN EVENT – GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship – HAYATA (c) vs Kotaro Suzuki
Kotaro Suzuki is already a Four time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion. He said recently that he was considering stepping back from title contention. At only 43 years old, he was going to leave the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title the the young(er) generations.
However, with him entering this year’s N-1 Victory, he has said that he wants to enter while holding the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title. And he should not be writing himself off due to his age. The current GHC Heavyweight Champion, Naomichi Marufuji is only a year younger than him. The GHC National Champion, Takashi Sugiura is 50 years old. HAYATA is 34 – only 9 years younger.
On December 24th this year, Suzuki will celebrate 20 years as a professional wrestler. He is the very first graduate of the NOAH dojo and a disciple of Mitsuharu Misawa as his elbows can attest. And despite his age and in-ring experience, he has shown no signs of slowing down. He is still fast, agile and one of the most criminally underrated junior heavyweight wrestlers in the world.
He and HAYATA have history too. Suzuki debuted in NOAH December 2001 but left in December 2012. HAYATA joined NOAH at the end of 2016. Suzuki returned to NOAH towards the end of 2018. At that time RATEL’S were running the NOAH junior division and Suzuki was unaffiliated.
Suzuki would win the Global Junior League 2018 and then beat Daisuke Harada for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship (his 3rd reign) on the 30th of October. His first defense? HAYATA.
The match happened on the 17th of November. It was not televised but NOAH aired clipped footage from it from a single camera on their YouTube channel.
Kotaro would retain his belt on that night after just under 16 minutes. Suzuki would lose the belt back to Harada on the 16th of December. But he and old mentor, Yoshinari Ogawa, would win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s in February 2019.
HAYATA again would be first challenger, teaming with Tadasuke, but RATEL’S would lose to the beginnings of STINGER. While still holding the tag belts, Suzuki & Ogawa would win the Global Junior Tag League 2019 by beating HAYATA & YO-HEY in the finals.
The two would have a second singles match during the Global Junior League where they would go to a 30 minute draw on the 15th of July. The two would tie at the top of their Block so they had a decision match on the 21st. Untelevised but single camera footage from NOAH’s YouTube can be seen below.
They had both wrestled earlier in the night so it only took HAYATA just over 3 minutes to beat Suzuki. This was their third and final singles match before this coming Friday.
HAYATA would go on to beat Tadasuke in the finals and then Minoru Tanaka to win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title for his second reign.
STINGER would officially be formed in mid-2019 as Ogawa, Suzuki, Atsushi Kotoge and Chris Ridgeway. And from then on the feud between STINGER and RATEL’S was on.
Ogawa & Suzuki would lose the belts to Harada & Tadasuke on the 2nd of November but Suzuki would win them back on the 29th of that same month with Kotoge. HAYATA would lose his belt to Ogawa on the 4th of January 2020.
And 2020 is when things would get complicated. HAYATA & YO-HEY would take the belts from Suzuki & Kotoge on the 29th of March. Suzuki would beat Ogawa for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title on the 19th of April but there would be no in drama with STINGER.
On the 9th of May it was HAYATA & YO-HEY defending their belts against Suzuki & Ogawa. That match would end in a no contest when HAYATA turned on YO-HEY to join STINGER. The tag belts were declared vacant and a title match was hastily arranged for the very next day where the new team of HAYATA & Ogawa beat YO-HEY & Tadasuke.
As a result of HAYATA’s defection, RATEL’S disbanded. Kotoge would also leave STINGER but the trio of Suzuki, Ogawa & HAYATA were very successful as they held all of the junior gold in NOAH.
There was piece in the STINGER camp…. For a few months. Everywhere else in the NOAH junior division there was drama and in-fighting. But STINGER was stable. Until they weren’t. If you could pin point the moment it would be when HAYATA & Ogawa lost the junior tag belts to Harada & Kotoge. They became desperate to get them back.
So on what should have been an inconsequential six man tag team match against a Kongo team, Suzuki already having his title match against Harada set and HAYATA/Ogawa vs Harada/Kotoge also set up for a few weeks after, HAYATA inadvertently superkicked Suzuki which allowed Tadasuke to pin him.
Tempers flared between Suzuki and HAYATA and it was about to get physical. Ogawa attempted to step in but he got an elbow to the gut from Suzuki as a knee-jerk reaction. HAYATA then pounced on Suzuki and took him down. Ogawa was back up and laying right into Suzuki with him. The two together left Suzuki down and out, effectively kicking him out of STINGER.
Ever since that night in late October, Suzuki has had a vendetta against his former STINGER team mates. Ogawa to be more specific. He attempted to take the juniors belts from them several times but Salvaje de Oriente betrayed him and turned out to be Yuya Susumu. And him and Ikuto Hidaka were unable to beat them at Nippon Budokan.
When HAYATA & Ogawa eventually lost the tag belts to Harada & Ohara, HAYATA quickly rebounded by becoming the new GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion on June 27th. He’s made two successful defenses since then over Hidaka and YO-HEY.
This is only their fourth singles match. Suzuki won the last time the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title was on the line. They’ve gone to a half hour draw before and when they had to wrestle a Decision match, HAYATA got his win back in quick fashion.
I don’t know whether we will see a title change. The belt has already changed hands three times this year. Suzuki could do with the momentum before the N-1 Victory begins. His reign from 2011 stands as one of my favourite GHC Junior Heavyweight Title runs ever. And although he had a good run with the belt last year, I would not be opposed to see him hold it again.
On the other hand the NOAH junior division could do with some stability. Harada only held the belt for 96 days and made two defenses before he lost it. Seiki Yoshioka held it for 30 days and lost it in his first defense. Kotoge held it for 105 days and made two defenses also. HAYATA has made two defenses so far and will be on day 68 come Friday.
So this could go either way.
Kaito Kiyomiya vs NOSAWA Rongai
Kaito has had a terrible 2021. A loss to Muto for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. A loss to Masato Tanaka. A loss to Yoshinari Ogawa. And sandwiched between Tanaka and Ogawa, a loss to NOSAWA.
Now there is an asterisk next to that loss. NOSAWA won via count out. But the circumstances that lead to that count out saw NOSAWA bust Kiyomiya open with a chair shot and left him a bloody mess. And we’re talking Mutoh-scale levels of blood here.
A lot of his opponents have used that cut on his forehead to their advantage and Kiyomiya has bled in several matches since the NOSAWA match on the 22nd of May. At the beginning of August The Great Muta attacked that weakness and had Kiyomiya bleeding all over the ring in a tag match in which Muta teamed with NOSAWA too.
It was NOSAWA that started Kiyomiya’s bloodletting. It was NOSAWA that brought on Kiyomiya’s bloodlust as the sight of his own blood has made him wilder and more chaotic. Kiyomiya is not the same man he once was when he held the GHC Heavyweight Championship.
This match was originally scheduled to take place on August 15th however Covid scuppered those plans and the card was adjusted. NOSAWA was placed in to a tag match but Kiyomiya was not going to let NOSAWA off that easy. He attacked NOSAWA before, during and after that tag match. This was completely unlike Kiyomiya or any NOAH born wrestler to interfere in someone else’s match.
This weekend just gone Kiyomiya teamed with Ogawa & HAYATA to face The Great Muta, NOSAWA Rongai and Maryufushi (Naomichi Marufuji’s demonic-alter ego to go alongside Muta). Kiyomiya took the fight right to NOSAWA. And Muta too for that matter, not forgetting the steel hook from the turnbuckle. But the real drama wouldn’t happen until after the match, after Ogawa had pinned NOSAWA.
Kiyomiya and NOSAWA continued to brawl outside of the ring and to the backstage. While backstage, NOSAWA and Maryufushi both would set Kiyomiya up to be hit by a car. Yes, you read that right. Kiyomiya was hit by a car backstage. Actually…. It was a lot less dramatic than that. Kiyomiya staggered forward to be hit by a slow moving people carrier driven by The Great Muta. Apparently, like all old drivers, he can only go the one speed – Slow.
NOSAWA then grabbed Kiyomiya, threw him on to the bonnet of the car and the The Great Muta drove a short distance and Kiyomiya rolled off. Honestly…. I don’t think there’ll be many people who thought this was a good angle. And it was made even worse by the slow speed Muta was driving (I’m not expecting Muta to be a speed demon and be driving fast enough to kill someone but faster than 1mph) made it unintentionally funny. Still the sight of The Great Muta behind the wheel will make memes for years to come.
It’s worth noting that while not officially sanctioned (as of this writing) NOSAWA has challenged Kiyomiya to put his spot in the N-1 Victory on the line. Now we’ve already got Kendo Kashin in the N-1 whether we like it or not. I’d hate to have NOSAWA in there too. Especially not at the expense of Kiyomiya.
This is Kiyomiya’s last test before the N-1 Victory begins. This is his chance to absolve himself of the sin from his count out loss to NOSAWA in May and hopefully enter the N-1 with a better mindset.
STINGER (Yoshinari Ogawa, Seiki Yoshioka & Yuya Susumu) vs Momo No Seishun (Atsushi Kotoge, Hajima Ohara & Junta Miyawaki)
The STINGER team of Yoshioka & Susumu made their first defense of their GHC Junior Heavyweight Title’s on August 15th over the Kongo team of Tadasuke & Aleja. It definitely feels like we could get their next challengers step forward here.
It was only on August 1st that Yoshioka & Susumu dethroned previous champions Harada & Ohara. Harada is not in this match as he has a score to settle with an old friend and enemy. I could see Ohara challenging for a rematch but with Miyawaki as his partner.
Miyawaki only made his first ever title attempt this past March with Harada as his partner against Ogawa & HAYATA. Miyawaki showed a lot of fire in that match and really impressed a lot of people.
I see Ohara & Miyawaki clicking more than I do Ohara & Kotoge. Or even Kotoge & Miyawaki. Plus this would free up Harada and Kotoge to team together again. Even if they do have a cool relationship outside of the ring together.
But Yoshioka & Susumu have potential to be dominant champions. As dominant as the other STINGER team, Ogawa & HAYATA was during 2020. They are two wrestlers who are in perfect synch with each other and they built that up in their history together before either joined NOAH.
And where does this leave Ogawa? He started 2020 by winning the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title for the first time in his lengthy career and becoming one of the few men who can claim to have both junior and heavyweight GHC singles and tag team belts (Marufuji, Sugiura and KENTA are the others). Then he and HAYATA won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title’s which they held for a combined 344 days over two reigns from May 2020 to May 2021.
STINGER now consists of four wrestlers and three of them have a shared history over a decade long and well before any of them joined NOAH. He has found himself the odd man out in a stable he created and all the others joined STINGER after betraying their previous stables and partners. So it will be curious to see where Ogawa ends up by the end of the year.
Daisuke Harada vs Tadasuke
A rematch from their GHC Junior Heavyweight Title match from December 19th 2020. But they have history that goes back far deeper than that. I wrote a little bit about that history which you can read from the preview piece I wrote before that match HERE
But basically the TLDR version is that both are graduates from Osaka Pro. Harada 2006 and Tadasuke 2007. Harada beat Tadasuke in Tadasuke’s third ever match.
And it’s been that way for quite some time. December 2020 included they’ve had 26 singles matches. Harada has won 22 of them including that last title match.
What’s changed since that match? Tadasuke remains a member of Kongo and has been belt-less this entire time. Harada is still a member of Momo No Seishun which now includes Ohara but he’s lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title and he’s won and lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title’s with Ohara.
Neither man has forgotten their time together in Osaka Pro and RATEL’S. Neither have forgotten how Tadasuke turned on YO-HEY after the RATEL’S ended in name but that betrayal effectively split the remaining three up. And neither have forgotten that match from December.
This is not a junior heavyweight style match. Tadasuke is a beefy junior heavyweight. Harada is a technician with a mean elbow. This could be a match you’d see taking place for the GHC National Title instead.
YO-HEY vs Aleja
If the match above was not your typical junior heavyweight style match, then you’ll get exactly just that in this match right here. Both are fast paced (perhaps the fastest of the NOAH roster with Haoh and Yoshioka) and high flying wrestlers who seem like ideal matches against each other.
YO-HEY has the experience edge as he originally debuted at the end of 2008 but he took two years off from May 2009 until February 2011. Aleja debuted in March 2016. So YO-HEY has at least five years on him.
They’ve only shared the ring just the once during a 4 vs 4 elimination tag match. It was Los Perros del Mal de Japon vs Kongo and the Kongo team won after Tadasuke last eliminated YO-HEY after he was sent over the top rope. Aleja himself having been eliminated, also via over the top rope, earlier in the match. So they have not faced off with each other much at all.
Aleja has only just been handed his first singles loss in a NOAH ring against Kotaro Suzuki on the 28th of August. YO-HEY unfortunately caught Covid-19 at the beginning of August and has only just returned back to the ring.
Both men will be needing the win here. Both will be desperate for it. YO-HEY only just challenged for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title before he caught Covid so he will be at the end of the list. Maybe it’s now Aleja’s time to shine.
Kongo (Haoh & Nioh) vs Yasutaka Yano & Kai Fujimura
Like YO-HEY, Nioh also tested positive for Covid-19 so was sidelined. However, his symptoms lasted longer, as he had a persistent cough. So this will be his return match.
This might just be the opening that Yano and Fujimura need. The youngsters don’t stand a chance against a 100% Nioh and Haoh. But maybe. Just maybe. If Nioh is still suffering, this could be their chance.
On the other hand Nioh has been off for a few weeks. At home, feeling ill. And we all know what that’s like. You start feeling sorry for yourself. Then you start feeling restless. Then your home becomes like a prison and you can’t wait to be released.
I can imagine that’s where Nioh feels like right now. He got sick through no fault of his own and will want a punching bag to work his feelings out on. In which case, poor Yano & Fujimura.
And that’s the card. Six matches but the top two have got big implications going into the N-1 Victory.
To get you up to speed before the N-1 Victory I’ve written three articles. The first should be up before this piece is published with the other two to follow.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoy the show!