August 11 marks the beginning of Pro Wrestling NOAH's prestigious N-1 Victory round-robin tournament. Katsuhiko Nakajima has won the tournament two years in a row, using last year's win to defeat Naomichi Marufuji for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. The 2022 edition of the tournament involves some of the best wrestlers in Japan featuring Nakajima, GHC Heavyweight Champion Kenoh, Go Shiozaki, Takashi Sugiura, and NJPW's Satoshi Kojima. However, no wrestler may be more favorite to win the tournament this year than the "Supernova" Kaito Kiyomiya.
The 26-year-old already has a year-long GHC Heavyweight Championship reign to his name and most recently defeated Keiji Mutoh in the first match of Mutoh's retirement tour. The young NOAH star is the present and future of the promotion and is looking to get back on top by winning the N-1 Victory.
Fightful's Scott Edwards had a chance to ask Kiyomiya a couple of questions heading into this year's N-1 Victory tournament regarding Kenoh, the match with Keiji Mutoh, and his plans for the future.
Here's what Kaito Kiyomiya had to say in our interview:
Q: What makes NOAH special to you?
A: I think NOAH is a company with fondness which have great history and extreme battles. Whatever, I admire Mitsuharu Misawa, this is why I became a wrestler. This is the reason.
Q: Pro Wrestling NOAH has a prestigious history that includes some of the greatest wrestlers of all time. What does it mean to you to be such an important part of the present and future of NOAH?
A: To regain and overcome its former glory, I have to be the best wrestler in the world.
Q: Heading into the N-1 Victory, who are you looking forward to facing the most in your block?
A: Masa Kitamiya. Nowadays he and I haven’t been face to face, but this single match is important for me. Since I was an apprentice, he had taken care of me every day in Dojo. I want to show OUR wrestling.
Q: Winning the N-1 Victory would give you an opportunity to have a rematch with Kenoh. You lost to him earlier this year via knockout. What excites you about a potential rematch with the GHC Heavyweight Championship on the line and what will be your game plan this time around?
A: Kenoh is the player I am personally fond of, I’ve been chasing him. I am jealous and respect him because he is becoming the icon of NOAH. I will make the most fierce fight with him ever, and I will go beyond that.
Q: You wrestled and defeated Keiji Mutoh in the first of his final five matches of his career. First off, how much of an honor was it to have one of his final matches? Second, what did the long-awaited victory over him mean to you?
A: I thank him so much. There is no one having so much love for wrestling but him. I felt that in the match.
Mutoh gifted you the Shining Wizard, Figure Four, and Dragon Screw. Beating him is one thing but how does it feel to be passed down the moves of a legend like himself?
A: He gifted me those before his retirement, so I use those moves so valuable.
Q: You already have a year-long reign as GHC Heavyweight Champion to your name. That being said, do you believe you’re a better wrestler now than you were then?
A: I feel my growth through matches with players who make history of wrestling.
Q: What is the ultimate goal in pro wrestling for Kaito Kiyomiya?
A: My goal is to make NOAH the best wrestling company in Japan.
Q: If you make it to the N-1 Victory finals, who are you hoping to face from the A Block?
A big thank you to Kiyomiya for taking the time to answer these questions and NOAH for allowing and helping make this interview happen ahead of the tournament.
Here's a look at Kaito Kiyomiya's full schedule of matches as he participates in the B Block:
- vs. Jack Morris (8/11)
- vs. Masa Kitamiya (8/13)
- vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (8/14)
- vs. Masakatsu Funaki (8/19)
- vs. Kinya Okada (8/20)
- vs. Takashi Sugiura (8/27)
- vs. Satoshi Kojima (8/28)
Pro Wrestling NOAH's N-1 Victory begins August 11 and will finish on September 3.