On January 10th, Pro Wrestling NOAH launches their first tournament of 2020 : The Global Junior League ! The tourney this year won’t be happening during summer time, and as we are only a few days removed from the league starting, I suggest we dive into a preview of the tournament !
Pro Wrestling NOAH’s singles Junior Heavyweight tournament this year will be lasting all the way from January 10th until the 30th, where the tournament final will happen ! This year’s edition of the tournament will not be held in the usual two blocks format. This edition will see the 16 competitors be separated in four different blocks ! Not only that, but instead of going straight to tournament final, there will be semi-finals. The men advancing the A and B blocks will face each other, while the winners of the C and D blocks will fight to determine who advances in the ultimate final.
The system of points remains the same, however. 2 points for a win, 1 for a draw and none if you lose. On that note, how about we take a look at this year’s bracket ?
- A block : HAYATA (2019 winner, RATEL’S), Yoshinari Ogawa (GHC Junior Heavyweight champion, STINGER), NOSAWA Rongai (Sugiura-Gun), Junta Miyawaki
- B block : Kotaro Suzuki (STINGER), Tadasuke (RATEL’S), Hao (Kongoh), Dick Togo (Sugiura-Gun)
- C block : Atsushi Kotoge (STINGER), YO-HEY (RATEL’S), Hajime Ohara (Sugiura-Gun), Hitoshi Kumano
- D block : Daisuke Harada (RATEL’S), Chris Ridgeway (STINGER), Minoru Tanaka, Nio (Kongoh)
Let’s now tackle each blocks ! First in the A block, the two men involved in the last GHC Junior Heavyweight championship match, former champion HAYATA and new champion Ogawa will be crossing paths again, alongside NOSAWA Rongai and the Orange Riot himself, still waiting for his first singles win in NOAH, Junta Miyawaki. Quite obviously here, HAYATA and Ogawa are the favourites, and with Ogawa being the champion, very little chances are that he doesn’t end up advancing in the block semis. It’ll be weird not to see last year’s winner advance, however.
Lastly, with both NOSAWA and Miyawaki in the same block, could we expect Junta to pick up his first singles win on Sugiura-Gun’s veteran ?
Following up is the B block, where yet another part of the STINGER vs RATEL’S rivalry will take place between both Suzuki and last year finalist Tadasuke. Both men seem like the two favourites here, but this block remains pretty open. Especially as the most recently announced member of Sugiura-Gun Dick Togo, is the last entrant in the tournament. In that regard, there is a chance that Togo will shine. Not only that, but probably the biggest story of the block involves him and Hao, as the latter was trained by Dick Togo, and Hao made clear that he was not pleased with his trainer joining the faction Kongoh is, and will keep feuding with.
As for the C block, here we have another pretty open block, with Kotoge, YO-HEY and Ohara being credible as the man to eventually advance. With the first one returning to the Junior division not so long ago, I would be surprised if he wasn’t at least finishing top two in the block. Regarding YO-HEY and Ohara, I think the latter should get more spotlight. Ohara has barely done anything since leaving his former Backbreakers partner Kumano, which he will fight in the block, since joining Sugiura-Gun. So, there are big chances that he not only gets a strong showing, but he may be the most likely to advance.
Lastly, the STACKED block, the D block. Current Junior Ace Daisuke Harada will take part in the tournament alongside rival Chris Ridgeway, the Special One himself and the man who defeated Harada in Yokohama last March for the Junior title, Minoru Tanaka. Lastly, the man formerly known as Hi69, Nio. While the block is stacked as three VERY credible tournament winners will face each other, Ridgeway is more than probably the one which would benefit the most from advancing, especially as he lost to Harada when challenging him to try and regain the IPW:UK Junior title, which he failed to do, and globally needs more establishment within the division regarding accomplishments.
Now that we tackled each blocks… Allow me to make some actual predictions after going through the field !
For the A block, and this seems fairly obvious because he’s the champion, Yoshinari Ogawa is advancing.
For the B block, I would say Kotaro Suzuki advances, and we get an all STINGER first semifinal here between the two former Junior tag champs.
For the C block, Hajime Ohara advances, as he is the one needing it the most at this point.
For the D block, Chris Ridgeway will advance as, kind of like Ohara, he needs to get out the block round more than the two other credible options.
That would give us the following semis :
- A block winner Yoshinari Ogawa vs B block winner Kotaro Suzuki
- C block winner Hajime Ohara vs D block winner Chris Ridgeway
As you can see, no member of RATEL’S would advance in this scenario. This, as surprising as it sounds, in my eyes, might be the big story of the tournament. All the members of the group are each in a different block, just like STINGER, which ties into both groups’ rivalry. Having STINGER get three of their members advancing while no RATEL’S member does indicates the start of a landscape shift within the division, especially with STINGER holding all of the GHC Junior championships as we speak.
It also gives a big direction regarding RATEL’S in 2020, especially in comparison to last year’s Global League. Last year, the final was all RATEL’S and the they all posed with the trophy alongside tournament winner HAYATA. No one, even Harada himself failing to advance from the block round makes for an interesting take on the supposed dominance of the group the last few years, because after all… STINGER has been their first real, long term threat when it comes to another faction actually stepping up to them. Also, the division looks very strong now, which hasn’t always been the case.
With a complete fail during Global Junior League, RATEL’S would need to regroup in some way.
As for predicting the final, and the winner, both semis could go either way, assuming these little predictions of mine end up being true. One thing I can say with a lot of certainty however, is that the eventual winner would lie within the Ohara vs Ridgeway semifinal, as they both need that big leap and something big to win, no matter if they end up defeating Ogawa for the championship later on, or not. However, as much as an all STINGER final seems appealing in order to mirror the all RATEL’S final from last year, Hajime Ohara making it all the way to the final and winning the tournament would also be a good twist, as copying the RATEL’S scenario with STINGER may just be a little bit too predictable.