Intro to W-1: 2019 Summary

Wrestle-1 is a promotion that came as the result of the fallout of All Japan’s ownership switching hands in 2012. When this happened Keiji Mutoh announced his resignation from All Japan and within months announced the formation of his own promotion Wrestle-1.The core of the roster at the beginning were those loyal to Mutoh who defected from All Japan when he left. When the promotion was created Mutoh’s intention for it was to be “Fighting Entertainment”. It was to be a more Western style production of wrestling, more entertainment based and a focus on angles. The stories are usually pretty simple, such as young boy trying to beat the veteran and rivals fighting but eventually teaming up. There are some factions battles similar to other promotions but that has died down recently, in favor of an invasion angle which is currently on going. In addition to this he wanted to form relationships with overseas promotions and create a “true” world championship. This has yet to come to fruition other than a short partnership with TNA, which is why you had wrestlers such as Sanada and Kai working in TNA around this time. W-1 has begun to step up efforts to work with overseas promotions including formation of the Wrestle-1 Alliance which held tryouts in America to bring over American indie wrestlers to train in he Wrestle-1 Dojo.

There’s multiple ways to go about explaining a new promotion to someone but my goal is to try and introduce the minimum you would need to know to understand the current Wrestle-1 product. So I’ll be going through what has happened so far in 2019 and give context to it all as I go. Hopefully by the end of this you’ll understand the current story lines in the company, have a little bit of historical context, and understand who these wrestlers are.

January

Wrestle-1’s first major show of the year was January 5th in Korakuen Hall. There were two big matches on this card, Shotaro Ashino vs T-Hawk for the Wrestle-1 Title and a big eight-man tag W-1 vs #STRONGHEARTS. This encapsulates the overall story line currently in W-1, the #STRONGHEARTS invasion. Last year when CIMA left Dragon Gate to run OWE in China, he took others with him. This group of OWE wrestlers returned to Japan as #STRONGHEARTS to invade both DDT and W-1. This came to a head at Pro Wrestling Love in Osaka in September when CIMA and Jiro “Ikemen” Kuroshio faced each other in a multi-man tag and Shuji Kondo and Koji Doi successfully defended the tag team championships against #STRONGHEARTS members T-Hawk and El Lindaman. Ikemen had been the one leading the charge defending W-1 against #STRONGHEARTS but he was injured in this match and forced to leave defending the company to others.

During this time, a rookie named Jun Tonsho became attached to CIMA and eventually lost his last name in a singles match against CIMA to become Jun Tondokoro. Enfants Terribles, the major heel stable in the company, had matches against #STRONGHEARTS but kept losing to them until the finally the group’s leader Shotaro Ashino got involved. Enfants and Tondokoro defeated #STRONGHEARTS when Ashino submitted CIMA in December. Ashino told them to get out of W-1 now that he beat their leader, but instead T-Hawk challenged him for his title. We also had Ikemen come out after the match to confront CIMA.

This show in January continued the invasion with #STRONGHEARTS performing a clean sweep winning both matches but most importantly T-Hawk capturing the W-1 Title from Shotaro Ashino. After the match T-Hawk claimed there were no real threats to him or #STRONGHEARTS now that he’s beaten Ashino, but Ikemen and Shuji Kondo came out to confront them as well as Seigo Tachibana who announced he was returning from injury. Other notes from this show include the continuation of Tsugutaka Sato’s feud against the Result Champion Kuma Arashi and Alejandro’s feud with Masayuki Kono. Also Pegaso Illuminar had the first match of his five match trial series by being defeated by Tajiri. It was also announced later this month that the tag champions Koji Doi and Shuji Kondo would have to relinquish their titles due to Doi being injured in December.

February

The first big show of February was the Korakuen Hall show on the 13th had an eight man elimination tag main event between W-1 and #STRONGHEARTS, as well as the opening matches of the W-1 Cruiser Fes. The Cruiser Fes is a single elimination tournament between the cruiserweights of the company to determine the next challenger for the Cruiserweight Division Championship held by Yusuke Kodama at the time. Kodama won the title off Seiki Yoshioka in June of last year and now Yoshioka is a member of #STRONGHEARTS after betraying W-1 late last year.

This year’s Cruiser Fes competitors were Kaz Hayashi, Andy Wu, Alejandro, El Lindaman, Seiki Yoshioka, MAZADA, and Alejandro. On this show Yoshioka defeated Andy to continue to the second round. Being two of the main stays in the division, these two have a rich history with each other. In the other match Lindaman defeated Kaz to advance. Due to how the bracket worked out, Lindaman and Yoshioka planned to both advance to the finals to face each other in a #STRONGHEARTS vs #STRONGHEARTS match.

The main event was an elimination tag match between W-1 and #STRONGHEARTS where Ikemen won the match for his team by eliminating both CIMA and T-Hawk. After the match Ikemen challenged T-Hawk to a title match at the Ota Ward Gymnasium show on March 21st. This would be Wrestle-1’s first show in this arena so it was very important for them to put on the best card possible, and running T-Hawk vs Ikemen was one of the bigger matches they could do. In addition, on this same show it was announced that Ashino would facing Big Japan’s Daisuke Sekimoto.

After Ikemen made the challenge to T-Hawk, Ashino and Enfants came to the ring. Ashino told Ikemen that he had to win his title match so that he could take take the title back himself from Ikemen afterwards. He also challenged both T-Hawk and Ikemen to a tag match at the next Korakuen in March. Ikemen and Ashino have been pretty much attached at the hip for the past few years as heated rivals. The most notable match they had against each other was a W-1 Title match at Pro Wrestling Love in Yokohama September 2017, a match to decide who truly was the face of the company which Ikemen lost. But Ashino losing the title and Ikemen taking over the fight against #STRONGHEARTS with Ashino seemingly giving Ikemen his blessing, this was a big step toward Ikemen being the guy in the company.

March

With the Ota-Ward show looming, there was still a big Korakuen to get through at the beginning of the month. The most important match on the card was a triple threat 6 man tag between W-1, Enfants Terribles, and #STRONGHEARTS. The W-1 team consisted of Shuji Kondo, Ikemen, and a returning Seigo Tachibana. Tachibana had been injured at the same time as Ikemen last year, but finally was able to make his return for this big match. Enfants Terribles was represented by Shotaro Ashino, the Cruiser Division Champion Yusuke Kodama, and the Result Title Champion Kuma Arashi. #STRONGHEARTS was represented by the W-1 Champion T-Hawk, El Lindaman, and Takehiro Yamamura in his debut match for the company and one of this first matches since returning from injury. Ikemen was able to score the win for his team by pinning T-Hawk again, to further submit his claim to the title. Backstage Ikemen talked about how important it was for him to bring the title back to the company he’s worked for for 5 years. He didn’t want to disappoint the fans who are once again behind him in a title match, and if he did lose he’d be lost afterwards.

There were two other important matches on the card, one being the second match in Pegaso’s five match trial series where he was defeated by Dick Togo. It was later announced that Dick Togo would be in a Cruiser Division number one contenders match at Ota-Ward versus both Ryuji Hijikata and Andy Wu. The other big match of this show was the finals for the Cruiser Fes between Seiki Yoshioka defeating El Hijo del Pantera. Unfortunately in the match Yoshioka was injured and it was announced that Pantera would be challenging for the Cruiser Championship at Ota-Ward in his place.

Most of the year up until this point leading to the Ota-ward show, Wrestle Wars, so really every match had some kind of story to them. The opener was Kuma Arashi successfully defending the Result Title in a 9 Man rumble against Ganseki Tanaka, Tsugutaka Sato, SUSHI, Shota Nakagawa, Shunsuke Sayama, Takumi Baba, Rion Mizuki, Masayuki Mitomi. The primary story of this is Kuma won the title off Ganseki last year but is completely uninterested in the belt. He throws the belt in the trash, pretends he it doesn’t exist, and claims complains about having no competition because they keep sending nobodies his way which he proves in this match. Ganseki won the belt last year after Ikemen was forced to relinquish it due to injury but lost it pretty quickly to Kuma. Now both he and Sato are in a rivalry to be the one to defeat Kuma and bring some honor to the title, but both fail. A few days after the show we learn that Sato was letting his contract expire and would be leaving W-1 at the end of the month.

Second match was a women’s tag match between Flourish (Hana Kimura & Asuka) being defeated by Yumiko Hotta & Reika Saiki. At the time Hana Kimura was the only signed women’s wrestler in the company and spent most of last year feuding with Asuka failing to get a win over her. She went on a short excursion to Mexico and returned with a new vigor to defeat Asuka in Yokohama in September. From then on they formed a tag team together called Flourish which lead to this match after Reika Saiki announced she signed to W-1 earlier in the month. It looked to be maybe W-1 was finally going to launch a women’ division with having two women signed, but instead after the match Hana announced this would be her final W-1 match and signed full time to Stardom the next month.

Third match was a Cruiser Division number one contender three way match. Not a whole lot to say about this match but I’m just curious if this was the plan all along or if they had to change things up considering Yoshioka’s injury. But Andy won and would face the winner of the fifth match tonight which was between Kodama and Pantera due to Yoshioka’s injury. Kodama earned the win here so we see the continuation of their feud from last year.

The fourth match was a tag team match between Daiki Inaba & Jun Kasai versus Manabu Soya & Daiki Inaba. Inaba and Soya have been tag team partners for a while, they even went to the finals of the W-1 Tag League to face Kondo and Doi for the tag titles. But going into Ota-ward they were struggling as a team to the point where they just gave up on being a team and set up this match with new partners. Inaba immediately found his partner in Jun Kasai which shocked Soya, as Kasai and Soya used to be in a faction together called New Wild Order. Soya himself found it difficult to find a partner, posting multiple videos on YouTube detailing his search. He was even got rejected my an ex tag partner, Akira, but finally found a partner in Otani. The match was pretty intense, Otani inevitably turned on Soya in the end, and Inaba got the win on his old partner to set him up for bigger things in the future.

The sixth match was an six man W-1 vs #STRONGHEARTS match. Shuji Kondo, Seigo Tachibana, & Jun Tondokoro defeated CIMA, El Lindaman, Takehiro Yamamura with Kondo scoring the pinfall. The major story in this was a small rivalry between Kondo and Yamamura coming out of the last Korakuen. This match would have more importance after the main event.

In the seventh match Shotaro Ashino was defeated by Big Japan’s Daisuke Sekimoto. Ashino has spoken earlier in the month about wanting to face other wrestlers and in different promotions to become stronger and he got his wish here. Now he wants to focus on W-1 but wants to face Sekimoto again once he improves.

The seventh match was for the vacated W-1 Tag Titles. Masayuki Kono & Alejandro defeated Kaz Hayashi & Pegaso Illuminar. Kono and Alejandro had been feuding last year because Alejandro was tired of losing all the time so he set the goal of pinning the largest man in the company because he is the smallest. He pestered and pestered Kono until he finally agreed to a singles match. Alejandro lost but earned Kono’s respect and they formed this tag team. They win this match and this odd pairing tag tag team are the new champs.

In the eighth and final match one of the most popular guys in the company would take on the ace of the invaders. Ikemen has been popular with the fans for a long time but has gotten them behind him only to fail in his important matches, and unfortunately this match wasn’t any different. T-Hawk successfully defends the title for the first time and Ikemen fails once again to capture the gold. After the match both Shuji Kondo and Kuma Arashi come out to challenge T-Hawk which sets up a number one contender’s match at the next Korakuen show. The next day it is announced that Ikemen will be departing from the company in hopes of making a name for himself as a freelancer, including working dates in America. There was a bit of a negative outlook on the company following the Ota-Ward show by some. The company lost two very popular wrestlers in Hana and Ikemen, a promising young wrestler in Sato, and the attendance was disappointing. Despite this, the next two months of Korakuen shows came to prove W-1 is still here and putting on great shows.

April

Injuries forced the card of the April Korakuen to be shifted around a bit but in the end we got some good matches out of it. Reika Saiki began her story of attempting to take on joshi legends but failing to defeat them. Seigo Tachibana defeated El Lindaman in a singles match. We also had a six man tag where Inaba and his team defeated Enfants. But the major matches on the card were Ikemen’s graduation match, a tag title match, and the W-1 Title number one contender’s match.

Ikemen would team up with Manabu Soya to defeat Kaz Hayashi and Pegaso Illuminar. You knew it was going to be an emotional match by the fact that Ikemen was already trying not to cry just walking to the ring. After the match he gave a heartfelt goodbye to the fans and had a touching moment with his longtime rival Ashino. But immediately after the match he had to hop on a plane to fly out to New York City because he was booked Mania Weekend to face Rich Swann for Wrestlecon, a match I was lucky enough to attend live.

The W-1 Tag title match between Masayuki Kono & Alejandro facing T-Hawk & Takehiro Yamamura was ended due to referee stoppage after Yamamura suffered a neck injury. He’s out of the hospital now but it’s unknown whether he will return to the ring again. In the main event Shuji Kondo defeated Kuma Arashi to earn the right to challenge T-Hawk next. An interesting wrinkle about this match between Kondo and T-Hawk is that not only does this continue the W-1 vs #STRONGHEARTS angle as Kondo has been with the company since the beginning, they are both former Dragon Gate wrestlers. After the match T-Hawk praises Kondo for having few weaknesses and that he’s actually a bit upset Kondo won the match. But with CIMA and Yamamura both out now, it’s up to him to carry this team forward and to defend the title at all costs.

In addition to Korakuen, there was another show worth noting in April where Andy Wu took advantage of his number one contender-ship opportunity to challenge Yusuke Kodama for the Cruiser Division title. Andy was successful and earned the title for the fourth time. Another thing worth noting an under card story line happening with Manabu Soya looking for a partner to challenge for the tag titles with, the main candidates he has right now are Pantera, Tachibana, and Jun.

May

The May Korakuen was one of the bigger shows of the year so far. Ganseki Tanaka continues his losing streak which started on the house shows last month. The story line with Soya and the tag titles continued as well. El Lindaman defeated Andy and Kodama in a triple threat to earn a Cruiser title shot, which he inevitably failed to win not long after this show. Reika suffered another loss in her story of trying to beat the legends.

The first major match of this show was Jun Tondokoro vs CIMA. Originally the rules of this match were to be CIMA only needed a 2 count to win, Jun had to get a 3 count but he would regain his name if he won. But before the match Soya convinced CIMA to turn the match into a falls count anywhere 2 count match. Jun picked up the win with an assist from Soya, and become Jun Tonsho once more.

The next match was a tag match with the team of Daiki Inaba & Koji Doi facing Enfants Terribles (Shotaro Ashino & Kuma Arashi). This match was meant to be a showcase of all of the young talent that W-1 has to offer. These four are clearly who they mean to build the company around for the foreseeable future. Ashino is a proven commodity, he’s been the focus of the company ever since he won the W-1 title and formed Enfants in 2017. Kuma Arashi has been elevated to the main event scene after the match with Kondo the month before and he’s been a pushed wrestler for a while now. Daiki Inaba has primarily been a tag wrestler lately but that match in Ota-ward was clearly an attempt to elevate him back into the title scene. Koji Doi hasn’t been seen in a ring since December of last year due to injury, but has also been pushed very hard in the tag division as he just held the titles until he had to relinquish them due to the injury. They had an amazing match and in the end Inaba submitted Ashino, again proving he belongs in the main event scene.

The final match of the show was the W-1 Title match where T-Hawk defeated Shuji Kondo in on of the best matches of the year. Unlike the last Korakuen show #STRONGHEARTS were able to come out in force to celebrate, including new member Issei Onizuka. It was also announced after the match that Yoshioka would be returning to action in June at Korakuen Hall. During the celebrations, the ring was raided by the top names on the roster to show T-Hawk has no shortage of challengers willing to step up next. But it was announced that the winner of the W-1 Grand Prix would be T-Hawk’s next challenger and face him in September at Pro-Wrestling Love in Yokohama.

The Wrestle-1 Grand Prix is a single elimination tournament. It was originally a 16 man tournament but was reduced to an 8 man tournament in 2017. This year the participants are Masayuki Kono, Manabu Soya, Koji Doi, Daiki Inaba, Shotaro Ashino, Kuma Arashi, Pegaso Illuminar, and Seigo Tachibana. With these matches taking place in the first round on the June 2nd Korakuen hall show:

Pegaso Illuminar vs Kuma Arashi
Masayuki Kono vs Daiki Inaba
Shotaro Ashino vs Seigo Tachibana
Manabu Soya vs Koji Doi

June

The June Korakuen was the beginning of the Wrestle-1 Grand Prix and probably my show of the year for Wrestle-1 up to this point. They continue the story with Ganseki Tanaka’s losing streak, four excellent singles matches for the Grand Prix, more W-1 vs Stronghearts, and Reika’s story of falling to legends continues.

First Grand Prix Match was Kuma Arashi vs Pegaso Illuminar. It was believed Kuma was going into this tournament as Result Champion but after the show Kaz revealed that Kuma had relinquished the title before the show. The match itself was great with both Kuma and Pegaso looking the best they’ve looked. Kuma got the win and continued onto the next round.

Second Grand Prix Match was between Daiki Inaba and Masayuki Kono. Inaba was a favorite to win the entire tournament but first he had to make it past a man who beat him for the W-1 Title and beaten him in previous Grand Prix. It was a hard hitting match with Inaba picking up the win. Kono was one half of the tag team champions at the time and he offered Inaba a title shot after the match, but he and Alejandro a little over a week later.

The Wrestle-1 vs Stronghearts match was everything you’re used to in these types of matches but It’s worth noting that Jun Tonsho got the victory for his team. This is the second Korakuen in a row where he’s gotten a big win. He’s been talking backstage about going after the Cruiser Title, so maybe they have plans for him in that division.

Third Grand Prix match was between Shotaro Ashino and Seigo Tachibana. Tachibana has been attached at the hip to Ashino since he debuted in 2016. He teamed with Ashino until Ashino threw him aside after he started losing matches. Then they formed Enfants with Kodama in 2017. But then again Tachibana was thrown to the side, kicked out of Enfants in 2018. This a really emotional and just a great match in general. Tachibana looked the best I’ve seen him and even in defeat this match was a huge elevation for him.

After the match Ashino praised him and asked him to rejoin Enfants but Tachibana refused. He didn’t want to go back to who he was in Enfants. He wants to become his own man and become strong enough to one day tap out Ashino. To continue his evaluation in the company on the next show Tachibana and Shuji Kondo won the tag titles in another good match. I can’t wait to see what they do with Tachibana from now on.

Last Grand Prix match was Koji Doi vs Manabu Soya. This was Doi’s first big match since returning from injury the month before. He’s another favorite to win the tournament and he kept his hopes alive by defeating Soya here in another good match. Post match he talked about the style of wrestling he wants to showcase in W-1 is a style like he and Soya wrestle, strong strikes against each other to prove who is the strongest in the end.

With this show finished, the Four Heavenly Kings all make it to the next round to see who will be the one to dethrone T-Hawk. Also after this show Reika Saiki announced that she would no longer be a regular roster member for TJP, so going into July Reika will be full time Wrestle-1.

During the rest of the month Tanaka’s troubles continued, Shuji Kondo and Seigo Tachibana won the tag team titles at the 6/11 Shinkiba 1st Ring show, and Reika was able to get her first two singles wins since joining the company.

July

The July Korakuen marked the Wrestle-1 Grand Prix Finals where the Four Heavenly Kings would duke it out to face T-Hawk at Pro Wrestling Love in Yokohama. It also included the debut of rookie Kai Fujimura, Reika challenging KAORU, and another W-1 vs #STRONGHEARTS multi man match.

The opener was a continuation of Ganseki Tanaka’s story with Hijikata, trying to prove himself. The second match was the debut of Kai, Kodama took him lightly and as such Kai was able to get in some very good offense but in the end still lost. Reika failed yet again to defeat a joshi veteran in the third match.

The fourth match was the first semi-final round match of the Grand Prix between Daiki Inaba and Kuma Arashi. It was a great match between the two with Inaba picking up the win. This was his first time winning a semi-final match in the Grand Prix. The fifth match was the also a semi-final round match between Koji Doi and Shotaro Ashino. This match was a rematch of last years Grand Prix finals. And just like last year, Ashino picked up the win to go into his second straight Grand Prix final.

The sixth match continues the story of Soya looking for a tag partner to challenge with but that’s about it. The seventh match was another W-1 vs #STRONGHEARTS match, it was great as always, but the interesting thing is the post match. While CIMA is talking to the crowd after the match the debuting Kai gets into the ring and dropkicks CIMA in retaliation of when CIMA attacked him during the match. Backstage he asked W-1 to let him join in the fight against #STRONGHEARTS.

Then in the main event Daiki Inaba defeated Shotaro Ashino in the Wrestle-1 Grand Prix finals becoming the third man to win the tournament. As such he would go on to face T-Hawk in Pro Wrestling Love in Yokohama 9/1 and try to take the W-1 Title back from #STRONGHEARTS.

After Korakuen, Tachibana nominated Ashino to be the first challenger for the tag titles. Ashino and Kodama were set to challenge but Tachibana became injured so the titles were vacated. As such the match became Ashino and Kodama vs Kondo and Soya for the vacated titles. also during the month there was a number one contender match for the Cruiser Title in which El Hijo del Pantera defeated Jun Tonsho to earn the right to challenge Andy Wu in Yokohama.

August

The August Korakuen tied up all the loose ends before Wrestle-1’s biggest show of the year in September, Pro Wrestling Love in Yokohama. There was a tag title match to determine who would be walking in to Yokohama with the titles, Reika trying to get one last win before her match against Aja Kong, a preview for the Yokohama main event, and rookie Kai finally getting to join in the attack against Stronghearts.

Like last month, the opener continued Ganseki’s story with Hijikata. But this time after the match Hijikata asked Ganseki to join him in a match at Yokohama. Second match Sushi got the win over Alejandro to help set up the three way tag match for Yokohama. The third match decided what Kuma Arashi and Koji Doi would be doing in Yokohama. Kuma attacked Doi after the match with a chair which lead to him challenging Kuma to a No DQ match.

Fourth match was another W-1 vs Stronghearts multi man tag involving Kai Fujimura this time. Unfortunately they lose the match and Kai got injured. After the match CIMA made comments about how all of W-1’s young wrestlers are getting injured. In the fifth match Reika failed again to get a win over a veteran, her last chance to before Aja Kong. The sixth match was a preview of the Yokohama main event. Daiki Inaba picked up the win in amazing fashion to head into the show with the momentum. Since winning the Grand Prix, Inaba and T-Hawk had been cheering each other on to progress so that when they meet in Yokohama, they would both be at their best. Then in the main event, Enfants successfully defended the tag titles in one of my personal favorite W-1 matches of the year. Afterwards Lindaman came out to challenge for the titles with his partner being the recent addition to Stronghearts, Shigehiro Irie. Afterward, Ashino promises to make the W-1 Tag division more exciting.

Also this month Reika challenged Saori Anou for the Actwres Girlz Championship and defeated her, making Reika the second champion. But unfortunately in her second match in AGZ, Reika broke her jaw. This lead to her relinquishing the title and caused her to miss Pro Wrestling Love in Yokohama.

September

Kicking off September was Pro Wrestling Love in Yokohama, Wrestle-1’s biggest show of the year. It was headlined by Daiki Inaba challenging T-Hawk to finally return the W-1 title to its rightful home around a W-1 roster member’s waist for the first time since January. It also featured another Enfants vs Stronghearts battle but this time over the tag titles, Mutoh’s first match in the company since his knee surgery, a fight between brothers for the Cruiser Title, and a host of other matches.

The opening match was a six man tag with Ganseki Tanaka️, Ryuki Hijikata & Kenshin Chikano defeating Takafumi Ito, Shunsuke Sayama & Takumi Baba. Ganseki picked up the win for his team finally beginning to prove his worth as a wrestler to Hijikata. Match was another W-1 vs Stronghearts match with Jun Tonsho & Ryuki Honda defeating Seiki Yoshioka & Issei Onizuka, Tonsho getting the pin on Yoshioka. Match three was a three way tag with Masayuki Kono and Alejandro defeating the team of Mazada & Sushi and the team of Manabu Soya & Shuji Kondo. After the match Taru came out to recruit Kondo to team with him later in the show due to Rene Dupree having flight issues and this missing the show. It’s also worth noting that Kono and Alejandro would use this victory and their past title reign to maneuver their way into a tag title match against the winners of the semi main of this show.

Match four was a No DQ match between Kuma Arashi and Koji Doi. These men are former tag partners with multiple tag title reigns as a team. This ended in 2018 when Kuma betrayed Doi after they lost the tag titles and he joined Enfants. Fast forward to 2019, post W-1 Grand Prix Kuma has been coming at Doi with chairs which lead to this match. It was a super violent bout with Kuma getting bloodied just a few minutes in. The finish came with Doi putting Kuma through a table, but I doubt this is the last time we see these two fighting each other and Doi seemed to agree post match.

Match five was a Cruiser Title match between Andy Wu and El Hijo del Pantera, two best friends fighting over the coveted title. Pantera was able to capture the win and become the first foreigner to hold the title. Match six was Mutoh’s first match back in W-1 since knee surgery his team with Kaz Hayashi & Pegaso Illuminar defeated Zodiak, Taru & Shuji Kondo, with a little bit of help from the W-1 young boys.

Match seven was a tag title match with Shotaro Ashino & Yusuke Kodama defending against El Lindaman and debuting Shigehiro Irie. Ashino and Kodama have stated their desire to make the tag division more exciting with them on top since winning the titles and they did so in this match. This defeat marked the second Stronghearts loss of the show.

Finally, the main event was T-Hawk defending the W-1 title against Daiki Inaba the 2019 W-1 Grand Prix Winner. T-Hawk carrying the hopes of Stronghearts fans and his fellow Stronghearts members on his back, Inaba carrying the weight of W-1 and it’s fans on his. But in the end Inaba defeated T-Hawk and returned the title back to the company establishing himself as a top guy, winning the title for the second time. It’s time to see Inaba lead the company and whether he can handle being the guy this time. Stronghearts were seemingly defeated and would leave W-1 after this, but instead they announced themselves for the Tag League. So it seems their focus is on the tag division now. For the biggest show of the year, Pro Wrestling Love in Yokohama delivered with hot matches and story lines ending with new ones beginning.

The September Korakuen was the direct fall out of Pro Wrestling Love. Stronghearts come into Korakuen having lost outright in Yokohama, Hajime has his first match in Korakuen since being injured, Rene Dupree makes his Korakuen debut as a member of Enfants, and two title matches.

Opening match was Cima and Lindaman defeating the team of Andy Wu and Mazada. This was followed by Stronghearts defeating the W-1 team of Inaba, Doi, and Pegaso. Following the match Stronghearts announced that they would be participating in the Wrestle-1 Tag league that was to begin in October. In A Bock the teams of Ashino & Kodama, T-Hawk & Irie, Kono & Alejandro, Tonsho & Pegaso would face off. In B Block the teams of Doi & Inaba, Kuma & Rene, Soya & Kondo, Yoshioka & Lindaman would face off.

Following this the next match had Hajime returning to Korakuen for the first time since he was injured and he ate the pin here and complained backstage about how he hates fierce matches. Next we had Rene’s debut in Korakuen as a Enfants member. Enfants won the match and showed the GFY, a tag move Rene and Kuma would be using during Tag League. One of the opening matches of tag league was announced as Rene & Kuma vs Soya & Kondo.

Finally the first of the title matches, El Hijo del Pantera made his first successful defense of the Cruiser Title against Jun Tonsho. After the match Pantera called out Mazada as his next challenger. The main event was a title match with Ashino and Kodama successfully defending against Kono and Alejandro who had laid out the challenge after Pro Wrestling Love. The champs were successful going into Tag League but would have to face T-Hawk and Irie in the opening match at the October Korakuen.

October

The October Korakuen marked the beginning of the Wrestle-1 Tag League, a Cruiser Division Championship match, and the debut of rookie Takuro Niki. In the undercard you had Ganseki Tanaka getting a singles victory of Stronghearts member Issei Onizuka, Stronghearts getting a win against W-1 in a multiman tag where CIMA got the victory over Andy after the two had been feuding a bit on Twitter. 

El Hijo del Pantera was able to make his second successful defense of the Cruiser Title by defeating Mazada. Afterward it was announced that El Pantera and El Pantera Jr, Pantera’s father and brother, would be participating at the next Korakuen. Mazada took note of this commenting backstage that he would retire Pantera’s father early and send him back to Mexico in a wheelchair.

Finally we have the first two matches for Tag League. First in B Block, Kuma Arashi & Renee Dupree defeated Shuki Kondo & Manabu Soya to earn their first points in the tournament. Then in A Block, Shigehiro Irie & T-Hawk defeated the tag champions Shotaro Ashino & Yusuke Kodama with T-Hawk pinning Ashino. This was the third time these two faced off in the ring this year with Ashino losing all three matches, including their title match in January.

Also at this Korakuen we got the announcement of Wonder Carnival, a new show from the promotion which will take place on New Years Eve and air live on Gaora. It will be a huge show with wrestlers from multiple promotions such as All Japan and Dragon Gate in addition to the W-1 roster members. It was also announced that Ikemen would return for this show, as well as for the November and December Korakuen Hall shows.

In the final matches of Tag League for the month,  Masayuki Kono & Alejandro defeated Jun Tonsho & Pegaso Illuminar in A Block. B Block saw W-1 Champ Daiki Inaba & Koji Doi go to a time limit draw with Seiki Yoshioka & El Lindaman.

November

The first half of November featured the continuation of Tag League and Wrestle Soul Vol.2. This second volume was produced by Ganseki who brought in multiple outsiders including Asuka making her first appearance in W-1 since Hana Kimura left the company. Most importantly, on the 11th in Shinkiba the final block night of the Tag League took place.

In the first League match of the night, Lindaman & Yoshioka defeated Kondo & Soya. Both teams were eliminated already but this loss meant Kondo & Soya went winless in the tournament. Afterwards Kondo dissolved his team with Soya, and instead decided he would be teaming up with CIMA at the next Korakuen. Because of this, Soya convinced Lindaman to tag with him to face CIMA but Kondo refused. Still, Lindaman promised to team with Soya so they would team at the next Korakuen also.

Next was Ashino & Kodama defeating Tonsho & Pegaso. Tonsho & Pegaso were already eliminated but this loss meant they also went winless like Kondo & Soya. After the match Pegaso took the mic and asked Kaz to give him his next opponent in his trial series at Korakuen. The match was granted and he would face Heat in his third trial series match.

Ashino & Kodama needed Kono & Alejandro to defeat T-Hawk & Irie, but instead Stronghearts picked up the win and one A Block by winning all of their matches. Afterwards Ashino came out and asked T-Hawk to win tag league so that he could face T-Hawk again and get his revenge. Also while out, Ashino announced that he had gotten a call from Ikemen the night before who asked to team with Ashino at the next Korakuen. Kondo came out to make the match official, Ikemen and Ashino facing CIMA and Kondo.

Finally, Kuma & Renee defeated Inaba & Doi to win B Block via ref stoppage when Inaba suffered a knee injury during the match. This meant the Tag League Finals at Korakuen would be against two undefeated teams, Kuma & Renee facing T-Hawk & Irie.

At Korakuen we got the Tag League finals, Pegaso’s third match in his trial series, some unlikely teams, and wrestlers announcing their in ring returns from injury.

In the opener the team of Doi and Honda picked up a win ahead of their match against Dragon Gate wrestlers at Wonder Carnival. Before their match Reika Saiki came to the ring to announce she’s doing well but her in ring return is yet to be decided. StrongHearts, including the debuting Alex Zayne won their match against the young W-1 wrestlers.

In the third match the unlikely team of Soya and Lindaman defeated Kono and Alejandro. Following the match Atsushi Onita would come out asking for anyone in W-1 to face him in a blast death match at Wonder Carnival which Soya would accept.

Then in the next match Pegaso would lose to Heat in his third match of his five match trial series. Prior to the match Kai, Tachibana, and Inaba who are all out due to injure came out to the ring. They all expressed their regret for missing time but announce they would all return at the December Korakuen. Inaba would be making his first title defense and Tachibana would be having a singles match against Ikemen.

In the semi-main we got the unlikely teams of Ashino and Ikemen facing Kondo and CIMA. In the end Ikemen defeated Kondo. But if Twitter is anything to go by, Kondo and CIMA aren’t finished teaming together.

Then the main event was the finals of the Wrestle-1 Tag League where T-Hawk and Irie defeated Kuma and Rene to go undefeated the entire tournament. Doesn’t seem to be the end of Kuma and Rene as a team, but for now T-Hawk and Irie are the next challengers for the titles and will face Enfants in December in a title match.

December

It was a slow month for the company with only three shows and one really just being a pretty much just an awards show. But still they ended the year strong with a big multi promotion show on New Years Eve and set up whats to happen in the early months of 2020.

The month kicked off with Winter Fes 2019. Had a few matches, including a 10 man battle royal where everyone was wearing masks but were still wearing their usual gear except for Ashino who wore a santa suit. Young boys Takuru Niki and Kai Fujimura were scheduled to have a match but it turned into a shot to enter the Cruiser Fes 2020 which Kai won. They teased an assassin from the Wrestle-1 Alliance coming back to Japan for a match, which would be revealed at Korakuen to be Cyrus who had come to Japan in October as part of the Wrestle-1 Alliance First Class. Then you had the awards ceremony where the following people took home awards: 

MVP: Daiki Inaba
Best Bout: T-Hawk vs Daiki Inaba 9/1
Tag Team: Shotaro Ashino & Yusuke Kodama
Fighting Spirit: Reika Saiki
Rookie: Kai Fujimura & Takuro Niki

Following this we had the last Korakuen of the year for W-1 where we had several big match ups taking place. Unfortunately, Pegaso Illuminar caught the influenza that was plaguing Tokyo at the time so he would miss the show and have to postpone match 4 of his trial series. Thus the card got a little shaken up. 

The show kicked off with Hajime defeating Takumi Baba in a singles match. After the fact, he was complaining about his original opponent Niki getting moved to the main show. Second match was a multiman tag with Koji Doi picking up the win on his Wonder Carnival tag partner Ryuki Honda. After the match, Doi called out Shigehiro Irie asking for a singles match. Then backstage, Alejandro and Kono who were in the match were discussion their new team name when Yusuke Kodama arrived. He invited Kono to join Enfants, but for now they agreed to team together just once.

Third match Cima and Kondo defeated El Lindaman and Manabu Soya. After the match Soya asked Kondo to form a new faction with him and Lindaman called WAR, Wild and Romance. Kondo continues to refuse but sets up a singles match between the two. Soya claims if he wins Kondo will join and that he would be the leader of the group. Fourth Match, Seiki Yoshioka defeats El Hijo del Pantera to earn his third Cruiser Division title which ties Andy Wu for most reigns. It was announced on this show the following men would be entering the Cruiser Fes:

  • Alejandro
  • Kai Fujimura
  • Heat
  • Jun Tonsho
  • Andy Wu 
  • El Hijo del Pantera
  • Koju Takeda
  • Yusuke Kodama

After the Cruiser title match all the guys came out to the ring but Heat was the one to speak, talking about how this division has fallen and that it’s a foregone conclusion that he’s winning so the tournament is pointless. But Yoshioka isn’t interested in Heat, he wants the man under the mask.

Next Match was a match between best friends Seigo Tachibana finally defeating Ikemen for the first time in a singles match, defeating Ikemen with his own move. There was a passing of the torch moment and a goodbye after the match. The semi-main was a W-1 Tag Title Match with the champions Shotaro Ashino and Yusuke Kodama defeating T-Hawk and Irie. After tormenting all year, Ashino finally defeated T-Hawk. But it’s not enough for him, he still wants to beat T-Hawk in singles competition. And after the match Iriie was confronted by Doi. He accepted his challenge but made it for the OWE Title which Irie holds.

Then in the main event Daiki Inaba made his first successful defense of the Wrestle-1 Title against Kuma Arashi. After the match Inaba spoke to Kuma about how he doesn’t need to cheat to win, he’s a great enough wrestler already. But we’ll see if Kuma actually took that to heart or not another day. But this lead to Wonder Carnival were Wrestle-1 would be facing opponents from a number of other promotions.

Wonder Carnival was the final and likely the biggest show of the year for W-1. A large 11 match card which took place in Osaka Edion Arena featuring wrestlers from All Japan, Dragon Gate, Noah, and others.

In the first match the rookies and Hajime were defeated and afterwards Daimonji from Land’s end expressed interest in returning to W-1 and in facing Hajime again. Second match the Strong Machine Army defeated the Alejandro Army with Ganseki eating the pin to Strong Machine J, but both are interested in a singles match down the line. Third match Doi and Honda are defeated by the Dragon Gate Faction RED, but Doi isn’t satisfied and wants a rematch. In the sixth match Ryoji Sai defeated Kuma Arashi, which lead Kuma to continue to question himself despite Sai offering him praise backstage.

Seventh match Atsushi Onita, Leather Face & Masato Tanaka defeated the team FMW which consisted of Manabu Soya, Takao Omori & Akira. Afterwards Onita laid out the challenge saying he wanted to face the Great Muta. Eighth match Yoshitatsu defeated Seigo Tachibana to retain his Gaora TV Championship, the two would tag together the following month. Jun Akiyama, Kaz Hayashi & Shinjiro Otani defeated Andy Wu, Ikemen & Takanori Ito, but not without Ito showing a ton of fire going at Akiyama for a good portion of the match. Afterwards Andy seemed interested in facing Otani. Then in the main event, we had Kaito Kiyomiya & Daiki Inaba defeating Shotaro Ashino & Katsuhiko Nakajima after Nakajima barely was in the match due to refusing to tag in. Backstage while Inaba was making his comments to the media Nakajima interrupted him and insulted him and the belt. Inaba demanded that Nakajima be his next challenger because of this but Nakajima had no interest in the title. But days later President Hayashi demanded he accept the challenge and the match was set for the for first Korakuen of the new year.

In Conclusion

Hope this summary helped to detail what happened in Wrestle-1 in 2019. Give Wrestle-1 a shot and see if you like it if you’re new. You can find match recommendations here to get you started. It has matches from nearly every year in the companies history and I’m still updating it. You can also check the roster page to find basic bio’s of the roster. You can also always send any questions you have on Twitter. I hope you’ll come to love W-1 as much as I do.

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