WRESTLE-1 "TOUR 2014 WEST SIDE STORY" on 2/15/14
A Review by Kevin Wilson
Date: February 15th, 2014
Plugging along with W-1 since I want to review their Sumo Hall event as soon as it is available but I don't want to go out of order. This event had a lot of implications for their Sumo Hall event, as the promotion determined who would challenge for the TNA Championships that would be on the line for the big show. Here is the full card:
- TNA World Heavyweight Title Contendership Tournament - Semi Final: Masakatsu Funaki vs. Yasufumi Nakanoue
Let's get to it.
Masakatsu Funaki vs. Yasufumi Nakanoue
Match Thoughts: The interesting thing in this match to me is that in theory, the four best wrestlers should be in the mini tournament to find the best wrestler to challenge for the TNA Heavyweight Championship. Great, but in this match.... Nakanoue is no match for Funaki. It was never an issue during the match on if Funaki was going to win, but how long it would take as he totally out-classed him in every way. I have no issue with that, Funaki is a class above Nakanoue, but I find it odd that Nakanoue was put in this tournament in the first place. Like in the last event I reviewed Nakanoue had an uneven performance and seems to need a 'storyline' reason to get into matches as nothing here looked inspired. For a Funaki showcase it was a fine match but certainly not an even encounter. Score: 5.5
KAI vs. Minoru Tanaka
Match Thoughts: Unlike the previous match, even though KAI came into this match the favorite at least Tanaka had his moments that it looked like he would pull off the upset. Tanaka did a good job working over the arm and looking to sneak in submission holds, even starting the match out with one. KAI to his credit played the role of 'guy trying to fend off the scrappy veteran/submission expert' very well and every move seemed to have a purpose. I think that Tanaka went down a little too easily, he dominated the match but was pinned after just a brainbuster/LAT, but since KAI had to wrestle again later there was no need to extend the end stretch of the match longer than needed. Overall a good match and accomplished what they were going for. Score: 6.5
Koharu Hinata vs. Shuri
Match Thoughts: An odd match to have on a WRESTLE-1 event. You'd think their goal would be to have an exciting 'showcase' type of match but this was more of a squash match. Rightfully so to any fans that know the wrestlers, as Shuri is a badass kickboxer with multiple titles (which she brought to the ring in case anyone watching wasn't aware) while Hinata is a rookie. So of course she dominated her. But as a Special Attraction type match having a champion vs. rookie didn't make a whole lot of sense. Shuri looked good as she generally does and carries herself like a champion, but I would have preferred something a little more evenly contested. Score: 4.0
Black Death vs. Kick Ass
Match Thoughts: I don't really know what was going on here. I mean the match was based off of the Kick Ass movies, I get that. But why was this a match on a WRESTLE-1 card? Some sponsorship deal that I don't know about? I feel bad even rating it but it was a full wrestling match so I have to. The action was solid as it was Hiroshi Yamato and NOSAWA (allegedly) under the masks, but it definitely seemed pointless, especially since the post-match stuff was almost ten minutes long. Silly Mutoh. Score: 3.0
Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo vs. Masayuki Kono and KAZMA SAKAMOTO
Knees by Kono against the ropes and he hits a Falcon Arrow. Cover, but it gets a two count. Kono waits for Hayashi to get up but Kondo runs in the ring and knocks him down with a lariat. Kondo goes off the ropes but SAKAMOTO cuts him off with a lariat and knocks Kono out of the ring. SAKAMOTO grabs Hayashi and goes off the ropes but Hayashi hits a drop toehold follows by a neck whip. SAKAMOTO falls out of the ring, Hayashi slams Kono to the mat but Kono kicks Hayashi back. Hayashi goes for the Final Cut but Kono pushes him off and hits the Chokebomb. Cover, but Kondo breaks it up. Kono picks up Hayashi, he slams Hayashi in front of the corner and goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Hayashi rolls out of the way of the diving kneedrop and Kondo floors him with the Lanzarse. Hayashi superkicks SAKAMOTO, then Kondo picks up Kono and with Hayashi they hit a Samoan Drop/Cutter combination. Hayashi picks up Kono, Irish whip, reversed, but Hayashi hits the handstand rebound kick. Final Cut by Hayashi, cover, but Kono gets a shoulder up. Hayashi gets on the top turnbuckle but SAKAMOTO grabs his leg, giving Kono time to recover. Kono goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits an avalanche Samoan Drop. Cover, but Kondo breaks it up. Kono picks up Hayashi, Irish whip, but SAKAMOTO hits Hayashi with a chair from ringside. Running knee by Kono, cover, but it only gets a two count. Kondo gets in the ring and punches Kono, but SAKAMOTO hits a backdrop suplex onto him. Kono picks up Hayashi and puts him into the corner, jumping knee but Kono and SAKAMOTO charges in, but Hayashi moves and SAKAMOTO hits Kono by accident. Kono is not amused, but Kondo hits Kono from behind into SAKAMOTO. Kondo goes off the ropes but Kono catches him with a boot and then a knee. SAKAMOTO grabs Hayashi and elbows him in the back of the head, and then Kono hits a chokeslam. Cover, but Hayashi barely gets a shoulder up. Kono goes up to the top turnbuckle and goes for a diving kneedrop, but Hayashi rolls him up for a two count. Kono goes for a running knee, but Hayashi ducks it and rolls up Kono for a three count! Your winners: Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo
Match Thoughts: This was a really good match. They have been fighting so much the last few months they have great chemistry, and there were a lot of fun cutoff spots and smart points in this match. There was never a dull moment as wrestlers were constantly flying around and they worked the time as well as they could have. I didn't have an issue with Kono getting pinned by Hayashi since it was a flash pin and they did a good job selling it as a fluke (which it was). Overall an entertaining affair, while I wish they would mix up their pairings a bit more the benefit is the wrestlers do learn to work really well together. Score: 7.0
20 Entry Battle Royal
Next down the ring is Yuji Hino and I hope he clears the ring out. Hino chops Sanada to the mat and scoop slams Yoshioka. Irish whip by Inaba to Hino but Hino picks him up and throws him onto the mat. Hino lariats Inaba out of the ring, and Inaba is eliminated. Wu jumps at Hino but Hino catches him and throws him out to apron. Chop by Hino to Wu and Wu falls out of the ring. Wu is eliminated. Hino picks up Kanemoto and throws him into the corner, he tries to throw Kanemoto out of the ring but Kanemoto keeps himself in the ring as Kikutaro comes down as the next wrestler. Kikutaro gets into the ring and walks right up to Hino. Kikutaro asks Hino for an arm wrestling contest on the mat, Hino gets down there but all the wrestlers stomp on Hino. They all gang up to throw out Hino, he doesn't go out but goes between the ropes to leave the ring. Hiroshi Yamato is next to come into the ring and he kicks MAZADA. Miyamoto is back and pushes Yamato out to the apron, but Yoshioka kicks Miyamoto in the head from behind which sends Miyamoto out of the ring. Miyamoto is eliminated. Kikutaro tries to throw out Yoshioka as NOSAWA Rongai is the next wrestler to enter. NOSAWA and MAZADA quickly hit a double team move onto Yamato, they try to do the same to Kanemoto but Kanemoto dropkicks both of them. Hino has re-emerged at some point, he and SAKAMOTO grab Kanemoto and throw him out of the ring. Kanemoto is eliminated. Sanada grabs SAKAMATO from behind and tries to dump him out of the ring, but SAKAMATO gets a hold on the bottom rope and stays in. Pan'nyan is the next wrestler to enter the match. Pan'nyan and Kikutaro face off, and Pan'nyan hits Kikutaro in the face. Irish whip by SAKAMATO to Pan'nyan but Pan'nyan hits an armdrag. Pan'nyan goes off the ropes but Hino grabs him, NOSAWA and MAZADA kick Hino as Danshoku Dino comes down to the ring as the next wrestler. While Dino was walking down, we missed MAZADA and NOSAWA get eliminated, but return in time to see Hino throw Pan'nyan onto both of them so all three wrestlers are eliminated. Dino messes with the crowd and with Mutoh before even getting into the ring, which takes so long it is time for Masayuki Kono to come down. Kono kicks Kikutaro and throws him out of the ring. Kikutaro is eliminated. Yoshioka kicks Kono in the face but Kono avoids the boot and hits a Chokebomb. SAKAMATO kicks Yoshioka out to the apron as Kono comes over to help, while Sanada and Yamato battle in the corner. Next wrestler down is Yasufumi Nakanoue. Elbows by Nakanoue to Kono, he goes off the ropes but Kono hits a knee. Nakanoue returns with an elbow and nails the Knock Away, but Kono comes back with a big knee. Dino still hasn't gotten in the ring, for what it matters. Sanada tries to throw Yamato out of the ring as Dino waits to catch Yamato in his pants, but Yamato lands on the apron.
Next wrestler out - Minoru Tanaka. Tanaka dropkicks Kono as Dino finally gets in the ring and squares off with Tanaka. Tanaka and Dino tie-up, and Dino delivers the Ball Grab Exploder. Dino charges Tanaka but Tanaka kicks him back. Dino punches Tanaka out to the apron, but when he charges Tanaka for a kiss, Tanaka pulls the rope down and Dino tumbles out of the ring. Dino is eliminated. The next wrestler to come down is Manabu Soya. Soya grabs Kono and dumps him out to the apron, but SAKAMATO saves him. Irish whip by SAKAMATO to Soya but Soya reversed it and SAKAMATO runs into Kono who was still on the apron, knocking him to the floor. Kono is eliminated. Soya then lariats SAKAMATO out of the ring. SAKAMATO is eliminated. Soya talks to Sanada in the corner as Hino comes over and the final entry comes down to the ring - Yoshihiro Takayama. Takayama boots Soya before he can even get into the ring and knees Yoshioka and Tanaka. Hino gets a knee as well as does Nakanoue, and Takayama throws Nakanoue out of the ring. Nakanoue is eliminated. Knee by Takayama to Yamato and he throws Yamato out of the ring as well. Yamato is eliminated. Soya chokes Takayama with his tie as Sanada battles with Hino, and Hino lariats Sanada to the mat. Hino tries to powerbomb Sanada out of the ring but Sanada lands on the apron. Meanwhile Yoshioka and Tanaka trade kicks but Tanaka hits a dragon screw leg whip. Tanaka picks up Yoshioka, he goes off the ropes and Tanaka delivers a dropkick. Hino grabs Tanaka and throws him out of the ring, so Tanaka is eliminated. Sanada and Yoshioka now square off with Hino and Takayama, Soya shakes hands with Takayama but Takayama kicks him and Hino throws him over the top turnbuckle. Soya is eliminated. Hino slams Yoshioka and Sanada to the mat and then he faces off with Takayama. Body slam by Hino to Takayama but he eats a double dropkick from Yoshioka and Sanada. Takayama is up, and all three men dropkick Hino, sending him flying out of the ring. Hino is eliminated. Sanada and Yoshioka kick Takayama in the stomach and then hit a double dropkick to the knee. Elbow by Sanada into the corner to Takayama but Takayama picks up Sanada and puts him on the apron. Yoshioka goes over to comfort Sanada but instead kicks him in the head. Yoshioka goes off the ropes but Sanada pulls the rope down and Yoshioka falls out of the ring. Yoshioka is eliminated. Sanada gets back in the ring but Takayama knees him in the stomach. More knees by Takayama and he hits a belly to belly suplex. Another one by Takayama and he hits a big boot while Sanada is against the ropes. He hits a second one, and Sanada falls out to the apron. Takayama goes for a third but Sanada ducks and Takayama's leg gets caught on the top rope. Sanada gets back in the ring and dropkicks Takayama, which sends Takayama out to the apron. Sanada gets a running start and dropkicks Takayama one more time, sending Takayama crashing out of the ring. Takayama is eliminated. Your winner of the Battle Royal: Seiya Sanada
Match Thoughts: I don't think I missed anything with the play by play, although it wasn't easy. While the match did have a bit of downtime as all Battle Royals do, for the most part it was quite entertaining. I liked that the wrestlers would so easily abandon the 'we are friends' thing since it was every man for himself. Wrestlers would pretend to be friends and work together in spots, but wouldn't hesitate if they got the chance to eliminate each other. As it should be. The time between entries was shorter than that of the WWE Royal Rumble, which kept the action going. I didn't even mind Dino here, he was a fun surprise and he entertained the crowd without really impacting the match itself. Soya was a surprise as well and Takayama was really motivated here which made the match seem even more important. About as good as one could hope for, I am not a big fan of Battle Royals but this one was well constructed. Oh, and Hino was a beast, I am starting to develop a new man crush. Score: 7.0
KAI vs. Masakatsu Funaki
Match Thoughts: A good match, but felt like it was lacking something to make it seem as important as the match was. On paper this was a chance for a wrestler to win a major title for W-1 so they should have been going all out, but it just felt like a standard affair. The arm work by Funaki was fine and piggy-backed on KAI's earlier match but it didn't really come into play at the end so ultimately didn't mean much. KAI doesn't really vary his offense, he wins matches pretty much the same way each time and he doesn't really sell like he is overcoming adversary which he was by pinning Funaki. KAI getting the pin in the main event over a wrestler above him in the pecking order should have felt 'big' but it didn't. On the plus side, both wrestlers are very crisp and there was little dead time, and the action itself was very solid. It just didn't feel like the match that it should have been. Score: 5.5
Best Match: Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo vs. Masayuki Kono and KAZMA SAKAMOTO. A constant complaint of mine about W-1 will be match time, but these four used the time to the best use they could and it was a really entertaining match. They have great chemistry and the cut off spots, tags, team work (or lack thereof) all seemed to flow perfectly. Good stuff.
MVP: KAI. I can't give Sanada too much credit since he wasn't even the best wrestler in his match, while KAI had two above-average matches on this card and won the chance to challenge for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Quite a change from a few weeks ago when he was getting squashed by Hino. Both of his wins were against well respected veterans, and if he continues this momentum and learns from his matches he can have a bright future in the promotion.
Overall: From top to bottom, the best event that W-1 has put on up to this point. While there was not a stand-out match and the matches in the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Tournament did not set the world on fire, the other matches helped make up for it. Another plus is that there really weren't any 'bad' matches. The Joshi squash seemed off and the Kick Ass match was odd, but neither were really bad action-wise. The event is lacking a stand-out match but hopefully this is an event that the promotion can build up from going forward. Solid all the way around.