ZERO1 "HAPPY NEW YEAR" 2014
A Review by Kevin Wilson
Date: January 1st, 2014
I literally have not watched ZERO1 in several years, so this should be interesting. I see Otani still rules the roost.... I don't know a good number of these wrestlers so hopefully this will be a good first impression. Here is the full card:
- Daichi Hashimoto vs. Kohei Sato
Let's get straight to the matches.
Daichi Hashimoto vs. Kohei Sato
Match Thoughts: Not really sure why Hashimoto is still being treated like a rookie, but I haven’t seen any ZERO1 in years so maybe there is a reason. Anyway, a pretty straightforward match but Sato was definitely set up to look like he could beat Hashimoto whenever he wanted. He messed around with him at the beginning, but as soon as Hashimoto got some real moves in, he went straight to the finish and ended things quickly. Hashimoto has been around for years so I am surprised he is still doing the same type of match he had against Mutoh and Chono right after he debuted, but he is still really young. I wish Sato hadn’t won so quickly or that Hashimoto had come across as having a legitimate chance to win the match, but it was a pretty decent young wrestler vs. veteran match. Score: 6.0
Gokiburi Mask vs. Jason Lee
Match Thoughts: No idea who these guys are, not overly concerned. The beginning was clipped but it was probably just more of the same. Gokiburi Mask’s “big man” offense was not very convincing and even Lee seemed surprised how quickly he went down to one of the elbow strikes. It wasn’t offensive, it just wasn’t really entertaining either. Score: 3.5
"brother" YASSHI and Ken Tsuyoshi vs. Yoshikazu Yokoyama and Tank Nagai
Match Thoughts: Really just clip highlights so it’s impossible to really review the match. Hadn’t seen TARU in a long time, I didn’t even know he was still around so there is that anyway. But not enough shown to get a good feel of it. Score: N/A
Ryouji Sai and Ikuto Hidaka vs. Toru Owashi and Takuya Sugawara
Waistlock by Sai and he hits a vertical suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. We get a clip again as now Hidaka and Sugawara are in the ring, Hidaka goes off the ropes, Sugawara grabs him as Owashi comes in but Owashi accidentally chops Sugawara. Hidaka then hits a DDT on Sugawara while also kicking Owashi at the same time, then drops Sugawara with a reverse DDT. Cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Hidaka from the corner, reversed, and Owashi runs in to hit a lariat. Double Irish whip to Hidaka and both men connect with kicks. Chokeslam/cutter combination, cover by Sugawara but Sai breaks it up. Owashi throws Sai out of the ring while Sugawara picks up Hidaka, he goes off the ropes and they trade missed strikes. Sai has recovered and runs in the ring to hit a jumping knee to Sugawara, then Hidaka dropkicks Owashi out of the ring. High kick by Hidaka to Sugawara, cover, but it gets a two count. Hidaka grabs Sugawara and plants him with the Iwami Ginzan, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winners: Ryouji Sai and Ikuto Hidaka
Match Thoughts: Since a little over half of it was shown I will go ahead and rate it even though it was really clipped up. First of all, Hidaka is looking old. Which he is, but it makes me feel old because I remember back when he wasn’t…. old. He looked good though here, not backing down to Owashi and getting the pin with a nifty move I hadn’t seen before. How are wrestlers still doing moves I haven’t seen, I’ve been watching wrestling for 25 years. Sai did really nothing in the parts that made TV which is odd, I guess Hidaka was more the focus here. But the action was fine, what they showed us anyway, looks like it had potential to be a really solid match but it’s just impossible to get into the flow when half the match is missing. Score: 5.5
Akebono and Yuji Okabayashi vs. Maybach Beta and Tama Williams
Akebono gives Williams an Irish whip and he delivers a lariat. Cover by Akebono, but it only gets two. Akebono picks up Williams, Williams chops Akebono but Akebono chops him back. Akebono pushes Williams into the corner and smothers him before tagging in Okabayashi. Clubs to the back by Okabayashi and he chops Williams in the chest. Williams returns fire, Okabayashi goes off the ropes but Williams catches him with a double chop and makes the tag to Maybach. Maybach picks up Okabayashi and the two trade strikes, Irish whip by Okabayashi but Maybach hits an overhead belly to belly suplex. Jumping splash by Maybach in the corner and he hits the side Russian leg sweep followed by a leg drop. Cover, but it gets a two count. Maybach picks up Okabayashi but Okabayashi gets out of his grasp and they trade blows again. Okabayashi goes off the ropes but Maybach kicks him in the stomach and elbows him back. Okabayashi gets the better of it and tags in Akebono, Irish whip by Akebono to the corner and he hits a running splash on Maybach followed by an elbow drop. Cover, but Maybach gets a shoulder up. Irish whip again by Akebono but this time Maybach moves out of the way. Williams comes in the ring, and both wrestlers hit a lariat onto Akebono. They then go off the opposite ropes and hit lariats again, and finally Maybach knocks down Akebono with another lariat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Maybach and Williams go for a double suplex onto Akebono, but Okabayashi runs in the ring and hits a German suplex onto Maybach. Okabayashi then hits a lariat onto Williams, and then Akebono grabs Maybach and throws into the corner. Maybach is thrown in the same corner, splash by Akebono and Okabayashi hits a powerslam onto Maybach. Elbow drop by Akebono, cover, but it gets a two count. Akebono gets up and hits not one, not two, but three Big Yokozuna Presses. Cover, and Akebono picks up the easy pinfall. Your winners: Akebono and Yuji Okabayashi
Match Thoughts: Nothing bad but pretty miss-able action. I don’t know what Maybach did to make Akebono want to splash him three times, did he make a joke about his wife or something? As we see happen sometimes, Williams isn’t really big enough to do the “big man” gimmick, as he was smaller than both his opponents. So it just looks a little funny. Nothing memorable about the match other than Akebono squashing people, I still find it odd that he wrestles on a small Indy’s mid-card. Score: 4.5
(c) HUB vs. Mineo Fujita
Fujita goes off the ropes and dropkicks HUB in the back, cover, but it gets a two count. Fujita picks up HUB but HUB rolls through it and ducks a kick. HUB goes for a Shining Wizard, Fujita ducks it, but HUB steps back and hits the move from behind. HUB goes off the ropes but Fujita catches him with a hurricanrana followed by a lariat. Both wrestlers are slow to get up, Fujita picks up HUB and does a crucifix pin but it gets a two count. Fujita keeps attempting to roll-up HUB but HUB continues to kick out. Fujita goes off the ropes and hits the Ranhei, cover, but HUB gets a shoulder up. Fujita grabs HUB, HUB goes for a kick, Fujita pushes his leg off but in the process the referee gets kicked by accident. HUB goes off the ropes and Fujita catapults off the referee’s back to hit a dropkick. Fujita sets up HUB in the corner and dropkicks him in the groin. Cover by Fujita but it gets a two count. Fujita goes up to the top turnbuckle but HUB rolls out of the way of the Swanton Bomb. Fujita is still up first, he picks up HUB and sits him onto the top turnbuckle before joining him, but HUB blocks the superplex attempt. They jockey for position up top but HUB slides through his legs. HUB then goes back up top and hits a Pedigree from the top turnbuckle to the mat. HUB goes off the ropes and levels Fujita with a lariat, cover, but Fujita kicks out. HUB goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the Moudoku Habu Kuubaku, cover, but again it gets a two count. HUB picks up Fujita and delivers the Viper Strike, cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winner and still champion: HUB
Match Thoughts: I am glad I looked it up – HUB is formally Goa/Super Dolphin/Zero and I always enjoyed his work back when he was in Osaka Pro. No idea he was in ZERO1 now which shows how out of touch I have been with the Puroresu. I enjoyed this match, it didn’t blow my mind or anything but it was solid Jr. Heavyweight action from start to finish. There were a few brief periods that seemed like a spot took longer to set up than it should have, but HUB is such a smooth wrestler that nothing ever seemed out of place. I wish HUB would have made it to one of the bigger leagues as he is just a solid wrestler, but at his age I doubt it will happen at this point. They didn’t get a lot of time and it was very slightly clipped, but definitely the best match on the show so far. Score: 7.5
(c) James Raideen vs. Demon Ueda
Raideen goes off the ropes but Ueda ducks the lariat attempt and hits a jumping shoulderblock. Ueda picks up Raideen and hits a vertical suplex, cover, but it barely gets a two count. Ueda picks up Raideen and goes for a backdrop suplex, but Raideen blocks it. Lariat to the bad of the head by Ueda, he goes off the ropes but Raideen catches him with a big boot. Scoop slam by Raideen and he hits an elbow drop, cover, but it only gets two. Raideen picks up Ueda and plants him with a side slam, cover, but Ueda gets a shoulder up. Raideen picks up Ueda and goes for a powerbomb but Ueda backdrops out of it. Scoop slam by Ueda, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving headbutt. Ueda grabs Raideen and finally hits the backdrop suplex, cover, but it only gets two. Ueda goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, but Raideen does go down. A second lariat doesn’t do the trick either but the third finally sends Raideen to the mat. Cover, but Raideen kicks out. Ueda picks up Raideen, he goes off the ropes but Raideen hits him with a lariat. Raideen is up first, he grabs Ueda, Irish whip to the corner and he hits a lariat. Raideen runs in and hits a second lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. Raideen picks up Ueda and hits an powerslam, cover, but again Ueda kicks out. Raideen waits for Ueda to get up and nails a chokeslam. Cover, but Ueda still has the power to kick out of it. Raideen has had enough, he drags Ueda to his feet and goes for the powerbomb, but is distracted by a wrestler at ringside. Raideen goes over to talk to him, allowing Ueda time to recover. Ueda tries to spit mist into Raideen’s face but Raideen ducks and his friend on the apron gets hit instead. Raideen goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. Raideen picks up Ueda, plants him with a powerbomb, and this time picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: James Raideen
Match Thoughts: James Raideen is a young really big (muscle-big, not fat-big) wrestler from New Zealand, and Demon Ueda used to go by Shito Ueda. First I gotta say, it always annoys me when a power wrestler wins a strike battle, and when his little opponent gets up he immediately wants another strike battle. Smaller wrestlers need to stick to their strengths, and Ueda’s chops clearly had no impact on Raideen whatsoever. Anyway the brawling outside the ring and the ending stretch worked really well, but some of the middle kinda dragged. They in a lot of instances just repeated the same series, without any real focus or flow to what they were doing. Ueda got in some good offense and at times he seemed at the cusp of winning, but Raideen just towered over him and was a more convincing character with his power moves. It was not a bad match as they were really trying and Raideen stuck to what he knew, but it was at times repetitive and was plodding in parts. Score: 5.0
Masato Tanaka and Yusaku Obata vs. Shinjiro Otani and KAMIKAZE
Tanaka gets a table from under the ring and sets it up at ringside, and Obata puts Kamikaze on the table. Tanaka goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a splash on Kamikaze, crashing them both through the table. Otani comes out to help but Tanaka hits him with a steel chair. Obata picks up Kamikaze and slides him back into the ring, Obata drags Kamikaze towards the corner and Tanaka hits his leg repeatedly while it is against the ring post. Obata drags Kamikaze back towards the middle of the ring and kicks him in the back, Kamikaze returns to his feet and fires back with chops, but Kamikaze goes back to the mat holding his leg. Obata drags Kamikaze by his bad leg and tags in Tanaka. Tanaka and Obata ram Kamikaze’s legs into the mat, then Tanaka drops knees repeatedly into Kamikaze’s leg. Figure four by Tanaka but Kamikaze slowly inches to the ropes and finally forces the break. Tanaka tags in Obata, Obata grabs Kamikaze and gives him a few kicks as Kamikaze slowly gets back to his feet. Kamikaze fires back with an elbow and the two trade blows, until Obata kicks Kamikaze hard in the leg which sends Kamikaze to the mat. Obata throws Kamikaze into the corner and hits a series of chops, Irish whip, but Kamikaze moves when Obata charges in and hits a backdrop suplex. This gives Kamikaze time to tag in Otani, Otani knocks Tanaka off the apron and then throws Obata into the corner. Facewash by Otani, Obata gets out of the corner and charges Otani but Otani kicks him back into the corner. Otani goes off the ropes again but this time he is caught by a Obata dropkick. DDT by Obata onto Otani, cover, but it gets a two count. Obata tags in Tanaka, and Tanaka hits a lariat in one corner and then one in the other corner. Kamikaze comes in the ring and punches Tanaka to the mat, double Irish whip to Tanaka but Tanaka fights them off and hits a lariat on each of them. Tanaka picks up Otani but Otani hits an elbow and they trade elbow strikes. Tanaka eventually gets the better of it but Otani quickly gets back up, Tanaka goes off the ropes but Otani catches him with a boot. Tanaka is back up and they trade elbows again, Otani ducks the Tanaka Roaring Elbow and hits a German suplex followed by a lariat. Otani tags in Kamikaze, Kamikaze grabs Tanaka and applies a waistlock, reversed, and Kamikaze hits an overhead kick.
Another kick to the head by Kamikaze, he picks up Tanaka and hits a vertical suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Kamikaze goes off the ropes but Tanaka catches him with a DDT. Tanaka tags in Obata, Obata picks up Kamikaze and throws him into the corner. Irish whip by Obata, reversed, boot by Obata and he hits a diving doublestomp to Kamikaze’s back. Obata waits for Kamikaze to get up and hits a double jumping knee in the corner followed by a running dropkick. Obata knocks Otani off the apron, Tanaka comes in the ring and they both hit strikes onto Kamikaze. Obata goes up top and hits a missile dropkick, then Tanaka goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving body press. Obata goes off the ropes and hits a PK, cover, but Otani breaks it up. Tanaka throws Otani out of the ring, Tanaka goes for the Sliding D but Kamikaze ducks. Spin kick by Kamikaze to Tanaka, then Otani hits a missile dropkick onto Obata. Thrust kick by Kamikaze to Obata, cover, but it gets a two count. Kamikaze picks up Obata and hits a vertical-drop brainbuster, cover, but Tanaka breaks it up. Kamikaze picks up Obata and hit a sit-down powerbomb, cover, but Obata barely gets a shoulder up. Again Kamikaze picks up Obata, scoop slam in front of the corner, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the moonsault. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Kamikaze positions Obata in front of the corner and goes up top again, Tanaka distracts Kamikaze for a moment, and when Kamikaze does go for the second moonsault Obata gets his knees up. Tanaka then runs in the ring and quickly hits the Sliding D onto Kamikaze. Obata picks up Kamikaze and drops him with the Fisherman Brainbuster, he then picks him up and hits a second one. Cover by Obata, but Kamikaze gets a shoulder up. Obata goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick to Kamikaze’s back. Obata picks up Kamikaze but Kamikaze quickly applies a backslide and he picks up the three count! Your winners and new champions: Shinjiro Otani and Kamikaze
Match Thoughts: A mixed bag for me. Thank God for Obata so they had a young dude who could do a bulk of the fast paced work so the match wasn’t overly plodding. I really think the wrong team won here, I haven’t watched Z1 in many years but it looks like nothing has changed. How does two 40+ year old vets of Z1 having the tag belts help anything? Their level of “draw” doesn’t matter if they have the belts or not, but putting over a younger (in Obata’s case) and fresher tag team would make sense. As for the match, some things I liked and some I didn’t. I thought the leg work on Kamikaze was good, and the ending (even though I hated who won) made sense as the old veteran had nothing left in his tank but still could be wily. The offense was generally varied and it always felt like a toss-up on who was going to win. I didn’t like the table spot meaning nothing, as a minute later Kamikaze was right back to trading strikes. And sooo many strike exchanges back and forth in this match, I am tired of it and so is the crowd who didn’t really react to it at all. So like I said a mixed bag, but at least it got what felt like the right amount of time and was shown in full, so there’s a plus. Just wish the end result was different. Score: 5.5
Best Match: HUB vs. Mineo Fujita. Really the only match on the card I think went beyond “solid”. It wasn’t perfect by any means but it had some quality Jr. Heavyweight action. Pretty entertaining from bell to bell.
MVP: Yusaku Obata. I know that he was pinned but he owned that match. Kamikaze and Otani aren’t exactly spry these days, and are seasoned veterans of ZERO1, but that didn’t stop Obata from flying around and getting more than his fair share of offense on both of them. In fact it took Kamikaze being sneaky to beat him, as Obata was generally controlling the match. A good showing by the young wrestler, hopefully he keeps getting chances to show his talent in ZERO1.
Overall: I pretty ‘meh’ card from top to bottom. Only one match I felt was below average, which is good, but only one match that was better than solid, which is bad. Also the main event just left an icky taste in my mouth, I don’t understand at this stage why Otani needs a belt around his waist unless it is to help bring up a younger wrestler, which Kamikaze is not. Nothing about this card made me think “I can’t wait to watch more ZERO1!” which is what promotions should be going for, to hook you in. Unless you are a fan of clipped matches, old stars not letting go, and excessive strike exchanges, you can probably avoid this one.