ZERO-ONE PPV on 5/2/03
review by Jason Manning

Date: May 2nd, 2003
Location: Tokyo Korakuen Hall

On the day of New Japan’s “ULTIMATE CRUSH” Tokyo Dome show, ZERO-ONE ran a big show at Tokyo Korakuen Hall (titled “01WORLD”) to not really take away from the NJ show attendance-wise, but to show that Z1 can put on a better show than NJ. Lots of notable stuff here. Emblem and Fujiwara’s army face-off in a 6-man tag, Yokoi & Sato face Corino & Anderson to determine the next NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Champions, Low Ki defends his NWA/UPW/ZERO-ONE International Jr. Heavyweight Title against Takaiwa, Otani faces Tom Howard, and in a *BIG* Z1 vs. AJPW main event, Hashimoto & Ogawa face Muto & Kojima. Oh and by the way, this show was aired on Samurai! TV’s new complete version show. I know you needed to know that...

A bunch of match clips are shown, including the majority of the matches of 4/24, OH Gun winning the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Title back from Ghaffari & Howard, Corino’s 1st defense of the ZERO-ONE U.S. Heavyweight Title against Kaiser (he wins cheaply by a fast count from Mr. Fred), and a 6-man between Emblem vs. Hashimoto & ROWDY~! (Sato & Yokoi).

Hash and NWA representative Richard Arpin come to the ring kickoff the show. The American and Japanese national anthems are played and Artman sucks up to Japan a bit. He then sits at ringside to watch the matches.

Tengu Kaiser vs. Shinsuke Z Yamagasa
This isn’t the real opener of the show, so I guess that got cut. Kaiser basically controls the whole match with a basic “rookie discipline” moveset, which doesn’t let him do anything to annoy me, a/k/a blowing every spot he attempts; so all is good. Yamagasa gets in a little offense near the end, busting out a top rope crossbody and a SLAP to Kaiser’s long nose. Kaiser however thrust kicks the rookie, which leads to Yamagasa doing the good ol’ “fighting spirit” call before Kaiser hits him with a lariat and then drops a sloppy Tengu Tornado for the win (6:47). Watchable as a fairly basic opener, I suppose. Moving on...

Wataru Sakata & MIKAMI vs. Naohiro Hoshikawa & Yoshihito Sasaki
MIKAMI is a fun junior from the little-known DDT promotion, so it’s rocking that he gets a chance here. He comes to the ring with his ladder and I faint. Shooter Sakata and high-flying MIKAMI make quite the fun team. Anyways, before the bell even rings MIKAMI decides to die as he slingshots over the ropes with a somersault senton onto Hoshikawa, which causes his legs to nail the guardrail and I am already digging this. They keep the action coming as Hosh avoids MIKAMI’s seated 619 but MIKAMI retaliates by avoiding THE DROPKICK. They keep the action consistent, with everyone looking ever-so-great and something always going on. The middle portion sees Sasaki on defense a lot, and Sakata and MIKAMI manage to keep it interesting as Sakata’s either stretching or beating the piss out of poor Sasaki or MIKAMI’s being all... MIKAMI-like. Another nice little sidestory to keep things interesting sees Sasaki being the spunky little rookie that wants to KILL Sakata, but Sakata won’t take any of it and is a complete dick to Sasaki. After the Sasaki-on-defense portion Hosh gets all fired up and in a really neat chain of stuff, he completely MURDERS MIKAMI with a kick to the face, avoids a kneel kick from Sakata that knocks MIKAMI outside, runs at Sakata, avoids a kick, and then keeps on running into a BULLET TOPE~! on MIKAMI! Sasaki proceeds to continue piling on the fun by coming out of nowhere with a springboard dropkick on Sakata. Hosh is in total dick mode here as he absolutely KILLS MIKAMI with a bunch of kicks, including of course, THE DROPKICK, which comes later on. Every kick-like thing Hosh does here forces me to rewind and rewatch time and time again - especially THE DROPKICK. Another nice sequence comes later in the match as MIKAMI tries to bring in the ladder but Hoshikawa tries to stop him, so Sakata PLANTS him with a backdrop suplex. Sasaki spears Sakata down, but MIKAMI springboard dropkicks Sasaki away and grabs the ladder. MIKAMI then goes up the ladder and Hosh follows, a superplex in mind, but Sakata grabs Hosh off and keeps him on his shoulders, enabling MIKAMI to follow up with a MOTHERFUCKING HUGE dropkick! And I am officially in MARKDOM stage. Sakata soon does the unthinkable as HE CLIMBS... UP... THE... LADDER... and drops a DOUBLE FOOT STOMP from half-way off the ladder. SA-FUCKING-KATA. And the finish is a bunch of fun, too, with a nice near fall or two before Sakata tombstones Sasaki in place for THE SWANTON OFF THE LADDER~! by MIKAMI. Sakata then puts Sasaki in a single-leg crab hold as MIKAMI takes care of Hosh and this baby is over (14:59). Ab-so-lute-ly full of fun, THIS I loved. ZERO-ONE needs to sign this MIKAMI feller and FAST. Oh, and the other three were all fired up and good ‘n’ shit, too. Rocking match with a fast-paced start, a really good middle portion and a rocking last five minutes - CHECK IT OUT. [***¼]

Masato Tanaka, Kuroge Wagyuta & Hosaka vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Ogasawara & Katsumi Usuda
The Korakuen crowd is in love with Fujiwara. I believe this is Hosaka’s first match as a ZERO-ONE guy (or freelancer, whatever you choose). Anyways, matches like this are the worst ones to review, because, well... there really isn’t much “to this” most of the time, although they do manage to keep it consistently watchable and pretty fun with a lot of quick tags and no real slow patches, which is a good thing. Hosaka sells his bandaged left shoulder well enough, not really doing anything that puts force on it and awkwardly punching Usuda at one point with his right arm. Everyone awaits for Fujiwara to hook the armbar on it, but the old man doesn’t deliver. Fujiwara does manage to get a cut on his left eye a tad later on from the headbutts HE was giving. Fuck yeah. Tanaka rocks it at times, but all he can really do here is pick his spots (what he does is nice, though). The finish is your usual 6-man fun, with four of the guys brawling on the outside and then Ogasawara and Wagyuta going at it on the inside. Wagyuta briefly puts Ogasawara in a little trouble before the karate man gets in some kicks and then punches him into the corner where the referee stops the match (12:31). Perfectly acceptable wrestling. Nothing beyond that at all, but hey, it’s still the undercard, so I’ve got no problems with it.

Arpin re-enters the ring and he is a heel now and he talks some trash and he says that the NWA rules state that you can’t throw guys over the top rope and he strips OH Gun of the belts because Ogawa threw Ghaffari over the top rope during the 4/29 title switch and he says that this match is now a title match and he then gives Nakamura a FAT MAN splash and he tells the ring announcer to introduce everybody and now we go to the match...

NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Title
Steve Corino & C.W. Anderson vs. Hirotaka Yokoi & Kohei Sato

There’s so much about this match that I *HATE*. Corino and Anderson play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who starts the match and Anderson wins, which prompts a high-pitched “Woo hoo!” from C.W. The crowd chants for Kohei at the start, so the gaijin threaten to walk until the crowd chants for Corino, which gets them back in the ring. Then, the crowd starts chanting for Kohei again. OK, fine enough, some lighthearted comedy. But then it continues for the WHOLE FREAKING MATCH. Corino and Anderson seem content with wrestling a comedy match while all Sato and Yokoi can do is play the stoic guys who want to, y’know... WRESTLE, baby. All Corino and Anderson do, though, is jokingly sell anything they’re hit with. The sad thing is, whenever Corino and Anderson do hit some moves, Kohei and Yokoi put them over like death. Yokoi punches through a chair somewhere in the middle of this and all seems well, but then the Mr. Fred shit has to pick up, as Kohei hits a uranage on Anderson and covers, but Mr. Fred is talking to Corino. Kohei hooks on a cross armbreaker and Anderson taps, but Mr. Fred’s shoe seems to be untied. Kohei hits a German and covers, but Mr. Fred seems distracted again. After a spinebuster they actually try going for the “Both guys are down, HOT TAG TIME~!” deal, which looks BEYOND out of place as they don’t do a thing to build to it. Corino hits a DDT and STO on Kohei (complete with calling out the move names) and then does the Hogan ear call, so Yokoi simply punches his lights out. Horray. Yokoi then hits a backdrop suplex for a slow count that’s broken by Anderson, and as Kohei and Anderson go outside, Yokoi argues with the ref. He then turns around and tries to pick up the seemingly KO’d Corino, but Corino brings him down into an inside cradle for the FASTFUCKTHISMOTHERFUCKINGSHITCOUNT win (9:43). Blah, blah. Shitty match. It got entertaining (to an extent) once in a while as Corino and Anderson did play heels fine enough, but it was mostly them joking around throughout the entire match and it sucked and sucked. This could’ve been perfectly fine if Corino and Anderson weren’t obsessed with doing TEH COMEDY. Yokoi and Sato tried, but well... yeah, moving along...

NWA/UPW/ZERO-ONE International Jr. Heavyweight Title
Low Ki [c] vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa

Whoo freaking hoo, THIS MATCH RULES. I’ve found a love for Takaiwa as he never really gets pushed all that match, but everyone still knows he’s a killer by the way he carries himself in the ring, and he’s also the KING of carrying the U.S. indy guys ZERO-ONE loves bringing over. They start this out with the expected feeling out and matwork and all that, Ki concentrating a bit on the arm (Takaiwa’s lariat) and Takaiwa concentrating a bit on the leg (Ki’s kicks). Takaiwa also plays up being the power junior a bit early on, so Ki realizes that he’ll have to use more than his strength to take his belt home. Ki tricks Takaiwa by hinting at flipping out of a wristlock only to simply catch him with a quick little kick, so Takaiwa replies by simply getting up and nailing him with two lariats. Takaiwa then even busts out a pescado for all the kids out there, but Ki avoids it. Ki does a neat thing a bit early on as counters an inverted surfboard by leaning all the way back, which forces Takaiwa to be pinned down for a 2 count. AWESOME. The main story here comes into play a little into the match as Takaiwa suplexes Ki over the top and Ki clutches his knee, so Takaiwa goes right to work on it (where have I seen this before...). Takaiwa proceeds to tear the knee apart a bit more with a small assortment of stuff, even busting out elbow drops from the top onto it. Ki eventually goes for a couple cradles, but Takaiwa isn’t going down to that and he eventually SNAPS and nails Ki with FOUR short-arm lariats for a nice near fall. Ki realizes the power of the lariat, so as Takaiwa runs at him with another one, he catches him with the Dragon clutch, reverting back to the brief arm work from earlier. They do a cool sequence as after a couple counters Ki manages a Tiger suplex hold, but he CANNOT HOLD THE BRIDGE because of his knee and I MARK OUT. Ki’s selling of the leg is fine enough, although he easily does a handspring face kick to Takaiwa (who’s up top). He does however sell the pain after it, which is better than not selling it at all I guess. He at least let’s you know that it IS hurting when you need to know. Takaiwa brings back the arm work later on as he goes for an elbow drop but misses, so he clutches the arm and I WEEP. They then head into the finish, as Ki goes for the Firebird splash, but Takaiwa does the greatest motherfucking counter ever by catching one of his legs and bringing him into THE ENDLESS POWERBOMBS~! which he transfers right into a Death Valley Bomb for... JUST ONE!? Oh fuck that shit, FUCK that. This is however where the match really picks up and the crowd is totally into it. Takaiwa goes for a powerbomb but Ki refuses and hits a rolling koppou kick, and then he delivers the Ki Crusher for... JUST ONE!? Oh fuck that shit, FUCK that. They do a couple great near falls as Takaiwa busts out his moveset, but when he goes for a running lariat, Ki counters it by nailing his arm with a rolling koppou kick! LOW KI then delivers a DVB and drags Takaiwa in place for a Firebird splash. Takaiwa is POWERFUL though and he knows it, so he quickly follows that up with a Ki Crusher for the win (24:59). This was motherfucking great. Just one big batch of fun with a really nice build, starting off a bit slow but still pretty fun with something always going on. The knee/arm stuff wasn’t used to it’s fullest (with Ki’s shady selling at times and the arm work only being used once in a while), but it did give the match fine direction (and there was enough goodness surrounding it). The finish was all great ‘n shit with a bunch of near falls and crowd heat and all that stuff you love. There was a little finisher overkill near the end, but that’s my ONLLYYY gripe with the rocking finish. The crowd was still really into it, so it’s all good. ANYWAYS, just really great stuff. My review is long but it was even LONGER before I caved in and edited it down. There was just so much action packed into this and a more great sequences I didn’t even mention. You want it ALL. [***½]

Shinjiro Otani vs. Tom Howard
Otani tapped to Howard’s No. 34 submission on 4/24, so Otani is out for REVENGE. As for the match, blah. Tom Howard sucks. There, I said it. There’s just something about the guy that I really just can’t get into. When he’s out there, he seems to be entertaining the crowd, but I’m just BORED SILLY watching him. Otani really doesn’t do much to carry him either, just kind of hitting some signature spots and playing to the crowd. They seem to be going for the dominant gaijin vs. underdog story at times, with Otani putting Howard over big time and seeming a bit unsure of himself most of the time, but what is on my TV just is NOT good. Otani hits the Spiral bomb later on and Howard kicks out at 2, but even the Korakuen crowd doesn’t react at all, which kind of explains the match as a whole. Howard controls the match near the end, but Otani catches him with a rolling savate kick, hits an enzuigiri, and schoolboy’s him for the win (<b>13:57</b>). Otani acts like he’s won the biggest match of his career post-match. This wasn’t even on the same universe as most Otani matches, though. I don’t want to call it bad since what they did SEEMED technically alright, but it was just... Otani plays the underdog, matwork, Otani does stuff, Howard controls, Otani cradles him and wins. *falls asleep* Actually, to tell you the truth, I wanted to punch myself in the jaw repeatedly while watching it. And that takes a lot. Really, it does.

The Predator & John Heidenreich vs. Matt Ghaffari & King Adamo
This sucked.

Shinya Hashimoto & Naoya Ogawa vs. Keiji Muto & Satoshi Kojima
This builds up pretty nicely and it really is quite the spectacle seeing these four in the same ring together. Kojima and Muto get heel heat at the start, which is neat. Kojima and Ogawa go at it right at the bell, Kojima busting out the Koji Cutter and the corner elbow in the first minute of the match, although Ogawa prevents him from doing the elbow drop. Watching a match like this, it’s easy to see that Ogawa still is a pretty bad wrestler, but he gets the job done in other departments, and the crowd is way into him. Muto hits the Shining Wizard soon enough and then Hash goes for one, only to trip and turn it into a Shining... body attack. This simply rolls along smoothly with some nice stuff for the first 10 minutes, everyone having some decent exchanges and the match building up pretty nicely despite some signature moves being used. Nobody here except for Kojima has much of a moveset anymore, but they work things smart enough and I end up satisfied. OH Gun bust out the double submissions (two cross armbreakers) later on, which is cool. There is a little timing problem soon after this as OH Gun go for their German/STO combo on Kojima, but Kojima avoids it and Hash gets STO’d. Kojima tries to quickly follow up with a lariat on Ogawa, but Ogawa stays down and Kojima has to sell his pain until he can hit the lariat. Ogawa however soon simply punches Kojima’s lights out and gets on top of him, punching the fuck out of him and pushing the referee away when he tries to intervene. Muto pushes Ogawa off and even hits a Shining Wizard, and then one on Hash, but Hash gets up and kicks Muto away as Ogawa punches Kojima some more until the referee stops the match (18:43). Fun match, although it seemed short, and the finish definitely could’ve been given more time. As a whole, I liked this, as the spectacle of seeing all four in the ring was enjoyable and they built it up nicely, but other than that there really wasn’t much to it other than the whole “interpromotional hatred” angle. A good, fun match, moreso for the whole spectacle thing, as the actual work put into it wasn’t spectacular, but it was good enough and a fine, fine way to end the show. [***]

And it WOULD NOT be a big ZERO-ONE show without a post-match angle, and HOLY SHIT, Ogawa keeps punching and TOSHIAKI MOTHERFUCKING KAWADA IS ON MY TV AND HE KICKS OGAWA DOWN~! FUCK YEAH! KICK HIS ASS! Kawada also beats the piss out of Hashimoto and this RULES. OH Gun manage to get up and finish the show with a speech, and all is well in ZERO-ONE.

They then play THE MUSIC VIDEO and it rules. Seriously, if ANYBODY has this song, GET IT TO ME. PRONTO. THUREEE, TWOOO, ONE, ZEROOO-WAAAAAN~!

Final Analysis: Very good show, something you can always expect when ZERO-ONE’s running one of their big shows. The undercard was good, as it had that ROCKING junior tag, and then a decent 6-man. Corino/Anderson vs. ROWDY sucked dick, but things picked up again with Ki vs. Takaiwa. The two junior matches alone are worth buying this tape. The show took another downward spiral with Otani-Howard and the HORRID gaijin tag, but picked up again with the main event that was good... just “good”... but still. Good. You REALLY want those two junior matches, and the main event is quite fun for any fan of puroresu. SURE, this is Recommended.

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