Justin Knipper is back as his tour of Japan continues. He went to the Pro Wrestling Zero1 show in Korakuen Hall on Saturday and saw a title change. Yuji Hino is the new champion. The results are below.
Fuminori Abe and Ikuto Hidaka defeated MAO and Hide Kubota.
MAO is a DDT guy, often tagging with Mike Bailey, but was in loan to Zero1 tonight. Korakuen Hall was around 65% full by the time the show was underway. Stragglers filed insuring this and the venue began to fill out.
MAO’s work here stood out from the others. He has string body-control and form, and he’s a natural at blending a sometimes-silly persona with serious in-ring talent, not unlike a lot of the DDT guys. Abe is one of the best shoot-style wrestlers out there right now and would kill at something like Bloodsport. And Hidaka is still smooth as ever. He scored the win in this opener with a modified cradle pin on MAO.
HUB defeated Tatsuhito Takaiwa
If you remember Takaiwa from his dominant IWGP junior tag team days, he looks exactly the same, older maybe, but still with the black tights and boots. The flashier Super Delfin-trainee, HUB, wears a mask with a long tail-looking thing hanging to the floor from the back of his mask, which came into play rather quickly here.
HUB crash-landed onto Takaiwa with a tope suicida at the start of the match. Takaiwa paid him back nicely with chops that sounded like they had a BOSE bass boost on each of them. HUB whipped Takaiwa with his quasi-ponytail, like a masked Bianca Belair. Takaiwa hit a flying elbow drop from the top rope, but HUB countered with a crossbody attack off the top. Takaiwa responded to that with a brutal brainbuster and later a gross Michinoku Driver and Death Valley Bomb for a close two-count. It was here when Takaiwa teased the finish when he went for going for his patented triple power bomb, but HUB blocked it by whipping Takaiwa in the face again with his ponytail. He pinned Takaiwa after tying his arm up in his ponytail and did a fireman’s carry cradle for the win. Flat ending but a solid match nonetheless. And after all these years, Takaiwa can still go.
SUGI defeated Sean Guinness
Guinness is a Lance Storm trainee whose worked for Zero1 a bit in the past. He has a nice following in Tokyo. He and SUGI, the former Toryumon classmate of one Kazuchika Okada, spilled out to the floor early on. Guinness tossed SUGI into the crowd and then SUGI later moonsault’d into Guinness from one of the guardrails. He’s all cool highspots and flashy gear but here he didn’t tell much of a story, nor was he was very expressive. That’s his style. SUGI tight-rope walked across the top rope to nail Guinness with running dropkick one point. Guinness used some cool power spots. The finish here was ugly because SUGI was out of place on the la magistral and they both got caught in then ropes, so they had to so sort of redo the spot further from further away. There were flashes of impressive stuff here but I think Guinness would’ve been better-suited with a better opponent tonight.
Voodoo Murders (Shogun Okamoto and Yoshikazu Yokoyama) defeated Tommy Maddox and Toa Iwasaki
Iwasaki is a new golden boy for Zero1 but is still in the earliest stages of his career. I haven’t seen Tommy Maddox before, though. And no, it’s not the XFL quarterback. This fellow was massive and agile, and people in the crowd were already screaming his name before this was underway. Maddox is explosive and has loads of charisma. Ex-sumo Shogun Okamoto kept eyeballing Maddox early in this.
Halfway through the match, when Iwasaki went to pin Yokoyama, Okamoto who was outside the ring, accidentally held Maddox back from running into the ring until he realized it was he who should probably be breaking up the pin. Later, Yokoyama pinned Iwasaki to rack another one up for TARU’s Voodoo Murders. Okamoto attacked Iwasaki afterwards. Tommy Maddox was the most interesting piece of this match, by far.
Voodoo Murders (TARU, Chris Vice & RAICHO defeated Yasu Kubota, Takuya Sugawara & Masato Tanaka)
This was bedlam spread out all over Korakuen before this got underway. TARU did his version of Mr. Socko to Sugawara but I think I was the only one there who interpreted the spot that way. Yoshikazu Yokohama came out and joined in on the brawl. The ring announcer was screaming bloody murder for the crowd to be careful, which added to the drama. Once everyone was in the ring the lights dimmed again and the bell rang.
This iteration of Voodoo Murders triple-teamed Kubota until he bled. When he was busted open, Tanaka ran into the ring and started wailing VM with a kendo stick until TARU chased him back out of the ring. He’s another workhorse who is just as good as he’s always been. Chris Vice got a good reaction for a delayed vertical suplex while he walked around the ring in a circle before planting Kubota.
The heels continued brutalizing the bloody Kubota until he dropkicked Taru and tagged out to house-of-fire Masato Tanaka. The match went back and forth from here until Vice slung himself into the ring and took Tanaka out with a flying shoulder block. He finally put Kubota out of his misery after spiking him with a cradle Jaydriller for the win.
After the match, Masashi Takeda from Big Japan Pro Wrestling sprinted out from behind the press area and took everyone out, then he took out Sugawara and challenged him to a match for his intercontinental title in the near future.
There was a twin idol duo who lip-synched through one of their tunes during intermission.
Kohei Sato and Shinjiro Otani defeated Okami (Daichi Hashimoto and Hideyoshi Kamatani)
Otani was announced as Mr. Puroresu, a name he must have inherited from Tenryu. I hadn’t realized. Otani and Hashimoto, son of Shinya, shook hands, and kicked into a a weird remix of a ‘90s NJPW match. They started off slow, and it was obvious that compared to the other matches tonight that these two had all the time they wanted. They grappled on the mat for a while and eventually found themselves stuck in a 50/50 position fighting over leg locks. Otani got the better of the ground battle; Hashimoto’s grunts almost sounded like he has drowning, in pain, gasping for air.
Sato and Kamitani were in together next. Sato’s striking is almost too much, too brutal, but I can’t deny that I enjoyed watching it. Says more about me than him maybe. His kicks sound like a baseball bat crashing into a wall. Once he even used a hard closed fist punch which was blatant and to the back of Kamitani’s head.
Hashimoto and Otani we’re back in again and Hash started firing off machine-gun kicks into Otani’s chest in the corner. Otani went for revenge with a face wash but Hashimoto blocked it, teased one of his own, but then blasted Otani in the chest instead with a low kick to a small chorus of boos from crowd. Hashimoto then offered to Otani let him do the facewash spot and took it all without complaint. He actually asked for another after the first round. Hashimoto’s face paint had washed off by this point.
Sato and Kamitani were back in shortly after this and again, Sato tortured Kamitani with hard kicks. Kamitani ate all of them, but came back with a vertical suplex. He tagged out to Hashimoto moments after, but Sato was able to return quickly and spike Hash with a jumping piledriver for the win. It looks as though Sato & Kamitani and Otani & Hashimoto will do some ingles bouts together in the future, the latter program most likely happening soon by the sound of Hashimoto’s post-match promo.
After the show this match was announced for an upcoming Zero1 event at Korakuen Hall.
Yuji Hino defeated Daisuke Sekimoto to win the Zero1 World Heavyweight championship
If Merriam-Webster ever decides to enter the phrase “brick shithouse” into their dictionary, they really should use either of these two lads’ profiles in the entry. These two have very similar builds with Hino being the taller of the two. If Tyler Bate is a big strong boy, and Adam Page is a horse, what the hell do you call these guys?
Hino came out with a katana. Sekimoto is headed to L.A. next week for the Battle of Los Angeles.
The first few minutes of this were simply the two feeling each other out and exchanging side headlocks. When they finally came to a stalemate, Hino insisted they have a shoulder block-off, which had the loudest reaction of the night up to here. It was like watching two trucks crash into each other over and over. Next they went chop-for-chop. Hino won that battle, knocking Sekimoto to his knees, then arrogantly putting his hands behind his back and offering Sekimoto a second chance. He yawned in Sekimoto’s face after the next chop. They took it to the floor from here and continued chopping the shit out of each other, again with Hino looking like the more powerful one, slowly breaking the legend down.
After 10 minutes had passed, they were both back in the ring and Sekimoto somehow hoisted Hino up and did a walking backbreaker, then shoved him off like a rag doll. He then somehow lifted Hino into a torture rack, then an atomic drop; classic style. He locked Hino into a single leg crab and cranked on that until the ref told him to break when Hino grabbed the ropes, which set Sekimoto off. He went on a tear and later hit a giant splash for two. It was 15 minutes in and the crowd really began to peak here. Hino then answered with big splash of his own for two. They went back to the original theme and started going lariat for lariat; simple violence. Sekimoto screamed out “FUCKING BOMB!” and used Hino’s own finisher on him for a close two. They traded snap German suplexes. When Sekimoto went for a running lariat, Hino grabbed his ankle, and seconds later landed a big lariat of his own. The crowd was really behind Hino when the ref began the double-knockdown count. The ring announcer, Oki Okidata, was so dramatic on the time calls, his voice cracking at times. Hino hit the Fucking Bomb for only two. A kid no older than seven sitting across from me screamed in frustration.
Hino then flipped the double bird and went for another F-Bomb but Sekimoto slid out of it. They traded more lariats but neither would go down. Sekimoto screamed “FUCK YOU!” and laid in another, a cloud of sweat Hino’s face, but still he wouldn’t go down. Sekimoto hit a deadlift German for an extremely close two. When Sekimoto went for the Tenryu elbow off the top, Hino peeled him down from the ropes, and after some struggle, landed a massive deadlift German suplex on Sekimoto for the shock win in 25:22.
Korakuen Hall erupted. Hino is the new Zero1 World Heavyweight champion. After the match, Chris Vice and Taru came out and Vice challenged Hino to a match for the title.
HUB defeated SUGI to win the Zero 1 World Junior Heavyweight title and International Junior Heavyweight title
This was a kind of dark match deal. A few fans carried banners for SUGI during his entrance. It had to be two minutes into the match when SUGI launched maybe his fourth quebrada to the floor tonight. Hub later did a reverse attitude adjustment where Sugi landed knees-first on the mat, beginning his knee work section of the match. He kept working over the knee and even used his Bianca Belair tail to quite literally whip SUGI’s ass. When SUGI went for the running ropewalk dropkick, Hub whipped him off the ropes with his mask ponytail. Hub later used one of the craziest moves for a two, then a frog splash to win the match at exactly 9:00 PM. Hub was presented with a trophy because this was the end of the junior tournament. SUGI said he wants one more chance to win his title back. Hub agreed.
Final thoughts: Hino vs. Sekimoto was the lifeblood of tonight’s show. It’s why everyone was here. Everything else was fine to pretty good, but this was heavyweight main event material in its glory. Top-tier work from both. Fucking Bombs for everyone.