PRO WRESTLING ZERO1
HAPPY NEW YEAR
JANUARY 1, 2022
Watch: Wrestle Universe
Before the show started, the entire roster came to the ring for a New Years greeting and it was announced that Tsugutaka Sato, originally a Wrestle-1 trainee, had joined the company. I like Sato and have said he’s a good young prospect. Definitely a smart pickup for a promotion that has a thin roster and has had its fair share of departures in the past couple of years.
JUNYA MATSUNAGA & TAKAFUMI DEF. SATSUKI NAGAO & TAKUMI BABA (8:17)
Takafumi is the former Ganseki Tanaka of Wrestle-1.
This was your standard opener featuring the younger guys. It was a fine back-and-forth match. Nagao, who has the least experience of these guys, looked a little awkward at times but there were no real big botches. Matsunaga won with a Backdrop Suplex on Nagao. **¾
REVENGERS (ASUKA & TAKUYA SUGAWARA) DEF. GENTA HIRIKI & TSUGUTAKA SATO (9:30)
The ASUKA and Sugawara team is funny because it has one of the best workers in the world alongside one of the worst graduates of the Dragon System.
I’ve never seen Hiriki before but he’s a solid young talent. Sugawara looked gassed after a couple of minutes. This got good towards the end thanks to ASUKA. Sugawara pinned Hiriki after a Spinning Brainbuster and a Lariat. Definitely exceeded my expectations, but really I should’ve known better as ASUKA is that damn good. Sato, the new signee, didn’t really stand out here. Buddy, you gotta grab that brass ring, I’ve seen you show promise before. ***¼
KEN OHKA & YUMEHITO IMANARI DEF. VOODOO MURDERS (CHRIS VICE & YOSHIKAZU YOKOYAMA) (9:37)
Ganbare Pro vs. Voodoo Murders is something that I don’t think is on the top of anyone’s list of dream matches, but here we are.
VM attacked before the bell, which was to be expected. This was just a bunch of brawling and VM cheating at first. Vice isn’t very good, but he can at least do a couple of cool-looking power moves. The Ganbare team took a beating here until Vice accidentally Lariated Yokoyama which led to a comeback. Imanari then pinned Yokoyama with a sloppy-looking Tiger Driver. Again, my expectations were mostly exceeded. I thought it was a good beatdown but the finish was abrupt and sloppy.
After the match, VM beatdown the Ganbare team and then TARU made his return after over a year away from ZERO1. He got on the mic and seems to have heat with the current VM as Yokoyama was yelling angrily at him. Cagematch listed Taru as only working one match in 2021 for the Gifu indie, Yanagase Pro. Maybe he was in jail or something. I guess this was the big angle to kick off the new year. **¾
NWA INTERCONTINENTAL TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
GAJO & TOMOHIKO HASHIMOTO (C) DEF. KUBOTA BROTHERS (HIDE KUBOTA & YASU KUBOTA) (15:24)
The champions hail from Pro Wrestling A-TEAM and won the vacant titles by winning the Furinkazan Tag Team Tournament 2021 and this is their first defense. They are both beefy boys.
The Kobota Brothers look like they’ve really aged since the last time I saw them.
This was slow and plodding with the Kobota Brothers getting worked over a whole lot. The last few minutes picked up a bit, but it was hardly something wild. Hashimoto pinned Yasu Kobota after two Chokeslams. This was just barely passable, but too long. After the match, Takafumi came out to challenge the champions, presumably with Junya Matsunaga. **¼
Before the intermission, GM Megumi Kuto came out to announce the participants of the Osu Premium Pro Wrestling show. It will feature an All Japan match with Shuji Ishikawa & Izanagi vs. Suwama & Dan Tamura as well as Tatsumi Fujinami & Shiro Koshinaka vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Alexander Otsuka. Other participants are Aja Kong, Tsukasa Fujimoto, Dump Matsumoto Mayumi Ozaki, Saori Anou, Jaguar Yakota, Shinobu Kandori, Takako Inoue, Yumi Ohka, NATSUMI and The Great Sasuke. The show will happen on February 12 at Belle Salle Takadanobaba in Tokyo and will feature 20 promotions in total.
ZERO1 WORLD JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE / ZERO1 INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
FUMINORI ABE (C) DEF. SHOKI KITAMURA (18:00)
Abe won the vacant titles in the Tenka-Ichi Junior Tournament 2021 and has made four defenses so far.
I’ve seen very little of Kitamura, but he shows some fire. He controlled a lot of this match which ended up exposing his weaknesses. Abe was his usual smooth as silk self. They stiffed each other a good bit too which always gets you points in my book when all else fails. The last few minutes had some good near falls. Kitamura looked like he was on the way to win, but Abe got the Ghost Clutch out of nowhere and got the win. While Kitamura has potential, he’s not quite there yet but Abe managed to get something decent here. ***½
ZERO1 WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
TAKASHI SUGIURA (C) DEF. MASATO TANAKA (22:40)
With Tanaka working NOAH regularly, there have been more eyes on him than there have been in several years. A common criticism of him that I’ve seen lately is that while he’s a great worker, he does get exposed in longer matches of the type that NOAH likes to do. I think that’s a fair criticism. At least ZERO1 has 30 minute time limits in their title matches which helped here.
After a little mat wrestling, they started with the first of many forearm exchanges. They then went back to the mat and did some rest holds. They did eventually ramp things up, and it was great.
Lots of stiff strikes and no selling which is what you’d expect. Tanaka delivered two Sliding Ds but on the second, Sugiura rolled over into a Front Neck Lock and while Tanaka resisted, the referee eventually called for a stoppage.
I can’t say this was some sort of sublime match, but it was the kind of hard-hitting stuff you can’t help but love. After the match, Takuya Suguwara, the 2021 Fire Festival winner, came out to challenge Sugiura. Good luck to Sugiwara in making something out of that. ****
After the match, a video package played and we learned, Yuji Hino, Yuji Okabayashi, Yuko Miyamoto, Isami Kodaka, Hirotaka Yokoi, Alexander Otsuka Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan will all be working ZERO1’s Sumo Hall show on April 10.
Of all those names, I’m most excited for Yokoi who was an MMA guy turned pro wrestler that was a big part of ZERO1’s early years who had a tag team with Kohei Sato. He won the All Asia Tag Team Championship in All Japan with Sato during the very underrated AJPW vs. ZERO1 feud of 2003. He hasn’t wrestled since 2007. He was one of those wild out-of-control MMA-type guys in wrestling.
It’s always nice to check in on ZERO1. I haven’t seen a show of theirs since last March. It’s not a bad little promotion but the roster lacks depth, though they seem to be working on that. There wasn’t anything that was a must see here except for the main event. Their upcoming shows in February and April look quite interesting, however.