ZERO1 Sushizanmai Presents Happy New Year
Jan 1, 2020
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at the world famous Korakuen Hall. Zero1 actually aired somewhere! I am always happy about that. By all accounts this show sports a cracking main event; Hino vs. Okabayashi but I also dig Zero1’s craptastic undercards so I’m here for the full show.
Kohei Sato vs. Towa Iwasaki
As if this is the opener! What a bizarre booking decision. Sato is a five-time former champion (but doesn’t do the Booker T pose) and Iwasaki is the future of the company. I assume they want Towa to get experience wrestling top guys. The match structure sees Iwasaki try to go toe to toe with his bigger, more experienced opponent with mixed results.
It’s a really stiff match with Sato breaking out all manner of violence to make sure he wins including a headbutt and the piledriver finishes. This was a cracking opener. I loved it.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Kubota Brothers vs. Chris Vice & TARU
Can Chrissy V hold this one together? No. He does try though and I respect his attempts to make TARU less shit but it’s not happening. The bit where he no sells a Kubota chair shot and does the big arms apart yell is the best part of the match. Then he roughs up the ref and gets disqualified. Vice looked good here. Everything else was window dressing.
Final Rating: **
Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Yoshikazu Yokoyama
What is it with Zero1 giving Takaiwa terrible opponents? Obviously he’s not getting anything out of Yokoyama. The latter tries to steal Takaiwa moves but his elbow drop is an abomination. He does manage a decent DVD off the top but Takaiwa is having NONE OF THAT SIR and kicks out at one. Takaiwa proceeds to almost murder the poor bastard with a Package Driver, right on the dome, and the DVD finishes. Jesus, this match was all over the place. Some of the spots down the finish were sick and almost covered for how shit Yokoyama was in the early going. Almost.
Final Rating: **3/4
Masato Tanaka, Ikuto Hidaka & Takuya Sugawara vs. Strong Hearts (T-Hawk, Shigehiro Irie & El Lindaman)
Irie being in all promotions is great. He’s a fantastic freelance talent. I know he dreams of America but there are half a dozen Japanese promotions that would benefit from pushing him hard. This is a belter. Fast-paced, action-packed and worked with great intensity. Sugawara looks like he’s having the time of his life. Tanaka! He’s all fired up. Like this is a main event or something. His interaction with Irie is amazing. Strong Hearts have this habit of dropping into promotions and immediately looking like the best thing that promotion has going for it. This has all the hallmarks of a tremendous Dragon Gate trios match. It’s so well put together. I’m watching it with a massive grin. Night Ride puts Hidaka away and I could have lived with another five minutes of this. Tremendous fast paced midcard excitement.
Final Rating: ****
Post Match: There’s a lot of “fight me, bitch” energy with El Lindaman running his big fat mouth.
Zero1 Junior Heavyweight Championship
SUGI (c) vs. HUB
SUGI has been champion for 400+ days. I remember watching HUB, many years ago, as Super Dolphin in the totally weird Osaka Pro. He’s currently rocking a Bianca Bellair braid whip gimmick, only it’s part of his mask. I really wouldn’t want something hanging off the back of my head that could, possibly, cause me to get yanked backwards by my head.
Considering who’s involved the pacing is quite pedestrian with both guys preferring to work a ground based offence. Albeit with SUGI occasionally hitting a dive because he can’t help himself. Getting a balance between limb work and the odd Spanish Fly is difficult and the match tends to work best when HUB is using his braid to stop SUGI doing daft high spots. It’s probably intentional, given the result, but HUB gets to look like the star here. Cutting SUGI off throughout and looking one step ahead. The match is not helped by a blown spot where HUB tries to catch SUGI and it all just collapses. For all the matches cool spots, mostly involving high risk counters or HUB’s extension, it doesn’t quite hit the desired level. HUB takes it and ends the 400+ day run of SUGI. Good but not great.
Final Rating: ***1/4
NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Championship
Masashi Takeda & Yuko Miyamoto (c) vs. Shinjiro Otani & Shoki Kitamura
Otani is here to teach them Death Matches lads what Zero1 is all about and he’s brought along one his young lads to show he can do business without an experienced tag team partner.
It’s a spirited performance from Kitamura and the same can be said of Otani. They very carefully play the underdog role here and kudos to the BJW guys for coming in strong. The overarching storyline is really good. Kitamura struggles a little to hang with the timing of the other guys but this just adds to the feeling that he’s about to get murdered. Otani looks so upset when he’s held back at the finish and Takeda polishes Kitamura off. Beautifully done. Otani is a goddamn god, goddamn it.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Zero1 World Heavyweight Championship
Yuji Hino (c) vs. Yuji Okabayashi
I am fucking fired up here. Two of the big lads of Japanese wrestling, going head to head.
There’s a lot of chest in this match. Like they average 1.75 normal chests per wrestler. If beefy gentlemen doing shoulderblocks is your thing I have a match for you, sirs!
Every power spot going is on offer here. The testosterone level are so high my monitor would fail a drugs test. They’ve been eating adrenal glands. They start running into each other on duelling lariats and I’m cackling here! I love this shit. The Golem Splash into the knees is so painful to watch. My knees and my ribs hurt! If you like matches that exist as two jacked up dudes challenging each other to do stupid shit, this is for you. The chops! Then fucking Hino gets his eye fucked up and stands there demanding more!
Okabayashi just can’t keep this bad motherfucker down. Then Hino powers up, jacks Okabayashi up with the Fucking Bomb and that’s the end of that. This fucking ruled! Get on this violence!
Final Rating: ****1/2