September 14, 2019
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. This is the tournament final for the Tenka-Ichi Junior Tournament, which has come down to SUGI, Sean Guinness, Tatsuhiko Takaiwa and HUB. However the show is getting good press because there’s also a title match between champion Daisuke Sekimoto and challenger Yuji Hino. This is Big Lads Wrestling.
MAO & Hide Kubota vs. Ikuto Hidaka & Fuminori Abe
MAO is about to head off on a European excursion. This is him spreading his wings in Japan beforehand. He’s a bit unusual and here hits a diving eye poke. He’s got incredible athleticism but also the brain of a complete lunatic. They go out there and have a fun, and actually good, match thus destroying the traditional dynamic of Zero1 undercards being dogshit until three matches from the end. I have to tell you, I am outraged. I usually listen to a podcast or skim through the Twitter timeline while the Zero1 undercards are on. Hidaka catches MAO in a cheeky roll up and we’re 1/1. Already the greatest Zero1 show this year.
Final Rating: ***
Tenka-Ichi Junior Tournament Semi-Final
HUB vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa
HUB, the former Super Dolphin from wacky old Osaka Pro, has impressed in his short Zero1 run. Takaiwa is a mean old bastard, and has been for most of his career, and makes a point of tying HUB’s mask to the buckles for shits and giggles. Takaiwa may not have the mobility of his younger days but he’s the surly old fuck we all need. We can’t let all these younger generation (HUB is 41) punks make a mockery or pro wrestling. I’ve been calling Takaiwa a miserable old prick for 15 years. How is he not even 50 yet? HUB is clearly leaving something in the locker here for the main event but that doesn’t stop Takaiwa trying to break his ribs and dropping him on his head for laughs. The finish is fucking hilarious as HUB does his Bianca Bellair hair whip thing, Takaiwa considers ignoring it and then they cooperate (sort of) on a roll up. No fucks given. I love it.
Final Rating: **3/4
Tenka-Ichi Junior Tournament Semi-Final
SUGI vs. Sean Guinness
SUGI, the greatest professional wrestler in the world, is in a showcase match here for Big Joe Cabray. Bring him to OTT, you coward. Meanwhile Sean, desperate to keep his slot on the uppercard at the Tivoli, purposefully does terrible moves like the 619 on the floor. Is he giving tips to Ilja Dragunov? SUGI has to break out the wacky shit to get the match over.
They make a mess of the finish by getting too close to the ropes and they have to re-do and when they do Maxer’s shoulders still aren’t down when the pinfall happens. Fuck’s sake. Sean must have been at the fucking sake before this one.
Final Rating: **1/4
Towa Iwasaki & Tommy Maddux vs. Shogun Okamoto & Yoshikazu Yokoyama
Why? Why must you do this to me? Iwasaki is genuinely awesome and the second coming of Jumbo Tsuruta and he’s stuck in the old ‘hey wanna wrestle Yoshikazu Yokoyama’? spot. The one positive of this is Iwasaki firing up and smashing Yokoyama with a lariat. That’s my kind of content. Then Yokoyama nearly breaks Iwasaki’s neck with a terrible spot.
They even have Yokoyama pin Iwasaki here. Are you out of mind Otani? Jesus fucking Christ. I’m glad the standard bad undercard trope has returning BUT AT WHAT COST?
Final Rating: *1/4
Masato Tanaka, Takuya Sugawara & Yasu Kubota vs. TARU, RAICHO & Chris Vice
Long live the shitty Zero1 undercard trope! Back with a vengeance now. This is red hot garbage. TARU is a black hole of shitty wrestling who drags down everything around him.
And people had the nerve to chant “please retire” at Big Show because he was a bit slow. Aim your abuse where it belongs. I would take a Big Show match (apart from vs. Kane) over TARU any day of the week. Sugawara hits a kendo stick shot in this, in plain view of the ref and his response is “eh, it’s TARU he probably deserves it”. Normally I’d be mad at him not enforcing the law but I understand the logic. TARU’s revenge is piling his entire stable into the ring while the ref is ‘busy’ checking the corner pads. Kubota is under the impression this is a serious match and actually works hard and blades. Vice kills him with a package piledriver for being a mark for himself. It’s not that sort of match Yasu. Take your effort elsewhere, it isn’t wanted here.
Final Rating: *
Post Match: Masashi Takeda runs in and beats the shit out of the Voodoo Murders by himself but only because he wants to get a crew together and challenge Masato Tanaka and his boys. Glad he’s not wasting his time on the Voodoo Murders.
Shinjiro Otani & Kohei Sato vs. Okami (Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani)
Now we’re into the business end of the card.
It starts a little sluggishly but then Kamitani comes after Sato and immediately regrets trying to out chop him. Sato might be one of the most dynamic strikers in the business. In tags he’s able to slide in and out and therefore maximum his brutality. He’s a great tag team wrestler. It’s D-Hash who has more success, and indeed looks very motivated, coming for Otani. There are some sizable question marks about how motivated Daichi is on a regular basis but he always seems better away from Big Japan. Daichi and Otani don’t click as well as Sato and Kamitani and this is largely down to selling choices. Sato and Kamitani are on the same selling rhythms. A lot of this match is surprisingly flat and there’s no hot stretch at the end, which is disappointing. Sato piledrives Daichi and that’s it. I love all these guys so this was obviously disappointing that they didn’t go out to steal the show.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Zero1 Heavyweight Championship
Daisuke Sekimoto (c) vs. Yuji Hino
There are some chest meat in the ring here. Both guys have ridiculous physiques where their upper body is unfeasibly large. Like a weirdly proportioned action figure. If He-Man was real. They go barreling into each other and this is very much my shit. Two guys with similar sizes aiming to prove who is ‘bigger’. It’s mostly shoulderblocks, chops and forearms but as the matches progresses we get bigger spots. Or to begin with ‘teasing of bigger spots’ before the actual bigger spots. There’s a sensational spot where Sekimoto is about to run the ropes and smash Hino with a lariat but Hino grabs his foot and maintains foot control, dragging Sekimoto in for a German suplex. That’s just fucking magic lads. Magic. Hino kicks out of the big German suplex and hits his own for the pin and the title. This was two big dudes doing big dude stuff. I loved it.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Tenka-Ichi Junior Tournament Final
HUB vs. SUGI
These two have a tough job of following two super heavyweights beating the shit out of each other.
In their defence it starts well with both guys essentially replicating the violence of the last match but doing it quicker. As the match progresses it becomes blindingly obvious it should have gone on before the title match. That’s not to say it’s not good, because it is, but the impact of it is massively lessened. HUB has an excellent spot here where he just catches SUGI in mid quebrada, tries to turn it into a slam and gets countered in mid move. Met with total silence. Even SUGI’s rope run getting whipped around the legs gets next to no response. It must be gutting for them. HUB finishes with a massive frogsplash. This was super good but the crowd didn’t care, which is sad to see.
Final Rating: ****
I love Zero1. It’s no secret. The issues that I have with the promotion are also what I like about it. So having shitty undercards is completely fine. It’s usually a good laugh watching them. This undercard was decent for them but also one of their marquee matches fell short. You can’t have it all.