Zero1 Yasukuni Shrine 150th Anniversary Hono Pro-Wrestling 17th Yamato Shinshu Chikara Matsuri
October 26, 2019
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at the Yasukuni Shrine Sumo Wrestling Place. My favourite venue in all of wrestling. It’s on nicopro, so chances are it’ll look terrible but here’s hoping. As we speak, as it were, this is still on nicopro.
As expected the cameramen are fucking useless. Otani invites Antonio Inoki to the ring. They’ve not put the ropes up yet so he doesn’t have to step through them. Inoki has a cane because he can’t walk and also fuck the hardcam.
I like how Otani is completely silence on commentary here, where he normally chats over promos or eats food. The Respect!
Inokism means pro-scarf.
Towa Iwasaki vs. Tsugutaka Sato
Putting Big Boi Towa in the opener isn’t the brightest of ideas but hey, at least he’ll win clean. Sato is a little hoss too so they just beat each other up. It reminds me of old All Japan rookies on their way up, beating the shit out of each other for dominance. It doesn’t have the finesse of the NJPW Dojo but it makes up for lack of finesse with intensity and stiffness. There are some super meaty lariats. It gets a little clumsy as they go down the stretch but it feels like an important match with big shots and one count kick outs. Backdrop Driver finishes for Iwasaki. This was Very Solid.
Final Rating: ***
Super Tiger vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa
Takaiwa plays the role of surly old fuck whose heart can be melted by the presence of an adoring fanbase. Due to heart melting he’s not at his peak here.
Super Tiger mistimes a few moves because Takaiwa is slower than he expected. It’s a rough match. The trouble with guys like Super Tigs is that they can only do one style of match, usually with jumping back kicks, and find it hard to cater to an opponents strengths and weaknesses. When Tiger realises all his Sayama stuff is essentially off the bill they settle into a terrible and yet basic match up. In an attempt to cover for how bad the match is they work snug. It does not work and the match somehow gets sloppier. Also Takaiwa absolutely batters Tiger and he refuses to sell anything. Takaiwa may be old but at least he used to be good, Super Tiger is just fucking shit.
Final Rating: *1/4
Ikuto Hidaka & Fuminori Abe vs. Chris Vice & Yoshikazu Yokoyama
Vice is a solid gaijin import with power offence but he doesn’t fit into Voodoo Murders at all and has given up trying. The match is driven by Abe taking heat and nothing really happens. I would put cold, hard cash on at least one of these boys being hungover if not all four. Yokoyama though. He’s a special kind of bad. I’m not even mad anymore. His selling here and inability to understand how to change gears beyond a laughable level of child play acting is horrendous stuff. Vice turns out to be the surprise star of this one, chucking Japanese lads around for his amusement. It allows both Hidaka and Abe to play underdog and Vice still murders Hidaka for the pin with a huge package piledriver. Hey, you know what, this was good. Kudos to Big Vicey.
Final Rating: ***
Kohei Sato & SUGI vs. The Kubota Brothers vs. TARU & RAICHO
This looks, on paper, like the ‘someone jumps off a building’ match.
I hope it’s TARU! SUGI is certainly in the mood and jumps off Kohei’s shoulders in the crowd.
There’s only one camera here and SUGI does his dive from a part of the building where the camera can’t see them. Then RAICHO wins the match. There was nothing to see here unless you were actually in the building. TARU playing the drums post match is better than the match.
Final Rating: *
NWA Intercontintental Tag Team Championship
Masato Tanaka & Takuya Sugawara (c) vs. Masashi Takeda & Yuko Miyamoto
The pacing here is relatively mundane. They want to establish Sugawara as a weak link and have him cut off from Tanaka and worked over. Tanaka, when he tags in, ups the tempo. When Sugawara loses this match for him he can come back with another partner. Mayhap Sugiura? We can dream. The match isn’t helped along by a somewhat disinterested crowd. There’s no reaction for the Sugawara low blow and barely a pop for Tanaka’s outside attack with the kendo stick. Matters get quite heated down the stretch and Takeda survives everything the heels have to throw at them before dumping Sugawara on his head and picking up the straps. Thus ending the near 300 day reign of the champs.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Shinjiro Otani vs. Daichi Hashimoto
A big Otani singles match in 2019 is quite the sight. He’s not done yet. Daichi is an enigma. I’m never quite sure which Daichi is going to turn up. He has two distinct modes; 1. Doesn’t give a fuck, should probably quit wrestling. 2. Has so much respect for his opponent that he gives all the effort, plus the effort he doesn’t give normally. It’s a very traditional match with Otani taking 5 minutes to rough up the upstart and D-Hash taking 5 minutes to work over the leg. The 10 minute mark is where they mean business. Daichi is all “I want you to hit me, as hard as you can” Fight Club style. Otani; “righto”. Otani beating the shit out of someone is still a work of art. Daichi feels like he’s not been beaten up sufficiently and demands more! The match suffers from the need to do 30 minutes, as that’s the time limit. At times they’re clearly filling space rather than knocking the shit out of each other. If they could have trimmed 10 minutes out of this it could have really properly banged. The strike exchanges are great and Otani gets in his leg sweep spot but they also do a ‘hand drops three times’ choke spot so I have mixed feelings. I like how it slows down towards the finish as exhaustion takes hold and both guys struggle. Fatigue selling is tough but they need to do it here to stress the length of the match. The downside is there’s no hot finish. We just get Daichi trying to get a pin and failing and we’re done at 30:00. Although I can’t fault the effort here I can’t help but feel they’d have been better off doing a shorter, hotter match. The time limit draw does a good job in putting over Daichi’s resilience. Hopefully they’ll get a chance to interact again. Maybe as a team.
Final Rating: ****
Zero1 World Heavyweight Championship
Yuji Hino (c) vs. Shogun Okamoto
Shogun, of Voodoo Murders, is coming for the strap to honour TARU. Okamoto is perfectly fine as a worker but in order to step up to the main event he needs outside interference. That’s your storyline. Otherwise he’d basically get crushed. They do a decent job of playing Hino as the underdog, despite his general toughness. They try and make the match about big bombs and two gorillas smashing into each other but it never has the oomph required for that to happen. I largely blame Okamoto for this as he’s too sluggish and cannot hold up his end. The Voodoo Murders end up piling into the ring. Big heel factions in modern times are lazy and uninspired and Voodoo Murders have always been terrible. They don’t even bother bumping the ref and a bunch of shit happens while he’s ‘distracted’. Okamoto gets miscued with the powder of doom and the Fucking Bomb finishes. Good lord this was fucking awful. I don’t know why Voodoo Murders are suddenly a big deal in Zero1 but hopefully they go away soon so I can go back to hating the undercard and loving the main events in this company.
Final Rating: *
This was not a fun show to sit through. Zero1 have been one of my favourite promotions to watch because the undercard is lovably shit and yet the main events are killer. So you have this huge gulf between undercard and main. The booking on this show did not work the same way. Most of the undercard was pretty good and the main event stank. I don’t know what to make of this situation but it makes me confused and upset. Nicopro has desecrated the Yasukuni Shrine.