Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ZERO 1 FIRE FESTIVAL DAY 1 REVIEW

For those that don't know, Zero-1 has their own annual singles tournament like All Japan's Champion's Carnival and New Japan's G1 Climax(which we're just getting into as I right this). Past winners include Satoshi Kojima, Masato Tanaka(3-peated), and Shinjiro Ohtani(won 4 times).

RYOUJI SAI, MINEO FUJITA & DAICHI HASHIMOTO vs. KAMIKAZE, SITO UEDA & YOSHIKAZU YOKOYAMA
Daichi gets plenty of in ring time, and it's great to see him so comfortable. For folks that are new to the Puro scene, Daichi is son of Zero 1 founder and all around bad ass, the late Shinya Hashimoto. Shinya died very unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm in 2005. Earlier this year, Daichi probably had one of the most hotly anticipated debuts in the history of puroresu when he wrestled one of his father's best friends, Masahiro Chono. Since then the kid has gotten to wrestle Mutoh, Vader, and Yoshihiro Takayama. It seems like everyone wants a piece of the kid. People seem to think he's the future of puroresu(Steve Corino being one) and that he'll save the industry. I don't know if any one person can achieve such a goal, but regardless Puroresu has their own version of Harry Potter now.

The kid is good. He's not quite fiery enough and he's not quite as sure on his mechanics, which he needs to shore up so he can play up the other aspects of wrestling. Still.... he's only been wrestling for all of six months now. I can't think of many rookie guys in puro that blew me out of the water in their first year. There's still quite a bit of potential in this guy, and it's easy to see that he's picking it up very rapidly. Definitely one to keep your eye on.

The rest of the match isn't anything special once he leaves the ring. Though it does feature a funny ass double stomp for a finish.

Not pleasant..
HAYATO "Jr" FUJITA vs. DAISUKE SEKIMOTO
This one was pretty tasty, and was probably the match I was most looking forward to. I can't say it really met or expectations, but it is still really good and worth watching. Fujita's selling for Daisuke is fantastic. Fujita, who usually picks on other juniors, is now against a bigger bully and you can see him uncomfortable with the concept of being the weaker or underdog. There's a great moment where Sekimoto bends over to pick up Fujita and Fujita kicks Sekimoto in the head. Daisuke stands up and is all "What do you think you're doing?" and he just boots the guy in the face. Fujita's come back later is well done and short lived, he just can't handle the monster. Super Solid match, go find it and watch it.

KOHEI SATO vs. KENTA KAKINUMA
Kakinuma only in his second year, but he seems to have some promise. Sato kicks this kid between the shoulder blades so many times it's ridiculous. The first half was mostly him kicking him right there, and it's actually pretty awesome. Kakinuma's come backs were great and desperate and he moved really fluidly. He tried hard to use his swiftness and various roll-ups to steal a win and for a second you thought it was possible. Kakunuma also has a beautiful German Suplex, which held up compared to Daisuke's from the previous match. I really really like this kid. If he and Daichi Hashimoto are the future of the company then things don't look so bad. Good match.

ATSUSHI SAWADA vs. MASATO TANAKA
Sawada is straight IGF representin' and you know I can't get enough IGF. Maybe win I'm done with the New Generation Era Project, I'll do an entire retrospective on all the IGF events.  Anyway, this started out a little wild, with the chair duel and the table spot, but it all felt rushed. Sawada is one of those guys that looks confused all the time. They'll wander around thinking about what the hell they're supposed to do next. Just when you think "What's with this guy? He stinks." He'll do something ridiculous and you love him again. Like when he just throws a piece of broken table on to Tanaka. He throws is it so the splintery edges comes down on Tanaka's chest. You could see Tanaka make a mental note of how much harder he needed to hit that Sliding D later. Like I said, the flow of the match felt a little rushed, but there's still a few fun bits to keep it interesting.

After the match, Sawada yelled at a little girl and made her cry. I love this guy.

IKUTO HIDAKA & TAKAFUMI ITO vs. TAKUYA SUGAWARA & BEAR FUKUDA
Something about dudes who wrestle in big black t-shirts with cut off sleeves turns me off. I think the reason I believe Arik Cannon is any good is because he overcame that hurdle and made me like him the first time I saw him. The first half of this match doesn't help me dig Bear Fukuda or Takuya Sugawara very much. Their offense is weak looking and uninspired. They get to take control on the smaller Takafumi Ito and all they give me are some awful looking double axehandles. I've seen massages look more brutal.

But somehow this stuff picks up and Bear Fukuda, who I immediately targeted as the weakest one of the bunch, starts showing some life and chemistry with Ito. I wouldn't mind seeing them mix it up again, actually.
The finishing bit with Ito trying to lock on the Sleeper was pretty sweet and kept this from being a bit of a waste. There were still some weird pacing and bizarre logic gaps. Like Hidaki making a come back on Bear and Takuya. He targets Bear the hardest, knocking the crap out of him and tossing him out of the ring. Then when he goes to Takuya he gets knocked down and Takuya....runs and tags in a fresh Bear?!?! It's weird.

SHINJIRO OHTANI vs. ZEUS
Not a futon.
It felt like Ohtani was walking Zeus through a pretty simple plot, which was a good thing. It was a simple story to follow and Zeus looked impressive in it, tossing Ohtani around like a jabroni. My chief complaint is that Zeus has this Dragon Gate Singles Match Sickness. He'll hit something big and then wander around or just kind of stare off into nothing while the momentum of the match screeches to a halt. And he doesn't go for a pin until the last three minutes. He'll throw these big moves and just leave it until Ohtani gets back up. No fun. The good news is Ohtani can still go. Anytime he made a comeback or was in control he had the crowd going and provided a lot of spark. He ate some pretty good offense from Zeus and made him look pretty great. Ohtani has to be one of the smartest and consistent workers on the planet.

After the match, Zeus showed some respect to the veteran and it was accepted.

OVERALL SHOW:
Pretty strong show here. Nothing got offesnively bad, and there's was some fine performances from multiple members of the rosters. It's a nice "jumping on point". You get a few new wrestlers who stand out with fun performances like a Kakinuma or a Takafumi Ito that you can latch on to, while having names like Tanaka, Sekimoto, Ohtani, and Fujita bringing solid presence to carry the show.

If you haven't checked out much Zero 1, this may be a good show to start with. I'll be reviewing the finals of this tournament soon, so keep an eye out for that.

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