Wrestle-1 Shining Winter (12.26.18) review

Wrestle-1 Shining Winter (12.26.18) review

Wrestle-1 Shining Winter


December 26 2018 (Aired on GAORA TV January 15 2019)


Every time I tune in to Wrestle-1 I’m somewhat jarred by how much they love U2. “Where the Streets Have No Name” blaring at me is not something I’m used to when tuning into a show.


Ryuji Hijikata vs. Ryuki Honda

Hijikata, the surly old veteran, is here to kick Honda’s black trunk wearing ass. 18 year old Honda debuted in September last year. This is very much a ‘trial’ match for him. It’s super basic and Hijikata doesn’t exactly waste any energy in the process of showing Honda the ropes. They have a wonderful finish where Honda hits a near fall off a German suplex but gets countered into a kimura from the pin and has to tap. Finish aside this was very by-the-numbers.

Final Rating: *1/2


Masayuki Mitomi & Shota Nakagawa vs. Hajime & Tsugutaka Sato

I’ve been watching Wrestle-1 sporadically over the last two years so I don’t recognise anyone here. Mitomi used to work DDT so he’s vaguely familiar to me and seems the most fired up for this bout. Mitomi & Nakagawa come out with the win. Nothing really to report. Good pacing. Everything was clean.

Final Rating: **1/2


Andy Wu vs. El Hijo del Pantera

I remember in Wrestle-1’s early days I felt both these guys had a tonne of potential. Wu has had a few runs with the cruiser belt but EHDP hasn’t been around as much as I’d hoped for and now they’re back wrestling each other in the third match again.


What I’ve always liked about Wrestle-1 is that it felt like virgin territory so anyone could be elevated from the midcard. That’s not happened for these guys for whatever reason. They throw out a bunch of exciting stuff here and it’s an easy match to watch.

It helps that El Hijo del Pantera is a fucking lunatic who does things like this. It reminds me of my first exposure to Dragon Lee. Like, this guy is completely insane. He also murders Wu with Cradleshock and doesn’t even pin because he wants to finish with a flippydo. This is his ultimate undoing. That and Wu’s refusal to stay down on a murder spot. Wu hits Spanish Fly and his reverse Code Red for the win. This was a metric fuck tonne of fun.

Final Rating: ***1/2


Jiro Kuroshio, MAZADA & Alejandro vs. Masayuki Kono, Manabu Soya & Daiki Inaba

When Wrestle-1 started if someone told me the big star from all the young guys would be Kuroshio I’d have laughed in their face. But here we are. Whole crowd chanting his name, everyone playing up to his spots.


Here’s Manabu Soya slicing him in half with a samurai sword. In mid-bump.

The big storyline is Alejandro attempting to giant kill Masayuki Kono. The latter is 6’4”/250lbs. Alejandro is 5’3”/140lbs. Wrestle-1 do attempt interesting things with size differences that I appreciate. It’s not just Alejandro though. Nobody can beat Kono. He’s the monster that’s near impossible to shift. The giant-killing angle is terrific fun with Alejandro trying to hard but Kono dismissing him with one big forearm smash for the pin. Good angle within the trios clash.

Final Rating: ***1/4


ASUKA & Hana Kimura vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto & Kaori Yoneyama

ASUKA is not the WWE one. I feel like this is a pretty obvious thing to say but just in case. She has a mean girls team with Hana and they isolate Yoneyama and bear her up. Hana has gone from being a tremendous prospect to someone who has abandoned the act that made her popular and I really don’t know how I feel about her right now. The match is definitely better when it’s ASUKA vs. Matsumoto.


Maybe that’s being a touch unfair on Hana who certainly brings a lot of raw energy and fights valiantly. I feel like she just hasn’t improved like I was hoping and that’s an issue. Is this as good as it gets? Matsumoto puts her away here. Really good little match, running a shade over ten minutes. Hana took a few nice bumps towards the finish.

Final Rating: ***1/4


Wrestle-1 Tag Team Championship

Shuji Kondo & Koji Doi (c) vs. Kaz Hayashi & Pegaso Iluminar

Big Kaz is coming after the tag straps with his “Mexican” mate.


Pegaso is relatively new to the biz so the challengers are definitely underdogs. Pegaso looks really good. His timing is great and his moves look cool. His effort livens up a routine defence.

Kaz livens things up too by doing this! “When wrestling almost goes horribly wrong”. Wrestle-1 definitely call the shotgun dropkick a John Woo, which is good news for Golazo Dan fans. Again Pegaso ups the tempo throughout this and freshens the match up when he tags in while the tag champs control periods are less thrilling. But this does allow the excitement to linger on Pegaso and my biggest takeaway from this is that he’s really exciting and fun to watch. He spams the shit out of Phenomenal Forearms too. He does three in the space of four minutes, like that’s his ‘thing’. Koji decides he doesn’t care for this and sets about dismantling the poor bastard with strikes only for Pegaso to start countering his spots into wacky flash pins. I love this guy! Doi eventually overcomes this and hits a brainbuster for the pin but Pegaso killed it here. Lovely stuff.

Final Rating: ****


Enfants Terribles (Shotaro Ashino, Kenichiro Arai, Kuma Arashi & Yusuke Kodama) & Jun Tondokoro vs. Strong Hearts (CIMA, T-Hawk, El Lindaman & Seiki Yoshioka) & Roger

Strong Hearts are an invading faction but they’re going head to head with the local dickheads in the form of champ Shotaro Ashino’s Enfants Terribles. The hatred of Strong Hearts is sufficient for the crowd to boo them regardless here. The crowd prefer their own dickheads to dickheads from elsewhere. Strong Hearts turn up with a bloke called Roger in tow. I have no idea who he is but he’s quite tall. (I found out just before posting that Roger is from OWE and is their big monster heel)


It’s not Roger that is the psychically dominating force in this but Kuma Arashi. The match is a huge brawl all over the building as the hatred cannot be contained in the ring. T-Hawk is a prime asshole here. Hooking a headlock to spite the crowd who are out for Strong Hearts blood.


Lindaman basks in the heat. He loves it. CIMA getting irritated about Tondokoro (who really reminds me of KUSHIDA for some reason) getting a better reaction on the turnbuckle and complaining to the referee about it is peak heel work. Their in-ring is great too. Lightning fast. Historically anyone who can keep up with CIMA is well worth watching.

I have no idea who Roger is but he can do this. He’s a green monster. He stacks and slams everyone and generally dominates the match until Kuma Arashi stops him. And then T-Hawk, in turn, stops Arashi. It’s an intriguing story of power vs. power there. Raw power vs. size vs. technique. Tondokoro has the most sympathy of anyone because he’s not a prick. So Strong Hearts logically work their heat on him. It’s quite beautiful. Strong Hearts are, naturally, assholes about the whole process. T-Hawk draws a tonne of heat for his work, almost on a par with Lindaman. There’s a definite feeling of both teams looking to beat the leader of the opposition. Strong Hearts try to beat Ashino. Enfants Terribles look to beat CIMA. Bragging rights are on the line here.


Ashino eventually takes CIMA down and submits him with the anklelock. CIMA doing everything in his power to get out but never able to get into the ropes. Ashino has vanquished Strong Hearts!

Final Rating: ****1/4


Post Match: Just when you think it’s over T-Hawk decides to challenge Ashino for the title.


With Strong Hearts appearing in promotions all over the world it’s hard to tell how long they’ll be anywhere but this almost felt like the culmination of the angle. If T-Hawk goes and wins the belt then who knows! It doesn’t end there with various people issuing challenges and all the heels agreeing to beat up Tondokoro (you’re all bastards, fuck you all) when he comes after CIMA. Kuroshio and his mates make the save and honestly, who knows where all this is going.


Well, I know where this is going but in the interests of not dropping spoilers for stuff that’s not aired yet I’ll feign ignorance. Here’s the two matches booked for 1/5 though:

Ashino vs. T-Hawk

Strong Hearts vs. Kuroshio, Wu, Kaz & Tondokoro



The Strong Hearts invasion angle has been a tough one to book. They’ve not been that dominant but they’ve still been the top feature in the company, booked strong and against just about anyone from Wrestle-1 regardless of whether they’re heels or faces. Strong Hearts being a separate entity altogether. How long can this continue? Hopefully a long time and then they move on to another company and do the same thing because I could live with this angle for the foreseeable future, just repeating in different companies.

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