Zero1 Fire Festival review (7.22.18)

Zero1 Fire Festival review (7.22.18)

Zero1 Fire Festival

 

July 22 2018 (Air date August 4 2018)

 

We join this year’s Fire Festival in progress. Hino, for example, comes into tonight’s show with four wins already.

 

Ikuto Hidaka, Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshikazu Yokoyama vs. TARU, Hide Kubota & Yasu Kubota

Ah, the flaming cesspit of a Zero1 undercard! You never know what you’re going to get but chances are it’s going to suck. The only good wrestlers in this are all far too old to have a good match and it’s rather telling this goes on first. There really is no saving any Yokoyama match. TARU puts him away and at least the finish is ok but this is 9 minute you’ll never get back.

Final Rating: ½*

 

Chris Vice [10] vs. Towa Iwasaki [5]

Iwasaki is 19 years old and in his first year in the business. I’ve never seen him before. Vice is an Aussie who’s representing Voodoo Murders. The points structure is 5 points for a win and 3 for a draw. Why so complicated? I don’t know. Iwasaki decides to start selling like he’s dead after one move. Then he pins Vice with a cheeky roll up. I’m not rating this.

Final Rating: NR

 

Super Tiger [5] vs. SUGI [13]

Zero1 has such a smaller roster that they have to throw their juniors in with the heavyweights, which creates some interesting booking. SUGI seems to have no trouble besting heavies and is rocking two wins and a draw before this (the wins coming against juniors Otani and Yamato, thus ruining my theory).

Z1SUGI

SUGI is probably my favourite wrestler in Zero1. He’s a flippy little dude who seems to have no concept of things like fear and gravity. Unfortunately Super Tigs decides that a good strategy is to have a leg match, thus completely eliminating all of SUGI’s flying. Which, from a strategy POV, is terrific but from an entertainment perspective it’s a total wash.

Z1Supertiger

I’m then torn when SUGI decides to sack all that off and just hit a bunch of movez because I hate the lack of selling but the match was an entertainment dead end. To his credit SUGI does occasionally stop to say “ow, my leg hurts” or something similar so I’ll give him a pass.

This is the peak of the match and then Super Tiger wins with a Tiger Suplex (doy). I’m reticent to call this “bad” because SUGI was in it but it certainly wasn’t interesting in any way.

Final Rating: **1/2

 

Blast Queen Championship Tag Team Match

Risa Sera & Yoshiko (c) vs. Akane Fujita & Nanae Takahashi

The Blast Queen title is a singles title but is being defended in this tag match with whoever wins the fall winning the title. Sera was a surprise, as Yoshiko was originally teaming with “Rise Asar”, an X-style mystery opponent. Sera and Fujita are both from Ice Ribbon. Nanae and Yoshiko from SEAdLINNNG. Yoshiko is still trash for shooting on an unexpecting opponent and retiring her.

Z1YoshikoSera

She’s the miserable looking blonde bitch. It’s notable that Sera can’t stand her, from a character stand point. This makes for a bizarre match.

Z1RisaSera

This gets pretty violent with brawling around the building and blood from the above barbwire stick. I was hoping for a change of pace with this show, amidst a sea of G1, but this is really not what I was wanting. I love the Blast matches generally and the ref has clearly been in one before as he’s wearing goggles. They tease the fireworks several times with the crowd pulling out their camera phones every time. It’s an ocean of phone screens!

There’s a nice bit after this where Fujita gets the blast bat and aims for revenge. But she’s disarmed and eats the bat.

Risa Sera has beaten the shit out Fujita in this match so it’s perhaps no surprise she pins her and wins her tag team partners title. WCW are calling, they want their bullshit back.

Z1Risachamp

Final Rating: **

 

Masato Tanaka [18] vs. Takuya Sugawara [5]

I felt with three matches left I should be into the good stuff by this point. Nah, here’s Sugawara; a guy who’s never had a great match and would never make it into a marquee tournament in a bigger promotion like NJPW or even AJPW or NOAH. We’re in the dregs. Tanaka won Fire Festival last year. His first major tournament was in FMW in 1995! Tanaka plays it sensible and does a lot of strike duels where Sugawara can look competent and not screw anything up. Then Sugawara attempts a flying rana and makes an utter hash of it. Just stick to the basics pal. You’re not built for lucha. Tanaka takes the lead again though and makes it about strikes and trading and keeps everything simple. Then something in his brain, rattled due to repeated head shots over the years, decides to introduce a table into proceedings and promptly kills Sugawara with a top splash through it. Damn, the Japanese table shattered first time of asking! Sugawara takes it with a weird looking roll up after struggling with the mechanics of what he was attempting. This was fine, thanks to a 45 year old Masato Tanaka walking Sugawara through it.

Z1MasatoTanaka

Final Rating: ***1/4

 

Shinjiro Otani [0] vs. Hiroshi Yamato [0]

Otani is winding down his career and that donut next to his name is sad to see. He’s the old gun riding off into the sunset a la Tenzan in New Japan. He can’t do it at this level anymore. It’s a shame because a few years ago he was still having Fire Festival bangers.

Z1Otani

He demonstrates that right out of the gate here, eager to chop the shit out of Yamato. It’s not a greatest hits show, although the boot scrapes are well received, but rather a challenge for Yamato to see if he can take all of this abuse and keep going. When he sits back into the corner and yells “BOOT SCRAPE ME YOU OLD FUCKER” (or words to that effect) I’m all in. Otani is clearly showing his age, which is something I’ve really not seen before. I guess Otani knows himself better than anyone else and the limitations that come with that.

Z1Otaniface

Yamato barely makes it out of this predicament and he’s got the fatigue selling down pat. No wonder Otani sees him as a potential guy to mentor in his autumn years. Yamato isn’t an excellent wrestler by any stretch of the imagination but he’s good enough to tell his part in Otani’s story. Otani is a guy that history has almost forgotten about because of his move to the relatively unknown pastures of Zero1 rather than sticking with New Japan but he’s every bit as good as anyone in his age bracket. Northern Lights bomb finishes for Yamato and he acts like it’s a big deal to him. Just a little bit too ragged around the edges but Otani is still great at telling stories.

Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Yuji Hino [20] vs. Kohei Sato [13]

Z1Hino

This match contains an enormous amount of beef. It’s one of the beefiest matches Japan has going for it that doesn’t feature either Sekimoto or Shuji Ishikawa. Rocky Balboa would get a solid work out punching these guys in the ribs for a half an hour. The collisions in this match are extra beefy. You’d need another two Euro fifty if you wanted to order it in Oberhausen. Every single spot in the match involves one beefy appendage smashing into the opposing chest with slapping or thunk noises attached. It’s brutal. If it lasted it would be an Ishii level main event but the two big dogs simply bark themselves out here. For like four minutes it’s amazing. Then it’s a minute of rest before they start unloading with a chop duel that’s nothing short of painful to watch. Sato ends up dropping the previously unbeaten Hino with a German suplex after 7.20. I’m aware this is really short for the main event of a show but fuck me, they murdered each other. It couldn’t have gone on much longer.

Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Summary:

Obviously Zero1 is a big pile of shit compared to promotions that have things like money, a roster and integrity but their grimy style of pro wrestling quite often produces some truly memorably violent matches. There’s nothing here that you need to see but if you’re in the mood for some intense hard-hitting stuff you could do worse than giving the last two matches a look.

 

 

 

 

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