Zero1 Yasukuni Shrine review (4.8.18)

Zero1 Yasukuni Shrine review (4.8.18)

Zero1 15th Annual Dedication Pro-Wrestling

 

April 8 2018

 

The title doesn’t translate particularly well but this show is known as the “Shrine Show”. It’s the annual Zero1 show from an actual Shrine (the Yasukuni Shrine) in Tokyo. I’ve been there and if the weather is right it’s beautiful. Last year it wasn’t. It was grey and horrible and the show was not in any way magical. This year blessing are with Shinjiro Otani! It’s sunny and I’m fired up for a unique wrestling setting. It’s one of my favourite Japanese shows of the year. Outdoors. Sunny. A thousand fans.

 

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Yoshikazu Yokoyama vs. KAMIKAZE

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Shout out to Yoshikazu’s hair. I’m expecting nothing from the match but they immediately deliver by brawling around the venue so I can get a look at how pretty it is. Then Yokoyama manages to run into a post like the dipshit he is.

How did he not see that? I love that Zero1 left it on the tape for the bants. Yokoyama may be the worst professional wrestler currently plying his trade in Japan and that includes Iizuka. He’s so bad it must be intentional. KAMIKAZE beats him with a backslide and I’m thankful it’s over but at least we got a few laughs out of Yokoyama’s total lack of coordination.

Final Rating: ½*

 

Koji Kawamura & Yasutaka Oosera vs. Shoki Kitamura & Towa Iwasaki

This is a Michinoku Pro rookies tag match. It’s very hard to get invested in four dudes wearing blank trunks who I’ve never seen before. I don’t even know who’s who. They have a spirited sub-ten minute contest and a Boston crab (THE finisher of Young Boys) ends it. It seems Kitamura & Iwasaki won. Neither of those boys even has a Cagematch profile. Moving on.

Final Rating: **

 

Mitsuo Momota & Shogun Okamoto vs. TARU & Hartley Jackson

Momota? Holy fuck, how is he still wrestling? He used to do comedy matches in the opener for NOAH ten years ago when he was ancient and washed up beyond belief. Here he’s 69 years old and looks like a businessman who paid extra to be humiliated and cucked in front of an audience in his grey pants. This exists in the same match as Shogun Okamoto beating the piss out of Hartley Jackson. When Momota is in there it’s a mugging. Given their appearances (TARU wearing a boiler suit, Hartley with his Mad Max extra haircut) it looks like some futuristic Neo Tokyo mugging from after the apocalypse.

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Then a confused looking KAMIKAZE shows up, climbs up the Shrine, has a can of Asahi and moonsaults off the balcony!

The moonsault actually kills TARU so it doesn’t do the Voodoo Murders any good at all.

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On the race back to the ring somehow Momota gets back in and no one else does! What the actual fuck? This match was total madness. I can’t rate it on any conventional level.

Final Rating: Throwing cocaine in a pensioner’s eyes.

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Zero1 United National Heavyweight Championship

Super Tiger (c) vs. Chris Vice

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I know what you’re thinking; who in the blue hell is Chris Vice? He’s a 14 year pro from Australia known as the “Smashing Machine”. He’s basically taking James Raideen’s spot, since Raideen left to be Dylan James in All Japan. They look very similar. Otani is probably hoping people will squint a bit and not notice. My favourite moment of this match is the commentator calling the Brookes neckbreaker a “neck screw”. Like, mate your neck is screwed. The match is utterly devoid of heat. You can hear people chatting at the back of the building.

“Is that James Raideen?”

Zero1’s choice of foreign wrestlers is always perplexing to me. They’ve got Sean Guinness and everyone else is a big bald muscle guy. Vice even wins the belt here. A belt of such importance that absolutely no one of note has won it in 3 years.

Final Rating: **

 

Looking through some of the former champions I would be slightly worried if I was Chris Vice. Tama Williams retired. Toshiki Iwaki disappeared into HEAT UP, never to be seen again. Yokoyama has turned into a joke. Buffa hasn’t wrestled this year. Could genuinely be cursed!

 

Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Jinsei Shinzaki & Mr Gannosuke

Everyone in this match is very old but it doesn’t matter as they all have timeless styles. Otani and Takaiwa, both 45, have been wrestling the same way their whole careers. It’s a smash mouth, brawling style that they can do well into their 60s. Shinzaki has had to tone himself down a bit, seeing as he’s 51 now, but I’m very excited to see this match. None of these wrestlers have been relevant in 15 years but that’s not going to stop me enjoying it.

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I like that Shinzaki treats the whole thing like a mythical, near religious experience. The sight of him disrobing is quite the thing, even in 2018 and without the kanji. The older I get the more into old men wrestling I get. Either this is because I’ve followed these men their entire careers or my tastes have changed, I don’t know. I used to disparage old man bouts as jokes and wastes of time. That said, I’d always have enjoyed the fire that Otani shows here.

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He gives Shinzaki a tonne of boot scrapes. One where Gannosuke eats the big boot at the end too. Honestly the match flies by. It feels so breezy with all four dudes busting their old asses. Shinzaki submits Takaiwa with a Goku Raku Stretch as he’s too old and fragile to stay in the hold for long enough for Otani to save. Old dudes beating the shit out of each other is kinda my thing.

Final Rating: ***1/2

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Jason Lee, SUGI & Shoji Fukushima vs. Ikuto Hidaka, Takuya Sugawara & Sean Guinness

This is the Jason Lee that works regularly in Dragon Gate and appeared in the Cruiserweight Classic rather than the OVW Jason Lee. Cagematch has the two confused this year, for some reason. By the time you read this it will probably be fixed because I like to point stuff like that out. Lee vs. Hidaka is tidy and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Hidaka is in the mood to do crazy high speed lucha shit and I am all for that, my friends.

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Also the level of dickery displayed by Hidaka and pals. This is a really fun match, despite being in a tricky spot. Not content with mucking around they head into a building nearby.

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This being a ‘falls count anywhere’ match allows that spot to be a near fall. A near fall! He moonsaulted off a fucking building lads! What’s the finish? Moonsault out of a helicopter? Shooting Star Press off the moon?

Ok, that’s pretty fucking awesome. Fukushima is clearly in there to take the pin but he gets to kick out of a load of stuff down the stretch as they tease the finish. Sugawara eventually puts him away by dropping him on his head. This was fantastic. I’m tempted to go north of four stars for the sheer ambition involved but a lot of the non-SUGI/Hidaka stuff wasn’t as clean as it could have been.

Final Rating: ****

 

Kohei Sato vs. Yuji Hino

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I am fired up for this. Sato and Hino are both representatives of Big Lads Wrestling. I really want one or both to come over to the UK at some point. Hino looks to have added girth. How is that even possible? He’s already packing on so much upper body size that his belly button has popped out. It was dead space. Needed more room for muscle. I would LOVE to see Hino vs. WALTER. Two ‘don’t back down’ badasses who do savage chops. Sato is in no mood to back down and he destroys Hino with big kicks. Since I last saw him Sato has lost a tooth. Given the kind of matches he’s in this is not a surprise. If you like Big Lads smashing each other to bits this is for you. It probably doesn’t go long enough, just a smidge over 12 minutes, and the Fucking BOMB finishes. I was very into this but wanted more. Maybe that’s the art of what they presented me with. Leaving me wanting more.

Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Masato Tanaka & Jiro Kuroshio vs. Yusuke Obata & Yuko Miyamoto

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While Jiro outlasted his welcome a long time ago there’s something delightful about Masato Tanaka stealing his gimmick and doing it a million times better. Fucking grown men are chasing after them doing the Jackets pose! They could milk the entrance for 20-30 minutes. Obata’s road to the title has been a long and exhausting one but now he’s The Man and he’s getting upstaged by Tanaka wearing a jacket. Life isn’t fair. Ikemen decides to go swinging off the rafters because he can. I’m actually shocked SUGI didn’t do a spot using the rafters. Maybe next year. Unless he’s quit and signed for CMLL or something. Tanaka continues to take the piss by using his jacket to block Obata’s moves. Hey, you might be the champion but you’re boring as fuck and nobody remembers who you are. It’s kinda sad. He worked so hard to be The Man in Zero1. Meanwhile Ikemen has gotten so over that it doesn’t even matter that he’s a middling talent.

There’s all this wacky bullshit going on and then Obata breaks out a shoot headbutt on Tanaka, which isn’t the best of ideas at any point but it leads directly to the finish.

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Meanwhile these two boys are like “a shoot headbutt? I thought we were just pissing around here”.

Final Rating: ***1/4

 

Post Match: Hartley Jackson comes out to challenge Obata and gets kneed off the apron because he’s a total joke. Booking Obata is so hard. He does so very little to distinguish himself from the pack but he works really, really hard to be a great pro wrestler. It’s an issue almost every Japanese promotion have had with their Aces of late. Whether it’s Nakajima in NOAH or Miyahara in AJPW or Takeshita in DDT. They’re great wrestlers but they struggle to distinguish themselves. Miyahara has overcome that and Takeshita to a degree but Obata needs a hook. The fact it took him so long to get the title kinda helps because it feels like he got around to earning it. Despite his best efforts he isn’t particularly over though.

 

Summary:

Zero1 usually has a super nice time in the Yasukuni Shrine and this was no exception. The sun shone. The cherry blossoms were out. I enjoyed myself. The trios tag, with the wacky moonsault off the building is an obvious highlight but I dug the old man tag and the Big Lads battle that sandwiched it.

 

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