Hidaka Plans to Overthrow Togo for AWA Jr. Title!
October 11th, 2007
At the October 26 ZERO1-MAX "Innovation" tour show in Korakuen Hall, Ikuto Hidaka will face current champion Dick Togo in an effort to regain the AWA World Jr. Heavyweight title. Hidaka came to the ZERO1-MAX office in Tokyo to comment on the upcoming match.
The relation of the two wrestlers is very much a teacher/student relationship as Hidaka was a former member of Togo's "Far East Connection" (FEC) stable in Michinoku Pro Wrestling. Now Togo is the 4th AWA World Jr. Heavyweight champion while Hidaka was the 2nd holder of the title.
Dick Togo took the title from Hidaka back in June when he won a AWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title "Decision Battle Royal" with his signature diving senton, as these two were the two remaining fighters in the ring. Former champion Tatsuhito Takaiwa had to vacate the title due to injury the previous month. Hidaka gave his own comments:
After Hidaka lost to Togo in the AWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title "Decision Battle Royal" he said he went to Texas, USA in July to visit his own Sensei, WWE's Sho Funaki. Hidaka said he trained with Funaki and prepared not only for the "Fire Festival" but for the prospect of defeating Togo.
Will Hidaka be able to fight to victory in Tokyo,Japan in front of the Korakuen Hall faithful fans?
The Great Sasuke! Opponent Fujita Comments!
October 11th, 2007
At the ZERO1-MAX "Innovation" tour show coming up in Iwate on October 22, Minoru Fujita will face his former boss in a 6-man tag, that man is The Great Sasuke of Michinoku Pro Wrestling. Fujita came to the ZERO1-MAX office in Tokyo to speak about this match.
These days Minoru Fujita is a ZERO1-MAX junior class wrestler, but back in 1999-2000 he was full-time for Michinoku Pro. Since then the two have faced each other once before. It was back on August 22, 2004 back for Michinoku Pro in a Captain's Fall Steel Cage Match where Fujita teamed with Ikuto Hidaka and Mach Pump to face The Great Sasuke, Dick Togo and Nobutaka Moribe.
Sasuke also thanked Fujita for the "Sasuke Spirit" t-shirt he gave him one year ago, in which Fujita responded he will be sure to give Sasuke a new version of the shirt in a different color as a show of thanks. On one side will be the team of The Great Sasuke, Shinjiro Otani and Masato Tanaka versus the team of Takao Omori, Minoru Fujita and El Dorado Pro wrestling, Takuya Sugawara.
Next Target for Tanaka - AWA Champion Omori!
October 1st, 2007
Masato Tanaka's next goal in his attempt to win all titles and tournaments in ZERO1-MAX for a whole year has been revealed - Tanaka will face Takao Omori on October 26th at Korakuen Hall for the AWA World Heavyweight title. Both men came to the First On Stage offices in Tokyo, Japan to discuss the upcoming bout.
Tanaka, fresh off his "Fire Festival '07" and "Tenka-Ichi Jr. Tournament 2007" victories, the first time any wrestler has accomplished both goals, had this to say:
"Being able to win [the Tenka-Ichi tournament], I was relieved, and now I can go back to eating sushi again. Dick Togo has the belt of the AWA World Jr. Heavyweight still, but I defeated him in the junior tournament so I believe I am the top of the ZERO1-MAX Junior rank."
Tanaka expressed his wish to challenge for the AWA World Heavyweight title immediately after winning the Tenka-Ichi tourney. Omori heard the challenge and without wavering consented immediately to defend the belt.
While Omori has defended his AWA title twice in September already, first against Kohei Sato and then the following day versus Munenori Sawa, he's been reeling of late from his three loses in the "Fire Festival '07." Tanaka on the other hand returned from a long layoff due to right shoulder surgery and has attained not only many victories, including a singles win over Team EMBLEM partner Shinjiro Otani, but the double tournaments win as well.
Can Tanaka continue successfully on his personal "ZERO1-MAX Total Belt Capture" tour?
"Brothers" IC Tag Title Shot! Champions No-Show!
October 1st, 2007
The current "Brothers" tag team of Minoru Fujita and Takuya Sugawara came to the First On Stage offices in Tokyo to address their challenging of Kohei Sato and Yoshihiro Takayama for the ZERO1-MAX Intercontinental Tag Team titles on October 26th in Korakuen Hall. Kohei and Takayama were also suppose to appear for the press conference as well but no-showed the event. After waiting some time for the champions to appear, finally only Fujita and Sugawara addressed the media.
"If [Kohei & Takayama] flee in the face of the enemy, we will surely get the titles. No-showing a scheduled interview is amusing as an adult. We'll have to educate them. However, maybe the time of the meeting wasn't remembered correctly..."
However, when it comes time for the match, their opponents are both large heavyweights facing two junior class wrestlers. Takayama and Kohei both exceed 190cm in height, and have the advantage also in the physique department.
Fujita also revealed that there is a "secret plan" for the match, something involving Takayama's new theme song CD titled "Yoshihiro Takayama no Gyakushu ~ The Destructive Power" which came out this summer.
Sugawara and Takayama have become stronger as a tag team since initially forming and won the "Passion Cup Tag Tournament" last month. Along with defeating Kohei in their 6-man at the "Tenka-Ichi Jr." finals at Korakuen Hall, will this be enough for the junior class fighters to win the victory?
Tenka-Ichi! Tanaka Victorious! Sinks Mochizuki!
September 30th, 2007
The "Tenka-Ichi Jr. Tournament 2007" is over, and Masato Tanaka has made good on his claim to become the winner. A healthy crowd of 1,800 fans filled Tokyo's Korakuen Hall on Sunday afternoon to witness the action. As reported here and other publications, Tanaka, already the heavyweight winner of the "Fire Festival '07," had to crash diet to drop weight and enter the Jr. ranks. After making his way through Naoki Tanizaki and then current AWA World Jr. champion Dick Togo, Tanaka faced DRAGON GATE's oldest wrestler Masaaki Mochizuki in the main event.
Both wrestlers focused on each others most dangerous limbs, Tanaka going after Mochizuki's left leg to hinder his ability to kick, and Mochizuki attacking Tanaka's right arm to defend against Tanaka's lariat and elbow strikes. The match became a fierce and desperate struggle as both fighters scored some devastating blows, but it was Tanaka who in the 18th minute won the bout with the same move he won the "Fire Festival" with - the "Slide D" sliding elbow. This is the first time in history one wrestler has won both the "Fire Festival" tournament and the "Tenka-Ichi Jr" tournament.
The semi-main of the show was for Daisuke Sekimoto's ZERO1-MAX UN Heavyweight title. His opponent, former champion Ryoji Sai. Ryouji had felt his high-flying ability needed some work judging from his March 8 defeat at the hands of Sekimoto for the same title. He turned to ZERO1-MAX Jr. Minoru Fujita for assistance with his training. Sekimoto on the other hand has spent the months since then improving through trial-by-fire as he's feuded with NJPW's Manabu Nakanishi in some violent confrontations. In the end Sekimoto retained his title after a hard fought battle lasting 16½ minutes before Sekimoto hit a German suplex, a hard point-blank lariat, and then a German suplex hold for the victory.
The 5th match of the show saw the retirement of ZERO1-MAX wrestler Fuyuki Takahashi. Takahashi came out of IWA-Japan back in 1998, and after almost 10 years in Pro Wrestling has decided to retire from the sport. He requested his final match have him surrounded with some of the top wrestlers in the ZERO1-MAX Heavyweight division. Takahashi teamed with current AWA Heavyweight champion Takao Omori against ZERO1-MAX leader Shinjiro Otani and his first ever Z1 opponent, Tatsuhito Takaiwa. Takahashi's original sensei, The Great Kabuki, watched from ringside as the battle unfolded and Takahashi tried desperately to go out with a victory.
There was a glimmer of hope as Takaiwa failed to put him away with his Death Valley Bomb as Takahashi kicked out at 2! But Takaiwa was able to regain the upper hand with hard elbow shots, and then a hard lariat the closed the door on Takahashi's career in Pro Wrestling. Showing class, Takahashi went and shook hands with everybody in the ring as he fought back tears.
A retirement ceremony was then held as Fuyuki was presented with many bouquets of flowers from ZERO1-MAX President Yoshiyuki Nakamura, Pro Wrestling SUN's Saki Maemura and Hikaru, and finally the Great Kabuki. Takahashi gave a final statement saying:
"Thank you for today. I had the support and help of many people who came today. I was able to be able to do Professional Wrestling, to learn and to grow as a man. I truly appreciate professional wrestling. Although I finish my career as a pro wrestler today, in my future life I want to do my best and work as hard as possible. Thank you."
The wrestlers then threw him in the air as a going-away present. Sayonara Takahashi-san!
The 4th match of "Brand New Sensation - Tenka-Ichi Jr. Tournament 2007" was a 6-man tag mixing Jr. class fighter with heavyweights. As Kamikaze joined the "brothers" tag team of Minoru Fujita and El Dorado's Takuya Sugawara to face off against Kohei Sato, Chad Malenko, and Muga-World's Katsushi Takemura. This match saw quite a surprise at the end as all the wrestlers battled in the ring, Sugawara hit Kohei with a hard kick in the back of his head giving Fujita the chance to catch Kohei in a front-roll up for a surprise pin! Kohei was furious after the match, and in spite of the bell already having rung grabbed Fujita in a German suplex hold and faux pinned him!
The 3rd match was Mochizuki's entrance into the finals of the tournament, as he faced top ZERO1-MAX Jr. Ikuto Hidaka. Hidaka had some unlikely allies in the crowd as the Japanese Visual-kei band, "Uchu Sentai NOIZ," entered the main hall and took seat to watch the match. The told the crowd that they "Came to cheer for Ikuto Hidaka today." When Hidaka entered he went up to the brightly garbed band members, shook their hands and took a photo with them.
Mochizuki wasted no time as he attacked Hidaka the second he entered the ring. It was by no means an easy victory for Mochizuki, who survived many close calls, including Hidaka catching his high kick and hitting the Iguchi Bomb, and crawling desperately to the ropes when caught by the Shawn Capture. The match was decided when both fighters exchanged hard kicks, Hidaka with his "Wild Dog" kick and Mochizuki with his Saikyou High Kick. Hidaka then went for the Misty Flip only to be caught with a dragon suplex. As he rose to his feet Mochizuki once more scored the Saikyou High Kick and got the 1-2-3 and entrance to the finals.
Match number two of the show was Masato Tanaka's gateway to the finals. Blocking his patch was legendary wrestler and current AWA World Jr. Heavyweight champion Dick Togo. This match saw the violence level increase, as the two wrestlers brawled and used chairs and tables as weapons. By then end of the match both wrestlers were bleeding from their heads. Tanaka had a particularly nasty gash on the top of his head from a hard table fragment shot from Togo. Togo managed to hit some hard lariats and an dangerous suicide Tope Con Hilo to the outside on Tanaka who was prone on a desk. Tanaka returned with a spear, a running elbow, a lariat, a powerbomb and then the "Super Fly" frog splash but could only gain 2.
Tanaka then tried for the Diamond Buster but Togo was able to reverse into a crossface hold that Tanaka had to crawl to the ropes to survive. Togo then nailed the Pedigree and climbed to the top rope to deliver his beautiful diving Senton, but Tanaka was also able to kick-out! Finally Tanaka was able to rally with another flurry of offense, as he hit a hard lariat, a Falcon Arrow, and then the "Sliding D" for the three count and the entrance into the finals.
Also on the show was a 6-man Jr. tag of Yoshihito Sasaki and Osamu Namiguchi versus BattlArts' Munenori Sawa and Naoki Tanizaki that saw Tanizaki pin Nami with his Implant finisher. And in the opening, American wrestler LTP defeated Shota Takanishi with the LTP Crash.
Press Conference! Tenka-Ichi Finals! UN Title Match!
September 29th, 2007
ZERO1-MAX held a press conference today leading up to the September 30th Korakuen Hall show and finals of the "Tenka-Ichi Jr. 2007 Tournament." Four fighters remain to decide the final participants, Masato Tanaka, Ikuto Hidaka, DRAGON GATE's Masaaki Mochizuki and current AWA World Jr. Heavyweight champion Dick Togo. Also on the card current ZERO1-MAX UN Heavyweight champ and BJW grappler Daisuke Sekimoto.
Sekimoto will face former UN Heavyweight champion Ryoji Sai in the semi-main event of the show. It was Sai who Sekimoto took the belt from back in March of this year to become the 6th champion.
"I am looking for to a UN title defense after such a long time," Sekimoto told the media. He last defended the title on March, 27th and after his loss in the "Fire Festival '07" wants to rebound with a strong defense. His opponent Ryoji Sai said he's been putting extra practice in while going into this contest. Including putting more into his strikes and has practiced his high-flying with Minoru Fujita.
Of course the main event of this show will be to determine the winner of the "Tenka-Ichi Jr. 200"7 tournament. After two rounds, the remaining match-ups are Ikuto Hidaka versus Mochizuki, and Masato Tanaka versus Dick Togo. The winner of each match will then face each other for the finals.
DRAGON GATE's Masaaki Mochizuki played some mental games with Hidaka, saying he's beaten Minoru Fujita three times in a row, and that a loss now would be "impolite" to Fujita. He added he knew Hidaka and Fujita were close friends. He also brought up the BattlArts annual JJC tournament from way back on March 12, 20000 in Osaka. There Hidaka defeated Mochizuki in 12:53 when he submitted him to go on to the finals. "Although I don't know whether you remember the way which he won, I want to repay the debt in the same way as I lost then," he said to Hidaka.
"Against Sugawara and then Takemura, although both were painful bouts, I was able to win," Hidaka pointed out. "I remember the JJC tournament very well. I countered the Twister and won. I want to win and advance to the finals. Four of the strongest men remain. I will protect the ZERO1-MAX Junior class."
That comment could've been aimed at Heavyweight turned Junior class wrestler Masato Tanaka. Tanaka who has promised to win all titles and Tournaments in ZERO1-MAX all the way to the next "Fire Festival." Tanaka was also at the FIRST ON STAGE offices to comment about his upcoming match against Togo.
"Togo is the leading junior class wrestler. He has the highest skill. We've faced each other before in tag matches, but this will be our first singles match. I'm looking forward to it very much."
A finally, the retirement of ZERO1-MAX wrestler Fuyuki Takahashi will happen on this show as he leaves wrestling to enter private life. For his retirement he was able to choose any match he wanted and chose to face Shinjiro Otani against Tatsuhito Takaiwa in a tag match where he will team with Takao Omori.
Tenka-Ichi! Hidaka, Mochizuki & Sawa Advance!
September 26th, 2007
Day 1 of ZERO1-MAX's "Brand-New Sensation Tenka-Ichi Jr. 2007" tournament has begun, opening at Shizuoka Kiramesse on the 25th. The 10 wrestlers participating in the tournament all took part in the opening ceremonies, with the tournament final taking place on September 30th at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
The most notable match was definitely 2006 Tenka-Ichi Champion, Minoru Fujita, falling to DRAGON GATE fighter Masaaki Mochizuki in the 20 minute main event. As previously noted, while the two juniors hadn't faced off in singles competition for many years, Fujita had lost to Mochizuki twice this year. One was 6-man tag from ZERO1-MAX on August 2nd, and the previous was a January 25th loss at Mocihizuki's own produced show.
The match was an intense slugfest from the beginning. Eventually Fujita began to target Mochizuki's left leg as Mochizuki focused on Fujita's right arm. Fujita managed to score a top-rope Frankensteiner and a diving body press, but Mochizuki was able to handle everything the former AWA World Jr. Champion could throw at him. Mochizuki was finally able to score the victory with two back-to-back Full Nelson suplexes.
Mochizuki, who has already stated his goal is Masato Tanaka in the tournament got on the microphone following his victory and gloated about his "...three successive victories over last year's tournament champion." Here Fujita's former tag team partner and friend, Ikuto Hidaka, entered the ring and confronted Mochizuki as the two wrestlers had to be restrained.
Hidaka had also won his first round match against El Dorado's Takuya Sugawara, who was last year's runner-up to the championship as it was he who lost to Fujita in the finals. Hidaka tried to finish Sugawara with his combo of the Iguchi bomb, the low altitude missile dropkick and then the Shawn Capture. Sugawara was able to continue, hitting his Shissanputa finisher before Hidaka won with the SRU.
After the match Hidaka said "for me, Tanaka is a foreign enemy in this weight class. The foreign enemy will be defeated, and I will defend ZERO1-MAX's Jr. class!"
Also advancing in the tournament was 2007 "Lion King Cup" MVP and BATTLARTS wrestler Munenori Sawa. Sawa faced gaijin wrestler Chad Malenko. Malenko tried to control Sawa by going after his left leg. The two even exchanged Shining Wizards before Sawa made Malenko tap to a cross arm breaker. Sawa said after his match that the "200 full-time employees of BATTLARTS hang on my victory."
As it stands now on September 28th in Fukushima Ikuto Hidaka will face Katsushi Takemura, Masato Tanaka will face Naoki Tanizaki, and Sawa will face current AWA World Jr. Champion Dick Togo to determine the next round of bouts.
Interview - Motor City Machine Guns!
September 24th, 2007
A year has passed since the "Motor City Machine Guns" of Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin won the ZERO1- MAX International Lightweight tag team titles on August 25, 2007 from Ikuto Hidaka and Minoru Fujita.
Both wrestlers are contracted with Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling (TNA) which has limited their trips to Japan and ZERO1-MAX. We managed to catch up with the champs and see what they've been up to...
ZERO1-MAX: Alex, you were just back in ZERO1-MAX solo for the "Lion King Cup '07" this past month, and Chris you just appeared in All Japan. With both of you having such full schedules, do you miss uniting as a tag team in ZERO1-MAX?
Shelley: Very much so. Hopefully soon, we'll be able to come back to 01MAX and team again. I'm just glad I was able to challenge for a third time and win the belts, seeing as Spanky left before our team could start officially, and me and Sonjay lost our bid for them. There's some fresh challengers in the "brothers" tag teams of Sugawara and Fujita, as well as Hidaka and Tanisaki. I'd love to wrestle all of them again. To me, those four are some of the top talents not just in Japan, but the world. I'd like to think that things happen when they're supposed to, so when the time is right, I'm sure we'll be back. We're definitely better now as a team, much more experience, yer know? Plus matching gear. We're hoping to be widely considered ikemen next time if we weren't before. I will also say that some of the combinations and tag team maneuvers of Hidaka and Fujita inspired a handful of ours as well. We're not just rivals/friends of theirs, but also fans of their work.
Sabin: Definitely. Luckily, we have been able to team as much as possible over here in the US, and also in Canada. But the both of us are hoping to return to ZERO1-MAX very soon to me able to defend the tag titles against some of the best in the world, here in ZERO1-MAX.
ZERO1-MAX: You've both defended the International Lightweight tag team titles a couple of times in North America. While defending the titles over here, do you introduce the crowds to ZERO1-MAX?
Shelley: We try to! We're announced as the tag champs of ZERO1-MAX, and if we're feeling froggy, we'll jump right into doing the ZERO1-MAX cheer after the match. Provided we've won and we're going to the pay winda, if you wheel. It's moreso after title defenses.
Sabin: We do get announced as the ZERO1-MAX title holders, so hopefully that spreads awareness of ZERO1-MAX.
ZERO1-MAX: Chris, while participating in the AJPW Jr. Heavyweight League you managed to defeat current AWA World Jr. champion Dick Togo. Your thoughts on Togo and would you like to face him for the top ZERO1-MAX Jr. title?
Sabin: Togo is definitely one of the best opponents I've ever had the pleasure of being in the ring with, let alone being one the best in the world. It was an honor to be able to compete against him and learn from him. I would love to be able to wrestle him again for the AWA World Jr. Title.
ZERO1-MAX: Alex, you just returned from ZERO1-MAX where you took part in the "Lion King Cup '07" as not only a competitor but as a teacher and trainer. Your first night there you faced the eventual MVP of the tournament, BattlArts' Munenori Sawa. Your thoughts on Sawa?
Shelley:He's come a long way from his old character. Honestly, my match with him was one of my favorite matches. He's possibly the quickest wrestler I've ever been in there with. He's already hitting you before you can shake off the shot prior to the one that's connecting. The BattlArts style is definitely something I could see getting more people into wrestling in the US too, with the popularity of MMA. Whether or not that happens, who knows? But it was definitely a tough match, physically and mentally. He's getting better rapidly. And he's a great kisser. Seriously though, he'll be one to watch. I remember as a kid watching Hoshikawa and Minoru Tanaka, and he reminds me a lot of their work in the mid 90s.
ZERO1-MAX: Alex, aside from Nami and Shota, many of the participants in the Lion King Cup were from outside ZERO1-MAX. Who else impressed you during the tournament?
Shelley: We've already covered Sawa. Hercules Oosenga and Milanito Collection are really, really good. Blazer's pretty spectacular, but that's a given at this point. From a technical standpoint, Manabu Soya was really good also and moves well for a thicker junior. Nami and Shota both gets tons better every time I go back to Japan though. Nami especially has improved a ton and expanded his arsenal. Senga and Nito were a major help when I was training as well. They're real familiar with llave and chain wrestling, seeing as they're students of Jorge Rivera. Lots of British and Mexican wrestling are more closely related than a lot of people realize, and they really grasped everything and explained it well to everyone else, as I don't speak fluent Japanese.Everyone busted their asses and tried everything I threw at them though, which is uber cool of them. Big ups to Senga and Milanito for showing me their El Dorado dances before the shows too. Senga made sure to tell me what part of his was "for the ladies". I think he'd get more of a female reaction if he wore a corduroy speedo, but that's just me.
ZERO1-MAX: Chris, if you could snap you fingers and magically bring one ZERO1-MAX jr. to TNA for the X- Division who would you choose?
Sabin: I would have to say Ikuto Hidaka, just because I consider him to be one of the best in the world. He is one of my favorite wrestlers to watch and learn from.
ZERO1-MAX: Alex, you've called Ikuto Hidaka your "nemesis" and called him your "favorite opponent." Hidaka says very much the same thing about you. What is it about your styles that makes the battles between you so competitive?
Shelley: There's some people you just have instant chemistry with in wrestling. The first time he and I locked up to spar before the first country town show I did in Gunma, it was there, no homo. I think what it may boil down to is we wrestle a very, very similar style, so we both became appreciative of each others work very quickly. Not only that, but aside from a handful of guys, Hidaka's someone who always pushes me to the limit, whether it's new techniques, different styles, whatever. He's super versatile and creative, and the only way to match up with him is by echoing that versatility and creativity. Every once in awhile, we'll watch each others matches on shows when I'm in the States and he's in Japan and we'll that we've borrowed each others moves. I've wrestled him as much as I have Sabin and Jimmy Jacobs. That's a lot of matches.
ZERO1-MAX: Gentlemen, any final thoughts?
Shelley: Please continue to support Pro Wrestling ZERO1-MAX! Also, please support the Murder City Machine Guns! We'll be on most every TNA Impact broadcast at their new two hour time slot. Fingers crossed. Domo arigato!
Sabin: Thank you to all the fans who support ZERO1-MAX, and also support me and Alex Shelley. Be sure to check out the Motor City Machine Guns on TNA IMPACT Thursday nights on Spike, now with a 2 hour timeslot.