Intercontinental Tag Title Press Conference! "ZERO1 WRESTLER'S 3" on May 24th!
May 15th, 2009
The third match of the "ZERO1 WRESTLER'S 2" Korakuen Hall show last month was a tag match pitting ZERO1 vs. Soul Connection. It saw the Z1 team of Kohei Sato and Osamu Namiguchi battle Soul Connection's Toru Owashi and Takuya Sugawara. Both during and following the match Owashi was relentless on Nami with the verbal abuse (calling him 'bald' and 'little brat), and only ramping it up after finishing the NWA Intercontinental Tag champion with a frog splash for the victory. Owashi had learned that Nami was a tag team champion and so following the match he challenged Nami to a title match against he and Sugawara. Nami, felling abused by the veteran responded immediately that he'd do it.
The title match was determined for May 24th at Shinjuku FACE and the "ZERO1 WRESTLER'S 3" show, with Nami and partner Ryoji Sai versus the two Soul Connection wrestlers. Today all the principles of the match came to the FIRST ON STAGE offices for the official signing ceremony and press conference. Owashi spoke first:
"Though I participated in the last ZERO1 show for the first time and I knew that you were tag champions, I didn't know your partner was Ryouji. No matter, as winning this will be like scooping up Goldfish with a bamboo basket. Easy win."
Owashi then handed the microphone to Sugawara, a previous holder of the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team titles with Minoru Fujita. "Even if they're called the tag team champions, the only one I'm worried about it Ryouji," Sugawara said. "I've won 2 consecutive matches in this month alone versus Nami, in Osaka and Niimi City."
Here Nami, who was present along with Ryouji, blurted out, "Only by fighting dirty!"
"Be quiet, dumbass!" Owashi scolded him.
"Ryouji is the only scary one," Sugawara continued. "It's an easy victory."
Finally the microphone was handed to the champions, and Ryouji spoke first:
"These two have a good teamwork balance. We need to have great vigilance. I understand what is necessary to win a tag match. This is my first time facing Owashi, and I know he's very strong and knowledgable. I want to show fighting spirit beyond what is expected and defend the titles."
"I want to fight as a gentleman," Nami added in an accusatory tone. "I want to win fairly as the champion."
"You're a tag champion, huh?" Owashi responded. "Where is your belt champion? I see only one title here. Have you forgotten it?"
"With your partner, we only need one!" Nami angrily shot back.
Just as Nami muttered his apology, Owashi and Sugawara jumped on him and began removing the belt to Nami's pants!
"Since you forgot the belts we'll take this belt so you don't forget! Then we'll take your championship belt as well!" Owashi said as they tore Nami's belt off and began whipping him with it!
As Nami cried for help, Owashi and Sugawara dragged him outside with his belt around his neck and continued to whip him. Sugawara removed his own belt for extra emphasis. They continued to berate him and comically attempt to pull his close cropped hair.
"Where is your hometown?" Owashi asked as he took Nami's wallet from his pants to check. Inside he found only 320 yen (around $3 USD) and a video rental card.
"How do you live?" Owashi laughed as he hailed a taxi and threw Nami in. "I'm going to send cowardly Nami back to his parents house!"
"To Kyushu," Owashi ordered to the taxi driver as he slammed the door. (Kyushu is the southern most of Japan's four main island and is hundreds of miles from Tokyo.)
"As you see, we're going to strip the belts off these two. I came to ZERO1 and I take it in a surprising direction! Be prepared - Ola!"
Both Masato Tanaka and Ikuto Hidaka first arrived in ZERO1 from other independent wrestling promotions, Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling (FMW) and BattlArts respectively. Both men have been members of ZERO1 for many years, having stayed with the company and at various times being known as the Heavyweight and Junior class aces of the company.
The last time the two faced off in a singles bout was way back in November of 2007 during an AWA Heavyweight World Heavyweight title bout at the "MAX-HOLIC" show, a confrontation that Tanaka won. Previous to that the two had met back in December of 2005 during the initial AWA Heavyweight Title Contenders Tournament, where again Tanaka was victorious. Also in 2007 Tanaka had lost weight for the purpose of qualifying for the ZERO1 annual Tenka-Ichi Jr. Tournament. He accomplished this goal and then went on the win the tournament, though he didn't meet Hidaka in the process, despite the fact that Hidaka was the holder of the International Jr. Heavyweight title at time.
Now the two will meet once again on May 24th in Shinjuku FACE for the "ZERO1 WRESTLER'S 3" event. When the inherent possibility of unfairness was brought up relating to the two being in different weight classes, Hidaka said "Heavyweight and Jr. class doesn't matter. Greatness is greatness." This match has been titled "ZERO1 Scrambling Survivor 2."
Also scheduled on May 24th is "ZERO1 Scrambling Survivor 1" between Shinjiro Otani and Minoru Fujita. Like Tanaka and Hidaka, these two haven't faced each other very often in singles matches. The last time for them was back in February of 2007 during the "Make the Emotion" tour stop in Aichi, Nagoya. Otani was victorious with the Spiral Bomb in 11 minutes of the match. Otani and Fujita are also from the same native district in Japan, Yamaguchi Prefecture though there is a 5 year age gap. This led to Fujita posting on his blog that he can beat Otani because Otani is a "senile old man."
And finally announced is another ZERO1 vs. BJW young man's battle.
Ryouji Shows Thanks and Explains WRESTLER'S Concept!
May 1st, 2009
Following his victory over Daisuke Sekimoto at last month's "WRESTLER'S 2" show in Korakuen Hall, Ryoji Sai addressed the crowd and thanked them for coming to the show. Ryouji had said before the match that he is poised to have a "re-birth" of ZERO1 to prove the new generation of pro wrestlers are ready to step up and stand alongside the veteran wrestlers. Ryouji said winning matches were not enough, but all those wrestlers who are involved need to also, "...show fighting spirit to the fans."
Ryouji came to the ZERO1 offices in Tokyo today to explain with more detail his concept of WRESTLER'S. Ryouji said all those who fight under the name of "WRESTLER'S" need to in their hearts be "basho" or "Spiritually in the same place" where they can reject feelings of difficulty and stress. That they need to be "yuusha" or "superior individuals," have pride in themselves and are open to progress towards the future. And finally they need to have "ikizama" or "way of life" that leads them to want to put on heated battles in front of the fans. Ryouji said these three things are the basis of his new concept and plans to carry out as champion.
Ryouji Defends Versus Sekimoto! Tanaka Wins EMBLEM Confrontation!
April 30th, 2009
World Heavyweight champion Ryoji Sai made his first title defense yesterday in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall for ZERO1's "WRESTLER'S 2" show. His opponent was the powerful and well-liked Heavyweight Daisuke Sekimoto of Big Japan Pro Wrestling. Both men had stated that not only were they looking to win the title, but desired to show that the young generation of fighters are ready to take the lead in ZERO1.
When the match began Ryouji shot in but was blocked by Sekimoto. Ryouji went for the quick cross arm bar but Sekimoto used his super strength to lift the 105kg champion up casually saying the Japanese equivalent of "Oops-a-daisy" in the process! The two then faced each other in the middle of the ring, striking each other until Ryouji was felled by a shoulder block and rolled outside the ring. As Ryouji rallied himself, Sekimoto came flying from the ring with a fast topé suicida to crash into Ryouji amongst the watching crowds! The two battled outside the ring now, with Ryouji scoring some hard kicks and hitting a running Nachi's Waterfall off the North side stage!
The two continued to brawl through the crowd, until Sekimoto was finally able to regain control with a hard vertical brainbuster right on the wooden floor of Korakuen Hall! With Ryouji under his control for the time being Sekimoto returned to the ring where he applied an abdominal stretch and a single leg crab. The crowd began dueling chants for "Sekimoto" and "Ryouji" as Sekimoto hit a suplex and locked on the Sharpshooter. Ryouji escaped to the ropes and the two once more exchanged hard elbow strikes in the center of the ring. Ryouji gained some momentum with a missile dropkick for a 2 count pinfall attempt and then a middle kick which Sekimoto countered with a hard lariat! He then lifted the champ on his shoulder for the Argentine backbreaker attempt which Sai escaped and landed a hard knee strike dropping Sekimoto.
As 15 minutes passed, Ryouji took to the top turnbuckle and landed the Nachi Waterfalls double foot stomp to the back of Sekimoto as he tried to rise. He then attacked with more kicks but still could only get a two count. Ryouji attempted another Nachi Waterfall but Sekimoto fought back with a brainbuster and a hard powerbomb that Ryouji also kicked out off! Now Sekimoto aimed to take to the top rope with a mind to finish Ryouji, yet Ryouji ran after him and instead scored a avalanche brainbuster! As the clock rolled past 20 minutes both men lay in the ring, fighting trough fatigue and the weariness of combat.
Finally both men rose to their feet, angrily staring at each other. They again exchanged strikes, which Ryouji's hard middle kicks wearing Sekimoto down until he fell to his knees! Here Ryouji quickly aimed for his running Sky Kick but Sekimoto dodged, and scored a devastating German suplex hold! Ryouji barely kicked out at the 2.9 count causing the Korakuen fans to erupt in loud cheering and stomping of their feet!
Ryouji struggled to his feet using the ropes for leverage, as Sekimoto stuck quickly again with a German suplex. Ryouji rose quickly this time and stuck back with a nasty high kick dropping the Big Japan heavyweight! He then launched another Nachi Waterfall but Sekimoto once more prevailed and kicked out! Ryouji muttered "Uso ya" ("no way!") before charging with the Sky Kick, the maneuver that won him the title from Shinjiro Otani. Not taking any chances, Ryouji landed a final Nachi Waterfall at over 24½ minutes to at last win the victory!
Following the bout, an exhausted Ryouji addressed the crowd on the microphone.
Afterwards Ryouji said he's willing to take on any challenger as long as they "...hold to the concept of WRESTLER'S" that is a wrestler who will only put ever last bit of his energy into the match.
The previous match of the show, the 5th match, saw a NWA International Lightweight tag team title defense and "BattlArts Jr. Revival." Champions Ikuto Hidaka and Munenori Sawa faced off against two former BattlArts fighters in Minoru and Katsumi Usuda. Following his victory over Ikuto Hidaka at the Yasukuni Shrine show last month, freelance fighter Minoru announced that since he has now won 2 consecutive singles matches over Hidaka he deserves a title match. Minoru said he wants to have a match "...of the BattlArts-style and the UWF-style like we fought in our youth." Minoru said with hard-hitting opponents and BattlArts trueborns Hidaka and Sawa as his opponents he wanted to find a partner that would show the "Best of the BattlArts Jr." style in the title challenge and announced his partner as Usuda.
Minoru had been busy that day plying his trade as a freelancer, winning two tag team tournament bouts earlier that day for All Japan Pro Wrestling's "Jr. Tag League." He also has been wearing his older ring gear and using his old B'z theme song "THE GAMBLER" when appearing in ZERO1.
The match unfolded into the hard-hitting affair one would expect from the bachi-bachi style fighters, with hard kicks and palm slaps. The tide began to turn against the champions when Hidaka was faced off against Minoru. Both fighters traded middle kicks until Hidaka was felled. Minoru then attacked Hidaka's left arm as he crouched with a hard kick and a knee, followed by an arm lock. Hidaka struggled until he was finally able to touch the rope with his foot.
When Usuda returned Hidaka continually turned his right side towards his opponent, protecting the damaged left arm. Here Hidaka was almost submitted by an armbar but Sawa rushed in to save him! Sawa attacked Usuda with various kicks and knee strikes, until finally hitting the Shining Wizard. Sawa then locked on the Octopus Hold, this time causing Minoru to enter and save his partner. With Usuda freed, he his a back kick and then both he and Sawa unleashed two simultaneous head kicks, sending them both to the mat!
Both Minoru and Hidaka were tagged in and they rushed each other as Hidaka scored his low altitude dropkick on Minoru's knee. Minoru responded with a flying cross armbar in the center of the ring, extending Hidaka's arm fully before Sawa once more made the save. Once more Usuda entered and Hidaka continued with the low shots, aiming for the Shawn Capture. When he finally announced the move with his well-known pose, Usuda took advantage and grabbed his extended arm in yet another cross arm bar.
Hidaka escaped and Minoru re-entered the ring, yet when Hidaka again went for the Shawn Capture this time Minoru cut him down with a low kick, and then a hard head kick that had the referee counting Hidaka down. As Hidaka tried to rise, once more Usuda locked on the armbar causing Sawa to enter and save his partner again!
Now with Hidaka and Usuda facing off the two exchanged high kicks, looking for the KO. With Hidaka's kick boxing teacher and famous kick boxer Satoshi Kobayashi watching from the front row, Hidaka finally scored his "Wild Dog" high kick that is named after his sensei for the victory!
Following the bout Minoru mentioned he had wrestled for 50 minutes earlier in the day, "but that is no excuse." He said this won't be the last time he meets the champions, and presented another singles match towards Hidaka. Both he and Usuda spoke of Hidaka's growth and acceptance of him as a peer. Usuda also said he wants to team with Minoru again for another shot at the titles.
The 4th match saw another rare collision of EMBLEM as last year's Fire Festival champion Masato Tanaka faced off against ZERO1 President and tag partner Shinjiro Otani. Tanaka and Otani had labeled the match "We are the real wrestlers!" as a jab at Ryouji and the young generations of ZERO1's "WRESTLER'S" concept. Both men have seen many battles together and against each other since the founding for ZERO-ONE. Otani fans came prepared with bright red "hachimaki" headbands to support their favorite fighter.
Both men were focused and intense for the bout. Otani started off carefully, targeting Tanaka's leg with a knee lock causing "Dangan" to crawl to the ropes. Tanaka stood up favoring his leg and faced off with Otani, slapping him in the face! Otani returned the attack with hard chops sending Tanaka back into the ring corner where he suffered and early Face Wash! Tanaka intercepted the charging Otani with a spear, but Otani kept his composure and locked on the Figure-4. Once more Tanaka needed the ropes to save himself.
Otani continued to focus on Tanaka's right leg, though Tanaka fought back with a lariat, a running elbow to Otani's back while he was in the corner, an avalanche back suplex and the "Super Fly" frog splash. It will take more than that to defeat Otani, who hit the dragon screw leg whip and then locked on another leg hold. Tanaka writhed in agony in the ring, as Otani kept attacking the limb.
Tanaka rallied with a lariat and then scored a quick Sliding-D as Otani sat up! However Otani quickly reversed momentum again with a Dragon suplex and a Spiral Bomb attempt. Finally after move exchanges of elbows and a big chop from Otani, Tanaka was able to finally hit the Sliding-D for the victory. Tanaka wins the EMBLEM confrontation match!
Following the match, Tanaka said that was his 3rd consecutive win over Otani. He said he believes this should qualify him easily for a spot in the "Fire Festival" this year, and that he's also got his eye on the Ryouji and the World Heavyweight title.
Also on the show were three matches of "ZERO1 vs." that saw ZERO1 wrestlers face off against tag teams from other companies. These included BattlArts, Soul Connection and Big Japan Pro Wrestling. The third match was the Soul Connection match, which also saw the first ZERO1 participation of heavyweight Toru Owashi. ZERO1 representatives Osamu Namiguchi and Kohei Sato were the opponents of Owashi and Takuya Sugawara. Owashi was ready for a fight, and he called Kohei into the ring to start the match.
After some back-and-forth between the teams, Owashi faced off against Nami. "kono usura hage, shine! Owashi yelled at Nami, mocking his balding hair and threatening him with death. Nami has taken some verbal attacks due to his receding hair for time, so he took it in stride. Sugawara even threw him around by his hair later in the match. The Soul Connection wrestlers won the match when after Sugawara brought in the familiar black box leading to Owashi dropping a big frog splash on Nami for the win.
Following the match Owashi berated Nami on the microphone. He said he came to enjoy Golden Week to the fullest. And since he discovered the "bald-headed guy" is a title belt holder he wanted to challenge for the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team title that Nami holds with Ryoji Sai. Nami shot back "Oi! Oi! Toru-san, I'll do it anytime!!"
The NWA International Tag Team title match will happen on March 24th at Shinjuku FACE, with Owashi once more teaming with Sugawara. Sugawara previously held the titles with Minoru Fujita for almost a full year.
The 2nd match was ZERO1 vs. BattlArts, which saw Minoru Fujita team with Yusaku Obata to defeat the BattArts team of Yuki Ishikawa and Keita Yano when Fujita used the BONEYARD submission on Yano.
The opening match was ZERO1 vs. BJW with both company's young lions facing off. ZERO1's Shito Ueda and Yuzuru Saito took on Big Japan's Shinya Ishikawa and Yuji Okabayashi. After a 14 minutes match the BJW came out victorious when Okayabashi hit a lariat on Saito, and then Ishikawa finished him with a back suplex and a missile dropkick.