Ryouji vs. Makabe Confirmed for 8/29!
August 21st, 2009
It has been decided that ZERO1 "Fire Festival '09" winner Ryoji Sai will battle New Japan Pro Wrestling's "G1 CLIMAX" champion Togi Makabe at "ZERO1 WRESTLER'S 5 ~ The Tropic of Creation ~" in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.Following his victory, in the dressing room while Makabe was being interviewed Ryoji Sai appeared with the Fire Sword and challenged Makabe. He initially rebuffed Ryouji, who then made an official appeal to the NJPW office.
The match accepted and scheduled as a no time-limit bout for the main event of the 8/29 ZERO1 show. Ryouji has stated that the summer cannot officially end without the "Fire Festival" and G1 CLIMAX champion meeting to determine who is the "hottest man of summer."
"There cannot be two hottest men of summer. We will decide whether it will be Makabe or me. I will not be defeated. Prepare yourself Makabe!"
A special introduction video was created for the match. It can be viewed below (In Japanese):
Also on the card will be a NWA International Lightweight Tag Team match between current champions the "Aibou" of Ikuto Hidaka and Munenori Sawa versus former champions the "Gikyoudai" of Minoru Fujita and Takuya Sugawara. Hidaka himself requested this match as it was a year ago this month that Aibou won the titles from Gikyoudai.
ZERO1 President Shinjiro Otani has formed a tag team with former sumo champion Akebono. Otani said after feeling the power of Akebono in the opening match and the 4-way semi-final he felt the could form an "amazing" tag team. Akebono said he wants to become a better wrestler and to challenge for some of the top titles in pro wrestling. To that end he felt Otani would be a great teacher since he is a veteran pro wrestler and a former champion himself.
Facing them across the ring is Masato Tanaka and Daisuke Sekimoto. Tanaka has been aggravated by his recent losses of both the "Fire Festival '09" and the "G1 CLIMAX." Tanaka said he fear nothing, not even the tag team of Otani and Akebono. He added that teaming with Sekimoto is a strong tag grouping, and together they can beat anyone. Sekimoto said he respects Otani greatly as it was Otani who first invited him the "Fire Festival" back in the old ZERO-ONE. He said he wants to show Otani that he deserved that opportunity and will do his best in the match. He also added that he really wants to show his power by German suplexing the 225kg (495 Lbs) Akebono!
Tanaka Goes 3W-2L-1T in the G1! Ryouji Challenges Makabe!
August 17th, 2009
ZERO1 Wrestler Masato Tanaka completed his participation in the NJPW "G1 CLIMAX 2009 ~NEW LORDS, NEW LAWS~" events, and though he had a strong showing Tanaka finished tied at 7 in Block A of the with 3 wins, 2 losses and one tie. In Block A opponents were Togi Makabe (L), Hiroshi Tanahashi (L), Toru Yano (W), Takao Omori (W), Giant Bernard (T) and TAJIRI (W).
Tanaka went into the last day of the event versus the IWGP champion at the time Tanahashi with a good possibility of winning the match. Although he put up a strong fight, he was defeated around 22½ minutes in that match when Tanahashi pinned him with the High Fly Flow.
Togi Makabe, one of the NJPW fighters Tanaka lost to went on to win the G1 by defeating Shinsuke Nakamura in the final. Following his victory, in the dressing room while he was being interviewed "Fire Festival '09" winner and former World Heavyweight Champion Ryoji Sai interrupted him!
Makabe initially ignored Ryouji, saying he didn't have time for him. Ryouji fired back that Makabe was "running away." Makabe again dismissed him and walked away. Ryouji said as the "Fire Festival '09" winner he wants to challenge the G1 champion to see who the "Hottest Man of Summer" is.
Ryouji said he would be contacting New Japan Pro Wrestling and requesting a match with Makabe. He added that he'd like to have the match soon before the summer is over.
"ZERO1 WRESTLER'S - Toride Taikai"
|Fire Festival Ex Block A vs. Ex Block B|
X Shito Ueda
|vs.||Ryoji Sai O
|(22:18 → Nachi Waterfall)|
|vs.||Rikiya Fudo X
|(9:25 → Moonsault Press)|
O Munenori Sawa
Yusaku Obata X
|(11:15 → Dragon Suplex Hold)|
|Takako Inoue from Toride City Special Match:|
|O Takako Inoue
|vs.||Ayako Sato X
|(12:10 → Spinning BackFist)|
|O Osamu Namiguchi
|vs.||Keita Yano X
|(11:12 → Lanakilla-H)|
|X Yuzuru Saito
|vs.||Takuya Sugawara O
|(10:04 → Figure-4)|
August 9th, 2009
ZERO1 heavyweight Kohei Sato had a grueling day yesterday in Korakuen Hall, first defeating three other men to secure Block A, and then going on to the finals to face former tag team partner Ryoji Sai. Kohei would lose in 24:14 minutes as Ryouji would go on to win his first "Fire Festival."
We can report that during the match Kohei has sustained a bone fracture in his left ankle and will be out of action for the foreseeable future. He will therefore be absent from tomorrow's "Toride Taikai" show in Ibaraki with no return date determined.
Ryouji Victorious! Defeats Kohei to Seize "Fire Festival '09!"
August 8th, 2009
The "ZERO1 WRESTLER'S GRAND PRIX 2009 FIRE FESTIVAL ~ The Ambition of Glory ~" has ended with the Finals in Korakuen Hall. Ryoji Sai won victory by first pinning Masato Tanaka in the semi-finals and then Kohei Sato in the "Fire Festival '09" final. This was Ryouji's 5th "Fire Festival," the third time he has made it to the Finals, and his first victory.
For the first time in "Fire Festival" history, both A & B Block finished with several wrestlers tied in total points. In the Block A semi-final along with Kohei were Shinjiro Otani, Ikuto Hidaka and Akebono tied at 5 points. In Block B it was Ryouji along with Masato Tanaka and Daisuke Sekimoto also tied at 5. The results were semi-final matches, a 4-way single pinfall match for Block A and a 3-way single pinfall match for Block B.
The Block B 4-way semi-final happened first, as the 2nd match on the card. This group were very familiar with each other, having battled each other numerous times in past "Fire Festivals" and for the ZERO1 World Heavyweight title. The action started as soon as Tanaka appeared. With Sekimoto and Sai already in the ring, Tanaka approached and suddenly Sekimoto launched himself through the ropes with a "Suicide Dive" to the outside! Ryouji then quickly followed up with a plancha on both of his opponents!
Back in the ring some unique offense and defense took place. Sekimoto was able to reverse a double suplex attempt by Tanaka and Ryouji, showing his superior strength. He then locked Ryouji in an Indian Deathlock and as Tanaka charged simultaneously hit a Northern Lights suplex but only for a 2 count!
After some back-and-forth offense, Tanaka his a power bomb on Ryouji and both Tanaka and Sekimoto flew from opposite corners for a stereo frog splash! Again Sekimoto then showed great strength by hitting a German suplex on both Tanaka and Ryouji together! As Sekimoto took the top rope, Ryouji threw Tanaka off and then delivered a jumping kick to Sekimoto. He then hit an Avalanche Brainbuster and then the Nachi Waterfall double foot-stomp!
Tanaka broke up the pinfall and hit Sekimoto with the Sliding-D! Sekimoto then fought back with a hard German suplex. Taking advantage of his dazed opponents, Ryouji then attacked! After dropping Tanaka again he delivered a final Nachi Waterfall for the pinfall on Tanaka! Ryouji simultaneously ended Tanaka's dream of a 4th "Fire Festival" victory as well as avenging his back-to-back losses to Tanaka in the finals of 2006 and 2007.
Next up on the show was the Block A 4-way with Kohei, Otani, Hidaka and Akebono. The match was done with two referees in order to keep track of all the pinfalls. This time it was Akebono who jumped the bell, rushing at Otani with a headbutt to the mid-section! Hidaka jumped in with a kick as Kohei used a back suplex on the former sumo champion. Otani then cleared Kohei out with a missile dropkick and delivered a facewash to Akebono!
Hidaka then took out Otani with his own missile dropkick, as he and Kohei exchanged a kick battle in the center of the ring. Kohei won that battle with kneelift and then a piledriver. Akebono then sent everybody to the corner and splashed them all. He then dropped the big elbow on Hidaka and only got a 2 count!
The match had several of these nearfalls broken up by the four fighters. The end finally came with Kohei facing off versus Otani as Akebono battled Hidaka. Kohei used his German suplex and then a Dragon suplex on Otani as Akebono used a Samoa Drop to flatten Hidaka. Both referees counted to three at the same time, however at the last moment Hidaka placed his leg on the bottom rope! This gave Kohei, the 2004 "Fire Festival" victor, the win and entry to the finals!
Now after winning their 3-way and 4-way matches, ZERO1's two young heavyweights and former tag team partners would battle for the honor to win the "Fire Festival '09" and hold the Fire Sword. As the match began crowd support for both men was equal. They exchanged elbows and kicks until Kohei hit an early German suplex.
Ryouji rolled outside the ring, and Kohei gave him a taste of his own medicine with a foot stomp off the apron! Back in the ring Kohei delivered a running kick and the locked on a tight crab hold, causing Ryouji to crawl to the ropes as his supporters cheered. Kohei continued attacking with low kicks until Ryouji was able to reverse into a backdrop suplex.
Ryouji followed up with a camel clutch but Kohei reached the ropes to break the hold. Ryouji kept up the attack with a dropkick, stomps to the head and his own single leg crab. Kohei once more struggled to the ropes to break the hold as 10 minutes passed in the match.
Kohei returned to the offensive with a piledriver but only for a 2 count. And then a hard uranage for another 2! Again Ryouji fought back and there was continual back-and-forth of offense and defense. Ryouji narrowly escaped being pinned by a Northern Lights bomb and German suplex hold. While Kohei avoided falling to a sit-out powerbomb, the "Sidmouth" and a "Nachi Waterfall" attempt as 20 minutes passed!
Kohei wasn't finished however, as he dropped Ryouji with a Dragon Suplex and then a German suplex! Ryouji blasted back with a head kick a "Sidmouth" and then a fierce Soccer Ball kick to Kohei's face all for 2 counts! Finally at just past the 24 minutes mark, with both fighters exhausted and Kohei stunned on the mat, Ryouji climbed to the top rope and delivered a final "Nachi's Waterfall" diving footstomp. holding down Kohei with all his might, the referee counted 3 as Ryoji Sai became the 9th "Fire Festival" champion!
Following the match Kohei and Ryouji shook hands and embraced in the center of the ring. Ryouji was then presented with a trophy, a 3 million yen check and the ceremonial Fire Sword that he will not carry until next year's "Fire Festival 2010." Then all the participating wrestlers in the tournament posed for a photo.
Ryouji finally took the microphone and thanked all the fans for supporting him and supporting ZERO1:
All the ZERO1 and "Fire Festival" wrestlers then entered the ring and cheered together "3,2,1...ZERO1!"
DAAAAAAA! Otani Receives a Fighting Spirit Injection! But Does He Need It?
August 7th, 2009
He is the ZERO1 President and one of four wrestlers confronting each other in the "Fire Festival '09" Block A 4-way match tomorrow. Wrestler Shinjiro Otani traveled to the Sky Perfect TV headquarters today for a television interview. While at the Sky Perfect TV Tokyo offices he incidentally ran into Japanese pro wrestling legend Antonio Inoki. Inoki was present at the TV station for similar purposes.
Otani informed Inoki about his Fire Festival semi-final match tomorrow and the possibility of a final match. Inoki responded with his trademark "Toukon Chuunyuu" (Fighting Spirit Injection) to Otani while promising him victory in the tournament. After his famous yell and slap, Inoki was surprised as Otani was hardly moved. Inoki declared:
The two men then shook hands, Otani unfazed:
Will this additional infusion of Fighting Spirit from Antonio Inoki give Otani the edge he needs to win the tournament and regain the Fire Festival katana?