Victory and Defeat! ZERO1-MAX vs. New Japan!
March 2nd, 2008
After many heated exchanges and battles over the past few months, finally Pro Wrestling ZERO1-MAX and New Japan Pro Wrestling clashed in five matches in a packed full Korakuen Hall! The Main Event of the "Truth Century Creation - SEVEN -" show by ZERO1 was the meeting of current IWGP Heavyweight champion Shinsuke Nakamura versus the last student of the late Shinya Hashimoto - Kohei Sato. Originally scheduled as a main event for a Tokyo Dome show in 2006, when both fighters met this day the series of matches were tied at two each: 2 wins for ZERO1-MAX, 2 wins for NJPW. Also invited to view the match were several notables including: New Japan's Masahiro Chono, New Japan Pro Wrestling President Naoki Sugabayashi, injured ZERO1-MAX President Shinjiro Otani and the son of the late Mr. Hashimoto, Daichi Hashimoto.
Both Kohei and Nakamura faced each other calmly in the ring as the bell sounded, and the two began to immediately take it to the ground and grapple. After securing Nakamura's back, Kohei went for the cross armbreaker only to be countered by the IWGP Champ's armbreaker so Kohei went for a knee bar. Nakamura escaped to the ropes as Kohei continued to try for an arm submission. After failing at that the two brawled outside the ring as Kohei tried to wear Nakamura down with strikes and power moves like an elevated knee strike and a piledriver but again Nakamura responded with a dropkick sending them both down.
The two rose and began a fierce elbow battle. Kohei with a knee strike, as Nakamura bounds of the ropes with a hard middle kick, a lariat and then a moonsault! Going to the well once again with another moonsault, Nakamura is cut off by Kohei who rises and strikes with a hard soccer kick! Nakamura managed to cinch in a tight ground sleeper, almost putting Kohei out as the referee repeatedly checked him for consciousness. Kohei fought back, managing to score his huge dead-lift German suplex hold but only for 2.9 count! As Kohei then went for rolling German suplexes Nakamura escaped, and turned on Kohei with a hard high kick! In a flash the IWGP Heavyweight champion jumped on Kohei with a leaping cross arm breaker driving the ZERO1-MAX heavyweight to the ground and forcing him to tap!
After the match Nakamura got on the microphone and said thanks to his defeated opponent, calling their battle "refreshing." As he stood there holding both the 2nd Generation and 3rd Generation IWGP title belts he added, "There is another reason I came today to fight in this ring. I believe I will return this belt to Shinya Hashimoto!" Nakamura, referring to the 2nd Generation belt that had been dedicated to Shinya Hashimoto after his death then handed the title belt to Hashimoto's son, Daichi, and asked him "Please Daichi, accept for your Father." Daichi accepted the title belt but told Nakamura that while he receives this title belt today, "I will become big and one day I will take this title through power!" The crowd cheered as a huge "Hashimoto! Hashimoto! Hashimoto!" chant rang through Korakuen Hall!
Following the main event battle and the polite exchange, New Japan's Masa Chono then entered the ring and called Shinjiro Otani up to speak with him:
>At that, Chono slapped Otani across the face! Before Otani could even respond Chono had already left the ring. Incredulous, Otani himself spoke into the microphone that Chono needs to wait until he's healed for a proper response, but he let it be known that ZERO-ONE that Hashimoto started will continue and that the confrontation with New Japan Pro Wrestling hasn't ended here but has just begun!
The semi-final of the show was also a ZERO1-MAX versus New Japan Pro Wrestling tag match pitting Masato Tanaka and Ikuto Hidaka against NJPW's Koji Kanemoto and Ryusuke Taguchi. Kanemoto has been one of the main antagonists of New Japan, beginning on 1/1 when he teamed with Taguchi versus Tatsuhito Takaiwa and young Shota Takanishi. Following up on the that victory was the 6-man tag in ZERO1-MAX with Manabu Nakanishi, Kanemoto and Taguchi defeating Takao Omori, Kohei Sato and Osamu Namiguchi. Tanaka and Hidaka then scored some revenge on 1/27 in New Japan's ring defeating Kanemoto and Tetsuya Naito. Many heated words were exchanged, with Kanemoto saying he's enjoying the boos of the ZERO1-MAX crowds.
The two teams hatred showed early as they threw each other at their opponents with great vigor, fighting outside the ring and using double team moves on each other as the crowd alternatively cheered and booed creating a very loud atmosphere! Both teams threw everything they had at each other, with Hidaka and Kanemoto battling over their Shawn Capture and ankle lock submissions respectively. Eventually as Tanaka and Taguchi were in the ring, the current ZERO1-MAX World Heavyweight champion went in for the kill! A tope-rope brainbuster, followed by his "Super Fly" frog splash weakened Taguchi. Hidaka then hit a spinning kick on the NJPW fighter and dove out of the ring to attack Kanemoto as Tanaka leveled Taguchi with his Sliding D elbow for the victory! The ZERO1-MAX team showed great team work and because of it scored the victory!
Previous to this the ZERO1-MAX versus New Japan continued with the long awaited singles collision of former tag team partners in "Wild Child," Takao Omori and Manabu Nakanishi. The team dissolved at the ZERO1-MAX 1/1 show as the beginning of the "War" between the companies began and now it's the "Gentleman (Omori) vs. the Sasquatch (Nakanishi)" The match began with a "test of strength" as both wrestlers locked hands and fought over position. Omori struggled as Nakanish slowly pushed him back against the ropes before finally throwing him to the outside! As Ring Announcer Oki yelled "Kudasai!" to keep the packed in customers from being injured, Nakanishi attacked with a chair and stomping! He even grabbed a New Japan fan's towel with the company's Tiger logo mark that a fan had and beat it into Omori's face.
This enraged Omori, who threw Nakamura into the seats and set up a desk to smash Nakanishi's face against. The two returned to the ring briefly, exchanging chops before Nakanishi scored a hard German suplex sending Omori outside with Nakanishi on his trail. The two fought to a standstill until once more back in the ring Nakanishi thought he regained the initiative with a vertical drop brainbuster. Omori quickly recovered with a back suplex and then the powerful Axe Guillotine Driver! Winding up his arm for the Axe Bomber and hoping for a quick finish was not to be as Nakanishi blocked with a jumping knee. Nakanishi eventually hit a devastating power bomb but didn't follow up, instead taunting Omori with a "Hoo!" battle cry. This gave Omori enough time to rebound and hit the Axe Bomber. A 2nd Axe Bomber is all it took to put the New Japan "Sasquatch" down for the count!
The fourth match of the show saw a break from the ZERO1-MAX vs. New Japan War but with the stakes no less higher. Big Japan Pro Wrestling tag team champions Daisuke Sekimoto and Yoshihito Sasaki versus K-DOJO wrestler Kengo Mashimo and Madoka. After their confrontation at the 1/6 K-DOJO show, Yoshihito Sasaki promised Kengo Mashimo a shot at his NWA United National Heavyweight title if he still held it on this date. However Yoshihito lost the title to SANDY BEACH on 2/11 in Nagoya leaving that offer null and void. After pinning Yoshihito in a tag match on 2/17 in the main event of the final "Solidarity" show in Korakuen, Mashimo told Yoshihito that he wasn't getting out of the challenge that easy, as Mashimo wants his title shot to be for the BJW Tag Team titles alongside his partner Madoka.
Madoka had a rough time at the start of the match facing off against the much larger Sekimoto who is known for his large muscles. Sekimoto greeted the junior class fighter to ZERO1-MAX with a hard slap and repeatedly showed why Juniors will have a tough time with strong heavyweights. Madoka was able to tag out and in came Mashimo and Yoshihito to continue their hate filled battle as the K-DOJO fighter rained down kicks on Yoshihito. And while Sekimoto had a time throwing Madoka all over the ring, pounding the junior with numerous German suplexes, Mashimo quietly focused on Yoshihito's right arm. Madoka caught on and the two began to use teamwork to destroy Yoshihito's limb! And while Yoshihito was able to shake off the pain and drop Mashimo with a hard lariat, his arm had insufficient strength to raise the outsider into his Argentine Coaster! Mashimo quickly slipped from the hold and laid in a tight Mudo armbar in the center of the ring. As Madoka drew Sekimoto's attention away from the situation Yoshihito tapped and surrendered the BJW Tag titles to K-DOJO!
The third match of the show saw Ryoji Sai team with Shota Takanishi to take on New Japan's Mitsuhide Hirasawa and Tetsuya Naito. And while the ZERO1-MAX wrestlers fought hard, they were finally defeated when Naito hit his "Stardust Press" from the top rope and pinned Shota. The New Japan fans were very pleased with the match and gave their fighters a standing ovation. This caused Ryouji to attack Hirasawa and begin stomping him, with his ZERO1-MAX seconds unable to control him. Finally Otani had to get up from his observers seat and calm him down!
Before his match versus New Japan's Yujiro, Osamu Namiguchi swore he would bring victory so as to set the tone for ZERO1-MAX for the rest of the show. Both wrestlers received support from their fans, with ZERO1-MAX fans chanting for Nami and NJPW fans for Yujiro. It was Yujiro who came out as the victor using his strength to his advantage he creamed Nami with a lariat and pinned him, giving the opening contest to New Japan PRo Wrestling.
Also on the show was a SWORD ARMY vs. AXE ARMY match of Tatsuhito Takaiwa and the newly re-named Shito Ueda versus Minoru Fujita and Kamikaze. Kamikaze won for his team when he submitted Ueda with a crab hold. Also on the card in a Chick Fight SUN match, Hikaru defeated Saki Maemura with her Lanakilla-H finisher for the win.
ZERO1-MAX Leadership Visits Yasukuni Shrine!
Prayers for "Certain Victory" Over NJPW!
February 28th, 2008
Every Spring since 2005, ZERO1-MAX holds an outside show at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. Today ZERO1-MAX President Shinjiro Otani along with SWORD ARMY leader Masato Tanaka and AXE ARMY leader Takao Omori visited the shrine not to wrestle but to pray for certain victory of New Japan Pro Wrestling on March 2nd.
The March 2nd show at Korakuen marks the 7th Anniversary of Pro Wrestling ZERO-ONE, an event that continues the violent struggle between ZERO1-MAX and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Of the seven matches on the fight card, five will have ZERO1 and NJPW confrontations. Among these include a main event of Kohei Sato versus current IWGP Heavyweight champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Takao Omori versus for tag team partner Manabu Nakanishi. Also scheduled is: Masato Tanaka and Ikuto Hidaka versus Koji kanemoto and Ryusuke Taguchi. Ryoji Sai and Shota Takanishi versus Mitsuhide Hirasawa and Tesuya Naito. Osamu Namiguchi versus Yujiro.
The three ZERO1-MAX representatives who appeared at the Yasukuni Shrine dressed in suits followed the ceremonial tradition of the shrine. First they washed in water to purify themselves, then entered the roofed passageway leading to the main shrine. There they gave offering to the Shinto Priest and each offered a prayer. While very serious during the ceremony, afterwards all three wrestlers had a much brighter expression on their faces. Otani however continued his harsh rhetoric aimed at New Japan.
"I want everybody to be sure - the enemy is New Japan. It's not acceptable that we win more matches than New Japan, we need complete victory. It's not important to have a 'good' match, there must be a sense of urgency to defeat New Japan."
Otani himself had to sit out this battle with a nagging shoulder injury that he's not cleared to wrestle with. He will be one of the Special Observers for the Shinsuke Nakamura versus Kohei Sato match. "Don't view me as an impartial observer however," Otani said. "I'll play my role in support." The decisive battle of a decisive moment in ZERO1-MAX vs. New Japan Pro Wrestling is at hand. Which survives on March 2nd?
A small video of the visit and the fighters' comments can be seen below, in Japanese. ZERO1-MAX will return to the Yasukuni Shrine on March 23, 2008.
IWGP 2nd Generation Belt Returns to Hashimoto!
March 2nd Special Observers Announced!
February 26th, 2008
New Japan's Shinsuke Nakamura on 2/17 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo reunited the 2nd Generation IWGP Heavyweight Title and 3rd Generation belts by defeating Kurt Angle in just under 14 minutes. This was a big win for Nakamura and for New Japan who regained control of their main title. Originally the 2nd Generation IWGP title was sealed after the death of ZERO-ONE founder Shinya Hashimoto and offered at his funeral in 2005. This belt needed to be called back into service when Brock Lesnar left for America with the 3rd Generation title and didn't return.
Now at the big ZERO1-MAX vs. New Japan show on 3/2 coinciding with the 7th Anniversary of ZERO-ONE, Nakamura stated that he wants to return the 2nd generation IWGP title the "Destructive King" Shinya Hashimoto.
Nakamura will be facing one of Hashimoto's prize students in Kohei Sato on the March 2nd show. Nakamura said he's excited to enter the ring of the "Destructive King" though he never knew Hashimoto personally. He reminded everybody that he was suppose to face Kohei in a singles match in 2006 at the Dome show, and now they finally get their chance.
"The 2nd Generation belt needs to be returned to it's place of origin," Nakamura stated. "I want to fight as much as possible. I want to fight and grow. Whoever comes by, I'll fight them. Hopefully my senior, the "Destructive King," will think from Heaven that I am a reliable champion."
Also announced for the 3/2 show which is titled officially "Truth Century Creation SEVEN" will be the appearance of several special observers to witness the Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kohei Satomain event at the 7th Anniversary of ZERO-ONE show.
The main event match is titled "Destructive King Shinya Hashimoto Memorial Match" so it stands to reason that Hashimoto's eldest son Daichi Hashimoto will be present. Also observing will be New Japan's Masahiro Chono and New Japan Pro Wrestling President Naoki Sugabayashi. ZERO1-MAX President Shinjiro Otani will also be present as an observer as the doctor has ordered him to take time to heal his injured shoulder.
Mr. Danger Betrays Otani!!
February 26th, 2008
It was back on November 13 at the "Believe Your Way show," Mitsuhiro Matsunaga appealed directly to Shinjiro Otani to become a member of ZERO1-MAX. Mastunaga explained that he wanted to "seriously join an organization" where he can face "major league wrestlers." At the time ZERO1-MAX President Yoshiyuki Nakamura decided that he would let Otani make all calls regarding the decision on whether to allow Matsunaga into the company once more.
"Mr. Dangers" former forays into ZERO1-MAX have always ended in fire, blood or both! He's gained entry as part of factions or sometimes just attacking, has often earned the trust of others in ZERO1-MAX before revealing his naturally insidious character. First is was Katsuhiko Ogasawara and the karate forces during STOP THE MATSUNAGA, or Kazunari Murakami in 2006.
This time Matsunaga went through great lengths to infiltrate the company beginning with the aforementioned flattery and request. He then appeared several times to practice with the young wrestlers of ZERO1-MAX. After seeing Matsunaga practice hard and then teaming with him on 12/12, Otani was still undecided on whether or not to unleash Matsunaga on the ZERO1-MAX ring. This led Matsunaga to directly challenge Otani to his own specialty - the deathmatch. Otani won the "Hell's Pincushion" tatami needle deathmatch that followed on 1/24 at the Shin-kiba 1st ring and Matsunaga was given full permission to join ZERO1-MAX.
Then at the SWORD Forces Presents "SWORD-1" on 2/26 an injured Otani taped up his shoulder to team with Matsunaga versus Kohei Sato and former FMW alumnus Testuhiro Kuroda. Here once again Matsunaga showed his treachery! As the referee was distracted, Matsunaga threw a fireball at Otani, allowing Kohei Sato to cinch in a devastating cross armbreaker on Otani's wound shoulder. This attack set now President Otani's healing process back weeks. Matsunaga quickly fled Shin-Kiba 1st ring after his treachery, as can be seen by the quick video shot directly after the fireball struck.