ZERO-ONE SKY PerfecTV! LIVE SPECIAL SHINGEKI
ZERO-ONE suddenly decided they were UWF-I. Unfortunately, none of their wrestlers were bringing back memories of the glory days of Kiyoshi Tamura, Kazuo Yamazaki, or Nobuhiko Takada. And they didn’t exactly come up with any outsiders that could work like Vader or Billy Scott. What they wound up with was a big mess of short semi-worked shoots that weren’t really believable or entertaining. To make things worse, they didn’t really increase the stock of any of their wrestlers. Only Shinya Hashimoto got a clean victory, and it’s debatable how meaningful that was given Tom Howard was hardly known in his own country much less in Japan.
Naohiro Hoshikawa vs. Lee Young Gun
Gun is a Hapkido stylist who fought in his traditional martial arts outfit, highlighted by his black belt. He mainly used strikes, but similar to pro-wrestling most famous Lee, FMW’s Gak Soo, he wasn’t all that good at faking them. To make things worse, he proved me wrong about Hoshikawa being able to do his spots to anyone because he was screwing up easy bumps and overselling everything. Hoshikawa, who used to work Battlarts in the early days when they were more toward a combination of PWFG (which their key players defected from) and 70’s style serious pro-wrestling (Yuki Ishikawa’s style is based on that of his idol Antonio Inoki), was somewhere between shooting and working. He mainly used credible moves, but at one point he did his snapmare then dropkick off the ropes. Hoshikawa can do worked shoots very well when he has an inexperienced opponent that has some talent, as shown by his matches with Takehiro Murahama early in Murahama’s career, but this was about as bad a match as he’s had. 6:26. *
Kohei Sato vs. Greg Beilfuss
Short and certainly nothing to get excited about, but at least watchable acceptable stuff. With the exception of Beilfuss doing an early heel spot where he pushed the ref away and started to punch Sato rather than giving him the rope break, it was easily one of the more credible bouts. The ref abuse should have been a DQ, but Beilfuss wound up winning a little later with a choke sleeper. 3:52.
Shootboxing: Tatsuya Maeda vs. Kachasuk Jangogym
This is what I’d like to see from K-1, use quick little guys that are full of energy instead of presenting a freakshow of foreign roiders and giants. They could even find some natives that could win since they wouldn’t be outweighed by 50+ pounds. *Luckily, K-1 started the MAX division, which even does similarly good business as the heavyweight division.* This was a shoot, and it was a good one because you had two experienced guys that kept working. The only downside is Maeda was considerably better than Jangogym. Maeda always got off first, so it was hard for Jangogym to ever get started.
Maeda was very aggressive and willing to take chances, throwing several spinning strikes. Jangogym let Maeda keep him against the ropes, which spelled trouble once Maeda connected with a good blow. He stunned Jangogym with an uppercut and then it only took a brief flurry to put Jangogym down. Maeda got more aggressive once he hurt his opponent, and quickly had a second knockdown with a combination of punches. Jangogym got right up and tried a jumping knee, but Maeda avoided and backdropped him. Maeda did a nice ipponzeoi at the bell. Early in the second round, Jangogym was ready to go down again from a few punches, so the ref stopped it. Even though it was one-sided, this had the best action on the show. 2R 1:01. Good match.
Yuki Ishikawa & Katsumi Usuda vs. Samoa Joe & Keiji Sakoda
Joe was the only UPW guy who really showed any talent. He carried his team, and threw a number of impressive suplexes. Sakoda showed no particular strengths or skills, but Ishikawa & Usuda are both good, and Joe was in maybe 2/3 of the time. The contest was more toward a traditional pro wrestling match than anything else on the show, but doing a good match rather than a believable one is fine by me. It was well executed and relatively exciting. Joe beat Usuda with a choke sleeper. 16:48. **3/4
Alexander Otsuka & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Gerard Gordeau & Igor Meindert
Igor came in around 300 pounds looking as though he hadn’t trained since NJPW Final Inoki 4/4/98. He did several nice suplexes, but that was all he did. Gordeau did a few good kicks, but that was about it for him. Both sold almost nothing, with the only real highlights for the natives being a double vertical suplex on Meindert and Takaiwa using his Death Valley bomb on Gordeau. It’s good that they gave the tag matches some time, but the next step is to fill the time with something. All I saw was a lot of ego feeding by Gordeau and Meindert. I realize Takaiwa doesn’t have an impressive legitimate background, but Otsuka has been on enough PRIDE shows that he should at least have done a few things to these guys. Gordeau beat Takaiwa by ref stop from a series of punches in the corner. 14:51. *1/2
KENGO vs. Jayson Drexell
A shoot that never quite got going. Drexell was cut around his eye early on from KENGO’s ground and pound. It wasn’t bleeding into his eye, but it was a deep gash so the doctor stopped it. 3:36
Shinjiro Otani vs. Kazunari Murakami
Basically what you’d expect, but it went long enough before the requisite screw job finish to be worthwhile. Murakami came out swinging as usual, but Otani took his knee out. Murakami retreated to the floor and Otani charged when he reentered, but ran right into a big left hook. Murakami threw some wicked blows when Otani was down until the ref was able to restrain him, which allowed Otani to escape to the floor. Murakami was out after him as soon as the ref released him.
Two things didn’t work. First, we had Murakami wrestling with the ref in a very contrived fashion to get into position for Otani to reenter and blindside Murakami with a dropkick. Second, the finish where Murakami took his gloves off after getting a rope break from Otani’s udehishigigyakujujigatame. The gloves are only there to keep the fighters from breaking their hands, but Murakami loses it as always and flurries on Otani with punch after punch until he’s DQ’d. He’s trying to pass off the idea the lack of gloves made the punches hurt Otani more, but in actuality they’d only keep him from punching as hard. Otani was more lively today, and the fans were reacting to everything because it was also incredibly stiff and intense. It’s too bad they can’t capitalize on Murakami’s strength as a rivalry guy just once instead of continuing with this idea that him getting DQ’d is what keeps him strong and the program going. The intensity is why he’s over far more than the out of control aspect, and even Rasheed Wallace manages to keep himself in the game long enough to see a decision once in a while. If they were able to put together 12-15 minutes of this, delivering an actual finish, it would be memorable. 7:56. ***
Naoya Ogawa vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Fujiwara really served no purpose in this match. Ogawa is a guy he could carry, and at times Fujiwara has carried green "shooters" to watchable matches. Ogawa’s ego is too through the roof to allow one of the legendary shoot style performers to carry him though, and to make things worse he wouldn’t even allow Fujiwara be Fujiwara. As with the debacles that killed Hashimoto’s legendary drawing power, Ogawa just dominated him his foe, making him seem rather hapless. Poor Fujiwara was left to go for leg locks, which aren’t exactly his forte. Fujiwara cheapshotted Ogawa when the ref was checking for foreign objects, and he did apply his famous wakigatame once. However, that was in the middle of 5 Ogawa STO’s, and he was only able to do it because Ogawa was wasting time.
Ogawa’s offense didn’t look good. In some cases that was due to Fujiwara, who isn’t going to take quality bumps for the STO at his age, especially when the opponent is giving him nothing in return. However, the problem was partially that Ogawa just puts himself in positions to fail. Once again he mounted only to throw weak punches into his opponent’s forearms. If it was that easy to defend against mount punches, no one would ever bother working for the position. Fujiwara was never competitive, and lost after the fifth STO. Ogawa got on the mic after the match, but one of the best worked shooters, Yoshihisa Yamamoto, quickly came up from behind with a punch and hit him a few more times, leaving Ogawa laying. 6:48. *1/4
Shinya Hashimoto vs. Tom Howard
Another somewhat bizarre mix of work and shoot. It started slow, but their tempers flared more and more until they began slugging it out. At that point, Howard decided to start using some pro wrestling moves including the ever so deadly leg drop. Howard tried a Buff blockbuster, but it was so botched the announcers tried to pass it off as a "flying elbow". To say this match lacked direction and flow would be an understatement. Howard was willing to take some really stiff blows at least, and Hashimoto can dish those out with the best of them. His offense was typically good, and the selling got good as the match progressed. The finish saw Howard go flying over the top to the floor when Hashimoto avoided his kneel kick. Howard made it back into the ring, but certainly wasn’t recovered and Hashimoto took him out with his suimengiri then a heel hold. 11:54. **