WRESTLE-1 "New Year Fight" on 1/30/15
A Review by Kevin Wilson

Date:  January 30th, 2015
Location:  Tokyo Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance:  1,050

The first big W-1 event of the year!  While I don’t know how much their titles are worth, both championships are on the line on this event.  No special appearances on the card so we are just going with homegrown talent, except for a little bit of ZERO1 interaction.  Here is the full card:

- AKIRA, Hama, Rionne Fujiwara, and El Hijo del Pantera vs. NOSAWA, MAZADA, Andy Wu, and Murase
- Hiroshi Yamato vs. TAJIRI
- Daiki Inaba vs. Masato Tanaka
- Minoru Tanaka and Seiki Yoshioka vs. Yasufumi Nakanoue and Yusuke Kodama
- KAI vs. Masayuki Kono
- Hideki Suzuki and Yusaku Obata vs. Masakatsu Funaki and Jiro Kuroshio
- WRESTLE-1 Tag Team Championship: Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo vs. KAZMA SAKAMOTO and Doi
- WRESTLE-1 Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs. Manabu Soya

This may be fun!

AKIRA, Hama, Rionne Fujiwara, and El Hijo del Pantera vs. NOSAWA, MAZADA, Wu, and Murase
We start off with Pantera and Wu and Wu armdrags Pantera out of the ring before hitting a plancha off the side ropes.  Wu slides Pantera into the ring but Pantera delivers a kick.  Murase and Hama are tagged in, Murase tries to knock over Hama but it doesn’t work.  Elbow drop by Hama but NOSAWA and MAZADA break it up.  Hama lariats both of them and everyone comes in to attack Murase in the corner.  MAZADA and NOSAWA recover and they hit a double flapjack onto AKIRA.  Murase goes off the ropes but AKIRA hits a jumping double chop.  Cover, but Wu breaks it up.  AKIRA positions Murase, Hama hits a body press and AKIRA then hits the Musasabi Press for the three count.  This was clipped in half so hard to rate, but the action they showed was perfectly fine.  Score:  N/A

Hiroshi Yamato vs. TAJIRI
They clipped a match a bit that was less than five minutes in the first place.  TAJIRI attacks Yamato before the match starts and chokes him with his jacket.  TAJIRI elbows Yamato in the corner but Yamato hits a springboard attack.  Yamato suplexes TAJIRI but TAJIRI rolls him up for two.  Yamato jumps back onto TAJIRI again and chops TAJIRI into the corner, he puts him up top but TAJIRI spits red mist in his face.  Yamato springboards back up but this time TAJIRI spits green mist into his face and I’m impressed.  TAJIRI jumps off the top turnbuckle and hits a sliding kick while Yamato is in the tree of woe.  German suplex by Yamato but TAJIRI kicks him in the chest and then hits the Buzzsaw Kick for the three count.  The mist trick was neat but just too short of a match to really get going.  It definitely wasn’t boring though, I just don’t know long term what they are doing with Yamato.  Score:  5.5

Daiki Inaba vs. Masato Tanaka
Inaba attacks Tanaka as soon as he gets in the ring and the two trade elbows.  Inaba gets the better of it and hits a diving headbutt off the second turnbuckle for two.  Tanaka quickly regains control and he elbows Inaba in the corner.  Inaba fights back but Tanaka elbows him against the ropes and hits another jumping elbow.  Irish whip by Tanaka but Inaba hits a shoulderblock.  Vertical suplex by Inaba, Tanaka blocks the suplex attempt and hits a lariat in the corner.  Another lariat by Tanaka and he snaps off a DDT.  Falcon arrow by Tanaka, he sits up Inaba but Inaba ducks the Sliding D.  Tanaka goes for a suplex but Inaba lands on his feet and they trade elbows.  Slap by Inaba and he hits the spinout powerbomb for two.  Diving headbutt by Inaba, he goes off the ropes but Tanaka levels him with a lariat.  Tanaka goes up top and he hits the body press for a two count.  Tanaka sits up Inaba, he goes off the ropes and nails the Sliding D for the three count.  I thought that Inaba showed a lot of fire here and aside from one noticeable mistake I thought it went very well.  I liked Inaba taking over a bit at the end to hit some big moves so it wasn’t just a gloried squash and overall it was a really fun way to spend five minutes.  Score:  7.0

Minoru Tanaka and Seiki Yoshioka vs. Yasufumi Nakanoue and Yusuke Kodama
Nakanoue and Yoshioka start off and Yoshioka hits a jumping knee.  Nakanoue shoulderblocks him down and both wrestlers tag out.  Tanaka and Kodama tie-up and trade holds on the mat.  Hurricanrana by Kodama but Tanaka hits a dropkick.  Tanaka tags in Yoshioka, and Kodama clubs Yoshioka to the mat.  Yoshioka hits a German suplex and tags in Tanaka.  Tanaka dropkicks Nakanoue, and Tanaka elbows Kodama to the mat.  Nakanoue comes in to help but Tanaka kicks him in the chest.  Tanaka and Yoshioka double team Kodama and Yoshioka applies a crossface while Tanaka puts Nakanoue in an ankle hold.  Kodama gets to the ropes, he is thrown in the corner but Kodama regains the advantage.  Nakanoue drops Yoshioka with a backdrop suplex and hits a diving elbow drop.  Kodama picks up Yoshioka and hits a falcon arrow for a two count.  Yoshioka kicks Kodama but Nakanoue elevates him and hits an uppercut.  Kodama picks up Yoshioka, he goes for a corkscrew moonsault by Yoshioka moves out of the way.  Yoshioka tags in Tanaka, Tanaka dropkicks Kodama and hits a STO.  Yoshioka hits a sliding kick to Kodama and he gets a two count.  Yoshioka kicks Kodama in the chest but Kodama snaps off a dropkick.  Tanaka runs in and kicks Kodama, then Yoshioka hits La Mistica.  Yoshioka puts Kodama in the Yurikamome while Tanaka stands guard, and Kodama submits.  A fast paced and well-structured match, it gave everyone a chance to shine.  Nothing really memorable but an enjoyable mid-card tag match.   Score:  6.0

KAI vs. Masayuki Kono
They grapple to start and Kono throws KAI out of the ring.  Kono and KAI trade elbows outside of the ring and Kono takes KAI up into the bleachers.  Kono rams KAI into the wall and goes back to ringside, with KAI slowly following.  Kono throws KAI into the guardrail and hits him with a steel chair.  Kono then hits Hama just for fun but KAI drop toeholds Kono into the guardrail.  Brainbuster by KAI out on the floor and he rolls him back into the ring.  Elbows by KAI in the corner and he hits a big boot.  Vertical suplex by KAI and he applies a sleeper, he goes for a powerbomb but Kono blocks it.  KAI and Kono trade elbows, boot by Kono but KAI returns the favor.  Jumping knee by Kono and he gets a two count.  Chokeslam by Kono and he knees KAI in the chest for a two count.  Chokebomb by Kono but KAI gets up and they trade lariat attempts.  KAI gets the better of it, he picks up Kono and he hits a powerbomb for a three count.  This match started promising but it went downhill.  I liked the beginning and KAI showed some fire, but after KAI just got up from Kono’s offensive barrage like nothing happened it crashed.  Then Kono was beaten way too easy and KAI does not have an impressive powerbomb.  Lots of potential but the end result just was not ideal.  Score:  3.5

Hideki Suzuki and Yusaku Obata vs. Masakatsu Funaki and Jiro Kuroshio
Suzuki and Funaki start things off.  They tussle around to start things off, Suzuki pushes Funaki to the mat but Funaki goes for a choke.  Suzuki gets to the ropes but Kuroshio comes in the ring with a double stomp to his back.  Kuroshio kicks at Suzuki while Suzuki ignores him, and Suzuki tags in Obata.  Side headlock by Obata and he hits a shoulderblock.  Dropkick by Obata, snapmare by Kuroshio and he kicks Obata in the back.  Obata returns the favor but Funaki grabs Obata from the apron.  Scoop slam by Obata to Kuroshio and he kicks him, and the two trade slaps.  Kuroshio loses the battle and Obata tags in Suzuki.  Suzuki does one kick and tags Obata back in.  Kuroshio fights back but Suzuki is tagged in and he elbows Kuroshio hard in the face.  Obata dropkicks Kuroshio, Suzuki is tagged in and he hits a belly to belly suplex.  Suzuki goes off the ropes but Kuroshio hits a dropkick.  He makes the tag to Funaki, knees by Funaki and he kicks Suzuki in the chest.  Rolling kick by Funaki and he applies a sleeper but Suzuki gets a foot on the ropes.  Suzuki uppercuts Funaki and he hits a backbreaker before tagging in Obata.  Double knee by Obata in the corner and he dropkicks Funaki.  Single arm suplex by Obata, he goes up top and hits a missile dropkick for two.  Funaki applies an armbar while Suzuki attacks Kuroshio with chairs outside the ring.  Funaki gets the triangle choke fully applied and he gets the submission victory.  He then promptly leaves the ring to tackle Suzuki, and eventually they are separated.  This was a good heated match with some occasional hate, I just wish it had a bit more of it.  Suzuki was in a certain kind of mood and was being more ‘snug’ than usual, which was fine of course, and I thought Kuroshio was a weird pick for this match but it ended up working out.  I wish the end was a bit more heated as it kinda ended with a whimper, but overall it was a really solid match.  Score:  6.5

(c) Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo vs. KAZMA SAKAMOTO and Doi
This match is for the WRESTLE-1 Tag Team Championship.  Kondo and Doi start off but KAZMA soon tagged in but Kondo elbows him.  The referee counted really slow so Kondo goes over to talk to him, and Kondo tags in Hayashi.  KAZMA grabs Hayashi by the hair and pulls him down, Hayashi slides out to the apron and he snaps KAZMA’s neck over the top rope.  Quebrada by Hayashi but it gets a two.  Starting to think they are doing a heel referee gimmick, lovely.  KAZMA stomps on Hayashi and KAZMA dropkicks Hayashi out of the ring.  Hayashi is assaulted at ringside, he gets back in the ring and he is hit by a ladder.  Double suplex to Hayashi onto the ladder, Hayashi elbows Doi and Doi hits a spinebuster.  Tilt-a-whirl DDT by Hayashi and he tags in Kondo.  Kondo  lariats KAZMA and Doi, he waits for Doi to get up and hits a spear for a two count.  Another really slow count, Doi eats a double superkick but the referee won’t count.  Have I mentioned I hate heel referees?  Hayashi is hit with a kendo stick, but Hayashi slams Doi to the mat.  Hayashi goes to the top of a ladder but the referee stops him, KAZMA climbs the ladder with Hayashi and he hits a superplex.  KAZMA and Doi lariat Kondo in the corner and then they hit a lariat.  Kono comes in and chokeslams Kondo, then Doi hits Kondo with a lariat but Hayashi breaks it up.  Hayashi kicks KAZMA but KAZMA knees Hayashi in the head.  TAJIRI comes in the ring and stomps Kondo but Kondo breaks free, TAJIRI accidentally spits mist at the referee, and Kuroshio comes down to help.  Doi and Kondo are alone in the ring and trade lariat attempts.  Finally Kondo lariats Doi, then Hayashi hits a handspring elbow.  King Kong Lariat by Kondo to Doi, a real referee appears and he picks up the three count.   Hayashi and Kondo remain the champions!  I am not a big fan of heel referees but at least he got his comeuppance and it didn’t impact the end of the match.  The bulk of this was just so-so but it did pick up at the end with the run-ins and then the solid victory by Kondo.  Not a bad match overall, but I really don’t want to see this heel referee thing continue.  Score:  5.5

(c) Keiji Mutoh vs. Manabu Soya
This match is for the WRESTLE-1 Championship.  I’ll try not to mark out too much during the match, no promises.  Mutoh is one of the very few legends from the heyday of puroresu still wrestling, so we have to enjoy it while we still can.  Soya snaps off a backdrop suplex early in the match to set the tone and then hits a double chop.  Elbow drop by Soya to Mutoh and he applies a chinlock.  Snapmare by Mutoh but he missing the Flashing Elbow.  Mutoh goes for a dragon screw but Soya reverses it with an armbreaker.  Headbutts by Soya and he lariats Mutoh in the corner.  Neckbreaker by Soya, Mutoh rolls out of the ring but Soya goes out after him.  Mutoh throws Soya into the guardrail and returns to the ring with Soya following him.  Shining Wizard by Mutoh in the corner, he puts Soya on the top turnbuckle and hits a dragon screw.  Dropkick to the knee by Mutoh but again Soya blocks the dragon screw and applies a stretch hold.  I like the dragon screw reversals, as Soya hits a lariat and a bulldog.  Soya goes for a suplex but Mutoh reverses it with a DDT.  Mutoh knees Soya in the corner, he puts him up top and he hits an avalanche Frankensteiner.  Dragon screw by Mutoh but Soya blocks the Shining Wizard.  Mutoh blocks the lariat and hits the Shining Wizard the second time, but Soya roars back with a lariat.  Suplex by Soya, he goes up top and hits a diving lariat.  Death valley bomb by Soya, we waits for Mutoh to get up and hits a lariat.  Soya goes for a Scorpion Deathlock but Mutoh reverses it with a figure four leglock.  Soya gets to the ropes and Mutoh hits a dragon screw.  Another dragon screw and Mutoh hits a Shining Wizard.  Shining Wizard to the back of the head by Mutoh and he hits one final one, but Soya kicks out of the cover.  Mutoh goes up to the second turnbuckle and hits a dropkick to the knee, dragon screw by Mutoh and he applies a figure four leglock.  Soya struggles for a moment but he can’t reach the ropes, and Soya has to submit!  I am not going to pretend like I didn’t love this match, it was fantastic.  Forget for a minute I love Mutoh anyway, it was just set up so well.  Soya hit lots of power moves and did some clever reversals to Mutoh’s normal spots.  Mutoh was going all out to make the match feel really important, even hitting the Avalanche Frankensteiner.  Then Mutoh worked over the leg perfectly, and reversed the move that Soya beat him with just a few weeks earlier.  Mutoh can’t walk but he didn’t need to, there was very little wasted downtime and it was just really fantastic.  It may not be your cup of tea but it’s everything I love about wrestling and Mutoh.  Score:  9.0

Final Thoughts:

This WRESTLE-1 event blew my mind.  Forget that I loved the main event for a moment, there was a lot of other good stuff on this card as well.  The Funaki match was hard hitting, the Tanaka match was a great sprint, and every match except for one was at least solid.  Even the tag title match, which suffered due to the heel referee, had a really fun ending stretch.  Course I will take the main event into account, it was the best Mutoh singles match I have seen in many years, it was great from start to finish.  I came in expecting nothing and got so much quality wrestling.  Give it a try, you may enjoy it too.

Grade: B+ 

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review completed on 2/19/15