ZERO-ONE SKY PerfecTV! LIVE SPECIAL Shinseiki Sozo
Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Naomichi Marufuji
While not in the class with their great 12/9/01 NOAH match, they were by far the class of tonight’s PPV. This earlier attempt was one of those matches where they had a lot of good ideas, but rushed through them rather than developing them. For instance, Marufuji injured Takaiwa’s lariat arm with a diving knee when Takaiwa was using the ropes to pull himself up. Marfuji followed up going right to the udehishigigyakujujigatame, but then Takaiwa came back and the arm injury was simply forgotten.
The one consistent was Takaiwa would counter with power. This was probably more due to the offense he uses than any decision on their part though. In any case, there were early spots such as Takaiwa turning a leapfrog into a turning powerslam as well as a key spot where he stopped Marufuji’s nadare shiki no Frankensteiner by powerbombing him off the second. Finally, he turned Marufuji’s Shiranui into a tombstone/Michinoku driver II type of move then beat him with his lariat.
Certainly this was an exciting match. It was a fairly solid back and forth contest that built to an extent. The near fall segment was ushered in by a really impressive sequence of counters, and the near falls were all getting big reactions because they put them over so you could believe in them. You could see how they could take what they did here and develop it into a great match, but having seem them in reverse order you can see why this match should have been better. All they really needed to do is space things out a little more and stick with a few threads so there would be some continuity. 13:04. ***3/4
Naohiro Hoshikawa vs. The Cobra
I really wanted to like this match, but it just wasn’t working. Cobra is always going to make his share of mistakes, but the main problem was more that he works at such a slower pace than Hoshikawa. One speed isn’t necessarily better than the other, it depends on the type of match you are doing, the problem here was Hoshikawa would be 3 steps ahead of Cobra so it was hard for the timing of certain spots to ever be right. Hoshikawa’s offense is mainly kicks and moves where he jumps at his opponent, so the opposition’s skill level tends to be of little relevance. Cobra was trying to get by more on experience because his ability has diminished, but it only worked to some extent. He surprised me with a nice moonsault, a move he didn’t use in his prime, but really didn’t do any of the moves he did use in his prime (with his declined athleticism that’s likely a good thing, especially since some where too hard for him even in the 80’s) so the nostalgic value was minor. More enjoyable than successful. Hoshikawa at least got to win with an urajujigatame. 8:06. **
Alexander Otsuka vs. Takashi Sugiura
Dull uneventful match. They stuck to what Sugiura is capable of, which isn’t a lot. Otsuka did some submissions and Sugiura did some suplexes, but for the most part they didn’t do much. Otsuka cut his head butting Sugiura and they kept headbutting each other until Sugiura was busted open as well. The blood was totally unnecessary and had nothing to do with the match. Otsuka gave Sugiura a ton of respect, even though Sugiura did nothing to earn it. Otsuka won with a V1 armlock. 7:29. *1/2
Shinjiro Otani vs. Sean McCully
I don’t see the purpose of this match. It was a worked shoot that was totally carried by Otani even though he isn’t a shooter, but Otani lost quickly to this idiot that is a nothing with no name value. Inoki benefited from these matches, but that was because he always beat the martial artists. Otani is still really good at this type of match despite NJ forsaking it after they killed UWF-I off, but McCully pretty much bit. He seemed so uncomfortable at times that it actually helped the match seem less worked. He stuck his tongue out at Otani after knocking him down, unless he was imitating a lizard, and went on and on after the match like anyone gave a crap about him. 4:50. *1/2
Shinya Hashimoto & Tadao Yasuda vs. Tamon Honda & Masao Inoue
They used the NJ principal that fighting fast and hard is the best substitute for fighting well. They got consistently good crowd reactions because they were acting as though they hated one another, and thus were “out of control”. Honda quickly jumped in to bail Inoue out, elbowing the ref off him so he could keep hitting Hashimoto. The match was going along fairly well, but Inoue was injured. It appeared a Hashimoto chop might have hurt him, but that’s not exactly a spot you get injured from. Later something happened when Hashimoto tried an udehishigigyakujujigatame, though this injury was to the other side of his body. In any case, Inoue stayed down kicking his feet and the ref soon called a halt to it. 9:00. **
Naoya Ogawa & Kazunari Murakami vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Takeshi Rikio
I was thinking the one thing this show doesn’t need is a short main event. Then I remembered Ogawa & Murakami were in the main event. This show seemed two matches short to begin with, and with 13 & 9 minutes being the "long" matches, it was verging on ridiculously short.
There was really nothing to this match. Ogawa was very animated and the crowd was into his stuff, what little of it there was. Misawa avoided him early, but came right in when his partner was injured by an Ogawa judo slam. Misawa just tried to control Ogawa, but Ogawa soon took him down and mounted. Ogawa punched Misawa’s arms for a while before Rikio dove into Ogawa’s back with a shoulder. This knocked Ogawa into his corner, so Murakami came in, ignoring the ref as usual. Rikio continued beating on the stunned Ogawa on the floor, and Misawa quickly turned the tide taking Murakami out with three UWF-I style no cooperation suplexes. Ogawa attacked Misawa after the match, but the NOAH guys jumped him. Hashimoto and Jun Izumida got into it, which shifted Misawa’s involvement. Match had great heat and was exciting at times, but it not only wasn’t developed, it lacked a body. 6:40. **