So I was hoping to review as apart of the ZERO-1 January 1st review but this is the only match that has dropped yet and I really want to get my feelings out there. My anticipation for this was off the charts, Tanaka is one of my all time favorites and Suzuki has really impressed me as of late. This bout is for the ZERO-1 heavyweight championship, Hideki pinned Kohei Sato for the title and has held for the strap 74 days. A lot of people dislike Hideki and I find that stupid because the guy is a great wrestler even though he lacks personality as some would say he makes up it up with his ring skills.
Before I dive deep into my review, I just want to say this was a very Hideki Suzuki worked match and even though I enjoy that, I much prefer Tanaka’s style. Tanaka is probably a top 10 wrestler in the world and shines in nearly every situation but in this case Tanaka didn’t get most of his shit in and Suzuki controlled most of the match.
ZERO-1 did a great job hyping this event because Korakuen was sold out for the ZERO-1 set-up. The two men grapple for the opening stretch until Tanaka says balls to that and lays into Suzuki with forearms, which Hideki gave right back to Tanaka. Everything Suzuki does is as if he was in the 80s, his forearm strikes are a spitting image of Dory Funk Jr’s. Tanaka hits some brutal uppercuts but Suzuki always finds away to escape Tanaka’s grasp. Tanaka no sells a release German and hits a lariatoooooooooo, Masato Tanaka has been doing the top rope splash to the outside through a table for 20 years now and he is still going strong. After the crazy table bump he rolls the champ back in the ring and hits a picture perfect frog splash.
Hideki Suzuki looks like every UWFI wrestler ever and I know that’s him but man he would be a perfect fit in the late 80s grapple/mma scene. The action in this match is very good but something just is not clicking for me, maybe it’s because I expected a perfect match but yeah man it’s weird. Whenever Masato Tanaka would get on a roll with his signature strong style offence Suzuki would stop it and put a hold on. The last 7 minutes of this match were excellent up until the finish which I will get into shortly, Suzuki is hitting all these moves I haven’t seen in forever which is cool and nostalgic. Tanaka kicked out of a top rope double underhook suplex but then Suzuki kicked out of Tanaka’s Sliding D and countered the second attempt into a bridging German followed by a Dragon Suplex!!! That was one of my favorite sequences in wrestling ever. In one of the flattest finishes in wrestling Suzuki just pins MASATO TANAKA with a normal butterfly suplex, no bridge or anything. How am I meant to believe one of the greatest of all time Masato Tanaka couldn’t kick out of a butterfly suplex? Other than that flat finish it was a really good match.
I came into this bout ready to throw out ***** instantly and sadly it didn’t reach close to ***** and people will probably say I overrated this match because I love the two guys involved. This was a very good match but it won’t be ending up on my MOTY list by any stretch of the imagination. Suzuki is the same as Tim Thatcher for me, if they adapt to their opponents style the match will be fantastic but if they stick to their style and aren’t willing to do anything else it usually doesn’t do a lot for me. I’m just happy I got to see some ZERO-1 because it never makes TV and the product is so good. Suzuki works as if he was in the UWFI dojo being trained by Karl Gotch, seriously all his mannerisms and offence is as if he was Yoshiaki Fujiwara 30 years ago. I will say if I didn’t go into the match with such high hopes I probably would have enjoyed this more but still I recommenced this match to the people reading this. Let me know how you enjoyed this match. Hit me up on Twitter @Izzacwrestles and check out my K-Dojo review (there will be many K-Dojo plugs in the future).