From 6th June (aired on the 25th)
With so many great Puroresu promotions firing on all cylinder these days, Wrestle-1 are easily (and on occasion quite rightfully) overlooked by western Puroresu fans. They’ve been quietly putting on some decent matches this year, and if you’re a fan of the scene they’re worth checking in on from time to time. As is often the case in Wrestle-1, the top of the card is dominated by the Enfants Terribles faction here, with newest member Kuma Arashi challenging the champ in the main event. The match that perhaps sticks out the most however, is the tag involving Ashino and Kuroshio, two guys that have been the most watch elements of Wrestle-1 for some time now, with Tanaka thrown in there for good measure.
Ganseki Tanaka vs. Tsugutaka Sato
Your typical young lion exhibition match to start things off here. While both men are youngsters however, Tanaka has been going a while longer then Sato (who has less than a year’s worth of experience) and as a former UWA trios champion, is the heavy favourite. Sato however, manages to survive the young lion finisher that is the boston crab, hits a pump-handle slam and then applies his own elevated boston for something of an upset win. Heavily clipped match, but your not exactly missing a lot early on. This is fine for what it is.
FUJITA & MAZADA vs. Ryuji Hijikata & Takanori Ito
Early part of this match is also clipped, but again you’re not missing much, unless you’re a huge Tokyo Gurentai fan (the faction FUJITA & MAZADA are in.) It’s back and forth stuff early on, until a very long stretch of double teaming by the Tokyo Gurentai duo, which the ref does nothing to stop, puts them in control. Hijikata & Ito come back with some big kicks and then Ito hits a big german suplex for the win. Totally skippable match, that won’t live long in your memory if you do choose to watch.
Alejandro, Andy Wu & El Hijo del Pantera vs. Jun Tonsho, Kaz Hayashi & Kotaro Suzuki
Your typical six man Junior style match, with Pantera impressing the most with his flashy offence. Lots of back and fourth stuff before things descend into chaos and we’re left with what is essentially a one on one match between Ajejandro and Tonsho. After lots of counter wrestling, and just a little bit of botching, Tonsho hits a german suplex, followed soon after by a dragon suplex for two close calls. Finally, a superkick puts Alejandro away and gives Tonsho the win for his team. Some fun moments from the cruiserweights here and Tonsho looks good from his victory, although the ending did fall a little flat.
Masayuki Kono & NOSAWA Rongai vs. Koji Doi & Shuji Kondo
Again the match is clipped slightly, and we start with Kondo in control but this soon changes thanks to Kono. The Tokyo Gurentai team (that’s Kono and Rongai this time) control for a stretch, before Kondo hits a bulldog/closeline combo and makes the hot tag. Doi clears house but soon walks into a high knee, followed by a chokeslam from Kono. Shining wizards from both Rongai and Kono follow, but Kondo makes the save for Doi. Kono then goes for a rising knee but Doi locks in a stretch submission and gets the win for his team. Again, not bad, but not something to go on you much watch list either.
Kenichiro Arai & Shotaro Ashino vs. Jiro Kuroshio & Masato Tanaka
Kuroshio has lent Tanaka one of his Jackets, and Tanaka even does a little bit of Kuroshio style posing too. Ashino isn’t interested in messing around though, and he and Tanaka soon find themselves in a good old striking battle, with Ashino coming out better. Kuroshio doesn’t fare well against his opponents at all, getting totally mugged by Arai and Ashino until a missle dropkick opens up the opportunity for a hot tag back to Tanaka. On his second outing though, Kuroshio fares a bit better, hitting a springboard moonsault to Ashino on the outside, but gets caught by a big german from Ashino back inside the ring. After some more punishment, Ashino hits another pair of germans but Kuroshio flips out of a third and hits a back-to-belly piledriver for a two count. Tanaka sneaks in to hit the sliding D, and Kuroshio follows up with a moonsault but Arai breaks up the count. Ashino manages to lock in the ankle lock, whilst Arai keeps Tanaka at bay, but Kuroshio counters it into a rollup and picks up the big win! It’s sometimes hard to tell just where Wrestle-1 see Kuroshio on their roster, as while he’s super popular his comedy act puts him in danger of having a low ceiling. It made seeing Kuroshio get the win, all that sweeter (Disclaimer: I’m a big fan of the Jacket wearing goof) and they built up to the finish perfectly.
WRESTLE-1 Cruiserweight Title Match: Seiki Yoshioka (c) vs. Yusuke Kodama
The challenger does well early, hitting a big corner dropkick and a diving tree-of-woe footstomp. Arai then comes out to spoil things and provides enough distraction for Yoshioka to take control. A big dive to the outside, a flying forearm back inside and a powerbomb nearly give Yoshioka the win, before Kodama makes his big comeback, hitting a variety of offense and no-selling a huge german. A very pretty dropkick finally stops Kodama in his tracks, and a fisherman DDT gets Yoshioka the near fall. Finally, Yoshioka follows up with an absolutely massive frog splash to retain. This was as good a Junior/cruiserweight match as you’ll probably ever see outside of the NJPW Junior division or Dragongate. Yoshioka looked great here as the evil champ, and Wrestle-1 would probably do well to stay behind him as the face of their cruiserweights for the time being.
WRESTLE-1 Title Match: Manabu Soya (c) vs. Kuma Arashi
Arashi comes out with the belt because he stole it off Soya, not because he’s the champ here. Soya meanwhile comes out with his midsection heavily taped, which comes obviously comes in to play as the match progresses. Things start off slowly here, and they kind of stay slow in all honestly. Arai once again makes the interference, this time attacking soya’s injury with a chair, and from there it’s your classic babyface in peril match, with Arashi targeting Soya’s midsection and cutting off his occasional comeback attempt. Arashi goes up top to hit his senton, but gets caught by a superplex instead, he manages to fight his way back up though and hits it the second time round, but fails to capitalise with a pin in time. The two trade standing lariats (slowly) before soya gives Arashi a headbutt and Arashi replies with a powerbomb. Arashi then hits a dominator style powerbomb and goes back up top but this time misses and eats two lariats from Soya for the two count. A third lariat spells disaster for Arashi and Soya manages to retain. The problem with this match was simply the sluggish pace, something Soya unfortunately shows time and time again. Soya’s recent title win over Ashino made for a feel good moment, but I would personally have to question whether he is the kind of guy Wrestle-1 should be getting behind as their world champion.
All in all it was a decent show, with the cruiserweight match and the tag match both standing out as the night’s best matches. Some of the pieces of the puzzle have been finally coming together for Wrestle-1 in recent times, but with so many other Puroresu promotions delivering at the moment, I could still only really recommend keeping an eye on the Kuroshio and Ashino matches going forward. Keep it here on The Indy Corner for more wrestling reviews and articles, and you can follow me on twitter if you like at @MikeGrindle