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Scout Report by Wrestlingscout
Zero-One: Second Athlete (4/18/01)
I have to admit I didn't know if I'd like Zero-One when I first heard about the concept. After their first PPV got rave reviews, I had to check it out. I'd place that in probably the top five puroresu cards I've ever seen and maybe the top ten in the States. It really had something for everyone. Second Athlete was an apt follow-up and though it missed the mark on a few matches, it beats anything you'll see the WWF doing nowadays.
Naomichi Marufuji vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa - Though they don't compliment each other as well as Marufuji and Hoshikawa did, these two top juniors show why they were chosen to set the tempo of the show. I'm a huge Marufuji mark and his look and style really draw me into his matches. As for Takaiwa, I've always had a soft spot Shinjiri Otani, so liking his balding partner came naturally. The two definite play the game of give and take as they successfully get the other's style over as well as their own. Marufuji hits his Springboard Moonsault Suicida, which is maybe the most exciting highspot of the night. Takaiwa gets all his heavyweight-style moves in: Death Valley Bomb, Takaiwa Driver, and his Lariat at the end. Despite the stylistic differences, they have an awesome pace that seems full-tilt for the whole match. It seems short, but it's like a Benoit-Guerrero Nitro match - you know you won't be disappointed in spite of the length of it.
Rating: **** 1/2
Naohiro Hoshikawa vs. The Cobra - I've liked Hoshikawa for some time, after seeing him on some Michinoku Pro cards, I knew he had definite potential. I don't recall ever seeing The Cobra trying to replace the godly Tiger Mask, which seems blasphemous to me and I can't say I was excited to see him and Hoshi. My first taste of the ex-BattlArts star was when he took on legendary British worker Johnny Saint on MPW's These Days show. Saint was older, then Cobra is, and worked a totally European style and I can honestly say that match was much better. I guess this Cobra forgot to shed his skin because Takano's looking a bit hefty, but he seems to be surprisingly mobile. He shows his wares early on with some mat wrestling and a moonsault. Hoshikawa finally turns it around with kicks and a sweet suicide dive. Then the Cobra gets his last offensive burst and really brings the match down and turns the crowd off. Hoshi's hits a nice Back Suplex and transfers into a Reverse Cross Armbreaker for the win. Hoshikawa busted his ass to make this match presentable, but the Cobra could match his work ethic at all.
Rating: *** 1/4
Alexander Otsuka vs. Takashi Suguira - One of my favorites (Otsuka) against I guy I like the more I see him (Suguira). Though whose going to win is obvious, this match up had me glued to the screen. The stand-up grappling was cool as Suguira's a former Greco-Roman champ and so was Otsuka's ground work. Suguira seemed to be full of P&V for this one early on, but it wasn't until Otsuka started headbutting that things got exciting. Lots of blood, brutal suplexes, and a nice finish. This match was the best I've ever seen Otsuka have with a non-BattlArts wrestler.
Rating: *** 1/2
Sean McCully vs. Shinjiri Otani - Even though I do my best to follow the regional mixed martial arts in the US, I'd never heard of this McCully guy. He's 1-3 in MMA, his last fight being a decisive 43-second loss to (my boy) Heath Herring at WVC 9. I enjoyed Otani-Murakami at the first PPV, but that had good hype and the loss made sense. McCully is an MMA nobody coming into pro wrestling, beating the company's #2 guy? The match itself wasn't that bad, McCully played the heel, but a passive one. It just seemed backwards to me as the two went through the motions for a few minutes, then it was over. Otani sold stuff exceptionally well and McCully did as good as anyone could expect.
Shinya Hashimoto & Tadao Yasuda vs. Tamon Honda & Masao Inoue - Looking at this match on paper, it doesn't spark much for the imagination. You know Hash will do his part, but it's hard to get excited about the other three. Yasuda vs. Honda gets way too much heat as the ex-amateur seems to one up the ex-sumo. Then Hashimoto vs. Inoue (battle of the sideburns), which is much more interesting as the junior gets some good shots in and even racks the big man. After a few exchanges and everyone's comfortable and Honda & Inoue are working well together. Yasuda's offense is so bad, but Hash manages to bring up the aesthetics of the match some. Inoue's arm is apparently hurt during Hashimoto's application of a Triangle Chokehold and the ref stops it. I always enjoy watching Hash work and I actually think Inoue's okay, but Honda's nothing special and Yasuda's the kind of wrestler I will never like.
Mitsuharu Misawa & Takeshi Rikio vs. Naoya Ogawa & Kazunari Murakami - With the storied past between Hashimoto and Ogawa, it just made sense that he and UFO protégé Murakami get involved with Zero-One. The end of the first PPV ended with a pull-apart that involved Misawa, Hashimoto, and both UFOers. While Hash was not involved this time, Misawa brought in NOAH wrestler, Rikio, to team with him. Misawa-Hashimoto seems to be somewhere down the line, but for now he's just getting his footing in the company. Murakami, who looks like the bad ass heel he is, starts by pounding on Rikio, who fights back with his mass. Misawa steps in and things get interesting as Murakami sticks and moves and until he's elbowed into next week. Then Ogawa and Rikio go head-to-head, in which Ogawa gets control, until he takes some Misawa elbows. He and Ogawa grapple gamely, until the UFO star hits a Judo-style hip throw, but Rikio runs him over to protect his boss. Rikio assaults Ogawa on the floor and Murakami tries to take over where Ogawa left off. He is met with three vicious back suplexes, which give Misawa the win. Ogawa finally fends off Rikio and rushes Misawa in the ring. The NOAH boys are in there before he can get two shots in and start to beat on the Judo master. Hashimoto and his supporters come to break things up, but he ends up taking a shot a Misawa. He and Rikio lock up, but it's eventually separated and you actually have Misawa and company facing off against Hashimoto and Ogawa, who are shoulder-to-shoulder!? The heat is through the roof as it was throughout the match and even though it was kind of short and Ogawa-Misawa was never really fulfilled, it was an exceptional match.
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