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[2001-03-02-ZERO-ONE-Truth Century Creation] Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama vs Shinya Hashimoto & Yuji Nagata

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Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama vs Shinya Hashimoto & Yuji Nagata - Zero-One 3/2/01


The decentralization of puroresu continues as the disenchanted Hashimoto forms his own promotion known as Zero-One (started in the year 2001) and brings in three of the biggest stars of puroresu for his debut show. It is the fastest rising stars in New Japan and NOAH on either side and of course the main attraction is to see the Ace of 90s New Japan mix it up with the Ace of 90s All Japan. I did not expect such a snoozefest of a match. Everything felt so tepid until the end. The match did make Hashimoto look like an absolute monster, but other than that it was pretty uneventful. Nagata is just not a very good submission wrestler, which is a problem since that is his gimmick at this point. Akiyama does his best to make it interesting by heeling it up and taunting Hashimoto. After Nagata catches him with a German, Misawa says "Kid, let me show you how it is done." and Nagata gets some kicks in before it is elbow city. Misawa gives him "Now you do something" tag. Akiyama piledrives Nagata while taunting Hashimoto. This match undercut Akiyama pretty bad, but hey at least he was a total prick during it. Nagat kicks Akiyama's leg out from under him and is going to do his Nagatalock while saluting Misawa, but thinks better of it and tags Hashimoto. Hashimoto rips through Akiyama, who bails. Akiyama thinks about it on the outside before coming back in and just being taken to the woodshed. It really feels like Akiyama was playing the same role as Nobutaka Araya in the tag match I watched earlier. Akiyama is not Araya. Hashimoto overhand chop is pretty sweet and he looks like a beast.


Finally, we get Misawa vs. Hashimoto. Misawa hits a spinning back elbow up against the ropes. Hash with a huge overhand chop sends Misawa to his knees and then floors him with a kick to the chest. Then tags Nagata. Awww is that it? Tease. Nagata applies a shitty armbar and then a crossface. Misawa can't be bothered with this shit and just elbows out of it and tags Akiyama. Take care of my light work, Akiyama. They trade exploders, you know it was coming. Akiyama applies a crossface. Akiyama goes for another, but Nagata drops down into guillotine choke. I liked the symmetry of that. Here comes Hash to murderize Akiyama, but Ak cuts him off with a high knee. Atta boy! He puts his foot on his throat and makes the ref count. Glorious. Misawa goes for the Tiger Driver, but Nagata interferes. Hashimoto disposes of Misawa and tags Nagata. Misawa gets the Tiger Driver for two. On the next one he elbows Hashimoto, but it gets reversed into a triangle choke. Akiyama saves Misawa after a Nagata back drop driver with a pin.


Hashimoto is in for the kill and hits a couple DDTs, but cant put Misawa away while Nagata detains Akiyama. Akiyama breaks free and slaps the shit out of Hashimoto while he is trying to suplex Misawa. This wakes up Hashimoto who now has murder in his eyes and goes to town in the corner. This allows Misawa to hit a German Suplex from behind for the win. After the match, Hashimoto makes a beeline for Akiyama and tries to kill him. Melee ensues.



It was nice to see Akiyama heel it up and Misawa in a back to basics match, but it felt like nothing happened. Hashimoto would come in kick ass and then leave. Why leave? Why not just win? Misawa was not much better with Nagata either. He let Nagata hit moves, but then no sold them and just would elbow. Akiyama was at least interesting, but treated like Hashimoto's bitch. I get the appeal that it is Misawa vs. Hashimoto. It did not do anything for me. The ending was good with all of Akiyama's antics finally getting him in hot water with Hashimoto. The payoff with Misawa sneaking away with the victory was cool. I'm giving it *** because it was a decent match with a very good payoff and finish.

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Three stars? No way. Too much star power, too much heat, too many great exchanges to be rated that low. I have this #2 for 2001, though 2001 is a weak year so that's not the most ringing endorsement. Lock for my top 50, possibly in the top 25.

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I thought that Akiyama and Hashimoto had the best exchange outside of the Four Pillars + Akiyama I've ever seen. They mixed up what they threw and had all the intensity you could ask for. Akiyama throwing on a Nagata lock with Nagata doing a DDT into a front choke shortly after was fun. Misawa vs. Hash was not as intense as the earlier tag in NOAH. Nagata wasting time with useless early match armwork hurts this a lot. Pretty weak finish after a short Misawa heat segment. Then hash decides he's gonna get a piece of that dickweed Akiyama. Somehow Naoya Ogawa decides that's his moment to come out and challenge Misawa, who starts elbowing him on the apron and they have to be separated. I guess somebody had been watching their WWE at the time.

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I'm shocked at the reaction to this match in this thread. It's not a MOTDC but it is easily one of the two or three best heavyweight dream matches put on in the interpromotional era. Everything Misawa vs Hashimoto is great, especially Misawa selling the beating and Hashimoto falling to the dreaded Misawa comeback. Akiyama has one of his best performances of the year being a total douche to Hashimoto only to get caught. Nagata isn't even as bad as usual.

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In my defense, I am new to this whole star rating thing. :)

 

Seriously though, I have no clue why I was so down on this match that I felt that way. Upon rewatch and re-reading my review, I agree with most of what I said, but have a more positive feeling from the match. My biggest departure from what I said was that it was tepid until the finish. That is just flat wrong. The best part of this match was how heated it was and the tension throughout the match. Akiyama was great and I loved how Hashimoto got so sucked into Akiyama's douchebaggery.

The match ultimately feels unsatisfying as a match. They payoff one storyline with the finish with Hashimoto being so obsessed with Akiyama that Misawa was able to blast Hashimoto in the back of the head with an elbow and win with a Tiger Driver. However, I just felt like Hashimoto and Misawa was a tease. Nagata was fine in the best match, but everything felt inconsequential. The opening was really good for establishing the storyline and the payoff was excellent. The middle section with Nagata coming in after Hashimoto just did not advance anything and while heated, it did not generate more heat. Revision takes it to ****1/4

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I remember this being one of the first puro matches I watched. It blew my mind back then and it's still an absolutely brilliant match, with all the gestures and hatred of an interpromotional war, and plenty of really great exchanges mixed in. I don't think I've seen a match where Nagata looks better than he does here. When he tags Hashimoto in the place seems to catch fire. Akiyama was so, so great in this. He really makes a perfect foil for Hash's fury, everybody knows he's not a chump but Hashimoto kicks him like a piece of shit, but what really puts it over is Akiyama's reaction, he gets this crazy rush of frustration and pissed-offness, like he cannot believe this shit is happening to him. Another great moment is when Shinya and Misawa exchange chops and elbow, like the two most dangerous predators facing off. Misawa and Akiyama fit into the Choshu-tag formula of the NJPW stars- at the end, you have dramatic kickouts out of moves like elbow drops and DDTs, with maximum resistance to the bombs, well-timed submissions, etc.. All-time great moment with a raging Hashimoto as the finish and everybody running in as the situation goes haywire. This kicked ass.

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News flash: Jun Akiyama rules. He rules now, he ruled then, and he's the standout of the inaugural ZERO1 main event. I really liked the opening between he and Yuji Nagata, but more importantly, I loved Akiyama harassing Hashimoto on the apron, only to get German suplexed from behind by Nagata. Once Hashimoto gets the tag, he batters Akiyama out of the ring and Jun's a little hesitant to return. The exchanges between those two are the most heated throughout the match. Akiyama and Nagata have fun throwing Exploders and taking each other's signature submissions. Misawa's fine here and gets in his usual spots but I would've liked to have seen his exchanges with Hashimoto be a little more...grumpy. Everyone drops some bombs toward the end but Hashimoto is more concerned with Akiyana than winning the match -- even after Misawa pins him, Hashimoto immediately goes back to attacking Akiyama before all hell breaks loose. Fun stuff.

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This was slower than I expected but still had plenty of intensity. The highlight was Hashimoto railing on his opponents. Just as it was heating up, there was a cheap finish that led to a pull-apart brawl with Ogawa getting his ugly mug involved. It kind of looked like a Vegas boxing fight with all the photographers crowding the ring. This was overrated due to star power. It wasn't as good as your average WAR vs. New Japan match, and it was marred by terrible production values. There were all sorts of weird, slanted camera angles and the shots didn't match. It looked like a college student shot it. I'm not exaggerating. I really wanted to come on here and say this was the best men's match of 2001 so far, but this was just as anticlimactic as Kawada/Sasaki or Kawada/Sasaki vs. Tenryu/Hase. 

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