By Alan Counihan, JarryPark.com Contributor
An interpromotional feud, when done right, can be a thing of beauty. New Japan vs. UWFI, New Japan Juniors vs. NOAH Juniors and ROH vs. CZW are all examples of this. These feuds sparked the interest of the fans, created heated atmospheres, elevated younger stars and utilized established stars better than ever. There is a believability and legitimacy brought about by an interpromotional match that rarely occurs in a regular bout. Invaders are hated more than the average heel and the home company defender is beloved more than the average babyface. It’s a simple formula that many have butchered but those who haven’t have produced some memorable and exciting feuds that will be remembered for years to come.
The latest example of such a feud is the one occurring between Zero1-Max and New Japan. The two sides have been battling since the beginning of the year with an intense hatred simmering with each passing show. Throughout this storyline, the smaller Zero1 has showcased their biggest guns since day one. Ikuto Hidaka, Takao Omori, Kohei Sato and champion Masato Tanaka have all taken post at the front lines backed by younger stars Munenori Sawa, Osamu Namiguchi and Shota Takanishi.
New Japan, on the other hand, have used this feud as a means of giving focus and direction to some their mid-card talent. The best example of this is the use of Koji Kanemoto, a veteran of interpromotional wars past. Kanemoto has been at the forefront, sparking much of the hostility in the beginning and making his impact felt on Zero1 shows regularly. Kanemoto has been backed by the likes of Manabu Nakanishi, Ryosuke Taguchi and a collection of fiery younger wrestlers including Yujiro, Hirasawa and the impressive Tetsuya Naito.
The majority of altercations have taken place on Zero1 turf. Of course on that territory Kanemoto and his teammates are despised while Tanaka and his partners are adored.
However, this feud’s most memorable match actually took place in New Japan. It featured the strong Zero1 team of Tanaka and Hidaka taking on the team of Kanemoto and Naito. This was one of the only matches in this feud that didn’t involve Kanemoto bullying people around and getting tons of heat instead the focus was on the youngster who was by his side. Naito, in the “away” matches was following his partners lead and thriving in a heelish role. Meanwhile, at home, against two established outsiders, he was in for a beating and boy did he get one. He sold every kick, forearm and submission like death and gained so much sympathy from the crowd. He finally got to make a big comeback which resulted in a rocking Korakuen Hall. Of course, he fell in the end to a vicious sliding elbow from Tanaka but he was truly elevated in defeat.
For the most part, the matches on Zero1 turf have been quite stellar. On 4/6 the sides split two big singles matches. Kanemoto defeated Ikuto Hidaka, Zero1’s second in command, and Tanaka defended his belt against Nakanishi. Along with a fiery six-man tag featuring the younger wrestlers, these matches contributed to a show that really gave the feud momentum leading into what could be the blow off – Masato Tanaka vs. Koji Kanemoto on New Japan turf.
Personally, I cannot wait to see this match as these guys have been the central characters throughout this angle and have had heated altercations in many tags. This big singles match was inevitable and we should expect nothing but greatness from these two. It’s safe to assume that the best is yet to come.