The COVID pandemic has caused many financial problems for Japanese promotions since the cancellation of shows for the bulk of 2020 so far, with Big Japan Wrestling nearly going under before a life-saving GoFundMe and alliance with IndependentWrestling.tv (IWTV) saved it. According to Tokyo Sports, it appears that Pro Wrestling ZERO1, a nearly 20-year old promotion founded in 2001 by former 3x IWGP Heavyweight Champion and All Japan Triple Crown Champion Shinya Hashimoto, is on the brink of collapse following the departure of its new management team, led by Kazuhiro Iwamoto of iFD. Hashimoto passed away in 2005 and since 2004, ZERO1 has been run by another former New Japan legend in Shinjiro Otani.
The iFD team had just taken over control of the company from Dream on Stage this past March, but it appears that the financial crunch of not being able to run shows has proven to be too stressful on the new team, and this past March Iwamoto stepped down. But the departures didn’t stop there. In May, 27-year veteran and former NJPW star Tatsuhito Takaiwa, a former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and 2x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion (alongside Otani), also departed the company. Takaiwa, now 47, originally made the jump to ZERO1 upon its formation in 2001, where he became a 3x ZERO1 International Junior Heavyweight Champion.
During this month, ZERO1 saw two more of their elder statesmen also depart the company, in 6x ZERO1 World Champion Kohei Sato, a disciple of Hashimoto who debuted with ZERO1 in 2002, as well as Ikuto Hidaka, who joined ZERO1 in 2001 from BATTLARTS, and became a 5x ZERO1 International Junior Heavyweight Champion. With a lack of leadership in management and now three of the top veterans now gone from the promotion, it puts the ZERO1 promotion in dangerous waters for survival.
While the report in Tokyo Sports states that the promotion is in talks with a potential new parent company, it re-iterates the dire situation the company now faces ahead of their 20th anniversary in 2021, with the 17th Tenkaichi Junior tournament, which begins on July 5 and ends on August 2, the potential final shows for the company.