Author Topic: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA  (Read 1900 times)

Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2020, 10:06:06 PM »
*Vol.10 Continued*

*In Other News*

In other news: The Gracies are at it again, this time with another hilarious puff piece, courtesy of the September 91 issue of Black Belt magazine:









Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2020, 11:58:11 PM »
*Archives of this series can be found at https://www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.11 "Seperation Anxiety"



Welcome back! As we continue to reflect in our state of house arrest  upon all things, trivial and otherwise, we shall take a moment to ponder  the road less traveled, and further our quest for the esoteric  knowledge of our predecessors. The date is 8-24-91 and we find ourselves  at the Shizuoka Sangyoukan Concert Hall, which is located within the  Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan (an area best known for being the home of  Mt. Fuji). This hall was a popular spot in the 80s as a layover for many  of the top concert acts of the day, hosting Hall and Oates, Toto, Bryan  Adams, and others until branching out in the 90s and opening its doors  to various pro wrestling events in addition to their usual fare.
 

We can only hope that it’s a step up from the bowling alley where we  last found Takada and Co. performing, but that remains to be seen. Right  away, this scribe is excited to see Makoto Ohe opening things up again,  this time testing his foot fighting prowess against yet another unknown  kickboxer, named Marb Winon (which as of press time, I’ve been unable  to procure any further information on). The last fighter we saw thrown  to Ohe was an explosive, but completely inexperienced, Taekwondo(?)  practitioner, and this time his opponent at least seems to have his  footwork in place, and seems to belay some boxing experience, even if he  comes across as a bit nervous.
 

Winon starts off by circling around Ohe, keeping his distance and trying  to occasionally sneak in a low kick or combination, but while he’s  doing this, Ohe keeps measuring his distance and times his counterstrike  as Winon would press his attack. Winon is getting a few shots in, but  is leaving his face unprotected during his attacks, and his taking the  worse of the exchanges. Round 1 ends with Ohe being up on points, and  his experience really showing compared to his opponent.
 

Round 2 starts with Winon becoming more aggressive, and engaging right  away, even going for a flying knee, and at one point landing a nasty  side kick against Ohe, but he lost his mojo about a min into the round  when Ohe got him up against the ropes and really shook his equilibrium  with some solid punches. Winon spent the rest of round 2 getting picked  apart with precise leg strikes form Ohe, and they seemed to sap whatever  confidence he had going into round 3, as he spent the rest of the round  being very conservative, which is exactly the wrong strategy against  someone who’s an experienced surgeon like Ohe. Winon’s best bet would  have been to simply blitzkrieg Ohe, and hope to catch him off guard, but  his timidity is only serving to have him picked apart here.
 

Still, he was able to survive round 3, and seemingly read my mind, as he  went into round 4 throwing a nice flurry of combinations, some of which  got through to Ohe, as straight boxing seems to be the biggest weakness  in his game, but it was for naught, as whatever he was able to land was  quickly negated by Ohe firing off brutal kicks for the rest of the  round. Winon was barely able to make it into round 5, being down on  points 24-40. Round 5 begins, and Winon was doing well whenever the  fight got into close range by being able to use his boxing, but whenever  Ohe backed up a little bit and gave himself some space, he would  brutalize Aguilar’s ribs with his kicks, and usually follow up with a  nice right, straight down the pipe. Much credit to Winon, who was able  to persevere and go the distance with Ohe.
 

This was a fun way to start the show, and Ohe is always entertaining,  but it would be nice to see them track down a more seasoned opponent for  him, for the future.
 

Next up is our Shoot-Style Prodigy, Kiyoshi Tamura vs the resident  workhorse, Yuko Miyato. Right away, we are off to a fast pace as Miyto  plunges into his bag of Tachi-Waza tricks, looking for a takedown, in  this case with a nice Kata Guruma (Fireman’s Carry), and O-Goshi  (Major hip throw), but Tamura is too slick on the ground and once the  fight travels there, he reverses his situation and secures a straight  armbar on Miyato, forcing a rope escape. Miyato defaults to a more  kickboxing based strategy, landing a few strikes, but there is no  containing Tamura in any position for more than a few seconds, and the  rest of the fight followed in a whirlwind of transitions, submission  attacks from every angle, and naked aggression. While this wasn’t  realistic in modern MMA terms, with the 23432 position changes, it was  exciting, and we are getting more and more glimpses of not only Tamura’s  genius, but how a new art is emerging from the pro wrestling zeitgeist,  as we are starting to see glimpses of what is possible when skilled  practitioners get together and pretend to fight, like they are really going to fight. Tamura  ends the fight with a rear naked choke, coming off a failed kneebar  attempt from Miyato. This was very entertaining, if a bit short, and  Miyato’s bread-and-butter Judo/Kickboxing style played well with  Tamura’s flash&fury.
 

Tamura's wrath is complete...


Next up is a newcomer to our ranks, and we are introduced to Gary  Albright. Albright had gotten his start in the final days of Stu Hart’s  Stampede Wrestling, having received training from such famous hookers,  like Lou Thez, Billy Robinson, and Danny Hodge in the process. He had  even managed to win the tag team championship of that promotion, before  losing it to Chris Benoit and Biff Wellington (whom we know as  Wellington Wilkins Jr from the PWFG) right before the promotion folded.
 

Now he has migrated to the sea of shoot style, and right away we see our  zebra-clad warrior Yoji Anjo taunting him before the match, threating  him with vicious knees. The match starts with Albright trying to charge  Anjo into the corner of the ring, but Anjo is much quicker, and is able  to fire off a volley of kicks to ribs/midsection. Albright is eventually  able to catch Anjo and decides to toss him like a frisbee out of the  ring. Now we are starting to see the true spirit of this contest take  shape, the everlasting conflict between the Zebra and the Wildebeest.  Anjo would continue to use his speed and land kicks and palm strikes,  only to get pushed into the ropes, or suplexed onto the canvas, but once  the fight hit the canvas, Albright didn’t really seem to know what to  do, which left Anjo looking for submissions. Once back on the feet  Albright gave Anjo several powerful suplexes which led to a knockout  victory for Albright.
 

This was nothing more than pro wrestling showboating, an exercise put  forth to set Albright up as a suplexing monster, intent on slamming the  life out of the heroic Japanese natives, and honestly within the realm  of this promotion it worked. It was entertaining, and while Tom Burton  is more credible from a Vale Tudo/NHB standpoint, Albright has a lot  more entertainment finesse, and is a better fit for what this promotion  is trying to do. I do however question the long-term viability of  Albright, as I suspect that his ferocious monster shtick is likely to  have a limited shelf-life.
 
The Original Human-Suplex-Machine

Lastly, we have Nobuhiko Takada and Billy Scott vs Kazuo Yamazaki and  Tatsuo Nakano. I’m bewildered as to their insistence upon continually  giving us tag-matches for a main event, as it neither serves to bolster  the shoot-credibility (for can anything legitimate ever come from a tag  match?) nor does it really add anything within a pro wrestling  framework, as the UWFI doesn’t have a tag-division, or any titles at all  for that matter, so there aren’t really any stakes in a format like  this. It just serves to add some filler, but I would rather see 20 more  mins of Tamura cartwheeling over a lackey, than stuffing most of the  time allotted onto a team event. Still, any day to witness Yamazaki is a  good one, so there is that.
 

Billy Scott starts off against Nakano, and he is continuing to show  himself as a wise investment, as his suplexes, strikes, and wrestling  singlet all come across credibly. The match phases into Takada vs  Yamazaki, which is pleasant as these two have always had good chemistry  with each other (for example, their match at UWF Fighting Prospect - Tag  5 on 9-11-85 being one of the best shoot-style matches this scribe has  witnessed), and here he had more of the same, as whenever the two of  them were in the ring together it was total fire, and makes me wish that  they had structured the main events around Yamazaki chasing Takda as  the heir apparent to his throne, at least in the short term. It really  felt like the inclusions of Nakano and Scott were simply to pad things  out and include their other performers, and to be fair they all did a  good job making the match exciting, but really didn’t further the plot,  so to speak. The match ends at 28:09 with a Bob Backland inspired  chicken-wing submission from Yamazaki, which was rather odd.
 

Yamazaki...taking out the trash.


Here is the event in full:


 And if anyone wishes to see the bout between Yamazaki and Takada from 9-11-85 here it is:


 Final Thoughts: This was an entertaining, if flawed, card top to bottom.  We got another exciting kickboxing bout from Ohe, and Tamura continues  to deliver. Since they are choosing to be more tethered to the  pro-wrestling end of the spectrum, then they could stand to have a more  focused direction in some of the booking, as they feel a bit like a ship  without a rudder at the moment. Still, this is nitpicking as they  continue to deliver entertaining events if nothing else, which isn’t  something Maeda has managed to do yet.

Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2020, 11:59:52 PM »
Let's check in with Mike Lorefice and see what he has to say...
 

"Makoto Ohe vs Marv Winon: I'm always glad  to see these kickboxing shoots on the card, but this felt like a bully  beatdown where the timid picked on kid does his best to run around the  playground to avoid the inevitable confrontation, hoping the thug will  either get bored or recess will somehow just end. At first I thought  Winon was a karate stylist because his focus was on maintaining  distance, but the more he literally hit his back on the ropes trying to  maintain as much distance from Ohe as possible at all times, the more I  couldn't tell what he was beyond scared. For every 1 step Ohe moved  forward, Winon seemed to try to move 4 steps sideways. Ohe was thrown  off his game by an opponent who didn't want to engage, and seemed to  want to use the Thai clinch more simply to prevent Winon from endlessly  running, which did lead to a left high kick knockdown in the 4th.  Needless to say this wasn't going to be a fight where Ohe landed a lot  of extended combos, but understanding that, he focused on sniping Winon  with power shots, and was very accurate in doing so.
 

Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yuko Miyato 
 It's hard for me to imagine that anyone improved more in 1991 than  Kiyoshi Tamura, who, after missing virually all of 1990 with a fractured  orbital, is now both leaving everyone in the dust, while at the same  time pulling incredible matches out of them that are way beyond what his  opponents are doing with anyone else or the increase in quality the  other top workers can pull out of their opponents. Tamura is making  great leaps in his ground movement, developing a perpetual motion style  (which obviously is what you should be doing if you are actually trying  when the antiquated techniques of the opponents don't control your body,  much less lock you in place, but basic logical techniques rarely stop  pro wrestlers from lazy hokem) that makes everyone else seem like  dinosaurs. Miyato was a good performer in the U.W.F. where the standard  of mat wrestling was still more toward New Japan's idea of good enough,  but has looked rather dated so far in UWF-I until this match where  Tamura's insistence on moving hid the holes in Miyato's no control  ground game and really made him an effective performer once again.  Meanwhile, Tamura's defense is improving magnificently, as his style is  increasingly built around turning defense into offense. He's developing  his game based upon the premise that with his speed and technical  mastery, as long as he can play the motion (scramble) game, he'll win  the battle of adjustments. Miyato is one of the quicker guys in the  promotion, but it's immediately apparent that he's having trouble  keeping up with Tamura, who has made the adjustment to Miyato's attack  or counter as soon, if not before, he gets it off. Miyato would like to  slow things down a bit, but he doesn't have the wrestling or BJJ &  Tamura isn't just going to stay put. Whenever Miyato tries to go on the  offensive or change positions, Tamura uses his movement against him  & takes over. For instance, there's a beautiful spot where Miyato  tries to swing into an armbar from side mount, but Tamura uses a  backwards roll to get off the canvas, spinning into a standing position  but immediately dropping back down into an Achilles' tendon hold.  Another great counter saw Miyato slipping out the side of Tamura's  facelock & trying to work the arm, but Tamura pivoted off a  headstand to take Miyato's back. Every time you see a Tamura match, you  see these kind of things that no one else is doing, done so fast,  smooth, & effortlessly that they just seem second nature. Miyato  definitely has the striking advantage when he can keep it in standup,  and finally takes over with a middle kick knockdown followed by a  spinning heel kick knockdown. Miyato has a giant 13-6 advantage on the  scoreboard after a belly-to-belly suplex into a 1/2 crab forces a rope  break, which is something we are already seeing Tamura use less and less  of. This is beginning to look like the great Tamura vs. Anjo match  where the advantage shifts to the wily veteran Anjo the longer the match  goes, and the point system favors the guy who can score on his feet  because it's much easier to get a knockdown than 3 near submissions,  that's just so imbalanced. Tamura isn't slowing down this time though,  and does another crazy counter, now being ready & taking a  guillotine off a Miyato's second attempt at the fireman's carry. The  bout grows increasingly brutal after Miyato just cold cocks Tamura in  the face & tries for the ipponzeoi, but Tamura takes his back &  drops into a rear naked choke. One of the problems with the match is  Miyato doesn't have enough counters of his own to really chain the  escapes & submission attempts together, but finally he does deliver,  peeling the hooks off by attacking the top leg then spinning into a  kneebar only to have Tamura spin to his knees & aggressively slap  Miyato in the face until he releases then add in some stomps for good  measure. The impact & intensity of the striking is really growing by  the second, and while the match may be less believable at times because  of Tamura's flash, the fire & heat these guys are building up is at  least allowing the audience to buy into the fact that they don't like  each other & really want to win. Miyato is laying into Tamura with  some big body kicks down the stretch, but Tamura does his drop down/go  behind to drag Miyato down into another rear naked choke. Miyato attacks  the top leg again, but Tamura releases the choke & uses what's left  of his hooks to roll Miyato to his stomach. Miyato immediately  scrambles back to his feet before Tamura can flatten him out, but Tamura  pulls him down into the choke for the win before Miyato can get close  enough to grab the ropes. This is just Tamura's 11th match, and it's a  big win coming against a 6th year fighter who was 2-0 against him. While  10 minutes seems short for these guys, especially given it's a 3 match  plus a one sided shoot card with nothing else looking like it needs tons  of time, length is not really what you are looking for in a worked  shoot. In fact, being shorter probably made for a better match because  Tamura could just keep exploding the whole time & Miyato didn't seem  to be his usual 1 trick pony, being for once the favorite while also  forced to react to all the crazy stuff the kid was throwing at him. The  usual downfall of a Miyato match is it just drags on the mat, especially  when they start playing footsies, but this was all blazing fury. This  wasn't as epic as Tamura vs. Anjo, but it was better in many respects,  and almost every moment was interesting & exciting. It's been almost  29 years, but I was still constantly rewinding to see what Tamura was  managing to do & how he pulled it off, which is very abnormal for  me. Tamura was clearly a whole lot better than in the Anjo match even  though it's only been a month & a half. Though the "downfall" is  that Yuko isn't as good or well rounded as Anjo, Tamura got a ton out of  him. Tamura's stuff just feels way more modern than anything else we  are seeing, the maestro not only innovating in a breathtaking manner but  raising the level of his opponent so many notches it's hard to even  fathom them having a match with anyone else that remotely approaches  this. ****1/4
 

Gary Albright vs Yoji Anjo
 Albright is the prototype '80's monster  gaijin that the little Japanese guys are all vying to upset. He screams  chip on his shoulder & bad attitude, one could picture him coming  out to W.A.S.P.'s "Mean Man" instead of the godawful generic written in  10 seconds AC/DC monotony he eventually adopted. The problem is it's the  '90's, and shoot wrestling is supposed to be the real deal, not the  worn out theatrical cartoon. While this match is entertaining, it's  basically an American wrestling match where they use some more  legitimate kickboxing, amateur wrestling, and a touch of sumo. Anjo  tries to stay on the outside & kick, but Albright would just eat  them all as if they were nothing until he pushed Anjo into the ropes  & grabbed him for the big ride. Albright was a good athlete for his  size in these days, and his suplexes were some of the most impressive  ever with a great combination of speed and impact, but this was the  typical short sighted UWF-I booking. Yes, this match does a great job of  getting Albright over in his debut, but the previous 4 shows were spent  trying to break Anjo out of the pack & into the #2 or 3 spot in the  promotion, yet here he literally couldn't muster a single shot that  even phased the mighty man for Pennsylvania by way of Karachi, Pakistan. 
 

Nobuhiko Takada/Billy Scott vs Kazuo Yamazaki/Tatsuo Nakano: UWF-I  is really running with the idea that the tag match is unique to them.  Basically this was a way to have Takada vs. Yamazaki without Yamazaki  having to do the job. All the heat was on this pairing, and these two  exchanged knockdowns a few times. Early on, Yamazaki struck first  landing a liver kick, but Takada came back countering a takedown attempt  with a palm. Later, Takada got the knockdown with a series of palms  followed by a high kick, but Yamazaki came back with a spinning high  kick to even the score at 12. Takada was again more effective here  because he basically just did kickboxing, and when Yamazaki went to the  mat with him, he knew how to avoid Takada's many weaknesses, though  Takada made sure to get his 1/2 crab in on Nakano. The problem with  doing one excessively long match after two short ones is it's hard to  match the level of urgency. Albright's match may have had its flaws, but  they did do a great job of getting over the idea that Anjo's life was  practically in danger if he couldn't keep the big guy off him, whereas  being 3 times as long, this was obviously a lot more up & down. This  match wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly memorable either. Yamazaki's  portions were good, particularly against Takada. Scott continued to show  potential, but just felt like an afterthought, and Nakano, while not  doing anything wrong per se, was totally forgettable.


 We haven't heard from Dave Meltzer in a while...What has he been having to say about any of this? 8-12-91 "
  Akira Maeda's Rings ran its second show on 8/1 in Osaka's Furitsu Gym  drawing 6,100 (building sells out at 7,000) with Maeda doing a job in  the main event losing to Dirk Leon-Vri via TKO in 8:01. Since Maeda has  such a small amount of potential foes to work with, it appears he  believes he has to do jobs on a regular basis to keep interest alive. A  few days before the match, Maeda sent telegrams to all the major  magazines that he had torn knee ligaments (no doubt a work sent to give a  prior excuse for him doing the job) in training for the match. Willie  Wilhelm (6-6, 300), former European champ in judo beat Peter Smit in the  semifinal. Wilhelm, whose match with Maeda drew 60,000 fans to the  Tokyo Dome in 1989, main events against Maeda on 9/3 in Sapporo.  Nobuhiko Takada's UWFI runs 9/26 in Sapporo while Yoshiaki Fujiwara's  PWF runs 8/23 in Sapporo, so all three UWF-style promotions are running  shows in the same city within a five-week period.
 

 UWFI drew a sellout 2,000 fans at the Hakata Star Lanes on 7/30 with  Yoji Anjyo & Jim Boss (indie worker from Tennessee) beating Takada  & Kiyoshi Tamura in 31:02 in the main event, plus Kazuo Yamazaki  beat Billy Scott (indie worker from Nashville area) with a facelock  submission and Shigeo Miyato beat Tatsuo Nakano.
 Maeda announced he would be running a show in December at the Ariake  Coliseum in Tokyo Bay which is the same building where he sold out all  12,000 seats the first few hours tickets went on sale in 1989 when he  was the hottest draw in wrestling.
 

Fujiwara's 7/26 show at NK Hall in the Tokyo Bay Area was said to be  very good, particularly Wayne Shamrock (Vince Tirelli) vs. Duane  Koslowski (only in his second pro match). Koslowski, who lives in  Minnesota and represented the U.S. in Greco-roman at the last Olympic  games, was said to have really learned the style while Shamrock is  generally considered the best at the style of the foreigners."
 

8-19-91: "Saw  the Akira Maeda vs. Dirk Leon-Vri match from the 8/1 Osaka show and the  televised version was awesome technically. Not the match, but the drama  built in before the match started. The work they did in getting Vri  over as a killer heel puts anything done in the U.S. to shame. Of course  it helps to look the part like Vri, with the Caucasian face and sneer and a  body so filled with steroids that it isn't even funny and hand and foot  quickness that is just scary for someone so muscular. He looks like he  should be in one of those martial arts movies as a heel. What's the  achilles heel (no pun intended)? The match itself wasn't good at all. It  was nothing compared to their Tokyo match of a few months back. It was  evident Maeda's knee injury was a shoot because he really didn't do a  thing. Vri looked great for about three minutes, and then he blew up  like nobody's business and it was pretty pathetic the last five minutes  before Maeda was KO'd. But the aura built into both the television and  the live show created dramatic heat on the level of the Hulk  Hogan-Ultimate Warrior match of 1990."

 *In Other News*
 

Police Officers within Los Angeles County recently agreed to stop  Nanchaku use in response to a lawsuit by six members of the pro-life  group Operation Rescue. The LAPD agreed to cease use of all Nanchaku  weapons at anti-abortion protests, as part of a settlement towards a  lawsuit with the organization. Although possession of Nanchaku by  ordinary citizens is unlawful in the State of California, police  organizations in the state often use this ancient weapon as a  restraint/compliance tool. The settlement only forbids the LAPD from  using these weapons against plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and they are  still free to use them against members of other groups at other  protests. The LAPD first started using Nanchaku in 1989 and have since  received over 30 lawsuits against the city, claiming medical damages,  some purporting to have suffered broken bones and nerve damage.
 

Akira Maeda was originally supposed to fight Dutch fighter Frank “Freak”  Hamaker at the 8-1-91 event in Osaka, but had to rebook with Dick Virj,  due to Hamaker getting reconstructive surgery on his knee.
 

It’s been confirmed that Bob Backland has agreed to face off against  Nobuhiko Takada at next months UWFI show on 9-26-91, and possibly in  November as well.
 

Rings is having to move its next card from 9-4-91 to 9-14-91, as Akira  Maeda’s knee is still in bad shape, and he won’t be able to perform in  time.                

Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #28 on: July 25, 2020, 07:16:09 AM »
*Archives of this series can be found at https://www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.12 "The Way of Kamui"

 When we last saw Akira Maeda, he was belaying his (shoot) knee injury  into a piece of (worked) fiction, as he glorified Caucasian poster boy, and Double Dragon  avatar, Dick Vrij, with what can only be ostensibly referred to as a  “squash match.”  Now with only a little over a month of recovery time,  he must return to perhaps face his greatest challenge yet, a man with a  long and storied Judo pedigree, in Dutch fighter Willie Wilhelm.
 

The date is 9-14-91 and we are returning to the Sapporo Nakajima Center,  which upon our last visit we were able to be part of the ascension of  Ken “Wayne” Shamrock, as he bested Masakatsu Funaki in an electric  evening. We can only hope for another glimpse of magic that this  location may provide, as when we last witnessed Maeda, and his band of  hired mercenaries, we were left with a very lackluster experience, that  we hope is to never be repeated.
 

We start off with an interview with Maeda inside the arena, well before  the show’s opening time, as he pensively talks about his match with  Wilhelm,  while footage of competitors warming up is interspersed  throughout, and we are then taken backstage as a surprisingly threadbare  group of performers/hands prepare for the nights proceedings in a  cramped area. Suddenly, we are exposed to the strange juxtaposition of  it all, as Maeda has managed to leverage his name and star power to  create a façade of having an extensive organization, and a grandiose  sport-in-the-making, only to reveal that underneath the surface is a  mere skeleton crew.
 

Still, despite what appears to be Maeda completely winging this whole  thing as he goes along, is the potential for greatness, and this scribe  is hopeful that we will see some shoot glory before this is all over  with.
 

The Eyes of Maeda are upon you...


The show opens with the usual pageantry, and I was wholly expecting  nothing eventful to come forth, when I was pleasantly surprised to see  something of great historical import take place. The head of Sediokaikan  karate, Kazuyoshi Ishii, and his top pupil Masaaki Satake, have come to  the ring in order to honor Maeda, both with flowers, and flowery  speeches, in an effort to show the solidarity between the essences of  Rings and karate.
 

This is actually an oft under-examined connection, that we at Kakutogi  HQ hope to explore further in the days to come, as Rings was very  influential upon Ishii, and in turn K1, and without Maeda’s tutelage,  Sediokaikan, may have never morphed into the kickboxing juggernaut that  it became (even surpassing the popularity of Baseball in Japan at one  point) which would have left a giant hole in the MMA continuum as we  know it today.
 

We are now tasked with examining the first contest of the evening, a  rematch that absolutely no one was asking for, a WATER BOUT between  Mitsuya Nagai and Herman Renting. Truly things have already started at a  low ebb, as this is the exact same pairing seen a month ago at the Aqua  Heat event, and while I found it to be a moderately entertaining  excursion, it wasn’t exactly something that demanded a revisiting.
 

This match started off in the vein of an  open-handed-kickboxing-sparring-session kind of vibe, but thankfully it  didn’t stay there long, as we got to see plenty of fine judo from  Renting throughout, including a nice ashi-dori-ouchi-gari  (leg-pick-inside-trip), and there was a nice sequence from Nagai that  saw him charging toward Renting with a flying knee, only to miss, and  then rebound with a kneebar attempt., that forced a rope escape. When  the ref stood them back up afterwards, Nagai executed the very first  somersault kick in the kakutogi spectrum, which resulted in a knockdown,  and was pleasant for all to behold.
 

The fight did not last much longer though, as the wrath of Renting was  complete, and he turned a headlock takedown, into a neck-crank for the  submission win. I was pleasantly surprised by all of this. While it  wouldn’t be confused for match of the year by anyone, it did feel like  they were starting to find a groove for this style, and by adding some  more variety in the grappling and striking exchanges, it led to the  match having more drama and a better flow, when compared to their first  bout from a month prior.
 

The Reverse Enziguri Somersault Kick!


Now we have our FIRE BOUT with perennial cheatyface Willie Peeters,  and Dutch wrestling legend Bert Kops Jr. Kops is perhaps best known to  modern MMA fans as one of the mentors to former Bellator middleweight  champion, Gegard Mousasi, but he has been wrestling since the age of 6,  and is active to this day in the MMA and wrestling scene within the  Netherlands.
 
 The last time we saw Peeters, was when he was acting like a big fat  jerk, at the very first Rings event, in which he “worked” a match in  only the loosest of definitions, as he wouldn’t pull his punches while  engaging his opponent, but saw it in his heart to allow a bit of  cooperation in the grappling sequences (kindly offering Marcel Haarmans  an opportunity to work for a Boston Crab, or two.)
 
 This could prove to be remarkably interesting given Kops’s wrestling  pedigree, and the unpredictability of Peeters, so I am anticipating this  contest. The fight starts and right away it seems that Peeters is being  a bit more behaved than his last outing, working with his opponent,  although he is still a bit spazzy, and his body shots are probably too  stiff, for a work. Both fighters trade throws, strikes, and submissions,  all the while, Peeters manages to come off like a cartoon character.
 
 Kops starts throwing some surprisingly decent worked kicks at Peeters,  at an appropriate genteel speed, and then shoots in on Peeters to  execute a backdrop slam. Peeters responds by charging forward and  clocking Kops in the jaw, in a seemingly (shoot) jerk move, as it  appears to be way too stiff. The rest of the fight saw Kops use several  throws, including some beautiful examples of Koshi Guruma (Hip  Wheel, or Headlock Throw in BJJ parlance) and some rather contrived gut  wrench suplexes. Watching Kops try and execute solid fakery, with an  opponent that only seems to want to cooperate when he feels like it, led  to an entertaining match, for all the wrong reasons.
 
 Next up is the UNIVERSE bout with Dick Vrij and Tom Van Maurik. Maurik  was one of the more interesting components of the last Rings event, with  his unusually stiff body shots that he dished out to Chris Dolman, so  I’m intrigued to see how this plays out with aspiring Bond-Villain Vrij.  What is not interesting, is that this contest has been formatted to be  seven 3min rounds, presumably to keep Vrij from gassing.
 
 Things are not looking better once the fight begins, as apparently  someone had a talking to Maurik, and his stiffness is nowhere to be  found here. Instead we have some exceptionally soft, and fake looking,  quasi kickboxing. This is an odd move, as much of this audience would  surely be kickboxing savvy, and by presenting a very striking orientated  match that lacks any semblance of stiffness, seems questionable all the  way around. 
 
 The action picked up a little bit by the middle of round 2, and we saw a  little bit of grappling, as Vrij attempted a pitiful rear naked choke,  which prompted a rope escape from Maurik. Round 2 probably gave us the  only (shoot) action that we are likely to see tonight, when Vrij ruffled  the curly locks of Van Maurik’s hair, as they were both clenched up in  the corner.
 
 The intensity continued to escalate by round 3, and both competitors  became more lively, but at no point was this ever credible, or even much  more than marginally entertaining for that matter. The Japanese crowd  was rightly indifferent to most of this, and its inclusion is puzzling.  At least the UWFI has the good sense to stick real kickboxing bouts at  the beginning of their cards, and this whole affair makes me wish that  Maeda had done the same, or at least asked his buddy Ishii to loan him a  couple of up and coming Sediokaikan karatekas, to provide us with a  knockdown bout.
 
 Simply put, this was crap, and is amazing to watch knowing that this  will eventually become the most important MMA promotion in the late 90s.  The match ends with Van Maurik submitting to an ankle lock, and we are  thankfully moving on to the EARTH BOUT.
 
 As much as I hopeful for the acidic notes of earthen soil, to cleanse my  palette with a crisp and refreshing cascade of citrus flavor, it most  likely that this next fight will be chalky, and will coat our tongues  with a most unpleasant aftertaste. Wilhelm gave us the worst match of  the last Rings undertaking, and I can’t reasonably expect Maeda to pull  something great out of him, but I can hope, can’t I?
 
 If nothing else, Maeda continues to be incredibly over, as the crowd  simply cannot wait to start chanting his name amidst a sea of strobe  light effects. Wilhelm is donning his judo gi with all the pride that  Holland can muster, while Maeda is sporting a heavily taped knee.
 
 Sadly, any hopes that this clash would save the evening are quickly  dashed, as Wilhelm once again shows that he has no business trying to  throw fake kicks, as they look really fake, and Maeda isn’t  helping matters with his slow-motion German suplex into an armbar, which  forces a rope escape. Wilhelm gets back up and hits some knees from the  clinch, and a tasty Hari-Goshi throw, and tries to work in an  armbar of his own, which scares the crowd, as their hero is now in  danger. If nothing else, the crowd is into this, so at least that lends a  welcome energy to this affair.
 
 After his throw, Wilhelm tries to engage Maeda in some ne waza, but  apparently is not versed in proper leg lock etiquette, and Maeda catches  him in a heel-hook that prompts another rope escape. A short time after  they get up, Wilhelm taunts Maeda to kick him in his portly belly, to  which Maeda dutifully obliges, and Maeda is taken down by a  Fujiwara/Straight armbar, for his trouble.  Maeda then picks up the  aggression and fires off several kicks to Wilhelm, but his leg is  captured, and he is put in the most fearsome submission from the  Northeastern seaboard, the Boston crab.
 
 All of Sopporo must have breathed a sigh of relief, as Maeda fought hard  to get to the ropes and escape his impending doom, but no such mercies  will be extended to us, the viewers of this tripe. The rest of the match  shows Maeda repeatedly kicking Wilhelm for his insolence, and dragging  him into the center of the ring to execute a heel hook, that took about  as much time as it would to read through the Wall Street Journal.
 
 Ok, it greatly saddens this scribe to say this, but this was mostly  atrocious The first match showed us a glimpse of moving in the right  direction, as at least Nagai and Renting were able to work out more of a  drama, and flow to their fakery, even if it felt more manufactured than  something coming out of the PWFG, but there really isn’t anything else  here that would suggest surviving another year, let alone becoming the  prestigious promotion that it did. Also, outside of a couple of nice  throws, Wilhelm looks atrocious, and it’s amazing that some are just not  cut out for working matches. Dolman, despite moving like dried paint,  was a strong judoka, but he always carried himself credibly and gave off  the impression that he was the real deal.
 
 Still, if nothing else, Maeda has the right idea, by giving it a  grandiose format, and an international flavor, hopefully it’s just a  matter of time, before the talent meets the vision.          

Here is the event in full:



Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #29 on: July 25, 2020, 07:17:14 AM »
Vol.11 Continued

    What are Mike Lorefice's thoughts? Let's see:

Mitsuta Nagai vs Herman Renting: "While our  second helping of Nagai vs. Renting isn't exactly producing the ecstasy  of dining on honey dew and drinking the milk of paradise, it's a much  more sufficient banquet than their initial brew.
 

In fact, outside of Kiyoshi Tamura, these two are battling each other  for the biggest improvement from one match to another we've seen so far,  with the edge going to Renting. They really figured out how to blend  their styles, and now had a clear course of action with Renting either  being proactive & initiating the clinch or urging Nagai to kick so  he could get the take down by grabbing him. Renting did a lot once he  got the fight to the ground, showing a variety of submission attempts,  but Nagai's ground game was solid as well, and he was able to both apply  submission pressure from the bottom and get back to his feet.
 

The urgency was high here, and they did a nice job of keeping the match  moving by continuing to find different transitions & counters to the  same basic sequence where Renting would get a takedown off a Greco body  lock. Renting's striking was solid as well, but he wasn't going to duke  it out with a stronger striker when he could put him on his back &  get the first crack at finishing him.
 

They kicked it into high gear after Renting got a down with a soccer  kick, with Nagai charging the length of the ring at Renting, which was  such a theatrical departure from the otherwise fairly UWF credible  action even though he missed the flying knee that had preceeded that it  kind of worked in showing he was fired up & didn't care about the  risk.
 

Nagai then managed to do an even more spectacular version of the leg  catch enzuigiri spot where he instead flipped forward for a knockdown.
 

Renting's takedown game eventually ruled the day though when he changed  things up, rolling Nagai down in an arm in guillotine then releasing  & reapplying the guillotine from side mount for the win, which the  billed as a "reverse full nelson hold". ***"

 Willie Peeters vs Bert Kops Jr:
 
 In the spirit of Keith Jardine's great nickname "The Dean of Mean", I  propose Willie as "The Peet of Cheat". There was a classic Peeters  moment when he didn't go with Kops head & arm throw, and soccer ball  kicked Kops rather than letting him back up.
 

That being said, he's one of my favorite fighters on these early RINGS  because he's such an unpredictable wildman. Willie landed several of his  signature hard closed fist punches to the body today, but Kops seemed  to be on the same wavelength, or at least know what to expect from  Peeters, and was actually responsible for escalating, if not starting,  the violence right at the outset.
 

Kops was very active & aggressive, enjoying displaying his power  with a variety of rotational deadlift throws. There was a nice spot  where he hit a rather low impact suisha otoshi only to have Peeters pop  up & drop him with a running uppercut. This wasn't the most  realistic match, but Kops showed a ton of potential as suplex machines  who were credible strikes were in short supply in these days. He was  probably more suited to UWF-I, but he seemed too good an athlete not to  have made an impact somewhere.
 

One of the great things about this match is Kops doesn't take Peeters  crap. He comes right back dropping Peeters with a knee, and then when  he's supposed to be disengaging, he gives the downed Peeters a little  kick. Kops isn't trying to hurt Peeters, but keeping him in check by  letting him know that he could, and would consider it.
 

These two seem to be vying for who can be the bigger subtle heel at this  point, as Peeters responds by threatening to cheap shot Kops on the  rope break. Unfortunately, Kops seemingly tore his left knee midway  through the match, and though he tried to proceed as normal, eventually  the kneecap seemed to be moving around on him, and it appeared that  they'd have to stop the match. Kops wasn't trying to quit though, he  just had them spray it numb so he could finish as planned.
 

The injury probably knocked 1/2* off the match, as it continued beyond  the point where Kops was particularly productive, with Peeters  eventually KO'ing him with a knee. Still, this is the best RINGS match  we've seen thusfar. ***1/4

 Dick Vrij vs Tom Van Maurik:
 
 One would expect the universe to have more to offer than this. I'd say  these two were hitting like Miss Universe, but that would surely be  sexist.
 

These two could definitely have beaten Frank Trigg to the monicker  "Twinkle Toes" if they wanted to own up to these shenanigans. There was a  particularly funny sequence where Van Maurik scored the first knockdown  overwhelming Vrij with a series of close range shots that barely  connected, so Vrij threw his mouthpiece out, which I suppose made sense  given his teeth were in no danger if that was as hard as Van Maurik was  willing to hit.
 

The match was nonetheless fairly even, but then Vrij got 3 knockdowns in  the 4th. Vrij tried to finish with a clinch knee, but they did this  really silly, contrived spot where Van Maurik urgently drove forward for  the takedown to avoid, and they spilled to the floor with Vrij getting  the better of it, so he was able to do something of a diving knee off  the apron.
 

Vrij finally caught Van Maurik with a nice right head kick, probably  accidentally because Van Maurik's head was lower than he expected going  down fast from a weak left high kick.
 

Surprisingly in this kickboxing match, the finish was Vrij catching a  middle kick & dropping into an Achilles' tendon hold. Van Maurik was  going to grab the ropes despite having no downs left, but couldn't make  it that last inch & was forced to tap. Definitely one of the worst  matches we've seen so far.

 

Akira Maeda vs Willie Wilhelm
 

We're seeing the same thing in all 3 promotions, the guys running them are old school pro wrestlers, and the more real martial artists they bring in, the sillier & more dated their tricks that never worked when the opponent wasn't helping out look.
 

In the current setting, it's doubtful that a healthy Maeda is going to carry anyone to a good match, and this was far from a healthy Maeda. However, the match quality here isn't the relevant factor to Maeda. Maeda's 11/29/89 match against Wilhelm drew 60,000 at the Tokyo Dome, so it's obvious why he wanted to have a rematch with the '84 Judo Olympian.
 

While that was a less out of shape version of Wilhelm, who also wisely wore his gi, this again is Maeda doing Inoki's fork over the cash to get all the real martial artists who would destroy him to instead take the knee, so in his mind it's guaranteed to achieve his only two goals of raising his credibility and fortunes.
 

Apart from the 30 seconds where Wilhelm was releasing obnoxious screams & urging Maeda to hit him in the belly welly this wasn't bad, but it was never compelling either. Maeda couldn't do much, and while Wilhelm actually did pretty well, especially for a guy who doesn't really know how to have a match, it kind of felt like an exhibition where he was just demonstrating some things he can do.
 

As a performance, it was barely passable, but the fact that it totally felt like a performance, and it wasn't an entertaining one at that, made it a failure. Maeda's big slow comeback with the low kicks leading to the high kick knockdown was surely the most contrived aspect of the show.
 

Really nothing he did had enough zest to be even somewhat believable, but a lot of the problem was that even with the show being pushed back to give him more time to recover, his body was just barely able to cooperate

 I'm going to disagree with Mbetz1981 here. I  think this was a major positive step forward for the promotion. Yes,  there are some really bad signs, savior Maeda is broken, and Vrij isn't  capable of being the top foreigner because he badly needs someone to lay  out the match & carry him, and Willy Wilhelm simply needs to go,  but the undercard is rounding into shape. Nagai is already a reasonable  worker two matches in, Peeters keeps having good matches with his odd  blend of dickishness & flash, Renting is getting it, Kops has a ton  of potential (if he's not broken), and Ishii has arrived to loan his  stable of karate guys, which will give RINGS access to Japanese fighters  who actually have a legitimate pedigree & some notoriety that comes  with that.


*In Other News*

 

The UWFI recently ran out of money, as the expenses of running monthly shows exceeding what they have been able to take in, so in a desperate effort, Nobuhiko Takada contacted former UWF owner Shinji Jin, and was able to use him as a middleman to work out some financing from the current owner of the SWS and PWFG promotions, Hachiro Tanaka. Tanaka is one of the main executives of Megane Super, an eyeglass company in Japan. This is remarkable as Takada had previously avowed to never deal with Jin again, as his antics led to a scandal that took down the UWF to begin with. This will also put Takada in a somewhat precarious position as Tanaka will now have ownership in three different major wrestling promotions in Japan.
 

Recently disgraced sumo wrestler and pro wrestler Koji Kitao is also looking to get financial backing from Hachiro Tanaka and is trying to start up a wrestling promotion in the vein of the UWF, with himself as the star.
 

Action film superstar Chuck Norris recently invited controversial martial arts personality George Dillman to his home in an effort to learn more about Dillman’s reported system of being able to knock out people via lightly tapping various pressure points. Norris holds black belts in Tang Soo Do, Judo, and Shito-Ryu Karate, and is always looking to further his marital education. Norris was reportedly still skeptical of the veracity of Dillman’s claims after the demonstration but is willing to have him make a return visit, in order to learn more.

 Masakatsu Funaki wrestled the 3rd of his 4 matches in SWS this year on 4/23/91 against Fumihiro Niikura.
 

While the match was again technically good, it was nowhere near the  level of his previous two SWS matches against Naoki Sano, as it was  never even remotely competitive to the point I've already forgotten if  Niikura was allowed a singular piece of offense.
 

Nonetheless, Funaki is the best of the Japanese fighters at constantly  adjusting his position on the ground to maintain control. Though he  doesn't have a strong background in either wrestling or BJJ, his  movements are seemingly naturally a lot better than the other fighters,  even if they still fail sometimes due to the faulty pro wrestling notion  that there's a place in real fighting for no body control appendage  locks.
 

 This movement is crucial to the success of his style because more than  the other shoot fighters, his concept of realism is based around an  economy of high spots. Funaki is one of the better strikers, but he  really tries not to utilize much of it, instead preferring to set up  submissions on the mat, and use a few powerful shots for knockdowns  either to maintain interest or to lead to the finish.
 

Funaki was much more respectful of Niikura than Fujiwara was on 4/1/91,  but it seems that Canada is the only place where it's good to be part of  the Viet Cong, as Niikura was again nothing more than a jobber.



Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #30 on: July 25, 2020, 10:08:39 AM »
*Archives of this series can be found at https://www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.12 "The Way of Kamui"

 When we last saw Akira Maeda, he was belaying his (shoot) knee injury  into a piece of (worked) fiction, as he glorified Caucasian poster boy, and Double Dragon  avatar, Dick Vrij, with what can only be ostensibly referred to as a  “squash match.”  Now with only a little over a month of recovery time,  he must return to perhaps face his greatest challenge yet, a man with a  long and storied Judo pedigree, in Dutch fighter Willie Wilhelm.
 

The date is 9-14-91 and we are returning to the Sapporo Nakajima Center,  which upon our last visit we were able to be part of the ascension of  Ken “Wayne” Shamrock, as he bested Masakatsu Funaki in an electric  evening. We can only hope for another glimpse of magic that this  location may provide, as when we last witnessed Maeda, and his band of  hired mercenaries, we were left with a very lackluster experience, that  we hope is to never be repeated.
 

We start off with an interview with Maeda inside the arena, well before  the show’s opening time, as he pensively talks about his match with  Wilhelm,  while footage of competitors warming up is interspersed  throughout, and we are then taken backstage as a surprisingly threadbare  group of performers/hands prepare for the nights proceedings in a  cramped area. Suddenly, we are exposed to the strange juxtaposition of  it all, as Maeda has managed to leverage his name and star power to  create a façade of having an extensive organization, and a grandiose  sport-in-the-making, only to reveal that underneath the surface is a  mere skeleton crew.
 

Still, despite what appears to be Maeda completely winging this whole  thing as he goes along, is the potential for greatness, and this scribe  is hopeful that we will see some shoot glory before this is all over  with.
 

The Eyes of Maeda are upon you...


The show opens with the usual pageantry, and I was wholly expecting  nothing eventful to come forth, when I was pleasantly surprised to see  something of great historical import take place. The head of Sediokaikan  karate, Kazuyoshi Ishii, and his top pupil Masaaki Satake, have come to  the ring in order to honor Maeda, both with flowers, and flowery  speeches, in an effort to show the solidarity between the essences of  Rings and karate.
 

This is actually an oft under-examined connection, that we at Kakutogi  HQ hope to explore further in the days to come, as Rings was very  influential upon Ishii, and in turn K1, and without Maeda’s tutelage,  Sediokaikan, may have never morphed into the kickboxing juggernaut that  it became (even surpassing the popularity of Baseball in Japan at one  point) which would have left a giant hole in the MMA continuum as we  know it today.
 

We are now tasked with examining the first contest of the evening, a  rematch that absolutely no one was asking for, a WATER BOUT between  Mitsuya Nagai and Herman Renting. Truly things have already started at a  low ebb, as this is the exact same pairing seen a month ago at the Aqua  Heat event, and while I found it to be a moderately entertaining  excursion, it wasn’t exactly something that demanded a revisiting.
 

This match started off in the vein of an  open-handed-kickboxing-sparring-session kind of vibe, but thankfully it  didn’t stay there long, as we got to see plenty of fine judo from  Renting throughout, including a nice ashi-dori-ouchi-gari  (leg-pick-inside-trip), and there was a nice sequence from Nagai that  saw him charging toward Renting with a flying knee, only to miss, and  then rebound with a kneebar attempt., that forced a rope escape. When  the ref stood them back up afterwards, Nagai executed the very first  somersault kick in the kakutogi spectrum, which resulted in a knockdown,  and was pleasant for all to behold.
 

The fight did not last much longer though, as the wrath of Renting was  complete, and he turned a headlock takedown, into a neck-crank for the  submission win. I was pleasantly surprised by all of this. While it  wouldn’t be confused for match of the year by anyone, it did feel like  they were starting to find a groove for this style, and by adding some  more variety in the grappling and striking exchanges, it led to the  match having more drama and a better flow, when compared to their first  bout from a month prior.
 

The Reverse Enziguri Somersault Kick!






Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #31 on: July 25, 2020, 10:10:17 AM »
Vol. 12 Continued

                                   Now we have our FIRE BOUT with perennial cheatyface Willie Peeters,  and Dutch wrestling legend Bert Kops Jr. Kops is perhaps best known to  modern MMA fans as one of the mentors to former Bellator middleweight  champion, Gegard Mousasi, but he has been wrestling since the age of 6,  and is active to this day in the MMA and wrestling scene within the  Netherlands.
     
     The last time we saw Peeters, was when he was acting like a big fat  jerk, at the very first Rings event, in which he “worked” a match in  only the loosest of definitions, as he wouldn’t pull his punches while  engaging his opponent, but saw it in his heart to allow a bit of  cooperation in the grappling sequences (kindly offering Marcel Haarmans  an opportunity to work for a Boston Crab, or two.)
     
     This could prove to be remarkably interesting given Kops’s wrestling  pedigree, and the unpredictability of Peeters, so I am anticipating this  contest. The fight starts and right away it seems that Peeters is being  a bit more behaved than his last outing, working with his opponent,  although he is still a bit spazzy, and his body shots are probably too  stiff, for a work. Both fighters trade throws, strikes, and submissions,  all the while, Peeters manages to come off like a cartoon character.
     
     Kops starts throwing some surprisingly decent worked kicks at Peeters,  at an appropriate genteel speed, and then shoots in on Peeters to  execute a backdrop slam. Peeters responds by charging forward and  clocking Kops in the jaw, in a seemingly (shoot) jerk move, as it  appears to be way too stiff. The rest of the fight saw Kops use several  throws, including some beautiful examples of Koshi Guruma (Hip  Wheel, or Headlock Throw in BJJ parlance) and some rather contrived gut  wrench suplexes. Watching Kops try and execute solid fakery, with an  opponent that only seems to want to cooperate when he feels like it, led  to an entertaining match, for all the wrong reasons.
     
     Next up is the UNIVERSE bout with Dick Vrij and Tom Van Maurik. Maurik  was one of the more interesting components of the last Rings event, with  his unusually stiff body shots that he dished out to Chris Dolman, so  I’m intrigued to see how this plays out with aspiring Bond-Villain Vrij.  What is not interesting, is that this contest has been formatted to be  seven 3min rounds, presumably to keep Vrij from gassing.
     
     Things are not looking better once the fight begins, as apparently  someone had a talking to Maurik, and his stiffness is nowhere to be  found here. Instead we have some exceptionally soft, and fake looking,  quasi kickboxing. This is an odd move, as much of this audience would  surely be kickboxing savvy, and by presenting a very striking orientated  match that lacks any semblance of stiffness, seems questionable all the  way around. 
     
     The action picked up a little bit by the middle of round 2, and we saw a  little bit of grappling, as Vrij attempted a pitiful rear naked choke,  which prompted a rope escape from Maurik. Round 2 probably gave us the  only (shoot) action that we are likely to see tonight, when Vrij ruffled  the curly locks of Van Maurik’s hair, as they were both clenched up in  the corner.
     
     The intensity continued to escalate by round 3, and both competitors  became more lively, but at no point was this ever credible, or even much  more than marginally entertaining for that matter. The Japanese crowd  was rightly indifferent to most of this, and its inclusion is puzzling.  At least the UWFI has the good sense to stick real kickboxing bouts at  the beginning of their cards, and this whole affair makes me wish that  Maeda had done the same, or at least asked his buddy Ishii to loan him a  couple of up and coming Sediokaikan karatekas, to provide us with a  knockdown bout.
     
     Simply put, this was crap, and is amazing to watch knowing that this  will eventually become the most important MMA promotion in the late 90s.  The match ends with Van Maurik submitting to an ankle lock, and we are  thankfully moving on to the EARTH BOUT.
     
     As much as I hopeful for the acidic notes of earthen soil, to cleanse my  palette with a crisp and refreshing cascade of citrus flavor, it most  likely that this next fight will be chalky, and will coat our tongues  with a most unpleasant aftertaste. Wilhelm gave us the worst match of  the last Rings undertaking, and I can’t reasonably expect Maeda to pull  something great out of him, but I can hope, can’t I?
     
     If nothing else, Maeda continues to be incredibly over, as the crowd  simply cannot wait to start chanting his name amidst a sea of strobe  light effects. Wilhelm is donning his judo gi with all the pride that  Holland can muster, while Maeda is sporting a heavily taped knee.
     
     Sadly, any hopes that this clash would save the evening are quickly  dashed, as Wilhelm once again shows that he has no business trying to  throw fake kicks, as they look really fake, and Maeda isn’t  helping matters with his slow-motion German suplex into an armbar, which  forces a rope escape. Wilhelm gets back up and hits some knees from the  clinch, and a tasty Hari-Goshi throw, and tries to work in an  armbar of his own, which scares the crowd, as their hero is now in  danger. If nothing else, the crowd is into this, so at least that lends a  welcome energy to this affair.
     
     After his throw, Wilhelm tries to engage Maeda in some ne waza, but  apparently is not versed in proper leg lock etiquette, and Maeda catches  him in a heel-hook that prompts another rope escape. A short time after  they get up, Wilhelm taunts Maeda to kick him in his portly belly, to  which Maeda dutifully obliges, and Maeda is taken down by a  Fujiwara/Straight armbar, for his trouble.  Maeda then picks up the  aggression and fires off several kicks to Wilhelm, but his leg is  captured, and he is put in the most fearsome submission from the  Northeastern seaboard, the Boston crab.
     
     All of Sopporo must have breathed a sigh of relief, as Maeda fought hard  to get to the ropes and escape his impending doom, but no such mercies  will be extended to us, the viewers of this tripe. The rest of the match  shows Maeda repeatedly kicking Wilhelm for his insolence, and dragging  him into the center of the ring to execute a heel hook, that took about  as much time as it would to read through the Wall Street Journal.
     
     Ok, it greatly saddens this scribe to say this, but this was mostly  atrocious The first match showed us a glimpse of moving in the right  direction, as at least Nagai and Renting were able to work out more of a  drama, and flow to their fakery, even if it felt more manufactured than  something coming out of the PWFG, but there really isn’t anything else  here that would suggest surviving another year, let alone becoming the  prestigious promotion that it did. Also, outside of a couple of nice  throws, Wilhelm looks atrocious, and it’s amazing that some are just not  cut out for working matches. Dolman, despite moving like dried paint,  was a strong judoka, but he always carried himself credibly and gave off  the impression that he was the real deal.
     
     Still, if nothing else, Maeda has the right idea, by giving it a  grandiose format, and an international flavor, hopefully it’s just a  matter of time, before the talent meets the vision.          

    Here is the event in full:


    What are Mike Lorefice's thoughts? Let's see:

 Mitsuta Nagai vs Herman Renting: "While our  second helping of Nagai vs. Renting isn't exactly producing the ecstasy  of dining on honey dew and drinking the milk of paradise, it's a much  more sufficient banquet than their initial brew.
 

In fact, outside of Kiyoshi Tamura, these two are battling each other  for the biggest improvement from one match to another we've seen so far,  with the edge going to Renting. They really figured out how to blend  their styles, and now had a clear course of action with Renting either  being proactive & initiating the clinch or urging Nagai to kick so  he could get the take down by grabbing him. Renting did a lot once he  got the fight to the ground, showing a variety of submission attempts,  but Nagai's ground game was solid as well, and he was able to both apply  submission pressure from the bottom and get back to his feet.
 

The urgency was high here, and they did a nice job of keeping the match  moving by continuing to find different transitions & counters to the  same basic sequence where Renting would get a takedown off a Greco body  lock. Renting's striking was solid as well, but he wasn't going to duke  it out with a stronger striker when he could put him on his back &  get the first crack at finishing him.
 

They kicked it into high gear after Renting got a down with a soccer  kick, with Nagai charging the length of the ring at Renting, which was  such a theatrical departure from the otherwise fairly UWF credible  action even though he missed the flying knee that had preceeded that it  kind of worked in showing he was fired up & didn't care about the  risk.
 

Nagai then managed to do an even more spectacular version of the leg  catch enzuigiri spot where he instead flipped forward for a knockdown.
 

Renting's takedown game eventually ruled the day though when he changed  things up, rolling Nagai down in an arm in guillotine then releasing  & reapplying the guillotine from side mount for the win, which the  billed as a "reverse full nelson hold". ***"

 Willie Peeters vs Bert Kops Jr:
 
 In the spirit of Keith Jardine's great nickname "The Dean of Mean", I  propose Willie as "The Peet of Cheat". There was a classic Peeters  moment when he didn't go with Kops head & arm throw, and soccer ball  kicked Kops rather than letting him back up.
 

That being said, he's one of my favorite fighters on these early RINGS  because he's such an unpredictable wildman. Willie landed several of his  signature hard closed fist punches to the body today, but Kops seemed  to be on the same wavelength, or at least know what to expect from  Peeters, and was actually responsible for escalating, if not starting,  the violence right at the outset.
 

Kops was very active & aggressive, enjoying displaying his power  with a variety of rotational deadlift throws. There was a nice spot  where he hit a rather low impact suisha otoshi only to have Peeters pop  up & drop him with a running uppercut. This wasn't the most  realistic match, but Kops showed a ton of potential as suplex machines  who were credible strikes were in short supply in these days. He was  probably more suited to UWF-I, but he seemed too good an athlete not to  have made an impact somewhere.
 

One of the great things about this match is Kops doesn't take Peeters  crap. He comes right back dropping Peeters with a knee, and then when  he's supposed to be disengaging, he gives the downed Peeters a little  kick. Kops isn't trying to hurt Peeters, but keeping him in check by  letting him know that he could, and would consider it.
 

These two seem to be vying for who can be the bigger subtle heel at this  point, as Peeters responds by threatening to cheap shot Kops on the  rope break. Unfortunately, Kops seemingly tore his left knee midway  through the match, and though he tried to proceed as normal, eventually  the kneecap seemed to be moving around on him, and it appeared that  they'd have to stop the match. Kops wasn't trying to quit though, he  just had them spray it numb so he could finish as planned.
 

The injury probably knocked 1/2* off the match, as it continued beyond  the point where Kops was particularly productive, with Peeters  eventually KO'ing him with a knee. Still, this is the best RINGS match  we've seen thusfar. ***1/4

 Dick Vrij vs Tom Van Maurik:
 
 One would expect the universe to have more to offer than this. I'd say  these two were hitting like Miss Universe, but that would surely be  sexist.
 

These two could definitely have beaten Frank Trigg to the monicker  "Twinkle Toes" if they wanted to own up to these shenanigans. There was a  particularly funny sequence where Van Maurik scored the first knockdown  overwhelming Vrij with a series of close range shots that barely  connected, so Vrij threw his mouthpiece out, which I suppose made sense  given his teeth were in no danger if that was as hard as Van Maurik was  willing to hit.
 

The match was nonetheless fairly even, but then Vrij got 3 knockdowns in  the 4th. Vrij tried to finish with a clinch knee, but they did this  really silly, contrived spot where Van Maurik urgently drove forward for  the takedown to avoid, and they spilled to the floor with Vrij getting  the better of it, so he was able to do something of a diving knee off  the apron.
 

Vrij finally caught Van Maurik with a nice right head kick, probably  accidentally because Van Maurik's head was lower than he expected going  down fast from a weak left high kick.
 

Surprisingly in this kickboxing match, the finish was Vrij catching a  middle kick & dropping into an Achilles' tendon hold. Van Maurik was  going to grab the ropes despite having no downs left, but couldn't make  it that last inch & was forced to tap. Definitely one of the worst  matches we've seen so far.

 

Akira Maeda vs Willie Wilhelm
 

We're seeing the same thing in all 3 promotions, the guys running them are old school pro wrestlers, and the more real martial artists they bring in, the sillier & more dated their tricks that never worked when the opponent wasn't helping out look.
 

In the current setting, it's doubtful that a healthy Maeda is going to carry anyone to a good match, and this was far from a healthy Maeda. However, the match quality here isn't the relevant factor to Maeda. Maeda's 11/29/89 match against Wilhelm drew 60,000 at the Tokyo Dome, so it's obvious why he wanted to have a rematch with the '84 Judo Olympian.
 

While that was a less out of shape version of Wilhelm, who also wisely wore his gi, this again is Maeda doing Inoki's fork over the cash to get all the real martial artists who would destroy him to instead take the knee, so in his mind it's guaranteed to achieve his only two goals of raising his credibility and fortunes.
 

Apart from the 30 seconds where Wilhelm was releasing obnoxious screams & urging Maeda to hit him in the belly welly this wasn't bad, but it was never compelling either. Maeda couldn't do much, and while Wilhelm actually did pretty well, especially for a guy who doesn't really know how to have a match, it kind of felt like an exhibition where he was just demonstrating some things he can do.
 

As a performance, it was barely passable, but the fact that it totally felt like a performance, and it wasn't an entertaining one at that, made it a failure. Maeda's big slow comeback with the low kicks leading to the high kick knockdown was surely the most contrived aspect of the show.
 

Really nothing he did had enough zest to be even somewhat believable, but a lot of the problem was that even with the show being pushed back to give him more time to recover, his body was just barely able to cooperate

 I'm going to disagree with Mbetz1981 here. I  think this was a major positive step forward for the promotion. Yes,  there are some really bad signs, savior Maeda is broken, and Vrij isn't  capable of being the top foreigner because he badly needs someone to lay  out the match & carry him, and Willy Wilhelm simply needs to go,  but the undercard is rounding into shape. Nagai is already a reasonable  worker two matches in, Peeters keeps having good matches with his odd  blend of dickishness & flash, Renting is getting it, Kops has a ton  of potential (if he's not broken), and Ishii has arrived to loan his  stable of karate guys, which will give RINGS access to Japanese fighters  who actually have a legitimate pedigree & some notoriety that comes  with that.

*In Other News*

 

The UWFI recently ran out of money, as the expenses of running monthly shows exceeding what they have been able to take in, so in a desperate effort, Nobuhiko Takada contacted former UWF owner Shinji Jin, and was able to use him as a middleman to work out some financing from the current owner of the SWS and PWFG promotions, Hachiro Tanaka. Tanaka is one of the main executives of Megane Super, an eyeglass company in Japan. This is remarkable as Takada had previously avowed to never deal with Jin again, as his antics led to a scandal that took down the UWF to begin with. This will also put Takada in a somewhat precarious position as Tanaka will now have ownership in three different major wrestling promotions in Japan.
 

Recently disgraced sumo wrestler and pro wrestler Koji Kitao is also looking to get financial backing from Hachiro Tanaka and is trying to start up a wrestling promotion in the vein of the UWF, with himself as the star.
 

Action film superstar Chuck Norris recently invited controversial martial arts personality George Dillman to his home in an effort to learn more about Dillman’s reported system of being able to knock out people via lightly tapping various pressure points. Norris holds black belts in Tang Soo Do, Judo, and Shito-Ryu Karate, and is always looking to further his marital education. Norris was reportedly still skeptical of the veracity of Dillman’s claims after the demonstration but is willing to have him make a return visit, in order to learn more.

 Masakatsu Funaki wrestled the 3rd of his 4 matches in SWS this year on 4/23/91 against Fumihiro Niikura.
 

While the match was again technically good, it was nowhere near the  level of his previous two SWS matches against Naoki Sano, as it was  never even remotely competitive to the point I've already forgotten if  Niikura was allowed a singular piece of offense.
 

Nonetheless, Funaki is the best of the Japanese fighters at constantly  adjusting his position on the ground to maintain control. Though he  doesn't have a strong background in either wrestling or BJJ, his  movements are seemingly naturally a lot better than the other fighters,  even if they still fail sometimes due to the faulty pro wrestling notion  that there's a place in real fighting for no body control appendage  locks.
 

 This movement is crucial to the success of his style because more than  the other shoot fighters, his concept of realism is based around an  economy of high spots. Funaki is one of the better strikers, but he  really tries not to utilize much of it, instead preferring to set up  submissions on the mat, and use a few powerful shots for knockdowns  either to maintain interest or to lead to the finish.
 

Funaki was much more respectful of Niikura than Fujiwara was on 4/1/91,  but it seems that Canada is the only place where it's good to be part of  the Viet Cong, as Niikura was again nothing more than a jobber.


 

Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #32 on: July 25, 2020, 06:00:44 PM »
*Archives of this series can be found at https://www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.13 "The Road Less Traveled"

 Welcome back to the road ever unfolding. We at Kakutogi HQ apologize for  the delay, as due to some unforeseen circumstances, this scribe was  forced to throw this noble undertaking into a temporary state of  abeyance, but has since picked himself up, shook the dust off, and is  continuing to gaze upon the shrouded past, in a hope to collectively  succor our future.



We now find ourselves back at the Nakijima Sports Arena, the date is  9-26-91, and we are about to witness the UWFI attempt to bottle lighting  twice, as Bob Backlund makes his return into the Shoot-Style arena.  Backlund first faced off against Takada at the 12-22-88 Newborn UWF  Heartbeat event, and while the action may seem antiquated in the lens of  modern jaded eyes, there is no denying the absolutely electric  atmosphere of that evening, as Japan was witnessing their hero face off  against a flagbearer for American Wrestling (regardless if that  perception was valid or not) and the tension permeating  Osaka that  night was palpable.
 

Before we draw upon the well of past glories, we are to first drink from  the refreshing streams of known sources, as our favorite footfighting  phenom, Makato Ohe, as he is set to face off against New Mexico  newcomer, Rafael Aguilar. Little is known about Aguilar other than he is  NOT the same Rafael Aguilar that was a well-known drug cartel  leader, who met his demise in 1993, after being shot to death in Cancun,  Mexico.
 

It’s always a treat to see Ohe in action, but hopefully Aguilar brings  some more game to these proceedings than the last couple of competitors  did, who were woefully out of their league against our favorite  Shootboxing Alum.
 

The fight starts and Aguilar’s footwork seems in place, but Ohe wastes  no time in pressing the action. Aguilar weakly checks a thunderous leg  kick, and responds with a sidekick, to which, Ohe simply grabs his leg  and blasts him with a left right down the pipe. Aguilar continues to  press forward, but is tied up in a long clinch with Ohe, who  methodically takes his time and throws some powerful knees here and  there, compared to a voluminous amount of weak shots to the midsection  that Aguilar put forth.
 

After a break Aguilar manages to hit Ohe with a nice uppercut, but is  caught right back into a tight clinch, and this does not seem to be a  comfortable place for him to work. Unlike what we would later see in K1  (in which the clinch was usually broken up after a few seconds) the UWFI  ref seems content to allow plenty of time for the fighters to work  here, before calling for a restart.
 

Round 2 was fairly uneventful as Aguilar was able to fire off some  decent punches when he was able to create some distance but was  completely neutered whenever the fight got into a Muay Thai range. Ohe  was able to land hard knees throughout the round but hasn’t seemed to  put Aguilar in any real danger.
 

Both fighters turned up the volume for round 3, and while Aguilar took a  beating with plenty of nasty knees, and some hard punches, he was able  to land several stiff uppercuts, which seems to be his number one  weapon, and one that Ohe isn’t too keen on dealing with. As lopsided as  the scoring of this bout is right now in favor of Ohe, there is a chance  for Aguilar if he can keep sneaking those uppercuts in.
 

Round 4 saw Aguilar take it up a notch, and while he still had no good  answers for the clinch, he was able to work his boxing a lot more in  this round, and is starting to look competitive here, although he is so  far behind in points there is no way he is going to win a decision.
 

You could tell that Aguilar really wanted to go for broke in round 5,  but Ohe was having none of it, and grabbed a clinch whenever he could,  and wasn’t about to take any chances. Aguilar did his best to fire off a  shot whenever he could get a ref break, but it wasn’t enough, and it  went to decision.
 

I enjoyed this fight, and I think that whatever shortcomings Aguilar  had, were more to do with where American kickboxing was at the time,  than a lack of raw potential on the part of Aguilar. Aguilar seemed to  be a fine practitioner in whatever style he was familiar with but having  to take a crash course in Muay Thai against such a seasoned veteran in  Ohe, would be a tough job for anyone. If the UWFI continues to feed  Americans to Ohe, then we might get to see an upset yet, as straight  boxing seems to be the biggest weakness in Ohe’s game and could  potentially be his downfall.
 

Ohe about to punish Aguilar’s sidekick…


Tatsuyo Nakano vs Kiyoshi Tamura: When we last saw Tamura in a singles  bout against Yoji Anjo he put an absolute clinic on display for us all,  and showed us both the hidden beauty of the shoot-aesthetic and also how  far ahead of his contemporaries he was at displaying it. Anjo is a  pliable force and can be molded to serve whatever purpose the moment  needs, but I do not have as high hopes for Nakano. One thing is for  certain however, and that is Nakano has had about 13 trips to his local  Viking Buffet since he last stepped foot into a ring.
 

Nakano after a delightful trip to the local Sukiyaki Buffet


After refusing to shake Nakano’s hand the match is underway, and Tamura  wastes no time in trying to get a single leg from a clinch, which Nakano  successfully stuffs, and tries to counter with a guillotine of his own.  Tamura quickly turns the corner and is able to both edge out of the  choke, and take Tatsuyo down at the same time, but Tatsuyo is able to  quickly get back to his feet. It’s already incredible to see the  fluidity and velocity of Tamura’s movements, and we aren’t even a min  into this fight yet. Both men are able to utilize excellent circular  movement, with Tamura having a clear speed advantage, but Nakano is  simply too strong to be pinned or threated with Tamura’s submission or  positional offense for too long.
 

Nakano is able to shrug off a sloppy armbar attempt, and secure a rear  chinlock, which forces Tamura to take his first rope escape. The match  then continues in a stalemate fashion until Tamura shot in for a  lighting quick single leg, only to get countered by a stiff knee to the  chest/midsection of Tamura, in what was a cool sequence that cost Tamura  more points via a knockdown.
 

With nothing left to lose, Tamura finally unleashes the palm strikes,  but Tatsuyo counters with some sluggish knees, and long before this  became all the rage within the BJJ instructional scene, Tamura counters a  single leg effort from Nakano with a kimura/wristlock entry. This would  have been absolutely breathtaking, but unfortunately it wound up being a  gaping hole in the credibility of the match as Tamura was a little slow  in applying it, thus giving Tamura plenty of time to fiddle with the  arm as he just let it hang out. Still. It’s amazing to see how much of  what we would think as new grappling tech can be found in the layers of  early shoot-style wrestling. The match continues it’s back and forth  flow with Nakano having the upper hand in most of it, until Tamura  catches a thigh kick and turns it into some kind of STF/Ankle Lock  submission victory.
 

Conclusion: A bit of a disappointment considering the blockbuster that  he had with Miyato when we last witnessed him, and possibly Tamura’s  weakest singles match so far, due to the rushed nature, and throwing all  the striking towards the end, but this shouldn’t be taken as too strong  of a criticism, as it’s still a Tamura match, and is thus worthy of our attention.
 

The perfect counter to the single-leg


Next up is newcome Gary Albright and veteran Yuko Miyato. During our  prior encounter with Albright we saw him terrorizing everyones favorite  zebra-clad warrior in Yoji Anjo, but if Anjo was the zebra, then surely  Miyato is but a lovely gazelle, frolicking in the pasture, unaware of  the impending doom to come.
 

Albright comes out to quite possibly the worst entrance music that a man  of his size could hope to, entering the ring to an instrumental that  would be well served as the theme music to a NES RPG, if that RPG  happened to have a sequence where the hero was expected to buy  margaritas at a beach resort after a hard day of adventuring.
 

The match begins, and taking one look at these two, it would be easy to  just expect Albright to toss Miyato into the rafters, and be done with  it, but surprisingly they start things off with a bit of kickboxing,  feeling each other out. The footfighting doesn’t last too long before  Albright ragdolls Miyato with a huge suplex, causing a knockdown.
 

Miyato, then wisely continues to fight from the outside, landing some  kicks to Albright’s thighs and midsection, but it doesn’t take long for  the Yeti to close the distance and slam his prey with reckless abandon.  This ends the fight, and puts the gazelle out of his misery, and this  could have just as easily been featured on National Geographic.

 Next up, Satoru Sayama’s favorite padawan, Kazuo Yamazaki, must face  fashion ace Yoji Anjo, in a bout that I must admit excites me with  anticipation. Things start with Anjo offering his hand in the spirit of  camaraderie, but is met with empty disgust on the part of Yamazaki, but  has his revenge moments later, as they immediately begin trading kicks,  and Anjo gets the better of Yamazaki, by grabbing his leg and kicking  out the other leg, causing his opponent to fall.
 

So far, a few mins into this match, and it is incredible in terms of the  energy and atmosphere that these two are able to generate. Yamazaki  plays it off, like a thuggish veteran that refuses to give any respect  to the upstart in Anjo, but Anjo keeps delivering in fire and intensity,  which is really resonating with the Japanese crowd. There is a great  sequence in which Yamazaki is working over a leg, trying to take a basic  ankle lock, and turn it into a more sinister heel-hook, which causes  Anjo to panic and fly towards the ropes like his life depended on it.
 

Yamazaki wasn’t able to relish this for too long, as not long  afterwards, Anjo nailed him with a beautiful high kick to the ribs of  Yamazaki, immediately prompting a knockdown. It continues to go back and  forth, but Yamazaki can’t seem to catch a break as whenever he is able  to land a submission on Anjo, he is forced to pay a hefty price by being  lit up like a Christmas tree in the standup portions. Yamazaki is able  to somewhat abruptly win the match with what I can only describe as an  emergency single-leg Boston Crab, that he had to pull out of nowhere,  after taking a volley of palm strikes from Anjo.
 

Excellent. Despite having to end the match with the worst thing to come  from Boston since tariffs, this was totally awesome, and easily the best  match that Yamazaki has had so far in the UWFI.
 

Next up is Bob Backland vs Nobuhiko Takada, and while I don’t have high  hopes for this being good, in any nominal sense of the word, I am quite  intrigued, and wondering if this is in fact, some shrewd booking. When I  last saw Backland in the Shoot-Sphere, he had two matches in the  Newborn UWF, with Takada and Funaki respectfully, and while he gave me  the impression that he would have been good in this style, had he came  up in it, and was more familiar with it, he still had too many goofy  mannerisms that needed to be shed from his American style. Still, he  absolutely electrified the atmosphere when he fought Takada the last  time, so that may be all that is needed here tonight.
 

We are now greeted to an interview with Backland, in which he tells us  that he can’t guarantee a win, but that he does promise to give it his  absolute best, and that he loves the Japanese fans. This came across as  surprisingly heartfelt and grounded, and after Takadas interview  segment, we are underway.  Unfortunately, when the time came to start  this match, Backland seriousness is nowhere to be found, and he is back  to his old WWF tricks, of constantly making overexaggerated facial  expressions for anything that happens, which somewhat robs him of the  credibility that he does bring to the table.
 

The Face of America….


The match starts with both men feeling each other out, and trading  strikes. Backland takes a stiff leg to the thigh, and responds by  backing Takada up in the corner, and firing off some stiff forearm  strikes, which leads to Takada backing off to the center of the ring,  and getting suplexed. The match restarts and Backland tries to land some  very weak knees to Takada, and Takada responds with his own knee to the  midsection, which starts a ten-count, that Backland doesn’t recover  from, and the match is over at 1:15.
 

Ok, I’m flummoxed by this. This was terrible, and I’m not sure what  purpose this served. Takada is already over, so there isn’t any need to  try and have a squash match, and Backland didn’t come off credibly at  all. I have no doubt that had he put some effort to really study and  train in this style, that he could pull off a good match, but his  cornball antics (which compared to his contemporaries like the Ultimate  Warrior and Paul Bearer look totally straight) only serve for him to  look like completely out of place. What’s worse is that this entire show  only clocks in at a little under 1 ½ hours, so there isn’t any purpose  for rushing through some of these matches.
 

Final Thoughts. If we can overlook the terrible ending, this was  entertaining and enjoyable. Yamazaki shined, Ohe delivered once again,  and Tamura could wrestle the Taiku Center’s janitor and still get a good  match, so that outweighs the botched opportunity that was the main  event.

Here is the event in full:


And here is a video of the original confrontation between Takada and Backland:




 

Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #33 on: July 25, 2020, 06:01:49 PM »
Vol. 13 Continued

Let's check in with "Mighty" Mike Lorefice, and see what he has to say about all of this.
 

Makato Ohe vs Rafael Aguilar:
 Aguilar was an 80's style American  kickboxer going against a Muay Thai fighter who was out to exploit the  rules differences at every turn. Aguilar could land one shot from the  outside, but then Ohe would take the Thai clinch & work him over on  the inside where Aguilar wasn't used to having to fight. Aguilar  adjusted in the 2nd half, working body punches on the inside. Ohe hurt  Aguilar in the 3rd, dodging a right & countering with a clean left,  but otherwise this was mostly a grind.
 

Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tatsuyo Nakano:
 Nakano is probably the second worst of the  UWF-I natives on the mat, leading only Takada, and his lack of speed  & flexibility is part of it, but mostly it's that he works really  slowly on the mat & relies upon a lot of fake pro wrestling  positions & holds that should be getting removed from his arsenal by  now. I love that when Nakano went into that should be side mount, but  instead I just lie across you sideways not bothering to actually control  the trunk or lower body, Tamura immediately just squirms free to avoid  humiliation. I wish there was more of this, as Tamura lets Nakano get  away with a lot of lazy positioning, and Nakano really doesn't seem to  want to do anything. This never really feels like a Tamura match, it  seems like Tamura is waiting for Nakano to make a move when he has the  advantage, but Nakano just lays there, so Tamura never has the  opportunity to use his fast reaction oriented style to make something  cool happen. Even though Tamura slows & tones things down  considerably for Nakano, when something does happen, Nakano's  cooperation is definitely more obvious than the others. As the bout  progresses, Tamura seems to get frustrated with the lack of activity,  and decides to force Nakano to counter by giving him gaping holes that  he simply can't ignore. Nakano is, not surprisingly, more into the  standup, and there's a great spot Tamura tries for a single, but Nakano  drops him countering with a knee. There's not really a lot of striking  though, apart from a flurry at the end where Nakano no sells a suisha  otoshi & winds up dropping Tamura with a high kick while Tamura is  still getting back up. It's clear that Tamura was actually supposed to  catch the kick & counter into the ankle lock for the win, and after  some indecision, Nakano throws kicks until Tamura catches one &  forces him to tap. This was by far the worst Tamura singles match so  far, I'd go so far as to suggest that Nakano is pissed that he has to  put over the young stud, and just sabotaged the match in protest. In any  case, it at least clarifies that Miyato can go when he wants to,  especially if there's someone to carry him, and Nakano is the one who is  holding their matches back & keeping them in a holding pattern.
 

Gary Albright vs Yuko Miyato:
 Welcome to UWF-I Superstars of Wrestling.  This wasn't even a match, just a bodyslam in between two suplexes. Todd  Pettengill might claim it was the greatest match of all time though,  until the next match...
 

Kazuo Yamazaki vs Yoji Anjo:
 Both an attempt at a more realistic bout in  between two cartoon jobber matches & a story match. Though Yamazaki  is normally one of the better strikers, here Anjo shows his superiority  early, and Yamazaki shifts to being strategic, gambling that the risks  Anjo is taking with his big strikes will eventually outweigh the  rewards. Despite Anjo throwing some bombs, this isn't a particularly  flashy match, as it's more about Yamazaki's patience & craftiness  trying to see his strategy through. It's not nearly as reductive as I  may be making it sound, with Anjo still being able to do things on the  ground & Yamazaki still scoring in standup, but the general thrust  is Anjo wants to make something happen & is thus willing to take  chances, while Yamazaki wants to grab him, and ultimately that usually  means taking a few shots. Even then, it doesn't always work, for  instance Anjo pulls ahead when Yamazaki catches a middle kick, but goes  down on delay before he can capitalize. They work with this idea of  whether Yamazaki can seize the opportunity to take the offensive once he  sacrifices himself to get the catch, but the match ends rather abruptly  just when it's finally beginning to take off. Considering it's  sandwiched in between two matches whose combined time is less than 4  minutes, you'd think they could have given these guys 15 minutes to work  with. Had the kickboxing shoot not gone the distance, this show  wouldn't even have lasted an hour. ***
 

Nobuhiko Takada vs Bob Backlund:
 I don't get this at all. I mean, granted  this isn't the sort of match you want to go long, but Backlund certainly  doesn't look any better by losing immediately to some random fake  injury, he looks like an old broken guy who couldn't hold up at all  & should have just stayed retired. Now, I can't see there isn't a  part of me who doesn't enjoy seeing one of the longest reigning kings of  comedy wrestling simply made a fool of, but from a business  perspective, this booking not only makes the rematch less viable in my  opinion, but takes away most of the desired sting from Takada's shocking  quick win. Albright winning quickly, sure, he just ran through the poor  bantamweight, but this loss is more Backlund not being up to snuff than  Takada being too amazing, as the one thing Takada did, whatever it  exactly even was, certainly wasn't impressive looking if we see beyond  the official story. As far as the match itself went, Backlund  overexaggerated everything, still acting like it was WWF theater. He  sort of landed a lame elbow & some super fake knees on the inside,  one missing by a country mile, before taking this kick that took him  out. The injury was really unclear as well because Backlund's selling  was terrible to the point I was hoping for a fake explanation of what  supposedly happened to him (the camera angle wasn't good to begin with).  At first, I thought he was trying to convince Tirantes to come out  & DQ Takada for a low blow, then I thought he might have a broken  hand. It would have worked better if his body shut down from a liver  kick, but the kick was too central for that. The whole thing was just a  disgrace.
 

This show was okay, but we're starting to see the many flaws in Miyato's  bad booking, mainly that Takada & Albright just destroy everybody,  leaving the rest of the promotion to via for the scraps, which basically  consist of having good undercard matches to work their way up to  putting these guys over in the main event.

Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #34 on: July 25, 2020, 06:05:47 PM »
Vol 13. Continued

*Kakutogi Supplemental*
 

We at Kakutogi headquarters were recently able to dig deep inside the  catacombs underneath our offices, and unearth a buried treasure, a  long-forgotten relic, languishing away under shadows and dust. It is a  glorious artifact that brings me great honor to talk about today, in  what is probably the very earliest piece of taped Shooto history (and an  incredible document in the scope of MMA history). It was a tape that  Satoru Sayama put forth in 1988, and it’s simply called “Satoru Sayama:  The Shooting” and was presumably released in an effort to share with the  world what his new sport would be, and to attract attention to his  Super Tiger Gym.
 

Super Tiger Gym, had already been involved in what would be considered  MMA training by at least 1985 when they had famous Japanese kickboxer  Toshio Fujiwara (who had instructed at the Mejiro Kickboxing Academy in  the Netherlands) as the resident Muay Thai coach, in addition to all the  Catch-Wrestling, and submission training that Sayama was providing his  students, and as we will later see in later early 90s Shooto events,  this cross training paid off, as your average Shooto guy was probably  10-15 years ahead of the curve, skill wise, then his American  counterpart, in the early-mid 90s.
 

Like encountering hieroglyphics for the first time, that is what we must  imagine the UWF landscape of the late 84 season to have been like. As people  like Sayama, Akira Maeda, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara, were learning that  there was more to this strange language of combat sports, than what they  could have possibly perceived when they first started breaking into  Professional Wrestling. One has to wonder what it had to be like, to  have so many concepts, and ideas ready to burst forth, but no canvas or  medium in which to express them.
 

Surely that is where Sayama must have been at in late 85, after his  falling out with Maeda, and departure from the original UWF promotion.  His desire, and quest, to capture the true essence of real fighting (or  “Shooting” in Pro Wrestling parlance), with a sport that fully utilized  all aspects of the fight realm. This concept is perhaps best summed up  with an early promotional tagline that Shooto used, “Punch, Kick, Throw, Submission.” Simple, but like chess, underneath the simplicity of the  premise, is a vast and unsearchable galaxy of possibilities and  variations, therein.
 

Sayama was determined to see his vision through, even if his vision  hadn’t completely coalesced by this point, and like any trailblazer he  simply took a leap into the unknown and started promoting what he had.
 

And here we are… Things start off with Sayama demonstrating some neat  moves, like flying armbars, and rolling kneebars (all the more crazy  considering this is 1988) before we are taken to the lush Japanese  countryside where Sayama is refreshing his mind, and nurturing his  spirit underneath a serene waterfall.  He then takes his students for a  brisk jog, before conducting sprint drills, and we could only wish that  American Pro Wrestling schools were half has cool as this.
 

After this pleasant warm up, we are taken to a monastery that wouldn’t  have been out of place in a 70s era Shaw Brothers Film, where they begin  to do what any reasonable group of aspiring warriors would… they  proceed to frog jump up a giant stone staircase, but only Sayama is  hardcore enough to forgo shoes.

Your MMA class isn’t half as cool


 After mastering the stairs, the students are then taken to a different  part of the monastery and given various kickboxing pad drills, with  personal correction and instruction from Sayama. An interesting  observation Is that all the way back in 1988, MMA style gloves are being  used here, although the padding covers more of the fingers than a  modern pair would.
 

After this, we go inside one of the buildings to cover takedowns,  throws, and submission entries. This is absolutely fascinating as this  entire approach is very comprehensive, and light years ahead of its  time. The only missing ingredient from a more modern approach is the  positional sensibilities that BJJ brought to the fore. There is no real  concern about finding and keeping positional dominance, but rather the  mentality seems to always seek the submission, and what to do if your  caught in a compromising situation.    

From the Monastery to the Big City   


 After going  over several submission entries we are brought to the infamous Korakuen  Hall, where Sayama brings out his students, and this scribe is able to  see future Shooto star and grappling wizard Noburu Asahi within the  group. Sayama then talks to the crowd about his new sport and goes over  the rules and judging. My understanding of Japanese is woefully meager,  but from what I can glean, it would seem that all Shooto fights will be  judges with standard amateur wrestling takedowns being given a much  lower score than successful judo throws, and near submissions being  given a high score as well. Just like modern MMA a fight is won either  by submission or ko, though there is a standing 10 count in place for  knockdowns. It’s scare how in the 80s Sayama came up with a better idea  than this our current 10 point must system.
 

Sayama then talks about the rules, and it would seem that most strikes  are legal while standing, sans elbows, and that you are allowed to  punch, kick, knee, etc, a grounded opponent below the face, if they are  on the ground, but soccer kicks to the face are not legal. Punches to  the face of a grounded opponent do not appear to be legal either. Later  on we will see a fighter kick another fighter in the face while they  were both on the ground, so I’m not sure if that’s a loophole, or if it  just wasn’t noticed.
 

Sport of the future….


Even in our  current ultra-polarized world, there are a few things that we can all  come into agreement on, and that is that the 80s gave us perhaps the  finest subgenre of film in the Post-Apocalyptic genre (of which I am  partial to 2020 Texas Gladiators, and Sayama realized this, so to  honor this, he forced his amateur fighters to wear headgear that  celebrated this, which is only meet and right. Yes, one glace at these  amazing contraptions, and we see that we are indeed headed to new, and  unforeseen vistas in the world of Martial Arts.
 

The tournament goes off without a hitch, and I am amazed at the pure  essence of it all. No point fighting, no gaming the rules, lay and pray,  wall and stall, etc. Every fighter is constantly pushing forward with  kickboxing, throws, takedowns, and diving for submissions. Not that it  would be against the rules to try and work a closed guard, or stall with  a takedown, but that doesn’t even seem to be a concept with these  fighters, and this is also encouraged with rules that reward  submissions, and action. There was guard work on display here, but  anytime someone was using their guard it was in an aggressive fashion,  going for submission attempts.
 

All the fights here are fast paced, and entertaining, even though it’s  hard to distinguish who’s who, with the elite headgear, and we are all  able to witness that Sayama has something very special on his hands  here.
 

Sadly, like most innovators throughout history, Sayama didn’t get much  credit for his trailblazing, and like people such as Tesla, Antonio  Meucci, and  Alfred Russel Wallace, the little credit that they do get  is only after their inventions become part of the common lexicon of the  populace. To add insult to injury, just aproximentaly 8 years after this  demonstration Sayama would have a falling out with the Shooto board of  directors, and he wound up leaving his creation.
 

Perhaps, much like Icuras, he flew too high to the Sun, playing with  forces he did not understand. Using pro-wrestling jargon like “Shooting”  when trying to promote a new sport, probably didn’t help matters  either, as it served to both confuse anyone not familiar with the term,  and the few people in America that knew who he was from his Tiger Mask  days, probably didn’t know what to make of actual MMA, or a video  catolog that had “Sayama’s Shooting Vol 12.”
 

Still, no one probably came first to having the pure essence of Modern  MMA, more than Sayama. While a case can certainly be made for the  Brazilian Vale Tudo Challenge matches throughout the years that preceded  this, that was never really the same, both in intent, nor in execution.  Usually such things were just an excuse for a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner to  show the superiority of his style against an inferior opponent that had  little chance of succeeding. Even the early UFC events were set up to  be infomercials for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and were never intended to be a  test that they knew they wouldn’t be able to pass.
 

Also, what constituted for pre-UFC MMA was usually people in two  distinct styles, with very little overlap, or cross training. Here we  see the first fighting system/sport that is truly geared on being as  complete as possible, covering in depth all the aspects of fighting  (within what Sayama understood at the time). You had an emphasis on  conditioning, good striking, submissions, throws, takedowns, etc, with  the only real missing component being the BJJ positional hierarchy that  came to Japan later on. You also had the first MMA teams in Shooto as  different dojos would train up their best prospects and send them to  prove themselves and announce their name/affiliation right before the  start of the fight. Similar things were not really seen in American MMA  until Ken Shamrock’s Lions Den.
 

Semantical arguments aside, there is no question that Sayama is a  pioneer that we here at Kakutogi HQ, wish to thank, and shed some light  on, for introducing such a great sport to us all.
 

Here it is: Very rarely seen until now:



Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #35 on: July 25, 2020, 06:08:39 PM »
Vol. 13 Continued

 To follow up on this: Here is some of the1987 Baseball showa magazine  special issue, "Introduction to shooting" by Satoru  "Tigermask/SuperTiger" Sayama, which details some of this new wonderful  sport of "shooting."













Here, Satoru "tigermask" sayama demonstrates one of the few correct ways to  hit the gotch toe hold, this hold was named after frank gotch, widely  considered to be one of, if not the greatest wrestler of the last few  centuries and from whom karl took his name.  From the "this is sambo"  book by sayama and victor koga(1986). Sayama was responsible for  introducing most of the leglocks in "shoot" style.


Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #36 on: July 25, 2020, 09:31:59 PM »
*Archives of this series can be found at https://www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.14 "Forward the Foundation"

 We are back again, this time at everyone’s favorite bowling alley, the  Fukuoka Hakata Starlanes, only this time with the PWFG crew in tow,  ready to continue the road that can only lead to innumerable Kakutogi  glories. It’s 9-28-91, and we are welcomed to a montage of the PWFG clan  training and warming up, when one quickly realizes that all pro  wrestlers are really bodybuilders at heart, for between the various  sleeveless neon muscle shirts, and Minoru Suzuki’s hot pink Zubaz, we  aren’t sure if we are about to witness a wrestling event, or a Flex Magazine photo-shoot.
 

Suzuki....looking forward to his next Mega Mass 4000 shake.


 Hope is quickly recovered when we find an ever-aging Fujiwara, who seems  to be immune to the pastel charms of this wayward generation, wandering  around before the show’s start, overlooking the merchandise table,  before giving us an interview. We then jump right into the evening’s  proceedings, as Lato Kiraware is set to face Kazuo Takahashi. When we  last saw these two, Takahashi had a very respectable showing against  Greco-Roman specialist Duane Koslowski, while Kiraware was forced to  completely embarrass himself, as Fujiwara’s personal punching bag.
 

Kiraware comes out swinging against Takahashi, putting forth some  reasonably stiff palm strikes, which Takahashi is only able to cover up  and deflect a portion of them. After taking some stiff shots, Takahashi  wisely shoots in with a deep single and takes Kiraware to the mat.  Surprisingly, the strikes don’t stop once the fight hits the canvas, as  Takahashi throws some punches to both the face, and midsection of  Kiraware, looking to try and create an opening, but Kiraware was too  close to being underneath the rope, so the ref orders a restart.
 

This was a gift for Lato as he wastes no time in firing off some more  palm strikes, landing an especially epic one, flush into Takahashi’s  face around 3 ½ mins into the match. A dazed Takahashi starts to  counterattack from the clinch, even delivering a headbutt to Lato (which  apparently are legal in PWFG) but is taken down to the mat and forced  to start defending from his guard. They both continue to deliver stiff  slaps to each other while on the ground, before Takahashi starts to  wiggle out from underneath, and attempts to stand up, which causes Lato  to deliver a vicious suplex, which leads to Lato scoring a knockdown.
 

The rest of the fight is basically Kiraware slapping the daylights out  of Takahashi and is ended when Takahashi is caught in a guillotine,  after attempting another single leg takedown.
 

I cannot believe I’m saying this, but this was a good match. No, it  didn’t have any impressive positional changes ,or grappling wizardry on  display, but out of all the worked PWFG matches so far, this probably  felt the closest to an actual MMA fight, minus the flashy suplex, and  Kiraware not completely following up his attacks when Takahashi was  dazed. In fact, outside of those with a trained eye (and especially to  the audience that witnessed it) this would totally pass for real, and  that is really the magic behind this style. To be able to feature pro  wrestling in a stripped down, no nonsense fashion, and still be  entertaining, is a tough balancing act, and we have to give Takahashi a  lot of credit, as his willingness to take some stiff shots, really  pushed what would could have been a mediocre entry, into the realm of  greatness.


Next up is Takaku Fuke vs Wellington Wilkins Jr, and right away we are  forced to notice Fuke’s attempt at an 80s Tarzan motif. Gene Lebel was  famous for sporting a pink gi, and would claim that it helped distract  his opponents, but he did not have anything on Fuke’s trunks, which are a  result of what would happen if you crossed leopard print with an Oreo  cookie.
 

Right away this is off to a blistering pace, as Wilkins fires off a high  kick, only to be taken down with a lighting fast single leg, which Fuke  transitioned out of into a modified straight armbar attempt, prompting a  rope escape from Wilkins. After a leg-lock duel, Wilkins switches gears  and knees Fuke several times in the chest, but one knee went low, and  wound up being an unintentional groin strike.
 

The rest of the match saw a plethora of takedowns, positions changes,  submission attempts, etc, before Fuke ends the bout by securing an  armbar just shy of the 11min mark. This was reasonably entertaining but  moved too fast to really build any tension or feel like more than the  perfunctory outing that is was. However, it was interesting to see it  right after the first match, as we can see the contrast of ways to work a  match within this style. This was not over the top by any means but  needed more space to really breathe.
 

Now we have the most excellent Naoki Sano vs Master Soronaka’s number 1  pupil, Bart Vale. It’s a shame that we only get a few more matches from  Sano after this, as he was a real asset here, and it would have been  interesting to see him as one of the early Pancrase guys, as opposed to  staying on the pro wrestling trajectory that he was on. As it was, he  was basically being loaned out by the SWS promotion, who had a working  relationship with Fujiwara and the PWFG at this time, so it was probably  never intended for him to be more of a helping hand, but it was great  to see him here while it lasted.
 

Vale wastes no time in throwing the high kicks but is stopped cold with  an excellent Ippon-seoi-nage (One Arm Shoulder Throw) from Sano.  Grappling exchanges ensued, with Vale attempting a couple of kimura  attempts, to no avail, and Sano getting a short-lived mount position.  Vale would continue his foot attacks, but as always, he is quite slow,  but Sano makes him pay for his sluggish execution and catches the leg  off a slow kick, and immediately turns it into a takedown.
 

Vale acquits himself better on the ground, as the speed disparity  between the two isn’t as noticeable, and he is better able to utilize  his height advantage. We are soon led to our first groan worthy exchange  as Vale spins around and plops down to the mat off of a thigh kick from  Sano, only for Sano to grunt and summon all the power of his  forebearers to execute a single-leg Boston Crab, in a most dramatic  fashion. This leads to a rope escape of course, and from here, Vale  starts loosening up a bit and begins to throw some palm strikes, along  with some kicks, which leads to another sequence where, after missing a  roundhouse, Sano gets a takedown and pulls out the double-leg variation  of Boston’s favorite submission. Vale had this scouted though, as he was  able to reverse it by doing a push up and forcing Sano to fall on his  head.
 

The rest of the fight more or less alternates between Vale seeking a TKO  via kicks to the midsection, and Sano fishing for toe holds, but the  end came when once again Sano pulled deep into the well, and slapped on  another crab from Boston, to which the crowd went nuts over, and  submitted Vale a little after the 15min mark.


 This was…ok. It was entertaining, as Sano always is, but after watching  the first two matches, which while different from one another, were both  in the more modern take on this style, while this wound up feeling kind  of hokey. This would have played a lot better if it had been on a  NEWBORN UWF, or NJPW card a couple of years prior, but things are  already starting to quickly evolve, and the holes in the old ways are  becoming too obvious. This probably was partly due to Sano not being as  experienced in this style as others on the roster, and Vale’s slow  delivery didn’t help in creating the illusion that this needed either,  but still, an enjoyable match.    

    Next is Masakatsu Funaki vs Mark Rush, and hopefully this will be a  great showcase for Funaki, as the only opportunity he’s really been  giving to shine here so far, was against Ken Shamrock at the prior  months outing. Rush did a respectable job last time, against Takahashi,  but is still an unknown, as he had no prior experience before or after  the PWFG, so this should be interesting.
 

Right away Funaki is floating around Rush, and peppering him with leg  kicks, and even though Rush managed to catch a kick and get Funaki on  the mat, it didn’t matter as Funaki is able to easily get out, and  reverse his bad position. We can quickly see that Funaki is on a whole  another level than Rush, or really anyone for that matter, and Rush is  only going to get away with what Funaki lets him.
 

One great sequence is when Funaki follows up a thigh kick with an  uppercut from the clinch, and from there executes a nice standing kimura  throw (a variation of the Sumi Gaeshi)
 

Funaki toys with Rush throughout, and Rush’s only notable offense was  attempting a standing reverse Kimura a la Sakuraba, that he took to the  ground and attempted to follow through on for several mins, otherwise  this was all Funaki. Funaki wins via an armbar transitioned off a head  leg-scissor hold.
 

It’s always nice to see Fuanki, and certainly interesting to see what a  skill disparity between him, and someone that probably had a background  in amateur wrestling, but it’s still a mystery why they keep sticking  Fuanki in these pointless matches. Had they switched him and Vale, then  everyone probably would have been the better for it. Vale tended to look  decent against lower-tier performers, and would have probably mixed  well with rush, and Sano/Funaki was a proven formula as they already had  two good matches over in the SWS promotion, but perhaps that’s why they  avoided this approach, in an effort to not go to the well too many  times.
 

Now we have, what we are all looking forward to, Minrou Suzuki vs Ken  Shamrock. When we last saw Suzuki, he gallantly defended the honor of  pro wrestlers everywhere by defeating the human oil slick, Lawi  Napataya, in a shoot. Shamrock on the other hand had his reputation  cemented as the top foreign talent in his prior bout with Fuanki. This  is the 2nd time these two have met, as they both had an excellent 30min  draw against each other at the inaugural PWFG event.
 

Things start off with an intense stare down and we are off. Right away  I’m impressed with Suzuki’s footwork, very springy, and always feinting  in a way that leads you to think he could shoot in at any moment.  Shamrock fires off a high kick followed by a palm strike right away, and  he is completely jacked here, just dwarfing Suzuki.
 

Suzuki gambles on shooting in with a deep single leg from a mile away  but is stuffed by Shamrock. However, Ken gives up his superior  positioning by diving for some kind of toe-hold attack, giving his back  to Suzuki. Suzuki uses this reversal of fortune to work for a crab, but  Shamrock shows us the secret that we have all been looking for, that one  simply needs to slap the next person in the face that tries to get you  in this Boston contraption.
 

From here, Suzuki falls back for a straight ankle lock, much like  Shamrock tried against his first confrontation against Royce Gracie, and  just like Gracie, Ken went with his opponent’s momentum to wind up in  top position. After both fighters tried various unsuccessful leg  attacks, they went back to their feet, and kept jockeying from the  clinch. One nice sequence showed Ken give Suzuki a stiff knee to the  midsection, which gave Suzuki an opportunity to hook Ken’s free leg and  attempt a kneebar from the takedown.
 

Suzuki couldn’t quite extend the leg far enough, so he used a kimura  grip to put the added threat of a toe-hold into the equation, and was  able to put enough torque on that maneuver to force Ken to take a rope  escape. Next we see a beautiful takedown set-up from Suzuki, as he does a  very subtle short stomp to Ken’s thigh, and immediately dives in to go  for a clinch, followed up by a standing switch, while Ken is momentarily  distracted.
 

It didn’t wind up working, as Ken did a switch of his own, which caused  Suzuki to turtle up, and Shamrock showed us a technique to deal with a  turtled opponent that I had never thought of, which was to grab his  opponents foot and dive over the opposite shoulder, as to wind up  repositioned in a place where you have enough leverage to finish a  toe-hold. While some would look back into this hazy shroud that is early  90s catch-inspiried grappling, and only see rudimentary ideas, if we  dig a little deeper, we can see some interesting truths made manifest.  Namely that wristlocks, toe holds, and other leg attacks, put the entire  BJJ orthodoxy on shaky ground as they are techniques that are able to  be hit from all sorts of angles, including what would otherwise be  terrible positions.
 

Shamrock succeeded in getting a rope escape from his unusual foot  attack, and they both returned to clinch warfare soon afterwards. The  rest of the match saw various armbar, and leg attacks from both mem,  punctuated by Ken’s need to slap the stuffing out of Suzuki in between  the ground exchanges, but the match ends, when Suzuki hits a standing  Kimura on Ken, only to be reversed into a dragon suplex, which gave Ken a  knockout victory.
 

This was excellent, and a great way to end the show. While it wasn’t  able to build as much drama as their first fight, due to being about 14  mins shorter, it didn’t have any of the dead spots of that bout either,  and was non-stop from the opening bell. If I had to pick between the  two, I would still give their first match the edge, in terms of quality,  but make no mistake, this was very good, and an excellent showcase of  the new possibilities that are emerging. It’s strange that real fighting  is being advanced by a group of people that are pretending to fight for  real, as if they were in a real fight.
 

Final conclusion: Even with some of the weaker matches, this is still  hands down the best wrestling org on the planet at this stage of the  game. The UWFI arguably has the potential to claim that throne, but  mediocre booking, and Takada’s antics will surely prevent that from  happening. As it stands, there is nothing better going on right now, and  I’m really impressed at how far ahead of the time this outfit really  was.
 

The look that only victory brings...


Here is the event in full:
[/youtube]


Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #37 on: July 25, 2020, 09:34:34 PM »
Let's see what Mike Lorefice has to say about this:

 Kazuo Takahashi vs Lato Kiraware: Takahashi  is clearly positioned as the better wrestler while Kiraware has the  better hands as well as a massive size advantage. Takahashi, as always  during these days, mainly tries for the takedown, but beyond the  difficulty of taking down the killer whale anywhere, usually when he  does, Lato conveniently manages to fall right into the ropes to force  the restart in standup. Kiraware does a lot of that action figure, turn  at the waste kind of striking, using some solid open hand slaps but  never mixing it up in any way. He has one big suplex, but is basically  just trying to hold Takahashi off until he figures out a way to win,  which comes in the form of countering a takedown with a guillotine. This  match was believable enough to be a solid restrained undercard bout in  this style, but also kind of bland & repetitive without much skill  on display.
 

Takaku Fuke vs Wellington Wilkins Jr:  An active, lively contest, more in the UWF-I style complete with PWFG's  new variation on their hokey scoring system. Fuke is improving  considerably with each fight, and seems on the verge of a breakout match  when pitted with a stronger opponent than Wilkins, who if a fine  follower here, but doesn't offer a lot beyond low blows that kill the  momentum. While not as believable as the opener, Fuke has enough skill  to make me take notice.
 

Naoki Sano vs Bart Vale: Vale  would wade in with a movie kick until Sano took him down into a  submission. Vale always seemed to have the upper hand in this match  because he could get a reversal & attack with his own submissions,  while, for the longest time, Sano oddly wasn't really trying to do  anything on his feet but counter into a takedown or throw. Sano did well  with the inside leg kick when he finally became willing to throw, and  the match turned from there, with Sano doing damage & even scoring  two knockdowns on his feet, the later leading to his 1/2 crab victory.  This was okay, but it was more a 1988 UWF match, and it lacked the  believability and intensity to really make you buy into all the near  finishes. Sano has been excellent so far, but he isn't experienced  enough in this style to be asked to carry Vale, who Funaki could do  nothing with. This was a good win for Sano, but I'm not sure what  purpose it really served given his limited availability, probably just  payback for PWFG running over everyone in SWS.
 

Masakatsu Funaki vs Mark Rush: A better  performance from Funaki, who was more willing to make this a one-man  show. Funaki opened up more here, both in standup where he showed his  speed & footwork evading the wrestler so he could land his strikes,  and on the mat where he transitioned more quickly & explosively. It  was a more entertaining performance because he was less in lockdown mode  on the mat, and was making things happen rather than waiting around to  make his move. Rush was again decent, while he didn't do anything  amazing, he was at least a willing and capable foil. The problem with  many of these shoot style matches is the weak link brings the match down  to his level, usually through inexperience and lack of training, but  Funaki was able to maneuver around Rush in a manner that made Funaki  look several steps ahead of anyone else on this card. The main reason  not to recommend this is it was a squash, but I still think it was the  best match on the card so far.
 

Minoru Suzuki vs Ken Shamrock: A  major step up for Shamrock, who really puts it all together here after  the somewhat disappointing match with Funaki & gives his best  performance to date by a wide margin. Shamrock is just fighting a lot  more aggressively & assertively, getting solid strikes in even  though it's not really a striking match, and then making decisive moves  on the mat even though he's experimenting with different positions &  leg locks that are more the game of his crafty opponent.
 

In addition to  being two of the best shoot style workers, Suzuki & Shamrock also  stand out for being able to tell little pro wrestling stories without  having to stop the match or be corny & unrealistic to do so. This  wasn't the best match we've seen so far, but it was probably the richest  in terms of having a lot of little things going on, and somthing of a  running storyline that didn't feel forced. Shamrock quickly established  his standup advantage, putting Suzuki in the familiar grappler against  striker role, and when Suzuki kept manipulating Shamrock's ankle until  the lock was tight, only to have the ref immediately make him break  because Shamrock was in the ropes, he pounded the canvas in disgust and  then grinned at Shamrock, kinda taunting him that he should be better  than to have to dive for the ropes at the same time he's content to  point out that he's already got one up on Shamrock.
 

Shamrock soon  answered with his own ankle lock, and while Suzuki is less anxious, he  does take a rope escape and then begin doing the good sort of pro  wrestling selling where he shows he's hampered - has difficulty putting  weight on that ankle - without having to stop the match & make the  ref look like an idiot for allowing a match where someone doesn't  respond for a minute to continue simply because pro wrestling never  actually modernizes. Sticking in the pro wrestling mode, these two are  able to show they don't like each other, but again in the good sort of  way where Shamrock immediately kicks Suzuki in the ankle because his  rival has made the mistake of revealing it as a weak point. They soon  proceed to a spot where the ref breaks them as both are in the ropes  working for the same ankle submission.
 

The ground  continues to more or less be a stalemate as Suzuki answers Shamrock's  Achilles' tendon hold with one of his own, but later Suzuki gains an  advantage instead answering with a heel hold, which forces Ken into a  rope escape. Though the argument could be made that Shamrock has the  advantage because he's handily winning the brief standup exchanges,  Suzuki is doing a better job of getting the quick lock up, and is coming  closer to getting the submission once it hits the ground. He forces  another rope break with an Achilles' tendon hold, and is able to get  armbar position twice, though Ken fights it off before he can extend the  arm.
 

Shamrock also  defends a wakigatame attempt & is able to take Suzuki's back while  they are standing back up. Suzuki avoided a suplex earlier, and now uses  a Kimura grip to spin out into a standing wrist lock, but this leaves  him exposed, and Shamrock just takes his back & hoists him for a  huge Dragon suplex. Shamrock bridges to go for the corny pinfall, but  after the ref counts 1, he releases & instead has the ref count  Suzuki out when he can't answer the 10 count, which again is a  ridiculous carry over from pro wrestling that needs to go in order for  the ref to have a shred of credibility. Anyway, I think they were on the  right track with this finish, but Shamrock should have done a released  Dragon right into an immediate ref stop KO.
 

Though the  match never felt great, it was a rich, well themed & focused match  where both were on the top of their game. We haven't really seen this  sort of match so far, and they were also doing some different things  with the ankle & joint manipulation. I think they really found a  nice balance of being a pro wrestling match with some of the  storytelling & acting at the same time they were a proto shoot match  with the sort of footsies we'd see in early Pancrase where the best  defense was often to just attack whatever limb they left exposed with  your own submission. If you like quantity then their 3/4/91 match is  certainly better given it's almost twice as long, but this match is a  lot tighter & shows they've grown and improved considerably during  the past 6 months. ****
 

Final Conclusion: The prelims may not have  been great, but without the hamfisted headbutting antics of Fujiwara,  every match at least felt like a serious & legitimate attempt at a  martial arts match. Beyond the promotion running smoother without the  diversion, the show was important for seeming to properly settle the top  gaijin spot, with Shamrock surprisingly successfully following up his  upset win over Funaki, while Bad Bart was gunned down on the undercard.


 *In other news*
 

The Sediokaikan organization out of Japan, is continuing to make strides  to become the premier choice in the Karate/Stand-Up fighting sphere.  They recently had their Karate World Cup event on 10-10-91, showcasing a  lot of great talent within the Sediokaikan Karate style along with  competitors representing their respective disciplines in Kickboxing,  Savate, Muay Thai, and Tae Kwon Do.
 

Some highlights include a stunning upset as Dutch Savate fighter Gerard  Gordeau defeated Masaaki Satake in a thrilling bout. This Sediokaikan  event has a format in which the first round is contested with both men  wearing a gi, under Knockdown Karate rules (punches only from the torso  down, and kicks legal to all parts of the body, minus the groin or  knee). If there isn’t a winner after the first round, then both  competitors take off their gi top and fight another round, and if there  still isn’t a winner then both fighters put on gloves and have up to two  rounds of kickboxing. After all that, if there still isn’t a knockdown  or judges’ decision, then the fight is decided by a brick breaking  competition.
 

In this case, the fight was every fluid and even throughout, with the  judges being unable to decide a winner, even after 4 rounds, so they  went to the tie-breaking brick round, and Gerard Gordeau was able to  break about 2-3 more bricks than Satake. This is especially shocking, as  Satakae has been a three-time Sedikaikan champion, and also had a  winning kickboxing record going into this fight, so he was the odds on  favorite to win this competition.
 

Gordeau completely dominated his next opponent, but was taken out in the  quarterfinals by an Australian kickboxer, Adam Watt, who went on to  face Toshiyuki Atokawa in the finals. Atokawa is a small, but ferocious  competitor, who wound up winning the tournament, when his continued leg  assaults on Watt were eventually too much to handle, and Watt was unable  to stand up on two feet. 

Here is the event in full:
[/youtube]

Interesting things are developing between Sediokaikan and the fledging RINGS promotion headed up by superstar Akira Maeda. The head of Sediokaikan, Kazuyoshi Ishii, recently made an appearance at the 9-14-91 RINGS event, along with his top student, Masaaki Satake, and Maeda returned the favor by joining Ishii for commentary duties at the Karate World Cup event on 10-10-91. Furthermore, it looks like Ishii will be loaning out Satake, and Nobuaki Kakuda (another top Seidokaikan star) for Maeda’s next event. This is great news for Maeda, as the lack of a deep roster has been very apparent in the three events that he has had so far and is in dire need of a talent boost.
 

It is being reported that the UWFI has rebooked Bob Backlund for a rematch with its main star Nobuhiko Takada. Hopefully this next meeting will be better than the last, as Takada quickly dispensed with Backlund in a little over a minute, in what was a very disappointing finish for a main event with a foreign star with the name value of Backlund.

         


Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #38 on: July 26, 2020, 08:52:25 AM »
Vol.15 is now up for patrons! Then, in the fullness of time it will be availble here as well.

If your enjoying this series, please consider becoming a Patron. With your help, we can hire translators, invest into equipment, procure interviews and other rare historical artifacts, and make this a truly special undertaking.

https://www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad

Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #39 on: July 27, 2020, 09:09:08 PM »
For those that may be interested: Some bonus content just went up within the hallowed halls of the Kakutogi Patreon. We cover some Shooto from 1990, which yields some interesting facts about Manabu Yamada, and tomorrow we will show why this guy right here, could have made a great MMA fighter, all the way back in 1990!

https://www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #40 on: August 01, 2020, 10:47:34 AM »
*Archives of this series, and lot's of other bonus material can be found at https://www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *


Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.15 "Heir Today...Gone Tomorrow"


*Editors Note: Mike Lorefice's comments will be prefaced by his intials.*

Welcome back to the wonderful world of Kakutogi. Join us, as we continue to seek out this halcyon dreamscape, often heralded, but rarely understood, as we are unable to refuse its beck and call, yet again.

We are now heading into the Shoot-Realms of the Union of Wrestling Force International’s (UWFI) 10-6-91 event, and right away we can see what we are up against, as we are immediately treated to a montage of perennially misused Kazuo Yamazaki, and golden boy Nobukiko Takada, gearing up for what appears to be tonight’s main event, as the powers that be are prepared to take us back to a familiar creative wellspring.

At least it is a refreshing source, as these two have always had good chemistry with each other, and this should be no different. Of course, they need a hit tonight, as when we last witnessed this group, we had to endure the embarrassingly awful 2min squash match, where Bob Backlund was quickly dispatched by Takada, after faking an injury, in comically awful fashion.

 Looking back at the trajectory of how we got here is interesting, as  surely everyone had high hopes for Yamazaki. Here was Sayama's esteemed  padawan, and his heir apparent, but his huge push to superstardom was  not to be, and this scribe can't help but speculate that this turn of  destiny may have been partly to blame due to Sayama leaving on bad terms  after the Maeda fiasco, and subsequently exposing the business with his  autobiography entitled, “Kayfabe.”

 

We will have time later on, for more musing of this dysfunctional family duo, but first let’s see what is in store for us in the present moment…

We are back in the cozy confines of the Korakuen Hall, and no matter how big or extravagant other arenas may be, nothing feels more appropriate for combat sports then this quaint 2,000 capacity venue. After a raucous crowd ovation for the usual preliminaries, we are greeted to our first match, a bout between resident footfighting master, Makato Ohe, this time facing an unknown Sakuchai Sakuwitaya. The last few opponents that they have fed Ohe, were decent in their own right, but inexperienced in the ways of international Kickboxing, so hopefully this will be different.

Right away we can see two things, the first is that Sakuwitaya does appear to have some genuine kickboxing experience, but that he is not in Ohe’s league. He appears to be someone that has some rudimentary skills, but nowhere near the seasoning needed to face the experience of a former Shootboxing champion.

The first moments show Sakuwitaya taking some stiff leg kicks, but he is managing to hang in there, while attempting to find his distance, when out of nowhere he attempts a flying jump kick (similar to the one that Machida took Couture out with, albeit with a different angle). A commendable attempt to be sure, but sadly does not land flush in the jaw, but rather hit the chest of Ohe, to which he responded by shoving Sakuwitaya down to the ground.

That was about the only moment that he got anywhere to glory though, as for the short duration of this fight Ohe has been patient, and only throwing a kick or punch if there was some hurricane force power behind it, and as soon as Sakuwitaya got back up it was over. Ohe feinted with his lead leg, patiently waiting for an opening and landed a punch to Sakuwitaya’s chin with an impact that reverberated throughout the building. For a moment it seemed like he was going to be fine, but it was a delayed reaction, because after taking the blow, and dancing around for a moment, Sakuwitaya completely collapsed, and was out cold. Great showing from Ohe, but they seriously need to find him an opponent that is somewhere in his league.

 

Going out in a blaze of glory…


ML: Ohe seemed to have all the advantages in this shoot that was almost  certainly designed to be an easy win. You could see that he was calm as  could be, not   fearing Sakuwitaya in the least. Ohe is the longer  fighter, and  just backed Sakuwitaya with some straights & a middle  kick. Even Ohe was probably surprised by the delayed KO where   Sakuwitaya  just gave out a second or two after a rather routine left  straight. This was pretty sad to be honest, I mean, if you can't  withstand a few standard  shots designed simply to control distance then  you really don't belong in the ring with any sort of professional  champion.

 

Next up is a tag-match Kiyoshi Tamura/Yuko Miyato vs. Tatsuo Nakano/Tom Burton. I still have no idea what is hoped to be accomplished with these tag matches that the UWFI insists on putting together. It would be one thing if they had a giant roster, and ran the risk of putting on 3hr shows if they didn’t consolidate their talent, but they have barely been able to go over an hour with these events, and that’s with all the walkouts, ceremonial introduction, etc. The actual time of people wrestling is considerably less than that. To make matters more bizarre is that there are no belts, or really any stakes involved, just another mishmash of who they want to throw together this month. In this case it is the small/lithe gentleman vs the brazen monsters, so we will now experience size vs skill, speed vs raw power, and slick holds vs steroids.

The contest itself was entertaining and fast paced, and somewhat surprisingly, everyone looked good here. Even Tom Burton was looking looser, and more fluid this time. Of course, Tamura is still the rock star, and is really bringing the new generation of tech to the shoot-game. Cartwheeling out of bad positions, rapid transitions, and creative grappling entries, show that he was really something special. To make it even more impressive is to think that he was a very high caliber contender in real shoots too, which isn’t something too many fighters can lay claim to, the ability to excel in both the real and worked ends of the spectrum.

Tamura wins by finally figuring out the counter to the Boston crab, which is to apparently is to turn a quasi ankle-pick into a toehold. Well played, sir.

 ML: It's hard for a Tamura match to overachieve, but given the tag match  format, I think it's fair to say this one did. Though  the  format may  be hokey, this is a great example of a doubles match  that worked,  keeping a higher pace than they could have in a singles match of this  length (18:48) without losing the intensity and keeping guys who don't  have amazing stamina or huge move sets effective by breaking their  portions up. The key to the match was Miyato, who gave his best  performance so far. Beyond being an entertaining and fiery presence who  pulled the fight out of the opponents, he also really upped his  technical game in all areas.

Miyato was making an attempt to move more  like Tamura, turning and spinning out, even using the go behind. There  was a nice sequence where he hit a backdrop into a half crab then spun  into a facelock. Miyato set a good tone for the match, showing some good  use of distance & footwork in standup to get his low kicks in, and  doing a good job of taking advantage of the opponents inability to  actually do anything to control him once they got him to the mat, just  exploding rather than honoring the imaginary forcefield that normally  keeps UWF-I fighters other than Tamura down.

This is really what I've  been wanting to see from him, things that make him relevant &  dangerous despite being undersized. The story of the fight was that the  larger team of Nakano & Burton would start out ahead on the mat,  getting the judo throw or takedown, but then their more skilled  opponents would start moving & countering before they got anywhere  with their submission holds. Miyato wasn't showing a path to victory so  much as wearing the bigger guys out by making them keep working at a  higher pace than they would like because he was feisty & annoying,  and if they didn't get him down again, he was just going to make it  harder by continuing to  beat up their legs.

Tamura was able to get a  takedown on Nakano, and his counters were often into his own  submissions, rather than simply scrambling back to his feet &  forcing the opposition to start over. Tensions were escalating as Nakano  dropped into an Achilles' tendon hold, but Tamura countered with a heel  hook only to have Nakano keep kicking him in the face until he  released, which allowed Nakano to take his back.

Miyato got back to his  feet enough that Burton began to slow down, and was caught off guard  when Miyato finally threw his hands, stunning Burton  and allowing  Miyato to get the spinning heel kick in for a knockdown. I was surprised  at how much ring time Miyato was logging, Tamura was really getting the  star treatment here, coming in for brief sequences where he looked  good, but letting Miyato carry the load. There was one crazy Tamura spot  where Burton had his back & started to go for a cravate, but Tamura  handspringed & took a front facelock. Nakano got a couple near  finishes on Tamura including a snap suplex into a high kick when Tamura  was getting back up, and as usual, Tamura was way down on points. I  liked the finish where Tamura losing the battle of pulling himself  halfway across the ring to get to the ropes before Burton could turn him  over into the Boston crab him allowed him to use Burton's momentum  against him (Burton was busy dragging him back), tripping him up into an  ankle lock for the win. I'm not saying much about Nakano or Burton  here, largely because they were instruments who were very well played by  maestros. ***3/4 

 

Next up is Yoji Anjo vs Billy Scott. The last time we saw Scott in a singles match was a surprisingly awesome affair with Kazuo Yamazaki, and out of all the imported Tennessee talent, he has showed the most promise, by far. Here he must face his sophomore test against everyone’s loveable zebra-warrior in Anjo, and they don’t waste any time.

Immediately after the bell, Anjo rushes in with a slap to try and set up an o-goshi throw, but Scott just shoves him off, and gives him a stiff kick in the back for his trouble. This causes our zebra to wisely rush back to the safety of his savannah, backing off to regroup before charging in again. He attempts another hip-toss, but Scott is wise to these judo shenanigans, and responds with a couple of ultra-low single-leg takedowns, a la Sakuraba, succeeding with his second attempt, which he converted into a slam.

They both then proceeded to get into a slap fest until Anjo pulls out a sweet Kani Basami out of his bag of tricks, which shows that maybe there is something to be said for these judo parlor tricks, after all. What followed next was a barrage of strikes, takedowns, reversals, until Anjo scored the first rope escape against Scott, in what could be loosely interpreted as a kimura from an open guard. Anjo quickly followed this up with a head kick knockdown, furthering his score against Scott.

This upswing didn’t last long though, as shortly afterwards, Scott got a takedown and finished the match in what is one of the most bizarre submissions I’ve ever seen, which resembled something between a “twister” and a neck-crank.

  Bizarre finish aside, this was a great match, and although they could have let it breathe more in spots, the fast pace kept it highly entertaining. Scott is continuing to show that he has a bright future, as he adds a credible gravitas with his look, and athleticism.

  The Twister/Neck-Crank Hybrid…


ML: Scott took a big step forward here, partially because he's a tough  & proud guy who isn't going to allow Anjo to take advantage of him.  These guys really stepped up the level of defense & intensity, not  only refusing to go along with the opponent, but making each other pay  with a swift foot to the face. While this wasn't a shoot by any means,  of all the works we've seen so far, it's probably the match that felt  most like it both in terms of the fighters moving quickly &  desperately to avoid what the other fighter was trying & getting a  bit out of control and even nailing each other  when they had the  chance. They really put a lot of energy into the takedowns, throws, and  scrambles, and both fighters inserted their share of cheap shots. They  took some brief rests on the mat, where Scott isn't the most fluid to  begin with once he gets you there, but made up for it by seeming to  legitimately piss each other off in standup, leading to some strikes  that were arguably too mean & some scrambles where the loser  normally would have given up much easier. 11:29 was a good length for  this, as it started great, and maintained the intensity throughout, but  the holes were becoming more and more apparent the longer it continued. I  was  surprised that Scott got the upset here, although Anjo is one of  their better fighters, I wasn't opposed to it because Scott did a nice  job of standing up for himself & hanging with the veteran. With this  being Scott's 3rd match, it's hard to argue against this overachieving.  ***1/2 

 And now…. The main event, and a sad realization sweeps over me, as I am  now realizing that this is, and forever will be, Yamazaki's destiny. To  forever be confined as a 2nd banana to Takada. Maybe the writing was  always on the wall though, as this picture taken from the 1985 Shooting Bible ,  tells the entire story. Here we have Takada rolling around in his  brand-new fancy sports car, while Yamazaki is reduced to getting by  day-to-day in a beat-up Toyota Corolla. This snapshot perfectly sums up  how Yamazaki was treated throughout his career. Instead of a Clubber  Lang tale of one's meteoric rise to the top, climbing up out of the  poverty of your surroundings, and overcoming your circumstances, instead  it was a hard luck tale, that told us all that sometimes you will  always be kept down by the man born with a golden spoon in his mouth.  Though these two have fought countless times, especially as young lions  in New Japan where Takada was 11-0 in 1982 & 20-0 in 1983,  Yamazaki  only has 4 wins over Takada, 12/5/84  in the Original UWF in one of  Dave Meltzer's early 5-star rated matches, 1/6/86 in New Japan's UWF  League, and 8/13/88 & 5/4/89 in Newborn UWF.







Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #41 on: August 01, 2020, 10:48:57 AM »
Vol 15 Continued....

Politics aside, these two always had good chemistry with one another,  and while the booking here was lacking any build up, at least it's a  well-tested formula, so hopefully they put in another classic tonight.  After a bit of a feeling out process, we have Yamazaki nailing a back  suplex off a missed kick from Takada, and immediately Takada grabs the  ropes to garner an escape. There is some more jockeying for position  from the two of them, until Yamazaki is able to fight for, and finally  obtain, a heel hook, scoring more points against Takada. Takada tries to  initiate a tie-up, in which Yamazaki responds by feinting with his  hand, as if he was going to accept, only set that up as a way to kick  Takada in the gut. Herein lies the greatness of Yamazaki's craftmanship,  while someone like a Tamura was a lot of flash, speed, and soundnfury,  Yamazaki had a more calculated, methodical approach, that I wish more of  Pro Wrestling was patterned after.

They battle both over position, and who was going to be able to  secure a kimura. This  led to an interesting grappling sequence, when  Yamazaki was unable to secure a kimura, he started grating his elbow,  and the blade of his forearm against Takada's face, causing him to shift  enough that he was able to slap on a side headlock. From there, we get a  sequence that wouldn't be unsimilar to watching two high-level white  belts roll at your local BJJ academy. Yamazaki stacks Takada, getting  out of a sloppy triangle attempt, and counters with a clever kneebar  entry, which sadly doesn't work. Things continue to unfold with Takada  scoring an ankle lock of his own, and Yamazaki scoring a knockdown with a  series of knees in the corner of the ring, and while I'm cheering for  Yamazaki, I get the sinking feeling that there couldn't possibly be any  way that they will allow him to win. After this wave of despair flows  through me, I comfort myself with thoughts, that perhaps, Yamazaki will  have the courage to do what Yuki Kondo did years later, and simply kick  Takada out of the ring and into the front row.

Sadly, this did not happen…. What did happen, was Takada hulked up,  and got several knockdowns against Yamazaki before finally finishing  with a Dragon suplex followed by an armbar. This started off decent, but  was really hampered by Takada's laziness. In the original UWF days,  Takada was way more apt to put some real work into a match, where he now  seems content to just coast. This was basically a US Hulk Hogan main  event where the hero got beat up for the first three-quarters, only to  make a miraculous comeback in the end. Yamazaki did what he could with  it, but this was sorely lacking compared to some of their great matches  from times past.

 

ML: If Yuko Miyato were a decent booker, UWF-I might still exist  today. The league has kind of been on autopilot for the first series of  small Korakuen Hall shows, with  the problem that  no one has been given  the opportunity to appear to be any threat to Takada. They had to bring  in a former WWF Heavyweight Champion who has been more or less out of  the sport since the new ringleader of the circus scoffs at things such  as the amateur backgrounds that the real legends of the sport such as  Thesz & Gagne had devoted so much effort to giving value to in their  peers & successors. After Takada dispatched of Mr. Bob in mere  moments, there was only one man known to be strong enough to give him a  run, Yamazaki. While Yamazaki was, at best, the #3 fighter in the UWF  incarnations, his win over Takada in their first meeting in the Newborn  UWF was really the thing that cemented his presence on the top of the  bill there. Granted, he always lost to Maeda & usually to Takada,  but was enough of a threat that people believed he could win, & took  the matches seriously, filling the buildings and responding rabidly to  the action, even if more were rooting against him. Yamazaki absolutely  needed to win this, he could then lose the next handful to Takada as  usual, but that bought you that handful, as well as  Tamura or Anjo's  ticket to the top going through Yamazaki. Yamazaki winning gave you  options, Takada winning gave your, well, more staleness &  embarrasment.

One of the problems with Takada's matwork is even when he was gifted  an obvious counter, he just sat on it. For instance, Yamazaki hits a no  cooperation backdrop early on, and waits around with Takada holding a  Kimura setup, until he just gets bored of Takada not doing anything  & pivots to take away Takada's angle. Yamazaki keeps moving so  Takada can't do his usual pretend contemplation that's actually not  knowing what he could/should be doing, but when he's not doing things he  learned in the New Japan dojo, sometimes it's hard to tell what he  really thinks he's supposed to be accomplishing, he's really just  grabbing appendages sometimes and hoping that looks enough like some  sort of submission. Other times, it's easy to see that he has only   vague notions of what the actual submissions are supposed to look like,  hence his legs being reversed on his triangle attempt. To some extent,  the problem with the match is that Yamazaki keeps grabbing/catching the  leg & taking Takada down to avoid the thing Takada does well, kick,  but to his credit, Yamazaki does enough things well on the mat that the  match doesn't fall apart despite Takada mostly being forced to work on  the mat. Story wise, Yamazaki is trying to get a leg submission, or at  least debilitate the leg enough that Takada can't use it to knock him  out. Takada does come up with one a great combo when Yamazaki wants to  lock up, but Takada lands a right  inside leg kick and a right slap,  almost simultaneously, and Yamazaki is caught so off guard he basically  turns & covers, allowing Takada to kick around what guard Yamazaki  has until he drops him. Once Takada has this one opening, he just  steamrolls Yamazaki, getting him down to one point before adding insult  to injury by submitting him with his patented armbar. I think the later  stages of the match were actually supposed to show how tough Yamazaki  was in taking all this punishment that Backlund and the others weren't  up to, but one could certainly argue that it  made Yamazaki look worse  to just get blown out of the water once the first real advantage of the  match was gained. This was maybe passable, but it was shockingly never  really exciting. It's definitely nowhere near the level of probably any  of their previous  matches since they were basically rookies.

Conclusion: Outside of a disappointing main event, this was an  entertaining, if uninspired event. There still seems to be no clear  direction to this outfit, other than to portray Takada as an unstoppable  hero, but at least they have been consistently entertaining, so there  must be credit given for that. It may be a bit frustrating, knowing that  they have the talent on their hands to do more than they are, but it  will be interesting to see how this plays out.

ML: Kind of an odd show in that you had a squash, followed by two  overachieving really heated & competitive matches, followed by what  should have been the biggest match within the promotion that was somehow  transformed into another kind of a squash where this inexplicably  mightier version of Takada can now beat a guy who has at least had some  success against him in the past without ever being in any trouble. Scott  announcing  himself, and Miyato taking steps to make himself the  relevant in the more modern version of shooting are things to get  excited about, while the desperation of going right back to Takada vs.  Backlund, without even given Backlund a win to show he's viable, or hell  even credible in the 1990's, certainly is not. Again, UWF-I is the most  difficult promotion to know what to think of because two very good  matches on a four match show is better than the other promotions are  doing, but PWFG is more fulfilling in the sense that you have Suzuki,  Shamrock, & Funaki already in the main events, and only on the rise,  whereas UWF-I has shown itself to be Takada or bust, even though Takada  is a bust, and becoming more & more a laughable one as a guy such  as Scott, who is just some dude that wrestled in school, can come in and  already show  way more  understanding of both the technical aspects  & the compelling methods of fakery in just a few outings.


 

*In Other News*

UWFI’s event on 9-26 was a sellout but faced serious problems when they almost caused a riot with the inanely short Takada/Backlund main event that only lasted to the 1:15 mark. The ending of the match caused the Sapporo crowd to become unruly, which led to Kazuo Yamazaki grabbing the mic and try and calm them down. After Yamazaki’s attempt at peacekeeping, Backlund grabbed the mic and admitted to being knocked out and would try to learn how to block kicks better, for their next confrontation.

It was a hot night in Holland, as a molten kickboxing event took place on 10-20-91 in Amsterdam. Some highlights include a brutal headkick KO delivered to Nicco Anches by Peter Theijsse. We also got to see up and coming Dutch fighter, Ernesto Hoost face veteran Leo de Snoo, in a brutal 5-round war. Snoo’s composure and experience was tough to deal with, but at the end of the fight, Hoost’s sizeable reach advantage, quickness, and combinations were too much to overcome, as we was able to score a head kick knockdown that put him far enough over on the scorecards, so that he couldn’t be denied. If Hoost continues to stay healthy, then he is certainly going to be a champion for a long time to come.   


Leo de Snoo, Peter Smit, Ramon Dekkers, Rob Kaman, and Marcel Wille, from 1990.



Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #42 on: August 07, 2020, 06:47:07 PM »

*Archives of this series can be found at https://www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad *

Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.16 "The Threshing Floor"

*Editors note: Mike Lorefice's comments will be prefaced by his initials.*

Welcome back, to the wonderful world of Kakutogi. We have successfully returned from our jaunt to the proceedings of a year prior (when we looked into the inner-workings of Shooto circa 1990, available only within the hollowed confines of our Patreon) and now we must head back to the future, making a crash landing at the infamous Korakuen Hall. In this case, the date is 10-17-9, and the occasion is another event by the ever stalwart PWFG clan, who has perhaps made the most out of what they’ve had to work with at this stage of the game, compared to their contemporary rivals.


We are greeted to a brief montage of Minoru Suzuki training, and working on his heel-hook entries, contrasted by Bart Vale walking around, showing off his patriotic duds, and basically demonstrating to us that this won’t just be another case of man against man, but will rather be two rival nations colliding, in what must surely be an apex in the history of Japanese-American relations.

The first match of the evening will be between Takaku Fuke vs Jerry Flynn. When we last saw Fuke he gave us a very solid performance against Wellington Wilkins Jr, and when we last witnessed Flynn he was in a rather pedestrian match against Bart Vale, through no fault of his own, but with Fuke at the helm this bout should be an accurate gauge of how he will fare within this style.

Right away Flynn fires off a nice kick to Fuke’s thigh but is taken down by a beautiful single-leg entry before he could launch another one. There must have been something in the water over in those days, as Fuke, Takahashi, and later Sakuraba, always had insanely proficient single-leg techniques in their arsenals.

After the takedown they both jockey for position, and trade submission attempts, before having to restart on their feet, and once they do, Flynn unleashes a barrage of kicks and palm strikes, that are a lot quicker than you would expect from a man of his size. Flynn is looking very solid here so far, and while he didn’t look bad against Vale, he was limited on what he could do working with him, and by being paired up with someone a lot more fluid like Fuke, he isn’t having to scale things back as much.

The rest of the match saw Fuke really earning his pay for the evening, as he took plenty of stiff kicks and palm strikes from Flynn in most of their standing sequences, and the groundwork was nicely paced too. Whenever it hit the mat they kept things at a fast tempo, without ever getting hokey, and also added some nice touches like when Flynn would escape from an ankle lock attempt by kicking Fuke in the head with his free leg, or at one point when Fuke was working for an armbar, and decided to slap Flynn in the face several times to open his opponent up.

This went to a 30min draw, and I must admit that I’m quite impressed with this. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is one of the best matches we’ve seen so far, as at no point over the entire 30mins did this ever drag, and it was able to really strike a balance between realism and entertainment value. Fuke and Flynn were able to give us a long match with the stiffness and flow of a shoot, but with a faster, and more entertaining pace, without ever feeling corny or contrived. Where I would have assumed Flynn to have been a lumbering ox, he moved gracefully for a man of his size, and it never felt like Fuke was having to really stretch to make him look good.

While the idea of having a 30min draw for the opening match sounded odd to me on paper, it wound up being a great way to put Flynn over, and has really opened my eyes to Fuke, as I always just saw him as a middling journeyman figure from Pancrase, I had no idea he was basically the PWFG’s answer to Yoji Anjo, as a cardio machine, that could be used in a variety of capacities within the card to good effect.


ML: Fuke has already done a shoot where he failed to take down the greasiest of Muay Thai competitors for longer than it took Lawi Napataya to just grab the ropes, and I was really impressed at how he took the distance & his strategy into consideration. This was probably the most realistic fight we've seen so far in terms of approaching the wrestler vs. grappler dynamic. Flynn had a big reach advantage, but Fuke mostly stayed on the outside looking for a kick he could catch when he wasn't making his move to initiate the takedown. Fuke generally did a good job of moving in and out, and would actually even move laterally then cut an angle to get in on Flynn's legs. In the meantime, Fuke would try to check Flynn's low kicks, which really made me take them a lot more seriously.

While the length kept it from being the fastest paced or stiffest match, they did a great job of upping the urgency & stiffness when it mattered. If there was a potential submission for either, or a takedown attempt for Fuke, they found an extra gear or two to fight, and hit, hard to answer it, then would relax somewhat when they were more or less out of danger. I really liked Fuke blasting Flynn with palms to the face to fend off his leglock.

Anyway you slice it though, the length was still the problem, largely because Flynn basically just did his thing, and while Fuke was credible & technically proficient, there were only so many scenarios he, or anyone, could think of to keep a realistically bent vanilla striker vs. grappler match going for half an hour. I don't want to downplay Flynn's contributions, he was the more well rounded of the two in that he could offer more to counter & answer Fuke on the mat that Fuke, who had little striking, could in standup. While these guys were green, this was nonetheless a huge step forward for both, and one of the signature bouts of 1991 in terms of moving the sport forward in a more believable direction. ***1/2

Next up is Ken Shamrock vs Wellington Wilkins Jr. When we last witnessed Shamrock, it was a very solid match where we defeated Minoru Suzuki, and with this booking we can get a glimpse as to what is going to a major hurdle in this style, and that’s the limited talent pool to work with. It makes sense to use  Wilkins as Shamrock’s next opponent, as they have never fought before, but it also feels like a holding pattern, as the only other two members of the promotion that are likely to really give him a worthy battle are Funaki, Suzuki, or possibly Koslowski, all of which he has already faced, and if the UWFI has proved anything, it’s difficult to just throw random American pro wrestlers into this style, and expect good results, so we are left with a situation where this small roster of talent in the PWFG is likely to have to be constantly mixed and matched in inconsequential ways, unless they manage to pull in some more talent.

The bout starts, and Ken has a bored look on his face that would indicate that he would rather be anywhere else right now. Things start off with some light strikes back and forth from both contestants, until Ken clinched up with Wilkins, paused for a couple of seconds while seemingly whispering something into Wilkins ear, and then suplexed him.

Things get a bit more interesting on the ground, as Wilkins starts to turtle up, and Ken does a creative semi-cartwheel, diving over Wilkins back, looking for a kneebar in the process. Wilkins gets a rope escape, and after the standup is able to get the fight back to the ground via a northern lights suplex, but is forced to escape yet again, when Shamrock sinks in a rear naked choke.  After the stand up, Ken starts to up the stiffness quotient, and puts a lot more velocity into his palm strikes, which causes Wilkins to respond with a headbutt and some knees, to which Ken answered with an especially stiff open handed slap to Wilkins’ face, causing a knockdown.

A few more short exchanges went down, before Shamrock won via an armbar around the 6 ½ min mark, and one nice sequence within those, was when Wilkins was working his way out of a loosely applied guillotine, and was starting to slide out from under Shamrocks left arm/shoulder (while still wrapped around Shamrocks arm) Ken took the opportunity to completely torque his bodyweight into a palm strike using his free right hand, as soon as Wilkins escaped, and scored a knockdown off of it.

Overall, these was a very awkward match, that never really found its rhythm, or a consistent tone. Wilkins was striking way too softly, while Shamrock would oscillate between soft/stiff, and seemed unsure of how to work against Wilkins. Shamrock’s prior five matches all ranged from good to great, but he was working with seasoned veterans in all of them, which is probably what is needed to really pull the best out of Ken at this stage.

 ML: Shamrock had the wrong attitude here, just seeing an opponent that was beneath him & being unwilling to do anything to raise him up to the level of having a prayer. By being rather indifferent, and somewhat sloppy, either going easy or throwing wild hard shots that either blew Wilkins away or missed, the match never came off as anything beyond a dull enhancement match. This isn't a bad match per se, but there's also really no reason to watch it.

Dee Snider wins via Armbar…


Now we have a battle between Masakatsu Funaki, and Kazuo Takahashi, that is sure to violate several building ordinances, as the amount of yellow neon sported between the two, is clearly a safety hazard. Takahashi doesn’t waste anytime firing off an excellent single leg, that would be the envy of any current MMA fighter, taking Funaki down, and quickly slaps his way out of Funaki’s guard, and is able to gain side-control.

Takahashi quickly goes for an armbar, but Funaki is way too slick on the ground, and easily escapes the attempt, and is able to get back to his feet. Takahashi blasts him right back down to the mat again, and repeats his armbar attack, only this time Funaki rolls out, and opts to mount Takahashi this time instead of standing back up.

It is a treat to see Funaki’s methodical nature, even at this early stage of his career. As he has the mount, he patiently rides Takahashi, and starts to grind his elbow across his face, forcing him to squirm a bit, and uses this technique to its fullest, looking to open up a submission. Takahashi remained composed, so Funaki dialed it up a notch and started firing some short, stiff, forearm strikes to Takahashi’s face. This still wasn’t enough to force Takahashi to make a mistake, so Funaki gets up, smacks Kazuo in the face, and soccer kicks him in the head as the ref calls for a break. While the ref is separating them for a restart, Kazuo runs right after Funaki, and gets a swift kick to the thigh for his trouble, but if there is one thing that Takahashi has that Funaki can’t seem to stop, is the speed of his single-leg, and he uses it to good effect, and is able to stop Funaki before he could fire off another kick.

Funaki’s groundwork seems to consist of putting his hand over Takahashi’s mouth and punching him in the face, which doesn’t really yield any results. Takahashi eventually passes the guard but seems to get bored with the idea of maintaining a superior position, and quickly goes for another arm attack, that fails just as quickly as the first two. He loses his position to Funaki, who goes into side-control mode, and goes back to his tactic of using the blade of his forearm to annoy Takahashi.

After making Kazuo squirm a bit, Funaki starts to posture up, and shifts his body towards his opponents legs, which instantly set off Takahashi’s spider sense, and caused him to franticly grab the ropes for an escape. They stand back up, and this time Takahashi has no slick takedowns for his mentor. Instead he suffers the wrath of a stiff thigh kick, followed up with another kick to the face forcing a knockdown.

Kazuo gets up at the count of 9, and takes some more punishment, before Funaki misses a kick, and it’s back to the ground. Sadly, the only submission he cares to try is an armbar, and his 4th attempt fails as well. Kazuo winds up on the wrong end of a north-south situation, but tries to make the best of it, by going for a toehold against Funaki, but the master has all the answers, and simply gives a hard blow to Takahashi’s stomach, forcing his legs to dangle, and goes right for an ankle lock. The lock is in snug, and Kazuo taps out.

Excellent match, that I would assess as a ¾ shoot. They weren’t cooperating, and everything (with the exception of the ending) felt authentic, even they weren’t quite going at each other with an absolute 100% intensity either. This was definitely a great blueprint on how much shoot you can put into a work. 

 ML: Unlike Shamrock, Funaki found the challege & crafted a competitive match against an opponent who was clearly well beneath him. While the match was a bit repetitive in that Takahashi's chance was getting a single leg then finding an armbar, at least that chance was made real, and thus the threat seemed genuine. Funaki going from one hip to another to back up enough to try to keep Takahashi inside his guard when Takahashi exploded trying to pass is the sort of thing we haven't seen anyone else care about (or probably understand) that made maintaining the defensive position seem to be of the utmost importance. Funaki has been the most realistic worker so far, and while that can often be to his detriment as his striking tends to be much more exciting than his grappling, which is his bread and butter, Funaki found a good mix tonight, largely because he needed to punish Takahashi before he took him down, and hopefully Takahashi would either get KO'd charging into a well timed blow, or some of these strikes would at least slow his shot down enough that Funaki could find an actual defense. Takahashi came close just before the finish, eating a few palms before ducking a high kick into a takedown & passing into an armbar attempt. Funaki rolled though, and then they did a pretty lame finish that, unlike most of what came before it, felt very contrived, where Takahashi tried to transition into a kneebar, but Funaki made Takahashi release with a body shot then went into an Achilles' tendon hold for the win. While it was the first submission locked, Funaki winning with a strike or guillotine to counter the takedown would have been a lot more fitting for the story they'd been telling than Funaki grabbing a leg out of nowhere & Takahashi offering no defense. I think they had to keep this short both because it was a big mismatch & because Takahashi is a one-trick pony, but at 10 minutes they might really have had something here. ***



Topskin69

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Re: Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA
« Reply #43 on: August 07, 2020, 06:48:27 PM »
Vol.16 Continued...

Thankfully, we just received a rush of adrenaline because we are going to need it, to face what will surely be our collective doom, as Fujiwara faces Mark Rush. We were all the better for Fujiwara’s absence last month, but surely it was too much to hope for that he would lose his way within the building a la Spinal Tap, so here we are. As this fight starts, I am beginning to realize, that I can’t recall Fujiwara ever looking young. Even in 1985 it looked like he was going on 80, but to his credit he is still going strong as a freelance wrestler, outlasting almost all of his contemporaries.

The fight starts off with a brief tie up, before Rush shoots in and takes Fujiwara down, and then proceeds to execute the worlds slowest ankle lock entry. This leads the two to play footsie for a while, before Fujiwara reclaims superior position, and secures a keylock, which prompts a rope escape. After the standup Rush takes Fujiwara right back down, and fumbles for a toe-hold, when two things become readily apparent, the first is that Rush has some legit amateur wrestling experience, and the 2nd is that Fujiwara could easily smoking cigarettes in between submission attempts from Rush.

The next 8 mins of the fight was really a battle of the takedowns, as Rush pitted his amateur wrestling against Fujiwara’s judo arsenal, and to Fujiwara’s credit, he seemed to taking this seriously and was on his best behavior, until just past the 10min mark, where he had to throw a couple of his awful comic headbutts, to which Rush did his best to sell. The rest of the match didn’t fare much better, and it finally ended just past the 17min mark with an ankle lock from Fujiwara. This would have been passable had it clocked in around 5-6 mins, and Fujiwara kept it straight. As it stands, this match only served to be a way for Fujiwara to try and show off his judo, and that could have been accomplished with a much quicker match. All this served to do was kill the momentum of the show, and make Rush look bad.

 ML: Shamrock & Funaki each doing 6 minute matches left Fujiwara to eat a lot of time. Typically, he did it in the least intense fashion, getting outwrestled then making fun of Rush when he tried for a submission hold. In Fujiwara's defense, Rush only possessed the most rudimentary knowledge of submissions, and would just kind of make things up, twisting Fujiwara's ankle without isolating it or controlling Fujiwara's body in any way, which I suppose deserves Fujiwara putting his hand to his ear to hold his head up while he rested in this nonsense. The match was dated & lazy, with Rush generally doing little to actually control Fujiwara on the mat, but Fujiwara just laying there passively anyway. The finish was the only time either seemed threatened, but that was overdramatized with a lot of bluster from Rush while staying in the hold too long. This match was just a bunch of air, between being so long & so laid back, I'd rate this as one of the worst worked shoots of the year.

Now it’s up for the clash between East and West to save us, so here’s hoping that Bart Vale said his prayers and took his vitamins before coming out here. Right away, Vale is moving faster than usual, and seems to be giving this his best effort, and he tries to cut the ring off from Suzuki, by working his side stance, and trying to box Minoru into the corner with some sidekicks. Suzuki gets wise, and shoots his way out of the corner, but is stopped by Vale’s sprawl. Vale wasn’t able to capitalize though, and spent his mat time hanging on for dear life against Suzuki, but did wind up warding off a bully choke, and an armbar.

The rest of the match was rather surprising, as outside of a few strikes, Vale was given very little offense by Suzuki. The match was mostly Vale defending Suzuki’s offense, outside of getting a few strikes in, there wasn’t much that he was able to do. The match ended with a weird submission that was a cross between a half nelson, and a neck-crank.


This wasn’t terrible but was by no means great either. To his credit, Vale gave forth an honest effort here, but as usual his problem is that he is just way too slow when put with small opponents. He works ok when put with other large/slow men, but it’s hard to carry him to a good match. He is getting better at this compared to his rookie days, though. (If anyone wants to see a terrible match, they need look no further than his match against Akira Maeda at the 2-27-89 Newborn UWF event).

 ML: The move toward realism seemed to help Vale the most, as he did a better job of closing the distance aggressively and landing quicker, more plausible blows that would put Suzuki on the defensive without exposing himself horrible, thus making it more difficult for Suzuki to just grab him & get it to the ground. While Vale was able to back Suzuki with front kicks, and through his generally aggressive barrage, he didn't do a good job of then getting out of the pocket when his surge was finished, so he did wind up spending a lot of time on his back. Vale's ground game could still use a lot of work, and these limitations hampered Suzuki because Vale wasn't giving a ton of openings either trying to rest or survive, but I actually liked the first half of the match, and the last minute or so. The weak portion was almost all control with neither seeming to really be setting anything up, especially the lengthy front facelock by Vale. Overall though, this was way better than any of Vale's other matches, and the first time I mostly enjoyed his striking.

Conclusion: Fuke/Flynn and Funaki/Takahashi were worth the price of admission alone, but in the end, things was seriously hampered by the Fujiwara match. The Shamrock, Suzuki matches, while not great, were short enough that they didn’t drag things down too much, but 17min of Fujiwara/Rush was painful.

 ML: What stands out about the show is the concerted attempt made by everyone to step up the realism. While some had more success at that than others, not surprisingly Funaki & Fuke, who are among the most realistic to begin with, and surprisingly Vale, who needed a more urgent situation to get out of his safe movie striking shell, the cooperation was almost across the board much less obvious than in other leagues or on previous PWFG shows. This isn't my favorite PWFG show by any means, but given none of these matches were particularly competitive or compelling on paper, it's a great sign that they finally managed to have two good matches, and hard to argue against the show overacheiving considerably.

*In other news*

Akira Maeda has managed to snag a lucrative job, moonlighting as a sports reporter for the WOWWOW channel (similar to HBO in the states). He was even able to interview both Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield for Japanese television.

The terrible match between Nobuhiko Takada and Bob Backlund on 9-26-91 is rumored to have been due to Backlunds unwillingness to lose to a submission (presumably seen as an affront to his reputation), and thus the idea for him to lose quickly to a kick (acting like it was a low-blow) was the solution. It’s safe to say that this idea backfired as it almost caused a riot, that Kazuo Yamazaki had to go out and quell. They are scheduled for a rematch on 11-7-91.

It would seem, that the UWF and the PWFG are in for some stiff competition from the rival FMW promotion. As they recently (10-14-91) almost packed 4,000 people into the Fukata Starlanes, which is considerably more than either of those groups usually do.