Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Mega Battle Tournament 1992: Grand Final
January 23, 1993 in Tokyo, Japan
NK Hall drawing 6,570

It is only two days later (blog time, not RINGS time [which would be a month]) but I remain really very charged-up about Chris Dolman's entirely stunning (to me) hiza-hishigi defeat of Akira Maeda in the second MEGA BATTLE TOURNAMENT 92: SEMI-FINALS semi-final. Would it be overstating the matter to position Dolman's victory in the broader context of other large-Dutch-judoman triumphs over Japanese græppling that would include among them those of Anton Geesink, Willem Ruska, and Mark Huizinga? To me it is not overstating it all that much at all, other than that this one was fake, and also I am reminded by the mere mention of his name that I really should check and see if NJPW World has the MSG Tag League matches where Willem Ruska and "Bad News" Allen Coage were a team because that is extremely the team, in my view, just extremely the team. 

For the first time since we began this journey we have formally titled TK Scissors but which is commonly called RINGS Blog, we witness a parade of fighters that does not end with Akira Maeda: in deference to their Mega Battle finalism, it is Dick Fry (Dirk Vrij) and Chris Dolman who come out last, although it is Maeda alone who speaks. Except then it isn't, as also addressing the crowd is Dutch judo (9th dan) and kyokushin (10th dan) and European mixed-fight elder statesman Jon Bluming! That's unexpected! Bluming's direct relevance here is that he is Chris Dolman's coach (and indeed sensei) but his place in the martial arts more broadly was secured years before when he kind of did just about everything, like hang out with Donn Draeger in Tokyo and defeat Kaminaga and Inokuma to earn his judo yodan (so the legends tell), train under Mas Oyama for years before mysteriously falling out with him (who could say or know), feud with Anton Geesink (who was not known to be a jerk so conclude what you will about this situation), coach Willem Ruska, who you may recall as having been the best, and exhibit a high enough taste level to have spent a year (1958) teaching judo at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada's Dalhousie University, a venerable institution that has produced not only prime ministers (several of Canada, and one of Fiji, although that guy is kind of a coup-based guy so I don't know) and artists and scholars and subjects and citizens of both great distinction and humble worth but also kind of a lot of pretty good judo if you add up all of the judo and then also evaluate it qualitatively. Look, I even found an article from the Dalhousie Gazette:  

Let us all enjoy a Judo, fellows.

If Jon Bluming teaching for a year at Dalhousie as he tried to make his way back to Tokyo (he took the long way) does not fill you with a sense of judo's internationalism, to say nothing of its techniques (limitless) and its spirit (sublime), then we are very different people, you and me, and that's okay, but now that we know that about ourselves let us try and find that which might unite us (it could be judo). 

And look at how well he is keeping, this Jon Bluming: 

He looks big and strong and well, and though I am almost unbelievably in no place to judge anyone's Japanese, his totally sounds like Japanese to me! He was about to turn sixty when we see him here on this day of Mega Battle, and twenty-three years later he is with us still, and remains involved in the martial arts, as I understand it, both through his schools and through the occasional interview where he takes pains to point out that none of the Gracies wanted anything to do with Chris Dolman at any point, despite Dolman's eagerness. He is proud of his student!

I could go on feeling moved about a 1958 clipping from a school newspaper all day (actually that is how I spent yesterday), but let us attend instead to the matter at hand. RINGS officials from around the FIGHTING NETWORK are introduced at ringside and acknowledged politely by the crowd, lending these Mega Battle finals an air of ceremony. Slow motion, soft-voiced replays show us not just the tournament highlights one would perhaps expect here, but also an explanation of the rules as they currently stand, and they are as we had sort of figured, but here they are for sure: five downs are a TKO, and three rope breaks equate to one down. This is the best part:

Mitsuya Nagai and Masayuki Naruse open this evening's account in an extremely non-tournament bout that I expect to be good! Naruse looks about a foot shorter than I remember him, and we should I think attribute ten of those twelve apparent inches to my faulty memory but the other two inches perhaps to Naruse bulking up a bit, which changes things visually doesn't it. Nagai knocks him down early, but Naruse fires ups and throws with a kubi-nage headlock takeover but it is only a moment before they are back to their feet and it is Nagai who throws and then hooks a heel until a rope escape. Oh, Naruse: that spinning heel kick was terrible. Also, Maeda is probably going to do like an infinity of those later so maybe settle down with them? Nagai goes for precisely the same application of hiza-hishigi that Dolman used to overcome Maeda, so maybe this is going to be the hot new waza? Naruse had better watch it, I think, with slinging dudes right up onto his shoulder and doing what I believe is categorized in Fire Pro as a waterwheel drop, because it looks way less real than things should look here. Or perhaps that is on his uke for not struggling appropriately? In truth I feel both are to blame. Naruse, on the whole, is getting creamed here like the fermented yak butter that goes in a kind of tea enjoyed in the Himalayas I heard about on CBC radio last night, and let me say that my experience of students (literature, not judo, in this instance) from the Himalayas who make it over here to study is that they are pretty serious about their studies and I admire them very much. Nagai finishes with juji-gatame like so many before him.

Sotir Gotchev against Todor Todorov of Bulgaria, as in the Todor Todorov of Bulgarian judo? So far he is driving knees into Todorov's body from a fairly wacky (not to be confused with waki, haha) armlock which is I suppose a kind of judo (impure). HOLY SHIT his ippon-seoi-nage was as pure as driven snow though, the commentator was perfectly correct to describe it as IIIIIIIPONZEOOOOOIIIIIIIIIII. It was as the work of Koga, this seoi-nage, or Nakanishi, or indeed Inokuma Yawara. Oh man he has a heck of a harai-goshi, too! That's a hip sweep! And what a hip sweep! His juji-gatame attacks are credible but not overwhelming and this is not Sotir Gotchev's first outing, is it, so he finds his way to the ropes when he needs to. Gotchev's throws here have been of the arching-ura-nage-from-bear-hug classification and themselves a delight, if different in not only execution but also in spirit from Todorov's. Todorov just did de-ashi-barai, the advancing foot sweep! This is getting subtler by the moment! All subtly disappears, though, when Gotchev hoists Todorov up in a te-guruma/sukui-nage bodyslam position and walks around with him a little bit before slamming him down, and the Tokyo Bay NK Hall people are not having its unreal theatrics, not to the point of booing, but with absolutely no reaction to the throw (and this crowd likes throws). They prefer, and are in my view correct to prefer, when Gotchev nearly does a murder with his second bear-hug-ura-nage. Gotchev's kata-guruma/shoulder-wheel/fireman's carry seems likely to be countered by juji-gatame but Gotchev slips out, takes the back with his hooks curiously be neatly securing a single weirdly-bent leg, and sinks the hadaka-jime to finish this imperfect but strong bout that had some great things in it at 10:56. The moments where they lost the crowd through slight instances of slight fakery where telling! I think a process that is well underway here is the RINGS crowd's rising expectations of vraisemblance (truth-seeming): the only time they will accept techniques that do not appear totally and completely and immediately shoot-credible is in a match heated to the level of say a Maeda bout, where they are so overwhelmed with emotion not to notice or mind at once; only when real emotion rises to its peak can they overlook sub-real techniques, and I wouldn't even want to push that too hard at this point, these crowds seem discerning. Like, they started out discerning, but almost two years into this, they are discerrrrrrrnnnnninnnnng.     

Here comes Yoshihisa Yamamoto, whose hair is somewhat floppier and whose acne seems to be improving a little but is still an affliction and curse. I like him, and also Yoshinori Nishi, so am ready to enjoy! From a tight, close clinch, Nishi takes Yamamoto down with a kosoto-gake outside hook, and takes the back ably, before sliding up for a rolling juji-gatame but kind of blows it, and so now it is Yamamoto who has the back (such is the way of things). Something to watch out for, I think, is the way Nishi crosses his legs when he has the back, which could leave him vulnerable to the hiza-tori-hishigi footlock we have seen already in RINGS and will in time see again (there is a Tamura/TK match! not the famous one but a different one!). JUDO WRESTLING KENPO KARATE the commentator says in an appropriate tone in which to utter those thrilling things, those thrilling ways. Perhaps he is describing Yamamoto's style? Nishi really, really favours the kosoto-gake from a tight clinch, and I totally get it, as that is what I teach beginners to go for when they step in deep after a duck-under a high grip or to recover from the "Russian grip" that is in truth a Georgian grip (that should not be effaced). Square up your hips, drive in chest-to-chest, and, as you twist them down to the hooked-side, think Mongolian thoughts, I sometimes tell them, and they are like "Okay, I guess?" because they have not yet seen enough Mongolian judo to understand, but, in time, they will; in time, they will. He just did it again! I totally get Yoshinori Nishi, like I get him. I would say he is low-key getting the best of this match so far, though Yamamoto certainly has his moments. He likes to entangle a single leg with both of his to flatten out Nishi's turtle defense, which is canny, and this time it works out especially well, as he rides up into the kubi-nage cross-face at let's seeeeee 12:38. Nice match!

Andre Tournamidze (sometimes presented as Ruminezei, I have no idea which is right) looks ready for Volk Han but who could ever be (physically, technically, emotionally). The crowd is pretty into Volk Han at this point but I think Dirk Vrij is still probably the most popular non-Japanese? It's hard to say. After some early slapping and kicking (some kneeing), Tournamidze goes for a classic pro-wrestling hammerlock but does it in such a fashion as to seem a little real for the first time ever in the history of hammerlocks in professional wrestling, I think, and the crowd ate it up, and then Volk Han rolled for a hiza-juji-gatame knee-bar, and the crowd is like haha here we go! As luck would have it, I just stumbled upon gifs of these precise waza

pretty . . .

. . . neat!
When I began to RINGS Blog I resolved to not make any gifs of anything lest I slow my momentum and fail to see all of this through to completion (the horror of this proposition is too much to consider, I know) but I am certainly not averse to the posting of illustrative gifs happened upon whilst seeking out the spelling of a dude's name. That would be ideology. 

Tournamidze drives Han to the mat with knees to the body for the first knockdown but Han is of the view that we will just see about that and so announces himself with a dragging, twisting armlock takedown assisted by the slightest foot-prop (*boop*) into a juji-gatame that was pretty near the ropes. Surely if Tournamidze did not previously know, he now does. And it is Han who scores a knockdown! This time through slapping! And then we roll on. I think Tournamidze is pretty good but does not always press his positional advantages when he has them, like he will do some pretty half-hearted hitting in moments where he really should be hitting pretty seriously if this were serious and he has chosen to hit at all, and it brings things down a little, but he largely gets it, and this match is good. Han has had him in the ropes with leg locks three times now and I am thinking maybe it is all a trick and he will finish with an armlock? As soon as this idea occurs to me Volk Han finishes with a deeply weird kata-ashi-hishigi (single-leg-crush) like this, which shows what I know (nothing):

And now we are into the MEGA BATTLE TOURNAMENT 92 GRAND FINAL itself, or actually not the Grand Final Final but the Grand Final Third Place bout which highlights the extent to which other professional wrestling tournaments don't have third place matches, do they? I could easily be mistaken here but I can't think of any. Real sports do it all the time obviously and so this is yet another Akira Maeda conceptual masterstroke. One can be as sure of few things in this life as of the inevitability of Maeda's win over the despised (not true, but I do not enjoy his work) Herman Renting for third place and some measure of redemption in the Mega Battle that has not, on the whole, gone his way. Maeda is looking big and strong and increasingly lumpy not in the sense of muscly but instead in the sense of Tenryu (he wears it well [as did Tenryu, even in that retirement match where Kazuchika Okada pretty much had to powerbomb himself onto his own head to try and keep it all together; ***3/4]). Renting is first with the takedown and the mat-control but I am not concerned. Renting is first with the rope escape, too, as he sees no reason to take his chances once Maeda grabs a foot (of his). Renting comes pretty close to accidentally kicking Maeda in the head for real, I think, which calls to mind the ***** moment in Pride FC when, in Nobuhika Takada's retirement match, Kiyoshi Tamura accidentally connected too well and knocked Takada out and was mortified. Nothing like that happens here; I am just reminiscing. Maeda stuffs a Renting throw and lands in the scarf-hold that is kesa-gatame, and transitions neatly to juji-gatame for the armlock but Renting slips away. Now it is largely kicking, which I am not that into (it is not the kicks, it is me), but Maeda catches one and turns it into a hiza-juji-gatame knee-bar for ippon at 8:52 and I am not made of stone. So third place for Maeda! Not what any of us would have expected when the MEGA(-)BATTLE began, I bet!

Tournament(o) Grand Final! To be contested in a series of five three-minute rounds! Earlier I heard them say total point(o) which suggest to me that might be the means of rendering a decision should all five of those three-minutes elapse without the symbolic death of ippon. Dick Fly, who remains a RINGS-favourite, enters first, and do you remember how last time he said he hoped to face Maeda in the final, because Dolman was his teacher, and when he said that, it was humanizing? Here comes Dolman now, still looking not as good as he could in my view because of those loose, high-waisted shorts worn over the singlet. He is wearing them because he is bashful, I think, but I am sure he would look better if he just put it all out there, man. He takes Fry down immediately as though to use Fry's body to cover his shame. Fry is wearing eensy weensy shimmery athletic shorts, and I only say this because I know you had been wondering. Unsurprisingly, Dolman is the better græppler here, and while unable to put Fry on the mat at will exactly (that would really saying a lot), he is able to do it without too much fuss, usually. Fry certainly looks the fresher as the first round ends, which is only right as he is at least slightly young whereas Dolman is, as discussed previously, kind of super old. 

Fry comes out kicking to open round two (as well he might), but Dolman again rides him down. Back up, the kicking resumes, and Dolman even catches Fry with a little kick that is right on the line between kick and sweep to my eye but the commentator says ashi-barai! (which is to say foot-sweep) and the referee elects not to score a knockdown so a consensus is building and I am on the wrong side of history.  Pretty even second round! I think I would give it Fry? Except the scoring, such as it is, is strictly rope escapes and knockdowns, and so no hantai (decision) as such will be required of anyone, least of all me. At the beginning of round three, Dick(uuuuu) Fry wears Dolman out in the corner for a knockdown, and looks close to another a moment later, but Dolman hits his slick little de-ashi again to stay out of trouble. Dolman looks exhaaaaauuuuuusted at the end of round three but in fairness that's how he looked at the end of round three and his judo/sambo-bear-like way has yet to be truly compromised. The slow-motion replay reveals just upsetting levels of jiggly wobbling as each Dick Fry (Diiiiiiiiiiick Frrrrryyyyyyy a man screams just now) body-kick lands. Poor old Chris Dolman. OR IS HE POOR AND OLD NOW THAT HE HAS HIT THE WEIRDEST HEEL-HOOK EVER TO BECOME MEGA BATTLE TOURNAMENT(oooooo) 92 CHAMPION HERE EARLY IN 93 WHAT OF IT:


The crowd approves! This was a very good result! Not the best RINGS match you are going to see but we know what the best RINGS match you are going to see is (it is TK/Tamura 6/27/98) but we are still here anyway! A hot crowd for a hot finish! And everyone seems to be sticking around for the championship ceremony! And indeed not only a championship ceremony but a true and proper awarding of first, second and third-place because this is the sport of Fighting Network RINGS not your dumb pro wrestling (in that it is my dumb pro wrestling). A very tiny old Japanese man reads a proclamation of some kind--one might even say he proclaims it--and places golden laurels atop Dolman's brow, a fitting diadem of RINGS, as he is saluted by RINGS officials, the crowd, and both Maeda and Fry. Dick Fry bounces his pecs as he receives his nice plaque and I obey the universal natural law that holds that whenever anyone can be seen to be bouncing their pecs you also have to bounce your pecs as well, however meagre, if you are so blessed as to be able (this is a demanding stricture, especially if you have NJPW World and see a lot of Satoshi Kojima, but rules are rules). Maeda also gets a plaque, but not a sweet trophy like Dolman does! I think maybe someone from Tokyo Sports is presenting it? Much eludes me here I am sure.

"Thank you very much all for supporting RINGS, the best all-around fighting style in the world!" is what Chris Dolman wishes to share with us all. "I feel very happy today, and I think this is one of the greatest moments in my sports career," he continues. "Mr. Fry did very very hard kicking on me, I feel everywhere, I feel his kicks, but I had to take him in ne-waza, and I knew if had him in ne-waza in the centre of the ring I can beat him, but he is very strong in kicking, so strong, I feel my whole body. This tournament is I think a great success, and a tournament of this is never nowhere in the world, this is unique in the world, and all the best fighters, all-around fighters of the world participated and I am very happy to be one of the participants, and I am very happy to be the champion." He thanks the spectators for their support and hopes they will continue to come and watch RINGS! I know I will! Fry says Dolman is the stronger fighter this day, and the stronger must be the winner (makes sense), so he is happy with second place, and he adds that this was as a difficult fight for him because Dolman is his teacher and taught him everything he knows. When asked what he thinks will happen if they fought again, Fry says he hopes the day never comes, and the crowd thinks this is the correct answer because apparently they understand a thing or two about loyalty. I don't know what Maeda says (I do hear the word "judo" once but only once, sadly); it is clear though that whatever it is it it delights all assembled.

Okay that's it! 

OUR CHAMPION seen here with his interpreter . . .
. . . and Jon Bluming!
WHAT, AS THE MEGA BATTLE ENDS, DID DAVE MELTZER SAY (kind of a tonne, as it turns out):

January 15, 1993: I like this because of how many times it says "Egg Dome":


90,817 -- 3/29/87 Hogan vs. Andre Pontiac Silverdome ($1.6 million)

80,355 -- 8/29/92 Warrior vs. Savage Wembley Stadium ($2.2 million)

69,300 -- 8/28/86 Hogan vs. Orndorff Toronto Exhibition Stadium ($800,000)

64,500 -- 3/21/91 Flair vs. Fujinami Tokyo Egg Dome ($3.2 million)

64,287 -- 4/1/90 Hogan vs. Warrior Toronto Sky Dome ($3.4 million)

63,900 -- 2/10/90 Tenryu & Misawa vs. Choshu & Takano Tokyo Dome ($3.2 million)

63,500 -- 1/4/93 Tenryu vs. Choshu Tokyo Egg Dome (? $3.5-4 million estimate)

60,000 -- 11/29/89 Maeda vs. Wilhelm Tokyo Egg Dome ($2.9 million)

60,000 -- 1/4/92 Choshu vs. Fujinami Tokyo Egg Dome ($3.7 million)

53,800 -- 4/24/89 Inoki vs. Chochyashivili Tokyo Egg Dome ($2.8 million)

Note: Wrestlemania IX in Indianapolis this past April drew 62,167 fans (Hogan vs. Justice), however the show was heavily papered with a $1.25 million house."


"Shinji Jin, who was the front office leader responsible for the break-up of the second UWF (1988-90 version) because of his dispute with Akira Maeda, is the money man behind the new group that Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki are forming in Japan. All the PWFG wrestlers with the exception of Yoshiaki Fujiwara and one prelim wrestler jumped, however Fujiwara is still planning a 1/16 Korakuen Hall show plus big shows over the next two months although I don't know how he can pull off big shows with no native wrestlers. The foreign wrestlers, mainly Florida wrestlers and Wayne Shamrock, will stay with PWFG."

 What could that even beeeeeeeee

January 20, 1993: "RINGS 1/23 at Tokyo NK Hall as Chris Dolman vs. Dick Fly for the Mega Battle tournament championship, Akira Maeda vs. Herman Renting to determine the next No. 1 contender for the title and Volk Han vs. Andre Tourmanidze of Graziya as the top matches." 

Also Maeda shows up in some end-of-year categories here.

1. STING (106) 898
2. Atsushi Onita (91) 767
3. Ric Flair (90) 663
4. Vampiro Canadiense (61) 385
5. Undertaker (38) 285

Honorable Mention: Hulk Hogan 277, Akira Maeda 275, Ultimate Warrior 237, Jushin Liger 155, Mitsuharu Misawa 135, Rick Rude 132, Randy Savage 106, Perro Aguayo 97, Bret Hart 68, Konnan El Barbaro 61, El Hijo del Santo 60

1. RIC FLAIR 154
2. Jushin Liger 74
3. Manami Toyota 72
4. Cactus Jack 33
5. Kenta Kobashi 13
Shawn Michaels 13

Honorable Mention: Bret Hart 12, Jumbo Tsuruta 12, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi 12, Akira Maeda 11, Ultimo Dragon 11

2. Vince McMahon 122
3. Jim Cornette 76
4. Seiji Sakaguchi 50
5. Akira Maeda 25

Honorable Mention: Antonio Pena 14

And look who shows up here:

1. REY MISTERIO JR. (216) 1,609
2. Psicosis (119) 948
3. Diamond Dallas Page (41) 457
4. Volk Han (24) 263
5. Erik Watts (16) 212

Honorable Mention: Max Steele 145, Bill Wilcox 104

February 1, 1993: "Akira Maeda's Rings promotion drew a sellout 6,570 fans to Tokyo Bay NK Hall for the finals of the Mega Battle tournament as Chris Dolman became the first champion and took the gold medal beating Dick Fly in 1:08 of the fourth round via submission. Maeda took the bronze beating Herman Renting in the semifinal. Next shows are 2/28 and 3/5. Yoshiaki Fujiwara's PWFG is definitely finished because the sponsor (Megane Super Opticals) is in the process of pulling out of the wrestling business after blowing nearly as much money as TBS has. Maeda is trying to get Fujiwara to join RINGS along with Wayne Shamrock and Bart Vail, which would be intriguing because they would be the first 'pro wrestlers' to join the promotion that is working so hard as to not be categorized as pro wrestling." Oh my goodness, what might have been.

February 8, 1993: This issue has the André the Giant obituary (R.I.P.) and includes the following: 

"In April of 1986, Andre got into the ring with Akira Maeda. The circumstances behind what happened were never explained. Maeda was one of the leading stars for the first UWF in Japan in 1984-85, which worked matches in a so-called "shooting-style" and many of its wrestlers, particularly Maeda, decried pro wrestling for not being true sport and Maeda in his youth often had outbursts at fans, wrestlers and reporters regarding such a thing. The first UWF went out of business at the end of 1985, and Maeda, who was first trained in New Japan, was invited back to the fold. Apparently swallowing his pride because he needed to work and it was the only way to remain in the business, Maeda agreed, and actually turned into a phenomenal worker combing his submission style (which was the catalyst in changing the entire work style of Japanese wrestlers) moves with some pro spots. Maeda never did a job in the New Japan rings except to Yoshiaki Fujiwara, which was okay since Maeda acknowledged Fujiwara as a true wrestler. Maeda's statements about wrestling and American wrestlers in general often led to a lack of cooperation in those matches. It was well-known in those days that Maeda's matches would be phenomenal against the Japanese, but largely nothing with Americans. The two got into the ring and whatever spirit of cooperation he had with other Americans wasn't even there. Andre never sold any of Maeda's submissions, and was almost mocking his shooter gimmick. It appeared Andre kept going for Maeda's eyes, which would be scary when someone of that size makes a move in that direction. Soon, all cooperation was gone and the match had fallen apart and nearly turned into a real fight. Andre, as immobile as he was by this time, was still more than 500 pounds. Maeda started getting into a fighting stance and throwing wicked kicks at Andre's knee time after time. Andre just stood there, acting like he didn't feel a thing, and maybe he didn't. The few times Maeda got closer and went for a single-leg, Andre's lack of balance was evident as he went down easily like a redwood tree that had just been chopped through. Maeda never jumped on him, because strategically, if Andre snatched him, the size difference could prove embarrassing to the self-proclaimed super shooter. Andre would get to his feet, Maeda would kick the knee, go for the single-leg and Andre would go down. Andre, who wasn't in any kind of condition by this time in his career, after a few series, just decided to stay down and dare Maeda to jump on him. At this point Maeda asked one of the older wrestlers if he had permission to finish Andre off, but the wrestler shook his head no. Antonio Inoki, the promoter, finally jumped into the ring with no explanation and they broke the match up without an ending. Andre was furious and screamed to Frenchy Bernard, his traveling companion and the referee of the match, that he wanted Maeda back in the ring. Maeda threw his best kick of all after being ordered out, only the opponent was the guard rail." 


"1/23 Tokyo Bay NK Hall (Rings - 6,750 sellout): Mitsuya Nagai b Masayoshi Naruse, Satir Gotchev b Todor Todorov, Yoshihisa Yamamoto b Ryo Nishi, Volk Han b Andre Tourmanize, Mega Battle tournament consolation match: Akira Maeda b Herman Renting, Mega Battle tournament championship: Chris Dolman b Dick Fly"

February 15, 1993: A reader writes: "I have collected all but three issues of the Observer published in the last ten years and I can't recall any piece being better written than your obituary on Andre the Giant. Ironically, I happened to watch the Maeda vs. Andre match from April, 1986 on the same morning of, but prior to finding out about Andre's death. The only picture that I could conjure up of Andre during the past week was one of a wretched freak that we have spent years ridiculing laying there on his back. I want to thank you for putting both his stature within the industry and his debilitating disease into proper perspective." What the hell.


"All Japan, New Japan and Rings have all released Gameboy video games."

March 1, 1993: "Bart Vail ran another shoot-fighting card in Miami using all the PWFG regulars except Yoshiaki Fujiwara on 2/19 drawing 2,700 fans. Fujiwara's crew looks to be going to RINGS, although that isn't a definite."

OK Thank you for your company throughout MEGA BATTLE TOURNAMENT 92!  

Monday, November 28, 2016


Mega Battle Tournament 1992: Semi-Finals
December 19, 1992 in Tokyo, Japan
Ariake Coliseum drawing 11,600

Hard to believe we are nearing the end of the (Gregorian) calendar year of 1992 with these our Mega Battle Tournament Semi-Finals! The RINGSturgical year, of course, carrying with it its deeper rhythms and significances, will not truly resolve itself until late January 1993, at which point the Mega Battle Tournament 92 Grand Finals will have made known their champion. But until there is that, there is only this, and so let us to't pell-mell, if not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell, except we have every reason to expect this will be super good so the last part is needless. TO'T! 

We get only an abbreviated parade of fighters tonight at the always-echoey and totally-my-favourite Ariake Coliseum, in that they cut straight to the part where Akira Maeda addresses the crowd in a tracksuit, and he must be doing material here because he has the people in stitches. There is no messing around here, the first bout is upon us already! Yoshihisa Yamamoto clad in yellow faces Nobuaki Kakuta in his darkest weeds of widowhood. You will recall that Kakuta has been endearing himself to his public by getting just endlessly battered by pretty much everyone and it is totally working. Yamamoto is endearing himself to me just going out there and getting after that waza, man, just getting it done (even when he does not). This bout will be contested in a series of five three-minute rounds, and I am not at all sure why they do that sometimes and straight-time at other times. My initial impression was that the matches divided up in rounds seemed to have had a better shot at being real? But I am not at all sure this has held up to even the least scrutinous of scrutinies. 

In the first round, Yamamoto comes close with first a Volk Han reverse S.T.F./Double Agony in Man and then a kata-ashi-hishigi straight ankle lock, and ably controls Kakuta's position throughout the second before firing up the Double Agony again (the dread double Double). Yamamoto's got a neat double leg-lock, too, where he pretty much has a hiza-hishigi slicer on one while he messes around with both hands on the other; good for him, that looked slick. It serves him well aesthetically but in terms of the fighting he gets knocked down clubbingly to open the third, so really it's closer than what might fairly be inferred from what I have written so far. Yamamoto still has the overall advantage, I think it, and presses it with solid attempts at both juji-gatame and a full-on, hooks-in hadaka-jime (rear naked choke) by round three's end. In round four the pace slows a little, but, I mean, let's be fair to these men. Kakuta is hauling an oft-locked leg around like an anchor, and yet he wills himself to wail on Yamamoto with that selfsame anchor to the point of low-kick knockdown. Ah jeez he keeps that up pretty thoroughly in the fifth, and I don't like to see people's knees take a pounding even when they only pretending to fight (maybe especially when they are only pretending to fight?). Yamamoto is still clearly the better of the two when they take to the mat but Kakuta, in terms of kicking but also of hitting, is very strong. The crowd is main-event-level-into Yamamoto's struggles as his knees are pounded into dust between the pestle of Kakuta's blows and the mortar of being.  

As the fifth rounds end, there seems some measure of confusion as to how to proceed. Yamamoto is seen making wave-it-off gestures about something I cannot discern, and a white-haired man is consulted at ringside.  He now speaks, in his winters-earned wisdom, and though I cannot tell you what of, I can say with all certainty that the crowd agrees completely. Round six! OK here we go the crowd is wild for this! A flurry of kicks to Yamamoto's legs and Kakuta wins the day at 0:14 of this bonus (and apparently golden score) sixth round! A heated bout!

Mitsuya Nagai sees the debuting Serguei Susserov in the corner opposite in exquisite purple pants and a fine build for a short little chap. Susserov quickly reveals himself to be an artist working exclusively in the media of enormous throws and aggressive juji-gatame attempts and I am won to his side at once. He's got leg-locks, too, if you can believe it, and Nagai is down two rope escapes a minute or two in. My goodness these throws! They are pretty much all of the yoko-otoshi and ura-nage massive arching sacrifice variety and I am so pleased with them and with him. He does jumping reverse spin kicks, too! And shrieks whilst jumping them! So much has been achieved already here, only minutes in. Nagai is not utterly without his own things, but they are so badly overshadowed here it is hard to hold them in the mind even long enough to comment on them. O-goshi, that biggest of hips, is yet another technique that finds expression here through this vessel of Susserov. You know what, it turns out I don't actually like his jump kicks, which are more than a little too theatrical, but arguably this is an imperfection Susserov deliberately maintains in his art so that it might not be figured an affront to God. But soon enough he is back to the koshi-waza family of hip techniques and my criticisms fade to irrelevance. 

Almost despite himself, I think, Nagai just happened a lovely bit of ne-waza when his failed juji-gatame ended up as the ashi-sankaku-garami (leg-triangle-entanglement) that has come to be known as the Huizinga roll (after the great Dutch and Olympic Champion Mark Huizinga) and then, again, to juji-gatame (but, alas, the ropes). Oh my goodness Nagai got him! Just a huge combination of knees and hitting and then knees and also hitting! That is a knockout at 17:29 and both of these fights have been really good so far.  

Rudy Ewoldt, about whom little is known but thickness, next faces Georgi Keandelaki, whose status as venerable Georgian boxing legend is well established among those of us who found that out the other day. The first of a scheduled (but who can say) five rounds largely involves mostly body-punching but Ewoldt gets off a pretty significant ippon-seoi-nage which is to say judo throw with about a minute to go in it. We have a Keandelaki knockout win from body punches that mostly hit the arms and then a slap at 1:38 of the second, and, mysteriously, a number of sites list on this date and at this event a legitimate shoot win for Keandelaki against someone named Vladimir Kravchuk, and I have no idea how this was any of those things. 

VOLK HAN IS NEXT against Sotir Gotchev so this starts at I guess four and a half stars and we just make minor adjustments up and down from there probably. I have gleaned that this week shall be the week of the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame issue and one can only speculate as to whether or not people will finally be sensible (there is little reason to hope). Just after the handshake, but before he bell, Gotchev gets a little cute and fires in a kick that well-displeases the crowd and the referee but which Volk Han seemed to take genuinely good-natured amusement in. Han himself has previously been a little jumpy before the bell so perhaps he is like Sotir Gotchev, c'est moi a little. Gotchev has the early lead in throwing, also, as he hoists Han around pretty effortlessly, but Han, unstunningly, looks to be the slicker of the two on the mat, coming close with a sankaku-jime (triangle choke) and hadaka-jime (naked choke) before standing and getting tossed again. How will Han overcome this pronounced imbalance in throwing skills? Will it be through cræft and wiles? It would appear so, as he ties Gotchev up in a weird tangle of a standing wrist lock and scores a knockdown with an elbow to the chest that suggests nothing so much as a kind of ritual murder. The standing ude-gatame straight armlock that follows looks like a sure submission until Gotchev just picks Han up and puts him down as though Han were nothing more than an eager toddler and Gotchev his grown-up. It is not as though Gotchev, who comes close on more than one hadaka-jime, is completely at sea on the mat; it is just that Volk Han is a poet of there. 

I am disappointed that Han's combination te-gatame armlock/standing choke is not effective in this instance but it is affective in every instance so it's okay. His use of the oldest of old school sukui-nage scooping throws marks the first time that waza has been seen in either competition or the simulation of competition in perhaps decades and I thank him for that, too. The referee's instruction is "FAITO," and, when Gotchev has clearly not quite heard him, "Hey, faito," and this has actually been a pretty long match I think. Woah okay there's the finish at 14:25 with the weirdest standing reverse-grip cross-choke with an arm in? A most arcane form of juji-jime, the cross choke? I don't know but it was a wild scene: 

The slow-motion replayists at WOWOW seem far less impressed with whatever it is that was, exactly, and are way more into the murder-elbow that scored the first knockdown, and they are right.


Our first such match will see Herman Renting I believe pummeled horrendously by Dick Fly. I think of all the early RINGS regulars the one I am the least interested in is Herman Renting; I don't know if that has come across so far but it is how I feel, I cannot even say why. It isn't because he can't throw, because he totally just took Fly over and into kesa-gatame (scarf hold) in a way that should appeal to me directly and in truth it does and yet here I am, looking at a Herman Renting who leaves me cold despite this. "It's not actually bad rap, I just don't feel it; there, I said it," Doseone rapped in a rap one time but don't say anything about how he did that or anything about him at all on Twitter, no matter how admiring of his poesy, because he searches his own name and it's embarrassing (I don't think he searches RINGS blogs). Much as in round one, Renting has the best of the græppling in round two, and has the decency, I guess, to apologize spontaneously for raking Fly across the face with a scoop-shaped hand whilst atop him, but what was your scoop-shaped hand doing at his nose to begin with? I don't know about this guy one bit. Fly has a moment of control on the mat as round two ends, and gets in a light gyaku-kata-gatame in the mode of the gator roll but it is too late. 

In round three Herman Renting is charmless; he begins round four similarly. Why can't Dick Fly used his muscles and end this? Okay good, he did, hitting him a million times for a knockout with only a second to go in the fifth round. In the locker room, Fly is asked who he would rather face in the MEGA BATTLE TOURNAMENT 92 FINAL, and without a moment's hesitation he says, "Maeda. Dolman is my teacher, I don't want to fight him." Well let's just see! 

Setting aside whatever qualms I have had (though they are not minor) with Chris Dolman's ring attire of late, he is truly among the greats of huge Dutch proto-mixed-fight/worked-shoot judo players in sikk track suits and I respect the hell out of every bit of that, so when I say to you I have no expectation that he has much of a chance here against RINGS ace Akira Maeda I do not say it out of a failure to grasp Dolman's magnificence in any of its manifold dimensions. Just look at these pictures of Dolman and his students just out there in the (presumably kvlt, fvkkn) forest getting it done that TOM posted: 


But it doesn't look good, friends, especially not when Dolman's falls to his knees after Maeda's onslaught in the clinch, or when Dolman seizes hold of a rope to escape what Maeda probably hoped would become a waki-gatame (or Fujiwara armbar), and the two straight rope-breaks off of either of Maeda's gyaku-ude-garami (Kimura) from beneath don't look so hot either. And now another knockdown, Maeda is giving him nothing AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA WAIT WHAT CHRIS DOLMAN HAS PULLED IT OUT OF NOWHERE IT IS A NO DOUBT WOODS-HONED HIZA-HISHIGI SLICER MAEDA HAS SIGNALED HIS SUBMISSION THIS IS UNREAL AT 10:41 DO NOT ACT LIKE YOU KNEW THIS COULD EVER HAPPEN UNLESS YOU SAW THIS WHEN IT HAPPENED AND REMEMBER holy cow this crowd is stunned but they all like Chris Dolman so it's okay, especially when he finds his family in the crowd and lifts aloft his tiny daughter. The replays show Maeda just eating Dolman up while that incredibly smug John Lennon Christmas song harangues us all before Dolman defies the odds through cræft and guile and Dutch græppling and not even this song (lol I hate this dumb song though) can bring me down right now. Akira Maeda is taking it pretty hard but with dignity in the locker room; Dolman has this to say: "Thank you. I feel very happy because I never thought I would fight Maeda again after my loss in Osaka in 89. But because of the tournament, and because of how I beat the Russians, it was possible to fight him again. And my experience helped me, and my great training, my many training hours helped me to beat him."    





December 7, 1992: As part of a piece on Jim Cornette and Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Dave notes in passing, "Atsushi Onita and Akira Maeda are making fortunes in Japan as niche promotions rather than trying to be an everything for everyone group."

December 14, 1992: "Sergei Suselov, who was the teenage Soviet national champion in sambo in 1989 and also the national teenage bodybuilding champion, will work for RINGS starting next year." [I guess he got bumped up!]

December 21, 1992: "RINGS 12/19 Ariake Coliseum show had all the $160, $120 and $80 seats sold out weeks ahead." Also in a note about merchandise sales at a WWF show Dave attended at the Cow Palace, he writes, "A few notes on the show beforehand. First, the lines and demand for merchandise is nowhere close to what it was even a few months ago. It's like night and day compared with almost all the offices in Japan, even the small ones, let alone Maeda where you have to stand in line for 15 minutes just to get near the tables."

December 28, 1992: "In Tokyo, strong-style groups RINGS and UWFI ran shows 12/19 and 12/20 respectively, both drawing sellout crowds in 11,500 seat arenas with $162 top ticket prices. RINGS saw the major surprise as Chris Dolman was put over Akira Maeda via kneelock submission on Maeda's bad knee in the Mega-Battle tournament semifinals. The tournament championship match on 1/23 in Tokyo will have Dolman vs. Dick Leon-Fry to determine the first RINGS champion with Maeda in the semifinal for the first time against Herman Renting. It's one of those moves Maeda does whenever he has to, because the title will do more business with Maeda starting out as the challenger. The guy doesn't let his ego get in the way of doing what's right for the company. "

Then we have Dave's personal end-of-year picks, which offer the following on Maeda.

From "Wrestler of the Year": "Nobody this year stands out in all categories. Atsushi Onita and Akira Maeda are the most valuable wrestler to their promotions, which both did well this past year. However, Onita gets thrown out because he's an average worker and Maeda didn't work enough although seeing him live, he's deceptively good within the framework of his style." 

From "Most Charismatic": "Really, Akira Maeda has more charisma than anyone in this business over the past several years with the exception of Hogan. For a one-man promotion to draw the houses they did, he's got to be taken very seriously here. I'll go with Vampire first because he literally came out of nowhere while the rest have been established stars for years. Maeda second."

We also have: "Gong Magazine's fan popularity balloting results: Natives: 1) Misawa; 2) Muto; 3) Tsuruta; 4) Tenryu; 5) Choshu; 6) Onita; 7) Chono; 8) Kawada; 9) Hase; 10) Kobashi; 11) Maeda; 12) Fujinami; 13) Liger; 14) Inoki; 15) Funaki; 16) Dragon; 17) Taue; 18) Takada; 19) Hashimoto; 20) Kikuchi. On the foreign side: 1) Hansen; 2) Dynamite Kid; 3) Hogan; 4) Norton; 5) Sting; 6) Vader; 7) Gordy; 8) Ultimate Warrior; 9) Scott Steiner; 10) Rick Steiner; 11) Williams; 12) Ace; 13) Mascaras; 14) Terry Funk; 15) Hawk; 16) Spivey; 17) Shamrock; 18) Sheik; 19) Haku; 20) Davey Boy Smith and Doug Furnas tied."


Sunday, November 27, 2016


Mega Battle Tournament 1992: Second Round
November 13, 1992 in Osaka, Japan
Furitsu Gym drawing 6,350

both O's in WOWOW stand for "occult"

It is largely without preamble that we come together for this the second round of MEGA BATTLE TOURNAMENT 1992 which is without a hyphen now (I miss it). It was disappointing to have learned in the previous edition of WHAT DID DAVE MELTZER SAY that Dave Meltzer said that Masaki Sataake, despite his weird and frankly bad win over Mitsuya Nagai, is out of the tournament with a broken leg, leaving no heroic karate ace amongst this otherwise worthy field of mega battlists. His departure from the tournament seems to be the topic under discussion by our three-man WOWOW commentary team, who also seem to be telling us that Willie Williams has come out of retirement to join the field! Plainly I spoke too soon on the subject of heroic-karate-ace absence! Oh wait he's not in the tournament, he's just having a match for some reason. Well it's still good! Here is how the brackets look (an "X" indicates a fighter who has died [the symbolic death of ippon]): 

We open with Masayuki Naruse vs. Yoshihisa Yamamoto in a bout that is non-tournament but which contains Yoshihisa Yamamoto and so I am predisposed to take it seriously (aesthetically, morally). Yamamoto's acne remains utterly heart-rending. Had he been born only slightly later he may well have had access to that medicine people who have egregious acne take and then seem to have a way better time of it, but then he would have been born too late for RINGS, so on balance I think we have to say he was correct. These two lean(ish) young(ish) lions are really clobbering each other with kick-padded kicks and taped-hand slaps to the side of the head, as is the custom here. Yamamoto probably bleeds a lot from the face in training, I bet. My thoughts turn to a young man I saw at a judo tournament who kept on getting stopped in his matches to receive medical attention due to all the blood that was coming out of his acne, and there was just no way to avoid it, and it was a dark time. I refereed that tournament I am telling you about now, and was surprised to learn at the end of the day that referees who are properly certified (I am, but at literally the lowest level, so I am essentially a licensed idiot, and a liability to everyone and everything) are paid a nominal wage for their services, and to be honest I don't feel great about that, you should just go out there and do it out of your love of gentleness and for the opportunity to be near softness at the very moment it overcomes hardness. There is also the notion that descends from certain strains of ko-ryu jiu-jitsu that one should not accept payment in currency for budo but only payment in the goods or service that are truly needed for the continuation of the school, and so instead of paying referees in always-already-filthy money, maybe just when the kids divisions wrap up but before the adults start you give the refs a ham-sando as I heard ham sandwiches called in an episode of Yawara: A Fashionable Judo Girl I watched just this weekend (it was good; they are all good).  

Like Yawara Inokuma, Yoshihisa Yamamoto is also of judo. You can tell by several of the waza he employs or at least attempts to employ in this long, even bout with Naruse, not least among them yoko-sankaku-jime, which is an approach to (side) triangle choking that I am always keen to show people from other græppling traditions who train with us because their usual response is "this is weird, but seems worth seeing" (true). Yamamoto is also a nice thrower! I just enjoy his work a great deal all around (I have no problem with Naruse). When I say what I am about to say next please understand I am not suggesting that I am not completely in favour of the match that they are having right now, because I am, but I bet Yamamoto and Naruse were told to go out there and just eat a tonne of time, like an absolute tonne of it. On that level, as well as on the level of whether or not they are having a match I like, this succeeds. They are probably close to twenty minutes into this match that demonstrates as clearly as any how unlike other (and by definition lesser) professional wrestlings RINGS really is when Yamamoto grabs on to a Naruse high-kick and forces him to the mat, seeks the leg but finds nothing workable there, takes the back, half-sinks the hadaka-jime the commentators (they are here this time, and I like them) celebrate as SLEEPER, SLEEPER, only to have Naruse cræftily seize upon Yamamoto's carelessly crossed legs and secure hiza-tori-garami (knee-taking-entanglement) for the finish at 21:39. It really hurts! Here's what it looks like when Yamamoto does it: 

Naruse (blue) applies hiza-tori-garami
And here is what it looks like in Mikinosuke Kawaishi's Ma Méthode de Judo (I like the drawings):

the drawing is little but the waza is big

I have spent the first three-minute round between Nobuaki Kakuta and Herman Renting trying to figure out why Nobuaki Kakuta, who Dirk Vrij put in an opening-round blender, is having a match against Herman Renting, who won his bout against Willie Peeters, to my chagrin, a little--maybe you recall? How can this even be? I will just watch all of the matches on all of the shows and tell you when it seems like someone has won MEGA(-)BATTLE TOURNAMENT 92, maybe, because I am not doing well with the flow charts. Yeah I have burnt two rounds on this issue and have not found any satisfaction. Herman Renting is pretty solidly beating Nobuaki Kakuta in any number of ways, but at least it is not as harsh and worrying as when it was Dirk Vrij who did it so let us be comforted. Renting whips him around on the mat pretty well, and really puts something into a kesa-gatame-kubi-hishigi neck crank, but in so doing rears back slightly, which affords Kakuta the opportunity to slide his leg around Renting's head to relieve the pressure, and the crowd goes for this to their endless credit, bless them all, these græpple-wise Osakans, but in the end Kakuta opts for a foot on the rope. Kakuta is just barely hanging-on throughout, and while that won Rainbow Hall Nagoya to his side like never before, the results here are good but comparatively muted. He looses to the hadaka-jime (naked strangle) henka (variation) known to us all since childhood as the SLEEPER, SLEEPER the commentators again here invoke at 1:50 of the fourth round. This was not as good as the first one!

But now Willie Williams! I wonder how they explained his retirement from his retirement? Did he try new hobbies but not find them sufficiently diverting? I have never had that problem, let me tell you: I love my hobbies! (One of them is RINGS blogging.) Yukihiro Takenami is his opponent here, and for some reason Takenami seems reluctant to shake hands before the bout. In my view this has never made anyone look as tough as they think it makes them look. Rightfully/righteously, Willie Williams rains terrible blows upon him throughout the first round, including a knee to the eye like right to the very eye that has Takanami shoot upset that he has been shoot kneed right in his shoot damn eye. Finish this, Willie; finish it. And he does! First a knockdown by karate chop, another to generalized wailing in the corner, and finally a straight karate punch yeah a straight karate punch to the body ends Takenami's vain striving at 1:33 of the second round.  
I do not say this to be dismissive of Hans Nyman (Nijman, I know, but it's Nyman here) but my assumption is that in this next match Dirk Vrij/Dick Fly is going to pummel him; let's find out together. I notice very early in round one however that, much like Fly, Hans Nyman really is an enormous (ny)man, and so maybe his chances are better here than I had at first supposed? Large men who can throw high kicks impress me certainly but I cannot identify with them in any way so it is hard for me to fully commit to their works emotionally. I would describe round one as tentative! To the extent to which round two contains a takedown (Fly) and then some græppling (largely Fly) I prefer it by a lot. In round three, Hans Nyman tries to get away into the night and then Fly puts his arms around him and they tumble to the ground and then Fly says "I think we're alone now" (there didn't seem to be anyone around). Round four has some hard kicking from Nyman, who on the whole has done much better than I had expected, and round five is characterized by the most græppling they have done so far but if they wanted me to like this one more they should have been græppling from the start, frankly (don't call me frankly haha). After five rounds there is no winner, and yet there must be one under MEGA(-)BATTLE strictures, and so it is in the sixth round that Dick Fly semi-secures a kata-gatame (shoulder hold/arm-triangle) that drives Nyman to the ropes, which is all it takes to end the match because apparently (yet unbeknownst to Nyman, clearly) we were in super duper sudden death golden score and all it took was a rope break. Good finish!

Chris Dolman and Andrei Kopilov uninterrupted by round-breaks, but instead scheduled for thirty straight minutes of græppling? That is what I call RINGS! Dolman I think needs to abandon the loose-shorts-over-singlet look once and for all, I know I have spoken out against this before but is sing(let)ularly unflattering and he needs to know. He goes up by two rope escapes early but to me the first moment of genuine danger comes when Kopilov attacks with gyaku-ude-garami (reverse-wrist-entanglement/double-wrist-lock/Kimura) from beneath, then maintains his grip for a rolling juji-gatame, and then comes pretty close with kata-gatame (the shoulder hold we discussed a moment ago). It was a technically adept bit of "lock flow" and spoke to me. Kopilov also makes really good trying-to-get-to-the-ropes faces whenever he tries to get to the ropes, and brother, when it is Chris Dolman who is squishing you, you'd better try to get to the ropes! Kopilov makes a clear "come at me" motion with his hands at one point only to bait Dolman nearer for a sneaky kani-basami flying-crab-scissor takedown but he blows it and it falls apart utterly and he gets (you guessed it) squished. It's the beginning of the end, too: in the sequence that follows, Dolman takes Kopilov's back and locks in a shoot "crippler crossface" for the submission win and let's all stop talking at 10:30 of the first and only round seriously let it go.

Hey look, it is Dimitar Petrov, clad once more in his trØo singlet that leaves little to the imagination except for the precise nature of the græppling truths that will almost certainly become apparent whilst he is clothed in it, who has been granted the privilege of almost certainly getting rolled by Akira Maeda. Maeda is as you know thoroughly large, but Petrov has almost thirty kilograms on him, just look at this glorious slabman:

Petrov, unimpressed by Maeda's opening volley of kicks, makes the "come on" hand motion, but it is the second time we have seen that arrogant motion in two matches; they really should work this stuff out backstage. Petrov laaauuuunches Maeda with a couple of yoko-otoshi/lateral drop/side suplexes and makes things even more unpleasant for him with ude-garami (arm entanglement) attempts from the much-loved kesa-gatame scarf hold. When they return to their feet after some roping, Maeda's kicks begin to register, but Petrov's response is a massive kubi-nage headlock takeover, and this is low-key great already. That Akira Maeda should have been Antonio Inoki has never been clearer to me than at this moment, weirdly: his ability to get walloped by the legitimate champions of the world's noblest (fighting) arts (which are probably not arts but it is conventional to describe them that way) only to ultimately triumph over them against all odds and reason as a means of connecting with people is the best we have ever seen. And yet Inoki would never cede that rôle to him, in no small part because Maeda was just a tremendous jerk (I do not know the history well but I feel confident in this part). And so what recourse did he have but be awful to everyone, and ultimately end up before us here, getting launched by a man he will no doubt overcome through his wiles once the Osaka crowd cannot take it even slightly more.

Petrov hoists Maeda onto his shoulders and everyone is horrified; Petrov puts him down and attempts the kata-ashi-hishigi single-leg-Boston Crab and the pitch of everyone's horror rises; Maeda grabs a rope for the break and the chants of MA E DA MA E DA are fully on. Juji-gatame armlock attempts are exchanged, as they have been in the closing sequences of more than one main event(oooo) of late, but this time Maeda comes out of it with a lateral hiza-juji-gatame kneebar for the win, and while this was not the best Akira Maeda match you are going to see (he has had some really good ones!), I would argue that this is subtly the most Akira Maeda match you are going to see, or right up there, anyway, with ones where he just starts kicking people for real even though no one has agreed to that happening what are you doing Akira what do you even think this is.   

Solid show! Thanks again!


November 23, 1992: "The quarterfinals of the RINGS Mega-Battle tournament took place on 11/13 in Osaka before a sellout 6,350 fans (see results) leading to a 12/19 date at the Ariake Coliseum for the semifinals with Akira Maeda vs. Chris Dolman and Dirk Leon-Fry vs. Herman Renting, which seems to indicate a Maeda-Fry final match on 1/23 at Tokyo Bay NK Hall. Lots of the tournament luster was taken away when Masaaki Satake broke his leg since the bracketing seemed to be built toward a Satake vs. Maeda championship match which would be a huge draw since Satake is the only major RINGS performer yet to put anyone over. In Osaka, the most interesting match was Fry vs. stablemate Hans Nyman. They went five three minute rounds to a draw, and since one had to advance, they did a sudden death period with Fry winning midway through the sixth round." 

Akira Maeda's name also comes up interestingly in this discussion of the recent and sudden departures of both "The Ultimate Warrior" Jim Hellwig (Bad News Allen Coage was calling himself "The Ultimate Warrior" years before and never liked that Hellwig used it) and "The Scottish Skeptic" Davey Boy Hume by which I mean "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, and it's right after Bret Hart won the WWF title from Ric Flair, so this is all pretty compelling I think, and the tiny-yet-huge Maeda point is a good one: 

"One has to bring up another aspect, both men's shrinkage in muscle size and bodyweight over the past few months and the Titan steroid testing which has changed the entire face of the promotion. Over the past few months, even though all the reasons for the departures have mainly been different, The Legion of Doom, Hulk Hogan, Warlord, Barbarian, Chris Walker, Sid, Del Wilkes, Bulldog and Ultimate Warrior--the people on the most likely photos, have all departed the promotion (although Hogan may be back shortly) over a relatively short period of time. They have been replaced on top by the Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, etc., who have also shrunk somewhat in size during the same period, but it was never the physical presence of their physique, rather what they could do in the ring, that gave them their position. After all the talk of not changing who they push and what type of wrestler would be pushed, the legitimate near elimination of the steroid freaks has forced Titan to make major changes and the push for Hart and Michaels exemplifies this. The business being down by an even greater percentage than the physiques of the wrestlers have been over the same time frame seems to show that an awful lot of the fans who jumped into this because of the physiques jumped out when the physiques weren't there. However, there isn't much of a choice because the impressive size for size's sake is now only there in your Earthquake types, so something has to be pushed. The overly creative gimmicks like Papa Shango and Nailz have been a total failure, so it's either try ability or throw darts and choose who you push by whose name is on the dart board ie random choice. In reality, this steroid story has resulted in some of the most widespread changes in the face of the No. 1 promotion in this country that anything this side of Akira Maeda's charisma leading to the switch and emphasis on submissions in Japan and the Hogan/Road Warrior influence changing the U.S. business nine years ago has done over the past ten years. Ironically, it has had only minimal effect on any other company. But if the Michaels-Hart match is as good as it looks to be on paper next week and Survivor Series as a whole is better then the recent PPV shows, think about the real reason those two were on top and given the time and allowed to put on that kind of a match. It was a decision made by Vince McMahon ultimately, but only because circumstances having to do with the changing laws and enforcement of such, outside pressures and his own inability to tell the truth when he needed to put him in a position where he needed to make drastic changes." 

OK thanks!