April 3, 1992 in Hiroshima, Japan
Sun Plaza drawing 5,480
So what did we miss? A Maeda match and also a Volk Han match, for starters. And you only get so many Volk Han matches, so that's not great! But what can any of us say or do at this point but have a look at the results of these two shows, so far as they are available, from the vital Pro Wrestling History resource I have mentioned to you already:
Mega Battle II: Ibuki
March 5, 1992 in Amagasaki, Japan
Memorial Park Arena drawing 5,160
Adam Watt drew Hans Nyman (6th).
Nobuaki Kakuta TKO Rudy Ewoldt (6:10).
Dick Leon-Vrij KO Herman Renting (8:42).
Willie Williams TKO Peter Smit (1st - 2:50).
Masaaki Satake KO Fred Oosterom (6:22).
Volk Han beat Gennady Gigant (12:37) via submission.
Akira Maeda beat Ramazi Buzariashvili (11:18) via submission.
There is potentially much to admire there, isn't there? Look, too, at this weird show that only partial results exist for:
March 26, 1992 in Tokyo, Japan
??? drawing 8,500
Akira Maeda vs. Koichiro Kimura (5:00) in an "exhibition" match.
Peter Smit vs. Minoki Ichihara.
Yoshinori Nishi vs. Herman Renting.
Eric Edlenbos vs. Naoyuki Taira.
Rob Kamen vs. Adam Watt.
Willie Williams vs. Nobuaki Kakuta in a "karate" match.
Masaaki Satake drew Maurice Smith in a "kickboxing" match.
Note: This mainly kickboxing event featured several RINGs wrestlers in matches contested under various rules.
WHAT DID DAVE MELTZER SAY:
FEBRUARY 17, 1992: "They had a photo spread of Akira Maeda with martial arts movie star Jean Claude Van Damme for the Tokyo opening of 'Double Impact.' Funny to see Maeda just tower over Van Damme size-wise."
FEBRUARY 24, 1992: "There is a huge mixed card on 3/26 with Masayoshi Satake, who has worked with Rings going against current World Karate Association world heavyweight champion Maurice Smith, Willie Williams (who will work with Rings) vs. Nobuaki Tsunoda in a full contact karate match, Akira Maeda vs. Koichiro Kimura (champion of a shoot fighting form called Submission Arts Wrestling although most likely this match will be a work) and others."
MARCH 2, 1992: "Next Rings show is 3/5 with Akira Maeda vs. Ramzai Buzariashivili from the Soviet Union."
MARCH 16, 1992: "Akira Maeda's RINGS on 4/3 in Hiroshima has Maeda vs. Volk Han from the Soviet Union. Rings announced new rules in that pinfalls no longer count for a victory. The only way to win is either knockout or submission. [RINGS Bloggist's note: there have been no pinfalls in any RINGS matches so far, and the referees have never so much as even begun to count any or do any of that hand-sliding shoulder-checking, so I don't know what this could be about even slightly. Is he talking about UWFi or something?] Rings drew 5,160 on 3/5 in Amagasaki with Akira Maeda beating Buzariashvili Ramazi in the main event in 11:18 with a half crab. [RINGS Bloggist's note: kata-ashi-hishigi, nice]."
MARCH 30, 1992: "Bad news for this group [SWS] is that there television show was canceled by the WOWOW channel with the final show airing on 3/26. So the Ric Flair vs. Tenryu match next month won't be televised in Japan. WOWOW is sticking with airing Akira Maeda's Rings promotion, which even though it has no-names to the wrestling fans besides Maeda, draws better television ratings."
APRIL 6, 1992: "Rings had a show on 3/26 at the Tokyo Gym and drew a sellout 8,500 for what apparently was an all-shoot card with Masaake Satake going to a draw with Maurice Smith in the main event. Akira Maeda had what was called an exhibition five minutes with Koichiro Kimura rather than a shoot match."
SO ANYWAY EVERYBODY while it is a drag that no copy of MEGA BATTLE II: IBUKI (an event that, to recap, may or may not have ever made tape or at least made it into the hands of the traders, so let it go, man) will be screened tonight, there is literally nothing that can be done, or certainly nothing that I am willing to do (this is the salient point I guess), but press on towards EARTH BOUT: KOICHIROU KIMURA VS TED TENGUIZ, AQUA BOUT: NOBUAKI KAKUTA VS TON VAN MAURIK, FIRE BOUT: YOSHINORI NISHI VS WILLIE PEETERS (yessssss), AIR BOUT: DICK FLY (they are still doing that) VS MARCEL HAARMANS, THUNDER BOUT: MITSUYA NAGAI VS WILLY WILLIAMS, UNIVERSE BOUT: MASAAKI SATAKE VS HERMAN RENTING, ASTRAL BOUT: AKIRA MAEDA VS VOLK HAN and while I have every expectation that all of these will be good that last one is especially promising isn't it given what we know of both men and also of art.
But as I mentioned earlier before digressing (though vitally, I would argue), our evening, this evening, opens in Sportcentrum Kops with Chris Dolman, adorned with kickpads and a kurtka whilst wielding a kendo stick, presiding over uchi komi repetition practice and the drilling of leglocks, one of which closely resembles the endless tangle that saw Akira Maeda best Volk Han in their first meeting. I really, really like to watch training videos and so this speaks to me on the level of my need to watch training videos.
|A permanent mat area, a little slice of heaven.|
I really don't want to overburden you (or me) with screen-caps but I feel like if maybe the two young people on either side of the commentator right now could meet they would maybe fall in love? Maybe they did, I don't know.
We get a few highlights from KAKUTOGI OLYMPIC (which as I understand it means "Combat Sports Olympic" which is a good title I guess but in many ways the true Olympics of combat sports is . . . the Olympics), mostly showing the kicking of Maurice Smith, who goes on to be a figure of note in later RINGS, the early(ish) UFC, and, most importantly, the story of Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, from whose technical brilliance this blog draws its title and also possibly in some sense its sense of awe. As I note this, the parade of fighters is well underway, and the people of Hiroshima (Go Carp!) are I believe more into this parade than any of the earlier crowds had been: Willie Peeters, Dick Fly, and Willy Wilhelm are over (in a manner like to rover) to an extent you would hardly believe; they are just slightly less loved that Masaaki Satake and this is not because Masaaki Satake is in any way undeserving of love. Volk Han, still quite new on the scene, is accorded polite applause but little more. Akira Maeda remains enjoyed and supported.
Our opening EARTH BOUT features Koichirou Kimura, he of the SUBMISSION ARTS WRESTLING, in context with Ted Tenguiz, who is in truth Tengiz Tedoradze, Georgian World Championship bronze medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. Lest there be any concern Tedoradze would enter this bout bound by the conventions of Greco-Romanity, he touches legs with his hands early on, so it's fine. Also, he hoists Kimura up mightily in both kata-guruma (shoulder wheel, fireman's carry) and a lovely arching ura-nage before we are any more than a minute in. Kimura gives as good as he gets in this early going, coming close enough on an armlock to force a rope escape (there is a little graphic with circles to help of keep track of these now) and also kicks Tedoradze so hard in the leg that Tedoradze seems shoot not thrilled about it (nor should he be). An utterly Kurt-Anglesque Olympic Slam is my favourite moment of the match until Kimura hits the gnarliest ura-nage we have so far seen in these RINGS a few moments later. If I may digress briefly on the subject of another Kimura, I have it on good authority that when coaching at Takushoku University (拓殖 大学; Takushoku Daigaku, abbreviated as 拓大 Takudai), legendary judoist Masahiko Kimura (no one before Kimura, and no one after) forbade his students from throwing with ura-nage in randori, and his reasons for this were two-fold: first, it is needlessly dangerous for sparring given the proximity of other players playing all about you and also given the inherent un-niceness of getting ura-nage'd all that often; and, second, really, how hard is it to fall back and twist slightly once you've got the guy up; just set him down and get back to practicing, tough guy, geez. My source on the broad lines of what I have just explained (though not the precise language) is pretty good in that it is 1964 Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Doug Rogers, who I had the tremendous good fortune to have taken a class from when, some years ago, he was visiting the province of his birth for a bit. He told stories about Kimura and got very moved whilst telling them and so I was moved also. He grabbed me as his uke for a moment and he felt strong. He mentioned at one point that, in my osoto-gari, my right hand was doing basically nothing, whereas, conversely, it should be doing at least something, probably. I think of this almost as often as I osoto-gari, and let me tell you, I osoto-gari with regularity.
|Isao Inokuma and Doug Rogers|
This match is quietly awesome, the best Koichirou Kimura one so far, and I am both very pleased by all of the throwing Tedoradze is doing right now and very optimistic about which other throws Tedoradze might do should he have other matches at other times at other MEGA BATTLES. That Tedoradze loses this match by ude-hishigi-juji-gatame in 9:35 cannot be held against him as the technique is no doubt relatively new to him as a Greco-Roman stylist, whereas a SUBMISSION ARTS WRESTLING exponent such as Kimura will be comparatively well-versed in its intricacies. Also, Georgians just do not fight on the ground; it is not their way (ask anyone). The unusually long, extremely slow-motion replay of match highlights confirms that everything I had initially thought about how awesome all of the throws were was correct; they were very awesome.
An AQUA BOUT of Nobuaki Kakuta vs. Tom Van Maurik is going to have a hard time following that bit of business, at least in the eyes of this throw-liker, but I am eager to be proven wrong, perhaps by further throws? In fact, Van Maurik just surprised me (and perhaps Kakuta) with one now, a heaving kind of side-suplex I would broadly classify as yoko-otoshi but who can say. A rope escape soon follows, and it seems there are only two little circles next to ESCAPE while there are five for DOWN so I guess they want less rope escaping? Who authorized these changes? How far up the Fighting Network does this go? Kakuta pounds Van Maurik to the mat for the first knockdown and yes I can confirm that the graphics certainly suggest that you can get knocked down five times but only escape holds twice; it is only because I know this does not last that I am not upset. Kakuta uses his second rope escape whilst trapped in a kind of gyaku-kata-gatame (gator roll) and wait wait wait, Kakuta rope escapes again a moment later, and now the rope escape graphic has been cleared, but he is charged with a knockdown? Do three rope escapes add up to a single knockdown, and then you get five of those? I don't understand enough Japanese to have any idea what's happening however I understand just enough to describe Van Maurik's winning technique at 6:38 as kani-basami (crab scissors) leading to a hiza-juji-gatame (knee-bar) submission! Good for him, that was good! If you had wondered where Ryo Chonan (I always want to say Akihiro Gono, but that is totally a different guy, a guy who could come out to the mellowest Sade, if memory serves) got the idea to do the same sort of the thing to Anderson Silva, we have already seen that technique at least twice in only a handful of RINGS shows; this is, I think, revealing.
Willie Peeters is down to Muay Thai shorts instead of his usual singlet for his FIRE BOUT against Yoshinori Nishi to be contested over five three-minute rounds, and both the kicking and the palm striking is intense enough in the opening round to convince me that this match is either real or might as well be. Peeters attempts but kind of messes up a throw early in the second, and when he regains his feet he finds Nishi totally wrapped around one of his legs, angling hard for a knee-bar and forcing a rope escape. Now the graphics suggest you get a different number of these things than previously so I am just going to set all of that to one side rather than try to puzzle it out. Eventually we will settle into a recognizable number of each and we will be ok. Peeters helps Nishi to his feet, and his grin whilst doing so is our first glimpse of the charm we have come to value in him; that it only appears during a clear pause in the action suggests to me even more strongly that this match is totally real. As such, there is an undeniable intensity to it all, but I think I will take shoot-style Willie Peeters over straight-shoot Willie Peeters, even if straight-shoot Willie Peters is pretty good at a front choke into some knees for a fairly nasty knockdown in round three (maybe not "even if" so much as "especially because"; it's hard to say).
When Peeters gets a solid waist-lock from behind, and, rather than launching Nishi with some kind of suplex, he drives him forward to the mat with a tidy little outside hook (kouchi-gake), we have our most compelling evidence yet that this is a shoot. This is even more significant than all of the hitting. The fifth and final round is heavy on Peeters working from inside Nishi's legs, then trying to force a short-side hadaka-jime trachea choke once he has taken the back, but all to no avail. This ends in a really very interesting draw, where, again, if this wasn't real, I have been trimmed (in spirit) like the merest mark. Waaaaait a minute, they are doing another round! I wonder what the idea is here, golden score for the first knock down or rope break? Peeters is really laying in those palm-strikes on the ground, yikes, and he would totally have won that round had their been judging, but that doesn't seem to be the case, exactly, as the referee raises both fighters' arms at the end of this intriguing draw.
AIR BOUT has Marcel Haarmans about to get, I would suggest to you, completely smooshed by Dickuuuu Frrrrrrryyyyyy aka Dirk Vrij aka Dick Fly. Haarmans, though, throws with seo-otoshi (shoulder-drop) only seconds in, and wins me to his cause even before he attempts to follow with juji-gatame. Vrij's ne waza is not the subtlest but his basic understanding of what's up coupled with his great strength makes him a dangerous foe. The dangers inherent to following a (probably) shoot match with a (definitely) worked one are completely apparent here as all of Haarmans' punches to Vrij's body look absurd now compared to to the legit pummeling we have all seen only moments ago. This is a fine little match with decent ude-hishigi-juji-gatame and hiza-juji-gatame (barrings of arms, barrings of knees) attempts following neat takedowns, but neither the intensity nor the crowd really comes about until Vrij starts kicking so hard that we may, as Hogan has warned us thousands of times now through the persistence of that one particular retweet, have worked ourselves into a shoot (ps it is leg day -- HH). Vrij takes Haarmans' back, sinks in the hadaka-jime (rear naked choke) for extremely real (why not, no harm can come of it), and Haarmans', desperate to signal his defeat, claps his hands together at 10:15 after his back-handed mat-slapping did not achieve the desired effect. That one really got going towards the end there!
THUNDER BOUT participants Willie Williams and Mitsuya Nagai get full entrances and why not, Nagai has been great and Willie Williams is man of such distinguished karate that he brought it to bear in his 1980 contest for Antonio Inoki's World Heavyweight Martial Arts Title (I bet that one is on New Japan World). Nagai's choice to wear neon yellow/green trunks and pads that exceed the camera's capacity to communicate is as correct for him as Williams' decision to fight in a dew-rag and gi-pants is for him. We are again fighting in three-minute rounds here, in case you had been wondering. In addition to his obviously fearless karate, Williams seems fairly comfortable taking this fight to the ground when and where appropriate, because this man is a gamer (non-pejorative sense). After Nagai's suplex plants Williams extremely firmly on the mat, though, Williams thinks better of spending longer down there than necessary and rolls for a rope escape and the Hiroshima crowd is delighted by every move here because every move in this first round is good. Extremely karate kicks mark our early experience of the second round and everything is illuminated. KARATE CHOP K.O.! KARATE CHOP K.O.! AT 1:13 OF THE SECOND ROUND A KARATE CHOP K.O.! THIS IS MORE THAN I HAD DARED HOPE FOR
Can karate hero Masaaki Satake match such a performance (of karate, specifically) in his UNIVERSE BOUT with Herman Renting? It is a tall order (made slightly shorter, I guess, when the replays show the karate chop in question wasn't much; they really should have held that off the replay to be honest but my joy in the initial moment itself was significant). If anyone knows the specifics of the music to which Masaaki Satake enters I would very much like to be schooled on this subject as there really must be some resonance here that I am oblivious to in my folly. Renting, fearful of Satake's truth-fist, wisely seeks to ground his opponent early and often, though, perhaps to his surprise and certainly to his dismay, Satake proves more than capable enough in ne waza to survive until the opportunity to topple his opponent again and again with relentless leg-kicks to the point of K.O. at last emerges at 7:39 (it felt longer [I mean no disrespect]).
What BOUT could be more ASTRAL, I ask you, than Volk Han's rematch with Akira Maeda, who you will recall, defeated the Dagestani with a tangle of a leg-lock so intense it baffled the audience before ultimately delighting it? Tonight's Hiroshima crowd has been exceedingly into everything so far, but takes it to another (and indeed a higher) level when Maeda makes his entrance. Black trunks for Maeda, pale blue tights for Han, and also a spinning reverse karate chop for Han, I should mention, as that just totally happened and everybody went woooooaaaahhhhaaaa. Maeda is whipping his kicks in fiercely, my word. Having had enough of precisely those kicks, Han clinches in the corner, secures a kata-gatame (shoulder hold/arm triangle) grip, and throws with a koshi-waza from that dangerous position the crowd identifies immediately (sharp crowd!). Han's ude-garami (arm entanglement) looks close, as does Maeda's counter juji-gatame, but it is not until an ashi-gatame leg-lock situation begins to develop that both fighters work themselves into the ropes and accept the referee's instruction to stand with good cheer.
Unsurprisingly, this is excellent! Han's attempt at a sutemi-waza (sacrifice technique) ends with Maeda flattening out his hips and riding it out into kesa-gatame scarf hold that looks snug enough until Han escapes with a backdoor juji-gatame! Wooooooaaahhhhhaaaa is what I say to that and the people of Hiroshima join me. When you lose the juji the ude garami should be right there if your grips are right and let me tell you something about Volk Han`s grips: they are right. When Maeda reaches forward during a fairly routine ashi-gatame leg-lock duel, Han cups his arm at the elbow and attacks with ude-hishigi-ude-gatame, a straight armlock in many ways of another era and yet one that can still end bouts, if surpassingly rarely, at the highest levels of competition, and all of a sudden there is nothing routine happening but instead something of splendour and maybe even glory? I am saddened slightly that ude-gatame did not end the bout and yet pleased that there will be more of the bout and it is in that sense a wash and yet I am even more excited about this than I was a moment ago so it's not.
A heel hook leads to Maeda's first rope escape, another failed sutemi-waza sacrifice technique leads to Maeda on top, a rolling attack once Han sneaks out and secures the back leads to a Maeda juji-gatame counter, and all of this leads to my heart and the feelings it has in it. The complexity of the ashi-gatame (leg-lock) situation increases each time they enter into the position, teasing, perhaps, a repeat of the specific entanglement that ended their first encounter? Holy cow Maeda just hit him so hard right in the face, that's a knockdown alright. Or maybe it was the chest? My tape jumped. Kani-basami! Crab-scissors! Volk Han just flies into that move, doesn't he? The heel hook he follows with forces another Maeda rope escape and the people (and my feelings) are losing it. A belly-to-belly suplex from Maeda makes the action even rising-er, but the ne waza that follows is back-and-forth, and he is unable to press his advantage. To your surprise, I'm sure, there are leg-locks again, this time a truly convincing ashi-dori-garami (toe hold) that sends Han rolling to the ropes for respite. Spinning heel-kick knockdown! Guess who got that one! Rolling knee-bar for a rope escape! Guess who did that! Holy cow! Settle down fellows this is almost too much!
Han feints a spinning back-fist (or I suppose chop) and shoots in for a double-leg takedown but is foiled, as much by the ropes as by Maeda; Maeda hits a slightly loose tobi-juji-gatame (flying armbar) but come on, this is a huge guy. Han escapes and pins with a cradle that pleases me greatly but before you know it Maeda has slipped out, taken the back, and works for a cross-face chicken-wing, because why wouldn't he. When he goes to work on the arm, a man yells MAEDAAAAAAA as though in real pain, and between these shrieks you can here the photographers clicking their presumably very nice cameras. A deep deep deep gyaku-ude-garami/double wrist-lock/Kimura forces Han to to the ropes for another escape, then my tape jumps slightly again and I am not sure exactly why Maeda is turtled-up and eating hard kicks to the ribs for a knockdown. But he is up. Oh no he is down again! This time it is from a push-kick to the groin though, surely that's not a knockdown, is it? OK yes it is, that is a pitiless ruling, and not long after he regains his feet Han is all over those selfsame feet and locking them with great vigour to force yet another escape. Do two escapes equal a knockdown, so then they don't show the escape anymore on the graphic, but add it to the knockdowns? Either way, Maeda is taking no chances with any of these leg-locks but is instead grabbing ropes immediately, as he did again just now. Surely, surely, after the rope escape that comes out of this renewed kani-basami, he is out of escapes? He is just totally on the run, and the crowd even seems to be losing patience with Maeda slightly at this point, which is a major development and achievement within this piece. Maeda's suplex and knee-bar give the people renewed hope for like a second until Han's hiza-hishigi (knee-crush/calf-slicer) forces an agonized tap at 17:28 and the people of Hiroshima are as deeply impressed by Volk Han in that moment as those of us who, decades later, clamor for his Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame inclusion and make ourselves pretty obnoxious whenever the subject comes up on "the boards" (there are no boards).
TREMENDOUS MATCH OF RINGS is my position regarding the bout now concluded; TREMENDOUS MATCH OF RINGS. After the really very slow motion replay set to mid-tempo montage-appropriate moderate-rock allows us to luxuriate in all that has been visited upon us throughout this IKAZUCHI, we spend a moment in the locker room with a humbled and actually pretty sad Akira Maeda. "We Are The Champions" plays incongruously as I thank you again for your time and we turn our attention . . . to what Dave Meltzer said.
WHAT DID DAVE MELTZER SAY:
APRIL 13, 1992: "Rings drew a sellout 5,480 in Hiroshima on 4/3 with the major upset main event as Volk Han made Akira Maeda submit with the kneelock in 17:28, so Maeda felt it was time to create a new star. The other top matches saw Masaki Saatake knock out Herman Renting and Willie Williams knock out Mitsuya Nagai." Also: "Akira Maeda is headed to Bulgaria to bring in new athlete from that country to compete in Rings."
I WONDER WHO IT COULD BE? I am not being coy, I really do wonder. Maybe we will find out next time? Together?