December 25, 1993 in Niigata, Japan
City Gym drawing 3,435
It would be entirely understandable for you to wonder why we are not talking about BATTLE DIMENSION TOURNAMENT '93: FINALS right now, as that would seem the thing next upon us after the BATTLE DIMENSION TOURNAMENT '93: SEMI-FINALS we made much of when last we spoke, but before RINGS closes out its liturgical year in January with its tournament finals it closes its calendar year with BATTLE SHOT AT NIIGATA, in which everything comes at you pretty fast, like for starters this "shoot boxing" (I don't really know what that is) contest between Dirty Bob Schrijber beat Kazayuki Mori that is already underway. Are the rules that it is kickboxing but you can also throw guys with ippon seoi-nage, as Kazuyuki Mori has just done? No, maybe not, as he has been admonished by the referee for so doing. All I can say with any degree of certainty about this match is that it looks real to me, and that Schrijber wins it with a brutal kick to the liver (or at least near the liver) at 0:47 of the second round.
And with no time to spare we are already on to a Willie Peeters vs. Yoshihisa Yamamoto match, a thing that I support fully. Just now, Peeters has Yamamoto pinned up against the corner, and fills him in with knees to the body before hucking him down with a rough-hewn koshi-waza (hip technique). Peeters is attired as though he is going to put on one of his crowd-pleasing exhibitions (he is singleted) rather than as though he were about to have a match that made me pretty sure it was real (just his shorts), but this one seems super real so far? There is some totally real-seeming kicking and palm-striking, and then the grappling consists almost exclusively of clinching up against the ropes and the corner, not unlike, say much of the action in Dong Hyun Kim's noble victory in defense of judo (against those who would malign and oppose it, like for example the judge who had him losing all three rounds which is an absurdity, that judge has revealed his contempt for the Kodokan and we will not soon forget) last night on the undercard of what we can only hope was the final Ronda Rousey fight (Rousey abandoned her judo in favour of boxing and terrible emotional problems and I hope she finds her way because she seems like an enormously unhappy and unwell person and it seems as though it has been awful for her to be her for a long time now).
Yamamoto's acne, which I had thought was clearing, seems to be totally back, poor guy. There is no way this fight is not real and I say that because these two guys (of all guys) are incapable of doing so little that thrills and delights. Yeah okay Peeters is even double-checking the number of rope escapes with Yuji Shimada just to be sure; this is a straight shoot, brother (perhaps they, like we ourselves in our darkest hours, have worked themselves into one?). FIVE MINUTES TO GOOO we are told over the house microphone and these guys are still going hard at it but are are looking pretty spent and actually totally drenched too. Peeters takes the decision on points but very, very little happened at all here aside from the aforementioned clinched leaning (I mean no disrespect, you have no idea how much of my life I have spent in clinched leaning; I appreciate its intricacies and demands).
Now it is Masayuki Naruse and Eric Edlenbos and WHAT A HEEL HOOK IN TWENTY-ONE SECONDS wait is this BATTLE SHOT AT NIIGATA an all-shoot aberration in 1993 RINGS? I am so deeply intrigued by this!
No time to reflect on any of that now as Andrei Kopilov has already kani-basami/flying-crab-scissored Orlav Pavel but Orlav Pavel comes out of it an into a juji-gatame with such slickness (and indeed sikkness) that any thought that this is in fact and all-shoot show is fading and okay yeah it fades away to nothing at all when Kopilov attacks a moment later with the cleanest no-gi tomoe-nage/circle-throw that has even been hit. They really had me for a moment there with this Battle Shot at Niigata though! Kopilov and Orlav have a much more conventional 1993 RINGS match than what has preceded it tonight -- and it is excellent! Orlav tried a spinning heel kick as though he were Akira Maeda (though no others are or could be), and Kopilov answered with an enziguiri as though he were Antonio Inoki (same conditions). A neat moment comes a soon thereafter when Kopilov has Orlav tied up in a crucifix and just sort of rolls him forward as though into a professional wrestling pinning situation (of course no count is made because our project here is different) and my thoughts turn to the part in Kyuzo Mifune's enchantingly esoteric Canon of Judo in which he illustrates this variation of ura-gatame (rear-hold) as a response to uke bridging hard to avoid, say, the hell strangle of jigoku-jime. I have shown this ura-gatame entry to people and they laugh but they find it hard to escape! This match, which has been really good throughout, ends at 11:39 as Pavel falls victim to Kopilov's gyaku-ude-garami/reverse-arm-entanglement applied from beneath. That is an unpleasant way to lose, in my experience; one feels so owned.
As Mitsuya Nagai gets lose in one corner and Akira Maeda's music blares, I distinctly hear one of the soft-spoken (maybe recorded after the fact?) commentators say Shin Nihon Puroresu (新日本プロレス) which is definitely Japanese I know! Maeda is wearing black tights accented with silver and I may never become completely accustomed to anything but black trunks for him as you know (especially if people are saying shin nihon puroresu at the very moment I am looking at him, come on) but these are objectively good tights and objectively a good look. Maeda settles into a good solid kesa-gatame (a scarf-hold of such inherent power) before looking to jugi-gatame, but in the escape Nagai attacks a leg with great vigor and the Niigata crowd is like HWAAAAIIIIIHHHH which is understandable in that however loyal they may be to Maeda (I assume that amount is very), Nagai (lol I almost said Naruse if you can believe it!) is an appealing young challenger in way over his head and who can resist the lure of it. Nagai secures a mae-hadaka-jime front choke but Maeda takes him up and over with a coarse Northern Lights Suplex! This is not the Ken Shamrock/Matt Hume (it was Hume, wasn't it?) absurdity but one that falls apart just enough to maintain credibility. And in a nod to the apparent reality of this evening's earlier bouts, Maeda seems to have crippled Nagai with one of the grossest heel hooks I have ever seen, the foot is at just the worst angle and I am a mortified! But Tsuyoshi Kohsaka is in now icing Maeda down so who can stay mortified for long, this is great!
We are informed through on-screen graphic that earlier in the evening Nobuhiro Tsurumakatook a decision win over Hiroki Mori and Koichiro Kimura did likewise over Satoshi Sonma. Congratulations to both!
And that's it for RINGS 1993! This is the busiest year in all of RINGS (although 1994 comes very close) and now it is behind us! It has been great! Thank you for your attention to it! Oh hey look there is an ad for JWP after:
|PURE HEART PURE WRESTLING|
And then some quality WOWOW karate programming appears to be coming up (I think they say Willie Williams is in this one? yes, there is young Willie Williams in evidence) as there seem to be about twenty minutes of just general WOWOW on this tape and now it flows into programming about bears generally, including that classic footage of a guy in a gi standing next to a bear who attacks the lady sitting in the chair (you have seen this before) and they even have clips from Canada talking to people about a particularly bad bear (one man notes bears are usually good, but this one they're talking about, it's too bad, but this one bear has gone bad) WAIT IS THIS ABOUT YOSHIAKI FUJIWARA GEARING UP TO WRESTLE A BEAR? They keep showing bears but also showing Yoshiaki Fujiwara and they are saying "kansetsu-waza" and I know for a fact that means joint-locking techniques and I don't think this is a fair way to treat bears, to have Yoshiaki Fujiwara wrestle them at all, if that is indeed what is being threatened here. I don't feel good about it! NOW THEY ARE PLAYING RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE AS THEY ARE SHOWING MAS OYAMA AND I THINK IT IS "KILLING IN THE NAME" WHAT IS HAPPENING. Then Fujiwara is in a shopping centre on location for a talk show? WOWOW is so legit.
WHAT DID DAVE MELTZER SAY:
January 3, 1993: "12/25 Niigata (RINGS - 3,435 sellout): Tsuromaki b Moriyasu, Koichiro Kimura b Honba, Fred Schreiber b Morikuzo Morichi, Willie Peetres b Yoshihisa Yamamoto, Masayoshi Naruse b Eric Endeross, Andrei Kopilov b Popiel, Akira Maeda b Mitsuya Nagai"
January 10, 1993: Tangential, but Bart Vale: "The 12/13 issue of Sports Illustrated had an article in Bart Vale (Pro Wrestling Fujiwara-Gumi), which would be the first article on a pro wrestler in that magazine since they did a feature on Koji Kitao. The article, called "Shootfightin' Man," may have only run regionally in Southeastern editions, but was loaded with inaccuracies. The most prominent one was right in the lead where they talked about Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage being involved in staged matches but that Vale's matches are anything but staged. It also billed Vale as the current world heavyweight champion in the Japanese sport of shootfighting and gave the impression he was a celebrity in Japan and considered the first non-Japanese to be one of the top three in the world in shootfighting, all of which are a major stretch. Technically, PWFG created a PWFG championship for Vale so he could promote their shows using an American on top in the United States, and he did two shows in the Miami area, but he's hardly thought of in Japan in a world heavyweight champ and as "shootfighting" groups go, PWFG is almost non-existent, only running every few months at Korakuen Hall, and stylistically, it's matches look less like shoots than any of the other three (Pancrase, UWFI and Rings) groups that supposedly fall under that heading. Not only was the article was written as if that group and his matches were 100% legit, it was the focal point of the article."