Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Battle Dimension: Osaka Metropolitan Circuit #2
July 13, 1993 in Osaka, Japan
Furitsu Gym drawing 6,380

The lore-wise Osaka crowd! I enjoy making known their knowing enjoyment! But before that can happen I must acknowledge the absence of the June 9, 1993 Korakuen Hall from my RINGS box. Again, please do not cry for me, at least not in this regard, as I am really very pleased with the amount of RINGS contained in the RINGS box, and perhaps when all is said and done I will attempt to track down the few shows that elude its confines (almost certainly not), but for now I truly am content. I have added the word "VIRTUALLY" to the phrase " A BOX FILLED WITH [this is where VIRTUALLY goes now] EVERY FIGHTING NETWORK RINGS SHOW EVER" in this our RINGS blog's header and that in my view is really all there is to be done. What did we miss, though?  

Korakuen Experiment: Round 3
June 9, 1993 in Tokyo, Japan
Korakuen Hall drawing 1,930

Koichiro Kimura TKO Hideaki Mikota (5th - 2:48).
Masayuki Naruse beat Atsushi Tamaki (8:39) via submission.
Yoshikazu Endo vs. Hori Yone in a "sambo exhibition" match.
Mitsuya Nagai beat Yoshinori Nishi (5th) via decision.
Bob Schrijber beat Toshiyuki Atokawa (5th) via decision in a "kickboxing" match.
(Results as always from, dauntless shoot-style chroniclists) 

What is most striking here, aside from the presumably filthy début of "Dirty" Bob Schrijber (he really was, and presumably remains, quite dirty) is the apparent necessity of sambo exhibitions at Korakuen Hall shows (clearly I am not arguing against this). I wonder if Dave Meltzer had anything to say?


July 5, 1993: "Paul Sh(e)rman (I have decided to make these names ungoogleable if I am going to disseminate them this way, they did not consent to this) of 1253 Be(a)con St. #3BB, Brookline, MA 02146 is selling a package of stuff which includes seven WWF Magazines from 1984-85 (including one with a story on Akira Maeda), Roddy Piper and Ted DiBiase Spotlight issues, Hogan Sports Illustrated, several WWF and Jim Crockett press kits from 1986-88, ten WWF and Mid South programs from the early 80s and 100 WWF and WCW trading cards and three NWA Wrestling Wrap-ups for $60." (If this is still available one of us should get it.) 

Yeah so literally no mention of the Korakuen show that I can find, so why would we dwell on it any longer? KORAKUEN ROUND THREE is the past,  BATTLE DIMENENSION: OSAKA METROPOLITAN CIRCUIT II is the present and indeed the (very immediate) future while of course still also being the past. The main event is going to be Dick Vrij vs. Volk Han! Get ready for it if you are able! Our four-man commentary team (one of the men is Maeda) speak over footage of græpplers weighing in and stretching out and, sometimes, sitting down. Dick Vrij and Willie Williams greet each other warmly and if I cannot myself be party to their fellowship I am content to bear witness to it. A full-on parade of fighters lies before us for the first time in what I believe to be a while, but certain elements of all of these RINGS shows are blurring together slightly at this point but not in a way that I mind as I enjoy to be immersed!  

I will admit to being a little sad about Yuki Ishikawa not appearing on this card, as I was ready to tell you all about the Santino Marella/Anthony Carelli episode of the Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast, in which he spoke with pride, reverence, and still a sense of wonder about the noble art of Kodokan Judo, which he teaches at his expertly named Battle Arts Academy in Mississauga, Ontario (Mississauga is just outside Toronto, and home to a far-flung campus of the University of Toronto that you may have to visit if you have picked up all the Teaching Assistantships available at the St. George Campus and yet your hunger for teaching and for assistantship is yet unmet). Do you know who he brought over from Japan to teach, this Anthony Carelli, this beautiful shooter poet-clown, a rare glimpse of true artistry in the artless mire of recent WWE? He brought over Yuki Ishikawa who had been semi-retired and was mostly driving a truck. Driving is worthy work and I would never malign it but I am glad that Yuki Ishikawa is able to share his art once more (Santino was like yeah man I got an immigration lawyer on it and he's here now!). I recommend the podcast about which we are now speaking as highly as I will recommend any wrestling podcast to you during the course of our hundreds of thousands of words we are spending together.   

Yoshihisa Yamamoto and Gueorgui Keandelaki (this is how they are spelling it) are neither one of them Yuki Ishikawa although neither one of them are exactly hurting, either, are they? Keandelaki, as you know, is a fine boxer, and wears here the gloves one associates most closely with that endeavour, but Yamamoto is bare-handed. Midway through the first of their five scheduled three-minute rounds, Yamamoto secures a standing gyaku-ude-garami/reverse-arm-entanglement/double-wrist-lock/Kimura grip and takes Keandelaki over with a sumi-gaesmi/hikikomi gaeshi sacrifice technique in way we have discussed several times previously (see it again here as Kimura himself taught the waza) and menaces with that same lock and then, after a time in the scarf-hold of kesa-gatame, goes after legs until a rope escape returns Keandelaki to where he likes best. Nice round! Round two opens with much more hitting, which favours the boxer (I have been paid literal money in the past for my analysis of martial arts and you have just seen why). Yamamoto is able to get things to the mat and apply juji-gatame unto the point of rope escape but for the most part he is getting battered, and is charged (rightly) for a knockdown even though he stood (his soul had been knocked down). Just as the round expires, Yamamoto throws with a huge suplex and is reluctant to yield the kesa-gatame he fought so hard to secure. Round three is a ramshackle display and I like it. I don't know if Yamamoto is shoot-exhausted or work-exhausted but either way he is really making it happen out there. Again he is knocked down, only to throw enormously late in the round, too late to do anything with his position. Keandelaki is hitting him pretty hard with some of these punches, it must be said. When Yamamoto gets Keandelaki down with a slumping double leg, he grinds his forearm into Keandelaki's face which is shoot unpleasant to have happen to you, I can tell you that. He moves from tate-shiho-gatame atop his partner to kesa-gatame to his side and works towards kesa-gatame-garami, an entangled armlock from there (to their great credit, these terms are modular) and those big boxing gloves of Keandelaki look juicy when they are down on the mat they look juicy. Rope escape, up we go, but down, also, as Yamamoto gets yet another late takedown with the headlock takeover some call kubi-nage.  

I guess it all comes down to their fifth round, in which Yamamoto comes hard at Keandelaki standing, which is probably a terrible idea, but it pleases the people of Osaka, so how bad can it be. He weirdly ends up beneath Keandelaki after the tiredmost single-leg takedown (kuchiki-taoshi) you have seen in forever but Keandelaki is not the man to take advantage of this. The bout ends with Yamamoto collapsing at the bell, announced the winner based on escapes and knockdowns, and then both fighters become pals if they hadn't been before, with Keandelaki going so far as to hold the ropes open for Yamamoto, which these Osakan simply cannot get enough of. This opening match: was a grueling opening match.

Nobuaki Kakuta vs. Masayuki Naruse is next. Both are liked, and both are pretty good! I favour Naruse but I am not overwhelmed by partisan feeling here. The opening minute or so of semi-serious yet weirdly laconic striking feels kind of a lot like the way Shinsuke Nakamura opened so many of his big NJPW matches (not his predictably yet saddeningly debased NXT matches, which feel way different, of course, like say the Sami Zayn one that people without proper access to art I guess [or to taste maybe but who am I to say] thought was transcendent despite being the worst Nakamura main event in years; or any of the Samoa Joe ones where two major talents awkwardly grope their way to A Good Match [man this has been a dark year for Nakamura's art]). Masayuki Naruse vs Nobuaki Kakuta BATTLE DIMENSION: OSAKA METROPLITANT CIRCUIT #2 is no Masayuki Naruse vs. Yuki Ishikawa from BATTLE DIMENSION: TOKYO BAY AREA CIRCUIT #2, but let me tell you, it isn't half bad, either: they kick each other super hard, the takedowns are struggled for mightily, and the groundwork is heavy and true. In fact, in its completely admirable workmanlike græppleart it recalls nothing so much as Masayuki Naruse vs. Yoshihiro Yamamoto BATTLE DIMENSION '93: TOKYO BAY AREA CIRCUIT #1 except nobody's arm has been annihilated (yet). I think Masayuki Naruse, who has just worked the crowd into a frenzy by finding his feet after a hard knockdown and then finding Kakuta's feet (wordplay) to apply a match-ending hiza-juji-gatame knee-bar at 1:20 of the fifth round, really might be kind of awesome?

Nikolai Zouev is unknown to me, and faces handsome Bulgarian judo ace Todor Todorov, so good luck in me liking you, pal. Do you think Todor Todorov is handsome? Okay no time for that now, Zouev is whipping Todorov over and working for a weird mat-based shoot-pedigree as the commentator says SAMBO, SAMBO and Zouev emerges as a more compelling figure than I had anticipated. A brief pause in the action (rope break) allows us to consider more fully whether or not you think Todor Todorov is handsome:

Either way, he throws with a really neat reverse seoi-nage that I admire a lot because reverse seoi has always been a bit of a mystery to me. He also kind of handstands up and over to escape a juji-gatame Zouev applies in the subsequent mat exchange, and yeah I really like this Todorov. He throws with te-guruma, too, the hand-wheel everybody has always enjoyed! He screams and grabs a rope to escape a hiza-juji-gatame knee-bar though so it is not always easy for him. Oh man, brutal full-nelson from Zouev! This match is eastern European as hekk, so much so that I wonder if anyone has put it up on Dailymotion and entered all the match information in Cyrillic. Have we ever talked about the vast riches of waza eastern European and Central Asian wrestling traditions have brought with them into the realms of judo historically, and how they continue to do so even in our own era? Isao Okano really did have it right when he suggested that the techniques of judo are limitless and the spirit of judo is sublime. I feel like he really nailed it that time. 

Woah what a crazy move Zouev just came up with, look at this thing: 

He's got the leg thoroughly taken care off obviously but it's the wrist business behind the back that seems the focus here, not that you can tell much of anything from that crazy jumble of Zouev and Todorov and our dear friend Yuji. I liked that has just now ended at 9:50, and liked too that it was thirty-minutes straight time and not three-minute rounds, which have their place and which Yamamoto in particular was able to really work into the structure and story of his match but which are not my favourite. 

Mitsuya Nagai looks like he is giving up about four hundred pounds to Hans Nijman (you will perhaps recall the Volkswagen Golf-heavy details of his death, R.I.P.) who is frightening. In the first round Nijman gets a knockdown with a body kick and I get it. In the second, Nagai catches one of Nijman's kicks and takes him down with a very close approximation of a dragon-screw leg-whip, which remains a gnarly-looking move even now when executed by a master of it (I like Hiroshi Tanahashi!). Other times it looks like one guy is holding a leg and his pal is jumping (less good). Nijman wins with a bodykick KO and I grant you this is uncanny given that we were just talking about ungood jumping but Nijman hops around in the silliest and least convincing way, like I don't know if I could have told you before this that I could be unconvinced by hopping but here we are. Hey look at Mitsuya Nagai in his glasses:

In a noble battle of guys in gi pants we have next Kyokushin-karate-Georgian Bitsadze Tariel against Kyokushi-karate-American Willie Williams and believe me when I tell you these guys are kicking. Williams looks old and slow but we love him so it is okay for him to be those things. Tariel's pants aren't staying on that well and I for one blame the axe kicks and yet who can stay mad at axe kicks. Wait what Willie Williams wins at 1:35 of the third round with a mae-hadaka-jime front choke some call the guillotine and lol it is not at all clear that the Osaka crowd is buying this, they are kind of like hwwaaaaauuuuuhhhh???? and it is quite a finish. 

OKAY MAIN EVENT AND A BIG ONE we are very much looking at Volk Han and Dick Vrij here in a contest between RINGS two most popular foreign fighters. Although neither is yet as accomplished as Chris Dolman, Han's wolfish grace and Vrij's monstrosity/hard-techno-intro have put both at the top of the tables. Volk Han is wearing boxing shorts and I don't like it; Dick Vrij is wearing boxing shorts and I don't mind, really. Judging from the in-ring introductions I think we have just now seen the moment at which Volk Han's popularity has surpassed Vrij's (it is perhaps no surprise this happened in Osaka?). Han punches Vrij right in the face immediately and transitions to juji-gatame to force a rope escape, like he really totally punched him in the face for real (not allowed). They are sportsman, though, they are reasonable to each other about it. Han is just swarming Vrij, calling to mind maybe a little how Fedor Emelianenko constantly and surprisingly (to me) pressured Mirko Cro Cop standing. I am also reminded (who can say why) that I read once that Fedor's breakfast that day was sausage and eggs. Han is grabbing all kinds of little holds that force escapes, and he is also kind of persisting in hitting Vrij in the face in questionable ways (sometimes spinningly). Han really has great faith in wrist-locks, if only to force his foe to he mat, where he might entangle his legs unto doom. 

This is unfolding at the pace of a brawl, and though there are techniques to be scene (like a rolling knee-bar just now, guess who did that one), it really has a wild feel. My favourite bit so far is definitely Han's standing cradle-takedown: he has a grip around the head, scoops up the leg, and drags him back. Weird, but worth seeing! Han continues to be all over Vrij in nearly every instant -- until just now as Vrij clubbers him down. That is actually Han's third knockdown? There was so much scoring early (escapes and knockdowns) that is was crazy to keep track of. Han tries the sumi-gaeshi we discussed earlier but Vrij escapes the juji-gatame that follows. Aaaand there's another knockdown as Vrij just pounds Han with knees from the clinch, he's down to his last one! Vrij is totally running out of escapes, too, so something is about to happen like for example Volk Han getting TKO'd from palm strikes to the head at 9:09 and that was intense! A very different feel than we have come to expect from Volk Han. I guess he worked Vrij's pace, you could say?


July 26, 1993: "RINGS also drew a packed house in Osaka on 7/13 for a match where Dirk Leon-Vrij upset Volk Han via the five knockdown rule in the main event. The promotion announced a 16-man tournament called the Battle Dimension '93 tournament which starts 10/23 in Fukuoka, which will also be Akira Maeda's first match back after major knee surgery, followed by 11/13 at Tokyo Bay NK Hall, 12/8 in Osaka and the championship match takes place 1/21/94 at Budokan Hall."

and more fully:

"7/13 Osaka Furitsu Gym (RINGS - 6,380 sellout): Yoshihisa Yamamoto b Georgia Gandelaki, Masayoshi Naruse b Sonoda, ? b Todor Todorov, Hans Nyman b Mitsuya Nagai, Willie Williams b Tariel, Dirk Leon-Vrij b Volk Han

In closing I would like to first thank you for your time and secondly point out that there is something that happens at the end where Dick Vrij seems to have been assimilated I guess (Dickutus? Vrugh?):

Let's talk about RINGS again soon!


  1. brutal killing of Nakamura and 100% accurate

    1. It gives me no pleasure to say any of it, although if there is an upside it is that if he continues to take it super easy for his three (I guess two more, now) years stateside he will I guess be less broken when he returns to have unreal matches with Okada? I will hold fast to this