July 14, 1994 on Osaka, Japan
Furitsu Gym drawing 6,539
Through the exquisiteness of its waza and the art of its ways RINGS 94 IN ARIAKE offered many comforts but also instilled in those who beheld it an anxiety bordering on dread that what if RINGS 94 IN OSAKA won't seem as good afterwards; what then. I know I speak for literally everyone when I say what I have just said. But to turn away now is cowardice whereas to watch another old RINGS tape immediately is a victory over fear so let us do that . . . and see.
A fine parade of fighters ends with Maeda bowing in the cardinal directions and speaking briefly before Tony Halme aka Ludvig Borga takes the ring enormously and explains that years ago he went to America to pursue his dream of becoming a professional fighter but became a bodyguard for rock bands and then an american professional wrestler instead but found that that was not a true way of fighting and so he rejected it. In time he came to learn of RINGS and Mr. Maeda and now he is certain that this is the way of fighting (omg me too).
TO OUR OPENING BOUT which sees the extremely long and lean Rene Roza, whom we have seen before and so know that all he does is kickbox, face the fine Georgian champion Georgi Keandelaki who, sadly, just boxes. This is a hell of a situation if one is me. Roza comes out to truly pounding techno with an appealingly detuned (saw-wave?) lead but that is where my enjoyment in his work ends if I may be perfectly frank with you. The referee is not Yuji Shimada but instead the handsome floppy-haired young refereeing lion who handles many of the striking-focused possible-shoots; he is cheered and welcomed. GROVU MATCH we are told and sure enough here are the grovus on each competitor, that's true. The best parts of this match are when you get to see Volk Han in Keandelaki's corner, and Vrij and Nijman in Roza's, and I guess the parts where they clinch because then you can at least think about which nage waza (throwing techniques) would be best suited to their grips and foot placement even if we know that they are not going to employ any of them (a huge mistake, they are all great to do) except shittily and in a way where they get right back up immediately after and it's not good. The decision goes to Georgi Keandelaki but my decision goes to me not liking this one all that much!
BRING ME MASAYUKI NARUSE AND YURI BEKICHEV TO SET ALL TO RIGHTS okay good here they are now. Immediate takedowns and rolling juji-gatame attempts: yes; yes. This is not to say there is not kicking because of course there is but it is of the kind that makes the people of Osaka go WHOOOAAHHHH. Also Naruse catches Bekichev's kick, evades the flip-kick that follows it, and attacks with ashi-kansetsu (leg-locking, broadly), and this match in less than a minute has fully revealed the previous contest as a pointless sham. Bekichev throws tonnes of quick little kicks but is palm-struck to the mat by the fiery young Naruse; oh okay he actually kicks Naruse nice and hard in the head for his own knockdown only moments later. They are trading knockdowns! There has been one more each in the last like twenty seconds! This is intense! A couple of rope escapes later and Bekichev is really up against it and by "it" I mean the limit for rope escapes and knockdowns and yeah the end comes at 6:18 when Naruse drives him to the mat with more palm strikes (there have already been so many). Bekichev seems super excited about how everything went though, I guess he is just happy to be here, and I guess we probably should all approach our lives with such gratitude, Yuri Bekichev, maybe you're right.
Stefanov Petrov vs. Mitsuya Nagai is next and I have high hopes because of how many times they are saying judo and sambo as Stefanov Petrov enters the arena and also because of the amount of times they are saying Mitsuya Nagai (just the once but that is all it takes). Petrov is a stout fellow and pulls his green trunks up high to accentuate this feature of his figure. He opens with a kind of sasae-tsurikomi-ashi (a drawing and lifting ankle-block) and also just totally tosses him with te-guruma (hand wheel). Will Stefanov Petrov duck right under a high kick and tackle your other leg super fast? You bet he will. Will he hit you in the dikk with a flying knee? Absolutely, just look:
When the action resumes Petrov throws with a beautiful ippon-seoi-nage that calls to mind at once Takekaze's ippon zeoi at the Hatsu Basho 2017 Day 8, January 15th (-大相撲初場所 2017年 8日目) which you can review here (it occurs in less than one percent of sumo matches, I have learned, and so it's pretty special). Something you will literally never see in sumo, noble art though it may be/definitely is, is juji-gatame, though, which Mitsuya Nagai attacks with now, although not to completion. He tries his hand at the rolling hiza-juji-gatame knee-bar and then transitions tidily into what turns out to be the match-ending juji-gatame at 10:35. Mitsuya Nagai has a lot of really good matches.
As does Yoshohisa Yamamoto, attired here in a kind of fluorescent peach, I think I would say, as he is set to face Andrei Kopilov in a match that should be no less excellent than the one that preceded it (itself excellent). They clinch immediately and Kopilov throws with the fastest and best harai-goshi hip-sweep in the first thirty-some RINGS shows, there is no doubt about it. He follows with juji-gatame, which Yamamoto escapes, and then they roll about for leg-locks for like a week before Kopilov grabs the rope and though I am not in the business of star-ratings here this is already a lot of them and it has only just begun. Yamamoto dumps Kopilov unceremoniously (there was no ritual to it at all) and attacks with a juji-gatame of his own, only for Kopilov to hoist him so fvkkn aloft that he sets him on the ring-post in the corner (that's a break). Kopilov, much like his nice friend Volk Han, can attack with the flying crab scissors of kani-basami, and with the crushing rear throw of ura-nage; he does both here. I believe Yamamoto just cleared Kopilov's arm in mune-gatame (chest hold) with a wide sweeping arm motion known by some as the howdy (a grappling pal who wrestled in high school calls it this; only recently has he determined [actually I think a friend of his figured it out] that it is so named because it is like you're waving). It's a useful little move for all kinds of things! Kazushi Sakuraba sure likes it, and I say this because it shows up all the time in his tremendous little videos, like for example in this one (it is the first movement). (Also the sode-guruma-jime he shows here is related to the kind we saw Aleksei Oleynik absurdly pull off from beneath tate-shiho-gatame when our friends texted us the move while we were at judo; please see it here.) Yamamoto and Kopilov continue to be extraordinary by the way. Kopilov rolls Yamamoto over with a kind of inverted scissors (they are not utterly unlike those of TK . . . who we will be seeing so soon, so soon) and attacks with the toe-hold of ashi-dori-garami and that's it, Andrei Kopilov is our winner at 9:38 in a very fine match.
RANKING MATCH between Hans Nijman who comes out to a spy riff, and Volk Han, who still comes out to this perfect piece. Both fighters begin with a pace that is both quick but cautious, if that makes any sense, and Hans Nijman is trying his luck with ashi-kansetsu (leg-locking) with Volk Han for a sec, if that makes any sense (it does not). Han looks tall and lean and good here and I am reflecting on Meltzer's assertion that Han had "no body" (I think those were his exact words but will not check) and so I am also thinking about how when Dave Meltzer claimed publicly last year to have better abs than Johnny Mundo (whom I have seen perform in person at the Forum, and brother, let me tell you, that guy's got abs) but then totally refused to provide any photographic evidence thereof, and I don't know if that is when I have liked Dave Meltzer the most or the least but it is definitely one or the other. Nijman has been forced to the ropes a couple times, and he has knocked Han down a bunch so far but there is no real urgency to this match; I think it is maybe the worst Volk Han one? That is a weird thing to say but I guess one of them has to be. Rene Roza is screaming for low-kicks in Nijman's corner, which is pretty good, and Volk Han takes Nijman down and creeps up his body into the form of tate-shiho-gatame some know as "s-mount" to apply juji-gatame, which is also pretty good, but then Nijman's arm kind of slips halfway out, but because this is fake and not real Nijman doesn't really drop his elbow to the mat and turn in to escape the hold but instead lets Han just grab it all back a moment later, and that's the finish, and yeah that was the worst Volk Han match.
RANKING MATCH once more, let us see what Dirk Vrij and Akira Maeda hold for us aside from stirring entrances and the chants of MA-E-DA MA-E-DA to which we are accustomed and of which we are most fond. They kick each other as hard as anyone ever kicks anyone in RINGS to begin, which I think augers well. These palm strikes are coming in pretty hot, too! Spinning back-chop, Dirk Vrij! Corner pummeling, Akira Maeda! This is really something! Maeda has him down and fleeing to the ropes. Back up, Vrij is hitting Maeda so hard until Maeda drags him down again and then works for a choke in a legitimately dirty way, digging around the eyes before going under the chin even a little. That's weird! Possibly aggrieved by this, Vrij throws a flurry of palm-strikes that are mostly worrying finger pokes to the eye and Maeda recoils from them momentarily but then grabs a leg and twists it furiously for the finish and then stomps Vrij on the back after the submission? WHAT? The ring fills with RINGS HOLLAND and RINGS JAPAN young boys and things have come undone, please people we are trying to have a civilization here! Maeda has a bloody nose, maybe from fingers that went up there in all the palm striking? I don't know what's happening but the people love it! MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA
WOAH THAT WAS A WILD SCENE WHAT DID DAVE MELTZER HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT:
August 1, 1994: "Akira Maeda ran an angle on his 7/14 Osaka show, which drew a sellout 6,539. Opponent Dirk Leon-Vrij bloodied his nose and tried to stick his finger in his eye so Maeda came back with a leglock submission in just 2:54. After the match they had to separate the two of them and Maeda kicked him in the face reminiscent of the 1987 shoot kick with Riki Choshu that made Maeda the superstar that he once was.
7/14 Osaka Furitsu Gym (RINGS - 6,539 sellout): Georgi Kandelaki b Rene Rose, Masayoshi Naruse b Yuri Beckashev, Mitsuya Nagai b Stepepanov Petrov, Andrei Kopilov b Yoshihisa Yamamoto, Volk Han b Hans Nyman, Akira Maeda b Dirk Leon-Vrij"
August 8, 1994: "The Akira Maeda-Dirk Leon-Vrij 'post match brawl' after the recent Osaka card is to build up the return 9/21 Osaka Furitsu Gym show."
August 22, 1994: "Rings has a show on 8/20 at Yokohama Bunka Gym which includes the debut of Tony Halme (Ludvig Borga) against Herman Renting. Akira Maeda headlines against a newcomer named Zaour from Graziya.
FMW ran three shows at outdoor stadiums in Russia this past week that were total bombs. Not as i bombs going off. Bombs as in the fans didn't understand, the few that were there, that is as crowds were announced at 600 two nights and 1,100 in the middle, but those figures looked to be heavily inflated.
Speaking of FMW, the upcoming Atsushi Onita matches with Mr. Pogo and Masashi Aoyagi are double hell matches consist of explosive barbed wire around two sides of the ring, and no ropes or barbed wire on the other two sides but the floor on those sides is covered with barbed wire so any bumps out of the ring are onto barbed wire. Really sick to the extreme. Onita is talking about doing a show in China in October.
Rings is also running Russia this year."
And that's it! Thanks as always for your time!