October 22, 1994 in Fukuoka, Japan
International Center drawing 5,680
TO MY LIKELY DISCREDIT I watched and wrote about the recent (and I guess we can fairly say middling) 2017 Royal Rumble and posted as much on the Rumblemetrics blog that is sister site to these Scissors -- these TK Scissors -- and whilst I very much enjoyed sharing the lolz of it all with my many kind readers and friends (thank you very much for your attention and your time) I must say that I am pleased and even a little relieved to return to RINGS (and to the love we share for it) as I feel that this is, now, my true græppzbløg métier, however humble or shabby a proposition that might seem (I am but a henwife of it). AND WHAT A TIME TO DO SO as we enter the Second Round of our '94 Fighting Network RINGS Tournament! I still do not have a great idea about which of the matches are tournament ones! Also I should mention before we truly begin that a handful of RINGS bouts were contested at MEGATON FIGHT as part of a boxing show 10/17/94 in Osaka Castle Hall (a big crowd of 12,000!), and those results (from the shoot style section of Pro Wrestling History) are: "Yoshihisa Yamamoto drew Andrei Kopilov (5:00) in an 'exhibition' match, Yuri Bekichev TKO Masayuki Naruse (6:05), and Mitsuya Nagai drew Vladimir Klementiev (6th)."
If Masayuki Naruse lost by TKO on the 17th, what is he doing here against Bart Vale on the 22nd? Why doesn't the athletic commission (I guess I mean the Yakuza [ヤクザ]) step in? I am of course being lighthearted with you just now. The match is about to start but before it does I think it's worth looking at Bart Vale for a moment:
Like, that is a wild scene to be sure, but at the same time, how can we come away from the physical and æsthetic and indeed existential fact of Bart Vale and not think, at least in part, "good for him"? Maybe that is the whole of what we should think. Hey this is unrelated and maybe it is because I just a moment ago mentioned the Yakuza (a subject about which I know nothing, please do not mistake me) and because we find ourselves (as ever) in the realms of græppz right now but have you ever read any of the John Rain novels by Barry Eisler? They are about a judo assassin of sorts (not the same one as in Virtua Fighter 4: Evo, a different one) in the streets of Tokyo (and elsewhere!) and I enjoyed several of them in audiobook form on a little mp3 player that was my trusty companion during a (literally) dark time in which I worked data entry nights but could listen to audiobooks most of the time so how bad could it have really been (I would send late-night texts to Andrew because he would be awake, praise be to time zones . . . and friendship). The judo details were largely very good and the overall analysis of the Japanese political milieu accorded with the sense of it I held from my subscription to The Economist, the audio edition of which I would also listen to on that very same little mp3 player. I feel like they went of the rails eventually (the novels, not The Economist, which I am sure is still good but which I found myself not making time for and so we let our subscription lapse) but the first few books, anyway, were totally competent thrillers at worst, and if you have any interest in the particular subject matter and setting, quite a bit better than that. Whhhhaaaaaat isss thisssss: "A television mini-series has been announced, Rain (2016), starring Keanu Reeves as the title character" and apparently it has yet to actually air or maybe even exist but given the extent to which Keanu Reeves murderously gun-judo'd all who had wronged him (and his dog . . . and with it his wife's memory my god you mvthrfvkkrz I will judo you *myself* especially you Theon don't think I've forgotten about the other stuff either) in the peerless artfilm John Wick which I finally watched like two weeks ago after months and I guess actually years of my students imploring me to do so and also given the extent to which he will presumably do so again in the forthcoming sequel John Wick: Chapter 2, I can only imagine how sikk he would be at being John Rain. I hope it happens or has happened!
BUT TO RETURN TO BART VALE and of course Masayuki Naruse and this their struggle: it begins with kicking, as so many before it. Vale gets the best of the clinch and throws Naruse with a koshi-waza (hip technique) and yet does not pursue this advantage on the ground but rather stands, presumably to kick yet further. Everyone please be careful with standing leg entanglements in the mode of ashi-garami! (I find it notable that the IBJJF bans "knee-reaping" in tournaments contested under its auspices and that is the exact form of ashi-garami practiced in the noble Kodokan's katame-no-kata [forms of græppling], please forgive me if I have noted this before.) Naruse's juji-gatame roll compels a Vale rope escape; his rolling hiza-juji knee bar attempt has Vale just looking straight down at him, utterly unmoved (physically or emotionally). Vale charges hard with knees to the body and kicks that are high but Naruse counters with a bunch of slaps for a knockdown! Oh okay though, the bloodied Naruse tries for another hiza-juji but Vale just flops down on top of him and chokes with kata-gatame (shoulder hold/arm triangle) for the submission win at 7:02 of a fine opening match.
Yoshihisa Yamamoto versus Grom Zaza holds about as much potential as any '94 RINGS undercard match could hold for me, truly. Before it happens I just want to imagine it a little: yes; yes. Oh my goodness it is tremendous already as kicks lead to græppz and a Grom Zaza kata-ashi-hishigi in the mode of the single-leg Boston Crab and the crowd urges Yamamoto towards the ropes with, yeah, with urgency. Yamamoto attempts tobi-juji-gatame, the flying cross-armlock! Had I been in the worked-era of RINGS, let me tell you, I would attempt little else, and everyone would weary of me and also find that I was comically small compared to all of these 100kg athletes. Zaza did a stepover standing juji-gatame! I don't think we've quite seen that from him before! I am going to keep on just telling you that this is really good, at least until it isn't really good, but we know that time will never come. Knockdowns are duly traded and they are intense and well received but of course it pleases me best when these men return to the græppz they speak so true. Yamamoto is all out of knockdowns, he needs to watch it! Wait no he needn't, as he takes Zaza's back and finishes with hadaka-jime, the naked strangle at 7:41! Terrific!
I believe I have heard that the Willie Williams match against Pieter Oele truly constitutes his retirement bout, for real this time, and if that is indeed the case I am not only going to tell you all about it (as you are right to expect; I owe you that much) but also I think I am going to do a RINGS blog supplement in which I address another key match in the Willie Williams œuvre; I have kind of been scheming on it for a while. There are no pre-fight comments here, which is a shame, because I have come to not only love but also kind of maybe need a little the way Willie Williams says "karate" with such delicacy and reverence in each utterance of it. He comes out kyokushining for all he is worth, landing sharp kicks and just blasting Pieter Oele in the chest with straight punches. Perhaps feeling the weight of all of this karate upon him, Oele takes Williams to the mat, but before long at all we are back on our feet, engaged in the pursuit of 極真 (the ultimate truth). UNTIL WE ARE NOT, WHAT IS THIS WILLIE WILLIAMS HAS SQUISHED PIETER OELE INTO SUBMISSION AS THE COMMENTATOR SHRIEKS OSAE-KOMI (押込) AND THERE IS NO REASON WHY HE WOULD HAVE TAPPED RIGHT THERE BUT WILLIE WILLIAMS ENDS HIS CAREER (I think, I will check) IN VICTORY AT 6:41 AND IT TURNS OUT I AM MISTAKEN AS HE HAS ANOTHER MATCH A MONTH LATER FORGIVE ME.
To stay with karate for a moment, if we could, I just looked up the etymology of Shotokan (松濤館) and wanted to share with you my findings, as they are quite lovely: Shotokan was the name of the first official dojo built by Gichin Funakoshi, in 1936 at Mejiro, and destroyed in 1945 as a result of an allied bombing. Shoto (松濤 Shōtō), meaning "pine-waves" (the movement of pine needles when the wind blows through them), was Funakoshi's pen-name, which he used in his poetic and philosophical writings and messages to his students. The Japanese kan (館 kan) means "house" or "hall". In honour of their sensei, Funakoshi's students created a sign reading shōtō-kan, which they placed above the entrance of the hall where Funakoshi taught. Gichin Funakoshi never gave his system a name, just calling it karate.
Let us keep the beauty of that with us as we turn to Mitsuya Nagai's encounter with Chris Dolman which is almost certain to be a mauling. Dolman is wearing a singlet and then these like loose black pants over them and it is not a great look but it may very well be at this point a necessary look for Chris Dolman and I say that with sympathy and above all else respect. Dolman has nailed Nagai in the groin but they shake hands, it's okay, look:
Dolman clearly feels bad about it but not bad enough to keep from thundering down atop him and although this is a work Dolman is shoot super heavy and none of this looks comfortable for Mitsuya Nagai at all. He is spirited though! Also he is front-choked (mae-hadaka-jime'd) at 4:25 for the finish as "The Ride of the Valkyries" plays in tribute to the nordicity of Dolman's triumph I guess (this doesn't have to be weird).
Nikolai Zouev, fresh off headlining that RINGS Russia show, isn't he, is in against Hans Nijman (R.I.P. Hans Nijman don't go chasing waterfalls). Nijman is huge and to me pretty terrifying; Zouev seems to be letting himself go around the middle a little (I get it, I recently and remorselessly ate ten of my mom's cinnamon rolls, as some of you already know). Zouev is so excellent at this, as we have discussed previously, such as like when he drops down for a low kata-guruma (shoulder wheel/fireman's carry) and then wafts like a gossamer dream into juji-gatame; heavens, man, heavens. His tani-otoshi (valley drop) is also quite lovely. Striking, though, the advantage is clearly Nijman's, and also Nijman seems like a mean terrifying dick (R.I.P.) the whole time, even when he is getting ura-nage'd into juji-gatame as has happened just this instant. Zouev gets knocked down a couple of times in quick succession but he has heart and I am with him right up until the moment he is put down and out by a savage flurry by this vicious ogre (may peace be upon him) at 6:35.
Bitsadze Tariel is the next to face Tony Halme and only seconds into this Tony Halme push in RINGS it seems I am already resenting him pretty hard; I don't know what will happen (to my feelings) if he gets a win over Tariel, who has earned our respect through both the quality of his work and also his sheer Georgian kyokushin enormity. Ugggghhhh noooooo fvkkoff, Tony Halme KO at 4:19, Tony Halme and his dumb boxing gloves, somebody better get this guy and it had better be Akira Maeda damn it. Tariel came at him with just savage karate at first and it was good for FOUR knockdowns but that's not enough of them I guess as Tariel was felled by a big shitty right THIS IS BULLSHIT BITSADZE WINS OR WE RIOT but no he does not; and we do not.
Dick Vrij and Mikhail Ilioukhine, this could be pretty good, let's see. Vrij is probably six inches taller at least but both of these fellows are, I probably don't need to remind you, fvkkn yoked. One would assume Vrij to be the striker here and Ilioukhine the græppler but recall if you will that Vrij has has some fine submission wins also. He does, though, seem pretty content to just wallop Ilioukhine pitilessly, so maybe I am overthinking this? Yeah, Vrij kicks him in the head for the win at 6:06 and these have all been pretty short matches, perhaps in response, as we have seen Meltzer say recently (RINGS blog recently), to the short matches of the almost-entirely-shoot Pancrase? I don't know this at all but it is interesting to consider.
SPECIAL MATCH yes I completely agree that Volk Han vs. Andrei Kopilov is a special match, that's totally in-line with the way I think about things. Volk Han turns his own jumping knee attack into a rolling hiza-juji knee-bar attempt less than a minute in; after the rope break, Kopilov throws with the ma-sutemi-waza (back sacrifice technique) of hikikomi-gaeshi (pulling reversal) and away we go. Han slips into a juji-gatame so far from the ropes that Kopilov resorts to the "high-lift" of daki-age in a manner that recalls John Cena's escape from A.J. Styles' juji-gatame in their Royal Rumble title match that featured the best græppling exchanges in recent WWE memory I think (I do not watch it exhaustively [because of my taste level] so could easily be mistaken here) but which also had kind of a lot of nonsense in it, too, that match, to me. On the whole it was really very good for sure but at the same time it was no VOLK HAN VS. ANDREI KOPILOV with these vicious dueling gyaku-ude-garami attacks that enhurten the shoulder to so much as witness. Han does that thing where he whips his partner to the ground with a wrist lock that worries me and then transitions into juji-gatame but Kopilov stacks him up with an odd hiza-hishigi knee-crush/calf-slicer that I admire a great deal for the really very surprising win! Stacking up whilst drilling that same position not long ago I trapped my beard between my hand and my own knee as I framed-up! We called people over to see how ridiculous it was! Maybe it is getting too long this beard! At least to slip out with ease but I guess if I bear down like Kopilov just did I can grow it forever!
WHAT WOULD DAVE MELTZER MAKE OF IT ALL:
October 24, 1994: "Next round of the Rings tournament is 10/22 in Fukuoka with Grom Zaza vs. Yoshihisa Yamamoto, Peter Ura vs. Willie Williams, Chris Dolman vs. Mitsuya Nagai, Nikolai Zouev vs. Hans Nyman, Bitarze Tariel vs. Tony Halme (Ludvig Borga) and Mijja vs. Dirk Leon-Vrij. Non-tourney main event is Andrei Kopilov vs. Volk Han. Akira Maeda will miss the show due to broken ribs." Ooooooh okay.
October 31, 1994: "10/22 Fukuoka (RINGS - 5,680): Bart Vail b Masayoshi Naruse, Yoshihisa Yamamoto b Grom Zaza, Willie Williams b Peter Ura, Chris Dolman b Mitsuya Nagai, Hans Nyman b Nikolai Zouev, Tony Halme b Bitarze Tariel, Dirk Leon-Vrij b Mijja, Andrei Kopilov b Volk Han"
"Rings has signed the gold medalist in Greco-roman wrestling at the recent Asian games in the 220 pound weight class from South Korea. The wrestler, whose name I don't have but will probably have next week, has some name value in Japan because the Asian games were held in Hiroshima and the wrestler had been battling stomach cancer and came back to win the gold."
November 14, 1994: "Akira Maeda is having to come back from his injury quicker because of poor ticket sales for the 11/19 Tokyo Ariake Coliseum show. They are putting Maeda vs. Tony Halme (Ludvig Borga) on top which means they'll probably put Borga over to try and make him a drawing card. Also they'll have Volk Han vs. Willie Williams, Chris Dolman vs. Yoshihisa Yamamoto, Dirk Leon-Vrij vs. Hans Nyman and more."
WHEN WILL TONY HALME'S REIGN OR REICH (I DON'T THINK THAT IS OUT OF LINE HERE) END? Let's find out together! Thank you for time!