Monday, March 27, 2017


Mega Battle Tournament 1995: Grand Final
January 24, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 12,683

AS WE GATHER AS ONE (WHICH WE ARE, TRULY; SEARCH YOUR HEART; YOU KNOW THIS IS REAL) FOR THE GRAND FINAL OF THIS MEGA BATTLE TOURNAMENT 1995 we must wonder mustn't we what if anything is augured by the coincidence (if that is all it is [though it could well be more {ah, but what}]) that its date falls on that of Akira Maeda's 37th birthday. This is strange for me in that I am 37 right now and I would tell you that Akira Maeda as he turns 37 in early 1996 looks old enough to be my father now (this is an enormous exaggeration) and I uhhhh do not look young lol (this is no exaggeration, I look like a tree). But Maeda has always held the kind of stern presence that never really seemed young, did it, at least not in the earliest I have seen of him, which would I guess probably be around 1983, meaning he was . . . my word, he was 24 then. You would have thought he was like 34! Or at least I kind of had! Although I really hadn't thought about it I guess! Anyway, because I had been thinking that 1995 Akira Maeda must have already been well into his 40s, I had been cutting him all kinds of slack on his physique that I must now take up (the slack? take it up? it is hard to know what to do with this metaphor now) because I am pitiless about the physiques of men my age or younger but filled with nothing but sympathy for the plight of those even slightly older than I am because who knows man maybe I am on my all-time last week of visible abs in my whole life (remember when Dave Meltzer recently claimed better abs than Johnny Mundo but then flatly refused all requests for pixxx? that situation was comfortably ****+ according to both me and to my friends who are accurate star-raters); for what do I know of what horrors await when one turns 38 (which remains very much my plan), so this is solidly a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I deal. But again, given new data, I think early-1996 Akira Maeda could stand to tighten things up a little; though of course one must admire his size.     

Not a thing wrong with Mikhail Ilioukhine's win by simultaneous hadaka-jime (naked strangle) and hiza-hishigi (knee crush/calf slicer) over Wataru Sakata in 10:44; this is in keeping with what we have come to expect from both men given the calibre of their performances over long months. In the end, it looked like this: 

Willie Peeters arrives looking no less Cobra Kai then when last we encountered him so I guess he has decided that look is working for him and he plans to keep it for at least a while. Here he meets the eventually-venerable (he fought forever!) Christopher Haseman of Australia. Assail him though he might with a half-hearted kani-basami flying crab scissor or a fine koshi-waza (hip technique) somewhere on the kubi-nage (neck throw)/koshi-guruma (hip wheel) spectrum, in the fullness of not even that much time (4:40) Peeters finds his back taken and his face brutally choked--like the face--as his mouthpiece hangs halfway out. It's quite grim!

Vladimir Klementiev vs. Gogitidze Bakouri gives us the RINGS-classic battle of Kyokushin ultimate-truth-fistist vs. græppler, and here it is VIadmir Klementiev, he of the fist, who emerges the victor by means of pummeling despite having earlier been tossed around at the gleeful will of Goitidze Bakouri, who went so far as to Karelin-lift (Fire Pro: Alevin's lift) his rangy foe and dump him very much in the way one is dumped at the completion of that technique (hideously). If I am not mistaken this is the first RINGS appearance of either of these fellows, and if that is the case, and in fact even if that is not the case, those eight minutes and twenty seconds were totally ok! 

You might have hoped we had seen the RINGS-last of Tony Halme (I know I had!) but here he is against everyone's little pal Mitsuya Nagai, scooping him up and throwing him with something that resembles nothing so much as a Rock Bottom (which Dave Meltzer once described as being like an ura-nage [裏投 rear throw], but to the front, and I have spent every second that I have been on the internet since that moment [fifteen years ago? more?] trying to quell that nonsense but it is an endless tide). In addition to the totally understandable reasons a person might not be that into Tony Halme (in that he is a white nationalist bully, like he served in a legislature as one of those), he also stinks at shoot-style wrestling. And maybe at other styles too but I don't remember exactly? Nagai though is not shy about kicking him repeatedly in the groin and so has taken the upper-hand. Several of Nagai's kicks look to be hitting him mostly in the butt-seat or ass region but Halme complains of engroinedness even from there, which raises the dark spectre of the reverse (or gyaku) bag-tag, which for whatever reason is uniquely unbearable. Big hip throw, Nagai! So close with the juji-gatame, but no! Halme hoists him aloft in daki-age (抱上 hugging high lift/powerbomb; I kept saying dashi-age at judo the other night until I figured out what was wrong [I was saying fish-stock lift]) and slams his way out of trouble, and goes so far technically as to attempt an awful hiza-juji-gatame knee-bar to the crowd's surprise and delight. Nagai finds a leg-lock of his own, though, and Halme yells AAAAAHHHH SON OF A BITCH super loud right by the microphone but hey it is Japan and what's more it is WOWOW so anything goes, man (rope break). Halme covers up in the corner as Nagai lays in knees and shooooteeeeeiiiiiis; Halme counters with a single punch that puts Nagai down. He beats the count, flies in for a leg scissor and a slick heel hold for the win at 8:52! EVERYONE IS FOND OF MITSUYA NAGAI and one must give the devil his due and acknowledge, I think, that this was the best Tony Halme match by a lot. The replay notes something I failed to at the time, which is Halme's huge sukui-nage (掬投 scoop throw/side-walk slam).


(The Alliance was the name of the Kohsaka/Smith/Frank Shamrock cross-training team of fightpals; Koshaka's gym bears this name to this day, which you can see at their website where I invite you to click through to TK's blog where it has nice pictures of him coaching kids at wrestling tournaments and such whilst wearing some of the better tracksuits we have yet enacted [as a species]). Smith is introduced as the WKA heavykyu champion and who could doubt it! WILL THIS BE A SHOOT? Five seconds in I am utterly and unswayably convinced that it is, given the kicks Smith throws at TK's head, the earnestness with which Koshaka goes low and hard for the two-hand reap of morote-gari, and just the energy of it; this is for real. So are we to assume that Maeda feels sufficiently confident in TK's shooting post-Lumax Cup: The Tournament of J '95 that he is ready to take him off the leash so to speak and just start TKing guys? Smith holds his own, at least at first, in the hikikomi (pulling) position or if you must "the guard" as he reaches first for gyaku-ude-garami/Kimura and then deep for an ashi-kansetsu leg-lock (or at least a sweep), but Kohsaka grabs a heel hook that turns to a knee-bar as Smith wisely rolls and grabs the ropes for the stand-up. As soon as they are up they are down again, but in the ropes, so it's back up. This time, TK clinches Smith in the corner, drops low for the dead-tree drop of kuchiki taoshi (it is a single leg), puts him down and improves position nicely until Smith grabs the rope again. On Kohsaka's next takedown attempt, he eats a solid kick to the face but is dauntless in his pursuit and drops back into a heel hook that comes on so fast that Smith doesn't even tap right, he's just a mess, flapping the back of his hand on the mat weirdly and yelling FUCK sharply and that's it at 2:28!

Everybody lists this match as a shoot, but as the sufficiently lore-wise (or "old") know, there are tonnes of matches from this era that everybody gets wrong, so no stock should be put in that, really. But I believe what I see with my own eyes and feel with my own dumb heart!

Dennis Raven, Dutch judo champion and Olympian who had a totally solid match against Kohsaka in his début now towers over even Bitsadze Tariel, which is a feat. Tariel swats him to the ground only seconds in, though, which is indicative of his karate's might. Raven throws with a lovely sasae-tsurikomi-ashi (支釣込足 propping, drawing ankle) and tries to follow with juji-gatame. But for the ropes he may well have! Raven throws with tai-otoshi (體落 body drop) springing his uke lightly off the ropes in the clinch, and it was very nice. Some salty slaps from Raven, too, before he is ultimately knocked down and counted out after knees to the body as Bitsadze Tariel takes this match at 3:01. So far Dennis Raven has had really strong matches: he has been in with Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and Bitsadze Tariel, so he has had every opportunity, but even so I feel like he is neat.

Volk Han vs. Hans Nijan for MEGA BATTLE TOURNAMENT '95 3rd place doesn't last all that long at all but throughout its duration feels like the story of the match will be Hans Nijman pounding away on Volk Han for knockdowns until Han is able to either grab an absurdly complex submission hold or enter with absurd complexity into a recognizable submission hold, whichever approach he might favour on this day, but instead of that coming to pass, Hans Nijman just keeps wailing on him until the fifth knockdown is scored at 6:49 for the very surprising (to me, at least) TKO. R.I.P. Hans Nijman, third in the MEGA BATTLE TOURNAMENT '95, first in our THOUGHTS ABOUT MORTALITY '17. 

Even after all that I have described above in the poverty of my art we are little more than an hour into this show, and so there is plenty of time for a complete tournament recap in video highlight form. It's quite stirring! When all is accounted for we are ready at last for Yoshihisa Yamamoto, an already-rising star made anew with his long loss to Rickson Gracie (so weird) at Vale Tudeo Japan, challenging the great Akira Maeda, whose name is being absolutely shrieked throughout Budokan Hall (日本武道館, Nippon Budōkan) as he enters through a sleet of streamers. Only recently have I learned that Maeda's excellent theme has a life outside of Maeda as "Captured" by English prog band Camel (of whom I had never heard, if I may confess that to you). The Japanese anthem ("Kimigayo" 君が代 "His Imperial Majesty's Reign" [what's up constitutional monarchies]) is played and observed with great appropriateness and then upon its completion everybody goes wild; this crowd is so ready.

This is cheating but I can't help but notice there is a lot of time left HOWEVER sometimes there is a lot of ceremony at the end of these and sometimes there is much less; Maeda's matches have lately been quite brief if I am remembering this right but we have also seen him go quite long so really the amount of time left tells us nothing and it is pointless to have mentioned it AND WE ARE UNDERWAY. Woah I really am looking at Maeda's physique with newly critical eyes given that this is his 37th birthday as we discussed earlier and I don't know man but at the same time I truly know nothing about being well over six feet and weighing 100kg+ and that is no doubt totally its own thing relative to being me (I am much shorter and much lighter than either of those things), so who am I to judge (I am all over this judgement though, it cannot be contained, this judgement). A Maeda heel-hook compels the first of what one can only assume will be many rope breaks, but like ten seconds later Yamamoto puts Maeda down with a hard slap that results not in Yuji Shimada's count but instead in Yamamoto taking the back aggressively, hooks in at once, a little high as though he is thinking juji-gatame AND INDEED HE IS but Meada rolls through and comes out on top. Another Maeda heel-hook turns to both working away at ashi-hishigi (leg-crush/Achilles hold) but they are rope-entangled and then enstood. Is Yamamoto thinking knee-bar or arm-bar, I wonder, as he is actually just reversed and pinned in kesa-gatame (scarf hold) so you can tell how much I know about græppling, be sure to listen to me about it. This is a tense crowd, you can feel it! Maeda takes the next rope break on a hiza-juji knee-bar, and the first knockdown on just some, like, hitting. I see again as though for the first time the beauty of the RINGS canvas; the light is striking it just so; what a hue:

Yamamoto's escape to break an ashi-kansetsu leglock gives him the equivalent of one knockdown WOAH OK I think everyone watching including me for sure thought the finish was about to come when Maeda caught Yamamoto's high kick, dragged him at once to the mat and away from the ropes, and wrenched on a heel-hook; everybody was screaming way extra, but it didn't happen; again I say to you woah. Catching a kick has proven to be pretty much the most effective setup for match-ending leg-locks in the first several years of RINGS so the people (I am the people) are very susceptible to this sequence. Maeda grabs a rope to get out of a minor jam, which means he is up to the equivalent of two knockdowns, and as I tell you that, he is knocked down again which also counts as a knockdown, as well you know. That's three for Maeda! A yellow card for Yamamoto on what looks likely to be Maeda's fourth down (though it is not) as Yamamoto loses a point for a knee to the head of a downed opponent. THIS CONTINUES TO BE TENSE and that tension does not lesson when Maeda is slow to rise after a rope escape frees him from the shime-waza (strangulation technique) tyranny of Yamamoto's hadaka-jime. And now we have the slapping. Maybe this is the best RINGS crowd so far? They are pretty sure each of the three-straight leg-locks that lead to rope escapes will at last be the one to give Maeda his win. Yamamoto is staggering around but staggers his way onto Maeda's back post-slapping and tries for juji and ude-garami and juji again and both men are at four knockdowns probably? MOROTE-GARI TAKEDOWN HEEL HOOK MAAEEEDAAAAAAAAAAA AKIIIIIIIRRRRAAAAA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA 17:59 MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MEDALS AND LAURELS FOR OUR CHAMPION THIS IS THE OLYMPICS OF SHOOT-STYLE A GLIMPSE OF ATHENS


February 5, 1996: "1/24 Tokyo Budokan Hall (RINGS - 12,683): Eruhim Micha b Wataru Sakata, Heinzmann b Willie Peeters, Gregori Kuramenchev b Bakuli, Mitsuya Nagai b Tony Halme (Ludvig Borga), Tsuyoshi Kosaka b Maurice Smith, Bitsaze Tariel b Rarfin, Hans Nyman b Volk Han, Battle Dimension `95 tournament championship: Akira Maeda b Yoshihisa Yamamoto"

"Rings ran its traditional biggest show of the year on 1/24 at Budokan Hall before 12,683 in the Battle Dimension `95 tournament finals with Akira Maeda, on his 37th birthday, beating Yoshihisa Yamamoto in 17:59 with a heel hook. Maeda will have yet another knee operation in March. Maeda will be going to the Hans Nyman show in Amsterdam on 2/18 which is a shootfighting tournament with serve as referee. Nyman beat Volk Han via technical knockout in 6:49 in the match to determine the No. 3 ranking in Rings."


No comments:

Post a Comment