Friday, March 17, 2017


Mega Battle II: Ibuki
March 5, 1992 in Amagasaki, Japan
Memorial Park Arena drawing 5,160

RETRO RINGS! EVEN MORE SO THAN NORMAL! A couple of 1992 shows were misnumbered in the original RINGS set from which our group purchase was made, and I hadn't noticed until only a little while ago, and now here we are. Were I asked to speculate as to why that might be, I would suggest that the quality of this MEGA BATTLE II: IBUKI tape suggests a commercial release, rather than WOWOW home taping [is killing the music industry], and so maybe Lynch just got it way later? Regardless of how it happened exactly, aren't we all pleased to have more 1992 RINGS than we previously thought we might? This tape opens with some extremely high taste-level visuals and then a glimpse inside the græppling hearts of Volk Han and several of his little buddies as they perform their flyingmost entries into juji-gatame and also other kansetsu-waza (bone-locking techniques) adorned in the kurtka of sambo and also the neat little jackets of other national wrestlings (I love it I love it I love it). Masaaki Satake is shown backstage laughing it up with Dick Vrij and Willie Williams (before, I think, any of his several retirements) as well he might; the parade of fighters follows with massive ovations for Vrij, Williams, Satake, and Maeda; Satake address the crowd and then we properly and truly begin. 

EARTH BOUT sees Adam Wyatt versus Hans Nijman (so young here, so unmurdered in a car, R.I.P. Hans Nijman) in a(n earth) bout to be contested in a series of three-minute rounds, a format that, as some of you may recall, is not my preferred one, but there have been good matches of this kind so I must set aside my preconceived notions of this and perhaps of all things and even ways, maybe. This is in fact not a particularly engaging match at all, as it turns out, though I am not at all sure it has anything to do with the format of rounds but is instead just because neither guy really does all that much and it ends in a six-round draw. Whenever anything at all happens, though, however slight (a reasonable kick, an instant of kesa-gatame [scarf hold] leading to a rope break) the crowd is way, way in, so who am I to mal y pense

An AQUA BOUT betwixt Volk Han and Gennady Gigant holds greater promise, I think, let's see how this one goes. In contrast to Volk Han's wolfish leanness (to say nothing of his lean wolfishness), Gennady Gigant must weather the curse of being a big tub of goo, for the most part. A tub of goo with a credible ippon seoi nage, surely he is that, and who would dare doubt it, but a tub of goo all the same. That can't have been easy for him. Ah jeez, there's that standing gyaku-ude-garami/double-wrist-lock that always worries me, but here it does so far less as Gigant has cut it off by scooping Han up and slamming him with the hand-wheel of te-guruma. Ah ha, though, ah ha: As soon as they make their way to their feet again Han attacks with the flying armlock of tobi-juji-gatame! Just like he was drilling with his pals earlier! Those are always great fun! Teach them to your students when there are not that many of them around, like a small class right around Christmas, maybe! They will be skeptical of their ability at first but pretty much anyone who can græpple can in fact perform tobi-juji-gatame! Enter just like our friend Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki here:

Only don't worry if you can't get quite so high, you can always pull uke down to you a little if you are canny about grips! And even if you are not as canny about grips as say Volk Han was just now when he attempted first tobi-juji-gatame or later the rolling knee-bar of tobi-hiza-juji-gatame don't worry there are still ways we can get there if you believe (Shinya Aoki is right when he says that the biggest obstacles to flying attacks are mental). This Gennady Gigant is as I mentioned earlier kind of a big tub of goo but he employs that goo (much of it at least) in the service of a heavy, credible græppling style that serves as a fine contrast to Volk Han's slight looseness (I mean no disrespect but his holds are not uniformly snug: some are terrifying, others oddly light). Han finishes at 12:57 with the rolling ashi-sankaku-garami (leg-triangle-entanglement) that would in time be known more broadly as both the Huizinga roll and the reverse omoplata. He is quite a man. 

Rudy Ewoldt, remember him? He still resembles nothing so much as a gruff-at-first-but-ultimately-a-boon-to-your-rune-quest ogre. This FIRE BOUT pits him against Nobuaki Kakuta, who has just been tossed utterly to the ground and is being squished, poor little fellow. When they are back to their feet though Kakuta kind of kicks the shit out of him, please forgive the indelicacy of that characterization but this is a TKO at 6:10 and to me a most unexpected one. The people love it! His RINGS Japan pals toss him aloft as the crowd chants his name and a lady in a striped dress presents him with a bouquet. There seems to have been a greater significance to this FIRE BOUT than its own art but I am unable to discern it; I have failed you.

Herman Renting has never been my guy and it doesn't feel like that is about to change as his AIR BOUT with Dick Vrij draws near. The great Chris Dolman is in Renting's corner and I remain unmoved; that is the depth of my antipathy. Opening kickboxings are exchanged until Renting wrangles Vrij with a low and laboured kosoto-gake (minor outer hook) into the chest hold/side control of mune-gatame, which Vrij rolls out of in exactly the way one tends to to tell one's græppling students not to try because it will really not work unless there is a gross mismatch in size and strength but that is what he was have here, so we're good! Renting throws Vrij into the turnbuckle with an ouchi-gari (major inner reap) which is not a huge throw but the way Vrij landed was pretty gnar; the overall effect is not unlike that of a BUCKLE BOOOOOOOMB as Michael Elgin who looks exactly exactly exactly like my old friend Matty (just a great guy by the way) yells before he powerbombs people into the turnbuckle just before he powerbombs them into the mat (powerbomb or should I say daki-age 抱上, "high lift" [kinshi-waza, "forbidden technique"]). No, there is really nothing wrong with this Dick Vrij head-kick KO win at 8:42, nice job everybody; even you, Herman Renting (I am not made of stone).  

A tiny demonstration of military-grade sambo (Russian: са́мбо, САМозащита Без Оружия, SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya, "self-defense without weapons") follows by which I mean the people performing this actually quite lengthy and well-received demo are themselves tiny: 

WILLIE WILLIAMS WHOM ALL LOVE is here and he will face Peter Smit in a THUNDER BOUT and Williams is greeted by streamers thrown not from the crowd (that is not a RINGS thing) but descend instead from the heavens. Peter Smit is so physically smooth; I mean his form, not his movement (his movement is good). Williams takes to actual fight whilst still wearing his do-rag or kerchief (from the French couvre-chef, "cover the head") as though he were the heel Hulk Hogan of the then-near future (Hogan was still technically a face in March 1992 despite his treachery in eliminating a heel Sid in the 1992 Royal Rumble) and ends the bout at a mere 2:50 by means of punching buddy in the chest. 

Fred Oosterom will try his hand against Masaaki Satake but he will certainly fail in this UNIVERSE BOUT given the realities of Masaaki Satake's karate. Oosterom wisely seeks to drag Satake to the mat to avoid the wrath of his karate's pitilessness, and attempts both the armbar of juji-gatame and the straight ankle-lock of kata-ashi-hishigi and frankly Masaaki Satake is very much on the run in terms of rope escapes. Much to my surprise, Satake has yet to do very much karate at all! But surely this is all to build towards an ultimate apocalypse of it; surely it is. Ah ok good: it comes at 6:22 in the form of a knockout that really probably should have been deemed illegal due to the complete face kicking that occurred whilst Oosterom was on his knees but I hold no RINGS referee's credential (I am but a Provincial C-level judo referee).

All that remains now is our ASTRAL BOUT contested between Ramazi Buzariashvili and the unchanging and eternal Akira Maeda and Buzariashvili begins by heaving Maeda around seemingly at will and pursuing him to the ends of the ring with juji-gatame and no small measure of ashi-kansetsu because of his known hatred for all bones in the foot and leg. This is very strong so far: I would describe the pace I guess as semi-languid, but there is an intensity to it. Maeda is down two rope escapes early to this doubtlessly Georgian græppsman and is lucky to not be charged with his third at the five minute mark as he just kind of fell into them fortuitously. Not to be outdone by a Dagestani, Buzariashvili flies in with his own tobi-juji-gatame and the crowd is like "oh . . . shit?" but Maeda finds a way out. I am pretty sure though that Buzariashvili is averaging slightly over one solid juji-gatame attack per minute through the first six or seven. Is Buzariashvili a one-and-done RINGS guy? I do not remember seeing his name either before or after this but is totally good at this. If Maeda is in a mood to sell all of your stuff, all of your stuff is going to look pretty tremendous because of how well Maeda sells everyone's stuff when he is in a mood to sell all of your stuff, but even allowing for that I think Buzariashvili has really got something here, and part of what constitutes that something is sikk pick-ups in the truest Georgian style. Ah, the deep græpplinternationalism of RINGS! I love it! (It is something I love about judo also, you may have guessed.) Buzariashvili is going to kill Maeda with one of these saka-otoshi (headlong falls) off of these pick-ups man like Maeda is going to end up Misawa'd out there before long UNLESS YES UNLESS KATA-ASHI-HISHIGI OUT OF NOWHERE THE SINGLE LEG BOSTON CRAB THAT IS THE ONLY HOLD PERMITTED NJPW YOUNG LIONS IT HAS SERVED A BLACK-TRUNKSMAN YET AGAIN YOUR WINNER AT 11:18 MAEDAAAAAA AKIRRRRAAAAAAAAAA YAAAAAAAAAAY.  

Well this was fun! A pleasant surprise! There is at least one more of these 1992 shows to come! It is weird how old they seem already! Thank you for your time!

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