July 18, 1995 in Osaka, Japan
Furitsu Gym drawing 5,280
WHAT A TIME OF GRÆPPZ IT HAS BEEN OF LATE between the New Japan Cup unfolding in its several worked intricacies (Ishii vs. Omega was great!), the IJF Grand Slam Baku in its many and varied waza, and the spring Osaka Honbasho (本場所) in its sheer immensity. It is to this heady græppz admixture of the streaming present that we add the DVD-copied '00s preservation of the VHS'd shootstyle '90s past that constitutes the RINGS box, and specifically disc 48 (of 118) of it. Maybe it will be another good one!
The opening bout is a kickboxing contest (that to my dumb eyes is a shoot, but what do I know of this sport except nothing) that sees "Dirty" Bob Schrijber keep it together with almost excessive amounts of sportsmanship and prove the victor over young Kenneth Felter by decision. I think I may have underestimated the complexity of "Dirty" Bob Schrijber's interior life before this, and I take this as a caution.
MASAYUKI NARUSE VS. TSUYOSHI KOHSAKA DO I WAKE OR WITH SWAY OF THE SEA HAVE I FALLEN IN SWEVEN; IF IT BE BUT DREAM SUMMON MY PHILOSOPHERS I WOULD KNOW THEIR COUNSEL yes I welcome this bout very much. After experimentation with the all-black-everything look that we know will prove in time his true raiment, Kohsaka has, for now at least, reverted to orchid:
KOHSAKAAAAAA yells a guy who is not me and yet who *is* me and we are underway. No time for kicking or slapping there is græppling to be had and let it begin when Kohsaka's mae-hadaka-jime front choke sees him spun to the mat by Naruse's yoko-otoshi (横落 side drop) only for TK to end up on top in kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame (崩上四方固 broken-upper-four-quarter-hold) before stepping over into ude-hishigi-juji-gatame (腕挫十字固 arm-crushing-crossmark-hold) and longtime or even quite-recently-joined-up readers might recall that I taught this transition at the club just this past weekend to students who thought this particular waza from this particular position just so great (I join them in thinking that). Naruse escapes and assumes tate-shiho-gatame (縦四方固 vertical-four-quarter-hold) as the crowd just shrieks, woah, they are unusually into this match, where are we again? Ah, but of course: it is the lore-wise Osaka crowd here assembled in Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium (大阪府立体育会館 Ōsaka furitsu taiikukaikan). Osaka! Home of the Haru Basho of which we spoke only minutes ago! They know their græppz in Osaka, my word. "Japanese fans," Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira recently told Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez on perhaps the most lovable Wrestling Observer Radio ever, "that's a guy who understand more about the martial arts." Big Nog breaking it down. Koshaka, against whom Nogueira will in time fight a glorious draw here in these same RINGS, has a fearsome sweat-stain in the buttmost area of his orchid trunks, and it is so extreme and unsettling that I think they have changed the camera shot at least once so far because of it. The crowd stirs with every move of substance, and because this match is between Naruse and Kohsaka, every move so far has been of substance. When Kosahaka, again pinned in tate-shiho-gatame, frees his arm from an ude-garami (arm entanglement) that hadn't even really gotten anywhere yet but was instead the merest inkling of an ude-garami, the crowd is like ohyesindeedclapclapclap and as such reveal themselves as perhaps the best crowd we have yet seen (in human history). Naruse wraps a leg under Kohsaka's shoulder and rolls to his back to attempt first the triangle choke of sankaku-jime before presumably thinking about a transitional juji-gatame but before that can work itself out TK grabs a leg and the crowd is thrilled as Naruse seeks the safety (but I'm not sure it's freedom) of the ropes. Once they stand, Naruse puts Kohsaka down with strikes, but soon thereafter we return to the græppling we need this to be, and threatens with ashi-kansetsu (leg-bone-locking broadly considered) as TK is very much on his heels (careful they do not get hooked haha). And also his back: he is beneath Naruse's tate-shiho-gatame once more, but not actually for all that long, as he hooks an arm in deep and falls into ashi-kansetsu again for another rope break. He stands up invigorated, attacks with the valley drop of tani-otoshi 谷落 which he follows with a kingly kesa-gatame (袈裟固 scarf hold) only for Naruse to get a leg high for a weird choke that does not work but which leads again to tate-shiho-gatame so maybe . . . it did? The narrative of this bout is Naruse's technical superiority in ne waza vs. Kohsaka's doggedness and while the first half of that is utterly implausible in the primary world, the quality of the performances here convince us of its reality in the subcreation of the secondary world (RINGS). BULLDOG CHOKE no don't worry it's ok, Koshaka made the ropes; oh no, he has been slapped heinously to the mat and barely makes the referee's count! He is down to his second-last knockdown (rope breaks add up to knockdowns)! The crowd is wild for the ashi-kansetsu that follow and begin a chant of TSU-YO-SHI, TSU-YO-SHI which is in my view their bounden duty. I wonder what the finish was supposed to be? I ask this because the bout has been stopped due to a pretty significant cut from a knee to the face and so your winner by TKO of a deeply good match is Masayuki Naruse:
It would be strange and wonderful should anything on the rest of the card is as excellent as that but I expect that Bitsadze Tariel vs. Mitsuya Nagai should be at least quite good, let's see. Nagai wants to roll around for leg-locks, whereas Tariel, for his part, feels legs are for kicking (I have heard both of these arguments before). Tariel makes the ropes, Nagai gets knocked down but fights on and in fact gets his own pretty heavy kicks in; it is all like you'd think, and it's all . . . quite good, just as we'd hoped! In the end, Bitsadze Tariel ultimate-truths the shit out of Mitsuya Nagai right in the chest and that's it at 7:06.
It is no doubt unfair of me to continue to think of Bitsadze Ameran as the other Bitsadze, for is he not his own person possessing his own full measure of humanity, and yet here I am thinking of him this way again, forgive me, Other Bitsadze, but they have booked your match immediately following First Bistsadze's and you also do Kyokushin (極真) just like him and I am a weak man and easily confused. Hans Nijman (R.I.P., shot down in a blaze of glory, Young Guns II was a good movie when I was eleven, leave the memories alone) is this day his foe. Hans Nijman never drew first but he drew first blood (there is no way to know if this is true) and is also the victor by the naked strangle of hadaka-jime at 3:59 of a very spirited bout after first folding Ameran utterly in half a short time earlier as the commentators said JUDOOOO a bunch of times ((掬い投 sukui nage, scooping throw):
Yoshihisa Yamamoto vs. Dick Vrij, could this be what I suspect it might be? Is Yamamoto about to get a win over Dick Vrij? As part of his huge "push" (a vulgarity, forgive me) after proving to be Rickson Gracie's toughest challenger (so weird, because it turned out Yamamoto couldn't actually fight very well at all, weird) at Vale Tudo Japan? A win over Dick Vrij ranks among the greatest boons one might be granted in early/mid-RINGS oooooh noooooo Dick Vrij has just unleashed a furious knee to the head of a downed opponent and worryingly for Yoshihisa Yamamoto he is that opponent and now Dick Vrij has been given a red card? But it is not a bout-ending hansoku-make disqualification but instead signifies something else? I think maybe he is charged a couple of knockdowns maybe? What a knee though:
Vrij's second, Hans Nijman, insists there was nothing untoward about any of this but referee Yuji Shimada drops to his knees and then slaps his own forehead to demonstrate the extent to which there totally, totally was, and that he will not be swayed. Yamamoto is a gamer, though -- you don't amass a lifetime mixed fight record of 14W 25L 1D (of the twenty-five men to defeat him, it took Rickson Gracie second-longest, so weird) if you are a mere front-runner -- so he shakes hands and presses on. OH NO IT HAPPENED AGAIN another knee to his downed face, and that costs Vrij several more of his knockdowns and escapes, such that when Yamamoto seizes upon Vrij's huge Dutch limb (not a euphemism) it doesn't matter that Vrij makes the ropes; their succor is no longer his to enjoy; Yamamoto by TKO (in this case the most technical of all possible knockouts) at 9:04. Yamamoto is greeted backstage by Akira Maeda and, instead of being soundly beaten (it is my impression that usually everyone is beaten), is offered a double low-five, to which he is like "お願いします" which is to say "onegaishimasu" which is to say "I am pleased you are not beating me at this moment."
This show's Q&A section is conducted with 1992 Barcelona Olympic Judo +95kg gold medalist David Khakhaleishvili (დავით ხახალეიშვილი) who is about to take to the ring against no less an athlete than Akira Maeda himself in a bout that has been building ever since Khakhaleishvili showed up to the gasps of the then-assembled crowd and unleashed trøö Georgian ura nage (裏投) to the delight of all but his battered uke. In keeping with the rest of this night, the Osaka crowd is nuuuuuuuts for Maeda as he takes to fight in his inimitable idiom. Khakhaleishvili wears no jacket, no belt, but merely the trousers of his art. I have never heard anyone in a Japanese wrestling crowd or anyone in any crowd of anything shriek a name quite like some guy goes MAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA to the cheers of those around him just before Khakhaleishvili throws with a fine ippon-seoi-nage (一本 背負投):
Another really good show!
WHAT DID DAVE MELTZER SAY:
July 17, 1995: "If you're a fan of strong style wrestling but avoid Rings like the plague, get a tape of the 6/17 Rings show because Volk Han is just amazing and his match with Yoshihisa Yamamoto on that show is about as close to perfection when it comes to that style. Han may be the most unheralded great worker in the business today." [What a weird way to say this!]
July 24, 1995: Tangentially: "It was bound to happen. With the success of UFC, several groups look to be getting into the act. There is talk of doing a PPV from a stadium in Brazil featuring Rickson Gracie in early October, although that's far from a definite. A 10/8 date was booked by the Showtime and Jon Peters group to do a PPV tournament with the listed participants being Dick Leon Vrij (Rings pro wrestler), Ben Spikjers (three-time Olympian and former European champion in judo), Mike Betono (Kapu Kuialua), Renzo Gracie (two-time Brazilian jui-jitsu champion), Sean McCully (Muay Thai kick boxing), Bart Vail (pro wrestling, Phil Benedict (amateur wrestling), Fred Floyd (Kung Fu, billed at 6-4, 340) and Steve Nelson (UWFI). There are others as well in the serious talking stage."
July 31, 1995: "7/18 Osaka Furitsu Gym (RINGS - 5,280): Bob Schreiber b ?, Masayoshi Naruse b Tsuyoshi Korasaka, Bitarze Tariel b Mitsuya Nagai, Hans Nyman b Amilan, Yoshihisa Yamamoto b Dick Leon-Vrij, Akira Maeda b David Hahareshivili, Volk Han b Tony Halme"
"Rings ran 7/18 in Osaka before 5,280 with Akira Maeda beating 1992 Olympic gold medalist in judo, David Hahareshivili, in the main event. Tony Halme (Ludvig Borga) lost to Volk Han, who is ranked No. 1 in Rings, while Dick Leon-Vrij, who will be appearing on the Showtime/Jon Peters UFC-style PPV in October, lost to Yoshihisa Yamamoto, who did the Vale Tudo show a few months back."
OK that's it, thank you once again for your time!