Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Rising Stars Block A
July 15, 2000 in Orem, UT
McKay Center

WHEN LAST WE SPOKE I PROMISED YOU DAN SEVERN AND I HAVE BEEN PROVEN IF NOT A LIAR THEN AT LEAST A FOOL and the reason for my failure (at least its proximate cause) is that I thought the next show held within the RINGSbox would be the next RINGS Japan show but it is instead the first RINGS U.S.A. show and if this were Japan there would be Severn but because it is U.S.A. he is nowhere to be seen. Paradox? Or dialectic? Either way we are in here at the McKay Events Center in Orem, Utah. Now known as the UCCU Center (I don't know),  "[i]t was built in 1996 and is home to the Utah Valley Wolverines basketball team. It is also the former home of Utah Jazz's now defunct NBA Development League affiliate team, the Utah Flash, the Utah Valley Thunder of the American Indoor Football Association and the Utah Catzz of the Professional Indoor Football League." What's more, "[t]he UCCU Center has grown to host many top touring shows such as ZZ Top, Boston, Lonestar, Styx, Maroon 5, Lifehouse, INXS, OneRepublic, Jimmy Eat World, Paramore, Kelly Clarkson and more recently The Killers, Phillip Phillips, Pentatonix, Panic! at the Disco and Bastille." That its wikipedia page makes no mention of RISING STARS BLOCK A is perhaps an indictment of its taste level. Or is it? Maybe this will be as lurid as a RINGS Holland show? Or as Australian as a RINGS Australia show? We can hope it will exhibit the dark heart of winter, like a RINGS Russia show. Although that would probably be weird in a July show in Utah. I am ready for whatever, though. There does not seem to be any commentary but the fairly charming graphics would indicate that we are to witness an eight-man middleweight (under 200 lbs) and an eight-man heavyweight tournament, or at least some parts of it? The rules here are communicated formally in English, which is notable I think, and the judges are sikk: 

There is a little ramp that leads the fighters to the ring through the morass of shitty, leering humanity that bought tables on the floor here in Orem. I used to go to mixed martial arts shows at the same Halifax Forum where Leo Burke challenged for both the NWA and AWA World Championship titles in a better, vanished time, and it was the same setup in I guess a roughly similar-sized building, and the energy those nights was super gross. I went at least in part because someone I had trained with someone who was fighting (I do not mean to suggest we were pals: he mostly trained at another club [in another province] and only visited ours rarely, and he definitely would not remember me or anything; it was a very big club then and we were on wildly different levels [and this is like ten years ago) and also because I was a dumb idiot, that was definitely a major factor in my going. The guy I knew won in about a minute with an uchi mata into juji-gatame and it was a triumph of waza but just the whole feel of the night was awful. Ricky and Bubbles and Julian from Trailer Park Boys were there, obviously; they just walked right through security with a smile, no problem. They had a table.   

We get little pre-fight interviews and a greasy ring announcer and a multi-camera shoot but, again, no commentary. This is perhaps for the best. In the first bout, Jeremy Horn knocks Keith Mielke out in 1:47. Before the second, Trent Jenkins says he would like to thank Monte Cox, who managed a tonne of guys and promoted a tonne of fights and under-reported a tonne of income and did three months in federal prison. He loses by ude-garami to lustily-cheered-local Griffen Reynaud in 2:27. On the subject of lusty cheers there are ring girls in cut-offs and heavily modified rock radio t-shirts. It's stupid. Jermaine Andre wins with an ude-garami arm entanglement, too, in fifty-seven seconds against Clint Wiggins from Georgia who I am not sure had really græppled much before.

This show is terrible.  

That everyone comes out to nü-metal is a given, why dwell on it. Matt Frost is a thin man with a very long neck who gives up nearly thirty pounds to the able Christopher Haseman and I would anticipate maybe a shime-waza or strangulation technique? Haseman looks strong and his back is an absolute mess. He is cornered by Maurice Smith. And it's over in thirty seconds from a fine bit of kansetsu- rather than shime-waza in that he grabbed a gyaku-ude-garami reverse arm-entanglement, tried to throw with it but could not, and so just dragged Frost to the ground and kept that grip throughout a very fine rolling juji-gatame. But I remain appalled as we turn to the heavyweights.   

Bobby Hoffman, who was dropped as a client by later-convicted felon Monte Cox for allegedly uttering terrible threats against his family, and who was himself later convicted for crimes far more foul than Cox's, defeats Victor Burtsev with strikes at 3:13 in something that one-hundred-percent did not feel like sport whilst sweathogs pointed and smirked from their cafeteria tables set up on the floor of the McKay Center in Orem, Utah. Aaron Brinks knocks out a guy who fights in a t-shirt in forty-seven seconds that demean us all. Greg Wikan finishes Craig Montgomery by mae-hadaka-jime front choke at 4:19 and then they play "Freak On A  Leash." 

Travis Fulton, who we met at the first Millennium Combine if we had not known him previously for what happened to that little taekwondo fellow, enters to "The Shortest Straw," Tsuyoshi Kohsaka to one of the Cyrpress Hill songs I think from when they did the same album twice over, once with hip hop beats and once with goony nü-metal and I ask you to guess which version is being played as part of this RINGS U.S.A. presentation. TK looks to the heavens then brings his hands together in prayer but it doesn't work, it is still RINGS U.S.A 7/15/00: RISING STARS BLOCK A:

Although they do not predominate, there are discernible boos as Kohsaka is introduced and I ask you to consider the poverty of taste (level) that would allow that to ever happen. TK grabs a gyaku-ude-garami/reverse-arm-entanglement/double-wrist-lock/Kimura/figure-four/probably-something-else-too and takes Fulton down with it, nearly finishing first from the bottom then the top, but as the finish is not forthcoming they are stood up. Fulton falls to the mat off of a TK leg-kick that didn't look super hard but that probably caught him just so, but again nothing really doing so they stand again. When next they are down, Fulton starts out on top but is quickly reversed as TK rolls back from a deep niju-garami in a sweep that closely related to, but that is not precisely, TK Scissors. For that he is cheered; earlier, you will recall, he had been booed, perhaps (although perhaps I should not presume?) because of his insistence on being born in a country other than the one he is currently performing in front of the least appealing representatives of? People titter as Kohsaka turns to attempt an ashi-gatame (leg-hold), probably a hiza-juji knee-bar, I think because it exposes to Fulton his butt? This is some dark, dark shit. Kohsaka works for both gyaku-ude-garami and also plain old ude-garami whilst a dulled Akira Maeda looks on with someone wearing a H O O T E R S shirt trying to see around him.

"That was pretty good," Maurice Smith tells TK in the corner, and I agree, that was a pretty good fight. Two judges rule it a draw, one for Kohsaka, so there will be a third round, and one particularly aggrieved sweathog, who seems to lead others, declares "this sucks" and inquires "what is this shit?"

A fine TK Scissors, several juji-gatame attacks, and really a lot of time spent in tate-shiho-gatame (right up on top) throughout the third round make Kohsaka's win an easy decision. Maurice Smith wants to know how Fulton got out of that one juji-gatame in particular.        


"Yeah. Double joints." 

"Rubbery joints?"

"Double joints."

"Oh double joints." 

END OF TAPE ONE it says as we head to intermission but my copy just keeps on rolling. Griffen Raynaud is injured, so Jeremy Horn advances to the next round or whatever. The ring girl (ring womyn) wears a shirt that says "got milk?" and it's subtle but I think this is done in the hope to remind you of breasts, where milk comes from. Christopher Haseman bests Jermaine Andre with the figure-four ankle-lock of ashi-dori-garami in 1:23; Bobby Hoffman, with a year of federal prison for a hideous crime in front of him, defeats Aaron Brink by choking through the face for a kubi-hishigi neck crank at 3:12. Kohsaka tries juji-gatame to either side against Greg Wikan before finishing with ashi-dori-garami at 2:53. In his post-fight interview he is asked if he is in okay health, as word has been that he is battling injuries and probably shouldn't have even competed here but TK says he would not like to make excuses. "This is not pankration," he concludes, "this is not submission style, this is RINGS, that's what I want to say." His English is pretty good! (He had been living in Seattle for a while.)

You know what, I am just going to keep on rolling with these RINGS U.S.A. shows in one big go, rather than have to muster the resolve to go back in later, and so it is on to . . .

Rising Stars Block B
July 22, 2000 in Honolulu, HI
Blaisdell Arena

AND WE ARE LIVE FROM THE NEAL S. BLAISDELL CENTER IN HONOLULU, VERY SITE OF ELVIS PRESLEY's 1/14/73 "ALOHA FROM HAWAII" and yet despite this potentially dramatic change of venue the æsthetic is unaltered from the previous show which is to say it remains debased. Moments into the opening match Hiromitsu Kanehara straightens a gyaku-ude-garami (reverse arm entanglement) into an 腕挫腕固 ude-hishigi-ude-gatame (arm-crushing-arm-hold), all whilst still ensnared of the double-entanglement or niju-garami of Adrian Serrano; Yasuhito Namekawa, cornered by Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, catches Falaniko Vitale with a mae-hadaka-jime front-choke early in the second round but just before it happened they played "Bawidaba" in the arena so the overall impression remains very poor. I was about to say that, as with the previous, profoundly impoverished show, at least the matches themselves on the whole pass quite quickly, but as though to taunt me (and for no other reason) Chris Monson and Dave Menne then go to a decision (rightly Munson's). HAWAII ARE YOU READY FOR THE HEAVYWEIGHTS AND ALSO A SLOW, CREEPING NIHILISM as the increasingly huge yet increasingly lean Valentijn Overeem (more like Valentlean Overlean! yeah that's right!) beats Tali Kulia'apai by juji-gatame in a mere 2:05 before Tom Sauer knocks Mike Dretsch out in but thirteen seconds with wildly looping and (I am no expert) stupid punches. It takes Eric Pele, wearing a shirt, just over two minutes into the second round to finish (by juji-gatame) Wes Correira who you may know best as CABBAGE. This is the first match of Correira's long career, which mercifully seems to be over (he last fought more than a year ago), and while he did not prove the victor this day he did come out to "Da Rockwilder" which is the highest taste-level waza of the evening by far. Ah okay, this was Eric Pele's first match, too. I guess his best win was "Bigfoot" Silva in the strange days of BodogFight? This was when Silva was still taking all kinds of testosterone, I think, so it is a bigger win than it might sound (without it, Silva fell on very hard times). And I see that Silva's next fight after his Pele loss was a win over Cabbage! So we see how all things vile are connected by a single thread of evil. 

Rocky Batastini, who wears basketball shorts and a loose tank top like a "shoot" Kevin Steen (Owens), is choked in the manner of the shoulder hold of kata-gatame by Roger Neff in 2:13 to conclude our first-round matches which means it is time for Hiromitsu Kanehara once more! His foe shall be Josh Hall, who we have not seen before this night, as his scheduled first-round opponent Kawika Pahalui was unable to compete. Hall was on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter, sort of, almost, as he lost one of the preliminary matches to determine who gets to live in the crass Las Vegas mansion where they piss on each other and stuff (so close). Kanehara wins the split decision in a very close fight. Yasuhito Namekawa's reputation (with me) for only ever being in sikk matches takes a slight hit in his split decision win over Chris Monson but really it was pretty good! Tom Sauer, whose shirt saying "You're my bitch" and vaguely nationalist-looking tattoo (I can't really make much out, forgive me) pretty much cover the æsthetic range of the evening, knocks Valentijn Overeem to the mat with more wild punches, thirty-five seconds worth of them. OUR FINAL BOUT UPON US ALREADY CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT as Eric Pele and his shirt earn a unanimous decision over Roger Neff, whose previous opponent also wore a shirt. Despite this shirt-abundance, no one so much as attempts Kazushi Sakuraba's  餞別の送り襟絞め〈Okuri eri jime with a T-shirt〉 , which is weird. 


Rising Stars Final
September 30, 2000 in Moline, IL
Mark of the Quad Cities

YES IT IS NOW SEPTEMBER 30th OR ACTUALLY OCTOBER 8th THE DATE OF THE WOWOW BROADCAST OF THE RISING STARS FINAL that noooooooooo shows the results of the matches from the Utah and Hawaii shows, why did I not check this first; I have yet again been proven a fool. Although a WOWOW broadcast, we remain very much in the realm of RINGS U.S.A. here in the Mark of the Quad Cities, now known charmlessly as the iWireless Center. Let's learn more together: "The facility opened in May 1993, under the name The MARK of the Quad Cities with the singer Neil Diamond as the opening act. It is home to the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL." Both of those things are awesome, and the canvas atop which the action takes places is of a lovely hue, look: 

Maybe this won't feel appalling! Let's remain optimistic. That's Jeremy Horn you see tying Josh Hall up pretty severely there. He wins by hiza-juji knee-bar a short time later (3:50), it will not surprise you to hear. The ring wymyn are lurid victims of a hideous world. Young Yasuhito Nakewama's head and neck are seized upon at once by big strong Chrisopher Haseman, who turns away from the front-choke of mae-hadaka-jime and toward the reverse arm-entanglement of gyaku-ude-garami to finish in no more than ninety seconds. Eric Pele and his t-shirt last three rounds but lose by decision to Bobby Hoffman, whose prison sentence for unconscionable crimes draws ever nearer. Aaron Brink, who lost previously to Bobby Hoffman, has re-entered the tournament as a replacement for Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, who has withdrawn, let us suppose, due to any number of nagging injuries? Or perhaps something more acute? In time, perhaps, we will no more, but I have nothing to offer on this subject now, forgive me. Brink advances by TKO late in the second round. Jermaine Andre knocks out Adrian Serrano in 1:29 with a kick to his entire head in what can't be a tournament bout, I don't think. Travis Fulton and Greg Wikan are similarly non-tournament at this point, and Fulton wins in the first round by juji-gatameNate Schroeder beat Jack Nilson by hiza-juji knee-bar in thirty seconds; the great/terrible Matt Hughes enters to "Bawitdaba" (it is weird that not everyone comes out to it, given what this is), and finishes Robbie Newman by kata-gatame shoulder-hold/head-and-arm-choke in 1: 40. More on Matt Hughes another time, I'm sure, but not now, because . . .

WE HAVE MADE IT TO THE FINAL OF THE MIDDLEWEIGHT TOURNAMENT IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT and Jeremy Horn wins by admirably tenacious juji-gatame at 2:36 despite being severely stacked by the mighty Haseman. In the Heavweight Final, Bobby Hoffman, who in time the courts deemed fit to rejoin society, wins when Aaron Brink taps at 1:34 AND LET US NEVER SPEAK OF ANY OF THIS AGAIN. The rest of this WOWOW broadcast contains BATTLE GENESIS Vol. VI from Korakuen which is a cheering prospect after all of this muck, this shit, and also, this despair. We will attend to it when we return to mainline RINGS.  

ONCE THE OBSERVER ARCHIVE IS UPDATED YOU WILL FIND ITS RINGS-RELEVANT WORDS HERE; thank you for your attention to this nonsense and please accept my apologies for it. 

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