Friday, September 20, 2019


MY FRIENDS MY DEAR FRIENDS HOW WERE YOUR SUMMERS is what I ask you in all earnestness as I wonder if all summers to the extent to which they can be good participate in an archetypal One Summer and it is tripping me out a little BUT LET US NOT YIELD TO SUCH THOUGHTS SO EARLY IN THE GOING and instead let me explain that my absence from these pages over these several months is a reflection of the duties that befell me in that season of mellow fruitfulness (wait a minute that's autumn, I'm so sorry), duties that I can best describe as "domestic" in the richest and most satisfying sense (say what you might about G.K. Chesteron [but please be mindful of how much he has mattered to my intellectual life for many years now {except for the racist parts or the other parts that are mean to ladies and there are to be fair a good number of those parts}] but he is right in celebrating the domestic virtues as the highest virtues and noting with scorn the modern's contempt for the domestic when, in fact, it is really good; also he emerges kind of as the unexpected hero of the John Millbank/Slavoj Žižek dialogue The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox? Or Dialectic? a volume I bet I have mentioned kind of a bunch of times more than [strictly speaking] one would need to on one's RINGSblog but it is a very rich text [to me]) which is to say we were out in the yard a lot or just like riding scooters and bikes and skateboards (and, indeed, sk8børtz) on the sidewalk or at the basketball court or whatever, and when we were inside, we were more likely to be playing a game or "be napping" than we were to be like "okay everybody daddy is going to watch both parts of the 2000 Pride Grand Prix and type about it, everybody just raise yourselves of whatever because the parts of this that were also in The Smashing Machine and have come to matter weirdly (to daddy)." Those were the summer days, and (oh) those (summer) nights, I do not mind telling you, were often given over to the ritual purity and symbolic death of 一本 ippon as sought in the context of an unusually well-attended summer session of a recreational university judo club specializing in the promulgation and advancement of 技 waza amongst adult beginners (ah but they do not remain beginners for long, do they). Now that the fall (the academic fall, at least, and also the meteorological one [with hurricanes and everything!], if not yet the astrological) has befallen, and school is in session both for the young and the old, and my teaching in the non-dōjō (道場) academic context has resumed (but for how long), I have much more time now for something like JOSH BARNETT'S BLOODSPORT 2 and the of it than I have had in months even if, by the standards of let us call it derisively "the world," I have "more going on" now than I did all summer, when I was simply "at home." Weird, right? What I mean to argue here is that the way we sometimes think about that kind of thing is preposterous in the most literal sense (putting first that which should come last), and you, by dint of wanting to read about The Long UWF, as we have we have come to know it through our many meanderings in these pages, now get to hear about it.

BUT YOU ALSO GET TO HEAR ABOUT JOSH BARNETT'S BLOODSPORT 2 as mentioned only moments ago. We treated, if only passingly, the previous Bloodsport when it happened, and I would like us to revisit that material now if that is not disagreeable to you. Let us proceed as though it is not, aaaaaaaaaaaaand go:

"I really like the GCW idea of named shows: Josh Barnett's (né Matt Riddle's) Bloodsport, Joey Janela's Spring Break, Orange Cassidy is Doing Something or Whatever Who Knows, all of that is just super neat to me (I don't watch all of the shows or anything, I just like the idea very much, and my friends share with me and point out the things they think I might like -- thanks guys!). The only show that I watched all of (I didn't even watch all of the Madison Square Garden Show [I don't really follow ROH]) was Josh Barnett's Bloodsport, which I reviewed extensively on my locked twitter account (who needs the reply guys? who? and what's the upside: RTs? And for what? The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon's, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe. "All is vanity." ALL.) and which I will present to you here nearly unedited (I have edited out two bits that I now feel are unkind and regret), why not; what is this place if not a place of such things:

* I enjoyed JOSH BARNETT'S BLOODSPORT and found it a v. pleasant two hours (good length!) but I was surprised it was not more shoot style, like the top two matches were not at all in that style. but they were both good matches so what can u say! THOUGHTZ:

* phil baroni vs. the big bjj purple belt dominic garrini (who I am p. sure was on last year's bloodsport, also as a purple belt; mb by next year's he will have made brown! good luck to him!) was a realllly good opener and I liked it about as much as anything else on the show

* simon grimm's real name, I have learned, is seth lesser, which is an amaaaazing name he should wrestle under imo and his match with jr kratos (shoot name unknown to me) was p. good, the hendo/bisping punch was a neat idea for the finish

* D[avey]B[oy]S[smith] J[unio]R has been complaining that comedy matches in njpw w/ toru yano do not display his shooter rootz or whatever to best advantage which is funny cuz he is just some dikk who won a NAGA one time whereas toru yano was national-lvl greco & freestyle so who is truly the clown

* (in the pejorative sense)

ps killer kross has a physiiiiiiiique does he not

* gresham vs. takeda was really good though I did not like looking at takeda's death-matched-up body v. much tbh; gresham is a v. good little guy and takeda's U-FILEism was, at times, quite sikk

* I drifted a little during andy williams/chris dickinson tbh but snapped to attn for dan severn/frank mir, the shootstylemost match of the night *by a lot* and also my favourite one even though both competitors chose to leave their shirts on in the pool (u gotta own it imo)

* frank mir did *great* imo which is not surprising in that truuuueeee shoot style is often best from ppl who can extremely græpple for real & who (this is crucial) are unencumbered by knowing how to work regular trad professional wrestling style, we saw this over & over in RINGS

* (it's because trad professional wrestling style is, let's be honest here, super *duper* fake looking even when it is sikk, and though it is not itself inherently dumb, it is supremely dumb-looking when seen alongside shoot style, and even a hint of it can ruin everything)

* h. suzuki/thatcher (I have seen thatcher before and really like him) and m. suzuki/barnett were both really good matches and I guess I was just mistaken that they would be shoot style ones? test-of-strength/pro-wres-counterz/indie respect spot/applaaaause is not shoot style

* barnett/suzuki fell to shit a little like an INSTANT after the crowd started chanting FIGHT FOREVER (that's not a good chant) which was too bad but good match, good crowd, good show! my expectations where off I think. mir/severn was my fav, followed by baroni/big purple belt

* strong style isn't shoot style

and we all know this

* AS A FINAL NOTE on the bloodsport show: vinny (of bryan and vinny) went and had a great time (though he did not like mir/severn! why didn't anybody like the one real-deal shootstyle match! what gives!)

The seemingly widespread aversion (as wide as any of this gets; we are well into splintered-legions territory) to Mir/Severn, the only match the excellent live crowd booed, was I think very revealing of the extent to which the style we most cherish here at TK Scissors (named after a technique which is, crucially, the fakest-looking real technique, and not the realest-looking fake technique [the significances of this are, in my view, endless] is gone, and gone (not to be overly final about it) forever forever forever. My old friend Bill tagged me into a thread of tweets where a guy who did not like Mir/Severn said simply that it was too much like martial arts for a wrestling event. And based on seemingly everybody's response at the show itself, at least, and everything I have seen/heard about it since, he's totally right, and yet the notion to me is a very strange one, perhaps because for good or for ill I am the person who has written a RINGSblog. But let me close by saying it was a good show and everything, just not what I expected in parts."

And now the question before us in the moment of our JOSH BARNETT'S BLOODSPORT 2 encounter is "will it be what we expected . . . in parts?" And I am optimistic! Especially so because of how Santino (aka Anthony Carelli) is on it, and I have long found him a fascinating figure within the world of pretending to have fights. More, much more I am sure, on the nature of that fascination when he is properly before us but until then we have . . .

THE PRE-SHOW which opens with a pretty-well-wrought urn of a faux-eighties VHS action trailer replete with visual artefacts and awful audio and just a tonne of, broadly speaking, bad tracking. It is a little bit less like I am again in the semi-finished basements of my youth and more that I am in the movie theatre of my late twenties watching the genre-exercise trailers at Grindhouse but that's not a knock on what has been achieved here so much as a contextualization of it. I like it!

I like stuff like this almost uniformly though, so it's hard to say. Hey did you see the thing where the RZA went through a number (I guess the number is ten) of martial arts movies that were important to him and talked about them for Vanity Fair? That sounds like a pretty good idea but I assure you it surpasses even the promise of that fine premise and I give it my highest recommendation; I cannot imagine that if you like whatever it is we are doing here together right now you would not like to watch the RZA speak in the way he speaks in that Vanity Fair thing. Becuase. I mean.

Commentary comes to us this evening from Emil Jay, a name I recognize from I think seeing it on twitter, but I know nothing of him. His partner is Larry Legend, which to me sounds like a WORKED name on what I was told would be a shoot-style card and I am outraged early. There is a pre-show match but it is not coming to us live from Atlantic City on this night but is instead a taped one from the previous Bloodsport, I guess, with Andy Williams (of the hardcore band Every Time I Die, I am learning) and "The Dirty Daddy" Chris Dickinson. This would mean I have seen it before then, right? I must have, let me scroll up . . . ah yes ok this is the one I kind of drifted out on. "Dicksinson started training in karate when he was six years old! And it shows!" is the call just before he enstrangulates Andy Williams, who is a great big guy, and I can tell because Dickinson is pretty big, and Williams is a lot bigger. I don't think the commentators from the last show are the commentators on this show?

AAAAAAND NOW WE ARE LIIIIIIIVE before a very small crowd, but I guess this is still just the pre-show, so it might yet fill out a little. Josh Barnett, who I wish I had never listened to on the Joe Rogan podcast, which I also wish I had never listened to Joe Rogan on, was Bryan Alvarez's guest on Wrestling Observer Live the Friday before the show, and I enjoyed the appearance very much: Bryan's first question was essentially "Bloodsport was such an awesome movie to me, did you like it also?" and his follow-up was more or less "The Karate Kid was good too, right?" Josh Barnett's answer to the first was "yes very much so" and, to the second, "I liked Karate Kid 2 more, when the go to Okinawa" and Bryan was like "oh that's true, they did." What I mean to tell you about that radio appearance though is really just that when Bryan asked if there were still tickets available, Josh Banett said that yes there were, and from what can be seen here that would appear to still be the case. Or to have been the case.

RORY GULAK is the incredibly-named first competitor this evening and he finds now as his foeman Matt Makowski, who comes to the ring with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt (it has that little red panel) draped around his neck. I have always thought it looked quite dope to wear your black belt doubled and draped around your neck before you are ready to step onto the mats; I think maybe I saw Ilias Iliadis like that one time from maybe 2004 or something and it has never fully left me. One time an IJF international-level referee (it is weird that I got my refereeing training from an IJF international-level referee [not that it made me especially good at refereeing, let us speak frankly about my refereeing] but my life in judo has been been a strangely blessed one) said to me something like, "I just hate to see you boys with your belts like that, you boys work so hard for them." What a lovely guy. Gulak is announced 5'10'/185lbs, Makowski 5'11"/210lbs; the referee, whose name I did not catch (if indeed it was offered) looks like he is about sixteen and so will need the show to end by midnight or else he will not be able to drive home unless he is accompanied by a fully-licensed driver eighteen years or older (I assume, doubtless incorrectly, that New Jersey follows a graduated-licensing system similar to that enacted in mid-90s Nova Scotia). Rory Gulak, singleted and double-legging, communicates through image and deed freestyle wrestlingISM; I do not know if this is truth his thing for realz. AH HAAAAAA a very fine 払腰 harai-goshi sweeping hip throw, hopefully the first of many on the night! Good job, Rory Gulak! Makowksi recovers the hikikomi position or guard and quickly goes sankaku jime to sankaku garami to ude hishigi juji gatame before he is hoisted aloft for an ura nage. Back to hikikomi, Makowski inverts and sweeps and comes out of it with a gyaku ude garami we might well call Kimura in tribute to that great champion whose (let me just check . . .) ok yes whose t-shirt I am wearing even now beneath my Wu-Tang hoodie (it is a cool September day and the saga continues so what more decorous garment could there even be). I am not going to belabour this point but the commentary is catching very little of any of this; and I don't need Japanese names for things (even though that would be sikk), I don't need Josh Barnett-esque Fire Pro names for things (have you ever noticed the extent to which he calls techniques by their Fire Pro names? it is super endearing, or at the very least would be had you not made the mistake, long ago, of listening to him on the Joe Rogan podcast [I have been done so long that youtube doesn't even suggest it to me anymore, I feel so free of it all now]), but I do think that if you're going to have a shoot-style/martial-arts-style/Long UWF-style show and it is going to have commentary (I am not convinced that it needs to but I accept that this is a violently extreme and personal point of view of no help to us in the matter, as D. says to B. in the first of Beckett's Three Dialogues [if I am remembering them right they are all devastating!]) then the commentator should at least be able to call things by the widely-accepted (well as wide as you get in a niche sport that, as one twitter user has charted, not infrequently draws poorer television audiences for its live ESPN specials than episodes of Battlebots on Discovery, a fact that I, for whatever reason, can't get enough of) mixed martial arts taxonomy. What we get instead is a kind of WHAT A MANEUVER for anything more subtle than a triangle choke. And I do not care for it! But it is wearying to dwell on such matters and so I shall refrain.

Not a fan of the standing moonsault guard-pass from Makowski though I am pleased with it to the extent to which it invites a re-posting of 小田常胤 Oda Tsunetane cartwheeling into 抑込技 osaekomi waza in grainy old film, let's all enjoy that for a few moments:

Nice, right? Makowski does the Demitrius Johnson 裏投 ura-nage lift into 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame spot but it started with an O'Connor roll and the whole thing ended up looking super pro-wres instead of super sikk like when little Demitrius Johnson did it but it got a huge reaction from the crowd so I am not going to be any more of a jerk about it than I already have been at the beginning of this sentence. The bout ends on a Makowski head-kick that doesn't look all that good but one could argue quite compellingly, I think, that you don't really want head-kicks to look all that good, because this is but performance, not a 極真 Kyokushin karate class at the Chocolate Lake Rec Centre with hard dads blasting each other in the dome like it's just regular.

Emil Jay looks an awful, awful lot like my brother (with whom, to take it back a little, I saw Grindhouse in the theatre in 2007, so there you go), but is of a very different energy.

They play the promo video again, and it really is excellent, I bet it's on youtube . . . yes, please enjoy. The song to which it is set, "Beautiful Disruption," by Jaden, "goes" pretty "hard" to me.

SUMIE SAKAI (坂井 澄江 Sakai Sumie) who is of judo and who then trained under JAGUAR YOKOTA and who is SUPER OLD (like 47) faces "The American Kaiju" Lindsay Snow in the second and one assumes final pre-show match. I don't think they give the heights and weights of these ladies, which is perhaps done out of a misplaced sense of delicacy inappropriate to fightsport, a field in which weights are openly oh okay they didn't announce them but they posted them and Sakai is but 5'1"/118lbs whereas snow is 5'2"/145lbs which is plenty for 5'2"; she has the appearance of stout might.

FILTHY TOM LAWLOR of Filthy Four Daily with Bryan Alvarez and also of independent professional wrestling and previously of the Ultimate Fighting Championships and before all of that of the Death Valley Driver Video Review message board (hey me too) has joined Emil Jay on commentary and immediately calls Sumie Sakai's drop seoi nage as such and I am so pleased by it that I'm not even gonna talk about how what we often call "drop seoi nage" has its own distinct Kodokan classification and it is 背負落 seoi otoshi, back-carrying drop. Filthy Tom is doing great! He's calling things! By names! And explaining them! Also doing great: Sumie Sakai, whose seoi really was very nice, and Lindsay Snow, who rolled through with an entangled leg "ninja roll" to take the back. But Sumi Sakai is out and swings through for 十字固 juji-gatame! WHICH IS WHAT TOM LAWLOR CALLS IT and I am so happy, this is great. Sakai's 払腰 harai goshi gets stalled out as Snow "sits in the chair" as we say and then launched her back with a counter 裏投 ura-nage and this is awfully good for a pre-show match! This would have been one of the better matches on either of the previous Bloodsports, and I am feeling Sakai's seoi otoshi into 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame so hard that I am totally willing to overlook Lindsay Snow's vertical suplex/brain-buster a few moments before. Lindsay Snow taps after an extended sequence of juji-gatame near-escapes and I loved it! It had the feel of good hard 乱取り randori, which is literally all I want out of shoot-style professional wrestling; and yet it has proven so elusive. You would think I would have enough randori in my life as it is (six-to-eight four-minute rounds three nights a week, split evenly between 起技 tachi-waza and 寝技 ne-waza) and yet here I am, seeking more wherever it may be found (without actually doing more judo because I am too old for training more than the six-and-a-half-hours a week I currently do; please spare a thought for my several awful joints [right shoulder? way better! left shoulder? a nightmare, presently).

As the main card begins, I can see that the crowd has filled in nicely, although I feel bad for the people who missed Sumie Sakai and Lindsay Snow because that was a good one! I am reminded that my old pal @muchmomentum was very much in attendance this eve and seemed to have a really nice time. I hope he enjoyed the parade of fighters! It seems like everybody is, actually, like this crowd is fired the HEKK up as this pretty neat-seeming assemblage of people who range from pretty well known to me (not personally) to utterly unknown to me (except that the deepest truths of existence are shared).

ZACHARY WENTZ and ANTHONY HENRY are two plausibly named young men of similar stature and build and kickpadz and I am impressed with their first minute, consisting of sharp kicks (though hitting is fundamentally debased) and some fast but intense græppling exchanges that have, to me, just the right energy. I think I remain unconvinced of the no-ropes thing but it definitely gives it a look. Young Anthony Henry just threw with an 大外刈osoto-gari from a 肩固 kata-gatame/shoulder-hold/head-and-arm choke in the mode of Matt Riddle for real in the UFC one time, let me find a gif of that for you real quick . . .

I've never totally understood why Riddle didn't use that as his finishing technique in pro-wrestling, especially when an obvious and deeply sikk name for it is so obvious to everyone (SHIMEWAZA TORNADO OGAWA) but on the whole I trust Matt Riddle knows what he's doing (he was a great interview with Bryan and Dave a few years back, before he got signed). I've gotta say I am really really impressed with this match, all the counters and reversals look just great. I think that of anything in any of the Bloodsports so far this is the one that comes closest to the feel (not the the specific waza, which are in some instances more contemporary applications than those we'd have seen at say ASTRAL STEP, as is only sensible, but I mean the feel) of actual honest-to-goodness Fighting Network RINGS and I do not say that lightly HEY GUESS WHAT ANTHONY HENRY HIT A CAPTURE SUPLEX MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA MA-E-DA and there is the finish by means of 腕緘 ude-garami from a 三角 sankaku secured (and swept from) as Wentz dove heedlessly in for "a punch." For real, if there are many (or indeed any) matches on this show better than Sumie Sakai/Lindsay Snow and this Wentz/Henry one, then this will be quite a show!

Erik Hammer and J.R. Kratos are each about a hundred pounds heavier than either Henry or Wentz, which is to say that they are unreasonable large. The biggest people I have trained regularly with are in the 240-250lbs range, and that is more than enough, like way more than enough; the 275-290lbs here is beyond my ken (the only 300lbs-ish guys I have trained with sparingly were, needless to say, not going all that hard against a 73kg guy, although one inadvertently messed up my heel for months by whipping me around on a lone 支釣込足 sasae-tsurikomi-goshi). Hammer and Kratos are doing just fine, but they're so big that they can't help but look slow after Wentz and Henry. There's a little too much hanging-out-with-a-fully-extended-hiza-juji-knee-bar for my liking but Filthy Tom, back on commentary despite his match which creeps ever nearer, does as good a job as you could covering for it by talking about the mechanics of the hold and where it might be lacking in this particular instance (of it). Wait okay so J. R. Kratos' wife had a child two days ago? First of all, congratulations; secondly, lol I don't know about this one, brvh. A good match wherein both enormous dudes worked hard, though it drifted towards pretty conventional (non-shoot) pro-wrestling in the later stages, which took me out of it slightly, but what are you gonna do.

Nicole Savoy, in next, brings a great energy to the mats and I am predisposed to like her, but her dour opponent Allysin (yikes at that spelling) Kay comes out to "Gangster's Paradise" so my heart could go either way on this one. These ladies are announced at weights of 145lbs and 150lbs respectively and these seem not unlikely; the phrase "actual weight" is being used in the introductions but I don't know if the use of the phrase "actual weight" is indeed actual or, on the contrary, a bit of vraisemblance best understood as part of the entertainment portion of the evening. Early emphasis on the queenly technique of 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame from both athletes pleases me a whole bunch. Kay's Iminari Roll is the slowest I have ever seen anyone do but they are stylish at any speed, let me show you one:

That's 今成正和 Imanari Masakazu himself, and it is really very elegant. Is it less so from a fair-sized goth doing it not-quite-for-real? Arguably, but I am still pleased that it happened. I did one earlier this summer against a guy who was visiting from a BJJ gym (it was all in good fun: I was not trying to leg-lock him, only to mess with him in ne-waza a little) and have felt just great about it ever since, really. This is a good match! Good work towards both 腕緘 ude-garami and 逆腕緘 gyaku-ude-garami and indeed a twister or GROUND OCTOPUS HOLD from the still-quite-goth Allysin (whew that spellllllling though) Kay. Savoy gets a near-fall, of sorts, off a big backdrop-driver-style 裏投 ura-nage but Kay wins by referee stoppage on elbows from the crucifix after a rolling entry into that 地獄 jigoku position. Nice nice nice!

AND NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT IF NOT OF THE ACTUAL SHOW THAN VERY MUCH OF MY DUMB HEART as Santino Marella, cherished poet-clown of fairly-recent fascist-adjacent disingenuous græppling, casts aside that persona to which he probably holds no legal title (although there he was in DDT in that unmistakable mode on a recent Tokyo jaunt [more on that in a moment]) and dons instead the cloak of 柔道 JUDO (it is a double-weave cloak that you should probably wash separately) as ANTHONY CARELLI and I don't know what all to even say; there is just so much. I'm quite certain I watched Anthony Carelli's Santino début as one rising from the many in an Italian crowd (like they were actually in Italy) on an episode of Monday Night Raw I took in at O'Grady's, a pub I assume is still on College Street in Toronto, at an evening hosted by the Live Audio Wrestling guys, all of them nice: Dan Lovranksi (who I think named The MMA Encyclopedia his book of the year the year of its year, thank you Dan Lovranski/I am sorry, Dan Lovranski) and Jason Agnew (both of whom, I understand are back on Sunday night Toronto sports radio after a troubling but brief [brief but troubling] interregnum) and John Pollock, who is currently a man of crowd-funding, but who was previously of The Fight Network for I believe many years (a former subscriber, I have had zero non-free channels for many years, and no tv upstairs, even, except for special events like the Olympics or CBC federal election night coverage, so we are on four-years cycles of bringing the tv upstairs now), and if I am not mistaken which I for sure could be John Pollock was perhaps involved in the Fight Network's borderline-exquisite two-part Anthony "Santino" Carelli Retrospective, which goes deep. (I have just checked the credits and in fact did not find John Pollock's name there, although his crowd-funding pal Wai Ting was the directory of photography for it, and it is looks great, so nice job, Wai). Though I invite you to taste and see of it yourself, I can tell you that no small part of what you will learn (should you not already be so learnèd) is of his judo, and of his junior national championship in that probably noblest of sports (it's at least up there). You will learn, too, of his Battle Arts Academy (he brought Yuki Ishikawa to Mississauga to teach! like in an on-going role!he had been driving truck in Japan!), a wildly nice-looking gym where, it would seem, you can train a lot of different things (guess who teaches the judo). He has also just in the last year or so become a commentator for IJF World Tour events, and he is by far the pleasantmost voice to hear calling these matches (followed, in order, I would say, by: Loretta, then Sheldon, then the Dutch guy who largely just tells old stories about guys he used to do judo with, and then I guess Neil Adams). They even had him in Tokyo recently for the World Championships (at the日本武道館 Nippon Budōkan, a test event for Tokyo 2020, and it was GREAT), where he acquitted himself well once more, and also took the DDTプロレスリング DDT Puroresuringu booking outlined above. AND while he was there, he showed up in the facebook feed (I am not on facebook; my pal Nick showed me) of the man under whom I recently completed my NCCP Level 2 Coaching Certification (please hold your applause until the end of the blog post or at the very least the end of this sentence; please everybody; please), a former national team member (and current all-kinds-of-judo-things, including excellent sports photographer, which is what he was up to in Tokyo) who was in Montréal the same years Carelli was, and so there they were, old friends catching up in Tokyo at Worlds and posting about it on facebook, as one very well might (should one be of facebook). I have said "Carelli" a bunch of times here so far and it has seemed weird each time; I really want to be saying Santino. I don't think there is anything else I wanted to say about Santino (see now that felt way better) by why of preamble other than that there is a really good Steve Austin podcast with him and also that he is "a great follow" on twitter. Okay that's it! 

And his match, as it turns out, is really just a squash against Simon Grimm, formerly one of the Vaudevillains, whom I dimly recall; it really is just Santino getting his shit in, in the words of the very minor (yet very real) prophet X-Pac, and Simon Grimm getting kind of wrecked by it. That's actually great to do sometimes, and it worked great here in no small part, I think, because of how weirdly hated Simon Grimm was (maybe it isn't weird, and the reason is known to all but me, but I am not up on a lot of the indie stuff) and how rightly loved Anthony Carelli. There is just utterly wretched, Tom Lawlor-less commentary in this one, yikes. But everything else was so strong: Santino's opening ashi-dori-ouchi-gari into a pass and juji-gatame, his heavy heavy heavy looking elbows from the top (didn't touch a thing, if you look closely, but the initial impression of them was awesome), Grimm's TK SCISSORS escape into an ashi-kansetsu (leg-bone-lock) attempt . . . all great. Santino's transitions are not as quick as say Wentz and Henry earlier, in no small part because of how he is forty-five years old and 211lbs (he's in great shape but he's not half his age and thirty pounds lighter, this is all I am saying), but they are all as sound as you'd expect and his 払腰 HARAI-GOSHI is so far the throw of the night and he's right into 袈裟固 kesa-gatame seamlessly; that's just good judo. Recently, an excellent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt who has joined our club with great enthusiasm was asking me for lots of details about kesa-gatame, like lots and lots, and he told me that it really isn't a position that was especially developed in his experience of BJJ, so he wanted to know all he could about it. He's a great guy to work with! DRAGON SLEEPER is less conventional in judo but no one thing defines Santino. Am I crazy about the back-body-drop that preceded the juji to sankaku sequence? I am not, no, but the Kayla Harrison style rolling shime-waza entry into juji-gatame for the finish is literally exactly what I want to see; I feel that this finish is indicative of not just a high shoot-style taste-level but indeed the highest possible shoot-style taste-level, like Kiyoshi Tamura/Tsuyoshi Kohsaka/Volk Han shoot-style taste-level. It is such a lovely technique: it's about attacking for a rolling strangle, but being very alive to the possibility that an arm could well be there for the taking along the way, and you can finish it whether or not you're actually able to roll: if uke flattens out, you can finish it face-down and win your second straight Olympic gold medal at -78kg, just like so:

But if you can roll through, as Kayle Harrison shows here, it is just super lovely, or like beyond super lovely:

And that's what Anthony Carelli did, and I literally could not be more pleased about it. An old pal of mine who is on twitter as @muchmomentum was actually at this show, and kindly posted things alerting me to the sikkness of all of this as it was unfolding (I was not watching at that time), and proclaimed this the match of the night live, if I am not mistaken (if so please forgive me). The photographer Ryan Loco took a bunch of great pictures of the whole event, which you can see here, but I wanted to post the Santino ones -- again these are all Ryan Loco pixxxxxx and I encourage you to go look at everything else he shot there too because it is top notch!

Moving on, as in time we all must, I have really liked every Tim Thatcher match I have seen, I think, and I am as enthusiastic about DREAM SUPERHULK GRAND PRIX CHAMPION 美濃輪 育久 Ikuhisa Minowa as you might expect a person in my position to be, but I must confess that I was so caught up in that last match and then in making that second Kayla Harrison gif (I have already had that first one for kind of a while) that I have not attended to it as closely as I maybe should have, but it seems totally solid except for how the commentator has just no idea how to say Ikuhisa Minowa (come on, man). Thatcher wins with a kubi-hishigi/neck-crank on a shoot-style STF and this seemed good to me rather than great to me but again it might just be because of where I am right now with regards to the real techniques and real emotion of the previous encounter. The crowd is predictably respectful of Minowa in his loss. I can think of no reason why we wouldn't, in tribute, all go watch the wild old Pancrase match between Minowa and Sanae Kikuta. 

Davey Boy Smith Jr. is not a guy I have a tonne of regard for, because as I mentioned above, he made kind of a big stink about how he was being used in New Japan, doing light-hearted fare with the great Toru Yano rather than being allowed to exhibit his true martial prowess or whatever, in spite of how the great Toru Yano is endlessly legit and Davey Boy Smith Jr. has achieved essentially nothing (like a NAGA win or something) in any actual sport despite there being, you know, lots of sports he could legitimately win something in if he was actually good at any of them, instead of working a fake gimmick as shootesque guy in a fake sport and then complaining about how fake he was asked to work against the shoot guy who would dismantle him in anything real. Right now he's in with another guy who would ruin him, "Filthy" Tom Lawlor; the fakest thing about this match is the idea that it would go more than like a minute if this was real, but Davey Boy Smith Jr. is unlikely to complain about how fake that part is, I think. Maybe I've got this guy all wrong but he seems like a great big doof with ideas about himself, and it's not like he's some kid who is going to figure it out, he's thirty-four. Lawlor is great as a Brayn Alvarez podcast partner and very good as an indie wrestleguy and this is a pretty good strong-style match which is to say not a very good shoot-style match but I might just be in a bad mood about it? No, just as I wonder if it's just me, there was a sharp-shooter spot, and then a sliding clothesline that sent both guys off the mat and onto the floor, so I am right to mind this. I can step outside of this moment just enough to acknowledge how odd it is for me of all people to not want to see a sharp-shooter spot in a professional wrestling match, but here we are; the strictures of shoot-style are demanding and real (to me [and to you {and to us}]). The crowd, who I guess is who this match is being performed for (for whom this match is being performed), is super into it but, if I may be frank, they are wrong. It's a power-bomb KO finish, and not in the mode of 抱上 daki-age, the hugging high lift out of, let's say, 表三角絞 omote-sankaku-jime, but just a standard flip-me-upside-down sit-out powerbomb in the mode of say Big Dave Bautista to name another professional wrestler more legit than Davey Boy Smith Jr.

Killer Kross comes out to "Gimme Shelter" and I am left wondering whether or not the song was chosen on its own considerable merits or if it is meant to connote an Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira entrance? I guess it doesn't have to be one or the other, does it; forgive me for framing this like a Manichean (very small chance I am using that right). He also comes to the ring with just a t-shirt and his trunks and kickpads but misses the opportunity to tie-off the t-shirt in the mode of Kiyoshi Tamura or really any number of lades to reveal his (her, in the case of ladies) lovely waist. He's big! His opponent, Nick Gage, is loved intensely by this crowd of black t-shirted men, and women whose æsthetic leans slightly towards roller derby (not in the antique, worked Meltzerian sense, but in the modern shoot-derby context of women who hold advanced degrees in gender studies and related disciplines [I salute them]). Nick Gage is a true star to these people, and I do not dispute his wild energy, but his in-ring (or sur-tapis) style seems ill-suited to this context; this occurs to me just as his escape from 縦四方固 tate-shiho-gatame (top four-corner hold/"the mount") fails to meet the standard set the other night when a student at our club on his second night learned and executed a much better reversal from that position against someone who is "shoot" about twenty-five pounds heavier than Killer Kross; like for real it was his second class and, compared to Nick Gage, he nailed it. Our student did the right things inexpertly, whereas what Nick Gage did was just completely fake and then Killer Kross rolled over onto his side so they could just move on. ANYWAY there is a great energy to the brief match that ends on a referee stoppage due to a choke, kind of, and the crowd is pretty mad that their boy Nick Gage has succumbed, but then pretty happy when Killer Kross gets on the mic and issues a challenge to DAVE BAUTISTA lol that's wild, we were just talking about how much more legit he is than Davey Boy Smith Jr., what were the odds.

"The Dirty Daddy" Chris Dickinson, taking the place of the staph-infected Jon Moxley (I hope he's ok -- I have had a little bit of staph before, nothing anywhere near as serious as these things can get, and it was still an enormous hassle despite being like the merest grazing), is Josh Barnett's main event opponent. Barnett is an interesting guy to think about a little in that when you hear him speak at any real length, like let's say when you were maybe still listening to the Joe Rogan podcast sometimes and you just sat there in horror as reddit pretty much achieved sentience and spoke through these two middle-aged men representing a diversity of experience from really-quite-wealthy to super-rich complained about pretty much everything you would think they might, you get a real sense that an enormous part of Josh Barnett's personality is the result of having been bullied so severely when he was young, a subject which he has spoken about on more than one occasion and which I bring up now not to treat lightly but to speak to with sympathy. I feel like he is a fairly damaged guy, and it mitigates my feelings about the things he says in Rogan's company; there's a way his voice changes when he gets a little agitated that makes him sound like he's closer to tears than I can make any sense of other than to say that he is still very hurt. This is not to offer excuses, and there is every possibility (let's even say likelihood) that I am completely wrong about all of that but it's how I feel. To return to the matter more directly before us I would say that the strong-style match that has been going on for like ten minutes has been pretty good so far, with both guys working hard for sure, and the crowd, though not as vocal as at several points earlier in the evening, remains attentive and engaged all the way through to Barnett's gut-wrench powerbomb to PRIDE-knees to nice-little-kick KO finish.

Good show! Lots to like! The last three matches were not especially to my shoot-style taste, but several earlier matches totally totally were, as noted above to the max. My understanding is that Barnett has been very hands-on in these shows top to bottom, and so is as responsible for the undercard matches I really really liked as the main event matches that were not quite what I'm after but which, taken on their own terms, were no worse than totally fine. I will for sure watch as many of these as they want to make. I wonder if there was anything about this in the newest Observer? Here it is Friday night and I haven't even opened this week's! What! Let's see . . . yes!


"Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport took place on 9/14 in Atlantic City, NJ, doing a somewhat UWFI style. It wasn’t quite UWFI, but a mix of different things. The show wasn’t as good as the last one since that show had a Barnett vs. Minoru Suzuki 25:00 match that was tremendous. The audience looked to be a few hundred packed in a small building, who knew what they were watching. It felt watching this that it’s a very niche audience that this would appeal to. There were no pins, only submissions and ref stoppages, with the idea of matches worked to be realistic looking. Pretty much everyone had some shoot training. Matt Makowski who was 6-2 in MMA and fought with Bellator and Elite XC, beat Rory Gulak, the younger brother of Drew Gulak, using a head kick to win. Sumie Sakai beat Lindsay Snow in the first women’s match in the Bloodsport series. Anthony Henry beat Zachary Wentz with a triangle armbar. Wentz has fought amateur MMA and Henry has trained in it. Erik Hammer, who wrestled in the IGF promotion and has had a long affiliation and trained with Barnett, beat J.R. Kratos with a belly-to-belly and bulldog choke. People were raving about Tom Lawlor on commentary for the early matches, explaining all the little moves and even noting about how Kratos just had a kid two days earlier. Allysin Kay beat Nicole Savoy landing all kinds of elbows until it was stopped. Anthony Carelli, the former Santino Marella, beat Simon Grimm. Carelli used an armbar. The crowd liked him a lot. Timothy Thatcher beat Ikuhisa Minowa, who was a legit MMA star in Japan. This was described as more like strong style pro wrestling than a shoot. Thatcher looked good and won with a crossface. Davey Boy Smith Jr. beat Lawlor in the show stealer, with a Saito suplex and a Liger bomb where Lawlor sold it like he was knocked out. It was good throughout, but the intensity at the end was the high point of the show, with New Japan style trading elbows that fans loved. Smith came into the match with a sprained ankle as he’s been training with Jake Hager, helping him getting ready for his next Bellator fight. The ankle was swollen badly coming into the match. Killer Kross beat Nick Gage with a choke. Gage never tapped out. Gage was really popular with the crowd so they didn’t like him losing. Gage attacked the ref after for calling the match. Kross challenged Dave Bautista, which got a lot of attention for him, but I’d be beyond shocked if that went anywhere. Barnett beat Chris Dickinson in a long main event with a gut wrench and head kick. Both showed major respect for the other when it was over, with Dickinson saying Barnett was his childhood hero. Barnett cut a promo on Jon Moxley, saying he would be back and they would do the scheduled match, and then said, if the office tries to stop the match from happening, fans need to let them know.

9/14 Atlantic City, NJ (Bloodsport): Matt Makowski b Rory Gulak, Sumie Sakai b Lindsay Snow, Anthony Henry b Zachary Wentz, Erik Hammer b J.R. Kratos, Allysin Kay b Nicole Savoy, Anthony Carelli b Simon Grimm, Timothy Thatcher b Ikuhisa Minowa, Davey Boy Smith Jr. b Tom Lawlor, Killer Kross b Nick Gage, Josh Barnett b Chris Dickinson."

Oh wait, I totally remember Dave saying on Observer Radio that he wasn't going to have time to watch this show, so that explains the bare-bones report. Bryan watched it and really liked it, if I am remembering it right. I liked it to!

Alright then! I am happy to be back! Thank you for joining me! I think I'll watch those PRIDE GP 2000 shows next, which is at once enticing but also somewhat daunting in that, as you know, that is a lot of hours of PRIDE. But I mean, that's what we're here for. Also there's a QUINTET (クインテット) FIGHT.NIGHT.4 show coming up in I believe November which I would very much like for us to attend to, so I guess that's my deadline! Thank you once again for your time; I appreciate it very much.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

PEACE FOREVER: Sensei Willie Williams has died at the age of 67

It was from Twitter user Shigeo (@sg_oxxt) ("🇯🇵 /Former stage actor / Used to practice BJJ, Judo & Karate / Jazz dance(7 years) / Not good at English / Puroresu & MMA fan") that many of us learned earlier today of the passing of Willie Williams, a low-key legend of 極真 Kyokushin karate to those of us who enjoy a certain sort of Japanese professional wrestling wherein, although it is fake, it seems less fake (we have spoken of this). I have nothing to say, really, other than to wish peace upon Mr. Williams and to note that he seemed lovely in a very particular way. R.I.P. to a true martial artist, a man who truly believed in karate.

Here are some of the times we spoke of him, should you wish to revisit them:












RINGS BLOG SUPPLEMENTAL: 1980年2月27日 蔵前国技館 格闘技世界ヘビー級選手権試合 アントニオ猪木 vs ウィリー・ウイリアムス AND 1997年1月4日 東京ドーム 第8試合 INOKI FINAL COUNT DOWN 6th アントニオ猪木 vs ウィリー・ウィリアムス


In that last one we said:

"Volk Han vs. Willie Williams is no less a tournament bout of this tournament than the tournament bouts now behind us and it, unlike them, is now before us. The outcome of this encounter is already known to me (I think) to the extent that, if I am not mistaken yet again, I think this is the final match of Willie Williams' august mixed fight career (not the end of his way of karate for of course there is no end to his way of that). What more can we say of this man -- and the purity of his love for the karate whose name he utters with such tender solemnity -- that we have not said before? His art has been a treasure to us; let us treasure the gift of it once more.

In keeping with all that he holds dear in his way, Williams opens with a barrage of kicks and knees and straight punches to the chest that knock Han to the mat within the opening minute yes. I am very worried about the gyaku-ude-garami/reverse-arm-entanglement/double-wrist-lock/Kimura that Han secures first standing but then, after no small measure of whipping all over, the ground, but Williams finds the ropes. OH NO IT IS THE KATA-ASHI-HISHIGI OF THE SINGLE-LEG BOSTON CRAB and that is it for Willie Williams at 3:14 and what can we do now but be thankful for the blessing he has been to us and possibly also commend him to Christ depending on our disposition(s) towards Him."


Let us turn to the commemoration of Willie Williams' life (or an aspect of it) published in the June 24, 2019 Wrestling Observer Newsletter as we behold What Dave Meltzer Had to Say:

"Willie Williams, a Kyokushin karate fighter who was involved in one of the biggest and memorable pro wrestling matches of its time, passed away on 6/8. He was 68.

Williams fought Antonio Inoki on February 27, 1980, at a sold out Tokyo Sumo Hall with 11,000 fans, in a match for Inoki’s WWF World Martial Arts championship. The match went to a double count out, ending in the fourth round.

The match became legendary in Japan, and was actually huge in the Japanese comic book world before it ever happened. A rematch 17 years later was a key match in a sold out Tokyo Dome and highly rated television show. The match itself was not a real fight, but was in fact, voted the greatest fight in Japan of the 20th century. And the story behind the match was even more interesting than the match itself.

This was during the period that Inoki was able to turn himself into a national sports hero with mostly worked matches that were billed as martial arts bouts, and in Japan, to this day they are considered the earliest MMA fights even though only three of them were real, two in India (one of which wasn’t really a shoot but a work that turned into a failed double-cross and not all that different from Inoki vs. Great Antonio) and the 1976 match with Muhammad Ali. The latter was supposed to be a work but it fell apart and they had a legitimate fight with a rule set that greatly favored Ali and ended as a 15 round draw.

The match itself has one of the most interesting back stories on record.

Williams became famous in Japan as the top foreigner of Mas Oyama’s Kyokushin Kaikan School of Karate. There was a very popular comic book in Japan based on Mas Oyama’s karate in the 70s called “Karate Baka Ichidai,” written by Ikki Kajiwara, a name famous to wrestling fans because he also created the pro wrestling Tiger Mask character in comic books, that led to a television series, which eventually led to Satoru Sayama popularizing that role as a pro wrestler to giant mainstream success.

While the idea of “Karate Baka Ichidai” was that the stories were real, it was more fantasy and great exaggerations. However the comic books were so popular they led to three movies. Williams appeared in one of the movies as himself, the deadly American karate star in a scene where he beat up a bear in a jungle and in Japan had the nickname “The Bear Killer.”

You have to remember that prior to 1993, when UFC and Pancrase began, both Americans and Japanese had no clue about real fighting. The mentality of a real fight consisted of people who thought boxing was a real fight, or people who thought Bruce Lee and martial arts movies or David Carradine and “Kung Fu” were real fights. People were taught from childhood with karate studios all over the country that the karate masters were the true real fighters. Usually the only people who thought different were those who actually studied fighting, which were rare, the wrestling community and the boxing community.

It was that mindset that led to the marketing of Inoki. In the 70s, Inoki and Giant Baba were fighting over dominance in a very popular and lucrative pro wrestling market. Baba provided an Americanized version of pro wrestling, with access to the biggest names in the U.S. Inoki had to create his own stars, whether they would be by bringing back older legends like Karl Gotch and Lou Thesz, or debuting independent wildmen like Tiger Jeet Singh.

The rivalry created unique booking, because wins and losses mattered and even if people didn’t think it was all real, Baba and Inoki were fighting over who was the national wrestling hero, and really, aside from the star of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team like Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh, really for the top spot as sports stars in the country in that era.

Baba could beat world champions like Jack Brisco and every top American, which Inoki couldn’t do. Inoki could beat Shozo Kobayashi, the top star from the rival IWE in the big dream match of the era. But then, after Inoki and Billy Robinson (who, from his time in the late 60s on television was considered the best “real” foreign wrestler at the time still in his prime) had their legendary 60:00 draw, Baba signed Robinson, offered him the biggest foreign contract to date, and then pinned Robinson in their first meeting.

Inoki and booker/manager Hisashi Shinma took a new approach, with the idea of promoting Inoki as not just a pro wrestling star, but the world’s greatest fighter. The key to the idea was to pay Muhammad Ali, the most famous boxer of that time, and probably of all-time, to lose to Inoki. Of course that fell through in the end, but conceptually, this led to the most memorable period of Inoki’s career. It started with his February 6, 1976, match at Budokan Hall where he beat Willem Ruska, an Olympic gold medalist in judo in 1972 and a guy who went to Brazil and cleaned up the toughest Vale Tudo guys, and perhaps was the toughest real fighter in the world at the time.

Inoki’s win over Ruska turned Inoki into Japan’s fighting hero. While the Ali fight was a dud, now remembered as legendary, the birth of major MMA and the biggest match in history in Japan because of the names involved, it was actually a terrible match for its time.

They continued to book Inoki in so-called martial arts bouts, with the idea without actually saying so, that these matches were shoots as opposed to the more questioned pro wrestling matches, under free fighting rules rather than pro wrestling. The idea in Japan is that when Inoki defended his NWF world title (the predecessor to today’s IWGP title), it was a big pro wrestling match. But when he defended the WWF World Martial Arts championship (which was created with the win over Ruska and retained in the Ali match), it was viewed as more real and drew a larger television audience because of the interest in mainstream fans.

Inoki had wins over Andre the Giant in 1976, Ruska in a rematch in 1976, Akram Pahalwan of India (a unique story of itself), karate champion Monster Man Eddie Everett, boxer Chuck Wepner (who once fought Ali for the heavyweight championship and was the person who the original movie “Rocky” in 1976 was based on), retired German boxer Karl Mildenberger (who once fought Ali for the championship in the 60s), bodybuilder/strongman personality Mike Dayton, and several others.

The Pahalwan match on December 12, 1976, was held at the outdoor Karachi National Stadium in Pakistan. Pahalwan was a pro wrestling legend in India and Pakistan, but by this point was older and in his 40s. He was a shooter in his youth, but Inoki, 13 years younger and still in his prime, was also trained in submissions and was a far more versatile fighter and better athlete. This was, like the others, supposed to be a pro wrestling match, but Pahalwan attempted a double-cross in the match, and it backfired, as Inoki, realizing the situation, got Pahalwan in an armbar and actually broke his arm.

This led to a match on June 16, 1979, in Lahaul, Pakistan, at Qadaffi Stadium, where Inoki faced Jhara Pahalwan (Zubiar Aslam), the 19-year-old Indian wrestling prodigy and nephew of Akram, who had been groomed for three years to gain revenge for the family against Inoki. What it was supposed to be going in is anyone’s guess since it would make no more sense in 1979 for Inoki to do a high profile shoot as it would be in 1986 for Hulk Hogan to do one. But it very clearly ended up as a real fight. There were no punches to the face, but there were body blows, head-butts and mostly wrestling. Pahalwan was clearly stronger and wearing Inoki out, who couldn’t get much offense, was mostly on his back, and never threatened with a submission. But Pahalwan had wrestling skill but no finishing skill. They went five five minute rounds before time expired.

In Japan it was reported as a draw, notable because in theory that would lead to a rematch that never happened. In actuality, Pahalwan was ruled the winner via decision and in Japan, it was like Backlund vs. Inoki was in the U.S., a match pretty much hidden from history.

Inoki continued his big martial arts matches with wins over Ruska in South Korea and Kim Klokeid in Japan.

At the same time, in the late 70s, a new comic book series came out in Japan called “Shikakui Jungle” (Squared Jungle). The comic book series was built to where it would end up with the real fight of the century between Inoki and Willie Williams. The comic book became so popular that there was a demand for this fight in real life.

“The match had to take place,” noted Japanese pro wrestling historian Fumi Saito. “It was not necessarily Inoki calling the shot.”

In 1979, there was a 160 man tournament with no weight classes in Japan under karate rules to find out who was the best karate fighter. Williams made it to the final four, losing in the semifinals.

But even though he didn’t win, Williams was still billed as the karate world champion.

Essentially, there were far too many people involved in putting this match together, as you had the karate side and the pro wrestling side, and the match was felt to be so big when it comes to interest, that both sides felt they had to go through with it. But neither side would agree to lose.

There was hope to go to a secret location and work out a match, like Inoki had done with the non-pro wrestlers he had worked with. But fear of double-cross of injury led to that not happening. If anything, it was the karate people who wanted to “prove” a karate guy could beat up Inoki, who was by far the more famous of the two, than the other way around. However, TV Asahi was the key money people, and Inoki was their guy, so he was not going to be put in a position to be shot on or lose. Kajiwara and his people, Inoki, Shinma, movie people and karate people were involved in a number of secret meetings trying to work out how to work out compromises and do the match.

Even so, on the night of the bout, Williams had a large group of badass Kyokushin karate guys as his bodyguards, and they were not involved in the negotiations, and they were very aggressive, believed to be looking for a fight. Inoki brought Tatsumi Fujinami, Riki Choshu and Haruka Eigen, three of the toughest guys from his stable, to be in his corner. His two believed to be New Japan’s toughest guys, retired trainer and legendary shooter Karl Gotch and Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Gotch’s top student and the New Japan policeman at the time, were not available.

The match was not a shoot, but it was as tense as any non-shoot would be. Both were on their guard. Williams, who was 6-foot-6 ½ and 230 pounds, had a big reach edge and was also quicker. Not much happened but Williams was able to land punches. He hit jabs with enough force to look real but not in an attempt to knock Inoki out. Inoki got a few takedowns but Williams would always make the ropes quickly. They fell out of the ring a few times where the karate guys and the New Japan guys would rush over.

Both sides agreed to a double count out finish at 1:24 of the fourth round. Inoki at least got his takedowns and Williams had to scramble to the ropes, so it didn’t look so one-sided and Inoki saved face. But Williams didn’t lose and looked better against Inoki than anyone.

In the 80s in particular, the match was legendary, replayed all the time. I can’t remember how many different times on sports shows that I saw that double count out finish when there would be stories on Inoki. Its reputation grew and because of the interest and how much it felt like a real fight, and because Inoki was involved, in 2003 it was named the greatest fight of the 20th century in Japan.

He returned to Japan in 1984 for another World Karate Open, and won some fights, but didn’t fare we well. He retired from competition and taught Kyokushin Karate, as well as some kickboxing, Jiu Jitsu and Aikido in North Carolina.

He was brought in on June 4, 1991, when the karate organizations in Japan were trying to create a new heavyweight superstar in Masaaki Satake, who would later do pro wrestling with RINGS but became very well-known in the heyday of K-1 a few years later. With Williams being such a well-known cultural name, the expectation that the younger Satake would beat him, which he did via decision, helped build Satake’s reputation.

Akira Maeda was a big fan of the “Karate Baka Ichidai” and “Shikakui Jungle” comic books growing up, and he was 20 years old when the Inoki vs. Williams match took place. Of all Inoki’s martial arts and pro wrestling matches of his heyday, of course, the Ali match was the biggest, and the first Ruska match would be second and Williams would be third. But since the Williams match was considered easily the best of the three, it was considered as the peak of the genre.

In 1992, Maeda brought in a 40-year-old Williams for his RINGS promotion and signed him to a three-year-contract, with the idea of using him as a name to draw, having the credibility of being real from the Inoki match and the movie and comic books. The idea is he’d be mostly given wins, but in big matches would be there to put over the top stars.

RINGS was a largely worked pro wrestling promotion that purported to be a shoot, and many believed it. Years later, RINGS became a complete shoot, and fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, Renzo Gracie, Dan Henderson, Matt Hughes, Pat Miletich, Frank Shamrock and others fought there. Really, Emelianenko and Nogueira were first discovered and started in RINGS before they became bigger stars with Pride.

Because of that, Williams is listed as having a 9-4 MMA record, because for whatever reason, Sherdog and Wikipedia still to this day list many pro wrestling matches as real fights from the RINGS era.

Williams’ biggest matches in RINGS were his high profile losses to the top stars. Really, he was old, and his body was broken down from all the years of karate. The only thing really remembered about Williams from this period is he was tall and had the famous name from the past.

After scoring three fast knockout wins, they built up Maeda vs. Williams for July 16, 1992 at the Osaka Furitsu Gym (Edion Arena today).

Maeda vowed to retire if he lost. They drew a sellout crowd, with Maeda winning by submission at 2:03 of the third round.

His next big match was with Volk Han, Maeda’s foreign top star. This wasn’t planned. They had booked a big show for May 29, 1993 at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, a 12,000-seat arena. But Maeda, the top draw, was injured. Maeda was completely carrying the promotion from a box office perspective at the time, and the only idea they could come up with was Williams vs. Han. Han was the company’s second biggest star. It was enough to draw 8,700 fans, considered a huge success for a show without Maeda.

With his contract running out at the end of 1994, Maeda booked him to loss to himself one last time on May 17, 1994, in Sendai, where they drew a sellout of 4,856 fans. Maeda beat him in 2:38 since he was on his way out.

He was entered in the 1994 Battle Dimension tournament, and lasted until the third round where he was submitted again by Han on November 19, 1994 at the Ariake Coliseum as the No. 2 bout behind Maeda’s beating Tony Halme (a boxer who worked as Ludvig Borga in WWE and was also years earlier a top foreign star with New Japan, and later lost to Randy Couture in UFC).

He had three more RINGS matches, one in 1995, beating former Olympic wrestler Grom Zaza, and had two losses in 1996. His second, to Nikolai Zouev, a Russian freestyle and sambo champion was the main event on a Jekaterinburg, Russian show before 6,580 fans. There is a chance that match was legitimate, since the RINGS shows outside Japan were shoot shows. Williams fought one known legitimate MMA fight on September 14, 1996, in Mobile, AL, at 45 years old, losing to Ray Brooks. Given how badly his body was beaten up by that time, the idea of him doing shoots was not a good thing.

Inoki did finally get his win back. When Inoki announced his retirement tour, one of the themes was callback to his legendary matches from the past.

On January 4, 1997, Inoki vs. Williams was booked for the Tokyo Dome in New Japan’s biggest event of the year. It was fourth from the top on a show headlined by Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu for the IWGP heavyweight title, which sold out with 52,500 fans. This was the description of the match in the Observer:

8. Antonio Inoki beat Willie Williams in 4:23. Satoru Sayama was in Inoki's corner for the match. Inoki used the octopus, then dropped to the mat with Williams, who tapped out. Awful. -* This was a rematch of their famous inconclusive mixed martial arts match in 1980, Antonio Inoki (who turns 54 in a few weeks) and Williams is 48.

Still, the show, which aired on a next day replay on a Sunday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., did an 11.3 rating and 12 million viewers. While it was Choshu vs. Hashimoto that drew the peak of nearly 18 million viewers, Inoki vs. Williams was the second highest rated match, which shows just how much people remembered the match from 17 years earlier.

Williams ended his pro wrestling career, working in 1998 and 1999 for FMW."

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


シリーズ PRIDE(ナンバーシリーズ)
主催 DSE
会場 有明コロシアム

THERE IS TO BE NO WARM-UP NO LIGHT RUNNINGS AND FOOTWORK DRILLINGS PUNCTUATED BY FOUR SETS OF 25/25/25 JUDO PUSH-UPS (LOOK THEM UP YOU WILL LOVE THEM)/SIT-UPS/HINDU SQUATS AND THEN CORE NEWAZA MOVEMENTS AND UKEMI NO INSTEAD WE ARE INTO THE CUT AND THRUST OF 試合 SHIAI (MATCH; GAME; BOUT; CONTEST) AT ONCE here at Pride 8 in 有明コロシアム Ariake Koroshiamu (Ariake Coliseum), future site of the tennis to be contested at Tokyo 2020 in scarcely more than a year's time from this the time of our writing. Hey are you excited for the Olympics yet! Or is it still too soon for you! It would be reasonably for it to be too soon for you, even if you really really like the Olympics. For my part, I exist in a near-constant state of Olympics-readiness, by which I mean Olympics-watching-readiness, specifically, although actually for real I could answer the call to get wildly blown out of the opening round of the -73kg portion of the Olympic judo tournament at a moment's notice, like I am totally on-weight for this and ready to go, just give me a minute to limber-up BUT AS NOTED PREVIOUSLY THERE IS TO BE NO WARM-UP ON THIS DAY AND INSTEAD 松井 大二郎 DAIJIRO MATSUI AND ヴァンダレイ・シウバ (BU-A-N-DA-RE-I ・SHI-U-BA) WANDERLEI SILVA ARE UPON US AT ONCE and the kanji I like best in Matsui's name is 松 / matsu, "pine tree" (as in 一本松 / ipponmatsu, "solitary pine tree," an especially lovely pine tree kind). Hey since we're all here together and love art, let's read a number of haiku in which 松 / matsu figure prominently:


名月や 晝見ぬ形の 松が出る


Meigetsu ya
Hiru minu nari no
Matsu ga deru

the bright moon
the shape of pines
unseen by day



たくましき 松も眠るや 春の雨


Matsu mo nemuru ya
Haru no ame

the strong pines, too,
are sleeping --
spring rain



月を松に 懸けたり外し ても見たり


Tsuki wo matsu ni
Kake-tari hazushi
Temo mitari

hang the moon on the pine
and remove it
just to see



そこもとは 涼しさうなり 峰の松


Sokomoto wa
Suzushi sō nari
Mine no matsu

you are
so cool,
mountain-peak pine



青空に 松をかいたり 今日の月


Aozora ni
Matsu wo kaitari
Kyō no tsuki

a pine painted
against blue sky 
tonight's moon



名月や 畳の上に 松の影


Meigetsu ya
Tatami no ue ni
Matsu no kage

the bright moon
on the mats, and


(All poems from the @haikuanthology twitter, dedicated to the memory of the poet Troy Allen Richter; all translations in their endless deficiency are my own.) 

Still with pine trees, 松 can be read not only as matsu but also as shō as in 松濤館 Shōtōkan, and, as we have probably discussed before: "Shotokan was the name of the first official dojo built by Gichin Funakoshi, in 1936[3] at Mejiro, and destroyed in 1945 as a result of an allied bombing.[4] Shoto (松濤 Shōtō), meaning 'pine-waves' (the movement of pine needles when the wind blows through them), was Funakoshi's pen-name,[5] 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.[5] Gichin Funakoshi never gave his system a name, just calling it karate." 

These reveries lie in ruins as Stephen Quadros suggests to Bas Rutten that, in time, the soccer kick to the face of a downed opponent in a sporting match will come to be accepted, and the defenses against it mastered just as one "learn[s] to defend against the arm-bar, or the punch." It is possibly weird to talk about learning to defend against a technique that is employed pretty much exclusively when one's opponent is completely defenseless (have you ever seen a match-ending soccer kick and thought "that guy could have defended those much better"? because that has never been a thing that I have seen) but let us say for now only that Wanderlei Silva is very frightening and Daijiro Matsui is very brave. Matsui has been cut up by knees and his nose looks broken, too, and he responds to this by fighting with extra urgency, even for Daijiro Matsui (who, say what you will, has never lacked for spirit). As the first round draws to a close, Wanderlei is offered the caution and guidance of shido for holding onto the ropes whilst enstomping (Wanderlei, please: compose yourself). Quadros calls Daijiro Matsui "Akira Shoji" like four times. Round two is less eventful, excluding the long event of Matsui holding Silva down (without doing much of anything to pass the legs) and eating hard punches despite Silva throwing them from, you know, being on the underneath. I think Silva's got decent hips from the bottom but Matsui is doing so little (nothing) to pass that it's honestly hard to say. Wanderlei Silva is the winner by unanimous decision at the end of an æsthetically and at times morally unsatisfying contest.

Fabiano Iha, a Crolin Gracie black belt (I did not make that name up), is in next with Frank Trigg, who at this time of fighting had recently defeated Jean Jacques Machado (not bad!), and who for sure wrote part of his own wikipedia page: "When he is not busy acting and training for stunts, he spends his time with his family and giving back to the community through youth mentoring, involvement with Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and motivational speaking." Citation needed, my dude. Iha is taken down immediately, but in time threatens with 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame! But Trigg is up and out and ok! And now Iha has been floored by astoundingly untechnical looping punches that he has just, like, taken a knee from, and that's it. Not a great fight!

Allan Goes vs. Carl Malenko is a match between people who have done a pretty good job grappling in their Pride FC appearances so far, I think we would all agree. Goes approaches Malenko for a low, tackling 双手刈 morote-gari/two-hand reap, and I say approaches because he just kind of makes visible the passing thought of the technique, and Malenko is down all of a sudden without even the merest trace of resistance. Does he maybe think he has a shot from the bottom? Is that why he accepts the technique? Goes goes (haha!) to short-side pass right away, and Malenko does exactly what I would, and indeed have done very recently (like just last week!): secure the double-entanglement or half-guard of niju-garami, and grab a 逆腕絡 gyaku ude garami/double-wrist-lock/Kimura with one eye towards finishing the armlock, another towards sweeping, and yet another towards merely shrimping (ebi) back to the hikikomi or guard position (that's three eyes but think about it). I wonder if it will work out for him! The last time I did it, I was able to finish the ude-garami, and you know what, I felt pretty good about it. Goes, unsurprisingly, does the right thing, keeping his hand buried beneath Malenko's hip, and yeah ok he's passed to the side already. Don't worry, Carl Malenko, that happens to me too sometimes! Malenko recovers guard but only briefly, as Goes is back to the side, then to the kesa-gatame (scarf-hold) position, then right up on top in tate-shiho-gatame, with a little uki-gatame (the floating hold or knee-on-belly) thrown in just to make those transitions a little more miserable. This is excellent stuff, and Carlson Gracie, looking on from Goes corner, seems pretty into it. Goes has a crafty (or cræftig) little way of booping people in the face with his shoulder like *boop* in a way that is not going to knock anybody out but is *boop* gonna get on your nerves *boop* before to long I  bet (*boop*). JUJI-GATAME ah ok nope, Malenko escapes, and now Goes is on the bottom but is threatening with both 逆腕絡 gyaku ude garami and 表三角絞 omote sankaku jime in a way that makes me think of a little clip I saw of a gentleman by the name of Jarvis Cherron Kolen with whom I am not familiar beyond the clip in question, but I giffed it (oh, I giffed it):

Huuuuuuge elevator sweep from Allan Goes! In the mode of Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ)! Let's see hers since I already have a gif of it!

And then a lovely finish by way of 肩固 kata gatame (shoulder-hold/arm-triangle/head-and-arm choke). Let's watch 田代未来 Miku Tashiro (JPN) enter into this 技 waza by way of つくばロール Tsukuba roll at the  2018 World Championships Baku (because I already have a gif of it!):


I liked this match a lot! Carl Malenko is really very furious after it, though, and although his ire is plainly directed towards himself (it is self-ire) and not towards Allan Goes in any way, it is still carrying on to an extent that is not sportsmanlike and I hope he will reconsider his actions here or at least feel low-key embarrassed about them in the shower later, maybe pretty late at night (that's not true, I don't wish those awful things on anyone, and certainly not Carl Malenko, with whom I have no quarrel). 

OH NO MARK COLEMAN LOOK OUT IT IS RICARDO MORAIS HE IS TOO BIG HE IS TOO BIIIIIIIIIIG but Mark Coleman is himself pretty big, isn't he, especially juiced all to HEKK as he appears to be in this instance but who can say (what am I, a blood test [or even a urine one]). "Jesus," is Bas Rutten's analysis:


Morais, though, rarely ever did things commensurate with how terrifying he was, which is almost certainly for the best. As he was for a time very much a man of RINGS (and as we ourselves remain people of it), you will no doubt recall his horrific forty-six second finish of poor old Yoshihisa Yamamoto, but Yamamoto, despite lasting like a million minutes against Rickson Gracie somehow (we know how; we have seen . . . everything), is a guy who lost like eighteen of the final twenty-three fights (seriously, I opened a new tab and counted) of his career. So as ghastly as it was (Morais vs. Yamamoto, I mean [but also all of this]), it didn't tell us a whole lot, right? Whilst still of RINGS, Morais drew with Yuriy Kochkine, who I had completely forgotten, lost a thrilling boring decision to GROM ZAZA, and defeated little Hiromitsu Kanehara but Kanehara pretty much wins on account of being brave, right? And that was Morais' most recent match at the time of this encounter with Coleman, who Stephen Quadros tells us won a silver medal in the Olympics, which is not true (he was seventh, which is for sure still great, and he came second at the world championships the year before that, also tremendous, obviously). Stephen Quadros tells us that the first round was unusually uneventful (I think he may have said "boring," but I don't like that word so I am not going back to check!), and the replays confirm this: pretty dang ragged boxing, and then a lot of Mark Coleman uninspiringly on top. Round two sees Mark Coleman attempt the "can-opener" he spent a good amount of time on in round one, and it sure does open the guard, but then Coleman makes no real effort to pass or strike (I do not encourage striking but I recognize this is when one would maybe do some of it), so there's not. A lot. To Say. 

Until Morais makes a pretty tepid attempt to push Coleman away, feet-on-hips, and Coleman passes to the side! Good for him that's a way better place to be! I find Morais kind of a sympathetic figure in the way that, despite their natural advantages in terms of being, you know, great big, I find all great big guys kind of sympathetic figures (it is hard for them to get good work in at the club against all us little and medium-sized people, and when things go well for them people tend to dismiss their progress as being because they are just great big even if they are going super nice and light and technical; and if they hurt someone even totally innocently their villainy is endless, etc; we have almost certainly talked about this before, forgive me), but even more so in this case because of how much Ricardo Morais looks like the sad giant from Prince Valiant (the great Hal Foster was born in Halifax; please note this crucial fact):

In short, Mark Coleman rightly takes the decision. Rounding into fighting trim as PRIDE GRANDPRIX 2000 決勝戦(プライドグランプリにせん けっしょうせん)fast approaches!

Francisco Bueno, we learn, has spent two years training under the boxing coach of the great Rocky Marciano, which sounds amazing. He has to fight Igor Vovchanchyn though so I don't know. Yeah okay this is the one that is the worst knockout you'll ever see; I wondered if this was the one. The end comes at 1:23, but these are the first punches Igor throws (I didn't make this gif):

Bas Rutten says they should turn him on his side so he does not swallow his tongue, and then also is like "oh he is okay" once Bueno blinks one time. I think maybe Bas' first aid certification has lapsed? Mine for sure has too though so I can't really say if his ideas are good. Well that was horrific!

Gary Goodridge will now face the deeply enormous Tom Erikson, who I am very pleased to learn (from wikipedia, quite obviously) in 2015 accepted the head wrestling coach position at Lyon College, "a private residential liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and located in Batesville, Arkansas. Founded in 1872, it is the oldest independent college in Arkansas." That's great! And a better thing to do with the little time that we have here than lie atop Gary Goodrige whilst Gary, his life and health a self-professed shambles ever since walking away from steady work at the Honda plant in Alliston, attempts to taunt Erikson while completely losing, saying things like "hit me again, please!" and "how about a kiss?" and I am sure he thinks these things are quite sikk of him to say but he's very clearly losing the entire time, covering up while getting hit from positions of increasing control (for his foe). I am here to like Gary Goodridge or at the very least find him sympathetic and while I am still very much able to do the latter, the former is pretty much out the window for this match, and I don't feel good about it He attempts a kata-gatame/kata-sankaku/arm-triangle/head-and-arm-choke from the bottom and it doesn't go anywhere but I distinctly remember the moment at a training camp I hit and was certain I had invented the transition from that waza to juji-gatame and while it turns out "I probably didn't" it was still a lovely moment for me (I was working with a young man who, a few years later, went on to win gold at Canada Games and then, the legends [people who knew him better than I did] say, never stepped on the tatami again [and he never said why {maybe he did, I only ever knew him slightly}). HE CAN'T HURT YOU GARY HE CAN'T HURT YOU is not great coaching for when your guy is getting hit, I don't think, and I say that as a certified level-two coach in a sport that has absolutely no hitting in it. A super obvious decision win for Erikson.

A quite rad video plays depicting the struggle at the heart of PRIDE FC to this point: Japanese professional wrestlers (Takada, Sakuraba, Otsuka, Ogawa are all shown) against the Gracies (we are shown much Rickson, some Renzo). "There seems to be a bit of a rivalry brewing between the Japanese professional wrestlers who turn to mixed martial arts and the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu fighters," Quadros notes afterwards, and I am assuming he did not see the video because I am not here to think the worst of people (other than myself for even watching) but it is funny the way he says it, as though this were a thing that just occurred to him, and not the central premise of these eight shows so far and the tens and tens of thousands of tickets sold to them and the absolutely wild crowd that cannot believe how much it loves Alexander Otsuka as he takes to fight against Renzo Gracie (it is also worth noting, I think, that the makers of Fire Pro Wrestling A and Final Fire Pro Wrestling understood this dynamic perfectly and made it central to the STOIC STYLE stories of each). Otsuka and Renzo are super sportsmanlike and mannerly before the bout which is what the people (me) love to see! Holy moly the crowd is unreal for this guy! This DIET BUTCHER guy! (It's what his trunks say.) A fine double-leg takedown sees Otsuka first in Renzo's niju-garami half-guard and the crowd is both bonkers and bananas in a manner that we shall henceforth know as bonknanas but they settle down as Otsuka settles into Renzo's guard and the contest itself overall just, like, settles. Bas Rutten speculates that one of the reasons Japanese professional wrestlers have found success so far in Pride is that they are used to performing in front of big crowds and so they re relaxed about it and don't freak out. Triangle choke! Sankaku-jime! But Otsuka slams out of it (ah the hugging high lift of 抱上 daki-age). But Renzo is up-kicking as though Otsuka were the merest Oleg Taktarov (no diss to Oleg but you get what I am saying [Oleg got hellaciously upkicked {I was upkicked similarly by a student this year and it occurred to me she had not been born when Renzo upkicked Oleg unto ruin, forgive me if I have told you this tale alreadly}])! Otsuka is quite badly cut, and he came into the match pretty bandaged to begin with. Renzo and Otsuka seem to chat amiably for a moment, Renzo checking in with Otsuka about something or other, and it's all very cordial. I love things to be cordial! Renzo threatens with another sankaku-jime but Otsuka is out and up and now they are kickboxing one another. Otsuka's bandaged leg does not respond well to being kicked hard; this guy really came into this fight a mess, didn't he? Maybe too much wrestling too recently? Or maybe just over-training? Ah, the scourge of over-training: you call it over-training and driven young athletes thing it is a happening thing (this is how they talk, believe me) and all you can really do is to try to re-frame it as under-recovery and see what they make of it. Round one has ended but it was really exciting!

These rounds are ten minutes, by the way. I think ten minutes straight-time is a really good round-length and I-enjoy-to-hyphenate-things. AH HA HA WOAH OKAY I was about to tell you that round two is awfully slow, with Otsuka just hanging out in Renzo's guard whilst Renzo makes the occasional hip-gesture towards juji-gatame but after a few minutes of this he GOES for the juji-gatame and it's so deep that I am stunned Otsuka got out (though I suppose they are both very slippery by now) and in the ensuing scramble Renzo comes up and top and seems inclined towards the superb 腕挫腕固 ude-hishigi-ude-gatame he employed upon both Wataru Sakata and Maurice Smith at RINGS 12/22/99: RISE 7th: WORLD MEGA-BATTLE OPEN TOURNAMENT KING OF KINGS. Both Bas and Quadros agree that Renzo must be looking for some kind of armlock, though they know not which, and yet had they merely watched RINGS they would know it; they would see it. AHHHHH BIG SCRAMBLE AND RENZO HAS THROWN WITH 裏投 URA-NAGE and interestingly, as this merry contest ends (I will show you how merry in but a moment, please stay for it), Otsuka secures the 逆腕絡 gyaku-ude-garami/Kimura grip that will famously prove Renzo's undoing against Kazushi Sakuraba at Pride 10; but that doom abides, and for now, all is merry and well (thank you for staying to see how merry, how well):

Renzo Gracie is in town this week and weekend to speak, if I understand this correctly, at a meeting of the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce in Nova Scotia, as Renzo is, if I am not mistaken, in part of Lebanese heritage (every bit of what I have related to you just now is hearsay). Many Lebanese found a new home here amid the ills that beset that ancient land in recent decades, and they have enriched our province; let us thank them for coming. Also Renzo will be teaching a seminar (not at the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce in Nova Scotia)  and I hope it goes well (I have at least one student attending, I think). 

MAY GOD BLESS THE LEBANESE PEOPLE AND POSSIBLY ALSO HAVE MERCY ON OUR SOULS FOR DEFILING THEM BY WATCHING MEN FIGHT AS BEASTS OF THE FIELD EXCEPT WAY WORSE for it is time for the main event of the evening (in truth an afternoon, in the real time of the primary world of our experience and not the secondary worlds of memory or sub-creation) which sees Royler Gracie (a Renzo-cousin, brother to both Rickson and Royce) against Kazushi Sakuraba in "a bout" that perhaps you have heard "about" (haha). Royler, you will recall, is not a big guy at all, listed here at 5'8" and 150lbs (we would be good training partners!), whilst Sakuraba's height is given at 6', which I absolutely do not believe, and his weight 183lbs, which seems far more credible, so Sakuraba for the first time faces someone lighter (much respect to Royler in this). Royler had not yet become what he would be known as -- a wonderful technical grappler who, despite that wonderfulness, posted an indifferent 5-5-1 record in mixed fight (best win: Noburu Asahi? Kazuyuki Miyata in his first match ever? one of those two I guess) -- but was instead the as-yet-undefeated (in mixed fight) Royler Gracie of the as-yet-undefeated (this is not true) Gracie family and here we go. Rickson stands in Royler's corner, Nobuhiko Takada in Sakuraba's. Yeah okay these guys are almost exactly the same height, I knew that 6' business was not to be trusted. Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten, as the match is only beginning, speculate as to which Gracie Sakuraba should fight next, whether it should be Renzo or Rickson. Nobody mentions Royce! As these speculations continue, Sakuraba has been hanging out in Royler's butterfly (insteps) guard, looking pretty low-key. "This is not fighting," Bas suggests, and argues they should be restarted standing, but this has only been going on for like a minute, I don't get it. When they do stand, of their own accord, it's clear very quickly that Sakuraba's kicks are a real problem. Royler's takedown attempt is very feeble (I mean no disrespect but it is feeble), and Sakuraba just sprawls atop him and punches. The crowd is b a n a n a s. Royler scoots around on his bottom and, after getting kicked a bunch more, beckons Sakuraba to the mat, daring him to enter his guard, but that's just super dumb. We can't be more than five minutes into the contest when Bas and Quadros decide that there is literally nothing Royler can do to win this fight: he can't strike with Sakuraba, he can't take him down, and when Sakuraba was in his guard in the opening minutes, Royler had no attacks. As Royler scoots around and half-heartedly stomps at Sakuraba's knees (this achieves nothing), this is not great fun to watch, because we know how it ends (don't we), and it never feels like Royler even had a chance. Royler winces in pain from one of the many kicks to his leg, and Sakuraba checks in to make sure he's ok (he is). This is awful. The crowd is wild for each kick that lands. Royler continues to beckon Sakuraba down which is just the lamest thing to do and I say this as someone who, I am sure, needs not further prove his love of newaza to you after these hundreds of thousands of words we have shared together. Ax-kicks now (kakato-otoshi [heel-drop]). Round one ends, and it was hideous. I don't remember feeling this way about it at all when I first watched it years ago, and this makes me feel ungood about at least that part of who I was then (there's plenty of other stuff too, don't worry). Because this is gross. This has been a pretty consistent theme as we have revisited these early Prides, but I am feeling it more fully here than I have previously. Round two is: a lot of kicks. Quadros notes that there are no judges for this match, as that is a precondition of (non-Renzo) Gracie participation. Bas objects to this strongly, arguing that "we're all equal, we're all the same" (that's true). "Let's go, let's go," you can hear Royler say to Sakuraba as he extends a hand as though to lure him to the ground again. "I think the object is to make the fighter fight your fight, rather than to ask him to fight your fight," Quadros observes (Bas agrees). When Royler gets his wish, and Sakuraba follows him into newaza, Sakuraba secures his 逆腕絡 gyaku-ude-garami grip in less than ten seconds. "I don't know that Sakuraba wants to break the arm," Quadros notes as Royler squirms and winces in pain but refuses to tap. I have talked about this before, but here I am talking about it again: refusing to tap doesn't make you some like super raw guy, it makes you a jerk; it's sheer arrogance to refuse to acknowledge that you have been bested, and forcing your opponent to actually break your arm or strangle you into unconsciousness (both of these things are unpleasant) is, I'm gonna come right out and say it, just plain rude. If Sakuraba steps over Royler's head with his right leg from here, the arm (already at an angle severe enough that Royler has not just winced but like wiiiiiiiiinced) will break, there's no question about it. Do we think Kazushi Sakuraba doesn't know this? Does Royler Gracie think Kazushi Sakuraba doesn't know this? Does Rickson Gracie, protesting vehemently now that (at least somewhat evil) referee Yuji Shimada has waved off the bout late in the second round, think Kazushi Sakuraba doesn't know this? Everybody knows this, and Kazushi Sakuraba was clearly holding the position (rather than finishing the technique) out of mercy. And so what is (obviously evil) Yuji Shimada supposed to do, with Sakuraba completely settled into gyaku-ude-garami just shy of the point of breaking but obviously reluctant to cause needless injury (ude-garami breaks are almost always worse than juji-gatame breaks), and Royler Gracie neither defending the technique nor willing to acknowledge that he has been finished? Should Shimada stand them up? Should he tell Sakuraba to finish the hold? Or should he stop the match and award it to the clear winner? Yuji Shimada (still evil, please do not mistake me) made the right decision here, and I think I have figured out why I do not remember feeling awful about how one-sided and uncomfortable this match is, and that is that by the time it ends, you are left feeling just completely sick of Helio Gracie's whiny kids.  


October 11, 1999:

"Tokyo Sports wrote on 10/6 that [Masaaki] Satake would wind up with either RINGS or Pride, and they'd built up to a match against Naoya Ogawa which would pit Japan's most famous kickboxer against its most famous judo star."


"There are rumors regarding both Renzo and Royler Gracie fighting on the 11/21 Pride show. As the stories go, Renzo would face Alexander Otsuka and Royler would face Kazushi Sakuraba. In a sense from a Japanese booking perspective they make sense because Sakuraba likely wouldn't lose to Royler (who pound-for-pound is an awesome fighter but is 150 pounds tops while Sakuraba is about 190 although Royler did beat 215 pound Naoki Sano in a shoot but Sano is a pro wrestler who got hammered in all his Vale Tudo fights) and if Otsuka lost to Renzo, it would be okay since Otsuka has already lost to Nobuhiko Takada and Renzo has the Gracie name. Actually that match is pretty much all upside for Otsuka, even though Renzo is a little bit smaller, because Renzo has the name. In the Sakuraba match, the idea would be that the promotion is playing it safe, because in reality, what does it prove if Sakuraba beats Royler. Visually, unless he finishes him clean, Royler will look like a winner just surviving against someone that much bigger. And even if he does finish him clean, sure, he's the first Japanese fighter to cleanly beat a Gracie, but he's so much larger."

October 18, 1999:

"Pride, which 'owes' Mark Coleman another fight since he did the job for Nobuhiko Takada, has offered him a match on the 11/21 show against Ricardo Morais, a 6-8, 275 pound Brazilian, who, if Coleman is able to overcome his stamina problems that have plagued him in losses to Maurice Smith, Pete Williams and Pedro Rizzo, Coleman should be able to ground. Morais’ only Vale Tudo loss was against Grom Zaza of RINGS, a Dan Severn-level amateur wrestler who took him down and kept him there." [He sure did! And it was the best! --ed.]


"Dream Stage Entertainment, the group that does the shoot Pride shows in Japan, is scheduled to meet with WWF officials toward the end of the month about a proposed show next year at the Tokyo Dome. If a deal goes through, Pride will become a pro wrestling promotion as opposed to a Vale Tudo promotion with some main event worked shoots to protect the top Japanese stars for business reasons as it is today. Nobuhiko Takada will be coming in for the meeting. DSE is offering the WWF $1 million base plus various percentages when it comes to merchandise and give the WWF the rights to sell a certain percentage of the tickets to the show themselves which could amount to at least a $1.5 million deal. DSE sees an opening in the pro wrestling market by using the WWF wrestlers, who are gaining a cult following in Japan from added television exposure on satellite, with All Japan and New Japan both struggling at the box office. WWF is also negotiating with Seikendo, which is Satoru Sayama’s group, which uses name wrestlers from the Battlarts promotion and will be sending Kurt Angle to the 11/5 show at Yokohama Bunka Gym. Angle probably has more potential wrestling for RINGS (if they continue doing a lot of worked matches) than for American style."

October 25, 1999:

"With its scheduled meeting with the World Wrestling Federation at the end of the month, the future of the Dream Stage Entertainment Pride promotion, which has become generally speaking the No. 1 shoot promotion in the world, is in question.

At the same time the group is negotiating with the WWF for talent for its upcoming Tokyo Dome shows, which would have to be worked matches, they are also talking to many of the top real fighters in the world for participation in the tournament on the same shows. WWF officials turned DSE down flat when requesting talent to appear on its last show in what WWF officials were told would be shoot matches. WWF wasn't even interested in hearing a price mentioned because after the Brawl-for-all experiment, they've learned their lesson in regard to putting wrestlers not trained in shooting in that environment and the injury risks from doing so.

DSE has, in its past, promoted shows with a varying percentage of worked and shoot matches, generally all shoot undercards with occasional worked matches with predetermined outcomes to protect the two big Japanese drawing cards, pro wrestlers Nobuhiko Takada and Naoya Ogawa. Takada has been given several wins, but also had to face reality in two matches with Rickson Gracie headlining Tokyo Dome shows, and a recent match with Mark Kerr appeared to be a controlled situation where Takada lost but wasn't put in danger of being hurt. Previous Pride shows before DSE was running them also protected several fighters including Koji Kitao, a now retired pro wrestler who had a great deal of mainstream name value. But the majority of its matches have been of the shoot variety, and because they are the highest paying shoot promotion in the world, their shows feature the biggest names and the most looked forward to matches.

The next show, on 11/21 at the Yokohama Arena, has several intriguing match-ups but neither Takada or Ogawa are announced for the show which means it'll be tough to draw the masses. Pride has drawn more than 10,000 fans on its previous two shows in the building at high ticket prices. Whether, because the costs of putting on shoot shows are far more expensive than worked shows, the shows can break even or not with that kind of attendance figure (throwing in PPV rights and eventual videotape sales as well into the equation) is unknown, but appears to be doubtful or else the company wouldn't be looking to the WWF.

But more importantly than its next show are plans for both a 1/30 and a yet unannounced date in March both at the Tokyo Dome for a 16-man tournament built along the lines of the very successful K-1 Grand Prix tournament (rival promotion RINGS is doing a similar based tournament but it appears with lesser name value fighters). Royce Gracie has already publicly talked about doing the tournament, which would have eight first round matches on 1/30, and the eight-winners would go into a grueling one-night tournament in March. Even K-1, which is far bigger than MMA style as far as mainstream popularity in Japan, saw its first round of the Grand Prix held on 10/3 in Osaka wind up disappointing at the gate and drew a far smaller television rating then the previous year.

Pride Officials along with Takada are supposed to meet with the WWF about involvement in the tournament. But how can WWF wrestlers, Takada, Ogawa, Igor Vovchanchin (now generally considered as the No. 1 heavyweight fighter in the world after his no contest against Mark Kerr last month) and Royce Gracie all exist in the same tournament without it being a total fiasco [or my save on ファイナルファイヤープロレスリング~夢の団体運営 (Final Fire Pro Wrestling: Yume no Dantai Unei! [Final Fire Pro Wrestling: Organization of Dreams {Final Fire Pro Wrestling: Dream Organization Management}]) --ed]? And where, possibly, would Ken Shamrock, whose name hasn't been mentioned publicly but it would make sense would be in the hunt for something like this, still under a WWF contract but wants to do this style fighting next year, fit into all this. We know feelers have been sent but that nothing is close to confirmed. A Gracie vs. Shamrock first round match, long been thought to be impossible to put together, would make for an incredibly marketable match if it's bracketed that way and with the Dome to fill, they'll need more than just 16 fighters in a tournament. WWF officials were told that DSE wants to move away from the shoot style and get into promoting pro wrestling, which probably tells you what you need to know about the profit margin or lack thereof on recent shows, with the feeling that market is ripe for WWF style with its expanded television line-up in the country and the traditional Japanese styles promoted by All Japan and New Japan now faltering at the gate.

Six matches have been announced for the 11/21 show headlined by Kerr vs. Enson Inoue (who are facing off as the main eventers on all the print ads for the show), Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royler Gracie, Alexander Otsuka vs. Renzo Gracie, Mark Coleman vs. Ricardo Morais, Carl Malenko vs. Allan Goes and Daijiro Matsui vs. Vanderlei Silva. They are also looking for an opponent for Ogawa as a match to sell tickets.

Kerr vs. Inoue matches up top ranked experienced heavyweights, with Inoue's 90 second win over former UFC champ Randy Couture showing he's dangerous against a world class wrestler. Sakuraba vs. Royler, as mentioned last week, is a strange match since Royler is probably pound-for-pound the best fighter in the family, but at 147 pounds, facing 190-pound Sakuraba who is considered by many to be the Japanese version of Frank Shamrock, it's a situation that's almost a no-win for the Japanese fighter. There may be some special rules involved, including the idea of longer rounds (15 minutes as opposed to the usual 10 minutes). Otsuka, who weighs about 205, the Battlarts pro wrestler who made a name for himself in this world when he outlasted an exhausted Marco Ruas, is facing a 185-pounder who is unbeaten under MMA rules. Coleman vs. Morais would be a classic match for the United States because they are two huge physiques, but would have less marketability in Japan. Coleman, a 245-pound powerhouse wrestler who looked unbeatable in his early UFC matches before opponents learned to take advantage of his stamina problems which caused him three straight losses, faces an imposing looking 6-8, 270-pound Brazilian monster whose only MMA loss was to wrestler Grom Zaza of RINGS where he was taken down and basically unable to escape from the bottom against a world class wrestler. Morais will be taken down, but is very tough mentally in regards to not quitting (he had his ankle broken in a match with Tra Telligman earlier this year, failed to tap out and came back to win) and has come from behind several times, while Coleman has never won a match that went more than 11:00 but never lost a match for any reason other than getting tired first. Goes is a highly regarded Jiu Jitsu star with a Brazilian background who gave Sakuraba his toughest test to date in the Pride rings in a slow-moving 30:00 match which saw Goes use a lot of stalling tactics to frustrate his Japanese foe, and faces a Battlarts pro wrestler who is one of the most underrated exciting workers in the business, but as a shooter, has won and lost rather boring time limit decisions on the two most recent Pride shows. Matsui, who started as a pro wrestler under Takada, is a decent prelim fighter but would be a heavy underdog against Silva."

November 1, 1999:

"It now looks more questionable as to whether or not Royce Gracie will do the Pride tournament in January. Apparently he's claiming there are too many rules and in particular he doesn't want to fight with time limits." [Helio's. Whiny. Kids. -- ed.]


"Mark Coleman is training at the Obake Gym (the same Atlanta area gym owned by Bill Goldberg) for his 11/21 Pride match against Ricardo Morais. Among his trainers is Robby Rage of the former WCW High Voltage tag team who has a reputation as being a very tough guy."

November 8, 1999:

"Dream Stage Entertainment released a statement claiming that they are not interested in switching their promotion to a pro wrestling worked format and are looking instead to go in the other direction to an all-shoot format (which sounds like an admission they've done worked matches in the past which everyone knows they have). The amazing thing is this statement was released one day before its President, Naoto Morishita left for the United States to meet with Victor Quinones and Jim Ross of the WWF and about promoting WWF pro wrestling shows.

They've added a Frank Trigg vs. Fabiano Iha match for the 11/21 Pride show at Yokohama Arena."

November 15, 1999:

"Once again, the proposed Mark Kerr vs. Enson Inoue match on a Pride show won't be taking place.

The main event on the Pride 8 show on 11/21 at the Tokyo Ariake Coliseum (mistakenly listed here as the Yokohama Arena) was canceled when Kerr pulled out of the match citing health problems [drug overdoes are a kind of health problem certainly --ed]. This confirmed rumors circulating all week that Kerr was pulling out of the match for various reasons. According to a report in Full Contact Fighter the unbeaten heavyweight who up until the controversial Igor Vovchanchin match (which was a no contest when Vovchanchin knocked him out through usage of a two hard knees to the head, which were in violation of the Pride rules and thus hours after the match ended the result was changed from a win for Vovchanchin to a no contest), was ranked No. 1 in the world in virtually every poll, was recently near death. This was blamed in the story on a bad reaction to medication taken for injuries suffered in his match with Vovchanchin two months ago, and hadn't recovered sufficiently. At press time, there was no word on a replacement opponent for Inoue.

Kerr vs. Inoue had already been booked twice this year. The first time Inoue pulled out over an injury. The second time, Kerr pulled out due to elbow surgery a few weeks before the match.

The 11/21 show figured to be a difficult ticket seller to start with, as Pride was promoting a big show without a pro wrestling superstar (Nobuhiko Takada or Naoya Ogawa) as a draw. While Pride consists of a vast majority of shoot matches, its biggest crowds have been composed of primarily pro wrestling fans drawn by Takada, whose main events have been both works (which he's mainly won) and shoots (all of which he's lost).

While Dream Stage Entertainment has not announced this in Japan, The RAW (Real American Wrestling) team announced on 11/8 that Tom Erikson would face Gary Goodridge on the Pride show. Erikson, a former U.S. superheavyweight freestyle wrestling champion, is unbeaten in Vale Tudo rules matches including a scary knockout of current UFC headliner Kevin Randleman in Brazil a few years back. Erikson is one of those guys that everyone fears and hasn't fought in years, largely because whenever he's booked, promoters have great difficulty finding opponents willing to face him and the matches usually fall through. From a UFC standpoint, they've always shied away from him, not so much on that issue, but because of the belief he's not very marketable and it would be difficult to find someone who could beat him. Erikson is older now and didn't win the U.S. nationals the past two years, with Stephen Neal now considered the best superheavyweight in freestyle in the country. In addition, Frank Trigg, a national calibre wrestler who is unbeaten in NHB including a win over highly touted BJJ expert Jean Jacques Machado, faces Fabiano Iha on the 11/21 show. All of this was expected to be announced officially at a Pride press conference scheduled for mid-week."


"It was officially announced that Naoya Ogawa won't be in the Pride Eight show on 11/21 at Yokohama Arena. The cover story they are giving is that Ogawa said since he couldn't get a match with either Nobuhiko Takada or Rickson Gracie, he wasn't interested in fighting there."

November 22, 1999:

In which Dave addresses further complexities of the work/shoot spectrum:

"Like last year, we need to clarify categories as to the term shooting. We have categories specifically for actual competitive matches, Shoot Fighter of the year and Shoot match of the year. All UFC, Pride, MMA, Pancrase and legitimate RINGS (as opposed to worked RINGS) matches are eligible for the shoot awards. Consideration for Shoot fighter of the year should be based entirely on participation and results of legitimate matches during the time frame and nothing else. Performance in shoot matches can be taken into consideration if relevant for the Wrestler of the Year award, since that award encompasses the entire pro wrestling world. That top award is for overall excellence in whatever craft your company is presenting and value to the promotion over the past year. However, Most Outstanding Wrestler is an award for the best worker, which inherently means anything that takes place during a shoot match is ineligible. There are people who do worked and shoot matches and could qualify for this award, but in that case, only their worked matches should be considered. Best Box Office draw is self explanatory adn work vs. shoot doesn't matter and anyone is eligible. Feud, Tag Team and Most Improved (since it's a working award) are all having to do with working and thus anything in a shoot shouldn't be taken into consideration. Best on Interviews has nothing to do with working or shooting although I can't imagine any non-workers being considered. Most Charismatic is open to everyone. Best technical wrestler and Bruiser Brody Award are meant within a worked environment, as are Most Overrated and Most Underrated. Best Promotion is open to everyone. Best Weekly TV is irrelevant to this discussion because at this point no shoot promotions have weekly TV. Match of the Year is open only to worked matches because shoot matches have their own category and it's unfair to compare one with the other. Rookie of the Year is open to anyone in the pro wrestling world as are TV announcers, and Best and Worst major cards, so shoot shows are eligible. The shoot awards should only be for performers who did shooting matches this year, and not for people like Ken Shamrock who have in the past but haven't this year."


"At this point it appears that with Mark Kerr pulling out of the Pride Eight show that Enson Inoue won't be fighting on the show. The Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royler Gracie match has been moved to the main event slot. There is a lot of controversy going into the match with reports that Gracie is trying to make massive changes in the rules due to the size differential (Sakuraba is about 190 pounds while Gracie is about 150). There are a lot of reports about what the changes he wants are but it appears he wants the elimination of rounds and it just be a 30 minute match with no judges but that he be awarded the win, because he's so much smaller, in the event the match goes to the time limit. There may be also modifications, some of which may be fairly serious, of the current Pride rules for this match. Alexander Otsuka, who faces Renzo Gracie on the show, has said during the match he's going to honor Rikidozan by doing Rikidozan chops. Sakuraba did something similar on the last show saying he was going to honor Billy Robinson, who coached him at one point, by doing a double-arm suplex, but that move is easier said than done in a shoot situation. Francisco Bueno, a top rated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu heavyweight, faces Igor Vovchanchin in a match just announced for this week's Pride show."


"A second meeting with Naoto Morishita of Dream Stage Entertainment and the WWF is scheduled for 11/30 in Anaheim, CA. At this point what they are discussing would be producing a WWF show for the Tokyo Dome in either June or October, probably on a Friday night. DSE would build a "Raw is War" like stage for the show and probably bill it as "Raw is War" so it would look to Japanese fans like the show they see on television. There is still no deal close to finalization. DSE wants WWF to send them someone like Kurt Angle to make a personal appearance at the 11/21 Pride show or send some people to the 1/30 Pride show to basically show the Japanese public they are involved in some form with the WWF to start building interest, although at this point no plans are for anyone to attend the shows yet."

November 29, 1999:

"A pro wrestler who grew up idolizing the original Tiger Mask became arguably the biggest name in martial arts by becoming the first person to score a decisive victory over a Gracie in Vale Tudo competition.

Kazushi Sakuraba, 30, who started as a pro wrestler in Nobuhiko Takada's UWFI, defeated Royler Gracie with what is known in Japan as a Kimura armlock [noooooooooooooooooope, but we have discussed this --ed.] (it's called the V-1 armlock in New Japan, chicken wing in the United States and double wristlock in old-time catch wrestling [also in Fire Pro -- ed.] from the days of it being a hookers' move in the Strangler Lewis era) in about 29:00 of a 30:00 match in the main event of the Dream Stage Entertainment Pride Eight Japanese PPV show on 11/21 at the Tokyo Ariake Coliseum before a reported sellout crowd of 10,036. The move is basically an entangled armlock, named after Masahiko Kimura, a former World Judo champion and later a pioneer Japanese pro wrestler who had legendary matches against the likes of Royler's father Helio (beating him clean in a stadium show in Rio de Janiero, Brazil with the same move in 12:00 on October 23, 1951 in a similar situation as Kimura had about a 50 pound weight advantage in the match [bulllllllllllllllllllshit, no one remotely credible has ever suggested a fifty pound weight-difference, Dave, you are "falling for it" here buddy --ed.]) and later a pro wrestling match with Rikidozan (where Rikidozan double-crossed him and beat the hell out of him, making his legend by doing so).

The sellout--a first for DSE--indicates the group is finally recognized at least in Japan as the premier Vale Tudo promotion in the world, as the UFC Japan show one week earlier didn't draw well. It was reported as having a strong walk up, which most are attributing to the interest garnered in the main event in the week before the match with the Gracie camp's attempt to make changes in the rules, which Japanese fans saw as concern and an acknowledgement Sakuraba had a good shot at winning. In reality, Sakuraba had little shot at losing, and the game was whether or not Gracie would be able to survive the time limit for the draw. But Sakuraba became the first Japanese wrestler who proved he could both headline a successful major show and do a true shoot match. We should have a more detailed report on the show either in next week's issue or the following after viewing a videotape of the PPV.

Some tickets early were sold based on the Mark Kerr vs. Enson Inoue match, which fell through, moving the Sakuraba match to the main event. Even though Sakuraba had a huge size advantage and came one minute shy of it being a draw, the place went crazy for the first time a Japanese fighter ever beat a member of the Gracie family.

There was little doubt that Sakuraba, ranked alongside Frank Shamrock as the best under-200 pound fighter in the world, would hammer the much smaller Gracie. The question is if he'd be able to finish him. There were a lot of rule changes attempted in the weeks leading to the match, but the end result was a compromise of going to two 15 minute rounds, but if there was no decisive winner, the match wouldn't go to a decision but would instead be declared a draw. That compromise was reached in the days leading to the fight and was in the newspapers the day before the show, but fans booed the announcement of no judges in the event of the time limit when it was said before the match. The Gracies had tried to get it to where if the match went the time limit that Gracie, because he was giving up so much weight, would be given the decision, but that wasn't agreed to.

Sakuraba, who fights at about 190 pounds, probably had about a 40-pound weight edge on Royler, who had previously been tapped out once with an ankle lock in pure Jiu Jitsu competition against an even bigger 215-pound Mario Sperry. Royler is actually the best in the family as far as competition record against world class competition in his sport holding numerous legitimate world championships in his weight division. Sakuraba had superior stand-up and there was little chance of Gracie taking him down. The fight figured to be boring, with Gracie laying on his back to stall for the time limit. Gracie, at the weight of 147 pounds, had beaten Sakuraba's stablemate, Yuhi Sano, at about 220 pounds, in a 26:00 match by tapping him out. Sano, at one time a major star in pro wrestling, was a poor real fighter.

Sakuraba pounded on Gracie standing until Gracie dropped to his back. Sakuraba, who has plenty of experience in this situation where Jiu Jitsu stars Allan Goes and Vitor Belfort both laid on their back against him to stall out time. With Goes, Sakuraba couldn't figure out how to counter the stalling, but the second time it was tried, with Belfort, Sakuraba came in with the answers. Sakuraba leg kicked Gracie to death, turning his legs an ugly shade of purple until the round ended.

In the second round, Sakuraba dominated with punches and kicks, including catching Gracie with a high kick to the face that knocked him down and even copied his idol Sayama doing a spinning back kick, or in pro wrestling terms, the old Tiger Mask rolling savate. Gracie took tremendous punishment before Sakuraba got the submission lock. It was apparently a very dramatic finish, as Sakuraba had Gracie caught, but it was clear he wasn't going to tap even though he was in tremendous pain. The doctor told Rickson Gracie, his second, to throw in the towel, but they had the mentality they'd rather the arm was broken than suffer a defeat in this style of competition. Finally, with the fear the arm was about to be, if not already was broken, an outside referee stopped the match. From virtually all accounts, the stoppage wasn't considered controversial, and the crowd celebrated the win like crazy as the show ended. Sakuraba challenged Rickson after the match, which may at this point almost force Rickson, who turned 40 on the day his younger brother was defeated, to either test his mythical laurels against a real fighter in modern Vale Tudo or make an even stronger statement by not agreeing to the match. If he doesn't, and it's clear that a Rickson vs. Sakuraba match would be a big draw in any Tokyo building except the big Dome, it would be an ironic turnaround. Several years back, after Rickson had destroyed Yoji Anjoh, when the big UWFI star, Nobuhiko Takada, failed to gain revenge for his undercard wrestler and fight Rickson, it was one of the reasons Takada's reputation and myth took a lot of questioning. By the time they finally did the match, years later, Takada's reputation had taken a beating and it was trying to revive something from the dead which in reality never was. Years later, it's Takada's protege beating a Gracie, and now Rickson is either in the exact position Takada was, or Rickson, unlike Takada, is something closely resembling his carefully manufactured reputation.

In a seminar after the match, Rickson and Royler Gracie claimed Sakuraba had no warrior spirit because he refused to engage on the ground (read that, when Sakuraba was pounding him standing and he laid down, Sakuraba kicked at his legs when he wouldn't get up) and that Sakuraba's punches didn't hurt. [He refused to engage on the ground! Until he did! And then mangled up Royler's arm! Oh, brother! --ed.]

The Gracie family ended up splitting two matches against Japanese pro wrestlers. Renzo Gracie, a first cousin of Royler and Rickson, defeated Alexander Otsuka of Battlarts via decision after they went the 20:00 time limit. Otsuka, who had continued to do pro wrestling matches as late as five days before the show, scored a huge upset and made himself a huge name beating a blown up Brazilian legend Marco Ruas last year. The reality of that match was that Otsuka was getting pounded on until Ruas, who claimed he was ill, simply blew up and at that point could no longer fight and took a beating before deciding against coming out for the third round. There were some mind games coming into this fight as Gracie demanded that Otsuka get down to 85 kilograms (187 pounds) for the fight and when Otsuka first weighed in, he was 92.8 kilos (204.2 pounds). He had to cut 18 pounds a few days before the fight to make weight.

The other currently active pro wrestler on the show, Carl Malenko of Battlarts, lost via submission to a head and arm triangle against Goes. The opener pitted Daijiro Matsui, who started his sports career as pro wrestler Shunsuke Matsui in the Kingdom promotion, although he hasn't done pro wrestling of late, losing to Brazilian Vanderlei Silva via decision in a one-sided bloody match.

Earlier in the show, DSE officials came to the ring with a championship belt and talked about its planned tournament to create a World champion which starts on 1/30 at the Tokyo Dome, announcing Sakuraba, Royce Gracie (who has independently confirmed signing a contract to compete in this tournament), Naoya Ogawa (who said last week that he's not interested in fighting in a tournament), Takada (his participation already puts that in question), Igor Vovchanchin (generally considered the top rated heavyweight in the world), Mark Kerr and Ricardo Morais as participants. The idea is to have eight singles matches on this show, with the final eight going into a one-night Tokyo Dome tournament similar to the famous Ultimate Ultimate shows of the past, scheduled for late March or early April at the Dome.

DSE officials were unable to get a guest appearance by a WWF performer for this show.

1. Silva beat Matsui via decision after they went the 20:00 time limit. Silva gave Matsui a beating but couldn't finish him. Matsui bled a lot from above the eye, and was hit throughout with a barrage of kicks, punches and elbows.

2. Frank Trigg, a former U.S. Olympic team hopeful in amateur wrestling who has looked very impressive in Vale Tudo, beat Fabiano Iha in a very quick match. Trigg pounded Iha standing and the ref stopped the fight after he stunned him with a hard punch.

3. Goes beat Malenko (Carl Ognibene) in 9:16 with a head and arm triangle submission. Goes took Malenko down at the bell and dominated the match.

4. Mark Coleman beat Ricardo Morais in what was described as a boring 20:00 decision. Coleman was totally dominant against the 6-8 3/4, 273 pound Brazilian monster looking guy. Coleman was able to take Morais down three times in the fight and mainly keep him on the ground. Coleman while on top, conserved energy and even though he went 20:00, didn't appear to tire as he's done in the past, winning his first match after three consecutive legitimate (Maurice Smith, Pete Williams and Pedro Rizzo) defeats all of which could be blamed on his tiring at the end (he also had a worked loss to Takada in Pride).

5. Tom Erikson won a unanimous decision over Gary Goodridge after the 20:00 time limit expired. Erikson, a World class freestyle wrestler who has never lost in Vale Tudo competition including obliterating current UFC heavyweight champ Kevin Randleman in two minutes via knockout. Goodridge scored with some punches and knees but most of the match saw him kept grounded by Erikson's superior wrestling. This was said to be a brutal match as far as hard blows landing, but overall not that exciting.

6. Igor Vovchanchin knocked out Francisco Bueno of Brazil with a left and two rights within about one minute of the first round. The right that knocked Bueno cold was said to be one of the most savage punches in MMA history.

7. Renzo Gracie beat Otsuka (Takashi Otsuka) via unanimous decision after 20:00. Otsuka started strong, taking Gracie down and getting the mount. At one point, with him standing and Gracie down, Gracie connected on a kick to the nose (similar to the kick he used to knock out Oleg Taktarov) which appeared to break Otsuka's nose. In the second round Otsuka was able to get a mount again and was punching the stomach. Gracie nearly got an armlock two minutes in, and at this point it appeared Otsuka blew up first. Gracie was able to dominate the rest of the round, including suplex Otsuka and nearly got an armlock again.

8. Sakuraba beat Royler Gracie with an entangled armlock in approximately 29:00 of a 30:00 time limit match."

December 5, 1999:

"There was a big pro wrestling angle this past week at the Dream Stage Entertainment press conference to announce its 1/30 Tokyo Dome show. They announced the tournament with the names already listed here. About 50 minutes into the press conference, Naoya Ogawa, "arrived late" throwing a tantrum (this is all pro wrestling from this point on). Ogawa challenged Nobuhiko Takada to a singles match (they need a match like that for a Dome show with a big angle). Ogawa said how the newspapers were already reporting the match taking place but that DSE hasn't told him. President Naohito Morishita announced that they would book Ogawa vs. Takada as a first round tournament match but then Ogawa would have to enter the tournament, which he said he didn't want to. Ogawa again said he wasn't interested in doing the tournament and attacked Takada with flowers until Igor Vovchanchin, Gary Goodridge and Kazunari Murakami all broke it up. Morishita after this again said they wanted Ogawa in the tournament. Helio Gracie, the father of Rickson, Royler and Royce and Brazilian fighting legend, was at the press conference and talked about Royler's loss to Kazushi Sakuraba, actually running down Sakuraba saying that the match shouldn't have been stopped as Royler could have held on for the last minute, and said he didn't consider it a great accomplishment to take 29 minutes to beat a man 20 kilos (44 pounds) lighter, saying he, at his age (he's 87) could still beat a man 20 kilos lighter."

December 12, 1999:

Christmas comes early as DAVE GETS TAPE:


11/21 DREAM STAGE ENTERTAINMENT: This was the Pride Eight PPV show from the Tokyo Ariake Coliseum, the first sellout in the history of the promotion. It wasn't that spectacular, but the main event, because of its historical nature, made it probably the best show in company history. For action and being a competitive match, the main event wasn't the match of the year, but for impact and probable long-term history, it may have been the most significant match this year. It is being reported in the martial arts press that this was the third straight profitable show for DSE, but that may not be the case. When Naohito Morishita had the meeting with WWF, they were talking to WWF as if they want to get out of the real fight business because of so many expenses in flying in and housing not only fighters, but also their entourage. 1. Vanderlei Silva beat Daijiro Matsui via unanimous decision after 20:00. In the first round, Silva blocked a take down and got on top and threw a few weak punches. Matsui got to his feet, which wasn't good because Silva was the superior stand-up fighter. Silva bloodied his nose, hitting him with solid shots. Silva got more shots in, cutting him over the left eye, bloodying him worse. Matsui, who was all bloody, let it all hang out and they had a good slugfest standing at the end of the round, but Matsui couldn't hang with him. Matsui took him down into his guard. Silva got a mount and was pounding him, and kicked him hard when he was down. As he got up, Silva rocked him badly with a high kick at the end of the round. In the second round, Silva got on top but went for a choke 2:30 in and Matsui reversed him, with Silva holding guard and actually scoring more from the bottom. Matsui got a solid shot in on Silva's right eye which was cut and almost swollen shut by the end of the match. Matsui deserves a lot of credit for hanging in against an opponent with far more firepower. Good opener; 2. Frank Trigg beat Fabiano Iha in 4:59. This was American wrestler vs. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Iha caught Trigg in a triangle choke but Trigg actually gave him a short power bomb like move to power out. Trigg got some solid punches in from the top, then more punches and knees. Trigg hit him with a flurry in the corner and the ref stopped the match; 3. Allan Goes beat Carl Malenko in 9:16. This was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu vs. American pro wrestling. After dominating the stand-up, Goes got the top position on the ground at 4:00. He went for an armbar, but got reversed. Malenko got a mount but couldn't do anything as Goes was able to push off with his legs and keep distance and stand-up. Goes then took him down again, and clamped on an over-and-under choke for the tap. This wasn't a good spectator match as Goes mostly dominated him on the ground; 4. Mark Coleman beat Ricardo Morais via unanimous decision after 20:00. Coleman physically looked different from his UFC days. He no longer looked like a bodybuilder nor freakish. And he also didn't get tired in this match. In the first round, Coleman kept his distance and got a take-down at 3:00 and Morais got guard. Morais got away once but Coleman took him down right away. Coleman mostly held him down until the end of the round, connecting with a few body and head shots. In the second round, Coleman took him down immediately. Coleman tried a neck lock several times and threw a few punches. He kept going for a neck lock. He got a full mount and threw a few punches from that position but mainly kept Morais on his back the rest of the fight. A boring spectator fight; 5. Tom Erikson beat Gary Goodridge via unanimous decision after 20:00. This fight was almost identical to the previous one. Erikson isn't at all pretty to watch, nor does he have a pretty body [how dare you -- ed.], but he's this huge guy who is just too strong for probably anyone except a world class wrestler. They had an exciting start both going all out throwing punches and kicks. Erikson actually more than held his own with Goodridge just on superior size and power as his punching technique looked awful, but it's a 290-pound guy who can move throwing. He got a mount and punched away till Goodridge got the guard. Erikson still pounded on him a lot. Goodridge tried a choke from the bottom but Erikson broke it quickly. Erikson's punches gave Goodridge a bloody nose, and he threw some more punches from the top at the end of the round. In the second round, Erikson took him down again. Goodridge got some decent shots in from the bottom and held guard. Erikson got a few punches in from the top as well. Erikson really didn't win this round by much, but easily won the first round. Except for a few spurts, this was another boring spectator match; 6. Igor Vovchanchin killed Francisco Bueno dead in 1:24. He crushed him with a right, and connected on a second punch to Bueno as he was on the way down. This was devastating; 7. Renzo Gracie won a unanimous decision over Alexander Otsuka after 20:00. Otsuka took Gracie down first which got a big pop, and threw some body blows. Gracie threw a really good kick from the bottom while laying on his back which opened up a forehead cut that Otsuka had taped up from a recent pro wrestling match. Otsuka was back on top but in the guard. Gracie had him all tied up in the guard. After they got up, Gracie dominated standing with leg kicks and Otsuka took him down again. Even though Otsuka got two or three clean take downs, Gracie still won the round. Otsuka took him down again in the second round and was bleeding all over the place, both his pro wrestling forehead cut being opened and also from a bloody nose. Gracie nearly got an armbar but Otsuka escaped and they ended up in a scramble with Gracie getting on top. Otsuka got an escape with two minutes left and Gracie threw him with a really cool looking back suplex and held him down until the finish. 8. Kazushi Sakuraba beat Royler Gracie in 28:17 of a 30:00 time limit match. Sakuraba was announced at 193 pounds [183 lbs -- ed.] and Gracie at 151. Gracie did absolutely nothing on offense the entire match, with his entire strategy apparently being to stall out the time limit since there would be no judges decision at his camp's late insistence. Fans booed the announcement of no judges for this match and booed Gracie heavily. The match was super drama, not that it was a great fight because it was one-sided and really a battle against the clock more than anything, but the heat was intense. Gracie shot in immediately but Sakuraba blocked it and Gracie held him in a guard and neutralized him for several minutes. Sakuraba escaped from the guard at 3:40 and both were on their feet. Gracie tried another take down, Sakuraba caught him coming in with a knee which stunned him and gave him good position on the ground. The place went nuts. Sakuraba threw some good punches before Gracie got a guard, but Sakuraba got away. Gracie laid on his back at 5:30. Sakuraba was standing and Gracie laid on his back. Sakuraba started kicking at Gracie's right leg, then left leg, then he connected with a hell of a head kick. Gracie deserves credit for not quitting at that point. The head kick made him decide to stand up at 6:50. Sakuraba kicked him in the stomach and Gracie stumbled. Sakuraba threw a good punch and Gracie decided it was best to lay on his back as he dropped at 7:45. Gracie looked really concerned, seeing there was nothing he could do and he had 22 minutes of torture left. Sakuraba kept throwing leg kicks. His right leg was all bruised up. This continued with Sakuraba gaining confidence. By the end of the first 15:00 round, Gracie's right thigh and shin were discolored. In the second round, Sakuraba snuck in a knee, delivered a good right to the head and a leg lick. Sakuraba knocked Gracie down with a high kick at 2:10. Sakuraba continued throwing leg kicks until Gracie got up. Sakuraba kicked him, then made him stagger with a punch at 4:05. Gracie tried to shoot, but with no legs, Sakuraba easily avoided it. He tried a high kick but Gracie blocked it. Sakuraba continued with kicks to the body and legs before doing a spin kick, as a tribute to his childhood idol Tiger Mask doing as close to a rolling savate as you can do in a real fight. Sakuraba knocked him down again after a kick to his bad right leg. Gracie went to his back again 9:10 into the round. At this point Sakuraba went down with him and tried to finish him. He went first for a straight armbar but couldn't get it perfect. He then maneuvered the arm into a chicken wing at 12:00. Gracie was trapped at this point. Sakuraba really bent his arm up to the point it looked sick and Gracie was crying in pain. It appeared Sakuraba had him but didn't want to hurt him, and Gracie wasn't going to tap. Sakuraba it certainly appeared could have torn out his shoulder with the hold but wanted someone to stop the fight before he injured the guy, which is how the Japanese were taught [that's a weird end to that sentence -- ed.]. Finally at 13:17 of the round, a referee at ringside ordered the match stopped. Royler and Rickson were furious it was stopped. The crowd exploded. Realistically they should have been thankful Sakuraba was trained as a sportsman and all the cries from the Jiu Jitsu camp about a home town decision and early stoppage are a joke. He wasn't getting out of the hold and he wasn't going to last another 1:43 without serious damage because he wasn't going to tap and his brother wasn't going to throw in the towel. They were clearly going to trade a torn up shoulder for the "glory" in the future of saying he lasted 30:00 with one of the two best fighters in the world and giving up 42 pounds, even though he was risking his career. This psychology may sound noble to a pro wrestling fan brought up on tapping is for prelim and mid-card guys, but in the real world what glory is there in stupidity? The Gracies should have been sportsmen enough to admit Sakuraba beat him, especially since Royler got no offense in the entire match, rather than run him down saying his punches didn't hurt and cry about the weight advantage. The reason they took the fight in the first place was because the weight advantage would give them an out if they lost, and they manipulated the rules so their guy just had to stall and not lose and their system is very effective at that game, which is an entirely different tactic as would be used in any kind of combat sports competition, because judges would negate the stalling tactic. And their strategy almost worked. When it didn't, they really look bad complaining."

YES DAVE THANK YOU IT WAS AN ABYSMAL SHOWING IN THAT REGARD and frankly has undone at least a portion of the goodwill in my heart after Rickson Gracie was so nice at the seminar I was kindly invited to attend (thanks again everybody! [Rickson really was very nice]). "This kind of carrying on; can you believe it; the nerve of some people," is really how I feel as Pride's 1999 draws to a close and we look towards PRIDE GRANDPRIX 2000 決勝戦(プライドグランプリにせん けっしょうせん) which will surely be quite a time! I am considering doing a PRIDE GRANDPRIX 2000 決勝戦(プライドグランプリにせん けっしょうせん)MEGA-POST covering (in one great big go) both the January and May shows, which I believe, if added together, had a total running time of like a thousand hours. We shall see! Until that time I thank you once more fore your attention to these matters and wish you all the best.