Saturday, January 19, 2019


シリーズ PRIDE(ナンバーシリーズ)
主催 DSE
会場 名古屋レインボーホール
入場者数 7,565人

IF THE BRUSH IS INDEED THE SWORD OF THE MIND AS 沢庵 宗彭 TAKUAN SО̄HО̄ SEEMS TO HAVE MAYBE SAID AT SOME POINT BEFORE HE SKETCHED 夢 (yume, "dream") UPON THE EARTH AT HIS DEATH LET US TURN OUR STROKES TOWARDS PRIDE.5(プライド・ファイブ)I MEAN WHY NOT and the astutemost amongst you will perhaps have noticed already in the little header or frontis-bit at the top of this post that the promoters of this our most beloved Fighting Championship are no longer the 格闘技レボリューション・スピリッツ / Kakutōgi reboryūshon supirittsu / Kakutōgi Revolution Spirits (which we may humbly abbreviate to KRS) that have thus far shaped our encounter but are instead now the ドリームステージエンターテインメント / Dorīmu sutēji entāteinmento / Dream Stage Entertainment or DSE that, wherever it is we're going, will take us the rest of the way. That all happened pretty quickly, didn't it! I don't know why but I thought it was KRS for way longer than this; that I have been proven once more a fool is, though, ultimately unremarkable. Will this organizational change occasioned by shady doings prove the spur of valiant and magnanimous deeds? Or will it come to but dusty nothing? Or maybe kind of both, like a lot of things? Keep it locked very much right here to TK Scissors for the next like five years or so as we sort of find out together but mostly just hang! (In fellowship.)     

The Nagoya City General Gymnasium  愛知県名古屋市 is not an especially vast general gymnasium and I am not entirely convinced it is, on this night, an especially full one either as spotlights flit around and the curtain concealing the (frankly very beautiful) ring is lifted high. Our first bout is between Egan Inoue, a literal two-time World Champion of Racquetball (1986, 1990) and very fine græppler, against Minoru Toyonaga, who is known to us already in these pages, though only fleetingly. RINGS 6/24/99: RISE 4th occasioned this brief sketch:  

Next we have Yasuhito Namekawa, whose work is always high level, against Minoru Toyonaga, who I believe to be new to us here? As new as the New Japan Pro Wrestling white and red ringer t-shirt on a young fellow maybe four or five rows back. I have the same shirt! It was a gift from my wife! It is so timeless and pure! Toyonaga loses here by mae-hadaka-jime front choke in 9:51 but again this match was trimmed with great severity. Let's see what we can find out about him real quick, okay he was a Takada Dojo fighter who had previously lost to Daisuke Ishii and Kosei Kubota in Pancrase, and Egan Inoue in Pride; he would go on, after this, to defeat Daisuke Ishii and even beat Genki Sudo in Pancrase before losing to Ikuhisa Minowa, and that was it for his professional kakutogi career as a fighter however he became a very notable referee! You can see him here bearing mute witness to the horrors of Quinton Jackson's 抱上 daki-age (hugging lift or super literally "hug up," I think; please do not hesitate to correct me) of Ricardo Arona (everyone look away):

I don't want to armchair-omote-sankaku-jime here (of course I do), but at a certain point you've got to ease off on your omote-sankaku-jime, right? You don't want to get into a position where you're throwing good omote-sankaku-jime after bad, do you? Anyway R.I.P. daki-age, recently deleted from the Kodokan's list of officially recognized techniques, but you lasted on the syllabus for like the better part of a century after you were first made illegal for shiai or randori. 

Confirming at least part of this, Toyonaga is shown in pre-match training footage to be working ever-so-lightly with Nobuhiko Takada, and confirming another part, he totally loses to Egan Inoue, as indicated above. A fine little match, though, in that, at 5:53, it afforded us ample time to consider the lovely life Egan's brother Enson seems to be leading in Hawaii with his dogs and the jewelry he makes with beads. May all the Inoues be well! Toyonaga does well to escape from some bad positions against a a strong opponent before Yuji Shimada rightly calls the whole thing off due to hitting. Egan, I would note in closing, looked suuuuuuper juuuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiced for this one.

本間 聡 Honma Satoshi, a handsome SHOOTO karateka we met one Pride ago, now faces Francisco Bueno, an enormously plausible fighter name, one that might jump out at you a little because he is the guy that gets just revolting punched by Igor Vovchanchyn a few Prides from now, and maybe you half-remember that. Oh no Honma has a new haircut and he's nowhere near as handsome! It's just hair though; it'll grow back (until it doesn't). Bueno, though a little shorter than Honma, carries many more pounds and also seemingly much more back-acne atop his stout frame. Despite a fairly tame start to the match, Honma's knee is turning purple only a minute or two in due in no small measure to Bueno's kicks to it. Knee kicks do not seem nice! I have never cared for it when Jon Jones does those! After a wild exchange of totally stupid flailing punches, Honma is down and that's it at 4:59. My copy of this show runs less than two hours and I can see why! 

小路晃 Akira Shoji, once again cornered by the once again elfin 宇野薫 Kaoru Uno, is for some reason in against Igor Vovchanchyn in our next bout and frankly I am worried about it. Shoji recently (1999-recently) stopped Wallid Ismael with strikes, you will perhaps recall, and he has also gone the distance against Renzo Gracie, and though those are both fine showings, neither offered anything to suggest that Akira Shoji will not get RUSSIAN HOOK'd (for that is its Fire Pro name) unto ruin and despair. This is a battle of the deeply stout: neither is any taller than 5'8", and neither lighter than 200 lbs (Igor is listed at like 230, and Shoji's listed weight of 194 seems to me so absurd that I have chosen to ignore it). Shoji benefits tremendously from an unusually cautious start from Vovochanchyn in that, while Shoji for sure lost the round, he continues to walk among us. In the second, Vovchanchyn hucks Shoji to the mat and follows him there into 胸固 mune-gatame ("chest hold" -- if one googles the kanji, one is returned, largely, images of undergarments for ladies), and Stephen Quadros is of the view that this is pretty much where Akira Shoji wants him but I don't think that's true; I think, on the contrary, Akira Shoji is concerned he will be hit from there. And so he scrambles out and up to his feet, yes, there you go. Shoji's left eye doesn't look so great as we get deeper into the second round but, again, it is wild that any part of him is ok right now. With seconds to go Shoji opens up and swings just wildly to try to finish strong I guess and as soon as he does, like as soon as he does, Vovchanchyn pops him one and sends Shoji reeling very much to His Seat. A clear decision win for Vovchanchyn! Another miracle performance for Akira Shoji! Everyone should feel good about how they did.


Our enjoyment of Soichi Nishida's pants is immediately compromised though when Stephen Quadros characterizes them as "kind of like East L.A. meets ninjutsu!" and this is not the first time Quadros has gotten weird about race . . . for our entertainment? Unfortunately for both Soichi Nishida's pants and the man they encompass, Enson Inoue (a two-time racquetball world champion's brother) is super legit and puts him down with a punch straightaway and applies the naked strangle of 裸絞 hadaka-jime and that is that in a mere twenty-four seconds and speaking of seconds it seems Enson was seconded in this bout by his dog:

It has honestly never occurred to me to bring one's pet along for one's martial endeavours but maybe that is because my pet is Doris, the noblest but also perhaps the shyest cat, seen here in this recent photo taken whilst acting as my second during the recording of synthjamz (she offers no real input into them structurally but I appreciate her company very much):

Just as I was about to say that there really hasn't been all that much happening so far in this PRIDE.5(プライド・ファイブ)but that "w
e turn not back the silks upon the merchant

when we have soil'd them" so what can you do, who should enter the ring bearing flowers for both Royler and Rickson Gracie but 小川 直也 OGAWA NAOYA who will of course come to figure prominently in these pages in but a few short Prides (perhaps even in the next Pride? let me check okay yes in the very next Pride!). 

I don't want to get too far ahead of things but the gargantuan cultural fact of Ogawa must be dealt with in at least a preliminary sort of way at once, really, and so let me begin by saying that Ogawa was the next great Japanese heavyweight judo player after the peerless 山下 泰裕 Yamashita Yasuhiro: Ogawa won seven titles at the openweight All-Japan Judo Championships (全日本柔道選手権大会 Zennihon jūdō senshuken taikai) (Yamashita had nine!), four World Championships (three openweight, one heavy), three World Championship bronze (two heavy, one open), a fifth-place finish at Atlanta 1996 Olympics but a silver at Barcelona 1992, losing the final to our old friend from Fighting Network RINGS, დავით ხახალეიშვილი, David Khakhaleishvili! Remember him? I am pretty sure their Olympic +95kg final is on youtube . . . it is! 


There is no sound, sadly, on this JUDO VISION upload (remember Judo Vision? before everybody just put everything on youtube [I include here the IJF, who put just literally everything up on youtube now, and have everything perfectly searchable through the weirdly perfect IJF website, like for example if you wanted to see video of every IJF World Tour match Christa Deguchi has had, say, with every score and shido logged and time-stamped, you would just click, like, here, instead of ordering VCDs of the Olympics or Worlds or All-Japan from Byrd's Judo Shop in Hong Kong for nearly all the money you had in the world and hoping the matches you were most interested in would have made the Japanese television broadcast that had been recorded {no, they had not}], Judo Vision was the best! and it is still a fine youtube account, I am sure, now that it has become only that). HERE WE GO LET'S SEE Ogawa grips left and Khakhaleishvili right so we are in a kenka-yotsu situation here and Ogawa comes out aggressively as hekk but is UCHI-MATA'd (内股'd) right on the edge for a yuko (that was a pretty mighty yuko, you could go higher) which is a score that does not exist anymore though some think it should (not me really!) and some mind that it has been sort of "rounded up" to be waza-ari ("technique exists") but again as I said a moment ago, although parenthetically, not me! Ah okay so this is clipped, this is not the full match; I can accept this. Ogawa is super aggressive in the next big that they show and Khakhaleishvili pretty much just drops to release the heat and I don't know if an unclipped presentation of this match would reveal that he was offered the caution and guidance of shido for that action but he may well have been. The scoreboard now shows that the referee's initial score of yuko on Khakhaleishvili's uchi-mata must have been upgraded to waza-ari by the corner judges and I mention this to you because of how the 小外刈 kosoto-gari (small outer reap) that bordered on 谷落 tani-otoshi (valley drop) that Khakhaleishvili hits in the next moment, which is also awarded waza-ari, then becomes match-ending by means of waza ari awasete ippon which is to say two waza-ari collectively counting for ippon, oh no, Ogawa; Ogawa, oh no. A fun little trip (haha he sure did get tripped!) back to 1992 though, wasn't it!

It occurs to me that this Pride 5 show, falling as it does on April 29th, was on the same day as the 1999 All-Japan Judo Championships. 篠原 信一 Shinichi Shinohara won it that year! A year later he would lose to David Douillet (of the totally playable David Douillet Judo available in pirated PC-game form like a decade ago) in a controversial Sydney 2000 Olympic final that "Bad News" Allen Coage (bronze at Montréal '76, as well you know) got heated up about at his excellent old website, much of which is still available through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The old URL is and I invite you to explore it, but for now I merely wish to share with you this image, indicative of how passionate Allen Coage was on the subject of what he saw as malfeasance:

He uploaded video! That's pretty wild!

What else to say about Ogawa, aside from how he is very, very high-level in 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}]), let's see, well, a twitter user who posts as @KojimasBread did a thread on the subject of Inokiism the other day and, say what you will of the thread in its totality, it is indisputable that it contained worthy things about Naoya Ogawa, and I will share them with you now. Let me be as clear as I am able that all of these pictures and such are from the @KojimasBread account and I would just embed the actual tweets if I knew how but instead I am just going to quote them and post pictures and I suppose link to the ones with video. This is all his stuff, rather than my stuff; I want to be transparent on stuff-provenance. 

"Inokiism reached new heights in the 1990s," @KojimasBread writes (did it though), "thanks to Inoki bringing in legendary judoka Naoya Ogawa who he sent to train under Satoru Sayama aka the 1st Tiger Mask, another Inoki student."

"The influence of martial arts in Ogawa and Hashimoto matches was clear," sayeth the same. "They would face twice and get a win a piece before Ogawa went away to train harder than ever. Hype was big for the rubber match."

"1/4/99: Naoya Ogawa 'shoots' on Shinya Hashimoto. It is said Inoki told him to shoot on Hashimoto to make Ogawa a star and take his MMA bad boy character to the next level. This was a highly controversial moment in NJPW history." If you follow this link to the tweet itself you will see a video clip. 

"We may never know how much of this was real n how much was fake. What we do know was this made Ogawa bigger then ever and put all eyes on NJPW. Some say it was fully worked, some say parts were some say it was a full shoot. No matter what this made NJPW look realer then ever." Another video is here.

"99 was a big year for Ogawa," @KojimasBread continues, as Ogawa "won the NWA World Title in America. A worked angle happened where Hashimoto went to America then attacked Hashimoto during a press conference to set up a rematch in japan. It happened on October 12 w Ogawa winning." We may have talked about Ogawa vs. Dan Severn for the NWA title previously in these pages but if not, and even if so, you might want to watch it, as it is, in its way, really quite great!

As a final point on Ogawa, @KojimasBread writes that "[t]he shoot made Ogawa 1 of the most hated figures in NJPW history. Fans would walk out of their seats in protest when he come to the ring [really? I never saw that! --ed]. This got even worse when Hashimoto left New Japan in 2000 and fans blamed Ogawa for it." All of that is set slightly after the moment at which we meet Ogawa here, a few short months after the Hashimoto match about which so much has been said; also look at how you can tell he is wearing Asics/Onitsuka Tigers under his kickpads: 

ALRIGHT THEN we are largely up-to-speed on Naoya Ogawa on this the occasion of him bringing flowers to the ring for Royler and Rickson Gracie ahead of their exhibition of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, which consists first of a self-defense portion and then some super-light sparring. In keeping with Rickson's teaching at the seminar I was graciously invited to attend (what a nice time that was!), this is all totally solid fundamental græppling executed with great attention and care. Good job, guys! Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros lose their shit over 大外刈 osoto-gari to 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame and I feel a little embarrassed for them (don't act like you've never seen a gi-græppler before, jaws all on the floor) even before Quadros goes "Rickson Gracie is in the house!" which obviously kicked things up a notch as far as that goes. Is Ogawa watching this, thinking "man, it took this guy forever to beat Yamamoto, and Takada, who absolutely is not capable of fighting, totally hurt him last time, and frankly I am familiar with an awful lot of this"? I don't know, maybe he is:

Alexander Otsuka? Kazunari Murakami? How about you guys though? 

OH NICE SWEEP THERE BY ROYLER is Quadros' call of a worked 引込返 hikikomi-gaeshi, what is wrong with this guy. Look man I like hikikomi-gaeshi as much *literally anyone else who has ever lived* but let's keep it all in perspective, my dude, please. I don't know, what do you make of it all, Ringside Naoya Ogawa?

The crowd is on the whole sort of reasonably indifferent to it all, and my thoughts turn to the time a græpplepal of both judo and (Renzo) Gracie Jiu-Jitsu once said to me (this was years ago), like, "Hey remember in PRIDE when the Gracies did a demo and the crowd was just like 'lol ok yeah, we get it' and just low-key applauded politely?" Well that's pretty much what happened! A nice demo, though, and Rickson says a few nice things afterwards, including his thoughts on the beauty of peace. What a nice time we're having all of a sudden!

And this trend will probably continue, look:

It's Kazushi Sakuraba! And Vitor Belfort! I am not at all sure where we stand at this moment (this PRIDE.5 / プライド・ファイブ moment) in the Vitor Belfort story, and so will check: ah yes so he had already knocked out (in some instances technically) John Hess (S.A.F.T.A! Scientifically Aggressive Fighting Technology of America! I swear this is real! [in the sense that John Hess said those words in that order]), Tra Telligman, Scott Ferrozzo, Tank Abbott, Wanderlei Silva, and finished Joe Charles with an 腕挫十字固 ude-hishigi-juji-gatame; his only loss to this point came to Randy Couture, and that is, of course, ok. Also, I would like to tell you that I once attended a birthday party for four-year-olds (at a bowling alley; bowling alley birthday parties are ****+ in my experience [a star for each year {please never read the Seamus Heaney poem I am reference, I for real beg you, it is too much for hearts}) and a friendly disagreement arose around the snack table as to which of the children there assembled was, in truth, not a child, but in fact a juicy juicy juice-box; I mention this because, as you can see in the above image, these children's accusations that day, though spirited and merry, were in truth misplaced, as the juiciest juicy juice-box of all is 1999 Vitor Belfort. 

And what of Kazushi Sakuraba? What have we seen of him thus far? These are still quite early days: we have the S-Cup loss to Kimo (some call it a work but we have examined it together and it seemed otherwise), the UFC Japan weirdnesses with Marcus Silveira, a lovely bout with the able Vernon "Tiger" White, a lovelier-still bout (and indeed the loveliest bout ever) in fellowship with the gentle Carlos Newton (he trod upon a worm against his will, but wept for it), and then a draw with Allan Goes. 

I don't really remember this match but I bet it's good! 

Bas Rutten suggests that Belfort has "the fastest hands in NHB" and I would not 1999-dispute that. He is cautious to start, though, keeping his distance as Sakuraba fires in some pretty snappy kicks, including a high one that totally misses but which had the crowd going HWWWOOOOOAHHHH which is its own victory. Once Sakuraba shoots in for a single-leg takedown, and a scramble ensues, things get awfully wild, with Belfort raining clubb(er)ing blows down upon Sakuraba but don't worry Belfort is only a super-juiced dude twenty-five pounds bigger than him, these will not add up over the course of Sakuraba's long and ultimately fairly ruinous career. After eating maybe thirty or so of these (some partially blocked!), Sakuraba finishes an ankle-pick and Belfort is on his back. The unseemly spectacle of a great big jacked up guy scooting around on his seat rather than engage with a comparatively little fella follows and I think what is important for Vitor Belfort (but also for all of us of course) to remember is that the things we are doing each and every moment will in time be the life we have lived. Sakuraba makes a few attempts at a standing pass but is mostly just like a-kick-kick-kick; a-kick-kick-kick. There is already terrible bruising showing on Belfort's thighs, though I will not speak in any great detail about Vitor Belfort's thighs lest things get a little too intense ("His red lips, after fights, are fit for ladies," wrote the Bard of Avon of this very sort of young fightsman). Bas and Quadros are somewhat puzzled by Belfort's approach here, in that they think he might do better to stand up and box and try to defend takedowns as necessary rather than to lie on his back, hands behind his head, and get kicked, and just, like, not actually be fighting. They are like "Why will he not upon our fair request Untent his person and share the air with us?" haha a little more Shakespeare for you there in which Bas and The Fight Professor™ are collectively Agamemnon whereas young Vitor Belfot is The large Achilles, on his press'd bed lolling and actually now that I say it out loud (textually) this seems amazingly on the nose, like on the nose as hekk. BRAVE HECTOR or I guess Sakuraba has grown weary of this and just jumps right down into Belfort's guard and starts hitting, which doesn't really do much damage, seemingly, but does compel Belfort to fight, which he does thusly (I don't care that thusly is a made up word to make fun of how some people don't know that thus is an adverb; I like and reclaim it): he stands back up! And there's the bell, that's round one.    

It should go without saying (and yet I say, for what is TK Scissors if not a place of saying) that I am as keen a 寝技 ne-waza enthusiast as you are likely to meet, but I find press'd-bed lolling (that's it, that's what I'm going to call it going forward; thank you for joining me in this; together we can change the world) when faced with someone you cannot yourself bring to the mat to be just the lamest possible tactic, and to do so when you (not you, "one") are (is) a jacked up beast of a dude against someone worryingly smaller is nearly as disgraceful as caring about any of this at all. But they that have the voice of lions and the acts of hares, are they not monsters? Let us ask this of them. Or let us ask a like question in a way that does not underestimate the martial capacities of the hare. 

If your retort is that it is a viable martial tactic (press'd-bed lolling, I mean) I would re-retort that that is nonsense and that it is only suited to the actually-pretty-absurdly artificial context of one-on-one sport-fighting and would hold no place in any actual martial context like say that of a seventeenth-century pseudo-Japan populated by anthropomorphic animals, except for horses, which are still horses, so the anthropomorphic animals can ride them; you would get wrecked there:

ROUND TWO begins just as I have finished making all of these compelling points. That Sakuraba has taken the first round is a certainty, given that he is quite unscathed (aside from those like thirty punches early), whereas Belfort's hips and thighs (oh my; stay focused) are a mess from kicks. (It's really just his thighs but I wanted to say it that way to invoke Dipset, however fleetingly.) A SPINNING BACK-KICK in the manner of 後ろ蹴り USHIRO-GERI lands to Belfort's tum-tum and though I am sure it was no fun, Belfort is not driven to the mat by it, but rather shuffles around a little bit, and then just completely sits down. Sakuraba is like "come on, man," and then he is joined by referee Yuji Shimada, who is like "come on, man"; all the while, the crowd is like "come on, man":

Come on, man. Yuji Shimada restarts them standing, which is not a thing that happens very much in these PRIDEs, I think we have all come to remember as we work our way through them once more, and then Belfort just sits right back down. Yuji Shimada (I really like saying his whole name) seems about to intervene again but Sakuraba gives him a little "no it's ok" kind of gesture and then just starts chopping away again with sharp kicks to Belfort's super-messed-up legs. In time, they are indeed restarted, and you can see at once that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Belfort to walk. If only there had been another way. Another 後ろ蹴り USHIRO-GERI gets the people going and then yet another 後ろ蹴り USHIRO-GERI gets the people going. It occurs to me that, whilst standing, Belfort has thrown almost no punches at all all match: Sakuraba keeps him at kicking range and just keeps firing them (kicks) in (from) there. And getting kicked is bad; it's like, so bad. Sakuraba lets the hands go! I think Belfort is cut now, even. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand he returns to press'd-bed lolling, bruuuuuutal. He does it again a minute later! Sakuraba actually looks a little upset as he drops an ax-kick and then actually starts to punch Belfort's legs. Another restart, another drop, and then this happens:

I hope you will believe me when I tell you that the people of The Nagoya City General Gymnasium (愛知県名古屋市) strongly support this course of action. As does Bas Rutten: "He's risking everything. It's . . . it's great. Look at him. Look at this guy. I just thought I'd seen it all. And he just does a Bruce Lee on him." The bell and the obvious decision follow soon after. Rickson Gracie, seated at ringside, is shown in close-up several times, as if to suggest an encounter with Sakuraba could be forthcoming, but of course it will not be. Also, just as this English-language copy cuts to the next match, for maybe ten seconds I am pretty sure I hear the crowd, or a small portion of it, chant MA-E-DA, MA-E-DA (I have heard this chanted often, and recognize it as well as most, probably). Was Akira Maeda there? Or did the mere image of Rickson Gracie somehow incite the most ardent Maedaists among this crowd's number? I would believe either, no problem. 

Utterly intoxicating sounds and images of 高田延彦 Takada Nobuhiko's purple-robed Tokyo Dome entrances (real) and previous matches against both Rickson Gracie (real) and Kyle Sturgeon (fake) set the stage for his main event match against Mark Coleman (fake). Quadros and Rutten think it's pretty wild that Takada would accept a fight against someone of Mark Coleman's calibre. It is quite something! Coleman had lost three in a row (Maurice Smith, Pete[y My Heart] Williams, and Pedro Rizzo), but even so, is what Bas and Quadros are saying; even so. It will be interesting to see how they work this one, because all I remember is the finish. "What little things might there be that are neat?" I wonder, and the first of hopefully several of these things occurs at once when Takada hooks an arm over the top rope to prevent a takedown and he is given a yellow card for it. Great detail! Coleman's next real/fake takedown attempt is for real/fake successful, and everything looks airtight (from a real/fake perspective) as he cross-faces to posture-up and throw some good hard shots to the body. Even if you were totally looking for this to be a work from the outset, which I assume some probably were at the time, to this point I don't think there's anything that would confirm your æsthetic suspicions. Ah, ok, that's over: Coleman grabs a kubi-hishigi "can-opener" neck crank, which should be Takada's cue to start moving, but he doesn't, and so Coleman just lets it go. 

Bas [all quiet]: "Why did he let it go?"   
Quadros [shoot confused]: "Yeah, uh, I don't understand. He seemed like he was in a good position to get the neck crank." 

Maybe in an attempt to cover for this, Coleman throws a big right hand, but it lands against his own left hand (it looked pretty good though!). An illegal head-butt to the body is a nice touch here, too. I am sure it has been true for a little while already but only now do I notice just how pink Mark Coleman has gotten, look:  

A couple of things are probably in play here that make Coleman look even pinker than he probably is: first, Takada's skin-tone is fair and, frankly, quite beautiful; also the mat is white. But anyway you look at this, Mark Coleman has gone pinker than even, say, Brock Lesnar; he is well on the way to full-on, Randy-Savage-as-Bone-Saw-McGraw crimson. As you might also note, Coleman has passed to the side. Weirdly he's not doing much damage from there though! Isn't that weird! As Coleman moves from 横四方固 yoko-shiho-gatame to 縦四方固 tate-shiho-gatame (right up on top!) a frisson ripples through the crowd at the prospect of their lovely Takada getting poooooounded but it's just one soft punch before Takada gives up his back, whereupon Coleman lets him stand up (the crowd loves this). Then Takada jumps guard! What! Coleman on the whole has really done quite a fine job making the punches seem realish; Bas expresses wonderment that Takada has lasted this long. Coleman attacks with a neck-crank from 袈裟固 kesa-gatame (some would call such a hold kesa-gatame-kubi-hishigi), then an 腕緘 ude-garami from same; and yet Takada persists. We get our best look all night at the AOKI PIZZA logo:

The bell rings as Coleman attacks lethargically with another 腕緘 ude-garami and both Bas and Quadros marvel at Takada's luck in this.  OH MY GOODNESS, TSUYOSHI KOHSAKA IS IN TAKADA'S CORNER:

DO YOU SEE HIM? I must have missed him at the start because I was writing some DRIVEL like a FOOL instead of looking out for Tsuyoshi Kohsaka! Let me go back! YEP THAT'S HIM ALRIGHT:

What a rich text PRIDE.5(プライド・ファイブ)has turned out to be after a shaky start! Sakuraba and Daijiro Matsui are in Takada's corner, too; imagine it. 

Round two is not the well-considered and thoughtful work round one was (the present eye praises the present object and everything, but that first round was I think a totally great worked shoot, as good as we'll probably see in PRIDEs), as Coleman, after a spirited takedown, puts himself in Takada's guard rather than stay in side control (both our friends on commentary are baffled: "He gave up . . . a good position," says Bas), and feeds Takada an arm as though he would very much enjoy to be juji-gatame'd at Takada's earliest convenience, please address yourself to this matter, Takada-san. Takada does not oblige, and instead takes a kibisu-gatame/heel-hold as Bas and Quadros try to make sense of this unprecedented turn of events. You can totally tell that Quadros can totally tell: "Oh no, he's giving him . . . what the hell?" Coleman makes some deeply pro wrestling (in the worst sense, as opposed to the best sense, which is still probably objectively bad) gesticulation with his tapping hand before finally tapping, which is a weird approach, especially in a heel hook, wherein you tap the innnnnnnstant it's there, rather than hover your shaking hand a foot above the mat for like ten seconds (it probably wasn't ten seconds). The crowd goes with it though! I wonder . . . WHAT DAVE MELTZER SAID ABOUT IT:

November 16, 1998:

"Pancrase had a press conference regarding its 12/19 PPV show. Nobuhiko Takada wasn't there and it's pretty well established he won't be appearing with this group [I didn't even know this was an option! -- ed.] as his asking price is way out of their range and probably has no interest in doing so in the first place. The only Takada dojo vs. Pancrase match that was announced for the show was rookies Minoru Toyonaga of Takada against Daisuke Ishii. They announced Masakatsu Funaki would have his first Vale Tudo rules match as the main event. The only match announced for the next Pancrase show on 11/29 in Osaka is the main event of Kengo Watanabe vs. Ryushi Yanagisawa."

November 30, 1998:

"With all the major upsets in the heavyweight division at the October Shooto, Pride and UFC shows, Fighting Sports News in its new issues lists the top ten heavyweights as, in order, Mark Kerr, Igor Vovchanchin, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka [that's RIGHT -- ed.], Tom Erikson, Couture, Maurice Smith, Pedro Rizzo, Inoue, Pete Williams and Mark Coleman."

December 7, 1998:

"The other Pancrase rules matches on the show have Guy Mezger defending the King of Pancrase title against Yuki Kondo, ranking matches with Ryushi Yanagisawa vs. Evan Tanner and Osami Shibuya vs. Minoru Suzuki, plus prelims with Jason DeLucia vs. Manabu Yamada and Daisuke Ishii against Takada dojo student Minoru Toyonaga which at least up to this point is the extent of the Takada team vs. Pancrase interpromotional deal has gone." [It might be fun to watch some of the old Pancrases sometime in the 2020s -- ed.]

December 14, 1998:

A reader writes:

"Frank Shamrock's achievements in UFC are in no way comparable to those of Royce Gracie, Dan Severn, Don Frye or Mark Coleman. They all won multiple tournaments under full Vale Tudo rules. Frank Shamrock, just like his brother Ken, had a championship created for him and has fought under what basically amounts to Pancrase rules with punching to the face allowed. The UFC discriminates against Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stylists because they aren't allowed to play the waiting game. It discriminates against wrestlers because they are limited in striking on the ground. Under full NHB rules, I'm 100% certain many of the recent UFC fights would have resulted in different winners. Ironic that a tournament shunned by the Martial Arts community because it exposed most disciplines as frauds now not only labels itself Mixed Martial Arts in a desperate bid to claim acceptance by them, but also goes against the original ethos of the competition itself.

Also, I couldn't believe your criticism of Pride Four. It was the best MMA card of the year and showcased some of the best fighters on the planet as opposed to the manufactured martial artists in the UFC. Alan Goes vs. Kazushi Sakuraba was one of the best if not the best technical fight I've ever seen and I've been following the sport since 1993. Alexander Otsuka's win over Marco Ruas was the biggest upset in the history of the sport. When was the last time a genuine Brazilian legend quit? Mark Kerr vs. Hugo Duarte highlighted the need for a cage in Pride and once again showed by Kerr is the best heavyweight fighter on the planet. Rickson Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada also cruelly exposed Gracie's ability. My only criticism of Pride Four was the overzealous refereeing in the first two matches.

R. Mehdi

Middlesbrough, England"

And Dave . . . goes . . . in: 

"DM: While Frank Shamrock never won any eight man tournaments like those names you mentioned (nor was he ever invited into one), his current eight match winning streak over the past 13 months was far more impressive than anything any of the aforementioned names did because he did so against competition that was far superior to the level of competition all the aforementioned names were going against in their tournaments. Gracie's biggest wins was over Ken Shamrock, a very tough man who up until that point in time had largely been a pro wrestler who did some primitive Tough Man contests and had good submission knowledge but had never fought a man in a gi before, and Dan Severn, who was strictly a wrestler, and a very good wrestler, but strictly a wrestler with no cross training up to that point whatsoever, and a powerful but totally inexperienced Kimo, who overpowered and injured Royce until blowing up in three minutes. This isn't knocking Royce as a great fighter, because he is a great fighter and still had to beat everyone put in his path. In the second meeting with Ken Shamrock, Shamrock would have easily won the decision. If you look at Gracie, Severn, Frye and Coleman's foes they had beaten and what their foes skill level was in winning those tournaments and what the people they beat to win those tournaments had done elsewhere since and compare them with Shamrock's opponents like Inoue, Henderson, Kohsaka, Jackson and Zinoviev and what they've accomplished elsewhere in real competition, there is no comparison. You never know, but I doubt if any of the names mentioned if put in a row against the same eight fighters would have beaten all eight and Shamrock would be hard pressed to do it again. Any time you change the rules of fighting you are going to change some of the winners and losers, but you can't use the rule changes to criticize the people who won under those rules. The current rules have changed the sport to be far more exciting, and the level of competition is far stiffer than in its embryonic period where Gracie took advantage of the fact that nobody else had fought real fights under those rules and his family had for 60 years and were way ahead of the curve. The time limits and judging penalizes passivity and that does discriminate against BJJ in the same way that not having an unlimited time limit for basketball or football games essentially penalizes a better conditioned but less skilled team. There are no sports, combat or otherwise that have no time limit or some sort of scoring system, whether it be wrestling, boxing, judo, kickboxing, karate or whatever, there are decisions when there isn't a finishing move put on before the time limit expires. Wrestlers are penalized in the current UFC by banning head-butts, which in some cases with an effective combat against the BJJ guys resting in the guard, but that's the reality of the political situation and if you criticize UFC for pretty much any of their rule changes, you're being unrealistic to the political situation of the sport. All the Japanese events also ban head-butts. Pride even bans elbows on the ground, which are legal in UFC except to the base of the spine. Personally, I hate the gloves rule and accept the shoes rules, but I realize in a "real fight," whatever that means, competitors don't wear gloves, and they don't go into the fight bare footed, but politically you'll never be able to put on a sport where people kick to the face in street shoes because that's way too violent for me, and you can't in Brazil or Japan either for all the talk about true NHB because the reality is it just doesn't, and can't exist. God knows all the trouble UFC went through because in the beginning the fighters didn't wear gloves and most of that was due to ignorance. The only significant difference between the UFC rules and the Pride rules are that UFC orders stand-ups when the action gets dull and awards decisions at the end of the time limit. Thus Pride allows guys to lay on their back and matches to come to a complete halt because of it and encourages a man who feels he's losing to stall and escape with a draw. Pride has yet to have one entertaining show because largely of that rule difference, because of them fighting in a ring inside of an octagon, and because of an overall poorer job of matchmaking. The Goes vs. Sakuraba match, which went 30 minutes without a decision, saw more than half of that time spent with Goes laying on his back and Sakuraba standing there not knowing what to do to counter. While it was a unique tactical fight between very skilled competitors, I find that laughable to be called the best technical fight in history. The maybe 10 minutes that they were engaged in grappling was very good technically. The problem with Kerr-Duarte was partially not having it in a cage, but the other problem was again the Pride rules that allows someone to lay on his back and in the case of Duarte, he was laying on his back to avoid fighting and just hopeful, without judges, to stall things out for a draw. If anything, Pride was the show with the manufactured martial artists, as what else could people like Takada, Sano, Ismail and Duarte, and to an extent Rickson Gracie and even Ruas be called as all had reputations largely the product of manufacturing and not from anything they had proven in fights against real top class fighters even though all are either Brazilian legends or Japanese pro wrestling legends. I don't blame Pride for using Takada and those who criticize the Gracie vs. Takada fights for taking place don't understand business. Without Takada, there would be no company in the first place. But if there is anyone that could be called manufactured, it's he, to the point Pride had to put on a worked main event on its previous show to give Takada a win to set up the Gracie rematch. As far as UFC creating titles for the Shamrocks, UFC created the first superfight title because it wanted to market individual championship matches to be able to sell specific matches as opposed to just the generic tournament on PPV and because Royce didn't want to fight tournaments anymore. The title was created for Royce, but after Royce's match with Ken, he dropped out, Ken stayed, and then beat Severn (who was favored by most at the time to beat Ken) to become the first heavyweight singles champion. The middleweight division was created for Kevin Jackson to be the star of, and because there were so many talented fighters at about 185-200 pounds that would have a hard time being marketed in an all-heavyweight show which UFC had been up to that point. In fact, UFC did not have a high opinion of Frank initially as a NHB fighter stemming from David Isaacs seeing his loss to John Lober, was that he was a good-looking guy with a great name because of his brother who they could use at some point as an impressive looking win for someone they wanted to push, with their original idea being Tank Abbott. UFC put Enson Inoue, not Shamrock, on their posters and print ads for the Japan show, the winner of their match was to face Jackson on the Japan show, although I'm told SEG did expect Frank to win that fight. While it was acknowledged after he beat Inoue, that Frank had a chance to beat Jackson, to SEG, the expectations going in was that Jackson would win. Once he won the match in 14 seconds, only then did SEG attempt to market him as a star."

December 28, 1998:

He's back!

"Thanks for printing my letter and your comments. The standard of competition faced by Royce Gracie, Dan Severn, Don Frye and Mark Coleman was relative for the time. Yes, the standard is higher today because the aforementioned fighters each took the sport up a level and started cross-training. By full NHB rules, I mean matches with no biting and no eye gouging. Full Vale Tudo rules. I fully understand and agree with the need for both time limits and judges decisions. I didn't suggest otherwise. Frank Shamrock's winning streak pales in comparison with Bas Rutten's in Pancrase against the best technical fighters in the world. Shamrock beat Dan Henderson in Contenders and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in RINGS. I don't see how this has any relevance to UFC as the rules are completely different and I wouldn't consider Henderson or Kohsaka's achievements in MMA anything to write home about. They have won all their UFC matches via judges decisions. While you are critical of Brazilians sitting on their back, how does it differ from fighters in the UFC that sit on their back and rack up points occasionally going for submissions or fighters that wait for stand-ups to rack up their points, or ground and pound merchants? I can only recall one fighter in Pride who sat on his back and did nothing--Hugo Duarte.

It seems that training in Lions Den or The Alliance for a few months makes you a great fighter. That's what I mean by manufactured martial artists. The Brazilians you mentioned have manufactured reputations but are not manufactured martial artists. They have been training in their art for their entire life. I criticize UFC's rule changes because other than Viewers Choice-Canada, not one major PPV carrier has took them back on board, so what is the point? It just seems to alienate fighters and results in more fights going the distance. In Pride Four, two of eight fights went the distance. In UFC Brazil, two of six did. If you compare the past four events for both, UFC has more fights going the distance so your criticism of fighters hanging on for a draw in Pride is irrelevant. If Pride opted for judges decisions after draws, half the fighters wouldn't set foot in the ring.

R. Mehdi

Middlesbrough, England

DM: Full NHB rules limited to no biting and eye gouging doesn't exist anywhere in the world. Even in Brazil, you can't kick with any footwear. Shamrock's winning streak isn't as long as Rutten's, but the quality of competition Rutten beat, while basically all real fighters and nobody that could be called a joke, including some excellent fighters including Shamrock himself, Guy Mezger and Masakatsu Funaki still isn't at the level of the people Shamrock beat as far as their accomplishments within MMA. Based on his being unbeaten actually for almost four years going into UFC, Rutten is very much a proven commodity as a fighter and having so many fights in a row without a loss is exceedingly impressive. But if you don't consider Shamrock's win over Kohsaka relevant because the rules were different, than none of Rutten's wins are relevant because they were all fought under the same rules as the Shamrock-Kohsaka match. Henderson won a tournament with very fast submission wins in Brazil, and won the toughest middleweight tournament in recent MMA history in UFC squeaking out wins in two very tough fights against very good fighters and has never lost an MMA match. Kohsaka is exceedingly well respected by almost all insiders and to this point I only know of two shoot matches he's lost in recent years and he's done a lot of shoots, one to Shamrock, which was on points, and another to Kiyoshi Tamura by submission [that one was for sure a work -- ed.]. There is a huge difference between sitting on your back engaging in combat looking for submissions and reversals, and laying on your back while the opponent is standing or doing so to stall for the time limit to expire. While 25% of the last Pride fights went the distance as compared to 33% in UFC Brazil, UFC had nobody stalling for a draw because doing so would mean a loss. Pride did in two fights (in Duarte's case he didn't accomplish his goal) and the matchmaking in Pride on paper was more lopsided. Realistically Takada vs. Rickson was at least from a booking standpoint a total mismatch even though it turned out more competitive and was a good fight, Sano vs. Honma was a pathetic mismatch, Otsuka vs. Ruas was booked as one but shocked everyone when it turned out Ruas ran out of gas due to an illness and couldn't fight and many thought since Duarte was destroyed by Abbott (albeit using tactics that John McCarthy said in the rules meeting were illegal although according to the rule book they were legal) in seconds, his facing Kerr, far superior to Abbott, was also a mismatch and pretty much turned into a very long mismatch. In UFC Brazil, not one fight was booked on paper as a mismatch going in even though Belfort blew by Silva, Shamrock hammered Lober and an out of condition Abbott was hammered in a match that he was actually booked to win, so of course with more evenly booked matches you'll have matches that go the distance. With the exception of Rickson Gracie, whose greatest skill as a fighter is his business acumen and believe me, that's not a knock, in Pride wouldn't have stepped in the ring if they had judges? Kerr, Duarte, Ruas, Sakuraba, Goes, Ismail and Goodridge had all done so many times either in UFC or other competition."

January 4, 1999:

"KRS has the Tokyo Dome booked for a show on 5/1. The only matches anyone can think of that could possibly be made as headliners would be either Royce Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada or Rickson Gracie vs. Masakatsu Funaki. Neither of those matches on their own would probably draw a half-house and the former at this point may not even be that big of a ticket seller, although both on the same show probably would. While Funaki has a far better shot at beating Gracie than Takada ever did, he isn't close to the mainstream draw that Takada was, so as a business proposition, it's going to be harder to put together because Gracie would be more reluctant to take the match, which means they'll have to offer more money to make the match, and they won't be able to draw more money at the gate."

January 18, 1999:

"The latest rumor on the KRS promotion is that they are trying to get new backers and the proposed May show at the Tokyo Dome may be off. The idea now is to promote another big show on 10/11 once again headlined by Rickson Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada. Can anyone still want to see that match again."

February 22, 1999:

"It now appears the next KRS show will take place on 4/29 at Nagoya Rainbow Hall headlined by Nobuhiko Takada. Actually the KRS company has closed up. It's the same promoters with new investors starting up a new company called Dream Enterprises. Takada talked about fighting either Rickson or Royce Gracie when the announcement of the show was made."

March 1, 1999:

"OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Antonio Inoki made a deal with Howard Brody, using Hiro Matsuda as an intermediary, to set up an NWA title change with Dan Severn losing to Naoya Ogawa on 3/14 at the Yokohama Arena. They are trying to make a big deal that Severn will be bringing the same title belt (actually it's a duplicate looking belt) that people like Harley Race, Terry Funk, Jack Brisco and Giant Baba wore in Japan in the 70s and since Inoki himself spent years trying to gain access to the NWA title when it meant something and with people like Inoki, time often stands still. Ogawa also challenged Nobuhiko Takada to a match for the NWA title after he beats Severn."

March 8, 1999:

"Although there had been a lot of speculation that the 4/29 Pride show would be headlined by Nobuhiko Takada vs. Royce Gracie, Pride made an announcement that Takada's opponent would be a well-known American wrestler with an MMA background who is far more powerful than Gracie. People are speculating on Mark Kerr, since he works for that organization and fits that description, but I don't see the up side to that at all."

March 15, 1999:

"The 'world class wrestler with MMA experience far more powerful than Royce Gracie' that was talked about but not announced as facing Nobuhiko Takada on 4/29 in Nagoya at this point, barring anyone's change in plans as this has not been made public yet, is Mark Coleman, who was offered $60,000 for the shot at rehabbing Takada's mythical status that has sort of crumbled in the wake of reality. Takada's new promotion, Dream Stage Entertainment which will promote shows with mainly shoot but occasional worked matches, has also announced that both Royce and Rickson Gracie would appear before the end of the year, and that on the Nagoya Rainbow Hall show, that Kazushi Sakuraba, Mark Kerr, Igor Vovchanchin and Gary Goodridge would appear."

March 22, 1999:

"Mark Coleman was in Japan this past week to do p.r. work to build up his 4/29 match at Nagoya Rainbow Hall against Nobuhiko Takada which will be the main event on the Pride Five Show which will probably be an all-shoot show except for the main event. Coleman also appeared on a special on the Fuji TV network doing a three minute fighting exhibition with Akira Shoji, who has fought on previous Pride shows. Apparently when Coleman was asked by Joe Gold of Full Contact Fighter before going to Japan for the press conference whether the Takada match would be a work, he responded something to the effect of that he had to feed his family. There was also an exhibition on that television show with Enson Inoue vs. Kazushi Sakuraba. In what may be the most important heavyweight match of the year, announced as the semifinal on the 4/29 show, Inoue, the Shooto heavyweight champion who defeated Randy Couture in 90 seconds late last year, faces Mark Kerr, who is ranked as the No. 1 heavyweight in the world in virtually every poll."

March 29, 1999:

"While not announced officially, three more matches seem to have been put together for the 4/29 KRS show at Nagoya Rainbow Hall (Takada vs. Mark Coleman and Enson Inoue vs. Mark Kerr main events), being Vitor Belfort vs. Kazushi Sakuraba, which is a very interesting match since both have won UFC heavyweight tournaments, Alan Goes vs. Satoshi Honma (who destroyed pro wrestler Yuhi Sano on the 10/11 Tokyo Dome show) and Igor Vovchanchin, a Russian boxer who has something like a 24-1 MMA record, facing Akira Shoji."

April 5, 1999:

"Weekly Gong had a story on Mark Coleman due to the Takada match on 4/29 and in it there were several references to his possibly going to the WWF."

April 12, 1999:

"When it comes to straight shoots, many of the most intriguing matches for this year will be taking place on three shows over the next month.

Even though it appears it will have a worked main event, and without Rickson Gracie, not the level of mainstream pub, there are a lot of insiders who think the Pride Five show on 4/29 in Nagoya could be the show of the year, and not for the Nobuhiko Takada vs. Mark Coleman match which is being counted on to sell the tickets.

It appears to be the best undercard for a shoot show in a long time. Probably the most intriguing match of all is Kazushi Sakuraba, the former UWFI pro wrestler who has been unbeaten under MMA rules including winning the single weirdest tournament in UFC history, since Kingdom folded and is very highly thought of by insiders as one of the best submission fighters in the world, facing Vitor Belfort, the Brazilian sensation with all the physical tools in the world but a suspect head. Belfort was all the rage while only 19-years-old, destroying four much larger men in less than 80 seconds each with his amazing punching speed and power, not to mention radar-like accuracy, until running into Randy Couture on October 17, 1997 and being turned into a mere mortal in taking a pounding in defeat. After a lackluster performance in what was certainly a suspect fight with Joe Charles on the UFC show in Japan on December 21, 1997, Belfort's stock took a tumble as he several times switched trainers, canceled bookings, and didn't seem all that interested in fighting, frustrating everyone involved who believed he not only had potential to be one of the best, but the charisma and marketability because of the rapid manner he dispatched his foes. In his only appearance last year, on October 16, 1998 on the first UFC in Brazil, Belfort was scheduled against Vanderlei Silva, who many thought would destroy the myth for good. Probably nobody was more concerned than Belfort, who pulled out of the fight several times in the days leading to the show, only to be talked back in because promoters realized how much he meant to the debut UFC show in Brazil. Although appearing under confident, the result hardly bore that out as Belfort, in his most impressive performance of his career, destroyed Silva in 44 seconds with a barrage of 17 punches in seven seconds. That performance seemed to turn a middleweight title match with Frank Shamrock into the UFC's first real potential marquee title match since the Ken Shamrock-Dan Severn era. But since that time, Belfort canceled out of a match with Guy Mezger (which wound up a blessing in disguise for UFC since it created Tito Ortiz as a new star) and hasn't fought since. The match is intriguing because Sakuraba can't hang with Belfort standing up. He is probably much better when it comes to submissions on the ground, although we've yet to see Belfort even tested on the ground yet. Can Sakuraba, at 185 pounds, take down Belfort, who rumor has it is closing in the 220 pound range again? And how will that added weight, if Belfort comes in like that, affect him, particularly if Sakuraba can survive the first onslaught of punches that nobody but Couture has survived to date? On paper, it seems to favor Belfort, but fights aren't fought on paper.

The other big match is Mark Kerr, considered "the man" in heavyweight circles with a 10-0 record and who has never even been physically tested, and coming off the tournament win in Abu Dhabai in the world submissions championship, facing Enson Inoue, the heavyweight champion from Shooto, whose last MMA match was a submission win over formerly unbeaten Couture. Where Inoue is dangerous is that in two fights against world class wrestlers (the other being Royce Alger at a UFC show in 1997), he submitted both with lightning like armbars in about 90 seconds. Kerr is a world class wrestler, but has studied submission avoidance and has never been close to being in trouble against many submission experts. Inoue has three losses, a loss early in his career against a basically unknown fighter that he avenged later, and two knockout losses to Igor Zinoviev and Frank Shamrock. Kerr is not the skilled striker that Zinoviev or Shamrock are, but is a much physically larger man. Inoue has never submitted in competition and Kerr is not a master at that. This seems to point to a long fight, and at that point stamina becomes the big issue. Although people who have seen both would say Kerr is a much larger man, the Kerr who was in Abu Dhabai may have been smaller than the Inoue in Abu Dhabai. Still, Kerr has freakish strength and even if he's the smaller man and I'd bet this time he won't be, he's not getting overpowered. One would think looking at the two that the new version of Kerr would have a decided edge in stamina. Probably the most important thing to realize is that this fight will not have judges, so no matter who dominates, if it goes the time limit, it's a draw, and that changes the nature of the fight.

This show comes six days after the Frank Shamrock vs. Kiyoshi Tamura match on the RINGS show in Osaka. This will be under RINGS rules, and every change in rules changes the fight. However, with Shamrock being well experienced from his years in Pancrase under similar rules and having gone 30:00 to a win over Tsuyoshi Kohsaka under these rules in 1997, he will hardly be a fish out of water against the RINGS specialist. Tamura is a hard one to judge because it's hard to know exactly what he is. He is, without question, one of the best pro wrestlers in the world and the single best working mat wrestler of all-time. That's all well and good in pro wrestling, but doesn't mean much in a shoot. It's very hard to judge strengths and weaknesses of someone in a shoot by what they do in matches designed to entertain the audience and put on a very realistic looking show, but a show nonetheless. Tamura, like Hiromitsu Kanehara, and probably Sakuraba as well, are so good at working that some of their worked matches look like shoots which makes judging them in shoots even harder. What we know about Tamura and shooting is that it is believed he did tap out Kohsaka in a shoot [that was, as we have explored together, totally a work; a glorious one, to be sure -- ed.], which would make him the only guy to do that in years [it was a work though -- ed.], although we can't be sure of that [we can, through watching, but Dave is a busy man on like a mythic-punishment-level of business so it's fine --  ed.] (Kohsaka was legitimately injured from the finish [was he though -- ed.] which seems to indicate it was real [does it though -- ed.], but not necessarily either [well said -- ed.]), there was one spot that looked kind of funny and let's face it, these guys are real good [two of the three best ever in this style for sure yes that's true -- ed.]. If the win over Kohsaka wasn't predetermined [it was though -- ed.], that makes Tamura very real [he turned out to be super-real anyway, but I understand, welcome, and support Dave's caution in this -- ed.]. Maurice Smith, who hasn't tapped out since in competition, claims Tamura tapped him out legit, when they had a match in 1996. Tamura is clearly respected by other fighters are being very real and a real threat and even Shamrock conceded they are fairly even on the ground. Tamura did lose a shoot last year to Valentijn Overeem, who was unheralded in submissions but did have him by 30 pounds (and when the two were rematched in February, RINGS made sure this time it was a work), and hooked Tamura a few times in quick order and really hurt his rep. Shamrock should be stronger standing and Tamura can be hit, but with head punches illegal (open hands are legal), that negates some of that edge.

The other match of intrigue will be the 5/7 UFC main event with Bas Rutten vs. Kevin Randleman to crown the vacant heavyweight title in a tournament which makes almost as much sense as some of the recent WCW tournaments. This is the classic intrigue because Rutten is a great striker. Randleman is an excellent wrestler and a far stronger man physically. Rutten was taken down several times by Kohsaka [and stood up inexplicably by a rogue John McCarthy -- ed.], whose takedown ability pales in comparison to Randleman [how dare you -- ed.]. Randleman, from his win over Maurice Smith, has an amazing level of stamina that belies his freakish physique. Rutten is better at submissions once they are on the ground. Like the Kohsaka match, this may be a match where John McCarthy plays a major part [ah ha, yes, thank you Dave -- ed.]. Many believe that had McCarthy not ordered a stand-up late in regulation, when Rutten nailed Kohsaka with a kick to the knee which ultimately led to his demise, that Kohsaka would have ruined the debut of the man SEG billed as the world's greatest martial arts fighter [they believe that because it's TRUE thank you Dave once more -- ed.]. Most likely this match is going to the ground pretty fast with Randleman on top. Rutten is going to have a very difficult time on his own getting out of that position. So the question becomes how effective Randleman can be from the top, and if or when McCarthy orders the stand-up, and then, if Rutten can get a telling blow in before he's taken down again."

And also (did I mention Ogawa wore a U.F.O. t-shirt in his appearance at this show? Please forgive me if I did not):

"There has been a lot of media talk about the future of the UFO company. Gong Magazine reported the company as breaking up and said that Satoru Sayama would be leaving the company after philosophical differences about direction with Antonio Inoki. Sayama was basically running the company as both President and booker. However, other newspapers are reporting that Sayama is still in the office. UFO on its English web site, also reported Sayama leaving and kind of gave him a subtle knock, noting that he had also quit New Japan while he was on top of the pro wrestling business and later quit UWF. While this hasn't been announced publicly, apparently the plans are for the next UFO show to be on 6/17 in Osaka and that some sort of a business relationship may be done with the Pride organization as they've talked about Mark Coleman, Nobuhiko Takada and Tenryu as possible opponents for Naoya Ogawa on that show. The plan for Ogawa's first title defense to be in Newton, IA on 4/24 in conjunction with both the Cauliflower Alley Banquet and the Hall of Fame inductions to the American wrestling (both pro and amateur under the same roof for the first time) museum were dropped. After a lot of thought, the feeling is that it wouldn't go over well to put on a worked match with Ogawa vs. Dan Severn in front of a crowd that would be consisting of so many name amateur wrestlers. The NWA is working on getting Ogawa a visa to come to the U.S. and defend the title and the UFO organization will be flying him in, so it makes the trans more reasonable for the small indie groups that form the NWA to use him while in the country, although the bottom line is that Ogawa on the card isn't going to mean anything for ticket sales, and the only plus is any show he's on will get exposure overseas in the Japanese media which at least theoretically could help open the doors to Japan of anyone who he's booked with."

And what's more (and I looooove stuff like this; this excerpt probably already appeared in a RINGSpiece but here we are once more [historically {also actually}]):

"MMA: We're going to make a minor change in groupings this week. Basically, from this point forward, Pancrase and USWF will both be listed here as opposed to "Other Japan Notes" and "Here and There" as they have been. The idea is this section will be for shoot promotions, whether they call themselves pro wrestling (USWF) or are covered as pro wrestling (Pancrase, Pride and UFC) in Japan. There is no 100% distinction because Pancrase, K-1 and Pride have done worked matches with predetermined finishes in the past and even USWF has had at least one in the past (and Pride surely will be doing it again in the future) and UFC has had suspicious matches but not finishes set up by the office. And we all know about people tanking matches in boxing (let alone whatever it was that Holyfield-Lewis fight really was as at least with pro wrestling you know what the game is going in) and tennis so to expect a one-on-one sport to be 100% shoot all the time is something that is a panacea more than a reality. RINGS will continue to be categorized as pro wrestling since a large percentage of their matches are worked (even though I'm a fan of RINGS, in many ways, their approach may be the most deceptive of all because you legitimately never know what you're getting when you buy your ticket until they go into the ring [that's totally the best part though!--ed.]) and UFO is pro wrestling, just a different style

Besides Takada vs. Coleman, Inoue vs. Kerr and Belfort vs. Sakuraba, the remainder of the 4/29 Pride show at Nagoya Rainbow Hall will be Akira Shoji vs. Igor Vovchanchin (a Soviet fighter with a 24-1 MMA record and a recent win over Gary Goodridge), Satoshi Honma (who destroyed Yuhi Sano at the 10/11 Tokyo Dome undercard) vs. Francisco Bueno (a Brazilian of some reputation) and Egan Inoue (Enson's younger brother) vs. Minoru Toyonaga (from the Takada dojo who has fought some shoot matches with RINGS and Pride in the past). Takada and K-1's Masaaki Satake are headed to Seattle to train for their respective fights. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and K-1's Francisco Filho are already there training full-time under Maurice Smith. Besides training with Smith, there is a University state-of-the-art training center where they monitor everything to get athletes training at peak efficiency so they don't overtrain or undertrain. Takada left on 4/6 and also said that he was planning on fighting Royce Gracie in October at the Tokyo Dome."

April 26, 1999:

"What looked going in to be the most important MMA show of the year, the Pride Five show on 4/29 at Nagoya Rainbow Hall (also a PPV show in Japan) has lost a lot of its luster but may have gained in drawing power as its biggest insider heavyweight match with Mark Kerr vs. Enson Inoue was canceled due to Kerr being injured and his replacement will be pro wrestler Naoya Ogawa [OMG WHAT -- ed.]. Kerr apparently injured his elbow in training and underwent surgery on 4/16. Reports are that Pride is looking at rescheduling the match for July. Ogawa vs. Inoue was briefly scheduled but never announced publicly as a co-main event along with the expected-to-be-worked match with Nobuhiko Takada vs. Mark Coleman, with Dream Stage Entertainment (the parent company of Pride) and Antonio Inoki's UFO working together with the idea to set up a Takada vs. Ogawa match in late July, which should be a good draw to pro wrestling fans. Mario Sperry, considered the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu sport fighter in the world [he had the best VHS tapes, certainly: you getch looohw, an' you poooosh--ed.], who beat Inoue in a non-striking submission rules match in Abu Dhabai recently, was also asked to replace Kerr but turned down the fight on such short notice to prepare. At press time, the plan now was to put Ogawa vs. Kazunari Murakami of the UFO organization instead, since at this point Inoki could control the finish, in what would be billed as an exhibition match on the show.

Inoki had also been negotiating with RINGS for Ogawa to appear on the 5/22 show, but those negotiations are now out the window with the Pride deal. Reports are that Ogawa was upset because Inoki, whose main job in wrestling these days seems to be an attempt to use his business smarts to maneuver Ogawa into superstardom in pro wrestling as a legitimate fighter, was negotiating for him to appear without actually informing him of it beforehand. The idea of taking a match against a real shooter on only two weeks notice wouldn't seen smart on the surface if the match wasn't going to be worked, but if it was, training time isn't as big an issue [or an issue at all, because it would be fake -- ed.]. The other intriguing match on the show which looked to be speculative as to whether or not it would take place, Vitor Belfort vs. Kazushi Sakuraba, is still on. Belfort had his knee scoped recently but has been saying that he's fine and is dropping weight for the fight and over the weekend was down to 202 pounds (he had agreed to get down to 198 for Sakuraba, who legitimately weighs in the 185-190 range)."

May 3, 1999:

"Enson Inoue's opponent on the 4/29 Pride show in Nagoya will be a 310-pound karate fighter named Soichi Nishida. Pride attempted at the last minute to get Frank Shamrock to face Inoue in a rematch of their classic match in 1997, but it was way too short notice. While in Japan, K-1 also contacted Shamrock about fighting for them. They are also going to have a five minute Jiu Jitsu exhibition with Royler Gracie vs. Rickson Gracie on the show. Inoue said that he was never going to fight Naoya Ogawa (that match had been proposed) because Ogawa was a pro wrestler that wasn't ready for him and he's only going to do real fights."

May 10, 1999:

"Kazushi Sakuraba, a product of Nobuhiko Takada's dojo and a former pro wrestler with both the UWFI and Kingdom promotions scored the biggest shoot win of his career, a majority decision victory over Vitor Belfort, the man who at one time was considered to be the future of the UFC, as the biggest story coming out of the Pride Five show on 4/29 at Nagoya Rainbow Hall.

The show was a mix of legitimate fights with an exhibition (Rickson vs. Royler Gracie) and with a worked main event purported to be a shoot under rules very similar to UFC, with promoters Dream Stage Entertainment changing several rules including adding judges decisions in the event matches went the time limit. The show was originally billed with a double headliner, with Nobuhiko Takada doing a worked shoot with former UFC champion Mark Coleman, which Takada won with a heel hook in 1:45 of the second round in a match which got over more to the live crowd than any other and people were praising Coleman in what would be his first ever major league level performance of something approximating pro wrestling (which Coleman is training for), and with Shooto heavyweight champion Enson Inoue facing Mark Kerr, generally considered the top heavyweight fighter in the world of MMA. Kerr, who is training for a career in pro wrestling and is being seriously looked at by the WWF, suffered an elbow injury that required surgery and had to postpone the match until probably the next show on 7/4 at Yokohama Arena. That show will also have closer to a pro wrestling match headline the show with Takada most likely facing NWA champion Naoya Ogawa, stemming from an angle done at this show. There may be a hold-up with that match, which should draw a much better crowd than this show for a number of reasons the main one being a more marketable main event, and that is the finish would at this stage of the game have to go in Ogawa's favor and Takada may not be so willing to give up his position.

While martial arts purists hated the idea of a worked match, particularly one involving Coleman, as the main event on the biggest shoot show of the year and no matter how you slice it, it is to a degree a fraud, the match itself was said to have gotten over the biggest to the live crowd. And they are missing the big point about sports as business and compromises that have to be made because of it. Without Takada as a drawing card, there is no promotion. And without worked matches, there is no Takada. Clearly even with Takada, it's going to be a tough go for survival since Takada's abilities and lack thereof were somewhat exposed in his two matches with Rickson Gracie, which is why they needed to "buy him" a win at the cost of a $60,000 payoff to Coleman to try and revitalize his name at the age of 37. The show only drew a crowd announced as 7,565 to 13,000-seat Rainbow Hall, and that figure was significantly inflated and the actual paid attendance was about 4,000. Nagoya has never been a strong city for pro wrestling with the exception of New Japan, which has traditionally sold out the majority of its shows since the beginning of time. Even when the second UWF, at the peak of worked shooting, was on fire in Japan and selling out every show, a match with Takada vs. Akira Maeda failed to come close to selling out the Aiichi Gym.

The major difference between Pride and UFC is that Pride has different time limits and no stand-ups, plus competitors are allowed to lay on their back in a defensive posture without being ordered to stand-up as is not allowed in UFC.

Ironically, that was the story of the Sakuraba-Belfort match. There were some standing exchanges in the 20:00 match spread over two rounds, which would have on paper appeared to benefit Belfort, the Brazilian phenom with the remarkable hand speed, punching power and punching accuracy. Most of the match consisted of Belfort, unable to deal with leg kicks standing, laying on his back voluntarily and not getting up. There was no ground fighting whatsoever according to the reports we received, which was where Sakuraba, a really good submission fighter who captured probably the weirdest UFC heavyweight tournament in history in Japan in late 1997, figured to have the edge. While Belfort was on his back, Sakuraba continually kicked at his legs leaving them badly discolored, and he captured what was said to have been an easy decision, putting a real sting on the reputation of Belfort. In the end, two judges voted for Sakuraba with the third calling the match a draw.

Belfort and Coleman were the fighters SEG was grooming as their two top stars in 1997 just as UFC began being taken off cable systems, with the idea of building to the ultimate dream match between them. But it never got to that level. Coleman was upset by Maurice Smith, and hasn't won a match since (although the decision in his most recent match with Pedro Rizzo was controversial). Belfort, who began his career with a series of rapid fire knockout wins over 6-8, 300-pound John Hess, Lions Den fighter Tra Telligman, 330-pound Scott Ferrozzo and a 51 second destruction of UFC poster boy Tank Abbott, all before his 21st birthday. He seemed to be unbeatable and well on his way to winning every Fighter of the Year award until showing up at a gassed-up 225 pounds (having been trained by Curtis Leoffler for bodybuilding, who himself passed away months later at the age of 31) and running into Randy Couture, who was booked for him with the idea of being a heavily credentialed wrestler who because of how they stylistically matched up would pose little danger to Belfort on his way to a big money match with Coleman and/or Kerr. Of course, it ended up with him being humbled with a shocking knockout loss. After a lackluster performance in a win over hand-picked Joe Charles, Belfort blamed the Couture loss and Charles win over a period where he was weakened by a parasite, and seemingly regained much of his lost reputation when he trimmed to 199 and destroyed highly rated Vanderlei Silva in 44 seconds on 10/18, and was seemingly headed for the biggest match of the year in 1999 against Frank Shamrock. Those who know Belfort best marvel at his ability and question his mentality. He several times pulled out of the match with Silva, who he destroyed, and had to be constantly talked into doing the show since so much of the promotion was built around him. It was the same problem in Japan, where he wasn't 100% and turned down any tough opponent before hand-picking Charles in what was a suspicious looking match. He was scheduled to main event the most recent UFC against Guy Mezger, but pulled out, citing a knee injury. Back in late 1996, Belfort was scheduled to make his UFC debut against Ken Shamrock and also pulled out of that fight citing a knee problem. And after arthroscopic knee surgery a few weeks back, there was some question whether he'd face Sakuraba or not.

In the pro wrestling aspect of the show, Ogawa, who for a brief period was scheduled to replace Kerr against Inoue, and then was scheduled to do an exhibition with Kazunari Murakami (neither were ever announced publicly) showed up with the NWA title belt and said he's appear at the 7/4 show challenging anyone. Antonio Inoki was not at this show, but UFO officials spoke with Rickson Gracie, who was at the show doing exhibition drills with brother Royler, about possibly doing business, but balked when Gracie's asking price was $1 million. After Takada's win over Coleman, Ogawa came back into the ring with the NWA title belt, took off his shirt and challenged Takada in a pro wrestling style angle [that this did not make the English-language broadcast is obviously very sad to me -- ed.]. A lot of shoot fans were upset with them doing a pro wrestling angle after basically a pro wrestling match to headline the show, but again, this got over better with the life crowd than the actual shoot matches.

In the other results, Enson Inoue destroyed Soichi Nishida in 25 seconds with a choke. Nishida, a 310-pound karate champion was the late replacement for Kerr after Pride failed to get quite a number of name fighters including Frank Shamrock and Mario Sperry for fill the spot due to short notice. Igor Vovchanchin, the Soviet boxer with the most incredible win-loss record (something like 26-1) of any heavyweight in the world, won a 10:00 decision over Akira Shoji in a match that was fought all standing. Francisco Bueno of Brazil knocked out Satoshi Honma in about 5:00 with a right to the face and the ref stopped it. In the opener, Egan Inoue knocked out Takada protege Minoru Toyonaga, who has also fought before in Pride, RINGS and Pancrase in the first round. Kerr was at the show and shook hands with Inoue after his win. Gary Goodridge, who was in Japan for a match in K-1 a few days earlier, was also at the show.

In what could prove down the line to be an interesting story involving this company and the United States, Sonny Onoo of WCW [I think he went to sue WCW for having been super racist, which of course they were, and ended up winning a bunch of money -- ed.] went to this show to attempt to work out a deal where future Pride events would air on PPV in the United States on a one-day delay. While the idea of shootfights involving mostly fighters unknown in the United States wouldn't draw on PPV unless WCW did a phenomenal job in promoting the show, and they can't even do that for their own product, if this was a WCW project, one would think it would be cleared by the major cable companies including Time Warner and TCI. Since the Pride rules are now almost identical to UFC, it would make the cable ban on UFC that much more hypocritical. Of course logic, in that argument, like in most arguments, rarely gets in the way of ignorant emotion and if Pride could get on with complete clearance is no guarantee any American promotion promoting basically the same product would."




May 17, 1999:

"4/29 DREAM STAGE ENTERTAINMENT PRIDE FIVE: This was a live PPV show and again it wasn't any good [lol -- ed.]. WCW wants to air the next show (7/4) on a one day tape delay, but there are going to have to be major changes since this show lasted more than four hours and there were lengthy delays and talking heads in between the matches. As mentioned before, the most significant thing about attempting to air it is if they can get it on the major cable systems like Time Warner, TCI and Cablevision, since those systems banned UFC and these matches are under almost the exact same rules (slight modifications which make for more boring matches). I suspect they'll get on because WCW is a Time-Warner company and because nobody will know ahead of time what this is. But I wonder about the marquee value of seeing unknown Japanese fight each other and then ending with a worked Takada vs. Ogawa main event. The new rules, where the ref can order a stand-up, ending the endless Brazilians laying on their back while the other guy is standing spots, and also rules having judges in the event matches went the time limit, made it a slightly better show, but except for the main event, which was worked, none of the matches were particularly good, although because the Japanese beat the Brazilian phenom, the semifinal was exciting for the live crowd. 1. Egan Inoue beat Minoru Toyonaga in 5:54 on a ref stoppage. Inoue got his back right away and went for a choke but Toyonaga escaped. Inoue got his back a second time but Toyonaga again escaped. Toyonaga got a bloody nose from a kick. Inoue threw a punch on the ground after a takedown and the ref stopped it. It appeared to be a quick stoppage. Toyonaga reacted to the punch but didn't seem overly stunned by it; Gary Goodridge came out for an interview and talked about his match in K-1 four days earlier and said he's fight on the 7/4 Pride show. He seemed nervous doing the interview, which is surprising since talking seemed to be his strong suit in UFC; 2. Francisco Bueno beat Satoshi Honma in 4:59. Bueno had a 17-pound weight edge 222-to-205. This was a match up of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu vs. karate. Honma came out to Giant Baba's ring entrance music. The match was standing and circling with few blows being thrown. Honma's low kicks bruised Bueno's thigh. They started trading punches which should have favored Honma, but Bueno rocked Honma with a punch and knocked him down and the ref stopped the fight. Honma wound up with a mouse under his left eye; 3. Igor Vovchanchin beat Akira Shoji via decision after 20:00. The announced weights were 238 to 193 advantage Vovchanchin. It didn't look to be that great of a weight difference although Vovchanchin is a short guy built like a tank. They were circling until Vovchanchin hit Shoji with his first punch putting him on the canvas at 1:59. Vovchanchin, primarily a boxer, let him up and they stood and circled until clinching at 3:25 but Vovchanchin broke free and threw him down, then let him up. Shoji dropped to his back with the infamous Pride butt scoot, but the new rules allowed to ref to order him to stand up. Vovchanchin connected with a few punches at 7:00, and late in the round Shoji threw some wild blows that whiffed. In the second round, Vovchanchin threw him down and Shoji stayed down with a butt scoot until a stand-up. Vovchanchin connected with a powerful punch knocked him down but Shoji escaped from the finish and did another butt scoot. Vovchanchin did an accidental low kick which got him a yellow card. Vovchanchin scored his third knockdown at 7:45 of the second round and Shoji had a mouse under his left eye which got really swollen by the finish. Vovchanchin scored a final knockdown at the bell to win an easy decision. Kind of boring; 4. Enson Inoue beat Soichi Nishida in 25 seconds. Nishida, who weighed 317 and looked to be around 5-8, like a short young Abdullah the Butcher, or really more like Big Japan wrestler Daikokubo Benkei, had no business out there. Inoue decked him and Nishida was wanting out. Inoue threw a few punches, Nishida turned his back and Inoue choked him out mercifully rather than hurting the guy; Naoya Ogawa came out to the old NWA world championship theme music that dates back to the days of Terry Funk and Harley Race, along with Alexander Otsuka and Kazunari Murakami and talked about being on the next show. Fans popped when Ogawa gave flowers to Rickson Gracie, who came out for an exhibition of technique with brother Royler at this point in time; 5. Kazushi Sakuraba won a decision after 20:00 over Vitor Belfort. This was definitely a spectacle. Belfort appeared to have dropped a lot of weight, maybe too fast as he looked drawn and his legs looked almost like twigs. He hit Sakuraba with dozens of punches early and I have no idea how Sakuraba weathered the early storm. Belfort punched himself out as he appeared blown up at the 3:00 mark. Sakuraba took Belfort down in the guard. When Sakuraba broke free, Belfort stayed down on his back. He wouldn't get up, and Sakuraba didn't appear fazed and began kicking his thigh. He was throwing blistering kicks and the thigh bruised badly, turning purple. As the round ended, Sakuraba jumped down on him and started punching him. In the second round, Sakuraba was tagging Belfort, who had no stamina or movement. He was connecting with spin kicks to the body and leg kicks. Belfort dropped to his back and Sakuraba kept kicking his leg. The ref ordered Belfort up and Sakuraba hit him with a back kick and more leg kicks and a punch to the face and Belfort dropped to his back again. He was ordered up, and went for a takedown but Sakuraba blocked it and he dropped to his back again. Sakuraba started punching his thigh and he was ordered to stand up. He was getting tagged and dropped to his back again. At the end, Sakuraba dove over Belfort with almost a Perro Aguayo double foot stomp at the bell. After the match Sakuraba said that on the next show he wanted to face a tougher opponent, which shows just how little respect Belfort came out of the match with. UFC is no doubt going to now try and make its contracts even more exclusive because of the embarrassment of one of their attempted superstar creations going elsewhere and being totally exposed; 6. Nobuhiko Takada beat Mark Coleman at 11:45 in a worked match. Coleman had some heat because he hinted in Full Contact Fighter that it would be a worked match by responding when asked if it was going to be real by saying that he needed to feed his family. Because of the work rumors, Coleman was told he needed to make the match look real and to rough Takada up and go all out with body punches but not go for Takada's face hard (his face blows weren't meant to inflict damage). Takada showed up not even in shape which made it worse. Coleman deserves a ton of credit for his performance here because it was the first worked match of his life and he had to carry things since he was doing almost all the offense and make it look both real and be entertaining. He seemingly went all out on his takedowns and threw hard body punches and even knees to the belly. He even got Takada in the headlock he beat Dan Severn with. To show just how educated the Japanese fans are, even though that was an American match, as soon as he got the hold, everyone popped because everyone knew, and when Takada escaped it was a big pop. Coleman was going for a keylock at the end of the first round. In the second round, Takada started with low kicks and Coleman began selling he was tired. Takada got the heel hook, and Coleman did a pro wrestling waving off the pain before tapping spot. The place went nuts for Takada's win and they gave both fighters a standing ovation. After the match Ogawa came in and did a pro wrestling angle laying the NWA title belt down. Takada offered his hand but Ogawa was playing pro wrestler and took his shirt off and began playing to the crowd while Takada walked off."


"There is a snag when it comes to the 7/4 Pride show in regard to the Nobuhiko Takada vs. Naoya Ogawa main event. Apparently the Takada people are balking about doing the job and it may wind up with each of them in separate singles matches, which would make it far harder to draw. You know what would be hilarious if this show does air on PPV in the U.S. and Ogawa comes out with the NWA belt on a show produced by WCW and the how that, and Ogawa and Takada's backgrounds as pro wrestlers will be addressed."

THERE WE HAVE IT MY FRIENDS and I must say that despite Dave Meltzer's plain-speaking ("This was a live PPV show and again it wasn't any good"), and despite my own early misgivings, I ended up enjoying this show a lot! I hope that it contained pleasantnesses for you as well. In closing I would like to thank you all for your time, and wish you the best until we reconvene for PRIDE.6(プライド・シックス)which I think of as a really good one! See you soon!