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.


  1. We miss your posts. I'm still waiting for pride 9!

    1. Thank you for reading! And thank you for your patience -- I am going to start into a PRIDEGP2000 MEGAPOST this week!