Thursday, February 20, 2020

PRIDE GRANDPRIX 2000 開幕戦(プライドグランプリにせん かいまくせん)2000年1月30日

主催 DSE
会場 東京ドーム
開始時刻 午後5時

明けましておめでとうございます AKEMASHITE OMEDETО̄ GOZAIMASU HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY is a weird thing to say in the middle of February or indeed several days past the middle of February but as we have not spoken yet this year (for which I apologize, the fault is mine and mine alone, please forgive me) I will say it to you all the same. Oh hey real quick on the subject of saying akemashite omedeto gozaimasuо̄ to people, did you perchance hear the Fumi Saito/Jim Valley podcast they recorded New Year's Eve from Killer Khan No Mise Izakaya Kanchan which is to say Killer Khan's little restaurant in Shinjuku? It was pretty delightful! At one point Killer Khan began to sing karaoke and in truth it was quite haunting; Fumi explained that the song he sang was an old one about moving away and leaving your daughter behind and missing her forever. It was all pretty heavy! But then the New Year came, just like you'd think, and everybody was like akemashite omedeto gozaimasuо̄ and Happy New Year, Fumi-san and then things weren't sad or were at least only sad in the familiar and comfortable way every New Year is a little sad. For more on Killer Khan's lovely little izakaya in Shinjuku, here you go; for more on chef Ami Goto and Eric McIntyre's lovely little izakaya in north end Halifax, here you also go as well too. It was referenced in a Marvel comic recently! I think it was Black Cat! Because the writer lives here! And rightly loves Kitsune Food Co! Even though Sushi Shige is back in a new location after a fourteen-month absence Kitsune is still enormously viable for take-out! Please remember them!

Anyway friends I will be frank with you (at last, for once) and say that I have put off this writing for months and months, daunted by the prospect of its enormity. The Pride GP 2000 is, as I remember it at least, just way, way too much. But I guess we'll see! I had attempted another writing for you in I guess it must have November, on the occasion of (the most recent?) QUINTET (クインテット) but I lost heart so bad. I can pinpoint the exact moment of heart-losing, though I don't know that I will be able to explain it, really: a græpplor of skill and renown, probably (I forget who right now), was applying a 関節技 kansetsu-waza or joint-locking technique or, as it is rendered in my lovely old 1955/1970 Illustrated Kodokan Judo (Kodansha [who else]), bone-locking technique, and the fellow on commentary, a 10th Planet person who had actually been doing a first-rate job of not calling everything by 10th-Planet names and so for that I hail and salute him, was taking us through the replay and was like ". . . and at this point, it's either tap . . . or snap" and I was like "lol I don't like this even a little bit" and I turned it off, never to turn it back on. I can't take seriously and will actively resist any attempt to make submission grappling a super-gnar tough-guy thing for super-gnar super-tough guys. It just isn't what it is, regardless of who chooses to try to make it seem that way for the aggrandizement of their own ego or in the interests of lifestyle branding and commodification (these are all obviously the same thing). We roll around on the ground until one person is like "ok I'm good, tap tap" and then you start over; that's it; that is the activity. Who was this silly goon trying to impress? Oh shit he's right, if you don't acknowledge that someone has you in kansetsu you might hurt your arm, holy SHIT these guys are gnar. Every eight-year-old kid who hops on a skateboard (pardon me, sk8tbørt) takes a bigger physical (and emotional, for sure) risk than the most pitbulldragonrashguarded submission grappler has ever taken and so in the name of ALL THE CHILDREN OF EARTH there was no choice left me other than to be sickened. I did, though, take a number of really nice screen shots from the lovely intro video they played at the start with Kazushi Sakuraba talking about growing up in Akita, let me see if I still have those:


I guess I do! some of those are from Twitter, too, I am pretty sure. Lovely stuff, right? And so at odds with the silly commentary that drove me off, and you might very well think of my whole response to this seemingly innocuous moment like "that 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 and you would be correct but although I do not remember this clearly I would bet I wasn't really enjoying the show even before that. The QUINTET rules are not really structured and/or have not been called in a way that incentivizes what I like best to see, and what is economics but the study of incentives (not relevant here, just a good thing I heard once [about economics]). And so unless people are fighting in a way that is motivated not by what the rules themselves encourage, but instead by a true and deep æsthetics of not that which is but instead that which might be, the whole thing is medium-to-fairly awful to watch, really. And so, for now, I leave it. We leave it? But I do not wish to speak for the group.

AND SO WE RETURN TO THE PRIDE GP 2000 in which Kazushi Sakuraba looms no less large(ly), and in fact perhaps way more large(ly) than even in the aforementioned grappling series that is totally his own thing. Before we go any further (which is to say, begin) I will remind you of how darkly/wonderfully The Smashing Machine documentary treats much of this material, and I am slightly saddened to see that it is not available in full on youtube anymore, but it is probably to be had elsewhere, like on that ololo dot to site that is pretty tremendous for finding just about anything (the way I tested it, when it was first made known to me, was by looking for Night Courts, and let me tell you something: it totally had Night Courts). AND SO AT LAST WE BEGIN AND ONCE AGAIN I REGRET HOW LONG IT HAS BEEN SINCE LAST WE SPOKE OF PRIDE LIKE IT HAS NEARLY BEEN A YEAR IF YOU CAN EVEN BELIEVE IT (I KNOW THAT I CANNOT REALLY).

That we are very much at the 東京ドーム Tōkyō Dōmu surprises no one, as this is a really big deal, as indicated by all the 太鼓 Taiko drummers having a go at it on a massive stage as the fighters parade down the ramp. A respectable array of tracksuits are represented here; some t-shirts, certainly, a hoodie or two, yes, but those in search of the distinct pleasures offered by the nylon jacket will find satiety here. Oh dear, Ken Shamrock joins Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros on commentary, and he is not very good at talking about things, generally, except for when he was on the Steve Austin podcast and left everyone (especially Steve Austin) devastated by how sad his life had been. Like it was devastatingly sad. And our first bout! It is a RESERVED MATCH between "Dirty" Bob Schrijber, who has always seemed like a terrible person (I do not know the man personally), and Wanderlei Silva, who at this point has decision wins at Pride 7 and 8 against Carl Malenko and Daijiro Matsui respectively. A minute for so in, as Wanderlei takes Schrijber's back, Stephen Quadros points out that as a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt, Wanderlei Silva has submission ability, which is true I guess, but a BJJ blue belt can really mean just about anything, can't it? Those among you know well the mats know well this too. In any case he applies the naked strangle of 裸絞 hadaka-jime and that's a nice little win for Wanderlei Silva, who continues to be even more juiced up in the manner of a juicy, juicy juice-box than I seem to have been capable of remembering. He gets a medal! He will put it with the others in the free Adidas bag he got from the gym one time that is totally nice but he just doesn't really have a use for it so it's just in the basement. 

Ken Shamrock takes to the ring in a sport coat to announce his looming return to no holds barred in a speech that is at once both one note and meandering, kind of a wild achievement in the realms of rhetoric and poesy. 

The first bout of the first round sees Gary Goodridge, whose country is listed as Canada (and why not, he is of Barrie, and should never have left the Alliston Honda plant) rather than Trinidad, as it has so often been, and whose fighting style is given here as ARM-WRESTLING, against the former sumo wrestler turned fake pro wrestler Tachihikari aka Osamu Kawahara. I am unschooled in sumo and so do not know him from that world, and also I have seen almost no Battlarts and so know him not from there either, but I am pretty sure that the name Tachihikari 大刀光 means something like "great big sword . . . of light" which is a reasonably dope name for a rikishi to have. Stephen Quadros can't say it at all, he is like "Ta-Chicory" a bunch of times as though it was part of the RZA's really very strong V IS FOR VICTORY / I MASTERED YOUR TRICKERY / TRY TO CLOCK LIKE DICKORY / GET SMOKED LIKE HICKORY / SO PLEASE STOP THE BICKERING / YOU CANNOT GET RID OF ME / WU KILLA BEEZ FROM NOW TO INFINITY part of "Iron God Chamber" on the low-key great Masta Killa Made in Brooklyn LP from 2006 (a strangely good U-God verse opens the track!). I am actually weirded out pretty hard right now by how much closer that record is to the PRIDE GRANDPRIX 2000 than it is to our own time, give me a sec. Okay. Tachihikari is game for sure but he is clubbered matwards and thence forearm choked in the manner of 片手絞 kata-te-jime, the single-hand choke, in a mere fifty-one seconds. Goodridge then poses with his sister and his cousin, both of whom are massive:

Gary Goodridge gets a medal too!

Ebenezer Fontes Braga, who we may well recall from his loss to Kazushi Sakuraba not that many PRIDEs ago, is next in with 小路晃 Shoji Akira AKIRA SHOJI who is rightly loved by all for how he is short and stout, sure, but when he gets all steamed up? Tip him over and look the hekk out haha. For real, though, we love him. Interestingly, if you are me, and I hope also if you are you, between his last PRIDE match and this one, Akira Shoji fought Ryushi Yanagisawa to a draw on the 1999 Pancrase Anniversary Show. I would never have guessed! Braga is much longer and leaner than Shoji, and is shown in the pre-fight video delivering elbows to the back of the head of someone wearing a t-shirt, which is about as dark as sport gets, if sport it be (not really). 大内刈 OUCHI-GARI is the particular inner-reap (the major one) Shoji employs to take Braga to the mat and then just sort of settle in. I will remind you that I have heard that Akira Shoji was pretty good at judo in high school! Braga seems content to tie Shoji's arm up and OH GEE OK Shoji is passing now, good for him. Braga has to turtle (亀 kame) for a sec rather than be in an even worse spot and then they are both back up. Good stuff so far! Shoji also briefly attempted the arm-entanglement of 腕緘 ude-garami whilst they were in 寝技 newaza so this is delivering much of what I would have hoped for it to have, thanks everybody so far. Another 大内刈 ouchi-gari and we are right back down as Quadros explains the techniques that are forbidden (one might say 禁止技 kinshi-waza) in PRIDE, among them headbutts, and it really is worth remembering how much banning the headbutt (the right thing to do, please do not mistake me) changes everything we see in terms of the guard or 引き込み hikikomi (drawing in) position in M I X E D F I G H T. I like hanging out on the bottom as much as the next guy (and as a smaller person it has behooved me to learn this position as well as I have been able over these many long years) but let us not lose sight of how much better it is to be on top if what we are after is applicability in contexts that are gross ("an unweeded garden,That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely," it has correctly been said of the mixing of the martial arts). Braga is having a hard time getting his hips going at all, and Akira Shoji is doing just great, really, in terms of staying squared up, which he probably has a natural advantage at since he is totally just a square, like he is in the ninety-ninth percentile for human physical squareness. Back to their feet briefly, Braga lands a pretty good right hand but Shoji is back up soon enough, and just puts his head down and starts swinging, which is very much what we expect of him. The bell sounds to mark the end of the fifteen minute round, which is all that will be needed unless the bout is (ad)judged a draw, which it is not, as Akira Shoji has rightly been awarded the win. Quadros and Bas think it was a draw but you may have noticed that I have spoken comparatively little of what they have been saying and this is no accident my friends as I find that I do not care for it, and that's about the size of it, so why dwell; why dwell. It has been a real disappointment to me that I have not found Bas Rutten to be anywhere near as charming as I remembered him being, and since that dark discovery there has also been added the not entirely unpredictable revelation that he is a MAGA-chud, so there's not that much to be said other than to express continued disappointment, which I would prefer to communicate through silence and gesture.

An amazing photograph of アントニオ猪木 Antonio Inoki gets the biggest rise out of the  東京ドーム Tōkyō Dōmu thousands so far, which I totally get:

Images of Inoki's bout with Muhammad Ali are shown, too, to position four-time national champion freestyle wrestler and soon-to-be-king of InokiISM 藤田 和之 FUJITA KAZUYUKI as heir to "that whole deal." Fujita has drawn (I can't imagine there was a draw; this was all no doubt deeply, deeply managed) as his first round opponent the as-yet-unmurdered Fighting Network RINGS alum Hans Nijman, the horrors of the 2013 Volkswagon Golf still unknown to him. Fujita ducks under a Nijman high-kick, takes him down, and within three minutes earns the win by  一本 ippon with a 首挫 kubi-hishigi neck crank from 袈裟固 kesa-gatame in which kesa, scarf, is best understood as a Buddhist surplice. The crowd sure loves Kazuyuki Fujita! In this, they are blameless; for he is quite neat. Just the other evening I heard on an Adam-only edition of The Adam and Mike Big Audio Nightmare that a forty-nine-year-old Kaz Fujita who can barely shuffle out to the ring is having great matches with lighting-fast ground exchanges in Pro Wrestling NOAH these days, which makes me want to check some of those out!

A really very exciting video outlining the uncommonly æsthetic 技 waza of Kazushi Sakuraba plays, highlighted by the part where he hits Mongolian chops and it says "チョップ!" on the screen (choppu; it does not specify a nationality of them). These are all, we are told, aspects of his IQレスリング (re-su-ri-n-gu), and the crowd, who you can still hear in this weird audio feed, are inclined to agree. His opponent is Guy Mezger (cornered by Ken Shamrock), and if memory serves me, and it totally might not, I think this ends up being a fairly even match or even one that you could even have given to Guy Mezger but the judges (ad)judge it to be a draw requiring an extra round and Ken Shamrock S N A P S and then goes into his Z O N E (these are allusions to his WWF character haha!) because there had been an agreement that Mezger was only going to fight one round for some reason? This is a lot of oddly specific remembrance to be wrong about but I assure you I am capable of all this and more. I should have checked their weights, it occurs to me as Mezger seems to me a little bit bigger than Sakuraba but not a tonne bigger, but alas I did not, and time, as you know, is yet an arrow. A minute or so in, Mezger is getting the slightest best of Sakuraba standing (there's a Sakuraba head-kick just as I say this, though), and defends Sakuraba's low 踵返 kibisu-gaeshi/heel-reversal/ankle-pick well. Quadros rightly notes that this has more the feel of sparring than the wild energy of a fight, but the crowd is so engaged that every near miss is like HWWWWAAAAIIII all the same. Five minutes gone, five to go (oh wait maybe it is ten gone, five to go, sorry). Sakuraba can kind of get Mezger down, but can't keep him there. OH GEE Sakuraba has his back a little and I say a little because he's only got one leg trapped and not really the hips and yep there we go, Mezger is right back up. Mezger has been landing his right hand a bunch but Sakuraba is unshook by it. Sakuraba is having more luck with the takedown as we progress here and he's taking some wild stabs at 関節技 kansetsu-waza but Mezger is a slippery character! The bell sounds and I am left thinking that Sakuraba did better than I remembered, and an extra round really does seem like the best call UNLESS you are Ken Shamrock in which case you are freaking out at referee Yuji Shimada because of a pre-existing agreement that Mezger was only going to be able to fight one round, if I am remembering that part of things correctly (who can say [perhaps the ghost of Dave Meltzers past in a minute here]). Yeah okay Ken Shamrock, still pretty heated up, is definitely trying to communicate to Sakuraba's corner (Daijiro Matsui!) that the arrangement, for whatever reason, had indeed been one round and one round only. ANYWAY Guy Mezger leaves, and an announcement is made to the effect that he has lost his will to fight (I mean I suppose that's true) and so Sakuraba has advanced into the next round of this already quite sikk tournament. 

MORE TAIKO DRUMMING ushers in 佐竹 雅昭 Satake Masaaki, Man of Karate, and you can tell he is that because of footage that shows him to have karate-fought the great WILLIE WILLIAMS (R.I.P.). This is Satake's first mixed fight, but he is already a great star of K-1, an organization whose history is bound up inextricably with that of Fighting Network RINGS, a relationship which, if you can believe it, we have detailed in these pages previously. His foe this eve is Mark Coleman, in all his immensity, coming off a fairly recent win against the legitimately monstrous Ricardo Morais, which was Coleman's first win in years (one of his loses, it is perhaps worth noting, was against Nobuhiko Takada, and was, as such, enormously fake). Satake enters to the strains of ゴジラ/Gōjira/GODZILLA (the Internet Archive has the original 1954 movie up for our enjoyment!) and is cornered by TSUYOSHI KOHSAKA and MAURICE SMITH, two lovely pals.
Joining Stephen Quadros on commentary is Gary Goodridge, who has lost to Mark Coleman in the UFC, and to Satake in K-1, so he is like hey man these guys are both pretty good, I am going to level with you. He has the most Ontarian of all accents ever, Gary Goodridge has. Coleman takes Satake down immediately and wins with a "can-opener" neck crank, which is absolutely a hassle of a technique if you don't know what to do about it. Had Satake known to open up his legs and scooch his caboose, he would have been in little if any danger, but hey, you don't know what you don't know, and he is new to this. Coleman, revealed in The Smashing Machine to be an utterly lovable creature of a dad, is fired the HEKK up and high-fives people with great fury on his way to the back; he also hugs a little toddler (or perhaps pre-schooler) dangled out towards him. All that awaits Satake, who takes all of this like a sportsman of good cheer, are the post-fight consolations of Tsuyoshi Kohsaka.
Next, Ігор Ярославович Вовчанчин/Igor Yaroslavovych Vovchanchyn beats Alexander Otsuka up pretty badly for fifteen minutes, and Otsuka is full of courage so he just gets creamed. I think Quadros says that Otsuka had a professional wrestling match earlier that day? That is at once pretty wild and yet totally believable. Because of how Igor keeps on hitting, I am given cause to reflect on how there has been virtually no hitting in the other matches so far, like about as little hitting as you're likely to see in a context such as this. Perhaps this accounts, at least in part, for my delight?

As students of The Smashing Machine, we know not only the broad lines of Mark Kerr vs. Enson Inoue, but also its excruciating minutiae; that Bas Rutten and Ricco Rodriguez are Mark Kerr's seconds is the most banal and trivial matter of which we can even conceive, given all that we know, all that has been revealed. Enson's World Racquetball Champion (two times over!) brother Egan is with him; you may recall Tsuyoshi Kohsaka besting him by means of repeated TK Scissors in a Lumax Cup TOURNAMENT OF J event we very much covered some time ago in these very pages? Anyway, Mark Kerr takes Inoue down immediately, giving the camera ample opportunity to linger over the kanji 死, shi, "death," that has been shaved into Inoue's number one or number two buzz cut right at the back of his head (it's probably a one? it has been so long since I have number-one-buzzed that I am out of touch with the whole scene). I would call that something of a try-hard move, having a barber (or yr boi, whomever) shave 死 into the back of your head, but Enson Inoue has a lovely Twitter presence largely revolving around his love of his dogs so I am not going to dwell on this; I bet he'd be pretty nice if you met him. Mark Kerr is doing very little with his top position and the whole time you can feel you can just feel how much he wishes he could still do head-butts. Kerr advances to niju-garami or half-guard and secures a sort of 裸絞 hadaka-jime or naked strangle grip, seemingly trying to smother Inoue with his massive chest, which is probably viable. Goodridge points out that Mark Kerr being 253lbs with like no fat (weird right? it is so weird that he is like that!) actually works against him when he's attempting a smother, in that he's all smooth and hard-lined and such, whereas if he was smooshy, some of his smooshy bits would fill the space. This is astute! Quadros catches on, he's like "oh I get it, it's like the difference between being underneath The Blob or, say, a tomato" and Gary Goodridge is like "yeah man." 

It is difficult to say how much time has elapsed. I think ten minutes gone, five to go, was the announcement just now? There's just nothing happening, though. Kerr isn't trying to pass any farther, nor should he really, as top half-guard is a more stable top position to strike from than 縦四方固 tate-shiho-gatame or 横四方固 yoko-shiho-gatame, only he isn't doing all that much striking, largely because Inoue is doing a pretty good job of tying him up from this disadvantageous position. I have been pinned beneath people Mark Kerr's size (and a little bigger!) and let me tell you, it is no fun at all. Then again, I am much smaller than Enson Inoue. But on the other hand, there's a golden band, for starters, but also nobody is trying to hit me from there, so it's still way better to be me, even if Enson does enjoy a lovely life with his dogs (I have a small grey cat; her name is Doris and she has been my little pal for sixteen years). Well that's that: one judge has it a draw (in the "fight another round, please" sense of draw, which is different than a draw-draw, the way I see it [perhaps wrongly {who can say}]), but the other two see it for Mark Kerr, who advances, as you remember well from, that's right, The Smashing Machine. OH HEY did you hear about how Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson (R.I.P. to his father Wayde Douglas Bowles, born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, much like Wyndham Lewis, who wrote two books about Hitler, the first like "wow this Hitler guy is a real character, he's up to some pretty interesting things!" and the second one like "hey sorry about that first book about Hitler, you guys, huge miss on my part"; my dear old friend Adam wrote about him here) anyway yeah The Rock went to a UFC show somewhere to announce that his production company was going to make a movie about Mark Kerr and The Rock himself would star and apparently (I did not see this) the crowd was like "fvkkn, who though?" which tells you all you need to know about decline and fall and ruin. 

ROYCE GRACIE, who has yet to test positive for any performance enhancing drugs at all or be charged with several crimes for hiding all of his money and claiming California state tax credits meant for poor people and I mean at this point he hasn't even divorced his wife the doctor yet and asked the courts that she support him utterly because how could he make any money with all the gyms that literally pay him homage (although I guess they don't, zero income, remember) so that every year or so he'll fly out to wherever for a seminar (again no money in that I guess, zero income) and award blue belts so frivolously that it becomes a thing that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu people joke about openly. I am not a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu person so I would never do that; it is not my place; I can only report to you the things I see before me (I am a camera, much like I believe Christopher Isherwood, who, say what you will, was friends with W. H. Auden, who was a great and lovely man), YES THAT'S RIGHT ROYCE GRACIE as I was saying has a match with Nobuhiko Takada, who is juuuuuuussssssst about done with this "fighting for real" nonsense, because frankly it has not worked out, other than that it has made him an awful lot of money and people love him to this day for trying, so I guess what we have learned as we approach the end of this sentence is that it totally totally did work out for him. Gracie drags Takada into his guard ( 引き込み, hikikomi, again: "drawing in"; please consider this) pretty much right away and then doesn't really do much other than those lil' heel kicks. For a second he fishes around with the skirt of his keikogi as though he were about to employ a 裾絞 susuo-jime of some kind but he is no Yarden Gerbi, to say the least, to say the least. "Takada has done absolutely nothing," Quadros suggests, and I would add that Royce Gracie has done within one standard deviation of the same. The crowd kind of roars at the announcement that there are only a few minutes left; they're pretty engaged in this because of their deep and abiding love of Nobuhiko Takada and their desire to give him a portion of their monies, which I mentioned briefly above. It would be wrong to say that I am bored by this, because I legitimately am not, but objectively I recognize that this stinks, and that both of these guys are stinking. The bell rings and Takada has a little trouble walking, probably just because he's all cramped up from holding the exact same position for fifteen minutes. Pins and needles pins and needles pins and needles is the vibe he is vibing to me through both space and time right now. Royce Gracie wins a unanimous decision but, like, whatever. He then carries on and speaks to the crowd in a manner suggesting that he did something, which, we all know, he did not. 

A really enjoyable show and genuinely pleasant time with a DUD finish, is what I would say on the whole regarding in this long-deferred assessment of PRIDE GRANDPRIX 2000 開幕戦(プライドグランプリにせん かいまくせん). One cannot help but wonder, given all that we have seen in this our renewed time together (I thank you one again for it most sincerely), what Dave Meltzer may or may not have said regarding all that we have seen, all that we have known?


December 20, 1999:

"Pride held a press conference on 12/9 which apparently was to announce its tournament bracketing for the 1/30 Tokyo Dome show. Unfortunately, the bracketing hasn't been completed so the only thing announced is that the 1/30 show will have eight tournament matches and two non-tournament singles matches. One tournament match was announced, which is Enson Inoue vs. Masaaki Satake, which I guess is somewhat intriguing in Japan from a mark standpoint [that is fairly harsh language! -- ed.] of an NHB fighter facing a genuine K-1 star, except Satake doesn't have the ground experience to compete with someone of Inoue's level. They announced Takada, Sakuraba, Inoue, Alexander Otsuka, Igor Vovchanchin, Mark Kerr, Royce Gracie, Mark Coleman, Gary Goodridge, Satake (making his MMA debut), Naoya Ogawa and Akira Shoji as appearing, but it was noted that neither Takada nor Ogawa, the two biggest drawing cards on the show, appeared at the press conference. All we've heard is that they went to Frank Shamrock to face Sakuraba on that show but Shamrock asked for $150,000 (which is pretty much the fighters way of turning down a deal) which ended negotiations immediately, and that they are looking for foreigners with some size and some reputation to do jobs for Takada and Ogawa."

Also in this issue Dave notes:

"Rickson Gracie and Masakatsu Funaki had a contract signing for their match which will take place on 5/26 at the Tokyo Dome. At the 12/15 press conference to announce the formation of the new Coliseum 2000 promotion in conjunction with TV Tokyo (Ch. 12 in Tokyo), they announced that the card would air live on DirecTV on PPV in Japan and Ch. 12 would air it in prime time later that evening. One can knock the fact that these two shouldn't be the biggest MMA match of the year, but the reality from a business standpoint is that this is the biggest match of next year."

(As you may recall, we have addressed this in some detail previously.)

December 27, 1999:

In Tokyo Sports news:

"In other awards, Kazushi Sakuraba of Dream Stage Entertainment parlayed his recent win over Royler Gracie to co-capture the Most Valuable Fighter award with Naoya Ogawa."

January 10, 2000:

"Pride is now attempting to get some pro wrestlers into its 1/30 Tokyo Dome tournament if Naoya Ogawa won't do the show." 

From the mailbag:


Just got the new issue of the Observer and enjoyed it, but there were a few things I wanted to point out to your for future reference.

You said the "Kimura," the V-1 armlock, the double wristlock and the chicken wing were all the same hold.

This isn't correct. The V-1 armlock wa a term created by Satoru Sayama to describe the top wristlock, also known as the keylock. The "Kimura" is very close to being the double wristlock used by the old-timers, but the jiu-jitsu people control from the wrist instead of from the hand. They also don't use the thumb. The chicken wing can only be done when a guy is on his face and you are on top.

As for breaking an arm with the "Kimura," it can't be done [lolololol -- ed.]. You can tear tendons and ligaments of the arm and or the shoulder, but you can't break the arm [lololololol -- ed]. The only way I've seen bones get broken in combat is through strikes and or falls [lololololololol -- ed].

Matt Furey

Tampa, Florida

DM: Furey is a former collegiate wrestling champ (who once beat Scott Steiner when both were in college wrestling) and martial arts world champion who trains under Karl Gotch and does a newsletter called "GAIN" on combat wrestling." 

January 17, 2000:

"[Kazuyuki] Fujita, a powerhouse former national champion freestyle wrestler, will supposedly be doing shows for RINGS and Pride as a New Japan rep to make a reputation there before bringing him back into pro wrestling with the idea if he can beat people legit, he can occupy the "shooter" spot and be a top draw as a tough guy like Hashimoto was in the 90s. He leaves this week for Seattle to train under Maurice Smith and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and will face Hanse Nyman, a former pro wrestler from RINGS, in the first round of the 1/30 Pride tournament at the Tokyo Dome." 


"DSE announced its first round pairings for the 1/30 Tokyo Dome tournament and the big surprise was a match-up between Kazushi Sakuraba vs. UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman since UFC and Pride are rival organizations and UFC does sign its fighters to exclusive deals (one of the reasons last year that the Frank Shamrock vs. Kiyoshi Tamura match kept getting moved back was because they were waiting for Shamrock's non-compete term with SEG to end). Randleman has Sakuraba, who many consider the No. 1 under-200 pound fighter in the world, by 20 pounds and is giving away a ton of power. The only thing we've heard is that SEG is looking into this situation. Frank Shamrock beat Tito Ortiz under similar circumstances, but to do so required enough time for Ortiz to gas out, and Randleman, who is a far better wrestler than Ortiz, in some fights has shown a lot more stamina than most wrestlers. Matches announced were Royce Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada, Enson Inoue vs. Mark Kerr, Alexander Otsuka vs. Igor Vovchanchin, Masaaki Satake vs. Mark Coleman, Sakuraba vs. Randleman, Hanse Nyman vs. Kazuyuki Fujita, Gary Goodridge vs. Tskhadadze Zaue and Akira Shoji vs. Ebenezer Fontes Braga. They will also have what are being called alternate matches (in which the winners would go to the March Tokyo Dome in the event of an injury to one of the winners above) with Carlos Baretto, Guy Mezger, Vanderlei Silva and Osamu Tachihikari. Without matches announced but given the size of the four one would presume it'll be Baretto vs. Tachihikari and Mezger vs. Silva. DSE wants Ken Shamrock to be in Mezger's corner. The rules of the matches are one 15:00 round. If there is no clean winner, it goes to the judges. My belief is that the judges, unless somebody wins pretty clearly, will at first vote draws and send them into a 15:00 overtime, at which point they'll go to the judges again and this time they won't vote draws. In the criteria of how the matches are being judged, effective striking, take downs, control and positioning on the ground, etc. is an interesting category, that points are also supposed to be given in a close fight to the lighter man in the fight which is believed to be a concession to Gracie. This is probably the most interesting tournament in many years, if not ever. The winners will be re-bracketed for March, no doubt for maximum gate appeal as well as to keep Kerr, Randleman and Coleman away from each other since they are all friends, provided they are all in the running, so they don't have an actual bracket all the way through as most tournaments would."

January 24, 2000:

"In the biggest possible marquee move for supremacy in the MMA world [is it really though? -- ed.], and for a potential breakthrough in the North American market, Dream Stage Entertainment has offered Ken Shamrock a two-fight $700,000 base deal.

Shamrock had been looking for a deal to allow him to return to MMA, whether it be with DSE, UFC or take a proposed match in Abu Dhabai, but the tough decision was giving up the lucrative WWF income, of which, due to the WWF having such a huge year at the box office, he is believed to have earned in the same $700,000 range this past year. Shamrock had not signed the contract at press time and negotiations were not finalized, but he was expected to make the announcement that he had signed at the 1/30 DSE show at the Tokyo Dome where he would also serve as a color commentator (and DSE hopes to get that tape shown in the United States as well although it won't be on PPV) and in which two of his fighters, Guy Mezger and Tra Telligman, would be participating. In return, based on their agreement in a meeting Shamrock had with Vince McMahon on 12/30, the WWF would be expected to release Shamrock from his contract, which originally expired in February 2000 but WWF had exercised its option to renew it through February 2002.

He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on 1/4, and is expected to start full-time fight training this week and finish with the WWF with an appearance at the Royal Rumble on 1/23 in Madison Square Garden. It is expected that Shamrock would return to the WWF after fulfilling his DSE agreement in about one year and there was talk of him making occasional WWF television appearances over the next year to keep his name fresh and promote his fights.

DSE is looking for Shamrock's name, and his American fame from nearly three years of being a top name in the WWF after being UFC's biggest stars during a period when that sport was a doing well on PPV, to be the marquee in establishing their show as the name brand of MMA, not only in Japan, but throughout the world. To this day, Shamrock's fights with Royce Gracie (the second one) and Dan Severn (the first one) in 1995 were the two most purchased non-boxing sporting events of the decade of the 90s on PPV. The company is hopeful of getting its shows on PPV, which is still filled with political red tape in the United States, although it is much simpler in Canada, and that the Shamrock and Gracie (who is returning to MMA with the same DSE promotion starting with the 1/30 Tokyo Dome show for a match against pro wrestler Nobuhiko Takada which could result in a third Shamrock vs. Gracie match, although nobody has even discussed that match) names on the show would open up the market to both the former UFC fans as well as to the pro wrestling audience that was also a large part of the success of early UFC in the United States. Certainly, a lot of that depends on the WWF, which is doing separate business negotiations with DSE in regard to possibly doing a WWF show later this year at the Tokyo Dome. If WWF hypes Shamrock's fight on its television as something important, and basically portrays Shamrock as the WWF's representative in a mixed fighting tournament, at least a modicum of success is guaranteed because right now the WWF has the ability to hype almost anything it chooses to and make it work. If the WWF chooses to ignore Shamrock's foray into MMA, because Shamrock won't be under contract to the WWF at the time and because the eventual outcomes aren't guaranteed, his name value to the show in the American market would be greatly lessened although it would have no effect on his name value of the match in the Japanese market.

Shamrock, who turns 36 in three weeks, knowing the clock is ticking when it comes to a return to the sport he was one of the pioneers in from an American standpoint, had long talked of a return to the mixed martial arts world this year recognizing that if he were to ever return, he'd have to do it this year. Despite his greater short-term fame and more lucrative income earned in pro wrestling, he'll inevitably be best remembered for being the star of the early UFC PPVs and a pioneer in mixed martial arts. He also established a team, The Lions Den, which was the dominant fighting organization in the UFC at one time. However, the Den's reputation has taken a tumble this past year with Den fighters Pete Williams, Mezger, Jerry Bohlander and Telligman all losing their last UFC matches. The other Den fighter, Mike Burnett, announced his retirement to try pro boxing. Shamrock had talked in interviews in recent months about wanting to restore the Den name back as being the elite of the MMA world.

No names have been agreed upon when it comes to who Shamrock faces, but because of the money involved and because substantial bonuses are involved should he win his fights, neither is expected to be "easy" opponents. His first match is scheduled on 5/1 at the Tokyo Dome, which the company is hopeful would mark its U.S. PPV debut. They are going against a lot of odds because PPV with no television shows building the event (like pro wrestling) or mass media hype (like pro boxing) have never done any numbers. UFC is the aberration and has a track record and this is basically UFC except done in a boxing ring as opposed to the cage.

All MMA type shows with the exception of UFC ultimately failed to draw successful buy rates, which is why many feel the name UFC because of the sizzle from its successful early years is a much bigger marketing tool than actual mainstream interest in seeing limited rules free fighting.

Among the names that have been considered for Shamrock to face are Kazushi Sakuraba, provided Sakuraba beats Guy Mezger on 1/30 (the Sakuraba vs. Kevin Randleman match announced last week for that show is out, probably due to SEG not allowing its heavyweight champion to compete against such a talented opponent) and Bas Rutten, who has not lost a fight in any kind of competition since a March 10, 1995 loss in one minute to Shamrock via submission on a Pancrase show (although the majority opinion seems to be that Rutten was very lucky to win a decision in his most recent match with Kevin Randleman). Shamrock is expected to fight at about 215 pounds, which has been his approximate weight for some time as he trimmed down to prepare for his return, which would give him probably a 25-pound weight advantage on Sakuraba. Many consider Sakuraba one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, whose only loss in MMA competition was in his debut match against a much larger and stronger Kimo. Sakuraba after many wins, finally established himself as a drawing card in Japan by packing the Ariake Coliseum on 11/21 for his win over Royler Gracie.

DSE is trying to market MMA primarily to the large pro wrestling market as it has done to an extent in Japan, as its biggest draws in Japan, Takada and Naoya Ogawa, are actually pro wrestlers, and Sakuraba himself comes from a pro wrestling background. They are interested in using pro wrestlers from WWF and WCW to sell the shows in the U.S. as has been a successful formula in Japan, however WWF has made it clear after the brawl-for-all fiasco that it will not allow any of its wrestlers under contract to do shoot matches. It is highly doubtful WCW would either. Bill Goldberg has expressed interest in doing shoot matches [lolololololololol --ed.] and with his marketability, he'd be able to command huge money to do so, but ultimately it can never happen because the risk to his reputation isn't worth it.

Shamrock compiled a 6-2-2 record in UFC competition and was the company's first superfight champion, debuting on its first PPV show on November 12, 1993 and with his final fight coming on December 7, 1996 before going into pro wrestling. It should be noted that UFC was a very different animal during that period as it is today as the fighters are more highly skilled and the awareness of submissions has increased greatly. Shamrock's strengths as a fighter were his physical power and his submission ability. Kickboxing technique, which Shamrock has trained in for years but is not considered his strongest suit, is far more important and getting submissions against today's opponents is far more difficult than it was against the less experienced fighters of the UFC's primitive period.

Since Shamrock left UFC, his adopted brother Frank became the group's top star. Those who have trained with both will say that Ken is far physically stronger, and tougher particularly in the gym, but that Frank has proven to be a better competition fighter. Ken himself has noted on many occasions one of the reasons he wants to return to UFC is because his record and performance personally disappointed him and he wanted to prove himself, probably more to himself than anyone else, before his time ran out.

There is little doubt he was probably the best fighter of the early period of the UFC with the exception of Gracie, but he was criticized by many fighters for having never won a tournament (ironically one of the ones who was most publicly critical of Shamrock for that, Tank Abbott, also himself never won a tournament). Shamrock's three tournament appearances in UFC ended twice due to injuries and once due to his famous choke loss to the far more experienced at the time in submissions Royce Gracie in the first UFC. It is not a decision that most within MMA would have agreed with. The general feeling among the MMA top heavyweights is to cash in on their fame and try to get lucrative pro wrestling contracts and when the stories about Shamrock going back to MMA started circulating in recent months, the feeling of many asked why should be take the step backwards. However, financially, it's not a backward step and it's roughly the same money for two fights as it was for 200 plus days on the road with the WWF. But he is totally risking his WWF reputation and moniker as the "World's Most Dangerous Man" by going back to a sport he hasn't done competitively (although he's continued to regularly train fighters for it and train himself in it as well) in three years and a sport in which the competition has improved greatly since he left.

Shamrock actually started out as pro wrestler Vince Torelli working for George Scott in the Mid Atlantic area. He wound up migrating to the old UWF promotion in Japan, largely due to meeting and teaming with Dean Malenko in that promotion and Malenko's father was involved with the UWF and they thought he, because he was a tough guy and a very good amateur wrestler, a good prospect for that style. When UWF folded, he went with Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, a pro wrestling promotion that did worked shoot style matches. He was, along with Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, one of the three founders of Pancrase, which debuted in 1993, which was the first major attempt to market pro wrestling, as a shoot sport, without pre-determined endings for the most part. Shamrock, Suzuki, Funaki and Bas Rutten were clearly the cream of the crop of the fighters in the early Pancrase days. Shamrock won the first King of Pancrase tournament, and dropped the title to Suzuki when the Pancrase office didn't want its world champion risking its company reputation in a shoot match against a pro wrestling world champion (NWA champ Dan Severn, a match Shamrock actually won quickly and impressively although Severn since has claimed he was suffering from strep throat). Shamrock beat Rutten via submission twice, once in 1994 and later in 1995. After Shamrock and Pancrase's business relationship fell apart, resulting in legal action, Rutten became the company's top fighter, never losing the title in the ring and later won the UFC heavyweight title, and also vacated that as opposed to having lost it in the ring.

He started in UFC as Pancrase's representative. In the debut show in Denver, it was clear that he and Royce Gracie were the class of the field, but Gracie, with far more experience in a life of studying submission, was able to choke Shamrock out quickly in both men's second match of a one-night tournament. Shamrock returned on September 9, 1994 in Charlotte after missing a shot at Gracie in the second UFC due to breaking his hand in training, on the show that largely made the UFC. It was built toward an expected Gracie vs. Shamrock final, but neither made it there. Gracie was injured in his first round match against a much larger Kimo, who he still eventually tapped out with an armbar in 3:00. Shamrock, who had torn his ACL just before the tournament but taped it up because he wanted Gracie, won his first match impressively and his second match somewhat lethargically. Even though his scheduled opponent in the final was someone clearly not even in his league, he didn't come out for the final, citing not wanting to risk his career on the torn ACL because his primary goal was to avenge his loss to Gracie. The more famous Gracie vs. Shamrock rematch took place on April 7, 1995, a draw called after 36:06 which was largely Shamrock on top being held in Gracie's guard which was UFC's biggest money match in its history. Shamrock did bust Gracie's eye open and head-butted the cut while in Gracie's guard during the overtime period. This was before UFC had judges so by going the time limit it was a draw, although Shamrock clearly had done the most damage.

Gracie never fought MMA rules again leading to his return on 1/30, leaving Shamrock as the company's biggest star. Shamrock, after giving up the Pancrase belt, then won the UFC superfight belt beating Severn on July 14, 1995 in Casper, WY with a choke in 2:15. He next went to a 33:00 draw with Oleg Taktarov, in another match, like the Gracie match, that had their been judges, he would have won. On February 16, 1996, he beat Kimo in 4:24 with a kneebar to retain the title. He lost the title to Severn on a split decision after 30:00 on May 17, 1996 in the worst performance of his career. He went into the match injured and there were numerous extenuating circumstances regarding the fight. The end result was both men stood and circles each other for 16:00 before locking up. When they finally locked up, Shamrock got the first advantage and had Severn mounted but did little damage. Severn reversed him, and used the gloves to cut up Shamrock's face for a brief advantage, but it was enough to score a close win in a fight that neither fighter truly deserved to win and was considered a dark moment for UFC in general because the much-hyped rematch was so disappointing.

Shamrock returned on December 7, 1996 in Birmingham, AL for Ultimate Ultimate '96 as the most heralded, and probably the best fighter in the tournament, basically pounding Brian Johnston into submission in 5:49 in a fight where Johnston got no offense in, but injured his hand in the process and couldn't continue in the tournament. Don Frye, who Johnston had been throwing around in practice, ended up beating Tank Abbott in the finals of the spectacular tournament, which as it turned out, led to all four eventually becoming pro wrestlers.

Shamrock was under contract to SEG in 1996 for $200,000 per year, and had an option for 1997 that SEG failed to pick up for $300,000 The decision was made because UFC buy rates had started falling combined with some major cable systems starting to not carry the shows and they felt they couldn't afford the big contract. In early 1997, Shamrock as a free agent, received lucrative offers from UFC for $100,000 per fight after UFC realized they were about to lose him to pro wrestling, from New Japan Pro Wrestling on an approximately $300,000 deal to work four Tokyo Dome shows starting with an IWGP heavyweight title program with Shinya Hashimoto where he'd wind up with the title, the first match of which was announced publicly in Japan to amazing fanfare at the time, before the contract had been signed. After the announcement was made, WWF, which was actually the first company of the three to open up negotiations with him after WWF's champ at the time, Bret Hart, was interested in working a program with Shamrock feeling it would boost both his credibility as an athlete and the credibility of the WWF title in the process. WWF offered him the most money and the most long-term security with a three-year contract and a following two-year option period, and he signed, leaving New Japan with a Dome show and having to replace Shamrock with the debuting Naoya Ogawa in the main event (and as things turned out, Ogawa, taking Shamrock's spot, got the mega-push starting from his first pro wrestling match with his non-title win over Hashimoto).

While under contract to the WWF, Shamrock signed a contract with UFC Japan for a match with Nobuhiko Takada on only a few weeks notice on the December 21, 1997 (which ironically turned out to be the day his brother Frank debut in UFC beating Kevin Jackson in 14 seconds). The match ended up falling through, publicly because Takada claimed an injury one week later and said he never agreed to the match in the first place. UFC Japan felt they needed Takada to sell tickets and although this never came out in Japan, Takada agreed to do the show only if the only person he would work with was Shamrock, since both were pro wrestlers. It then fell apart over the next week and never took place." 


"Regarding the DSE Tokyo Dome show on 1/30, the alternate matches (non-tournament unless someone in the tournament gets injured) on the show are Carlos Baretto (a top Brazilian fighter) vs. Tra Telligman (Lions Den fighter) and Vanderlei Silva (a highly ranked under-200 pounder) vs. Osamu Tachihikari (a former sumo wrestler who is a 350-pound out of shape Japanese indie pro wrestler). The tournament is not completely bracketed as they will take the eight winners on 1/30, and re-bracket them for the March Dome show both for maximum box office and also to keep friends (in particular Mark Kerr and Mark Coleman or Tra Telligman and Guy Mezger) from facing each other until it's impossible

DSE announced that it would be running a dream match show on 5/1 at the Tokyo Dome which the matches would be decided to fans voting."

January 31, 2000:

"As reported here last week, Ken Shamrock is headed to Japan for the 1/30 Tokyo Dome show to make the announcement of his signing with DSE as well as work the corner of two of his fighters, Guy Mezger and Tra Telligman, in their matches against Kazushi Sakuraba and Carlos Baretto respectively. Shamrock's contract calls for two fights, the first on 5/1 at the Tokyo Dome show and the second at a Tokyo Dome show in February 2002, and he would most likely return to the WWF after that point. There was a late change in the 1/30 show as pro wrestler Osamu Tachihikari's alternate match opponent was changed from Vanderlei Silva to Gary Goodridge."

February 7, 2000:

"There were a lot of major events that took place at the Dream Stage Entertainment Pride Eight show on 1/30 at the Tokyo Dome, few of which actually took place in the course of the fights.

The overriding theme was more than the fights themselves, but the production, which was described as being as good or better than K-1 quality. The Fuji television network spent seven figures in production including five or six giant Titantron like screens (with the exception of the main one that is always at the Dome shows, the new ones were at the cost of $100,000 per screen) plus the elaborate pyro, ring entrances and stage. The place was filled with Japanese celebrities (the biggest name from a U.S. standpoint would be rock legend Eric Clapton), the same way Fuji Network felt it made K-1 the "in thing" by placing TV stars to be seen at ringside at the shows. The Dome was clearly the place to be, in particular for pro wrestling fans as "everyone was there." Even though there were mixed reactions to the fights, it was said to have been a good show for the casual pro wrestling fans who made up the bulk of the audience, because of the major league atmosphere, as much as if not more than the fights themselves.

The story behind the scenes actually involves K-1 and the Fuji Network. The Fuji Network and K-1 started out together and created K-1 as a major television event. The Fuji Network officials believed it was their doing, getting the TV and pop culture stars at ringside and the great production values that created the aura that K-1 was a big show, which then got the major foreign fighters onto television commercials and over as major celebrities. K-1 believed it was their own great promotion. Of course it was probably a lot of both. K-1 has been negotiating with other networks and over the past years some of their smaller shows over the past year have aired on the rival Nippon TV and they are shopping the entire package around when the Fuji contract expires. Fuji, looking for programming to fill the void and create a new K-1, chose Pride, as a real fighting sport, as opposed to the traditional worked pro wrestling that has been a popular staple in Japan for 46 years. Even though in Japan MMA draws from largely the same fan base as wrestling, with its ability to manufacture megastars and keep them strong for years (whereas in fighting, generally speaking, by the time a fighter is over to the fans as a drawing card, most often he's already past his physical peak) worked pro wrestling is still the stronger entity for long-term promotional survival.

This show also drew what is believed to have been the largest crowd in the history of mixed martial arts with a crowd announced at 48,316, which from several live sources was said to have looked pretty much like a legitimate number although there was significant papering. Tickets were priced at $950 down to $57. The show aired live in Japan on PPV and will air in a 90-minute edited form on the Fuji Network at 4 p.m. on 2/6.

It was clearly a pro wrestling crowd. The biggest pops were reserved for those with pro wrestling followings, in particular Kazuyuki Fujita of New Japan and Nobuhiko Takada, the pro wrestling legend who is hardly a top fighter but has been used as the top drawing card on most of the major Pride events. Royce Gracie, the original MMA pioneer due to his success in the early UFC events in 1993-94, who hadn't fought under these rules in five years, got a big pop for the famed Gracie family train all dressed in gi's coming to the ring. The scene was right out of early UFC shows that were popular in Japan years ago on home video and were seen on numerous television clips, but there was nothing for the audience to cheer about during his match with Takada. The biggest pops were for moves that fans knew from pro wrestling, including Alexander Otsuka delivering a "Baba chop" in a shoot match, and while it looked weird to martial arts fans, to the fans live, they didn't see it as such when Otsuka came to the ring with Great Sasuke under the mask came with him as his second [it is wild that I did not notice that! --ed].

When it was over, the event was filled with controversy. The Takada-Gracie main event was an absolute disaster. Bas Rutten, who was doing the English language commentary (for home video as opposed to an attempt to market this show as a PPV event on taped delay) for the match when asked about it as it was going on pretended he was snoring. Rutten replaced Ken Shamrock, who was scheduled to do commentary for the final four matches but didn't come back out due to controversy in the Guy Mezger vs. Kazushi Sakuraba match earlier in the show. New Japan officials, hoping to use Takada as Kensuke Sasaki's opponent on their own April Tokyo Dome show for the IWGP heavyweight title were aghast, feeling that even among the most loyal Takada die-hards that he'd killed all of what was left of his rapidly declining reputation. The original plan for Takada and Sasaki was to do a one-and-one series (each man would get one clean win in a trade-off) but now there is considerable thought if New Japan can even let Sasaki put Takada over once after this.

Shamrock returned, signed his contract, the most lucrative in the history of MMA, announced his return in a speech after the first match on the show, announcing he was coming back for two fights with the promotion saying he wants to end his fighting career on his own terms, the first being on 5/1 at the Tokyo Dome with no opponent announced. With both Shamrock and Gracie, the two biggest stars and biggest draws from the glory days of UFC, both fighting for this group, it would seem an American invasion if nothing else on PPV would be a natural. Backstage that was the talk, but the reality is still that MMA is not allowed on PPV. "In Demand," the PPV syndicators (the new name for the old Viewers Choice) had a meeting a few weeks back with Bob Meyrowitz regarding UFC being put back on for the next show. The meeting was going well until a representative from Time Warner noted that they didn't want to air UFC because as an event it is still illegal in New York state, and with that legal issue in mind, the movement to put it back on PPV fell apart once again. Pride doesn't have the neon warning sign that the name UFC has, which could allow it to sneak in for one show before someone figures out what it is, but also hurts its ability to draw a buy rate as the UFC name is still a draw. Sneaking in quietly also means it won't draw a buy rate if it were to be on.

Shamrock was then the center of controversy in what was not a pro wrestling angle. And Otsuka, a pro wrestler from Battlarts, completed a long day which began at 4 a.m. when he got up to put together the ring for a Battlarts house show at Korakuen Hall next door, wrestled in an afternoon tag match doing Frankensteiners and a tope con hilo, ate his box lunch between shows, and went into the ring against the No. 1 rated heavyweight MMA fighter in the world, Igor Vovchanchin, and hung with him, getting battered and never quitting, in losing a unanimous decision.

When the dust cleared, eight fighters, Gary Goodridge, Akira Shoji, Fujita, Kazushi Sakuraba, Mark Coleman, Vovchanchin, Mark Kerr and Gracie had advanced to the final eight, scheduled for a one-night tournament with $300,000 going to the winner, on 5/1 at the Tokyo Dome. There have been two different stories announced, one that the bracketing will be determined by a blind lottery of the eight, the other that they are asking for fans to send in faxes and e-mails and the fans vote would determine the bracketing and first round matches. Although Fujita looked very impressive, he is inexperienced in this game and proved nothing beating a 40-year-old over-the-hill karate star from Holland who has largely down worked matches for the past decade. Realistically, Sakuraba, Gracie and Shoji are too small to get through a tournament that requires them winning three matches in a row. Fujita lacks experience and Goodridge has never been able to beat a top wrestler, which leaves Coleman, Vovchanchin and Kerr as the favorites.

DSE officials and Shamrock had brought up several names for his match on the same show, most prominent among them being UFC heavyweight champ Kevin Randleman (who it will be nearly impossible to get being that he has a non-compete in his new UFC contract) and Rutten. Shamrock himself doesn't want to face Rutten in his first fight, feeling with two wins over Rutten in the past, that he has nothing to gain from a victory, but has talked about being willing to face Rutten in his second fight. DSE officials are also interested in a Shamrock vs. Takada match for the perceived box office, although it's hard to imagine if the people will buy Takada in this role again after the fiasco. If Shamrock-Takada were to take place, DSE would either be looking for a worked match to rebuild Takada, or in a shoot, they would at least be looking for one of those secret agreements and have Shamrock agree to not punch Takada in the face (since Takada is a television star, there have been secret agreements with fighters in non-worked matches with Takada to not punch him in the face) so you can see potential trouble again. A few years ago there was an attempt to put together a supposed Shamrock vs. Takada shoot match in Japan where both would receive huge payoffs when it would have meant more box office since Takada still hadn't killed his rep, and it fell apart because Takada refused to do a straight fight.

The main event of the four-hour show saw Gracie quickly drag Takada down in his guard, with Takada on top. At this point, Takada buried his head, held Gracie down and basically stalled, making no attempt at offense. Gracie worked from the bottom, but did little effective. Gracie mainly threw, from his back, soft kicks to Takada's back and kidneys. And that was the match. Officially, it was said to have been a unanimous 3-0 decision for Gracie. Other sources close to fighters say that wasn't actually the case. According to those close to Gracie, his claim was that they were going to go into overtime as they had an agreement no matter what in his match the judges would sent a match without a finish into overtime, but Takada refused to fight anymore, and the announced judges decision was just a way for Takada to save face rather than announce he was saying no mas. Gracie was telling friends after the fight that any other report that comes out about the fight was a cover-up. Ken Shamrock said he heard that one judge had it for Gracie but the other two had it as a draw, since little happened and the judges were instructed to rule close fights as draws, and then send them into a 15:00 overtime period to get a clean winner. But Takada came up limping, which most in the martial arts world accepted as a leg cramp or knee injury but virtually everyone involved with pro wrestling believed he was working a knee injury as his excuse for literally doing nothing and trying to save face for the future. The fans booed every time call, louder as the match went on. The booing when the 15:00 expired was said to be the loudest booing for any pro wrestling type of event in the history of the Tokyo Dome and fans actually accepted the Gracie win by decision without booing because nobody wanted to see an overtime.

Nobody backstage before the fight even entertained the possibility of a Takada win. But because of his pro wrestling background and hype as a real shooter and the fact he was given bought and paid for wins in Pride over Coleman and Otsuka among others that wrestling fans thought were real shoot victories, fans had been fooled into believing he had enough of a chance, being that his protege Sakuraba had just beaten Royce's brother Royler, that this drew the all-time martial arts gate and attendance record. They would have accepted a loss if he had went to fight because Gracie's reputation was strong, but he went to stall, and it was obvious. Takada also knew enough defense to be able to thwart all of Gracie's submission attempts and take it to the time limit. It was by no means was it an impressive performance for Gracie either.

Even more controversial was the Guy Mezger vs. Sakuraba match. There is a long behind-the-scenes story on this. Originally Sakuraba was to face Kevin Randleman, who had never signed to do the show, and pulled out when UFC offered him a contract to face Pedro Rizzo on its 3/10 PPV show. This left DSE three weeks to find a name opponent for Sakuraba to theoretically beat. They chose Mezger, a former King of Pancrase who actually vacated the title rather than lost it in the ring. Mezger had been nursing injuries and hadn't trained seriously, and turned down the fight. He first suggested one of his training partners, Alex Andrade, who had also fought for Pancrase. At first DSE agreed, but a few days later came back and said the main office believed Andrade wasn't a big enough name in Japan and wanted Mezger. There is the belief that Mezger as a protege of Shamrock is well known in Japan, so if things went as expected, they had a natural money angle. With Shamrock in Mezger's corner, if Mezger were to lose (this wasn't a worked match, but the Japanese were expecting Sakuraba to beat a less than 100% Mezger) because it would create a natural Shamrock vs. Sakuraba match which would have box office potential. This was two weeks out and Mezger still hadn't done any serious pre-fight training. They upped the money and according to Shamrock, who is Mezger's manager, Shamrock and Mezger only agreed if they agreed to a 15:00 time limit fight and then the judges would render a decision with no overtime. Shamrock said that DSE, after much arguing, agreed, but only under the stipulation that neither side would announce the no overtime provision publicly because they didn't want people to think there were different rules in different matches. However, Shamrock noted when the contract, that was signed, came, that provision was not in the contract.

The fight itself saw Mezger able to keep virtually the entire fight on his feet. There are differing reports, split between indicating that Mezger deserved the decision and saying it was close enough for the draw and send it into overtime as the correct call. But most of those felt Mezger also had a slight advantage. There was also one report we received at press time indicating Sakuraba should have won. Shamrock said he thought Mezger clearly won, that he picked apart Sakuraba standing in typical Mezger Pancrase fashion. Most described this as similar to many of Mezger's Pancrase wins where he keeps the fight standing, and gets a lot of punches and kicks in to win via decision but neither man had the other in trouble. Shamrock said when the fight was over, he did expect Sakuraba to get a home town decision and wouldn't have blown his cool had that happened. The judges, who from all accounts were not informed of the agreement, nor is it believed, were the referee or Sakuraba, that they were only going 15:00 in this fight and needed to pick a winner because it was a tournament and someone had to advance, all voted a draw. Both Mezger and Sakuraba were very tired at that point but both were willing to fight. Shamrock blew his stack when the ref ordered a 15:00 overtime round. He was screaming that the fight was over and that the company had lied to him in negotiations and even made implied threats of leaving the company (in a post match attempt to clear things up when he was asked if what happened would affect his future fighting for the company, he responded "Yes"). Shamrock told Pete Williams and Tra Telligman to get Mezger out of the ring, and Mezger walked out with the Lions Den group and they announced Sakuraba won because Mezger wouldn't come out for the overtime round. On television, they announced that Mezger had retired from the match but even in commentary they said they couldn't fully understand what was happening.

After the show ended, they had meetings to attempt to resolve everything. DSE officials acknowledged the agreement to not have an overtime period for the fight was true, but refused Shamrock's request to make a public apology claiming simply it was miscommunication within the company but did say publicly that Shamrock and Mezger were not at fault. Shamrock was upset because to the fans it came off as if he and Mezger were cowards and the bad guys in the situation and he didn't think there was anything DSE could do or say about that perception. Everything was smoothed over by the end of the night. Sakuraba was allowed to advance to the 5/1 tournament finals. Mezger was promised three more fights in DSE including a rematch with Sakuraba, although that probably won't take place until later this year or early next year as it was talked about as being the third fight on the deal. Shamrock wants the result of the fight to be called a DQ for the cornerman (himself) interfering rather than a clean loss for Mezger.

"I'm definitely fighting," Shamrock said regarding how this affects his own status with the company. "I've got a contract with them and they did try to fix everything."

Head promoter Naohito Morishita after the show labeled it a 65% success.

Another Lions Den fighter, Tra Telligman, was scheduled for an alternates match against Carlos Baretto of Brazil. Baretto suffered a right shoulder injury in training, and that, combined with trainer Carlson Gracie's inability to get a visa, led the match not taking place. Baretto had come to Japan hoping he'd recover and be able to fight, but after Gracie didn't arrive, he also felt the shoulder hadn't recovered enough.

1. Vanderlei Silva beat Bob Schreiber in 2:41 with a choke from the mount. This was the alternates match, so if any of the eight winners pulls out of the 5/1 finals, Silva will be in. Both struck early and it went to the ground. Silva got one strong kick in.

2. Gary Goodridge destroyed pro wrestler Osamu Tachihikari in :50. Tachihikari, a 300+ pound fat pro wrestler for Social Pro Wrestling Federation and a former sumo, was put into this match replacing Silva as a request of the Fuji Network which wanted a show consisting of Japanese vs. foreigners. It was exciting for the fans but a slaughter with Goodridge using a forearm choke from the top and Tachihikari tapping furiously.

3. Akira Shoji beat Ebenezer Fontes Braga via decision after 15:00. Braga got something of a pop from the wrestling audience since he's known as the measuring stick for Masakatsu Funaki (he fought 15:00 with Funaki and bloodied him up in a draw where they had no judges but everyone conceded he'd have beaten Funaki had their been a decision; but was submitted by Sakuraba). Shoji mostly had the top position in what was described as a so-so match, with two judges voting for Shoji and the other voting draw.

4. Kazuyuki Fujita of New Japan pro wrestling, who came to the ring with Antonio Inoki's traditional red towel to a huge reaction, beat pro wrestler Hanse Nyman of Holland in 2:59. Nobody thought this was a work, since Fujita is 29 and a national champion wrestler while Nyman is 40 and hasn't done real fights against top competition in years and he was expected to handle him easily, which he did. Fujita won with a neck crank submission. It should be noted when he had the hold on, he raised his eyebrow like The Rock [lol why on earth should that be noted -- ed.].

5. Sakuraba beat Mezger when he left the ring after the judges ruled it a draw after 15:00. The match saw Mezger continually avoid being taken down and out kickbox Sakuraba standing. Sakuraba, being kept on his feet the entire match, was said to have looked more exhausted than in any fight he'd ever had.

6. Mark Coleman destroyed K-1 star Masaaki Satake in 1:12. Coleman immediately took Satake down and put him in a neck crank, which is basically the same move he beat Dan Severn with. Satake didn't look like he even belonged in the same ring with Coleman.

7. Vovchanchin beat Otsuka (Takashi Otsuka) via unanimous decision after 15:00. Earlier in the afternoon Otsuka had done a pro wrestling match for Battlarts. This was said to have been the best match on the show. Most of the fight was standing as Vovchanchin was able to avoid the takedowns. Otsuka ended up with a bloody nose. Otsuka got big pops doing the Baba chop and trying a dropkick to the knee and even a Russian leg sweep, on a real Russian for godsakes. Otsuka got Vovchanchin down once, but later Vovchanchin got the top and connected on some strong punches from the mount. Otsuka tried a triangle choke from the bottom but didn't get it.

8. Mark Kerr won a decision over Enson Inoue, with two judges giving it to Kerr and the other ruling it a draw. To again show it was a pro wrestling as opposed to an educated MMA crowd, Inoue, considered the big heavyweight star in MMA in Japan, got very little reaction coming out. They traded punches standing and finally Kerr took Inoue down and held him there for most of the rest of the fight. Kerr tried a choke and threw punches, cutting Inoue's nose open. With one minute left, the ref stood them up, but Kerr immediately took Inoue down again and kept him there.

9. Gracie beat Takada by what was announced as a unanimous decision after 15:00."

February 14, 2000:

"In a publicity stunt, Masaaki Satake, coming off being destroyed by Mark Coleman in the Pride Tokyo Dome show, on 2/3 asked Mitsuharu Misawa to help train him for future matches. That's sort of a funny cultural difference between the two countries as could you imagine Evander Holyfield after losing to Lennox Lewis, doing a publicity stunt and asking The Rock to train him for the rematch?"


"The Pride show coverage took up the first 20 pages of this past week's Weekly Gong. Both magazines led off with the Fujita vs. Nyman match coverage ahead of Gracie vs. Takada."


"Royce Gracie is already making noises about pulling out of the 5/1 Pride Tokyo Dome tournament. There is no upside in him going on anyway. His complaint was that Pride officials had agreed his match would have unlimited rounds and would go until a conclusive decision. He basically said the unanimous decision was a cover and Takada wasn't willing to fight a second round (this much is true) and thus he should have been declared the winner by TKO and not by decision and said he wouldn't come back unless that finish was officially changed. Pride officials had asked for fans to send responses to a poll to help choose the first round match-ups in the final eight. What was interesting about the poll is that it was clear the respondents were all hardcore MMA fans and still blinded by the Gracie myth as well as the difference between that small percentage of the audience and the people who actually buy the tickets. Fujita, who was the most over guy on the show because of being the Inoki rep and New Japan connection, wasn't figured into the balloting which saw Gracie vs. Sakuraba as the top vote getting match (and if Gracie were to come back, almost assuredly that would be the match promoters would try to make for numerous reasons, since they are closest in size and because it's to the promoters advantage for Gracie's first loss in MMA competition to come to one of their regulars). In order, the other matches asked for were Gracie vs. Kerr, Coleman vs. Vovchanchin, Kerr vs. Vovchanchin, Gracie vs. Vovchanchin, Gracie vs. Coleman, Vovchanchin vs. Sakuraba, Coleman vs. Goodridge, Kerr vs. Goodridge and Sakuraba vs. Coleman."

February 21, 2000:

"Ken Shamrock said on Eddie Goldman's No Holds Barred show on (which precedes my show on the same station) that he has yet to hear from anyone in Japan about Nobuhiko Takada being his opponent for the 5/1 Tokyo Dome show. Takada on 2/11 said that he didn't want to fight in Pride any longer and wouldn't face Shamrock. Shamrock said he'd be disappointed if he were to face Takada but if that's the match the promoters there wanted to make, then it would be the match he would do."


"The bracketing for the 5/1 finals of the DSE tournament is, with the bracket in this order, Mark Kerr vs. Kazuyuki Fujita, Mark Coleman vs. Akira Shoji, Gary Goodridge vs. Igor Vovchanchin and Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie. Antonio Inoki was really wanting to get Fujita into the first round match with Gracie. The feeling is that Gracie is the weakest of the eight, but beating him by a Japanese fighter would make the guy an immediate name. Barring upsets, this looks to be Coleman vs. Kerr in the semis which will probably turn into mainly a wrestling match. The other side looks to be Vovchanchin vs. Sakuraba, which Sakuraba is probably giving up too much weight for but he does have a chance. Coleman may win this thing. [oh wow good call Dave! -- ed.]"

February 28, 2000:

"There were some really hilarious comments from Royler Gracie in the latest Full Contact Fighter concerning his recent loss to Kazushi Sakuraba. He said he believed the finish of his fight was prearranged by the Pride organization (the match was stopped with Gracie in an armlock with just under two minutes left in regulation time but Gracie not tapping). He claimed Sakuraba "ran away from grappling combat on the ground." Actually Gracie laid on his back in the crab and took punishment for most of the fight, only getting up when his legs took so much punishment as he laid on his back. He claimed Rickson wouldn't fight Sakuraba in a revenge match because the organization wasn't trustworthy, and he said he wouldn't fight Sakuraba again claiming, "How can I fight again with someone who, in spite of having 20 kilos of weight advantage, prefers to run away from the grappling combat? Why is he so frightened? Is it possible that the little thin guy is so powerful?" Somehow I don't see how anyone who hasn't been brainwashed ahead of time could look at a tape of that match and use terms like running away or frightened to describe Sakuraba's performance and disposition that night

Sakuraba is now saying that if he beats Royce Gracie on the 5/1 Tokyo Dome show that he won't continue on in the Pride tournament. Basically, the idea of putting small guys who are great fighters for their size in a tournament with the likes of Kerr and Coleman isn't fair to them, because an under-200 pound fighter would have a very difficult time fighting two matches against guys of that size on the same night. Few believe that if Gracie gets past Sakuraba, if this match even takes place, that he'd get in there with one of the bigger guys either. And that totally defeats the entire tournament when you've got guys ahead of time saying even if they win they won't continue."

March 20, 2000:

"Wouldn't you know this was bound to happen? Royce Gracie held a press conference on 3/13 saying he wants his match with Kazushi Sakuraba on the 5/1 Tokyo Dome show to be a no time limit fight to the finish with no referee and the match continues until somebody taps or the corner throws in the towel. Of course Pride isn't about to put on a match with no referee, and with fighting becoming the nature it has become, you can't do a no time limit match on a live PPV with an arena filled with spectators on a tournament format show for a first round match. Gracie also challenged pro wrestler Naoya Ogawa. Gracie said that his family was screwed by Pride in the Sakuraba vs. Royler Gracie finish and insisted he would cancel out of the tournament if the no time limit and no referee terms weren't accepted. He said that he may still do a singles match on the show if he pulls out of the tournament and has given DSE officials two weeks to respond to his demands. Sakuraba then held a press conference on 3/14 agreeing to the terms saying that if he has to, he'll wrestle Gracie for one week, saying he's sick of hearing their talk and the Gracies always having to change the matches to having their own special rules. Sakuraba said he'd fight wearing a uniform, which he brought out at his press conference, being he's got the pro wrestler hype background, that would guard his skin in case Gracie had to pee in case the match would never end."

I have gone way long here thinking Dave would eventually get tape and add to his initial (long) second-hand account of this show but he has not; I am going to keep going, though, right up until the next round of the GP, though, because we are already deep, deep in the weeds here and I don't know how to get out.

March 27, 2000:

"Akira Maeda said upon returning from Abu Dhabi that Kiyoshi Tamura was not going to jump to Dream Stage Entertainment and said that Pride doesn't understand how to make matches that fans want to see." 

April 3, 2000:

"It appears that New Japan rivals Don Frye and Brian Johnston will be working the corner for Kazuyuki Fujita, another Frye storyline rival when he goes into the 5/1 DSE tournament."

April 10, 2000:

"The Royce Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba match was close to falling apart because of the rule demands. DSE just offered Frank Shamrock $150,000 to replace Gracie and face Sakuraba in a singles matches which wouldn't be part of the tournament. Shamrock was ready to take the deal, but was talked out of it because he hasn't done any serious fight training since September and it's not enough time to get ready for an opponent the calibre of Sakuraba. After Shamrock turned down the offer, DSE apparently went back to Gracie and agreed to his no time limit rules. The Pride show, which reports are circulating will air on Direct TV in the United States, although Direct TV has not made that announcement and no word on when it will air, announced that the quarterfinals and semifinals of the tournament would have a 15 minute round, and judging. If it's close, they'll send people out for unlimited rounds until one fighter deserves a judges win. The final would be a 20 minute round with the same rules. Only for the Gracie vs. Sakuraba match, there will be no judges, which means it's a no time limit match and the only way Gracie can lose is via tap out or his second throwing in the towel, as there can be no referee or doctors stoppage, which is ludicrous beyond belief to have a no time limit match on a live PPV show (it's live in Japan) in a first round of a tournament, plus how can a fighting sport not allow provisions for a doctor not being allowed to stop the fight."

April 17, 2000:

"t is official that the Dream Stage Entertainment promotion will run its first PPV show in the United States, a tape of the 5/1 Tokyo Dome show, to air on 5/13 on satellite systems as well as Cablevision within the United States.

The show features an eight man tournament for DSE's created Pride world heavyweight championship bracketed as Mark Kerr vs. Kazuyuki Fujita, Mark Coleman vs. Akira Shoji, Igor Vovchanchin vs. Gary Goodridge and Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie in the first round. DSE has agreed to the terms that all of Gracie's matches will have no time limit, and no referee or doctor stoppages, which, because it is airing on PPV in the United States, will greatly strengthen the arguments of opponents of the sport, particularly if someone gets injured under these rules. While this has not been announced, it is generally believed that unless the match is quick, that whomever wins the Gracie-Sakuraba match will not advance in the tournament. When Frank Shamrock was contacted about taking Gracie's place on the show, he was contacted about it as if it was a single fight, and not the first round of a tournament.

In hype for the match, Sakuraba claimed that since Gracie is getting his rules, they should have a winner-take-all purse and Gracie claimed to agree to it. In sports in the U.S., there have been occasional events hyped with winner-take-all financial stipulations that have later come out the hype was a work. It is being reported that Gracie's purse for the 5/1 Dome show, which I'd believe to be a greatly exaggerated figure, is $475,000.

With Kerr, Coleman and Vovchanchin all in the same tournament, it is generally believed this is the toughest one-night tournament in the history of MMA and one that nobody has seemingly wanted to go out on a limb to predict the eventual winner. Depending upon what is done about a semifinal opponent is the Gracie-Sakuraba winner doesn't go on, it would appear of the three, Vovchanchin has on paper a great bracketing advantage since the Kerr or Coleman presumably would have to face one another in the semifinals.

In addition, Ken Shamrock returns to MMA competition with a singles match against Battlarts pro wrestler Alexander Otsuka, which was officially announced on 4/11. Another singles match was announced at the same press conference pitting former King of Pancrase Guy Mezger vs. Masaaki Satake of K-1 fame. There was talk that DSE was attempting to get New Japan pro wrestler Tokimitsu Ishizawa, who wrestles as Kendo Ka Shin, who was a former national wrestling champion and a contender for the 1992 Japanese Olympic team, to face Renzo Gracie on the show but it appears that has fallen through. It wouldn't have been a smart match for New Japan to put Ishizawa, simply because of lack of experience at this particular sport, against someone with so much experience and who insiders would say is legitimately the best of the Gracie fighters. Mezger-Satake would appear to heavily favor Mezger, since Satake has very little ground experience and in his first MMA match, was literally run over in a minute by Coleman. Satake is a much larger man than Mezger and more experienced at a higher level of kickboxing, but if the match goes to the ground, it would appear he'd be out of his league.

DSE becomes the first promotion to get on American PPV with an MMA type show with the exception of the established UFC since the final Extreme Fighting Championship PPV show in 1997. The interesting aspect of Cablevision is that they have not broadcast UFC events in about five years as they were the first major cable conglomerate in the United States to pull the plug.

With the exception of UFC, which established itself as the name brand in 1993, all attempts to promote on PPV, even before the political problems constricted the universe, were financial failures because of marginal to awful buy rates. DSE has several strikes against it becoming a success. Attempts to market Japanese events such as K-1, Pancrase and UWFI on American PPV were also ultimately unsuccessful. The two Japanese UFC shows are generally considered two of its weakest shows to date because of the difference in atmosphere. Fights of this type as a rule are more exciting in an octagon as opposed to the traditional ring set up that DSE holds matches in and by and large, most of the Pride events have not been very good. Another strike is that it is on taped delay, and there are no examples since the internet age of a major success when it comes to taped delay PPV events. The plus it has is the actual line-up, for knowledgeable fans, is far stronger than any show UFC has ever presented. Second, it has both Royce Gracie and Shamrock, who were the two biggest drawing cards in the history of the sport. Gracie hasn't been seen on U.S. TV since his April 7, 1995 36:00 draw against Shamrock, which was the most purchased sports PPV with the exception of boxing of the entire decade, and drew numbers just shy of what Wrestlemania did with the far more hyped Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow match days earlier. Shamrock should, if promoted correctly, which is the big if because thus far there has been no American promotion for this company, be a bigger draw today because of his WWF exposure. In addition, a taped show needs a lot fewer buys to be financially successful, but it's easier for hardcore fans to pass up buying a taped show if they know the results and unless word gets out that it's a good card. The success ultimately will be decided upon these factors. Whether DSE can find a way to promote the show to where the news of it, the calibre of the tournament, and the participation of Gracie and Shamrock reaches enough people. Whether Shamrock, who hasn't been on TV for months and wasn't featured as a major player in his last several months in the WWF, can draw curious pro wrestling fans or even curious sports fans to the show based on having a well known name. And finally whether the people with vague memories of 1995 UFC and Royce Gracie, still care enough about the name for that nostalgia drawing power big name fighters and wrestlers from the past sometimes have. Another major factor, maybe the biggest of all, is whether or not the WWF will promote the show, due to the power of their television and ability to hype fights. When Shamrock left, there was talk of promoting his two fights, particularly since at the time DSE and WWF were in negotiations regarding promoting live WWF events in Japan, but those negotiations fell apart and it's been months since the Shamrock name has been mentioned on WWF broadcasts. It's believed McMahon wasn't happy Shamrock left, but had given his blessing that if he wanted to go back, given that because of his age this was really his last chance to make a statement in the sport he was a pioneer in, he'd allow him out of his pro wrestling contract.

The show will air live on PPV in Japan and on a taped delay edited down to 90 minutes on the Fuji TV Network in Japan on 5/6 at 1 p.m.

Stephen Quadros, a martial arts magazine writer, and kickboxing legend Maurice Smith will be handling the PPV commentary."

April 24, 2000:

"They had a photo shoot on 4/17 at Nobuhiko Takada's dojo where Antonio Inoki was "teaching" different submissions like the wakigatamae to Kazushi Sakuraba and Kazuyuki Fujita for their 5/1 Tokyo Dome matches in the tournament. Inoki also said that he would like Shinya Hashimoto, who is, wink, wink, retired as a pro wrestler, to come back as a mixed martial arts fighter. In an angle to hype ticket sales for the Dome show, Pride announced they wanted Hashimoto at ringside for the show and wanted him to fight for them now that he's retired as a pro wrestler."

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND with that the stage is now set for the show I have been truly dreading to watch! Because of how long it is! And yet now we have momentum. I think we can do it! Let's do it pretty soon! I mean why wouldn't we! Thank you once again for your attention to these matters and, of course, for your patience during the long absence we have until now endured. Until we meet again perhaps you would enjoy to read new translations of the nine-hundred-and-seventy-three haiku Asatarō Miyamori selected for his 1932 Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern? If that is true of you, I welcome and encourage you to do so here. That kind of thing is not for everyone but if it is perchance for you, please enjoy. In closing for real this time, I would like to extend my best wishes to you once more, my friends, and to thank you again.