UnderGround Forums Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol 1

1/14/20 5:15 AM
1/9/20
Posts: 30
de braco -

You should check out wcolosimo's interviews on here with a lot of the early shoot guys. Quite eye opening and entertaining. I just watched your upload of sammi "master"soronaka vs Scott McGhee and did that ever bring back some memories. Sammi and Bart were a pair of jokers and both of them wild. Sammi was definitely an unsung hero of the shoot revolution. Thanks for sharing it's greatly appreciated 

Yes, I will have to do that. On my Youtube Page Wcolosimo mentioned interviewing Manabu Yamada, who is one of my favorites, so I'm excited about that.

Also worth noting, "Master Soronaka," is the person that Bart Vale mentioned being certified under, in his ridicioulus ad, in which he advertised his mastery of the art of "shootfighting." It's good to see that Sammi made the world a better place by taking Vale under his wing. Lol...

1/14/20 12:34 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 11896

Sammi recruited Bart in Florida, sammi was married to Karl gotch's daughter, which was how he came to live in Florida. I actually purchased that set of tapes at the time, an outfit in New York called dragon video sold them, they were the exact same set Bart was selling concurrently. At the time, Bart and Rorion were the only games in town in regards to any groundwork. Other than sport specific judo tapes, of course 

1/14/20 12:37 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 11897

I suspect the set from dragon video was sammi's interest in the venture 

1/14/20 1:29 PM
1/9/20
Posts: 31
de braco -

Sammi recruited Bart in Florida, sammi was married to Karl gotch's daughter, which was how he came to live in Florida. I actually purchased that set of tapes at the time, an outfit in New York called dragon video sold them, they were the exact same set Bart was selling concurrently. At the time, Bart and Rorion were the only games in town in regards to any groundwork. Other than sport specific judo tapes, of course 

That's amazing! I would love to see those tapes... If you still have them I could convert them from VHS to DVD...though it might take a min. Vale cracks me up... he will let EVERYONE know that he once beat Ken Shamrock, even pushing that hard on his resume in the mid 90s.

1/14/20 1:46 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 11898

I have them somewhere, I have around a thousand instructional tapes of which I've converted around 40 percent

1/14/20 1:49 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 11899

I've uploaded a few from barts island video set on the Hugo Duarte thread that's in the bikini ground 

1/14/20 1:51 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 11900

That's because Bart wears a bikini whilst instructing. Bjj ground, LOL, damn spellcheck 

1/14/20 4:00 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 17333

Holy fucking shit.  This thread!!

1/14/20 6:46 PM
2/26/07
Posts: 8586

In...sure it's been said, but keep it all on this thread

1/14/20 8:49 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 13968
mbetz1981 - 
de braco -

You should check out wcolosimo's interviews on here with a lot of the early shoot guys. Quite eye opening and entertaining. I just watched your upload of sammi "master"soronaka vs Scott McGhee and did that ever bring back some memories. Sammi and Bart were a pair of jokers and both of them wild. Sammi was definitely an unsung hero of the shoot revolution. Thanks for sharing it's greatly appreciated 

Yes, I will have to do that. On my Youtube Page Wcolosimo mentioned interviewing Manabu Yamada, who is one of my favorites, so I'm excited about that.

Also worth noting, "Master Soronaka," is the person that Bart Vale mentioned being certified under, in his ridicioulus ad, in which he advertised his mastery of the art of "shootfighting." It's good to see that Sammi made the world a better place by taking Vale under his wing. Lol...


Got a huge Bart Vale interview set for the books also (!).

I did ask Funaki if Soranaka was one of his trainers. He said no. I think Ken told me Soranaka may have shown him the heel hook. IIRC from the interview, Bart gives Soranaka lots of credit for his training.
1/14/20 9:00 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 11904

And let's not forget that Bart was numero uno per the ISFA and master soronaka

Edited: 1/14/20 11:31 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 11905

Speaking of Bart brings to mind the great glen Danzig quote,

Vale is: a joke, a liar, a very sexy man, an avid fan of "Touched by an Angel", a stand-in for Chuck Norris on bad dates, a caring warm hearted teddy bear, a raging alcoholic who beats other people's children for wandering onto his lawn, or "zone of influence", not above enjoying a good back-scratch, 23 years old.

Oh ya, Bart is also: A mason, A dirtbag, Afraid of mormons, "Into" all sorts of oils, Drunk (right now and any other time), Possesed of a warrior spirit, Married to a former "Miss Chicken Fried Steak 1982" A lover.

BTW, the Rings maelstrom 6 upload was awesome. Many thanks

Edited: 1/19/20 6:38 PM
1/9/20
Posts: 33

Kakutogi Road. The Complete History of MMA Vol 5: Enter the wild west.

Welcome back one and all, for the next breathless wonderment, in our ongoing journey to fully document the early years of free fighting history. We no longer find ourselves at the epicenter of all things combat related in Japan (why the Korakuen hall of course) instead opting for the more extravagant settings of the Tokyo NK Hall. The NK Hall was a 7000-capacity sports venue that operated within Disney Tokyo, from 88 to 05, and makes perfect sense here, as nothing speaks to the Mickey Mouse aesthetic more than Shoot-Fighting. We are greeted to the usual training montage, and opening interview segments, which I'm sure I would get much more fulfillment out of, if I simply understood more Japanese.

Suzuki...seemingly aging backwards

Kazuo Takahashi vs Mark Rush: No longer content with just dredging up obscure American Pro Wrestlers that actually had a bit of job resume, (however scant) it would now seem that Fujiwara has taken to scouring local Tokyo bars, searching for gaijins with amateur wrestling experience, and thus is the story with Mark Hunt. PWFG is the only promotion that Hunt worked for, and I have so far been unable to find any more information about him, but here he is, ready to scrap with the scrappiest of them all, Takahashi.

After refusing to shake Hunt's hand before the match we are underway with a beautiful single leg takedown by Takahashi, in which he showed excellent technique by "turning the corner," in splendid fashion. This match was almost all faced paced mat-work, with Takahashi in constant pursuit of the armbar. The match lasted 11:45 with Hunt, strangely enough, going over Takahashi with a nasty looking neck crank/choke. I thought this was a great way to start the event. This was a realistic (outside of a few tasteful slams, there wasn't anything to really betray that this was a worked bout) match, that was paced just long enough to not wear out its welcome. Granted it wasn't flashy and didn't really have any striking outside of a couple of knees, and a brief flurry of palm strikes by Rush, but it did set a serious tone, and was a good representation of this style.

Vale....is America

Edited: 1/19/20 6:41 PM
1/9/20
Posts: 34

Bart Vale vs Lato Kiraware: Lato seems like the dude that you would call, if you totally had to have an awesome block party in three days and had to find a quick replacement for your father-in-law to man the bratwurst station. He is not however Pro Wrestling material. This match basically went as you would expect, with Vale using Lato as a kicking pad, which garnered lots of puzzled expressions from Lato. This was a total squash match for Vale, and while it did nothing in terms of helping with the PWFG's credibility, it was bizarrely entertaining, so it gets a pass.

Wayne Shamrock vs Duane Koslowski: Here is a match I'm looking forward to. Koslowski was perhaps best known as a competitor in the 1988 Olympics, as a Greco-Roman wrestler. His pro debut was in 1989 at the UWF Cosmos event, and he wrestled another 8 times for PWFG, before calling it quits in 93. The match gets underway with Koslowski attempting to get the clinch, and Shamrock delivering some stiff kicks, and palm strikes as a response. After a couple of mins, Duane is finally able to clinch and take Shamrock to the mat and attempt a keylock to no avail. Shamrock escaped the keylock, to attempt a rear naked choke which led to a creative sequence, where Koslowski kept bridging to alleviate pressure from the choke, and then managed to press off with his legs and escape flip out of the hold. Not the most realistic scenario, but interesting, nonetheless.

The match continued in the same pattern for a while, as it would seem that clinch/takedown/keylock is the only thing that Koslowski knows how to do at this point, but in his defense he looks believable, and moves/acts just like you would expect a Greco expert to do so, one that doesn't know anything about submission or BJJ, that is.  The match ends soon afterword's with a Northern Lights suplex, followed by a straight ankle lock from Shamrock, which was a rather jarring, considering they had kept things at a realistic tone before this. All in all, I enjoyed this match, as Shamrock's striking is getting better, he was stiffer, and looks to be more confidant, and while one could argue that Koslowski was a bit dull, he had an air of credibility to him, and came off fine. The most interesting side note to this, is that in Shamrock's autobiography he claimed that Koslowski did not want to Job to Shamrock, as he thought that he would get tons of grief from the Greco-Roman community, so Fujiwara decided to have them both shoot in a private, behind-the-scenes affair, that saw Shamrock as victorious, and afterwards Koslowski agreed to job to Ken.

 

*****************************SHOOT ALERT******************************************

Yes, here we are! The very first full shoot that we get to cover, here on the Kakutogi road, which is an absolutely hilarious match between Yusuke Fuke and Thai Boxer, Lawi Napataya. This was a hot mess in every sense of the word, but important from a historical perspective, as outside of Shooto (which was all shoot, but somewhat under the public radar) this is the first real fight that we get to witness in the Kakutogi spectrum.

There is no question about the realism of this bout, as right from the get-go, Napataya lights Fuke up like a Christmas tree, with a barrage of kicks, and combinations. Fuke takes some nasty shots, before finally being able to take the boxer down to the ground, only for Napataya to dive for the ropes like a wounded animal. We now see that we are in totally uncharted territory, and clearly no one really thought this through. Having unlimited rope escapes in a shoot-fight, is a recipe for disaster, as great strikers are always going to be at an advantage, especially in a small ring like the one that we see here. (We will see later on, how Gilbert Yvel, and Valentijin Overeem completely abuse multiple rope escapes in Rings).

The remainder of round 1 sees Fuke taking a beating, before managing a takedown, only to see an instant standup, for all his trouble, due to the small ring, and limitless rope escapes. The hilarity really starts at the end of round 1, when Napataya's team brings out a can of grease, and starts to rub grease all over their fighter. They start round 2, and after a min or so, Fuke was able to get his first takedown, in which Napataya slipped right out, and grabbed the ropes, which caused Fuke to look at his hands with a very puzzled expression. I'm not sure if he fully realized what was happening, just yet, but by the 3rd round he absolutely did. During one of his 234 takedown attempts he started to get really upset, pounding the mat, and complained to the ref. He even wiped some of the grease off onto his shorts.

This nonsense continued until the break in-between rounds 4 and 5, at which point the ref actually decided to come over and investigate, and of course witnessed Napataya being greased down by his two cornermen, and only then, did he decide to take a towel and dry off Napataya. Once he was done drying him off, and walked away, (at which point the ref was wiping grease off on his pant legs), the corner men simply pulled out their grease can back out, and resumed their work. There have been several greasing accusations and scandals in MMA over the years... Marco Ruas, Eugenio Tadeu, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and GSP, have all been accused in times past, but none have anything on the Grandfather of Greasegate: Lawi Napataya.

Right before round 5 started, I guess the ref realized that Napataya's corner basically just ignored his command to stop greasing, so the ref wiped Napataya down a 2nd time right before the start of the 5th round. Fuke WAS super upset about all of this, and no one would have have blamed him at all for just walking out of the ring, and giving Fujiwara a piece of his mind, as he was basically in a fight that was impossible to win, between the unlimited rope breaks, constant grease, and the fact that he was getting battered with the constant clinic of stiff kicks he was having to take.

Greasegate 1.0

Edited: 1/19/20 6:44 PM
1/9/20
Posts: 35

The fight was announced a draw, and a visibly frustrated Fuke still tried to show his opponent respect, but you could tell he was not happy about the whole mess. Super entertaining match, albeit for the wrong reasons.

 

Now that we have had our dessert first, we will attempt to cleanse our palate, with the main course, an excellent showing, from Minoru Suzuki and Naoki Sano. This was a treat, and one of the best matches, shoot-style or otherwise, that we have seen up to this point. This was a fast paced 30 min war, that featured all sorts of grappling that was ahead of its time for most audiences. Guillotine chokes, ankle picks, half guard work, armbars, and heel hooks, were spliced together with more standard pro wrestling fare, and terse striking exchanges. The striking in this match was also very logical, in that they would focus on the grappling first, and when that seemed to stall out, then one would break up the monotony with strikes, in an effort to force a change, or create an opening. There was some pro wrestling tomfoolery, (at one point Suzuki gave Sano a piledriver as he was warding off a takedown with a sprawl/underhook technique) but it didn't detract from the match, in fact because the flashier spots were used sparingly and towards the end of the match, it did have the effect of spicing things up a bit, towards the end. This match showed us, that despite their flaws, the PWFG was the best of the Shoot-Style promotions at this point in time, and had the potential for something truly extraordinary

Last, and certainly least... We have the final match between Masakatsu Funaki and Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Once again the mind numbing decision to put the crappiest match at the end is made, to the utter bafflement of everyone. Funaki was legend, and Fujiwara could be good in the right setting, but these two combined, simply strains all credulity. Even by 1991 standards, odds are that it would only take Fuanki roughly 23 seconds to destroy Fujiwara in a shoot, and I don't see even the faithful Japanese audience buying this. It doesn't help that even 30 years ago, Fujiwara looks like he was a retirement home extra from Cocoon.

If you can manage to suspend disbelief, then this bout was moderately entertaining, though the finish, while creative, was beyond the pale in terms of any sort of believability. Funaki shoots on Fujiwara, who manages to do some kind of sprawl, in which he is basically able to do a single-leg hamstring curl, forcing some kind of armbar/shoulder lock submission. It looked cool, but was totally absurd.

The Leg Curl Armbar

The final verdict: Great show.... This promotion is really starting to show that it has a gold mine with people like Shamrock, Sano, Suzuki, and Funaki, but is still plagued by Americans that would be better served at WCW's power plant, then trying to shoot with the stars. If they can manage to develop their bottom half of the talent pool, then they are ready to completely overshadow what Rings and the UWFI are doing right now.

Here is a link to the entire event: 

https://youtu.be/eZ2bz8IVgWg

 

Edited: 1/19/20 9:49 PM
1/9/20
Posts: 36

In other news: The UWFI held their 2nd event at the Korakuen Hall on 6-6-91. Some highlights include a fantastic kickboxing match at the beginning of the card, in which Makoto Ohe had an all-out war with his opponent, Rudy Lovato. This was a total slug fest from start to finish, as Ohe constantly attacked Lavato's legs with punishing low kicks, but would expose his jaw in the process, and eat punches for his trouble. Both men completely gave everything they had, until they were both awarded a hard-fought draw.

On the same card we saw Kiyoshi Tamura put on an absolute clinic at the expense of Tom Burton, who looked completely lost in the ring with Tamura. Tamura gave him a few obligatory moments of offense, in which Burton just came across as slow and oafish, but most of this match was Tamura lighting the place on fire with his speed and slick transitions. Yamazaki may have to move over soon, as the true and credible star of the Shoot world, if Tamura keeps getting better.

Speaking of Yamazaki, this event continues to prove that he is perhaps the most underutilized and underappreciated talent on the scene today. He completely embarrassed his opponent Yuko Miyato with a constant barrage of great kicks, smooth transitions, slick submission entries, and great footwork. He gave Miyato a couple of brief moments of offense, but in reality, this was a total squash match to showcase Yamazaki's fantastic skills. It's probably an indictment of the hierarchical structure of Japanese politics, then anything else, but Yamazaki has seemingly been held back his entire career from really being allowed to be one of the very top guys, even though his talent is undisputed.

Tatsuo Nakano defeated Yoji Anjoh in an exciting 15min bout, that saw plenty of kicks, slaps, blood, suplexes, ankle locks, and of course our favorite, the Boston Crab. Nobuhiko had his Gaijin of the week bout, this time with JT Southern, in what was your typical Takada match with an out of his league foreigner. The fight was moderately entertaining, but not great, thankfully it was over in 7min, so it didn't really outlive its welcome.

https://youtu.be/DdE7O50N_90

 

**** Maurice Smith recently faced Australian sensation, Stan "The Man" Longinidis at the Australia Entertainment Center in Sydney. Round 1 saw Stan come out hyper-aggressive and was able to flatten Smith with a left hook/overhand right combination, for a knockdown. The knockdown didn't seem to phase Smith too much going into round 2, but that changed when Stand hammered him again with another 2 overhand blows, which you could tell really messed with Smith's equilibrium. Stan easily won the round but was perhaps too passive in the last thirty seconds, as he may have been able to finish Smith, had he really thrown everything he had at him, towards the end of the round.

Smith started to regain some composure in round 3. He still arguably lost the round but was starting to mesh back into his usual form, and then he started to turn it back around in Round 4. Smith was able to stifle all of Stan's offense and completely control the fight in this round. Round 5 was pretty even with both men able to land some stiff offense, and Round 6 saw Stan able to continually slip Mo's jab and penetrate Smith's defense. Stan seemed to play things too cautious though, as he would back off as soon as he would land something. Still round 6 should be in Stan's favor.

Round 7 saw both fighters unload flurries on each other, and while the round was probably close in terms of score, Stan seemed to take more damage then Smith did. Round 8 saw both fighters clobber each other, but now we are starting to see the chinks in Stan's armor. While he has been scoring quite well up until this moment, he seems to have spent his gas tank by the end of this round, and Smith seems like he could go another 12 rounds if need be. Round 9 saw that conditioning is the most important attribute to any fighter, as Stan's tools all but seem spent, now. His bloody, and barely moving, he basically just survived this round.

Round 10, and Maurice continues to pressure Stan. All hoped seemed lost, when Smith missed a turning kick, and Stan started to capitalize by backing Smith into the netural corner and unloading a blitzkrieg of punches. This may have been the end if Stan's cardio was sufficient, but it wasn't, and Stan gassed before he could really break through. Still, it was a great showing from Stan, who managed to make it through this round. Rounds 11 and 12 saw Stan give all he had, but he simply didn't have enough to follow up any of his punches with combinations. He was able to weather the storm and make it to a split decision, but it wasn't his night. A great fight, and an impressive showing from both men.

https://youtu.be/o98kEQLmRG8

 

Ex DEA agent Darnell Garcia was recently sentenced to 80 years in prison. Many know of Garcia as being a former Karate Champion and having been one of Chuck Norris's top students. He had also carved out a small space in the martial arts fabric of Hollywood, having been involved in 9 productions from 73-84. In his recently trial it was alleged that he was able to amass over 3 million dollars in an offshore bank account from drug trafficking, by leveraging his DEA connections, and from the collusion of other corrupt members of the agency. Garcia was fined 1.17 million dollars and will be eligible for parole after serving at least 27 years of his sentence.

 

Edited: 1/19/20 11:18 PM
1/9/20
Posts: 37

What did Dave Meltzer have to say about all of this?  5-27-91 "PWFG ran on 5/16 in Korakuen Hall drawing a full house of 2,250 as Masaharu Funaki beat Jumbo Barretta in the main event in 9:40 with an armlock, Naoki Sano beat Wayne Shamrock (Vince Tirelli) in 26:15 plus Yoshiaki Fujiwara beat Wellington Wilkins Jr. and Bart Vail and Minoru Suzuki won over newcomers making their pro debuts. PWF announced its next show for 7/26 at Tokyo Bay NK Hall, a 7,000 seat building which means they need a strong line-up.

6-3-91 "

Satoru Sayama returned to pro wrestling, sort of. Sayama was the color commentator on the television broadcast of Akira Maeda's debut "Rings" show on the WOWWOW network (equivalent to HBO in the U.S., WOWWOW also airs SWS).

Takada's UWFI is having talks about bringing Bob Backlund back.

Jerry Flynn is headed to PWFG

UWFI on 6/6 in Korakuen Hall has Takada vs. J.T. Southern, Shigeo Miyato vs. Yamazaki, Yoji Anjyo vs. Tatsuo Nakano and Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Tom Burton.

Fujiwara's PWF on 7/26 at Tokyo Bay NK Hall as Fujiwara vs. Funaki and Minoru Suzuki vs. Sano.

Wayne Shamrock (Vince Tirelli) was very impressive on the last PWF show in his match with Sano, that went 26 minutes. Shamrock was an amateur wrestling champ and also won some tough-man contests in the states.

6-10-91 "This is how JWJ reported on the status of the various groups using the old UWF style: "UWFI consists of seven ex-UWF wrestlers and wanted the succession to the name and image of the UWF. However, to their regret, they couldn't obtain the right to use the Universal Wrestling Federation name so they called themselves Union of Professional Wrestling Force International for similar initials. They have enough Japanese wrestlers to run a promotion but they have no foreign talent that can really wrestle. to make matters worse, they have neither money nor television and they don't even have a training gym right now. Obviously, this group is the weakest one of the three. In the ring, they wrestle UWF style and rules basically. The only change is when the match begins, a wrestler has 15 points. A guy loses three points for a knockdown, one for a rope escape from a submission hold and one for a solid suplex. If the guys point total goes down to zero, he is declared the loser automatically. In addition, they have a doubles (tag team) category, in which case they start with 21 points. Considering there were no tag team matches in the UWF, that's something new. There is nothing wrong with that because they need something new, however if it "kills" the image of this being a "shoot" because a tag-team match is considered as a work here, problems will result. Their first card (5/10) drew a sellout of 2,300 fans at Korakuen Hall and all tickets were sold within 15 minutes of them going on sale. The crowd popped like crazy when wrestlers entered the arena with the old UWF theme song. With all ex-UWF wrestlers gone, Maeda was left alone to start his new promotion. Chris Dolman's help was the only strong point of this group. However, things turned when JSB decided to televise all of Maeda's shows. With the help of Dolman and JSB, he ran his first card at Yokohama Arena (capacity 17,010). The card drew 11,000 so the big arena was nowhere near full. In fact, the crowd was the same as when the SWS debuted at the arena last October, but the paid attendance was a lot more. UWF Fujiwara-Gumi changed its name to Professional Wrestling Fujiwara-Gumi (PWF) because they have to work with the SWS, so the UWF name was dropped. Their first show on 3/3 sold out all tickets within 30 minutes, but tickets didn't sell as quickly for the second show on 5/16. In fact, even ringside tickets were still available the day of the card, but the building ended up being packed full with a sellout crowd of 2,250. There is another sport in Japan called SAW (Submission Arts Wrestling) which is said to be a real sport under almost the same rules as the old UWF except that kicks are banned. A unique rule is that if a man uses a sleeper, if the opponent doesn't submit or is put out within 10 seconds, he has to break the hold

1/19/20 11:25 PM
1/9/20
Posts: 38

Meltzer continued....

6-17-91 "Actually the "hottest" show of the week was 6/6 at Korakuen Hall when the UWFI drew a huge throng of 2,400 (standing room everywhere) to see Nobuhiko Takada beat J.T. Southern with the wakigatamae (armlock) in 7:04, Tatsuo Nakano beat Yoji Anjyo with a facelock in 15:17, Kazuo Yamazaki won via TKO over Shigeo Miyato and Kiyoshi Tamura beat Tom Burton. An interesting note is that Masaharu Funaki of PWFG was at the show and when reporters surrounded him, he said that he wanted to have a match against Takada. After the match, reporters asked Takada who ignored the question. The 6/8 newspaper reported that Takada would be facing Bob Backlund down the road once again (they had a pretty famous match a few years back in Osaka) but that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now. 

 

 

1/20/20 9:18 AM
10/11/18
Posts: 1550

ttt

Edited: 1/21/20 9:43 AM
1/9/20
Posts: 39

1/21/20 11:30 AM
11/2/09
Posts: 99

In it 

1/31/20 11:46 AM
1/9/20
Posts: 40

Hot of the Presses: "Mighty Mike Lorefice of www.quebrada.net fame has decided to weigh in on this installment. 


Mark Rush vs Kazuo Takahashi: Takahashi vs. Rush exemplifies all the problems of having two amateur wrestlers with no BJJ knowledge going at it. This wasn't a bad match per se because they were active on the mat, but even though they changed positions often, it was basically 12 minutes of fiddling with each others arms. Rush gets a tip of the cap for being the first fighter in our series to try the arm triangle. As incredibly loose as they were, it would have been much better if he won with that or the Americana than this "facelock" where Rush basically put his forearm on Takahashi's chin, clasping both hands near the center rather than one hand on his upper forearm/elbow, but tried to make up for that by resting the side of his head on the opposite side of Takahashi's cheek to help close the gaping hole a little bit.

Bart Vale vs Lato Kiraware: ML: Realizing that Vale appeared to be in slow motion against any spry opponent, Fujiwara came up with a perfect opponent in Lato, an inflated Oliver Hardy shaped wrestler. In this setting, Vale's combos almost looked slick, and at least he didn't have to lean left to throw the right roundhouse kick as Lato did. Though it was something of a precursor to the dreaded PRIDE freakshow matches, and nothing much happened, at least at 5:49 they didn't overstay their welcome too much.

Wayne Shamrock vs Duane Koslowski: Shamrock vs. Koslowski was a big step up from the previous matches. Though Koslowski was in just his second match and didn't have a vast array of techniques, he could get away with it because he's such a high level athlete. Koslowski's wrestling technique is so good that his belly to belly suplexes were believable, but he just generally looked like a guy who knew how to fight. Though Shamrock was the better striker in a pro wrestling sense, Koslowski looked to have the best standing self defense training so far on the show, fighting out of a boxing stance and showing some footwork. I enjoyed this match, and while it probably didn't need to go any longer in terms of Koslowski having more to show, the finish was rather abrupt & too seated in pro wrestling.

Yusuke Fuke vs Lawi Napataya: This was sort of like mixing a bout from UFC 1 onto a puroresu show, and you know Fujiwara was envisioning a display of superiority from his diverse pro wrestler over the limited muay thai fighter who went into a full rules fight wearing traditional 8 ounce boxing gloves. Fujiwara had already triumphed over kickboxer Dick Vrij in completely worked matches of the sort, and his old promotion New Japan had their share over the years, with Antonio Inoki making his name off more comfortable ones after the debacle that was the endless snoozefest vs. Ali. Now that Fujiwara's boys were receiving real MMA training from retired pro wrestlers, what could there possibly be to fear from allowing the striker to actually strike, they'd still just get taken down & submitted like in the NJPW & UWF fantasies, right? And that might have been the case had the rules actually been thought out, but those who believe rules are meant to be, shall we say shaped to your best possible advantage can hail the Sultan of Slime.

This was the sort of fight where you wouldn't have blamed Fuke for just walking out. You had an obviously skilled kickboxer lighting him up in standup, and all he could hope to do was get Napataya to fight him in almost the exact center of the ring where he couldn't just grab the ropes if he went down, and then not slip off the gunk that was all over Napataya's body, and then manage to keep Napataya from just squirming or diving toward the ropes, and then manage to submit him before the round ended. Sure, no problem... Even though this was the greasiest roots of shooting, both literally & figuratively, I think both fighters actually fought smart fights. Fuke was willing to eat a strike to counter into a takedown, but Napataya wisely allowed Fuke to take the center, so when Napataya came forward with his fast kick, even if Fuke succeeded, he was still close enough to just grab the rope for the immediate standup.

When Fuke 's response to Napataya coming forward was to back away, Napataya would literally stop once the ropes got out of reach, then backpedal until his back was almost against them, waiting Fuke out. As much as we like to laugh at our old pal One Glove Jimmerson, under these rules a boxing glove would actually have been a big advantage because Napataya could go all out throwing his hands to set up the rest of his offense, whereas Fuke could only threaten with the palm strike that Napataya knew was never going to hurt him. However, Napataya never really threw his hands, his offense was a single inside or outside leg kick or a middle kick then either grabbing the ropes if Fuke caught it or backing to them if he didn't. Both fighters started the bout wearing foot guards, but seeing that Fuke's strategy was to get the takedown by catching the kick, Napataya's corner took his off after the 1st round.

While criticizing Napataya for being a human oil slick is valid toward the integrity of the competition, the truth is it really didn't matter because he was always conscious of his ring positioning, what would have mattered was limiting the rope escapes the way UWF-I did (though they were still way too generous for actual competition). Napataya was clowning Fuke from the get go, and the fight began to break down in the 2nd as Fuke started taunting Napataya back, trying to get him to fight in the center like a real man, but Napataya would just mock him some more while sticking to playing things smart & safe, so Fuke pretty much just sucked it up & took his beating. The fans booed from time to time, but not nearly as much as you might think because even though this was repetitive as hell and their hero was being given no chance to succeed, they also must have realized they were seeing something out of the ordinary. Fuke never gave up, but he just didn't have the tools to be remotely competitive, as trying to strike with Napataya just allowed Napataya to open up a little in the 5th, countering with a knee or his one short punch that dropped Fuke.

1/31/20 11:47 AM
1/9/20
Posts: 41

Minoru Suzuki vs Naoki Sano: I need to revisit Suzuki's U.W.F. work to see where things really clicked for him, but he's feeling really ahead of the curve right now, and worthy of inclusion in the top pantheon of worked shooters with Kiyoshi Tamura, Volk Han, Tsuyoshi Kosaka, Kazuo Yamazaki, & Satoru Sayama. The previous two high end PWFG matches were Shamrock vs. Suzuki and Shamrock vs. Sano, but with Suzuki being the man in his matches vs. these opponents, and these matches both being notably better than Shamrock vs. Sano, it's more clear that he's the leading light in this promotion. Suzuki is really grasping the urgency as well, if not better than anyone.

Even though his arsenal floats somewhere between pro wrestler & what we'd come to know as an MMA fighter, he does it with so much speed & desperation that the same technique comes off almost completely different than in a traditional pro wrestling style match. This feels like a struggle, like there's real danger if you are unable to react to them before they can react to you. The fact he was not only able to accomplish this, but keep it up for the majority of a half hour match where he also managed to take things down seemingly not to rest, but rather to set up further escalation with another wild dramatic burst that didn't feel false was pretty remarkable. It's difficult to keep the illusion of a shoot alive for 5 minutes, but the remarkable tension that these two are able to sustain throughout such a long contest is really what sets it apart. I don't want to make it sound like this was all Suzuki, Sano was growing in this style by leaps and bounds.

You can see that his confidence is so much higher here than it was against Shamrock, and he's just flowing a lot better, really on point with his reactions as well so it doesn't feel like pro wrestling cooperation. Sano again allowed the opponent to lead, but Suzuki is a lot better leader than Shamrock, and Sano is a better opponent for Suzuki in the reaction style because speedy offense & counter laden chain wrestling are the backbones of the junior heavyweight wrestling he's used to. Although Sano is the newbie in U-style, he's the veteran in this match, and he's able to show that by staying composed and trusting that he has the counter/answer to anything Suzuki can throw at him. The match was very spot oriented, but they did a good job of just avoiding or immediately defending the submissions so they weren't straining the credibility for so called drama with the minute armbar before the opponent finally finishes sliding to the ropes shenanigans. I won't say that they didn't strain credibility, I mean, Suzuki even tried a dropkick, but they did so only by performing fast, explosive moves.

Still, I liked the first half better when things were more under control than the second half when, ironically, what began to make the match look like it would be a draw was that they started hitting high spots that would have been finishes if they were used at all in PWFG, but they weren't getting the job done. That being said, this managed to be both exciting enough to be a great pro wrestling match of the era and credible enough to be a great shoot style match of the era. The weakness of the match was the transitions from the striking sequences to the mat sequences, not so much because they lacked great ways to get it to the mat, though that's also true, but mainly because they really only knew a bit of Greco-Roman based wrestling, so the action kind of artificially stalled out in a sort of minimal exertion mid-ring clinch while they plotted their explosion to get into the next great mat sequence. This aspect did improve as the match progressed with the introduction of knees, but this is also where they started incorporating the pro wrestling maneuvers.

Though Sano is the spot merchant in pro wrestling, it was actually Suzuki that was initiating the more suspect spots here, with Sano shrugging them off. I though the no cooperation belly-to-belly suplex was good precisely because it wasn't cleanly performed, but I could have lived without the later versions, the piledriver, and a few other flourishes. Suzuki did a great job of blending pro wrestling affectations with shoot style desperation though. For instance, chopping Sano's wrist to try to break his clasp that was defending the armbar or slapping his own face to keep himself from from going to sleep in a choke were nice dramatic nods even though they obviously aren't what you'd learn from Firas Zahabi. The crowd was pretty rapid throughout for this big interpromotional match, probably the best reactions PWFG has gotten so far as they were really eating this up. It felt like Sano really pulled ahead midway through the contest when Suzuki initiated a barrage of strikes, even using body punches, but Sano ultimately won what turned into a palm blow exchange, dropping & bloodying Minoru.

However, Suzuki had more stamina than Sano, and as the match progressed he began to be too quick for Sano, and was now getting strikes through that had previously been avoided. Sano may well have just been blown up, but it added to the story without reducing the quality in any way. The contest finally climaxed with both working leg locks as the 30-minute time limit expired. You'd think PWFG would want Sano back as soon as possible, and the draw should have led to a rematch at some point, but sadly Suzuki was the only native Sano ever fought in PWFG, with his remaining 3 bouts being against Vale and Flynn. ****1/2

1/31/20 11:48 AM
1/9/20
Posts: 42

Masakatsu Funaki vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara: I need to revisit Suzuki's U.W.F. work to see where things really clicked for him, but he's feeling really ahead of the curve right now, and worthy of inclusion in the top pantheon of worked shooters with Kiyoshi Tamura, Volk Han, Tsuyoshi Kosaka, Kazuo Yamazaki, & Satoru Sayama. The previous two high end PWFG matches were Shamrock vs. Suzuki and Shamrock vs. Sano, but with Suzuki being the man in his matches vs. these opponents, and these matches both being notably better than Shamrock vs. Sano, it's more clear that he's the leading light in this promotion. Suzuki is really grasping the urgency as well, if not better than anyone. Even though his arsenal floats somewhere between pro wrestler & what we'd come to know as an MMA fighter, he does it with so much speed & desperation that the same technique comes off almost completely different than in a traditional pro wrestling style match.

This feels like a struggle, like there's real danger if you are unable to react to them before they can react to you. The fact he was not only able to accomplish this, but keep it up for the majority of a half hour match where he also managed to take things down seemingly not to rest, but rather to set up further escalation with another wild dramatic burst that didn't feel false was pretty remarkable. It's difficult to keep the illusion of a shoot alive for 5 minutes, but the remarkable tension that these two are able to sustain throughout such a long contest is really what sets it apart. I don't want to make it sound like this was all Suzuki, Sano was growing in this style by leaps and bounds. You can see that his confidence is so much higher here than it was against Shamrock, and he's just flowing a lot better, really on point with his reactions as well so it doesn't feel like pro wrestling cooperation. Sano again allowed the opponent to lead, but Suzuki is a lot better leader than Shamrock, and Sano is a better opponent for Suzuki in the reaction style because speedy offense & counter laden chain wrestling are the backbones of the junior heavyweight wrestling he's used to. Although Sano is the newbie in U-style, he's the veteran in this match, and he's able to show that by staying composed and trusting that he has the counter/answer to anything Suzuki can throw at him.

1/31/20 11:54 AM
1/9/20
Posts: 43

The match was very spot oriented, but they did a good job of just avoiding or immediately defending the submissions so they weren't straining the credibility for so called drama with the minute armbar before the opponent finally finishes sliding to the ropes shenanigans. I won't say that they didn't strain credibility, I mean, Suzuki even tried a dropkick, but they did so only by performing fast, explosive moves. Still, I liked the first half better when things were more under control than the second half when, ironically, what began to make the match look like it would be a draw was that they started hitting high spots that would have been finishes if they were used at all in PWFG, but they weren't getting the job done. That being said, this managed to be both exciting enough to be a great pro wrestling match of the era and credible enough to be a great shoot style match of the era.

The weakness of the match was the transitions from the striking sequences to the mat sequences, not so much because they lacked great ways to get it to the mat, though that's also true, but mainly because they really only knew a bit of Greco-Roman based wrestling, so the action kind of artificially stalled out in a sort of minimal exertion mid-ring clinch while they plotted their explosion to get into the next great mat sequence. This aspect did improve as the match progressed with the introduction of knees, but this is also where they started incorporating the pro wrestling maneuvers. Though Sano is the spot merchant in pro wrestling, it was actually Suzuki that was initiating the more suspect spots here, with Sano shrugging them off. I though the no cooperation belly-to-belly suplex was good precisely because it wasn't cleanly performed, but I could have lived without the later versions, the piledriver, and a few other flourishes. Suzuki did a great job of blending pro wrestling affectations with shoot style desperation though.

For instance, chopping Sano's wrist to try to break his clasp that was defending the armbar or slapping his own face to keep himself from from going to sleep in a choke were nice dramatic nods even though they obviously aren't what you'd learn from Firas Zahabi. The crowd was pretty rapid throughout for this big interpromotional match, probably the best reactions PWFG has gotten so far as they were really eating this up. It felt like Sano really pulled ahead midway through the contest when Suzuki initiated a barrage of strikes, even using body punches, but Sano ultimately won what turned into a palm blow exchange, dropping & bloodying Minoru. However, Suzuki had more stamina than Sano, and as the match progressed he began to be too quick for Sano, and was now getting strikes through that had previously been avoided. Sano may well have just been blown up, but it added to the story without reducing the quality in any way. The contest finally climaxed with both working leg locks as the 30-minute time limit expired. You'd think PWFG would want Sano back as soon as possible, and the draw should have led to a rematch at some point, but sadly Suzuki was the only native Sano ever fought in PWFG, with his remaining 3 bouts being against Vale and Flynn. ****1/2

Funaki is arguably the most talented if not also the best worker in PWFG, but whereas Suzuki, Sano, & Shamrock have each had two high level bouts between the first three shows, Funaki has yet to even exceed middling despite being the featured act. As much as I'm digging the top flight PWFG stuff, it feels really awkward to have to look to SWS to find some worthwhile Funaki. Sometimes gems manage to shine in the most unlikely places, and on 3/30/91 on a Tokyo Dome show co promoted with the WWF, a UWF rules worked shoot match actually followed the saggy bondage oriented version of KISS known as Demolition.

The first thing I noticed is while Funaki's UWF bouts always got a big reaction, this was decidedly not those fans, and surely a lot of the casuals who were there to enjoy the circus had no idea what to make of this. Stylistically, Funaki is a much harder sell than Suzuki because he's a lot more into controlling, and seizing small, often subtle advantages to set up the big spot. Due to Funaki being both so much better than his peers at controlling and also a lot more patient in staying with this aspect of competition, Sano felt a lot less competitive here. Even though Sano had his moments, he felt overmatched. The match picked up when Sano did a much better job with the up kick knockdown than Fujiwara, but then when Funaki came in for the kill, in a more deliberate and careful pre Pancrase scene, they threw a series of more powerful shots designed to miss until Sano finally buckled Funaki with a middle kick.

The match was just getting good, but instead of Sano now getting his run, Funaki came back from the knockdown by catching him with a palm strike & finishing with a released German suplex into an armbar. Fujiwara, Suzuki, & Fuke, still donning their UWF jackets, then burst into the ring & mobbed Funaki for a celebration more befitting of winning an Olympic gold medal. I liked this match, but it felt too patient early & too rushed late. It was wrestled as though they were going 20 minutes until they packed virtually all the action into the final 45 second explosion. They rematched two days later, and if there were ever a match that Sano had to win given that Suzuki & Fujiwara had already won earlier in the show, making PWFG 3-0 going into the final interpromotional match of the set, it was this one. This started better with a lot of standup, even though it initially felt like sparring.

Things picked up with Funaki dropping Sano with a palm strike, and it was almost a short night for Sano as they redid the finish from the previous match, but this time Sano defended the armbar. From here, the standup was more aggressive, but again, it never really seemed like Sano had anything to truly threaten Funaki. Sano had some top control, and could land a damaging strike now and then, but Funaki had more speed and more technique, and even a low blow couldn't slow him down for long. This was definitely the better match of the two, as it was not only much better developed, but also got going a lot quicker. However, it was almost as if Funaki was too good for the match to approach its potential. This should have blown Sano vs. Shamrock away, and while the striking was certainly better, it felt like Sano had answers for Shamrock and could win that match whereas this one he'd really have to get lucky. Sano was able to hit his German suplex, but Funaki took the top breaking Sano's clasp & swung into an armbar for the win. Fuke jumped in the ring to raise Funaki's hand, but at this point there was no need for a massive group celebration, as SWS had been thorougly dispatched of.