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Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol.52 "Path of the Double-Cross"

Discussion in 'Worldwide MMA Discussion' started by Mbetz1981, Jan 12, 2022.

  1. Mbetz1981 Blue Belt

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    Special Thanks to our wonderful translator John Krummel for his incredible assistance with this column

    **Comments made by Mike Lorefice (proprietor of the excellent puroresu/mma emporium quebrada.net) will be preceded by his initials) **

    There has been an ominous specter that has lurked within the corridors of pro wrestling since time immemorial. A nefarious presence that no one wishes to encounter, but the possibility of its appearing is forever looming in the minds and hearts of its practitioners. Yes, of course, we are referring to the infamous double-cross. A spirit so troubling that its last significant appearance effectively killed pro wrestling for good when it unraveled any remaining pretense to being a legitimate athletic contest (see the 1997 Montreal Screwjob and its aftermath for more info).

    While 1997 may have been the last important sighting of this unruly beast, it certainly wasn’t the first. Before Vince McMahon effectively monopolized American pro wrestling, starting with his nationwide expansion in the 80s, its landscape was made up of a series of regional territories. Much like the mafia, there were unwritten rules of conduct and honor that the various promoters of these outfits were expected to show one another, especially when it came to respecting geographical boundaries and not poaching talent. Of course, whenever there is money involved, combined with massive egos, these gentlemen’s agreements are sure to be broken. While an entire book could be written on the subject, here are but a few examples of infamous double-crosses of yesteryear.

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    1911: Frank Gotch vs. George Hackenschmidt:

    This match was the grandfather of all double-crosses. This was still in the era of professional wrestling being widely a legit contest, and Gotch had become broadly recognized as the world champion three years prior by beating Hackenschmidt. The best of three falls rematch was expected to do record-breaking business (which it did, doing around $87,000, which would roughly come out to 2.5 million dollars today), and the Gotch camp didn’t want to take any chances on losing the rematch. Reportedly, they hired submission expert Ad Santel for $5,000 to injure Hackenschmidt during one of their sparring sessions as Santel was a regular sparring partner for Hackenschmidt. Santel succeeded in injuring Hackenschmidt’s knee, which left him in no shape to be competitive in his rematch against Gotch. Not wanting to lose out on such a huge payday, the injury was kept secret, and when it came time to perform, Hackenschmidt worked out a deal with Gotch to be allowed a one-fall victory and to be carried the rest of the way to at least look like he was being competitive. Gotch agreed to this, but when the match started, he double-crossed Hackenschmidt and won quickly with two straight falls.

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    1-30-1920: Earl Caddock vs. Joe Malciewicz:

    Earl “The Man of 1,000 Holds” Caddock was one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling between 1915 and 1920. On 1-30-1920 he had a match against a young Joe Malciewicz in which he was supposed to win because he was scheduled to lose his “World Championship’’ title to Joe “Scissor King’’ Stecher just a couple of weeks later. Malciewicz agreed to the finish, but instead spent the entire match shooting on Caddok. He was awarded a decision victory and crowned the new World Champion. However, the wrestling promoters held a lot of sway in those days and were able to successfully hush up the press. They simply pretended that this title change never happened, and Caddock proceeded to drop his fictitious title to Stecher as planned.

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    1925: Wayne Munn vs. Stanislaus Zbyszko:

    It seems that Eric Bischoff wasn’t the first to pioneer athlete stunt-casting in professional wrestling. Yes, long before Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman were feuding within a wrestling ring, promoters in the 20s were already up to similar shenanigans. Ed “The Strangler” Lewis was world champion at the time, and with his cohort, infamous promoter Billy Sandow, they came up with a brilliant move that foreshadowed the dynamic duo of Hulk Hogan/Vince McMahon by decades. Munn was a giant of a man at 6-feet 8-inches and was a standout college football star. Seeing the potential to draw a cross audience of football fans, Lewis/Sandow got Munn to start a career in pro wrestling, and Strangler even dropped his title to him. Of course, as is the problem with many of these decisions, even to this present day, Munn had no wrestling talent and was too green to effectively work a match. Three months into his title reign he was set to successfully defend his title against Zbyszko when Zbyszko double-crossed Munn, shot on him, and easily pinned him for the win.

    Kimura, eat your heart out!
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    1926: Joe Stecher vs. John Pesek:

    Long before Masahiko Kimura became renowned in BJJ circles as the father of the submission hold named after him, John Pesek was putting anybody and everybody in his painful double-wristlock. He was competing against Joe Stecher for the World Title at the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium in a best of 3-falls contest. The first two falls went as planned, all appropriately worked, but when it came time for the 3rd fall, Pesek shot on Stecher and put him in the double-wristlock. Most bizarrely was that this double-cross didn’t work as the referee simply disqualified Pesek for no reason, thus saving the title for Stecher. This entire fiasco triggered an investigation by the athletic commission, but nothing happened, as they were presumably bribed with enough money by the promoters to stay quiet about everything.

    Ed Don George
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    1931: Ed Don George vs. Strangler Lewis:

    Not to be outdone by Billy Sandow/Wayne Munn, Northeast promoter Paul Bowser decided to fabricate a star out of a different football player in Gus Sonnenberg. Like Munn, Gus couldn’t work a match either, but that didn’t matter as they were making fistfuls of cash with him, that is until Sonnenberg had his butt kicked in a street fight by a much smaller middleweight wrestler. This altercation was presumably set up by some of Bowser’s rival promoters, and it had its intended effect as this effectively killed any credibility that Sonnenberg had. Not to be deterred, Bowser (who had a working agreement with Sandow/Strangler) had Sonnenberg drop the title to upcoming wrestling star, Ed Don George, but without the consent of either Sandow or Ed Lewis. Lewis was infuriated at this but continued to do jobs for Bower until he felt the time was right for him to exact his revenge. Eventually, Lewis got a match with George, in which he was supposed to lose, but before the match started, he told George that he was going to take the title one way or the other and that they could do it the “easy way,” or the “hard way.” George chose the easy way, as he knew that he couldn’t beat Lewis in a shoot.

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    1931: Strangler Lewis vs. Henri DeGlane:

    t only took three weeks for Bowser to exact his revenge on Ed “The Strangler” Lewis, in what was probably the most hilariously surreal double-cross in wrestling history. Lewis was scheduled to defeat Henri DeGlane in a best of 3-falls match in Montreal (which apparently is a hotbed city for wrestling screwjobs). Bowser convinced DeGlane to pull off one of the most brazen stunts in combat sports history when after the 2nd fall (with both wrestlers 1-1), an intermission was declared before the match was to resume. This practice was common in those days as the intermission allowed for the selling of concessions to the public. During this break, DeGlane bit himself near his armpit to the point of drawing blood. He then kept his wound concealed until the 3rd fall started, and abruptly started screaming, which shocked the ref. When the ref saw the histrionics, blood, and teeth marks on DeGlane, he disqualified Lewis and awarded the title to DeGlane. Lewis was dumbfounded at first, but then realized that he had been double-crossed by Bowser. Much like Bret Hart after him, he decided to do what Bret did and find Bowser so he could sock him in the face. Unlike Vince McMahon, however, Bowser had planned for this and had a contingency in place. He hired several bodyguards with baseball bats, so when Lewis found him to give him his deserved butt-kicking he was stopped by his army of goons. Lewis had no choice but to play it cool and left the States for a stint in Europe.

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    1933: Jim Londos vs. Joe Savoldi:

    It’s hard to fathom just how big a star Londos was in his generation. Easily the Hulk Hogan of the 30s-40s, this Greek megastar was still pulling in large crowds until 1959. However, in the early 30s, he had enraged some New York promoters to the point that they decided to install their own champion in Joe Salvodi. They pulled off their diabolical scheme at a title match in Chicago by not only paying off Salvodi, but also referee Bob Managoff. The match was supposed to have a segment where Salvodi put Londos in a submission, with Londos escaping by crawling into the ropes. All of that happened, however, when Londos got to the ropes Salvodi started applying real pressure onto Salvodi, while the crooked ref pretended to not see Londos tied up in the ropes. The ref then awarded a submission victory to Salvodi, and thus the title. The delicious irony here was that the promoters that set this up started losing money with a significant drop-off in audience attendance once Londos wasn’t around and were forced to beg him back not long thereafter.

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    1936: Danno O’Mahoney vs. Dick Shikat:

    This incident was an infamous match that exposed wrestling and killed business in New York for 15 years, at which point Antonio Rocca arrived onto the scene. Danno wasn’t much of a wrestler, but he was a huge draw in the Boston area, as well as other Northeast hotspots. Danno drew tons of money for New York promoter Jack Curley, who was at war with rival promoters Al Hart and Jack Pheffer. This inglorious duo found one of the toughest wrestlers of that era in Shikat, and proceeded to hire him to shoot all over Danno in a pro wrestling setting. Danno was demolished in this fight, and what’s worse, the ref had no clue how to respond to any of this. Shikat took the title, but Danno was still booked as champion in Boston for a while afterward. This fiasco was probably the first major blow that pro wrestling took on a grand scale that exposed its chicanery to the broader public.

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    1950: Don Eagle vs. Gorgeous George:

    Weird match that probably is the closest to resembling the Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels future disaster. Eagle was recognized as a world champion in the Boston area, but managed to have a title defense slated in the Chicago area against Gorgeous George. In this one, referee Earl Mollohan double-crossed Eagle by intentionally conducting a fast count against him and running out of the ring after committing the dirty deed, all while a livid Eagle chased him.

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    1985: Wendi Richter vs. Spider Lady:

    At least Bret Hart doesn’t have to go through life with the heaviness of knowing that he’s the only one to have been screwed by Vince McMahon. Yes, a full twelve years before that incident in Montreal, Vince was taking a stab at talent relations by eliminating a pesky contractor that wanted to be compensated fairly for her work. The explosion of the WWF’s brand in the 80s was due to a number of factors/personalities, and women’s phenom Wendi Richter can rightfully claim to have been an important part of that. Richter was coming into this match on the heels of a super hot program with Cyndi Lauper in her corner as she faced off against the Fabulous Moolah with Capt. Lou Albano in Moolah’s. This culminated in a match that aired on MTV to huge ratings. Richter upset the 28-year reign that Moolah had enjoyed up to that point and this kicked off the “Rock and Wrestling Connection” era of the WWF.

    One would be forgiven for thinking that helping thrust Vince McMahon’s vision into the national spotlight would garner a reasonable payday, but that assumption would be wrong. Richter was hardly paid anything for her efforts and tried on several occasions to reason with McMahon about getting more pay, but this kind of talk was verboten in Vince’s world, and Richter had to be silenced. Richter was booked to face the mysterious Spider Lady, who unbeknownst to Richter, was in fact Moolah in disguise. Richter figured out what was going on before the match started and knew that she couldn’t trust Moolah. However, she hadn’t figured on the referee being in on the double-cross. Moolah put Richter in a small package and despite Richter kicking out at the count of one, the ref quickly slammed his hand on the mat three times which prompted Howard Finkel to announce Moolah as the New champion. This prompted total confusion and pandemonium in the crowd, and Richter fled the arena in disgust, never to work for Vince McMahon again.
     
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  2. Mbetz1981 Blue Belt

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    Volume 52 Continued…

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    Of course, this all leads to our present-day of 10-23-92 as we brace ourselves to continue to report on this dubious tradition. Yes, the malevolent force of the double-cross is set to have its presence felt within the Budokan Hall tonight, as the UWF-I is continuing their journey. This time their hero Nobuhiko Takada will have to do battle with the former sumo champion, Koji Kitao. When we last saw Kitao, he was being benefited by Kazuo Yamazaki’s award-winning acting performance, somehow convincing the local crowd that Kitao was a legitimate threat that only the intrepid hero, Takada, has any chance of vanquishing. As we will see later this evening, that narrative quickly vanished, leaving Kitao as a bizarre footnote in both the histories of puroresu and mixed martial arts. A montage shows us both Kitao and Takada being shuffled around in luxury automobiles on their way to the arena, which makes me wonder if Yamazaki had to tough it out in a dilapidated Toyota.

    Apollo Sugawara, Lou Thesz, Koji Kitao, and Mark Fleming
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    From there we are greeted by the best brand ambassador any sporting organization could ask for, Lou Thesz, who talks about his time training Koji Kitao. This is true, as both Thesz and Mark Fleming spent a considerable amount of time training Kitao, although it was for his initial preparations for a career in New Japan Pro Wrestling, not the UWF-I. Thesz shows us the lost art of the wrestling promo, not in over-the-top theatrics, but how he is able to frame the narrative that he wants, but still makes sure to put the opponent over at the same time. Thesz talks about how Kitao has been devoting too much time to non-wrestling training such as karate, but praises his power, and says that Takada may be underestimating him. Thesz then talks about how the main event will be contested in rounds, which favors Kitao.

    Standing Bout 3min 5R: Makoto Ohe vs. Kunpon Gehya Samureek

    Regardless of what else happens this evening, at least we get to see shootboxer extraordinaire Makato Ohe back in action. Lately, Ohe has been having his work cut out for him with a slew of tough American opponents, so it’s interesting that he gets a Thai fighter thrown at him this time. Ohe has shown a weakness to the strong boxing of the American style (as well as a great advantage in their lack of low-kick technology), so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Interestingly, it’s Ohe that is using his boxing skills to try and press into close range, whereas Samureek seems to be playing the patient game of trying to set up a devastating kick. I would say that Ohe won this round via volume, but Samureek is both patient and accurate, so I predict that he is the more dangerous of the two.

    Round 2 continues with Ohe being the aggressor, but he has to eat several nasty counter kicks from Samureek. Even round.

    Round 3 was pretty even up until the second half when Samureek seemed to figure out Ohe’s timing, and had one counter after another whenever Ohe would try and close the distance. I’d score this round for Samureek.

    Round 4 also started very evenly, but Samureek turned the switch on in the 2nd half with his cerebral counterattack style. Slight edge to Samureek this round.

    Both fighters cut loose in the final round, and surprisingly Samureek plays offense just as well as defense. Ohe did better in the 2nd half making this a very even round. This makes me conclude that Samureek should be slightly ahead on points, and to my shock, the judges agreed with me. Unlike the Seidokaikan judges who couldn’t seem to do the most basic of tasks without some underlying corruption, the UWF-I is straight as an arrow and awards the Thai fighter a victory in what was a close fight to judge. This wasn’t the most exciting fight in the world, but Samureek had a very interesting style, and I enjoyed it.

    ML: This fight was contested under the UWF-I’s bizarre open scoring system where both fighters start at 40 points, and then points are deducted at the end of the round, or if there is a knockdown or something. The scores are displayed on the scoreboard at all times, so Ohe knew he was losing, as 1 point was deducted after the second round, two after the fourth round, and one after the fifth rounds, resulting in a 40-36 win for Samureek. Now, explaining those numbers is pretty much beyond me, but this was a very competitive fight where Ohe was able to hang with the Thai fighter in a Thai bout, even executing a twist. As is typical, Ohe focused on his boxing because the hands are generally the weakest to limbs of the Thai fighters, and true to form Samureek was mostly a strong kicker. I assume Ohe outlanded him, but Samureek’s kicks just had more on them. This fight was slower paced than the typical Ohe fight, but it was interesting enough, more because it was close than because there was tons of big action. Ohe picked it up then the final round because he knew he needed a knockdown, but overall Samureek was the better defensive fighter, and just had too well rounded of an attack for him.

    1st Junior League: Tom Burton vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara

    While I fail to see the logic in having a Jr. League tournament when you only have two fighters in the roster that can arguably qualify, I simply can’t complain about Kanehara having a different opponent to face. This time it’s Tom Burton, who last month had his face punted like a soccer ball at the hands (or feet in this case) of Takayama.

    Kanehara seems to scare Burton by slapping him with the fury of a Karen talking to the manager, which prompts him to quickly go for a low single leg. This desperation move doesn’t faze Kanehara, who keeps on slapping away, before rolling under the ropes for a restart. The slaps didn’t stop there as Kanehara continued his target practice for most of the match. Of course, Burton got the occasional takedown, but it never profited him for very long before Kanehara took over. It was nice to see Kanehara in action, although I would hesitate to call this good. Burton’s only function seemed to be as a life-size wrestling buddy for Kanehara. This was only marginally ahead of a squash match. ** ¼

    ML: The best thing about this UWF-I junior league is that Kanehara finally gets back to fighting a few opponents that I am confident can at least tie their own shoes. Although this match was surprisingly short, which was lucky for Burton as he doesn’t have the world’s largest gas tank, especially at this crazy pace, it was the best thing we have seen from Kanehara in months. Kanehara applied a ton of pressure, doing his best to beat Burton with his speed and technique. Kanehara owned the striking game, but Burton would quickly use his kicking against him, countering with his far superior wrestling to get the takedown, but it wasn’t long before Kanehara had the reversal, and was applying pressure with submissions. Burton may not be the world’s most dynamic fighter, but he is always willing to go, and was able to keep up with Kanehara on willpower (despite sucking wind towards the end), working as fast a paced match as he was capable of, with a lot of transitions, largely because Burton got the takedown then Kanehara got to counter. Burton had a few power moves including the powerbomb just before the finish, but his lack of submission skills really keeps him from being much of a threat, even at this level. I didn’t really care for the random ending here, where Kanehara got the kneebar submission after the annoying minute of struggling, and felt the match really need to be a little longer, but I was excited by what we got here, for the most part. ***

    1st Junior League: Mark Silver vs. Yoshihiro Takayama

    Takayama came, he saw, and he put Mark Silver in a Boston Crab. If that wasn’t bad enough, Silver screamed as if he had been shot in the stomach. If the last match was a minor squash, then this was its much bigger brother. At only a minute long, this just felt pointless. ½*

    ML: This is the sort of Takayama match I can almost stomach. It was still a dud, but at just 71 seconds, it couldn’t be that offensive, could it? Silver’s screams were as obnoxious as ever though, and I am not sure if he actually below out his knee, or we are supposed to believe that Takayama’s half crab is that deadly that being in it few seconds too long resulted in Silver just fallng apart seconds later? Silver was back for next month’s show, so I am leaning towards the later.

    Yoji Anjo vs. Iron Sheik

    Now for one of the most unexplainable matches we’re probably ever going to cover here, a bout between the Iron Sheik and Yoji Anjo. All I can figure is that the Sheik missed one of his dates touring the various high school auditoriums throughout the country, and somehow managed to find himself in Tokyo with an hour to kill. Words are failing me…. For someone who over the years has bragged about how tough of a legit shooter he was in his prime, Sheik doesn’t look like he could spell shoot, let alone actually conduct a facsimile of one. Granted, he is 49 here, and not expected to be in great shape, but Pez Whatley was the same age and at least looked decent in the amateur wrestling portions. Sheik kept doing absolutely nothing, which eventually irritated Anjo enough to just slap him in the face and dare him to fight. This provocation didn’t seem to help, as Sheik somehow managed to forget every wrestling hold he ever learned, and just stood in the ring. Sheik did manage one suplex before being tossed and submitted by Anjo in one of the weirdest leg submissions I’ve yet seen. As a match, this would get negative stars, but as a historical train wreck, I encourage all to see it.

    ML: The only Iranian champion in WWE history, taking the title from fellow amateur champion Bob Backlund, who we’ve already seen shamed in UWF-I, The Iron Sheik was another of the legendary so called shooters of the 1980’s, having been assistant coach to the USA Olympic wrestling team in 1972 after failing to make the Iranian team in 1968. This is the sort of match that makes sense on paper, you prove your shooters are the best by having them defeat well (better) credentialed names/legends. You know it will be a dreadful match, but that really isn’t a consideration, I suppose, it’s really just buying credibility for Anjo. And it’s something different for a big show that will intrigue a few people, and deliver a result that will be remembered for a long time, even though the match itself is certainly best forgotten. This was the Sheik’s big chance to prove himself to be something more than one of the most iconic whores in Vince McMahon’s storied xenophobic and racist history, but he did exactly why he did in the WWF, stall and be an annoying embarrassment. This was so shameful that Anjo was basically begging him to fight, then trying to taunt him into it when that didn’t work. Anjo was by far the most obnoxious wrestler in the promotion, but he even his the best attempts at clowning Sheik couldn’t pull an ounce of dignity or pride out of him, and Sheik instead tapped to the start of the STF after delivering his single offensive move of the match, a belly-to-back suplex. This may be the worst match in the history of the promotion because in 5 minutes all Sheik really did was retreat from the fight and complain to the ref about the guy who was trying to actually have a match. That being said, there was at least some perverse enjoyment to be had here.
     
  3. Mbetz1981 Blue Belt

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    Volume 52 Continued...


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    Gary Albright & Mark Fleming vs. Yuko Miyato & Masahito Kakihara

    After ingloriously losing both the mantle of being “Best in the World” as well as the chance to wear Lou Thesz’s World Title belt, we now must witness the gargantuan Albright-monster team up with his pal Mark Fleming. Tonight, they will be facing the dynamic duo of Miyato/Kakihara.

    Fleming and Miyato start things off, and Mark is looking much looser and confident tonight compared to last month. Though Fleming was looking good here, it was Kakihara that was the real star. Everything he did just looked incredibly fluid, sharp, and accomplished with incredible speed. I liked everything that I saw here, but the problem was that it was only 5min long. Albright didn’t even get into the ring! These are the hardest matches to rate, as this was just starting to swell up when it ended too abruptly. **

    ML: This was a passable tepid start to a 15 or 20 minute match that suddenly ended with a Kakihara high kick. Kakihara did a few things because Kakihara is capable of looking good with anyone, but Fleming wasn’t really much to work with, clearly bringing Miyato down, and thankfully Albright didn’t grace as with his cartoonishness. As a “complete” match, this is below * because even though the “action” was perhaps decent enough for the early minutes if they didn’t then leave out all the good stuff, ultimately there simply was nothing here.

    Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Kiyoshi Tamura

    So far, tonight has been nothing short of surreal, and I get the feeling that this will be our only chance at a fantastic match. This time frame is a pivotal one for Tamura, who will be leaving to go train with Lou Thesz after this event.

    Things start cautiously with Yamazaki treating this almost like a kickboxing match, but he’s forced to quickly shift gears when Tamura forces things to the canvas. Tamura continues to try and force Yamazaki to work at his breakneck pace, but Kazuo is doing a good job at stifling Kiyoshi’s flow with his strength and the constant threat of submissions. The first half of this match felt a lot like a late 80s UWF match, albeit with a lot more urgency than what was typical of that era. Things picked up considerably in the 2nd half when Yamazaki started ramping up his aggression with more kicks, and Tamura switched from ancient tech in the Boston crab to more modern fare like the spinning kneebar. Tamura also shocked me with something close to a shoot-style version of an Indian deathlock, which has to be seen to be believed. While this too closely resembled the older U-Style to be considered a top match for either man, it still had a lot to offer, and the insane energy from the crowd helped this immensely. Also, the ending was fantastic, with Yamazaki faking a suplex to open up a rear-naked choke, only to see Tamura reverse this with a throw and a win via armbar. ****

    ML: This match felt like a wakeup call for Yamazaki, who despite the endless humiliations and disappointments at the hands of Takada and Albright, had yet to be asked to put over any of the natives that were beneath him. After a disappointing performance in the should have been top notch match against Anjo last month, he really stepped it up here and delivered the sort of high quality story match he is capable of. Everything was really on point here, with Tamura playing the brazen young underdog who totally believes he will win, while Yamazaki was the more relaxed veteran doggedly clinging to his #2 native rank. The pre-match was classic with Tamura getting in Yamazaki’s face with a chest bump, but Yamazaki digging in and holding his position firmly, really the theme of the match, in general. The action was totally back and forth from the get go, but was also unique in that they refused to press the reset button, endlessly countering, but essentially all of a counters were performed without letting go of the opponent. This was an amazing struggle with such a great seamless flow. The sequences weren’t rushed, but also seemed to never end in the best possible manner of someone always having another idea to continue things. This was a real roller-coaster with great teases and payoffs as they foiled each other back and forth, to a regularly exploding, appreciative crowd (who was surely thankful to finally have something with some meat they could actually dig into). Tamura & Yamazaki handling their own disappointments and frustrations almost seemed like it must have been as much of a challenge as warding off their clingly, crafty opponent who just wouldn’t go away. Everytime you expected someone, particularly Tamura since he was a big underdog, to crumble they instead proved how capable and clever they actually were, concocting yet another great counter or escape. Tamura is known to be the best submission fighter in the league, but also much weaker on his feet, so Yamazaki decided to do his best to make it a kickboxing match. Tamura was well prepared, catching Yamazaki’s first kick though and just throwing Yamazaki down to piss him off. This really set up the dynamic of their battle of wills, Yamazaki stubbornly doing his best to beat Tamura in standup, while Tamura did his best to instead counter the kicks and force Yamazaki it into a submission clinic. There’s a classic early sequence where Tamura catches a kick and slams Yamazaki, then tries to drop into an Achilles’ tendon hold, but Yamazaki instead stands up and tries for an enziguri, only to have Tamura block it and drop into a kneebar. They continue to go back and forth until Yamazaki finds his way into a kneebar of his own, and is none too quick to break when Tamura grabs the ropes. There’s a real cyclical nature to this contest, and the next big sequence ends with Tamura rolling through Yamazaki’s 1/2 crab and forcing Yamazaki to now take a rope escape from the kneebar. Though this isn’t as outwardly flashy as Tamura’s best work that we have seen so far, Tamura doesn’t need to be as singularly brilliant because Yamazaki has more less as much ability to add to the sequence as he does. I guess what I am saying is there’s less of the one or two really explosive movements from Tamura that mark some of his previous standout work, but that is replaced by a much more capable back-and-forth, which ultimately allows, if not demands, the performers be more patient and probably less explosive initially. Though it begins to feel like Yamazaki has abandoned his strategy because he doesn’t panic when the fight hits the mat, knowing he has more or less as much ability to find his way into an arm or knee lock as Tamura, when he does get back to his feet, he really makes a hard push to blow Tamura out with heavy kicks. Though Yamazaki had Tamura really wobbled on both legs after his last standing sequence, he finally decided being too predictable in standup was costing him, and switched to clinch knees, only to have Tamura soon answered with a suisha otoshi. The finish has Yamazaki bending Tamura with ax kick to set up a German suplex to go up 12-9. Yamazaki tries to go back to the German suplex after a front kick, but of course nothing ever works twice here, and when he switches to a standing choke, Tamura backs him into the corner then hits an ipponzeoi into an armbar for the upset. While Tamura was still the better performer, this felt much less one man showish, and more like Yamazaki was really adding a lot of craft and setup to take this to the next level. It stands as the best match Yamazaki ever had in UWF-I, and, of course, was followed up by neither doing anything notable for the rest of the year (Yamazaki won a main event tag match because Takada was his partner & Tamura missed both shows training with Thesz). ****1/2
     
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  4. Mbetz1981 Blue Belt

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    Volume 52 Continued...

    Volume 52 Continued…

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    Nobuhiko Takada vs. Koji Kitao

    Now it is time for gross darkness to fill the Budokan Hall as the wicked presence of the Double-Cross must be felt for the first time in almost eight years. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our resident translator (who went above and beyond for this column), we will now be the only western outlet to have examined this incident with any depth. This fiasco was complicated and appeared to have resulted from Kitao having a huge ego and Takada going into business for himself at the expense of what was best for the long-term health of the company.

    This was always intended to be a draw, and the UWF-I goes to great lengths to craft this narrative by explaining that this fight will be contested under a round system at Kitao’s request. They state that since Kitao had agreed to fight Yamazaki under UWF-I rules, it was only fair to acquiesce to his request to fight Takada under a round system. They also went on to say that if there is no winner after five rounds the match will be ruled a draw. On paper, this was a clever strategy as Takada wouldn’t lose face, and they could continue to build up Kitao as a serious threat down the road. However, as in so many examples when it comes to this outfit, Takada managed to swipe defeat from the jaws of victory by putting himself ahead of the needs of the company.

    I don’t want to spoil our translator John Krummel’s comments, so I will add them before commenting any further.

    Signing ceremony & press conference for Takada vs Kitao

    The announcer announces the beginning of the “signing ceremony” for the “Martial Arts World Championship” and introduces the two fighters: Nobuhiko Takada from Prowrestling UWF International and Koji Kitao, former Yokozuna (grand champion) from sumo; and between them is Shuji Gotoh, repesentating Don King Promotions board member and CEO of Breverman Promotions, Gary Breverman .

    Then Miyato, representing UWFI, explains the rules of the match: The winner is determined by KO or giving up [submission], the format is 5 rounds of 3 minute rounds. The UWFI side originally wanted this to be without a time limit or at least for 10 rounds, but Kitao asked for it to be limited to 5 rounds. Since the last time [referring to Kitao vs Yamazaki], UWFI was permitted to format the match as no-time limit, this time UWFI agreed with Kitao’s request to limit this to 5 rounds. And otherwise for other minute details, the rules will be generally the same as UWFI matches. But rope escapes and knock downs will be left free like in the previous match [Kitao vs Yamazaki].

    After each fighter signs the contract, they are asked to give a statement (of what they aspire/hope for) in the match

    Kitao: “This will be my first time to fight Takada, and will be my only time… Through my training, I’ve wanted to continue getting stronger, and so when UWFI invited me to fight Takada, I agreed. To fight Takada-san is a great honor for me, and for this fight I will be training as hard as I can.”

    Takada: “I will do my best without being deceived by those polite words [of Kitao] to lose… In any case I will not lose, I’ll simply win.”

    Post-signing interview with Kitao: Q: “Can you tell us about your decision to return to the UWFI ring?” A: “Well as someone, like Takada, who aims to progress in combat arts, and since I was allowed to fight Yamazaki last time… Last time I was the one who challenged UWFI, but this time UWFI invited me to fight, and so I agreed. As people training in the combat sports, I think, we’re all aiming for the same thing, and so I agreed to fight again for UWFI.” Q: “Have you seen any of Takada’s fights?” A: “yes, I’ve seen his fights many times. I think he’s a great fighter. As for myself, I’d like to say I’m not so different from the last time I fought at UWFI, but I’m taking this offer seriously.” Q: “Did you feel anything today when meeting Takada?” A: “Well… rather than feeling anything, since he’s the one I’m going to fight, and he’s certainly a top-class fighter, so I felt that I will have to exert all my effort.” Q: “Is there any weakness in Takada that you feel you can win if you attack it?” A: “No, there is no specific aspect or part like that that can be attacked in Takada to win so easily. It really depends on the circumstances of the time and place, and my mental state. Rather than thinking or calculating that I should do this or that, I have to go for it by using everything I learned up to this point in my training. So there probably is no point in thinking about any specific aspect that I should engage in.” Q: “The event is in two days. What kind of training have you been engaging in?” A: “it’s not really different from how I normally train. But I’ve been engaging in sparring, weight training, zazen (seated meditation) and standing under a waterfall—In these activities, I tried to find in myself what I am pursuing. This is the only way for me to take what I could into the coming fight.” Q: “What do you think of the rules for this fight?” A: “As for the rules, I don’t think there’s anything that would be a minus for either of us. But since last time UWFI accepted the rules I wanted, I agreed to accept some of their requests for the rules of this fight while also mixed with some of my own rule-requests so this time my request of having five 3 minutes rounds was accepted.” Q: “So the fight is in 2 days. Tell us your thoughts in anticipation of the fight.” A: “Well, the only thing I can do is to manifest all of my training up to this time… so I can only depend on myself… If this gives birth to something that will be a plus for myself. In any case, regardless of the result, I’d like to fight aggressively in my own style.”

    Post-signing interview with Takada: Q: “What were your impressions of Kitao today as you met him?” A: “Well, I only got to see him like this, wearing a suit and tie, so I can’t really say what my impressions of him were… It’s not like seeing him naked and moving in the ring. But otherwise, I thought he’s quite big.” Q: “Have you seen any of Kitao’s matches?” A: “Well… I’ve seen his fight against Yamazaki several times on video.” Q: “Any special characteristic that you noticed about him?” A: “… only that he’s big… Because he’s big there is the danger of the single shot, so I need to be careful because of his size, whether it’s his kicks or being mounted by him.” Q: “This fight will be in rounds, so any thoughts on this?” A: “Well, this could be a significant point but as for myself I’d rather fight without resting in a 60 mins or 30 mins 1 fall match. But since last time in the fight with Yamazaki, while Kitao wanted to have rounds, he accepted our request for making it a non-time limit 1 fall match, so this time, we are accepting his request for having five 3mins-rounds. This could be a point… It would also change if this would be for 10 or 15 rounds.” Q: “What are your thoughts in anticipation of the fight?” A: “I don’t think that there is any way I can lose. But as I stated before he is big and not only big… so I need to be cautious about the fact that he is ‘ not only big’. So I’ll keep that in mind and think of what to do while facing him in the ring… I’m certain that I will not lose.”

    The Lou Thesz speech before the match (in English): In the translator’s translation of this he added some few things that they will be in negotiations with Chono for a fight with Takada and that Thesz will do his best to get Chono to fight Takada, which made the audience excited about the prospects of seeing the new NWA champion from New Japan, Chono, fighting Takada for the undisputed world title (that match never transpired though).

    Then the announcer explained the rules to the audience as being 5 rounds of 3 mins rounds, with free knock downs, free rope escapes [meaning unlimited knock downs and rope escapes unlike usual UWFI rules], and the winner only by knock out or giving up, and that if the knock down occurs in the final round, it will not be saved by the bell [in other words, the KO count will continue to 10]. There will be no point system, so if the fighters fight the full 5 rounds with no winner, the match will be declared a draw. [I like the audience’s reaction… they seemed to boo over the announcement of the round system and that it would be a draw when no one decisively won, but they cheered when it was announced that victory is by KO or giving up.] Disqualified techniques are closed fist strikes to the head & face, head butts, elbow strikes, biting, attacking the groin, hair pulling, etc.

    Announcement/Greetings made by UWFI representative, Suzuki: “Thank you for coming tonight. The Martial Arts World Championship is about to be held now, but first concerning the agreed upon rules, as a representative of the UWFI, I would like to say a few words of apology. Initially you, the fans, were told that this match will be a no-time limit 1 fall match. We, the UWFI, also had this as our intention but in our negotiations right up to this date, the Kitao side, requested that the match be for 5 rounds of 3 mins rounds. We wanted to keep it a non-time limit match, but due to the premise that in the previous fight of Kitao vs Yamazaki, Kitao had agreed to fight under UWFI rules, we were driven to the position that this time we were obligated to accept the rules requested by Kitao’s side. This round system will indeed be a disadvantage for Takada, but just now in his dressing room, Takada told me that ‘I don’t really care about the 5 rounds, I’ll just win!’ Please, everyone, cheer for him.”

    Shoot boxing founder and head of Caeser Gym, Casesar Takeshi, and the new WBA world straw wt. boxing champion, Hideyuki Ohashi, enter the ring to give greetings of “encouragement” to both fighters [a Japanese custom].

    Next an official certifying declaration of the martial arts championship by Don King Promotion board member and representative of Breverman Promotions, Shuji Goto.

    MB: Things start slowly, as Kitao remains rather stationery while Takada sneaks in some low kicks. Kitao is so slow that Takada is looking like Manson Gibson out here. So far, it’s evident that Takada is throwing shoot kicks at Kitao, who is far too inept to be checking them. Round 1 ends with no ground action, and in fact, no action from Kitao at all!

    Round 2 sees us go back to a worked match with a huge slam from Kitao and a horribly fake armbar from Takada.

    Takada is back to the shoot kicks in round 3, and Kitao makes the same mistake that Mark Coleman did against Pete Williams when he lowered his hands, anticipating a low kick, but Takada went high with a hard head kick instead that hit Kitao flush. Kitao is done!
     
  5. Mbetz1981 Blue Belt

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    JK: It’s interesting the way they’re feeling out each other in the standups, beginning with the first round, instead of going for the traditional lockup. This does make it look like a shoot. But it’s interesting that when they go to the ground, it looks more like prowrestling as Takada let Kitao escape to the ropes when he was about to get him in the arm bar (this makes sense when you know what the agreement between the two was based on what ex-UWFI spokesperson Suzuki claims as I’ll explain below). And, man, that kick landed hard!

    Seeing this match as well as his match against Berbick, I couldn’t help but contrast this young Takada in his prime with the older injured Takada when he fought Rickson. If only Takada was this young, mobile, and swift when he fought Rickson about 5 years later… He would have certainly lost to Rickson, but at least the fight may have been more exciting and interesting.

    Post-fight comments of Kitao walking hallway: Q: “How did it feel?” A: “It felt good!” Q: “Do you remember what happened?” A: “I do… [unclear]”… Then he goes into this dressing room.

    Post-fight interview on the ring with Takada: Q: “Congratulations! How was it?” A: “Yeah, I was scared, but I won for the cheering fans of UWFI. I will accept anyone’s challenge! I’m waiting [for challengers]!” Q: “Now that you’ve beaten Gary [Albright] and Kitao and you will begin your journey as world champion, what are your thoughts and hopes concerning this as a world champion?” A: “All I can say is I’ll keep training hard and doing my best, please keep cheering for me!” Q: “Thank you, let’s give Nobuhiko Takada a big round of applause!”

    Takada’s dressing room comments: “Even if there was going to be no victor in this match, I wanted to show Kitao, the strength of a [real] pro wrestler and how dangerous a pro wrestler can be, I wanted to hurt him in a submission… as a consequence I fought with that desire, and my wishes came true [even if it wasn’t a win by joint submission].” Q: “Earlier you said you were scared, what did you mean by that?” A: “Well aside from his size, he had nothing superior to me, but nevertheless, he was just simply a big person. He made it to the top of the sumo world, and yet he’s still young and can absorb a lot of knowledge. So there was an element of uncertainty in facing the unknown. Of course, to an extent, I can say this about anyone I face in the ring. But with him it was compounded by his size, so I did feel some fear leading up to the fight.” To the question of would he fight Kitao again, A: “There’s really no point in fighting someone I beat like this… Kitao needs to go back to the gym/dojo and re-train…”

    So the following is what I found about the background of the bout. There were several (3 or so) videos on Japanese Youtube claiming that this was Takada’s double-cross against Kitao. But when I looked for those videos again I noticed they were all taken down. Instead a new Youtube video was up that told another story as explained by Suzuki, the former UWFI executive/spokesperson and representative, spilling the beans in a shoot conversation at an after-fight party celebrating the victories of a couple of MMA fighters ( ). He talks about the Takada vs Kitao fights in the first quarter of this video. I believe the other Youtube videos came down in response to what Suzuki here explains since this video was put up very recently (Nov 12): He says that there was no double-cross involved. Rather Takada had followed what they had agreed upon. Kitao in the private negotiation with UWFI/Takada asked for a draw. BUT he also told Takada that while they won’t go for real submissions, strikes can be shoot strikes. In other words, the stand-up fight will be a shoot and when it goes to the ground, they’ll go easy on each other and won’t try to seriously submit each other. If the match goes through the full 5 rounds like that it will be declared a draw. Suzuki said that after the negotiations, Takada told him privately, “I’ll show him how dangerous a pro wrestler can be.” That night Takada also telephoned the young Takayama to come over to the dojo and Takada spent the entire evening practicing his high roundhouse kicks to the head. Takayama’s height and Kitao’s height turned out to be about the same. So Suzuki states here that Takada did not break their agreement since Kitao told him he can strike for real. And as a result, Kitao never made a complaint after his loss.

    ML: Takada wasn’t so much kicking harder here, as utilizing his speed, regularly working a front kick to keep Kitao away, which we never see him use otherwise, and just being a lot more diligent. Our narrative is that Takada is trying to legitimately knock Kitao out, but it certainly isn’t obvious that Takada is shooting on Kitao. What he is doing is along the lines of the standup we see in more recent PWFG, if not less stiff. He is actually fighting with some urgency, but I don’t see anything out of line here. So what I am thinking is that he is trying to set up the one kick knockout with the high kick, and he is not going to tip his hand or anger Kitao before that by bludgeoning the blubber. He is just going to wear him down a bit and try to bait him into worrying about to low kick, so he can get his one shot to go for it with the high kick. If Kitao really said anything goes in standup, he really must have overestimated his own ability, as it’s not just that he was losing, he was getting blown out so badly he never even found an opportunity to throw a single blow. And his defense, well, beyond being slower than molasses, he has the most awkward hand positioning that never actually defends, deflects, or deters anything, which might be acceptable for a man his size if he ever went on offense. Even those weird Eric Roberts hand movements we see even when he’s not supposed to be a fighter would be an improvement by virtue of the distraction of making the opponent laugh at their utter ridiculousness. The first round was the most entertaining stuff we have seen from Takada in a long time because he was actually active and engaged. The 2nd round had some of the typical loose pro wrestling, Takada vs. Albright kind of stuff, as well as some more one-sided standup. It was passable. The third round was just two low kicks that Kitao was determined but too slow to catch, setting up the huge high kick knockout because Kitao was distracted by notions of actually finally going on offense if he could somehow grab the leg on the next low kick. This high kick was arguably the only legitimate blow of the fight, other than possibly the high kick attempt in the first round that didn’t land flush like this one, so I can see the genesis of the double cross theory. I don’t know who said what or who to believe, but my eyes tell me this is more a shoot kick than a shoot. Although this match was all one-way traffic, and Kitao is a disaster and a half, this was still much more interesting than the typical Takada match because it didn’t have much of his horrible matwork, and he was actually engaged and interested, staying active and aggressive.

    JK: Kitao himself has an interesting infamous career in sumo and pro wrestling. I watched some videos about these and there are too many stories about him that show his arrogance and his narcissism, and also how he sucked in pro wrestling. A lot of people didn’t like him. One thing that led to his retirement from sumo after becoming grand champion (Yokozuna) in sumo was his argument with his stable master, which either had something to do with how he didn’t like the food being served him or how the data for Dragon Quest that he was playing on the computer they had at the stable was deleted against his wishes (or maybe both). When his stable master’s wife intervened between them, he violently pushed her down, and stomped out, saying he’ll never come back…. This led to him to retire from sumo in 1988. He became a TV personality for a while, but eventually Sakaguchi of New Japan scouted him and convinced him to sign with NJPW. He trained in pro wrestling with Apollo Sugawara, with Lou Thesz in the US, being coached by none other than Mark Fleming, and also trained in Minneapolis at Brad Rheinigans’ wrestling school. His 1990 debut match against Bam Bam Bigelow in NJ didn’t go too well, as first for his entrance, the audience ended up laughing at his ridiculous costume (that he had chosen himself), and then his work performance was poor, he couldn’t fall properly when thrown (such as by Bigelow’s vertical suplex), he was too nervous and ran in the wrong direction during their rope running exchanges and he stopped in the middle to correct his direction, etc. But in interviews he would run his big mouth… He didn’t improve his working skills (he kept injuring himself for not falling properly) and kept his ridiculous looking costumes (bright yellow or blue tights and leather jacket and sunglasses) he’d wear to the ring. The awkwardness of his in-ring performance coupled with his attempts to look cool (when in fact it made him look ridiculous), made the NJ pro wrestling fans cringe. He thus became someone the fans loved to hate but also laugh at… And he often receive the “go home” chant. In some tag team matches, to spare the embarrassment, Choshu and Hashimoto, or Saito, would try not to tag him or would let Kaito wrestle in the ring as little as possible. After a couple of seasons/series, Kitao got to wrestle Big Van Vader for the IWGP title, and Vader worked very stiff on Kitao, to which Kitao was unable to respond and made him look very bad. Kitao started to cancel many shows he was scheduled to wrestle in due to alleged injuries. His injuries were due to him not falling properly and Choshu and others kept telling him to practice break falls, but he didn’t like go to the dojo to train. Finally, on the way to another show on the tour bus when Kitao wanted to cancel his match again, Choshu who was the NJ booker/match maker at the time got really angry at him, noticing that Kitao was not even training in his spare time of missing scheduled appearances. So the two started arguing. This led to screaming and Kitao uttered a racial slur at Choshu (who was 2nd generation Korean Japanese) and the two almost were going throw punches at each other, but were stopped by the other wrestlers. Eventually, this led to Kitao and NJPW annulling their contract, and Kitao jumped to the new pro wrestling promotion SWS in 1991.

    But SWS is where Kitao had his infamous match with Earthquake John Tenta. This was his 2nd performance with SWS. The worked plan was for Tenta to win by a pinfall. But on that day before the match, Kitao started complaining and expressed his reluctance about having to lose. So Great Kabuki, the booker for SWS, went to Tenta’s dressing room to change the worked angle and asked Tenta to lose instead; and Tenta agreed. Nonetheless, in the match, according to Tenta’s story, Kitao started shooting on him with a real shoulder lock and shoot kicks and refusing to sell Tenta’s moves. In the end as Tenta in turn refused to respond to Kitao’s moves, Kitao, frustrated, attacked the referee and intentionally got disqualified. Immediately after that Kitao took the microphone and screamed “This is fake!, it’s all fake!” and then screamed to the audience, “Do you enjoy watching fake fights!?” When he returned to his dressing room, he started throwing chairs and tables in a temper tantrum. When the owner/president of SWS, an old business woman came in to ask him what the trouble was and why he broke the match like that, Kitao threw a chair at her. This led to him being fired and banned from pro wrestling. After that SWS had Kitao meet Fujiwara of PWFG for a possible appearance there, but Fujiwara left the meeting disgusted when Kitao spent the whole meeting time trying to sell himself to Fujiwara by explaining how he wants to do his matches in PWFG.

    After being banned from pro wrestling, Kitao reinvented himself as a “martial artist,” who practices a martial art that no one’s ever heard of, called Kukendo. He started training in this at some dojo of a Kukendo master. And after that in 1992 was when he fought in UWFI against Yamazaki and then Takada. A couple of years after this fight, in 1994, he started his Kitao Dojo and tried to put on shows himself and also tried mma/vale tudo, fighting in 1996 in Universal Vale Tudo Fighting (UVF) (losing to Pedro Otavio) and in UFC9 (losing to Mark Hall), and then in 1997 in the probably worked shoot in Pride Fighting (beating Nathan Jones).

    Eventually, due to his bad diet, he was diagnosed with diabetes, and this led to him getting sick and he lost control of his legs and his ability to walk. Then, at the age of 55, he died due to kidney failure.
     
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  6. Mbetz1981 Blue Belt

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    MB: Final thoughts/Conclusion: It’s clear to me that there’s some truth to Suzuki’s version of events, as you could tell that Takada was shooting with his strikes but doing his usual nonsense for the grappling portions. However, this doesn’t absolve him. Despite whatever silly suggestions that Kitao may have had in allowing real strikes, it was just prideful stupidity that compelled Takada to take advantage of the situation, only to make him look good. Despite my personal distaste for Kitao, it was obvious that he still had some respect from the Japanese fans and was still considered a serious threat. The UWF-I even bolstered this fantasy by dropping almost a hundred grand on Kitao to defeat Yamazaki. Had Takada put business above his ego, he would have refrained from the showboating and went with the original plan to take this to a draw. Now Kitao is forever useless as any kind of top challenger, and now a rubber match with Albright is all they have left to work with at the moment. Someone in the UWF-I’s management should have nixed this idea from the start. As a footnote, this wound up hurting the reputation of Kitao to the point where he wound up starting his own shoot-style vanity promotion around a year later, for the express purpose of rebuilding his reputation. This worked to some extent, but any of those gains were forever lost when he suffered an ultra-quick knockout defeat at the hands of Mark Hall at UFC IX. As an aside, I totally approve of fighters starting vanity projects to rebrand their image. Imagine after Ronda Rousey lost to Amanda Nunes she went on to form the RFL ( Rousey Fighting League) where she proceeded to crush twelve female cans in a row, to increase her value before returning to the UFC. I’d buy that for a dollar.

    As for this event. It’s probably the most bizarre we’ve witnessed so far. On one hand, this was one of the weakest UWF-I shows so far, in the bottom the three in terms of actual substance. It was incredibly surreal and memorable though, so probably a lot more watchable than a lot of others that were technically better. I can totally recommend it as a surreal footnote in the histories of both MMA/pro wrestling, but taken in isolation, there wasn’t much going on here. The problem is that other than Tamura/Yamazaki everything was insanely short. They thankfully didn’t do some insanely bloated 30 minute match with Mark Silver, but instead it was all the reverse, with 5 minute matches ending just as Kakihara was warming up.

    ML: I have Tamura/Yamazaki as one of the 4 best matches we’ve seen in '92, so even though half of the other 7 matches were too short to waste your time on, in the end this was still better than any PWFG show from 1992. While it’s true that Miyato can’t figure out results that move the promotion forward or even logical match times, digging deeper into the match quality problem, it’s really that these were a bunch of native vs. foreigner matches, with foreigners (and outsider Kitao) that just aren’t very good. The 1991 shows were stronger and more balanced as a whole because while the roster was small, that resulted in mostly singles matches between two very capable performers who were well trained in pro wrestling and had a good amount of experience in at least the pro wrestling version of (U.W.F.) shoot style. I don’t want to pick on Flemming, but if you remove that tag match and instead have a 15 minute Kakihara vs. Miyato, our entire outlook on the card is likely very different.
     
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  7. Mbetz1981 Blue Belt

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    Volume 52 Continued…

    John Krummel’s comments & translations:

    Kanehara vs Burton

    What I noticed: After Kanahara’s fight with Tom Burton, these two guys in suits came up to him outside the ring and it looked like they were praying. I read somewhere that a CEO/official in UWFI became very involved in a new religion and had influenced some of the fighters religiously, including Tamura… So I’m wondering if that’s what that was about… In the dressing room, you see Takada preparing but noticing an injury Kanehara received in his bout, and he makes a facial expression (like “oh, man…”) looking at it. Then in Kanehara’s post-fight interview he says, “…during the match, I noticed my finger was suddenly completely bent and that scared me…but when I got the hook/submission on him, somehow I was able to submit him… If the match lasted longer, it would have been dangerous.” When asked what he thinks is wrong with the finger, he says, “I don’t know… we’ll probably get an X-ray picture of it and see… if it’s just dislocated, that’s still better than it being broken.” Q: “What did you think of the match?” A: “I would have like to have done more kicking since I’ve been training a lot with my kicking.”

    Takayama vs Silver

    Takayama’s post-fight interview: Q: “That was a quick victory.” A: “Thank you”; Q: “Looking back, how do you feel about the match?” A: “Well I screwed up when I was taken down by a leg kick. His kicks were really heavy, and I thought at the moment this isn’t good. Kanehara had told me earlier that Mark Silver’s leg kicks are really heavy, and to be careful of them. So instead of retreating from his attacks, I thought it’s better to just advance forward with front kicks and palm strikes to somehow lead these to something else. While doing that I caught his leg and then he tried to high kick me which I deflected and took that, without letting go of the leg, to a leg submission. The submission seemed tight, but even though it was right next to the ropes, he didn’t grab the ropes for a while. So then I thought maybe it’s not tight enough. Then after he escaped [to the ropes] and the referee separated us, he didn’t get up for a while, I thought he maybe twisted and injured his foot. But I didn’t think it was that serious. I was thinking he’ll probably rush in with attacks so before he could do that I attacked him with front kicks, leg kicks, and palm strikes, in strangely, he collapsed on his own,… when I was striking him, he just collapsed in a funny way, and although I am happy, I’m not sure if I really beat him with my technique…” Q: “Who do you think will get to the finals [in this Junior League tournament]?” A: “Probably Kanehara? I’d like to face him if I can keep this up.”

    Tamura vs Yamazaki

    Tamura’s prefight interview: Q: “How’s your conditioning today?” A: “My condition, well…. It’s perfect…nothing to worry about… I did lose some weight, but what I’m worried about is the weight gap which could lead to a difference in power, but other than that, I’m fine.” Q: “Was it part of your strategy to lose weight?” A: “Not really…it’s just that for 2 weeks before the match, I’ve been wrestling straight through for one hour or one hour and a half, so I just ended up losing weight. It wasn’t on purpose for this fight. I’m not really nervous or feel any pressure, but probably Yamazaki-san is feeling such things more than myself. I don’t know how it will go until we actually face each other, but I do feel confident. But if it turns out not good, that’s how it is. But I think the fact that I’m relaxed will be a plus for myself, yeah.”

    After Lou Thesz’s comment about Tamura staying at his home, Tamura says, “Yes, I look forward to staying at Mr. Thesz’s home and learning some of the subtle techniques and I’ll steal as much knowledge as I can from him, and I’d like to make my body bigger before returning. So I’d like to learn as much as I can over there.”

    My impressions: This match I thought was quite spectacular. It’s a work, but convincing and exciting and both worked hard. I guess at this point UWFI was trying to push Tamura as the new young star before he goes overseas to train with Thesz.

    Tamura’s post-fight interview: Q: “Your movement was really crisp today. How do you feel about your victory?” A: “Well… um… I was trying to be aggressive, I don’t know how that went, but I tried to be aggressive, as Yamazaki-san responded I also tried to be relaxed and responded to his attacks… that was my intention…” Q: “Is this a step forward for you to challenge Takada?” A: “Oh, no, not at all… well, my body is still small and Takada-san has a lot of strength…so I need to train and work hard again… The time seemed really long, but on the ring I felt really relaxed…” Q: “It was a really good match and I think the audience felt very satisfied with it.” A: “Really? Thank you.”

    *This entire event along with rare footage of Koji Kitao in simpler times, training for his debut in professional wrestling can be found over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad * Not only this, but thousands of hours of MMA/Kickboxing/Wrestling/etc. can be found along with advance copies of our columns, rare translations, and more!
     
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  8. scottjoebob Green Belt

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    Looked like Sheiky baby didnt know he was in a shoot (Why is this guy kicking me ??? WTF ???) and suplexed Anjo as self defense .
     
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  9. Mbetz1981 Blue Belt

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    That match is the most glorious train-wreck that we are likely ever going to cover here. It's funny, as the Shiek over the years has expressed how he was the toughest shooter around in his era, didn't look like he had ever been in a real fight in his life. Most embarrassing!
     
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