Kakutogi Road: The Complete History of MMA Vol 9 "White Lights, and Aqua Heat."

Discussion in 'Worldwide MMA Discussion' started by Mbetz1981, Mar 23, 2020.

  1. Mbetz1981

    Mbetz1981 White Belt Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2016
    Messages:
    137
    Likes Received:
    143
    upload_2020-3-23_21-37-16.png

    (Archives of this series, in addition to a ton of other noteworthy MMA/Puro news can be found at www.quebrada.net)

    Welcome back one and all! Even though we must now join together in an era of uncertainty, we can take solace, knowing that while troubled times come and go, the road to Kakutogi is a perpetual journey, with no ending in sight. As a wise man once observed, “Of chess it has been said that life is not long enough for it – but that is the fault of life, not of chess.” Such is the noble predicament, that we now find ourselves in.

    The date is 8-1-91 and we are at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, an indoor 8000-person capacity stadium, most famously used for Sumo events, but has been home to the occasional pro wrestling, and MMA event.

    Today we have a reported 6100 in attendance, which is quite remarkable considering when we last met, we were observing Takada and Co. stuffing 2000 people into a bowling alley. This is made even more impressive when the opening montage begins, and we see Akira Maeda, Dick Virj, Chris Dolman, and Mitsuya Nagai, engaged in sparring, and stretching exercises in an empty arena. This all feels more like a low-key workout between friends, then the prelude to a serious competition, but that is surely a testimony to how over Maeda really was, that he could sell over 6000 tickets, on what basically amounted to a skeleton crew of performers.

    We are underway with the EARTH BOUT debut of the ever scrappy Mitsuya Nagai vs Herman Renting. When we last saw Renting, he was in a FIRE BOUT against Dutch judoka Pieter Smit, and I’m unsure if moving into the Earth Realm would be considered a demotion of sorts.

    Nagai, on the other hand, was an aspiring pro wrestler as a child, and while still in high school applied for a job within the AJPW promotion. AJPW’s owner declined him, however, and told him that he could join when he finished his studies. Not to be deterred, he started competing in amateur Shootboxing, and this is where the Kakutogi bug hit him. The newfound interest in shooting led him to apply for a job within the Newborn UWF promotion, and after he was accepted, he was trained by Akira Maeda. The promotion folded before he had a chance to debut, so he decided to continue seeking his fortunes with RINGS, when Maeda made the transition.

    Straightaway we see Nagai take a smart fighting stance, low enough to help ward off takedowns, but still upright enough to fire kicks as needed. His kickboxing background was immediately apparent as he fired off a variety of nice kicks from different angles, using good inside-out movement. There was an interesting sequence where Nagai throws a couple of palm-strike feints, causing Renting to back up, which Nagai responds with an impeccably timed thigh kick. Renting wisely just charged in after this with a clinch, to which Nagai tried to counter with a rolling kneebar, that simply led to a footsie deadlock between the two.

    The rest of the match was mostly Renting getting the fight to the ground and Nagai looking for foot attacks, in which he successfully secured two toe holds on Renting. The ending of the match was rather jarring though, as it felt like they were just told that it was time to wrap it up, and Nagai pulled an abrupt suplex into an armbar for the win.

    This was a decent introduction to this event. Outside of Renting looking a bit awkward during the striking phases, and the contrived ending, there wasn’t any major holes in the action, and while it didn’t excel in either the realism or entertainment departments, it serviced both just fine. As a side note, it’s interesting to see that there really isn’t anything new under the sun, as newcomers to the no-gi BJJ scene might be thinking that the plethora of leg attacks going on right now is a recent phenomenon, those of us cognizant of 80s-90s Puroresu, know better.

    Next up is the UNIVERSE BOUT, which is strangely only the 2nd match of the evening, but that could be due to the Universe actually being known to revolve around Maeda. Here we have Ton Van Maurik vs Chris Dolman, and from the pre-match interviews we can glean that Maurik is an undefeated Karateka with Wrestling and Sambo experience. The fight starts with Maurik looking to get inside and strike from the clinch, and so far he is landing some pretty stiff uppercuts to Dolman’s chest, perhaps stiffer than what Dolman expected, as you can hear what sounds like unusually painful grunts. Dolman continues to move in slow-motion, looking to clinch, and Maurik continues to do some effective damage from the clinch, going high and low with his strikes. Eventually, Dolman lands a beautiful harai-goshi hip throw, and it is a most impressive display. Dolman may move like crusty molasses, but his judo skills are unquestionable.

    It would appear, that strikes on the ground are still legal, as Maurik made the rookie mistake of trying to get out of a side-mount by kneeing his opponent in the ribs. This proved futile, of course, so it wasn’t long after that he simply took a rope escape. Once they were back on their feet, Dolman upped the aggression, this time striking from the clinch, with knees, that didn’t look pretty, but did look like they hurt, and Dolman has now scored a knockdown against his opponent. This seemed to reinvigorate Maurik, who proceeded to pummel Dolman’s midsection to score a knockdown of his own.

    If Dolman was holding back on his opponent in the early stages of this fight, that seems to be done away with now, as once he got back out he hit a ashi-dori-ouchi-gari (leg-grab inside trip) on Maurik and proceeded to headbutt Maurik several times in the chest/midsection, which I am surprised that this was even considered legal at the time. This barrage of aggression caused Maurik to take another rope escape, and we are officially into a good fight at this point. Dolman hits another leg sweep and goes right back to headbutting Maurik. Maurik tries to stop this by pulling Dolman’s hair, but apparently the ref takes issues with hair pulling, while headbutting is clearly acceptable. Maurik then goes to a closed guard, and tries to punch Dolman’s ribs, but this doesn’t avail, and Dolman simply breaks loose and slaps on a variant of a straight ankle lock, from a quasi single-leg Boston crab position. It’s amazing that several years before Igor Vovchancyhn, Mark Coleman, and Mark Kerr, were demonstrating how deadly headbutts were against someone’s closed guard, we get a glimpse of this Vale-Tudo shortcoming, all the way back in 1991.

    This is one of the few times, that I’m genuinely puzzled as to the shoot/work nature of a fight. Dolman seemed to lack the requisite aggression for a shoot in the early stages of this bout, seemingly giving his opponent some opportunity to work, but if this was fake, then someone forgot to tell Maurik. Halfway through the fight, it seemed like Dolman put aside any niceties, and really tried to lay into Maurik, so perhaps it was a case of Maurik being too stiff in the beginning, which angered Dolman. What’s not in question as that this was a very entertaining bout, and we are 2-for2, thus far.

    Chris Dolman: Godfather of ground and pound??
    upload_2020-3-23_21-54-32.png

    Next up is a battle of the judokas, as we are approaching tonight’s FIRE BOUT with Willy Wilhelm vs Pieter Smit. The pre-match interview shows Wilhelm saying that he used to have some competitive experience against Smit in Judo, but that Smit was a lot lighter in those days. Wilhelm says he’s much more confidant in this throws, chokes, and armlocks, then he is in his striking, so this should be interesting.

    We are now safely back into what is clearly a work, and an awful one at that. Here we have two judokas with no professional wrestling, or striking experience, and it shows. This entire fight basically played like gi-less judo exhibition, only it was punctuated by laughably awful strikes on the part of Smit. Sadly, this tripe killed any momentum we had going into the main event.

    We are now backstage again, where we find Maeda working on footwork drills, and Virj doing standing shoulder presses with some dumbbells. Virj must have been having a low-carb moment, and forgot where he was, and thought he needed to pump up for the Dutch National Amateur Bodybuilding Championships.

    The fight is underway, and Virj fires off several kicks to Maeda, including a nice flying sidekick, straight out of Double Dragon. After this fine display of video game technique, Maeda fires off a kick of his own, that causes him to fall down and clutch his knee, which seems right out of Hulk Hogan’s Wrestlemania VI playbook, in which I suspect will be a stunt that’s used later as an excuse as to why he lost. After showing everyone that he has a weak knee, Virj pummels Maeda in the corner, forcing a knockdown.

    upload_2020-3-23_22-3-50.png

    The rest of the match is a one-sided affair, as Virj continues to pummel Maeda, until he is completely out of Rope Escapes, and Virj is declared the winner. Hardly anything about this match was remotely realistic, but unlike the prior bout, at least this was fun, and only lasted eight minutes.

    Conclusion: On the plus side, RINGS has the best presentation of any of the Shoot-Style promotions at this stage, and is the only promotion out of the current three, that is presented in a way that it feels like a real sport. Even though the actual content of PWFG is more realistic, their production values make them look low-rent in comparison, and the UWFI, while the most entertaining by far, is too tethered to the aesthetics of pro wrestling, to come across as seriously as they need to.

    The problem, (and it’s a big problem) is that the RINGS roster is basically non-existent at this point. For a Japanese promotion Maeda was the only Japanese performer, outside of Nagai, who is a rookie. It’s impressive that Maeda has been able to get as far as he has with only his name value being the draw at this point, but if he is going to survive, I suspect that he will have to brew some homegrown talent, or I don’t see this surviving in the long-term. In his defense, it was wise for Maeda to put over Virj over as strongly as he did, basically letting him dominate him for the entirety of the match, even though he used a fake injury as a way to save face with the crowd. Also, if they only one you can find is Virj to build around, then you’re probably in trouble.

    This was definitely more entertaining then their debut show, but still pretty weak overall. If the talent starts to match the vison, then Rings could easily be the finest of the three Shoot-Style promotions, so I’m hopeful for it’s future.

    Here is the event in full:

    *In other news*

    Irvine California: Karrem Abdul-Jabbar recently had a charity karate tournament for underprivileged kids, which featured several kickboxing bouts. During the evening we got to see Kathy “The Punisher” Long do some nasty damage to her opponent Lisa Smith. Long was able to completely dominate her opponent with a plethora of roundhouse kicks, and really stole the show with her strong performance. Don “The Dragon” Wilson also had a bout with Canadian cruiserweight: Ian Jeckland. Unlike Long, Don hardly broke a sweat against Jeckland, easily winning a decision against his opponent.

    Kathy Long (Right) putting the pressure on Lisa Smith
    upload_2020-3-23_22-5-4.png
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
    gono btw and cvx123 like this.
  2. Mbetz1981

    Mbetz1981 White Belt Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2016
    Messages:
    137
    Likes Received:
    143
    What does the Legendary Mike Lorefice have to say about all of this? Let's check in:

    Mitsuya Nagai vs Herman Renting: Earth & Fire were one of the underrated '70's prog rock bands before they sold out to try to sell records, see Atlantis & Andromeda Girl, Wind absolutely can't be added to the compound, as that has been proven to be doomsday for our ears... Earth seems a lot more accurate for Renting, who was all about grounding Nagai. Maeda apparently had a lot of confidence in Nagai, though putting him in the longest match of the card in his debut against a veteran of 1 match seems dubious. It really did not pan out because the match had no intensity. It was pretty much no-pads sparring, with the standup taking place at distance & the strikes thrown slow enough that there was time to avoid, not that it mattered much. Eventually Renting would get Nagai down, and they'd roll around fiddling with each other's legs. This wasn't terrible, but it's obvious they were trying to do a more realistic match without having any concept of how to make that work beyond being less flashy, which just left us with low impact, loose and/or half speed pedestrian stuff

    Chris Dolman vs Ton Van Maurik: This was the sort of odd work you can get when guys who are used to real fighting try to figure out how to alter their techniques. Van Maurik's body punches were hard, and really stood out because everything else was fairly light. Dolman seemed to have a better idea of how to fake things, having done this before and also being a long time trainer. For the most part, it was a pretty standard, not particularly interesting contest, again pretending to be more believable because it wasn't flashy but lacking the intensity, urgency, and impact (beyond Van Maurik's body shots) of a shoot. Dolman was really blown up by the end, but did manage some aggression & explosion on his key techniques, the takedowns & series of ground headbutts.

    Willy Wilhelm vs Pieter Smit: I found this contest to be pretty similar to the previous one, mostly inside fighting with the out of shape, heavy guy controlling the action, especially on the ground. It was worse because whereas in the previous match Van Maurik's body shots were good, here none of the strikes were good and Wilhelm was really annoying with his silly shrieks to fire himself up.

    Dick Vrij vs Akira Maeda: A rematch from the first show, that seemed somewhat backward booking as the cyborg now ran over Maeda the way he was supposed to in the 1st match to establish himself as a force in the promotion. Even with the 3 month layoff, Maeda's bad knee wasn't cooperating, and that was the story of the match as Vrij was able to completely overwhelm him after Maeda's knee gave out throwing a low kick in the opening segment. Maeda was able to back away to avoid Vrij's kicks at the outset, but once he lost his mobility, Vrij would just work him over on the ropes with kicks and/or knees. The fans did their best to fire Maeda up, but while offensively he had a few moments scoring a knockdown with body punches & getting a couple of takedowns, he was never able to rise above sitting duck level defensively. Maeda didn't give up, and there was a great moment where the ring was filled with streamers & the Netherlands seconds started jumping for joy as soon as when Vrij scored the TKO with his 5th knockdown. While the least believable bout on the show, it was at least an interesting pro wrestling story match, as well as the most exciting contest. Their first match was better because they were on even footing, but this bought them a third match, and put Vrij in competition for the top foreigner spot even though he was Dolman's underling.

    Final Conclusion: You can see what they're going for, but there's just nothing inspiring about this show. It just feels like a bunch of walk throughs on the undercard, which is the worst place to be because it's neither the real thing nor supplying reasons why the show is better than the actuality, with a UWF main event tacked on. The undercard isn't anything that needs to be seen, and the main event is a bit out of place in this setting.
     
  3. InfinityLens

    InfinityLens Black Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2015
    Messages:
    6,028
    Likes Received:
    1,994
    This is early RINGS so that means the matches are worked right? When do the matches in RINGS become not worked?

    Also Don "the Dragon" should be Wilson not Smith.

    Keep up the great work.
     
  4. Mbetz1981

    Mbetz1981 White Belt Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2016
    Messages:
    137
    Likes Received:
    143
    That will be an interesting aspect of this project....seeing how Rings evolved from a worked league into a full blown MMA promotion. I'm not sure how many shoots existed in Rings pre 95, but I can tell you that by 95 there was at least 1 shoot on every card, with some events being full shoot, (like the non Japanese events, and the Rings Battle Genesis shows). Then by around 99 it became full shoot.
     
  5. InfinityLens

    InfinityLens Black Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2015
    Messages:
    6,028
    Likes Received:
    1,994
    Cool, is there anywhere one can watch all the old RINGS?
     
  6. Mbetz1981

    Mbetz1981 White Belt Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2016
    Messages:
    137
    Likes Received:
    143
    Yes, throughout this series, I will be posting videos to the events that we will be reviewing, (as much as possible, anyway). I'm close to posting chapter 10 right now.
     
    InfinityLens and cvx123 like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.