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  1. superkix

    Separated at Birth?

    Jim Henson and Bryan Danielson
  2. Zaza's back, baby, and his takedowns are still filled with slams and wrist throws. Very good legwork throughout, with Zaza putting TK on the rocks plenty but TK's the slicker of the two with his transitions - really liked the rolling necklock sequence, which leads to a scramble and TK on top with the armbar attempt. Also, his beautiful kneebar transition, which forces Zaza to the ropes. Very much a chess match of takedowns/holds/counters with a little more of a worked feel than a lot of the 1997 RINGS match-ups. TK finally grabs the choke to finish him off. Very good match.
  3. superkix

    [1997-07-22-RINGS] Kiyoshi Tamura vs Bitsadze Tariel

    Tariel is Georgian, not Russian, by the way. But regardless, this was contrast of styles, as mentioned previously, with Tariel throwing his weight around but eventually tiring out as the quicker/slicker Tamura is able to keep him reaching for the ropes until he runs out of options. Even with how limited Tariel is on the mat, Tamura makes the most of it and it just goes to show how truly awesome Tamura was in '97.
  4. superkix

    [1997-06-21-RINGS] Kiyoshi Tamura vs Nikolai Zouev

    Awesome counterwork from both guys but more organic than something forced and hokey like a ZSJ match. The way Tamura transitions his holds or slides into a leglock is a thing of beauty. So fluid. Zouev's armwhip takedowns look pretty brutal and Zouev has a lot more patience on the mat when looking for an opening, where as Tamura is all about overwhelming with speed. I really liked Zouev's simple wristlock answer to Tamura's calf slicer to send Tamura to the ropes. Zouev starts to show weakness when Tamura attacks the leg with kicks and you can see the frustration in zouev mounting. Big head kick from Zouev to set-up the takedown but Tamura recovers and snags the armbar as a last ditch effort but in the end, Zouev rolls him up with that unique submission for the big upset. This was a great match.
  5. I mean, Maeda at this point in his career ain't producing any classics but against Volk Han, it's hard to have a bad match. Maeda at times is so casual when he's in a submission predicament - he'll casually apply a counter, or when Han finally snaps off the armbar, he struggles in it for a long time but he can't figure out a reversal, won't tap, and finally has no choice but to go to the ropes. Maeda manages some good strikes and takedowns but Han isn't going to lose this one, and after Han knocks Maeda down with some big open hands, he drags him into the middle and taps him with the calf slicer. Perfectly solid match-up.
  6. superkix

    [1997-04-22-RINGS] Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tsuyoshi Kohsaka

    Yeah, I'd agree with the "worked shoot" notion - the most telling aspects being the groundwork. But it was a damn good match, with plenty of strong tension, good defense on the mat, and some real sneaky strikes, especially from Tamura. He really lets those palms fly - love TK's staggering collapse into the corner after Tamura catches him with a hard shot. The finish was great as well, as they both fight for an opening and Tamura finally cranks the ankle to force a submission (and a yelp) out of TK.
  7. Yeah, this was a lot of fun - Bodyguard is limited in what he can do but he makes it work and has a great presence. Sekimoto's first deadlift German suplex was very cool and also loved Abe's leg screw counter into the kneebar to turn the tide against Sekimoto. Bodyguard's selling when he gets smacked in the face by Nomura was terrific and he follows that up by clobbering Nomura upside his head. Abe is very good at what he does and brings something unique to the table. I'm pretty sure Nomura broke his nose on the pair of Germans at the end - Bodyguard lands on his face twice and when he sits up, his nose looks fucked. Not sure if I'd consider it a MOTYC but a blast of a tag match, with the "less is more" approach.
  8. superkix

    [1997-04-04-RINGS] Yoshihisa Yamamoto vs Tsuyoshi Kohsaka

    My goodness, what a battle. The escalation of the strikes, the desperation of the submission holds, the absolutely struggle and narrow escapes, blood spilled and a concerned Akira Maeda. This match had it all. The matwork was very sharp, with both guys trying to take advantage of the other's mistakes, and the many reversals/counters were great and added to the drama in the final minutes. Loved TK's beautiful takedown into the heel hold. I like that the early strikes were used as mere transitions into submission attempts, and then the latter strikes became purely about the KO and finishing this grueling match. They're both so sluggish by the end of this, and each back-and-forth submission seems like a plausible finish, and as the time limit expires, they're both still fighting for the submission to win it all. Great great stuff.
  9. Yes, this rules. Tamura isn't going to lay down for the old dog Maeda and lays into him with strong kicks to set the stage. I loved Tamura's defiance here, sweeping the leg because he can, jooking and jiving to add the confusion, breaking the leglock and staring down Maeda as the fans eat up every second of this. Tamura's cross heel hold counter had Maeda on the ropes and he looked he almost inadvertently tapped out. He managed to make Maeda look not broken down, and Maeda pulls out some neat tricks like the front necklock takeover. Tamura maneuvering in and out of holds, only to get caught in the double wristlock was a great sope, and I loved the finish, with Tamura's glimpse of hope getting choked out by the big boss. Is this Maeda's last great match? I guess we'll see...
  10. superkix

    Kento Miyahara

    His title defense against Jun Akiyama from 7/23/16 is easily my favorite Miyahara match but a big part of that is Akiyama's performance.
  11. I mean, what else can be said? This was an incredible display of skill, struggle and lightning quick reflexes by both Han and Tamura, with Han a looking a little more in control. But Tamura's all over him and continues to evade the submissions with his slick as catshit maneuvering. The opening wristlock takedown by Han was beautiful but Tamura is immediately back on his feet, only to get hammerlock suplexed down but again, Tamura roll with the throw and he's back on the legs, trying to grab a hold. Loved Han slipping his leg out of Tamura's rolling kneebar attempt, and then, of course, being aware of Tamura's positioning at all times, especially when he's got him centered with the calf slicer. Tamura's leg kicks pester Han and he swats at him with a wild spinning backhand but Tamura remains very cool throughout and continues to escape the arm holds, although it's taking a toll. Loved him shimmying around Han for the cross armbar, just using his speed to confuse his opponent. He manages a few more strikes, blasting Han with the straight kick to the cut, but in the end, Han secures the single calf slicer and taps him. Awesome match.
  12. Not an outstanding match but definitely solid, with Zouev showing off his skills on the mat with his transitions. Nagai has been relying heavily on his strikes up to this point but it's Zouev who blasts him with a spinning back kick to the FACE! Of course, Nagai isn't a slouch on the mat and comes up with some slick holds of his own, including a cool leg stretcher. He ramps up the strikes, connecting with knees to the head and even a swift kick to the butt while Zouev is hung up on the ropes. By the end of it, Zouev's tank is running low and Nagai continues to pummel him. He lands another big spinning backkick to the back of Nagai's head and finally taps him with a heel hook.
  13. I know Han/Tamura steals the attention but this match rules. Ilioukhine does a good job of showing off his power, and comes out strong but TK's technique gives him the edge. There's a great kneebar counter that sends Mikhail to the ropes and he manages to escape a follow-up choke only to get caught in an armbar and sent back to the ropes. The crowd is loving the exchanges and Mikhail especially does a good job of selling the damage sustained, from his targeted leg to the rib kicks. They trade some big strikes -- knees, kicks, body shots, face palms -- and in an awesome moment, TK uses a triangle counter out of a leg whip. But Mikhail immediately muscles him over into a heel hook. TK's rolling front necklock is dope but countered with a side choke and when Mikhail tries to finish him off with the single leg, TK counters that with the kneebar for the submission finish. Great build to the final submission.
  14. Great stuff. Takeshita working barefoot sets the stage and Aoki goes in hard after the left arm, which Takeshita does a good job selling the effects. Subtle touches like him keeping it behind his back as he goes in for a single arm lock up, or Takeshita trying for the octopus hold and Aoki seizing on the opportunity to snag the arm and keep working it. A very real sense of struggle throughout. I like that Takeshita clobbers him with the big elbow to buy some time, and then Aoki taunting Takeshita outside of the ring only for Takeshita to bite and get caught in a Fujiwara armbar on the floor. Some neat counters, including Takeshita countering the front necklock with the Northern Lights suplex, and the only real big impact moves were a couple German suplexes and a brainbuster. I like that it takes Takeshita a bit to get the crab hold fully locked in on account of the bum left arm but when he really cranks it, it's a convincingly strong finish. Simple but effective and smartly worked. My kind of match structure.
  15. superkix


    Finally, 1993 is in the books. Here are the highlights: Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Dan Severn (UWFi, 1/10/93) Another really good match and strong showing from Severn, who has quickly become the best American dude in the promotion outside of maybe Gary Albright. Severn was born to SLAM and that's perfectly okay in my book because Kiyoshi Tamura was born to slip-n-slide. Tons of solid matwork in this with a well-conveyed back-and-forth struggle for holds and intuitive transitions. I liked Severn's leg trip takedown and then when Tamura tries smacking him, Severn answers with knees, a dope front chancery suplex and an underhook suplex. He almost overhead suplexes poor Tamura on his head. Tamura tries for an armbar, then goes to the scissored armbar and finally a choke when nothing else works but Severn is too much and cranks him with his can opener STF for the submission. Naoki Sano vs. Masahito Kakihara (UWFi, 1/10/93) Now this ruled! Kakihara rules! Look, Kaki doesn’t want your handshakes, he just wants to slap you dead, which he tries to do on Sano, taking him down right out of the gate in a flurry of open hands. Sano tries the knees but Kakihara knees him right back and takes him down with a big suplex. When Sano tries to slow things down by sitting in a front mount, Kaki works his way out and around, into a front necklock, and then delivers a necklock suplex! Sano then takes control of the situation, working his way into a single leg crab, which he turns into an STF when Kaki doesn't tap, really wrenching the neck. That's an STF. They trade strikes, Sano hits a cool underhook suplex into the front necklock and when Kaki tries to come at him with more slaps, he throws him with an overhead suplex. Love when he can't pry open the armbar, Sano turns it into a double armbar. He finally throws Kakihara with the German suplex and rolls him up into an armbar for the submission. Great stuff. Nobuhiko Takada vs. Kiyoshi Tamura (UWFi, 2/13/93) Takada's best match in UWFi thus far but not necessarily Tamura's. Still, a pretty damn good game of chess between the boss and the future. Tamura sells really well for Takada, giving some life to his otherwise lifeless matwork, and there are plenty of neat transitions and reversals from both guys throughout. When Tamura's got the legs, Takada slaps his face to get him off but instead, Tamura turns him over into the single leg and Takada picks the ankle in a great counter. The fans lose it when Tamura grabs the double wristlock but then Takada shuts him down with kicks, knocking him down with highs and cutting out the leg with lows, finally winning by TKO. Good stuff. Gary Albright vs. Dennis Koslowski (UWFi, 4/10/93) I mean, how can you go wrong with a suplex-heavy sprint? Within the first five seconds, Gary hits a belly-to-belly. Of course, he hits the German and the dragon to ultimately win via KO but Dennis gets in there with a very nice judo throw and gutwrench suplex. Not much in terms of groundwork - Dennis manages a head-and-arm lock off the judo throw and Gary applies the grounded full nelson off the German. But come on, you're not here to watch Gary Albright work submissions. Fun sprint! Naoki Sano vs. Masahito Kakihara (UWFi, 4/10/93) Another fun sprint and while not as good as the January match, it's got Kaki showing no respect for Sano at the outset and immediately taking him down with his barrage of slaps. He utilizes some great suplexes, including a front necklock suplex, but can't quite get anything going on the mat, as Sano's able to slip out into armbars and single leg crabs. Sano's able to hit his own front chancery suplex, working his way into the rear choke, and I loved his sneak in overhead suplex, avoiding Kaki's slaps. Sano wins it with the German suplex into the armbar. Gary Albright vs. Dennis Koslowski (UWFi, 5/6/93) It's another killer Albright squash but it's also Dennis Koslowski's best performance in UWFi thus far. Thankfully, he's back in the singlet, coming out to "Born to Run". Albright says fuck your Steve Rogers-ass handshake but Koslowski shows dominance early on, putting him in a single leg and dragging him back to the middle to make him fight for the ropes. Then Albright hits a backdrop suplex and a deadlfit German but Koslowski comes back, arm whip throwing him down and putting him a pretty dope neck crank. When Albright tries to suplex again, Koslowski counters with a great judo throw. They fight for the belly-to-belly (Albright wins) and then Dennis is KO'd with the dragon suplex. This was fun. Naoki Sano vs. Kiyoshi Tamura (UWFi, 5/6/93) This was good stuff. I loved the mat exchange to open and the arm control up front from Sano, working to his veteran strengths with the slick youngun Tamura trying to show him up. Sano will fire off a great suplex, Tamura will try to grab an arm upon impact and Sano finagle his way back to the armbar. A bit clunky here and there, and there's point where the match really seems to fizzle out, but then they'll start trading slaps and wake everyone back up. Great finish. Tamura mostly stays on the leg but when he can't get Sano over in the single leg, he goes to the surprise armbar and taps him after hitting a waterwheel drop. It ran a little long but there was still a lot of really neat moments in between, and Sano in UWFi has been great. Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Yoji Anjoh (UWFi, 7/18/93) Great chemistry leads to a great match, as these two play a back-and-forth game of checkers, between their counters, holds, thwarted escape attempts, and blocked strikes. Loved Yamazaki's Exploder suplex counter to Anjoh's knee attempt. Yamazaki keeps stopping Anjoh's knees and Anjoh's able to avoid the German suplex, taking Yamazaki to the ropes with a Fujiwara armbar off the double wristlock. Yamazaki's really selling the arm at this point and then proceeds to annihilate Anjoh with kicks -- that leg catch kick to the face was real nasty. Yamazaki wins by KO. Gene Lydick vs. Yoshihiro Takayama (UWFi, 8/13/93) This was a whole lot of fun, with cool throws, heavy striking from Takayama, and Lydick trying to find the golden ticket on the mat. It's funny because Lydick is definitely not a striker and he eats plate fulls of knees, slaps, and kicks trying to get in close enough to suplex Takayama. Loved the opening scramble as it seemed full of panic and intensity. The first suplex of the match is a German courtesy of Lydick and he follows that up with a second, looking confident early on. Later, he delivers what looks like a uranage before unsuccessfully attempting an armbar. Takayama's knees looked awesome and he kept kicking Lydick in the gut. He delivers his own German, holds on, then cradles him into some kind of leg crank? No clue but it looked clunky and effective. Lydick manages to send Takayam to the ropes a couple of times, at one point getting his nose cracked when Takayama tries booting his way out of a hold. Takayama's last gasp is a brutal combo of knees and kicks in the corner but it ain't enough to keep Lydick down for the count, and good ole Gene comes back with a belly-to-belly, slapping on the single leg and dragging Takayama back to the middle when he gets to the ropes to finally submit him. Vader vs. Kazuo Yamazaki (UWFI, 8/13/93) Yamazaki knows his best chance of winning is knocking Vader off his feet with kicks. Unfortunately, Vader's on top of it and counters most of Yamazaki's early kicks, slamming or clubbing him down as a result. Or he corners him like a dog and hammers him to the ground. Yamazaki's able to take him down and kicks away at the leg, which Vader sells well here. He follows up with a big spinning heel kick into the ropes . They both tumble to the floor but back inside, Yamazaki continues the assault with some head kicks but Vader won't go down. He's able to block the German and counter out of the sleeper attempt, trying to snag an armbar, but Vader breaks away and blasts Yamazaki with palm strikes, finally chokeslamming him for the TKO. This was a lot of fun, and Yamazaki made Vader look even more dominant while still giving him a fight. Naoki Sano vs. Yoji Anjoh (UWFI, 8/13/93) Yeah, this ruled. Both guys are on another personal level, especially Anjoh with his takedowns and matwork, and the crowd is loving every second of Anjoh's sleaze and Sano's underdoggedness (?). Fiery start with the kicks, Anjoh trying to snag the rear choke and Sano tossing him off like "no way, Yoji." Like I mentioned earlier, Anjoh's takedowns are real slick -- the roll up kneebar was dope. At one point, he's got a hold of Sano's leg and he's just working in every which was he can while Sano is trying to heel kick his way out of it. Plus, that transition into the STF toward the end ruled. Sano has some great suplex throws, of course, and he gets the fans behind him as he fights back, ultimately tapping Anjoh with the crossface chickenwing. As mentioned by others, one of the best matches in UWFi so far. Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Yuko Miyato (UWFi, 10/4/93) Great scramble to kick things off, with Tamura coming out on top, of course. His transition into the rolling armbar attempt was very sweet. He's just so good at working around his opponent and finding the advantage. Now, Miyato's no slouch. He's able to work a double wristlock momentarily and delivers a nice uranage slam and rolling solebutt. They play up the underdog overcoming the hot commodity, as Miyato keeps going after Tamura's gut with knees and kicks, and by the end of it, Tamura's struggling to maintain balance. But then Tamura finally slams him down and taps him with the head-and-shoulder lock. Fun match! Nobuhiko Takada vs. Billy Scott (UWFI, 10/4/93) A very strong championship squash by Takada, thanks in big part to Billy Scott, who made Takada look like a million bucks. That's not to say Takada doesn't work him hard because he absolutely does but Scolls selling of the kicks and submissions were great. Of course, Takada isn't going to give Scott much and Scott's comebacks aren't very big. I mean, Takada doesn't look too distressed about the single leg crab but his reaction to Scott's big belly-to-belly is incredible. But Takada looked good - his submissions better than usual, his knees quick and dirty, and he murders Scott's legs with kicks. The final backdrop suplex>armbar finish looked brutal. Dominant showing by Takada in a very entertaining match. Vader vs. Nobuhiko Takada (UWFi, 12/5/93) A very good match and an interesting match-up as it's obvious Vader is uncertain about a lot of things in this match, from Takada's kicks to the stuff on the ground. He hesitates to lock up and when his usual clobbering approaching doesn't do the trick, he tackles Takada and tries to pound him into submission. Takada kicks the leg and keeps kicking til Vader hollers, and the final armbar sold Takada as the legitimate badass he so desperately wanted to be perceived as. Gene Lydick vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara (UWFi, 12/15/93) For a match that's less than four minutes long, this pretty much ruled. Kanehara comes very aggressive with the kicks and slaps, while Lydick is trying to simultaneously block the strikes and grab Kanehara for a suplex. He throws him with a belly-to-belly out of the corner and tries for the single leg but Kanehara is quick to the ropes. Again, he tries to wrap him up for a German but Kanehara clings to the ropes. Kanehara snags him with a rear choke and drags him down - the fans are lapping every second of this up. Lydick throws a few more suplexes but when he tries for another German, Kanehara picks the ankle and gets him in a heel hook. The final seconds has Lydick chasing him around the ring, trying to suplex him, and he finally hits that German>armbar combo for the win. Total blast.