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Found 29 results

  1. Sublime match with a completely different dynamic from their 94-95 bouts which were more about the underdog Yamamoto trying to survive. Here, he is near/at his peak and so the exchanges are far more competitive. Han does a great job at presenting him as a serious threat with a superb display of subtle vulnerability. The mat exchanges rule as expected (though they are a noticeable step down from the Tamura/Han interactions but that's an awfully high standard to be fair). The standup game is arguably even better and more dramatic and intense. Probably the best thing about the match is the way they use the points system with interesting twists and turns, comebacks and teases. Fantastic finishing stretch as well. **** 1/4
  2. Awesome stuff here. The insane crowd reactions for the entrances clue you in on this being something special and commentary describes it as Maeda's final match in Osaka or something along those lines, definitely part of his retirement tour. The action itself is great as well, they did a great job of building up every transition on the mat and the keylock counter and the fighting over the leglocks were the highlights of the match, and honestly it probably wouldn't stand out if it happened on a smaller show a few years ago, but here it was more important that the action is good enough to supplement the beautiful atmosphere than to try and force a classic, which, with Maeda's detoriating health, almost certainly wouldn't have been as good of an option as a couple of minutes of tight work. ****
  3. Only 4 minutes, but what a great 4 minute match. Volk Han is an undeniable wrestling god, even when he is not on the offense his movements are poetry. I also always get a kick out of Maeda hitting the mat with anyone who's not Takada. I really liked how Volk sold his demise, you'd think how can you sell your demise well in a fluke match, but him howling when Maeda breaks his grip and grabs the kneebar is how you do it.
  4. What I'll remember this match for most is probably Yamamoto's second and how his advice lined up with the action. He yelled at Yamamoto to attack the body for a minute and then when Yamamoto finally did so he started celebrating, it was quite the endearing moment. When Yamamoto had control the second would yell at him to watch out, yell at him if he thought a move was coming and so on, and it lead to several cool moments, Yamamoto would get control of Han, and cautiously avoid his counters, but when he'd go for a hold himself (the wesome Reverse STF particularly stood out) he'd often get countered. Yamamoto is polished both standing and on the ground but wherever the fight went it didn't feel like there was a chance for him, he played the roled of the fired up youngster well, but this was more about Han and his awesome highspots, with him kicking away at Yamamoto's hands to break his grip and dragging him across the ring as a bonus. ***1/2
  5. I've said before that one of the difficulties I've had in my wrestling fandom was properly analyzing shoot style and lucha matches that consisted mostly of matwork, as the beauty of the great stuff seemed so evident I wouldn't even know where to start. Looking at it now it's obvious I just wasn't good enough at noticing the patterns of the matches and expressing my thoughts on them. RINGS, and Volk Han matches especially tend to be very reactionary. Watching a Volk Han match is akin to watching Seinfeld-it works perfectly in a vacuum. Sure, occasionally there will be some references to what happened previously, but that's really not the main point. The style is action packed, and honestly if someone were to accuse them of just spamming nearfalls I wouldn't even try to argue against it. In this match it's basically what they do the entire time. Experienced RINGS viewers will notice that despite the conditioned crowd reacting to everything loudly there are distinctive elements to finishes and potential finishes and that is something that you really won't see abused and overused, quite the opposite actually. The big spots often look like they could finish the match but a few seconds later you see the wrestlers change positions hinting that an escape or a counter is coming. The finish here plays off the established structure of match finishes neatly, as you get a brief moment of absolute peril, where an ending seems imminent, a breif attempt to reach the ropes and then the tap out. It works, it's beautiful, and it feeds on the established formula instead of letting it destroy the match and suck all of the excitement out of it. How many times have you seen wrestlers in WWE and New Japan dramatically crawl to the ropes before grabbing them? Too many. I don't find that spot exciting or interesting, I know how it's going to end because the result is the same in 99% of cases. If there is going to actually be a tap out in WWE or NJPW it isn't goint to come after dramatic rope crawling, it's going to come two to five seconds after the hold gets locked in. The rope crawling spot could be this huge, dramatic exciting spot if the percentages of the times it gets the tap out was higher. Back to the match-Zouev may be my second favourite russian from RINGs, but I also remember taking him a while to really *get it*. He seemed outclassed here, especially in striking-Han brought awesome knee strikes, slaps and punches and Zouev's stand up attempts were just there. He did have some strong selling moments, like the over the top selling of Han's knee strike and doing a forward roll to escape Han's standing double wristlock. I had wondered how people bought matches that had so many highspots and ridiculous armdrags as being so realistic, but then I realised Aikido is a thing, watched some old propaganda Judo clips, remembered how great japanese people can be at bullshitting things and suddenly it made perfect sense. The creativity of Han and his ability to come up with so many situations of danger and transition to the next one so quickly is unmatchable-though I don't think it quite makes for my favourite shoot style. ***1/2
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