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Hard Hit is such an odd and fascinating company. It puts on unique shows that aren't necessarily for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoy them as they do a great job of putting on shoot style matches between pro-wrestling and MMA fighters who mostly fought in Pancrase. Tsuchihashi is the difference maker here though as he's mostly spent most of his combat sports career fighting for Akira Maeda in The Outsider (an MMA promotion Maeda founded to put on MMA fights featuring guys with no combat sports training who are mostly gang members) which is why he is all tattooed up. The match isn't your traditional pro-wrestling match and is more so 4 guys rolling on the ground countering each others submission holds without a single strike thrown. There is plenty of great looking spots though, including HARASHIMA countering Imanari rolls into scorpion death locks, HARASHIMA tugging on Matsumoto's gi pants and pulling him into a German suplex, Sakaguchi trying to jump into Tsuchihashi's guard with a cartwheel and of course the beautiful helicopter armbar finish. Again, this isn't traditional straight up pro-wrestling or shoot style per se, but it does have elements of pro-wrestling and shoot style.
Jetlag posted a topic in July 2008I assume in 2008 when BattlARTS was running wild people didn't care much for HARD HIT, but I find it neat to go back and check out these indy shootstyle matches. This was a quite good undercard match and wouldn't have looked out of place on one of the smaller U-Style shows. I've never seen Ishikura before, but apparently he's an MMA fighter who's been around since the 90s. Baby Irie is capable and this was a fun power vs. skill matchup. Ishikura seemed the superior shooter so Irie had to try and push him out through sheer pudginess.
Not a forgotten or super obscure match, but I still found myself stunned by how good this was. I imagine if Kota booked more shootstyle shows and did this kind of match more often we'd all be Kota fans. That aside, I thought this was Satos best performance ever. He was pushing hard and capable of carrying a servicable Kota to some very good mat exchanges. The best thing about this was the unique twist they did on the wrestler vs. shooter formula by having Kota rely on pinfalls and Sato outclassing him and giving up no points. It easily could've ended up looking like a goofy spectacle but thanks to both guys throwing some hideous suplexes and not pussying around with their strikes it ended up being a really fun fight. I also loved how Sato early on answered Ibushi attempting some ground striking by quickly shutting him down with a massive palm strike. Defenitely needed more of that streak in the rest of his career.