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[1996-11-22-RINGS] Volk Han vs Tsuyoshi Kohsaka

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Really good match, but I'd probably call this middle of the pack compared to most of the RINGS on the set. Great drama and some awesome mat exchanges, as usual.

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A solid enough affair, yet I was expecting more. They'd left their best ideas in the previous bout 3 months ago. This felt like going through the motions.

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Some moments of true greatness but also some downtime, which keeps this from being RINGS' best effort of '96. Han going down from a shot to the ribs should be a spot as predictable as Flair getting slammed off the top by this point, but he always sells it so fantastically.

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Good match but I was hoping for more from two top 100 guys IMO. The Han rib selling and the leg work was the highlights here. I did think Han got his finishing arm submission on a little easy even though like usual that match looked like death and was death in the kayfabe sense when it was fully applied. ***1/4

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Volk Han vs Tsuyoshi Kohsaka - RINGS 11/22/96

 

The least of their '96 trilogy, still good, but not necessary to go out of your way to see. All the Han staples are there early like arm triangle, double wristlock and ankle cross. That ankle cross was beautiful they tumbled to the ground and Han just came up with it. Amazing. The story of this match was Kohsaka breaking through with his stand up game. First it was a high straight front kick. Then it was TWO consecutive knockdowns via body shots with great selling from Volk Han. Kohsaka went up 7-2 and Han phased by the knockdowns could not unleash. Even when he applied his double wristlock in the middle of the ring, Kohsaka was able to escape without the ropes. Things did not look good for the Russian Wizard. Han is doing uncharacteristically stupid things like a spinning back hand and gets taken down. I wonder if that was just a way to bait Kohsaka to mat so that he did not take anymore stand up. Han ends up needing the ropes for refuge because he almost had a cross armbreaker applied to him. Does not look good at all for the Soviet Maestro, down 8-2. Kohsaka gets a takedown, scramble. VOLK HAN DOUBLE WRISTLOCK~! TAP OUT!

 

Russian Wizard pulls a rabbit out of his hat. ***3/4

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A very good, fairly action packed RINGS match. Kohsaka pulls off some really nice throws and Han again gets a lot of dramatic mileage out of selling some body shots like death. Another ending with Han being at the edge of defeat but masterfully pulling off a submission win.

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Uh, yeah, this ruled. Much more aggressive than their previous match-up, with TK breaking out the nifty counters - the shoot-Exploder to escape the straight armbar and later the belly-to-back throw. Of course, they both pull off some impressive submissions - I liked TK's ankle hold and how he maintains it through Han's struggles. And Han's kneebar transition was a thing of a beauty, fluid like water. Also the small moments flesh this thing out, like Han punching the hands to try and break off the jujigatame, and TK's kryptonite gut punch. Han keeps going for the double wristlock but TK's able to escape each attempt, which leads to the final submission struggle and Han being able to get the extension on the arm for the tap out. Great stuff! 

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This was their third meeting of the year after Kohsaka’s skill had placed Han in perilous situations twice, leading to two desperation fueled finishes. Kohsaka had only become more dangerous and perhaps Han realized this as he displayed an unusual level of urgency. Kohsaka had proven himself to be a mat wizard during their previous encounters, and this time even grappled his way out of several deadly Han holds, resorting to rope breaks only when it was absolutely necessary. His mat game allowed him to make some major in-roads during stand-up fighting. Han’s defeat seemed certain, as Kohsaka grabbed a final, definitive submission, until he pulled a rabbit out of the hat counter to lock in a fatal submission and secure a series clean sweep. ****3/8

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