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Charles (Loss)

[1992-04-03-RINGS] Volk Han vs Akira Maeda

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ASTRAL BOUT! Probably good, but it was hard to stay interested, as it ran long. It's also hard to write anything semi-worthwhile about RINGS without repeating yourself. Great matwork! Really? I respect anyone who can make unique points about every RINGS match, because I have trouble pointing them out.

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I wonder how many other workers pulled off a strong main event in their 3rd/4th match?

 

Well Mayweather did it in his first.

 

I gotta agree with Loss about the match. Not terrably exciting except for the end. Han's ability to get on a leg lock from almost every position is awesome.

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Nice to have such strong crowd heat for shoot style, it felt important. Han wasn't just a mat wizard as he showed some lightening quick strikes as well. Maeda was also more than proficient in both departments. Good match here and there's the potential for better in future rematches.

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As has already been said, this was a blast to watch, but there's not really much to write about. This would be a great match to show someone who hasn't seen shoot style before.

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I loved this. Maybe this doesn't feel quite as special if you're watched 6-8 hours of shoot style, but I'm not there yet so its not a problem. Han is so quick and smooth in everything he does, from throwing spinning backfists to working various leglocks. The crowd here is also much hotter than we've seen in UWFI or PWFG which makes for a more exciting atmosphere.

 

They work simple pro-style moves to look like finishes here, with Maeda scoring a knockdown off of a strike and punch to the abdomen before Han forces another rope break. A snap suplex from Maeda and missed dropkick from Han are probably your highspots here, and their sparing use in this context sees them come across as game changers. Great finish with Maeda grabbing the ankle after a suplex but Han countering into a kneelock of his own and cranking it for the tap. I can't wait to watch more Han.

 

****

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An improvement over the first match between these two. The stand-up portions were surprisingly heated and good--Han seems to have been a very underrated striker in comparison to the love for his matwork.

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This bout completely confused me. Maeda scored most of the points that I remember counting, yet still ended up trailing. Then he puts an ankle lock on Han, and there's a submission, only it's Maeda who submits. This reminds me of the first few times I watched shoot style and could barely make sense of it.

 

How did Han get his reputation as such a great worker? From what I saw, Maeda almost squashed him from start to finish here.

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The best match in RINGS up this point in the promotion’s history (imo) and a big improvement upon their first match. Nobody maneuvers around the canvas like Han, the way he utilizes his gangly legs to counter and maintain control over Maeda, or hooking Maeda’s arm with his free leg to prevent a rope break. He’s aware of his positioning and his opponent’s positioning at all times, and there’s very little wasted movement. I loved the explosiveness of the opening, with Han landing his spinning backhand and going into the neck crank. He knows he can’t outstrike Maeda so he tries to keep him grounded by targeting the leg and knee. To counter this, Maeda tries to be aggressive on the mat. He’s able to hit a half hatch suplex into the double wristlock attempt, and I thought the crossface chickenwing struggle was really great. He levels Han with an awesome spinning wheel kick, but Han’s quick to force Maeda back to the ropes after a rolling kneebar. In the end, they both fight over the leg submission and Han is able to secure it first, forcing Maeda to submit.

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I love seeing early Volk after falling in love with his later work as a younger wrestling fan.  It highlights how much he grew as a worker.  Later on he would drop a lot of the more effective striking and put a very big emphasis on being the stronger guy on the mat.  It made for a better story dealing with Han surviving the other guy's strikes and taking it to the mat.  This felt less like an exhibition than the first bout Maeda and Han had for sure.  I also liked Han's reluctance to go after Maeda's taped knee and the way it showed when he was feeling threatened by Maeda when he did.  Good second bout that sets up future encounters by presenting the question of whether Han would have won if Maeda's knee had been 100%.

Edit: For those familiar with the Tekken series, the character Dragunov is very strongly based off of Volk Han.  I didn't realize it until watching this match specifically.

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