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Charles (Loss)

[1992-07-16-RINGS] Volk Han vs Andrei Kopylov

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I feel like I've said this a few times, but this is my favorite RINGS match so far on any yearbook. The opening few minutes where Han contorts Kopylov's knee into some inhumane position is great, but the moment where Han ties his arms into such a pretzel that he almost ends up with a hold on himself is even better. Kopylov ends up getting a surprising upset in a great match.

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Loss - sometime in the future, you need to watch a 2001 RINGS Lithuania shoot between these two, which is basically a real version of the match they would hone and refine in RINGS.

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The way it started I thought it might be going high end. Kopylov's selling was most convincing and he was strong on the mat. Some nice technique exchanges and the crowd was very appreciative. The main problem turned out to be the balding Russians cardio as he was gassed early. It went downhill and was ultimately a slight letdown after initially promising so much.

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Han throws Kopylov down and secures a leg lock, which leads to a great counter out of it and Han quickly back working for it again. Great struggle here on the ground. Han with a great, seamless transition from armlock to choke and even sells how close it is when Kopylov gets to the ropes. Han in with spinning backfist, kicks and punch for knockdown. Han with jumping takedown into leglock that they roll for control of before Han is back up with more offense and another knockdown. After Han dominated much of the way with his offense, we get the surprising finish of Kopylov taking him down and finishing with an ankle lock for a big upset.

 

***1/2

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Han adds some nice theatrical touches to the mindblowing matwork. Little things like the way he sells frustration over Kopylov's rope breaks and the little fist pump after a knockdown mean a lot from such a stoic bastard. This went a little overlong as all the leglocks started looking samey after awhile, and Han doing a sort of standing omoplata made for a nice change of pace--it wasn't enough to elevate the rest of the match to the levels of greatness that the opening promised, though. Big upset finish and I wouldn't mind seeing more Kopylov if they shortened things up.

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There wasn't a whole lot of action in this one, as each man spent most of the time holding the other in some kind of leglock. I noticed that even the referee got bored a one point and ordered a restart; I know how he felt.

 

Based on the scoring, this was a real upset, as Han figured to have the bout in the bag until Kopylov slapped on the winning anklelock. This just goes to show that no matter how pretty your moves may look or how much you may dominate, it doesn't mean a thing unless you win the match (yes, even in a worked context).

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Volk Han vs Andrei Kopylov - RINGS 7/16/92

 

My least favorite kind of submission work is what I call the "bundle of legs" lock. Where both guys are laying down each with a sort of leglock on the other, popular in New Japan and sometimes in WCW. At first I actually think these guys made it work. You could see the immense struggle, how the figure-4s were almost forming or that sick time where Han was choking with Kopylov with a headscissors from a sick position. Kopylov's verbal selling was off the charts great and really added to the opening matwork. They got kinda lackadaisical and it became the "bundle of legs" lock. Even the ref had to call a stalemate and stand up. Han ruled right after that. Insane standing hammerlock forces rope break. Then just wrenches him down with a wristlock into a gnarly choke for another rope break. Then it was a spinning backfirst and kicks to get a knockdown. Han really had Kopylov reeling. Kopylov smartly slows it down and wraps up holds. "Bundle of legs" lock. The finish is pretty good with Han hitting a spinning backfirst for his second knockdown. Han looks like he has the match in hand. But then he gets cocky tries a flying karat kick and eats a big straight front kick to the midsection. Great selling! It feels like a big moment as Kopylov gets a knockdown. Han backs him into a corner and goes for a rip takedown, but KOPYLOV PANCAKES HIM! OOOOOOOOO DRAMA! Kopylov grabs a top wristlock and looks to convert to a crossarmbreaker, but rope break. Kopylov looks gassed, but gets a great leg trip and a applies a wicked toehold. Han is tempted to choke him but that's cheating so he taps out. Loved that moral struggle. I am in Kopylov won, but should be traditional Japanese match structure the one kicking ass usually loses.

 

Beginning with all the struggle was great and the finis was intense, but it was too little too late. Way too much downtime in this one. Proves Han is human and does not have classics in every single outing. ***3/4

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Excellent bout. It's no easy thing to come across as Han's equal in contorting other people's body parts into disgusting positions, but Kopylov about managed it and kept up with Han pretty much every step of the way. I was an especially big fan of them communicating this equality by ending up in a tangle of limbs so preposterous you couldn't tell where one guy ended and the other began. They managed to ensnare themselves so thoroughly they could barely separate, as if they'd fused together as one -- a twin-headed demon of Sambo sorcery. At times you maybe wonder if some of Han's throws or set-ups border on the carny, but I love them so much and he does them with such snap that it's hard not to get swept up in them. I mean, Kopylov visibly left himself open for Han's Aikido arm-wringer...thing, but it was truly badass and the crowd about lost their mind so how could you not do the same? His front choke/hammerlock combo was also disgusting and fuck me he was so, so good at this fake fighting malarky. Some of the stand up was also really good and every time Han drops a guy with a spinning back fist I get giddy. I've said it before, but for a guy everybody points to as a mat wizard (I mean, he is) he had some killer strikes. That Kopylov responded by front kicking him in the gut for a knockdown of his own was also awesome, and I love that those gut shots have been his Achilles' heel practically from day one. They probably could've shaved off a few minutes as it did have some downtime, but I thought this ruled and I would very much be down for a rematch in future.

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Andrei's the rick to Volk's roll. He throws heavier kicks than Han but Han is able to weather the storm, slam him down, and work his way into a leglock, smartly maneuvering toward the middle of the ring to keep Andrei from the ropes. More often than not, however, they end up tangled together in these dueling submission predicaments. Han will trap Andrei’s head and neck with his feet, trying to pry him open in order to cinch in a hold, but then they’ll be fighting over a leglock and end up rolling into the ropes, which the crowd really laps up. While it’s mostly a stalemate on the mat, Han is able to apply an awesome hammerlock front choke, then he starts wringing the arm around and takes him down into a crossface hold. It picks up toward the end with Han landing a couple of spinning backhands but after Kopilov catches him with a boot to the gut, he’s able to snag him by the ankle to pick up the upset submission. I enjoyed this but I can see why others may have been a little let down.

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i adore this match this up there as my match of the year for 1992 matches like this show why i rate both these two sho highly on my all-time list

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I don't really have much else to add as Superstar Sleaze pretty much summarized my sentiment. Those early grappling exchanges were pretty excellent as was the finishing stretch. I thought the spinning backfist was a little weak however. It was a good match despite the downtime however.

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Weird combination of really good and sort of disappointing.

I generally like good, technical leg lock work and we get A LOT of that here. It sort of swings from some really authentically brutal stuff to sort of contrived positioning to create the duels. They just go to the "we have the same thing locked on each other" well one too many times for my liking. Additionally as Kopylov gasses some of the grappling later really loses steam. I don't want to take anything away from Kopylov, bc that guy is clearly legit, but it feels like in this setting Han is working a little overtime to get them where they want to be. That all said, I still really like this match. Those criticisms are just what keeps it from being an all time shoot match.  When the match and the pace hit it hits hard. I loved the early leg work where they are battling for the truck position. I thought Kopylov's selling was really good, some of the heel hooks as they went through were really nicely done and made me cringe, and the way they mixed in kamuras and americanas and straight arm bars worked well with the leg based match they were having. The spinning back fist and the straight kick response near the end were beautifully timed.  The upset ending felt satisfying as they built from the gut kick Han suffered to him never really recovering and finally losing his position to the point where he had to tap.  Really strong stuff from both men.

 

**** - ****1/4

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