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[1995-06-17-RINGS] Volk Han vs Yoshihisa Yamamoto

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Yoshihisa is underrated, IMO. I don't see much daylight between him and TK, who gets far more praise. That said this is the Han Show once again, since he's on another tier. Yoshihisa wasn't at his peak yet.

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I think the best way to describe this match is "complex simplicity". The stuff they're doing -- particularly Han -- doesn't look that hard, but if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it. So that's a credit to him for making it look effortless. I have loved some other RINGS matches, but I felt like this was the first match where I truly understood the genius of this stuff, to a point that when I'm ready to rewatch things for the whole decade, I want to give some stuff I panned before another chance. I'm convinced Han has the counter to moves that don't even exist. I agree that Yammamoto is solid, but hasn't hit his peak yet. Still, Han "gives" him enough that he looks like a peer. It's often said that a wrestling promoter will never go broke underestimating the intelligence of his fans, but the way the audience pops for nuance and subtlety here tells me that wrestling fans can be educated to accept pretty much anything if it's presented as important, sold properly, and produced/presented well. I find what causes a reaction in RINGS every bit as fascinating as the style itself. This is spectacular.

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Volk Han is just a great great man. Every time you think he's in trouble, he comes back and wins. I liked where Yammamoto is getting checked on, says I'm already and then palm strikes Han right in the face. Good stuff here.

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Great freaking match. Han really is the man. I know most people seem to be obsessed with matwork these days, and Han obviously brings that to the table, but I’m probably more impressed with his storytelling than anything else. He’s so good at knowing how much to give to his opponents, when to give it to them, when and how long to control the match himself, and how to put himself in control. On top of all that, the matches usually have terrific finishes. I mean, I was going crazy at the end here which is something I hardly ever do for any other matches.

 

When shoot-style is done right, such as can be seen in this match, it really is the ultimate form of Japanese pro wrestling.

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Yeah, Han is full of great holds and is an underrated striker, but his selling is really what makes this. Great build to the armbar finish too--that suplex by the arm was absolutely sick and I don't know how Yamamoto didn't dislocate his shoulder and elbow at the same time. That he comes back to knock Han down immediately afterward puts him over huge, even in defeat. My inherent bias against the style will probably preclude me from ever voting for a RINGS or UWFI or PWFG match as a true MOTY, but at worst this will probably be the shootstyle match of the year.

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Volk Han vs Yoshihisa Yammamoto - RINGS 6/17/95

 

To me what separated Han from Yammamoto was his selling. When he got trapped in a submission hold, the way he squirmed, lunged for the ropes or would quickly counter made that hold matter so much more. Yammamoto is just 24 at the time of this match and at the beginning it shows in a completely kayfabe way. He is just doing things that are stupid and giving Han opportunity after opportunity to put him away. He drops to his back like he is a fucking Gracie and Han shows him up completely stepping on his ankle and applying the craziest single crab. He was all over Yammamoto before he got to the ropes. For a while Yammamoto just felt outclassed by the technical wizardy of Han (the way he finds organic ways to put on pro wrestling holds is great) however Volk Han does get caught napping. In a Scorpion Deathlock, Yammamoto picks the ankle and applies a heel hook that sends Hand scrambling for the ropes. I love that selling there. Treat the holds with respect and the match gets treated with respect. That is the story of the match in a nutshell, Han is clearly superior, but he is giving Yammamoto enough rope to hang himself. You see Yammamoto come up with some very nice counterwrestling that makes you believe Han could lose. I really liked the Han STF. Han loves using the double wristlock as his base to create offense and one time just rips Yammamoto down in the hold. Wicked takedown that gets the doctors involved. I thought this was a red herring and that Yammamoto was going to get the win. BOOM! Blast him in the face with a palm strike and Han was down for a 8. Han gets right up shakes it off, but is clearly woozy. Yammamoto actually applies a tight guillotine choke that looks to be it, but Han wriggles out and gets the cross armbreaker for the submission victory.

 

Told a great little story of Han's dominance, but Yammamoto perseverance through counterwrestling, but ultimately coming up short. The last 90 seconds after the double wristlock takedown was sweet and you totally did not know which way it was going to go. Great shoot style match ****1/2

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http://placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-200-151/

 

#199

 

I dig Volk Han. He's intriguing and I've always wanted to check out more of his work. To keep it short and sweet, I'll just say I enjoyed the beginning and end of this, but I was drifting off at times. I can tell there are going to be some Han matches out there that I will absolutely love. This wasn't one of them.

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Ha, this was pretty much a Volk Han blockbuster. The crowd reactions may have carried this match. Parts of this could be found the exact same in a Negro Navarro match. This was the typical native vs. foreigner match where the russian maestro freaks out the young native with his crazy submissions while the hopeless japanese guy tries to make a rally with strikes and some desperation submissions. Could have used a bit more extensive matwork, but they hit all the marks in that formula. I don't think Yamamoto is great like some people, but he did fine here and Han is Han. The best part was really the finish where Yamamoto almost gets his arm snapped, then makes this heroic comeback before getting squished like a bug again. Yoshihisa Yamamoto, this was not your night.

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Initially it looked like a Volk Han exhibition and demonstration was in store. Which is no bad thing as the guy can practically have an entertaining match by himself. Instead the longer it went the tougher the Japanese challenge became.

 

There have been occasions when I've seen Han have a harder match than was necessary because of overconfidence and showmanship. Here it felt like Yamamoto earned every success. It wasn't a case of the youngster being given the rub, he was actually better than people thought he was. The way they achieved this narrative with selling and structure was masterful. It felt so organic. They got everything they wanted out of this. For sure this will be one of the best shoot style bouts of 1995.

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Yoshihisa Yamamoto has become very good at this point, and he knows how to play to the crowd, milk every submission, and give the top dogs a run for their money. As good as Han is here, and in general, Yamamoto has a lot of answers. The whole opening stretch, with Yamamoto flipping out of the standing armbar, reversing the cross heel hook, slipping out of Han's fingers into a sleeper hold - he ain't no punkass kid with acne anymore. As expected, tons of rolling around, trading holds and counters, but Yamamoto sending Han to the ropes a bunch. He's dominant on top with his strikes. I love that the ref gets onto Yamamoto for tyring to hammer his way out of Han's heel hook. He tries to get fancy with a cool sliding leg sweep but gets caught in Han's kneebar. Also the incorporation of the hammerlock suplex into Han's arsenal -- perfecto. When Yamamoto pops Han with a palm strike, Han falls like a tree. The fans lose it when he's got Han in the front necklock, somehow managing to allude the armbar but once Volk gets out, he traps Yamamoto and snags the arm for the submission finish. Awesome match.

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