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[1991-05-11-RINGS] Akira Maeda vs Dick Vrij


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  • 2 months later...

It's kind of odd that this is the first RINGS match on the yearbook. In the long run, it would be the promotion that pushed the most "real" style of the three, but this is so much more showy than the Tamura/Kakihara match. It felt more calculated, because the work in the ring was nothing at all special, but the personalities were big, and it seemed like a good way to get the new promotion off the ground by giving Maeda a charismatic foreigner to best in the main event.

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Compared to the Tamura match this really has specific roles in the match. Having the face/heel dynamic really added to the match. Vrij showed a lot of charisma. Though he looked sloppy at times, but it seemed Maeda covered well for him. It wasn't glaring though. I popped huge for Vrij combination leg, head kick. Overall another match that drew me in.

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I see that Mr. Realism with his Realistic Fighting with Real Fighters is allowing his opponent to fight, realistically, wearing an earring. Christ. That bit of suspension of disbelief-shattering aside, I talked about how theatrical the first UWFI match was, but this is probably moreso. Not in terms of big stiffness but Vrij has a heel charisma about him and even directly plays to the crowd a time or two. He has a few aggressive moments but this definitely plays like Rikidozan as the conquering hero facing the foreign invader, which is an odd stylistic choice for the first(?) RINGS main event.

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I was thinking more along the lines of his wrestler vs. martial artists fights v. Gerard Gordeau, Chris Dolman and Willie Wilhelm, though Don Nielsen was a popular Muay Thai fighter in Japan at the time. I can't find the Vrij match online so I don't know about the theatrics, but it's worth noting that the first RINGS card didn't feature a lot of native talent:

 

Koichiro Kimura vs. Hideki Hosaka

Peter Smit vs. Herman Renting

Willie Peeters vs. Marcel Haarmans

Chris Dolman vs. Bill Kazmier

Akira Maeda vs. Dick Leon-Vrij

 

Aside from an exhibition against Kimura on an all-kicking boxing card, Maeda didn't face a native until the 12/16/94 card.

 

Vrij was always a bit of a douche, but I can't remember him being built up as a foreign heel type. Also, the comparable UWF-i match was Takada vs. Burton, not Tamura/Kakihara. Vrij was at least a legit kickboxer. Burton was an ex-WWF jobber, Global worker.

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Maeda didn't have many natives when he launched: they largely went with Takada and Fujiwara to their respective promotions. It took Rings years to develop native talent, along with some of it (like Tamura) coming in from elsewhere.

 

Their results are here:

 

http://prowrestlinghistory.com/shoot/rings/ringsindex.html

 

You'll see guys popping up over time, but even someone like Kohsaka that we associate with the them in the mid-90s didn't show up until Aug 1994. Yamamoto was May 1992. Etc.

 

Nagai was the one who stuck around for a long time that was there at the beging.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Vrij with the earring on did seem out of place. He did a good job early keeping Maeda off balance with kicks but never felt like he was too much of a serious threat. Part of match that didn't make sense to me was towards end Vrij takes it eyes off Maeda to adjust his shin pads! I didn't seen any type of timeout/okay given by the referee. Maeda should have kicked him in the head. Instead he just stood there and watched him.

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  • 2 months later...
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  • 1 year later...

This looked like a cakewalk for Maeda until Vrij scored those two quick knockdowns toward the end. Maeda's finishing leglock seemed almost a desperate act to avoid defeat and humiliation on the opening night of the new promotion.

 

I didn't really catch much of a heel vibe from Vrij, although he was definitely the more aggressive of the two. In fact, I thought it was nice that he saluted the crowd as he left. His kicks looked a tad stiff, though.

 

This is another promotion that I'll be interested in following over the coming weeks and months.

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  • 2 years later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Vrij has one of the best villainous appearances in shoot-style, looking like he was pulled straight from the cast of Cyborg. Not only does he look like he a heel, he acts the part too, which is interesting for a shoot-style promotion to have such an obvious heel. He’s an absolute dick to Maeda with his shitty face slaps, blatant chokes, and snarling provocations. He tries to intimidate Maeda with his big action movie roundhouses but he’s also nippy with his kicks and he's got great reflexes. He’s able to snatch a foot mid-kick and get a quick takedown. On the mat, however, Maeda’s more skilled and he supplements his groundwork with a couple suplex throws, including what looks like a capture buster. In the end, experience pays off for Maeda. Easily the best match of the show.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1991-05-11-RINGS] Akira Maeda vs Dick Vrij
  • 2 months later...

Maeda’s entrance gave me goosebumps. Everything from the delayed walk to the crowd made Maeda feel like a star and he was. Maeda dominated early on with some basic grappling but Vrij slow began gaining a foothold in the match, started throwing some nice strikes including a slap and started to taunt Maeda. Vrij through some nice kicks and looked to knock out Maeda a few times in the match first with knees in the corner to the body and again with one to the chin of Maeda. Maeda caught him eventually getting the tap with a single leg Boston crab. Awesome match

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