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[2008-07-26-BattlARTS] Yuki Ishikawa & Alexander Otsuka & Munenori Sawa vs Daisuke Ikeda & Katsumi Usuda & Super Tiger II

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Wrote this on WKO in Battlarts RIP thread:

 

I think the perfect way for me to kick off watching stuff for this project is by watching the match that first introduced me to this style all over again. It's as great as I remember and I could see it being the best Battlarts match ever (not that I wouldn't love to find something better). Usuda is probably the fourth best guy here but I forgot how great he looked. I didn't get too into Usuda until his '09 run and the foundations for that are here. This kind of big tag also does a good job of hiding some of the flaws in Tiger and Sawa's games. Ishikawa hitting the enziguiri on Ikeda's nose is one of my favorite moments. Otsuka applying the no hands scorpion on Tiger while catching Usuda in an ankle lock is up there as well. Usuda running back to his corner after he breaks free cracks me up every time.

This was visceral and ugly and seeing it the first time was like the first time I saw Funk vs Sabu. Only better. It changed the way I understood mat wrestling. At the time I considered Blue Panther losing his mask to be the MOTY as it was something I was invested in after following CMLL regularly for a while but looking back it doesn't quite hold up to a match like this that defines an entire style for me.

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This isn’t just the best match of 2008, it is right up there with the best things ever done in this style. This is an elimination match which goes 40+ minutes and was even more brutal and awesome then it looked on paper. Everyone in this was on their games, Ikeda’s team was working heel, and they spent the early part of the match abusing and cheap shotting the faces, especially Sawa who was really great in the role of spunky young guy eating an asswhooping and showing stones. Because this was a tag, you had a lot of submissions being put on and saves being made, and man the saves were just horrific, stomps directly to the head, kicks square in the face, I mean you start cringing as soon as anyone comes into the ring. I hadn’t seen much Super Tiger II before, but he ruled here, really capturing the kind of awkward recklessness of Sayama’s UWF kicks. Your BattlArts big four were as great as they have ever been, Otsuka just brutalizing people with suplexes, and ripping out awesome mat counters, Usuda both taking and dishing out ungodly stiff shots, and Ishikawa and Ikeda being Ishikawa and Ikeda. Their interactions with each other are all you could possibly hope for, and there are parts near the end that almost feel like the last rounds of the Rumble in the Jungle with two guys punishing each other past the point of human tolerance. I don’t want to talk about any of the eliminations specifically, this is a match I don’t want to spoil, but when you have such brutality dished out during a match, you can fall into the trap of everything looking like a finish, and when everything looks like a finish, nothing looks like a finish. Here every elimination felt like exactly the point at which the guy should have been eliminated. This is a match I can’t imagine anyone who likes wrestling not loving, get your hands on it ASAP.

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I'm still in shock as to how amazing this match was. Everybody comes up big when they need to. The above reviews have a lot of my sentiments about this match covered, but I'll try to add more. For one, the STORY that takes place from the first elimination until the end of the match is god damn incredible. Yes, they are brutally stiff to the point where you're wondering how they do it. But once the first elimination takes place, it becomes this great struggle for survival by that guy's team for quite a while. They have to scratch and claw their way to something that might end the match only to get hit by some ridiculously stiff shot to break it up because they have one partner while the guy they are slapping the submission on has two. Once they even things up, it's this intense battle to keep afloat after that superhuman effort. Then the next elimination occurs and we get the same thing all over again two on one. And then, just when you think it can't get any better...the fourth elimination, one on one. Holy shit do they ever have one of the best mini-brawls you will ever see. Nobody is backing down, the shots are so god damn brutal, but neither one can allow themselves to get knocked down. Then they go into submission attempts, very likely because if they had continued there would have been a legit KO very soon. I was so blown away by this match, it's gonna make my top 5 easily. I'm really looking at how my top 3 or 4 are configured lately, but this will be in my top 5. I'm trying to figure out whose performance was best out of the six, but I have to be honest. Tiger and Sawa brought it for sure, but they are clearly a level below the other 4. Between the other four, I have a hard time choosing. Let's just say everybody involved in this match hit it out of the park.

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I do not mean this to be a slight to this match, but rather praise to the overall level of BattlArts quality in 2008 when I say that Ishikawa & Sawa vs Tiger & Hara was even better than this. This match was a tour de force and representative of how on fire the promotion was from a quality standpoint.

 

Yuki Ishikawa, Alexander Otsuka, Muneori Sawa vs Daisuke Ikeda, Super Tiger II, Katsui Usuda - BattlArts 7/26/08 Elimination Match

 

Anytime, you see Ishikawa stand across the ring from Ikeda you know shit is going to get real. I loved how organic, but yet thoughtful the match was. When they did a Northern Lights Suplex or a figure-4 or a Sharpshooter, it felt like legitimate, believable ways to apply the hold while still never losing a sense of authenticity. I have never seen a Sharpshooter or Figure-4 in an MMA fight even though it would obviously hurt if wrenched in because the setup would be intricate, but here you see demonstrations of how it could be done without excessive cooperation and it was really neat. This is in addition to just fucking brutal all those strikes were.

 

My favorite part of the match was the buildup to the first elimination. The very first thing established is that Sawa has a chip on his shoulder and wants to take out the big dog, Ikeda. He is obsessed with him to point of costing himself the match attacking when he is on the apron and not even in the match (Ishikawa bails him out). Ikeda shows he is a level above Sawa keeping him at bay with relative ease. Usuda has a deep, deep toehold on Sawa that causes some serious knee pain for Sawa going forward. There is great selling and sense of desperation from Sawa for self-preservation from Usuda's relentless onslaught and the fact that Sawa basically dug this hole for himself by disrespecting the opponent in the ring by going after an opponent on the apron. Usuda eventually gets Sawa to tap to a heel hook after a great sense of struggle. If the match ends, it would be a MOTYC, but we get even more goodness that pushes it is into MOTDC territory.

From here, the match does really well is showcase how much being a man down really puts you in a hole. Too often in the WWE do we see one man overcome two men on a regular basis that we lose that sense of a real disadvantage. Here the opposing team has an extra man to save his partner from a submission. Thus the that puts more onus on the disadvantaged team to win by knockout. Well good thing the other team is suplex machine Otsuka and punches really hard Ishikawa. Otsuka applies the most vicious snapmare you will ever see on Super Tiger, When snapmares are looking vicious you know you are in rare air. Ikeda and Tiger target Otsuka's leg, but he gets a throw to bring Ishikawa in. The first Ishikawa/Ikeda encounter underwhelms actually because I did not think there was much struggle it was just Ishikawa kicking the shit out of him. Eventually we get some struggle with Ikeda landing some big strikes and Ishikawa having to fire up to trap him in the corner and tags out to Otsuka. Otsuka applies an arm triangle to Usuda, Ishikawa detains Super Tiger, but Ikeda strolls over to break it up. That is the 3-2 advantage right there. Otsuka hits his German/Dragon Suplex combo to KO Usuda and even the score.

Otsuka goes for the Boston Crab and almost does a bit of a Giant Swing. Ikeda backs Otsuka into his corner where Tiger kicks him in the head. Ikeda hits a brainbuster and punts him in the head for the knockout elimination. Genius booking, you get faces back to full strength only to have the heels use a numbers game and knock one out leaving Ishikawa back in the hole. Ishikawa is at his best fighting from underneath. There will be no one to save him from submissions and his submissions will be broken up at will. Ishikawa keeps getting those holds and Ikeda keeps kicking him in the head. Damn that must be annoying as fuck. In the spot of the match, Ishikawa has Super Tiger in a Standing Deathlock so everytime Ikeda kicks Ishikawa down it wrenches the hold in more. Maybe the greatest spot in history. Eventually Tiger's knee is so fucked it is an instant tap out and Ikeda cant save.

 

Well the whole match has been building to this and here we go ISHIKAWA VS IKEDA, BABY!!!! I didn't think this standalone portion was as good as their 2005 match, but it was a good ending to an excellent match. Ishikawa comes out hot, but may have punched himself out. Ishikawa starts going for heel hooks with Ikeda likes the kick to the head as his primary weapon both are stiff and violent looking. Ishikawa gets a choke and then without warning the bell rings and it is a draw. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

 

So why do I think this draw sucks? I like draws and I think they are a useful took. For instance, I think the NJPW/AJPW Dec 2000 is the perfect use of the draw and I will probably rate that match over this because I think it uses the draw better. That felt like a war where both teams earned the draw because they had kicked the shit out of each other so bad that it just needed to be stopped because they would go forever. This match I thought Ishikawa earned the draw, but Ikeda did not . Was he really in the match that long overall? He had plenty time to recover since outing with Otsuka. It was not an even match. Ikeda's team had the advantage the majority of the time. Since the match was uneven, I think we deserved a winner. Ikeda winning because Ishikawa falls short at the finish line or Ishikawa pulling out a miracle either finish takes it to ***** and a top 3 match of the decade, but the finish puts it in the Top 10. Overall though Sawa's elimination was incredible and then how they worked the uneveness was so entertaining. Just thought that finish stretch and finish left a little sumthin sumthin to be desired. ****3/4

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On 10/7/2014 at 9:47 AM, Superstar Sleeze said:

So why do I think this draw sucks? I like draws and I think they are a useful took. For instance, I think the NJPW/AJPW Dec 2000 is the perfect use of the draw and I will probably rate that match over this because I think it uses the draw better. That felt like a war where both teams earned the draw because they had kicked the shit out of each other so bad that it just needed to be stopped because they would go forever. This match I thought Ishikawa earned the draw, but Ikeda did not . Was he really in the match that long overall? He had plenty time to recover since outing with Otsuka. It was not an even match. Ikeda's team had the advantage the majority of the time. Since the match was uneven, I think we deserved a winner. Ikeda winning because Ishikawa falls short at the finish line or Ishikawa pulling out a miracle either finish takes it to ***** and a top 3 match of the decade, but the finish puts it in the Top 10.

 

Agree with this. A draw would have actually worked too had they just flipped the dynamic with Ikeda dominating and Ishikawa trying to survive because that would have fit perfectly with how the match and story played out. Not a huge fan of the finish but that is the main thing preventing this from being the 2000-2009 MOTD for me because the rest of the match is downright amazing. ****5/8

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I'm still in shock as to how amazing this match was. Everybody comes up big when they need to. The above reviews have a lot of my sentiments about this match covered, but I'll try to add more. For one, the STORY that takes place from the first elimination until the end of the match is god damn incredible. Yes, they are brutally stiff to the point where you're wondering how they do it. But once the first elimination takes place, it becomes this great struggle for survival by that guy's team for quite a while. They have to scratch and claw their way to something that might end the match only to get hit by some ridiculously stiff shot to break it up because they have one partner while the guy they are slapping the submission on has two. Once they even things up, it's this intense battle to keep afloat after that superhuman effort. Then the next elimination occurs and we get the same thing all over again two on one. And then, just when you think it can't get any better...the fourth elimination, one on one. Holy shit do they ever have one of the best mini-brawls you will ever see. Nobody is backing down, the shots are so god damn brutal, but neither one can allow themselves to get knocked down. Then they go into submission attempts, very likely because if they had continued there would have been a legit KO very soon. I was so blown away by this match, it's gonna make my top 5 easily. I'm really looking at how my top 3 or 4 are configured lately, but this will be in my top 5. I'm trying to figure out whose performance was best out of the six, but I have to be honest. Tiger and Sawa brought it for sure, but they are clearly a level below the other 4. Between the other four, I have a hard time choosing. Let's just say everybody involved in this match hit it out of the park.

 

This is very much where I am on this. It's all about the story. I'm not super-versed on BattlArts. I've just seen a few matches here and there. What stood out to me the most was the inevitability of what happened. Super Tiger's side came off like rudos here, much more apt to triple team or to go away from sportsmanship. So much made complete sense. It took a full breakdown with all of one side caught for the first fall to take place. Before that, it felt like one of those big NJPW multi-mans from the 80s where you were in danger anytime you got too close to the corner, except for here, the corner came to you. Then there was the 3-on-2 where the 3 kept breaking up any advantage from the 2 and it took suplexing everyone on the other side to be able to even the odds. After that it was Otsuka dominant and it was only when he got towards the corner and ate a cheapshot that they could get an advantage on him (and that's how they eventually got over on him). Finally we were back to that 2-on-1 where Ishikawa couldn't get a break until he was able to lock on a submission so quick that Ikeda couldn't make it in. Then it's finally the two exhausted warriors, neither of them able to lock in the holds of the first ten minutes and each one just throwing everything he had at the other.

 

Buoying that were brutal strikes, incredible throws, matwork so crisp and quick that you wonder how they locked in the holds, so tricked out that it takes a half second to see who's hurting who (often times it's mutual), and with enough care and struggle that nothing looks easy or given. I thought I might be a little lost, but everything was primal. They started right from the get go with a tandem figure four and multiple stomps. This is a style (or a match in a stye) that absolutely embraced the bizarreness and outlandishness of pro wrestling, that was real within those confines. There was escalation but there was also an escalation of exhaustion. As the battle wore on, what was easy for them in the first few minutes became outright impossible. Great stuff.

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Awesome six-man elimination match, which you don't get too often in a hybrid shoot-style environment. This is the kind of shit that got me back into pro-wrestling -- the frantic, almost relentless matwork, trying to hold onto a submission long enough to do enough damage before somebody runs into the ring and shitkicks them. Everyone is constantly following up on their attack, going from submission hold to strikes back to submission hold, not leaving much breathing room. I mean, for a 45 minute match, the pace they’re working is incredible. This felt like the BattlARTS version of a classic All Japan six-man, with everyone playing up their respective roles: Sawa, the wild child, Usuda, the aggressive little shitkicker, Ikeda provoking everyone from the apron or break up holds, Otsuka the suplex machine, and Ishikawa the dad that has to come in and save his kids. Oh yeah, and Super Tiger, whose tripping all over himself trying to land kicks. Otsuka and Usuda were the two standouts of the match, in my opinion. Otsuka's always grabbing limbs, transitioning from hold to hold, trying to find an opening for a submission, while creatively maneuvering around the mat. And of course, he throws awesome suplexes. Usuda has great strikes, between his slaps, palm thrusts, kicks...but I also really liked his counterwork, grabbing Sawa’s arm on the figure-four attempt and putting him in a keylock, or catching the Shining Wizard with a kneebar. He’s really stiff against Ishikawa, landing some brutal looking high kicks and a lunging headbutt. But then Otsuka eliminates him after dropping on his neck with a German and then on his ding dang head with a dragon suplex.


In the end, Ishikawa’s the lone survivor against Tiger and Ikeda. I loved the sequence where he’s got Tiger in the Indian Deathlock and everytime Ikeda comes in and knocks him down with a kick, it exerts all that pressure onto the submission hold. Tiger’s able to get a couple of knockdowns with his kicks but once Ishikawa’s grabs hold of the leg off the spinning heel kick, he taps him out with the heel hook. The final comes down to Ishikawa and Ikeda and, as always, just about everything they throw is as stiff as day-old catshit. Punches, lariats, kicks – I mean, at this point in the match, with time slipping away, the desperation and exhaustion are major factors, and Ishikawa especially is relentless in trying to submit Ikeda before the time expires.

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On rewatch I can't say my opinion has changed much.  This match is all kinds of ridiculous amazing.

While I was watching I was wondering why there isn't more pro wrestling like this.  Then I answered myself with the realization that Ishikawa and Ikeda had to be beat to shit after this, especially Ishikawa.  Otsuka too.  The other three were out a little earlier, but my guess would be everyone took their lumps.

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