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[2000-11-26-BattlARTS] Yuki Ishikawa vs Kazunari Murakami

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This turns out to be a fun shootstyle match. Murakami shines when he's striking or showing his athleticism on the outside. Otherwise he comes off as a guy who is trying real hard to look like a heel instead of just being a heel. Ishikawa is great in the role of grappler, struggling through the strikes to get where he wants to be. I think this will make my ballot, can't say where just yet.

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As long as Murakami is in there with a great wrestler I'll probably enjoy it. I'm one of those folks who thinks Ishikawa is a possible top 10 all time great wrestler so, as you can imagine, I really dig this as well as the 2001 rematch. This one is a concise and brutal fight. That's why I also think it could make a great introduction to this style, even if there are better Battlarts matches up for voting in this project. Ishikawa lets Murakami look like a bruiser and makes you believe that he is really toughing it by hanging in this match. The shooty brawling on the floor is awesome and is a definitive Battlarts image.

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Yuki Ishikawa vs Kazunari Murakami - BattlArts 11/26/00

 

Stay Calm and Keep It On The Mat is Ishikawa's mantra as Murkami tried to unsettle him with his relentless fury of strikes. Murakami and his WHAM! Eyebrows look to knock Ishikawa out early with strikes, but Ishikawa keeps his head down and before you know it he has Murakami on his back. I loved how heated this was and how Ishikawa was able to counter Murakami's uptempo style by constantly picking for mistakes. Murakami gets a flurry of kicks in and Ishikawa powders. Then we get absolutely awesome crowd brawling with them wiping out a bunch of chairs. I would say the only disappointing element was that the finish was so quick. Murakami bringing Ishikawa back in hardway with a rear naked choke was fantastic, but just as he was looking in command is when Ishikawa caught his foot and punched him in the face. An enziguiri into a rear choke was enough to force the submission. The finish suited the match well enough, but this left me wanting more. ****

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Goddamn these guys mean business, getting in each other's faces right away. Murakami looks ready to commit murder. I've yet to see a match where I don't love what he brings to the table. Granted, my exposure to him is limited, but thus far I like it all. There's tight leg work, striking that results in a bloody mouth and my favorite spot of the match which saw Murakami deliver this *awesome* stabbing kick over the barricade. The brawling through the crowd is so wild and violent. Just love it. Only complaint is it felt so short. But really, it may have lost something going much longer anyways.

 

***3/4

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Hadn’t seen this in a few years but man glad it still rules. Murakami was practically born to play the role of wackjob shooter who just tries to kick whatever is in his path. This plays perfectly to Ishikawa’s strengths as his selling and timing make for high drama. Loved the chaos outside as well and Ishikawa slowly making it back to the ring for one last chance to win.

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Murakami's wild and unpredictable, coming right out of the gate kicking and swinging for the fences, Ishikawa does all he can to quell the maelstrom of Murakami's violence by avoiding the big blows and trying to take Murakami down to the mat. But once Murakami's able to cinch in the choke, the momentum shifts and Murakami lands some nasty shots, busting Ishikawa's mouth. The chaos on the outside is awesome, with Murakami getting the better of Ishikawa and leaving him a bloody mess on the floor. I liked Murakami's choke counter to the armbreaker attempt and how Murakami's contant pestering really triggers something in Ishikawa so that he foregoes the groundwork to try and take out Murakami by any means necessary. A shorty but a hard-hitting goodie.

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Finally the match they have been building up throughout the year... The young invading heel vs. founding vet. Murakami clearly has the advantage on the feet and Ishikawa clearly has the advantage on the ground, so Ishikawa's best bet is to ground Murakami and Murakami's best bet is to keep it standing and try to brutalize Ishikawa. Murakami blitz Ishikawa whenever he sees an opening and Ishikawa being used to fight strikers, knows how to absorb punishment and catch their head kicks and take them down and try and submit them. Murakami is working extra stiff here and he busts Ishikawa's mouth open with of his flurries. The brawling in the crowd is hard to follow due to wildness, but its something they had teased in their previous matches, so this finally panning out was a nice touch. That finish was amazing. Ishikawa finally mans up to Murakami's strikes and he catches him with a right hand, an enzuigiri and he puts him to sleep. This was a tad bit short, but totally understandable due to the intensity these guys we were working with.

 

What a beautiful, beautiful thing.

 

****1/2

 

From all of the guys I've seen in the U.S. + Japan indys, I would sit Ishikawa at the top as my #1 at the moment (although I still have quite a bit to see) and I can safely say he should be in the top 10 fairly easily and possibly a top 5.

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BattlARTS goes PRIDE! I forgot how little actually happens in this contest. But it's really such a formative spectacle. Murakami performs to the height of his potential as a death glaring demon throwing wild haymakers and kicks, and Ishikawa does his very best outmatched pro wrestler vs. MMA fighter impression. It's such a bizarre play on what japanese audiences had seen happen in real and fixed fights and pro wrestling matches and pro wrestlers pulling off implausible moves in real fights but it totally works. There isn't even a single KO count, which only serves to add to the pace, and Ishikawa coming up with the bloody mouth is such an intense moment. Then you get what is about the greatest outside brawling/street fighting segment ever and the breathtaking flurry into the lightning quick finish. For all the talk about BattlARTS being a violence-fest this is incredibly smart pro wrestling as they have the crowd by the balls the whole time while playing their characters to a tee and doing great job paying off the tensions built with the ending. All in just 9 minutes to boot.

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Short and messy. This is all over the place. Murakami is great at being a dickhead. Feels more akin to a real fight than a lot of BattlARTS matches for better or worse. Murakami brutalizes Ishikawa until Ishikawa catches a leg and throws a legit looking punch right to the jaw and manages to put Murakami with a rear naked.

 

Not sure where I sit with this one. There's not many memorable spots, but things like Murakami's devilish facials and the finish of the match makes it worth your ten minutes.#

 

★★★

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I don't think this match delivers on its amazing buildup. I wish they hadn't gone the PRIDE route and instead had a classic BattlARTS match. The outside brawling was weaker than in any of the tags prior and felt out of place in the style of match they were going for. It's strange to me that there was more memorable snoot style stuff in Osaka Pro than there was in BattlARTs in 2000.

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One of the top 10 most anticipated matches of 2000 for me given the buildup and the match didn’t let me down. Ishikawa has to keep things grounded to try to avoid the strike barrage of Murakami. The flurries in this match are excellent and I loved how things escalated until Ishikawa was confident enough to stand toe to toe with Murakami and excel before choking him out. Murakami comes to his senses after the match, realizes he got caught and is pissed. It still leaves a lot of open room for stuff in the future between these two while being a fitting closing chapter to this portion of the feud. As a sub 9 minute match, it was just the right length to keep up the intensity throughout the whole match. Wonderful shoot style action. ****1/4 (8.3)

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