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[1999-06-24-RINGS] Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yoshihisa Yamamoto

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I'm not quite sure I knew it was possible to be as good at wrestling as Tamura was in this match. This is by far the most dramatic shoot style match I have ever seen (and one of the most dramatic matches, period) that starts off with a Tamura slap during handshakes which sets the tone for an electric 20 minute draw. The technique displayed is just as amazing as always, but it was the flair for dramatics that set this apart from everything else I've ever seen. Tamura delivers a flurry in the final 2-3 minutes of the match that is quite possibly the best few minutes of wrestling I have ever seen. Just awe-inspiring stuff. Everything I am saying is about Tamura, but give Yammamoto all the credit in the world too. He was great in his own right and held his own on the mat against the best wrestler in the world. This show makes me wish RINGS had run Korakuen Hall regularly, because this is is a crowd that both appreciates and understands the style and also gets excited about it. The best of all worlds.

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Just finished watching this. Not sure I can add more much more. It was great for the first 15 minutes but the last 5min were jaw dropping. I find it very rare for a pro wrestling match to illicit that kind of response from me. Most of the time even when I am enjoying wrestling there is a certain emotional disconnect. That washed away completely for the finishing stretch. Kudos to both performers.

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Now this match is astounding, maybe the best shoot style match I've ever seen. This is perfect right from the beginning. Tamura starting it off with a slap really gives this a different kind of character right from the bell and the crowd is on fire for it. The grappling is top notch, lots of great struggle and submission teasing. The crowd reacts big to the submission teases and, awesomely, reacts big not just for either guy getting out of submissions but even for successfully fighting off attempts. The first time a big submission is locked on a forces a rope break it feels like a huge deal. There are bunch of memorable high spots here, which is a term that can feel out of place in shoot style but totally applies: Yammamoto's great flurry of punches to Tamura that gets him a yellow card, Yammamoto locking in a sleeper that had been teased a couple times, Tamura on top of Yammamoto and unloading with punches before grabbing an ankle lock, a particularly great stuggle over an armbar. The last few minutes are incredible, Tamura totally unloads on Yammamoto and at times it's just the ropes saving him. The stand up is always great too and is worked wonderfully into the match. Love the very end where Tamura had Yammamoto down but stands back up, wanting to take his last chance with strikes. An all time classic and definitely MOTY.

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Now this is the style of shoot style I like. Both guys just bring it all match with no down time. Crowd goes nuts for everything. I liked the slap at the beginning cause you can tell these two don't like each other. Probably the best non Volk Han match I've seen on these yearbooks.

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This starts right off hand with a crackling crowd and Tamura slapping Yammamoto right across the face. The opening sequence had me staring in disbelief making sure I didn’t have my DVD player in 1.5 speed. I can enjoy some methodical, focused mat work but this was on a speed and athleticism that was simply breathtaking. The match settles down just a big with Yammamoto finding the advantage and taking a dominant position peppering away with punches to the midsection. Tamura fights up because no way is he accepting a rope break in this match. We get some nasty dueling leg work. Tamura cranks back with a half crab with the leg of Yammamoto in a nasty position overall. Yammamoto was right next to the ropes yet he decides to choke and claw his way out in a great battle of intensity. There is some instances where the ref almost steps in but let’s these guys go at it. I can’t forget to mention the pace here because it is absolutely breakneck but the intensity isn’t faltering because of that as judged by the punches that are vicious. Yammamoto lets his emotions get the best of him and is yellowcarded for our first real break of the match 7:30 in. Yammamoto keeps going for position but he is unable to break through but he shows tenacity and finally is able to gain some sort of advantage. Tamura ends up on top after Yammamoto exhausts all that energy and throws some nasty punches of his own but in a cooling, calming manner showing ace tendencies. He reaches for the cross armbreaker and almost gets choked as a result due to being slightly overzealous. This results in the first rope break of the match 11 minutes in. We really get our first stand up exchange here and Tamura bullies him into the corner. Tamura is persistent when they go to the mat and rides a choke which becomes a disguise for him to try to lock on the arm breaker again. Yammamoto is able to work out of it again and results back to his trusty body punches. Tamura won’t be denied and nearly locks on the arm breaker when Yammamoto has to have a rope break for the first time 14 minutes in. A nasty great strikes exchange results popping the crowd like crazy. Tamura goes after the leg but Yammamoto is able to spin out and again come up on top. Yammamoto locking on the leg submission with Tamura breaking and having to be humiliated by reaching the ropes 16 minutes in is just great facial work. We are seeing someone that came in as the king of the hill realize that someone that has always been a peg below him is becoming an equal in real time. Another standup and again Tamura cant throw Yammamoto down. Another nasty flurry from Yammamoto with the crowd popping. Tamura wont give up and does his best to exchange when he can but Yammamoto puts him down and triumphantly but prematurely raises his hand in victory. Tamura is now desperate being one point away from losing. He releases a ferocious strike face that stuns Yammamoto and evens the playing field with an electric minute left. Both guys are gassed and the match has flown by. Yammamoto knows he has owned the mat so he tries to go there but Tamura isn’t falling for that and forces him back on his feet. Rapid fire shots but Yammamoto fights back. Tamura locks on a leg lock as a last ditch as time expires. This was an exhausting, hate filled exercise that told a tremendous story and featured a great athletic display and performance of the wrestlers involved. This is the apex of shootstyle. *****

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I'd never seen this before. Obviously I haven't been aware of it being pimped much over the years if indeed it has been. Then in this thread you've got Loss, Tim and Chad calling it MOTY. Well that certainly piqued my interest, so let's see...

 

If only you could bottle crowds like this. Great atmosphere throughout, and the commentary was excellent too. Tamura cheapshotted his adversary before the bell, immediately establishing a keen rivalry. Some red hot matwork then kicked off. High intensity mixed with beautiful fluidity, all executed with expert technique. Surely for any fan of shoot style it's a joy to behold something like that. Obviously they couldn't work at such a frenzy for 20m. During the middle stages they not only maintained a very strong level, they also added some narrative.

 

Yamamoto was throwing some light punches whilst in holds early on. They weren't having much effect, so why doesn't he hit harder the viewer might ask? A yellow card from the referee provided the answer when he tried it. So that had established legal parameters. Later on when both men were badly damaged the punches returned. This time however they had far more effect, and were successful in breaking and countering holds. Something that had initially seemed a bit pointless was turned into a wonderful storytelling device over the course of time.

 

The final 5m or so were simply divine. Both men were attacking with flurries of strikes. They could barely stay on their feet, yet refused to buckle. Fighting to a standstill whilst still somehow pressing forwards. Absolutely thrilling action until the final bell. It really didn't matter what the final result was. Win, lose or draw. Both men deserved to have their hand raised after extraordinary performances. The best shoot style match I've ever seen. You can add me to the growing MOTY consensus.

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I watched this laaaaate last night and it didn't kick me in the teeth the way I was really hoping. Definitely a great match that I plan on rewatching sooner than later. The last 3 minutes was definitely excellent but overall it wasn't my favorite shoot style match.

 

I did have a question though for when I rewatch it. What was up with the weak ass random punches Yammamoto was throwing whenever he had Tamura on the ground? Eventually it led to Tamura getting pissed and throwing some really hard punches from the ground which led to Yammamoto's yellow card. I'm just wondering why bother throwing those super weak and slow punches?

 

Thanks!

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I did have a question though for when I rewatch it. What was up with the weak ass random punches Yammamoto was throwing whenever he had Tamura on the ground? Eventually it led to Tamura getting pissed and throwing some really hard punches from the ground which led to Yammamoto's yellow card. I'm just wondering why bother throwing those super weak and slow punches?

 

Thanks!

My interpretation is that Yamamoto was just throwing them to piss Tamura off. The mind games in this match are an interesting beast-Tamura did throw the slap before the bell, but he also came off as cool and collected. This is best demoonstrated in Tamura managing to provoke Yamamoto to start hitting him with "serious" punches that the ref quickly punished him for. Eventually all hell broke loose so they'd both punch each other hard and the ref would just let them duke it out.

 

Anyway. This has dethroned Takada-Koshinaka 5.8.1986. as my best match of all time, which is honestly something I never expected to happen. I still kind of wish Takada/Koshinaka was my #1. I certainly think it is the most ambitious and fascinating pro wrestling match ever. And it's the one match that I thought could have reached pro wrestling perfection. I did think it had some flaws (I didn't like a revenge tombstone and it had a blown spot or two too many). Still the way they seamlessly transitioned from using shoot style to junior to classic wrestling stuff is just unreal.

 

This match wasn't as ambitious. It just happened to be the perfect shoot style match. And shoot style is my favourite pro wrestling style, and Tamura is the wrestler who best encompasses what I want out of shoot style. This is his masterpiece.

 

It's hard to put the beauty of some of the grappling sequences into words. Does "the best stuff ever done in wrestling" sound like a good enough visual image? If there's one thing I dislike about RINGS it's that I feel they sometimes used rope breaks as a cheap way to generate heat and kick things into another gear. That's pretty much everything Tamura stands against as a wrestling character. He refuses to use rope breaks unless he is in mortal danger. He's always looking for a counter to a submission. Maybe it's his supposed inferiority complex, maybe it's his insane drive to be the best-it doesn't really matter one way or the other. I love the way this match progressed. The insanely hot crowd chanting both fighter's names before the beginning of the match is the kind of stuff that instantly slaps you in the face. That something so simple could add to the match so much. There's no wasted movement, no down time-it's not 20 minutes of nearfalls, but it is constant action. Not constant highspots even. But they're always looking for an opening. Always looking for a transition. There are several moments in the middle of the match where they tease you with a bigger submission nearfall only to counter of it. And the match builds and builds and then it just explodes into the most dramatic best thing to ever happen. Tamura and Yamamoto put on a clinic in selling fatigue-and even in the amazing final battle manage to throw in neat touches playing up to Tamura's character. Despite always being a wrestler who insisted on winning using his ground skills Tamura throws that all out of the water and dares Yamamoto to get up and continue their striking battle. It's an all time great moment based on his performance in the match and execution alone but the backstory adds to it as well. And when it's becoming obvious neither of them are going to prevail he shoots for a takedown right at the end to try to win, which may be the ultimate Tamura moment.

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The first time I saw this about 3 years ago, I was shocked by how amazing it actually was because no one ever talked about it as a classic match especially compared to highly pimped RINGS matches like Tamura/Kohsaka and the Tamura/Han series.

 

Anyways this is an insanely good match. 15 minutes of epic matwork and storytelling followed by maybe the 5 most dramatic minutes of wrestling ever. *****

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11/18/02


Tamura is very upset about the making of the Randleman vs. Yamamoto match because he hates Yamamoto and had no idea they would be appearing on the same card until the announcement was made publicly. I'm upset with that matchmaking as well, as Yamamoto has had serious concussion problems in the past and it was recommended years ago that he retire, and he's a much smaller guy than Randleman as Yamamoto fought at a UFC show at 169 pounds a few years back. The reason for the hatred by Tamura is that Yamamoto revealed publicly that a lot of Tamura's most famous matches in RINGS were actually pro wrestling matches and not MMA matches. There was talk over the weekend that Tamura may pull out of the show, which would wreck it completely from a marketing standpoint. Pride officials claim the story is overblown and internally they never knew of any

problems until the story broke in the papers, and don't believe the match is in jeopardy.


-------------


I imagine they weren't best buds in RINGS based on how they worked together in RINGS as well

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: I am in the middle here, I like this more then Eric, some of his issues with this don't bother me at all, but I don't think this match is the apex of shootstyle, or among the best matches ever.

I had no problem with the match escalating to the strike fest, I totally buy the match structure of two guys battling over mat supremacy, until they lose their tempers and start throwing hands. The final stand up run was awesome, felt like the wildest MMA fights and I liked that the match built to that point. Tamura is great at milking a nine

I also don't really have a problem with the little dickish punches, I have seen a ton of great Fujiwara matches where he taunts a guy by slapping him around or lightly kicking him, I was fine with it as a bit of character work, otherwise Yammamoto is pretty dry in this match so it was nice to see him show some flash.

However I am totally with Eric on the draw, really deflating finish, it just kind of ended, I wouldn't mind a draw if it came as one guy was struggling to get up after a 9 count, or desperate to escape a submission hold, but this came in the middle of an otherwise unremarkable scramble. It had no climax, it just stopped.

The skill level on the matwork here was really impressive, they countered with real speed and explosiveness and there was a bunch of cool dramatic moments, with guys failing to counter and needing to get to the ropes. Still I prefer guile to athleticism in my matwork. My favorite mat wrestlers are old maestros like Fujiwara, Han and Navarro, guys who know all the tricks, they may not have the strength and speed, but they can catch you sleeping. This was very focused on armbars, kneebars and chokes, I would have liked to see a little more wizardry. Even something like the Zach Sabre Jr. v. Drew Gulak match I saw live had guys applying odd counters and cool unique submissions, this was basic stuff done at the highest level, but for best shootstyle match ever I want some pizzaz.

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#2 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-50-1/2/

 

Well, in the last shoot-style match (on this countdown) I talked about how I was little down on this style. I guess it's not technically the style as it was just that match, because I thought this was awesome. Like Elliott, I was a little taken aback by the weak punches at the beginning, but when they escalated, I got the idea that they were meant to be more of nuisance than anything. I think that's great. Speaking of escalation, I love the way the entire match grows into the thrilling conclusion. I mean, everyone has talked about it in great detail so far, so I don't have anything else to add to that. But, I do think this is the best shoot-style match I've seen to date. I know there was one from 1990 YB that I really enjoyed, but I can't think of it off the top of my head. This was great stuff, and for this style, it has to be considered a classic.

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No, I wouldn't call it the greatest match ever or a candidate or anything, but it's certainly a top-5 MOTYC for '99 and one of the best RINGS matches ever. The last flurry is jaw-dropping and the time limit comes completely out of nowhere--doubly amazing for me as shootstyle time limit draws tend to see me looking toward the clock as the match goes on. This time the finish was a disappointment in the best possible way because I wanted this to go on, and on, and on. Tamura's stand-up is incredible as are his body punches when he has Yamamoto down, and Yoshihisa turns in one of the performances of his career as well.

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Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yoshihisa Yamamoto - RINGS 6/24/99

Here we go the match that is supposed to save 1999 from being the worst year for pro wrestling in the footage era until the year 2006 stole that claim from 1999. I have watched this match once a couple nights ago and it didnt smack me in the face as a top end classic, but I chocked it up to being tired. I am going to do something different. I am going to write this review as I watch it. As the ref is checking them, Tamura is a remarkably good looking dude isnt he? Definitely right up there with the likes of Ricky Martel and Ricky Steamboat. But he is way more of a dick than them as he SMACKS Yamamoto in the face right before the bell and IT IS ON LIKE DONKEY KONG! Readinth PWO thread about this, apparently there is legit heat here as these two cant stand each other. I love the opening matwork. It is all arms and legs. They look the Tasmanian Devil in the dust cloud! Tamura gets a single leg catch back heel trip, but Yamamoto evades the knee bar and takes a side mount. He is looking for a double wristlock. He drags Tamura away from the ropes. Lots of struggle here as Tamura is resisting well and Yamamoto tries to position for a cross armbreaker but Tamura shoves him off. Yamamoto maintains side-control. The crowd is red hot for this. Here we go...the controversial part of the match. Yamamoto takes a full mount and hits these dinky little punches, which I think are so pissed off Tamura. I liken it to Nakamura's silly head games the head to the belly button bullshit. I get the psychology but I am coming out and saying it I HATED IT! Sorry, but took me flat out of the match. Yamamoto sinks in a deep figure-4 around the midsection, but Tamura gets to his knees. More of these dinky little punches. Why does Tamura not do anything? Fuck em up! Tamura gets a switch and they stand up and Yamamoto falls back down with a figure-4 around the leg. Yamamoto seems to have a kneebar always hard to tell with Tamura because he doesnt sell too much. Kind of in a bundle of leg locks but Tamura gets a deep toehold and here are those silly punches. A little better this time because it is sending the message that your toehold does not hurt. Yamamoto gets a reverse chinlock. They are very close to the ropes. Tamura is in Yamamoto's guard. Not much going on. Ok here we go, a little more struggle. Here come those dinky punches. Yamamoto finally snaps and starts punching the midsection but gets a Yellow Card which drops him a down. They only have 5 downs was that bullshit just to get the "Yellow Card" over? Tamura has Yamamoto's back. Tamura has been resisting well, but not seeing much from him. Here we go! A good scrap here on the mat. Nice try at a guard pass from Yamamoto. Really, really good shit here. I really feel like Yamamoto is bringing it to Tamura on the mat. He is offensive-minded looking to get mount control and for holds. Tamura is doing a good job resisting, but has been very defensive. Tamura takes him over and has a side-mount, but isnt doing much. Full mount here and again wasted time. Tamura throws some dinky punches and them some harder ones. This is just strange. Tamura is looking for a cross armbreaker, but Yamamoto reverses into a rear naked choke, BIG POP! First big hold of the match and Tamura gets to the ropes. You know when Tamura goes to the ropes quickly it is a big deal because he don't sell shit. The stand up is pretty good, but short. Tamura is pissed. Yamamoto fucking brings it as the stand up fighting resumes. Their 1998 match is a surprisingly good stand up match they are great here. Tamure clinches him in the corner and hits rhythmic knees to the sides. Some damn good stiffness there. I think the dinky punches are over. Tamura has Yamamoto's back on the mat. He wants that cross armbreaker, Yamamoto resists. Tamura tries to punch the stomach to make him let go nice move. Yamamoto gets into guard and starts punching Tamura. Tamura tries for Triangle and then cross armbreaker and Yamamoto ends up in the ropes. 2-1 Tamura is up. Lots of leg kicks in the reset. Yamamoto hits some big slaps but Tamura comes flying back with flying knees that rock Yamamoto. Catches Yamamoto's kick and back heel trip. Heel hook but Yamamoto escapes into a side mount. Yamamoto slows the match down as all the momentum was on Tamura's side. I feel like Tamura is going for rope a dope let Yamamoto have the first half and now Tamura is starting to pour it on. The old Greg Valentine strategy baby! Problem with that is you can let your opponent get too much confidence and that is happening as Tamura is trying to go to the next gear Yamamoto is staying with him getting that legbar to force Tamura to rope break. The stand up exchanges have been the best part of this and I love grappling. They clinch. Yamamoto hits big knees out of the clinch. Tamura slaps him but Tamura does not look great. Yamamoto palm strikes to the face. Yamamoto is building momentum. Tamura has a flurry back to the corner. Yamamoto big SHOTEI! Tamura knee lifts he wont go down. Yamamoto slaps the taste out of his mouth, a big flying kick. Tamura finally goes down. It is Yamamoto up 4-2 and if he knocks Tamura down he wins. Here comes the Tamura comeback baby! Tamura hits a flying enziguiri and Yamamoto is rocked. Big left kick to the head and it  a flurry of strikes and Yamamoto is down. Next knockdown wins!!!! Tamura is slapping the shit out of him. Yamamoto takes him down, but Tamura pops out and wants to finish it standing. Tamura with rapid fire kicks to the right side of Yamamoto's body. They fall down and they go to a DRAW! Fuck I forgot this goes to a draw. Terrible DRAW finish! Incredibly anti-climatic. Totally sucked the air out of the room. Yamamoto vs Kohsaka's draw from '97 blows this out of the water. The stand up of this match saves this match, but I even liked their 1998 match better. For anybody else, this is a great match, but given these two and the rep this match has, massive disappointment. ****

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“TAMURA” Chants followed by a slap to Yamamoto - a perfect pre-match standoff that perfectly encapsulated everything I love about this match. The raw animosity that came out in the simplest of things. A tiny tap on the face that was hard but not too hard, just enough to let Yamamoto know what he’s in store for. The crowd goes absolutely mental for it as well. Before I get any further, I have to mention the incredible Korakuen Hall crowd. Not only do they react wildly to everything they need to - the stand-up strike battles, the important submission attempts, the little things in between - they were infectious in their excitement and how engrossed they were in the action. They were fixated fully into what these two guys were bringing to the table. The mat-work portions of the match were mesmerising. You can often sacrifice technique to add drama into the mix or focus purely on the holds, how realistic they look, etc and have the match be totally good but to have the perfect blend of technique and suspenseful action is awe-inspiring. The story of the match plays out like this - Yamamoto is on-top for the most of the match, leading the holds and controlling Tamura on the ground via a vice-like body scissors. He manoeuvres around Tamura, who in turn is on constant defence, attacking any opening Tamura allows in. Tamura is totally focused and tries to minimize any danger that can come to him. Yamamoto fights off light body shots with closed fist, trying to bait Tamura into giving an arm up, only to get stiffer and stiffer with them before finally unloading on the stomach and getting yellow carded by the ref, giving up vital points. A pivotal plot point that links into the latter stages of the match. Tamura slowly gets more control on the mat and becomes obsessed with locking in a cross arm-breaker. There was an awesome moment that sums Tamura up as a character to a tee where Tamura rides a nasty rare naked choke from Yamamoto to gain a better position to lock on the cross arm-breaker. And he’s like a pitbull whenever he gets the chance to snag the arm. It’s relentless action that tires you out as a fan. They work in rope breaks well, all while putting good emphasis on how last resort the rope breaks are in RINGS. When either has to grab the rope, they are pissed and angry with themselves. The transition to the stand up exchanges was great and so perfectly timed. Yamamoto wins out the first strikes by knocking down Tamura first, seemingly winning the match for himself with a flurry of palm strikes to the bridge of the nose and kicks to the head. And Tamura has to first back with big shots to just stay alive, and that he does. Tamura hits a lovely jumping head kick but that fails to knock down Yamamoto to everyone’s surprise, so he fires one on the chin but that fails too for a small while as Yamamoto finally falls a few seconds later to more palm strikes to tie the two on points. And they finish off an extremely tense and exciting 5 minutes by returning to the mat seeing out the match. Unbelievable match. Perfect from bell to bell and more. *****

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