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Katsumi Usuda

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Not the most consistent of the 90s BattlARTS crew and no long classic singles matches then, but always looked good to great and was reliable in tags, then came back as an excellent veteran worker in the reincarnated BattlARTS. It's a broken record, but at that point this guy could've had a match with a half eaten sausage, and makes you wish more wrestlers got this good as veterans. Also worth noting that he looked on Ono's level when they battled in Futen.

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His match vs Ryuji Yamakawa with the Barbed Wire Kickpad is one of the most fascinating things I've seen and something everyone who enjoys ultraviolence should go out of their way to see. He's also in my 2000s match of the decade (though he was probably like....the fifth best performer in it) and has some great stuff in Big Mouth Loud as well. He's under consideration.

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Giving Usuda a polite bump because I just found this weird as hell Usuda vs. Tomoaki Honma matchup from Big Japan:



Going back through Usuda's stuff I'm starting to think the guy is undersold. Now you really have to be a completist to be familiar with this guy enough to see his case, but let me explain. For example, did you know Katsumi Usuda and Ikuto Hidaka have all-time great chemistry together and all their meetings are outright spectacular? Did you know Usuda has a history of getting damn great matches out of indy lowcarders, including such names as junji.com, Naoyuki Taira, Yuta Yoshikawa and (the absolutely terrible) Keita Yano? Did you know Usuda was pretty good right away in PWFG and then became a pretty great tag worker in BattlARTS? Did you know Katsumi Usuda may have been in fact be one of the best undercard workers in his country in the second half of the 2000s? I don't expect any of this stuff to be on people's radars but I want to emphasize Katsumi Usuda's career is worth studying. I also want to say while he is clearly a "BattlARTS" guy and part of his case rests on those brutal fights he had with his buddies throughout the 90s, he also developed into quite a remarkable junior worker who could match up really well with anyone. I want to point to his J-Cup match vs. Men's Teioh here (weird and awesome match), but the above BJW match is also a good example of this. He holds the match together with his selling, keeps things interesting through Fujiwaraish counters and blasts his opponent in the face.


In conclusion, I'd characterize Usuda as almost a japanese Bobby Eaton. Not exactly a charisma bomb, but great mechanics, lots of high end tags under his belt (including a very unheralded tag from december 2010 in FUTE'N where Usuda gives a really masterful performance) and shows the flashes of brilliance you want from a wrestling master.

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So initially I was very sceptic on Usuda myself, despite the above post. I'm still sceptic whether he deserves serious consideration, but after putting a matchlist together I realised what a career the guy had. I had doubts whether I could come up with 20 matches that I considere very good, but I quickly threw up around 40 no problem and had to cut the list down. Makes me think even I'm overlooking Usuda. Now I think a 25 match Katsumi Usuda DVD set would be absolutely kickass, and on a 50 match Katsumi Usuda comp matches #26-#50 would still be very good and a breeze to watch.


Big Ol' Katsumi Usuda matchlist


1. Carl Greco vs. Katsumi Usuda (PWFG 10/29/93)

Time limit draw between two really young guys. Not for the faint of the heart, but there is some top notch stuff in this contest and Greco's talent shines. On the 1993 yearbook.


2. Yuki Ishikawa / Shoichi Funaki v. Daisuke Ikeda / Katsumi Usuda (BattlARTS 1.13.1996)

Bigger and better main event continuation of the previous match they had in PWFG. Usuda and Ikeda beat the shit out of Funaki and while Ishikawa/Ikeda is the focus, Usuda and Ishikawa have some real quality exchanges.


3. Katsumi Usuda v. Alexander Otsuka ( BattlARTS 4.6.1996)

This is an awesome 7 minute studio match. Not a lot of kicks to the face, but some cranking submissions and Usuda is really great at getting dumped on his head.

Intermission - What are some more of these quality Usuda undercard matches?

Katsumi Usuda vs. Naoki Sano (BattlARTS 9.6.1999) - A shame this was clipped to a few minutes because these two have really fun chemistry together.

Katsumi Usuda vs. Daisuke Ikeda (BML 9/11/2005) - Brutally violent 5 minute velocity match between the hardest hitting BattlARTS vets.

Katsumi Usuda vs. Yujiro Yamamoto (26.7.2009) - Usuda vs. the most talented Ishikawa trainee in a sweet match that reallly should have gone twice as along.

Katsumi Usuda vs. Akifumi Saito (12.6.2009) - Usuda vs. the most talented Sayama trainee. Pretty much the perfect undercard match - quality matwork and the kick the shit out of eachother.

Katsumi Usuda vs. Super Tiger II (BattlARTS 30.8.2009) - Usuda goes head to head with Ishikawa and Otsuka in the "Who can carry STII the best?" contest. Usuda selling really makes this short match into something memorable.

Usuda/Takeshima vs. Shark/TAGAI (Ishikawa Produce 13.1.2013) - Usuda salvages a match with some iffy guys by doing awesome mat stuff with Tagai and tooling fools.

4. Daisuke Ikeda v. Katsumi Usuda (BattlARTS 9.1)

Ikeda sells great and Usuda looks like a machine kicking the fuck out of him in this tournament finale.

5. Katsumi Usuda / Takeshi Ono v. Daisuke Ikeda / Alexander Otsuka (BattlARTS 12.25.1996)

First in a series of really great tags with some junior-ish touches. Some awesome Usuda/Ikeda mat exchanges here.

6. Daisuke Ikeda / Katsumi Usuda v. Yuki Ishikawa / Takeshi Ono (BattlARts 1.21.1996)

One of the best tags of 1997. Again Usuda shines on the mat and with his great offense.

7. Yuki Ishikawa/Minoru Tanaka vs. Alexander Otsuka/Katsumi Usuda (BattlARTS 25.12.1998)

This is a total wrestling clinic. Not many strikes, but Usuda looks beastly on the mat along with the other.

8. Yuki Ishikawa v. Katsumi Usuda (BattlARTS 3.6.1998)

Tremendous match with nasty matwork and some ungodly violence.

9. Katsumi Usuda v. Ryuji Yamakawa (BattlARTS 8.29.1998)

Katsumi Usuda vs. Tomoaki Honma (BJW 9/23/98)

Excursion into weirdness for Usuda. Yamakawa match is a proto-Stop the Matsunaga match, he gets pissed off and bloodied and ends up chasing Yamakawa with barbed wire around his kickpad, real crazy. Honma match is Usuda as touring indies superstar matching up really well with a worker outside his comfort zone and carrying the match through his selling.

10. Katsumi Usuda v. Ikuto Hidaka (BattlARTS 3.12.2000)

This is the J-Cup qualifying match and marks the start of Usuda's really great run doing hybrid junior's matches vs. random guys. And these two match up incredibly well and do some brilliant stuff that makes any other juniors match that year (or really most of the rest of the decade) look lame and uninspired in comparison.

11. Katsumi Usuda vs. MEN's Teioh (Super J Cup 2000)

Usuda enters the junior tournament and this is the showstealer. Really great shootstyle vs. western style matchup and I think Usuda debuts his sickening punt kick here.

12. Katsumi Usuda v. junji.com (BattlARTS, 1.7.2001)

Another tremendous junior style match against a nobody. No offense to Junji, but this is the Usuda show. He sells great for the little guy and nearly dislocates his shoulders on a couple occasions, just punishing the poor kid.

13. Katsumi Usuda v. Carl Malenko (BattlARTS, 6.2.2001)

Usuda takes on the shootstyle terminator that is Carl Greco and this is a really rocking match. Fast pace, slick wrestling action, this had all the guys in NJPW who tried to be shooty juniors at the time eating their hearts out.

14. Yuki Ishikawa v. Katsumi Usuda (BattlARTS 6.9.2002)

BattlARTS returns for a one shot and these two take the opportunity to go out and kill eachother in a spectacular match.

15. Katsumi Usuda & Manabu Hara vs. Yuki Ishikawa & Munenori Sawa (BML 3.22.2006)

Really good BattlARTS style tag from the overlooked BML promotion which would've looked kickass on any 90s card. Young guys step it up and Usuda teaches young Sawa a few lessons.

16. Hara/Usuda vs. Ibushi/HARASHIMA (Differ Cup 2007)

Ugly ass BML crew Usuda and Hara enter this junior tag tourney and once again produce the best match in the first round as they beat the fuck out of the pretty boys in a heated match. Some really grand stand up sections and matwork here and this is just a great 17 minute tag.

17. Katsumi Usuda & Fujita Jr Hayato vs. Munenori Sawa & Yuta Yoshikawa (BattlARTS 25.2.2007)

Usuda again mixes it up with the kids in this super fun contest loaded with nasty strikes.

Intermission: What are some more awesome violent tags involving Usuda?


Katsumi Usuda/Manabu Hara vs. Kota Ibushi/Tanomusaku Toba (DDT 6.13.2007) -BML crew enters DDT. A heated awesome 10 minute whirlwind of action, Usuda is a kickpadded Mini-Fujiwara here shoot headbutting fools into oblivion.

Otsuka/Usuda vs. Hidaka/Alvin Ken (BattlARTS 17.4.2000) - BattlARTS vets punish the kids, especially Alvin. Usuda is great as a smirking dick here.

BattlARTS 6 Man Tag (26.7.2008) -A certified classic and Usuda,while not the focus of the match, does perfect in this barfight of a match.


18. Katsumi Usuda vs. Keito Yano (BattlArts, 11/16/08)

Epic carryjob. Usuda manages to make the atrocious Yano look credible while reminding you who he is by punting the youngster into a coma.

19. Yuki Ishikawa/Super Tiger II vs. Sekimoto/Usuda (BattlARTS 21.12.2008)

Great BattlARTS tag and Usuda is carrying his team here. Really great Ishikawa vs. Usuda finish here.

20. Katsumi Usuda vs. Yuta Yoshikawa (2.15.2009)

Another tremendous Usuda carryjob. Usuda sells the fuck out of his leg. Watching him fighting on the edge of defeat here is something else.

21. Hidaka & Sawa vs. Usuda & Yoshikawa (BattlARTS 2.7.2010)

This is Yoshikawa's retirement match, but Usuda and Hidaka totally steal the show looking like superstars against eachother, doing super matwork and exchanges.

22. Kengo Mashimo/Yujiro Yamamoto vs. Katsumi Usuda/Hikaru Sato (Kana Pro 29.04.2010)

Another world class contest. Usuda and Yamamoto do some blowaway great stuff for the finishing run here.

23, Takeshi Ono vs. Katsumi Usuda (Futen 24.11.2010)

Usuda returns to Futen and he and Ono bust out a classic. The two have tremendous chemistry and it produces an awesome fast paced fight loaded with greatness.

24. Ishikawa/Ono vs. Usuda/Ikeda (Futen 19.12.2010)

Futen closes out the year with a bang. Usuda and Ono again match up tremendously well and put a world class finish together.

25, Katsumi Usuda & Yujiro Yamamoto vs. Minoru Tanaka & Ikuto Hidaka (11/5/2011)

Once again Usuda vs. Hidaka delivers as all four guy deliver a rocking match on the last BattlARTS show.

Summary: Usuda never really broke out and doesn't have quite the depth of high end matches the other Top BattlARTS guys have. It's still a pretty great resume for a guy who is generally considered the least of his crew and the length, volume and variety is impressive. Quality worker from the get go, and quality worker near the end. 5th best BattlARTS guy ain't bad at all.

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I don't know that any of these lists will inspire me to change my rankings, but they sure have inspired me to pull out my Bat-Bat/PWFG/Futen discs, and that in and of itself is a lovely thing.

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Another wrestler in the "hasn't been bumped but I'm definitely considering voting for him" camp. I think Jetlag's match list from 2016 will do a world of good as far as figuring out how you feel about the guy but if you are voting shootstyle I am hard-pressed to think of a good reason to leave him off your ballot without a good amount of thought. Some quick reviews to toss in here cause I'm not sure where else to put them right now:

Katsumi Usuda vs. Kota Ibushi (FUTEN 4/24/05):***¼

It has been unquestionably proven that Ibushi is much better as a dude who doesn’t know how to pull his strikes than a high flyer. After watching a couple of Usuda versus youngster matches I expected him to blow the doors of Ibushi but (Lee Corseo voice) not so fast! This is much more of Usuda weathering the storm, and Ibushi can really bring the thunder. Great out on his feet selling.

Fujita Hayato & Katsumi Usuda vs. Muneroi Sawa & Yuta Yoshikawa (BATTLARTS 2/25/07):***½

Heaps of fun. I manage to come out with positive feelings towards everyone which is a personal delight knowing that typically Sawa can be grating. I think the fact that Hayato manages to bring a little more hate out of him here helps give the best version of Sawa. Damn, match also reminds me how much I miss Hayato Jr. Obviously the dude kicks hard but I think he had a better knack for the ground game than I probably gave him credit for. It’s completely serviceable! I don’t know who Yuta is. Feels pulled from UWFi though his ripped bod and stiff strikes. Then you got Usuda who probably glues this bad boy together with sheer veteran presence. By that I do indeed mean a couple of scorching punts and a headbutt exchange with Yuta that seemed to mess up my speakers for a hot second.

Katsumi Usuda vs. Keita Yano (BATTLARTS 7/21/07):***

This should have probably sucked. But it doesn’t because Usuda knows what needs to be done, suck Yano into his match like a blackhole of violence and stretching.

I also watched the Honma match which I thought was delightful. Homna using more wrestling instincts and craftyness, while Usuda was more picking his openings for unholy kicks to the dome. Looking forward to checking out the Hidaka matches.

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