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Jetlag

[2000-05-11-BattlARTS] Naoyuki Taira vs Alexander Otsuka

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Holy shit, this was amazing. How this didn't make it to the Best of BattlARTS set but three dozen fucking Minoru Tanaka matches did is beyond me. Taira was this really talented dude who could put on awesome weird leglocks and also had devastating kicks in his arsenal. It's a shame he disappeared after BattlARTS closed. This was like a hybrid of those matches against Ikeda and Yujiro Yamamot we've seen from Otsuka. He tries to teach this newbie some manners and busts out a few pro style moves executed with complete lack of regard for his opponents safety, including dropping him square on his head from an armlock attempt, a neckbreaker that looked like it really would break your neck, and doing a freaky Cesaro deadlift spun into a backbreaker in mid-air. While Taira isn't goofing around and looks to finish the match with every attack, forcing Otsuka to do some really freaked out grappling leading to some great nearfalls. When Taira is throwing kicks he is wasting Otsuka, including charging at him and connecting a knee strike that looked like nobody would get up from it, and coming back later in the match with a pele kick that produced the sound of a rotten melon and had me verbally marking out. Both the finish and the build to it were great. I'll have to watch Ishikawa/Murakami again because this maybe the best BattlARTS match of 2000.

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I've only just now realised he has full shows up and not individual matches. When I checked for 5/11/00 before, the thumbnail looked like a tag match, so I assumed that's all it was. It makes more sense now. So thanks!

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Excellent match. All of Taira's strikes landed sweetly from the outset and Otsuka seemed to sell a sort of sluggishness as a result pretty much the whole match. Like he'd been caught flush early doors and struggled to fully shake the cobwebs from then out on. His kooky pro/shoot-style mishmash offence was lots of fun in this, particularly the bronco buster thing he did in the corer, and that deadlift tilt-a-whirl backbreaker looked really nasty. At a couple points he just grabbed Taira and planted him with a powerbomb, and I liked how he was determined to hit that one where Taira was trying desperately to cling to the corner. Towards the end Otsuka was absolutely hell bent on breaking Taira's back with any variation of a Boston crab, so you had Taira frantically trying to wriggle or kick his way free, and by kick his way free I mean kick Otsuka as hard as possible in the mouth. That run of near KO's culminating with the fucking backflip kick was legit one of the coolest spots I've ever seen and got a big old "holy shit!" out of me.

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Thanks to Jetlag for pointing this match out for us. I don't know if I have ever seen Taira before but after that rough Thunder, this was the perfect palate cleanser. Taira starts off by going after the leg of Otsuka forcing him to retreat on the outside for a bit and realize he is facing a tough challenge. Opening three minutes play off like this with Taira getting a good advantage and having to roll into some funky positions to maintain that. Otsuka kicks him outside the ring in an act of frustration. Taira responds with a quick dropkick to prove he isn't backing down. Otsuka finally finds an opening and is quite frankly tired of this shit so he powerbombs Taira down from the corner. Now Otsuka is rolling but a little extra oomph with his kicks in the corner. In a nice bit of resourcefulness, Taira is able to roll out of a throw and into another wonky leg lock. The jockeying back and forth to the finale is excellent and that Pele kick did not disappoint. Just a horrendous thud when Taira throws it. Taira gets overzealous as he smells blood and he gets caught in a powerbomb, giant swing, and wicked leg submission he is forced to tap on. Hell of an effort from Taira as he went from a non entity to someone I rushed to Charles and said we needed to view more of throughout the 2000's. ****1/4

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Surprised at all the praise for Taira. In another thread, people were talking about the biggest carryjob ever and this was my pick.

 

I honestly thought Taira was pretty awful here and brought almost nothing but Otsuka just made it singlehandedly work. He was able to get Taira across as a credible and dangerous opponent even while dominating the match with his brutal offense. He did an excellent job pacing the match and making the finishing stretch as dramatic as possible. An unbelievably great Otsuka performance to pull a great match out of nothing. ****

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This was fantastic.

 

Taira pulls out a super awesome counter to a powerbomb and rolls through into a great leglock at one point. His striking combinations hit the perfect balance of kind of desperation and danger. The business in the corner with Otsuka kneeing him in the back to loosen him up for the powerbomb was a clever bit of work too.

 

Otsuka I thought sold being in peril pretty well here. He never felt any kind of overmatched but he felt like a guy having to scramble to restore order. The big flurries by Taira were flashy and looked really great and of course the Pele kick was a big highlight. All the rush attacks lead perfectly to the ending, which is nice and definitive. Otsuka also really hits the most painful looking deadlift backbreaker and that was awesome.

 

****

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Very good match. This is a great showcase of the BattleARTS style that I enjoy very much. Otsuka is a very underrated wrestler and this is match is a good example of his skills. There's some very creative counters and transitions into moves and some fantastic selling by Otsuka as well. Taira held up his end very well in this one, but I thought that Otsuka clearly looked like the better talent of the two. The Pele kick spot was top-notch and Otsuka sold it very well for a knockout false finish.

 

****

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This was pretty cool. I'm not a big Otsuka fan -- at least not as big a fan as some people I know -- but I thought this was one of his better performances. Taira was a 36-year-old shoot boxer on debut. If I hadn't told you that, you might have thought he had been around the pro-wrestling scene for longer such was the strength of Otsuka's performance. Taira was awkward at times but that's part of the charm of shoot guys doing works (unless they're being pushed to the moon like Ogawa.) Interestingly, the strength of Otsuka's performance didn't come from his matwork or power moves but rather his selling. That's not the first thing you look for in shoot style but his selling was excellent here and he reacted well to the offense Taira brought to the table. I didn't love the finishing stretch but Otsuka loves to throw in pro-wrestling moves as is his wont. It didn't take away from an extremely good effort from the man and a successful debut for Taira aesthetically, anyway.

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This was excellent. This is one of Taira's first pro-wrestling matches and he looked really good. He's a BJJ black belt with some Shoot boxing and MMA experience, so watching him bust out a huracanrana was quite the visual and I especially loved how he transitioned from that to a kneebar. Otsuka's selling here is fantastic, namely his selling on that beautiful overhead kick from Taira. I also dug Otsuka busting out the more traditional pro-wrestling subs such as the camel clutch and the variations of the crab holds. That big swing into a Texas cloverleaf was awesome as it reminded me of a HOOK'n'SHOOT fight where a fighter landed a big swing into a heel hook.

 

Great match.

 

****

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I recently watched Taira in a '92 RINGS shoot with a random Dutchman and didn't really peg him as a guy who could make a smooth transition into a more worked environment. He's a little excitable here and holds back on some of his flamboyant kicks but when he does connect, like with the spinning back heel kick or Pele kick, they were great. His leg trip into the submission early on was pretty swanky, and the legwork scramble on the mat was fun but messy. Otsuka worked more of a strong-style here but it worked well against Taira's hyper shoot boxer approach. Loved him using the camel clutch and crab holds and the finish with the giant swing into the cloverleaf. Pretty good match.

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Otsuka's tights always are unique looking. Lots of fun back and forth on the mat in this one. Taira didn't always come across as intimidating except for when kicking, but Otsuka did a good job of selling to balance it out. I liked the spot where Otsuka pulled Taira off the turnbuckle to powerbomb him. Very good match.

 

***1/2

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Taira is a talented grappler and impressive striker (has one of the best Pele kicks I’ve ever seen), but he’s excitable and undisciplined, so Otsuka decides to fuck around and guide him to one of the best BattlARTS matches of 2000 (or through May, at least). He channels Taira’s raw violence into a more coherent assault and makes him come off wickedly dangerous in his debut match. Otsuka’s sells were so, so good here as he scrambles to gain control while fending off Taira’s explosive stand-up game and avoiding his leglocks. I wouldn’t call this a complete carryjob, but Otsuka just nails every damn second of this match.

Stray Observation:

  • Can we somehow send current Cesaro back in time to face a prime Otsuka, please?
  • Holy-fucking-shit at Otsuka’s deadlift gutwrench backbreaker. I loved how viciously he works over Taira’s back after that spot. His unique hybrid offense is such a pleasure to watch. 
  • Taira secures himself on the middle turnbuckle in one of the corners as Otsuka tries to pry him out of there, so Otsuka softens him up with some dope knees to loosen his grip before emphatically dropping Taira with a nasty powerbomb.

Rating: ****¼

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