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[1999-01-23-RINGS] Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tsuyoshi Kohsaka


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One of the talking points on this board I've found eye-rolling has been OJ's that UWFi was "fake" shoot style and RINGS was the real deal. He has his stylistic preferences and maybe he just deems the RINGS crew better workers, but until the Vader/New Japan stuff kicked in the RINGS stuff is every bit as if not more flashy than UWFi. You see it in the way they built drama, the use of rope breaks, knock downs, numbers of convoluted submissions used in matches and ways they're set up and so forth. I mean Volk Han matches are awesome but they're not how real combat looks. This felt like the match from the RINGS OJ was talking about. I've laid out my suspicions on some of Tamura's MMA matches being works or at least having worked elements (the RIZIN tag and his fight vs Hideo Tokoro) but this is really a match that should at least be properly discussed and remembered. A very sophisticated attempt at using all the new knowledge they'd acquired at the time in how real fighting works and using that to try and con people into making them think what they are watching is real but still allowing them to manipulate their emotions. So yeah-pro wrestling, but at a level unseen anywhere else. Most of the match is almost completely devoid of drama-the focus is on on how they defend against submissions and get into positions for them as much as it is on the techniques themselves. The pace and the disposition of the action mimick a fight very well and they walk the line of not doing stuff that would make it look fake and doing enough stuff to keep you both invested and entertained perfectly. Tamura's flurry ruled, and Kohsaka's selling was more reminiscent of a boxer going down from a body blow than Volk Han doing the same thing. The finish fascinates with its simplicity-it may be the greatest comeback I've ever seen in a wrestling match. The reaction it garnered was amazing, as was the execution of the whole thing. I can see some stuff here being a little hard to get into for people who aren't big on real grappling but the finish is something that I can't see not universally resonating with fans of pro wrestling. ****3/4

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I'll rewatch this again soon as well. That's a big rating. Here's what I wrote about it last year in the Tamura Complete and Accurate:


Follow up to their all time classic from the previous June. They go right to the mat after a great struggle over a Kohsaka take down. Kohsaka is so fucking smooth. He’s one of the rare guys that doesn’t look completely outclassed by Tamura on the mat. This allows them to push their exchanges much further than you would see in something like the Naruse match. I mean, there’s a borderline rolling cradle at one point. Tamura is top notch as usual in terms of his selling and desperate attempts for the ropes when Kohsaka finally does get something locked in. This is all really good mat work until the finishing stretch when they have an awesome strike fest that starts with both guys throwing hard low kicks at each other, Tamura getting a slight advantage on jumping on it just blasting Kohsaka with jumping knees and hard slaps before getting the knockdown. But Kohsaka manages to pull out the surprise win. This was awesome. Its only 10 minutes so its WAY shorter than their classic from the previous June. But its cool to see them work a different sort of match. GREAT stuff.
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  • 4 months later...

What a Tamura performance. The grappling was super intense and filled with a great sense of struggle but his character work was off the charts. He was just oozing arrogance the whole match. His body language and expression throughout suggested he was insulted by the mere fact that Kohsaka was trying to compete with him and hadn't rolled over yet, even though Tamura never actually had a foothold in the match because of Kohsaka's tenacity. When he finally secures a down near the end, he points at the ground as Kohsaka is falling as though to say "That's where you belong". This disdain and overconfidence costs him dearly as he is trying to finish the match and gets caught at the end. Yet another under the radar great Kiyoshi Tamura match. ****


I used to think that, even though Tamura was the better worker, Volk Han had more personality and charisma but more I have watched from different periods in Tamura's career, I don't think that's true at all. Tamura's character work is seriously underrated.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1999-01-23-RINGS] Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tsuyoshi Kohsaka

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