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[2003-04-06-U-STYLE] Kiyoshi Tamura vs Dokonjonosuke Mishima

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A terrific little match-up, with Mishima showing off his quasi-capoeira style and judo takedowns against Tamura's slick-as-catshit counter and matwork. Mishima manages some hard slams and I really liked his takedown into the headscissors, transitioning into the jujigatame. Of course, Tamura's great here as the experienced veteran, tip-toeing out of trap attempts and scoring takedowns>submission holds. The struggle on the ground was conveyed well, although Tamura's king and at times, he looks bored at Mishima smothering his leg. Heading into the finish, Mishima comes at him with a palm thrust but Tamura is able to take him down into a necklock, flipping him over into the armbar and cranking for the submission win.

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It seems like a clear goal for any reviewer to find overarching themes, and that used to be a problem for me in shoot style, which was probably just a combination of me not knowing enough about grappling and how to write match reviews. But here we are, and albeit it didn’t resonate with me as the all time Tamura classics, I can safely categorize this as a great match. As in any Tamura match, a big theme is going to be his character-his arrogance, defiance, stubbornness or just strategy and how he positions himself versus his opponents. This is grappling heavy- the stand up does add a certain flair in that it makes feeding and entries into groundwork significantly easier as well as a true and tested way to pop the crowd, but the real action happens down under. One thing which I noted instantly is how fresh the work feels watching it in 2018-the knee on belly, reverse mount,playing bottom, a significant emphasis on guard play and positioning in general. Mishima’s work was interesting, in that you have a guy pulling out Saenchi Kicks but also a buch of wrestling picks ups and a Huizinga Roll Toe Hold. I also enjoyed his Toe Hold attempt from side mount and the Pancrase Minoru Suzuki esque Headscissors>Armbar. Tamura’s head kick use was unusually present, and that they’d tease a single leg and an ouchi gari and then just go for a waistlock and move into something completely unrelated in an essentially throwaway sequence really makes the workrate work, because it feels natural, these guys know a bunch of cool shit, they don’t have an obligation to hit everything they know nor is aesthetically pleasing stuff just reserved for the time when they’re doing nearfalls, realistically there’s probably a bigger chance the stuff they went through before the match included Mishima feinting a slap on the ground to get Tamura to open for a leglock. And the finish is lovely because the wrestling pick up is just a move Mishima, you don’t expect it to be incredibly consequential but suddenly Tamura grabs a Guillotine and before you know it there’s a transition to the Armbar and better luck next time kid. ****1/4

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The main event was just an insanely fun match with Mishima coming in as an outsider to Pro Wrestling and winning everyones hearts with his tricked out wonky holds and kicks. Not a master Tamura carryjob but with him you cannot have a bad shootstyle match and a worker like Mishima is must watch. Crazy handspring kicks that look credible and weird pull-his-torso-apart submissions, the man had it all. 

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