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Edwin

[2000-12-03-BattlARTS] Carl Malenko & Katsumi Usuda vs Yuki Ishikawa & Ryuji Hijikata

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This was pretty good... No one really stood out for me here and everyone played their part well. We get some Malenko-Ishikawa exchanges which were nice, but I know they can do far better. Hijikata gave this a little less of a Bati Bati feel whenever he was involved, but he had some firey offence at times and Usuda had some great looking kicks and some flashy submissions such as going for an enzuigiri after a catched kick and transitioning into a triangle choke from the bottom. The finish was sweet as its signaling towards the Malenko feud seems like the next path Ishikawa will take post Murakami feud.

***

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This was fine. I liked the opening mat exchanges between Katsumi/Hijikata and Ishikawa/Malenko before it settles into a house show tag. Usuda and Malenko threw some hard kicks, Ishikawa got his usuals in, and the finish was pretty cool, with Malenko using a double arm facebreaker to set up the facelock submission on Ishikawa.

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This was the final of the BattlARTS Tag Team Tournament. Prior to the final, we get a look at the tournament bouts in digest form which is an interesting glimpse at the BattlARTS guys working hard night in, night out instead of the regular once a month on television. The final is short but competitive. It doesn't reach any great heights but it ends the year on a positive note for BattlARTS and there's some typically good work from Ishikawa, Malenko, and Usuda. Hijikata is fine in his role. He had been carrying a shoulder injury for the entire tournament and spent most of the matches working from underneath. He wanted the yusho badly and didn't take it well when Malenko forced Ishikawa to submit. He even got in the bosses' face and disrespected him. Ishikawa seemed to realise that Hijikata was caught up in the heat of the moment but Malenko didn't like it at all and took it upon himself to sort Hijikata out. None of this goes anywhere long-term. BattlARTS run fewer shows in 2001 and Murakami returns to reignite his feud with Ishikawa but it was a decent way to cap off a solid year from the promotion. 

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I loved the clips before the match starts proper. As an overall match, I thought this ended the year for Bat Bat on a good note. While it was sad that RINGS disappeared in 2000, BattlARTS and the Osaka Pro shooty stuff helped maintain the mantle in the shoot style genre. Malenko and Yuki especially had some spirited sequences and counters here and that looks like a great program to kick of 2001. Malenko even does the spinarooni at one point. The story was presented well with Ishikawa and Hijikata dominating most of the action and then Malenko coming in with a slick combo to gain the submission victory and looking impressive in doing so. Hijikata gets up in their face after the ceremony but he gets swatted away and then we get parting interviews. ***3/4 (7.3)

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