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[1996-04-14-BattlARTS] Yuki Ishikawa & Katsumi Usuda vs Daisuke Ikeda & Carl Greco

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This was exceptional, maybe the second or third best Battlarts tag of the year. It went 17 minutes, the first half almost entirely matwork, and all four were out there doing some truly high end Battlarts matwork. Every match-up we saw worked, though they saved Ikeda/Ishikawa for the back half. A couple times they threw each other a look that said they'll cross that bridge in due course, and at one point they wound up in the ring together only for Ishikawa to quickly duck out, almost as a middle finger even though we all knew it wouldn't be long before they got to the slaughtering. Ikeda/Usuda made for a fine stand-in and their brief exchange was great. The grappling was fierce and I loved Ikeda trying to force Usuda into various positions by punching him in the ribs, neck and stomach. He'd have the mount, rain down strikes, eventually Usuda would have to give up his back, and as was his wont Ikeda would crack him in the back of the head a few times before trying to grab the choke. Then about halfway in Ikeda lands the first blow on Ishikawa -- an illegal one where Ishikawa ends up a little too close to the wrong corner and Ikeda comes in swinging. From there everyone ramps up the violence and we get the high end Battlarts murder strikes to go with the grappling. Ikeda spin kicking guys in the lungs, Ishikawa jacking his jaw with a little extra venom than even that match-up is used to, Greco and Usuda reeling out crazy quick combos. Towards the end Ishikawa and Usuda have a dual submission on Greco and you're thinking it's only a matter of time before Ikeda comes in and drills someone and then obviously he runs over and absolutely crushes Usuda's head with a kneedrop. I mean this thing was just hideous. I think my favourite spot of the match was when Ishikawa had almost secured the mount on Greco, but the he took a second to look up at Ikeda, maybe to make sure his old enemy had kept himself to the apron, maybe to let him know that he definitely still hated his guts. Maybe he became a prisoner of his own disgust then because he let himself linger a bit too long and Greco nuked him with an up kick that put him on his back. It probably could've done with an extra few minutes to really elevate it into the upper tier, but even still it feels like one of the better matches of an incredibly stacked year. And that finish was a fucking finish.
 

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