*Vol 24 Continued.... *
Now it’s time for the rematch that we have all been waiting for, as everyone’s favorite cartoon character Willie Peeters is set to take rekindle his fued with Bert Kops Jr. The last time these two met we witnessed a totally spazztastic performance from Peeters, who was all over the place both figuratively and literally, in what wound up being an entertaining bout that was somewhat cut short due to an injury that Kops received. Things start with Peeters throwing some flashy cinema kicks, with a somewhat reserved demeanor, but just when I think he might be getting too subdued, he starts to blast Kops with his usual super-stiff body shots. He then shifts back into full cartoon-mode, and we get a kickboxing-heavy affair that sees Peeters all over the place between silly roundhouse kicks that will never land and nasty body blows. What is new this time around is the dreaded body stomp. A couple of times when Kops was on the ground, Peeters broke out a new toy in his arsenal, and stomped Kops’ body while holding the ropes, which is a good fit for his character. The beginning of the end was when Kops shot in for a deep double-leg takedown, but was reversed into a sloppy shoot-style piledriver from Peeters, who then took the time to smirk about it and share some words with his cornerman, Dick Vrij. The crowed totally ate this up, with the biggest pop thus far, but it was for naught, as shortly afterwards Kops won with a straight ankle-lock, seemingly out of nowhere. This was a step down from their last outing, as the ending was just too abrupt, but it was still vintage Peeters, and as such, was entertaining. Like last time, Kops was probably too well behaved, staying professional throughout, and performing with the requisite tempo and stiffness that you would expect in a work, but I kind of wished he would have just lost it with Peeters, and tried to put him in his place.
ML: Peeters kept trying to provoke Kops, who was a bit too straight-laced here, mostly just trying to get in for the takedown. Peeters was much more under control tonight, but for the most part, that wasn't really good thing. This certainly had its moments, but they had a hard time finding the balance. I liked the spot were Peeters tried to drop into a double leg, but Kops nearly applied a rear naked choke as they went through the ropes. The crowd went nuts for Peeters piledriver, which was cooler than Suzuki's. This match would come off better if they followed less credible action, but Peeters has a ton of charisma. The finish was pretty terrible though, and the less selling Peeters does the better.Peeters….Admiring His Handywork
Next up is footfighting legend Rob Kaman vs a legend in his own right, Nobuaki Kakuda. Kaman is interviewed before the match, and while it’s hard to ascertain the exact specifics, it seems like we are going to have a mixed rules match where the first three rounds will be under Rings rules, followed by gloves and kickboxing rules afterwards? I’m unsure if I understood this correctly, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Round 1 starts and neither are wearing boxing gloves, but instead have their hands wrapped, and it appears that face strikes are legal in this round but must be open-handed. This is a 100% shoot fight, and outside of sneaking in a few low-kicks, Kakuda is getting walloped by Kaman, who’s reach, and explosiveness is just too much for him to handle.
Round 2 sees almost no offense from Kakuda, who sadly only served as a heavy bag for Kaman this entire round.
Round 3 sees Kakuda manage to get a takedown, but Kaman lands too close to the ropes, so the fight is instantly restarted. It seemed like something of a hail-mary anyway, as Kakuda showed no interest in even trying to take the fight to the ground prior to this. Kakuda is unable to stand back up, and starts to bleed profusely from his nose, which prompts the doctors to attend to him. While this is happening, a grave look of concern washes over Kazuyoshi Ishii’s face, who may be regretting his decision to allow Kakuda to participate in this. The referee seemingly called the fight off, but to the shock of everyone, Kakuda got back up, and in a daze demanded to fight another round. This was pure heart on Kakuda’s part, and while they probably shouldn’t have allowed this to continue, they gave Kakuda the opportunity to go out on his shield. After the restart, Kakuda immediately shot in for a take down, but Kaman simply sprawled on top of Kakuda with one knee, and kneed him in the head with his other, which ended the fight.
I’m happy to see another shoot on the card, but it surely would have been more competitive as a work. I would rather have seen Kaman keep his gloves on and face a grappler, which is something we would see several times from Maurice Smith in the years to come.
ML: I think the first three rounds were RINGS rules, which means only open hands to the face, while the final two rounds were more towards regular kickboxing rules with punches legal. While these rules somewhat benefitted karate champion Kakuda, he's also 4 inches shorter, and reach was a primary factor here. Kaman was also too quick for Kakuda, which pretty much eliminated Kakuda's chances of doing anything. The biggest difference in the fight was actually the footwork, as Kakuda is to used to the tournament karate style of striking where youe largely either just in front of the opponent or move directly in and out. Kaman instead kept moving laterally, creating angles for his kicks. Kakuda tried to load up for the big shot, but Kaman hit him with three shot combos then slipped out of range. The fans went nuts for Kakuda eventually continuing after Kaman broke his nose, but sometimes you need to quit when you're less behind. Kakuda tried for a takedown, but Kaman kneed him in the injured nose for the stoppage.
Next up is Willy Wilhelm vs. Igor Kolmykov, and my hopes and prayers that the secretary within the RINGS office would have mysteriously misplaced Wilhelm’s phone number are now completely dashed. I can now only long for a swift and merciful fate of a forthcoming short match. This is the first time we will see Kolmykov, who is a Russian Sambo expert, and is coming into this having won both the 1985 Youth World Sambo Championships in addition to the Sambo All-Soviet Union Cup in 1989. I’m now realizing that Wilhelm looks like he was plucked from a mid-western YMCA where he was teaching a local judo club. Wilhelm is performing a lot better than last time, but Kolmykov is looking absolutely dreadful, throwing strikes that were so bad that the Japanese crowd was, at several points, laughing at him. Wilhelm initiates the ne-waza with a tawara-gaeshi (rice-bale-reversal, or gutwrench suplex if you prefer). The rest of this match was basically Kolmykov serving as a grappling dummy for Wilhelm, until Kolmykov abruptly wins with one of the worst armbar sequences in recorded history. J.T. Southern can now make way for Kolmykov, who now has the dubious distinction of being the worst performer in our sphere, or any sphere really. Southern may not do much of anything, but he at least has a baseline level of competence that far exceeds Igor’s. Wilhelm’s efforts may have kept this from being the worst match we’ve seen, but this will probably go down as the worst one of the year.
ML: This was excruciatingly bad because Wilhelm is terrible, and debuting Igor simply doesn't grasp the concept of working. Southern may or may not be worse than Igor, but this was worse than any of Southern's matches because he didn't have a competent opponent to carry him. This was only worth watching for a couple classic unintentional comedy spots, Igor throwing the slowest spinning something kick in history and Igor somehow managing to injure his nose(?) throwing a headbutt. This train wreck was definitely the worst match we've seen so far.
Anything has to be better than what we just witnessed, so I’m happy to see that the next bout will be another likely shoot, in Gerard Gordeau vs Masaaki Satake. When we last saw Gordeau, he completely dominated Mitsuya Nagai, but he is surely going to face a much tougher opponent in the (wrongful) winner of the recent Seidokaikan KARATE JAPAN OPEN TOURNAMENT 1st Towa Cup. Round 1 starts, and I’m assuming that this is under the same rules as the Kaman fight (RINGS rules for the first three rounds), but I’m unsure. Whatever the rules, both fighters seem to want to keep this as a kickboxing contest. Gordeau starts off cautiously, looking to react to Satake, as opposed to trying to initiate any of his own offense, and Satake spends most of the round doing a good job of backing Gordeau into a corner, but just when it seemed like Satake was going to unleash the kraken, Gordeau kicked his way out of a tough spot, and probably goes into round 2 with a slight edge.
One should never expect a Gordeau fight to end without shenanigans, and true to form that is what happened here. Round 2 started normally enough, but at some point the ref called for a break while both fighters were standing up against the ropes, and during the break Gordeau walked over to his corner and started saying something to his cornerman while the ref was calling for the fight to resume. The ref said, “Go! Go!” a couple of times, but Gordeau didn’t notice. Satake could see that Gordeau had his back turned, and wasn’t aware of the restart, but opted to give him a swift kick to the back of his leg anyway. Gordeau felt like this was a cheap shot and was angered, so when the fight then resumed, Gordeau charged Satake into the corner and gave him a couple of closed fist punches that led to his disqualification. While I’m not one to want to defend Gordeau, I have to say that Satake should have waited until his opponent understood that the fight was resuming, and while legal, did take a cheap shot. Of course, Gordeau did what Gordeau always does and finds a way to cheat, but at least this time, he had some justification for being upset, even though he should have kept his composure. What’s worse is that judging by round 1, it would seem that Gordeau had a legit shot of beating Satake, which surprised me, as I didn’t think that he would have had the skills to hang with him. This was on its way to becoming a good match (a much more even fight than Kaman/Kakuda), but was ruined by the usual Gordeau antics. This mess apparently pissed somebody off, as Gordeau never performed for Rings again.
ML: This shoot never really got going. They were really just feeling each other out, throwing some random low kicks. Satake did more to control position, but Gordeau had more snap on his strikes. Satake may have accidentally fingered Gordeau in the eyes and a few times, once trying to break a clinch, and another time doing the Jon Jones. Gordeau wasn't sure of the rules, and after the Ref broke up a clinch, he walked across the ring to ask his second why clinches weren't allowed, only to have Satake follow him and cheap shot him. Gordeau then began fighting angry, blitzing Satake with a big flurry that busted him open, which included closed fist punches, hence the requisite disqualification.
Now for the final act of the evening, a rubber match that no one in this modern age is excited to see, but one that surely was at the forefront of Japan’s public consciousness, as they were longing to see their hero Akira Maeda avenge his loss to Dick Vrij. The last time these two fought, Maeda’s knee was completely shot, which prompted him to suffer an eight-minute one-sided beat-down at the hands of everyone’s favorite Double Dragon boss. Maeda is walking unusually slow to the ring, so I’m not hopeful that he is in optimal shape for this match. Maeda opens things off with his “captured” suplex, which gets a great reaction from the crowd, but does little to establish any credibility going forward. He quickly follows it up with a Kimura, and we now have our first rope escape. Vrij responds with his usual shadowboxing medley gaining a knockdown, and is now ahead on points. After beating on Maeda some more, Maeda does what any Capcom fighting character would do at a time like this, and that’s attempt the most epic foot sweep of all time. Almost 6 months before Street Fighter 2 was released, Akira Maeda attempted a sweep right out of the Ken/Ryu playbook, and this may be one of the coolest things we have witnessed so far. They then pummel each other with stiff kicks, but with Maeda being on the worse end of the exchanges, as he has now suffered another 2 knockdowns, and by this point the crowd is going nuts. It’s not long until Maeda wins with another captured suplex, followed by a toe-hold. While not particularly credible, this was fast-paced, stiff, and entertaining. Not a bad way to end things at all, as this was the perfect match length for these two.
ML: Vrij was listed as Dick Fly, which I suppose makes him the evil version of McFly. I'd be OK if they just gave him a Tab and sent him packing. Akira was perhaps healthier, but clearly hadn't been able to train much, and was putting on a lot of weight. The match was more or less what it needed to be. It was aggressive, and highlight filled. Vrij's strikes looked powerful, and he was clearly the more impressive of the two, but this time Maeda was able to hang with him. This was the best of their three matches, mostly because Vrij was a lot more impressive.
Conclusion: This was on par with their last event (the 1991 year-end show), and easily the best of the three shoot shows for the month of January. While it didn’t have anything close to the awesomeness that was Tamura/Miyato, it was solid from start to finish, minus the travesty that was Kolmykov. Even with Han absent, things are looking a lot better, thanks to the inclusion of some of the Sediokaikan roster, and the fact that we are now having shoots mixed in with the usual fare.
ML: By far the best top to bottom Rings show we've seen so far, but well consistently fairly interesting, still not a lot to really recommend. For me, the UWF-I show was the best of the month because it has two matches people need to see.
*This entire event, along with many other rare treasures can be found over at www.patreon.com/KakutogiRoad
*In other news*
There are rumors circulating that Antonio Inoki is negotiating with James "Buster" Douglas for a wrestler vs. boxer match for the Tokyo Dome as early as March.
UWFI drew a sellout 2,300 in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall at their event that took place on 1-9-92. Nobuhiko Takada was supposed to be in the tag match that featured Gary Albright, but was injured a few days before this event. Expect Albright vs Takada to be a major program in the days to come.
Travel in Mind, a travel company based out of Commack, New York, recently started organizing a tour of Japan that will focus on the historical and geographical aspects of Ninjitsu . The itinerary includes visits to the Iga region of Japan, which is considered the birthplace of ninjitsu, a three day stay at a monastery, as well as hikes to nearby mountain shrines. Tours are set to begin on 5-15-92 and will be led by John Dellinger, who is a top student of acclaimed ninja authority Stephen Hayes.