review by Jason Manning
Date: June 13th, 1999
Location: Tokyo Korakuen Hall
So. I’ll admit it. I’ve never seen a BattlARTS show. THERE! Happy? I’m familiar with most of their guys, from the undercarders to the main eventers, but I’ve never actually sat down and watched a BattlARTS match. You can all thank my good pal Ultimo Dragon for wanting my entire (embarrassingly small) BattlARTS collection though, as I will now watch the show while dubbing. That’s right. No ability to rewind! No ability to fast forward! None at all! I am INSANE! This was the organization’s third anniversary or something from 4/26/99 and it’s got Ikeda vs. Otsuka on top and BOB BACKLUND! Letsdoit.
Katsumi Usuda vs. Ryuji Hijikata
Hijikata’s currently making the AJPW undercard and somewhat-nonexistant junior division a bunch of fun but here he doesn’t have much experience under his belt. This is mostly clips and sees Usuda headbutt Hijikata in the face early on before Hijikata manages a uranage and gets in some offense and almost gets a win with a couple submissions. Then Usuda kicks him right in the side of the head and uraken’s him in the face and my love for BattlARTS increases. He headbutts him a couple more times and then puts on a sleeper for the win (12:41). That was fun although clipped.
Masao Orihara & Takeshi Ono vs. Mach Junji & Ricky Banderas
This is kinda’ clipped up too. I’m only familiar with Orihara here but Junji is wearing all pink so I can dig him. He and Banderas manage a bunch of elbow drops on Ono before Orihara and Takeshi begin some ISOLATION! of poor Junji as Usuda and Yamakawa share alcoholic beverages in the crowd. This is mostly a beatdown of Junji and is fine for that as he gets kicked in the face, gets a chair bashed over his head, among other things, and he keeps on tickin’. Banderas comes in soon enough though and gets in some low grade offense before delivering a running Liger bomb. He realizes that this is BattlARTS though and attempts to fit in with a chickenwing facelock. Orihara and Ono kick him in the balls a couple times and Junji comes back and almost gets in some offense, but they hit him in the balls too. Orihara and Ono go all aerial before Orihara traps Junji in an Octopus hold for the win (13:56). Perfectly OK.
Tiger Mask 4 vs. Ikuto Hidaka
Nowadays Hidaka is mostly working Michinoku Pro and it can be argued he deserves a spot somewhere bigger. Tiger Mask has got a nice spot in New Japan but doesn’t really fit in very well. This match is sorta’ clipped too but there’s enough psychological goodness to make it great. The story is set in place as Hidaka gets kicked on the head right away for an almost KO. Hidaka comes back with a bunch of high-flyin’ offense and I dig it. A lot of this however is based on Tiger trying to kick Hidaka in the head again because he knows that hurts and whatnot. It sounds simple and it is. And that’s whatti love about it! Tiger manages a dropkick and follows it up with a plancha. Back inside Hidaka catches Tiger with a dragon screw and delivers a German suplex, but follows up with a cross knee scissors hold. Back up Tiger goes for a kick to the head, but Hidaka ducks it. Hidaka turns around right into another kick though and is almost KO’d again. Tiger almost gets the win off a triangle choke but Hidaka gets to the ropes after some great selling, and then Tiger drops Hidaka on his head with a Tiger suplex followed by a chickenwing facelock for the tap (12:56). This was quite the batch of fun with a neat side-story based around the potentially lethal high kick from Tiger.
NWA Middleweight Title
Great Sasuke [c] vs. Minoru Tanaka
Minoru is currently stinking up the New Japan ring with his new Heat gimmick while Sasuke is Sasuke. The first 10 seconds are as action-packed as possible as Tanaka immediately knocks Sasuke outside and brings out the tope con giro. Sasuke decides to calm things down as he TAKES IT TO THE MAT! and goes for Minoru’s leg. Sasuke however manages to kick Tanaka outside, and goes “Eh, why not” and DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIES with an insanely beautiful tope con giro that makes Tanaka wish he was Sasuke. Tanaka almost gets counted out as Sasuke dances in the ring, but he gets back in only to get hit with a quebrada that he questionably catches. Sasuke keeps on outpacing Tanaka with a Japanese leg roll clutch for a near fall, and then Minoru comes back. Tanaka works a single-leg crab hold before Sasuke lands on the apron and goes for a springboard ‘rana that Minoru counters with a powerbomb. He locks on the Scorpion Deathlock but Sasuke reaches the ropes. Tanaka manages a German suplex hold for two and a half and then goes for a Dragon suplex, but settles for a cross armbreaker that Sasuke reaches the ropes quickly on. Back up he locks Sasuke in another cross armbreaker and Sasuke counters with a cradle, and Minoru beautifully turns his kickout into a reverse achilles tendon hold and I am amazed. AMAZED, I say. Tanaka kicks and kicks and Sasuke tries to catch one, so Tanaka brings him down into another reverse achilles tendon hold. GOD! Who IS this Heat fucker? Back up Sasuke catches another kick, but backs off, which is quite beautiful. He manages to spike Tanaka with a TTD and then delivers a German suplex hold and this is really quite a good match. Tanaka gets on the apron and Sasuke goes for a handspring elbow, but Tanaka stops it with a kick. Sasuke struggles to perform a German suplex as Tanaka demands another reverse achilles tendon hold, but Sasuke manages the German. Minoru catches Sasuke with a Japanese leg roll clutch and then brings him down into another cross armbreaker. GOD! WHO IS THIS HEAT FUCKER? Sasuke tries to crush Tanaka’s skull with a powerbomb and then delivers a Tiger suplex hold for a great near fall. A Fire Thunder Driver finally puts Tanaka away (23:11). This was pretty fucking good. Tanaka was ze’ submission expert and Sasuke had to resort to dropping him on his head a bunch rather than fly around like he wanted to earlier. Loads of action and heat and whatnot. I dug the hell out of this.
Yuki Ishikawa & Carl Greco vs. Bob Backlund & Mohammed Yone
Yone is currently one of my favorite NOAH midcard guys and not sporting the ‘fro here (instead he’s got bleached here - aww..). Backlund is Backlund, and Ishikawa and Greco aren’t really doing much lately but both showed up in All Japan earlier this year. Most of this is Ishikawa and Greco beating the piss out of Yone, stretching him in various ways and suplexing all around. I can dig that. Backlund eventually comes in for a save and Greco sells huge for his somewhat comical offense, and then Backlund and Yone do a comedy spot to pop the crowd before Yone gets to kick Ishikawa in the head for some revenge. Backlund and Greco have a fun segment on he mat with Greco reaaalllyyy wanting a cross armbreaker, and then Backlund double underhook suplexes Greco about thirty feet across the ring before applying the crossface chickenwing for the tapout (18:29). This was fun enough. Backlund the Crazy Man has always been one of my guilty pleasures and the beatdown of Yone was real good.
Daisuke Ikeda vs. Alexander Otsuka
Ikeda’s currently got a spot in NOAH and is losing motivation day by day, while Otsuka was recently working for ZERO-ONE but has since apparently retired. This is a straight-up battle of who the MANLIEST is. It’s all about both guy’s beating the dogshit out of each other. No real psych, no perfect build, naw... none of that - but the match is simply all about who can kill each other the most and for that I *LOVE* this. Otsuka starts the match out by headbutting Ikeda right in the face, busting him open. Then he does it again and the blood drips down Ikeda’s forehead. Ikeda headbutts Otsuka in the face and sells his hurting head and then nails Otsuka in the face with a few lariats, knocking him outside. IKEDA then does the worst possible Sasuke Special. Then he piledrives Otsuka on his head and works a chickenwing armlock. Otsuka gets on the top rope and delivers a neat armdrag, and then catches a kick from Ikeda and manages the greatest fucking giant swing you will ever witness and itmakes m e tdizy. OK, I’m good now. THE HUMOR! I put into these reviews. The humor! Otsuka controls the match for a while, busting out the Rydeen drop that Yoshie is using nowadays in the corner and working a bunch of submissions to their fullest. I soon get to see my first Otsuka tope con giro and I am AMAZED! Ikeda tries to cave Otsuka’s skull in with his feet and goes for the Dai-Chan Bomber, but Otsuka manages a hurricanrana and drops Ikeda on his head with a release Dragon suplex. Otsuka soon drops Ikeda on his head again with a German suplex and then goes for a Dragon suplex, but settles for a sleeper hold. Ikeda finally comes back with a backflip kick to the head, and then spikes Otsuka with a brainbuster. He slaps on a sleeper hold and Otsuka struggles and struggles but eventually passes out (21:41). A bunch of skull-crushing goodness for 21 straight minutes. YOU REALLY NEED TO SEE THIS!
Final Analysis: Well, I am quite amazed. BattlARTS is one of the funnest groups I have ever watched. The matches here ranged from good to fucking great. So yes, you want all of this. And I want more BattlARTS. WHOO-HOO!
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