HARD HIT "CORE" on 3/16/08
review by John Alexander

Intro: Over the last year or three in Dramatic Dream Team, several "brands" similar to what WWE does, but more akin to the themed brands that NJPW initiated like the no-frills LOCK UP or the light-hearted WRESTLE LAND, have popped up, each with it's own theme, Either it be the blatant fanservice for females "BOYS", the cruiserweight exhibition ground of "Cruiser's Game", or the premier in Indy sleaze "Union Pro", have all popped up. In February of 2008, DDT President Sanshiro Takagi announced a new brand called "Hard Hit" which showcases serious matches with none of DDT's signature surreal humor attached to it. In the following month, the brand debuted at Shin-Kiba 1st RING to a tremendous crowd. This review is of that 1st show.

The show starts out with the wrestlers for tonight's show being called out as per standard of Indy shows, with Ota Ibushi saying some words for the crowd, also normal for the "star" of the show to do, and then he and his fellow competitors leave, as our referee for the evening and two rookies explain the rules to the house. Since some readers might not know the rules, I'll help explain as well:

Each wrestler has five points given to him in a match. You lose a point if you are knocked down from a strike or suplex/do not get up fast enough from a broken up submission attempt, using the ropes to escape a submission, or by doing a illegal action like punching your opponent in the face with a closed hand, not releasing a hold when your opponent uses the rope to escape, and so on. Then, our ref tells us the ways to lose, and the two rookies act them out. 1. By K.O. if you do not get up at 10 when you are knocked down, 2. By submitting either verbally or by 3 taps of your hand, 3. By Technical Knockout if you use up all five given points, 4. By being pinned, and 5. By being DQ'd for excessive breaking of the rules.

With all the rules explained, we now start with our first match:

1. Akihiko Mori VS Ryuichi Sekine

- Akihiko Mori: Representing: Mori Dojo. Mori is a seasoned MMA fighter, with a 7-6-1 record, fighting in numerous places like World Victory Road, K-1 HEROES, DEEP, and Pancrase, and also has some pro wrestling experience in the ill-fated UWAI Station promotion. In this bout, he is the odds-on favorite, with his experience over the young Sekine.

- Ryuchi Sekine: Representing: Kaientai Dojo. Sekine only debuted two months prior to this event, and was still very green. Although he has a solid background in Karate, he is definitely the underdog against Mori.

After in the intro/checking for weapons/hand shake, the match starts and Sekine goes for a couple of front kicks, and some palm strikes, with Mori firing off some of his own, but Sekine switches to body punches, forcing Mori into a corner, who is throwing a few counter-strikes as he back up, until Mori clinches Sekine and throws some knees while swaying from Sekine's body punches, then throwing him down, but Sekine quickly defends with ground kick to prevent Mori from a mount attempt, but as Sekine sits up, Mori low kicks him in the side, but accidentally falls down, with Sekine pouncing at him with a rising low kick, but Mori shrugs it off, and gets hit with several low kicks, while landing a few of his own, until Mori succeeds in a double leg takedown and as he tries for a submission throws some palm strikes, until he gets a half mount and starts grounding-and-pounding him while Sekine tries to defend, until Mori stops for a Jujigatame attempt into a Triangle Choke, but Mori grabs Sekine's leg, and pulls himself up.

Mori lands a low kick, with Sekine following with more body punches, and blocks a low kick from Sekine, and clinches Sekine for another knee strike, but Sekine gets out and trades palm strikes and middle kicks with Mori, until Sekine runs right into another clinch and knee strike or two, until Mori grabs the back of Sekine's head, and rolls him into a reverse Kneebar, forcing Sekine to reach the ropes. Mori: 5. Sekine: 4.

Both stand up with Mori landing a front middle kick that Sekine absorbs and then goes for more palm strikes and low kicks with Mori each not backing down from the other man. Eventually, Sekine starts to wind down Mori with his offense, who is starting to lose steam, with Mori's knee starting to weaken as he tries to defend from Sekine's unrelenting kicks and shoteis until Sekine takes advantage of Mori's fatigue and lands a single-leg Dropkick that knocks Mori down. Sekine: 4. Mori: 4.

Mori gets up at 8, while taking a mini-breather as the match then continues with Sekine rushing in with a low kick and more palm strikes with Mori throwing his own as well until Mori lands a second double leg takedown. Mori gets the half guard and throws more mounted palm strikes forcing Sekine into the defensive, until Sekine turns with Mori following into a back mount where Mori grabs one of Sekine's arms and tries for a Jujigatame, forcing Sekine into the ropes for a escape. Mori: 4. Sekine: 3.

Sekine rises up as the match continues in pain, but he's still game for more palm strikes with Mori, until Mori lands a flying knee and a second standing one, as Sekine reels from it. Sekine throws a couple of kicks, but Mori catches his leg and throws Sekine with a modified Powerslam, where Mori quickly rolls into a Jujigatame on a stunned Sekine, who has to take a long crawl with his legs into the ropes to escape. Mori: 5. Sekine: 2.

Sekine's arm is starting to weaken from Mori's repeated Jujigatame attempts as the match continues with Mori landing a clean middle kick, forcing Sekine to defend with a low kick and some palm strikes, until Mori grabs Sekine, rolls to Sekine's back and succeeds in a fantastic German Suplex, but Sekine surprisingly takes it well, who roars as he quickly gets up, landing a open hand hook and a low kick, but he's open for a middle kick by Mori, which is then traded by both men until Mori hits two palm strikes, and goes for a Flying Jujigatame, where Sekine is unable to crawl to the ropes, forcing him to submit. Your winner at 4:35 via Flying Jujigatame, Akihiko Mori.

Reviewer's Thoughts: I did like this match as young lion Sekine took the role as a spunky striker with a weak ground game, but unfortunately for him, the experienced Mori was able to withstand his numerous strike,s and took advantage of Sekine's weaknesses for a win.

2. Sanshiro Takagi VS Masashi Takeda

- Sanshiro Takagi: Representing: DDT. To be honest, Takagi seems very out-of-place in this kind of style, and with a opponent as skilled in Shoot as Takada is, I can't imagine Takagi winning. But, to his credit, he has experience prior against opponents like Takada before like Koichiro Kimura and Hikaru Sato, so he might pull one out.

- Masashi Takeda: Representing: STYLE-E. Takada comes from the U-File Camp, but now is firmly situated in the branch-off STYLE-E, and has also competed in MMA, for the ZST group, walking away with a impressive 10-4-1 record there. Although he does not have the experience over a veteran like Takagi, or recognition until his works in BJW, he isn't no one to take lightly.

Both wrestlers go for a single leg takedown each, but neither is successful so both circle and lock up as Takagi then rolls to the back, but Takada tries to push off Takagi's arms for any possible German Suplexes, and manages to roll over to Takagi's back, but Takagi grabs one of Takada's arms and falls, and then tries for a Grounded Hammerlock, but Takada flips out as Takagi then tries to go for the mount, however Takada grabs one of Takagi's legs for a Leglock. Takagi manages to stand up and tries to grab of on Takada's legs for a counter and succeeds in a Reverse Kneebar until Takada effortlessly squirms out, and seizes a ankle of Takagi for a Achilles Hold which starts to take it's toll as Takagi tries to get out, so Takagi tries for one of his own, but it does not work, so he is forced to reach for the ropes for a escape. Takada: 5. Takagi: 4.

Both stand up and lock up once more until Takagi grabs a arm of Takada and rolls into a Kimura as Takada tires to escape by rolling out, but Takagi transitions into a Grounded Hammerlock, forcing Takada to use a escape. Takagi: 4. Takada: 4.

Again, both stand up with Takagi landing in a palm strike combo, but Takada lands a forceful one of his own, as both trade palm strikes, until Takagi gets too close, so Takada clinches him and lands a knee strike combo, but Takada grabs his leg and hoists him up for a body slam and then pauses for a moment for a quick breath as he then picks up Takada and sinks in a Kimura where Takada is standing while Takagi is on his back, which proves unwise, as Takada strikes Takagi in the stomach several times to force Takagi to let go, as Takada then lands the mount and palm strikes Takagi until he goes for a very quick Jujigatame attempt, but Takagi takes advantage of the pinfall rule, using a Jujigatame Cutback Cradle for a two 1 counts. Takada then rolls with the Jujigatame, forcing Takagi to the ropes. Takada: 4. Takagi: 3.

Both stand and lock up with Takada missing a body shot, but Takagi sweep mounts Takada, but he is unable to lock anything on, and is instead lead into a Triangle Choke that Takagi quickly pulls out of, who then stand up, allowing Takada to do the same. Takada then tries for a single leg takedown, but Takagi doesn't fall down, so Takada uses a Waterwheel Drop and tries for a Jujigatame, but lets go, and slides onto Takagi's back, but Takagi catches his leg, and goes for a Reverse Achilles Hold, but Takada endures it, and manages to escape, and lands some side knee strikes onto the prone Takagi, and lands a phenomenal German Suplex that knocks Takagi down. Takada: 4. Takagi: 2.

Takagi gets up at 6, and Takada rushes in with a palm strike, but Takagi catches him and body slams him down and then goes a lightning quick Diving Elbow Drop which stuns pretty much everybody, as no one saw that one coming, and lands on the back of Takada's head, and lands a Jumping Knee as Takada rises up, and lands a Lou Thesz press while Takada rises again while I think Takagi is starting to regress back to his normal style, he does a little bounce off the ropes and tries for a Lariat, but Takada sees it coming and goes for a Gutwrench Suplex, and then clinches a rising Takagi with another knee strike combo, and hits a Olympic Slam and cinches in a Ankle Lock ala Kurt Angle, dragging Takagi to the center of the ring, but Takagi uses a quick burst of speed, and reaches the ropes for a escape. Takada: 4. Takagi: 1.

As both stand up, Takada rushes into a toe kick, and Takagi then Powerbombs him for a near 3 count, but Takagi does not relent and lands a short-arm Lariat which downs Takada. Takada: 3. Takagi: 1. Takada stumbles up at 9, but Takagi gives him no rest, landing a second Powerbomb which plants him for a down. Takada: 2. Takagi: 1. However, Takada, is not able to get up at 10, so the ref calls for the bell. Your winner at 7:29, by K.O. via Powerbomb, Sanshiro Takagi.

Reviewer's Thoughts: Well, that certainly wasn't what Shoot purists would like, as Takagi kind of went back to his old habits, but if you are willing to accept that, it wasn't too bad, as it was a fish out of water getting controlled by the youngster with familiarity in this kind of match, but the old fish managed to fight back with what works for him.

3. Hiroyuki Nozawa VS Tanomusaku Toba

- Hiroyuki Nozawa: Representing: STAND. Like Mori and Takada, Nozawa also is a MMA fighter with a 10-5-4 record. He also has some past with Toba, as he had a exhibition match with Toba on 5/12/07 for DDT. A kickboxer by heart, he can slug it out with Toba just fine, but his Jiu-Jitsu and Shooto roots also mean he can out-wrestle Toba, if he gets the chance.

- Tanomusaku Toba: Representing: DDT. Toba is one of the long-time favorites in DDT, and is trained in Kickboxing, with some experience in other Shoot groups like Capture International and BattlArts. However, Toba has never been home to the ground, which might be his achilles heel to someone like Nozawa.

Nozawa rushes for a single leg takedown, but Toba effortlessly dodges it, as both circle with Nozawa missing a palm strike jab and hook as Toba bobs out of the way, but Nozawa manages to land one, and a low kick after more circling, but a second one is blocked with some fake outs afterwords, but Toba sees a high kick coming, and deflects it with ease, and both hit a middle kick after each other, but Nozawa misses a front kick, but Toba does not. They continue to circle each other, throwing blocked pokers and missed highs until Toba catches a middle kick and hits a truly vicious straight that knocks Nozawa down to the mat. Toba: 5. Nozawa: 4.

Nozawa gets up at 6, and Toba tries for a overhead, but Nozawa backpedals out of the way, and doges a jab, and gets a single leg takedown where he then transitions into a Juigatame, but Toba pins him down for a 2 count, then Nozawa pushes Toba back with his legs, and stands up. Both circle each other again with Nozawa again trying for a single leg takedown, but he dashes into a powerful knee kick by Toba, which downs him once again. Toba: 5. Nozawa: 3.

Again, Nozawa rises up at 8, and Toba power walks in with a thrusting knee followed by a middle kick, and clinches Nozawa with some knee strikes and the combo knocks Nozawa down once more. Toba: 5. Nozawa: 2.

At the count of 8, Nozawa sluggishly rises up once more, and Toba pursues a backpedaling Nozawa hitting some thrusting knees along the way, and tries for a second clinch, but Nozawa breaks out before Toba can start his combo once more, but with a middle kick, he clinches Nozawa again, and continues his flurry of knees, but Nozawa catches his leg, and does a Belly-to-Belly onto Toba, and then proceeds to enter the mount and throws some palm strikes until he slaps on a Kneebar, forcing Toba to go to the ropes. Toba: 4. Nozawa: 2. However, Toba does not get up in time from the mat, and he is docked a down as a result. Toba: 3. Nozawa: 2.

Toba gets up at 6, with Nozawa throwing a low kick at his wounded leg with great results and follows with several middle kicks and Nozawa starts to throw several kicks and palm strikes, and Toba misses his punches, until Toba finally catches him with a jab, and dodges a trio of palm strikes from Nozawa, and lands a hook that floors Nozawa. Toba: 3. Nozawa: 1.

Almost getting K.O.'d at the count of 9, Nozawa successfully gets up in time to eat several punches from Toba, but catches a high kick, and locks in a Ankle Lock, where he's also bending the knee as well, and proceeds to pull in Toba to the center of the ring after he almost reaches the ropes several times, and transitions to a Reverse Kneebar where Toba then submits. Your winner at 7:01 via Reverse Kneebar, Hiroyuki Nozawa.

Reviewer's Thoughts: This started off slow, but once it took off, this became a very enjoyable slugfest of sorts with Toba betting the better at Kickboxing, but it was his handicap in wearing Boxing Gloves, and Nozawa's superior ground work, that enabled Nozawa to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

4. Mitsuya Nagai VS Gota Ihashi

- Mitsuya Nagai: Representing: DRADITION. Nagai was the first true-born of the defunct RINGS where for quite a long time was the # 2 Native to the legendary Akira Maeda, before leaving RINGS near the turn of the millennium for BattlArts, and then AJPW and NJPW, until Nagai left to go with Tatsumi Fujinami to form the successor to the original Muga World, DRADITION, where Nagai is one the the flagbears for the group.

- Gota Ihashi: Representing: Freelance. Well, every show needs a tomato can, I guess. If you have ever seen what Ihashi looks like (Note: Not like Chris Masters), I think you will agree with me, in that he might be even more out of place then Takagi in this kind of environment, and pitted against someone like Nagai, he will more then likely be torn to pieces from Nagai's lead pipe-like kicks.

It should be noted that Ihashi entered to the UWF theme as a mind game with sort of-UWF alumni Nagai. Ihashi charges in with two palm strikes, but Nagai effortlessly doges them, and they circle each other with Ihashi missing a low kick, but Nagai lands a front kick, but Ihashi blocks his next two high kicks and second front kick, bit a middle kick lands on target. Ihashi misses a low kick, and tries for a double leg takedown, but Nagai moves block, so Ihashi then transitions mid-dash into a lock up, but Nagai just bobs out of the way completely, and gets hit with a low kick, and Ihashi's head is grabbed for Nagai to hit a nasty second low kick onto Ihashi. Nagai evades two Ihashi low kicks, but Ihashi just barely avoids a high kick, but a middle kick lands and it knocks Ihashi down. Nagai: 5. Ihashi: 4.

Ihashi rises at 8 after taking a moment to collect his wits, and then he tries for a palm strike, but Nagai again dodges it, and two more grab attempts before landing a low kick. Nagai blocks a front kick, and lands a powerful middle kick, but whiffs a high kick, but he deflects a another grab attempt, and clinches Ihashi for some knee strikes that floors him. Nagai: 5. Ihashi: 3.

Again at 8, Ihashi rises in pain to just avoid a high kick, but gets trapped in a corner, and gets slammed with middle kicks, followed by a clinch with more vicious knee strikes, but Ihashi rolls to Nagai's back and throws a impressive German Suplex that does not keep Nagai down for long, but Ihashi grabs him and tries for a knee, but Nagai wriggles into another clinch with more knees and a low kick that reels Ihashi back, but Ihashi tries for forearm strikes that are defended and a low kick, but Nagai hits one of his own that downs Ihashi once more. Nagai: 5. Ihashi: 2.

At 8 for the third time, Ihashi sluggishly picks himself up, but Nagai without any resistance trips out Ihashi's leg and puts on a half crab hold on Ihashi's weakened leg that forces Ihashi to the ropes for a escape. Nagai: 5. Ihashi: 1.

Ihashi tries for a shoulder block after getting up, but Nagai just pushes him away but a second time lands Ihashi into a clinch, but he slips out into two low kicks, but Ihashi hits back, but Nagai grabs his leg, pushes him down, and locks in a crab hold that Ihashi submits to. Your winner at 4:32 via Crab Hold, Mitsuya Nagai.

Reviewer's Thoughts: For a guy as soft as Ihashi was, he wasn't too bad, but almost no offense of his ever landed, as Nagai was simply to slippery for anything to land. And with Nagai's speed and experience, he easily beat Ihashi.

5. HARASHIMA VS Takaku Fuke

- HARASHIMA: Representing: DDT. Formerly known as HERO! and JARASHIMA, the co-leader of Disaster Box with Toru Owashi, and sometimes-Ace, despite being more of a high flier in most regards, he has been thrown the gauntlet in a Shoot/MMA pioneer in Takaku Fuke.

- Takaku Fuke: Representing: Pancrase Mission. Debuting in the second UWF, and then gaining progress in PWFG, Fuke went with Minoru Suzuki, Masakatsu Funaki, Ken Shamrock, and others away from PWFG to form the second-ever MMA organization in Pancrase, and although a pioneer in MMA, with a less-then-stellar 16-28-5 record meant he was ranked lesser then the above wrestlers/fighters. In 2003, he and Suzuki left Pancrase to form Pancrase Mission, but while Suzuki now wrestlers in AJPW, Fuke now resides in Osaka Pro.

Both land low kicks on each other's opposing limb to start, but HARASHIMA evades a second low kick from Fuke, but does not on a third, and gets nailed with a palm strike, and a knee strike into a corner, then Fuke bring HARASHIMA to the center of the ring, and locks in a front sleeper, that HARASHIMA rolls out of into a amateur takedown, but Fuke prevents him from trying any submission attempts, as both then pop back up.

After a bit, Fuke lands a low kick on HARASHIMA, who returns it back, only to get a palm strike and another low kick in return until both try for a lock up, but HARASHIMA trips, but grabs a leg of Fuke anyways, and tries for a half guard position, but enters a triangle choke, but HARASHIMA exists out of it and goes for a side mount, and gets a side choke on Fuke, but Fuke rolls onto his stomach with HARASHIMA following him into a doujime sleeper hold until Fuke grabs a arm of HARASHIMA, and pulls himself into a half guard and starts throwing palm strikes, but he then stands up, holding HARASHIMA's foot and kicks his thigh, but HARASHIMA grabs one of Fuke's legs and locks in a calf slicer, but Fuke hits HARASHIMA in the back until he gets a chance and rolls out into a back mount and starts to throw palm strikes from there again until he goes for a cross leglock until HARASHIMA rolls into a double toe hold on Fuke until Fuke shifts his weight into a Jujigatame on HARASHIMA, but transitions into a Keylock then goes back to the Jujigatame.

But HARASHIMA slips out as Fuke follows and does a stomach hold on him, but transitions for a Fujiwara armbar until HARASHIMA flips over and pins Fuke down, and maneuvers into a full mount until Fuke uses a see-saw method to escape and go for a Achilles lock, but HARASHIMA locks on a Heel hook, but Fuke counters with one of his own, which sends HARASHIMA to the ropes. Fuke: 5. HARASHIMA: 4.

Fuke misses a palm strike, and HARASHIMA also with a middle kick, with both following with low kicks until Fuke throws a massive palm strike combo, but HARASHIMA stops this with a under-arm clinch, but Fuke negates this with body shots until HARASHIMA hits some knee strikes until Fuke neck throws HARASHIMA down into a side choke followed by a rear naked choke as HARASHIMA tries to escape. Fuke lets go into a back mount and punches HARASHIMA in the side and gets a rear naked choke on again, but HARASHIMA rolls out into a Jujigatame bur Fuke rolls back, off the ground and grabs HARASHIMA's leg until HARASHIMA rolls back and does a double leg takedown onto Fuke, getting in a Achilles lock, but Fuke merely pushes forward to escape, and starts to freely punch HARASHIMA in the stomach until he transitions to a Kneebar, forcing a escape for HARASHIMA. Fuke: 5. HARASHIMA: 3.

Both then trade palm strikes and middle kicks until Fuke briefly clinches HARASHIMA for a knee strike and a enzui high kick that floors HARASHIMA. Fuke: 5. HARASHIMA: 2.

HARASHIMA gets up at 8 and then both go back to the palm strikes, but Fuke gets a few kicks in that rock HARASHIMA, and then jumps on top of HARASHIMA for a sleeper hold, but HARASHIMA, grabs Fuke's head, brings it down slightly, and falls forwards, spiking Fuke hard enough for a down. Fuke: 4. HARASHIMA: 2.

Almost getting K.O.'d, Fuke stands at 9, and throws a middle kick that HARASHIMA catches, but Fuke throws several palm strikes until HARASHIMA pulls back and nails Fuke with a high kick, sending him down once more. Fuke: 3. HARASHIMA: 2.

Fuke gets up at 8, then gets nailed with a front kick by HARASHIMA and a vicious high kick, again going down. HARASHIMA: 2. Fuke: 2. But, this time, Fuke can not get up as he's out of it and glossed eyed, as the ref calls for 10. Your winner at 17:53 (felt shorter then that, but it's from purolove) via K.O. from a High Kick, HARASHIMA.

Reviewer's Thoughts: HARASHIMA felt like a natural at this kind of style, but when it was on the ground, Fuke was always one step ahead of him, but Harashima's strikes proved to be more effective then his submissions, chaining down after down for a great comeback against a wily veteran like Fuke.

6. Kota Ibushi VS Shuji Ishikawa

- Kota Ibushi: Representing: DDT. Ibushi is nowadays the new young Ace of DDT, and the man picked by the manager of Hard Hit, Sanshiro Takagi, to be it's Ace. With his various kicks and suplexes, and battles against Big Mouth LOUD and BattlArts wrestlers alongside Tanomusaku Toba in DDT, Ibushi has what it takes to prove Takagi right.

- Shuji Ishikawa: Representing: Union Pro. Again, at first glance, Ishikawa does not look like the quintessential Shooter, but with experience in BattlArts, Fu-Ten, MAKEHEN, and others, and with his natural power and hard head and knees, he is more then qualified, and seems to this reviewer to be in the vein of a admittedly low-rent Super/Big Van Vader type, which coincidently enough, Ishikawa has indeed faced before in a singles match in MAKEHEN.

Both circle each other with both trying to lock up before Ibushi throws a missed low kick, and then back to the lock up attempts until Ishikawa tries to charge in but Ibushi ducks out. Ibushi then lands a low kick, and then both do the collar-and-elbow with Ishikawa suplexing Ibushi down, and then he grabs one of Ibushi's arms and rolls him onto his back. but Ibushi rolls back over into a front sleeper, but Ibushi again rolls into into a half guard mount, but Ishikawa this time switches over for a neck crank. After some time, Ibushi gets free and slaps on a triangle choke, but Ishikawa uses his strength to slam Ibushi onto a turnbuckle to escape.

Once more, they circle with Ibushi landing a low kick, and Ishikawa misses a palm strike, but manages to avoid a two strike combo and a low kick from Ibushi, and pins down Ibushi for a front sleeper that lifts him into the air, but Ibushi uses his arm to reach for a nearby rope to escape. Ishikawa: 5. Ibushi: 4.

Both try for a lock up, but Ibushi lands a strong palm strike and low kick and then manages a second low kick, but Ishikawa then grabs him and pushes him into a corner where both fall into a mount position where Ishikawa briefly tries for a forearm choke, but Ibushi lands several body shots, until Ishikawa locks in a collar hold, but he gets too high, and Ibushi presses him down and does a collar hold of his own, but Ishikawa gets his hand underneath Ibushi, and he pushes him off, but both land in the rope, so both are stood up. Ibushi then fires off a low kick/middle kick/rolling solebutt that downs Ishikawa. Ibushi: 4. Ishikawa: 4.

At the count of 8, Ishikawa gets up, and then eats some middle kicks and palm strikes, but ishikawa grabs him, and pushes him into a corner and then headbutts Ibushi, who slides down in pain. Ishikawa: 4. Ibushi: 3.

Almost getting K.O.'d at the count of 9, Ibushi picks himself up, and Ishikawa hammer fists him down and lays in some body shots, but both hit the ropes, so both stand up once more. Both clinch with Ibushi with knees and Ishikawa with headbutts and then a trapping suplex, and quickly follows with a nasty release backdrop, planting Ibushi down. Ishikawa: 4. Ibushi: 2.

With some rubbery legs, Ibushi stands up at 9 and then Ishikawa charge in with sumo slaps that forces Ibushi into a corner, but Ibushi uncharacteristically throws a headbutt, then charges out with palm strikes, as Ishikawa tries to defend, but the onslaught is too great, as he falters into a down. Ishikawa: 3. Ibushi: 2.

At 8, Ishikawa assumes the fighting stance, but Ibushi literally gives no him no chance to react, as he charges in, and lands a very impressive German Suplex on big man Ishikawa that downs him once more! Ibushi: 2. Ishikawa: 2.

Ishikawa gets up at 8, with both circling each other with Ibushi exploding with middle kicks and palm strikes, ending with a high kick that once more send Ishikawa crumpled to the mat. Ibushi: 2. Ishikawa: 1.

With his chips down, Ishikawa rises up at 9, and gets plastered with palm strikes and middle kicks, but he catches a middle kick, and hits Ibushi with a German Suplex with some serious airtime, downing him. Ishikawa: 1. Ibushi: 1.

Ibushi slides up at 9 as the match nears it's conclusion, with both trading palm strikes, but Ishikawa brings in knee strikes as well, but Ibushi slides in, and explodes with more palm strikes, and then some clinched knee strikes of his own, but Ishikawa grabs him, and throws him with a Front Suplex, but as Ibushi rises to avoid his final down, Ishikawa slides in with the "32-Bun Rocket Kick" a flying single-leg dropkick, that hits it's mark, sending Ibushi back down for good. Your winner at 9:53 via TKO from the 32-Bun Rocket Kick, Shuji Ishikawa.

Reviewer's Thoughts: Wow, what a display of speed and skill versus power and brutality. Both men put on one Hell of a match, and it could have gone believably any way at the final stretch.

Conclusion: I have to say that this was a great show, with standout matches being Toba VS Nozawa, HARASHIMA VS Fuke, and Ibushi VS Ishikawa. I also enjoyed Mori VS Sekine, Nagai VS Ihashi, but more so as a guilty pleasure. Purists (as said earlier) will scorn Takagi VS Takada, but if you have a open mind, it's not bad at all. Overall, I would recommend this event pretty highly.

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