1) Kazuo Yamazaki v. Nobuhiko Takada- 8
Every time I see Takada now i can't help but think of him wearing that M Bison uniform in HUSTLE, nor can I help but remember Yamazaki crowding up the New Japan midcard in '99. Like Takada kneeing Yamazaki in the back of the head during an anklepick he was in. Dyno-mite spin back kick blasting Takada and the crowd pops! Kazuo has some really fluid movement, even as he's being dumped in some devastating throws. Kazuo starts making some strange Jim Carrey noises as he's being front choked; the ref stands puzzled. Kazuo fought hard for that first point. Have not seen this before: a series of headbutts wins Kazuo the advantage. After that Kazuo kept defying the odds and getting the best of the veteran, despite Takada's submission advantage. Damn fine finishing sequence, which was out of nowhere but Yamazaki is the one who really stepped up and impressed here. Damn good start.
2) Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Masakatsu Funaki- 4
Fujiwara looks old even here, and this is early 90's, but he's spry. They square off for a while, like two gunslingers, awaiting who will jump first. Funaki looks more comfortable with striking but Fujiwara just waits and stalks silently. Liked the double anklelock spot though. Funaki gets caught moments later in a total surprise ending that wasn't altogether very good.
3) Minoru Suzuki v. Yoji Anjo- 4
this had the exact buildup a big pro wrestling puro match would have, all the ground work at the beginning, the feeling out process then they started moving on to the high spots, the big kicks and close submissions and stuff, but the thing is, the concept doesn't really work like it does in a pro wrestling match. All the stuff to get to the brutal striking feels like a slow chokehold on me, a strangling effect where it's brutally obvious they are killing time and nothing they try is coming close to ending this fight. Maybe i'm interpreting this all wrong but not even close to how i wanted to spend a half hour tonight.
4) Maurice Smith v. Minoru Suzuki- 3
This one looked real enough, so much so Dana White would be ripping these guys in the post-fight conference. Smith had Suzuki so outclassed on the feet it wasn't even a struggle. i kept wanting him to throw some combos, instead of slowly stalking Suzuki and throwing one technique; finally he scored a big knockdown with a series of techniques late in the 3rd. Suzuki looked to be crying while trying to make it up for the 10 count after a straight jab to the face; either he realized his pro MMA career was over before it started or he forgot to tape Spin City that night.
5) Chris Dolman v. Kazuo Yamazaki- 4
Another overmatched American v. Japanese fighter. This bout was interesting because both guys were wearing gi's and using them against each other. Dolman pulled off some hard throws by using Kazuo's top. Dolman dominated him the whole fight, with Kazuo not doing much besides a few kicks and was tapped with a sick armbar.
6) Nobuhiko Takada v. Duane Koslowski- 6
7) Nobuhiko Takada v. Akira Maeda- 5
I'm going to juggle both of these Takada balls in one hand; sorry, I have been watching way too much Arrested Development; that was straight from the mouth of Tobias. With a name like Duane Koslowski, either you're an accountant or an 80's martial artist. It's hard to tell whether he's acting here or not, i mean when he gets kicked in the face, he always falls down, but there's a 2nd more dramatic fall that follows it. I liked this bout overall though, Duane hung in there and managed to turn the tide on Nobu several times in a back and forth fight. The final bout on this disc features the two top dogs of this promotion; i know they fought many times but I don't know the context of what happened here, only what I can judge from their performances. This was a classic Striker v. Grappler bout but they both ended up plying the other one's trade and turning the tables; that bit of irony wasn't lost on me and thought it quite a redeemable part of the story. The near eye poke finish really felt like an early squirt and took some of the fire away from the finish that didn't feel correct either.