Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Throughout the Inokiist period, New Japan and K-1 maintained a special relationship. Despite collaboration between the big fight companies souring as both competition for viewers and the Yakuza Scandal heated up, K-1 maintained its ties to NJPW by supplying fighters for pro-wrestling events while also featuring New Japan wrestlers on their own shows. Nexess 2004 was one of the last of these efforts, happening just a few weeks before the K-1 Romanex MMA show that I have referenced endlessly on this blog (as it is both the height of Inoki's MMA management career but also one of the last!). Bob Sapp, a K-1 Kickboxer (lol) and MMA fighter, had recently become the IWGP Heavyweight champion by beating Kensuke Sasaki a month prior and his first (and only) defense is here against the phenom Shinsuke Nakamura. K-1's involvement on the card didn't just stop there as Nexess 2004 featured a whole slew of K-1 vs NJPW bouts. Despite K-1 being an absolute powerhouse at the time ratings wise, this show did poorly with ticket sales. Claimed to have an audience exceeding 30,000 (it certainly was less), the event was one of the smallest that NJPW held at the Tokyo Dome in this era and just compounded the issues New Japan was experiencing which lead to Inoki's ousting in the next few years.


This thing is billed as a grudge match between two MMA fighters, but it doesn't really hit that mark. A cool match though as Shamrock is repping the Makai Club in this fight while Barnett comes out in a nice UWF style tee with JLB (his initials). Despite this being both Barnett and Shamrock's last NJPW matches, this one goes to a DQ win for Barnett. Maybe they were supposed to have a rematch?

~~~We will never know~~~
(so let us savor this one encounter)


Jan "The Convict" Nortje is a South African Super Heavyweight kickboxer you might remember from the post about Shinsuke Nakamura's run in MMA as he was viciously beaten in front of the large crowd at the much better attended Ultimate Crush event just a year prior. Before the fight we hear some words from a tuxedo wearing Antonio Inoki and the crowd seems to thoroughly enjoy it (as do I). The Convict Nortje comes to the ring with the same manager as when he fought at Ultimate Crush. Nortje is also donning kickboxing gloves for a pro-wrestling match showing that this is a bonified different style bout (or mixed match if you will) truly in the spirit of Inokiism.

Nortje begins this by trouncing Yoshie ( a truly egg shaped man) in the corner, similar to the way he (in real life) beat the fuck out of Yasuda at Inoki BomBaYe 2002. Yoshie manages a comeback after a catching a kick and tripping Nortje then following it up with seating senton (Nortje can not handle the pro-wrestling!) and a single crab. This is a very silly affair, but it is also fun and incredibly short. Yoshie wins with a a lazy steiner recliner lmao.


Sean O'Haire, mostly remembered by his tenure in both WCW and WWF, decided to become a kickboxer (0-4) and MMA (4-2) fighter after that all fell apart. The thing is most people have no clue that occured, but I do because on my other blog about K-1 HEROS I discussed his lose by standing guillotine to the very good at judo but bad at MMA Kim Min-Soo. Hiroshi Tanahashi, as peppy and muscular as ever, is his opponent here!

Sadly, this match is much more pro-wrestling straight through than a shoot fighter meets pro-wrestler deal. There is just simply too many resting holds, and the crowd just isn't really feeling it (a theme throughout this event). Tanahashi pulls out the win after like 7 minutes that feel wayyyyyy longer. This sure isn't Tanahashi vs Rutten which you should definitely watch instead of this lol(it is on this very same blog!)


NOW THIS IS WHAT WE ARE HERE FOR. At least this is what I am here for which is to see Shibata lose in a grand way! Musashi, the four time K-1 Japan GP champ and two time World GP runner up, is here with a deep posse and big blue kickboxing gloves. Shibata is here rocking MMA gloves (in 12 days he would be competing in his first MMA fight at Jungle Fight 2!!!) and repping the Makai Club as usual. Goddamn I know this one is gonna be hot!

Musashi opens this one up with some sick kicks before Shibata brings this one to the ground. This is a round based fight with ten counts and ground fighting which defintiely gives it that old RINGS round match feel (especially with kickboxing gloves involved). Oh, Akebono is here on guest commentary as he by this point was fighting in MMA and kickboxing (a sad reality). Shibata keeps bringing this down and manages to get a leg lock on Musashi who is able to use kicks to stall. The ref brings them up and Shibata gets a sneaky shot of his own is as he is admonished by the referee. Musashi's shots to Shibata are so so stiff, but its ok because I enjoy that greatly. After Shibata is dropped in the corner by vicious, he manages to get to his feet right as the round ends.

Shibata ties up Musashi in the ropes to begin here as he is obviously super worried about getting whooped. Musashi complains about an eye poke and the corners look ready to brawl. This one starts up again and Shibata is like instantly floored, barely making it back up. Musashi's kicks to the lower body, torso, and head are just too much for the young Makai phenom and he cannot get up. Akebono is delighted as he continually claps into his microphone lol. It's ok Akebono, I enjoyed it as well!


The Beast Bob Sapp is an imposing figure but can he handle the sheer will and strength of the young Shinsuke Nakamura? Maybe! The crowd is super into this which is good because other than this and the Shibata match, the crowd has been very uninterested! Both of their entrances feel important, and despite the low attendance, grand.

Nakamura instantly brings Sapp down with a single leg before going to a sleeper, but Sapp is able to easily just stand out of it. Sapp decides to just start slinging Nakamura around with imposing arm drags. There is an interesting dynamic here as while both are legitimate shoot fighters, this is a fairly pro-wrestling oriented match. Nakamura is the most "shoot" of the two however as he is attempting submissions and wrestling takedowns to counteract Sapp's wild power moves. Technique vs strength is the name of the game here as Nakamura uses nice knees to set up the jumping triangle before being powerbombed to oblivion. Sapp is making incredible sounds as he follows this up with an insane drop kick that sends Nakamura out of the ring for an almost 20 count lol.

They fight out onto the ramp and Nakamura sinks in a triangle choke on Sapp before the ref breaks them up. As they get back into the ring, they engage in exhange of headbutts and strikes before Sapp lariats Nakamura into oblivion and sets on a sleeper. Nakamura resorts to biting but Sapp responds with a fucking piledriver (do that in a K-1 fight please). This match has such a great back and forth as Nakamura locks in a standing guillotine, and as Sapp picks him up, turns it into a DDT. As they go to the ground they engage in mounted punches and a sick submission exchange. OH NO BEAST BOMB but Nakamura is able to kick out at one but oh LOL another BEAST BOMB. Sapp wins!

As this was the build to K-1 Romanex, K-1 would have wanted Sapp to remain strong and this performance definitely added to that mystique. Too bad he lost summarily to Kazuyuki Fujita (an Inoki Office fighrer) by getting soccer kicked in the damn head, forcing him to vacate the IWGP title. This just goes to show, Inoki always wins in the end :)


Thanks again to all my readers! If you enjoy what you have read, give a thought to supporting me on my patreon located here. BIG THANKS to everyone who has signed up so far and to everyone else who has loved this dive into the world of Inokiism!

Monday, September 10, 2018



There is a singular moment where one can definitively say "ah yes, this is where it began." Inokiism was always there in New Japan and within the works of Antonio Inoki himself, but on January 4th at Wrestling World 1999, a new era was inaugurated. Naoya Ogawa, a beloved Olympic Silver medalist representing the Universal Fighting-Arts Organization (UFO) and Inokiism (as seen by the shirts the crew had on), was there to face multi-time IWGP Heavyweight champion Shinya Hashimoto in a rubber match after two other encounters. Backed by his UFO crew of Gerard Gordeau, Tiger Mask IV, and Kazunari Murakami, Ogawa beat down Hashimoto in what many saw as a shoot assault (it was a work but ya know these rumors persist!). This fight, coupled with the ensuing brawl between the New Japan and UFO camps, ushered in a long feud (and in reality friendship) between Ogawa and Hashimoto while also ringing in a new vision of pro-wrestling and fight sports broadly that Inoki had been constructing independently of New Japan. However this post is not really about this particular fight (a deep dive into the Hash-Ogawa feud of 1999/2000 is planned), but about the UFO mercenaries of Inoki invading the wrestling promotion that he had founded years before. Who were these men, and what did their presence mean for New Japan's direction?

(Gordeau's first pro-wrestling match)
Known As: Gerard Gordeau
Height: 6 Feet 5 Inches
Weight: 216lbs
Time in New Japan/UFO: 1995 (NJPW), 1998-1999 (UFO)
Discipline(s): Savate, Kickboxing, Kyokushin Karate, Oyama Karate
Signature Moves: Kicks, Eye Gouge, Being a Fucking Dick
MMA Record: 2-2

Both a Savate and Karate world champion, UFC 1 finalist, and famous eye gouger, Gerard Gordeau's reputation precedes him (seriously this dude is nasty). Whether its the after-fight brawls or his blinding of Yuki Nakai at Vale Tudo Japan 1995, the man is dastardly to say the least both within real and fake fighting (a terrible feat!).

Gordeau's career in pro-wrestling was sparse yet important. Fighting in UWF Newborn and RINGS, he eventually worked the 1995 BVD Final Countdown tournament at the New Japan January 4th show losing in the first round to Antonio Inoki. Apparently, Inoki liked the cut of this dudes jib because he brought him on as a trainer and wrestler for his experimental UFO promotion, along with Tom Howard (famous for getting horribly beaten in MMA) and Mark Hall (a UFC veteran who is incredibly weird and not that good!). Inoki sure knew how to pick 'em!

A true master of the NO CONTEST. Like many of his real and fake fights, Gordeau loses it and the ref calls this one off because its just madness. We get the corner brawl that would come to be a defining part of the Inokiist era of New Japan, no doubt inherited from Gordeau's tutelage. Oh, Gordeau ends this by saying "NO RULES. IF I POKE HIS EYE OUT, NO RULES!" Bold claims from the crazed karate man.

BUT GUESS WHAT? Despite Gordeau's whining and the lackadaisical referee at times, there were rules (sometimes) in Inoki's UFO (which I have directly copied from the old English language UFO webpage):
U.F.O. Basic Rules

Ring Size
Rectangular 6m (20ft), 3 to 4 ropes, UFO official hard mat (no springs).
KO: Fighter unable to stand or get into fighting stance.
Referee Stop: Referee can stop a fight when he feels the fighter cannot continue.
Doctor Stop: The ringside physician can stop a fight when he decides that a fighter cannot continue.
Give Up: Fighter decides he cannot continue. He can tap or tell referee.
UFO Official "Open Finger" Gloves
UFO Official Shin Guards
We do not allow attacks to the groin, spinal cord, eyes, or elbow to
the head/face. Every other type of attack is allowed.
Everything other than finger submission is allowed.
All types of throwing allowed.
Breaks only occur if more than half the fighter=81fs body is outside of ropes
or the referee feels the fighters cannot break the clinch themselves. Once a
breaks occurs the referee will direct the fighter=81es to the fighting stance.
The referee will warn the fighter whether the foul was on purpose or not. If
the fighter ignores these warnings, they will be disqalified. Fighters may not
attack when their opponent is down and the referee is checking their condition.
Special Kick Rules
The UFO may use the basic kickboxing rules where time-limited rounds are used.
This will apply only to special matches.

Just a few days before the infamous 1/4/99 incident, Gordeau faced off against Naoya Ogawa in the main event of UFO 2. Ogawa was on a rocket ship up in popularity at this time, the first of the fighters engineered by Inoki in his own image (there is a short blurb on this very subject in a preview to Ogawa's fight with Stefan Leko at Pride Total Elimination 2004). This match is thrilling and extremely entertaining as Ogawa is just enough of a silly bastard himself to deal with the all-too-serious shenanigans of Gerard Gordeau. Ogawa wins with a great rear naked choke, and then mocks Gordeau some more (we all go home happy)!

Known As: Tiger Mask IV
Height: 5 Feet 8 Inches
Weight: 192lbs
Time in New Japan/UFO: 1998-1999 (UFO), 2002-Current (NJPW)
Discipline(s): Pro-Wrestling (trained by Satoru Sayama), Lucha Libre, Shooto
Signature Moves: Tiger Suplex, Crossface Chickenwing, Millennuem Suplex, Destroy Suplex
MMA Record: N/A

Tiger Mask IV, still fighting to this current day in New Japan, began his career in Michinoku Pro and Battlarts while being trained by the original Tiger Mask Satoru Sayama. Sayama, the founder of Shooto, imparted this martial art on TM4 while he also received teachings from The Great Sasuke of Michinoku Pro. As explained in this excerpt below from an archived version of old Inoki Dojo site, TM4's diverse training created a unique athletic style:
Prior to his professional career, was trained as a shoot fighter first, then went to Mexico to learn his high flying aerial moves. An awesome athlete, could be a very successful fighter in the world of mixed martial arts. During the infamous U.F.O versus NJPW incident at the Tokyo Dome in 1999, showed his heart by instigating an all out brawl, despite being outnumbered by about twenty-five. Will not back down from anyone.
This shoot oriented yet still decidedly Junior Heavy style of TM4 would have a major impact on the Jr division in NJPW, and would only grow as refugees from Battlarts, RINGS, and various other promotions entered this division in the era of Inokiism.

Since TM4 was the only Tiger to be endorsed and trained by Sayama, when he decided to leave retirement in the late 90s and went to Inoki's UFO promotion, TM4 came with him! At the first UFO show, TM4 faced off with a fellow BattlArts fighter in an oh so young Ikuto Hidaka who is being cornered by Alexander Otsuka. TM4 has some great striking offense in the clinch, showing off the kickboxing skills inherited from Sayama. His ground game ain't half bad either as he defends against Hidaka's submission attempts. Hidaka is not a slouch however and mounts a comeback after some bone shattering suplexes (got to love that battlarts!). The finishing sequence in this is so balls out and the fans get so loud as it continues on. A great first match for Tiger Mask IV in UFO and certainly one the best bouts we have covered here on The Forgotten Inokiists.

This bout opens with a killer hype package showing TM4's Sayama lineage and training regiment. OH SHIT a favorite of mine from the shoot style world: random shoot fighters coming in to get smashed by someone in a fake fighting endeavor. This time our man is name Jason Bress, and according to the (hell) site sherdog, amassed a 1-3 record in MMA in the years following this bout. Bress is able to open this with two successful slams but eventually gets roughed up, and he deserves it because he's wearing some US flag adorned singlet; something I wholly and totally disavow (national flags, not singlets those are ok)! TM4 kicks him right in the face and punches the back of his head and it seems to really fire up Bress. This getting fired up is in vain however as TM4 just keeps punting him in the head! TM4 finishes the fight by spinning out of a standing guillotine (sikk), throwing a knee into Bress head (sikkkk), hitting a spinning mid kick (even sikker), and finally winning by some kind of back choke while also having Bress' arm cranked behind his back (ultimately sikk). That seemed painful, but our friend Tiger Mask IV is all smiles anyways.

Known As: Kazunari Murakami
Height: 6 Feet 1 Inches
Weight: 220lbs
Time in New Japan/UFO: 1998-1999 (UFO), 2000-2004/2006 (NJPW)
Discipline(s): Judo, Pro-Wrestling
Signature Moves: STO, Mounted Punches, Scissored Sleeper, Northern Light Bomb
MMA Record: 5-5

I mean what can be said about Kazunari Murakami that hasn't already. Judoka, pro-wrestling madman, really good at making mean faces; the dude has it all! I would cover his background more here but as I have talked about him numerous times throughout these blog postings, you shall be sparred! The Murakami of this time is not AS ravenous as he would be even in the next year during his Battlarts run and later his time in the Makai Club, but you can still see that intensity that is just ready to burst into a display of wanton violence.

LOL ok so in the set up to this fight with Lee Young Gun, they have some sort of dojo challenge match that Gun wins (again there was more head kicking) so this one is fucking ON!

UH This is a quick and violent one. Lee comes out kicking wildly with his Hapkido ways and almost overwhelms Murakami, but he is able to outlast the assaults, ultimately grabbing Lee around his hips and lifting him into one of the highest, nastiest suplexes I have ever seen. He adds in a hip toss before securing the cross armbar for the win. Big Murakami has arrived and people should be scared for their general well-being!

DON FRYE VS KAZUNARI MURAKAMI. That should say it all right there. The pre-fight video package shows Murakami hitting the weights in a BIG (funny) way before being dressed down with questions from Don Frye asking if Murakami is truly a professional; someone who"fights for money."

Hey, remember what I said earlier about there being rules in UFO in response to Gordeau's assertion, well maybe I am the one in the wrong because this one is a WILD fight. A shooty match that turns into a brawl on the outside, further degenerating as Frye begins using the gloves to choke Murakami. Yuji Shimada is the referee here and despite his endless calls of NO NO NO, the fighters just keep on going. Don Frye is able to score the win here over the young Murakami, and this one is a pure thriller. Come for the wild brawling, stay for the incredibly sikk judo (Frye really shows off his Judoka background in this one!).

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Thursday, August 16, 2018


Known As: Shinsuke Nakamura
Height: 6 Feet 2 Inches
Weight: ~230lbs
Time in New Japan: 2002-2016
Discipline(s): Pro-Wrestling, Amateur Wrestling, Vale Tudo
Signature Moves: Triangle Choke (often from a flying position), Front Neck Lock, Knees and various striking combinations [these moves are from his early days, Nakamura's move-set lost most of it's vale tudo roots as time went on]
MMA Record: 3-1 (1 No Contest)

Shinsuke Nakamura is known by all in the pro-wrestling world of 2018. A talented high school and college wrestler, Nakamura was already a hit with fans at his debut in late 2002 against Tadao Yasuda. The "Super Rookie" would go on to be the youngest winner of the IWGP Heavyweight title, becoming a mainstay in New Japan throughout the decade and beyond. However, that is not the story I or you frankly are interested in.  We are here to explore Nakamura's time in the realm of Vale Tudo; a world that has no forgiveness or regret. People are unaware of how much this time in No Holds Barred fighting colored Nakamura's whole move set and cemented his credibility with fans that he was truly THE SUPER ROOKIE.

Inoki and the others in the New Japan office saw his immense potential, quickly sending Nakamura off to the Inoki Dojo in Los Angeles to train for the upcoming Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2002 end of the year MMA show. Billed as Inoki vs K-1, the event was at the Saitama Super Arena drawing 35,000+ fans and a 16.5 television rating, making it the most successful of the Inoki promoted MMA events!

Nakamura may be the Super Rookie but he was set to face the "new generation" of Gracie family fighters in Daniel Gracie who was only on his second MMA fight! Shinsuke Nakamura impresses early, dodging a high kick and landing some nice strikes of his own to begin the fight. The quickness of Nakamura's shoot in for a single leg is so incredibly fast, and he is able to bring the young Gracie to the ground. The ref breaks it while Nakamura leaps into the downed Gracie to check a cut, allowing Nakamura to get some mean mugging on. We see how seriously Shinsuke took the idea of Vale Tudo as a discipline as he's looking for downed kicks and stomps whenever Gracie is on the ground. The last bit of round 1 sees Nakamura's stomps get caught in a leglock attempt which after failing allows Gracie to get into mount and lay some punches down onto the Super Rookie.

Round 2 begins with more striking before Nakamura shoots in for a smooth double leg takedown. Shinsuke is a patient fighter, grinding in the guard while looking for opportunities to either jump guard or to create some space while looking to stomp. Sadly, Daniel Gracie is able to quickly slip on an armbar ending Shinsuke Nakamura's first foray into No Holds Barred fighting with defeat. Despite the loss, Nakamura in no way looked weak and his performance here just added to the fans amazement with the skills of the Super Rookie.

Nakamura had his next MMA bout at the mixed match spectacular called ULTIMATE CRUSH which I have detailed in postings about Josh Barnett, Enson Inoue, and Lyoto Machida previously. A massive card of pro-wrestling and Vale Tudo matches, this functioned as a demonstration of Inoki's total view of the world of combat sports. ULTIMATE CRUSH was Inoki staking the claim of KING OF SPORTS once more, and what better way to do that than have the Super Rookie Shinsuke Nakamura face the almost 7ft giant that is JAN NORTJE!

We see Nakamura in the opening video package detail his training at the INOKI DOJO in Los Angeles, a center for all things VALE TUDO with its eclectic mix of trainers, fighting heritage, and cross-training. Nortje is shown beating our old friend Tadao Yasuda at Bom-Ba-Ye 2002, the very event that Nakamura debuted as a shoot fighter. Nortje comes out decked in furs of a zebra (something I find immensely distasteful, the fucking settler!) and he hurt Yasuda so I am excited to see Nakamura engage in some ULTIMATE CRUSH on his face!

The size difference here is EXTREME and Nortje uses it early to simply hold Nakamura down, but do not fret friends because after avoiding knees to the dome skillfully and then driving Nortje into the corner to gain top position, Nakamura fucking whoops on this dude. Punches, elbows, and grounded knees: Shinsuke Nakamura uses these techniques beautifully, embodying the concept of the New Japan Vale Tudo rules that Inoki had developed for his events. By maintaining the use of elbows, this rule set was more truthful to the truly No Hold Barred origin of mixed fighting and Vale Tudo. Nakamura's skills in amateur wrestling techniques combined with his use of striking on the ground allows him to continue to dominate in round 2. After bloodying the South African giant with slicing elbows in mount, Shinsuke Nakamura lays down the forearm across Nortje's throat forcing the tap. Another kickboxer slain by the forearm choke across the throat, a true right of passage in the world of Inokiism!

Let us hop on a plane to Brazil because we are returning once more to the first JUNGLE FIGHT! Wallid Ismail, a trainer at the Inoki Dojo that Nakamura learned the ways of Vale Tudo at, founded this event with Antonio Inoki. Now a prominent MMA promotion in Brazil, this company started out with the help of Inoki and his cavalcade of fighters. LOL the English commentators call Nakamura a "legend in Japan" despite him being in the game for like barely a year at this point and Frank Trigg, notorious nonsense MMA commentator (this is confirmed at his recent stint in RIZIN) says that Nakamura has slow takedowns which is LOL as we have now seen his previous fights and know that to be patently false. Did I say I absolutely loathe this guy's horrible commentary? Nakamura is facing Shane Eitner, a man I know nothing about except that he is listed as being from the LA Boxing gym that the McCully's, fellows in Inokiism, ran back in the day (hey Sean McCully is in his corner!).

Shinsuke Nakamura unsurprisingly shoots in and gets the takedown almost immediately. He uses his wrestling ability to maintain control despite Eitner's attempts to buck him off, delighting the large section of NJPW fans that were attending this INOKI affiliated event. Nakamura loves the knees from the side position as do I and the fans in attendance (they are the best!). Goddamn Shinsuke Nakamura after just dominating the whole fight wins after a nasty looking keylock from mount! The fans are delighted once more by the Super Rookie and Trigg eats his dumbass words once again!

Inoki's relationship with K-1 continues as the THE IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION Shiksuke Nakamura comes to K-1 Premium DYNAMITE 2003 to challenge famed Belarusian heavyweight kickboxer Alexey Ignashov in the main event! Ignashov is a 4 time Muay Thai world champ and winner of various other kickboxing titles and tournaments while Shinsuke Nakamura is the youngest IWGP champ ever going into this fight. There is something so awesome about someone going into a shoot fight in front of thousands rocking a pro-wrestling championship. This is the kind of stuff I love to see, a brazen move that says "yes I am a pro-wrestler, the KING OF SPORTS."

I love the giant blue and white ring used here at DYNAMITE 2003, its so pleasing to the eyes especially as Nakamura drives Ignashov into the mat with repeated beautiful takedowns. He is very calm and patient, just as in his other fights, looking for that moment to slip into a stronger position or create space to do some damage with strikes. Round 2 begins with much of the same, this time with Nakamura looking to strike more from the full guard. The ref brings them back up and we see Nakamura eat his first knee of the fight, but he does not seemed phased and we hear the commentators mention his "PROWRES" strength. After some ground fighting and returning to their feet once more, Ignashov is able to stuff a takedown attempt and clips Nakamura with a soccer kick which brings this to a halt as those are not allowed here so the ref gives out a yellow card. As the doctors check Nakamura out, we hear the crowd chant his name making me (and hopefully Nakamura as well) very good.

This fight really is about a wrestler with some Vale Tudo flair up against a guy of pure stand-up ability, a super heavy kickboxer that stands 6ft 5in. Nakamura does not want a striking exchange at all and sticks to bringing it down again and again. God the fucking ref brings this up because Nakamura opened up a small cut on Ignashov's eye right as he stacked guard and started making some moves. The fight is started on the feet and NOOOOOOO Shinsuke Nakamura eats a bad knee to the face but jumps right back up AS THE REF CALLS THIS OFF FOR NO REASON. What a shit decision, truly up there with the famous "KO" call made by king of bad refs John McCarthy during the original Sakuraba fight in UFC Japan. Shinsuke Nakamura's corner was able to successfully protest this decision however and this is now rightfully listed as a NO CONTEST. It looks like we have a rematch on our hands!

Fast forward to the month of May in 2004 and we are at K-1 ROMANEX, the first all MMA show promoted by K-1. Featuring Inoki fighters up and down the card, the much awaited rematch between the Super Rookie and Alexey Ignashov is here! Nakamura is without the IWGP belt here as he was forced to vacate it February of that year because of mounting injuries from his pro-wrestling touring and Vale Tudo training. A sad factor of this kind of cross competition, fighting for real and fake AT THE SAME TIME is incredibly hard on the body and was a strong factor is Nakamura being done with MMA after this fight. While he may have had a future in MMA, the pressure and injuries were too much so who can blame him for retiring so early from the real fight game. At least here, he can go out in a blaze of glory.

Nakamura drives Ignashov to the ropes early in the fight, carefully keeping distance from potential knees to the gut before Ignashov can manage to shake him off. The Super Rookie is back to his old bag of tricks, picking Ignashov's leg for a takedown that gets big cheers from the crowd. The NAKAMURA chants are so loud in the venue, and we can hear the sweet voice of our friend Antonio Inoki on commentary (always a treat!). From half guard Nakamura proves much more proactive than the last fight, landing some thudding strikes and going for a forearm check (YES). Shisuke Nakamura is just generally way more fired up in this fight and the crowd just eats it up. In round 2 Nakamura is again all over that single leg takedown and is back to grinding away at Ignashov. The ref screaming action as Nakamura is obviously working for a position change is so frustrating but again this is why MMA is terrible (it really is, why do I watch this! Please let this man grapple!!!). The crowd is SO excited when Nakamura gets to side control because they just FUCKIN' KNOW what is about to go down: FOREARM CHOKE! We see a quick smile from Inoki at the commentators booth, obviously proud that another kickboxer has been slain by such a gnarly, raw move. His last fight in the world of Vale Tudo, Nakamura is all smiles and so are we!

Thanks again to all my readers! If you enjoy what you have read, give a thought to supporting me on my patreon located here. BIG THANKS to everyone who has signed up so far and to everyone else who has loved this dive into the world of Inokiism!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


Known As: Lyoto Machida, LYOTO, The Dragon
Height: 6 Feet 1 Inches
Weight: ~200-225lbs under Inoki, 185lbs now
Time Managed by Inoki: 2002-2006
Discipline(s): Shotokan/"Machida" Karate, Sumo, BJJ, Wrestling, Muay Thai
Signature Moves: Traditional Karate stuff like kicking you in the damn head
MMA Record: 6-0 under Inoki, 24-8 in the present day

Lyoto Machida was the only Inoki disciple that was only destined for MMA. While almost everyone else under his management and tutelage came from the world of pro-wrestling, Lyoto Machida was different. The son of the head of the Japanese Karate Association of Brazil, Machida excelled at not just Karate but also Sumo and BJJ. He went to NJPW and Inoki Dojo's to train in wrestling, creating a deadly mix of wrestling and BJJ, traditional karate striking, and sumo grappling that was perfect for Inoki's vision of a mixed fighter. Lyoto Machida was only billed as LYOTO (all caps are cool don't ya know) in this time under Inoki, and in many ways, he was on the path to achieving Inoki's dream of dominating the MMA world. Those hopes were dashed for many reasons (economic, political, criminal) but their time together produced some great fights and there is a history left that we should all examine.

Ultimate Crush was a monuments  event, not only for its sheer length and production value, but also because we saw the debut of one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time: Lyoto Machida! Debuting to a crowd of tens of thousands to a full Japanese drum ensemble and decked in Brazilian native garb, LYOTO as he was billed in his Inokiism days is fighting Pancrase heavyweight Kengo Watanabe in an ULTIMATE CRUSH rules match (elbows, grounded knees, soccer kicks, and clotheslines are all explicitly allowed).

LYOTO very quickly uses his sumo and wrestling skills to force Watanabe into the corner at the beginning of round one. After hitting the ground, Machida vacillates between half guard and full mount while delivering ground and pound. Watanabe is able to sweep out and return to his feet but its back to the corner as LYOTO is relentless with his force. Wallid Ismail, friend of Inoki and founder of Jungle Fight, is in Machida's corner coaching. Round 2 begins as LYOTO lands a nice karate straight punch, clinches, and rushes Watanabe into the corner before the action grinds to halt because of a knee to the balls (ow). After all the refs get some back slaps of rejuvenation in, the action restarts with Machida clipping Watanabe with a head kick and using the corner to bring Watanabe back down for methodical ground and pound. It is cool seeing such a grappling focused Machida here as in later years I think most have known him for his highly technical stand up game, despite his own insistence on the fact that his style of Karate differs in that is traditional thus includes "the use of knees, elbows, takedowns, and even some submissions." Machida lands a killer spinning mid kick and finishes round two with some mounted ground and pound.

Round 3 is here and guess what? It is right back into the corner and to the ground with LYOTO in the dominant position. Watanabe is able to fight off a rear naked choke (surprising but I think Machida has that first fight nervousness here) and spins into top position. Machida is strong even from the bottom of the guard and neutralizes anything Watanabe had planned so the ref brings this back up. We see a bit of striking before LYOTO achieves a fantastic deep single leg takedown (the wrestling training from Inoki is obvious here) and is back on the hunt for a finish. He rides Watanabe as the final round ends desperately trying for a choke but in the end he wins by unanimous decision. LYOTO wins his debut at the Tokyo Dome and as expected receives a smack from Inoki, but this is a bit different that usual. Inoki attacks LYOTO with multiple slaps and openly frowns and sort of pushes him away. I assume Inoki wanted a cleaner win to this inaugural fight so he threw a bit of a fit exposing another, darker side of Inoki as someone who unfairly demands perfection out of his trainees.

After his debut, Lyoto continued training over the summer and made the trip to the Amazon (yes literally deep in the Amazon Forest) for the inaugural (and as TOM mentioned "very peaceful") JUNGLE FIGHT. I talked fairly extensively in my last post about the origins of this event (hey check it out here!) and the lengths to which Inoki and Wallid Isamil went to make the event a reality.

LYOTO is fighting a pre-UFC Stephan Bonnar and comes to the ring rocking an incredibly sikk Inoki Dojo shirt (represent!) while Bonnar comes out to U2 (fucking LMAO). THE STRIKING POWER OF LYOTO! He literally pushes Bonnar around and has his nose pouring blood and his cheek cut after numerous landed counter punches and head kicks. Machida is able to get in and land multiple shots before Bonnar has anytime to react. Blood pours from his face as LYOTO continues to smash it before the doctor calls its after LYOTO slices Bonnars other cheek wide open. LYOTO showed his grappling power in his debut and here in the jungle showed the true power of Machida Shotokan Karate!

The INOKI Bom-Ba-Ye shows in all their exquisite fight boom excellence have a dark side. As the ratings on TV for each began to slip, marking the first signs of a general crash coming, the 4th event in 2003 would be the last. In a way, this was day of judgement for the MMA world in Japan as this was the event that sparked the entire Yakuza MMA scandal that would bring down the entire fight world. After people did not get paid the proper amounts and shenanigans of if Fedor or CroCop would appear, court cases in 2005 and 2006 related to this event exposed the Yakuza involvement in bankrolling of the entire MMA industry in Japan and the TV broadcasters themselves. While this final Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye event was a terrible loss of money and a final nail in the coffin for any future Inoki sponsored events, it was had reverberations that no one could have foreseen.

In the years after 2003, Inoki planned on hosting another event with the funding of LiveDoor boss Takafumi Horie called World Spectacle. Plans were to live stream it on the LiveDoor internet portal for fans internationally with a supposed main event of Kazuyuki Fujita, one of the crown fighters of Inoki Office, against MIKE TYSON (a pipe dream but one Inoki desperately wanted to make reality). The memory of the failures of the past Inoki produced events, the ongoing MMA funding scandals all coupled with the fact that Horie was uhhh fucking arrested for securities fraud put an end to these dreams. The future of Inoki's MMA management firm Inoki Office was hinged on this event and its failure to ever occur surely ruined any ability for his MMA dreams to continue.

[Look over here for a super interesting overview of both this proposed event and some of the aftermath of the Inoki BomBaYe 2003 scandal]

NOW ON TO THE FIGHT! We see in the pre-fight promo package LYOTO training with Inoki to prepare for his fight with UFC Legend RICH FRANKLIN (who is accompanied by some great techno in the pre-fight package I might add). LYOTO is rocking some shorts that say INOKI ISM STORE (fuck yes) and immediately starts whooping on Franklin (I assume channeling the power of very sikk Inokiism themed clothing). Franklin has LYOTO in the corner but is able to violently trip Franklin to the ground and begins to lay on the pressure (we also get some referee cam footage here which is a lost art in the world of MMA please bring that back). As Franklin stands up, LYOTO overwhelms him with numerous kicks before dropping Franklin with some strikes and punching him while in the ropes (always a great fighting aesthetic that is lacking in the cage). The second round begins with both striking and missing until LYOTO lands a devastating right front kick to the middle of Rich Franklin's skull giving him the first loss of his career. INOKIISM triumphs once again!

Check out this detailed overview of how LYOTO picked apart Rich Franklin:

After the end of INOKI branded MMA events, Inoki Office fighters found themselves mostly fighting in K-1 events. Inoki and NJPW had maintained some amount of a working relationship with K-1 throughout the MMA broadcasting wars in Japan, and after burning any remaining goodwill with PRIDE after the debacle of Bom-Ba-Ye 2003, it was really the only place where Inoki Office fighters would be welcomed.

Thankfully this relationship continued as we get to see LYOTO smash a world class kickboxer in Michael McDonald, a great tradition in the world of early 2000s MMA. A much quicker version of the Yasuda-Le Banner fight, LYOTO scores with a beautiful trip and works until he can lay his forearm across the throat of McDonald for a forearm choke finish! Kazuyuki Fujita accompanied LYOTO here and it is all smiles at the victory.

K-1 ROMANEX was an important night for the Inoki Office. As mentioned in previous postings about Josh Barnett, this was the night where every Inoki Office managed or NJPW affiliated fighter won their bouts from top to bottom of the card. This night also was K-1's prototype for their upcoming MMA only promotion (more on that later).

LYOTO played a hand a part in this when he took on kickboxer and karateka Sam Greco. LYOTO is able to get a split decision win here in a somewhat interesting affair despite its numerous points of stalling and kind of stale corner work. Also LYOTO knees Greco in the dick way too many times in this fight, like he just kept doing it the whole fight lol.

2005 marked the final year for the Inoki Office management company, closing its doors quietly at the beginning of 2006. Yet there was a few final grand moments for Inoki's dream of MMA, a top one being the super fight between LYOTO and UFC wonderkin BJ PENN. This fight occurred on the inagural K-1 HEROS show which was K-1's attempt to insert itself full time into the MMA market as PRIDE began to crack. The president of this new MMA only branch of K-1 was the amazing Akira Maeda, the genius behind RINGS Fighting Network and former student of Inoki before going his own way into the world of shoot style. I wrote about this match at my other blog that covers HEROS which I will quote in full here:
I know the boys in the last fight were big but hold up because its BJ PENN AT 191 POUNDS. He's actually eating a sandwich backstage before the bout I am not joking. Having slain all his foes in the UFC, Penn said fuck off and went to Japan for some nice paydays! His opponent is the super young yet BIG Lyoto Machida, an absolute favorite of mine from my youth of watching UFC and taking karate lessons. Let me tell you Lyoto is also in sandwich mode for this fight as he's clocking in at a whopping 225!
There story of this match is both guys completely shutting down the advancements of the other. Both of these guys are at their largest weights in their careers, and the fact that Penn and Machida are incredibly talented fighters (phenoms, prodigies, a lot has been said), means that this fight is violent yet calculated, heavy and plodding (but in a pleasant way). Machida throughout is able to land more clean shots and his schooling in karate (fuck yes) shines (kata but this time your face is in the way). Machida also catches Penn with a very sikk wrist throw (thank you commenter who pointed put that I overlooked this in my original posting.
Lyoto Machida is able to score the victory here, and how could he not while fighting with INOKIISM emblazoned on his vale tudo shorts! [Some backstory on that: K-1 and Inoki were still working together at this time and had major success in earlier years doing joint shows with PRIDE, but as those relationships soured over the years, Inokiists began appearing on HEROS cards. HEROS also had connections with a pro-wrestling group called BIG MOUTH LOUD, a splinter from NJPW, but that will be for another day!] Both of these guys are so gassed at the end of this but Penn looks particularly tired.
You should really take a peek at my other blog (which is currently on hiatus) where I fully covered the life of KINGDOM Pro-Wrestling and in the middle of examining HEROS in full! I know you'll enjoy it ;)

Saturday, August 4, 2018


(this is not their theme but nothing was listed anywhere so this seemed aesthetically appropriate!)

Known as: Sean McCully
Height: 5 Feet 8 Inches
Weight: 185 lbs
Time in New Japan: 1999
Discipline(s): Boxing, Kickboxing, Jiu-Jitsu, MMA
Signature Moves: (it seems to be kicking people in the head but I am unsure!)
MMA Record: 3-6

Sean McCully and his younger (but much larger) brother Justin McCully are some straight-up, old school No Holds Barred dudes. Originals from Team Punishment (Tito Ortiz baby!), Sean was also the founder of the famous LA Boxing gyms that were eventually bought out by UFC and turned into those UFC branded gyms (yuck!). Both had short stints in New Japan before returning to MMA and venturing to other Pro-Wrestling promotions like Zero1 (this will be a post for another day!). The McCully's have a minor but important place in the history of Inokiism and exploring there time in New Japan bears much weird and wacky fruit!

As discussed in the previous post on this blog, the Universal Fighting-Arts Organization (UFO) was Inoki's early experimentation ground for the Inokiist concept. Combining his history of mixed matches with a worked MMA style very similar to that of Nobuhiko Takada's KINGDOM Pro-Wrestling promotion (Inoki and Ogawa had even met with Takada at a KINGDOM show in 1997), Inoki brought together martial artists and No Holds Barred fighters to do worked shoot fights. The ring was a giant white circle (get it! like a UFO!) with square ropes which caused there to be large overhands to continue the battle if it spilled outside.

Sean McCully here is fighting Orlando Wiet (he was in Kingdom and lost to Sakuraba!), someone who failed at MMA but excelled in Muay Thai kickboxing (he is very good trust me). We see both training for the fight in the pre-match video package which brings a very real feeling to this whole UFO thing. McCully as expected tries to bring the kickboxer down quickly; its not that McCully has poor boxing skills (he owned boxing gyms!) but he knows he has an advantage on the ground with his training in BJJ and Wrestling. This is a cool fight with McCully bringing Wiet to the ropes and using his strength to slam Wiet, but Wiet is very sly and after figuring out McCulley's pattern of attack slaps on a guillotine to counter a takedown attempt for the win!

This is what a squash match looks like in the world of Inokiism. In the build up to Kazuyuki Fujita's (fantastic) run in MMA, Inoki was booking him incredibly strong (as one would!) and this match is an example of just that. After Sean McCully says he will "be like water, flow" (how cliche) to get around the sheer size advantage of Fujita. Guess what? It doesnt work! McCully gets slammed a ton, kicked in the face, and ends up tapping to a standing achilles lock!

Known as: Justin McCully
Height: 6 Feet 2 Inches 
Weight: 238 lbs
Time in New Japan:
Dsicipline(s): Boxing, Kickboxing, BJJ, MMA, Pro-Wrestling (trained by Tom Howard from UPW hence why the brothers went to Z1 along with Tom and others from UPW)
Sognature Moves: Flying Armbar, Senton Splash
MMA Record: 11-5-2

Justin McCully made his debut in the world of Inokiism at the first Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye show at the end of 2000. Featuring all worked bouts promoted as "dream matches" by Inoki, McCully was in the opener against the venerable Yoshiaki Fujiwara! This is an incredibly uncooperative affair as Fujiwara will not give ANYTHING to the new guy while at the same time bulldoggin' and potatoing when hes in control. This one is rocky and the non-cooperation is obvious at times with both being frustrated throughout. Fujiwara is able to pull this one out after about ten minutes of struggle by locking on a beautiful crucifix. This definitely is not the most well worked bout, but the absolute hardheadedness of Fujiwara makes it quite interesting as a sort of baptism for Justin McCully in the world of Inoki!

Justin McCully essentially worked one tour for NJPW in the year 2002, but despite his short time spent in Inoki's colosseum, it was an eventful one as he teamed with CHYNA (r.i.p.) in a series of tag matches that saw the first win by a woman in New Japan. Known by Joanie Laurer in New Japan, she was part of the Foreign Army that was tearing up and down the card in 2002 that culminated in NJPW The Spiral (hey remember Rutten is also in the foreign army and had that great match against Nishimura there) later in the year. Foreign Army was mostly comprised of friends of Inoki who were involved in his newly opened Inoki Dojo in L.A. Chyna (who became close friends with the Inoki family and trained at the facility), Justin McCully, Wallid Ismail (more on him later!), and Don Frye were all in attendance at it's opening in April 2002. Check out this fantastic write up on the history of the Inoki Dojo; it is a great resource on this forgotten yet incredibly important facility for pro-wrestling and MMA training in the early 2000s.

This match is cool mishmash of all the styles at play in New Japan at the time. Chyna and Shane bring a very American pro-wrestling feel, McCully and Kakihara have an obvious shoot based pedigree, and Liger and Nagata form the sort of old guard here. McCully is able to get the win here with a very slick lift of Kakihara using his legs from the bottom guard to drop him into an armbar. McCully's signature in his short time in New Japan were these sly transitions into armbars while also having cool green flames on his kickpads and vale tudo shorts (very 2002 I love it!). Watch this one for the cool match and stick around for Chyna threatening to take Nagata's belt.

Before leaving the world of New Japan, McCully had one of his best bouts as he teamed with Masahito Kakihara (a great friend from UWFI and KINGDOM, a true bad ass in every way) against a fellow former RINGSman (McCully had one RINGS match) in Masayuki Naruse and Yutaka Yoshie. An incredibly tight tag match coming in under 9 minutes, this is a great example of how good the undercard could be in the Inokiist era of New Japan. Definitely not a full shootstyle bout, these guys still manage to include nice palm strikes and grappling exchanges to the delight of the crowd and me. There is a great sequence when McCully comes in to fight Naruse and lands a cool springboard legdrop and then a suplex, but Naruse is able to lock up McCully delivering a nice punch to the gut then a running kick. After an action packed fight full of knees to the face, slams, and hard palm strikes,  Justin McCully uses a double underhook suplex on Naruse into an armbar for the win (WOAHHH)!

JUNGLE FIGHT! Now one of the largest and longest running MMA promotions in Brazil, it was founded in a joint effort between Wallid Ismail, famous vale tudo and BJJ wildman known for his deep hatred of the Gracie's and their bourgeois ways, and Antonio Inoki. The story goes that they met on a plane ride and got into a discussion about their love for the Amazon and their dismay at it's rapid destruction. So, in an effort to bring awareness to the plight of people of the Amazon, Inoki and Ismail created JUNGLE FIGHT. The story of it's inception is quite as ridiculous and awe-inspiring as one can imagine, so I'll point my readers to this great article on its creation! Here is an amazing excerpt:

This match vacillates from clinching on the ropes for long periods (snore) to some exciting (yet short) exchanges of strikes and knees. McCully here is fighting Dario Amorim, a veteran of Vale Tudo tournaments of the late 90s in Brazil, in what would be Amorim's last match. After going the full three rounds, McCully pulls off a tight decision victory as Amorim had made some good moves later in the fight. A nice send off for our gassed up American friend Justin McCully and another win for Inokiism in the MMA ring. Smiles all around!

Saturday, July 28, 2018


Known as: Tadao Yasuda, King of Debt (or Borrowing Money King)
Height: 6 Feet 3 Inches (or 4 Inches! who knows!)
Weight: 280-330lbs
Time in New Japan: 1994-2004
Discipline(s): Sumo, Professional Wrestling
Signature Moves: Tiger Driver, Various Chokes (Forearm, Arm Triangle, Rear Naked, Guillotine)
MMA Record: 2-4

TADAO YASUDA. A former sumo turned pro-wrestler in the mid 1990s, in the early 2000s he began to try his hand at mixed martial arts despite being years passed his prime. A noted gambling addict (hence his nickname), he was able to channel arrogance and bravado that produced incredibly interesting outings in both real and fake fighting arts. Horribly misunderstood in the modern day, Yasuda played an important role both in the development of Inokiism in kakutogi by achieving some amazing upset wins and in pro-wrestling by leading one of the most notorious bad dude factions in all the land: the crazed cult of the Makai Club. This is meant to better show in a historical context why Tadao Yasuda mattered, and what great things can be found when we re-evaluate the past.

Before Tadao Yasuda ascends to the heights of Inokiism (even if they were rather brief for him), he found himself at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2000 fighting Naoya Ogawa from the Universal Fighting-Arts Organization (UFO) which was a continuation of Inoki's concept of the mixed matches that he explored year ago with the World Martial Arts Association (WMA). Revived in 1998, it only ran a handful of shows of middling success financial wise but it succeeded in cultivating Naoya Ogawa into the original prince of Inokiism, the total blurring of the lines of what constitutes a shoot match and pro-wrestling. If Akira Maeda and Satoru Sayama's goal was leaving pro-wrestling behind, Inoki's goal was to level the playing field between pro-wrestling and *real* combat systems. Inoki found his moment in the Kakutogi boom.

Back to the match itself! This one is quick and hot; in less than 5 minutes, it's over. What it really accomplishes is putting a wrapper on the UFO vs NJPW feud that had been going since 1998 reaching its pinnacle at Wrestling World 1999 when an all out brawl broke out between the factions after Ogawa "shot" on Hashimoto (this was a work but it seems in recent years people have begun to believe it as a true event, but that just really exposes how Inokiism did blur the lines). This match is less for Yasuda as much it is to show the first era of Inokiism represented by Ogawa and UFO wane as guys like Kazuyuki Fujita and Tadao Yasuda take the reigns.

This here is the moment when the new era of Inokiism was solidified. Exactly one year after the first Bom-Ba-Ye year end showcase of all things Inoki, 2001's edition brought us something else: the collision of K-1 and NEW JAPAN! The stakes of a confrontation like this were massive as one can imagine. The success of Kazuyuki Fujita in the world of PRIDE had emboldened Inoki and this event is an example of how truly emboldened he was.

KOSOTO GAKE! Yasuda, lover of everything blood choke related, utilizes this minor outer hook perfectly after slinging Le Banner off of the ropes. Every time this gets back to the feet, Yasuda uses everything in him to rush in and grab Le Banner because he absolutely had to neutralize Le Banner's ability to strike. Yasuda's strong sumo skills, combined with slick judo and pro-wrestling ability, wins the day here after a long struggle on the ground when Yasuda forces Jerome Le Banner to tap out from a gag-inducing forearm choke across the throat. The moment is solidified as Antonio Inoki runs into the ring to slap and hug Yasuda.

Yasuda in this moment became another anointed one in the court of Antonio Inoki; an crusader on the path to prove that New Japan is the KING OF SPORTS. Yet sadly, this event is typically remembered as the time when Yuji Nagata, quickly rising to the top in New Japan, was dispatched by Mirko Cro-Cop in seconds. In isolation, this is a regrettable fight to have constructed but when its analyzed as the part of an entire event and lodged in a whole ongoing world of conflict in fight sports, it makes sense! That blow of Nagata's loss is softened by the jubilant brutality of Yasuda laying his forearm across the throat of one of the greatest kickboxers of all time as thousands of fans cheer.

Shortly after Tadao Yasuda's win against Jerome Le Banner, he gets his reward; a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight championship. After Kazuyuki Fujita vacated the title due to an injury to his Achilles, a tournament was held and the finals were at Fighting Spirit 2002 between Nagata and Yasuda.

This match is awesome. An amazing back and forth that exemplifies in many ways what Inokiism meant to the actual wrestling itself. Yasuda here utilizes the same Kosoto Gake off the ropes from the Le Banner fight to bring Nagata down into half guard, a prime position to apply numerous choking techniques. Nagata at one point tries to have an elbow exchange with Yasuda who replies with no nonsense punching. For a full analysis of the fight, check out my friends review of it over here at Zrakomlat! Tadao Yasuda is able to win this fight with another choke, a guillotine.

The era of Yasuda is here, but it is short lived. After a successful defense against Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tadao Yasuda loses the title in April at the Toukon Special against the resilient Yuji Nagata. I find it quite funny how people detest Yasuda and call his incredibly short run as champ a failure. These people do not understand the logic of Inokiism, the results of real shoot fights have incredible weight here in this era. Nagata had to wait a little longer for his time because he lost his encounter with K-1 while Yasuda, a man Inoki knew would not be a long term champ, succeeded and thus was awarded.

Inoki eggs of Yasuda after he is disrespected by Don Frye. Check out the resulting match over on my earlier blog post on Bas Rutten's time in New Japan.


UFO Legend was a failure financially. Thousands of tickets were given out for free yet the audience was still under 30 thousand, the lowest attendance for kakutogi event in that building (at least at the time). It is a mixed bag of an event with some spectacular fights and some slogs. The TV rating goal of 15% of viewers was not reached as they only managed a 10.8% of TV viewership. UFO Legend is the send off for the UFO brand, though it seems like they had maybe wanted to do more of these. It marks some of the first notable downturns in attendance on Inoki branded ventures; an omen for the demise of the Bom-Ba-Ye shows and Inokiism in New Japan as a whole.

This match is fairly uneventful despite the grandeur of the production and entrances. Fujita manages a quick win with the side arm triangle choke, a favorite of Yasuda's. Inoki is shown at times and was clearly displeased with this fight and the event as a whole. Just days later, Yasuda would send masked men to assault Masahiro Chono at Strong Style Spirit. Once the crown wrestler of Inokiism, Yasuda makes the transition to cult leader in New Japan.

I have chosen here not to discuss MAKAI CLUB as I have already covered their shenanigans in other posts (go check em out!) and will continue to as I explore this era. What this post has really been about is how different people become bearers of the Inokiist mission throughout this era from Ogawa to Fujita, from Yasuda and Nagata, and then to Shinsuke Nakamura and Lyoto Machida. Nakamura here is coming off of a win over the kickboxer Jan Nortje (who beat Yasuda at Bom-Ba-Ye 2002) at NJPW Ultimate Crush and is on his way to another MMA victory at Jungle Fight 1 in September. Nakamura was on his way to the crown of the IWGP title in December, and he makes a pit stop here to fight the former king Tadao Yasuda.

Yasuda is such an old bastard in this one. Instead of shoot technique, he employs low blows and sneaky Makai Club interference to try and defeat the Super Rookie. Even after a tiger driver and numerous choke attempts, Nakamura is able to slap on a triangle choke and manages to tap out the boss of Makai. The reaction of the crowd shows a new era of New Japan and Inokiism has arrived; the year of Ultimate Crush is winding down and the late era of Inoki in New Japan is here.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Known as: Enson Inoue
Height: 5 Feet 11 Inches
Weight: ~210
Time in New Japan: 2003-2004
Discipline(s): Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Bujinkan, Shooto
Signature Moves: Sleeperhold
MMA Record: 12-8

Where to begin with Enson Inoue? A weed-man, a professional SHOOTIST, and a lover of all things pitbulls; Inoue is pioneer in MMA having major wins over guys like Randy Couture and Rene Rooze. After years in SHOOTO, Enson made the jump to PRIDE in 1999, winning his first bout but then losing every subsequent fight until his final loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in early 2002. Inoue needed a break (and a nice payday) so he found himself where many slipping shootfighters have ended up: NEW JAPAN PRO-WRESTLING!


The Crazy Dogs (Hiro Saito, Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto) are feuding with the Inoki cultists Makai Club, lead by the maniacal and very very old Kantaro Hoshino. As Makai assaults the dogs and Hoshino gets some shots of his own in (before falling off the top turnbuckle in hilarious fashion), Enson Inoue comes into the ring and chokes Kantaro out. "ENSON. ENSON INOUE. CRAZY DOG BOSS!" The Dogs pick up the incapacitated Kantaro and stuff him into the giant dog house they always bring to ringside (Inokiism is very serious stuff!). We got a war coming up at NJPW Hyper Battle 2003!

Makai #5 (Mitsuya Nagai) has just murdered Takashi Iizuka (which I have included for posterity) and this crowd is hot! The doghouse is here and the crowd is even more ecstatic! CRAZY DOG BOSS Enson Inoue is in the building and he is gonna put these strong style cultists (Kazunari Murakami, Makai #1, Ryushi Yanagisawa & co-head Tadao Yasuda) in their place which is the Dog House because everything with Inoue is dog related (even his gyms are named PureBred, an illusion to dog stuff). The kicks from Kazunari Murakami in this one are heavy, and Makai gets most of the action till the match is called as a NO CONTEST because Inoue ran in to break up a submission and a brawl ensues! Brawling has a real place in this era of New Japan as it typically did end up in a NO CONTEST or COUNT OUT (unlike whatever the hell is going on there now) and this allowed for a feud to continue and refine its content further. The brutal assault on Kantaro at the end of this no contest is a way to distill this feud into something more personal between Murakami and Inoue while at the same time continuing the greater struggle between Makai Club and the various factions in New Japan.

After two more encounters at the Hyper Battle series, it culminates here. The Heisei Terrorist, the baddest man on the planet, Kazunari Murakami and the CRAZY DOGS BOSS Enson Inoue are about to fucking brutalize each other in front of thousands of bloodthirsty fans at the Tokyo Dome. If Rutten's catch wrestling match with Osamu Nishimura represents the most refined side of Inokiism (one of ethereal sportsmanship, a light of eternal combat), this bout between Murakami and Enson is the most indulgent and transgressive. This comes from the world of Island Deathmatches, the Accursed Share that Bataille spoke of, vented off in an explosion of spectacle and war. The Crazy Dogs gang assault Murakami, slicing his face with a blade as form of punishment for past violence. Enson Inoue wins by TKO as the rest of the Crazy Dogs pull their boss away from Murakami's limp body, leaving the Makai Club to clean up the mess left behind.

[There will be a part 2 to this once I manage to get my grubby hands on NJPW shows with Enson stuff on there!!!!!!]

A highlight from Enson Inoue's Twitter:

PS: Kazunari Murakami did manage to get his win back a few years later in Big Mouth Loud, an interesting (and almost all on youtube!) splinter from NJPW founded by Fumihiko Uwai. Check that out below!