Tuesday, September 25, 2018
K-1 vs NEW JAPAN: NEXESS AT THE DOME
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.
SHAMROCK VS BARNETT: A SUPPOSED GRUDGE MATCH
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)
EGG MAN TAKES ON THE CONVICT
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.
REMEMBER SEAN O'HAIRE? WELL HE IS HERE TOO
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!)
MMA VS BOXING GLOVES: SHIBATA FACES MUSASHI
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 REIGNS
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 :)
A NICE LITTLE TREAT: SOME COOL SAMURAI TV COMMERCIALS THAT WERE ON THE END OF THIS RECORDING
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