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Carl Greco Carl Malenko BattlARTS

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#1 Jetlag

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Posted 06 December 2016 - 11:46 AM

I've threatened to do this before, so here it is. A thread dedicated to the stepbrother of Joe and Dean Malenko, the man who came from the street and became someone who made his living hitting the mat hard and tossing the fuck out of japanese guys. I like any guy who wrestles like that and Greco is such a fascinating worker by being both extremely polished and some kind of measuring stick for his opponents too. He has thrived in obscurity, so his career merits studying.

 

Note: this thread will not be about discovering 5* classics or psychological masterpieces. That is for other, lesser wrestlers.

 

Carl Greco vs. Super Rider (BattlARTS 4/17/2001)

 

This is a B-Rules match, which means a max of 5 rope breaks allowed and no strikes. Tailor made match for Greco, and this is a really good showcase for what he was doing around this time period: essentially being a terrifying opponent for the hopeless undercarders BattlARTS was using then. Rider (a Sayama trained indy guy) is a good opponent for Greco: he is competent, agile and not afraid, thus this is loaded with the kind of fast, tight, twist-you-to-a-pretzel-style shootstyle matwork I've come to enjoy so much. Very brief match, but they get in and out of some positions and holds I've never seen in any other match. The result is never in doubt, but Super Rider manages to improve himself here as he graduates from Opening Match Guy to Guy who passed the Greco Test. Smokes a lot of 20 minute epics for me.

 

Carl Greco & Katsumi Usuda vs. Yuki Ishikawa & Masaaki Mochizuki (BattlARTS 12/5/1999)

 

This is a finale of some tag tournament. This had the typical BattlARTS tag formula, meaning a messy mix of matwork, suplexes and face-shattering stiff blows building to an increasingly dramatic finish. Of all 4 guys, it is Greco who adds a bit of more typical tag psychology to the bout: coming with a bandaged leg, being the weak link in his team. This isn't melodramatic like that 1993 tag, but his performance was a nice blend of being both weakened and very dangerous. It was different from his usual straight-up wrestling approach and produced some excellent exchanges with Ishikawa. At one point, Greco even did a rolling tag after a miscommunication between Ishikawa and Mochi. Another moment was Carl flying into the scene with a reckless Kung Fu-esque kick to save his partner. Greco was not the star of the match, as they cleared the stage for Usuda and Mochizuki to run through a series of spectacular (and sometimes contrived) shootstyle/lucharesu counters. I didn't care much for Mochizuki and his get-this-shit-in approach, but I felt Usuda carried him nicely enough to make this another addition to the cannon of great BattlARTS tags. Call me anti-workrate or whatever, but I preferred the tight and hard fought nature of what Ishikawa and Greco were doing to Mochizuki's spottiness.



#2 Jetlag

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 06:02 AM

Carl Greco/Yuki Ishikawa vs. Alexander Otsuka/Mohammed Yone (3.12.1999)

 

Random BattlARTS match constellations continue to deliver. Man, has there ever been another indy promotion with this much enthusiasm and creativity in throwaway encounters? This was one of these "typical" small show matches. With a little novelty added, as Otsuka and Yone were dressed in weird matching outfits and doing an unusal amount of double team moves (I'm sure it was meant to be a riff on some more popular wrestling tag team or anime or whatever). Granted, you had 3 world class workers + 1 capable worker here, so the ceiling is a little higher than it is for any other constellation of indy schmucks... still, I'd like those lesser indy schmucks to atleast try to match the level of execution and enthusiasm on display here. There is just something about the small things, such as a frustrated Ishikawa leaping in on a single leg to Otsuka only to be caught in some sort of spinning triangle choke that is infinitely more interesting and enjoyable to watch than the lazy stomp+restholds approach in other styles. This match was worked like a sprint, so Greco didn't have to change his usual style, as he always goes into wrestling exchanges with guns blazing. Here it was clear that Greco is so dangerous even countering his moves leads to getting caught again. The difference between Greco and Ishikawa is Greco always tries to sink into a finish. Ishikawa will use an Achilles hold to set up a heel hook, Greco doesn't do that, he can finish with the Achilles Hold. The match was pretty much the 3 maestros hitting the mat and just doing bits of neat wrestling, while Yone was hidden away safely throughout the body of the match. Then they move into a finishing stretch that was way too grand for a dingy little hall like this with lots of dramatic submission teases and counters, safes, double team moves and Ishikawa getting kicked in the face while Yone gets his lip bloodied from a Greco crossface. Not something that will top  a lot of MOTY lists, but you have to wonder what the fuck was going on in the heads of these indy schmucks to work their butts off like this in front of an audience of crickets.



#3 Jetlag

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 06:30 AM

Carl Greco vs. Shoichi Funaki (PWFG 8/13/94)

 

Another 5 minute contest. A breeze to watch, as you may guess. Even then Carl had some nasty, neck-cranking signature moves. This was all about slick transitions and counters, and damn they did some spectacular stuff. They even worked a mini story into the contest with Funaki getting frustrated and trying to learn Carl's moves. Heck, Funaki looked really good in this! I think this PWFG crew (which moved on to BattlARTS) might be last really talented group of wrestlers to debut in the same promotion. They just got both technique and instincts right. Not to mistake this bout for anything truely grand, but it's just my idea of the perfect 6 minute Nitro match.

 

Carl Greco/Alexander Otsuka vs. Yuki Ishikawa/Mohammed Yone (BattlARTS 1/30/2000)

 

How many times can you run a permutation of the same match and get something good? Well, I'd assume many many times, as long as you stick to what works for you, but that wasn't the case here. Yone took up a portion of the match, and that guy is so hit and miss. He can be pretty enjoyable when he sticks to reckless kicks and lariats, but his other signature moves kind of stink and he also likes to do irritating no selling. There was also barely any matwork, so Greco didn't really get to do what he does best. There was some stiffness and clubbering, but the match had that weird semi-comedic feel undercard BattlARTS matches sometimes have. Geco even did a Fargo Strut at one point. You had the stiffness and clubbering and neck-crushing suplex moves aswell as a particularily twisty submission to keep you entertained throughout, but I was hoping for a few more "pure" bits.



#4 Jetlag

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Posted 19 December 2016 - 03:55 AM

Carl Greco vs. Yuki Ishikawa (8/25/1996)

Carl Greco vs. Yuki Ishikawa (8/29/1999)

 

People have talked about their 1998 and 2008 matches. It makes sense considering 1998 and 2008 are complete matches at main event length while there's barely 10 minute of these two matches  here put together. Still, let's compare. The 1996 match is from the 1st year of BattlARTs and pretty much Greco destroying Ishikawa left and right before getting caught in a lucky submission. By 1999 Ishikawa is much ahead of the curve. It is about Ishikawa the mat superstar while Greco has to resort to striking (and he did blast Ishikawa with shots like they were in BattlARTS or something). It feels bitchy to complain about some random 9 minute match from a 1999 indy undercard not being shown in full but still, that 1999 match looked like an awesome 9 minutes. They do some pretty high end countering and it's hard not to compare what they are doing on the mat to lucha matwork. Ishikawa would take Greco down and go into three different submissions at the same time before finally catching something and holding on to it. iGreco did a lot of selling making this a shockingly epic 5 minute clip. Knowing Ishikawa had a MOTYC against Ikeda the same day it's difficult to think BattlARTS wasn't the best promotion in the world in 1999.



#5 Jetlag

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Posted 25 December 2016 - 04:02 PM

Carl Greco vs. Takeshi Ono (7/29/1999)

Carl Greco vs. Mohammed Yone (8/29/1999)

 

Another two JIP undercard matches maxing out at about 5 minutes each. These really weren't shootstyle at all. Yone is a guy who liked to play powerhouse and had a few silly signature moves, and Ono at this point was less interested in punching his opponent in the face and more into flying around and the occasional kick to the balls. I am actually wondering whether the BattlARTs guys changed their style at this time to appeal to the more casual Samurai TV audience, creating the infamous BattlARTS "post modernist" style, or if they were just getting lazy. Everyone had their signature moves and guys did rope running and dives. Greco even flew off the 2nd rope at one point. Anyways these two contests were solid. Yone was kind of shitty, on the other hand I know the guy would really look good in some matches, so I will say that Mohammed Yone was always simply a lazy bastard. Other than Yone being an embarassment and Ono playing indy sleaze superstar, these matches were worked tight enough and had enough unique counters/transitions to stay interesting for the duration.

 

Carl Greco vs. Katsumi Usuda (7/20/1999)

Carl Greco vs. Katsumi Usuda (8/5/1996)

 

Let's do another time comparison for the fun of it. Comparing these two really illustrates the change in BattlARTS over the 3 years. The 1999 bout was worked closer to the previously discussed matches. It was a lot better though. Usuda was aggressive and clearly on another level, and the match had the stiff blows and cool submission work and counters you want from an 8 minute undercard match. The 1996 match was pure shootstyle. It was starkly minimalist compared to the showy-ness of these TV matches above. Usuda was booked pretty strong in 1996 - maybe stronger than Ishikawa - and he gave Greco a heck of a fight. He was less flashy but could smother an opponent on the mat. I guess some might call Usuda dull, but I thought he was effective enough and he did give Greco - who was decked out in wrestling shoes and ready to hit the mat - the opportunity to have a hard fought match. The bout had a nice arc to it with Greco really getting into it and finding different ways to crack Usuda. It wasn't flashy like a RINGS or UWFi match, but the resistance to basic holds and transitions made it quite the engrossing contest and Carl's technique was high end.



#6 Microstatistics

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 06:34 AM

Carl Greco/Yuki Ishikawa vs. Alexander Otsuka/Mohammed Yone (3.12.1999)

 

Random BattlARTS match constellations continue to deliver. Man, has there ever been another indy promotion with this much enthusiasm and creativity in throwaway encounters? This was one of these "typical" small show matches. With a little novelty added, as Otsuka and Yone were dressed in weird matching outfits and doing an unusal amount of double team moves (I'm sure it was meant to be a riff on some more popular wrestling tag team or anime or whatever). Granted, you had 3 world class workers + 1 capable worker here, so the ceiling is a little higher than it is for any other constellation of indy schmucks... still, I'd like those lesser indy schmucks to atleast try to match the level of execution and enthusiasm on display here. There is just something about the small things, such as a frustrated Ishikawa leaping in on a single leg to Otsuka only to be caught in some sort of spinning triangle choke that is infinitely more interesting and enjoyable to watch than the lazy stomp+restholds approach in other styles. This match was worked like a sprint, so Greco didn't have to change his usual style, as he always goes into wrestling exchanges with guns blazing. Here it was clear that Greco is so dangerous even countering his moves leads to getting caught again. The difference between Greco and Ishikawa is Greco always tries to sink into a finish. Ishikawa will use an Achilles hold to set up a heel hook, Greco doesn't do that, he can finish with the Achilles Hold. The match was pretty much the 3 maestros hitting the mat and just doing bits of neat wrestling, while Yone was hidden away safely throughout the body of the match. Then they move into a finishing stretch that was way too grand for a dingy little hall like this with lots of dramatic submission teases and counters, safes, double team moves and Ishikawa getting kicked in the face while Yone gets his lip bloodied from a Greco crossface. Not something that will top  a lot of MOTY lists, but you have to wonder what the fuck was going on in the heads of these indy schmucks to work their butts off like this in front of an audience of crickets.

 

 

This match is so great. Terrific mat exchanges throughout, great big brother-little brother dynamic between Otsuka and Yone, Otsuka being his usual awesome self in general. Liked all the double team moves and saves as the match escalated. Plus Yone's look of shock after he managed to secure the win was a visual for the ages. **** 1/4

 

Great thread, by the way. Carl Greco is very underrated. I don't consider him to be near the level of Ishikawa/Otsuka/Ikeda but he is still very good, particularly on the mat.



#7 Jetlag

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 12:40 PM

Carl Greco/Naoyuki Taira vs. Alvin Ken/Ikuto Hidaka (BattlARTS 1/23/2001)

 

See, the fun thing about going back and revisiting an indy guy is that you get to see all these fun obscure wrestlers. Alvin Ken was this tiny little punk who wore a dog collar around his neck during his entrance and retired the next year. Taira was this MMA fighter who showed up in BattlARTS in 2000 and was pretty pushed, holding the Indy Jr. Title (a very nice looking belt). Taira was very good on the mat and threw these graceful kicks that didn't always hit. But what do ya know, he was 37 years old here. Hidaka was wearing his strange facepaint. BattlARTS really was a colorful promotion. Greco and Hidaka were married to eachother for the opening sections and the finish, and what to ya know, it was really good, slick, fast matwork. Like you expect from two really talented dudes. I imagine the single matches they had were a sight to see for the 27 people in attendance. The middle was showcasing Taira and Ken and it was good stuff. You can see any of these 4 guys having a really good career on the japanese indy scene in the 2000s, but everyone except for Hidaka just disappeared. Hard to declare this a great Greco match with the weight of the match being shouldered so equally, but it was a very good Greco performance. I miss these kind of fun, skillful undercard matches.

 

Carl Greco vs. Naoyuki Taira (Independent Jr. Title Match) (BattlARTS 7/20/2000)

 

We go on to the best looking matchup from the previous combo (that I have available). I had commented that in 1999 BattlARTS was doing pro wrestling with shootstyle rather than the other way around. By 2001 they had gone back to the inital BattlARTS formula. The Indy Jr. Title allowed pinfall finishes so there are a few indyriffic bits, but the majority is shootstyle goodness. Taira was not Fujiwara or BattlARTS dojo trained (as far as I know), so he brought a little different mat style and he was a really good matchup for Greco's freaked out grappling. This was slick and full of fascinating holds like U-Style. Taira is good, but Greco really pushes him. Like I said they drift into pro-style a bit including a somewhat goofy random pinfall, but they quickly revert back to mat struggle that was more hardfought than usual „Grab a submission → rope break → repeat“ nearfalls, which I dug. Great little match.



#8 Jetlag

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 06:25 AM

Carl Greco vs. Daisuke Ikeda (PWFG 8/26/1995)

 

Early Greco is probably the most fascinating. With his kickpads and bleach blonde hair, he looked like any other 90s/early 2000s indy schmoe, but he was quite the top flight wrestler, and didn't rely on spots at this point. People tend to forget that Ikeda could go on the mat. He is an aggressive striker in this match and essentially a shootstyle heel, kicking Greco in the ropes and stomping on him when he's down, but he can gain the advantage on the mat. As a result this was a really good matchup. I like that Greco, while able to throw strikes, only resorts to them unwillingly and prefers hitting the mat and just tossing Ikeda around. Some really impressive wrestling here and Greco's explosiveness is something else. Whenever Ikeda gave an opening Greco would just hammer him into the mat, even when Ikeda was attacking. This was a short midcard match between two workers with not a ton of experience, so it doesn't progress into some kind of epic, but the finish was nifty enough. Hugely enjoyable wrestling match.



#9 Jetlag

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 03:17 PM

THE QUEST FOR THE CARL GRECO OF THE YEAR: 1999

 

Carl & Joe Malenko vs. Yuki Ishikawa/Daisuke Ikeda (6/9/99)

 

This was Joe's sort-of-retirement match. I expected the focus to be on him, but instead Carl did the bulk of the work, so this was just right for this project. These retirement matches often tend to be greatest hits-type matches, but they stick their necks out and have a nice competitive fight that could've easily been the finals of a tournament or title bout. Joe work's a really cool Gotchhead style integrated into BattlARTS shootstyle. He looked a little rusty at times but like a total master at others. He could totally roll on the mat and turn guys inside out. Carl was the faster, flashier, all modern grappling contrast to him. Carl played FIP but was still dangerous throughout the segment, like he always is. This was mostly centered to matwork with occasional hard hits but laid out with typical tag psychology building to a stretch run. Carl and Joe were a great team - you'd wish they'd done more together because putting the two gaijin grapplers together was such a no brainer, but I guess Joe was really only around for this one match in BattlARTS. Well, thanks Joe! This was a rocking bout.



#10 KB8

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 06:07 PM

The 7/2000 match with Taira was really good, a couple hokey rope-running bits aside (I think that's the first time I've seen a crossbody as a nearfall in Battlarts). Greco was a demon at points. It was like a football/soccer game where one team is just piling on pressure and you're wondering how long the other is going to be able to hold out. Not all of Taira's kicks landed flush, but when they did they did and I liked Greco's near-KO selling for a few of them. Still, Greco grabbing a guy and tying him up in a wicked submission is the prevalent theme of this match and if you're watching it in the first place then you're probably going to be happy about that.

#11 Jetlag

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 11:14 AM

Greco/Ishikawa/Hidaka vs. Ikeda/Naniwa/Yone (Elimination Tag, BattlARTS 5/10/1998)

 

When you see "BattlARTS" and "Elimination Tag", you think of that super classic from 2008. This wasn't that epic, but still a great piece of pro wrestling. The elimination stip adds a good deal of character and unpredictability to the match, and everyone here gets to look really good. The Naniwa/Ishikawa interactions are so much fun. Hidaka also looks like the most talented kid here, and not just because of his flying. Dude could really dish out the palm strikes. Of course,  Ikeda leads his team as a bastard heel captain and it comes down to Team Greco ending up in a disadvantaged situation. Lots of double teaming and nasty boot scrapes ensue. Eventually Greco ends up being the focus of the match, and let me tell you he was tremendous. His selling and fighting back from underneath was world class. The fact that Greco always looks like he can finish an opponent in 2 seconds also adds a ton. After the match a brawl breaks out with all the jumpsuit kids having to separate the competitors, which you rarely saw in BattlARTS. Match started out fun and got really good towards the end, making you want to see all the potential single matchups especially Greco vs. Ikeda.



#12 Jetlag

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 11:34 PM

THE QUEST FOR THE CARL GRECO OF THE YEAR: 1996

 

Carl Greco & Viktor Krueger vs. Yuki Ishikawa & Alexander Otsuka (BattlARTS 12/4)

 

Hey look it's Viktor Krueger! For those of you who don't know: Krueger was this big austrian guy who for some reason showed up in BattlARTS and looked like a behemoth next to all those tiny half-juniors. Even more obscure: Krueger got BattlARTS a TV deal in GERMANY!! It was only on mini regional TV, and like a couple minutes of a highlight show once per month or something, but it counts! Maybe it's because I haven't seen this stuff in years, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Krueger didn't really have a clue, but he was highly efficient as he was willing to get to the mat and clobber it out aswell as bring a little personality. He and Greco made a very good „you're fucked if you have to face these guys“ gaijin team. One is twice your size, and the other is a mat genius, and you really can't beat either of them. Greco was a barefooted fiend here, and when Greco goes barefoot into a match he really is at his best. Lots of top tier mat stuff involving Greco vs. Ishikawa and Greco vs. Otsuka, in which the BattlARTs guys really look better than they have most of the time. The natives were naturally good at „outmatched but fighting like a pitbull regardless“, and you get the sense everyone here gave it their all.

 

Carl Greco & Viktor Krueger vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Takeshi Ono (BattlARTS 12/4)

 

This is a little more interesting than the previous match for 2 reasons:

  1. Ikeda and Ono can strike.

  2. Ikeda and Ono aren't afraid to act like total dicks.

The result was a super cool little match. Krueger was smart enough to leave the juicy part of the bout to Greco, who once again was a whirlwind of swank and unpredictable matwork. I love that the Ikeda/Greco sections are just as good as the Ishikawa/Greco sections from before, but because Ikeda and Ono aren't afraid to cheat they actually end up coming out on top (for a moment). I also loved Ono trying his hardest to embarass Krueger. Thankfully Krueger was able to defend himself using his shoot knowledge of BACK CLUBS~! He has good clubbing blows so I'm not crapping on him. An enraged Krueger crawling towards Ikeda while Ono was still climbing around on his back was pretty great. But yeah watch this for the Greco twisting.



#13 Jetlag

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 09:08 AM

Carl Greco vs. Daisuke Ikeda (2/20/97)

 

Greco and Ikeda looked really good against eachother in the previous tag. So here's them in a singles match! For such a short match, this was GREAT. Ikeda is a guy who is comfortably „very good“ on the match, but Greco just guzzles him here. Greco has ridiculously high end technique. High end slick ground grappling. High end headscissor work. A bloody high end sidewalk slam! Greco really was a master at taking the most simple things and turning them into something amazing. Ikeda is all outmatched bull here and he has some great brief spurts of pissed off bull rushes. This was like the best 9 minute Velocity match ever.



#14 Jetlag

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 01:24 PM

THE QUEST FOR THE CARL GRECO OF THE YEAR - - 1996 PART 2

 

Yuki Ishikawa vs. Carl Greco (BattlARTS 4/13/96)

Yuki Ishikawa & Katsumi Usuda vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Carl Greco (BattlARTS 4/14/96)

 

Welp, here's two matches I didn't even know existed on tape until last week. They didn't make the Best of BattlARTS comp – which is some serious bollocks if you ask me, because both these were excellent and immediately skyrocketed towards the top of my list of favourite Greco matches. The first match was a full shootstyle main event and as cool as you imagine it to be. They had the BattlARTS roster (and even Dieseul Berto) watching from ringside. The second match also had a cool atmosphere as it took place in a hotel with folks watching from fancy dining tables. The tag had a cool layout too, as Ishikawa and Ikeda avoided eachother for the first half of the match, allowing for lots of good matwork involving Greco early on, before all hell broke lose in the second half. Even after watching so much Greco footage, I was surprised with all the cool shit Greco came up with in these two matches. I've said it before that Greco brings the best out of his opponents, but it was striking that Usuda and Ishikawa never looked better on the mat in 1996 than opposite Greco here. Another thing was how brutal Carl could get: the Ishikawa singles obviously had a lot of pride involved, and maybe Ishikawa's cockiness is what lead Carl to angrily waffle him with shotais and eventually rattle his brain with a series of kicks to the skull, but he did it the next night aswell when the beef was between Ishikawa and Ikeda... maybe it's cause he was fighting Ishikawa, maybe he toned down the striking later on to focus on his submission work, maybe April of 1996 just wasn't Ishikawa's month... one thing wasn't out of the ordinary: both matches had Carl ensnaring people like a python. Regardless, 4/13 was an intense contest with a crazy finish, and 4/14 another top notch BattlARTS tag that told an excellent story, and both matches delivered both brutality and crazy mat stuff in spades as you want. Highly recommended stuff







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