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Volk Han vs Nikolai Zouev (RINGS 11/18/1993)

Volk Han Nikolai Zouev RINGS 1993

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    save all japan pro wrestling

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 02:58 PM

I've said before that one of the difficulties I've had in my wrestling fandom was properly analyzing shoot style and lucha matches that consisted mostly of matwork, as the beauty of the great stuff seemed so evident I wouldn't even know where to start. Looking at it now it's obvious I just wasn't good enough at noticing the patterns of the matches and expressing my thoughts on them. RINGS, and Volk Han matches especially tend to be very reactionary. Watching a Volk Han match is akin to watching Seinfeld-it works perfectly in a vacuum. Sure, occasionally there will be some references to what happened previously, but that's really not the main point. The style is action packed, and honestly if someone were to accuse them of just spamming nearfalls I wouldn't even try to argue against it. In this match it's basically what they do the entire time. Experienced RINGS viewers will notice that despite the conditioned crowd reacting to everything loudly there are distinctive elements to finishes and potential finishes and that is something that you really won't see abused and overused, quite the opposite actually. The big spots often look like they could finish the match but a few seconds later you see the wrestlers change positions hinting that an escape or a counter is coming. The finish here plays off the established structure of match finishes neatly, as you get a brief moment of absolute peril, where an ending seems imminent, a breif attempt to reach the ropes and then the tap out. It works, it's beautiful, and it feeds on the established formula instead of letting it destroy the match and suck all of the excitement out of it. How many times have you seen wrestlers in WWE and New Japan dramatically crawl to the ropes before grabbing them? Too many. I don't find that spot exciting or interesting, I know how it's going to end because the result is the same in 99% of cases. If there is going to actually be a tap out in WWE or NJPW it isn't goint to come after dramatic rope crawling, it's going to come two to five seconds after the hold gets locked in. The rope crawling spot could be this huge, dramatic exciting spot if the percentages of the times it gets the tap out was higher. Back to the match-Zouev may be my second favourite russian from RINGs, but I also remember taking him a while to really *get it*. He seemed outclassed here, especially in striking-Han brought awesome knee strikes, slaps and punches and Zouev's stand up attempts were just there. He did have some strong selling moments, like the over the top selling of Han's knee strike and doing a forward roll to escape Han's standing double wristlock. I had wondered how people bought matches that had so many highspots and ridiculous armdrags as being so realistic, but then I realised Aikido is a thing, watched some old propaganda Judo clips, remembered how great japanese people can be at bullshitting things and suddenly it made perfect sense. The creativity of Han and his ability to come up with so many situations of danger and transition to the next one so quickly is unmatchable-though I don't think it quite makes for my favourite shoot style. ***1/2

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 07:38 PM

This match is fantastic. Some true quality grappling. Both guys looked really, really good. Zouev's strikes looked really bad, but he's smart enough to use them to cut the distance and clinch with Han and shooting for the takedown or pulling guard on Han. That arm-triangle choke, that clinch guard pull into an armbar and that counter to the banana split with a leglock and armbar combination in the finish were beautiful. Really good match.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Volk Han, Nikolai Zouev, RINGS, 1993

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