This show started with another kickboxing contest. I'm pretty sure it was Ohe from the 6/6 show, but I don't know the other guy. He got damn near curb stomped, whoever he was.
Yuko Miyato v Tatsuo Nakano
This started out pretty tentative, but after a little while things picked up and it turned into a decent scrap. They throw a bunch of palm strikes that lead to knockdowns that aren't really knockdowns, but that added to the scrappy feel of it. Like, Miyato's strike didn't exactly knock Nakano down, but it unbalanced him as he was about to retaliate and it caused him to slip. I guess it was right on the cusp of a knockdown, but with a wag of the finger Nakano made sure the ref' knew it wasn't. At one point they even end up tumbling out the ring and I half expected Nakano to pull a Kitahara and hit Miyato with a chair. Nakano has been using the choke regularly since the debut show and the crowd are definitely picking up on it. Sometimes it's worked (used it to submit Anjoh), sometimes it hasn't (had it reversed into an armbar against Takada). I thought he'd managed to submit Miyato with it here, but apparently Miyato grabbed a heel hook or something and it was Nakano who tapped. It was hard to tell with the ref' being in the way.
Kazuo Yamazaki v Billy Scott
This was much more like it for a Yamazaki v gaijin fight. Last time he was stuck with the rubbish JT, but Scott is far more capable and it meant Yamazaki didn't need to baby him. Yamazaki has definitely stood out on these early shows, even if he hasn't been in anything blowaway. I'm not sure he's underrated necessarily, at least not among shoot style fans, but he has a sort of understated badass aura about him that not many people talk about. He's pretty stoic and businesslike, never looking especially perturbed, but that makes those moments where he's in trouble stick out. You know how capable he is, so if this Billy Scott guy comes in on his first night and gives him some serious bother then maybe people should be paying attention to Billy Scott. Some of the stand up in this was really good because we got to see Yamazaki let loose with the kicks opposite a guy that knew how to defend against them (I don't want to keep ragging on JT Southern, but you could tell Yamazaki had to hold back there). Scott retaliated with some knees and solid palm strikes and was always dangerous with the throws. Down the stretch there was some pretty big drama as well, a few rock solid mat exchanges and a nice finish with the standing choke. Scott is definitely the best of the Americans on the '91 shows so far, and I know he comes back because I've seen at least one of his matches with Anjoh from '93. This wasn't a classic, but it was good stuff.
Nobuhiko Takada & Kiyoshi Tamura v Yoji Anjoh & Jim Boss
I'll take pretty much every bit of Tamura/Anjoh I can get and their exchanges in this did not disappoint. I don't really want to start talking up Anjoh as one of Tamura's three best opponents ever, because it's been ages since I watched any RINGS Tamura, but it feels like he probably belongs in the discussion with guys like Yamamoto, TK and Han. Anyway, whenever this was Tamura v Anjoh it ruled. It followed the same pattern as the 7/3 singles match with the awesome, fast mat exchanges, Tamura determined to prove a point and Anjoh determined not to let him. Anjoh still has the advantage in the stand up, but it feels like Tamura has improved there even in the space of time between their singles match and now. Takada/Anjoh was pretty good as well, especially when they leathered each other with kicks. The ground exchanges weren't nearly as exciting as Tamura/Anjoh, but they were fine. I'd like to see Takada match up with someone who's closer to his level in the pecking order soon, because he hasn't really stretched out against his opponents so far due to the hierarchy gulf. The Anjoh exchanges have been his best up to now, though. Boss was pretty clearly the weak link in this. Apparently he's a kickboxer, but I'll assume that's some carny horse shit because he certainly doesn't seem like one. Or maybe he is and he just doesn't know how to pull his strikes properly so he purposefully throws feather dusters (the anti-Murakami, then). Either way they were not good (and they weren't any better in the '92 show). When he threw kicks he looked like some high school douchebag trying to wind up the Asian kid with shithead karate. I don't think he extended his leg once, generated no power through his hips, had a weird face-on stance, etc. I get not wanting to full force roundhouse someone, but if you're supposed to be a kickboxer on the same show where someone got decapitated in a shoot kickboxing contest, you need to be bringing some thunder. He mostly paired up with Takada and it wasn't great, but then in the back half of the match he got to do some stuff with Tamura and that was better. It was pretty much all Tamura, though. Takada was kind of content to let things move along steadily so Boss could find his feet a bit. Tamura had no time for that and MADE him get it together. It's that chip on Tamura's shoulder again; he's just 100% effort all the way and you either keep up or you get smoked. There was a great bit where Boss threw his one and only good kick of the match and Tamura sold it like he'd been shot, struggling to regain his bearings for a minute or two afterwards. Match was a little long, but it had plenty of Tamura/Anjoh so I can accept the trade off.
This was another solid show. Maybe I'm finding this stuff easier to watch because I find so-so shoot style less troublesome to get through than other so-so wrestling (and the shows aren't very long, anyway), but even your Miyato v Nakano bouts have been fine. There wasn't a truly standout match on the card, but Yamazaki got to look real good against a capable opponent and there was more Tamura/Anjoh in the main. And any Tamura/Anjoh is a good thing.