Yuki Ishikawa & Shoichi Funaki vs. Daisuke Ikeda & Katsumi Usuda (Alpha Japan Promotions 1/13/96)

Match Reviews

The name on the masthead does not read “BattlArts” for this match, but it’s basically a prologue for all to come. It is basically a BattlArts show in everything but name, and as far as establishing the tone for an entire promotion, it does that exceedingly well.

That’s in large part to prominently featuring the rivalry that would come to define the company’s legacy. Ishikawa and Ikeda are the first two men in the ring, and their famous chemistry is immediately on display. Whenever those two touch, the air itself crackles with electricity. There’s such tension and urgency behind even the smallest maneuvers, and when something big lands like a solid Ikeda kick or a downward punch from Ishikawa, it thunders through Korakuen.

Funaki and Usada play supporting roles here, but both do well given what’s asked of them in this match. Usuda’s the far more offensively minded of the two, he’s a lot more interesting when forced to riff with Ishikawa on the mat or start throwing strikes when Funaki’s isolated in the ring. Funaki’s focused match more on absorbing a beating from the Ikeda and Usuda team. He’s a good hand at that, but his biggest moments probably come from a nice plancha towards the end of the match.

It’s interesting how as a first main event, this match chooses to leave something on the table to return to down the line. While we do get some sweet Ishikawa/Ikeda interactions once the former finally gets the hot tag towards the end, Ikeda does get neutralized so that the finish itself comes down to Ishikawa and Usuda instead. 

It’s a strong introduction to would become BattlArts, centering on its two key figures beating the tar out of each other as they’re known to do. Having Yoshiaki Fujiwara enter the ring to share in the celebration after the bell feels like a nice cherry on top of the occasion as well. Sending of our heroes to start forging their own path, and investigate some fighting.

Rating: ****

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *