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Length: 14 hrs 44 mins
Amidst their TV deal disappearing down the swanny, the DSE/Yakuza allegations made in the Japanese media and other happenings a-plentiful, PRIDE’s series of Bushido events lamentably are no more. I express regret because Bushido grew from these here malleable settings, into a truly majestic beast; indeed, the ninth event is pretty much the single finest MMA show since the inception of the sport.
Notes for the uninitiated: the concept of Bushido was a platform to showcase middle & welterweight fighters, in addition to up & coming prospects in the heavier classes, all of whom seldom saw opportunity to be shoe-horned onto PRIDE’s already cluttered main cards. These initial events were given raison d’etre, headlined as they were by a succession of team “best of…” competitions, featuring squadrons representing Japan, The Gracies, Brazilian Top Team & Chute Boxe. Bushido 1 hosts a best-of-five series pitting the former pairing against each other… by Bushido 2, the penny had dropped that this was a bit excessive, and the remaining encounters were compacted into best-of-three affairs. Whether this was intended as a permanent marquee vehicle for Bushido is a question that may never be answered- needless to say, a small handful of fighters used these primary outings to forcibly position themselves as the franchise players & focal point of the project.
With in excess of forty fights across five discs, and change from twenty sheets, this set certainly offers formidable bang for your buck. With this level of volume, however, I just hope you’re not expecting any kind of detailed synopsis…
Each event is afforded the vocal martyrdom of the ever-dependable duo of Mauro Ranallo & Bas Rutten, with the exception of the third, where PRIDE judge Matt Hume enters a vapid turn in substituting for “El Guapo”. Furthermore, the Ranallo/Hume duo is joined at the commentary table for a spell by Renzo Gracie: the three man team doth encapsulate the term “aural train-wreck”. Polish this set off within a week, and the little geezer who enthusiastically bangs on the pre-introduction drum will become akin to an adopted member of the household.
Bushido Volume 1
Bushido 1 is far from essential viewing, the brand getting off to an inauspicious beginning with a stop/start first round stoppage for Chris Brennan against Eiji Mitsuoka, with the former claiming a mid-round tapout from an armbar (that the replays certainly don’t add credence to), which results in several minutes’ dead time while the officials scurry to get their act together. This nondescript affair is followed by an absolute stinker, as Dutchman Rodney Faverus & German Challid “Die Faust” tumult through fifteen minutes of precisely diddly-squat. Further to this, only one of the five series matches finishes inside the allotted ten minute round-five minute round period: have ye any doubt that watching five fights in a row go the distance is exasperating fare…. try it yourself, then come back & apologise. The bout pitting the nine-times-out-of-ten engaging Carlos Newton against Renzo Gracie is far & away the pick of the bunch; an eminently close affair, boasting a veritable feast of struggle, reversal & counter reversal on the canvas, with a split-decision to top it all off. In lieu of bookers to keep the apprehension up, the best-of-five series of shootfights does the decent thing & lands square at 2-2 going into the final encounter. In fact, the same can be said of the subsequent three band-central affairs. Who needs the pro ‘rasslin, eh? The card is complimented with a noteworthy in the big league debut of current top three 205lber Maurico “Shogun” Rua, who makes quick work of veteran Akira Shoji. Indeed, a run of “Shogun’s” formative outings are on display herewithin, as is Takanori Gomi’s initial impact & rise to prominence, both of which make for pertinent retrospective viewing. Of interest to aficionados of Lucha Libre is the feature bout, which saw Mirko Cro Cop kick Dos Caras Jr in the head. Once. That’s it. Epic fight material it may not be; vintage Filipovic it surely is.
Bushido Volume 2
Bushido 2 offers up precious little in the way of notable happenings outside of the best-of-three series pitting the Nippon crew against a Wanderlei Silva captained Chute Boxe outfit. BTT founder Mario Sperry KO’s Cro Cop’s trainer in eleven seconds, Daiju Takase & Chris Brennan spend of quarter of an hour en quest to bore viewers rigid, as do Rodrigo Gracie & “Mach” Sakurai. Salvation arrives in the form of Yoshihisa Yamamoto & his apparent rush of blood, as the career-bum elects to spend a good couple of post-opening bell minutes openly mocking & taunting Mirko Cro Cop- invitation to be ritualistically massacred if ever I’ve seen one. Cro Cop obliged, naturally. The soon-to-be golden boys made bold statements in the team-game fights: Ranallo & Rutten intermittently built the debuting Jadson Costa throughout the broadcast, dubbing him “Little Wanderlei” on numerous occasions, with his opposition little more than an afterthought- Takanori Gomi proceeded to annihilate the hyped-up Brazilian, en route to a first round stoppage & manic victory celebration. “Shogun” blitzed Akihiro Gono in similar style.
Bushido Volume 3
My heart sunk at the onset of Bushido 3, with the emergence of Shamoji Fuiji, a participant in the horror show that was the four man tournament from Ultimate Japan II, that just last month I suffered through so that you, dear reader, will never have to. Fuiji didn’t let me down here, engaging in a thoroughly shambolic affair opposite Korean Kim Jin-Oh. I refuse to watch any of this guy’s fights in future. The only way is up from there, with said ascension bearing witness to Alecks Emilianenko effortlessly dismantling overmatched Aussie Matt “Twin Tiger”… erm… something or other, whose twin brother is comparably bludgeoned by Sentoryu at Bushido 5. The on-screen graphics seemingly don’t want to offer up classified information such as the Tiger brothers’ surname, and although Ranallo is forthcoming with the dirt on a few occasions, his crap accent equals one Brit still none the wiser. Hey, Mauro- say “aboot”!
A clash of no-names, Kazuo Misaki & Jorge Patino, proves a wonderful surprise- one of those hidden gems that you always hope to uncover in sets of this nature, packing their two rounds full of fast, energetic stand-up & ground exchanges, with each man wrenching gainfully at any window for a submission attempt. On the subject of submissions, superior instances of effort to enforce such a happening is the only possible explanation behind Daiju Takase’s baffling split-decision victory over Carlos Newton, in a contest that the “Ronin” otherwise thoroughly dominated, in terms takedowns & periods in control from the top, in addition to his conspicuous superiority standing up. Akira Shoji celebrated his twentieth foray into the ring, with DSE offering him up a sacrificial one-named can to kill for the occasion, whilst Cro Cop, fighting for the second time in a fortnight, got too blown-up to finish Hiromitsu Kanehara off.
The major points of the shindig come with the parade of another Team Gracie/Team Japan challenge, boasting the most pertinent instance of the five discs, as Takinori Gomi flies out of his corner, knees-knees-knees-KNEES the undefeated Ralph Gracie in the head, forcing the stoppage at a phenomenal six seconds. To close proceedings, Ryan Gracie & Ikuhisa Minowa battle for the duration with ne’er a hair’s width to separate them, prior to deathly eyeballing each other as the judges’ decision is announced: post verdict, Minowa brings his own brand of ProWres-virtue by storming to the back in a huff, while Gracie celebrates his victory by calling out the (metaphorical) entire world.
Bushido Volume 4
The fourth card is the least rubric of the gathering, playing as it does the Bushido game by numbers: Cro Cop trounces yet another no-mark, and Gomi knocks out another Brazilian, in the form of Fabio Mello. The event receives the occasional kick in proverbial change-of-circumstances, as debutant Luiz Buscape totally shellacked Hiroyuki Abe, Marcus Aurelio & Dokonjonosuke Mishima battled to a tantilising decision, and Ikuhisa Minowa took his punt at a highlight reel berth, halting Kenichi Yamamoto with a callous barrage of punches on the mat. On the flip side of the coin, Team Punishment’s Dean Lister & Red Devil fighter Amar Suloev spent a veritable eternity striving not engage, with Paulo Filho & Akira Shoji serving up a second dose of anti-insomnia verbiage. The commentary team is joined for the latter portion by one Quinton Jackson, and whilst additional insight levels are non-existent, there is a level of perverse enjoyment to be derived from Ranallo cautiously keeping his potboiling in check, given the presence of “Rampage”. One ‘rasslin-related oddity (pun intended) surfaces by way of an offbeat fight where Giant Silva tangled with (and was trounced by) NOAH’s Takashi Suguira. Not that said fight is any good, but still…
Bushido Volume 5
Bushido 5 is the ace in the pack, presenting a general fight-quality level on a par with the best of the rest, and absolutely no snoozers melanging things up. The somewhat average yet unspeakably awesome Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett threw caution to the wind in the headline attraction, giving kingpin Gomi a fair run for his money. Long-serving Igor Vovchanchyn added a spectacular KO to his resume, flooring Shamoji Fuiji with a huge right hand and adding the exclamation point with a flurry kicks to head on the ground KO…. way to murderize that tedious dud, Ice Cold! Carlos Newton’s Walsall-every-January-esque run continued, as he was bullied out of two rounds by a starkly impressive Ryo Chonan, while Mauricio “Shogun” upped his record with a further dogmatic win, over Yasehito Namekawa. With an eight bout duration, the set-closer isn’t the lengthy haul that a couple of the earlier shows are.
With the promotion as a whole being predominantly more mat based than the UFC, I’d recommend Bushido as a worthy introduction/taster for the PRIDE virgin, on account of the fights being shorter-by-design than your main show PRIDE tussle. With initiation points like the name-draw of the Gracie clan, and the fact that, while there are a number of down points & duff moments (hey- it’s shootfighting), the good consistently outweighs the bad throughout the duration of this collective, the sheer quantity on offer makes Bushido 1-5 an academic purchase, particularly given the modest outlay.
Points: 8 / 10
Bushido Volume 1 – 3: DVD
Bushido Volume 4: DVD
Bushido Volume 5: DVD