Kazushi Sakuraba & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Shinichi Suzukawa & Atsushi Sawada

(Fields Genki Desu Ka!! Oomisoka!! – DREAM / IGF / M-1 Global)

by Exequiel Ortega.

By the end of 2011, Inoki once again produced the traditional MMA New Year’s Show hosted by FEG (former K-1 and DREAM owners), featuring 4 pro wrestling matches under his banner. And while the first one was quite entertaining (Hideki Suzuki vs. Josh Barnett), the other two mediocre-to-bad matches (Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Peter Aerts and Jerome Le Banner vs. Tim Sylvia) were nothing compared to this clusterfuck.


Before talking about the match, here you have Inoki at the opening ceremony.

Prior the announcement of Inoki’s matches, there was a buzz among puroresu fans as rumours spread about Kazushi Sakuraba making his return to pro wrestling precisely on this card, maybe tagging with former New Japan prospect Katsuyori Shibata.

There were indeed some expectations, considering that Shibata was very promising prior his departure from NJPW in 2005, and Sakuraba fans are familiar with his work in Nobuhiko Takada’s UWFi (seriously, people need more Shoot Style in their lives) prior to his jump to MMA and superstardom in PRIDE FC. As for his opponents, Shinichi Suzukawa is a former Sumo wrestler (expelled for smoking pot) who started with a strong push defeating Mark Coleman, Montanha Silva, and Bob Sapp until losing to Jerome Le Banner; Sawada is a former Judoka trained and moulded by Naoya Ogawa, so expect as much from him as the next Shyamalan movie.

The match…

Since the days of PRIDE FC that MMA shows in Japan are known for their spectacular entrances. We have Sakuraba and Shibata coming together dressed as the Road Warriors, Sawada with an elephant mask for some reason, and Suzukawa with his entourage of rappers.

OK. Where do I begin? First of all, there are really no intentions to cooperate from both parts. Nobody sells anything, one of the teams corners their opponent to give themselves the tag, the only few parts they went on the mat there was a rope-break a minute later… oh man. The other thing that can be said about this match is how clueless and uninterested Sakuraba was; for instance, there is a moment in which he gives the tag to Shibata, Suzukawa interferes, and then he stays there, standing and watching his team partner fighting Shibata until he decides to kick his opponent only to return to the apron.

I won’t bore you to death with details of this match. I’ll just skip to the only highlight. Shibata corners Suzukawa while Sakuraba makes sure he doesn’t escape, Shibata comes at 200 miles an hour to hit a Dropkick, only to barely hitting it, landing on his head and dislocating his shoulder. Then Sakuraba enters to put Sawada in a Sleeper Hold and end this torture.


Sakuraba tries to give a promo, but Sawada throws some chairs at him. Probably this match won’t ring a bell to you as much as bouts from US promotions, but apart from the buzz that was created among Puroresu fans, I don’t think anybody was expecting such a terrible disaster.

Also, I put a video with Russian commentary as it was the only available one. Try to find one with the English commentary from HDNet. Mike Kogan constantly burying this match, in contrast with Michael Schiavello’s enthusiasm, is a nice bonus to sugar-coat this mess.

  • JoeBret19