TETSUJIN Beauty in Combat: Second Stage

02/09/2018

Hanger 34, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom

(reviewed 02/27/2018)

Mike Bird vs Chris Brookes

Beauty in Combat Tournament First Round Match

Quality start to the tournament. The lanky Brookes might not look like much but he’s surprisingly great on the mat and while Bird was sort of a question mark going into this tournament due to his (apparent) lack of amateur/combat background his fundamentals are quite good and he knows how to think on his feet. Brookes applies the experience that took him to the finals in the first tournament and while Bird isn’t bigger than his opponent he can utilize a strength game Brookes simply doesn’t have. He becomes too focused on it, though, which allows Brookes to slip his way into an ankle lock to force the submission.

Mark Haskins vs Kyle Fletcher

Beauty in Combat Tournament First Round Match

Cool little character-oriented pseudo-squash. Fletcher’s a tall, highflying Aussie kid who clearly has zero experience in any sort of style like this but comes into the match with a cool confidence. Haskins, who is quite small but equally as ferocious when he wants to be, just eats him alive, slapping on a sleeper within the first 20 seconds of the match and he never really lets up from there. I wouldn’t exactly call it a squash due to the length and the format of the tournament, but Haskins is in control for about 90% of the match and Fletcher looks lost and mortified almost every step of the way. It’s clear that he thought he could sort of coast through a first round match by virtue of his size but as soon as Haskins shows that he can both out-wrestle and out-strike his larger, younger opponent it’s curtains for the young Aussie. He gets a good shot in with a brief ankle lock and a few leg kicks, but Haskins turns up the heat with leg kicks of his own, applying a longer ankle lock that looks to have Fletcher finished before a big series of kicks to the head puts him down for good. Wouldn’t exactly call this “good” but for a shoot-inspired match that features a dude who doesn’t know a key lock from a key chain it’s real well done.

Chris Ridgeway vs Craig Kollins

Beauty in Combat Tournament First Round Match

For what we get this is probably the best match on the show so far, as not only is it two guys who are actually versed in this style but two guys who are familiar with each other. There’s some good scrambling on the mat, a few good suplexes, a good spin kick but then that’s… it. A spin kick out of nowhere gets Ridgeway the victory in a bit over four minutes. On paper that doesn’t read like much shorter than the six minutes of the opener or the nine minutes of the second match but it feels sort of lacking when it all plays out and the big babyface up-and-comer facing off with a hometown pal is the shortest match of the show. I suppose it establishes the guy as a worthy contender when he went out in the first round of the first tournament but at this point I don’t believe that had to be established.

Omari vs Travis Banks

Beauty in Combat Tournament First Round Match

Another good match but one that’s sadly more in line with Kollins/Ridgeway than the first two bouts. Despite Omari’s inexperience Banks isn’t able to control things on the mat so he elects to just blast through the big man. Omari’s able to fake him out with a series of delightfully clever tricks, though, and makes good use of his size when Banks tries to turn this into a shootout, but he simply doesn’t have the sheer power that the Kiwi does and goes down after a big flurry of kicks and suplexes. Fun stuff but I’d love to have seen a bit more.

Mark Haskins vs Chris Ridgeway

Beauty in Combat Tournament Semi-Finals

Solid match from what I could see. Sadly the early copy I got of this show really crapped out during this bout no matter what I did, dropping frames at a staggering rate, and as you can imagine it’s fairly hard to follow along with a match that’s running at one or two frames per second for long stretches of time. Still, what I was able to piece together seemed good. Neither man was able to find much of a foothold in the opening grappling so Haskins starts firing away on one of the only men in the tournament he can stand eye to eye with. He’s more experienced and more explosive than Ridgeway is so it seems like it’ll be easy pickings but Riddy’s able to connect with the spin kick that brought him the victory in the first round and combines it with the sleeper that found Haskins so much success earlier and it’s enough to win the match.

Travis Banks vs Chris Brookes

Beauty in Combat Tournament Semi-Finals

Banks jumps his partner at the bell with a dropkick and we’re off! He kicks away at Brookes for a while, fending off the lanky local when he tries to slink his way into a hold, but when Banks comes off the ropes with an enzuigiri Brookes catches him in an ankle lock and Banks taps out, oh shit! Quick little deal that gives Brookes a lot of momentum heading into the finals against the underdog who’s basically been the number two dude in this entire promotion. Good stuff.

Zack Sabre Jr vs David Starr

Superfight

Unsurprisingly this is great, the best match on this show by a wide margin. Two guys with grappling experience and experience with each other staying focused and intense as they’re given plenty of time. Zack goes after Starr’s leg and manages to really confound and hurt him, which is only exacerbated by Starr’s own cockiness. The American repeatedly gets in his own way with his own pride, whether it’s by underestimating the damage Zack has done to his leg or by bristling at his cheap shots and eventually he just starts wailing on the guy with these big clubbing overhand forearms. In turn this infuriates Zack—certainly no level-headed saint himself—and before long they’re firing shots back and forth and it’s delightful stuff, especially as Starr continues to be the most insufferable little prick. He’s far more interested in talking shit than taking swings and when Zack bunkers down and worms his way into a hold, Starr’s just so mad at the entire situation that he loses all control and can’t use the extensive amateur skill that he has to combat simple moves like a sleeper. It’s really great stuff, giving this more of an emotional and dangerous edge than any of their previous matches as well as any of the other matches on this show, in no small part due to its length and depth. I doubt it stays there for long but right now this feels like a top three match of the year for me, so I really recommend going out of your way to catch this one.

Chris Brookes vs Chris Ridgeway

Beauty in Combat Tournament Finals

(reviewed 02/28/2018) Solid enough match but easily one of the lesser bouts of the tournament. They play with themes from the earlier matches (Brookes’ leg locks, Ridgeway’s spin kick) for a bit before trading some German suplexes. Brookes’ size looks to have him firmly in control but when he muscles Ridgeway up for a suplex the smaller man’s able to slip free and combo a Falcon Arrow into a cross armbreaker for the win. Simple stuff that is fine in execution but lacking any of the emotive or strategic or violent drive of preceding matches.

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