Volk Han-A-Thon Part 2: 1994 to Mid-1995

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Volk-Han-A-Thon Part 2- 1994 to Mid-1995 or How to Make Friends and Influence Their Extremities

In this fun edition of Everyone Loves Volk, he continues to re-define submission work. While this is what he is known for, I think what this series of matches shows is his ability to develop rivalries and keep them interesting. He has repeat opponents in Maeda, Nagai, Zouev and Kopilov and all the matches build on each other. Although this style has not survived (although it has somewhat been reborn) there is so much that is universal to the storytelling here and it deserves study in every wrestling school.

1/21/1994

Vs Yoshihisa Yamamoto

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pYyBilSltE

It’s a quick start with a spinning backfist from Yamamoto and he takes Han to the mat. Han grabs the ankle and twists it in a grisly fashion forcing Yamamoto to use a rope escape. Han spins with his backfist but eats a kick. Han grabs a kimura/headlock combination and Yamamoto uses another rope escape. Han gets the arm and drops for an attempt at a cross arnbreaker and Yamamoto uses yet another rope escape. Yamamoto then shows he’s not just a jobber when he downs Han with a stiff punch to the gut and whips the crowd into excitement. Han sells it like a champ. Han is up at a count of eight and Yamamoto takes him to the mat and grabs a headlock. Yamamoto grabs a leglock and goes for the headlock but Han escapes and does a mount and stretches out Yamamoto’s legs in what I guess is a modified crucifix.. Yamamoto manages to get Han’s leg and Han looks like he is going for a sharpshooter. But no, he transitions into a figure-four instead, but still makes it look shoot-style. Yamamoto uses a rope escape and is limping. Yamamoto starts throwing punches and Han throws him to the mat with a wristlock and works on the arm. Yamamoto comes out on top and then goes for a rear naked choke that is stopped by Han’s rope escape. Han tries to hold off Yamamoto with kicks but they go to the mat where Han tries to get an armbreaker. He gets a nasty armbar instead and Yamamoto uses a rope escape. They stand and trade slaps, punches and kicks until Yamamoto rolls Han to the mat for a leglock, forcing Han into a rope escape. Yamamoto does what is basically a leg lariat and has Han down but Han manages to grab the arm and go for a kimura. Yamamoto jumps out and goes for an ankle-lock. Han works his way out and grabs a cross armbreaker with Yamamoto using a rope escape. They slap at each other and Yamamoto takes Han down with an ankle-lock but the wily Han grabs an ankle-lock of his own. Yamamoto struggles to grab the rope but eventually does so for an escape. Yamamoto starts throwing kicks and strikes and then shoots for Han’s leg. Han rolls him over and ties up his arm for the submission win. Really fun stuff here with hope-spots for Yamamoto while Han continues to be the man.

2/6/1994

Vs Nikolai Zouev

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFloJ7INrmA

Zouev is tentative at first allowing Han to hit kicks and knees until Zouev ends up in the ropes and gets a count from the referee. Zouev goes for a spinning back-fist but Han kicks his head. Han goes for a kimura but Zouev takes him down. Han grabs an ankle-lock and Zouev uses a rope escape. Zouev starts throwing kicks and then kicks Han’s legs out from under him. Han positions himself to go for an armbrekaer but Zouev gets back and a chinlock. Zouev throws himself back but Zouev maintains control going for the arm. Han gets on top and applies a cross armbreaker and Zouev uses a rope escape. Zouev hits knees and then suplexes Han and goes for a cross armbreaker. Han rolls out but Zouev grabs and armbar and Han uses a rope escape. They’re on the mat with their legs tied up. Zouev gets Han’s back but Han works it into an ankle-lock and Zouev uses another rope escape. Zouev tries some kicks and grabs a front facelock and throws knees to Han’s head, including one when he is downed. This seems to be illegal as the referee stops him and gives a yellow card. They separate and Zouev gets a takedown and goes for Han’s arm and manages to get a cross armbreaker briefly. Han gets out but Zouev has his ankle but as always Han has one of his own. Han takes Zouev’s back and tries a choke but Zouev rolls out and controls Han’s arm, eventually catching a cross armbreaker and Han uses a rope escape. They’re on the feet and Han throws palm-strikes and then grabs Han’s arm for an arm-lock forcing the ropes scape. Zouev then takes Han down with body-scissors and tries for the leg but Han shrugs him and goes after the arm. Zouev goe for a single-leg crab but Han gets out, does the step-over toehold and goes for an STF as called by the announcer. He gets a single-leg crab and then transitions to a body-scissors and rear choke. Han works his way into a cross armbrekaer but Zouev gets out and applies a rear naked choke forcing Han to use a rope escape. Zouev clinches and takes down Han and goes for the arm. They roll together and are stood up as Han is under the ropes. They trade some nasty slaps and Zouev takes Han to the mat and tries an armbreaker. Han gets the leglock and Zouev uses a rope escape. Zouev shoots but Han grabs a kimura. Han controls Zouev with a headlkock but Zouev transitions out and grabs an awesome armbar. Han taps out and Zouev gets the win. Really cool match in which Han was mostly in control but Zouev hung in there and got an awesome submission win.

4/23/1994

Vs Bitsadze Tariel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZwcIZWDaN4

Tariel is from Georgia, as in the former Soviet state and not the territory that made Tommy Rich a star. Both Han and Tariel get cool entrance music. Tariel checks a kick from Han and blocks some strikes. They trade some stirkes and Han goes for the arm, taking Tariel down and applying a single-leg crab. Tariel does a rope escape. Tariel hits some punches and kicks nit Jam tales him down and ties up the leg. Han gets a cross armbreaker and Tariel uses a rope escape. Tariel comes back with a vengeance and downs Han with some punches and a kick. They both throw spin-kicks and then Han jumps into Tariel but takes a knee to the gut for another down. Tariel throws kicks and Han throws a spinning backfist. Tariel is trying for |Han’s leg but Han takes him down and locks onto his arm until Tariel rolls into the ropes. Tariel hits a knee to the head. Han grabs his arm but Tariel fights him off with knees and kicks. Han takes Tariel down and goes for the legs but Tariel uses a rope escape. ON their feet, Han throws a kick and Tariel goes for palm-strikes. Han takes him down and gets a cross ambreaker, forcing a rope escape by Tariel. The amount of rope escapes Tariel has used equals two downs out of four he is allowed to have before losing on a fifth. Tariel hits Han with kicks and Han tries unsuccessfully to grab the leg. They trade kicks and Han gets Tariel to the mat and applies a leg-lock that is broken as Tariel is under the ropes. They stand and Tariel throws two punches and a leg-kick for a third down on a vulnerable-looking Han who gets a count of eight from the referee. Han then kicks Tariel’s knee but Tariel grabs Han and throws him out of the ring. Han comes back in and takes kicks Tariel but rolls him and stretches out his leg, forcing another rope escape. Tariel throws kicks and palm-strikes but Han takes him down and sinks in an ankle-lock. Tariel tries in vain to find an escape route but is forced to tap out. This was probably the best Han match I’ve seen for him showing vulnerability to strikes but still managing to tough out a strategic victory.

5/17/1994

Vs Mitsuya Nagai (2nd fight)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLcJZhHyF9c

This is the second fight of what I know is a long series between the two. Nagai throws some kicks right away but Han grabs his leg. Nagai works his way out and hits a spin-kick. Han picks up Nagai and slams him and goes after the arm, grabbing a cross armbreaker and hold Nagai’s leg to prevent the rope escape. Nagai manages to use his other leg for the escape. Nagai tries some strikes but Han takes him down and applies a leg-lock. Han maneuvers Nagai into an armbreaker but Nagai gets out and applies a leg-lock that is broken as Han is under the ropes. Nagai throws a flurry of strikes and takes Han down and goes for his own cross armbreaker. They both grab each other’s ankle but don’t get anything. Han goes for Nagai’s wrist and returns focus to the ankle. Nagai fights back and the referee stands them up as they are at a standstill. Nagai throws punches , a head-kick and a spin-kick but ends up on the mat where Han applies an ankle-lock. Nagai goes for the ropes and Han drops to the mat to sink in the submission. Nagai manages to grab Han’s ankle but Ha gets a leg-lock. Nagai sinks in a headlock but Han gets the rope escape. More kicks from Nagai but Han drops him and the referee separates them as they’re in the ropes. Han grabs a kimura and flips Nagai to the mat and applies a cross armbreaker. Nagai rolls them under the ropes and the referee separates them. Nagai throws a  spinning backfist but Han punches him and hits a knee to the gut to down Nagai who gets a count of nine. Han goes after him and tries for the leg on the mat but Nagai rolls over into an attempt at an ankle-lock. Han manages to apply a leg-lock and lies back with it to apply pressure. Nagai uses a rope escape. Nagai then throws some kicks and strikes but Han quickly applies a rear naked choke and Nagai taps out almost immediately. This was a dominant performance by Han in which the young Nagai still got some hope in. The lightning-fast rear naked choke for the finish was simple but impressive.

6/18/1994

Vs Akira Maeda

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PpEpKr5MNM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kwe1Rr5zM9U

Maeda gets a great crowd reaction for his entrance. They pace each other to start with Maeda trying to strikes until Han takes him down and goes for the arm. They stall out near the ropes and the referee stands them up. Han throws some punches but Maeda throws more. Han grabs the nuclear wristlock and throws Maeda to the mat. Maeda ends up getting Han’s back and goes for a rear nake choke. Han gets out and grabs an ankle-lock. Han grabs a kimura but Maeda uses a rope escape. Maeda throws kicks but Han grabs his leg and takes him down. Maeda has a leg but Maeda breaks his grip. They both try to grab an ankle until Han grabs an armbar. Maeda rolls out and is in guard position where he transitions into an attempted cross armbreaker. The referee stands them up as they’re in the ropes. Han ounches at Maeda and ties up his leg briely. Han goes an ankle-lock and the fans react strongly while both Han and Maeda struggle for advantage. They come to a stalemate and the referee stands them up. Han slaps away at Maeda and shoots on him but Maeda is in the ropes and the referee stops them. Maeda then throws a big head-kick that downs Han for a count of nine that has the fans going wild. Han then spins around Maeda and takes him down and stretches out his ankle. Han transitions to an attempt at a cross armbreaker and almost has it when Maeda does a rope escape. They square off again and Maeda throws leg-kicks while Han fights back with head-kicks and slaps. Maeda’s eye seems to be hurt and he is attended to by his corner. They re-start the fight and Han checks a kick. Maeda takes Han down and tries to get an arm and eventually gets a rear naked choke that is broken by Han’s rope escape. Maeda throws kicks but Han breaks out a spinning backfist. Han ties up Maeda’s legs and gets his shoulders to the mat for a down, something you don’t see much in Han’s matches. They stalk each other and Han shoots in but they get separated as they’re in the ropes. Han goes for a head0kick. Maeda shoots on his legs and goes for a rear naked choke and then an armbreaker but they are again in the ropes. Han then gets Maeda down and locks in a version of an STF. Maeda reaches for the ropes but Han gabs his arm and keeps a leg-lock sunk in. Maeda rolls into a rope escape. Han hits Maeda with kicks and slaps and then takes him to the mat and applies a cross armbreaker. Maeda gets a rope escape. They’re on their feet where Maeda is throwing kicks and they trade punches. Maeda takes Han down and goes for the leg but Han grabs an arm. Maeda gets out but Han grabs him in a head-scissors and goes for a leg. Maeda manages to apply an ankle-lock but Han escapes and goes for the leg. They end up in the ropes again and get stood up. Han throws punches and takes Maeda down with the mega-wristlock. Han goes for a cross armbrekaer but gets stopped when Maeda grabs him in a knee-bar and Han taps out. Maeda celebrates winning a great match. It’s really impressive that someone with Maeda’s reputation would do so much to make Han a career rival and it makes one re-think Maeda’s career.

7/18/1994

Vs Tony Halme

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlVLcvXRdIo

Tony Halme was the former Ludvig Borga, the famous Finnish foil for patriots Lex Luger and Tatanka in 1993 WWF. He also held the IWGP Tag Titles with Scott Norton in 1992, beating the Steiner Brothers and being the first team to lose the titles to Hawk and Kensuke Sasaki. He was champion of Otto Wanz’ CWA in 1995 and then he had one UFC fight in 1997, losing to Randy Couture in his debut with the company. He was a regular with RINGS from 1994-1997. He was a member of the Finnish Parliament from 2003-2007 and later committed suicide in 2010. Just thought I’d throw all that out there as I don’t know anything about most of the opponents.

This clip starts off with footage of both Halme and Han warming up backstage. Halme is working with boxing gloves on and starts off with some attempted punches but Han hits him with knees and takes him down. Han tries to get a leg submission but Helsinki don’t raise no fools. Halme struggles for a moment but manages to crawl to the ropes for the escape. Halme is then doing some boxing defense as Han throws kicks and Halme gets a body-shot for a down. Han grabs Halme’s leg and takes him to the mat but they’re back up quickly. Han tries a spinning backfist but Halme grabs him for a back suplex. Halme applies a front facelock which is tough with boxing gloves. Han goes an arm submission but Halme gets the rope escape. They clinch and Halme hits a number of uppercuts and downs Han for a count of eight. Han then shoots on Halme and gets a cross armbreaker with Halme using another rope escape. Han does hit a spinning back-fist that grazes Halme who then delivers another back suplex. They’re on the mat and Han gets an armbar with Halme getting a rope escape. They’re on their feet and Halme hits Han with shots to the head and body. He hits a knee to the body and then a head-shot to down Han again. Halmes is throwing punches again but Han swoops in with a body-scissors and rolls into a nice ankle-lock. Halme taps out to give Han the submission win. Han is then interviewed afterward and I will assume he is saying that Finland is weak unlike Mother Russia. Halme was far better here than I would have expected and it seems to have been the setting for him. He was a little like a 1994 version of what we see with Brock Lesnar today, although not nearly at his level.

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Author: Dave Musgrave