(President of Dream
Stage Entertainment (DSE), which promotes the Pride events)
Oct. l, 2000
Translated by Yoko Kondo
Q: DSE took over
KRS and started the management of the Pride series from Pride 5,
Q: You promoted seven
tournaments so far, Pride 5 to Pride 9, and also a Grand Prix Open Game
and a Final Game. What is it like when you look back on the last one and
have set up a long-term plan beginning with Pride 5. Ifm not
sure if we have accomplished it yet, but things are proceeding according
Q: It seems that Pride
became a major event at a single stroke in just one year. Is this what
you predicted from the start?
Morishita: It was a
feeling rather than a prediction. We worked very hard each time to
organize the event. As a result of the effort, it is here as it is.
There was a fortunate miscalculation too. Sakuraba, who debuted in Pride
2, did a great fight in the Grand Prix. Not all talented fighters can be
stars. But Sakuraba improved steadily to become a top fighter through
his fights in Pride series. It was most gratifying for us who manage the
finally defeated Royce Gracie too. I think vale tudo-type tournaments
have been going on with the Gracie family as a center since 1993.
Defeating the Gracies has been a big theme for fighters. So to speak, it
is an antagonism structure against Gracie jiu-jitsu. Do you think
Roycefs loss put an end to that structure?
Morishita: The concept
of antagonism against the Gracie family was made by us, DSE. I donft
think that structure came to the end. It will still continue. I think
there is something deeper in the Gracie family. They wonft finish it
in such a way that Gracie jiu-jitsu was defeated by Pro-wrestling, and
for Royce Gracie himself it wonft be the last fight
Q: The Grace family has
been playing a role as the villain in Japan. It was a "super
villain". But that color seems to be fading away because of
Roycefs loss. How do you think about a future prospect of this drama?
Morishita: What we have
to do is to make a match between Japanese fighter and a real strong
fighter, not necessarily a villain, and a match for which the Japanese
fan can have empathy like gI want you to defeat himh.
Q: You held the fight
with Seikendo, didnft you?
Morishita: Yes we did.
Q: Were you expecting
Russian fighters to play the role of villain instead of the
Morishita: No, I
donft think of it at all (laughing).
Q: Ishizawa from Shin
Nihon Puroresu (New Japan Pro-Wrestling) participated in Pride 10
[translator's note: Ishizawa was KOed by Ryan Gracie]. Is it likely to happen
that more Shin Nihon Puroresu fighters fight in Pride following in the
footsteps of Ishizawa and Fujita [translator's note: Fujita defeated
Mark Kerr and Kenneth Wayne Shamrock].
Morishita: I am very
interested in how they would do in vale tudo.
Q: When you met Mr.
Fujinami, the president of Shin Nihon Puroresu, in July, did you talk
about only Ishizawa?
Q: What's in store for
Morishita: I canft
ask him for many things in one time. I should have more consideration
about his own organization and his position. I already troubled him with
that matter. I went to him thinking that it would piss me off if I were
Q: What is the ideal
cooperative system for you?
Morishita: I think it
is a role for the groups to promote how to enhance the sales value of
fighters. Suppose if a fighter, who did well in Pride, is back to the
ring of Shin Nihon Puroresu, and attracts a lot of fans to his fight
there. That is what I am expecting. DSE is not a group which monopolizes
fighters. I have a hope that many fighters will use the ring of Pride to
make kakutogi popular with a lot of spectators. I believe it will
turn out to be like that as a result, but at this moment it is very
important how we make each group understand it. This work is also a role
Q: You said in an
interview in a special magazine before that Pride series is one of the
activities of DSE.
Morishita: Yes. DSE is
a company that creates, promotes, and manages various entertainment
Q: Then it might be
possible to manage a Puroresu event?
Morishita: Yes, itfs
Q: Do you have already
a specific plans to do that?
Morishita: No, not yet.
I am focusing on how we improve the value of Pride now. There is a
possibility to think of other types of event after Pride is better
established and more successful. However, it would be disastrous unless
the various events were clearly distinguished and each one had its own
Q: I think you care
about match-making very much. Some results turn out be something
unexpected, and it might happen that all the fights come to the end by
decision. Of course, a decision doesnft necessarily mean a boring
Morishita: Yes, I think
about match-making. As a part of management of fighters, I have to think
about how to make them fight aggressively. It includes a control of
Q: Control of their
Morishita: Yes. We have
to tell the fighter clearly of what kind of fighting we are expecting
him to do. In our capacity as promoter of the event, it is necessary to
do it to enhance the value of the fighters too.
Q: Is it effective?
Morishita: Fighters are
thinking about it too. If I say, gwhat I want is not such a passive
fight, but more aggressive fight.h, some fighters go to fight
actively, even at risk of defeat. Once a fight starts, it is up to the
fighter how to control it. However, preparation of a good environment
and mental management before the fight are what we have to do as part of
the management of fighters. So when it is finished, I will tell them
ggoodh if it was a good fight or on the other hand git was not
interesting at allh if it was a boring fight.
Q: Then what happens?
Morishita: When it was
not interesting, they make excuses aggressively. But after that they
say, gI will fight this way next timeh or gI will never do it
againh. Especially American fighters are very straight.
Q: Among the last seven
tournaments from Pride 5, which matches did you make that you were most
Morishita: I make a
match with confidence every time (laughing).
Q: Ok then, which fight
was the best from the point of view of the result?
Morishita: Mmmm... it
was Sakuraba vs. Royce, without a doubt. I had thought that three rounds
should be the limit to keep the fight at a high level of physical and
mental intensity. I didnft think a no-time-limit rule would make
for a good fight, but the fight of Sakuraba vs. Royce made a great
impression on a lot of fans including me, even though it was a long
Q: From now on, you
must be very cautious about finding opponents for Sakuraba.
Morishita: Yes, that's
what I think.
Q: I heard a rumor
about a fight with Frank Shamrock. What happened?
Frank, there was no agreement between what he wants and what we want. So
we couldnft even enter into negotiation.
Q: But how about the
possibility of the fight between Sakuraba and Frank in the future?
Morishita: Of course,
there is a possibility. But Frank has been far from the ring for a long
time, so I donft know. Frank has a great career as a fighter, so I
have an interest in what is going on if they fight with each other.
Q: Sakuraba is already
a major star abroad too. There must be many fighters who want to fight
especially fighters who don't have a name yet. It is dangerous for
inexperienced fighters to fight with him, because they will get hurt if
they lose. Conversely, Sakuraba has a lot to lose too. So I am not going
to match him with the wrong fighter. Match-making is one of the parts we
have control over. We want to make fights that the fans want to see and
that will generate excitement.
Q: Sakuraba has taken
risky fights so far.
Morishita: Yes. Fights
without the element of risk are not interesting.
Q: Fighters like Victor
Belfort and Alan Goes seem to be eager for a rematch with Sakuraba. Any
Morishita: Yes, there
is a possibility....if there is a lot of clamor from the fans for a
Q: Ultimately I wish to
see the fight of Sakuraba vs. Rickson. I think it is the card the fan
are most interested in.
Morishita: Mmm maybe
Q: You donft sound
positive about it.
Morishita: I donft
mean that, but I have more interest in the rematch with Royce.
Q: Rematch with Royce?
Morishita: I donft
know yet, but he is a great fighter and he will never finish like this.
Q: I think it is an
interesting card. But I have a strong desire to watch the fight between
Sakuraba and Rickson.
Morishita: But I wonder
if Rickson will take this risky fight.
Q: It is said that
Rickson asks for a very high pay. Is it true?
Morishita: Yes, it is
true. He asks not only for money, but also the environment and rules of
Q: Compared to other
fighters, does he ask for an extraordinary money?
Morishita: Yes. But he
is not worthy of it. It is a matter who he is going to fight with. He
himself is not worthy at all [Translator's note: in other words, it
depends on who Rickson is willing to fight]. However, the situation to
ask for a high pay was set up around him. I want him to come into the
ring with a hungrier spirit and a samurai spirit as he says, but I
canft feel it from him. I personally think that Royce is much better
in this sense. I donft mean I have no interest in Rickson. If I can
set up a match for Rickson, I want him to fight with Mike Tyson of Pro
Q: It is a big card
like a dream spreading to far beyond.
Morishita: We don't
have to stick to current Pride rules. Of course, this is just my idea.
But this is what I think, concerning Rickson.
Q: In the end, tell me
of the future prospects of Pride as the series approaches the 21st
Morishita: I want
fighters from all over the world to want to fight in Pride. I want
fighting in Pride to be a source of status for the fighters.
Q: Even now it is
getting to be a source of status for fighters to fight in Pride.
Morishita: Yes, but
more and more. There is something in Kakutogi that can
appeal to human instincts. Kakutogi shouldnft stay in a
"maniac" world. It has the potential to develop a broader
audience base. [translator's note: Mr. Morishita uses the English word
"maniac" here. He seems to be referring to people who are
hard-core, die-hard fans of NHB events].
(c) 2000, Yoko Kondo. All rights reserved.