GTR Archives 2000-2020












Global Training Report


@Interview with 

Morishita Naoto 

(President of Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE), which promotes the Pride events)

From K-Files vol. 5

 Oct. l, 2000

Translated by Yoko Kondo


Q: DSE  took over KRS and started the management of  the Pride series from Pride 5, didnft it?

Morishita: Yes, thatfs right.

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 half years? 

Morishita:  We 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 to plan.

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 tournament.

Q:  Sakuraba 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 Gracies?

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?

Morishita: Yes.

Q: What's in store for the future?

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 him.

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 of DSE.

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 events.

Q: Then it might be possible to manage a Puroresu event?

Morishita: Yes, itfs possible.

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 clear identity.

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 fight.

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 their minds.

Q: Control of their minds?

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 confident about?

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 fight.

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?

Morishita: Regarding 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 with him.

Morishita: Yes, 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 possibility?

Morishita: Yes, there is a possibility....if there is a lot of clamor from the fans for a rematch.

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 so.

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 the fight.

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 Boxing.

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 century.

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.