PRIDE fighters take over Shibuya, Police cancel event

PRIDE once again overtook the popular area of Shibuya, Tokyo! A press conference was held on December 27th, four days before PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006, at the Shibuya 109 Square. A large group of fans gathered as expected but as with PRIDE's September conference in Shibuya, the event had to be immediately cancelled.

PRIDE repeats their September 8th takeover of Shibuya! As the start time for the press conference neared, there were so many people gathered in front of the Shibuya 109 Square that they were spilling over into the roads. The first to appear on stage were the SkyPerfect pay-per-view announcer, Katsuya Ichikawa, and PRIDE MC Lenne Hardt.

Ichikawa couldn't hide his surprise, "The last press conference had to be quickly called off. It looks like there are a lot of people gathered this time, too." A wave of excitement ran through the crowd when Hardt chose one member of the crowd and announced his name in her famous, almost super-human, trill

Next, Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara and PRIDE General Director Nobuhiko Takada took the stage. Lenne Hardt treated the fans once again by using her trill to call fighters Hidehiko Yoshida, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and James Thompson to the stage. Thompson, apparently excited from the event's atmosphere, ripped his shirt off as he appeared on stage and threw it to the frenzied crowd! However, Tokyo can get cold in the winter and with only four days left until his fight, the PRIDE staff made sure that Thompson put on another shirt.



After take photos for the press, the fighters spoke about their upcoming bouts.

Yoshida: Hello, everyone. Good evening. You won't be able to see SHOCKWAVE on regular TV, so please come to Saitama Super Arena and cheer for us! Thank you!

Nogueira: Hello to you all. I have trained very hard and I will do my best. Please support me.

Thompson: There is no greater opportunity than fighting on New Year's Eve, so I am really excited about this. I will do my best to win.

Rua: I will give a great fight in SHOCKWAVE and prove that PRIDE is the best event in the world.

When the fighters finished their comments, Sakakibara appealed for the large group of fans to come to the event, "The fighters are ready. I hope they will be able to greet the New Year along side all of you."

Finally, Takada took the microphone, "The entire card has come together. Now, we just wait for New Year's Eve. I think we will be able to show bigger fights on a greater stage than in previous years. Both promoters and fighters gain their energy from your support."

Just when the event was heating up, panic erupted! Police gave the signal to cancel the event because too many people had gathered. Just like on September 8th, the follow-up Q&A session planned for the fighters and the press had to be cancelled because of the effects on nearby traffic. The event was stopped just 10 minutes after it began!

"Last time, the fighters weren't even able to comment before the event ended. The staff worked hard this time to ensure that the fighters would be able to make comments. The time before their fights is important for fighters and I think creating this opportunity to meet the fans will increase their motivation. It's a good opportunity for the fighters to play "catch" with the fans," Sakakibara said backstage after the event, pleased with the outcome, even if shorter than planned.

Although there has been virtually no promotion for SHOCKWAVE on regular TV this year, ticket sales are going well and the response seems to rival that of last year's SHOCKWAVE match between Yoshida and Naoya Ogawa. It appears that the number of fans in attendance will exceed that of the September 10th PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Final Round event, also held at Saitama Super Arena.
Sakakibara appeared satisfied with the situation, "Now we'll see what the pay-per-view and interview broadcast numbers are like. I'm looking forward to it."

Sakakibara also revealed that "something" is being planned. "Maybe we should put on a magic show. (laughing) We want to make an announcement to the fans in some form or another."

The event will begin with a performance by Nobuhiko Takada. Takada is apparently working very hard training for the performance according to Sakakibara, "He tap-danced last year. I hope everyone is looking forward to see what he's going to do this year, including whether he will wear a loin cloth again or not."

"Yoshida said yesterday that Thompson is actually smaller than he thought but according to Yoshida, Thompson seemed to get a lot bigger today when he took his shirt off," Sakakibara explained that Yoshida appeared surprised by the difference in body size between him and Thompson.

Sakakibara also gave a warning to Yoshida, "For Yoshida, this is supposed to be an easy win that will set the tone for next year. Thompson is gaining experience, though, and he has one-punch KO power, so he is not someone that Yoshida should look past."