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Scout Report by Wrestlingscout
Would You Like Fujita with that Frye?
In the winter of 1996, Don Frye scored a big win over Tank Abbott in an exciting tournament final to win the second Ultimate Ultimate. Frye had been a superlative fighter for the UFC as he had backgrounds in judo and pro boxing making him a well versed competitor. His 9-1 record was impressive and he appeared to be hellbent on avenging his only loss to Mark Coleman. The rematch never happened though, Frye was brought into New Japan and the rest is history.
Frye's first big accomplishment in wrestling was winning the tournament to have the honor of being Antonio Inoki's final opponent. He defeated Inoki's boy, Naoya Ogawa to win the tournament and scored a second victory over Ogawa, which is a remarkable political feat. He became a top challenger to the IWGP title, despite his lack of pro wrestling savvy. Then Frye was initiated into Masahiro Chono's Team 2000. He eventually turned on Chono and joined Keiji Muto's BATT group. He met and destroyed Chono, which catapulted him to his third IWGP title shot against Kazuyuki Fujita.
Frye's last pro wrestling accomplishment was winning the first G-1 World tournament, which would put him in another #1 contenders match against Yuji Nagata. After beating Team 2000 member Scott Norton, Frye announced he was leaving New Japan for Pride. Though he was never the best wrestler, Frye's spot in NJPW was prevalent. His first Pride match, which was announced a while back, is against Gilbert Yvel. Frye's return to MMA is a big deal for the sport as he was a pioneer in its early years. One has to wonder after Goodridge's loss to Manabu Nakanishi, will the fighter migration cease?
When Kazuyuki Fujita captured the IWGP title, people questioned the decision, but he had been a hot player for Pride. Frye and fellow UFC competitor, Brian Johnston, had been involved with New Japan for about the same amount of time as Fujita. He had been a curtain-jerker though in his early years in pro wrestling. After winning the Heavyweight title, New Japan began bringing in shooters to potentially face Fujita. Men like Gary Goodridge, Tadao Yasuda, and Pride GP champion, Mark Coleman. Fujita always had Johnston and Frye in his corner for his Pride fights, but things have changed drastically the past month.
When Fujita lost a shoot to Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic at K-1's Andy Hug Memorial show, people knew his stock was in major jeopardy. Nagata seems months away from capturing his first IWGP title from the man whose debut he spoiled and who beat him on the 6/6 pay-per-view Kazuyuki Fujita. What will become of Fujita then? Will he return to Pride full-time? Will he continue to wrestle monthly on New Japan's big shows? Will he be the next Naoya Ogawa? Will he drop off the face of the Earth?
Don Frye is gone from New Japan, Brian Johnston may be gone from sports for the rest of his life, Fujita needs to make some big decisions and going back to Pride seems to be the best one. Frye may have done the best thing he could have, something even wrestling fans can love, he may be leading fighters such as himself back to the MMA world where they belong.
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