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DREAM 9 gets a boost in TBS TV ratings with help from Daisuke Naito

By Zach Arnold | May 26, 2009

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Tokyo Broadcasting System aired a 2 1/2 hour block night of fights on their channel on Tuesday. First up was a WBC Flyweight Title match between Daisuke Naito and Xiong Zhao Zhong in Tokyo at Differ Ariake. Naito’s decision win pulled a 20.4% rating on TBS, which is very good. A one-hour telecast from 8:30-9:30 PM JST was the time block the fight got.

With Naito’s big fight as a strong lead-in, DREAM 9 drew a strong 16.2% rating on TBS from 9:30-10:54 PM JST. The focus of the TV broadcast was the Super Hulk tournament featuring Jose Canseco, Choi Hong-Man, Bob Sapp, Minowaman, Gegard Mousasi, Mark Hunt, and others. The star power combined with freak-show element of the broadcast and the strong lead-in by Naito’s fight helped DREAM’s prospects of staying alive. The high ratings watermark was for Joe Warren vs. Kid Yamamoto, which drew a 19.1% QH rating. Will Yamamoto’s loss to Warren hurt his drawing power? (Probably unlikely.)

Interestingly, most of the major Japanese media outlets didn’t report an attendance figure for DREAM 9 at Yokohama Arena. The claimed attendance figure was 15,009.

Additions to the DREAM 10 card on 7/20 at Saitama Super Arena – Shin’ya Aoki vs. Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro and Melvin Manhoef vs. Paulo Filho.

Topics: DREAM, Japan, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 49 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

49 Responses to “DREAM 9 gets a boost in TBS TV ratings with help from Daisuke Naito”

  1. catch says:

    Cool, I was thinking they might fall a tad short of the 15% they were shooting for, but they pulled it off. I’d hate to see DREAM get scaled down too much or disappear.

  2. PizzaChef says:

    Very nice. Although I fear DREAM may end up relying too much on strong lead ins and the freakshow element.

  3. Minowa says:

    Ha! Go Japan!!!

  4. JasonRKline says:

    is this warren kid for real? missed both his fights…. he has two nice wins to start his career!

  5. David says:

    JasonRKline, He trains with Team Quest with Dan Henderson, so ofcourse he is for real. Really talanted wrestler and let’s face it, those are always very though in the ring/cage.

  6. Alan Conceicao says:

    Oh no! DREAM is going off the air and Japan MMA is officially dead! Wait, that was the last couple of events. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure this was the highest rated DREAM event. Matter of fact, I’d go on a ledge and suggest that Kid drew more eyeballs to them than anyone else had by a large margin based off my memory.

    As for Naito, his shelf life as a champ isn’t gonna last much longer. He apparently looked terrible against some nobody Chinese boxer and he’s got a FIFTH fight with Pongsaklek Wongjongkam in the works. He’s 1-2-1 against him, and he should be 1-3.

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    The problem is that they aren’t selling MMA in their prime time spot. They are selling freak shows and one legit MMA contest that was supposed to be used to showcase “Kid” Yamamoto.

    Freak Shows get old, and just like before, the ratings will faulted because of it.

  8. Alan Conceicao says:

    What DREAM needs are ratings, regardless of how or why. Ratings keep them on the air so that they can keep running with stuff like the FWGP. To that end, they clearly achieved that goal in spite of a lot of naysaying (No one knows who Jose Canseco is/Kid Yamamoto probably isn’t a draw anymore/etc).

  9. Fluyid says:

    I’m not trying to be contrary in order to be an ass, 45, but I really like freak shows.

    Bonaduce vs. Minowaman!

  10. Dave says:

    45, the highest rated part was KID/Warren. So the freakshow helped but the legit fight was the big seller.

  11. samscaff says:

    45 is a hypocrite.

    Its okay for UFC to put on mismatches between beginners/nobodies and MMA veterans, but when there is a size differential, somehow these are “freakshows” unfit to even be called MMA.

    In fact, when the mismatch is in favor of the smaller fighter (ie, Sapp-Minowa, Sokodjou-Nortje, Mousasi-Hunt), this is MORE interesting than a mismatch at an even weight. Because at least the loser has SOME advantage.

    Even ACTUAL freakshows (Hong-Canseco) I like. But thats just a matter of taste.

  12. doem says:

    I thought it was a terrible show and I usually like DREAM.

  13. Steve4192 says:

    I don’t mind the occasional freakshow, but they usually produce terrible fights. None of the Super Hulk fights were even remotely competitive. They look great on paper (from a humor standpoint) but almost always disappoint in the ring.

    My only worry is that what FEG takes away from these ratings is that freak shows sell and make them an ongoing part of their promotion rather than a one-time thing. FEG was always very careful in the Hero’s days to limit the freakshows to the NYE Dynamite shows and reserve the rest of the year for serious business. If we start seeing the Akebono’s and Ologun’s showing up on non-NYE cards, I will be very disappointed.

  14. Coyote says:

    Sahahara say about the reserve fight for the Feather Weight Grand Prix can be:

    D.J. Taiki vs \”Kid\” Yamamoto

    And is they keep all the fightes, Atsushi, Wicky, Cullum, Maeda, they can make a very good Feather weight división.
    I hope they have this on mind.

    Hong Man Choi vs Minowa is the last monster in the Minowa Moster Quest. Go Minowa Go¡¡¡¡¡¡¡

  15. 45 Huddle says:

    What Freakshow fights has the UFC produced?

    The only one I can think of is Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir. In retrospect it was a big fight (that nobody knew), but at the time, it was a freakshow fight. even then, Mir seemed to be on the way out of his career, and Lesnar was a genetic freak with a decorated amateur background in the most successful fighting style in MMA (wrestling).

    “45, the highest rated part was KID/Warren. So the freakshow helped but the legit fight was the big seller.”

    No doubt the freakshow helped, but they still have to use freakshows in order to get it across. And then “Kid” couldn’t even come through. People can disagree with me all they want, but there is a long history of this style of matchmaking not paying off in the long run in Japan.

    Even the Japanese fighters know it, hence why guys like Gomi are saying “Hi Dana” and the rest are at least keeping one eye stateside.

  16. Alan Conceicao says:

    Sahahara say about the reserve fight for the Feather Weight Grand Prix can be:

    D.J. Taiki vs \”Kid\” Yamamoto

    Exactly what I expected. And a good fight to boot. I totally expect the two japanese fighters to go at each other in the semis and Kid to somehow jump in the finals.

    What Freakshow fights has the UFC produced?

    Shamrock/Ortiz II and III both were, really. So were Tank’s comeback fights. And the justification for doing them isn’t much different from why Jose Canseco was fighting a guy with a brain tumor.

  17. Jeff says:

    Oh c’mon Alan – you know he got that tumor removed!

  18. Steve4192 says:

    I don’t think you can call Shamrock-Ortiz or Tank’s fights freakshows.

    Mismatches? Sure.

    Freakshows? No.

    IMO, freakshows are those fights that involve either (a) one or more guys with no legitimate fighting background or (b) ridiculous size differentials. Shammy-Tito and Tank’s fights were all legit, albeit crappy, fights. Stuff like Kaneko-Krazy Horse, Sudo-Butterbean, Ologun-anybody, Ackah-Morton, Giant Silva/Ochiai-anybody, Goodridge-Yatsu, Nagata-Fedor/Mirko, Zulu-Fedor/Nog and numerous others are freakshows.

  19. 45 Huddle says:

    Steve4192 said what I was about to say, but probably only better.

  20. Fluyid says:

    I wish the UFC had signed Rogan vs. Snipes.

  21. Kool G Rap says:

    Tuf Jobbers vs No name scrubs….

  22. Zack says:

    Awesome news for Japan. Joe Warren’s chin is f’n insane. What a great start to his career.

    I hope we see Kid get active again. Ring rust appeared to hurt him and JZ. Hopefully both are healthy and take another fight or two in ’09.

  23. The Gaijin says:

    This rating while good short term news, is going to be a real albatross in the long run.

    It’s going to be a real law of diminishing returns too…they got a high of 19 but they needed to have the “Super Hulk Tourney” but in order to even approach that (and likely get a lower rating) they’re going to have to do something equally if not more outlandish. It’s just going to be a vicious cycle of having more and more insane crap and less and less actual fights.

    Zach – I read an article by Jim Cornette, I’m not sure if you saw it, that was so on point with this (but about “hardcore”-style wrestling) that it’s scary. You should check it out, it’s a phenomenal read.

  24. The Gaijin says:

    If anyone else is interested in reading it, and it really applies to any type of sport/entertainment/product that sells itself as being “extreme”.

  25. The Gaijin says:

    Ah hell – sorry about that, I have no idea how I managed to post that the first time…I’ll leave it to the maintenance folks to clear out the clutter.

  26. PizzaChef says:

    Stevie 4192 and 45 Huddle…Going by your logic of what a freak show is and what a freak show isn’t. I can name one time where Dana tried to pull off a stunt like that. Sean Gannon vs. Brandon Lee Hinkle.

  27. samscaff says:

    You all missed my point.

    What I said was that I think mismatches are no different than what you guys call ‘freakshows’. Sure..the canseco thing was undoubtedly a freakshow…but all the others involved experienced fighters.

    My basic point is that if you call mousasi-hunt, sapp-minowa, and sokoudjou-nortje freakshows…the only difference between these mismatches and those in UFC is that these fights involved weight discrepancies.

    There have been many, many fights in UFC between ranked fighters and complete nobodies/cans…that were complete mismatches. Now if you dont wanna call those freakshows simply because the guys were in the same weightclass, and call openweight fights freakshows, thats just illogical.

    Tito vs. Ken II/III were COMPLETE mismatches. Ken had no business being in the ring with any ranked fighter. Is this not a mismatch because they weighed the same? Why does it become a freakshow just because of a weight discrepancy?

  28. samscaff says:

    Why is a smaller fighter fighting Zulu, Sapp, or Nortje a “freakshow,” but Melvin Guillard fighting Rick Davis or
    Cain Velasquez fighting Denis Stojnic not a freakshow.

    By that logic…a freakshow can be more competitive and a more even matchup than a non-freakshow!

    A freakshow may be a freakshow because of behemoth fighters, but they can be better matchups than so called “real” fights.

  29. Chris says:

    Don’t forget the most important addition to DREAM.10: Katsunori Kikuno vs. Andre Dida!

  30. 45 Huddle says:

    I was at Hinkle/Gannon live, and it didn’t even have the freakshow feeling to it. The onyl thing the crowd got pumped about was when Gannon was announced as a cop, and everybody wanted to see him get beat up. but I do agree, it was more of a freakshow.

    I think we can all agree to disagree on what a freakshow technically is. However, I think if you look at the overall difference between what the UFC and DREAM are doing, it is obvious that:

    1. The UFC is about showcasing the title fights, which means the best fighters. There are issues with this concept (nothing is perfect), but in general, that is their system.

    2. DREAM is about showcasing a combination of real fights and freakshow type of fights. And the regular fights (outside a star like Kid) get very little attention.

    This means MMA can’t stand on it’s own in Japan’s current market. That is not a good thing. Isn’t Sengoku subsidiazed by corporations?

  31. 45 Huddle says:

    Cornette has had a few really good articles on Pro Wrestling from his website. Really enjoyable articles that pinpoint some of the reasons I don’t watch anymore.

    With ECW specifically, the organization got stale. Some of it had to do with Heyman being spread too thin and having to worry about money and booking at the same time. The other major issue is their style of wrestling. The hardcore matches are really just a “Can You Top This” concept. And eventually they can’t top it, and they end up recycling things to quickly. Even with the fantastic technical wrestling matches. Too many of them tried to top the next one. First there was the Guerrero/Malenko, then Mysterio/Psychosis, and so on. Eventually, watching flips got old. It was even worse in WCW.

    How this related to DREAM… No matter what you clasify the HULK Tournament as, it has the same feeling of what Hardcore Wrestling is. When you play the who can top this game, the end result is almost always failure.

    This is why the UFC business model is best. They don’t play that game. They have their issues about pushing exciting guys faster, but in the end, it’s about moving up the rankings. It might not get the quick huge rating like HULK or Kimbo, but it instead gives steady growth, and hopefully in the long run more staying power.

  32. Zack says:

    Filho/Manhoef is impossible to predict. It all depends on what Filho shows up. Old Filho…he wins by sub in under 2 mins. The Filho from the 2nd Chael fight…his head’s going into orbit.

  33. Dave says:

    No way, I was in the same arena as 45 for that UFC show? Strange world.

  34. robthom says:

    Tuf Jobbers > Twerps who just discovered Golden Age Rap after the twerps before them ruined it.

  35. robthom says:

    Thats nice that dream got some ratings. But doesn’t anybody think that this is gonna lead to more emphasis on “super hulk” type events in the future, just as the success of the 2003 pride gp led to pride gp’s every year (sometimes twice a year) after that.
    A cursory look at the dream card history @ sherdog seems to indicate that this was their first dedicated “weird matches” card.
    And from the sound of it, also one of their most successful.
    But I have no problem with it personally. To each their own, it takes all kinds.

  36. Mark says:

    Don’t believe anything Jim Cornette says about ECW. He is incredibly bitter that Paul Heyman stole his indie-thunder in 1994 and made the world forget about SMW. And then to add insult to injury nobody even remembers Cornette broke in stars in the States like Lance Storm, Chris Jericho, Chris Candido and New Jack. Popular belief is that Heyman gave them their big breaks.

    ECW’s attendance was not down when they closed. If anything ECW was the only promotion that ever closed with a fanbase who still wanted to see it. It had nothing to do with fans leaving because they couldn’t top crazy spots.

    In reality, ECW was nearly $9 million in debt in 2000 when they closed due to reasons beyond bad PPV buyrates or dropping live gates. The reason depends on which one you believe:

    A) Heyman and/or Steve Karel were embezzling money from the company and then pleading poverty to the workers.

    B) ECW expanded beyond what it could afford in 1997, and Heyman never caught back up. He thought he’d get a bunch of deals to make up for it but they weren’t enough.

    C) A combination of both.

  37. robthom says:

    Aha, The Gaijin @ #22 is thinking the same thing I’m thinking.
    (I must have breezed past it the first time)

    And well put.

    (Better than I put it)

  38. Dave says:

    The Cornette rant has no decent connection here. I get what you are getting at, but guys smashing each other with tables and barbed wire because they aren’t talented enough to pretend fight is a lot different than Sapp vs. Minowa. Bob Sapp might not be the best MMA fighter in the world, but he has done legitimate training and has some legitimate wins and impressive performances under his belt. Minowa is clearly more talented and has more experience, and while it is a freakshow fight, it doesn’t compare to untrained backyarders in wrestling.

    Even Choi/Conseco, Choi is a professional fighter (like it or not) and Conseco was a top level professional athlete a little past his prime trying a new sport.

    Corny’s Japanese wrestling history is also a bit weak. FMW started out with Onita using Inoki’s wrestling vs. martial arts gimmick and later evolved into barbed wire stuff. ‘Shoot wrestling’ was the late 80s and early 90s. By the late 90s stuff like RINGS was already basically MMA.

  39. Chuck says:

    When it comes to worked matches in UFC……doesn’t anyone remember Keith Hackney vs. Manny Yarborough? But that was UFC, way before Zuffa took over, so that gets a pass. But Shogun Rua (a light-heavyweight) vs. Mark Coleman (a heavyweight) does NOT get a pass. Come on people! How can anyone forget THAT fight?!


    In addition to Heyman stealing guys from Cornette, don’t forget that Heyman also stole guys from Dennis Coraluzzo, namely Chris Benoit, Rey Misterio, etc. If it wasn’t for Coraluzzo then the NWA would NOT be alive right now. Other than the inception of TNA wrestling, THAT was the last time the NWA mattered a damn (early nineties when Dennis Coraluzzo was the head of the NWA).

  40. Coyote says:

    There are rumors:

    Jacare vs Mayhem 3 is gonna be on DREAM.10, if the Head of Jacare heal complete.

    In Japan, the judges can\’t let a fighter bleed to much. On UFC you can throw 3 liters of blood on the cage without any problem. (So diferents cultures)

  41. Chuck says:

    I said worked matches, my bad, I meant freakshow fights.

  42. Mark says:

    Personally I think Sapp “took a night off” because he didn’t want to get hurt so close to his fight with Lashley. That’s why fighters should never be allowed to book fights so close together: there’s a chance of them taking a dive or not giving it their all so they can make both, or screwing one promotion over due to being medically suspended. What if Sapp got KOed, the commission would know about it.

    Yeah ECW built their reputation on screwing over Dennis’s NWA. The problem is the guy was such a hated asshole in the industry people cheered Gordon & Heyman on for doing so. I remember seeing a shoot with him where he was claiming he was giving Dan Severn fighting advice before his UFC fights. That fat bastard had never been in a scrap in his life and he’s telling DAN SEVERN how to fight in 1995?

  43. The Gaijin says:


    I think you might have missed the point (of my thoughts, not the Cornette article) on my comparison.

    While I understand it’s an imperfect comparison to use fake fights and real fighting – my parallel was at the “macro” level rather than the “micro” level. (I have to again admit my overall ignorance to most professional wrestling ins and outs, but since I started reading about the Japanese MMA scene on puroresupower, I started to have an interest in looking at pro wrestling/puro because I read about it there.)

    What I was pointing out is not that we have guys with no talent bashing each other over the head for entertainment, trying to come across as some sort of legitimately skilled mma athletes. That would be something akin to “So You Think You Can Fight – MMA”. Rather, my main point was that – just like the “Concession Stand Brawl” (and “hardcore wrestling” in general), the “SUPER HULK Tournament” drew interest and big ratings spikes, probably because it of car wreck interest and it was something totally insane. Now the promoters are going to look at this and say “Hey! The SUPER HULK got big ratings – we’re going to have to do something like this again!”, and they will but the ratings will probably not hit as high as the initial one. So they’ll probably try to do something more freakshowish next time, and on and on it goes…Basically the – “do something THREE times wilder and get ONE THIRD the rating/interest” – so I was trying to draw a parallel to the business mentality between the two and the slippery slope that this high ratings will be for the Japanese MMA scene.

  44. The Gaijin says:

    Let me flex some of my puro knowledge (hat tip: puro power days):

    “In Japan, the judges can\’t let a fighter bleed to much. On UFC you can throw 3 liters of blood on the cage without any problem. (So diferents cultures)”

    I call total B.S. on this one given the fact that they invented a “scale” for bleeding based on a famous wrestling match (the “Muta Scale”) and have had plenty of bloody fights in both MMA and puro, which are/were both very “mainstream culture”. The simple fact was that Jacare’s cut was a cut on the hairline that was very deep and gushing blood – it would have been stopped anywhere.

  45. Mark says:

    I don’t know about the judges, but I do know they stop the fights to get a cut worked on by a doctor more than in America. I don’t remember anything going as long and bloody as Joe Stevenson vs Yves Edwards or Joe Stevenson vs BJ Penn did in PRIDE, Hero’s or DREAM.

  46. Alan Conceicao says:

    Rather, my main point was that – just like the “Concession Stand Brawl” (and “hardcore wrestling” in general), the “SUPER HULK Tournament” drew interest and big ratings spikes, probably because it of car wreck interest and it was something totally insane.

    Here’s the thing though: MMA in Japan at its high point was being built around mismatches and freakshows, as has K-1 for a good part of the last 5-6 years. I fail to see how this is a departure from the norm for the sport there. In the end, what carried the televised portion was a “legitimate fight” with the biggest star in Japan. And yet the ratings were still high.

  47. The Gaijin says:

    I think they’ve gotten away from that to some extent have they not? And this is going back a few years now…but it’s getting highlighted with this particular side-show.

    Initially they built it on the crossover of “puro”, whom were considered legitimate athletes and had the might japanese/puro “fighting spirit”. So yes it was freakshowish because they were wrestlers, quite a few of whom did have a legitimate amateur/shoot background and it was the puro vs. mma/shooters that really drove the cart. And they were using some of the biggest stars in the Japanese scene – Nagata, Akebono, Ogawa, Takada, Fujita, Sakuraba, Kendo Ka Shin.

    Now they’re recruiting comedians, actors and tv hosts (Kaneko, Ackah, Ologuns) and washed up athletes (Canseco) with little to no association with any type of “combat sport”…it’s all for the sensationalism.

    To an extent they liked their David vs. Goliath or hometown wrestling heroes, but now they’re sinking to new lows they wouldn’t have dreamed of touching before.

  48. First of all, DREAM 9 had a great card. It didnt turn out as well as hoped but still a card to be proud of.
    Now, the Super Hulk WASNT on the main card, it was the prelims.
    Whether its reality show jerkoffs or mediocre fighter how many people really care about these?
    Give me 5-6 good fights on the main card and I really dont care much beyond that?
    You want the prostitutes at ring side to fight? Sure why not.

    If Sapp was fighting anywhere in the last 3 fights, Id have a problem but having him open first instead of Billy Bob from Bumrush, Iowa? No problem.

    As well, the japanese game is based on TV ratings which are just brutal in Japan. You need numbers. Period. These fights bring in the casual fans without which they can not expect to survive in a market where there are many orgs in a very small territory.

    Ratings is a ravenous beast and anything can and is done in the name of ratings. Sure, some people hire big scary black guys to play the savage while other hire idiots, jerkoffs and similar types to piss on each other or even hire guys which were once bad for MMA becausee they can get ratings.

    If the UFC business plans wasnt PPV but was TV ratings, they would just move the retards from TUF right into the main show if it could bring ratings but the models are so different that comparing how they do things makes no sense.

    Besides, while Sapp and Canseco are freakshows, Choi and Nortje ares half of one since both have some skills for a slow moving mountain and Minowa is a MMA legend while the other participants are the real deal.

    6 Main event cards.
    Mousasi/Hunt was legit fighter.
    Soukoudjou-Nortje was borderline and the other two where ratings filler.

    Compare that to a UFC show where you get one headliner (and anyone that tries to convince me that COte and Leben are Main Card guys is nuts), two ok fights and then two TUF name recognition mediocrities as well as the who care prelims and you wont convince that DREAM is giving us less of quality show.
    I remember the NYE show had 18-20 fights including 3-4 ratings fights and people could see past those 3-4 fights.


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