Up late and watching some old Pride DVDs. Yea, I still got them.
For the time, the era, this is why the fights were better and the production was better:
When someone was taking an opponent down they were in real danger of an upkick.
When guys were on the ground, there was a real urgency because of the knees. You would see fighters scramble a lot more, you'd see that panic when their opponent was in a good position to knee them
The lack of a cage made the grappling a lot more fluid. Part of it, I'm sure was mental. You'd see guys not just going for double underhooks or shooting double legs, but also ankle picks, singles and a lot of trips. It seems like in a cage one will just start charging the other and try to hold them on the fence. That's the most common thing in the cage, a fighter trying to push another fighter up against the fence, where he is always just held there. Hell, guys like Fitch made a career out of it.
The soccer kicks were brutal and people were a lot less apt to lay around on the ground.
In general all of this forced the action a lot more as compared to the UFC in those days. There was also better camera work in the ring. The ring gave a certain prize fighting feel to it, instead of like a dog fight behind someone's barn. They weren't pumping ads at you at the beginning of every round. You paid for a PPV or a DVD and you got the FULL event. The action wasn't broken up by 100 commercials. Watching them, not on UFC TV but as they were, commercial free, the whole thing really flows and you can become really immersed in it. The interviews and cameos before fights, the interviews after fights, allowing fighters to do their thing and display their personalities, the big checks and all the other things made you really feel like you were there to watch a true show, not just some Red Bull commercial with a few fights thrown in for good measure.
Ah, the good ole days, back when I used to scour the Hollywood Video or the local Frye's for a missing Pride DVD.