I played a bit of Tobal No. 1 back in the day, its biggest innovation was definitely the fact that you could actually move in all directions in the 3D environment. In VF and Tekken, fighting was still basically confined to a 2-D plane, and Toshinden let you roll in and out of the screen, but Tobal actually let you move all around the 3D arena. And the judo-based grappling system was innovative as well, IIRC it’s very similar to the style Goh uses in VF4 Evo.
Unfortunately, I think quite a few people back then bought Tobal No. 1 solely for the FF VII demo and forgot there was a fighting game packaged in there as well. =(
BTW, you should really check out the sequel, Tobal 2 (Japan only). That was the game that first prompted me to mod my PlayStation. It’s so much better than the original it’s not even funny, shame it never made it outside of Japan. I went back and played it a month or so ago, and it’s still great, especially the dungeon mode where you hunt and capture other monsters to use in the fighting game! And the just frame combos are some of the tougher combos to pull off in any fighting game. Great, great game.