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  1. Their first match. Kind of an introduction of the style they came up with, meaning they hit aaaaaall their death moves, reckless dives in rapid succession. Starts out with some fast matwork and hints at aggression including Liger pummeling Sano on the ground, but quickly turns into a pure move exhibition. They would go on to have better and more intelligent matches in the future, but there's still plenty of death and drama to be seen here.
  2. A very subdued NOAH main event, which makes this cool immediately in my book. I prefer these guys working smart exchanges over some head droppy macho ass bullshit. Ogawa as usual gets some unusual and cool exchanges out of Misawa. I also really like that Misawa was tagging with IZU~ here. He and Sano just potatoed each other a lot and it was really fun. Izu seemed to be riding high in the end, uncorking his awesome diving headbutt and fending off Sanos comeback attempts only to fall to a basic armbar.
  3. It's a slow paced AJPW undercard match with a lot of matwork. Pretty cool eh? Sano is a guy you don't know what to expect from here as he is in between UWFi, KINGDOM, BattlARTS and Michinoku Pro, but he rocks the shootstyle here. Some really cool matwork involving him and Smith which had that clash of styles feel. Smith isn't a guy who does a ton for me but to his credit he sold the fuck out of Sanos kicks and knees and looked like he was struggling with all his might here. Really good moment when Sano was destroying Smith in the corner with kicks and Smith goes for a front headlock only to be taken down easily. Tornado is Richard Slinger in a goofy mask and he looked good here grappling and throwing kicks, did not look so good trying to take a huracanrana. Fuchi is obviously still very good at this point but doesn't go full bore aside from a cool pin.
  4. Fun as hell little undercard trios centered around Nakano and Fuyuki hating eachothers guts. They are immediately at eachothers throat and trading beatings, Nakano asks Fuyuki to tag in etc. This is broken up by some weird and wonderful Sano/Ishikawa workrate interactions with Ishikawa hitting an awesome tubby old man plancha. However it's back to hatred and soon Nakano has punched a beeding wound into Fuyukis forehead. Then we get Kabuki punching and kicking a bloody Fuyuki in the face (as it should be). Fuyuki is quite the good sympathetic babyface here, doing his high pitched yelling etc. The finishing run is really fun too with Takahi Ishikawa being fired up, Kabuki hitting superkicks. Finally Nakano goes to town on Fuyuki with the chair. These two probably faced eachother at a Pioneer Senshi houseshow or something and we only got a taste here, but it really elevated what could have been a throwaway undercard tag.
  5. Really fun meeting of two absolute wrestling masters. Both guys were working double hard here, as if trying to prove at the big show that they can outwork anyone else in the country. Starts like MUGA match with some tricked out matwork, before they mix in BattlARTS stiff savate kicks and headbutts, then Sano busts out his junior dives before they do Lawler/Mantell exhausted elbow exchanges into an awesomely timed Ishikawa enzuigiri before going back to the MUGA again. Real tour de force from these guys, but there were lots of cool details aswell, such as Sano using his legs to extend the arm and get the sleeper, Ishikawa bridging out of a choke attemept, Sano doing some center of gravity shifting (which eventually backfires on him) etc. Really cool match and I dug the hybrid style they were aiming at here.
  6. Man this ruled. I don't know why, but these two do not like each other and we get an awesome start with Yamamoto charging in straight away flinging slaps and Sano pump kicking him in the face. This was more Battlartsy than a New Japan/UWFi mishmash. Naoki Sano was fucking awesome at the pro wrestling, man. He's always able to incorporate pro style moves into a shoot style setting in really cool and organic ways. In this he applied what was basically a scorpion deathlock, then transitioned into an STF/choke, then into a regular crossface. Yamamoto stood him up and planted Sano right on his neck with a backdrop, but then got ahead of himself in the stand up and Sano OBLITERATED him with a spinning back kick. This hit flush in the face and I was stunned Yamamoto was able to get up. Well, Sano just dropped him again anyway, this time with a couple ugly looking powerbombs, eventually hooking in a choke for the submission. Six minutes of badass, that's what this was.
  7. Hey, now here's a match that slipped under the radars! Have YOU seen this match? Go boast to your hipster friends about it. One can't help but wonder how this match up will go down. Hashimoto is the heavyweight mega star. Sano is a junior and at best not even the 3rd highest ranked guy in UWFi. Also, Hashimoto represents NJPW... at a UWFi vs. WAR show? Let me say that this match is very slow, and 100% true to their characters and hierarchy. Hashimoto can beat Sano in 30 seconds, and the finish drives this home. But Sano is skillful and hard to kill. This is like an NJPW match dressed as UWFi match, with grappling and hard fighting over the throws. I'm a fan of Hashimoto grappling. Everything he does feels like a big deal, and he is such a bulldozer even when he's not striking. His takedowns and throws just flatten Sano. At one point he randomly bends Sano's arm all awkwardly and it's awesome. They really work the skill vs. size AND skill narrative effectively; Hash is a behemoth, but he can't do what he wants to Sano, and Sano can barely move him. There's a really cool bit where Hashimoto tries to stomp on Sano's leg, but Sano blocks him and tries a leg trip, but can't achieve it either because Hash is Hash. Another where Sano gets past Hashimoto's guard and tries a suplex, but Hashimoto just lands on top of him, crushing his chest. It all builds very well, leading to both guys throwing HUGE suplexes, Sano getting chopped in the neck and kicked in the face really really hard and Hashimoto getting spin kicked in the throat REALLY hard. Even the somewhat un-shootlike armbar nearfalls kind of make sense as it seems that Hashimoto's arm wasn't in quite the correct position while Sano was only a short movement away from getting it properly, getting the crowd worked up good. I also dug the finish. I could unterstand if some people found that a disappointing ending, but I felt it was really the only logical outcome considering the gap in ranking between the two and I loved that it was basically Sano getting all cocksure and Hashi ending him right there. Really loved this match for what it was and thought it was another testament to Hashimoto's greatness considering this could've easily been a throwaway nothing squash and instead we got total Hashimoto styled fascinating match with so much rad stuff. Oh and to reiterate: Sano's solebutt is still the most awful thing possible.
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