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Found 48 results

  1. This was my number one match in the Other Japan Best of the 90's voting, and truly a beautiful piece of professional wrestling. It is paced differently then any of the other matches in the Top 15, and I am guessing the odd pacing may have been a reason it finished low on some peoples ballots. Fujiwara, especially in the late 80's and 90's does this really stop-start almost Fugazish pacing, where you have big exchanges or moves, and then lulls, where both guys would circle or feint, before the next attack. I really like this kind of pacing, it is the kind of thing you often see in shootfights or boxing matches, really brings drama to the moments of action. The first part of this match, Fujiwara is really not taking Yamazaki seriously at all. Like he is almost contemptuous, imagine Flair v. Scott McGhee or Ricky Steamboat in their first match. He throws in a cheap shot headbutt, dancing around mugging, puts on a knee bar while reclining with his head resting leisurely in his hand. At one point Yamazaki throws some kicks which miss, and Fujiwara responds with some really assholish thrown kicks of his own. Almost like the Jock Football player taunting the Asian kid with fake Karate. Fujiwara has some of the greatest facial expressions in wrestling history, and he really gets across contemptuous prick. Yamazaki finally gets some respect when he hits Fujiwara with a nasty kick to the stomach for a down. Yamazaki tends to be kind of hit and miss with his kicks, and Fujiwara only sells the ones that land big, unlike a lot of other guys who will sell intent not result. Fujiwara also is always trying to catch the middle kicks, although even when he does, he will sell the shot if it is solid enough. The last ten minutes of this match really bring it over the top. Fujiwara has gotten four downs on Yamazaki so he just needs one more knockdown for a technical decision. So Yamazaki has his back against the wall. He gets fed up with the abuse and you almost get the sense he has decided to dish out some receipts even if he is going down. Like many Fujiwara matches ring positioning is very important, Fujiwara had been trapping Yamazaki in the corner and punishing him with bodyshots. Yamazaki kind of bull rushes Fujiwara in the corner, and just unleashes body shots of his own, seemingly aiming right for Fujiwara's sake soaked kidneys. The downs get close to even, and they announce five minutes remaining. They then go right to the corner with both guys now throwing with abandon and trying to maneuver the other into the corner, Yamazaki gets the final turn and cracks Fujiwara with a knee lift for a nine count. Now UWF2 had booked a ton of 30 minute draws, including one in the opening match of this show. Really the only reason to book so many undercard 30 minute draws is for a main event finish like this. So we are at 28 minutes and Yamazaki unloads with nasty headbut right to Fujiwara's mouth. Now this is a clearly a receipt for the headbutts earlier in the show. Fujiwara comes up with blood dripping from his mouth, and this look on his face "So were throwing headbutts now, Motherfucker," and he just unloads with three nasty headbutts including one right to the eye for the TKO at 29 minutes 30 seconds. Yamazaki was technically fine here, but this was the Fujiwara show. Just an artist at telling a story with smirks and eye rolls and sneers. Every action had a reaction, great great stuff.
  2. Miyato is usually terrific in the underdog role but here he excels at playing a bully as well. Typical awesome matwork and Tamura's selling in the final stages was masterful stuff. ****
  3. These two go at each other once again after previously going to a 30 minute draw at the Starting Over Vol.2 event. There is more of the same again - careful, deliberate, both waiting for openings and defending nicely on the mat. Nakano uses his weight brilliantly to add more pressure to Miyato when he takes the back and Miyato is light on his feet to gain some ground of his own. The little spurts where they go back and forth with kicks and slaps is great and adds a little more excitement to the bouts mixed in with the grappling. They escalate nicely as the 15 minute time lapses over, throwing in more dynamic sequences and more big throws. Miyato threw a killer spinning sole kick to the hips of Nakano, almost drawing a 10 count which Nakano then followed it up with a capture suplex once he recovered. One of my favourite moments of the match was Miyato catching Nakano with a high kick and going for a belly to bell but Nakano counted with a nasty headbutt that split Miyato wide open at the eye. Gruesome. Miyato was able to recover and cinched in a deep single leg, getting the victory. Awesome follow up to their other match. ***3/4
  4. I believe this was the second show of UWF 2nd stage and so they did this match as a bit of strong style in it's stiffest format. For example, they picked one another up, there was a snap mare and a large number of rope breaks instead of escapes. So with that said, it's totally understandable that they opted to do this. They had to ease people back into the U-style and not discredit everything they did in '86, '87, and the first half of '88. That's wild when you think about it. There was a three year gap and three years in wrestling is a long time...basically a seachange from 1985 to 1988. Ok so we take this more as a NJPW match. If that's the case then this is awesome! The submissions aren't as believable until later but the kicks are vicious. Even the submissions were very dramatic because you never knew the one Takada was going going to tap to & Maeda was eating kicks. Really cool brutal stuff. The stiffness didn't take this over to the level of violence that was shown in 7/24/89 & that was beautifully teased in the Yamazaki/Fujiwara match. Not quite the same type of match though so it's hard to reconcile where this fits in the shoot-style paradigm. A classic for a strong style match but not up to credibility standards for UWF or shoot style...got to rate it more as straight pro-wrestling.
  5. The young guns are sent out for 30 minutes to warm the crowd and set the tone. Does it go well? Quite. The pace the match in the exactly how you’d expect from a 30 minute draw. There is a lot of tentative stand-up initially with the occasional kick and shooting for the takedown for a good while. But they are always high in intensity. The holds are always snug and worked well from hold to hold. Miyato threws some wicked kicks to the head and then a low kick before trying to tap Nakano out with a head-trapped double wrist lock. I loved how Nakano began getting wise to the low kicks so began checking them more often, although Miyato’s persistence caught him out every now and again. Miyato seemed to favour the Single Leg Boston Crab heavily but Nakano fought for the ropes with all his might and somehow escaped. Nakano went he began throwing big strikes over his own like the overhand palm strike followed by kicks in the corner to a cowering Miyato. His suplexes were awesome as well. Including the one that sent him and Miyato tumbling over the top rope and onto the love which was insane. The finish wasn’t anything memorable. The referee just stopped the match for the time and that was that. It was a simple finish to a simple match. I really dug it and I don’t regret sitting through 30 minutes to two of the lesser guys in the promotion fight each other to a stalemate one bit. ***1/2
  6. This is my favourite Fujiwara/Super Tiger match. They work it with Fujiwara having the upper hand on the mat and Tiger being the dominant striker but the gaps aren't huge and both can hang and fire back in both departments. Fujiwara is awesome here, busting out awesome takedowns, countering Tiger's strikes, reversing his holds on the mat etc. but he also has all time great punches and just rocks Tiger with them when they're standing. There's a really great moment when Fujiwara starts choking Super Tiger with a Sleeper and Sayama sells it with this disgusting cough. Finishing stretch is just unreal with Sayama killing Fujiwara with brutal kicks seemingly forever and his knee drop is also up there with the best there have ever been. Fujiwara is the master at blocking kicks and reversing everything so you can buy he could come back at any time but Sayama just keeps on kicking him in the head and destroying him and it's this super dramatic struggle and then one time when Fujiwara finally gets a comeback in he gets cocky and throws a headbutt that knocks HIM down. That spot played up so many things, from Fujiwara's arrogance to the damage of Sayama's offence neutralizing a spot that I don't think had ever been neutralized before. And he just keeps on killing him and pretty much invents the shoot style KO/TKO finish in the process. FIVE STARS.
  7. Really strong storytelling here as Fujiwara comes across as the stronger, more-seasoned wrestler, who is content on grinding Super Tiger down at all times. It's a great dynamic for the entire match. He starts the match by grabbing Super Tiger and giving him a huge atomic drop, and then catches his first kick and just releases his grasp. Good dickhead type stuff there. Fujiwara grabs a triangle choke and, while it appeared Super Tiger tapped, the ref breaks the hold and the match continues. I'm not sure what happened there, he didn't seem to be under the ropes. Fujiwara catches a second kick, and turns it into a dragon screw takedown and we're back to the mat. Any time Super Tiger can get a break from having a limb worked over, he fires off exciting kicks which really gets the crowd going. Twice he lands these and goes up for a big move (knee drop was one of them) but Fujiwara moves out of the way. While nothing from the top is executed, there is a payoff later in the match when Super Tiger drops a vicious knee on Fujiwara's skull. Fujiwara hits the first piledriver but Super Tiger's follow-up tombstone later is fantastic, with Fujiwara selling it like death and staying balanced on the top of his head for a slow fall. When Fujiwara fights for another later, there's a great subtle touch of him locking the leg with his arms to be able to lift Super Tiger up for the move. The finish sees another kick caught and we get the big payoff with a huge back spinning kick from Super Tiger. A couple other kill shots are laid in and he locks in an arm and neck submission and Fujiwara gives up. We get a handshake and show of respect post match. This match really resonated with me when I reflected back on it. Lot of connected pieces here that told a good story. This match was ranked 7/75 in the Other Japan 80s poll.
  8. For a match that wraps up in under 10 minutes, there is a lot do it. Funaki is wrestling his fourth match for UWF 2.0 and already has losses to Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Yoji Anjo, plus a DQ loss to Bob Backlund on his record sheet. Nakano came up through the original UWF and while by no means a star, is positioned as both the veteran and fan favorite against Funaki. There is very much an “our guy” versus “this other guy we are unsure about” vibe from the fans throughout. The match has excellent heat form the start. Just that total anticipatory shouting and yelling type of heat. Hakata Star Lane only holds a few thousand fans (and it shows) but man, those fans made a lot of noise. An awesome big fight atmosphere that is made even more remarkable by the fact that these fans just sat through a 30 minute draw between Mark Rush & Minoru Suzuki. You would never know that this match was coming of the heels of a 30 minute draw and was positioned second on a five match card by the crowd reaction. They take advantage of that anticipation by going at it right away and cutting a remarkable pace. This is a brawl in every way possible. They throw hard kicks and slaps in a reckless but still skilled manner. There is almost no separation between the two wrestlers, save for few times the times when one is trying to answer a ten count and a couple of timeouts for the doctor to check on Nakano. The doctor looks at Nakano because he gets a busted up and has his nose bloodied early. The blood adds another dimension to the match and heat, as blood tends to do. Nakano and Funaki had a better pro wrestling brawl by staying in the ring and not using any weapons than most guys who lean on those gimmicks do. The mat work is overall very good. They were able to take the intensity from the standup stuff and transition it the ground, which is not always easily done. There was a real struggle and stiffness to the mat portions of the match, with both guys constantly in motion trying to counter and escape. There are shoot style matches that have higher level submission attempts and escapes, but given the intensity they were wrestling with it didn’t make an ounce of difference. They fell into the somewhat common shoot style trap of getting tied in dual leg locks, but got out of it quickly without losing any of the momentum they had built. In fact, they only gained crowd momentum as the match wore on. As hot as the crowd was at the start, they only got louder in throwing their support behind Nakano. One the blood starting flowing, the crowd threw all their weight behind Nakano by chanting his name and screaming during his comebacks. Nakano lifting his fist towards the crowd after the doctor decides that the match can continue was a great moment and only served to get the crowd even more behind him. Funaki jumped right back on top him after that. Funaki never allowing Nakano to gain much space was a big factor in the match working as well as it did. Nakano’s low-to-the-mat suplexes are great. I loved how he teased one signature snap suplex only for Funaki to half-block it in this really realistic manner. Funaki didn’t just put on the breaks or get on a knee like you would normally see. Rather, it came off like he was holding his weight back as much as he possibly could, but still ended up being driven halfway into the mat on his head. When Nakano pulled off the same suplex cleanly later in the match, it got a big reaction. I could see the argument that they could have used a couple more high level near-submissions for Nakano near the end, but the ones they had felt like more than enough. It would have been difficult for them to draw more heat for a near-victory than what they were already drawing. The finish felt like it came at just the right time, plus Nakano milked it just long enough before giving up that it had time to sink in. It is a cliché, but this was one of those matches where both winner and loser came out looking strong. My first thoughts after watching this was “that’s what some people think Ishii matches are” and “that’s what Ishii matches should be.” I am not picking on Ishii or at least I don’t intend to. But this was a hard hitting, super intense brawl of a match that never let up and got there without burning through a bunch of stuff or going long. I read a lot of people talk up matches from Ishii, Sekimoto and the like because they gravitate towards matches where two guys take a lot of punishment and go down swinging. That is fine, but matches like this are an example of how that can be done without resorting to no-selling, burning through moves, or going long. A match like this is potentially appealing to a far wider offense because it doesn’t do those things, while keeping the positive elements (drama, intensity, the feeling of a throw down brawl) of an Ishii-type bomb fest. Awesome match overall and probably one of my favorite sub-10 minute matches of all time. It is quick, heated, and hits almost all of the right notes. http://www.crossarmbreaker.com/masakatsu-funaki-vs-tatsuo-nakano-uwf-2-0-07241989/#more-3100
  9. This is easily the best UWF Miyato match that I've seen so far. There's not much of that to attribute to Miyato, which is even more remarkable, since it was still Suzuki's rookie year and only his second UWF match! Suzuki quite literally wrestle circles around Miyato, and his mannerisims honestly aren't far off from what we'd see from him nowadays. Miyato basically stays in the match by sheer force of will to not let the rookie show him up by beating him. Miyato winds up winning when he figures out that Suzuki is susceptible to suplexes, and getting a few lucky shots when they were both throwing wild swings at each other. After a year of snoozefests with Nakano and Anjo, this is certainly a breath of fresh air. With the new blood coming into the company in the form of Suzuki, Funaki, and Tamura, I'm wondering if/hoping that this match is the catalyst for bringing something fresh out of him that he can keep up.
  10. This was quite the shootstyle main event. A little long and directionless at times, but the matwork was good enough and when they threw kicks, they just sliced through eachother. A seemingly gassed Yamazaki nearly kicking Maeda's head off was such a spectacular moment. Yeah I don't have much to write about this. Solid in the first 20 minutes and pretty dope violent stuff in the last.
  11. This was such a gruelling battle. Maeda maybe a more compelling matchup for Fujiwara than Sayama, because he can go on the mat, and is larger, so we get all this compelling matwork were Fujiwara has to control or defend against him with double concentration. This was slow, but dripping with intensity right from the start. Fujiwara teaching his opponent a lesson on the mat and coming back through barrages of kicks was so awesome. He came across as the toughest, most determined man on the planet. Both guys wincing while in the double leg lock was such an epic visual. The finish I didn't see coming at all, but this is why shootstyle rules: it fit the story of the match, and both guys came out looking like the baddest dudes alive.
  12. Why has nobody else started a thread for this match? It seems like a nice exhibition at first, with a couple of skilled wrestlers doing their thing. The matwork is fluid and effortless, but it doesn't seem like either of them is really trying for anything. Then, Soranaka escapes Takada'a Octopus hold and Takada gets pissed and starts kicking the hell out him. Soranaka decides he isn't going to just curl up and die for him, and it turns into a heated fight. Complete with Takada bumping and letting Soranaka keep him locked up in holds for extended stretches, to make it look more likely that he's going to win, and Sornaka looking like superman for kicking out of a running Tombstone and then returning fire. Takada eventually wins out and taps him with a chickenwing, when something more brutal seemed for fitting. But, holy smokes, this was all kinds of awesome, and it's truly a shame that Soranaka's career didn't last much longer, if this is any indication he'd have been fit right in in the Newborn UWF, and maybe the openers with Nakano and Miyato wouldn't have stunk up the joint.
  13. This is a damn fun match, from two of the best. There's a lot of long matwork, but neither is ever lazy about it, you always get the feeling that they're both struggling to either escape the hold or to keep the pressure on. Fujiwara even has some fun with a monkey flip (in a UWF match!) to escape a crab hold. They even throw down and exchange some nasty shots to each other, with the crowd eating it up. Kido's win looks like a fluke, but it shows that even a single mistake is all he needs to finish you off. I won't go as far as calling it the best match from the original UWF, but, it definitley ought to at least be in the discussion!
  14. This has been a project I've been waiting to do for quite sometime. My busy season with work is all done and we've finally finished moving into our house. Sure, there are tons of boxes and bags full of stuff that we need to unpack, sort, and put away. That can wait though! I want to get back to wrestling and specifically 1980's puroresu! New Japan 1988 is my first stop. I'm somewhat acquainted with this year from my Nobuhiko Takada comps and the 8/8/88 Inoki vs Fujinami bout. I'm going to start the year with reviews from my "vault" but, I will scratch the surface a bit more as I progress. Let's start! (01/11): Keiichi Yamada vs. Masakatsu Funaki- This one was full of sound mat wrestling and some punishing holds. The best part was seeing shooter supreme doing pro-style moves! Its totally fresh and interesting to see this mat master to hit these moves. Funaki is darn good at it too! A fun match and bit of late 80's juniors gem. A match made me declare Damn! Liger's my favorite wrestler! *** 3/4 (01/25) Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki - Yes! finally the strong style match I knew they could do! Awesome work by Yamazaki and Takada lets go of his ego and plays the vulnerable young ace to Yamazaki's perenial yet gutsy underdog. This is the Yamazaki match to watch...well every Yamazaki is worthwhile but even moreso here because like 9/11/85 he's allowed to compete. The joint locks and holds are sold like killer moves as all worked shoots really rely on. This plays really well off the May & Sept. '87 tag matches. ****+probably higher. (02/04) Takada vs Shiro Koshinaka - This started out pretty good but they were getting too complex with their spots & they weren't hitting them how they wanted. It started picking back up but there was a glitch in the DVD on my player so I turned it off. I was not into it what can I say. It's worth a re-watch. (02/04) Hiroshi Hase vs. Keiichi Yamada- A fun, smart, well wrestled match. Each man picked his opponent apart as best they could. Of course Yamada had his moves from the top rope but, Hase surprised me with some of his maneuvers. He was pretty brutal as he was still a protoge of Riki Chosu. This of course wasn't the classic one would hope for but, it was pretty good stuff. I just wish it could have gone on longer as it was just starting to pick up when it ended. That's really the only knock on this match but, this tendency to go-home around 10 minutes is an 80's Jrs. thing. ***1/2 (03/11): Nobuhiko Takada vs Hiro Hase - I was expecting a mat wrestling clinic but um...we didn't get that. That's OK though since both guys brought their A game and Takada wasn't stalling here and Hase was his great self albeit a bit in a heel/Choshu mode which was very cool because Takada seemed quite vulnerable. Expectations aside, this was an awesome match with great performances by both men and a match that goes on their highlight reel. These last couple of matches have really saved Takada for me because he was really getting in a rut in the summer of '87... and shows Takada really wanting to go out of NJPW with a bang. Another piece of evidence that the UWF guys or Takada at least was best against NJPW guys. It allowed him to fluff off their "fake" offence, allowed them to really put over the holds as near-finishes since they weren't experienced "shooters", it provided unorthodox sequences and rope running scenarios and the made so much out of the "fake" offence when it did connect. In essence, showing that the puro moves were in fact just as deadly as a head kick or armbar. In other words no one's style was discredited as they were simply different points on the same continuum which is a big part of what makes Inoki Strong Style so great when done right ****1/2+ (03/14) Takada/Yamazaki vs Yamada/Funaki - You know the more I see Yamada without the Liger gimmick the more I wish they hadn't given it to him. He is fucking amazing in every match on this set. The same with Yamazaki. He really pulls himself out of the UWF mold at times and he's damn capable & quite underrated. It's a shame that he stuck around UWFi to get jobbed out. Forget that though. I ignore that now that I've seen these matches. He plays a great babyface who's capable but just not always "good" enough to get that big win. Here the story broadens as the German suplex is his trusty match ender and separates him from the others or at least defines him a bit. He doesn't have the aura of Maeda, Fujiwara or Takada but, he's a contender. Anyhow, this was another damn good tag match with a young Masakatsu Funaki which is funny because we all know how legitimately great he would become & how brutal he could get (7/89 UWF match for that). (04/11 handheld) Keiichi Yamada & Masa Funaki vs. Anotonio Inoki - This is kind of like a 2 on 1 elimination match but, turns into a regular 2 on 1...I guess because the junior want to beat Inoki and the big-chinned one can beat 2 guys at once. Its a quick fun match taped from a fan's camcorder in a gymnasium. If you're a fan of these guys then you'll get a kick out of this one. Its not worth searching out for at like 10 miuntes but, it's a nice inclusion on a compilation. So, I hope that got you pumped to check some of this stuff out! There are definitely some must see match ups. I'll pick back up with Choshu & Hase vs Inoki & Koshinaka TV match from 04/11/88 next time and we'll go from there. Thanks for sticking with me during the hiatus and thanks for reading!
  15. Now we'e talking with the mid 80s shoot style stuff. This is the finals of a mini tournament (Super Tiger over Fujiwara, Maeda over Mark Lewin). Good kicks from both with a slight edge to Super Tiger. The stand-up sequences that led to take-downs got pretty good as this went on. Lot of armbars and rope breaks, as is expected. Both guys do a reversal into a single crab off that submission. Crowd is hot for these big submission take-downs. Super Tiger is the first to break out some wrestling, hitting a somersault senton onto Maeda's back while doing some arm work. Pele kick from Tiger and he goes up for a knee drop but Maeda avoids. Everybody pretty much no-sells anything but the submission work. Things look bleak for Super Tiger but he keeps fighting for the ropes. Finally he just goes "fuck it" and elbows Maeda in the back of the head, works him up for a tombstone and then hits a moonsault (he also works in a beautiful back spin kick to Maeda's head, which was impressive given how tall Maeda is comparably). That'd be your pro-wrestling finish but Super Tiger just goes right back to the arm, which goes nowhere and Maeda is in the ropes. Both guys start throwing some more suplexes but we're only talking one counts here, followed by more rope breaks. Finally Super Tiger works Maeda into the crossface chickenwing and he taps. This match was ranked 20/75 in the Other Japan 80s poll.
  16. This was quite the clash of the titans style match. Picture it like the scene in a western where a big gunfight breaks out and lots of stuff breaks and lots of people get shot. Takada is kind of a slug, but Maeda carries him fine on the mat, and both guys go into standing exchanges as if ready to die. Not the most pure or artful fight, but brutal and dramatic to the max.
  17. One of my favourite matches of the style. The grappling in this match was amazing. Everything looked tight and out right gnarly at times. One thing I loved in this match was everything lead into each other. For example, Maeda's suplexes almost always lead to a submission attempt on the arm. But the focus of the match was Maeda constantly going for the legs. As great as Maeda was, Takada was the star with his all time great underdog performance. His selling of the leg was fantastic and his defence of the grappling from Maeda was great. He got in some great strikes to gain the advantage in parts of the match. Great battle, filled with struggle and top notch grappling. ****3/4
  18. This was pretty much a shootstyle brawl with plenty of bitchslaps and stomps. So, exactly what it should be. Man, did Funaki just treat everyone like garbage then? It brings out Anjoh's inner dickhead tough to even things up. The grappling was fine enough and they kept things going for the entire 20+ minutes which ain't easy, but the highlight was clearly them kicking the crap out of eachother. Funaki's time in europe had clearly rubbed off on him as he went for stuff like mid section headbutts or cravate holds which he executes like a WoS wrestler. He sure loved his spin kicks, but the thing I most dug were his short low kicks. Really entertaining match.
  19. Just a notch below their 1984 matches but still really really good, which tells you about the general quality of the series. It continues the theme of Fujiwara the superior grappler vs. Tiger the superior striker. Snug matwork, good strikes and great selling. Terrific finish as well.
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