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[1996-06-26-UWFi-Scramble Wars] Nobuhiko Takada & Masahito Kakihara vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Yoshiaki Fujiwara

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Weird that UWFI ran tag matches and people still thought they were a shoot. I love this match! Truth be told, I haven't watched a ton of UWFI, but this is really accessible and the style is kinda flashy and high impact, so it's very easy to follow. Part of that may be that Fujinami and Fujiwara are great wrestlers outside of this style, so they bring that sort of thing to this setting. But whatever the reason, it works well.

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Fujiwara was just awesome in this with his slaps and mat work. He's usually great but sometimes he seems to be content in taking a beating and hiding in the corner. Here he just slaps Kakihara in the face and beats him up. Great match and a MOTYC for sure.

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Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Tatsumi Fujinami v. Nobuhiko Takada/Masahito Kakihara UWFI 6/26/96-GREAT

 

This was a main event of a UWFI show during the UWFI v. NJ feud, with Fujiwara and Fujinami representing NJ. Pretty cool match with the frisson between the styles providing a bunch of neat moments. Of course Fujiwara is a master at shootstyle wrestling, but it was cool to see Fujinami throw in stuff like top rope diving knees and clotheslines off of the ropes. The crowd reacted big whenever Fujinami used pro moves, and it nicely demonstrated the battle of styles. I haven't watched any UWFI in years, and I was impressed in Takada here, he was still a little bland, but he was laying in the kicks and he projects a big star aura in a way he didn't in the 80's. Kakihara has impressively fast hands, and I loved the little story that he and Fujiwara were telling throughout the match. In the early part of the match you could tell that Kakihara's hand speed was bothering Fujiwara, he was getting caught with flurries and kicks and got knocked down several times. By the end of the match though he had started to time Kakihara and was able to block and avoid most of his shots. The finish was awesome with Fujiwara dancing away from an increasingly desperate and reckless Kakihara until he catches a leg on a kick and sinks in a kneebar for the tap. Totally cool story, reminded me of the Juan Manuel Marquez v. Juan Diaz fight, with the wily veteran initially overwhelmed by the athletic freak, but able to use his guile to adjust.

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Count me as another big fan of this match. The crowd is white hot for all 4 guys, and they really appreciate what's happening. My favorite sequence is when Kakihara lands an axe kick on Fujiwara -- he seems to become legit pissed and start shooting on Kakihara for a minute. He basically starts ground-and-pounding him. I also thought the out f nowhere submission was very realistic, as you see that kind of finish in grappling and MMA all the time.

 

It's awesome.

 

My brother wandered in and watched a few minutes. Then he said, "One of the things I don't like about pro wrestling -- and why I can never get into it -- is that they don't seem to follow even their fake rules." He was talking about how a tag partner will almost always run in and break up a pin. It was after Takada comes in and breaks up the sharpshooter.

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I didn't give a shit about Dullragon, who was out of his element. Takada didn't feature much, he didn't seem to want to be in there with Fujiwara. But forget about them. This was the Wara show, with poor Ka-ki as his unfortunate foil. He was a sleazy, nasty, dirty old raincoat who radiated filth. He was using every cheapshot and shortcut in the book to rough up the young man. It was really entertaining to see this unique character in action, with mark out moments aplenty. Kakihara took his licks and showed good toukon.

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Fujiwara was amazing in this; like, best in the world level. This has a really fun dynamic with the younger kickpad-wearing strikers up against the tougher-than-shoe-leather vets that've been around since before kickpads were even a thing. Fujiwara going postal after Kakihara's kick ruled so hard. He has a vendetta against the kid the whole match after that, throwing nasty little cheapshots, roughing him up, blatantly punching him in the back of the head, etc. Loved the finish as well. You can just tell by the look on Fujiwara's face after Kakihara's first wild rolling kick that he has a plan, then he suckers Kakihara in and catches him in a flash. There isn't a better "flash finish" wrestler ever than Fujiwara. Great match.

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Terrific match that shows that Fujiwara has still got it. As sour as I've been on this feud, I really do like how the NJPW guys manage to incorporate wrasslin'-style offense into this setting, at least generally. And I love how over the dragon screw is after Muto used it so effectively in the first Takada match.

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This was really sweet and one of the more natural, shoot style tags I have seen. Team NJ was especially great with Fujiwara bringing some nasty shots and Fujinami giving one of his better performances of the 1990's. Takada continues to be a perplexing worker for me and one I really tangle with in the greatest wrestler ever voting as he really delivers in the big matches. ****

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Nobuhiko Takada & Masahito Kakihara vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Yoshiaki Fujiwara - UWFi 6/26/96

 

UWFi was at the tail end of their feud with NJPW, which climaxed with Takada losing the title to Hashimoto in April. Basically, it was their penultimate gasp at relevancy, Takada would draw big against Tenryu in a couple months and then they would close their doors. By feuding and losing to NJPW, it cemented UWFi as NJPW-lite, which kinda was already. This is the last vestiges of that feud as Takada takes on two rivals from the 80s fellow shoot-style pioneer: Fujiwara and the NJPW star of the 80s; Fujinami.

 

I thought Fujinami & Fujiwara were game here. Huge pop at the beginning for Fujiwara catching the kick and turning it into a dragon leg screw. From there, great organic transition into a figure-4, but near the ropes. Kakihara, who I have never seen before, is a spunky little fuck. He just catches Fujinami with a kick to head from jump. Fujinami grabs a back heel trip and here comes Fujiwara. I loved this because it was such a pure veteran vs rookie dynamic. Just when you and Kakihara think Kakihara has him, Fujiwara grabs a DEEP toehold and Kakihara is yelping. Fujiwara/Takada is not much. Takada and Fujinami do some good New Japan grappling. Takada starts snapping off his famous kicks. Fujinami fights through gets a nice vertical suplex which gets a pop and he tags out to Fujiwara, who gets a tight butterfly suplex for a one count. Takada gets outta Dodge. Kakihara AXE KICKS Fujiwara in the face. Fujiwara fights through the onslaught of kicks and takes Kakihara down. Right now this making me want a Kakihara vs Fujiwara match. Ref makes Fujiwara stand up and Fujiwara deep single leg crab. Fujinami again good grappling taking advantage of Kakihara's mistakes. Fujiwara comes in and whacks Kakihara right on the ear and drives him right out the ring. Big suplex back in and a deep choke. Fujiwara is killing it right now. Fujinami & Fujiwara double team the shit out of Kakihara and Takada just stands on the apron like a tool. Basically, they let Kakihara tag out. Takada is really effective using his kicks to chop down both, but gets caught in a toehold by Fujiwara and tags out immediately. Then he is grabbing his ankle while Kakihara is getting his ass kicked again makes him look like such a prick.

 

Fujiwara was consistently awesome, but Fujinami had some great moments like his response LARIAT to Kakihara and then Scorpion Deathlock. Fujinami was definitely the most over. Takada actually saved Kakihara here. Takada fires off kicks and then gets caught. DRAGON LEG SCREW! Big pop again! Takada takes Fujiwara down with a head kick and like a chump tags out to Kakihara who takes the Fujiwara armbar and then Fujinami Dragon Sleeper. I love LeBron James, but Takada is doing the wrestling equivalent of LeBron James. It is the 4th quarter of the match and he is letting Kakihara sink or swim against the legends and is just refusing to either win or lose the match on his own terms. That's kinda metaphor for Takada who was a great and influential pro wrestler, but a tier below the other puro legends. Kakihara throws as many kicks as possible some real Hail Marys ones like rainbow kicks and Fujiwara calls him over and then locks on a toehold and gets the submission.

 

This was very Original UWF/80s NJPW and was wicked entertaining. Given the participants both of those things make sense. Fujiwara and Fujinami were awesome as crowd pleasing, hard hitting vets and Kakihara was a ball of energy. Takada's LeBron-like disappearing act is just as gobsmacking when it happens in a Cavs game and makes for just as much drama. Fujiwara is so damn good. ****1/4

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This match ruled! Verged on Battlarts style with suplex highspots and plenty of rule breaking. Kakihara and Fujiwara really make this match, though everyone's great. Kakihara is a really energetic striker at first but as the match goes out he's out classed by Fujiwara and Fujinami, and some of the best parts of the match are Fujiwara schooling him. He does get a cool comeback at the end to lead into the finish. So much cool stuff in this match from everyone.

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I loved this match-up, especially the surly, zero fucks given Fujiwara. I mean, Kakihara’s equally great as the snappy striker riling up the old guys but when he pisses off Fujiwara, Fujiwara wants nothing more than to choke Kakihara out and he tries, again and again, with that classic grinning taunt. When he’s reprimanded by the referee (“No choke! No choke!”), Fujiwara just starts punching Kakihara on the mat. Takada is here to kick and kick hard but Fujinami’s ready for him, countering the first attack with a dragon screw legwhip to set-up the figure four leglock. I thought Fujinami’s selling was fantastic while he’s getting hammered with knees and kicks. Takada uses those strong kicks against Fujiwara to cut out his legs, laying in the punishment before Kaki gets the revenge tag. Oh boy oh boy, here he comes, adrenaline-fueled, smacking the shit out of Fujiwara before he attempts (and misses) not one but TWO spinning heel kicks. With the wind out of his sail, Fujiwara promptly taps him out with the leglock.

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