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[1996-09-11-UWFi vs WAR] Nobuhiko Takada vs Genichiro Tenryu

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This felt like an absolute war between two huge stars, with Tenryu joining Fujiwara on the list of guys who could beat some passion out of Takada. I loved Tenryu's ground-and-pound elbows and the straight rights he fired in response to Takada's kicks. But Takada gave as good as he got with some vicious leg kicks and that cringe-inducing series of knees in the corner. The ending sequence was great, with Tenryu showing his will by attacking with the lariat arm that Takada had just worked over. I wish Takada hadn't looked quite so nonchalant when putting on the final submission, but that's a quibble. This was my kind of wrestling.

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This was great! Childs really summed up my thoughts well. I loved the chop vs kick stuff and contrast in styles, and everything both guys did look great. For all of Takada's strengths, emotion through facial expressions is not one of them though. I'm not sure why they played Yamazaki's music to close this out.

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Takada's knees were right up there with the Rutten match in greatness. I don't remember ever seeing Tenryu bleed that much. He looked might pissed when that happened. Great stuff.

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Did they have more than one match around this time? I ask because I know I have a match from these two in 96 and I haven't watched it since about 98. It was a terrific match and I remember thinking it was pretty cool how they implemented more traditional pro wrestling into a more shootish pro wrestling enviornment. Terrific stuff.

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I had this in my old iTunes library of wrestling matches and saw it was a part of the set, which I'm stoked to see. Looking forward to picking up the yearbook sets, especially with 96 being one of my favorite wrestling years.

 

I scurried to the DVDVR Best of the 90s poll to see where this placed and saw it only got one third place vote and ended up near 100 overall. I know people loved the Vader '94 match because it was Vader working the UWFi style, but holy FUCK this match is fantastic and it might even be better than that match. Tenryu doing everything he could to make this into a pro wrestling match because he doesn't want to go at Takada in his style, and Takada showing fire because he'd be damned if Tenryu was going to come into his fed and not work shoot style was incredible. The fact that they worked the pinfalls into the finishing stretch made this work really well as a spectacle that you wouldn't really see that often in UWF-i and made it stand out. This was a flat out war.

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A dream match for sure, and I loved the rematch in WAR. In UWFI it felt awkward stylistically. I want to see shoot style matches when watching a shoot style promotion. Outsiders should be adapting their own style, not having the home wrestler having to change to accommodate them. Tenryu submitting came as a big shock to me. How often did that happen over his career?

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This starts off slow, but Tenryu is so good at projecting a character, and putting over the idea that he's making Takada come to him, that it doesn't matter. This turns into a war, like a worked version of Rutten-Funaki, with both guys beating some fire and passion into the other. The stand-up strike exchanges have turned into a cliche in Japan but the chop vs. kick battle really works here, enhanced by the nasty cut over Tenryu's eye. The ending *does* come off a little nonchalant, and again reminds one of Pancrase, though I doubt that was the intention. Still a terrific match that lives up to its dream match billing.

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I was under the impression that this would be more of a worked shoot than it really was. Tenryu, for his part, worked it as a pro-wrestling match under UWF rules, while Takada, to his credit, worked each of the matches differently and did his best here to remain true to the shoot style credo. I don't like seeing pro-wrestlers do shoot style anymore than I like seeing pro-wrestlers decimated in PRIDE fights, but watching Tenryu bouts has become a hobby of mine in recent weeks and I kind of had to swallow my disbelief that Takada wouldn't destroy Tenryu under UWF rules if this were a realistic worked shoot. Tenryu fighting through the guard to deliver forearm smashes was cool. Tenryu bleeding from Takada's knees to the head was awesome. He also ate Takada's kicks extremely well. Tenryu doing pro-wrestling moves... not so cool... Tenryu chasing Takada outside the ring and back in... not so cool... The matwork was slightly better than the WAR bout to the extent that Takada varied the bout of attack, but it was still weaker than the stand-up. I guess if they'd worked stand-up only it would have made for a pretty short bout, however. The final submission was poorly worked and tough to buy as a legit finisher, but again I wouldn't peg this as anything less than good. The WAR bout was better because it was clearly a pro-wrestling bout without any expectations of what should happen in a UWF bout, and it was also the more dramatic of the two. Tenryu wasn't bad in this, but he was a little weaker than he was on his home turf. If you're into star ratings, I'd go *** on this and *** 1/2 on the rematch.

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I like Takada more than some around here and even then he showed me a good bit in this match. It again starts off with a slow burn but just builds and builds to a fitting climax that felt draining to the viewer. It was nice to see the matchup between these two as while it isn't a pairing I would really be clamoring for, I am glad we at least got it with both men being athletic enough to still deliver an engaging contest. ****

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The ref spoke perfect English throughout the match. Did anyone else find that weird?

 

Nobuhiko Takada vs Genichiro Tenryu - UWFi vs WAR 9/11/96

 

The two biggest, non-NJPW, non-AJPW puroresu wrestlers of the 90s do battle drawing 30,000 to Jingu Stadium. On a card that also featured Hashimoto, Sasaki, SAYAMA!?? & KAWADA?!? against UWFi wrestlers. Tenryu blazed the path for freelance wrestling Japan in the 90s, which became a popular path in the first decade of the 21st Century. While Takada started an incredibly successful shoot-style company in the 90s, which inevitably led to the founding of PRIDE forever changing the landscape of pro wrestling & mixed martial arts. After Tenryu feuded with New Japan from late 92-early 94, Takada feuded with New Japan from late 95-early 96 there was really nowhere left for either to go but into each other arms. UWFi was breathing its last gap and this match popped a huge gate, but it was not sustainable and UWFi closed its doors in December of 1996.

 

Huge Clash of the Titans feel for this match. Starts off slow but chippy. They established pro style vs shoot style with Tenryu missing his elbow drop from the top early and Takada kicking him out of the ring to a huge pop from the pro-UWFi crowd. Things get chippy when Tenryu does not give a clean rope break and Takada starts firing off kicks, but Tenryu grabs the leg and torques it into a dragon leg screw. The match really takes off when Takada relentlessly knees Tenryu in the face cutting him really badly from the forehead. Nasty stuff and actually set up a huge Tenryu comeback, which was weird because the crowd really loved Takada, but goddamn did I love Tenryu unleashing his classic fury (punches, chops, suplex and Cloverleaf) when he saw his own blood and just ripped into Takada. Tenryu just punching Takada really hard into the side of the head and the way Takada sold it was just magnificent by both men. The ref speaking perfect English throughout the match was odd to me. He told someone to take it easy at one point, which made me laugh.

 

The cloverleaf was a great visual with the blood pouring down Tenryu face it was like a reverse Bret-Austin. Takada makes the ropes. Tenryu misses the Kappo Kick. The one issue with Takada is that his favorite hold is a kneebar and that is by far the most boring of all shoot-style holds and that's what he goes for here. Takada's offense (kicks and knees) has been great and his selling really, really good too. The kicks to the leg and that MASSIVE LEFT TO THE HEAD had me popping huge. Takada going for a pinfall cover was so strange to me! It looked so wrong! Cross-armbreaker that's more like it, but Tenryu clasps the hands, but Takada breaks it but Tenryu is too close to the ropes. Big lariat from Tenryu for 2! Tenryu misses second lariat and Takada gets an armbar takedown into a Fujiwara armbar. Takada kicks Tenryu in the head a bunch so Tenryu punches him in the head and Takada just melts into the mat. Takada is on fire here. Mack Truck Lariat by Tenryu only gets two and Takada kicks him in the head from the ground massive punch by Tenryu. The Chop-Kick Fighting Spirit bullshit works here because of how big of superstars they are and everything that happened before. Tenryu wins with a huge overhand chop. Tenryu Powerbomb?!? Takada gets the armbar takedown and Fujiwara armbar gets him the victory.

 

Really amazing Clash of the Titans style pro vs shoot style match. Takada remained committed to who he was as did Tenryu yet somewhere they were able to meet somewhere in the middle without comprising their integrity or match quality. Everything just felt huge. It was a little slow in the beginning, but once Takada busted Tenryu open with those knees, the last ten minutes were amazing. ****1/2

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This was a lot like Takada/Hashimoto as it's a huge match up between big names and is worked in a way that really reinforces how big a match it is. Much of the match is worked as a series of explosive exchanges in between relatively calm intervals, though they do go more all out toward the end. And those explosive exchanges are really great and the crowd goes nuts for them. Takada is good here but the star is Tenryu. Tenryu unleashes some cool ground a pound when Takada tries to take it to the mat. Although the best spot in the match might be Takada unloading with knee strikes in the corner, busting Tenryu open. Huge exchanges at the end. They really pull off the feeling of this match being a war between two colossal stars.

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