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Charles (Loss)

[1993-05-06-UWFi-Fight of Champions] Naoki Sano vs Kiyoshi Tamura

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Tamura and Akiyama in '93 would make an interesting comparison, even though they wrestled totally different styles. But they seemed to be used in similar ways -- young guy going against the big guns early on and putting forth a strong showing. (I realize Tamura had been pro a few years by this point, but I still think the comparison in presentation is a valid one). I'm not sure if it's just reflective of the nature of the yearbooks or not, but UWFI seemed to have more booking cohesion in '93 where they built up challengers and guys were distinct, whereas in '96, it really felt more like just matches being thrown out. Again, that may be more reflective of the yearbook than the booking, but it's still interesting.

 

This is a terrific match by the way. Sano is a great utility guy who can work with anyone and he does a great job of selling his frustration over the course of the match. The layout seems to be Tamura giving a bigger challenge than he expected, as Tamura dominates for a while and even catches him off guard at times when he tries to fight back. The finish felt like a major upset and because Sano did the honors in a way to maximize the meaning, Tamura really gained something from this win.

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This was so fucking good. SANO is so fucking good. Tamura isn't quite at the "so fucking good" level yet, but he's clearly on the way there. I love how Sano would just keep smothering Tamura, like when he's twisting and pulling at his arm. Tamura manages to break free and tries to catch a little breather, but Sano sees him holding the arm and jumps all over him again. There's a really nasty spot where Sano has a hold of Tamura's leg and turns it in such a disgusting angle that his ankle is directly in line with his face. Of course Tamura refuses to give an inch and the moments where he gets downright belligerent are great, like when he's on top and Sano is sort of waiting for him to make a move. He has a hold of the leg, but instead of trying to lock in a hold he just slaps him in the face. Sano slaps him back, Tamura returns another few of his own, and THEN hooks in a kneebar. Sano just laying there before the finish was a little weird, but I wasn't expecting Tamura to win this so I was pretty shocked at the end. Should be interesting to see how this stacks up to the other shoot style stuff from '93. It isn't fucking with Sano/Anjoh as the shoot style MOTY, but it might be top 5.

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Tamura and Akiyama in '93 would make an interesting comparison, even though they wrestled totally different styles. But they seemed to be used in similar ways -- young guy going against the big guns early on and putting forth a strong showing. (I realize Tamura had been pro a few years by this point, but I still think the comparison in presentation is a valid one).

I'd say Tamura's status was more akin to Kobashi in AJ at this time. Akiyama was a rookie in 1993.

 

This contest was heavily mat based with a focus on leg and ankle submissions. The two men gave a real clinic as they combined superbly. Tamura's selling was excellent and he also had a lot of ring presence. The story of the match was all about him as Sano selflessly put the youngster over. A breakthrough result for the rapidly rising star.

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I haven't done a detailed look back at things but Sano has to have one of the worst win-loss records on the yearbooks. But he doesn't feel like a jobber or anything but just seems to be so even with his opponents but can't pull out the victory in the end. Just someone I've come to root for with his hard work in the ring.

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Tamura's desperation escapes were terrific, and it paid off nicely with a big comeback victory. But goddamn was a lot of this really fucking boring. I know I've got the anti-shootstyle bias going but I love Sano to death, which made this all the more disappointing because it was his performance specifically that held this back.

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This was really terrific. While Tamura would eventually earn his rep as an all time worker, Sano was an absolute boss here. He connects on some nice suplexes while mixing in arm submissions along the way. I liked how they integrated the high spots with the subs and even had an awesome slap exchange. Tamura eventually finished it with a submission of his own after multiple awesome exchanges by both.

 

***3/4

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93 wont let up as another one of my 90 breakout guys, Tamura, has his breakout match here. This was worked so well for shootstyle with Tamura really looking like the slick young punk that is just a bit faster but also can make mistakes at times. Him securing the win feels like he has arrived on the scene. Sano working the old guard and using suplexes and submissions to punish Tamura for his mistakes was a super countering act. I love this year in wrestling ****1/4

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Great match. Sano's lengthy Armbar spot was amazing, especially how he quickly switched over once Tamura rolled over and tried to escape. Tamura's arm selling moments afterwads was realls neat as well-you're not likely to get limbwork in a shoot style bout outside of maybe someone spamming low kicks, and implementing pro style limbwork might even be contrary to the prkncipal beliefs of shoot style, but you can still get that few seconds of showing peril that put over what just happened and I'm really glad Tamura does that. The Half Crab fake into an Armbar made for an awesome finish. Their insistence on using only grappling made the striking and kicking even more special as it showcased their desperation and loss of patience. ****1/4

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This one really dragged; only the surprise ending kept it from being a complete dud. There have been quite a few nice shootstyle bouts in the yearbooks, but this wasn't one of them. Watching two guys twist each other's ankles for twenty minutes isn't my idea of good pro wrestling. I'm just glad I wasn't the only one who was bored stiff by it (Thanks, Pete!). At least give me some scoring on something other than rope breaks.

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This was good stuff. I loved the mat exchange to open and the arm control up front from Sano, working to his veteran strengths with the slick youngun Tamura trying to show him up. Sano will fire off a great suplex, Tamura will try to grab an arm upon impact and Sano finagle his way back to the armbar. A bit clunky here and there, and there's point where the match really seems to fizzle out, but then they'll start trading slaps and wake everyone back up. Great finish. Tamura mostly stays on the leg but when he can't get Sano over in the single leg, he goes to the surprise armbar and taps him after hitting a waterwheel drop. It ran a little long but there was still a lot of really neat moments in between, and Sano in UWFi has been great. 

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