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[1993-12-05-UWFi] Vader vs Nobuhiko Takada

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Vader submits! Still wild. This is probably not in the very top handful of Vader matches, but it's essential to his legacy. The guy worked a UWFI style match without changing all that much, which is a huge positive. Tremendous.

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This pretty well defines the big match feel, from the crowd to Lou Thesz to the way they worked it. I actually do think Takada is one of Vader's best few opponents. I know Vader working shootstyle isn't very shoot-like, but I liked the way he used his size here, pinning his weight on Takada's chest and popping him in the head with palm strikes. I also really liked the way he sold Takada's leg kicks. Takada was very good in his own right, giving Vader plenty of space to be the bear but making his counterattacks look sharp. He felt like the underdog, yet his victory seemed a reasonable product of the things he did well in the match. Their '94 match is even better, but this was great main event wrestling.

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This was the biggest show in the history of UWFI, drawing 46,000 to the Jingu Stadium. It was built up as well as a major world title boxing match. Several legends were there including Lou Thesz and they played the national anthems. Vader was perfectly cast as the unstoppable monster heel. Takada had grown into the Inoki role as the native hero fighting off the big bad foreigner. Yeah it was cheesy, but as a big show spectacle main event they got this just right.

 

Vader was dominant with his huge weight advantage and would've won easily had they been using the 15 points system. Takada had to weather the storm and fight back with his potent kicks. He hung in there long enough for the big man to tire and then locked in the Jujigatame FTW. Epic sell job from Vader afterwards, acting like the arm was broken. For everyone else a feelgood moment.

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I actually thought Vader looked overmatched for a lot of this, particularly during the stand-up portions--he's fun in this setting, but he's still so not a shootstyle guy. He acquits himself as well as he can, though. I'm sure Thesz was dying inside seeing Vader challenge for his belt in this environment.

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#380

 

I must be softening in my old age as I thought this was all right. It clearly delivered as a big match spectacle even if the stuff with Thesz was bollocks. It was never going to be a great shoot style match since the extent of Vader's matwork was lying on top of people and Takada's ground game was a weak point of his, but the stand up portions were good and Vader gave Takada a fair old clip. The finish came a bit too soon for my liking as the bout was just warming up, but Takada's corner called it by shouting that Vader was tiring. Weird hearing Vader holler like a stuck pig during the post match ceremonies. Takada laid on the charm on the mic. All in all a decent match with a lot of big moments.

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I didn't realize until I read it here that they didn't use the point system in this match, and I was all set to complain that Takada got the win long after he should have lost on points. I really don't have much to say about the work; I was preoccupied with the scoring or lack thereof, since I need a scoreboard to get anything out of shoot-style whatsoever. All I'll say is that it's a good thing that WCW didn't choose to air this, or the buildup to Starrcade would have been a hell of a lot less dramatic, particularly with a champion who was acting like his arm had been torn off.

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Real World Heavyweight Champion Nobuhiko Takada vs WCW World Heavyweight Champion Vader - UWFi 12/5/93

 

The first of the Vader/Takada trilogy is an amazing pro wrestling dome main event that lives up to the big fight feel. I thought Vader looked way more comfortable in the opening portion. He used his size to intimidate and control the center of the ring. Takada's had a dreadful kayfabe strategy early. He was on his heels. He was cautious. Let himself be backed into corners. He even gave Vader his back at one point and Vader made him pay with a rear naked choke. I love Takada, but he looked like shit early. Vader was great. His stand up was impactful. He knew how to lie on top of his opponent make him carry his weight and then reign down the palm strikes in a vicious headlock crank. Say what you want about Vader not being a shooter, but Vader made shoot style work for him. Was he any worse than Bob Sapp? Takada came out of his funk and started throwing kicks to the leg. Now the match started to make sense. What you saw was a great escalation of Takada making in roads with the kicks to the leg. Eventually Vader was howling on one leg kneeling. He effectively took away Vader's stand up game. Notice how the rest of the match, Vader relied on takedowns (double leg, two bodyslams). Vader was brutalizing him. Vader was also like early Dan Severn in UFC, he did not know how to finish someone on the ground. He could ground and pound, but his submission arsenal was limited. Then in an interesting move Takada went into the clinch with Vader, which seemed stupid to me. However, Takada was able to land some really nice close range knees to the midsection and injured leg of Vader. I think that's what this match does so well is the slow breakdown of Vader's body. Vader's reaction to this both through selling and changing his strategy is great. I also think Takada is able to show his fight spirit and resiliency. He took a fucking lickin'. but he kept on tickin. The STO out of the clinch was pretty shitty, but the single leg takedown was epic. It was such a critical moment. Takada had broken Vader down enough that he finally earned his own takedown. Felt like a huge moment. Takada kicks the hell out of the Kodiak Bear and then applies the cross armbreaker to get the tap out victory.

 

Vader's howling selling during the post-match celebration like his arm was broken in five places was great. There are a lot of flaws in this match. Takada's horrible strategy at the beginning. The shitty STO. There were times where it dragged due to repetition and not knowing what to do. I really thought Vader was tremendous in this both offensively and selling. How the changed his offensive strategy to react Takada's kicks was so cool. The story of Takada breaking down Vader's body and each wrestler reacting in an organic and realistic fashion trumps all the flaws in my opinion. ****1/4

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Vader's howling selling during the post-match celebration like his arm was broken in five places was great.

 

From what I have read, UWFi pushed the idea that Takada's cross armbreaker legitimately broke Vader's arm. They probably took advantage of that post-match selling to convincingly sell the idea.

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A big match feel and the controversy over the finish is still entertaining. Knowing how the rest of this feud plays out, I am fine with the dominance I thought Takada exulted once he took over. His leg kicks to gain the advantage really felt like a big tree being chopped down and Vader selling teh arm damage after the finish was a great visual. Takada is confirmed as an ace badass and kudos to Vader doing this type of job as WCW champion. ****1/4

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An interesting match-up and it's obvious Vader is uncertain about a lot of things in this match, from Takada's kicks to the stuff on the ground. He hesitates to lock up and when his usual clobbering approaching doesn't do the trick, he tackles Takada and tries to pound him into submission. Takada kicks the leg and keeps kicking til Vader hollers, and the final armbar  sold Takada as the legitimate badass he so desperately wanted to be perceived as. 

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'Big Fight Feel' might be a cliche because of a certain WWE commentator trying to shoehorn it into every WWE PPV main event, but I don't think I've seen a match that has been as successful as capturing the vibe and atmosphere of a big time boxing match than this one right here. With the classy introductions, the additions of Lou Thesz and Danny Hodge at ringside and both wrestler's national anthems playing, this had A+ presentation.

Vader has been wrecking shop in UWFi since he debut for the promotion. What he lacks in pure technical shoot style skill, he makes up for with his brute strength, hard strikes and massive size advantage over the UWFi roster. Takada is the ace of the company and looks like the perfect wrestler to build your shoot style promotion around. He's very lean, good looking and can take near enough anyone out with his wide array of submissions and strikes. Vader overpowers Takada to take him down, but Takada is able to defend himself with some well placed kicks to Vader's leg to gain an advantage. Vader looks a little out of his element (both in a kayfabe and shoot way) trying to stand with Takada, and he hits a surprise spear to try and keep this grounded, but it's not too long until Takada lands a flash submission to make the big man tap. This is my favourite shoot style match. While it lacks the technical exchanges of say a Volk Han match, it more than made up for it with some stellar storytelling. 

★★★★½

 

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