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Charles (Loss)

[1995-08-26-PWFG] Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Taka Michinoku

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This was a war. Taka brings pro wrestling selling to PWFG, which is great, and I love Fujiwara sneaking in jabs to Taka's ribs during takedowns. The oneupsmanship element is pretty strong, and this match is pretty stiff. Taka does a tremendous comeback on Fujiwara near the end, which makes for a great visual because of the size difference and how Fujiwara sells Taka's shots. Short match, but not a wasted moment, and this feels like the appropriate predecessor to BattlARTS. Probably one of the best sub-10 minute matches I've ever seen.

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Yeah Fujiwara was punishing TAKA here, bodyshots, both the shoot and the pro-style headbutts, and some sick shots to the face. TAKA was really great as the underdog who almost heelishly disrespects Fujiwara. The matwork was really speed vs. guile, as all of TAKA's attacks were lightning quick, while Fujiwara was classically taking advantage of mistakes. TAKA is really great in PWFG, he doesn't work the style really but he was so good in the mid 90's that he can work a TAKA match that fits on the show.

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Fujiwara was definitely making an example of Taka here, while Taka gave one of the gutsiest underdog performances I remember seeing. Fujiwara really seemed to intent on driving the point home that Taka was nothing to him and gave him a stretching and beating that would Terry Rudge wince, while Taka never stepped back. All of his attacks were lightning quick and great looking and Fujiwara reversing every single one almost on the spot was freaky. It's PWFG so Taka couldn't do dives or anything and was stuck having to go for submissions, but he just wouldn't give up. Great, great match.

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This feels like it should have been a total trainwreck, but this works really well as an extended squash on a guy in way over his head. Fujiwara breaks back some of his old wrasslin' spots like no-selling the turnbuckle shots, and Taka tries to work his style as best he can, but Fujiwara has an answer for everything he does. That PWFG was forging an alliance with Michinoku Pro didn't speak much for the future of the promotion, but this was a very interesting little footnote. If BattlArts is like more of this, then I say bring it on.

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A bit of a hidden gem and new discovery for me. Under 10m and action packed with very stiff shots. Taka was fundamentally well trained with his ground game. That meant he could fit in well with the style, although it wasn't typical PWFG. I was always a bit concerned about how Fujiwara was going to violate the young man. The underdog dynamic was expertly worked and it ran just as long as it needed to.

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Fujiwara ain't got time for TAKA's shit but who does? I loved that no matter what TAKA tries to do on the mat, Fujiwara finds a way of countering and schooling TAKA in the art of old man grappling. When he’s not forcing TAKA to the ropes with a leglock, he’s smacking or headbutting him, naturally. At one point, TAKA sends him headfirst into the corner, but of course, Fujiwara no sells it to re-adjust his socks because...well, it's Fujiwara. But bless TAKA, he keeps trying. When he attempts to boot out of a hold, Fujiwara snags the boot and screws the ankle, and when he’s had enough, Fujiwara cranks him into submission and doesn’t let go.

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