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[1994-06-10-UWFi] Nobuhiko Takada vs Gary Albright

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This was a match where I didn't appreciate what they were doing until we got to the final ten minutes and I realized how good of a job they had done building this. It felt like they were just laying stationary much of the time, but I think what they were aiming for was more to do a slower, less-is-more main event to get the crowd rocking, and they succeeded. This is one I'll likely rewatch when I go through all the 90s yearbooks at the end, because I could see it getting better with repeated viewings. Everything has so much meaning in the final few minutes that it made me appreciate the slower opening much more. Not anywhere near the top of UWFI matches for matwork, but really well constructed, and for once, I get why Takada is so over. Similar to Bull Nakano vs Devil Masami in '93 for me in that when you see the finished product, it makes the stuff you weren't sure about during the match better. Builds like a high-quality U.S. main event.

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Albright tries to keep this on the mat where he can use his weight advantage of Takada. Standing up Albright seems to have not much of an answer for Takada's kicks and gets knocked down a few times. Felt like Takada pretty much kicked his ass in the last couple minutes as the scoring was one sided and Albright ended up taping to an armbar.

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I agree with Loss that this match had a brilliant build and structure. The closing minutes were phenomenal and the finish was well executed. Great match.

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Seems like I am lower on this than everyone else. It did build up to a crescendo but the opening was too dull and lacked intensity, creativity, or charisma for me to stay interested. I also thought Vader did a better job in the previous match of being on the ropes than Gary here.

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This is a very thinking-man's UWFI bout. The matwork isn't exactly dynamic, but I got the strategies of both guys. It makes sense for Albright to just lay across Takada as much as he could, as the very act of being ridden by Albright would be tiring. Takada had to stay upright, keep his distance, and strike. We had a traditional southern shootstyle tag earlier on the card--this is a shootstyle studio main event. There are also great teases throughout of Albright's big full nelson suplex, but in the end it's Takada's strategy that pays off, as just like with Steve Nelson, Albright simply can't counter Takada's kicks. I liked this a lot, even the slow beginning, because they told the story so well. The slow opening never felt meandering or pointless, in the way that a lot of shootstyle "feeling out" processes do to me.

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I was disappointed by this. There wasn't a distinctive beginning as they dropped straight to the mat. There they remained for a dreary first half. A lazy performance from Takada, very Mutoh-esque. Laying around during the build and then springing to life when its time to get your shit in. You can't expect Allbright to dictate the matwork, that isn't his strength. Even when the trademark suplay did arrive they didn't milk them to anything like full effect. Takada got the predictable win to set up a final with Vader. There was some entertainment value due to the crowd heat. It's solid overall, but their 1992 bout was far superior.

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Real World Heavyweight Champion Nobuhiko Takada vs Gary Albright - UWFi 6/10/94

The other semi-final besides Vader vs Tamura is an uneven performance. The first half is sluggish. After just watching Shamrock vs Sano and Fujiwara vs Malenko rock it on the mat, I know the difference between interesting defensive wrestling and lethargy on the mat. Why did Albright break the Full Nelson the first time? Thats a finisher, brutha! I hate when people give up on holds. I did think Takada's and Albright's toeholds and anklelocks were sunk in...though they went for the bundle of legs too much. This match picked up in the second half a lot and they did salvage the match. Overall, I do think this was an entertaining main event. I really liked Takada getting a heel hook on the first German Suplex attempt. Boy, what that big Cornhusker gets Takada up and sends him flying that felt huge. I loved Takada blocking the Dragon Suplex vigorously. My favorite part of the match was when Takada made the ropes on a hold (I think a Boston Crab) and Albright just spear/tackled him to the ground, felt huge! Takada comes back with kicks to the leg to get a knockdown. So Albright just SLAMS him DOWN! Great! UWFi feels like pro wrestling without dives or Irish Whips or rope running, but it very much pro-style, which I can dig. Takada retaliates with a backdrop driver. With all these bombs, I feel like Im watching All Japan! :) Takada quickly tries for the cross-armbreaker but Albright gets the ropes. Takada unleashes an incredible bevy of strikes. I could watch Takada kick and kneelift all day. Albright charges, but Takada defends well with palm strikes and then kneelifts in the clinch. Albright is able to manage to wrangle Takada into a double underhook takedown, but is too exhausted to finish. Takada hits his signature kick combination finish that always looks fantastic. Takada is just blitzing him, BIG KNEE TO THE HEAD...CROSS ARMBREAKER! TAKADA WINS!

Takada vs Albright is the feud that defines peak UWFi and I couldnt do a Greatest Match Ever Project without watching one match. This one got better reveiws than the 1992 match where Takada beat Albright to win the Real World Heavyweight Championship, but I think a lot of the criticisms of UWFi Takada apply he just is not compelling on the mat. He is a great stand up fight and knows how to have a dramatic finale. Once the matches comes about suplexes and kicks to the face, this match picks up in a big way and feels like a great native hero vs foreign Cornhusker menace match. ***1/2

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I thought this was okay. Albright isn’t that exciting when he isn’t clubbing and suplexing, so the stuff on the ground early on felt very long. I liked the direction it took with Takada breaking him down at the leg - the spot where Albright tries to roll him up for a German suplex and Takada holds onto the leg was great. Takada switching to the arm gave Albright the opening he needed to German suplex Takada but it isn't his standard murder suplex. And no chance in hell Takada is taking the dragon suplex but he nearly kills Albright with a suplex of his own. Some of Takada kicks and knees looked good, but there wasn't that same sense of urgency like the Takada/Vader matches, and sure, the crowd helped, but the finishing stretch was forgettable.

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