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[1994-10-08-UWFi-The King's Road: Budokan] Vader & John Tenta vs Gary Albright & Kazuo Yamazaki

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I hope there is an Earthquake Splash with the jumping up and down stuff. Tenta is not really a striker as does mostly submissions that aren’t really threatening his opponent to give. More like rest holds. Vader hits a release German suplex on Kazou. Albright returns the favor with a belly to belly. Tenta with his own suplex. Tenta seems to not fit the style completely as he takes kicks and makes no attempt to block them. I think he is still in wrestling selling mode. Albright starts throwing Vader around which is an impressive feat. Nice suplexes. I like big guys throwing each other around. And gets him to tap too! Gary was the man here.

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This is awesome really before it begins. There's a lot of build to Vader and Albright squaring off. Tenta insists on starting, and the crowd HATES it because they have built up the tension with those two so well. Still, they've guaranteed big heat later.

 

And yeah, Tenta is not as good on the mat as everyone else, but he sure knows how to work a crowd enough that it really makes up for that. The exchanges with even Yamazaki are really good because he is this immovable brick wall and Yamazaki is trying whatever can to take the advantage.

 

Vader and Yamazaki bring the action, and I have to give Yamazaki credit here, because he is definitely the one of these things that is not like the others (either him or Tenta, depending on your point of view), but he stands out even more because he's the only guy wrestling the typical style.

 

Vader and Albright bring the big match feel and the magic. Gary's Germans on Vader are terrific.

 

This is obviously not as high-tech as Takayama/Kanehara, but the psychology is far better, and as a result, I'd call this the better match of the two. This felt like a WAR match in some ways because of all the clashes in styles and odd pairings.

 

Matt D, if you're reading, WATCH THIS.

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They go for less than did Takayama/Kanehara, and they get all of it, resulting in a better match. I enjoy Takayama/Kanehara almost as a stiffness exhibition/spotfest; the tag is a match with clear roles, good execution, great crowd response, and effective booking.

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I catch about HALF of these notes when I'm bored at work. Most of the US ones, but for the japan ones, about half and missed this one. But Loss PMed me and twisted my arm, so uh... way too long a write up. If you want to skip to my main thoughts, just head to the EDIT at the end. Sorry:

 

I have ZERO context here. I've never seen a UWFI match. I've never seen Gary Albright match, so far as I can tell, and I don't even know who Yamazaki is.

 

No idea. Anyway, let's go. I LOVE Vader and Tenta on the stairs backstage at the beginning. Great image. They get in the ring and Albright has a killer presence to him, while Yamazaki seems the odd man out in the land of the giants. Vader getting pumped up by Tenta's stomping taunt is just awesome and then the second they announce his name he's on Albright, with Tenta being one of the few people in the world I buy holding Vader back. They go to the floor and before the match even begins there's this serious air of excitement.

 

Yamazaki starts with a visceral flurry of kicks and it just decimates Vader; like I've never seen in the opening of a match before. It's shocking and one reason why Vader is so good, because I can't imagine someone like Sid giving like that to a guy so much smaller than him. This isn't 2004 Vader either. This is prime 1994 Vader. The follow up is great too since Yamazaki does okay right until the second the distance gets cut and then WHAM! he's dead. Vader's gut punches in the corner are nasty but what I really loved was the feeling of inevitability once he hit the waistlock. Yamazaki was trying to grasp on to th apron but it didn't matter one bit. That German Suplex was god's will, and Vader even knew it. He wasn't mad from the previous flurry. He wasn't pumped from hitting his big move. The look on his face is purely matter of fact. This is just how nature operates. The large German Suplex the small.

 

You think it's about to all happen again when Vader catches one of the Yamazaki kicks that follow so when he hits the enziguri, it actually has a lot of weight behind it. Very good opening stretch. Everything meant something and nothing was just shrugged off.

 

When Tenta comes in (and the fans seem almost disappointed that Albright doesn't get the tag while things reset), they replay those early leg kicks, but this time, Tenta just shrugs it off and the crowd responds accordingly. Another catch-enziguri, leading to a Yamazaki offensive flurry and I guess a guillotine choke (great camera work to show Tenta fighting to block it from the inside). I'm not sure why they did the repitition except for to show that while the leg kicks didn't work other things he did to Vader would? (EDIT: after finishing the match I, of course, understand the why, well played). Anyway, he powers out and hits some cool hundred hand slaps. Yamazaki keep trying the leg kicks (And Quake is a little more hurt/winded so they work somewhat), but he keeps getting pushed back by those palm thrusts. Tenta just plants himself in the middle of the ring and keeps Yamazaki back.

 

The palm strikes push him into his corner, and while the camera doesn't show it well, the fans' reaction make me figure out the initial story here. Yamazaki has something to proof and keeps refusing Albright wanting to get into the ring. He goes for an armbar once (And Wikipedia says that's his finish!) realizes that it's not going to happen and thinks better of it, rushing over to make the tag. All perfectly logical and sound.

 

Albright takes him down immediately (and yes, Tenta really goes over for him) and the match is suddenly totally different.He tries to get position on Quake who just manages to ooze in the middle of the ring, an imposing human gravitational pull. Quake powers up and uses leverage to toss Albirght and then they fight, first over Tenta's chokes, then with some nasty driving knees to the gut. Albright is super aggressive surprising Tenta by taking the fight to him and when he doesn't back down, but instead calls out Vader, it's enough to make the big man shrug and agree to the tag.

 

I have to admit, after the build within the match, it's a bit anticlimactic. After an initial flurry, Albright single-leg takes down Vader and then goes back to trying to wrestle an advantage upon him, but that's sort of the point. Albright just knows not to go toe to toe with Vader, because Vader charges in again, pummels, and gets taken down, back to the matwork. (Since they're building to a single's match this is smart and makes sense too).

 

And then Albright gets Vader in a waistlock and it has NONE of the inevitability of the one from earlier in the match. Instead there's curiosity and anticipation and when he gets him over, audible gasps and sustained applause. I wish Indy Wrestling worked on a 10 count finish rule. Because when the second German happens, it's only after Vader's down for a number of counts and because of that it's surprising but also meaningful. Vader gets up at 8 or 9, does NOT tag (Because this is about pride), and this time Albright comes to him and he responds with mean looking fists.

 

When Albright gets up, Vader forces the issue (including slapping the ref mildly), and pummels the crap out of Albright. No room for flashy amateur wrestling now. Albright gets back up, and they switch positons out of the corner a few times until Vader tags (which is now fine since he proved what he wanted to). Earthquake picks him up for a huge power slam that almost feels out of place in the match for just how traditional it is, and then slaps on a just as huge Boston Crab. The way he ragdoll moves him back into the center of the ring is just great but Albright keeps twisting to the side which allows him to crawl out and get to the ropes. It's a real simple escape but I'd never seen it before and it looks totally believable despite its simplicity.

 

Quake girths him back into the corner, tagging Vader in, who gives him a bit back suplex leading to not the world's hottest tag. There's some sense that Vader just wants to slam the life out of him and doesn't care about ring positioning like former WWF Tag champion Tenta does, but that's me trying to make sense of a kind of lame hot tag.

 

Yamazaki's superfresh and comes in with another flurry of kicks and then works for a takedown followed immediately by a cool looking heel hook. Vader is just too big though, and rolls to he ropes by his corner. Caught kick. And a DUCKED enziguri in a lovely bit of continuity. The meaning inherit in that callback means that the power bomb that follows is totally believable (more so because it looked like Vader had to work for it a bit) and hey, that's the finish I guess. Works for me.

 

Albright and Vader have another pull apart to finish and then Vader's quite well-spoken in the back.

 

Good match. It came together better than I expected in the end, as a lot of it seemed to be made up of mini stories between the guys in the ring at the time. But it really did come together. Even the lack of the hot tag was fine since that wasn't the sort of story they were telling. To me, Quake absolutely fit, because despite a lack of flashy/technical offense, everything he did was so believable and he had a really solid presence there, even when it was just Albright trying to find SOME position upon him on the mat. I bought that being such a challenge just due to his size and strength. And yes, despite the size difference Yamazaki played his role nicely as well. Glad I saw it, thanks.

 

EDIT: Gave it some more thought now that I know the context. What I like the best about the match is just how much it accomplished while being both logical and exciting.

1.) It got Vader and Tenta's heat back from the loss the week before.

2.) It built anticipation to Albright vs Vader (Challenger vs champion) with the brawls, by showing that Albright could both outwrestle Vader AND get him over in suplexes.

3.) Tenta came out of it looking like a huge imposing force.

4.) Yamazaki came out of it as a scrappy fighter whose kicks let him stand up to guys far larger. He only lost the match because he went back to the same move one too many times.

5.) Vader came out as a dominant monster able to recover so quickly and so dangerously.

 

And this was all from the wrestlers knowing how much to give and how much to take. It wasn't a traditional southern tag, but it managed to accomplish exactly what it was supposed to without sacrificing either logic or excitement. And the crowd ate it up.

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This was fun as hell and really good. The pre-match square off was tremendous and I loved that Tenta chose to start the match to build heat. Tenta letting Yamazaki know that kicks aren't going to effect him with a definitive nod was awesome. Vader and Albright were the stars here though with both guys going apeshit on each other and Albright suplexing and throwing Vader around. The finish is great with Yamazaki finally having his kicks become effective to allow Albright to take out Vader and make him submit. Great stuff.

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Oh hey, I think I saw the follow up match and wrote that up. Oops. Loss linked me the wrong match!

 

Still. I enjoyed THAT a lot at least. I'll have to track this one down too

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Great heavyweight slugfest that really portrayed Allbright as a monster. Him going toe to toe with Vader and throwing suplexs at the end was awesome. They built up to that encounter throughout the match too wonderfully. Yamazaki took a beating and Tenta did a great job mixing in charisma and crowd reactions for his lack of execution on the mat. Can't wait to watch the rematch to see if it is worthy of consideration for the supplemental set.

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Tenta rocking the Natural Disasters gear--now that's cool. Yamazaki seems like he's in the Kikuchi/Ogawa role--well, he is, but as the match goes I start to wonder more and more if he's there to be a sacrificial lamb or if they're playing a trick on us. The opening is spectacular, with the crowd frothing at the mouth for Vader and Albright to lock horns and Tenta having none of that. Vader and Tenta even give each other a pre-match hug to the added annoyance of the crowd, like they're the fuckin' Fabulous Rougeaus or Cornette and the Midnights or something. There's also some great perspective shots here that show just how massive Tenta really is. I mean, we all knew he was big, but he absolutely dwarfs Vader and Albright, which gives him an added dimension. He's not exactly a mat whiz, but he knows enough to get by, and he's a fine brick wall for Yamazaki to play off of, plus he has his trademark belly-to-belly and powerslam that he can roll out. Kazuo unloading on Vader is one of several early highlights and is the first point that I start wondering who's actually doing the job. They milk the Vader/Albright confrontation for as long as possible, and it lives up to the hype. Gary throwing Vader around is pretty spectacular, and Gary having the advantage on the mat is what eventually nets him the upset submission victory. Really fun match, and a standout performance by Albright although everyone looks good.

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The idea of Vader and Tenta teaming got me pretty hyped for this match. I love the taunting by Vader in the early going. Tenta talks Vader into letting him start, and they hug! I really wish these guys could have had a run in the US as Tag Champs. Vader's punches look devastating as always and the suplex on Yamazaki was cool. But, I really loved Yamazaki getting fired up after that, and they go back and forth trading strikes. Vader has such a great presence about him. It really does feel like he could take anyone in this match no problem. Vader man handles Albright down into the corner, and Albright fires back but tags out shortly. Yamazaki comes back in throwing some quick kicks - they look great. At this point in the match, I've enjoyed the Yamazaki/Vader stuff the most. The headlock he puts on Yamazaki looks super painful. Now Albright is in business with an impressive belly-to-belly on Vader followed by an awesome German suplex. Albright shockingly gets Vader to tap with an arm bar. I guess this sets up their match alluded to during the promos prior to the match. I might have to look into that. I have not seen it.

 

#496 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-500-451/

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Loss' #496. Like Matt, I watched the rematch first, but hey, two matches for the price of one. UWF-i is like the AAA of shoot style to me and pretty much made a mockery of the style, but I did get suckered into this. I mean where else can you see three US big men wrestle like a collegiate wrestler, a sumo wrestler and a boxer? That's pretty much what the UWF-i style allowed the US guys to do. You can argue til the cows come home how good they were at it, but at the end of the day the crowd were hot for the matches and everybody wanted to see Vader vs. Albright, which was clearly the selling point. Nothing really pure, but nothing you'd see in the US either. Great use of swearing too.

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Albright saying "FUCK YEAH" before the bell is always a good way to start the match. The fans are stoked for Albright/Vader but are disappointed when Tenta stays in there and boy does he stink. Completely clueless to the style and mostly just lays there and no sells Yamazaki's kicks. But when Vader gets the tag, at least we get Vader launching Yamazaki with a German suplex and they have a pretty great strike exchange with Vader clubbing and Yamazaki firing off headkicks. The Vader/Albright exchanges is what everybody wanted and for the most part, they deliver. Albright isn't even that great of a wrestler but he throws dope suplexes and that's enough. Him dumping Vader with a big ass German was great before he finally submits him with the armbar. I think I preferred the rematch slightly more than this. 

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I feel like most I accidentally watched the rematch first and came away liking the rematch more, but this match is still pretty good. 

Vader & John Tenta vs Gary Albright & Kazuo Yamazaki - UWFi 10/08/94

I accidentally watched the rematch first, but thats a good thing because the rematch is the better match precisely because there is less John Tenta. Tenta was trash in this. I thought he was totally useless. It is night and day between Tenta and Vader being there. I am just going to focus on Vader. I thought the Vader vs Albright interactions were better in the rematch until I watched the closing minute. That finish stretch was double hot. Yamazaki used his kicks to create the separation necessary to tag in Albright. Albright hits THREE MASSIVE Suplexes on Vader. Between this and the rematch, he is the best ever at suplexing Vader. These look gorgeous. I also really liked his cornerman screaming loudly "Kick him in the fucking head" twice. The whole point of these two matches is to build to Vader vs Albright as the next big main even feud and it does a great job doing that. But I thought it was Vader vs Yamazaki that had the best chemistry. These two are just made for each other. Some of the best stand up fighting ever in these two matches. Vader BLASTS Yamazaki on multiple occasions, but Yamazaki is not afraid to smoke Vader with some massive kicks. I have watched their singles match from when Vader first joined UWFi in 1993 and they are just great together. I recommend this match, but for my money the rematch is clearly better. ***1/2 

 

 

 

 

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