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[1988-05-12-UWF] Akira Maeda vs Kazuo Yamazaki

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This was quite the shootstyle main event. A little long and directionless at times, but the matwork was good enough and when they threw kicks, they just sliced through eachother. A seemingly gassed Yamazaki nearly kicking Maeda's head off was such a spectacular moment. Yeah I don't have much to write about this. Solid in the first 20 minutes and pretty dope violent stuff in the last.

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This was essentially a shoot style spotfest for the most part. I quite like their offence, so I didn't have much problem with it, even if it seemed there wasn't much rhyme or reason to it. There were occassional highlights in the matwork in the form of a cool counter, but for the most part it was just fine and used like submission finishers are in modern wrestling, milked to get the crowd behind the wrestler crawling to the ropes. In that sense I liked how they didn't make it too obvious what they were doing, as they'd have a wrestler reach the ropes before the crowd paked in vocal support or before they even had enough time to start chanting at all too. Still, the best parts of the match were the kicking flurries, and the match just reached a higher level once they reached the finishing stretch and the match turned into an all out brawl, it was like a pastiche of a Bruce Lee movie and a high end K1 fight which appropriated the best of both worlds. It had took the cartoonish stamina and reistance of an action movie and the brutality and kicking precision from actual combat, but also maybe the best exhaustion selling ever. Maeda and Yamazaki looked completely gassed, and a desperate Maeda trying to grab Yamazaki's leg to counter with a Capture Suplex was an amazing sight, and the rowdiness of the crowd even minutes after the match really cemented how much 99% of wrestling is missing out by not having the ability and vision to fully encapsulate the humanity of combat. ****1/4

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Yamazaki brings his hunger, his speed and counterwork, and the dreaded single leg crab to top boss Maeda. He's able to outmaneuver Maeda at the outset, stunning him with some kicks -- in fact, there's a lot of dueling kicks in this match. Maeda was good here, although it did seem he was brushing off some of the shoot-style ring rust. He was able to plant Yamazaki with his capture suplex, land some extra nasty kicks, and finish him off with the katahajime after catching him with the rolling heel kick. Yamazaki's a perfect underdog here with the crowd behind him throughout. The single leg crabs added some drama to the match, with Maeda's struggle giving the Yamazaki fans some hope for their boy. He's able to hit the German suplex hold and a belly-to-belly before they both start emptying the kick tank down the home stretch. Yamazaki lays Maeda out with beautiful high kick to head but he can't keep him down and in the end, Maeda submits him with the crowd chanting Yamazaki's name. An entertaining return to form with the promotion "ace" taking out the fiery underdog in Yamazaki.

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Interesting reviews above. I agree that this was the best exhaustion "selling" of all time. I put "selling" in quotes because I think they have been shoot blown up. They wrestled forever. The finish sequence did not resonate with me as the exhaustion took some punch out of the kicks. In the beginning Those kicks had snap to them. GOTNW I totally agree how they were using submissions here and i didn't like it at all. No drama, undercut the holds.

Akira Maeda vs Kazuo Yamazaki - UWF Starting Over 5/12/88

 

UWF is REBORN! This time it is Akira Maeda at the helm. He is probably my least favorite shoot stylist. Technically proficient but gives lifeless performances. There is no hook to him in a match. I guess his hook is that he is the boss and if he is not the boss he is prone to being a dick and shoot kicking people in the face. I like Yamazaki against Hashimoto a lot in the 90s. In the 80s he is fine but I wish he kick more and be on the mat less.

This match is very technically proficient. The kicks are the best part. Yamazaki's kick land with a real snap. Maeda's counter kicks are brutal. The throws are excellent. Beautiful suplexes from both. The holds look tight. The problem is this is too pro-style. The match is way too long. Like 25 minutes and it really meanders. The submission holds are not used as finishers but as exhibition. The hold is too easy to apply, no selling in the hold or after and no drama in escape. It is like a Kurt Angle match. In shoot style the drama is in applying the hold. Can he get it? Instead of can he survive it? In shoot style long term selling should not exist so holds aren't used as a wear down. The survival aspect can be hot for one maybe two holds but every hold undercuts the match. We saw cinched in wristlocks, triangle chokes, armbars, single leg crab, knee bar and Crossface Chickenwing, cross armbreaker all executed and no long term impact. It was an exhibition. Yamazaki tenaciously went for single leg crabs getting 3 or 4 but they meant nothing. Maeda had a beautiful sequence where he threw kicks to get Yamazaki off balance to set up the butterfly Suplex takedown which in turn setup the double wrist lock side mount finish except nothing happened. Yamazaki escaped the march kept going. That's my rant about holds. The drama should be in the application of the hold not the survival.

The stand up game was far better. Great kicks. There was a great one about 2/3rds the way on where Yamazaki is looking to tie up and Maeda catches him on the chin. I thought that was the finish playing off Maeda's penchant for shoot kicking people in the face. Instead, it kept going and going.

This could be the greatest showcase of "selling" exhaustion but they could have been shoot blown up. As much as I liked the selling I thought it was to the detriment to how impactful the kicks looked but there was a lot of drama down the stretch. I actually bought Yamazaki had a chance based on the  way he was pouring it on. I said to myself like Maeda would actually job in the debut show and then realized that meant I did believe for a split second. Maeda gets a rainbow kick and Crossface Chickenwing for the win.

Great exhibition of catch wrestling but too long and feels too much like an exhibition. *** 

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