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G. Badger

[1988-06-11-UWF] Akira Maeda vs Nobuhiko Takada

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I believe this was the second show of UWF 2nd stage and so they did this match as a bit of strong style in it's stiffest format. For example, they picked one another up, there was a snap mare and a large number of rope breaks instead of escapes. So with that said, it's totally understandable that they opted to do this. They had to ease people back into the U-style and not discredit everything they did in '86, '87, and the first half of '88. That's wild when you think about it. There was a three year gap and three years in wrestling is a long time...basically a seachange from 1985 to 1988. Ok so we take this more as a NJPW match. If that's the case then this is awesome! The submissions aren't as believable until later but the kicks are vicious. Even the submissions were very dramatic because you never knew the one Takada was going going to tap to & Maeda was eating kicks. Really cool brutal stuff. The stiffness didn't take this over to the level of violence that was shown in 7/24/89 & that was beautifully teased in the Yamazaki/Fujiwara match. Not quite the same type of match though so it's hard to reconcile where this fits in the shoot-style paradigm. A classic for a strong style match but not up to credibility standards for UWF or shoot style...got to rate it more as straight pro-wrestling.

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Love this match wholeheartedly. This is two guys going out there with something to prove. In the case of Maeda, he's the reigning king of shoot-style. He's got a status quo to maintain and Takada's the pesky teenager trying to the keys to dad's car. The striking in this match is no joke, the takedowns and suplexes awesome, and mixed into the groundwork are some really neat moments. After a couple of love taps to warm up the fans, Takada goes in for a takedown and Maeda catches him with a reflec kick before taking him to school with the educated feet. Maeda's takedowns and counters are almost self-regulating, and he's able to slip out of a lot of Takada's submission attempts on the mat. When Takada looks like he's in control, Maeda slaps on the cross armbreaker early on and Takada freaks his way to the ropes and retreats to the corner, only for Maeda to follow the trail of blood and get back in the hunt. When they're on their feet striking, Maeda catches the leg and slams him with a capture suplex in almost one fluid motion.


The selling in this match is pick and choose -- it's blatant at times and good when it needs to be but you know, that's mas o menos the standard for shoot-style wrestling. Takada is more of the offender in this case but Maeda does a terrific job selling the leg as Takada relentlessly attacks it with kicks and holds. The way he grabs a leg and steps into the opposite leg before laying back with the hold was sweet. Takada's on it in the final minutes, as he's able to block another capture suplex attempt, cracking Maeda with a high kick to the head, slamming him with the belly-to-belly, and locking in the reverse armbar. He counters a German suplex hold with another armbar and gets a nearfall off of a dragon suplex hold but the king still wears the crown. When Takada tries to take him out with a rolling kick, Maeda catches the attempt and hits his German suplex hold, transitioning into the crossface chickenwing to tap Takada out. Not as true "shoot-style" as their follow-up match in November but definitely the most entertaining match of their rivalry.

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I would definitely agree with the sentiments that this is more of a New Japan style match. Which makes sense since they have to reform the in-house style early one. What works, what doesn’t, what has to go, etc. But a great match is a great match so the fans adore it anyway. I loved how both men came across. Akira Maeda felt like the ace, and was presented as the ace. Maeda was the boss. He is no longer the young man that got put in the spotlight after Inoki didn’t join in the first UWF, he is the guy. His assertiveness in the match was great. Takada was super good as the opponent but he was just a step below Maeda and had to constantly follow his lead to keep up. Maeda threw in some great counters and suplexes like his beautiful capture suplex counter to a Takada bodykick. Takada is one of the better shoot-style underdogs there ever is and he’s pretty much that in this match. Like I said already, Maeda was the top dog so Takada was the weak link, who made the best of it. Takada made his moments on top count and hit some super suplexes and strikes that put Maeda in danger. Loved the drama of the match and how it built as the match progressed. The fans surging the ring after Maeda won with the chicken wing was awesome too. ****1/2

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