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[1996-09-11-UWFI vs WAR] Shinya Hashimoto vs Naoki Sano

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Hey, now here's a match that slipped under the radars! Have YOU seen this match? Go boast to your hipster friends about it.


One can't help but wonder how this match up will go down. Hashimoto is the heavyweight mega star. Sano is a junior and at best not even the 3rd highest ranked guy in UWFi. Also, Hashimoto represents NJPW... at a UWFi vs. WAR show?


Let me say that this match is very slow, and 100% true to their characters and hierarchy. Hashimoto can beat Sano in 30 seconds, and the finish drives this home. But Sano is skillful and hard to kill. This is like an NJPW match dressed as UWFi match, with grappling and hard fighting over the throws. I'm a fan of Hashimoto grappling. Everything he does feels like a big deal, and he is such a bulldozer even when he's not striking. His takedowns and throws just flatten Sano. At one point he randomly bends Sano's arm all awkwardly and it's awesome. They really work the skill vs. size AND skill narrative effectively; Hash is a behemoth, but he can't do what he wants to Sano, and Sano can barely move him. There's a really cool bit where Hashimoto tries to stomp on Sano's leg, but Sano blocks him and tries a leg trip, but can't achieve it either because Hash is Hash. Another where Sano gets past Hashimoto's guard and tries a suplex, but Hashimoto just lands on top of him, crushing his chest.


It all builds very well, leading to both guys throwing HUGE suplexes, Sano getting chopped in the neck and kicked in the face really really hard and Hashimoto getting spin kicked in the throat REALLY hard. Even the somewhat un-shootlike armbar nearfalls kind of make sense as it seems that Hashimoto's arm wasn't in quite the correct position while Sano was only a short movement away from getting it properly, getting the crowd worked up good. I also dug the finish. I could unterstand if some people found that a disappointing ending, but I felt it was really the only logical outcome considering the gap in ranking between the two and I loved that it was basically Sano getting all cocksure and Hashi ending him right there.


Really loved this match for what it was and thought it was another testament to Hashimoto's greatness considering this could've easily been a throwaway nothing squash and instead we got total Hashimoto styled fascinating match with so much rad stuff. Oh and to reiterate: Sano's solebutt is still the most awful thing possible.

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I remember this match starting really weird, Sano would attempt Armbars on Hashimoto over and over again and Hashimoto would just kinda, uhm, WWE-escape them, not really countering properly, really not fitting for a match that wasn't even necessarily worked in a shooty style. but took place five miles near the UWFi ring. Once they started laying shots in it became really great.

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