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[1986-01-10-NJPW] Akira Maeda vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara


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Sometimes in a pro-wrestling match, certain things occur and you think to yourself "well, fuck, why doesn't he just do (blank)?". Whether it's escaping a sticky predicament or blocking a strike, these things may seem obvious to us, the bystander, but more often than not, instinct goes out the window in favor of "dramatic tension". Well, Fujiwara does (blank) a lot, which is why he's one of the greatest scrappy technicians of all time, and this match exemplifies that awareness. How a simple boot to the ass can be used as a counter to a single leg crab, or turning a shoulder or back to a kick, or snagging an arm off a rear waistlock to avoid a suplex and take control of the situation. Good stuff. They open the match trying to grab holds and sink something in until Maeda gives up and just starts kicking at Fujiwara on the mat. He hits an awesome belly-to-back suplex counter to a side headlock attempt but when Maeda misses the big spin kick attempt, Fujiwara takes advantage with the headbutts. They roll out of the ring stuck in a leglock and Fujiwara's able to prevent Maeda from making it back to the ring...so they restart the match and this time, Fujiwara's all over Maeda's arm, trying to cinch in the wakigatame after a swanky roll through. He's able to catch a kick and get the takedown but Maeda slips into a choke sleeper, and the finish of the match is fan-fuckin-tastic, with Fujiwara trying to maneuver to the ropes until he starts foaming at the mouth and the referee calls for the bell.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1986-01-10-NJPW] Akira Maeda vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara
  • 2 months later...

Superkix, brutha, I think you watched the February 86 match. According to my records the January '86 match finished with Fujiwara elbowing out of a German->armbar takedown->Fujiwara armbar for flash submission.


Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Akira Maeda - NJPW 1/10/86

UWF INVADES NEW JAPAN! The announcers are constantly saying "UWF" at the beginning of the match. With Sayama not joining them due to starting Shooto, these two are the biggest stars of the UWF. I like how Inoki actually pits them against each other before doing dream matches like Inoki vs Fujiwara or Maeda vs Fujinami. These two wrestle a straight, badass shoot-style match. It will be interesting to see how they end up playing with Inoki & Fujinami in traditional pro style matches. I am a pretty vocal critic of Akira Maeda, but he may be growing on me. He was a lot better in this match: more energetic and more expressive. I really like the opening jockeying for position on the mat. Some great double wristlock rip takedowns. Maeda is the first to really lock a hold in with a single leg crab. Fujiwara responds in kind  with some kneebars/toeholds.  The complexion of the match change when Maeda scores the first knockdown via kicks to the legs of Fujiwara. Maeda is relentless throughout the match really dominating it with big kicks to set up the submission game on the mat. Maeda was really rifling in some of those kicks the memorable ones was one to the midsection that Fujiwara kinda caught but then just crumpled and when Fujiwara was prone and Maeda just layed them in. Maeda got a German suplex pinning combination as the only pinfall attempt. I think even 80s New Japan fans were a little taken aback by this new style. Fujiwara did get his licks in including one massive headbutt that seemed to rock Maeda (good selling by Maeda!), but never enough to string anything together. My upset alert senses were tingling when Maeda started hitting massive combinations and did not score the victory including returning the favor with a violent headbutt that felled Fujiwara. Maeda's inability to put Fujiwara away proved to be his undoing as the finish is fucking perfect. He goes for another German, Fujiwara hits a wicked back elbow to the head. BANG! Armbar takedown->Fujiwara armbar and immediate submission. Blink and you will miss it. Perfect way to put over the new style and how any opponent is always in it because a flash submission can happen out of nowhere. ****1/2


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  • 3 years later...

More of the same from these two, which is very good pro wrestling. It's one of the first UWF showcase matches since they re-joined the New Japan fold and you couldn't have picked a better showcase. If nothing else, in case these crowds had forgotten in the two years they'd been gone, it reminded everyone how dangerous Maeda is as a striker and how much of a lethal counter-wrestler Fujiwara could be. The early going has some great matwork and fighting over holds. Maeda takes Fujiwara over with a sharp hip toss that about puts him on his neck, Fujiwara reverses a half crab by rearing up on his head and booting Maeda away with the free leg, they fight over an arm, a leg, just really good stuff all around. Then as it goes along they start to groove into the tried and true Fujiwara/Maeda dynamic. Maeda is an assassin and starts winging those kicks, roundhouses to the midsection, leg kicks, wheel kicks to the head, dipping all the way into that bag of nasty shit. Nobody absorbs blows like Fujiwara and some of his corner defence was incredible, then he'd try and catch some of those kicks and they'd slip through the guard, partially landing and visibly hurting him or fully landing and almost ending him. After about a dozen of these he starts to get belligerent, smirking and half strutting away from exchanges even though you know he's trying to get under Maeda's skin. Of course it takes next to nothing to get under Maeda's skin, so the latter maybe forces the issue a bit too much and Fujiwara clonks him with a headbutt. Maeda responding with one of his own that landed right in the cheek bone was amazing. Maeda getting a little frustrated and leaving himself open made for an awesome finish, with Fujiwara shooting off an elbow and catching him with the flash armbar. As a matchup this feels almost like the prototype for Ishikawa/Ikeda. Not that there had never been any striker v grappler matchups before Fujiwara/Maeda, but these two had some of that same grey area where Fujiwara could still strike when he needed to and Maeda was no slouch on the mat. Fujiwara/Sayama, for example, was almost entirely grappler v striker, because Sayama had no chance when it came to grappling. Being a proto Ishikawa v Ikeda is a pretty cool thing to be. 

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