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[1987-05-25-NJPW] Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Kazuo Yamazaki


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Heated exchanges, snug strikes, sweet suplexes -- this is my kind of tag. I mean, you’ve got Yamazaki in there with his sick lightning kicks, Takada and Maeda kicking and suplexing all day long, Fujiwara with his slaps and headbutts, at one point, re-injuring a bandaged Maeda, busting him open. There’s almost zero down time, which is kind of what you want from this type of match. Maeda can be a phone call away from a shitty performance but he was really fired up here, especially after seeing red. He had some slick suplexes, including a dragon, and I loved the hot finish between he and Yamazaki – it exemplifies the three rules of UWF perfectly. He first stuns Yamazaki with wheel kicks, plants him with a capture suplex, and then submits him with the crossface chickenwing. Kick, suplex, submission.


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  • GSR changed the title to [1987-05-25-NJPW] Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Kazuo Yamazaki
  • 2 months later...

What's UWF? What are its three rules? I really liked your analysis of the finish so I am curious. 


IWGP Tag Team Champion Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Kazuo Yamazaki - NJPW 5/25/87

UWF EXPLODES IN NEW JAPAN~! I dont know if the UWF invasion had run out of steam, but it seems that the matches of late 86 and early 87 were not as well received. It also seems like they were wrestling the likes of young Mutoh & Koshinaka instead. Maeda first won the tag titles with Kido, but this is his second reign after Fujinami & Kimura split up (see the 1/2/87 match which is a barnburner). The UWF boys are defending against fellow UWF boys. 

Much more pro style match here. No Irish Whips or rope running but there are a lot more suplexes and picking your opponent up to do more damage. In that way it feels more like BattlArts (I feel like is a middle ground between pro & shoot style). The one that didnt change is they incorporated shoot style selling, which is heavy on register and not in long term selling, which made for some jarring moments in a tag match setting. This was very exciting and action packed. Takada has a bandage on his leg and Maeda has a bandage above his eye both would become targets in the match. Yamazaki's kicks looked fantastic and he was really honing on Takada's injured leg. Takada's kicks also looked brutal and was fending off Yamazaki's attack well. Yamazaki actually had Maeda's number it seemed as he was sending him reeling on two occasions. Fujiwara became force of nature as the match worn on coming in like a whirlwind slapping and headbutting the shit out of everyone. Takada's leg was so banged up on his second outing he had to tag out to Maeda. Fujiwara targeted Maeda's cut with some vicious headbutts. That one slap in the corner followed by the headbutt was really nasty and you could tell Maeda was re-opened there. But it was a Yamazaki spinning heel kick that knocked the bandage clean off and revealed a deep bloody wound. In shoot-style fashion, Maeda caught the next kick and turned it into a single leg crab, but you knew he was really hurt because he tagged out promptly to Takada. The finish run is insane and it is not worth recapping but if you like a smartly worked bombfest you will dig this. There are Dragon Suplexes, Tombstone Piledrivers and a ton of Crossface Chickenwing attempts. I like how everyone has a chance to shine Takada first on Yamazaki than Fujiwara on Takada then Yamazaki on Takada then Maeda on Yamazaki. Once Maeda's cut was open this was fantastic and before that it was still really, really good, but thats the moment where they kicked into overdrive. One of the best tag team matches of the 80s, no doubt! ****1/2

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  • 3 years later...

This was pretty awesome, and maybe the best mixture of shoot and pro style in a tag match that New Japan produced from around this time (that '86-'88 period with all the shoot style guys, between the original UWF closing down and the second iteration starting up after Maeda shoot kicked Choshu in the eye socket). I actually thought this was a little more shoot than pro (at least in terms of pacing) so it was mostly back and forth the whole way, which is fine when the transitions are this strong, but I would've loved an extended heat segment somewhere to really fire it up a level. After all I'm a 90s kid who was raised on the tag team prowess of the Headshrinkers and Men on a Mission, I can't help but be set in my ways. The roles are pretty well established -- Yamazaki is the young technician with picture perfect striking and rapid fast feet, a real prodigy with the sky as his limit. He's in there with three-quarters of the shoot style Mount Rushmore so you expect him to play whipping boy, but I like that they almost circumvented that with the existing injuries to Maeda and Takada. The former has a taped up forehead from the Strong Machine mugging the previous week and Takada has a bandaged up thigh, so there are a couple bullseyes for Yamazaki to tee off on and tee off on them he does. Those moments worked as plausible momentum swings, where he could drag himself back into the fight with a flurry of kicks to the thigh without it feeling like Takada was giving him too much. Fujiwara was properly fired up as well, maybe because he knew that he was tagging with a kid and might need to carry the load a bit. He's the one who starts tearing at that Maeda bandage, then Yamazaki follows suit because why wouldn't you follow the godfather? Lots of killer strikes, snug submissions attempts, nasty suplexes and a great final pairing to cap it off. One or two weird bits of selling, but when everything else is so on point who really gives a shit?

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