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U-STYLE (10/9/04)

Crafter M vs. Hajime Moriyama 

Still a big fan of Crafter M, despite the terrible look. Floating all over Moriyama, grabbing limbs like he’s at a buffet. His hammerlocked leg scissors to set up the armbar attempt was very dope. Moriyama’s strength, I guess, is his strikes and he’s able to take Crafter down after a flurry.  Crafter keeps after the legs with some cool stuff, and barefoot high kicks Moriyama in the head. The finish looked rough as Crafter high kicks him, crotch DDTS him and taps him with the kimura. Not a bad opener and Crafter showcase.

MAX Miyazawa vs. Yoshinori Oniki 

At least, MAX was trying...but Oniki stunk. The KO finish was the best part of an otherwise awful match.

Manabu Hara vs. Kyosuke Sasaki

Perfectly solid match-up with some tight submission work and some nice shoot suplexes from Hara. At one point, Sasaki just stands there and willingly eats a few open hand slaps from Hara, who then follows that up with a deep STF. Sasaki lays into Hara with some stiff kicks in the corner, and the finish was pretty hot, with them just being the crap out of each other - slaps, kicks, knees, and Hara finally popping Sasaki with the face slap for the KO. 

Alexander Otsuka vs. Tomohiko Yoshida

I've always got time to watch Otsuka throw suplexes and work the mat like a beast. Here, he seems like he's toying around with Yoshida. Yoshida's able to stagger him with a high kick to the head but that's about as close as he gets to upsetting Otsuka, who powerbombs out of a triangle attempt and deadlift German suplexes him for the KO. Decent.

Yuki Ishikawa vs. Hiroyuki Ito 

Good stuff here as you've got that veteran grappler (Ishikawa) vs. feisty striker (Ito) dynamic, which is always a joy. Ito lands some nasty knees and head kicks early on, but then Ishikawa does what Ishikawa does best, which is bend and twist on the mat, and spoon up those nasty strikes like a true big boss. He catches one of Ito's kicks, turns it into an Indian deathlock and then grabs a choke. When ito grabs a headlock, Ishikawa dumps him with a backdrop suplex. But Ito is relentless with the strikes, catching Ishikawa with a dirty kick to the face. Ishikawa also lets Ito have it with some open hands, hit the deadlift German and finishes him off in style with a dope submission. I liked this a lot!

Ryuki Ueyama vs. Seichi Ikemoto 

Good stuff, part two. You know you're off to a good start when you've got a pre-bell slap to the face, which leads to a quick, back-and-forth stand up before the action on the mat takes center stage. Very good, competitive groundwork from both guys, with some cool submissions pulled out. Ikemoto is so spry on the mat, flipping every which way for position, as Ueyama is basically trying to snare him in a hold, which he tries with armbars and chokes. But Ikemoto will crank on an ankle when given the opportunity, or roll back into a choke of his own. Ueyama lays out Ikemoto with a quick flurry of slaps, and at the end, he lays into him with kicks and a big KO head kick. I liked this a lot, part two! 

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U-STYLE (12/7/04)

This was actually a super solid show from top to bottom. I'd recommend checking it out in its entirety as there was not a bad match on the card. 

Manabu Hara vs. Hajime Moriyama 

The action on the mat was much more interesting here than Moriyama’s previous attempts against Crafter M, and he's also a lot more aggressive. And while Hara is perfectly fine in most of his matches, he seemed a little more “put to the test” here, so to speak - not so much in cruise control. For the most part, he's on the defensive. He gets a nice double wristlock takedown  but he can’t lock it in and Moriyama is able to escape out. So Hara rocks him with a combo of kicks and knees, tries a sick rolling heel hook attempt, kills him with the German suplex and taps him with the front facelock. Solid match!

Dokonjonosuke Mishima vs. Crafter M 

Two weirdo grapplers doing their shtick. Crafter makes it hard for Mishima to get a hold of anything - he's like an elegant fish out of water, flopping all over the mat. Mishima pops him with a handstand high kick to the side of the head and his rolling armbar attempt was cute. Some funky holds throughout, which, yeah, makes sense considering the competitors. Crafter's  shoot double arm suplex into the legscissors choke was very cool. Likewise, Mishima uses a belly-to-belly to set up a scarf hold. Plenty of close calls with the submissions that builds to a chaotic finish, which sees Mishima using a crossface hold to tap Crafter. This was all over the place in the best way possible. Good stuff.

Daisuke Nakamura vs. Kazuki Okubo 

Daisuke is so quick in this, dropping kneebars, snagging legs where he can, floating over into rear sleepers, trying to keep them locked in backpack mode while Okubo takes him to the corner. Okubo was pretty good here, too, and tries striking to get the advantage but Daisuke was on another level. He hits a nice snap German suplex, and at one point, he distracts Okubo with this little slaps from the front mount before transitioning seemlessly into the armbar. Daisuke throws his own stiff strikes as well, with the high knees and high kicks, and in the end, wins via triangle. Fun match!

Alexander Otsuka vs. Hiroyuki Ito 

Ito’s groundwork is rough but his strikes are always big, and he takes it to Otsuka throughout, busting his nose open midway through the match with a hard palm strike. Otsuka, on the other hand, keeps teasing the suplexes but Ito is able to fight them off. Otsuka's response to the nose busting palm strike was also very cool, as he counters with the headscissors and tries to snap the arm while they're near the ropes. Otsuka as the staggered, bleeding brute is pretty great and he finally comes back, hitting his deadlift German suplexes, cranks him with the front necklock into the DDT, and finally connects with a big slap to pick up the TKO victory. 

Yasuhito Namekawa vs. Kyosuke Sasaki

Very competitive, athletic match-up with some real slick takedowns and transitions from both guys. Plus, some crazy suplex throws from Namekawa but with each throw, Sasaki maintains control over a limb.  The strike exchanges are a lot of fun - Namekawa in particular lands a couple of nasty ones, including a kick and knee to the eye socket. Namekawa’s takedown into the double wristlock was also very dope, and ends up winning him the match. More good stuff!

Ryuki Ueyama & Seichi Ikemoto vs. Kiyoshi Tamura & Takaku Fuke

Super fun main event which gave the younger guys plenty of time to shine against the vets, and they're presented like legitimate threats throughout. Ueyama and Ikemoto are just so quick and spry, making Tamura seem slow at times...well, not really but KIND OF. There’s a fun part where Ikemoto is in the front mount and he and Fuke are just paintbrushing each other with slaps before Ikemoto gets crazy and puts him in a dope indian deathlock choke. The struggle to slow either Ueyama or Ikemoto down with holds is well done, especially the armbar attempt from Fuke. Lots of highlights, although these shoot-style tags never really feel like tag matches. Tamura getting spicy with the kicks vs. Ikemoto was great, Ikemoto's floatover armbar attempt, Fuke's capture suplex into the triangle choke, and the very strong finish for Ueyama as he peppers Fuke with the mounted slaps before transitioning into the calf crusher for the submission. 

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U-STYLE (11/23/05)

Katsuhisa Fujii vs. Kyosuke Sasaki 

Pretty fun opener with Fujii making his return. He doesn't have much in the way of finesse but he's got a good look and dope suplex throws, and sometimes, that's all you need in life. He's so much bigger than Sasaki and just manhandles him with Germans or pops him in the face with catcher's mitt slaps. There's a fun moment where Sasaki tries to German Fujii and when that doesn't work out, he turns it into a pumphandle suplex. Sasaki's able to take him to the ropes with a double wristlock but in the end, Fujii suplexes him for the KO. 

Wataru Sakata vs. Hiroyuki Ito 

Sakata has never been one to excite on the mat. Neither has Ito. And although this match-up isn't great by any means, there is still plenty to enjoy, between Ito nearly murdering Sakata with a capture suplex, Sakata grinding his taped fists into Ito's mouth to escape a hold, and the finish, which sees Sakata dump Ito on his head with a dragon suplex and tap him with the single leg crab. Sajata's slaps and body shots are especially stiff in this but Ito doesn't quite bring the same heat. Okay match.

Luiz Azeredo & Yasuhito Namekawa vs. Hidehisa Matsuda & Kazuki Okubo

Luiz is easily the highlight of this match, as he's full of energy and manages some awesome takedowns early on, including his triangle and a beautiful leg scissors sweep into the kneebar. Both Okubo and Matsuda seem out of their element here, and poor Matsuda's nose gets busted open by a gnarly high knee and/or follow-up kick to the face by Luiz. Some cool moments, especially from Luiz, but an otherwise forgettable tag match.

James Thompson vs. Ricardo Morais

Dud of the night. James Thompson looks like Mojo Rawley or something. It's obvious these two haven’t had many worked matches and by the end of it, they're both blown out. Some of Ricardo's knee strikes aren't even close to connecting but Thompson's KO knee finish was about the best thing going in this match. 

Frank Shamrock vs. Daisuke Nakamura

This was a blast, with a high energy opening and fun chaotic scrambles on the mat. Just a good, competitive, well-worked shoot-style match. Shamrock was especially good here, between his taunting Nakamura to punch his abs to just deadlifting him with a front necklock. That looked pretty gross. All of his submissions and strikes looked snug. Nakamura, on the otherhand, kept whiffing on his takedowns, which Shamrock would capitalize on, mainly by wrecking the shit out of his ankle. He's able to get a straight armbar on Shamrock but Frank takes the match with a nice heel hook. Good stuff.

Toshiaki Kawada vs. Mikhail Ilyukhin

Interesting to see an older Kawada in this setting, and Ilyukhin is not stranger to shoot-style. When Kawada is popping him with slaps, it’s great, and then he cracks him with an elbow and earns himself a yellow card. Mikhail whipping him around by the arm was good stuff, and Kawada's finishing stretch was fun enough. Not bad for a under five minutes. 

Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Josh Barnett 

Match of the night, with Barnett in beast mode. He may not as quick as Tamura but he uses his size to his advantage and stays on top of Tamura. Him just flipping Tamura over his head by the leg was a great show of strength. After Tamura downs him with a pretty nasty knee to the face, Barnett rages with a brutal uranage followed by a deadlift German. POWERFUL~!  Tamura's able to crank on the armbar but Josh is close enough to the ropes for a break. They trade kicks, Barnett plants him with the capture buster but when he tries to double dip, Tamura grabs the armbar again and finally taps him. A super fun David vs. Goliath match-up.

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