Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

PWFG PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING Fujiwara gumi Debut 1st Commercial Tape 3/4/91 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

Yusuke Fuke vs. Wellington Wilkins, Jr. 12:00. A fairly believable match, but not a particularly entertaining one as they just sort of layed then rolled around for a dozen minutes. The positions, and their transitions in and out of them, were the truest on the card to real fighting, but it’s more than a bit odd to have the first match in the history of the promotion end with that staple of realism, the leg split. Neither man was bad, but they also weren't impressive in any way. **

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Johnny Barrett 7:12. Fujiwara tried to push the shooting style in the direction of believability, but as a result his matches tended to lack entertainment value. It didn’t help that his opponent, who was at least 75 pounds overweight, looked like someone you would come up with if, for some unknown reason, you needed a standin for Earthquake Ferris. All Barrett wanted to do was lie around on the mat. In his defense, that was his strength, if he could be said to have one, as he was more or less competent on the ground but his standup wasn’t sharp. Fujiwara knocked Barrett down with a headbutt out of a clinch, but generally accomodated his opponent by keeping it on the canvas. Both were nonetheless passable, but the match was brief and uneventful. *1/4

Wayne Shamrock vs. Minoru Suzuki 30:00. Being one of the newest and youngest fighters in U.W.F., Suzuki had a hard time seizing the limelight, but really came into his own as a regular top of the card performer in PWFG. He made a great impression from the get go, stealing the show in a match designed to build anticipation for a main event rematch. Fujiwara’s match was definitely more believable, but it was the younger fighters that Fujiwara gave the spotlight to, particularly Suzuki, who set out to evolve the shooting style by working and countering the holds rather than just lying around and taking rope escapes as many a man had been content to in U.W.F. While it wasn't the smoothest match and it didn't have the best sequences, I was impressed by the active matwork with regular position changes. Most shooters can counter, but one thing that elevated this match above the pack was the intensity and effort they fought with. Everytime you thought one man had made some headway, the other took the advantage at least partially back. The frustration seemed genuine, particularly when Shamrock rope escaped Suzuki’s ankle lock. I was impressed by how hard they fought throughout the duration of the contest. It never felt as though it would be a marathon, in part because they never stalled, but much of their success was in getting over the concept that they were equals without the usual corniness that has full time draw written all over it. I appreciated their lack of laziness, not so much in keeping the pace, but the fact that Suzuki, and to a lesser extent Shamrock, understood the importance in putting the effort into their grimacing and contorting to maintain the interest, anticipation, and credibility of what they were doing. They worked some highspots into the submission oriented match such as the overhead belly to belly suplex with a float over and a dropkick, and did some nasty striking in the second half, but the crowd really took to this one because they made their attempts and refusals seem important. By the end of the night, these two had the crowd in the palm of their hands. There was some booing for the draw, but they soon gave the performers a big hand for their exceptional effort. ****

Masakatsu Funaki vs. Bart Vale 17:36. Even though they didn’t stick to the U.W.F. tradition of a no time limit main event, I’m guessing they wanted to send people home after a match that had a decisive victory because the draw was viewed by their fan base as something of a gimmicky copout. The problem is there was no way this was going to be able to compete with the quality of the previous match to the extent that the crowd would be riveted. Vale’s technique is good enough, but he’s just not that energetic, and a slow, inactive match was a tough sell after Suzuki vs. Shamrock. Compounding the problem, this was a style clash with the technical master Funaki going against the sluggish striker that lacks stamina in a match long enough to send Vale right into patient, time killing mode. Vale, not surprisingly, did most of his damage with kicks, but his striking generally wasn’t that crisp. He did do an Owen Hart style enzuigiri that looked damaging, particularly due to the way Funaki sold it, though this wasn’t exactly scoring points for credibility. The match never picked up, and was just kind of there. *1/2

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* Puroresu Review Copyright 2009 Quebrada *