10 Minute Exhibition Match: Nobuhiko Takada vs. Shigeo Miyato 10:00. Sending the two flashiest fighters in the league out for an exhibition match was a somewhat interesting strategy to kick off a new promotion based on credibility. I suppose the logic is you have to take things down slowly, so going with the guys who were most similar to what the fans were used to would ease them in to the hardcore technical wrestling. Their match more believable than most of Takada's, with Miyato doing a good job making Takada look like a real force. Takada never looked big in New Japan, but he completely dwarfed Shigeo to the point you felt they should be calling his opponent Miyatocito. The match didn’t need to be particularly competitive since it was scheduled to continue for the full 10 minutes regardless of the number of finishes. Takada stopped Miyato’s Achilles’ tendon hold with one of his own just after the 6 minute mark and also tapped him with a cross armbar at 7 ½, but the contest was generally more of a squash than even a 2-0 sweep would suggest, too one-sided to have any real drama with the multiple falls largely just contributing to the feeling of irrelevance. Everything they did was well done though. **1/4
Yoji Anjo vs. Tatsuo Nakano 24:25. I didn’t care for this match too much the first time I saw it, but I guess I just didn’t have the patience for it at the time, as it now seems like one for the purists. It’s not a great bout for those who mainly care about the moves or kicks, but certainly really good technically, and definitely an exceptionally well crafted and laid out contest. Anjo always had A+ stamina, and seemed to enjoy doing long matches. This was one of most logical and best built he ever did, really putting a lot of thought into how they’d transition. The early portion was spent getting over the difficulty of attaining a position, leading to a pop when Nakano nearly countered Anjo’s reverse waistlock into a wakigatame. Anjo did seem to slip up using a jackknife hold then releasing when he realized the ref wasn’t going to count, but this spot did show the difference between the sort of wrestling they had been doing, and what they would be doing from now on. Anjo worked for an armbar, but Nakano eventually knocked him off with a kick, so Anjo stood over Nakano and began punting his shoulder. Anjo began incorporating his kicks now that he had a target, regularly but unsuccessfully trying to find an opening for the armbar. Anjo couldn’t get leverage for a wakigatame, so he tried a belly to belly suplex, only to have Nakano come to life with a headbutt and buckle him with body blows that left him prone for a snap suplex. They not only worked up to their heavy strikes and suplexes, but were careful to use them when the opposition was suitably tired and prone. The matwork wasn’t as believable as the better UWF-I & RINGS bouts we got after the style had evolved, and I could have lived without the ode to fakery represented by the dropkick, but all in all this was everything you could have asked for and then some. ****
Akira Maeda vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 24:56. An important match for U.W.F. because Yamazaki didn’t have enough heavyweight singles credibility to beat Maeda, but given two junior heavyweights were his only real opposition, Maeda had to make the audience believe they were a lot closer to his standing than their singles resumes would have suggested. It obviously helped that Yamazaki & Takada were among the most talented workers of their era, but the match worked so well because they approached it intelligently. They couldn’t just say, this junior heavyweight is as tough as a man who had been more or less on the level with Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, & Choshu for the last 5 years, but they were able to work the match in a fashion that subtly established Yamazaki as Maeda’s peer. Sure, Maeda had the size, but Yamazaki was far quicker and more evasive. He was a dangerous opponent because he could pull a multitude of quick counters into potentially finishing manuevers. Yamazaki, whose kicks had as much snap and zip on them on this night as they ever did, had an early high kick knockdown to establish a potential standup advantage. Maeda was often in control when things finally settled in on the ground, but again Yamazaki drew first blood with a ½ crab that was the first near submission. The match back and forth, but rather than just trading as was too often Maeda’s tendency, they found exciting and surprising ways to exchange the lead. You never knew when one of them was almost beat or they’d fire right back with an attack that was at least the equal of its predescessor. For instance, Yamazaki thrilled the crowd with his best middle kick only to get flattened with a high kick return. Maeda followed up with a chickenwing crossface, but just as Yamazaki looked out of it, he escaped with an ankle lock and reapplied the preestablished ½ crab, putting all his might into stretching the leg, with grimaces akin to that of someone trying to pass a kidney stone. Part of the psychology was that Yamazaki was using Maeda’s shaky knees as an equalizer, so he found more ways to incorporate the ½ crab than anyone else had bothered to imagine. Since Yamazaki was a big underdog, he not only got away with that, he garnered increasing fan support as the legitimacy of his challenge grew. When that still didn’t work, Yamazaki threw all his kicks, going for the big KO after four straight knockdowns. However, Maeda practically took Yamazaki’s had off with Neale kick, and submitted him with a rear naked choke variation. The finish wasn’t the most believable, but they went as far with Yamazaki almost knocking Maeda out as they could. It was basically a war of attrition with Yamazaki getting a bloodly lip. Maeda really went out of his way to put Yamazaki over, allowing him to develop his counter holds as well as slug it out with him. The matwork was really impressive for it’s time, and obviously the standup was no slouch. ****
*I have a limited amount of additional 1st Gen SPs*
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Shigeo Miyato 30:00. Good match.
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Norman Smiley 15:30. Good match.
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Akira Maeda 25:18. Excellent match.
Shootboxing: Katsumi Omura vs. Ri Sogi 7:02
Kickboxing: Makoto Ohe vs. Hidekazu Mikake 6:11
Shigeo Miyato vs. Tatsuo Nakano 19:04
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Nobuhiko Takada 17:32
Akira Maeda vs. Gerard Gordeau R4 1:10
Yoji Anjo vs. Shigeo Miyato 20:04. Match was quite good when they did stuff, but they were stalling to stretch it to 20 minutes. Striking was good and would get intense. The submissions weren't as good as a whole, but each had one impressive takedown into a submission. 20:04. ***
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Tsunehito Naito 2;07. Really short, but a fun little route with no wasted time. The young punk Naito stood toe to toe with Nakano and tried his best, but just got wrecked. 2:07
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Norman Smiley 6:43. Pretty good while it lasted, but short and rather one-sided. Smiley wasn't a threat, but the fans were really into it anyway and Takada threw some nice high kicks. 6:43. **
Akira Maeda vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 10:50. Yamazaki's stuff holds up the best of the old UWF guys because its more believable due to him understanding and sometimes utilizing the real positions and his work generally being tighter. He didn't hit as hard as some of the other guys, but he would use fakes and feints to set up his attacks rather than just having his opponent stand there looking stupid when he whacked them. Yamazaki's matches were good at showing the consequences of faulty attacks. Such spots included Yamazaki catching Maeda's roundhouse kick and booting the knee of the plant foot, kneeing Maeda in the head when he shot (obvious now but uncommon in UWF/UWF-I), & Maeda booting Yamazaki when he was on the ground after he failed to put Maeda down with a standing kneel kick. Yamazaki was excellent and totally made the match, but he wasn't even allowed to push Maeda much. The finish came too soon and was even more of a let down because Maeda's kicks didn't look very good. 10:50. ***1/4
Shigeo Miyato vs. Tatsuo Nakano 22:50
MacDuff Roesch vs. Yoji Anjo 15:30
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Bart Vale 8:16
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Akira Maeda 20:04
Yoji Anjo vs. Tatsuo Nakano 22:47. Striking was good, but there was too much lying around on the mat. The match was decent, but would have been much better if it was shorter and they worked and put over the submissions.
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Shigeo Miyato 12:07. Yamazaki gave Miyato more offense than he needed to, but then put him away with a couple of moves. I guess it wasn't so bad since submissions just need to be locked on properly in a position where the guy can't reach the ropes, but nonetheless it would have been a better match if Yamazaki had more offense at the end. It was a good match with nice transitions and counters though.
Akira Maeda vs. Norman Smiley 8:42. Maeda looked fine, but it was just a squash.
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Bob Backlund 25:52. Incredible atmosphere. The fans were so loud whenever a finisher was done. As you'd expect, it wasn't very realistic looking. It was more like submission oriented pro wrestling, but it was good stuff nonetheless. The submission part was not exceptional, but the powerful kicks and nice suplexes somewhat made up for that. Tough match. Backlund got a bloody nose, and Takada got a bruise around his eye. Very good.
*I have a limited amount of additional 1st Gen SP VHS copies available*
*These matches are edited down to around half of their original length*
U.W.F. STARTING OVER (debut show of 2nd coming of U.W.F) 5/12/88 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
Akira Maeda vs. Kazuo Yamazaki. Dramatic and stiff. Not really credible by today's standards due to it being too flashy and containing too many quick comebacks, but it was exciting. Very good.
U.W.F. STARTING OVER 6/11/88 Sapporo Nakajima
Maeda vs. Nobuhiko Takada. Great work, but the comebacks were too quick and the selling was weak. Stiff and exciting with tons of near finishes back and forth. Great.
U.W.F. THE PROFESSIONAL BOUT 8/13/88 Tokyo Ariake Coliseum
Takada vs. Yamazaki. These two used to have such great matches. It's a shame that Yamazaki's standing fell so much in UWF-I to the point where it was obvious he'd be putting Takada over yet again. All kinds of big blows and submissions. Great match.
Mixed Match: Maeda vs. Gerard Gordeau. Boring. Maeda just walks around and Gordeau throws weak blows.
Battle of Slow Motion. No, this is not where Loch Ness makes an appearance. These segments are highlights of the big blows in slow motion so you can see how "devastating and real" they are. These segments show brutal strikes and devastating suplexes. Really cool.
U.W.F FIGHTING NETWORK 1988 9/24 SAT HAKATA
Yoji Anjo vs. Shigeo (Yuko) Miyato. Mainly strikes back and forth. Miyato's strikes look cool, but don't hit hard enough. Anjo does a great job selling here. Good.
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Tsuehito Naito. Mainly standup with Nakano dominating a decent short bout.
Maeda vs. Yamazaki. Very good bout that was pretty even with them trading the advantage, but it wasn't meant to be a MOTY type of match. Maeda beats Yamazaki again(:.
U.W.F. FIGHTING NETWORK 1988 11.10 THU NAGOYA
Nakano vs. Miyato. Good match, but very obviously worked. Some great kicks, but some looked too pulled.
Takada vs. Maeda. Very good bout with Takada looking great. Great comeback by Takada for his first win over Maeda, which was considered a risky move at the time but was definitely a wise decision.
OSAKA SUPER BOUT December 22, 1988 HEART-BEAT U.W.F
Takada vs. Bob Backlund. Interesting to see Backlund in this style. He had a few tricks up his sleeve, and running for office wasn't one of them. This was really heated. Backlund's mannerisms were really out of place. He also reacted differently than a normal shooter would. Takada was awesome in this match though and that combined with a great atmosphere were the keys to this being great.
Yoji Anjo vs. Shigeo Miyato 30:00. **
Norman Smiley vs. Bart Vale 16:11. *1/2
Tatsuo Nakano vs. MacDuff Roesch 15:36. *1/2
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Trevor Power Clarke R5 1:13. The best wrestler vs. kickboxer match that I've seen. Great performance by Yamazaki. ***3/4
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Akira Maeda 28:58. U.W.F. at it's finest. ****1/4
Yoji Anjo vs. Shigeo Miyato 22:34. Solid stiff work, but slow pacing. They worked hard on their feet then took rests by applying submissions. 22:34. **1/2
Norman Smiley vs. Tatsuo Nakano 19:01. What little they did was done pretty well, but it was all basic stuff. Had a few moments, but as a whole was long and dull. All on the mat where Norman likes it. 19:01. *3/4
Bart Vale vs. Akira Maeda 10:44. Slow plodding match without much action, but had some heat since Maeda was involved. 10:44. *1/4
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Nobuhiko Takada 21:40. Very good match because these two were top 10 workers at this point and just had too much talent not to deliver. That said, the match could have been much better. They needed to mix in some standing exchanges during the 1st 15 minutes and space the big strikes out during the climax. Their match wasn't explosive enough, instead all of a sudden everything important happened. Booking this match here was problematic because Yamazaki really needed the win to stay in the mix with Maeda & Takada, but Takada had just lost to Maeda on last months show. 21:40. ***1/2
Yoji Anjo vs. Minoru Suzuki 19:39
Shigeo Miyato vs. Tatsuo Nakano 21:14
Akira Maeda TKO Kazuo Yamazaki 12:13
Shigeo Miyato vs. Minoru Suzuki 21:31
Yoji Anjo vs. MacDuff Roesch 19:55
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Masaharu Funaki 15:36
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Nobuhiko Takada 27:54
Akira Maeda vs. Chris Dolman R4 0:30
Minoru Suzuki vs. Kiyoshi Tamura 5:30
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Yoji Anjo 10:03
Bob Backlund vs. Masakatsu Funaki 13:38
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Johnny Barrett 7:49
Akira Maeda vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 13:36
Bart Vale vs. Shigeo Miyato 13:00
Yoji Anjo vs. Masakatsu Funaki 22:14
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Minoru Suzuki 9:21
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Norman Smiley 13:49
Akira Maeda vs. Nobuhiko Takada 20:05
Yuji (Masakatsu) Funaki vs. Tatsuo Nakano 9:04
Minoru Suzuki vs. MacDuff Roesch 30:00
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Shigeo Miyato 10:43
Akira Maeda vs. Yoji Anjo 10:42
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 29:09
Shigeo Miyato vs. Kiyoshi Tamura 9:07
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Minoru Suzuki 7:35
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Yoji Anjo 13:32
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Masakatsu Funaki 12:00
Akira Maeda vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara 18:16
Shigeo Miyato vs. Kiyoshi Tamura 5:40
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Minoru Suzuki 11:09
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Yoji Anjo 8:59
Akira Maeda vs. Johnny Barrett 6:49
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Masakatsu Funaki 14:15
Yoji Anjo vs. Kiyoshi Tamura 8:34. Even as a rookie Tamura's movement was good. Actually, he was already a better worker than Anjo. Pretty active match with good transitions. Obviously Tamura was outranked, but at least Anjo let him put a few over on him. 8:34. **3/4
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Norman Smiley 6:57. Fujiwara didn't take Smiley seriously (that became common, but Smiley wasn't a wiggler in these days) and not much happened. About the only thing of note was a comedy spot where Smiley applied a leg lock, but Fujiwara just lay there like he was taking a nap. 6:52. *
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Tatsuo Nakano 10:21. Nakano put up a fight and Takada was taking more than giving, but Nakano still wasn't a threat and they didn't do most of their best stuff. 10:21. **1/4
Minoru Suzuki vs. Johnny Barrett 10:53. Barrett's waist size is twice Suzuki's and he's just a big bore. Suzuki didn't know what to do with him, but he was stuck going along with Barrett's lame offense most of the match anyway. 10:53. 1/2*
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Bart Vale 11:11. Vale is usually bad, but he really stunk today with fake kicks and generally weak and sloppily executed offense. To make things worse, Vale was so out of his depth that Yamazaki couldn't even manuever well. 11:11. *1/4
Akira Maeda vs. Shigeo Miyato 6:15. Maeda was wrestling like he was in a bad mood and wanted to take it out on Miyato. He wasn't breaking clean, instead hitting Miyato, and he was also punting Miyato when he was down. The crowd went nuts for Miyato's comeback, which started with his signature spinning savate, but unfortunately after a few more moves Maeda regained control and won. Not a great technical match by any means, but the attitude gave it a lot of potential. Unfortunately, Maeda didn't take this attitude to the ring with someone that could have given him a fight. 6:15. **1/2
Shigeo Miyato vs. MacDuff Roesch 30:00. Mac seemed pretty colorless, but wasn't bad at all wrestling wise, and Miyato worked well with him. Mac didn't seem to have much of anything in standup, which is Miyato's strength, but his groundwork was fine so that's what they mostly did. They made some pretty good moves on the mat. You could tell this was going to be a draw, especially since it took 18 minutes for the first lost point, but it was still entertaining. They could have made it more exciting, but it was solid throughout. Pretty good match.
Minoru Suzuki vs. Yoji Anjo 30:00. Hard fought match where both men looked good. It was mat oriented early on, but it turned out to have more striking and be more exciting than I expected. Suzuki was the better of the two, even at this early stage of his career, but Anjo held his own. Suzuki brought a lot of intensity. The lost points were handled well, so you couldn't tell if it was going to be a draw or there was going to be enough time for someone to pull out a late win. Very good match.
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Tatsuo Nakano 7:22. Match was good technically, but no one gave Nakano a chance of winning and they didn't try to do anything to give Nakano credibility.
Kiyoshi Tamura Debutsen: Akira Maeda vs. Kiyoshi Tamura 2:19. Maeda was vicious, particularly throwing some brutal knees. Tamura was just destroyed.
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara 17:11. Fujiwara was more motivated than I can ever remember him being. He worked some nice counters with Takada, and sold his left knee, which Takada was kicking out, well. Takada threw some nasty kicks, but some of his kicks that were supposed to hit either missed completely or just grazed Fujiwara. The thing I didn't like was that they seemed to go away from the body, which was strong because of the focus on Fujiwara's knee, and get explosive with the strikes all at once and too soon. It did calm down even though they were still striking, but the focus was lost as it got all K-1ish so the effect of the finish wasn't as strong as it could have been. Fujiwara's strikes were not that stiff, but Fujiwara did take big punishment so it kind of evened out in a sense. Very good match.
*I have a limited amount of additional 1st Gen SPs VHS copies available*
Shigeo Miyato vs. Tatsuo Nakano 7:09. Miyato's kicks vs. Nakano's suplexex, and they didn't waste any time getting to them. I liked their execution a lot. They struggled for the moves, and had a burst on them when they finally did them. ***1/2
Kakutogisen: Changpuek Kiatsongrit vs. Yoji Anjo R5. I expected this to be a work, but if it was they sure as hell fooled me. Incredibly intense. Kiatsongrit looks like he wants to injure his opponent with each shot. Anjo didn't have much luck doing anything to him because Kiatsongrit stayed so close to the ropes. He would wind up taking a few shots coming in so he could grap Kiatsongrit, but Kiatsongrit would keep hitting him and use the ropes to prevent the takedown. It was kind of monotonous, but so heated that it didn't bother me too much. Good fight.
Kakutogisen: Minoru Suzuki vs. Maurice Smith R4 1:29. Suzuki didn't fair too well here. He took pretty many blows, which resulted in a bloody nose. When he actually was able to take Smith down, Smith just crawled to the ropes. Decent, albeit one-sided. **
Kakutogisen: Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Dick Leon Vrij R2 0:37. Vrij did some good kicks, but Fujiwara was able to absorb them and take Vrij down. Okay, but nothing special. *3/4
Kakutogisen: Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Chris Dolman R3 0:48. Even Yamazaki couldn't get anything interesting out of Dolman. It's not really his fault though since Dolman dictated the match. Dolman kept taking Yamazaki down and for the most part just laid on top of him. *
Kakutogisen: Nobuhiko Takada vs. Duane Koslowski 10:55. Koslowski, I believe, never worked before or after, so this wasn't going to be one of the classic Takada bouts. Technically, Koslowski was great for his experience level. He was a great amateur wrestler, but he wasn't one of those guys that gets to the pros and just rides you once he gets you down. He wasn't a phenom, but he did throw a nice suplex and keep active. His problems were all acting related. He didn't have the timing or the facials, so he made a credible Takada high kick knockdown look pretty lame. **
Kakutogisen: Akira Maeda vs. Willy Wilhelm R2 1:28. Wilhelm was better than expected. He was hardly the most graceful, but he worked hard and kept at it. The match never really got going though. Maeda did a few kicks, but the idea was for this to look like a shoot so he didn't use his more questionable offense and was content to essentially get a submission out of nowhere. *3/4
U.W.F. Official Rule
This documents what techniques are legal, gives profiles of the fighters, demonstrates how to apply the holds, etc. A lot of this is in English, so it's not hard to follow. Very interesting. The highlight is once again the Battle of Slow motion.
According to U.W.F. their 10 best bouts of 1988-89 were:
10. Fujiwara vs. Suzuki 6/14/89 Nagoya
9. Anjo vs. Funaki 6/14/89 Nagoya
8. Miyato vs. Anjo 9/24/88 Hakata
7. Maeda vs. Yamazaki 5/12/88 Tokyo
6. Takada vs. Funaki 8/13/89 Yokohama
5. Takada vs. Maeda 11/10/88 Nagoya
4. Yamazaki vs. Takada 8/13/88 Tokyo
3. Funaki vs. Nakano 7/24/89 Fukuoka
2. Fujiwara vs. Yamazaki 7/24/89 Fukuoka
1. Takada vs. Maeda 1/10/89 Tokyo
U.W.F. Best Bout '89 Side 1
*These matches are edited down to around half of their original length*
U.W.F. DYNAMISM BUDOKAN SUPER BOUT 1/10/89 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
Yamazaki vs. Trevor "Power" Clarke. This is wrestler vs. kickboxers and it's one of the best mixed matches I've seen. Yamazaki is great and Clarke really looks like he's fighting for his life everytime Yamazaki grabs him. Very good.
Takada vs. Maeda. Great match with all kinds of submissions and big blows back and forth. Probably the best bout of the 2nd coming of the U.W.F.
U.W.F. FIGHTING BASE TOKUSHIMA PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING 2/27/89
Takada vs. Yamazaki. Very good match. Yamazaki's kicks look weak when compared to Takada's.
U.W.F. Core THE 1st ANNIVERSARY 4/14/89 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
Maeda vs. Yamazaki. Yamazaki headbutted Maeda, but his own head was badly bloodied from it. Yamazaki wanted to fight, but the doctor stopped the bout. This was U.W.F's way of doing a screw job.
The Battle of Slow Motion
*These matches are edited down to around half of their original length*
U.W.F. MAY HISTORY KICK, SUBMISSION, & SUPLEX PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING 5/14 1st-Osaka Baseball Stadium
Maeda vs. Chris Dolman. Match was nothing special, but Maeda was really over.
U.W.F. MAY HISTORY KICK, SUBMISSION, & SUPLEX PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING 5/21 2nd-Tokyo Bay NK Hall
Minoru Suzuki vs. Kiyoshi Tamura. Tamura's debut. Fair.
Maeda vs. Yamazaki. Yamazaki really rocks Maeda here. Maeda does an incredibly dangerous captured suplex. Very good.
U.W.F. FIGHTING SQUARE 6/14 Nagoya Live
Anjo vs. Masaharu (Masakatsu) Funaki. This really had its moments. Good.
U.W.F. FIGHTING SQUARE 7/24 Fukuoka Live
Funaki vs. Nakano. Great match. Funaki was awesome. Nakano bleeds heavily from the nose, but he continues and shows a lot of heart in the process.
Yamazaki vs. Fujiwara. Fujiwara just isn't on the level of Takada, Yamazaki, or Maeda as a worker. Pretty good.
U.W.F. MIDSUMMER CREATION THE PROFESSIONAL BOUT "YOKOHAMA" 8/13/89 (SUN) Yokohama Arena
Takada vs. Funaki. What makes these guys so cool is that they are always so calm and have so much poise. That and that fact they are tremendous at what they do, of course. Great bout with both men being excellent. Lots of big strikes.
U.W.F. FIGHTING BASE NAGOYA PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING 9/7/89 (Thursday)
Yamazaki vs. Suzuki. Good.
Maeda vs. Miyato. There was a moment when it looked like Miyato was going to win, so this was competitive even though Miyato was really outranked. Good.
FIGHTING ART U.W.F. SAPPORO PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING 10/25/89
Anjo vs. Suzuki. Suzuki was already better than Anjo. Suzuki does a running dropkick with Anjo in the corner, which is funny to see given today's Suzuki. Very even match. Very good.
Maeda vs. Tamura. Tamura was badly overmatched. Ok.
Takada vs. Fujiwara. Really close match, but Fujiwara is too limited for this the great match it was booked to have been. Good.
U-COSMOS 11/29 Tokyo Dome
Suzuki vs. Maurice Smith. Rounds style mixed match.
Fujiwara vs. Dick Leon Vrij. Same as above. Bad.
Takada vs. Duane Koslowski. Striker vs. wrestler. Takada made this really good.
Maeda vs. Willy Wilhelm. Slow motion match. This looked awful.
Shigeo Miyato vs. Kevin Kastelle 6:32. Miyato was good in all aspects, while Kastelle was a kickboxer that was fair when it came to striking but didn't appear to posess any other skills. *1/2
Minoru Suzuki vs. Wellington Wilkins, Jr. 12:43. Although Suzuki did a nice Matt Hughes type of slam then a dropkick, this match was dull for the most part. Suzuki was solid and at points impressive, but Wilkins didn't show much. *1/4
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Tatsuo Nakano 13:44. Aside from the headbutts being in excess, this was a good match. Tons of heat. Nakano got a bloody nose, as usual. Nakano did better than I expected as far as getting offense in, but he did lose all his points quickly. The fault of the match was that Fujiwara wasn't going to give up any points, so even though Nakano was competitive, the match was just getting more onsided because points wise and no one really expected Nakano to miraculously knock Fujiwara out or make him submit in spite of being down to his last point or two. **1/2
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Yoji Anjo 11:57. Submission oriented until the last few minutes, which were virtually all striking. Solidly worked match.
Akira Maeda vs. Nobuhiko Takada 23:04. These two have so much confidence in their abilites, even when things are going bad they never look even remotely rattled. The key to the success of this match was the illusion that they were always doing something. It was a long match and they certainly rested, which was good since Maeda didn't blow up, but during feeling out and submission sections that they made you think had meaning. Not the most exciting match, but they spread what they did out well and you didn't feel like there were lulls. Well, it actually it was the old technical style where there isn't a lot of quick movement and they stay in the holds for a while, but it was good technically and this style is how they did it during the time period the match was a part of. This was hardly all Takada, in fact Maeda was the one that seemed to be dictating the flow of the match. This was before he was too old and out of shape, so he did well striking, even putting Takada down. The finish came off poorly because it happened soon after a long break from an accidental eye gouge. ****
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Johnny Barrett
Minoru Suzuki vs. Shigeo Miyato
Yoji Anjo vs. Wellington Wilkins, Jr.
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Kazuo Yamazaki
Akira Maeda vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Minoru Suzuki 13:55
Yoji Anjo vs. Shigeo Miyato 13:14
Akira Maeda vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 9:25
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Nobuhiko Takada 23:13
Bart Vale vs. Shigeo Miyato 10:15
Masakatsu Funaki vs. Minoru Suzuki 8:53
Akira Maeda vs. Tatsuo Nakano 7:42
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Yoji Anjo 19:15
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara 18:30
Dick Vrij vs. Yoji Anjo 14:30
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Tatsuo Nakano 13:35
Akira Maeda vs. Masakatsu Funaki 18:02
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Minoru Suzuki 12:58
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Fred Hammaker 15:36
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Shigeo Miyato 12:46
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Johnny Barrett 17:02
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Tatsuo Nakano 18:41
Masakatsu Funaki vs. Yoji Anjo 21:14
Akira Maeda vs. Minoru Suzuki 13:11
*I have a limited amount of additional 1st Gen SPs VHS copies available*
Tatsuo Nakano vs. MacDuff Roesch 14:40
Yoji Anjo vs. Minoru Suzuki 17:54
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Shigeo Miyato 10:11
Masakatsu Funaki vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 11:19
Akira Maeda vs. Nobuhiko Takada 18:02
*I have a limited amount of additional 1st Gen SPs VHS available*
Minoru Suzuki vs. Norman Smiley 12:05
Masakatsu Funaki vs. Shigeo Miyato 9:46
Yoji Anjo vs. Tatsuo Nakano 11:14
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Akira Maeda 12:47
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 16:31
Masahito Kakihara vs. Yusuke Fuke 10:00. These guys had the moves at this point, but the setup and transition came later. Fuke was the better submission wrestler, and he got it to the mat. As always with Kakihara, there were flashes of explosive brilliance. Surprisingly, Fuke had the best flurry of the match. Interesting enough, but not exactly smooth and polished. **1/4
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Bart Vale 9:27. Considering standup is Nakano's strength and Vale was never much on the mat, I thought they'd focus on that aspect. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case and even though Nakano did a few of his nice suplexes, Vale succeeded in killing another match. There was a bizarre spot where Nakano started to Dragon screw him and instead of going with it he basically enzuigiri'd the air. If you thought Vader doing powerbombs in a "shoot" was pushing it, Vale did a Razor's edge. *1/2
Minoru Suzuki vs. Bart Kopps, Jr. 10:13. Suzuki did a good job here. Kops was mainly a wrestler, but he got a good submission oriented match out of him. What made it successful is that they understood positioning. You can sell a submission all you want, but when it's put on within a few feet of the ropes, people (especially in '90) aren't too likely to believe it'll end the match. These two sold the moves well, and at the same time struggled from near the center to try for the break. **1/2
Akira Maeda vs. Yoji Anjo 13:52. One of Maeda's more impressive performances of the 90's. Seeing him in RINGS, especially in the later years, it's easy to forget how good a kicker he was. Both guys showed good standup here, and used it to get to the mat. Maeda's matwork has always been slow for my tastes, but it was more tolerable here because it was in between good standup and he was so over that the fans went nuts anytime he was close to a submission. Anjo was no more than competitive, though it went about as far as it could without him actually challenging. Maeda made this more dramatic than I expected and I was always into it even though I knew Anjo couldn't win. Cool finish where Maeda caught a high kick against his head and turned it into an akiresukengatame. Well worked with good balance and impressive performances from both. ***1/4
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Dick Leon Vrij 7:58. Vrij is only worth watching when he's knocking the hell out of an opponent that is both skilled and willing to take a big beating. Fujiwara is neither, so you knew this wouldn't be much, but Fujiwara had Vrij trying to do submissions. Basically, Fujiwara didn't want to take much punishment, so they did some uninspiring matwork and a submission out of nowhere. 3/4*
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Masakatsu Funaki 12:18. These two were actually fairly similar in style at this point except Funaki was much quicker. This had the makings of a classic. The strikes were overly realistic with Takada getting a bloody nose and Funaki getting cut on the cheek. Unfortunately, Takada also got a bloody immediately swelling left eye that resulted in a doctor stop. This certainly did not appear to be the planned finish. While they did an excellent 12 minutes, they were building it up and the best was yet to come. ***1/2
Bart Vale vs. Shigeo Miyato 8:59
Yusuke Fuke vs. Masahito Kakihara 14:19
Minoru Suzuki vs. Tatsuo Nakano 9:58
Yoji Anjo vs. Johnny Barrett 13:12
Masakatsu Funaki vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara 14:47
Akira Maeda vs. Nobuhiko Takada 10:35
Masahito Kakihara vs. Yusuke Fuke 10:43
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Wellington Wilkins, Jr 4:45
Minoru Suzuki vs. Shigeo Miyato 11:24
Wayne Shamrock vs. Yoji Anjo 11:34
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara 23:36
Akira Maeda vs. Masakatsu Funaki 16:59
Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Masahito Kakihara 14:58
Minoru Suzuki vs. Yoji Anjo 24:16
Bart Vale vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 10:53
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Shigeo Miyato 11:11
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Tatsuo Nakano 18:49
Masakatsu Funaki vs. (Ken) Wayne Shamrock 18:04
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