Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Steve Nelson. Really strong performance by Sakuraba. This was a fast-paced match, as both men were very aggressive and intense. They went through most of the points, so that helped make it exciting. Even though Sakuraba is first and foremost a technician, he relied much heavier on stiff kicks than normal because Nelson is much better on the mat than he is in standup. ***1/4
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Yoshihiro Takayama. Sad match. Takayama did nothing on offense and his selling of Nakano's strikes, which were generally good, was pathetic. *
Hiromitsu Kanehara vs. Yuko Miyato. Typical Kanehara match where he impresses you with just how good of a technician is, but as usual he gets no respect from the bookers, so the match doesn't reach it's potential. The finish out of the blue really didn't work here, IMO. **3/4
Jean Lydick vs. Billy Scott. This was pretty good while it lasted, but it was just too short. Lydick was a bad ass even though his opponent was a gaijin, but the fans didn't get into it as much for that reason, although I think it was why the fans supported him over the higher ranked Scott. Scott did blow up once, punching JL in the face which fattened his lip a bit and then kicking him after Lydick grabbed to rope to escape Scott's chickenwing armlock. **
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Yoji Anjo. Matches like this are the reason UWF-I killed themselves. Yamazaki's skill hadn't declined and it wasn't like he was too old or something, but they killed off his drawing power and then his credibility by no longer letting him beat the top guys. Since he wasn't getting wins in his big matches, he couldn't afford to lose to guys they were trying to bring up the ranks. If they would have paid attention to how NJ books, they would have known that. See Hase getting to the finals of the '93 G1, and then putting over guys left and right. This was an even match with good technique, but Yamazaki didn't seem that motivated knowing what he had to go through with, and the crowd wasn't really into it because it was slow, not very flashy, 80's UWF style. **1/4
Nobuhiko Takada & Naoki Sano vs. Gary Albright & Dan Severn. An interesting match. The whole point of the match was Takada vs. Albright, and they barely gave you any of that, yet you came out of the match with a good feeling and wanting to see Takada vs. Albright in singles, rather than feeling cheated. I guess because the match was exciting and the crowd was really into it. In any case, it was interesting yet smart that they had Gary clearly get the best of Takada during the brief sequences they worked together, as Gary was the only one that had beat Takada in UWF-I, not even Vader had done it yet, so it made it look like the hero, Takada, really had an uphill battle for once. Takada was by far the best here, with Sano & Albright doing their job effectively. Severn was alright on the mat, but he had no clue how to sell. ***1/4
Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Masahito Kakihara. These two awesome talents finally got the slot they deserved, the main event. It was interesting that they chose realism over flash, especially since it was Kakihara. I think flash would have got them more over with the fans, but I respect the patience and composure they showed here. I liked how they were cautious and built the match around being even, with each sequence culminating with one guy getting a small victory over the other. I think RINGS fans will appreciate this more than UWF-I fans, the fans certainly there didn't react that much to it until the last few minutes, because of it's technical excellence and realism. It was far more realistic than any match on this card, and one of the more realistic UWF-I matches I've seen. Even though you wouldn't see so many heavy kicks in a real shoot, although you'd see them in worked RINGS matches too, Tamura made them seem realistic because he didn't just throw caution to the wind and try to unload series of kicks that would result in him taken down with ease in a shoot. Instead, he did little fakes to keep Kakihara off balance and prevent him from getting that takedown. It wasn't a thing of beauty like a Tamura vs. Han match, but it was a strong match where they did a lot of little things well. ***3/4
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara
Yuko Miyato vs. Yoshihiro Takayama
'94 PRO-WRESTLING WORLD TOURNAMENT 1st Round:
Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Bad News Allen 6:11
Gene Lydick vs. Vladimir Berkovich 9:40
Yoji Anjo vs. Victor Zangiev 5:54
Masahito Kakihara vs. Dan Severn 10:39
Super Vader vs. Salman Hashimikov
Gary Albright vs. Billy Scott 2:11
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 7:17
ISKA World Light Welterweight Title Match: Makoto vs. Didier Montoya
Tom Burton vs. Kazushi Sakuraba 5:10
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Vladimir Berkovich
Yoshihiro Takayama & Hiromitsu Kanehara vs. Dan Severn & Billy Scott 4:36
Victor Zangiev vs. Yuko Miyato 4:22
Kazuo Yamazaki beat Salmon Hashimikov
'94 Pro-Wrestling World Tournament 2nd Round:
Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Naoki Sano 13:52
Gary Albright vs. Yoji Anjo 4:26
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Gene Lydick 5:04
Super Vader vs. Masahito Kakihara 3:40
Standing Bout: Boi Chowhykun vs. Gary Hadowin (sp?). Good action.
Tom Burton vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara. Kanehara had a really strong showing here, mainly because he really understood how to work to Burton's strengths and stay away from his weaknesses. Good.
Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Billy Scott. Scott did what he could, but he had nothing to work with. Ok.
Jean Lydick & Steve Nelson vs. Masahito Kakihara & Kazushi Sakuraba. These guys are all talented and they showed their skills here. Great suplexes at the end. Good.
Tatsuo Nakano vs. Naoki Sano. Solid match. A lot of standup, but not as good or exciting as it could have been. Ok.
Salman Hashimikov & Victor Zangiev vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoji Anjo. Good technically and very heated, but not that exciting due to the Russians. Pretty good.
'94 Pro Wrestling World Tournament Semifinal: Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Super Vader. This was pretty much what it had to be. Exciting match with Tamura taking a big beating, but showing a lot of skill and heart in the process. Excellent while it lasted, but not competitive enough to be a great match. Very good.
'94 Pro Wrestling World Tournament Semifinal: Gary Albright vs. Nobuhiko Takada. Slow building match centering on Gary's suplexes vs. Takada's jujigatame. Really effective teases. Second half was really heated and exciting. Great performance by Takada carrying Gary to what at that point was the best match of his career. Great.
Highlights of the first three rounds
Hiromitsu Kanehara vs. Bad News Allen. Pretty good with Kanehara showing potential
Mark Silver vs. Takayama. 0:37 DUD
Kakihara & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Lydick & Billy Scott. Very good match that was great and really heated when Kakihara and Lydick were facing off. Everyone looked good, and it was exciting as the match went down to the wire.
Yuko Miyato vs. Salmon Hashimikov. The work was fine, but the match was very one-sided.
Nakano vs. Yamazaki. Disappointing match. The finish was strong finish, but there wasn't much quality before that.
Anjo & Sano vs. Victor Zangiev & Vladmir Berkovich. A few really stiff shots, but the work wasn't very good.
'94 Pro Wrestling World Tournament 3rd Place Match: Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Gary Albright. Tamura did a super job here, getting as much out of Gary as anyone other than Kawada & Takada were able to. Heated match, with the crowd really pulling for a Tamura upset that absolutely needed to be booked. They really worked their way to Gary's suplexes, with all the teases of them getting over huge. Psychology was strong as Tamura, who was really outsized, tried to keep it on the mat and win the the jujigatame, while Albright kept working to KO Tamura with a suplex. Just an excellent performance by Tamura. At least on par with Takada's great match with Gary in the semifinals.
'94 Pro Wrestling World Tournament Final & Undisputed World Heavyweight Title Match: Super Vader vs. Nobuhiko Takada. Incredible, must see match that's as exciting as anything that can be done within the context of a "shoot." Everything was on the line here and these two just threw bombs for 20 minutes to try and come home as the "top fighter in the world." Tremendous stiffness, to the point it was as stiff as anything you'll ever see. Takada's kicks were awesome. Vader's eye was a mess after the match. Great heat and work. Tremendous performance by both men, who were clearly out to put on a classic, and succeeded. Maybe a record number of knockdowns. Such a great match that the fans scream Vader after the match even though he just beat their hero and took his title in the process.
ISKA Welterweight Title: Danny Steele vs. Boi Chowhykun. Bouy wins title.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Mark Silver. Sakuraba had much better technique, but gave up a lot of weight to the portly Silver. Ok match with Silver dominating and getting way ahead on points, but Sakuraba going over in the end.
Hiromitsu Kanehara vs. Yoshihiro Takayama. Takayama actually looked good for a few seconds as he came out all fired up and went for the kill. Kanehara was really impressive here and made the match. His strikes were good, and they opened up a cut on Takayama's lip. It went to a 20:00 draw, with both men collapsing at the bell. Surprisingly, a pretty good match.
Yuko Miyato vs. Tatsuo Nakano. Slow match with a lot of feeling out and looking for an opening. Too short considering it took a long time to get going. Fair.
Vladimir Berkovich vs. Naoki Sano. Nothing match. Berkovich brought nothing to the table.
Yoji Anjo & Steve Nelson vs. Kiyoshi Tamura & Dan Severn. Tamura & Anjo did some really nice fast sequences together. Match was dull when Nelson squared off with Severn and the crowd was completely silent for this. Anjo's palm strike gave Severn a really bloody nose, and the blood ending up dripping all over Anjo. Finish itself was great. Good match with Tamura looking really superior to the other three.
Masahito Kakihara vs. Jean Lydick. Disappointing match because these guys usually have so much heat with one another, but today they were basically friendly. Work and match were good though.
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Victor Zangiev. Very short for a Takada match, but it was quite good while it lasted. Exciting match with several teases of the big spots and very good technique.
Gary Albright & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Super Vader & John Tenta. Match was more to set up Vader vs. Albright than anything else. Gary made Vader submit to the jujigatame, which was just a waste, IMO, since Gary didn't really need the credibility bump and their singles match was the "dream match" that people wanted to see. I could see if they had higher ranked teammates, but Tenta was a newbie and Yamazaki was already booked into oblivion.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Kenichi Yamamoto
Vladmir Berkovich vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara 5:34. Kanehara plays striker because he supposedly can't wrestle with the amateur star. Berkovich allows Kanehara to kick him full force, taking several wicked kicks to make the match. Unfortuately, once Berkovich gets a hold of Kanehara it's over without too much resistance. Good for what it was. **1/2
Dan Severn vs. Yoshihiro Takayama
Tatsuo Nakano & Victor Zangiev vs. Yoji Anjo & Yuko Miyato
Masahito Kakihara & Steve Nelson vs. Kiyoshi Tamura & Jean Lydick 16:19. Tried so hard to be realistic that they never got around to making it interesting. They didn't do anything wrong and it was credible, but there was so little action. It was like credibility was defined by not trying anything. Tamura likes to start slowly, but this never moved forward from that mode. **
Nobuhiko Takada vs. Naoki Sano 17:24. The question isn't how good of a match they could do; Takada's superhuman standing doesn't allow such considerations. It's how much Takada will allow Sano to compete, and the results were better than expected. Sano played the resiliant role, getting in brief trouble several times but coming up with something before Takada could put a run on him. Though Takada did more damage and lost less points because he doesn't concede many rope breaks, the match remained pretty even time wise. You never believed Takada would lose, but Sano would get him in submissions. Takada even bled a little. The work was very solid, credible and impactful, with strong though not all out performances by both. ***1/4
Super Vader & Big John Tenta vs. Gary Albright & Kazuo Yamazaki 14:07. All about building up the Vader vs. Albright singles match in January. Vader attacked Gary before the bell, and they wound up on the floor where they had to be pulled apart. The match then took a few minutes to start because Vader was demanding Albright, but Yamazaki kept telling Albright to yet him start. This led to an excellent opening where Yamazaki got himself involved in the match, made Vader take notice, by kicking Vader when he was taunting Albright to get in and fight him. Crowd started chanting Yamazaki and was psyched when he'd lay in the low kicks, blocking Vader's clubbing blows and staying outside when he could. Soon enough Vader got toYamazaki, but Yamazaki did well enough that Vader was the first to tag. Yamazaki stayed in for what seemed like a long time because he was so dwarfed and eventually took some big punishment (actually only 5 min), then Albright was in for quite a while. Albright was able to suplex Vader no problem, but obviously the quality went way down when he was in, particularly with Tenta who there was no heat on. Yamazaki made the hot tag and looked good against Vader again for a very brief period; he actually had more heat (or at least excitement and enthusiasm) on himself than there was for Vader vs. Albright (though of course the bookers didn't pay attention). Yamazaki couldn't get the big men off their feet and had to stay out of range, so he was relegated to kicking the whole match. He'd done big damage with enzuigiri counters, but Vader got wise to it and pulled him up right into a powerbomb. Started great, but the finish was highly anticlimactic. Yamazaki was typically excellent, incorporating good story points that the crowd would react to as usual. Vader & Albright were fine, having their moments but showing some weaknesses in between. They did enough yelling and taunting to interest the crowd in their match, but it's hard for them to work together because they are both monsters, thus there weren't huge reactions do their segment outside of one or two signature spots. Tenta didn't hurt the match, but he was basically just taking up space. They would have been better off having a smaller guy with Vader if only because when building a battle of monsters it tends to make sense to have the hugest guy in the match involved in those plans. ***1/4
Standing Bout (3 minutes 5 rounds): Bouy Chowaiken vs. Chris Mack
Tom Burton vs. Kenichi Yamamoto
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Yuko Miyato
Hiromitsu Kanehara vs. Yoji Anjo
Billy Scott vs. Tatsuo Nakano
Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Naoki Sano
Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Dan Severn
Masahito Kakihara vs. Kazuo Yamazaki
Pro Wrestling Sedai Heavykyu Senshuken Jiki Chosen Ketteisen: Nobuhiko Takada vs. Gary Albright
*I have a very limited quantity of additional 1st Gen VHS available*
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