Monday, 7 November 2016

UWFi Debut Show 'MOVING ON' (5/10/91)

The places you can find semi-obscure Japanese pro wrestling these days. I don't even remember how, but the other night I stumbled across every UWFi show ever ran...on Amazon Video. How random is that? Every show (that I can tell, anyway), from their debut through to their final show on 12/27/96, all available. They're not free, obviously, but it's fairly cheap to buy shows singularly, so I bought the first one. I'm not really the biggest UWFi fan, but there's a goodly amount of Kiyoshi Tamura and Yoji Anjoh on these shows that I haven't seen before, so I'll probably end up getting a few more.

Kiyoshi Tamura v Masahito Kakihara

The first UWFi match ever and boy is it a doozy. This is Tamura's seventh match of his career. Seventh! That's nuts, because he's already really good. Kakihara has even less under his belt than Tamura. They did look like two young guys out there, not quite polished yet, but full of determination and ready to be the next big thing. You could see it towards the end when the strikes, which were super fast at the start, began to slow way down. It was ragged, the kicks coming like they were thrown in quicksand, but it added to the whole deal. They're on their last legs, but they'll keep swinging until someone drops. It led to a bunch of nasty, reckless exchanges of open handed slaps to the head and body, where you could buy either one of them going down with one well-placed shot. I haven't always loved the way UWFi would use pro style moves, but I liked how they worked them in this, especially the fireman's carry/Samoan drop thing that Tamura basically used as a submission set up. The guy was an absolute prodigy and it showed. 

Yoji Anjoh & Yuko Miyato v Kazuo Yamazaki & Tatsuo Nakano

This took a bit to get going, but once it did there was plenty to like. Yamazaki carried himself like a...moderately sized star, and there was a big buzz around him getting into the ring for the first time. Nakano is the little shoot style engine that could. He gets his nose popped open and his face is covered in blood but he just puts his head down and motors on, grabbing Miyato around the waist and flinging him with a German suplex. This had a few great Anjoh moments, as every Anjoh match does. First Nakano tried to break a submission by using the point of the elbow, which Anjoh wasn't best pleased with. Next opportunity he had, Anjoh repeatedly elbowed Nakano in the head. His petulance really is spectacular. There's a Yamazaki/Anjoh exchange where Anjoh throws a nasty kick while Yamazaki is down in the ropes, and it looks like that's gonna lead to a big shootout between the two. But then Anjoh just waves it off and tags in Miyato. Miyato surprisingly gets the better of Yamazaki on the feet by scoring a couple knockdowns, so THEN Anjoh tags in to pick up the scraps and get the win. Post-match Nakano refuses to shake Anjoh's hand so hopefully that's setting up a singles match on a later show. 

Nobuhiko Takada v Tom Burton

Felt like Takada never had to do much for most of this, though I think that was by design and part of what they were going for. Burton came in wanting to prove that America had the better, tougher wrestlers, so the onus was on him to force the issue and he tried to take it to Takada early. Takada was content to let him and never had much trouble dealing with it. He wasn't exactly dismissive, but he was never flustered, never looked in any danger. I'm not sure Burton is any good really, but he had some moments. Takada gave him a quick leg kick and Burton looked at him like "oh, you motherfucker." Takada would then tee off on the leg at points after that and Burton was pretty amusing selling it, though it won't be for the purists. Towards the end he actually started making some headway, forcing Takada into a couple successive rope breaks, chipping away at Takada's points...but man, Takada isn't compelling at all. There was one bit where he just stood up and kind of waited for Burton to come around and suplex him. It's not that I expected Takada to make it look like Burton had a serious shot of beating him, because Takada was the unquestioned ace and a Takada victory was the only outcome worth considering, but sometimes he'd look totally disinterested with that "flossing before bed" face while sitting in a hold. Then again, Burton's half crab was atrocious, so I'm not sure you can blame him too much. RINGS this ain't. BUT. This was okay.

Solid debut show. Tamura/Kakihara was great and once the tag got rolling it had some good stuff. Main event wasn't amazing or anything, but it was alright and at least solidified Takada as The Man right off the bat. I'm pretty unfamiliar with this early period of UWFi, but without looking at any of the cards it feels like there might be some worthwhile stuff. I'll definitely watch some more. 

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