Sunday, 13 November 2016

UWFi 'Ruling the World' (1/9/92)

Ruling the World is the show name, obviously. That wasn't my idea of a snappy title. I have a hard enough time trying to come up with different titles for Puerto Rico entries.

Hiromitsu Kanehara v Masakazu Maeda 

Really good shoot style young lion bout. It's not quite striker v grappler, but Kanehara certainly gets the better of the ground exchanges while Maeda dominates the stand up. Minus one throw a piece, every point Maeda loses is through rope breaks and every point Kanehara loses is from knockdowns. Maeda also gets testy at a few points and just stomps on Kanehara's head. Maybe it's something in the Maeda name. This has a fifteen minute time limit and I was expecting the draw the longer it went, but knowing UWFi I wondered if they were going to have someone pull out the victory at the death. Last minute is pretty dramatic as you have the call for thirty seconds remaining, Kanehara pushing for the submission while Maeda tries to make it to the ropes or hang on for the bell. I guess this was a bit similar to Tamura/Kakihara from the debut show with two young guys out to make a name for themselves. It wasn't quite as good as that; it was more of a 'pretty' contest and didn't have the same level of desperation or grittiness, but I dug it. Maeda only stuck around in wrestling for about nine months, but it looked like he had something about him. Kanehara was never afraid to get punched in the mouth. I mean he fought (and got leathered by) Wanderlei, Cro Cop, Overeem and Shogun in consecutive PRIDE appearances. That's ballsy as fuck. 

Masahito Kakihara v Tom Burton 

This wasn't amazing or anything, but I liked the story. Burton still doesn't have much of a stand up, nor does he set the world on fire on the mat, but he has some nice throws and can use the weight advantage if he needs it. Kakihara builds a big lead by forcing rope breaks and one knockdown off a fucking jaw-jacker of a roundhouse kick. He's in full control and it feels like he could win pretty much whenever. But to his credit, Burton keeps on trucking. Eventually he gets down to his last three points, so one more knockdown and he's done, and it leads to some dramatic exchanges where Kakihara lets loose with flurries. And Burton still keeps trucking, forcing a few rope breaks, scoring a knockdown off a big suplex. Kakihara still looks comfortable enough when they're on the mat, but Burton is starting to use the weight advantage more. Maybe Kakihara should've been a bit more lethal going for the KO earlier...

Tatsuo Nakano v JT Southern 

This was not good. JT Southern is not good. Nakano is good, but he wasn't dragging Southern to much and didn't look particularly interested in trying. At a couple points Southern applied a weak kneebar and Nakano would look totally disinterested with this "really, mate?" expression on his face. Then he'd roll over and casually kick him in the head. For the finish he decided he'd had enough and just ended it with a knee strike and a half crab.

Kiyoshi Tamura v Yuko Miyato

This was REALLY good. More than that, though, Tamura looked super awesome in it. Some of his defensive work was incredible, rolling through on armbars and scrambling away from submission attempts. There was one bit where he was going for a choke and Miyato was trying to grab an arm, and Tamura was relentless in his pursuit of that choke while avoiding all of Miyato's attempts at catching him. Tamura also busted out a few Han-esque setups for submissions, including a picture perfect rolling cross armbreaker. All of the stand up exchanges were strong as well, especially the one at the start leading to an early Tamura knockdown. Towards the end Tamura zeroes in on Miyato's leg and will not rest until he's made Miyato tap. Miyato is perfectly fine if unspectacular, but this is one of those fights where you get to see how amazing an athlete Kiyoshi Tamura is.

Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoji Anjoh v Gary Albright & Jim Boss

Man, I fucking loved this. I wouldn't really think of shoot style as being the environment most conducive to big spectacles, but UWFi always did things a little differently and this had just the right amount of pro style to make it a heck of a fun spectacle. This is one of the better Albright performances I've seen. He came across as a total monster, just destroying guys with suplexes and clubbing them about the head. Whenever Yamazaki or Anjoh landed a strike of any sort it felt like an accomplishment because Gary was able to either block or catch most of them. Even something like a Yamazaki high kick that would go over Gary's head had people stirring, just because the shot actually got close. The first exchange with Anjoh was awesome because Anjoh is so totally out of his depth with the size difference and he knows it. Albright just walked through Anjoh's kicks, grabbed hold of him and tossed him. There was one bit later where Albright got in close and Anjoh had to resort to dropping to his knees to avoid being suplexed, but Albright just grabbed him anyway and Anjoh had this amazing "oh I am fucked" expression as he got launched with a deadlift German. The Albright/Yamazaki exchanges were great as well; maybe even better than Albright/Anjoh. Yamazaki has a longer reach on his kicks and the first one that truly landed got a huge pop, then later when Yamazaki manages to suplex him the crowd responds with a big Yamazaki chant. Boss isn't great, but all he has to do as Albright's partner is not lose. His kicks were super light and he never had much to offer on the ground, but he was vocal with his selling and took a Yamazaki roundhouse kick square in the face. So fair play to him, I guess. Last stretch had some nice drama with Albright chucking Anjoh around, and there were a couple women in the crowd who looked terrified for him. Anjoh straight dives at Albright and catches him with a knee and the two women start to believe, but then Gary clubs him and grabs him around the waist and the women literally cover their eyes because they know what's coming. Anjoh makes it up to his feet after the first German (which was fucking disgusting) and sort of staggers towards his corner. He doesn't really know where he is, but he's close enough where he could probably tag out. Albright realises and charges him again, going in for the kill, and this time Anjoh doesn't get back up. This'll probably end up being one of my favourite matches of the entire UWFi run (I say that as if I'll ever come close to getting through all of the shows). 

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