Tsuyuhasi Sports Centre, Nagoya
10th November 1988
UWF UWF UWF UWF UWF comes the logo spinning out of blackness YES but resplendent with a BLUENESS the blueness of the sky that UWF has launched cleanly into with a vision of a wrestling so pure that both wrestling and sport itself after this date is changed FOREVER.
|pls. add motion blur in post|
No parade takes place today and entrances are clipped. But in this spartan aesthetic we find succour in a long black and white back and forth between our main eventers and top two names Nobuhiko Takada (who looks dour and pensive in his comments, as if to say 'if I lose this one then I am Yamazaki'd for the rest of my days') and Akira Maeda (who looks Apollonian, distanced, kingly, expecting to decimate as Maeda does).
|I DECREE MYSELF EXCELLENT|
We move quickly to the opener and of course Shigeo Miyato is starting the show this evening OF COURSE HE IS THAT IS WHAT HE DOES and why not have him face off against Tatsuo Nakano for the third time out of five shows already? I mean I know this is a thin roster but my god Maeda-san man there are a lot of permutations on offer especially if you pay for like one or two guests as is your wont and indeed trademark.
Again they have a thoroughly decent if not brilliant match full of tense grapples and shirty kicks and cool suplexes. On reflection this is perhaps better than their 30 minute draw but not as good as the good match at The Professional Bout where Nakano split Miyato's eyebrow with a headbutt.
Miyato does much of the damage here in a manner that seems to suggest an elevation in perception. His kicks are just snappier and his control portions look all the more professional contrasted to Nakano's gruff posturing. His change-ups keep things interesting and the general structures of his more recent matches are different, throwing in a gorgeous belly-to-belly that transitions delightfully to groundwork, all set up with a series of kicks.
Nakano raises some welts too, thundering Miyato with boots in the corner as depicted below before hitting a really cool low snap suplex that makes Miyato's head skim the ground. I can't decide whether it is dangerous or just really well executed.
Nakano, if you will recall, kicked the everloving crap out of Tsunehito Naito so badly on the last show that we will never see him on a UWF show again. The performance looked for all the world like the classic rebuilding of a low level schlub into a mid-card player. And, with Nakano a draw and a loss down against Miyato, this feels like the time to give Nakano a moment in the sun.
Akira Maeda clearly feels otherwise. Miyato wins again, catching Nakano with a chickenwing to finish. Nakano doesn't tap and the referee just calls it. Nakano leaps up a few seconds later as if to say 'I didn't tap, I didn't lose' but there is no appeal process in this company. You're done, son. Show progression or defence - or go home.
Ultimately I do not care about the booking but trying to get into Maeda's head here is tough. Was this punishment for Nakano's smashing up of young Naito? Part of a big babyface push for Miyato? Time will tell.
There is not a great deal of information out there on the internet for Yoji Anjo's opponent this evening. His name is Mark Rush and these are my learnings:
Mark Rush was a guy I liked from the early UWF2 even though he never really had a good match. He was a amateur wrestler with an amusing circus strongman mustache. - Segunda Caida
Mark Rush is a big muscled up American in his 40's, looks like a legit tough dude. - ShinobiMusashi from ProWrestling.com forum (cache)
That checks out. Here is a picture of Mr. Rush looking not unlike contemporary indie-folk musician Will Oldham:
|Today I went to UWF to speak to Akira Maeda|
When arriving at Narita I was pretty sure I saw Will Oldham
He was wearing the same kind of beard when I saw him in Old Joy
Had he come to wrestle shoot-style with a dozen former athletes?
Rush has a pleasing heft and this might be quite an ordinary thing to say but the groundwork chemistry that he displays with Anjo is fluid and incredibly watchable. There's a size disparity in Rush's favour but they play it as if Rush is tentative and new while Anjo is not at his first rodeo, so it all cancels out.
I can't tell whether it is a false technique devised for artfulness or just two guys who know how to roll but there is a Fujiwara-ness to the catch stylings of both that is impressive. It is mean, it has a feeling of correctness, and it is unabashed about favouring flintiness over visual flair. For example, when attempting side control, Rush does that hilarious/dirty thing where the one on top grinds the forearm across the chin of the guy in the prone position. It's very niggly and I endorse it.
Thus far in UWF Anjo has been good as the babyface who gets fire but here his shtick is something else completely. 15 minutes pass as in a dream, slipping each others guard, barely bothering with strikes for long passages and just allowing the whole thing to resemble a Metamoris exhibition with way more intensity and some sick suplexes such as:
Rush wins. After a cool improvised front slam/powerbomb/throw thing that winds Anjo, Rush takes back control on the quarter hour mark and sinks in a sleeper. Poor Anjo hasn't won in his parent company yet. But this is his best performance by far. Check this one out!
|A Sucker's Evening|
|Many times we've been out drinking|
And many times we've shared our waza
Well did you ever notice
The kind of waza I got?
A little more work on the genuine Akira Maeda pages I have in my possession.
11th February 1982
Akira Maeda had not slept on the flight from Tokyo to Singapore. Nor had he slept from Singapore to Frankfurt. He was beginning to doze off on the leg from Frankfurt to Heathrow until a stewardess shook his shoulder roughly and told him to put his seatbelt on for landing.
He descended the stairs down to the tarmac last of all the passengers. It was cold and the standing water flowed into his low-top shoes when disturbed by a passing baggage vehicle.
- I could cause a scene at the passport desk and get sent home.
Maeda emerged, after shuffling grumpily through border control, into the tiled arrival area. Strange people sat around the perimeter on naugahyde seats. The strip lighting hurt Maeda's eyes, already fuzzy with fatigue and creeping jet-lag. A tall man with a thin moustache and a brown corduroy jacket held a sign with WRESTLER LEE that only after several moments did Maeda recognise as being for him.
"You must be the Jap chap we ordered!", said the man. Maeda nodded and followed the man to a beige Austin Ambassador parked outside.
In the car the man continued: "you're coming at a great time my boy, Crusher Brannigan needs a new partner to dance with and you're just the ticket they tell me. Do that martials arts stuff, anything you like, we get all the Bruce Lee films here, they love it! You don't know him do you?" Maeda nodded but did not understand.
- I hope everybody here does not talk all the time
Up next is Bart Vale who looks quite the entertaining dickhead in an ice white vest and long trousers combination replete with late 80s shithead country star mullet and moustache. Look at it!
Mr. Vale is an expert in, and representative of, the sport of kenpō - about which I know very little and as far as I can tell the existence of which only serves as a piece of information that UFC co-commentator Joe Rogan will scatter during a fight ("OHH!!!!!!!!! He's trained in kenpō, he should have scouted that!"). Our cherished friend TK Scissors would write a little on the aesthetics of Bart Vale when he would wash up in Maeda's later folly RINGS and was similarly cheered (by this time he was wearing Apollo Creed-style Stars & Stripes shorts):
a wild scene to be sure, but at the same time, how can we come away from the physical and æsthetic and indeed existential fact of Bart Vale and not think, at least in part, "good for him"?
Vale faces Kazuo Yamazaki, fresh from another trouncing at the hands of Akira Maeda. His contribution to aesthetics is a newly-grown moustache and discbeard which remains, in tandem with a shaved head, the cornerstone of his look to this day.
|great discbeards of wrestling vol. 4|
Both men speak before the match. Yamazaki's words remain lost to my weak and feeble language senses. Vale's, however, can be captured and preserved like the pearls they are:
My name is Bart Vale. I'm from Miami, Florida, USA. I'm known as the American Ninja. (unintelligble) This is my first time in Japan. Competing here with some of the world's best athletes, I understand, and I'm in top physical shape and I hope to do real well.
We begin and it is clear that Vale has those 'educated feet' you often hear about. He can do those high taekwondo style leg lifts and does this kind of circling motion with his leg in the air that indicates he could kick your left ear with his left foot standing in an orthodox position. But he's not just a man of kicks - he has some alright stuff on the ground too and this should prove quite the match.
But the kicks are the main deal:
Yamazaki does the classic 'wrestler in MMA' trick of looking to grab the leg and shoot through to progress to groundwork. Sometimes it's successful and sometimes he just gets another kick for his troubles. Also Vale is just so damn rangy, he's always near the ropes to break out of trouble and that is only if using the untrapped limbs to kick/punch Yamazaki off control doesn't work.
Vale's not the best UWF guy ever. And his reputation as a real tough guy outside of wrestling is apparently made of dreams and wishes (he apparently passes his worked wins over Ken Shamrock in PWFG as real). But I do not care for that. Vale's kicking style feels legitimate and dangerous, so the dynamic here is interesting and it makes for a good 8 minute match with a smart professional like Yamazaki conducting everything.
Yamazaki gets some steam back by beating the foreign interloper. First Yamazaki hits a German suplex that Vale, clearly not used to back/neck bumping, assists greatly. This is followed by a smart cross kneelock to which Vale, protective of his lower limbs, taps quickly.
|ENJOY THIS BART VALE BONUS IMAGE|
The star-studded main event is a rematch of an earlier UWF Newborn bout as Field Marshal of UWF Akira Maeda takes on a Nobuhiko Takada reinvigorated by a quick crushing of Norman Smiley two months previous.
There is no point in being coy and writerly about this match. It is great and I think I'd have to say the best UWF Newborn match so far, trumping the Takada-Yamazaki match from The Professional Bout.
Another interview pairing occurs, this time in colour, revealing Maeda to be wearing a very lovely black UWF track jacket. We then cut straight to the fighters seconds out. There is no feeling out and Maeda pings a high left foot off Takada's eardrum, instantly calling back the bomb thrown by Yamazaki that knocked Takada stupid.
Some feeling out occurs as Takada worms his way back in, though Maeda firstly seems in light control, allowing Takada to get himself trapped in predicaments while the kingpin mocks his inept shooting. And then after a little while Maeda decides enough is enough and just starts whaling on Takada.
After a particularly gruesome kick we enjoy the debut of the following graphic:
And a new graphic is enjoyed at points to indicate the introduction of the new rope break rule (from what I can ascertain, the third rope break counts to your knockdown tally):
Things start to really pop off after Takada takes rope break one. Maeda senses the kill and boots his man down for his second knockdown and, on getting up, puts him down for a third time. And to add insult to injury Takada gets up and is forced to the ground into a rough waki-gatame that results in another rope-break:
In total desperation Takada walks through another Maeda blow and launches into a flurry of his own, finally putting Maeda down for a brief count. The entirety of the last 8-10 minutes is impossible to accurately re-tell off a single watch but it just contains exchanges of desperate knockdowns and intense submissions that the crowd are just exploding out of their seats for.
On legs of rubber both men find themselves on four knockdowns apiece. There is now no need for a full KO, just either a knockdown or a submission fully locked in any part of the ring. Maeda hits a bomb that staggers Takada - but he blows right back and puts Maeda down for a brief moment with a hooping kick that is enough to win the match by TKO! Maeda gets to his knees as if to show he was not fully out of it but the unthinkable has happened and the crowd are going WILD! They surge forward through the crash barrier and Takada mounts the turnbuckle to soak up their love:
|I AM NOW THE AKIRA MAEDA CHAMPION OF UWF|
Takada's victory is confirmed with a graphic. Maeda shakes Takada's hand and leaves haughtily down some backstage corridors. Nakano follows Takada in his lovely UWF track jacket and we close. Great match to close a good overall show!
|I DID IT|
According to a UWF VHS released in late 1989 containing their best 10 matches up to that date, this was positioned only #5, one behind Yamazaki-Takada from The Professional Bout. We have also seen their #8 (Miyato-Anjo from the last show in Hakata) and #7 (Yamazaki-Maeda from opening night). None of the matches in the top 3 are yet to occur - which is something to look forward to! Please stay with us until we do.
NEXT TIME: A former WWF champion comes to play!