LIDET UWF V. 0
June 9, 2021
Yu Iizuka . . . looks like one of the very few people on this roster with the ability to put on a true UWF-style match.
Kiyoshi Tamura . . . books painfully boring time limit draws because someone gets on his nerves.
Ryo Kawamura . . . may not be able to work a lick, but he apparently learned how to sell by watching classic southern wrestling.
HIKARU SATO vs. KAZ HAYASHI
Unless the idea here was to show that Lidet’s UWF won’t be making concessions for any pro wrestlers, no matter how well known they may be, I have no idea what the point of this was. It’s over as soon as it starts. Kaz throws a few kicks and gets knocked down from an open-handed shot that gets him called down and takes off a point. Sato quickly sinks in a front choke and taps him out in less than a minute.
HIDEK SEKINE/TAIDO ABE vs. MINORU TANAKA/SOMA WATANABE
This is more competitive than the opener, but it’s not all that much better. The match is clearly designed as a vehicle to get Sekine over, but he doesn’t seem to have any idea of what he’s doing. His swings and kick attempts are terrible, and his movements are awkward and clunky. If one has any doubts as to whether or not these matches are worked, then just watch Soma take a dive when Sekine throws a punch and only makes actual contact with his inner wrist. Soma gets up at eight and Sekine plants him with a German suplex for the KO win. The Abe/Soma exchanges are the best things to see here, but they really aren’t anything more than just watchable. Tanaka was decent at worst, and it was entertaining in a wicked sort of way to see him more or less completely school Sekine during their sequence together.
TAKATOSHI MATSUMOTO vs. YU IIZUKA
This is the first match that’s really felt like something out of UWF. Their mat exchanges are reminiscent of the classics between Kido and The Fuj, where they take their time maneuvering themselves, or their opponent if necessary, into the proper position for whatever hold they’re looking for. It seems like Matsumoto lays in a mount for a while, but he’s methodically working his way toward a triangle choke, which pops the crowd when he finally gets it. Iizuka gets the same chance later when he has to work his way around Matsumoto in order to cinch in his grounded cobra clutch. They also throw in a few flashy bits to make sure that they haven’t lost the crowd, which they never do. This serves to showcase the rules a little bit. It’s the same basic principle as U-STYLE: each wrestler (or team) gets five points to start with, and every rope break or down knocks one off. Also, if the match goes to the time limit (as this does) then whomever has the most points is awarded the match. This stipulation allows for Iizuka to show some urgency and fight extra hard to make his own escapes, instead of taking the easy way out, such as Matsumoto’s figure four variation, which Iizuka suffers through while he finds a way out. The final minute sees Iizuka fighting to block a juji-gatame and having the time limit expire to give the decision to Matsumoto. However, the finish also comes off as something of a wasted effort from Iizuka. By doing everything to conserve that single point, he’s essentially conceding the match. If he’d just used the ropes to force the break, Iizuka would have had an extra thirty or forty seconds to possibly take Matsumoto by surprise and close the gap, if not pull off an upset.
DAIJIRO MATSUI vs. TAKUYA WADA
I feel like Tamura booked this match strictly out of spite. He was probably sitting at his desk putting together the rules for Lidet’s UWF and had some obnoxious intern pestering him by wanting to play ‘What If’ with all sorts of oddball scenarios, and Tamura got fed up and booked this to shut him up. It’s another match that goes to the time limit, and nobody loses any points so that it’s officially a draw. And the work here makes it painfully obvious that it’s going the distance. There’s lots of rolling on the mat and jockeying for position, and no attempts at all to actually do something. Well Wada does try for a sleeper in the last minute, but he makes sure to do it extra loose so that Matsui doesn’t have to put in too much effort to break it. Wada gets waist control on Matsui and doesn’t do anything with it other than throw a few slaps at him, while Matsui crawls and tries to escape. And it’s not like they didn’t have a chance to make something out of this, if anything, these two have a better chance than the rest of the matches to have fun and play off the ‘shoot’ aspect of shootstyle. Wada could grab an armlock and seemingly cinch it in tight “The boss says you can’t use the ropes, so let’s see you escape!” or Matsui could crack Wada with a kick or a flying knee “Remember, you can’t go down!” But, instead of doing things that might make the match seem more exciting or interesting, they choose the path of least resistance. If their dissatisfaction of this was anything resembling mine, I’m sure Tamura told them who to thank.
TAKANORI ITO vs. RYO KAWAMURA
The way that this plays out is far from an ideal main event. Kawamura’s strength is striking and when he’s not trying to pelt Ito with slaps and palm strikes, he’s taking him down and trying to tie him up on the mat so that he can pelt him with slaps and palm strikes. It’s certainly more energetic than what Wada and Matsui were doing, but it’s not interesting in the least. And Kawamura’s striking only takes off one point, when he gets Ito in a kesa-gatame and starts throwing hands. He takes off two points by changing things up when he gets him on the mat and locks in submissions, a chickenwing and later a top wristlock. Ito doesn’t really get much to do, other than deflect and cover up, until the match is winding down. They both go all out and start swinging wildly at each other, and Ito wrestles his way around Kawamura and plants him with a German suplex for a down. Ito fakes a low kick and clobbers Kawamura with a high kick (complete with selling so animated that Terry Funk would be rolling his eyes) that puts him down for the full count to give Ito the win by KO.
The point of this was obviously to put a GLEAT wrestler over a former Pancrase title holder with a legit background. The booking certainly does that, but the actual match itself does very little to leave much of an impression. Instead of painting Kawamura as a one-dimensional striker that’s no match for someone more well-rounded, we just see Kawamura in control for 90% of the match until Ito apparently decides he’s not going to take it anymore. If it was that easy for Ito to dispatch him, why did he wait so long to do it? Someone like Tamura could get away with this, because everyone knows that he’s got the skills to rope-a-dope into setting himself up to get finished off. But, at least as of June 2021, Takanori Ito doesn’t have that sort of clout. This doesn’t come off as a huge victory for GLEAT as a whole, it’s more like Kawamura doing what he needed to do while trying to protect his own reputation.
Conclusion: As much as I appreciate the effort in continuing the UWF legacy, this is certainly not the ideal way to kick off the GLEAT era.