Taped 4/6/03


Ryu Echigo . . .  gets a little redemption (even if it’s only a moral victory for the sake of his pride) after the sub-two-minute drubbing he took to kick off the U-STYLE era.

Naoki Kimura . . . becomes the latest victim of Fujii’s monster push but makes sure to go down swinging.

Dokonjonosuke Mishima . . . makes quite a memorable first impression, even if the big takeaway is that he’s no match for Tamura the Ace.



Ito looks better here than he did on the first show, but he’s still a long way off from the better workers on the roster. He’s a lot more aggressive and willing to try and win the match this time around. He also throws in some fun heelish stuff. He does an open-handed strike straight down into Yoshida’s face when he blocks Ito’s juji-gatame. Yoshida looks like the proverbial deer in the headlights. He shows no assertiveness at all and throws kicks like he’s afraid of bruising Ito. They even work a similar spot to the Ueyama/Ito match from February, with Ito in the opposite role. Yoshida wants a legbar, but doesn’t lock it in well at all, and Ito wrenches on his leg a little bit and Yoshida quickly goes for the ropes. It isn’t until Yoshida is out of points that it seems like he wakes up and realizes that he needs to fight back. He surprises Ito with a takedown, but Ito counters him right into a juji-gatame and finishes him off. He’s far from polished, but compared to Yoshida and Okubo, Ito doesn’t seem like such a dismal prospect.



After a bit of a slow start, this winds up being a rather exciting match. It seems like Hara has the advantage with Echigo being able to hold his own (relative to his match with Fujii anyway), but not being able to put Hara in much peril. But Echigo shows up with some surprise counters and throws to keep things interesting. Their matwork as a whole is rather aggressive and fired up, as one might expect from a pair of up-and-comers, and they both use some positively nasty looking submissions, especially when they get ahold of the leg or knee. Despite Hara mostly having the upper hand, it’s Echigo who gets the two best shots, the first is when he gets caught in a quasi-Rings of Saturn and gets to his feet and uses an ugly DVD variation to escape/counter. Later on, he surprises Hara by sucking up some kicks and maneuvering himself behind Hara and planting him with a German suplex. It wasn’t as nasty as the one that Hara used on Kimura, but it was pretty close. Echigo tries to capitalize with the juji-gatame, but Hara manages to get himself together enough to fight him off. The fifteen-minute time limit runs out, and the ref awards it to Hara, which was probably the right call. The ref decision is one of those things that sounds better in theory than in practice. Sure, it’s nice to be able to assure everyone that every match will have a clear-cut winner and loser. But, with Hara getting the nod (whether or not he truly deserved to) it takes a bit of luster away from the prospect of these two meeting up again anytime soon.



If nothing else, Kimura was a more game opponent for Fujii than Echigo was. Kimura comes right at Fujii at the bell trying to take him down with strikes, but Fujii easily fends him off. Kimura tries to take him over in a juji-gatame, and not only does Fujii block it, but he also fires away with palm strikes on Kimura until the ref steps in and calls Kimura down. Fujii hits a monster German suplex and midway through the count, the ref just calls it off.



This winds up being a nice continuation of what we saw from both wrestlers on the debut show. They both approach this one more reserved than before. Sasaki knows that his haste caused him to make mistakes and lose his match, and Murahama realizes that he’s against someone much more capable, so he can’t show off and play to the crowd this time. The work is fine, for the most part, but it doesn’t really seem to go anywhere and neither of them shows a clear-cut advantage. The first real “victory” of the match goes to Sasaki, after he and Murahama work an extended sequence of counters and reversals, without either of them being able to get something applied. Sasaki gets an opening for an Achilles lock and makes sure that Murahama isn’t able to escape any other way than by going for the ropes. It picks up in the last few minutes, after Murahama tries to whip Sasaki into the ropes and Sasaki goes crazy. He drops Murahama with a head kick and tries to tap him out with a nasty legbar, which makes him use another rope break. Murahama tries for the German suplex, but Sasaki counters into an armbar and makes Murahama burn another point. Murahama’s pro wrestling stylings come into play in the ‘right’ ways here with how he sells Sasaki’s holds and makes a show of crawling to the ropes. Sasaki tries to stay on the arm, but Murahama catches a kick and spins Sasaki into the German suplex and follows up with the juji-gatame to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in such a way that it appears to be equally as much due to luck as it was skill. Aside from the last few minutes this never felt as competitive, or as aggressive, as Hara/Echigo, but these two were both much better performers.



Despite Sakata’s attempts to get him to do something, Okubo just doesn’t seem to be able, or willing, to do very much. He musters a couple of attempts at throws, and tries for a few holds, one of which causes Sakata to use a rope break. It doesn’t seem like Okubo is so much lazy as he is nervous or afraid. Sakata even tries slapping him around to get him angry enough to fight back, but it doesn’t do the trick. The ease in which Sakata gets him locked up in the single-leg crab that ends the match shows that Sakata could have ended this at any point. Sakata clearly went out there with the intention of having an actual match with the kid, but Okubo obviously wasn’t ready for that.



Mishima is a bit of a one-trick pony, but he’s a lot of fun to watch. His tendency to focus on style over substance allows this to be the only match that really tells a story. Mishima goes out of his way to be as flashy as possible, and Tamura shuts him down by being relatively simple. It’s like the wrestling equivalent of the famous gun versus sword scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and Tamura has the gun. Mishima shows off with cartwheels and overly showy spin kicks, and Tamura, always better known for his matwork than his striking, knocks three points off with high and body kicks. Mishima’s matwork isn’t bad, but he’s clearly a step below Sasaki and Ueyama in that regard. He gets Tamura in a few tricked out looking holds, but Tamura usually escapes with relative ease, and at one point he responds by catching Mishima in a Triangle choke and using that to get him in a chickenwing armlock. The one time that Mishima seems to have a genuine chance to win is the juji-gatame, and Tamura is already working his way towards the ropes before Mishima can fully get it on. Compared with Tamura getting Mishima into position for the same hold and making sure to position them away from the ropes before he locks it in and gets an almost immediate tap out. Mishima’s antics make this enjoyable, but he was never presented as being as much of a threat to Tamura as even Sakata was. Regardless, he’s yet another person to look forward to seeing on future U-STYLE shows.


Conclusion: The best stuff here easily tops the best stuff from the first U-STYLE show, but the same could also be said about the worst stuff.