August 13, 1989


Tatsuo Nakano . . . follows his heartbreaking loss from the previous month by winning!

Kazuo Yamazaki . . . schools Yoji Anjo on how much of a difference there is between being good and being great.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara . . . does everything he can in order to knock Maeda off his pedestal.



As the old saying goes, you have to be able to lose before learning to win. Tamura gets a few chances to look good, and he shows some nice energy. But, this is essentially a squash match. Tamura only gets two holds applied, a leg grapevine and an armbar, and Miyato easily reverses and escapes both of them. Miyato easily blocks Tamura’s strikes and lands some kicks and knees, along with a big backdrop suplex, and, he forces Tamura to burn through his rope breaks rather quickly. Miyato wins by TKO without using a single point. Between this and the Suzuki match, it looks like Miyato is emerging as the obstacle for the young boys to get past before they can move forward and face the real competition. And, honestly, with how little he’s shown outside of these sorts of matches, that looks like it’s the best possible role for him.



Although this isn’t a very good match, it’s a fun continuation of the Nakano match from the month before. After coming close, but ultimately losing, to Funaki, Nakano manages to defeat the other ex-New Japan guy. For everything that’s lacking as far as matwork and execution, they make up for with pure intensity. Suzuki unleashes some really nasty palm strikes and knees to the face, resulting in Nakano’s nose getting busted open again. Nakano catches Suzuki with a glancing headbutt, and, upon seeing Suzuki get stunned from it, he hits several more direct shots. They both use some pro-style spots, A German suplex from Nakano and Suzuki uses a Gotch-style piledriver and a fisherman’s suplex, both of which he uses to segue into submission attempts.


It’s better to be lucky than good, and Nakano has luck on his side. After Nakano uses a rope break to escape a Boston crab, Suzuki plows him into the corner and goes for his dropkick, which would surely drop Nakano and probably get him called down, especially with him being winded. But, Nakano manages to sidestep the dropkick and catch Suzuki with a kick to the head. With Suzuki stunned, Nakano does a vertical suplex and sinks in a deep single leg crab hold that forces Suzuki to give it up. All that it took to turn the match around for Nakano was a short step to his left. The nastiness and intensity from both of them make this more than watchable, despite Nakano’s shortcomings as a worker and Suzuki’s inexperience.



It’d be easy to get the impression that this is a squash match, but, that’s really not the case. It never feels like Yamazaki is in danger of losing the match, but, he’s perfectly willing to let Anjo look good. What Yamazaki understands is that by letting Anjo look good, he’ll look even better by winning. The opening moments show all the intensity of Nakano/Suzuki, and the match has much better work throughout. Whenever it seems like Anjo has Yamazaki in a compromising position, Yamazaki has a counter or an escape ready. Yamazaki turns Anjo wrenching his ankle into Anjo being trapped in a sleeper, and when Anjo seems to have a cravate applied, Yamazaki counters into backdrop suplex. Anjo doesn’t appear to look any worse off by getting outdone by Yamazaki. He shows that he’s got the skills to control Yamazaki and get him where he wants him, but, Yamazaki is crafty enough to turn the tide.


Anjo shows some of the attitude that he’d become famous for when he forces Yamazaki to use a rope break after a single leg crab. After the hold is broken and Yamazaki gets to his feet, Anjo takes a bit of a cheap shot with a kick to the back. But, instead of hurting him, all it accomplishes is making Yamazaki angry, and he returns the favor several times over with some nasty shots of his own, which cause Anjo to be called down. A little bit after that, Anjo stuns Yamazaki with a perfectly legal, but rather dickish, headbutt to the face. The striking game is the same as the wrestling game. Anjo inflicts some damage with his kicks, knee strikes, and, an ugly running lariat for a down. But, Yamazaki knows enough tricks to keep himself out of real trouble, and he’s a much more lethal striker. Yamazaki catches a kick and takes a shot at Anjo’s leg to take him down, after a few more leg kicks, Yamazaki slaps on a cross kneelock and forces Anjo to submit. Overall, this is about as perfect of a match as these two could have put on. Despite both them having recently suffered losses against high profile opponents, Anjo shows that he’s clearly risen up past the Miyato/Nakano undercard level, and, Yamazaki reminds everyone that he’s still one of the best workers in the company.



On a card with surprisingly watchable matches from both Nakano and Miyato, and a Fujiwara main event, we get a rather disappointing semifinal match. The work is better, but, structurally, this isn’t vastly different from Takada’s match with Miyato from the month before. Takada lets Funaki look good, but, he doesn’t do anything to give anyone the impression that Funaki might actually beat him. Funaki gets three downs in the first three minutes, with Takada looking out of it. But, after the third one, he just springs to life and starts pelting Funaki with strikes to start burning up his points. That’s how the match plays out, Funaki takes a point from Takada, and Takada fires back and takes one from Funaki.


Funaki has some success on the mat going after Takada’s leg. But, Takada has never shown the skills of a Fujiwara or Yamazaki when it comes to selling. It also didn’t help that instead of using a rope break, and giving credence to the idea that Funaki was wearing him down, that Takada decided to just kick his way out of the hold, and then level Funaki with another kick to score a down. That’s the last point that Funaki can lose, and he recovers and hits a rolling kick to get a down on Takada and use his last point. Knowing that the next point is the end, they both swing wildly, with Takada winning out. He follows up with a backdrop suplex and forces Funaki to submit with a camel clutch.


The intensity in the opening moments when Funaki was firing away on Takada, and the urgency that both of them showed in the final moments was great to see. But, the work left something to be desired, and it also didn’t help that Takada saw fit to use pro-style spots, as though he thought it was still 1984. Maybe the simple fact that Funaki was able to push Takada to the brink of defeat was enough of a rub to give him, and Funaki has certainly been booked a lot stronger than Suzuki. But, this is one of the very few times that a Takada match has failed to deliver.



Shootstyle wrestling, almost by definition, doesn’t contain many of the elements that would be associated with typical pro wrestling, such as storytelling. However, the most capable workers are easily able to blend them into the match. One such worker is The Fuj! And the match centers around his various ways to stave off Maeda’s kick attacks.


Fujiwara knows that Maeda is regarded as a powerful striker, so he strikes first and gets a surprise down on Maeda with his headbutt. Maeda returns fire with a kick to the ribs, and Fujiwara stays on his feet and taunts Maeda for being unable to drop him. Fujiwara shows the craftiness that we’ve come to expect from him as the match wears on, he uses the ropes or angles himself away from Maeda in order to avoid taking the full brunt of his kicks. Maeda does succeed in scoring a down, and Fujiwara starts to get up at the count of three, but changes his mind and waits for nine before getting up. Fujiwara tries to keep Maeda tied up on the mat whenever possible. It’s clear that he’s not so much trying to win the match, his mail goal is keeping Maeda tied up and to wear him down.


Although he’s primarily known for his kicking ability, Maeda is also a fine wrestler, and he manages to outwrestle Fujiwara several times. But, Fujiwara’s craftiness comes though again for him. When Maeda has some success with an ankle hold, Fujiwara goes for the ropes, but reconsiders it, and decides to wrestle his way out of the hold and save his allotted rope breaks for a later time when he may need them, such as when Maeda gets a chickenwing armlock. There is one exposing moment in their mat sequences. It comes when Maeda has Fujiwara in a sleeper. Fujiwara points his finger downward, and it seems to be the signal for Maeda to release the hold so that Fujiwara can counter him into an ankle lock and force Maeda to use his last break. It’s hardly a big deal, but, it’s something that the viewer doesn’t need to see. In the end, Maeda and his kicks wind up defeating Fujiwara by TKO, but the overall impression isn’t that Maeda turned back another challenger to his throne. Rather, it’s the amazingly brilliant performance that Fujiwara unleashed, even in defeat. If this isn’t the best UWF match of 1989, then it’s really close.


Conclusion: This is another damn fine offering from the UWF, any fan of UWF or shootstyle in general needs to pick this up.