UWF BEST BOUTS VOL. I
July 8, 1985
Keith Haward . . . is absolutely forgettable, and I’m continually depressed that there aren’t any UWF matches involving Fit Finlay available.
Nobuhiko Takada . . . shows that, despite being one of the top young prospects, he’s no match for the legend known as The Fuj!
Osamu Kido . . . continues to be one of the unsung heroes of this group, with a good performance against Sayama.
AKIRA MAEDA vs. KEITH HAWARD
There isn’t very much of this shown, and what we’re treated to hardly looks like a representation of the Best Bouts of this company. The finish is OK, with Maeda stunning Haward with a spin kick and nearly spiking him on his head with an ugly capture suplex, and then using an armlock to submit him. But, beyond that, we’re mostly shown nondescript ‘matwork’ consisting of Maeda wrenching Haward’s ankle, and Haward taking far too long to grab the ropes for a break. Followed by Haward basically holding onto Maeda’s arm at the shoulder, and looking like he’s accomplishing absolutely nothing, until Maeda cleans his clock with the spin kick to take this somewhere. Well, I can’t say I’m overly eager for Sayama vs. Haward now . . .
YOSHIAKI FUJIWARA vs. NOBUHIKO TAKADA
As great as Fujiwara is, the lasting impression of this match is the intensity that Takada winds up showing. No matter how much Fujiwara is able to outsmart and outwrestle him, Takada doesn’t back down in the least, and fights back however he’s able to. Even when it’s the third time that Fujiwara has countered him into a legbar, he throws kicks with his good leg and throws slaps at him to get him to loosen up the hold. When the ref breaks the hold, Takada gets to his feet quickly and starts throwing kicks at Fujiwara while he’s still down, and he even backs Fujiwara into the corner and starts throwing strikes, while the referee is trying to separate them. Takada’s temper also gets in his way a time or two, such as when the ref is counting Fujiwara while he’s down, and Takada runs to get some more shots in, and the ref stops the count to hold him back, which gives Fujiwara extra time to recover. Fujiwara winds up winning the match, but, that almost seems like an afterthought. And, just like so many other great Fujiwara matches, the handshake afterwards tells us everything we need to know about how Fujiwara feels about the match and his opponent’s performance.
Takada brings the story of the match, but Fujiwara is the one who brings the work. Fujiwara simply outdoes Takada, almost at will. When both men are on their feet, anytime that Takada decides to throw a kick, he risks Fujiwara taking him down into the legbar. Fujiwara also shows just how quickly he can turn the tide when they go on the mat. Early on, Takada takes Fujiwara down, and seems to have him in top position, but, Fujiwara closes the gap and instantly turns things around, to give himself the advantage on Takada. Fujiwara also shows his craftiness by seeming to have Takada set up for a pro-style spot (picture the piledriver reversal that Jumbo often used), but instead of taking him over in a back body drop, he spins to get Takada off his back and keep him on the mat (it’s better to see it than read about it). Fujiwara outsmarts Takada for the win, by locking in the legbar and letting Takada break it, only to seamlessly counter to the chickenwing armlock and force the submission. Overall, it’s a fun contrast to the Takada/Sornaka match from March, with Takada in the opposite role.
SUPER TIGER vs. OSAMU KIDO
After a forgettable opener and a fantastic follow up, this sits somewhere in the middle. Sayama shows more than Haward, but that’s not clearing a particularly high bar. But, between his selling for Sayama’s strikes, and his wrestling skills, Kido is able to make up for Sayama’s shortcomings, and make this a perfectly watchable match. Sayama’s work in the match is standard fare, for him. He pastes Kido with kicks, and uses them to, ideally, wear him down enough to make him fall prey to a submission. However, that’s easier said than done with Kido, and there are several times when Kido is easily able to reverse Sayama’s attempts into something of his own. At one point, even Sayama knows the score and he voluntarily releases Kido from an armlock so that he can drop some more knees on him.
There’s one moment that seems odd, but, winds up (even if it’s unintentional) perfectly playing into the finish of the match. Sayama backs Kido into the corner and starts trying to fire away with kicks, but, Kido seems to have had enough of getting stiffed, and he starts blocking them with ease and even returns fire with a couple of slaps of his own. Then, a few minutes later, he catches one of Sayama’s kicks and Sayama counters with a jumping spin kick and that stuns him enough to allow Sayama to get on a leg splitter hold and make Kido tap. It didn’t quite go the way that Sayama wanted it to, not that it should have with someone as skilled and dangerous as Kido, but, in the end, Sayama’s strategy worked and gave him the win.
Conclusion: As Meat Loaf put it “Two out of three ain’t bad.” Between the Takada and Kido matches, this is certainly worth checking out.