UWF BEST BOUTS Vol. II
July 13, 1985
Keith Haward . . . doesn’t have the Marty Jones ability to make Sayama look good, nor does Sayama for that matter.
Osamu Kido . . . continues to be one of the best workers in the company, by helping young Takada look like a star!
Yoshiaki Fujiwara . . . is the only person in the universe who can do a quasi-sunset flip in a UWF match, and make it work!
SUPER TIGER vs. KEITH HAWARD
I went into this expecting very little, and I pretty much got what I expected. Sayama was all over the place with his strikes, sometimes connecting well and other times not making any contact at all. The mat portions aren’t anything too inspired, although the camera angle doesn’t do anything to show how Haward worked (or didn’t work) the one hold he was able to use. The finish is all right, but nothing special. Sayama stuns Haward with a kick to the stomach and uses that to take him over in a waterwheel drop and then locks in a head scissors hold to submit him. The idea seems to be to establish Sayama’s kicks as so lethal that they can make up for his other shortcomings. But, having him spend the whole match connecting or whiffing on them isn’t exactly the best way to reenforce that idea.
OSAMU KIDO vs. NOBUHIKO TAKADA
Although Fujiwara looks to be the best worker in the company, matches like this show why Kido is really the unsung hero of this group. This has all the intensity of the match that Takada had with The Fuj on 7/8, but, in place of Fujiwara’s showmanship is Kido, the calculating bad ass who is good enough to beat anyone at any time. On more than one occasion, Takada seems to have things in control between his speed and striking ability, only to have Kido outsmart him and instantly turn the tide. You know all that you need to know when Takada has Kido in the corner and is firing away, but the second Takada starts to get tired, Kido takes him down and takes his back to get a sleeper hold. There’s another moment when it seems like Takada is finished when Kido darts behind him and does a German suplex, before cranking on a truly nasty looking chickenwing armlock.
However, it’s not his speed or striking that is able to help Takada win the match. It’s his ability to learn from his mistakes. After he gets the ropes to break the sleeper, Takada is much more restrained with how he uses his strikes, and he even gets some payback by surprising Kido with a backdrop suplex. He manages to outwrestle Kido, and crank on a chickenwing armlock of his own, that gets the crowd in an uproar. On the surface, Kido losing to the single leg crab seems like a downer, but, the way they work the finish makes it come off really well. Takada seems to want to go back to the chickenwing, but since he hadn’t tapped Kido with it earlier, he switches gears for one of the staple holds of the promotion. Kido starts to crawl toward the ropes and Takada drags him back to the center of the ring, and after repeating the sequence a couple of times, Kido finally gives it up. But why? Was the hold too much to bear? Did he simply resign himself to the fact that Takada wasn’t going to let him get to the ropes? Only Kido really knows for sure.
AKIRA MAEDA vs. YOSHIAKI FUJIWARA
Although this doesn’t hit the same level as the prior match, it winds up being another very good outing. The clipping doesn’t help, and the pace is on the slower side, but, they crank out enough engrossing work to make the overall impression of this a good one. Even in the early portions of the match, there are enough nice touches to remind everyone of how good they both are. Maeda backs Fujiwara into the corner grabs his legs. Instead of the pro-style method of yanking him out of the corner, complete with the big back bump, Maeda just gets Fujiwara’s feet from underneath him and drags him away from the ropes and tries a legbar. They also work a great crab hold segment with Fujiwara trying to heighten his base to stop Maeda from getting it completely on. Fujiwara holds out for a bit, but he collapses and with the hold seemingly locked in tight, the crowd comes alive, thinking that Maeda has the match won, but Fujiwara finds a second wind and pushes himself back up, and manages to escape the hold.
The really great part of the match comes when Maeda singles out Fujiwara’s legs. Maeda had already outwrestled him into a Scorpion, which Fujiwara needed the ropes to break, and Maeda takes advantage by sharking on Fujiwara’s leg with kicks, and trying to get him back in the half crab. But, The Fuj uses the same method of keeping a high base to starve off the hold. He tries to take Maeda over in a sunset flip sort of takedown, but Maeda holds on to the legs and keeps trying for the crab. It looks like something you’d see in some undercard indy match that’s worked as a comedy spot, but Maeda and Fujiwara make it look completely credible. The ironic thing is that, despite Maeda’s attempts to win by going after Fujiwara’s knee, it’s Fujiwara who winds up tapping out Maeda to the legbar. Just like their match from March, Maeda misses the spin kick, and Fujiwara takes advantage of the opening and secures the hold for the submission. The finish isn’t quite as impressive this time around, since Fujiwara had been doing a decent job of holding off the leg attacks, so it doesn’t come across like Fujiwara snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. But, the irony of the leg attack working the other way is still a fun way to cap off a very good match.
Conclusion: Granted, there isn’t exactly a varied selection here. But, the last two matches are more than worthy of being included in a “Best Bouts” series.