December 5, 1984


The best compliment that one can give this match is that it’s much more of a shootstyle match than what Maeda and Uncle Zeb had opened up the doors of UWF with eight months earlier, but it’s far from the level of shootstyle matches that the second incarnation of UWF, and UWFI, would produce a few years later. That’s not an entirely fair criticism, since this is only eight months into UWF’s existence, so Maeda and co. were still figuring out what exactly ‘shootstyle’ should encompass. The really noticeable thing is that lack of restrictive rules, there’s no point system in place, no limit to the number of rope breaks allowed, and nothing preventing Sayama from attacking Fujiwara when he’s already down, even if the count has started. Hence, the last five or so minutes of this, Sayama pastes Fujiwara with kicks to knock him down and the ref starts counting. When Fujiwara starts to stir, Sayama runs back and clobbers him some more, until, finally, Fujiwara doesn’t get up. It’s easy to see where one could find this enjoyable, for the brutality of it, but it’s lacking in any real drama.

The idea of Fujiwara the mat wrestler vs. Sayama the striker works well in theory, but ultimately fails as a match because Sayama can’t, or isn’t willing to, meet Fujiwara halfway and work with him. Sayama just bails for the ropes to get a break, rather than trying to outwrestle Fujiwara. It looks as though Sayama took the ‘shoot’ part of shootstyle too much to heart and decided to treat the match like a legit fight, rather than putting on an entertaining performance. But, that’s what happens when trying to create a whole new style, you throw the pasta against the wall, see what sticks, and see what adjustments (or in this case, restrictions) need to be made, and adjust accordingly.


Now this is much closer to the style that UWF and UWFI would become known for, although there were still kinks that needed working out. Their knockdowns and suplexes aren’t of major consequence because of the lack of the point system. Takada and Yamazaki want to settle the contest on the mat, with their strikes and spots designed to weaken each other enough to slap on a hold, rather than just trying to beat each other senseless. They both do some things that would be typically found in a pro style match, most notably Takada’s use of the Tombstone to set up a juji-gatame, and Yamazaki’s fireman’s carry that places Takada on the ropes in order to reset the action. But, transitions like that would eventually be jettisoned and replaced. Their selling is excellent, especially when it comes to putting over strikes. And, the finish comes down to Yamazaki realizing that it’s better to win the match than risk losing because he’d rather win a certain way, when he opts to stop fighting for the chickenwing and pins Takada with a German suplex. Comparing Takada and Yamazaki’s performance here to the lackluster performance from Sayama previously shows that it’s no surprise all that these two went on to become synonymous with this style of wrestling, while Sayama faded away and remained being better known as the man who helped revolutionize the junior heavyweight style of wrestling.

Conclusion: Takada/Yamazaki is definitely something worth seeking out, and, although it didn’t do anything for me, I can see where some would enjoy Fujiwara/Sayama, so I’ll give this one a recommendation.