KAKUTOGI ROAD III
February 18, 1985
Super Tiger . . . cements his status as the weakest worker out of all the established names on the whole UWF roster.
Yoshiaki Fujiwara . . . finds himself in the unique position of being able to smack around his opponent, rather than the other way around.
Osamu Kido . . . makes a case for himself as, quite possibly, the best worker on a roster that includes Fujiwara, Yamazaki, and Maeda.
SUPER TIGER vs. MACH HAYATO
Sayama’s first match without the mask looks like a representation of his UWF career as a whole. He’s got name value, and his strikes look positively deadly. But, by the end of the match, it’s clear that he doesn’t have much else to offer, and after taking so long to put Hayato away, even his striking ability seems exaggerated. Hayato doesn’t pose any significant threat to Sayama. Nobody else in the company looks to be in Sayama’s league when it comes to striking, and Hayato’s mat skills don’t seem to be particularly impressive. The match plays out with Sayama pasting Hayato with kicks, and trying to submit him. Hayato gets a rope break or escapes the hold, and once they’re back on their feet, Sayama goes back to teeing off on him.
There are only two instances where Hayato has any success on the mat with Sayama. The first comes when he takes Sayama down and tries to tie up his legs, but, it looks more like he’s helping Sayama stretch. Hayato eventually works his way into a headlock, where Sayama wiggles free and unleashes a couple of nasty shots to the head and face. A little later on, Sayama is trying to submit Hayato by turning his ankle, only for Hayato to roll over and secure a sleeper hold. The hold itself poses no threat to Sayama, and he simply has to apply more pressure to the ankle in order to get Hayato to break it. But, the ease that Hayato applies it, shows exactly how unschooled Sayama is on the mat. One of the most telling moments comes when Hayato surprises Sayama with a takedown, and tries to do a Scorpion Deathlock. Sayama seems to stop it by grabbing one of Hayato’s legs, resulting in him losing his balance. And it ends with both of them on their backs and wrenching on the other man’s leg, essentially working the same hold, and it only ends when the referee steps in and stands them up.
The real kicker is that when Sayama eventually wins the match, it isn’t through his strikes. He hits a spin kick to Hayato’s chest, and then follows up with a glancing blow to the head. When Hayato is getting back to his feet, Sayama scoops him up for a German suplex and segues into a chickenwing facelock for the submission. Unless the match was booked in such a way to intentionally make Sayama look weak, I’m at a loss for why this went so long (and at sixteen minutes, it was short for a UWF match) and ended in that manner. It would have been just as easy for Sayama to batter Hayato with kicks and only do one or two mat sequences, and then have Sayama keep the match standing and win by KO. There was a sequence earlier in the match that would have played well as the finish, and worked in the context of Sayama’s game plan paying off. Sayama hits a couple of kicks in the corner and uses a suplex to get Hayato further away from the ropes. Sayama grabs his arm, and after a bit of a struggle, with Hayato trying to fight him off, Sayama secures a juji-gatame. The suplex looks necessary for the purpose of keeping Hayato from getting a rope break, and Sayama shows a little bit of prowess by having to fight to get the hold on. Instead, Hayato lingered for a few seconds and then crawled to the ropes to break it, and put them back where they started. Takada’s win over Sayama on 1/20 may have looked like an upset, but, with how much Sayama’s weaknesses are showcased here, it seems like virtually anyone else on the roster, even the undercard wrestlers like Joe Malenko and Fit Finlay, whose matches aren’t even included on these tapes, could work circles around him.
YOSHIAKI FUJIWARA vs. OSAMU KIDO
Two of the better workers in the company, put on one of the best matches in the short history of the company. UWF was always big on longer matches, but, Kido and Fujiwara are able to make it work in ways that Maeda and Sayama only wish that they could. One of the more frequently used holds in UWF matches in the chickenwing armlock, and Fujiwara and Kido can work a five minute segment with the hold, and never be boring, or give the idea that they’re using it to rest and kill time. Kido is always trying to work his way out of the hold, even if he’s just inching to the ropes, and Fujiwara is trying to get a tighter grip. As the match wears on, both men get their chances to show their smarts. One of Kido’s better moments was when he was working his way out of a headlock, he gets to his feet, and instead of the pro-style method of shooting Fujiwara into the ropes, he shoves Fujiwara on the mat, and is able to take his back, and control Fujiwara on the ground. Fujiwara tries to take Kido down with a hip throw, but can’t pull it off. Instead of Kido going down like he’s ‘supposed to’ and exposing the cooperation, Fujiwara quickly adjusts and takes Kido down in a different manner. Fujiwara is also, quite possibly, the only man on the planet to be cool enough to use a quasi-monkey flip to escape a crab hold, and not look the least bit goofy for doing it.
It also helps that after getting the tar beaten out of him by Sayama in December, and then again by Yamazaki in January, Fujiwara decides that he wants to see how it feels to be on the other side of that equation. He plasters Kido with some sick shots, including several headbutts. Kido declares ‘The heck with this!’ and returns the favor with some nasty shots of his own. Neither of them is as flashy as Sayama, but the intensity that they both show is entirely believable, and the crowd responds in kind. The finish comes off like a fluke, but, it shows how dangerous Kido can be if he’s given the right opening. Fujiwara had been trying to submit him with his armbar, but Kido was able to keep his base heightened enough so that Fujiwara couldn’t get it on completely, and it allowed Kido to crawl to the ropes. Fujiwara tries to take Kido over with a throw and takes a knee to the ribs that drops him. Kido pounces with some stomps to the leg, and hooks in a cross kneelock for a quick submission. It looked like Fujiwara was going to win, until he didn’t. Fujiwara’s handshake afterwards acknowledges that he’s fully aware that he defeated himself just as much as Kido defeated him. I don’t know who’d win a fight between mid 80's Fujiwara and mid-to-late 90's Fit Finlay, two of the surliest tough guys of all time, but it’d sure be fun to find out!
Conclusion: Any disappointment that one might have after the Sayama match will be swiftly washed away by the following match.