January 10, 1989


Norman Smiley . . . caries Bart Vale to what’s probably his best match in a UWF setting.

Trevor “Power” Clarke . . . shows that he’s at least smart enough to understand how outmatched he is.

Akira Maeda . . . is out to get revenge on the man who handed him his first defeat two months before.



All things considered, this is probably as watchable as one should expect a thirty-minute draw involving Miyato to be. Miyato throws some hellish strikes, but is clearly out of his element when it comes to working on the mat, which shows up in a few different ways. Even very late into the match, Anjo is able to scurry his way out of a half crab, and when Miyato is able to work him into a headlock, Anjo easily counters into an armbar. Luckily, Miyato comes though with his strikes well enough that it looks like a viable way that he could have won the match, including a great moment when he escapes a legbar with an enzuigiri and nearly causes Anjo to lose via KO. Anjo isn’t quite the smarmy jerk that he became so famous for being, but, there’s a few times he heads in that direction, like when he’s got Miyato in a grounded headlock and Miyato works his way to his feet, so Anjo blasts him in the face with some knee shots. Anjo also does the most mind-blowing spot on the match when he counters a standing armbar into a backdrop suplex. Still, despite its good moments, it’s still worked rather slow and there’s plenty of segments when it’s clear that they’re trying to eat up time.



First Miyato, and now Vale has something resembling a watchable match. Of course, Vale has almost nothing to do with it. He has nothing to do except show off his kicks, which Norman spends most of the match easily avoiding and countering. It also didn’t help that Norman took quite a few of those kicks and brushed them off like they were nothing, which seems questionable with Vale having virtually nothing else to offer. But, it’s fun to watch Norman work circles around Vale, and tie him up on the mat. Vale lands a few good shots late in the match, to give the idea that Norman doesn’t have the match in the bag, including a questionable down, when Norman doesn’t even leave his feet. But, after Vale’s last flurry, Norman gets him down and works his way into a juji-gatame to tap him out. If nothing else, one could point to the fact that Vale lasts sixteen minutes to answer the question of whether or not these matches are worked.



After seeing watchable matches with Miyato and Vale, I guess three in a row was too much to ask. Roesch looks like he’d be more at home in a Jim Crockett ring, and is at least competent enough on the mat to keep up with Nakano (though that’s not a high bar to clear). But, the highlights of this are the obvious pro-style spots, like Roesch’s powerslam and Nakano’s backdrop suplex, and Nakano can’t end this soon enough.


Wrestler versus Kickboxer: KAZUO YAMAZAKI vs. TREVOR CLARKE

If not for the German suplex, and the fact that Yamazaki sells and reacts to the knockdown from one of Clarke’s kicks almost exactly as he would if it was from Maeda or Takada, then it’d be easy to mistake this for being a legit fight. It’s worked well, but, it’s not exactly exciting. They clearly respect each other’s skills, as Clarke stays close to the ropes so that whenever he gets taken down, he can get a break before Yamazaki can try to put any holds on, and, Yamazaki doesn’t try to get into a striking match with Clarke. Clarke’s game plan seemed to be to tire him out, and after the third round Yamazaki is breathing noticeably heavy. The German suplex is probably the high point of the match, it gets the biggest reaction of anything until the finish, and is one of the few times that Yamazaki is able to try to get Clarke locked up in anything. In that regard, the finish seems questionable, since Clarke’s body was in the ropes and Yamazaki had to pull him away to get in the front neck lock for the submission. Regardless, this is probably the best mixed match that’s ever taken place, although with a landscape that includes Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T from Wrestlemania 2, the whole Takada/Berbick debacle from UWFI, and Inoki’s nap inducing ‘different style fights,’ that’s not saying a whole lot.



Considering that UWF was only running once a month, and sometimes once every other month, doing this rematch after only two months seems like hotshot booking. This doesn’t reach the same level as their first match from November, but it’s a very worthy follow up. It helps that this is the only match on the card that has anything resembling engrossing matwork. As skilled as Anjo, Smiley, and Yamazaki are, they were saddled with Miyato, Vale, and Clarke. Maeda and Takada’s exchanges on the mat aren’t anything amazing or state-of-the-art, but, it’s the only match where it seems like both men are truly struggling to apply, work, and escape holds.


The first kick that Maeda throws makes it clear that he’s out for revenge. At the same time, he’s smart enough to know that Takada is good enough to beat him, so, he doesn’t go into the match blinded by his thirst for vengeance. Maeda gets ahead, and stays ahead, by being a better wrestler. That’s how the match plays out. Maeda will outwrestle Takada and force him to burn a rope break, or he’ll score a down and Takada will come up swinging. Takada clearly hurts Maeda here, but Maeda is able to take advantage of Takada’s recklessness and catch him again to essentially repeat the cycle. Even in the few instances where Takada is able to take Maeda by surprise, Maeda is good enough to parlay that into an advantage for himself, like when Takada tries for a throw and opens himself for a sleeper and when Takada throws a head kick and Maeda pushes him down and starts wrenching his ankle. There isn’t a huge disparity as far as their skills go, both men are two of the best, but, it’s the experience that makes up the difference.


Although the match, and the result, play out in such a way that it reaffirms Maeda as the man, Takada doesn’t come out looking bad by any means. Maeda is great at showing the toll that Takada’s strike flurries take on him, and when Takada is able to get a couple of good holds locked in, Maeda puts them over very well. Takada’s loss here doesn’t take away any of the luster that he’d gained from his win over Maeda in November or the Backlund match from December. However, I have to question the way Takada loses. Takada gives Maeda an ugly backdrop suplex that winds up counting as a down for each man, which means Takada can’t use any more rope breaks or get called down again. Maeda puts Takada in a crab hold, and with the choice of tapping or burning the rope break, Takada taps. It’d have been just as easy for him to lose by using the break. Maeda would get his win back and it still leaves the question out there of whether or not Maeda can truly defeat him. Of course, the finish is also designed to protect Takada. He’s not submitting to the crab hold itself, but rather the fact that he was in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, and Takada concedes that Maeda was able to use the rulebook to his advantage. But, if this was wrestled under the same rules as the original UWF where downs and rope breaks weren’t counted, then it might have had a different outcome.


Conclusion: The main event is really the only thing worth checking out, unless one is a Norman Smiley completest or wants to see the novelty of a watchable Miyato match.