UWF WITH ’90 1st

January 16, 1990


Shigeo Miyato . . . finds himself in the unique position of being the better worker of the match and having to carry the action as a result.

Yoji Anjo . . . returns to his prior form, after that dreadful excuse for a mixed match at the Tokyo Dome, like a wild grizzly emerging from its winter slumber.

Nobuhiko Takada . . . once again ascends to the top of the proverbial UWF mountain, albeit in a mostly unsatisfying manner.



Kevin Kastelle answers the question ‘What if Bart Vale looked even more generic?’ Miyato looks like freaking Takada compared to this guy! Miyato even takes a page from the book of Fujiwara by getting called down and being instantly recovered but staying down longer just to milk the count. Kastelle throws some of the worst looking kicks, possibly in the history of shootstyle wrestling. Miyato makes the size difference look negligible with the ease at which he’s able to chop him down with leg kicks and take him to the mat. Even the finish sees Miyato score a couple of body kicks and casually take Kastelle over with a belly-to-belly suplex that Scott Steiner would be proud of, and then submits him with the single leg crab. It's nice to see Miyato being put into position to show exactly what he has to offer, it's too bad that it takes being saddled with some of the worst opponents possible in order to bring it out of him.



If nothing else, this is a decent look at what Suzuki was able to bring to the table so early in his career. He shows some of the attitude that he'd become famous for with his disrespectful slap to Wilkins. He also busts out one of the nastiest looking dropkicks that you'll ever see, sending Wilkins over the top and the ref giving him the ten-count while he's still on the floor. Wilkins looks better than Kastelle, but that's not exactly a high bar to clear. He gets a few nice escapes, and surprises Suzuki with a chickenwing armlock in the center of the ring, which Suzuki is forced to wrestle his way out of and gets a nice crowd response for doing. But other than those few things, Wilkins looks like the generic pro-style wrestler to go along with the generic kickboxer in the last match. They even use almost the exact same finish, with Suzuki using an overhead suplex to set up the single leg crab for the submission.



This has to be one of the craziest matches that the Newborn UWF has put on, even more than the Backlund/Funaki match. Fujiwara tells Nakano to give him his best shot. Nakano obliges and The Fuj just smiles at him. Fujiwara takes at least three shots for every one that he dishes out, and he drops Nakano several times for the ref to call him down and he also bloodies him up, while Nakano doesn’t manage to trim a single point. Fujiwara never goes out of his way to make Nakano look bad. Given the disparity in their mat skills, he could have easily tied him up several times and probably ended the match in under five minutes. Fujiwara lets Nakano wail away on him and work his few holds, and just patiently waits for the chance to turn the tables.



As I watched this play out, I couldn’t help but wonder if at least part of its intended purpose was to help remedy Anjo after that stinker from the Dome show. If so, they certainly succeeded. When Anjo backs Yamazaki into the corner and hits the cheap shot knee after the ref tells him to back up, and Yamazaki responds by telling Anjo to bring it on, you know you’re in for a fun ride. And even though this is a bit on the short side, the fun never stops! The knee strike seems to be one of Anjo’s favorites, and he goes back to it on several occasions, and Yamazaki is able to exploit that by blocking it and countering it to get Anjo on the mat and vulnerable to a submission. There’s a great moment when they each have a legbar locked in and Anjo blinks first and goes for the ropes, and then gets frustrated and throws kicks at Yamazaki while he’s still down. Anjo scores with his knee strike and knocks Yamazaki down, but instead of waiting for the ref to call Yamazaki down and start the count, he rushes in and uses the top rope to assist with another knee and throws kicks while he’s still down. The ref admonishes Anjo and backs him to the opposite corner which gives Yamazaki time to recover, and Anjo’s barrage of illegal strikes results in Yamazaki not being called down. Yamazaki avenges this a bit later after he knocks Anjo down with a kick and then rushes in for his own barrage of strikes. The result is the same; there’s no call of down and no points deducted, but Yamazaki was already ahead as far as points go so there’s no harm done.


In the end, that’s what ultimately makes the difference in the match. Yamazaki never loses sight of his primary goal of winning the match, whether it was by outsmarting, outwrestling or out striking Anjo. Anjo had several successful moments, but his frustration and impulsiveness wound up working against him. An example of this contrast is toward the end when they’re on the mat again, with each of them having a legbar applied. Anjo smartly presses his leverage advantage to have the better end of the predicament, but Yamazaki cleverly outwrestles Anjo to ultimately win the exchange by turning it into a single leg crab. Anjo connects a couple of knees that cause Yamazaki to get called down. When Yamazaki gets up, Anjo charges in for more, only for Yamazaki to simply sidestep Anjo and get him in a sleeper which causes Anjo to burn a point. After they get up, Yamazaki takes the opening to get the hold again and makes sure they’re in the middle of the ring, and forces Anjo to submit. This was simply a joy to watch as the story and match developed, and it’s an interesting look at Yamazaki’s overall position in the company. Anjo may have come up short this time around, but he certainly showed that he's got what it takes to potentially beat Yamazaki at some point down the road, not unlike how Yamazaki looked in his matches against Maeda and Fujiwara the year before.



Even before Maeda’s eye injury halted their momentum, and led to an underwhelming finish, this didn’t seem like it was going to be on the same level as their classic from November of ’88 or even their rematch from a year earlier. They have some nice moments, but they never wind up being followed up with anything meaningful, and a lot of the mat work feels positively listless. One of their better sequences was a decent mat exchange that was followed with Maeda catching a kick and planting Takada with his Capture suplex and then following with a crab hold. Takada smartly heightens his base before Maeda fully gets the hold applied and Maeda has to make some extra effort to get Takada flat on the mat to sink the hold in. But once the hold is on, Takada immediately crawls for the ropes to get the break. It hardly seems worth the effort to go through all that just for a quick rope break. There’s another sequence earlier where Takada works his way out of Maeda’s attempt to get him in a chickenwing and winds up getting to his feet and planting Maeda with what’s essentially a Samoan drop and then going for his own chickenwing. Maeda blocks the hold, and it leads to another longish mat segment with nothing happening.


Between Maeda’s already checkered history, and even the abrupt finish of his April match with Yamazaki, Maeda’s eye injury certainly feels like karma coming back around to him, even though it’s clearly accidental. They pause the action in order for Maeda to get checked out and then go almost right to the finish afterwards. The finish they come up with is fine, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that it could have been done better. Maeda throws a kick and Takada catches it and gets him in an ankle lock, Maeda tries to fight out of it and crawl to the ropes and Takada secures a grapevine and Maeda has to submit. It’s a perfectly fine finish, but Maeda lingering and struggling before submitting comes off like he’s trying to save face even though he doesn’t need to. He’s already established as the undisputed top guy of the promotion. This is only his second loss, and first by submission, in the history of the Newborn UWF. An immediate tap out would have made more sense, both with the eye injury as an explanation as well as giving Takada some extra rub.


This isn’t so much a bad match as it is a disappointing one. Yes, Maeda’s eye injury halted their momentum, and probably Takada’s comeback, but this wasn’t exactly on pace to replicate their prior classic or even the matches they’d had since then, which were at least good. Regardless, it’s still great to see Takada topple Maeda again, and the show ends with a positive outlook for 1990.


Conclusion: The Yamazaki/Anjo match is definitely the highlight here and worth going out of your way to see, but this is an overall solid show.