KAKUTOGI ROAD II
Nobuhiko Takada . . . tries to amputate the arm of a legendary masked man.
Akira Maeda . . . shows that he’s no Fujiwara, with a boring performance against Kido.
Kazuo Yamazaki . . . proves that the old adage that ‘you get out what you put in’ isn’t always the case, by putting in a respectable effort and getting nothing in return.
SUPER TIGER vs. NOBUHIKO TAKADA
Considering the heavy wrapping on Sayama's arm, and, the finish of Takada winning via a referee stop, one wonders why this needed to be stretched out to almost fifteen minutes, and, why Sayama felt the need to get in as much offense as he did. The wrapping makes Sayama's arm the obvious target, and, Takada never strays from trying to attack it, whether he's throwing kicks or trying to force Sayama to submit. Even Takada's belly to belly was designed to put Sayama on the ground so that he could try to get an armlock. Sayama certainly didn't have to get squashed by Takada, the early exchange with Sayama easily overwhelming him with kicks, clearly shows that he's the superior striker, and that Takada's best chance of winning would be beating him on the ground. But, things like Sayama escaping the triangle choke by picking up Takada and walking him to the ropes, and the Tombstone piledriver late in the match, didn't need to happen with Sayama having a bad arm.
I don't mean to sound like I'm bagging too much on Sayama, because he does put in a fine performance. Besides showing Takada that he can out-strike him, even with one arm, he shows some surprising prowess on the mat that was lacking during the 12/84 match with Fujiwara. The reason that Takada can't submit him isn't because Takada isn't good enough, but, because Sayama is able to angle and position himself just right so that Takada can't get him locked up completely. Luckily for Sayama, the action is more restricted than his match with Fujiwara, whereas Sayama was able to relentlessly kick and stomp Fujiwara, even when he was down and being counted, the ref steps in and stops Takada's assault on the arm at various points to check on Sayama, and, he finally has to just call the match off.
AKIRA MAEDA vs. OSAMU KIDO
At first glance, the mat portions of this look like Kido’s match with Fujiwara from the following July, with the idea of them, essentially, being peers on the mat. But, once it’s examined closely, it’s easy to see how different they really are. There’s no real sense of urgency to the exchanges between Maeda and Kido, if anything, it looks like they’re putting on a demonstration of the type of wrestling one could find in the UWF versus what New Japan and All Japan was doing at the time. Neither of them had Fujiwara’s talent for facial expressions to put over the effectiveness of the holds. There are plenty of instances where they show that their main goal on the mat is just to eat up time and nothing more. The most glaring being when Kido catches Maeda in a triangle choke, and, Maeda does the same sort of escape that Sayama did to Takada, but, it gets drawn out for a much longer time. Kido’s surprise reversal into the Scorpion is almost just as bad, he takes Maeda down, gets the legs into position, and then freezes up instead of going right for the hold.
Only the strike exchanges, and the last few minutes of this bring it back up to any sort of respectability. As uninspired as the long mat exchanges are, the portions when they get to their feet and start throwing slaps and kicks look as though they’re about to forgo this nice wrestling exhibition and find out who the better fighter really is, and, the crowd roars to life at the prospect of that happening. The finish is nice enough, with Kido surprising Maeda with a capture suplex, following up with a backdrop suplex, and then taking advantage of his stunned state to put him in a chickenwing for the submission, but, they could have accomplished the same thing in half the time, without losing the crowd.
For some reason, we jump ahead almost a month, from 1/20 to 2/18, despite the fact that the following volume of this series only contains matches from 2/18.
AKIRA MAEDA vs. KAZUO YAMAZAKI
Along with their love for matches going much longer than necessary, especially when the wrestlers aren’t able to make it work, the other big mystery of the first UWF is why they felt the need to push Takada as their top rising star, while the equally talented (at least) Yamazaki got shunned into the background. We only see Yamazaki get two real chances to control Maeda, both of them involve him catching Maeda into an armbar and segueing into a triangle choke, and, in both cases, Maeda lingers for a bit, and then casually escapes, by countering or by getting the ropes. But, there’s no exaggeration at all from Maeda to suggest that Yamazaki’s holds were the least bit threatening. Contrast with Yamazaki doing all he can to make Maeda’s strikes, elbow drops, and even simple holds like the single leg crab all seem like they’re taking a big toll on him. The only thing to take away from this was that Yamazaki lasted twenty minutes with Maeda, and, that says more about Maeda’s inability to finish off someone who clearly wasn’t any real threat to him, than it does anything about Yamazaki. Sayama had his issues in putting over Takada, but, Sayama’s performance is head and shoulders above what Maeda showed here.
Conclusion: Even though it’s not perfect, the opener is a whole lot of fun. The other two matches can easily be skipped.