June 14, 1989


Yoji Anjo . . . shows that he can take a beating just as well as he can dish one out.

Minoru Suzuki . . . shows the attitude that we all know and love him for, even in his rookie year.

Nobuhiko Takada . . . makes another attempt at kicking Maeda off his throne.



I can only assume that Maeda had aspirations to expand UWF into the U.S. because there isn’t any other reason why he thought that pushing Vale was a good idea. He does next to nothing other than kicks, and his hesitation when throwing them is obvious, especially compared to Miyato laying them in and being able to take Bart off his feet. Vale looks all but clueless on the mat, and Miyato more or less has to lead him through every sequence. The only nice thing to see out of Bart was an enzuigiri when Miyato catches a kick, which shows that he’s seen at least a couple of Bad News Brown matches, and Vale countering Miyato into the sleeper for the finish.



To no surprise, the first ten seconds of this shows more promise than the previous match did in its entirety. Funaki forgoes the handshake in favor of pelting Anjo with slaps, and when they get separated, Anjo drills Funaki in the mouth with a headbutt. Their intensity and competency make this feel like an actual contest. Funaki looks light years away from the Young Lion who finished almost dead last in the previous year’s Super Junior tournament in New Japan. But, as good as Funaki shows that he is, there’s no substitute for experience, and, while he can certainly hurt Anjo, as he does with his speed and his strikes, he’s not yet good enough to beat him.


As good a job as Funaki does striking Anjo, Anjo always has the upper hand when the fight is on the mat, and it shows with the ease in which he can counter or escape Funaki’s attempts at securing any holds. One of their more telling moments in this regard comes just after Anjo surprises Funaki with a sleeper, Funaki’s only escape is to get to his feet and drop backwards. But, the time in the hold has worn down Funaki much more than the one bump hurt Anjo, and, Anjo is right back on his feet and kicking at him. There’s another smart moment like this when Funaki gets a mount on Anjo, but can’t lock in a submission. Anjo, manages to create some separation and crack Funaki with a big slap, and then casually counter him into an armbar. One of their best moments (which also leads to the only disappointment of the match) is Anjo easily escaping the ankle lock, and securing a half crab which Funaki does such a great job of selling, that it gets the crowd roaring. Unfortunately, it doesn’t wind up meaning anything long term, Anjo moves onto to other methods of trying to win and Funaki stops selling his leg. There’s also Anjo’s seamless transition from the Juji-gatame, to the Triangle choke and then to a Top Triangle choke, as well as his early roll through to get a heel hook on Funaki.


In addition to using his mat superiority, Anjo also shows his smarts by stumbling into the ropes after Funaki’s first spin kick in order to stay up, and the second slumps him in the corner, which still doesn’t count as a down. The finish is nice, although it makes Funaki look a little bit foolish, Funaki does a water wheel drop into a Juji-gatame, and after the rope break, Funaki goes back in and tries another suplex, only to get countered and taken down into armlock, and is forced to give up. It suits the story of the match just fine, but it’d have been nice to see Funaki try to stun Anjo before going back to the suplex, rather than just hit a few slaps and a leg kick. The really great thing about this, as is the case with many great UWF matches, is that both wrestlers benefit from the match. Anjo was able to show that he was clearly the better man today, but, after a few more matches (this was only his third), and more practice in the dojo, that Funaki will undoubtably be able to beat Anjo one day.



Suzuki was obviously a lot younger, and had a full head of hair that was bordering on being an Afro, but, Suzuki’s gotta Suzuki, and the same attitude that he shows off today was prevalent back in ‘89. Suzuki jumps Fujiwara at the bell with a dropkick, stomps him while he’s down, and even tries to submit him to the Fujiwara armbar. Fujiwara is actually pretty giving here, aside from the huge slap after Suzuki tried to steal his own hold, and who could really blame him for that? But, he lets Suzuki work his holds and strikes, although he’s never in any real danger. He stays down till nine after a dropkick, but the big smile on Fujiwara’s face shows that he’s fine. When Suzuki gets a heel hook, Fujiwara actually challenges him to crank it harder. Fujiwara more or less just decides that enough is enough and finishes off Suzuki rather easily with a butterfly suplex into a chickenwing.



I expected something similar to the 8/85 Fujiwara/Yamazaki match, I knew that Yamazaki was winning, but I hoped he’d help Norman look good before winning. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what happened, although that’s more Norman’s fault than Yamazaki’s. Aside from one moment where Norman gets fired up after Yamazaki nearly drops him on his head, Norman is way too tentative, he almost never tries to be the aggressor and take Yamazaki to the mat, and doesn’t do much of anything to try to outwrestle him. Norman’s three biggest pieces of offense are all pro-style spots, European Uppercuts, Fisherman’s suplex, and German suplex, and the only time he’s firmly in control on the mat is working a basic legbar. To his credit, Yamazaki does a decent job selling for Norman, he lets out a big gasp from uppercut, like it was taking his wind out, and sold Norman’s leg kicks very well. The German suplex to armbar is something a UWF staple, and, having been on the other side of it, it’s nice to see Yamazaki respect the suplex a bit by lingering for a second afterwards, and then rolling into the armbar, rather than blowing off the suplex and going straight to the armbar.



By the time this was over, it felt sort of like Fujiwara/Suzuki, with Maeda simply letting Takada do what he wanted until Maeda decided that he wanted to win. Maeda isn’t lazy by any means, but, most the bigger moments of the match are courtesy of Takada. Where Maeda comes through is in his selling, and doing what he can to make it seem like Takada is going to knock him off again. One of the better examples of this is when Maeda frees himself from a Juji-gatame and tries pelting Takada with kicks while he’s down, Takada gets up and fights back and seems unaffected from it. There’s another nice sequence when Takada gets a rope break to escape the half crab, and when they’re both up, they start trading kicks and Takada wins the exchange and gets a down on Maeda. A bit later Takada uses another rope break to escape a heel hook, and Maeda does his spin kick when Takada gets up. The kick connects, but doesn’t take him off his feet, and Takada is able to take down Maeda with a belly to belly and get on an armbar. Honestly, the only thing that really leaves a bad taste is the finish, which sees Takada no-sell a German suplex, so that he can sell a second one. Maeda does a half crab and then rolls into a heel hook and forces the tap out. There was certainly no need to blow off the suplex, and with Takada having shown that he can outdo Maeda, both on his feet and on the mat, tapping out the way that he does takes some of the luster off of him. It’d have been just as easy to have Maeda get the heel hook as a surprise counter to Takada, rather than putting him in a pedestrian pro-style hold and then going into it.


Conclusion: Lots of fun to be had with this show, even with the bad opener and the main event having a bad finish.