May 28, 1990


Minoru Suzuki . . . decides that he’s not going to be the next guy that gets stuck in a boring match with the Company Ace.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara . . . lures a big oaf into a false sense of security and then makes him suffer.

Shigeo Miyato . . . shows Kazuo Yamazaki (and the rest of the UWF) that his days of being the perennial whipping boy are over.



Although this slows down and meanders for a bit, which isn’t entirely a surprise with this being one of the longer opening matches in the company’s history, this winds up being a rather exciting match. They both show off some flashy counters and escapes, which never fails to get the crowd to make noise. The story of the match is that Funaki appears to be just about a half-step ahead of Anjo. It doesn’t seem like much; until Anjo uses both of his rope breaks and loses his first point by the time Funaki needs to use his first break. Just when it seems like Anjo is making some headway and about to put Funaki in real trouble, Funaki will have a counter ready and it’s ultimately Anjo who winds up in trouble. Anjo’s first hint of success comes during a mat segment when he starts wrenching Funaki’s ankle, but instead of scurrying to the ropes, Funaki hits a couple of palm strikes and causes him to break the hold. Later on, it’s Funaki who gets the legbar and makes sure to angle and maneuver himself out of Anjo’s striking range, and it forces him to use the ropes. Anjo seemingly turns himself away from letting Funaki secure a headlock, but he winds up opening himself up for what’s essentially a Cobra clutch, which Funaki turns into a regular sleeper. And not only does Anjo need to use another rope break, but his delay in getting up makes the ref call him down and dock him another point.


Anjo shows that he’s able to hurt Funaki, but he’s just never able to get him in real danger of losing. There are several times that he’s able to start throwing knee strikes, but Funaki always stops him from following up in a big way. Even the finish is Anjo pelting him with knee shots and Funaki surprising him with a hip throw that goes right into the juji-gatame. Anjo’s best moment is when he gets a back mount and instead of going to the sleeper or armbar, which is what Funaki probably expected, Anjo lets his heelish side out with a series of headbutts to the back of the head and he’s able to stun Funaki and get on a full nelson. But they’re so close to the ropes that Funaki easily gets the break. Between the intensity and craftiness of both of them, there’s certainly a lot of things to enjoy about this match, it’s just too bad that Anjo never seemed to get anything more than a tease of being able to put Funaki away.



As if we needed further proof of Minoru Suzuki’s divine abilities; he’s able to have a good match with Akira Maeda in 1990! This is similar to the Yamazaki/Miyato match from December of ’88, with the match itself coming along fine, if a little unspectacular, until Suzuki takes a couple of cheap shots in the form of slaps to Maeda’s face (which cause his nose to bleed). Maeda decides that he’s done trying to simply have a match with the kid and starts to really unload on him in order to remind him of exactly where he falls in the pecking order. And just when it seems like Suzuki is all but finished, he surprises Maeda with a rolling counter into the legbar that he’d been wanting to get for the whole match. Maeda is completely unprepared for it and has to bail for the ropes. The crowd goes crazy for the hold and the rope break, but it looks like Maeda simply decided to let Suzuki make his point, more than anything else. As soon as they get stood up and Suzuki tries to press his newfound advantage, Maeda immediately turns the tables on him. Suzuki does surprise Maeda with his dropkick and then a knee strike, but he tries for too much with a throw and Maeda counters into a choke that puts out his lights. As refreshing as it is to see Maeda finally putting on worthwhile matches again, it makes his last couple of matches (namely the bore-fest with Funaki and the sleepwalk he had against Nakano) stand out that much more.



Eighteen minutes is just too long for a match like this, where nobody thinks Nakano has any real hope of winning and there isn’t a whole lot that happens during the course of the match to change that perception. It’s not that Takada doesn’t do anything to make Nakano look good; he just never does more than the bare minimum. Takada gives up his first rope break to a cross kneelock, and after the ref calls for the break, Takada is quickly back to his feet and firing away at Nakano. It comes off like the ropes were just an easier option for Takada, rather than spending the time and energy to work his way out of the hold. Probably Nakano’s biggest offensive run comes when he gets behind Takada and hits a couple of headbutts and then takes him over with a big German suplex which gets a decent crowd reaction. And Takada gets up before the ref can call him down and starts pelting Nakano with an extended slap and kick flurry that eventually sends Nakano to the mat and he’s the one who gets called down. Suzuki wasn’t any sort of real threat to Maeda either, but they found a way to make the match work. This never even comes close to that. There’s a bit of intrigue to the finish, but not much more than a bit. Takada wraps up Nakano in a brutal looking facelock, and the ref calls for the bell. It’s not entirely clear from the camera angle if Nakano taps or not. Takada just leaves the ring rather than doing the customary handshake with Nakano. And Nakano slowly rolls outside and slaps the apron in frustration. But it speaks volumes about the match when the biggest takeaway from it is the question of whether Nakano lost on his own accord or the referees. And either way, it’s hardly a double cross in the vein of what Takada would allegedly do later on with Berbick and Kitao.



This is similar to the Takada match in that it goes on for a bit too long, considering the disparity in talent between the participants. The difference is that Fujiwara makes this fun to watch for the whole time, either by spidering his way all over Barrett, or by letting him get into a position where it seems like Barrett can get the advantage and then countering him out of it. The first time is after Barrett takes him down and gets a mount. While Barrett is trying to work his way to a sleeper or a headlock, Fujiwara interlocks their knees and starts to apply pressure and makes Barrett drop what he’s doing and go scurrying for the ropes. Even  the finish is Barrett trying to use his weight to keep Fujiwara on the mat while he tries for a headlock and then a juji-gatame, only for The Fuj to counter that into a cross kneelock and make him submit.


All things considered, there were a couple of times that Fujiwara could have been a bit more giving to his opponent. Barrett gets one kick flurry that ends with him doing a quasi-dropkick, and he can’t even be bothered to go down from it. It’s a stark contrast to the sell job that Barrett gave Fujiwara’s lone headbutt. Aside from trying to pin him on the mat, Barrett tries to use his size by surprising Fujiwara and picking him up in a fireman’s carry, but Fujiwara escapes it before Barrett can do anything. Barrett isn’t the worst foreigner that the company has ever brought in, although he certainly hadn’t been booked very strongly, but the thing that most stands out about him is his size, and Fujiwara pretty much negated it.



This certainly seems like an odd choice for a main event, although none of the matches on this card seem like they’d have made an exponentially better one. The idea is clearly to show that Miyato has grown as a fighter, but most of what works is thanks to Yamazaki. Miyato isn’t completely useless, like he was in the infamous match with Nakano the year before, but he’s nowhere near as interesting as Yamazaki. Even when he’s in control and working over Yamazaki’s midsection, it’s Yamazaki’s selling that makes it work more than anything else. Yamazaki does pretty much everything possible to make it seem like Miyato has his number. Miyato forces him to burn a point with a legbar and Yamazaki takes too long to get up and the referee calls him down and docks him another one. But the inevitable issue is that Miyato doesn’t go over in the end. And the way they do the finish makes it clear that Yamazaki knows he can beat him at any time and that he’s more or less letting Miyato take his best shots first. All of Miyato’s kicks and suplexes look inconsequential by the end. Yamazaki hits a series of vicious kicks to the leg and then slaps on a cross kneelock to make Miyato submit. They could have easily taken a page from the previous match and had Yamazaki outsmart or outwrestle Miyato into the kneelock to make the win look like a combo of luck and skill. Considering Miyato’s penchant for suplexes, Yamazaki countering one into the submission was right there. Or, if they really wanted to show that Miyato is finally moving up the ladder, put him in there with Anjo or Suzuki (two guys that he’s shown to match up well with) or with one of the foreigners and let him show what he’s got.


Conclusion: This is a solid enough show, with only one match standing out as a big negative, but overall, it’s more fun than it is good.