October 25, 1989


Minoru Suzuki . . . makes the transformation from a simple UWF Young Boy to the man that we all know and love.

Akira Maeda . . . gets to add “Breaking Kiyoshi Tamura’s face” to his growing list of various in-ring incidents.

Nobuhiko Takada . . . tries to turn The Fuj! into a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest.



As uninteresting and mediocre a worker as Miyato has been shown to be, Roesch is so much worse in every way possible. It’s painfully obvious that they’re going the distance due to their refusal to do almost anything that might give the impression that the match could end. Roesch surprises Miyato with a knee to the ribs and takes him over with a suplex but spends nearly three minutes after that fumbling around “trying” to do a chickenwing armlock. That’s the story of Roesch in this match, he’s like the lazy employee who spends as much time as possible doing as little work as possible. His go-to submission seems to be the chickenwing armlock, considering every time he gets Miyato on the mat that’s what he goes for, but he seems to have no idea of how to do it. Compared to Roesch, Miyato looks like the second coming of Yamazaki. His work certainly isn’t at that level, but he shows some aggressiveness and he’s willing to sell in order to try to get the crowd into things. Miyato grabs a leg to try to take Roesch down, but Roesch gets out of the predicament with a jumping kick. Miyato acts woozy from the kick and Roesch charges in and instead of doing a suplex and trying a submission , or something else that would suggest that he’s trying to win the match, he just hits a few knees to the ribs while Miyato is in the ropes. The ref breaks them up and Miyato acts loopy again and falls to the mat so that the ref can call him down and start a count. Aside from Miyato’s lone attempt at the juji-gatame, neither of them uses any holds that seem like actual finishers. Even as the clock is ticking away toward the time limit, Miyato is using a chinlock. I suppose one could point to this match as an example of being able to appreciate the little bit that Miyato has to offer, but I’d rather see Miyato stepping his game up rather than just being less terrible than his opponent.



The opening thirty seconds of this features more engaging work than the entire thirty minutes of the previous match. Anjo and Suzuki are much better about truly working holds and showing the struggle, from both the point of view of getting the hold locked in and also preventing it. When Anjo wants the chickenwing armlock and Suzuki blocks it, instead of just lying there, Anjo hits a palm strike to stun him and then goes for his leg to try to submit him that way. It’s nothing complex in the least, but it’s the sort of simple and obvious work that was absent from the opener.


I think we can  pinpoint this match for being the catalyst of Minoru Suzuki transforming into the Minoru Suzuki that we all know and love today. Anjo starts feeling grumpy and dickish, Suzuki returns fire, and the fans go apeshit when tempers flare and the match threatens to turn into an all-out brawl. Suzuki gets a mount and tries to stun Anjo with a palm strike and Anjo immediately fires back, and they forgo any sense of this being a technical match in favor of pasting each other with slaps and palm strikes. When one of them gets called down, they stay down until nine and then get up swinging. Suzuki even gets the better of Anjo when he backs him into the corner and the ref breaks them up. Suzuki gives the clean break and then drills Anjo with a headbutt before backing up with a big smile on his face. Suzuki even digs into his pro-style background a few times to try to beat Anjo by using a fisherman buster as a lead-in to a submission, and also getting a down from a piledriver. They don’t even start using their points or rope breaks until more then twenty minutes in. It’s like they were having so much fun with what they were doing, they forgot about the actual match. Anjo is especially great about his selling toward the end, desperately crawling for a rope break when Suzuki locks in a single leg crab. It goes to the equivalent of sudden death when Suzuki is on his last point and makes Anjo use a rope break to escape a top head scissors and knocks him down to his last point. They swing wildly at each other, and Suzuki gets the takedown and locks in a sleeper that’s probably not coincidentally close to the ropes, but Suzuki isn’t able to fully cinch it in, leading to Anjo getting saved by the bell. Overall, this is more fun and exciting than it is good, but compared to the Miyato match, it’s the second coming of Maeda/Takada.



Yamazaki tries, but Nakano can’t do much of anything to make something out of this. Yamazaki tries toying with him to get him to fight back more aggressively, and he gives him several openings in the form of Nakano catching his kicks, but Nakano doesn’t seem to know how to take advantage. Nakano has never been particularly strong on the mat, but his first instinct when he catches a kick is to take Yamazaki down and submit him, and as expected, the holds don’t look good at all. Even worse is that Nakano’s best run of offense comes the one time that he doesn’t take Yamazaki to the mat. He catches the kick and connects with some knees to the body and takes him over with a vertical suplex, which gets a nice crowd response. But instead of playing to his strengths, fleeting as they may be, Nakano goes right back to trying to submit Yamazaki. And it takes all of one extended (as in longer than thirty seconds) mat segment for Nakano to get blown up, and even called down after they get separated because he can’t get up quick enough. Once Yamazaki realizes that Nakano is spent, he ends it with a German suplex and a juji-gatame. One thing that nobody can ever accuse Yamazaki of is selfishness. The finish alone shows that he could have beaten Nakano whenever he wanted to. He basically does everything possible, short of giving himself suplexes and putting submissions on himself, to try to help Nakano step up, but Nakano was seemingly incapable of meeting him halfway.



Considering how much of a name Tamura would make for himself in his post UWF career, it’s something of a surprise that this match really isn’t talked about more. Then again, with Maeda’s checkered history, roughing up a rookie (no matter how much of a legend he’d turn out to be) seems relatively minor compared to the Andre and Chosyu incidents. Aside from the abrupt finish where the ref stops the count and just calls the match, there’s nothing especially out of place. Tamura tries to jump start and take Maeda by surprise, and Maeda answers with a series of knees to the face. Tamura gets back up and Maeda dishes out more knees, and it winds up with Tamura’s orbital bone getting fractured.



It’s plain to see that this isn’t a bad match, and considering what all came before it, it’s match of the night by a mile. But this isn’t much more than “very good” because it’s lacking the drama and the genuine big match feeling that was present in Fujiwara’s main events from July and August. Everyone knows that Maeda is the man in this company, but Takada is on the rung right below him, as shown by his having beaten Maeda and headlined several events since. The Fuj seems be in the same position, not only due to his experience and reputation, but also by having beaten Yamazaki, who has been the only other person to emerge as a challenger for Maeda’s throne. So, they’re essentially seen as equals, and the match doesn’t do much of anything to establish either of them as being above the other.


The match is as well-worked as you’d expect from these two. Their matwork is tight, and they’re as good as they’ve ever been about making everything seem like a struggle from both sides of the proverbial coin. Fujiwara shows his craftiness by countering Takada out of nowhere to get his own holds locked in. Later on, Takada gets some revenge by turning Fujiwara’s chickenwing armlock into a juji-gatame and forcing Fujiwara to  use a rope break, and Fujiwara curses himself for getting outmaneuvered like that. The strike versus submission story plays out rather well, especially with how well Fujiwara sells the damage that Takada is doing to his legs with his kicks, and the single leg crab that he surprises Fujiwara with that forces him to use his other rope break. The key word is “selling” because it’s never quite clear if Fujiwara is as hurt as he appears. Takada hits a barrage of shots in the corner that leaves Fujiwara looking loopy, his reactions and facials are what one would expect to see out of Terry Funk. But Fujiwara lunges forward and clocks Takada with a headbutt to score a down on him. Fujiwara has shown a tendency to use the referee’s count to his advantage and wait until the last second to get up. This doesn’t appear to be any different, although it might be, because with the onslaught that Takada unleashes on his legs he very well may need those extra five or six seconds in order to get his balance.


Once it’s established that Fujiwara’s legs are the weak spot, it never seems like Takada is in any real danger of losing. Even when Fujiwara gets one over on him, such as the two downs he gets from cracking Takada with the headbutt, Takada knows that he can always go back to the legs and regain whatever ground he may have lost. Fujiwara’s burst of aggression after Takada gets him down to his final point is a great touch, but Fujiwara evening the score by knocking two points off Takada just feels like it’s tacked on for the purpose of keeping them looking equal. The finish is fine but could have come off better. Fujiwara pummels Takada in the corner with body punches and Takada responds with a slap that staggers Fujiwara back, Takada hits a kick that takes Fujiwara’s leg out from underneath him, and the ref calls him down and Takada wins. It’s great to finally see them use the points as a way to end the match, but it really wasn’t necessary to bring them both down to their last point. After Fujiwara was down to his last one, he could have taken one more off Takada with the headbutt and charged in for the kill and gotten sidestepped and hit with a surprise shot to the leg to take him down. It’s also weird that Fujiwara is so willing to stand and trade shots with Takada when he knows he’s got a weak spot and he has the clear advantage on the ground. It’s fine that he uses the headbutt to floor Takada, since we know that’s his best strike, but it doesn’t make much sense that Fujiwara is content to trade fists and slaps with Takada. Instead of dropping Takada in order to take points off, Fujiwara could show his craftiness by surprising Takada with submissions and making him use the ropes. It’s certainly not too out there to think that Fujiwara could catch an errant kick and turn it into an ankle lock or dodge a punch and take Takada down into a chickenwing or an armbar. Fujiwara still takes Takada’s points away, but he does it by playing to his strengths. The way Fujiwara works makes it seem like he doesn’t take Takada seriously as an opponent and wants to make the match as challenging as possible. It’d be one thing to work that way against a Miyato/Nakano/Vale type who isn’t on his level, but Takada is established enough that Fujiwara shouldn’t be working so incautiously.


Even though this is clearly a very good match, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that they could have put on a much better match than this one. Maybe the idea is to set up a rematch where Fujiwara comes in fully focused and is determined to avenge this loss. But it says a lot about exactly how great both of them were at this point in time that they could put on something like this, that doesn’t quite seem up to par, and nobody else on the card was able to even sniff this level of work.


Conclusion: This isn’t as good an overall show as the last few months offerings had been, but the main event and Anjo/Suzuki are worth a look, provided you’re still awake after the opener.