UWF FORCE: KORAKUEN 2 DAYS
This is a bit of an oddball tape from the UWF. Instead of a single card with six matches, it’s broken up over two nights (9/30 and 10/1) with three matches on each card, and nobody working both shows.
Tatsuo Nakano . . . throws Takada around with suplexes like he’s the predecessor to Gary Albright.
Minoru Suzuki . . . apparently shocks the world by beating a big foreigner, who shows that he has no business being inside of a UWF ring.
Shigeo Miyato . . . accepts his fate when he steps into the ring with Maeda.
YOJI ANJO vs. KIYOSHI TAMURA
Despite suffering another loss, this is yet another good showing from Tamura. Until Anjo forces him to quickly go through two rope breaks, the match is relatively even, with neither of them having a clear-cut advantage, and looking like relative equals. Anjo even dishes out some errant slaps and Tamura returns fire. But having to use the two breaks so close together seems to take the wind out of Tamura’s sails. He makes a small comeback to force Anjo to use one of his own breaks, but afterwards he appears to be too spent to do much else. Anjo gets a pair of downs, and when he can’t make Tamura submit to a sleeper he switches gears to a modified cross kneelock to get the tap out.
YOSHIAKI FUJIWARA vs. NORMAN SMILEY
Although this is ridiculously short and features a possibly blown finish (both Norman and Fujiwara look legit angry after the bell rings), this is still fun for the six minutes that it lasts. Nobody thinks Norman has a chance of knocking off Fujiwara, but that’s part of the charm. It’s like watching a football game between an undefeated top ranked team, and a team ranked at or near the bottom with very few, or no, wins of their own. The end result is in zero doubt, but the question is how far the eventual winners will go to make their point. In this case, it’s not too terribly far. The Fuj shows that he can literally wrestle circles around his opponent, and then tries to let him show what he can do.
The really cool moment comes when Norman gets a legbar and Fujiwara just lays there unphased, like he’s waiting for Norman to do something to make the hold hurt. When Norman doesn’t respond, Fujiwara easily reverses course and puts Norman in the same hold. Norman throws some kicks to get free, but Fujiwara sucks them up and cinches the hold a bit tighter to send Norman scurrying to the ropes. Norman takes the hint and gets more aggressive, but he still can’t put Fujiwara in any real danger. He locks in the Norman Conquest and Fujiwara uses his legs to put pressure on Norman’s ankle to force him to release the hold. Norman also gets a chickenwing armlock and Fujiwara briefly goes for the ropes but changes his mind and turns himself away. Norman thinks he’s got him where he wants him and segues into a juji-gatame but winds up being in the ropes and the referee has to break them up. The official ruling on the finish is that Fujiwara wins by KO, but it’s not as cut and dry as it sounds. Fujiwara hits Norman with his headbutt to get him called down, and Norman gets to his feet by the count of nine. However, Norman fails to hold up both of his fists to show that he’s able to stand on his own and has his senses about him. So, the count isn’t broken, and Fujiwara is declared the winner.
NOBUHIKO TAKADA vs. TATSUO NAKANO
Nakano’s underdog mini push continues with a main event against one of the top guys of the promotion, and it’s a surprisingly fun match. It helps that Takada is better than he’d previously been about letting his opponent look good, and that Nakano sticks to his strengths, namely striking and suplexes. Nakano’s aggression is fully on display as soon as the bell rings, and he takes Takada by surprise and scores with several strikes, culminating in getting the first down of the match. He also shocks everyone by hitting Takada with a vertical suplex and also dropping him with a big German suplex.
The only real weak part of the match is a legbar segment from Takada, where he’s clearly shown to be resting. But even that works in its own way of taking advantage of Nakano’s weakness, and also getting a chance to rest after Nakano had been taking the fight to him so much. Once Takada is able to force Nakano into playing to his strengths, he’s never in danger of losing again. Takada gets some revenge for the earlier onslaught with some kicks of his own that cause Nakano to be called as down, as well as a series of mounted slaps and palm strikes, just to remind Nakano where his place is, and then gets a juji-gatame for a quick submission.
MINORU SUZUKI vs. JOHNNY BARRETT
While this isn’t anything great, or really even that good, it’s fun just to see how much better Suzuki is than Barrett. Barrett’s strategy is to use his size to his advantage, but Suzuki is good enough to offset that. He attacks early on with things like leg kicks and slaps at the face and head, and Barrett’s lack of speed lets Suzuki catch his kicks and take him to the ground on more than one occasion. The only real success from Barrett comes when his leg kicks to Suzuki do enough damage for the ref to call Suzuki down and start counting, but Suzuki isn’t even off his feet and certainly isn’t dazed enough for that to work. Most of the time, Barrett is able to get control of the match through some sort of lucky break, such as Suzuki foolishly trying to pick him up for a suplex or Suzuki missing his dropkick. And, he keeps going back to a front headlock submission, even though Suzuki never has trouble getting himself free of the hold. Barrett makes Suzuki use one rope break when he manages to get a grounded sleeper, and after the ref stands them up, Suzuki takes Barrett over and gets a juji-gatame to end the match to a truly thunderous reaction, as though the crowd all just figured that this was only booked to give Barrett a win after he’d lost to Takada and Maeda.
KAZUO YAMAZAKI vs. BART VALE
Vale more or less works like a bigger, slower, and clunkier version of Sayama. He likes to kick and doesn’t do much else particularly well. Luckily, Yamazaki does what he can to pick up the pieces. He does an admirable job of putting over Vale’s kicks, including getting downed in the first minute thanks to one of them, and afterwards he shows them a certain respect by backing off when he sees Vale getting ready to throw one. Yamazaki is even forced to break a legbar thanks to Vale kicking his way free. Vale works in a few holds as well, including a rather tight looking sleeper and even a Fujiwara armbar. But he’s not in the same galaxy as Yamazaki, and despite being willing to make Vale look decent, Yamazaki also reminds everyone of just how much better he is. Especially when it’s clear that Vale’s only attack is his kicks, and Yamazaki easily swoops down and takes the big man off his feet. After Vale’s Fujiwara armbar, Yamazaki does his own tribute to The Fuj in the form of a headbutt. While Vale is still stunned, he locks in a sleeper and Vale taps when he realized that he’s got nowhere to go and no way to escape.
AKIRA MAEDA vs. SHIGEO MIYATO
Much like the previous match, as well as the matches from the day before, the result here isn’t exactly in doubt. It’s the perennial curtain jerker versus the top star of the promotion. But it’s worked like a squash, which just shouldn’t be the case in the main event. Maeda is almost machine-like, as he systematically makes Miyato go through his rope breaks and start burning his points. Miyato makes a short comeback (to a huge reaction) which consists of one kick to the midsection, a backdrop suplex, and a single leg crab (Kick, Submission, Suplex). But once Maeda gets the ropes to break the crab, he quickly drops Miyato with his Capture suplex and then finishes him off with a juji-gatame. It sounds crazy to think that the reason for this being such a disappointing main event isn’t because of Miyato, but here it is happening. Maeda didn’t seem to want to do any more than the bare minimum as far as Miyato getting any kind of offense. And, while nobody would have given Miyato a prayer of beating Maeda, the point of working the match is creating doubt.
Conclusion: This isn’t bad or anything, everything is at least watchable, but it’s missing a real standout match or performance.