2002 · Naoya Ogawa · Shinjiro Ohtani · ZERO-1

Naoya Ogawa vs Shinjiro Ohtani-ZERO-1 2.3.2002.

Ah, the joys of prime ZERO-1. Ogawa is basically a demi-God at this point-as in he’d probably rather die than job. Him losing is not happening. But damned he shall be if he doesn’t try, as Ohtani brings THE FIRE, and takes advantage of Ogawa beefing with Murakami to blindsight him with a Dropkick and just totally go on offence. And it is very much a tale of hierarchy, as Ogawa’s Harai Goshi or STO does about as much damage as ten Ohtani’s move do. Ohtani is a pro wrestler-this is pro wrestling, and to hell with it all-kick Ogawa from behind when he’s not looking, punch him in the dick, you gotta do what you gotta go. But the zeal of his actions only makes it that much more tragical-as much bigger heroes have fallen at the hands of Naoya. Ohtani’s victory was in that he managed to hit him with the junior moves he cherished so much, as well as achieve the ultimate symbolic victory for pro wrestling in irish whipping him. He got his head smashed in by a Judo World Champion for it to the point the ref had to intervene, so maybe he should have reconsidered his life priorities and move defending the honour of prowres down the list. Maybe move to the countryside. Grow organic food. Become a vegan. Eat humus. Try DDP Yoga. Certainly better for you than getting concussed. ****

1991 · Billy Scott · Kazuo Yamazaki · UWFi

Kazuo Yamazaki vs Billy Scott-UWFi 30.7.1991.

This was a very pleasant surprise-particularly in the level of *wrestling* displayed. Some of the takedowns were just unreal-particularly Yamazaki’s twisting one and the one where Scott transitioned into a Stepover Toehold.   The stand up portions were as badass as you’d hope from a Yamazaki match and the standing choke made for a sweet finish too, especially with there being a threat of a takedown that they’d established with Scott doing so much cool amateur wrestling stuff. ***1/2

1991 · Kazuo Yamazaki · Tatsuo Nakano · UWFi · Yoji Anjoh · Yuko Miyato

Kazuo Yamazaki & Tatsuo Nakano vs. Yoji Anjoh & Yuko Miyato-UWFi 10.5.1991.

Lots of goodness here. Match started of pretty slow but I find it muche easier to concentrate when wrestlers are fighting for position, gauging the distance for striking and generally acting like they are actually fighting than when they just grab a hadlock for five minutes. Early highlight was Nakano busting out a shoot DDt, but things got out of control once Miyato broke Nakano’s nose with palm strikes, then the transitioned to a cool subplot of Anjoh and Nakano hitting each other with illegal elbows and they finished the match off with Anjoh and Yamazaki blasting each other and Yamazaki’s awesome selling of peril where he gradually acted weaker and weaker before going down. ***1/4-***1/2

1991 · Nobuhiko Takada · Tom Burton · UWFi

Nobuhiko Takada vs Tom Burton-UWFi 10.5.1991.

This was a pretty brilliant way of Takada putting himself over. Burton is an amateur guy whose skills here are limited to takedowns and slams, and even when he would do something on offence Takada was never lost, if he’d get taken down he’d keep a hold of Burton’s limb and prevent him from taking advantage of it. Burton’s selling here was as “big” as it can get in a shoot style match that I still like it, and with the narrative of Takada possessing superior technique it totally worked for me. This was also evident in Takada not having much trouble in escaping from Burton’s submissions while scoring the win the first time he grabbed a bigger hold  (and the slam he gave Burton before it just screamed “Takada #1”). Also Takada stiffed Burton with some really nice palm strikes and head kicks which I’ll always love. ***1/4

1991 · Kazuo Yamazaki · UWFi · Yuko Miyato

Kazuo Yamazaki vs Yuko Miyato-UWFi 6.6.1991

Miyato may not be a wizard on the ground but he’s capable enough to follow better opponents. This was designed for Yamazaki to get his heat back after losing on the first UWFi show and Miyato was a pretty good opponent to put him over, lots of very exciting stand up action and brutal kicks and knees. Highlights on the ground were Yamazaki grabbing some cool leglocks and an amazing spot where Miyato countered Yamazaki’s leglock by just kicking him in the side of the head which looked almost disgusting. Almost. ***1/4

1991 · Tatsuo Nakano · UWFi · Yoji Anjoh

Yoji Anjoh vs Tatsuo Nakano-UWFi 6.6.1991.

Before the match Anjoh signals he doesn’t want any elbows in this match, doing a callback to their tag from May and thus cueing the famed ~shoot style storytelling~. And so they fight, and Anjoh starts punching Nakano in the body and Nakano loses his temper and starts foreaming/elbowing Anjoh, somewhere in there he gets his nose broken and this turns into an even bigger shootfight with both athletes sneaking in punches during their striking flurries and an awesome flash finish. Sometimes the most shocking thing to do is to actually end the match instead of doing an escape/counter/kick-out when you’re most expecting it. ***1/2