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Akira Maeda vs Kazuo Yamazaki-UWF 12.5.1988.

This was essentially a shoot style spotfest for the most part. I quite like their offence, so I didn’t have much problem with it, even if it seemed there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to it. There were occassional highlights in the matwork in the form of a cool counter, but for the most part it was just fine and used like submission finishers are in modern wrestling, milked to get the crowd behind the wrestler crawling to the ropes. In that sense I liked how they didn’t make it too obvious what they were doing, as they’d have a wrestler reach the ropes before the crowd paked in vocal support or before they even had enough time to start chanting at all too. Still, the best parts of the match were the kicking flurries, and the match just reached a higher level once they reached the finishing stretch and the match turned into an all out brawl, it was like a pastiche of a Bruce Lee movie and a high end K1 fight which appropriated the best of both worlds. It had took the cartoonish stamina and reistance of an action movie and the brutality and kicking precision from actual combat, but also maybe the best exhaustion selling ever. Maeda and Yamazaki looked completely gassed, and a desperate Maeda trying to grab Yamazaki’s leg to counter with a Capture Suplex was an amazing sight, and the rowdiness of the crowd even minutes after the match really cemented how much 99% of wrestling is missing out by not having the ability and vision to fully encapsulate the humanity of combat. ****1/4

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