1985 · AJPW · Nick Bockwinkel · Riki Choshu

Riki Choshu vs Nick Bockwinkel (AJPW 4.12.1985.)

I think Choshu is a pretty great matworker, this might not be *the* match to showcase, more of a mat-heavy match that showcases why Choshu was so great in general. I loved how Bockwinkel stepped on Choshu’s left leg while holding his right, that’s the kind of neat detail work you want to see from him. Choshu’s repetead counters to Bockwinkel’s takedown attempts were awesome, completely shutting down an opponent’s attempts at offence is something I love but you rarely see in wrestling. Bockwinkel countered Choshu’s Scorpion Deathlocks by pulling his hair and using everything he could, Choshu countered Bockwinkel’s Figure Four by chopping away at him and pushing him off, it was good stuff and the shots we got were all good looking, both Bockwinkel’s knees and Choshu’s chops looked vicious. The build to the Lariat is great but unfortunately it is followed by the ~cheap 80s finish~ (I don’t mind that the finish wasn’t clean but that it was lazily done and didn’t add to the match). At least the post-match brawling was fun. ***1/2

1985 · Akira Maeda · Super Tiger · UWF

Akira Maeda vs Super Tiger-UWF 7.1.1985.

An improvement over their september match which retains pretty much all of its strengths and sees its flaws subside. The matwork is better, as the holds are more varied and there is a bigger focus on acquiring positioning, properly defending and adjusting instead of just going “let’s grab an armbar again and we’ll work from there”. Here Maeda doesn’t just do nice slams, but actively tries to counter Sayama’s kicks and drag him to the ground. The sequences in which they’re desperately trying to get on top rule. The stand up sequences are even more violent than before, with nasty slaps, soccer kicks and elbow drops (which I don’t remember seeing look this good outside of a Johnny Valentine match JIP) added to the mix. Really, if there was just a bigger sense of danger on the mat, this could’ve been so much more than a great match. But you’d have something amazing happen and the follow up would be a crowd killing half crab, and so on it went. ****

1985 · Akira Maeda · Satoru Sayama · Super Tiger · UWF

Akira Maeda vs Super Tiger-UWF 25.7.1985.

I wouldn’t say it’s the best but the UWF 1 style is probably the most fascinating to watch. There is a distinct flair to the matwork and you always wonder what can they do. This is a match I could see many consider boring but I loved every second of it. Extremely minimalistic with struggle over every hold and transition. I loved Maeda’s Capture Suplexes and his waistlock slam and the way the much was structured, Maeda controlled the entire bout and won without it feeling like a squash. I found it extremely impressive that they managed to make an over 15 minute match with that narrative work without any twists and turns. ****