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. ****

1984 · Akira Maeda · Super Tiger · UWF

Akira Maeda vs Super Tiger-UWF 11.9.1984.

UWF1 has such a distinct flair-Battlarts may be the closest comparison, but Battlarts was essentially Yuki Ishikawa and friends wrestling in the basement doing cool stuff which came to mind. It didn’t really present the revolutionary bridge proto shoot-style did nor it did have actual stars and hot crowds. The orange apron mats quickly stood out as did the fact reaching their area was enough for a rope break-actually touching the ropes or extending one of your limbs underneath them wasn’t a necessity. The grappling here wasn’t particularly complex-blocking a double wristlock by using a knee, rolling out of armbars, kicking away your opponent’s arm to get a full armbar etc. are nice detailed work compared to the average “sit in an illogical hold for a while, occassionally yell”, but they’re a far cry from the style’s peak. The takedowns were more interesting than the grappling-the one Tiger set up with a feint kick was especially sweet. Maeda answered with suplexes you see he did hundreds of squats for, the finishing stretch had lots of fun head kicking and Super Tiger’s insistence on using classic prowres offence gave them a clear focus to build around. ***1/2
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. ****

1984 · Satoru Sayama · Super Tiger · UWF · Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Super Tiger-UWF 5.12.1984.

This is my favourite Fujiwara/Super Tiger match. They work it with Fujiwara having the upper hand on the mat and Tiger being the dominant striker but the gaps aren’t huge and both can hang and fire back in both departments. Fujiwara is awesome here, busting out awesome takedowns, countering Tiger’s strikes, reversing his holds on the mat etc. but he also has all time great punches and just rocks Tiger with them when they’re standing. There’s a really great moment when Fujiwara starts choking Super Tiger with a Sleeper and Sayama sells it with this disgusting cough. Finishing stretch is just unreal with Sayama killing Fujiwara with brutal kicks seemingly forever and his knee drop is also up there with the best there have ever been. Fujiwara is the master at blocking kicks and reversing everything so you can buy he could come back at any time but Sayama just keeps on kicking him in the head and destroying him and it’s this super dramatic struggle and then one time when Fujiwara finally gets a comeback in he gets cocky and throws a headbutt that knocks HIM down. That spot played up so many things, from Fujiwara’s arrogance to the damage of Sayama’s offence neutralizing a spot that I don’t think had ever been neutralized before. And he just keeps on killing him and pretty much invents the shoot style KO/TKO finish in the process.*****