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

1988 · Tatsuo Nakano · UWF · Yoji Anjoh

Yoji Anjoh vs Tatsuo Nakano-UWF 12.5.1988.

The second match from UWFII’s first show Starting Over is as intruiguing, ambitious and entertaining as you’d hope for. The structure of the match is simple-it starts out with them simply gauging the distance with leg kicks and some simple takedowns and mat exchanges and the match gradually heats up. The way the holds are used here is hard to compare to anything else-like a weird combo of U-style and classic NWA style. Essentially, there are plenty of submission attempts where the submission isn’t fully locked in, and the true pay-off is more in the transition which comes after the hold than the hold itself. They managed to convincingly display their character gradually getting frustrated and going from cheapshots to just plain brawling. Anjoh pinballed as much as he possibly could’ve in this setting, the novelty of the style resulted in some interesting moments like Anjoh going for a Jacknife Pin, shooting Nakano into the ropes and Nakano going for a Dragon Suplex as well as going for a pin straight off a German. The match also had a well executed shoulder injury angle, which was sold fittingly (Anjoh targeted it with his kicks and strikes and went for submission on Nakano’s bad arm, Nakano sold it initially and after the match but didn’t weep and go overboard). Really, had they found conclusions other than rope breaks a few more times when there was a locked in submission this would’ve easily been a great match. ***3/4

2017 · Katsuhiko Nakajima · Mohammed Yone · NOAH

Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Mohammed Yone-NOAH 4.6.2017.

This is a battle of two kickers (well, Yone is a kicker when he’s motivated enough to be one) on a Misawa memorial show, and you get exactly what you’d expect. Aside from the opening sequence, there aren’t really any differences in the type of work throughout the match-they almost immediately get to striking at each other, with the intensity and urgence being the main difference depending on when it took place.  They in their shots nicely, the control segments aren’t huge, but Yone does get tangible control over the match and at point Nakajima just goes berserk, mounting Yone and just killing him with forearms, setting off the finishing stretch. Yone’s Lariats throughout the match looked great, Nakajima is great at using his kicks as cut-offs (espeacially in the later portions of the match) and the double slap spot was very cool and almost surprisingly fresh. They managed to get the crowd invested in the match without forcing an epic or going needlessly long, which was probably the right call for a “smaller” title defence. ***1/2

2017 · Koji Kanemoto · Minoru Tanaka · Mitsuyoshi Nakai · NEW · Yuyu Susumu

Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs. Mitsuyoshi Nakai & Yuya Susumu-NEW 2.6.2017.

Kanemoto was so great here-just playing a marvelous prick and bullying Nakai and Susumu. Nakai put on a really good performance himself, trying to match Kanemoto both in stiffness and dastardliness. Tanaka did his shtick, which is putting more effort into getting his pose in than the actual wrestling, and Susumu looked like a generic japanese indy wrestler, even busting out a Pedigree Codebreaker at one point. Assuming Kanemoto does more in NEW I could see him and Nakai having a great feud akin to the one he had with Kazuki Hashimoto a few years ago, we really could use more kicker vs kicker match-ups. Handshakes are refused after the match once again and NEW shines as a beacon of hope for japanese wrestling. ***-***1/4

2017 · NEW

Akira Jo vs. Katsumi Oribe-NEW 2.6.2017.

Akira Jo tells us he’s going to show us a new version of himself! I’m not sure exactly what the old version of Akira Jo was, but let’s not dwell on that. Apparently he made some changes on his gear and whatnot. In his way stands Katsumi Oribe, a senior wrestler nicknamed “Mr. Karate”. You will be shocked to learn Mr. Karate’s signature offence includes karate kicks. A fun little match-it’s weird some of these NEW matches manage to be eerily similar to modern puro matches but unique in that they get the important stuff right. They do a bunch of elbow exchanges here-and their elbow shots look fine, but it’s the way they sell the aggression and dedication that really makes it work, as well as all the other strikes and kicks they throw in to keep it varied. Most of Oribe’s kicks looked good, though he couldn’t really land the standing high kick properly. The crowd got into Jo’s comeback before he was inevitably put away. The post-match handshake turning into a mini brawl was nice, handshake and hugs have plagued everything from indy wrestling to the UFC, there’s a lack of post-match hate that I hope NEW can fill. ***

2017 · Lin Dong Xuan · NEW · Tatsuhito Takaiwa

Lin Dong Xuan vs Tatsuhito Takaiwa-NEW 2.6.2017.

A new challenge arises as I wonder how to accurately transcribe chinese names, almost wishing they’d just gimmick them in a full caps single word. Lin is a natural-his charisma and wit really shine in a match like this. It doesn’t look like he’s quite figured out what to do offensively yet, but here it didn’t matter much, as all he had to do was pinball was Takaiwa’s offence and make goofy faces. An entertaining squash. ***