UWF-I Commercial Tape on 7/22/95
review by Ryan Mancuso

Hello again, I have returned with another review of UWF-I. This show is from July 22, 1995. It takes place at the Hakata Star Lane in Fukuoka. Although it is a little bit bigger than Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, but it is still a smaller building that UWF-I is running. As a result, they could put a card where the successor to shoot style wrestling in Kiyoshi Tamura could headline and Takada could take the night off. They would have to rely on Tamura as a draw because UWF-I was losing three of their top names in Vader, Gary Albright and Kazuo Yamazaki. His opponent is a man who is fighting to take his spot as UWF-I's #2 wrestler in Masahito Kakihara. That match has the makings to be a classic.

I forgot to mention this last time I reviewed UWF-I. The ways that a wrestler can win in UWF-I was through KO, submission or the opponent has 0 points left. The points system in UWF-I was that a wrestler would start with 15 points or 21 points under tag team rules. A wrestler breaking a submission by reaching the ropes means that they lose 1 point. A wrestler getting suplexed overhead, from what I have seen in UWF-I, would lose 1 point. A wrestler getting knocked down from a strike, but able to get up before the 10 count, loses 3 points. Here is the review of this show:

Hiromistu Kanehara vs. Kenichi Yamamoto

The match started out pretty even with neither man gaining the advantage standing or on the ground. Yamamoto took the early advantage with a knockdown by landing a few kicks on a Kanehara that slipped on the bottom rope. After that knockdown, Kanehara's experience took over. He scored knockdowns by using knee strikes and forced Yamamoto to break submissions by using the ropes. Kanehara scored the submission victory by using a cross armbreaker on Yamamoto.

Steve Nelson vs. James Stone

For those who may not know, James Stone is wrestler now known as Nunzio or Little Guido to older ECW fans. This was a pretty intense match with Stone taking a few cheapshots while the referee was trying to break up the action near the ropes. Nelson got frustrated and starting firing some shots of his own. It definitely made for a more exciting match. Nelson got the submission win with a headlock and armlock combination.

Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Tatsuo Nakano

Takayama was still skinny in 1995, but he was also starting to climb the ranks of UWF-I. On this night, he faced veteran Tatsuo Nakano. Things were looking really bad for Takayama in this match because Nakano was forcing him to lose points by knockdowns and rope breaks. It was so bad that Takayama had only 3 points remaining. That meant if Nakano scores another knockdown then he wins the match by point loss. However, Takayama was able to find an opening with a release German suplex and sunk in a front neck lock for a tap out victory over the veteran. This was a fun match with them using the points system to tell a story.

Yoji Anjo & Joe Malenko vs. Naoki Sano & Kazushi Sakuraba

Joe Malenko is the older brother of current WWE agent Dean Malenko. Many consider him to be an even better in-ring wrestler than his brother. I have not seen enough Joe Malenko that sways me one way or the other, but it is possible with the matches I have seen from him. This was a great tag match with Malenko teaming with the charismatic Anjo. They face Kazushi Sakuraba before he became the Gracie Hunter and a Mixed Martial Arts legend, and one of the most underrated wrestlers ever in Naoki Sano.

This was an excellent tag match. It seemed the purpose of this match was to let rising star, Kazushi Sakuraba, get the spotlight. Sano took a backseat for most of the match, and let his partner do most of the work. Sakuraba did really well. He had some really nice exchanges with Anjo and Malenko. With his improvement during his UWF-I stint, I think Sakuraba would have done really well in pro wrestling had he never gone into MMA. Of course, he would not be as rich and famous as he is now either. With Sakuraba being in the ring so much, I almost forgot that Sano was in the match. Sano looked really good when he was in there. He looked so smooth in the shoot-style environment. Here is the play-by-play for this match:

Bell rings with Anjo and Sano starting the match off. They block each others striking attempts and wrestle on the mat. Anjo almost locks on the sleeper, but Sano easily gets out of it by standing up. They tie up and Anjo takes Sano down with a headlock. Sano gets out and tries a Fujiwara armbar. Anjo positions out of the way. Both men are tussling, but neither can gain an advantage. They reach Anjo's corner, and Malenko tags himself in the match. Sano and Malenko have a beautiful wrestling exchange with so many teases of holds by both men escaping. It seems that Malenko had Sano in a cross knee scissors hold, but Sano reversed it into a leglock of his own. Malenko fought hard to try and escape it. However, he had to reach the ropes to break the hold and lose the point. The score is 21-20 with Sano and Sakuraba having the advantage.

Sano throws a kick to the leg then Malenko ties up with Sano and takes him down with a strong hiptoss. Sano positions out of a disadvantageous position on the ground and goes for a Fujiwara armbar. Malenko tries roll out of it, but Sano holds onto the leg. While it was not the counter Malenko was looking for, but it did take pressure away from the armbar. They standup and Malenko takes Sano down again with a headlock. Sano transitions into a chinlock and Malenko escapes. Both men are looking for leg submissions, but neither is successful. Sano tags in Sakuraba. Sakuraba throws a few kicks, but none do any damage. They tie up, and Sakuraba takes Malenko down with a facelock. Sakuraba goes for a cross armbreaker, but Malenko blocks it. Malenko is now on top. He picks up Sakuraba, and drags him to his corner. Malenko tags in Anjo.

Anjo throws a few knees to Sakuraba's midsection. Sakuraba catches on and takes Anjo down. Sakuraba goes for a Boston crab, and Anjo is desperately fighting to make sure the hold is not locked in. Anjo succeeds, and they are back in a positioning battle on the mat. Sakuraba wins by locking in a heel hook. Anjo fighting to escape, and has to reach the ropes for a break. The score is now 21-19. Sakuraba charges, but Anjo catches him with a kick. Anjo clinches, uses a few knees and takes Sakuraba down with a suplex to make the score 20-19. Anjo positions himself to put Sakuraba in a single-leg Boston crab and even grabs one of Sakuraba's arms while doing so. Sakuraba reaches the ropes to break the hold and the score is tied at 19.

As Sakuraba was getting up, Anjo kicks Sakuraba's legs from under him and locks him in a camel clutch. Anjo breaks the hold when Sakuraba's feet were underneath the ropes, but there was no loss of point. Anjo tags in Malenko. Malenko nails Sakuraba in the back with a few forearms, and tries to use a bow-and-arrow dragon sleeper. Sakuraba is able to escape the hold and place himself on top of the north-south position. Malenko throws a few knees from the bottom. He drags Sakuraba to his corner and tags Anjo back in. Anjo is firing off kicks onto a Sakuraba. A spin kick knocks Sakuraba down, and the referee makes a 10 counts. Sakuraba is able to get up before 10. Now the score is 19-16 in the favor of Anjo and Malenko.

Anjo throws a few slaps and clinched knees. Anjo throws a kick, but Sakuraba catches it and takes him down. Both men are trying to put the other in a heel hook, but neither was successful. However, Sakuraba was able to position himself into putting Anjo in a Scorpion Deathlock. Anjo was in serious trouble for a few moments, but manages to reach the ropes to make the score 18-16. As Anjo was getting up, Sakuraba threw a few kicks and dragged him to his corner so that he could tag Sano in. Sano throwing a few kicks, including a spin kick, and takes him down with a front facelock suplex. Sano keeps the guillotine on, but Anjo reaches the ropes. The score is now 17-16. Anjo gets up and throws a kick. Sano catches it and takes Anjo down. Sano puts Anjo into a Boston crab. Anjo is crawling to the ropes, but Sano drags him back to the center of the ring. Anjo crawls again and succeeds this time in reach the ropes. The score is tied at 16 and Malenko is tagged in.

Sano grabs Malenko's arms and takes him down. Sano tries to put on a crossface chickenwing. Malenko is fighting really hard to get out of the hold, but Sano clasps his hands together and the hold is applied. Malenko reaches the ropes for the break with gives Sano and Sakuraba a 16-15 advantage. Sakuraba is tagged back in. Sakuraba is throwing a few kicks, but Malenko takes him down. Sakuraba positions himself into a cross armbreaker position. He almost locks the hold in, but Malenko reaches the ropes as the score is now 16-14. Anjo tagged in and kicks Sakuraba's leg from under him. Anjo goes for a leg and arm submission, but Sakuraba escapes with a rope break. The score is now 15-14. Sakuraba trying to get a submission with Anjo's arm in the standing position, but Anjo manages to use a release German suplex for another point loss to tie the score at 14. Anjo puts Sakuraba in a front facelock and tags in Malenko.

Malenko takes Sakuraba down and locks him in a butterfly hold. Sakuraba reaches the ropes and the score is 14-13 in favor of Anjo and Malenko. Sakuraba catches Malenko with a few knees in the midsection and a kick sends him down. The referee makes the count. Malenko quickly gets up and the score is 13-11. Malenko takes Sakuraba down with a bodyscissors and ties him in a cross knee scissors hold. Sakuraba immediate reaches the ropes for the score is now 12-11. Malenko tags in Anjo. Sakuraba and Anjo tussle on the mat. Anjo locks in a rear naked choke, but Sakuraba reaches the ropes. The score is tied at 11. Anjo tags in Malenko. Malenko tried a takedown, but Sakuraba blocked it and wound up on Malenko's back. Sakuraba tags in Sano.

Sano nails Malenko with a dropkick, and the referee counts it as a knockdown. Malenko barely answers the 10 count and the score is now 11-8. Malenko uses a few European uppercuts and Sano responds with a spin kick. Malenko picks up Sano and slams him on the mat. Both men are wrestling on the mat and looking for an advantage. Sano finds it, and locks in a dragon sleeper with a bodyscissors. With Malenko locked in that hold tight, he taps out to give Sano and Sakuraba the victory. After the match, everyone shakes hands in good sportsmanship.

Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Masahito Kakihara

This was a very disappointing main event considering the quality of wrestlers these two men are. The main reason I felt this match was a disappointment was due to the fact that it was barely 6 minutes long. There was no opportunity to build any drama. I guess they wanted to show that Tamura was definitely above Kakihara in the UWF-I rankings and the fans that any match in UWF-I could end quickly. The match was them wrestling to find a favorable position, a tease by Kakihara twice with the ankle lock and Tamura getting the win with the cross armbreaker. When I got this show, I was excited to see this main event between two of UWF-I's best wrestlers. However, I feel a little empty inside from this short match.

Final Thoughts: Outside of the very disappointing main event, I thought this was a good card. Anjo & Malenko vs. Sano & Sakuraba was a great match, and showed that the UWF-I style of match could work under a tag team format. The other matches were not too bad either. If you could find the tag match on a compilation tape, then the rest of the show is not memorable enough to check out the entire show. If you had to get the entire show to see the tag match, then the rest of the matches are worth viewing once.

Final Score: 6.0 [Average]

Ryan Mancuso can be reached at ryanm2k4@gmail.com

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