Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Saturday, June 30, 2018

1993: UWF-I, Vader Ain't Got No Alibi

Super Vader vs. Kazuo Yamazaki UWF-I 8/13/93

ER: I love the energy for these matches, love how the Japanese workers act like they loathe Vader coming onto their turf, love how the fans seem resigned to the fact that Vader is going to smoosh their favorites, and so the absolutely lose it whenever their guys are aggressive or gain a momentary advantage. Something as little as Yamazaki going for a go behind, even though there was not even a tease of him being able to throw Vader, gets a major reaction. So when Yamazaki actually starts landing on Vader the crowd is going absolutely bonkers. And the stuff with Vader landing shots is just fantastic. Yamazaki keeps throwing kicks that are too catchable, and Vader starts off almost too nice, just kind of working a catch and release program with the kicks. But things change when Yamazaki somehow picks a leg and Vader ends up on his back. It doesn't feel totally honorable but I fully understand Yamazaki kicking at Vader's head while Vader is grounded. The fans don't care either as any advantage is an advantage. Yamazaki is so good at being right on top of it, as the second Vader gets to his feet he lands a huge spin kick that sends Vader crashing into the ropes. Vader is so great at falling into ropes, through the ropes, getting backed into a corner with precision kicks to the face, and the way he's staggering and falling makes it immediately look like Yamazaki has a legit chance. We get an absolutely nuts moment where both men tie each other up and fall into the ropes, tumbling fast and violent over the top to the floor. You don't often see someone fall through the ropes in a fight, but when you do it always feels like a big moment, and this felt like the biggest, pro wrestling version of that moment. But all it takes is Vader catching one kick for Kaz to accept that Vader is not messing around. He decks him with a huge punch, flings him with a slam, locks on a huge standing choke (imagine one of those arms hooked under your chin!!) and just buries him with a uranage. Vader is an absolute tidal wave in this environment.

Super Vader vs. Naoki Sano UWF-I 10/4/93

ER: Definitely the strikiest of the UWF-I Vader matches we've seen so far. Vader catches a kick early and Sano slaps Vader while Vader is HOLDING HIS LEG! Then Sano falls back into the ropes for the break. The balls on this man. But we get a ton of punch and kick flurries the entire match, from both men. Vader is less about catching a leg and landing a huge bomb, and more about throwing hard palm strikes to the head and body. At one point he fakes a downward righthand strike, Sano takes the bait and Vader hooks him in the ribs with a left. So awesome. Sano is not bashful about trading, and the fans get way into it, and when he knocks Vader down the fans are still thirsty for that big first Vader loss. Vader just starts crushing him though, dropping him with a couple of big Samoan drops (I would have bet money that Sano was going to grab some kind of choke when Vader went for the second one, shocked it didn't happen), and Vader's chokeslam is really becoming quite the finisher. Sano's opening was really great in this, as he low bridges Vader over the top to the floor, and Vader takes a mammoth (wooly mammoth?) bump to the floor. The buzz in the crowd whenever Vader goes down is super exciting, but Sano will not be the one to vanquish the Mastodon.

Super Vader vs. Nobuhiko Takada UWF-I 12/5/93

ER: A huge main event to cap off a huge stadium show. Takada was wildly over and hadn't lost a singles match in over a year and a half. Vader looked mostly unstoppable and was one of the biggest wrestling stars in the world. I love how Vader came into UWF-I and worked like Vader. There was no shootstyle here, it's just his style - that of a 400 pound mastodon - being dumped right in the middle of shootstyle workers. And he was such a giant boulder standing in the way of the native stars' success that it was the perfect style clash. Vader was a megastar and was treated as such, and there was electricity throughout this entire match because the fans saw Takada as unbeatable, yet also saw Vader as unbeatable, and they were having a hard time reconciling those two conflicting results in real time, so they were just vocally excited the entire time. Takada is vicious with leg kicks here, and Vader is so phenomenal at selling those leg kicks that - whether he was or not - I fully bought that every muscle in his thigh was getting completely knotted up. Vader had used a pretty successful tactic in his other UWF-I matches where he would walk through offense and just land big strikes, work to catch a kick and then throw a haymaker. But Takada's leg kicks are too strong. Vader works a more aggressive mat game than in his prior matches, here actively trying to land on Takada and working vicious grounded palm strikes and trying to pop Takada's head off with awful headlocks. He even rushes Takada with a takedown at one point, which he hasn't done so far in UWF-I. And his leg is getting so knotted up that he can barely stand, and does great theatrical things like pushing himself back to his feet off his good leg, and at one point he even gets himself to his feet by using the referee to push off of. Vader wisely abandons the tactic of trying to catch Takada's kicks, and starts immediately closing gaps during stand up, not giving Takada space to fire off kicks. Vader runs in close and just muscles him into slams, any one of which feels like Takada won't get up from. Vader attempts to fight Takada at his own game, wrestles him to the ground with an armbar, but Takada is slippery on the mat and Vader's size is more exploitable there, and getting Vader to tap was a monumental moment in wrestling history. Takada didn't get there easy, and he even fought a little dirty down the stretch, kicking Vader while he was down, kicking him in the chest and gut, really sadistically picking him apart before going after the arm. He didn't set out to win this way, but it was what he had to do to win. Two unbeatable men, doing what they had to do. Vader's arm gets a fucking  stretcher job, and it's the greatest. There are two men, holding Vader's injured arm in a stretcher, one walking in front of him and one behind, his injured arm nestled on a tiny stretcher.


Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home