*Mike Lorefice's comments will be preceded by his initials.* *Special thanks to Will Colosimo for his assistance in this column.* We are all set to continue blazing through 1992, this time with the PWFG’s first offering of the year. This should prove to be a critical event for the company, as not only are Fujiwara and crew going into this at a disadvantage by having chosen to not have a powerful statement with a solid year-end event last month, but also because the UWFI fired some major warning shots with their 1-9-92 event. Not only did we get another great match between Hiromitsu Kanehara and Masakazu Maeda, but we were also provided a splendid affair (with what will surely be one of the best things to come out of 1992) with Kiyoshi Tamura vs Yuko MIyato. Needless to say, all the momentum is on the UWFI’s side coming into the new year, and while RINGS proved they are still in the hunt with the arrival of Volk Han and some of the Sediokaikan clan, Fujiwara’s group appears to be the most venerable going forward. The Match That Never Was…. The date is 1-15-92 and we are now at the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, a relatively small venue (with an approximate capacity of 5000) that recently closed its doors in September of 2020 as is due to be replaced with a grander version in the Yokohama United Arena in 2024. No time is wasted as we are only given some brief footage of the venue and a close up of a flyer for tonight’s event, which strangely seems to suggest some kind of bout between Minrou Suzuki and Masakatsu Funaki, which would have been welcome by all, but was sadly only given to us later on in 1994 at Pancrase’s Road to the Championship 4 in a farce of a contest, which lasted under 2mins and was probably the most overtly worked match in that promotions history. First up is Wellington Wilkins, Jr. vs Kazuo Takahashi, and the last time we saw Takahashi he was having his head punted off his body, courtesy of Ken Shamrock. I wouldn’t have blamed Takahashi for taking the two months off to heal from that confrontation, but keeping true to his insane warrior reputation, he instead fought a Thai kickboxer at an All Japan Kickboxing event on 12-22-91, which was also the same night that the UWF-I was having their Takada/Berbick blowout. This was reportedly a legit shoot, but we at Kakutogi HQ are attempting to locate a copy of this event to confirm and will update everyone should we be successful. Takahashi Moonlighting on the Side... *Photo Provided by the W-Colosimo Archives* The fight is underway and after a few moments of feeling each other out Takahashi quickly slams Wilkins onto the ground and starts looking for an armbar. Wilkins responded by rolling to his stomach and started to turtle when Takahashi pulled a slick move by moving off to the side of Wilkins and then proceeded to put his right forearm under Wilkin’s right armpit, and grabbed Wilkins right wrist with his left arm. He then grabbed his own left wrist with his right hand, and then rolled over Wilkins’ shoulder, thereby gaining a back-mount position, which he used to try and sink in a rear naked choke. Chael Sonnen tried something similar against Fedor Emelianenko in 2018, but he should have brushed up on his PWFG videos, as he failed miserably. The choke didn’t take however, as Wilkins was able to arch back enough to do something of a cartwheel onto his head, which allowed him to slide out and attempt a guillotine in the ensuing scramble. Takahashi made it to the ropes and the ref called for a break. Sonnen Should Have Taken Notes… What followed for the next ten minutes was a nice slice of a more understated approach to this style. Both fighters were always trying to punctuate their movements with strikes, either as a way to create an opening for a submission, or as a way to shift the movement of the other person, which in the context of early 90s pro wrestling is quite advanced. This also held true for when they were on the ground, and while it wasn’t all out ground and pound like we are used to seeing with modern eyes, it was refreshing to see them not forget that this was still an option. If there was a drawback to be found, it was that Wilkins has all the charisma and stage presence of sandpaper, and while his striking was a marked improvement from his last outing, he still tends to mix his decent shots with blows that are way too soft. Overall, this was a very solid way to start things off, though I can understand why some would find it dry. ML: Wilkins get a better job here, but this was one of those matches that there's really no reason to recommend. It was neither exciting nor truly credible. It leaned more towards the former, but the matwork was more towards no control judo based laying in wait. The match was perhaps good by early UWF standards, but at this point that's not really cutting it. Takahashi was on the defensive the whole time then won out of nowhere.