Remembering the UWF in Japan

The history of the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF) in Japan is a rich and storied one, tracing its roots back to the mid-1980s and the birth of shoot-style professional wrestling in the country.

In the early 1980s, Japanese pro wrestling was dominated by the big promotion companies like All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), who ran traditional, scripted matches that followed strict storylines and featured exaggerated, over-the-top characters. However, a group of young wrestlers led by Nobuhiko Takada sought to change this and create a new style of pro wrestling that was more realistic and grounded in actual martial arts techniques.

In 1984, Takada and several other wrestlers split from AJPW and founded the UWF, which quickly became known for its hard-hitting, realistic matches that often ended in shoot-style finishes where one wrestler would force their opponent to submit for real. The UWF was an instant hit with fans, and its success spawned a number of imitators, including the rivaling Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi (PWFG) promotion.

Over the next several years, the UWF became one of the top pro wrestling promotions in Japan, drawing sell-out crowds and producing some of the most memorable matches in Japanese pro wrestling history. Among its most famous stars were Takada himself, as well as Akira Maeda, Kazuo Yamazaki, and Satoru Sayama (better known as Tiger Mask).

However, by the late 1980s, the UWF was facing financial difficulties, and it was eventually forced to close its doors in December 1987. Despite this setback, many of its stars continued to make a name for themselves in the world of pro wrestling, with Takada in particular going on to become one of the biggest stars in the industry.

In the years that followed, the UWF remained an important part of Japanese pro wrestling history, and its influence can still be felt in the shoot-style and mixed martial arts promotions that exist in the country today. It is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential promotions in the history of Japanese pro wrestling, and its legacy continues to inspire new generations of wrestlers and fans.

In conclusion, the UWF’s impact on Japanese professional wrestling was huge, and it remains one of the most important and influential promotions in the history of the industry. From its hard-hitting, realistic matches to its talented roster of stars, the UWF will always be remembered as a pivotal moment in the development of Japanese pro wrestling.

About the Author

Jeremy Deschner
Black Belt in American Karate from the Texas Karate Institute. Now training in Brazilian Jiujitsu in Japan. Twitter: @mmajpn1 @jiujitsu_Jedi

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