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Union of Professional Wrestling Force International, better known as UWF International, U-Inter, or simply UWFi, was a
shoot style Shoot wrestling is a combat sport that has its origins in Japan's professional wrestling circuit of the 1970s. Professional wrestlers of that era attempted to use more realistic or even "full contact" moves in their matches to increase their excit ...
professional wrestling promotion A professional wrestling promotion is a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality, legal or a mixture of both, with a spe ...
in
Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat = Golden circle subdiv ...

Japan
from 1991 to 1996. The UWF international was the successor to the ''Newborn UWF'' that ran from 1988 to 1990, which itself was the successor to the original Universal Wrestling Federation. Although the matches were predetermined (there were a few notable legitimate contests), the UWF-i was very convincing for its time, promoting a
combat Combat (French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western ...
-based style featuring a mix of
wrestling Wrestling is a combat sport involving grappling-type techniques such as clinch fighting, throw (grappling), throws and takedown (grappling), takedowns, joint locks, Grappling hold#Pinning hold, pins and other grappling holds. The sport can eithe ...

wrestling
,
submission grappling#REDIRECT Submission wrestling Submission Wrestling, also known as Submission Fighting, Submission grappling, Sport grappling, is a form of competition and a general term for martial arts and combat sports that focus on clinch and ground fight ...
and
kickboxing Kickboxing is a group of stand-up Stand-up comedy is a comedy Performing arts, performance to a live audience, addressed directly from the stage. The performer is known as a comic, comedian, or simply stand-up. Overview Stand-up comedy ...

kickboxing
. In retrospect, UWFi, along with other shoot-style promotions, served as a precursor to
mixed martial arts Mixed martial arts (MMA), sometimes referred to as cage fighting, no holds barred (NHB), and ultimate fighting, is a full-contact combat sport based on strike (attack), striking, grappling and ground fighting, incorporating techniques from vari ...

mixed martial arts
and to popular Japanese MMA promotions, particularly
Pride FC Pride Fighting Championships (Pride or Pride FC, founded as KRS-Pride) was a Japanese mixed martial arts promotion company. Its inaugural event was held at the Tokyo Dome on October 11, 1997. Pride held more than sixty mixed martial arts eve ...
. The promotion was also known for hiring dangerous shooters
Lou Thesz Aloysius Martin "Lou" Thesz (April 24, 1916 – April 28, 2002) was an American professional wrestler. A twenty-five time world champion, he held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times for a combined total of 10 years, three months ...
,
Billy Robinson William Alfred Robinson (18 September 1938 – 3 March 2014) was a United Kingdom, British professional wrestler and wrestling instructor. Robinson was one of the few wrestlers who was successful in several continents (Europe, North America, Asia ...
and
Danny Hodge Daniel Allen Hodge (May 13, 1932 – December 25, 2020) was an American wrestler and boxer. He is renowned for his wrestling career, both amateur An amateur (; ; ) is generally considered a person who pursues a particular activity or field of stu ...
as trainers and promoters of their product in order to establish legitimate credibility.


History

The promotion was founded on May 10, 1991, as a continuation of the UWF. The UWF-i featured most of UWF's roster, and was led by
Nobuhiko Takada Nobuhiko Takada ( ja, 高田伸彦, ring name: ) (born April 12, 1962) is a Japanese former mixed martial artist, retired professional wrestler, actor and writer. He competed in New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) is a Puroresu, Japanese professio ...

Nobuhiko Takada
, who was the top star and the face of the promotion. Other natives for the promotion included
Kazuo Yamazaki is a Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat = Golden ...
,
Yoji Anjo (born March 28, 1967) is a retired Japanese professional wrestler and mixed martial artist. Professional wrestling career Universal Wrestling Federation and New Japan Pro Wrestling (1985–1988) A former practitioner of judo, sumo i ...

Yoji Anjo
,
Kiyoshi Tamura is a Japanese Professional wrestling, professional wrestler and mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist. Once a student of legendary professional wrestlers Lou Thesz, Billy Robinson and Akira Maeda, Tamura was known for his skill in catch wrestl ...
, Tatsuo Nakano, Yuko Miyato,
Masahito Kakihara is a former Japanese professional wrestler and mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist, who is known for his work in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and UWF International (UWFI). Professional wrestling career Union of Wrestling Forces Internation ...
and kickboxer Makoto Oe. Vintage shooter
Billy Robinson William Alfred Robinson (18 September 1938 – 3 March 2014) was a United Kingdom, British professional wrestler and wrestling instructor. Robinson was one of the few wrestlers who was successful in several continents (Europe, North America, Asia ...
was used as head trainer for their gym (the UWFi Snakepit), and wrestling legends
Lou Thesz Aloysius Martin "Lou" Thesz (April 24, 1916 – April 28, 2002) was an American professional wrestler. A twenty-five time world champion, he held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times for a combined total of 10 years, three months ...
and
Danny Hodge Daniel Allen Hodge (May 13, 1932 – December 25, 2020) was an American wrestler and boxer. He is renowned for his wrestling career, both amateur An amateur (; ; ) is generally considered a person who pursues a particular activity or field of stu ...
occasionally served as trainers in their pursuit of old-school credibility. Former pro wrestler Shinji Sasazaki would lend a hand by helping some of the foreign talent, mostly from the Tennessee area, get booked on their cards. In 1992, the UWFi introduced its first championship, the "Real Pro-Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship", which was won by Takada after a victory over top foreign antagonist Gary Albright. Lou Thesz acted as commissioner and lent his 1950s National Wrestling Alliance, NWA World title belt to be used as the distinction for it. The theme of UWFi being "real pro-wrestling" was central to the promotion's image, and both Thesz and Takada would deride other Japanese promotions (particularly Takada's old promotion New Japan Pro-Wrestling) for being "fake", while claiming themselves to be legit. UWF-i, however, was no more legit than any other group at the time. Takada went so far as to challenge the champions of other major Japanese promotions (Mitsuharu Misawa (AJPW Triple Crown Champion at the time), Masahiro Chono (NWA World Heavyweight Champion at the time), and Keiji Mutoh, The Great Muta (IWGP Heavyweight Champion at the time), in an effort to determine who was the true world champion. In 1993, Big Van Vader, Super Vader, the World Heavyweight Champion from the United States-based World Championship Wrestling, accepted Thesz and Takada's grandstand challenge, whereas the aforementioned champions were "too afraid" of Takada to face him. After Gary Albright quit UWFi to join All Japan and Vader left over money disputes, the promotion was left with a lack of credible challengers to Takada's title, and interest in the promotion began to wane. After being overlooked several times over the years, Kazuo Yamazaki left to return to New Japan in July 1995.


Feud with New Japan Pro-Wrestling

In 1995, Anjo and other UWFi bookers proposed co-promoting with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, as a potential solution to their financial problems. New Japan booker Riki Choshu agreed, under the condition that New Japan have full control over the booking of the interpromotional matches. Thesz, who saw New Japan as another List of professional wrestling terms#G, gimmicky promotion, withdrew his support as a result and took the belt with him. For Choshu, it was an opportunity to get payback for Thesz and Takada's earlier derision of their wrestling style, and he was determined to show fans that the real stars were in New Japan. All of UWFi's stars mainly lost the interpromotional matches, with the exception of Takada, who won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on January 4, 1996. Kiyoshi Tamura had left UWFi before the feud in 1995, to join rival promotion, RINGS. In 1996, as the New Japan feud died down, UWFi formed an alliance with Genichiro Tenryu's WAR (professional wrestling), WAR. The damage to the promotion's credibility had already been done, however, and UWFi had its farewell card ("UWF FINAL") on December 27, 1996 at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall arena. Most of the UWFi roster formed Kingdom (professional wrestling), Kingdom, which would promote a similar product on a smaller scale. Kingdom would have a presence at UFC Japan: Ultimate Japan in 1997, as
Yoji Anjo (born March 28, 1967) is a retired Japanese professional wrestler and mixed martial artist. Professional wrestling career Universal Wrestling Federation and New Japan Pro Wrestling (1985–1988) A former practitioner of judo, sumo i ...

Yoji Anjo
would lose to Tank Abbott, while Kazushi Sakuraba won the heavyweight tournament.


Rules

The combatants would start with 15 points each. Points would be lost for knockout attempts, being at a disadvantage during a hold, and/or for breaking a hold by grabbing onto the ring ropes with hand(s) and/or feet. The only way to win was by submission, knockout (count of 10) or a wrestler's points being reduced to 0. Tag team matches were allowed as well, with 21 points (instead of 15) given to a team at start time. However, the points system was rarely referred to, as a wrestler or team losing points could still win by forcing his opponent to submit or by knocking him out. No pinfall counts were allowed, and no countouts were allowed (in practice, wrestlers never set foot outside the ring during the match). Similarly, six-man tag team matches occurred, but were rare, with 30 points given to a team at start time. In 1995, rules were somewhat relaxed to allow pinfalls in order to allow for New Japan, WAR, and other non-submission-oriented wrestlers (such as Abdullah the Butcher) to compete.


Roster

Natives: *
Nobuhiko Takada Nobuhiko Takada ( ja, 高田伸彦, ring name: ) (born April 12, 1962) is a Japanese former mixed martial artist, retired professional wrestler, actor and writer. He competed in New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) is a Puroresu, Japanese professio ...

Nobuhiko Takada
*
Kazuo Yamazaki is a Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat = Golden ...
* Naoki Sano * Kazushi Sakuraba * Yoshihiro Takayama * Koji Kitao *
Masahito Kakihara is a former Japanese professional wrestler and mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist, who is known for his work in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and UWF International (UWFI). Professional wrestling career Union of Wrestling Forces Internation ...
* Yoji Anjoh * Tatsuo Nakano * Hiromitsu Kanehara * Kenichi Yamamoto (mixed martial artist), Kenichi Yamamoto * Shigeo Miyato, Yuko Miyato * Masakazu Maeda *
Kiyoshi Tamura is a Japanese Professional wrestling, professional wrestler and mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist. Once a student of legendary professional wrestlers Lou Thesz, Billy Robinson and Akira Maeda, Tamura was known for his skill in catch wrestl ...
* Makoto Oe (kickboxer) Foreigners: * Big Van Vader, Super Vader * Gary Albright * Dan Severn * Mark Fleming * Victor Zangiev * Salman Hashimikov * Vladimir Berkovitch * The Iron Sheik * Bob Backlund * Gene Lydick * JT Southern * James Maritato, James Stone * Allen Coage, Bad News Allen * Tom Burton * Steve Nelson * Mark Silver * Billy Scott * Dennis Koslowski * Tommy Cairo * Steve Cox (wrestler), Steve Cox * Greg Bobchick * Pez Whatley * Jim Boss * Matthew Saad Muhammad * Bowy Chowaikun (kickboxer) * Danny Steel (kickboxer) * Norman Smiley


Championships


Pro-Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship

The championship used the belt used by
Lou Thesz Aloysius Martin "Lou" Thesz (April 24, 1916 – April 28, 2002) was an American professional wrestler. A twenty-five time world champion, he held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times for a combined total of 10 years, three months ...
as NWA World Heavyweight Championship, NWA World Champion during the 1950s.


Combined reigns


Video game

In 1995, Hudson Soft published a video game, ''Saikyō: Takada Nobuhiko'' (最強~高田延彦~) for the Super Famicom in Japan. Unlike most wrestling games, ''Saikyō'' was a linear fighting game, but moves such as suplexes counted for heavy scoring, like in the real-life promotion.
Nobuhiko Takada Nobuhiko Takada ( ja, 高田伸彦, ring name: ) (born April 12, 1962) is a Japanese former mixed martial artist, retired professional wrestler, actor and writer. He competed in New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) is a Puroresu, Japanese professio ...

Nobuhiko Takada
was the only actual wrestler licensed as a character, all others used made-up pseudonyms, such as Gary Albright being known as ''Briant''.


See also

*Professional wrestling in Japan


References


External links

* http://www.UWF-Bushido.com * http://UWFiTeam.com * http://uwfi.forum24.ru * http://uwfi.borda.ru {{Professional wrestling in Japan Entertainment companies established in 1991 Entertainment companies disestablished in 1996 1991 establishments in Japan 1996 disestablishments in Japan Japanese professional wrestling promotions