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Wayne Shamrock vs Naoki Sano (PWFG 05/19/91)

PWFG May 19 1991 Wayne Shamrock Ken Shamrock Naoki Sano Korakuen Hall 4.25*

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#1 Loss

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 02:57 PM

Talk about it here.

#2 Loss

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 07:08 PM

This started off slow, but turned into quite the match around the 10-minute mark. The best thing I can say about this is how much of a struggle everything is. The strikes in this were much better than the matwork, although the matwork was first class too. Shamrock's desperation knees are really something. I thought they both did an amazing job of conveying a *need* to win. I also really like how Shamrock would just suddenly maneuver himself into submissions when it's not immediately obvious what he is doing. The final minute of this may be the most dramatic I've ever seen in this style. With his look, wrestling style and background, it's amazing that Bill Watts wasn't going through fire to sign Shamrock to a WCW contract in 1992. Seeing this match firmly plants an alternate universe in my head where he learns how to combine this style with some good US pro basics to become an amazing pro wrestler and the right guy to get U.S. wrestling out of its post rock-and-wrestling doldrums. Perhaps if he had continued to work with Bret Hart, it wouldn't have to be an alternate universe at all, but he really is a guy wrestling missed the boat on in a big way. Another great match from Naoki Sano's quietly stellar career.

#3 Phil Schneider

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 10:39 PM

I was pretty much in shock during this match, I couldn't believe what I was watching. I have never particularly cared for a thing Ken Shamrock has ever done, so I expected nothing out of this match, and it turned out to be as good as anything on the 80's Other Japan set. So much to love about this match, as they pretty much went back and forth from spectacular mat exchanges into awesome slugfest strike exchanges, great takedowns, into more spectacular mat exchanges.__The pacing of this was great, I especially loved how they paced their mat highspots. One guy would get in position and struggle a bit, and their would be a lull, and then super fast move into a choke or a kneebar. The crowd would pop huge for all of the mat spots, and it was the pacing of them which would really do it. Then after the mat near falls they would stand and just lay into each other with big shots, Shamrock's strikes looked way better here then in the previous match, and Sano was drilling him too. This was before Sano went to UWFI so I would guess this was his first shootstyle match ever, and he was a master of it. This was Sano's match, and while Shamrock was game, you could tell Sano was leading him. I also loved how Sano mixed in pro moves, as I actually bought an STF as a shoot submission, and a DDT as a shoot throw. I have never heard anyone even mention this match before and it is a total hidden classic.

#4 jdw

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 03:52 PM

This was before Sano went to UWFI so I would guess this was his first shootstyle match ever, and he was a master of it.


EDIT: actually two not that I went back and looked:

03/30/91 Naoki Sano vs Masa Funaki (Lynch SWS #4)
04/01/91 Naoki Sano vs Masa Funaki (Lynch SWS #5)

Not "shoot" in the sense of one of the shoot promotions, which would be the case with Shammy-Sano. But shoot-ish, and probably the reason why PWFG looked to bring him in for more matches.


#5 shoe

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 12:54 PM

This is a great match. I loved the mat game early with the ankle picks and such. The work on the mat was so interesting and engaging. Their were so many momentum shifts in the bout. Now the strikes were just as awesome as the work on the mat. Sano really was incredible in carrying this.

#6 PeteF3

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 07:50 PM

Sano is practically a freelancer now, working for SWS, doing this shot, and soon to show up in UWFI. The stand-up stuff was great and there were some incredible takedowns and suplexes--not to mention shootstyle DDTs! This also had the real feel of a time limit draw, making Sano's dragon suplex and wakigatame for the tapout a genuine surprise. All that said...this is still a 26-minute shoot-style match and my patience was tried a number of times while the guys were on the mat. This is a career match for Shamrock and another feather in the cap for Sano, but I liked the other two good shootstyle matches more.

#7 Childs

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 07:44 PM

They cut a hell of a pace for shootstyle, with very little lying around in 25 minutes. I remember being stunned at Shamrock's performance the first time I saw this. If anything, he was the more dynamic guy for most of the match. It felt like Sano had to dig up all his tricks just to survive this super-athletic attacker. Great finish too with Sano pouring on the offense. I knew this was a favorite, and it didn't disappoint this time around.

#8 Kevin Ridge

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:59 PM

Bit on the long side for me but even then I didn't realize it went 25 minutes. They spend a lot of time on the mat but as Loss said it was a struggle between both guys trying to gain any little advantage. I thought some of Shamrock's hand strikes were not as smooth but his knees looked deadly. Surprised by Shamrock's performance as he looked pretty good. Strong performance by Sano and nice to see him get a win as just seems he ended up on the losing side more often.

#9 soup23

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 10:22 PM

May need to rewatch but this felt like a MOTYC as is in my top 7 so far. sano is a guy I have really begun to appreciate as he pops up 2-3 times on every yearbook and has a good performance. Shamrock was really impressive here looking dangerous on the ground but also realizing the pro wrestling dramatic timing. My favorite thing about this match was the struggle and the fact that I didn't realize how long it was and felt it could end at any moment. Nothing was conceded in the entire 26 minutes and my patience was never tested. 1991 has become really endearing to me with the amount of mat work being done in a variety of different areas.

#10 Venegas

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 03:51 AM

Well, this match is a fucking beaut. I've seen very little PWFG, basically a few Fujiwara matches and the excellent Sano/Suzuki match, but this right here is the best match I've seen from the promotion, and really rivals the best stuff from any other shoot style promotion. They set the tone early with some real nifty mat work. For the first 10-15 minutes, it was pretty much all Shamrock and he was a total beast. Attacking from everywhere and cracking Sano's turtle position numerous times. Side note, but as a grappler I found myself wanting to yell at Shamrock to go for the seatbelt sweep (lock on the seatbelt underhooks, hook your foot on there's and roll back) and lock on a rear naked choke! Grappling has evolved since 1991 but that's literally a beginners technique nowadays and it was open so many times, lol. Anyways, what really set this match from great shoot style match to holy shit this is fucking brilliant status were the strike exchanges. Whenever they'd reach a stalemate on the mat they'd stand toe to toe and just fucking unload on each other, like something out of Gatti/Ward I or Corrales/Castillo I. Very well done too, and the crowd ate it up. So much to say about the mat work done but it was just beautiful from start to finish. The knockdowns were very well done and each one actually felt significant, like it would in a boxing fight. Sano bought some elite selling and probably lead the way, but Shamrock was a freakin' beast all around too. Finishing stretch was very well done. This match is one of my all time favorites now. So glad I watched it.

#11 garretta

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 02:49 PM

This bored me stiff, and there was a reason why: I never knew who was winning. Most shoot-style promotions will put the scoreboard of the match onscreen so that the viewers will know how close each competitor is to winning the bout, but PWFG doesn't. As a result, we were down to two men hugging each other from behind and tying their own legs in knots, and I can think of few things less exciting. The few strike exchanges raised my interest slightly, but they didn't last long enough to make much of a difference. I found myself wishing for good old Flair/Dusty or Hogan/Andre or something else I could understand and sink my teeth into. (By the way, I'm no MMA fan, so this didn't interest me in terms of seeing how that style evolved, either.)


This isn't an indictment of shoot-style altogether; if I know the story being told, I can get into it like anybody else. But I'm no expert, and I at least need to know who's winning in order to make an investment in the match. Hopefully, PWFG will realize this and flash the score onscreen during future matches.

#12 JKWebb

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 10:11 AM



I think I was just as (or even more) surprised to find this on the countdown as others were reaching it in the YB. This is what I need out of shoot style to truly suck me in. I need striking intertwined with the matwork, and I need some pro wrestling sprinkled throughout. I thought the finishing stretch of this was fantastic. There was some of the matwork that was good, but I stil found myself waiting for them to transition to something else. I fall into to the same boat as garretta here... almost becoming bored a few times. Overall, this is one of the more enjoyable matches for me that I've seen worked this way.

#13 dawho5

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 11:56 AM

Went more than a little long for my tastes, but the match was really, really good.  Shamrock is surprisingly good at pro wrestling early on.

#14 superkix

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 03:26 PM

What I enjoy about Shamrock is how exciting he makes the groundwork look as he slides around the mat and snaps off takedowns and uses his strong quickness to overwhelm his opponent. Naoki, on the other hand, doesn’t do a whole lot on the ground – in fact, it’s more or less him grabbing an arm or a leg and holding it there. This is noticeably evident late in the match when he has control of Shamrock’s leg and doesn’t do shit with it. The matwork wasn't all that exciting but there were some neat moments, like Shamrock using the headscissors to try and get a hold of the arm. Shamrock's strikes are more miss than hit but he's got some great-looking suplexes. And that Sano finish was sweet. Good stuff. 

#15 Edwin

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 12:10 AM

This is an unpopular opinion, but I'm not buying this or don't like this as much as everyone else and I saw a some glaring flaws in this. Shamrock's flying knee attempt looked really bad. His early palm strikes looked relatively weak, however he increased the intensity in them once they began exchanging and he turnt on the heat and was really catching Sano which was great. His front kicks and takedowns looked bad also. There was also a lot of down time where they were catching a breath and not trying to work in anything even though they were in a favorable position.


There was some quality stuff though, such as the rolling armbar attempt from Shamrock, his big belly to belly throw, Sano's deadlift German suplex, their palm strike exchanges and knees in the clinch were pretty neat. I also dug Sano's transition into the STF which I thought was pretty clever with the unexpected drop toe hold setup.


With that said, I still think this was a good/very good match, but not an all-time great as everyone else.

#16 Microstatistics

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 06:06 PM

Not on the level of the Anjoh and Suzuki matches for me but still really good/great. Sano's defensive positioning and him wearing Shamrock out was something quite special and really well executed. Shamrock looked like a total badass too. ***3/4


Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: PWFG, May 19, 1991, Wayne Shamrock, Ken Shamrock, Naoki Sano, Korakuen Hall, 4.25*

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