Information about the original Universal Wrestling Federation

  • The Universal Wrestling Federation was the first of the shoot style promotions. However, many of the early matches still resembled the normal professional wrestling style. As time went on, the style became more like the shoot style later seen in the second UWF and later promotions.

  • The company was started in early 1984 by Hisashi Shinma who had recently been pushed out of New Japan Pro Wrestling during a major political shake-up. It was also incorrectly speculated that Antonio Inoki would also be forced out and the UWF was to be his new promotion. Several NJPW wrestlers including Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Ryuma Go, Kazuo Yamazaki, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara quit that promotion to join the UWF. All were former students of Karl Gotch who would become the companies official trainer in August 1984.

  • The promotion had lined up a television deal with Fuji TV, but lost it before the first show was ever taped due to not having Riki Choshu and Satoru Sayama under contract. A television deal was also thought to have been ruined in the fall of 1984 due to the yakuza scandal described below. The company would eventually get it's own television show for a brief time in 1985 before it's main sponsor was involved in a financial scandal. UWF matches would also air on the World Pro Wrestling show which mainly featured U.S. arena bout. The lack of a good television deal is thought to have been the major reason for the company not being able to gain popularity and resulted in it failing.

  • Like it's successors, the original UWF had it's fair share of internal political problems with the major ones all involving Satoru Sayama. Shinma was forced out of the company in May 1984 due to his unpopularity among the wrestlers as well as it being a precondition for Satoru Sayama joining. Sayama would also be involved in a public scandal later in the year. UWF President Noboru Urata and a yakuza member were arrested in October 1984 due to making threats against Sayama's former business manager. This incident is thought to have spoiled a television deal.

  • By the summer of 1985, the company was in financial trouble as well as having problems among the top stars as to the direction the company should take. This all came to a head in a match between Maeda and Sayama on September 2. Maeda would eventually throw several shoot kicks (something he would do again while in NJPW) to Sayama's groin resulting in him being fired.

  • The company ran it's last show on September 11, 1985 in Tokyo. Sayama would quit shortly after that show and without him and Maeda, the company was unable to sustain itself. Most of the wrestlers would return to NJPW later in the year. Sayama went on to start his promotion, Shooto, which was real version of professional wrestling.

  • While the UWF only lasted about a year and half, it had a long lasting effect on pro wrestling in Japan. Several other shoot style companies would open over the next ten years with several morphing into true shooting competition. The existing pro wrestling companies (NJPW and All Japan Pro Wrestling) would also incorporate aspects of the shoot style into their own. It could be argued that the UWF and it's successors educated the Japanese fans to a more realistic style of wrestling and paved the way for the popularity of MMA.