Information about the Union of Wrestling Forces International

  • The Union of Wrestling Forces International, better known as UWFI, was formed in early 1991 after the closing of the second UWF. The majority of the UWF's roster joined UWFI with Nobuhiko Takada being the top star.

  • The UWFI introduced it's only championship, the "Real Pro Wrestling World Heavyweight Title" in 1992 with Takada being the first title holder. Commissioner Lou Thesz lent his 1950s NWA World Title belt to the promotion for this championship. Both Takada and Thesz would make grandstand challenges to the world champions of the traditional pro wrestling groups often deriding them as being fake wrestling. However, UWFI was no more a legitimate sport than the other wrestling companies.

  • In 1994, the company made a public challenge to Rickson Gracie for a match against Takada. Gracie had become a sensation in Japan after winning the first Japan Vale Tudo Open and was interested in the fight, but turned it down when he learned that the match would be worked and Takada would be winning. The UWFI trumpeted Gracie's refusal of the match as proof that Takada was the best fighter in the world.

  • What happened next was a major part of the downfall of the company. In December 1994, preliminary wrestler Yoji Anjoh was sent to Gracie's Los Angeles dojo with a handful of Japanese reporters to make a challenge for a dojo fight. Gracie agreed and quickly destroyed Anjoh. Pictures of a bloody and beaten Anjoh were published in several magazines with calls for Takada to avenge his fellow wrestler. Knowing that Takada was no match for Gracie, the company never followed up. This was seen as an admission that Gracie was the superior fighter and that Takada and the WUFI were not the great legitimate fighters as claimed.

  • The other reason for the demise of the promotion was in not creating new stars. Vader left the company in the spring of 1995 and Gary Albright left at the end of the summer. This left Takada as the only major player.

  • In an attempt to stay afloat, UWFI signed a deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling to co-promote a show at the Tokyo Dome with several more events to follow. While a financial success, the fued spelled the end of the company. The Dome show saw the UWFI wrestlers win only three of eight matches with the final match being Takada losing to "fake" pro-wrestler Keiji Mutoh. The fued would continue into early 1996, including a two more Tokyo Dome events, but it was clear that UWFI lost the fued and it's wrestlers were not as good as the "fake" NJPW wrestlers.

  • Mid-1996 saw the company on the ropes. With revenues falling, the company co-promoted events with Genichiro Tenryu's WAR and even convinced the original Tiger Mask, Satoru Sayama, to make several appearances. A last ditch effort to save the company (or a way to make some cash from a "money mark") was made when one-third of the company shares were sold to Kotaro Ishizawa, a wealthy businessman who also owned Tokyo Pro Wrestling. However, the company only lasted until the end of the year.

  • After the promotion folded, many of the UWFI wrestlers joined Kingdom, an even more realistic version of shoot style wrestling. Takada would eventually have his match with Rickson Gracie, getting destroyed on the first ever Pride show.