Paradigm Pro Wrestling recently wrapped up season one of their brand new show UWFI Rules Contenders Series. I will admit, the show title may not be catchy, but I am obsessed with this series. The first season was a nice and breezy five episodes, making it easy to recommend the entire show. But if you’re not one to just jump in for a show you’ve never heard of, I’ve got you covered. We’re going to go over the premise of the show, some must see matches, and some things to keep an eye on as we head towards season two in March.
To start, let’s break down that title. Every match in the show is contested under UWFI rules. UWFI, or Union of Wrestling Forces International, was a Japanese shoot-style company that run in the early 1990’s. For those unfamiliar with shoot-style, it just means that the matches were meant to look as close to real combat as possible, while still being predetermined. To keep up the real fight feel, UWFI had a series of rules which Paradigm Pro Wrestling has modernized for the current indie scene. In the video below you’ll see the full ruleset, but some notable rules include that wrestlers cannot intentionally leave the ring, no pinfalls or disqualifications, and the point system. Each wrestler begins with 15 points and can lose points for things such as rope breaks or being suplexed. If a wrestler runs out of points they lose the match.
This ruleset creates a very different match than what we often see, and gives the show a very unique feel. Paradigm began adding these UWFI rules matches to their cards beginning last year, and they quickly became a hot attraction for the company. As such, the decision was made to hold a weekly show that only uses UWFI rules to showcase this style on a more regular basis. That covers the UWFI rules part of the title, but what about Contenders series? The show is designed to put a spotlight on talent that is new to UWFI rules, Paradigm Pro, or in many cases, both. Some returning faces appear such as Matthew Justice, “Hoodfoot” Mo Atlas, and Chase Holiday, but there are many wrestlers you’ve probably never heard of on the show, even if you watch Paradigm. Another thing to know going in is that this show is very, and I mean very, fast paced. Multiple matches in the five episode run are under two minutes, and the longest match is just under eight minutes. The average length of UWFI rules matches in Paradigm is about four minutes and thirty seconds last I checked. The thing is, you don’t want these matches going for an hour. Sure, I’d love to see one turn into a war of attrition but for the most part these are meant to be fast and impactful. You can’t feel out the pace of these matches at all. You’ll be thinking a nice slow set up is about to happen for an ending sequence, but then it ends with one kick to the head. So if you’re still with me, what matches should you watch? Well I mean the whole season is under five hours so I’d say just watch all of it, but if you want specifics, these were my favorites.
If you haven’t seen either of these men, then get ready. This was the very first match of the series, and it absolutely sets the tone. This match shows exactly how storytelling works under UWFI rules. Crewe is going for strikes: staying back, throwing punches when he can, and using his reach to his advantage. Garvin throws some punches, but relies on his strength. Everytime that Crewe gets in too close Garvin just hits him with a big takedown. Both men have their own style, but have to meet each other on their terms as well in order to have a chance at victory. This shows the ruleset while also being a match you could see in a non UWFI setting.
Now this is a match that relies on the UWFI ruleset through and through. The match was announced the week before when Miles’s opponent didn’t show up that night, but he was itching for a fight. The man formerly known as Miles Morales called out a man that wronged him on a past show: Bobby Beverly. Don’t worry though, a video package before the match set to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” will get you caught up. UWFI matches don’t call out every point loss. They only call out once a competitor drops to five points or less left. This is one of very few matches that actually sees the five point mark get called out. It makes for one of the most exciting finishes in the entire series, and is a great showcase for both of these wrestlers. It’s fairly brutal and showcases just what you can expect from the show.
This was built up as the best UWFI rules match, and well it might be. This is the longest match on the entire season and it deserves it. Honestly I don’t have much to say on this except watch it. If you’re going to watch just one match, make it this one. There is a double stomp that will absolutely render you speechless. These two absolutely demolish each other in a cruiserweight take on UWFI style fighting. I had seen Akira before but only in deathmatches, and it turns out he can absolutely go in a more traditional style. This match was the first time I ever saw Yoya and I'm kicking myself for not seeing him sooner. Seriously, to say much more of this match would spoil it, and you owe it to yourself to see this fresh. This is fast as hell, hardhitting, and will leave you wanting more of both.
This is not a wrestling match. This is a martial arts tournament match. I don’t mean this as any kind of negative, just that you haven’t seen anything like this. I have a black belt in karate and competed in tournaments for years, and this match felt just like that. That makes sense, considering both of these wrestlers have black belts in Taekwondo. TKD has the prettiest axe kick in wrestling, and is must see. These two have amazing kicks and you can tell their background even without being told it. There are some strong heel strikes, punches, a knockout kick, and even some good ground work. TKD was trained by Dominic Garrini, so he’s no slouch on the mat either. This is under four minutes but is definitely worth it. It’s one of the most unique matches I see and both of these wrestlers are on my radar. Keep an eye on Kai, her match with Jordan Blade in episode one is an honorable mention.
Remember when I said it’s against the rules to intentionally leave the ring? This match has a moment where both wrestlers end up outside the ring, and it is one of the most tense moments I’ve seen in wrestling recently. Rules may limit some wrestlers, but for the UWFI fighters it frees them. This match uses the ring rule to create drama, and it is wonderful. This is the last match of the first season, and wow was this season bookended by two amazing matches. Justice is absolutely fantastic, and if you’ve never seen him he excels in both deathmatch and brawling fights. He and Aaron Williams both put on an great fight here, and it ends the season exactly as it should. After the match, Justice calls out Josh Barnett. We will see where that goes, but that does bring us to the question of the future.
Like I said UWFI Rules Contenders Series is getting a second season beginning in March. We already know some matches for the next season. For example, Jordan Blade will fight Max the Impaler in the match I’m most excited for. Hoodfoot will fight Akira in a title match. Plenty of wonderful wrestlers will appear as well. This is going to be a great season, and I’m excited it’s only two months away. If anything, I hope the season is even longer. Paradigm has proven that UWFI rules matches can stand alone on an entire weekly show, and I hope that with that, they give us even more. That being said, they need to be seen for that to happen. You can watch the entire season, as well as the rest of Paradigm Pro and many, and I do mean many, other companies, on IWTV. So go watch, and tell me below what your favorite UWFI rules matches are, whether from Contender Series or otherwise