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  1. I exhumed a load of reviews from the grooveyard for this one. I'm psyched to do it though. Jun Akiyama is one of my favorites I hope you enjoy reading and you take the time to go back to good old days of 1990's AJPW! OK let's get this started! vs Al Perez, vs Ted DiBiase (1/15 & 10/23/93): Both of these are worth checking out for that fun house show type of match. Both opponents kept the action and pace going for a couple entertaining matches. Its especially cool to see DiBiase back in AJPW after his very good run back in '87. Akiyama & Takao Omori vs The Fantastics (01/29/95): This was a highlight reel match for both teams. It wasn't heavy on the drama or story but damn! it featured quick action Watch for when Jun gets some Hashimoto nose blood. Good match and fans of these guys should take the time to watch it. Toshiaki Kawada vs Jun Akiyama (Champ Carnival 03/21/95): This seemed like that match people were talking about when they were discussing Kobashi vs. Jumbo back in '91. Just an excellent match that really made Jun look like the future star and it made Kawada look tough yet beatable. Really cool match with Kawada getting really stiff at times. Great Match perhaps a Near Classic Toshiaki Kawada, Johnny Ace & Takao Omori vs Stan Hansen, Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (04/15/95): All Japan had some of the best six-man matches that you'd think they were M-Pro in '96. But yeah AJ was doing it in the late 80's & early 90's and if you didn't know they were even doing them in 1995 too. This was a surprise for me but, I'm not going to fawn over it. 4 out of the 6 guys are bonafide greats, and Omori has got the chops and Ace knows how to hang with the group too. I mean he's got some 5 star matches to his credit, right? So, you put all of them together you're going to get something enjoyable. That's always been my rating scale on all of these...how much I enjoyed them There were so many neat stories here with everyone being Champ Carny runners-up for one then you've got: Hansen beating Kawada a month earlier for the belts, Kobashi & Ace at the same show went toe-to-toe during their tag war, then you've got Kobashi against Kawada who not only went to a draw in Jan. but they went to one during the Carny, and then you've got Akiyama vs. Kawada which is always awesome and the story of him & Omori as up & comers as well as being All-Asia tag partners (either around this time or in the past.) AND you've got Hansen, the last of the old guard showing he can still go. Whew! The fact of the matter is that with all of this they didn't need to do too much to make this great but, being the best promotion of the 90's they sure as hell did AND then some. The more AJPW you watch the better the match is. Classic stuff! Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama vs Steve Williams/Johnny Ace - (06/07/96 Tag Team Titles): A pure 20 minute plus spree of excitement and near falls. Ace has never looked better, and his chemistry with Akiyama is what made this match so great. Doc once out of the limelight really showed his strength as a brilliant tag wrestler. He and Ace were such a standout team because of this dynamic. Akiyama played his role brilliantly and Misawa was ace but also senpai. This was his role here and it was masterful as ever and touched an emotional nerve. The dynamic with Doc and Akiyama was rough in the early going but as it became more heated, one forgot this segment of the action. It was clear this match was for Ace and Akiyama to shine and they did not disappoint. A classic for sure! Kenta Kobashi, Johnny Ace & Johnny Smith vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama & Satoru Asako (08/22/97): This started out pretty routine although Johnny Smith was the clear bright point. He was very adamant about making the arm work something special. It was different and helped slow down Akiyama who was the fireplug of his team. Jun wanted to take it to Ace and Kobashi but, Smith wasn’t going to be ignored. He darn near ripped the Blue boy’s arm out of the socket. That’s alright because he was pumped and gave the match a little depth. Stop the burgeoning contender! Now, that’s not to say the other guys were slouches but, no one else brought the intensity like he did. That is to be expected in a match like this. Akiyama, Smith, and Asako are the one’s with something to prove. The story was about ranking and status but, ultimately the athletic competition. This set the outcome in question and was exciting as all hell. The execution, pacing and timing was flawless from all. Great final match for a TV episode…I’d love to be a teenager again and see this at 10:30 at night before going to bed and thinking about it all the next day at school! Reminds me of ECW Hardcore TV in that way. Very good match. vs Mitsuharu Misawa (04/18/98 Champ Carnival): Whoa! Blue Bomber coming in with the game plan! This might be the birth of Akiyama - the genius. Here he is precise like a surgeon opertating on Misawa. Elbows, dropkicks, leg locks etc. but, the Emerald ace is double tough & plenty dangerous. This 20 minute match showcases excellent timing and pacing that crescendos with a badass finishing segment. A near classic match, damn might even be a classic in my book. Smart and violent wrestling in the AJ tradition. vs Kenta Kobashi (07/24/98): What a match! I really enjoyed Jun's persistant focus on slowing Kobashi down. He had a slew of surprising attacks against the Orange Crush's knee. They felt so organic. Of course, this all would be meaningless if it wasn't for Kenta's masterful selling. This is the timeless Kings Road 'blurred reality' selling where its very difficult to tell if the damage is real or imagined. I liked this match much more than than the Kawada vs Kobashi 06/12/98 bout. I feel that match-up had been done to death. Besides, I felt Kobashi never fully clicked in singles encounters with Kawada. Also, Kobashi refrained from hulking up which always has to be noted at this point in his career Anyhow, I thought this match was a classic! vs Yoshinari Ogawa (09/11/98): Two geniuses go at it in the squared circle! This is an all action bout with lightning counter moves from Ogawa with Jun keeping pace and selling just enough to keep Ogawa in the fight. Rat Boy is underrated a hell and such a breath of fresh air. I loved this match and so did the fans. Great match! Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (10/11/98) – This was a great little tag match. Kawada was just pissed and brutal. He was beating Akiyama, he was beating Kobashi, and he himself got beaten for good measure too! We all win! Akiyama had a spirited showing as well. Kobashi and Taue do show their wear and tear so, this wasn’t exactly everyone in their prime but, this still kicked a fair bit of ass. It’s that unpredictable appeal of very late 90’s AJPW that had me interested in this one for sure. Anyone can win in these matches and more importantly- anyone can lose. Great bout. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (01/07/99) – The first few minutes (?) were clipped from this match. I’m a little bummed of that but, in all honesty I think AJPW’s clippings are superior to let’s say NJ or M-Pro’s clipping of things. They always seem to pick a nice point to pick up the action and ride it on out. Ok so, it starts with the original “Burning” picking apart Kawada’s knee. From there Taue gets in and brings the fire like it’s 1995! He must have gotten a good night’s sleep because he’s kicking with pep. The man’s throwing dropkicks like he’s a youngster. I love it! This is especially the case since Kobashi is all taped up…I think from a bout with Vader perhaps. Anyhow the Holy Demon Army go rabid over this. Akiyama’s there doing his spots and sequences and it’s nice but, Taue really brought the shit tonight! This is an all action match with bags full of energy and pep. The teams were really feeling the electricity in the air on this one. It wasn’t hall of fame stuff but, I still don’t think anyone was doing matches this exciting in 1999 Japan. Great! Burning (Kobashi & Akiyama) vs Untouchables (Misawa & Ogawa) (03/06/99 AJPW): This was a fantastic must see match. That’s not just for very late 90s AJPW either. This was surprisingly awesome. Misawa and Ogawa’s chemistry is great. Burning has come together as a team in their own right and were equally impressive. Plenty of great tag team maneuvers and teases. This was an AJPW style that went back to the early 90s in terms of surprises and timing. This was not the King’s Road pinnacle style yet, there was a glut of excitement and drama nonetheless. I could see anyone who would want to get into the 90s All Japan style to start out here. It’s got everything. It really encourages me to checkout the late 90s AJ scene more. This was a true gem. vs Takao Omori (09/04/99): If you are a fan of either guy then, damn man, you need to watch this!! Knees, lariats, armbars, attacks off the top rope, man! Why did people thing AJ sucked in '99? It has a big match feel, it has a nice early focus on grappling then, organically transitions to big moves but no MKII finishers which was refreshing. This is very similar to 2012-2015 actually Great match! Burning (Kobashi & Akiyama) vs Untouchables (Misawa & Ogawa) (10/23/99 Tag Titles): This maybe one of the greatest action style tag match ever done. Now they did edit out a portion at the beginning but, I can’t think it was too much. The combat here was hot and hard hitting throughout. Ogawa of course brought his chicanery but, worked so fast and tight that he deserved to be in a true title fight. Misawa was not a slouch either, proving he still has it with multiple dives and splashes. Kobashi was Japanese Hercules and Akiyama had finally grown into his boots. The Blue boy brought the moves and stiffness we didn’t really think he had until NOAH. Other than that I can’t say enough good things about the match. So, I will declare it’s not the same match you would expect in the heydays of 93-96 but, it is just an awesome display of grit, drama, and courage. I would seek this match out without hesitation. One of those matches I slept on for awhile but, so glad I finally got it - classic match! Burning (Kobashi/Akiyama) vs NO FEAR (Omori/Takayama) (10/30/99): I hadn’t heard too much chatter about this match until the 1999 PWO Yearbook. It’s certainly one of those matches an AJPW junkie wants to see just in case it’s an overlooked gem. Well, this is an overlooked gem for sure! Takayama is just about on par with the blonde haired bastard from the 2000s. Omori is just a beefier version of the ass kicker from 95-96 that was giving guys a run for their money. So, to give a summary- This was heated and intense. NO FEAR showed they belonged by handing Burning’s ass to them. Takayama was especially brutal. It’s as we’ve come to expect just, a few years earlier that he’s given credit for. It’s a quick match for AJ standards but, it delivers just how you want it to. Very good! Vader & Steve Williams vs AJ Tag Team Champions Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (02/20/00 AJPW): Vader & Dr. Death are a hell of a team and Akiyama was ready to bring it. Kobashi dogged it a bit but, took some good shots and nice bumps so it didn't matter too much. This is the time and place where Vader & Dr. Death shine. Near Classic to classic match. Thank you for reading!!! Now go watch some wrestling!
  2. Borderline great NOAH 6 man action. Really fun opening, BURNING try isolating Taue only to eat a bunch of boots to the face and Taue ends up teasing the apron chokeslam on Kobashi with Ikeda helping him. We get some brief exchanges where you can't tell what the layout is going to be and then Taue takes out Kobashi with the big chokeslam on the floor anyways. In 1995 this probably would barely phase Kobashi but in 2002 this takes him out for a long time and we get a long heat segment with KENTA taking a huge beating while Shiga desperately tries to save him. That they were able to get serious heat for something like a Sleeper Hold in Differ Ariake speaks volumes about they excellent job the rudos did here. Ikeda was in top form, hitting hard, constantly running in to cheap shot dudes and almost knocking KENTA out with high kicks and spin kicks. Kobashi ends up coming back altough looks badly wounded. We get a really fun finishing run with Ikeda laying into Kobashi, doing a great job selling a big suplex, Shiga busting out his awesome submissions. Bison manhandling the little dudes etc. Great postmatch too, Taue rules.
  3. Unexpectedly stiff, fun undercard action. Hashi and Izu try to crack eachothers skull in the opening and Hashi gets bloodied hardway. This leads to your signature Hashi underdog performance with Taue Baba chopping his cut. Inoue, as usual, was pretty much useless in helping Hashi here, so Hashi has to tough it in the finish against Izu who dishes out some big bombs. This kind of stuff is what made NOAH great.
  4. Lil Taue steps up and tries to take down his bigger and thicker ancestor. Actually liked this match a lot. Dug all the tight basic work. Jumbo is really fun putting over Misawas elbows, and he is also really fun selling Taues high kicks etc. The finishing run was great too with Taue busting out the desperate sumo slaps and Jumbo just waylaying him repeatedly with brutal lariats. I'm a little surprised this hasn't gotten more play because while it absolutely doesn't stand out above the metric ton of GREAT 90s AJPW MATCHES it's a really effective match and totally works.
  5. Just another night in All Japan Pro Wrestlings greatest period. Taue and Kawada are OBSESSED with beating the hell out of eachother and it's awesome! Kikuchi takes a beating! Grass is green! This is probably not a must see piece, but still so much fan to watch. Taue and Kawada are exactly fighting each other like two guys in a heated feud should - constantly derailing the match to beat eachother up. There is a good FIP secton on Kikuchi - he doesn't take one of his biggest beatings (thankfully), but still gets slammed and kicked around good - and in a funny moment he gets heel heat when breaking up a pinfall right after surviving said heat section. Nothing mindblowing, but I'm always glad I checked out a match which ends with Kawada punching Taue in the mouth repeatedly.
  6. Team UWFi finally steps up. Holy Demon Army are more than willing to threat them as kickpadded jobbers early on, but Takayama decides he's had enough and the kick the shit out of Taue. Unlike what you might expect Taue has the funnest interactions with the shooters in the 1st half, quite similiar to what Tenryu might do with a shooter if he were ganglier and not quite as good. Taue eats a good beating and the 2nd half has some nice stiff moment. I'm a little unsure what to make of this match as it's Takayama & Kakihara finally looking like threats but also Kawada seemed to be mailing it in aside from his obligatory 1 great sell and the match was dry here or there despite not going very long anyways.
  7. Toshiaki Kawada vs Jun Akiyama Champ Carnival (03/21/95): This seemed like that match people were talking about when they were discussing Kobashi vs. Jumbo back in '91. Just an excellent match that really made Jun look like the future star and it made Kawada look tough yet beatable. Really cool match with Kawada getting really stiff at times. ****1/4 Mitsuharu Misawa vs Toshiaki Kawada Champ Carnival: Talk about a grisly wrestling match. Hit the guy in the shoulder- fine, hit the guy in the chest-good, hit the guy in the fucking neck-even better, break his face- alright then! This is not the pretty AJ match that we usually get from these two but by God they bring it in this match. Any & everything counts and no one is going without a fight. It waivers a little bit toward the end but then you realize Shit! this isn't the end. This is the end! It gets nasty where Kawada's Stretch Plum is messing up every part of Misawa that's hurtin' and they keep going! A great carnival match. ****1/2 but in sections it could be more... Toshiaki Kawada vs. Akira Taue Champ Carnival (04/08/95): You know I thought the beginning of this match was really very good but somewhere the intensity from Taue got lost and it was really apparent he was having a hard time keeping up with Kawada. On paper the moves and exchanges sound good but seeing it is another matter. You could predict when he was going to put a boot up to counter a run and you could see the apron chokeslam coming. Now I don't know maybe this is the first time he did it but the announcers didn't seemed too thrilled by it. Like, "Oh there he chokeslamed Kawada off the apron...so anyways..." Kawada was masterful throughout and if you will led Taue through a very good match much like people claim Ric Flair did all of the time. However, I don't think he's the best opponent (Kawada) for Taue since Kawada is all about stiffness & you've got to try and keep up with that if the match is going to be believable and dramatic. Maybe since I knew the finish it ruined things eh...I'm starting to get that impression from stuff I watch. Re-Watch: This was better on the re-watch but it did drag in bits like the stretch plum attempts...I just fast forwarded past them & other time killers. With that done this thing really picked up to 4 1/2 star level stuff. Taue was a bit lethargic in his movement but I don't know if he always is or not. It was still pretty good since Kawada was so stiff and Taue's power moves are some of the most impactful. It's hard to rate this match but it is really good stuff. Toshiaki Kawada vs Takao Omori Champ Carnival (04/12/95): A very fun match that was just perfect for what it supposed to be. Omori is a very credible mid-carder and his elbow drops are brutal. If you're in the mood for a quick enjoyable AJPW match this is a good place to go.
  8. This day in puroresu history...Stan Hansen & Toshiaki Kawada had a really great match here. I didn't think it was a classic but, pretty comparable to Kawada's match versus Jumbo in 1991 in terms of greatness. Here's some of the other matches that happened that you might have missed: Kenta Kobashi vs Dan Spivey: JIP This was an intense yet somewhat unorganized bout. It was plenty exciting but, not to the effect that is was super engaging. Spivey botched a Canadian Backbreaker Slam or something so it came out as a Headspiking Dominator/Complete Dust which was cool after it was clear Kobashi wasn't dead. Too much was edited to really appraise the match honestly but, fun stuff. Terry Gordy vs Jun Akiyama: Too short to rate. What was shown was great. Akiyama worked well with Bamm Bamm, who was just brutal. Masa Fuchi vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi- Jr. Heavyweight title: Kikuchi played the scrappy youngster who wouldn't quit. He came right out of the gate and bloodied Fuchi with a Zero-ken kick to the nose. There was some average work in the middle and then Fuchi dumped Kikuchi on his head about a dozen times in a row that would make Dr. Death proud. As sweet as this was from a brutality standpoint, it diminished the efficacy of the snap backdrop. This was a very good mid-card match, with moments of brutality. Mitsuharu Misawa vs Akira Taue - Triple Crown title: Maybe I 'm guilty of buzzed viewing & this isn't all that good but, from what I saw it was a great match. Having seen the Jumbo saga play out really assists this match. I really appreciated the arm-work section where Misawa tries using his technical skills to control Taue. As we know, Taue isn't that far away from Misawa in terms of dangerous-ness so, it's a sound plan to work him over a bit before jumping into the heavy stuff. Where the Hansen-Kawada match was dragging in the middle, this match made up for it with great selling or what I think was a legitimately injure Misawa. He hurt his back performing a move on Taue or he hit the guardrail (can't remember) and Dynamic T when after it in his usual manner. Really good stuff! Also Taue was back up to performing wrestling duties and was doing all kinds of different dropkicks including a missle drop kick from the top! Eventually Miawa came back with some devilish elbows but Taue never looked out of it until the end. There were a couple execution cock-ups early on but they were worked out and what we have here is another great match from today. And better than the Hansen match to me...
  9. It's been a few days since posting as I'm taking a little wrestling break since I've got some other stuff going on. But anyways... Here's some from AJPW from 22 years ago Today!!!! Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kenta Kobashi- This is the first BIG match these two had in the Kobashi challenging Misawa feud. This didnt disappoint at all. In fact, its an awesome place for someone to start watching 90s AJPW. Its got the two bigger names going at it and not pulling any punches PLUS its still got the depth for the time period BUT isnt a spot match which they slowly would do. Awesome stuff and insanely they go on to top it! Also, this is a good way to kick yourself out of your blues. It worked for me! ****1/2+ type classic shit! Toshiaki Kawada vs Akira Taue- This was a very good match that is a testament to the two guys and the company. Taue did dog a little bit but, Kawada brought it and saved the thing. Very brutal at times. I was sleepy so a re-watch maybe? ****1/4 great match These are only the highlights but, I enjoy the heck outta them! Steve Williams vs Tamon Honda- Lesson Dr. Death is a beast! Gary Albright vs Jun Akiyama- Lesson Gary Albright will drop you on your head with a release suplex of some kind.