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[1996-03-31-AJPW-Championship Carnival] Toshiaki Kawada vs Akira Taue

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Classic All Japan, in the sense that they start building for the powerbomb within the first 10 minutes and it gets teased repeatedly, to a point where when it finally happens, the place explodes. Really good match. They have some other singles matches that I like better, but this one is excellent too.

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I really disliked the other match from the show so I'm glad I watched them the wrong way around. Late 90's head dropping BS.

 

They briefly showed their familiarity before Kawada had a sustained control segment attacking the arm. Taue came fighting back and they battled back and forth the rest of the duration. It always looked like it was going the distance. I was hoping they were going to take it up a notch around 20m or so. The quality level remained at a consistently good level throughout. They'd had better matches in the past. Nevertheless a worthy addition to the rivalry.

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Pretty good match, but yeah, even by AJPW standards this was one telegraphed time limit draw. That sucked a lot of the drama out of the near-falls down the stretch, as well-done as they were. The '93 CC draw between these two is similarly worked but is much better, with the draw coming as a genuine surprise.

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It isn't as drastic for me watching three yearbooks at once, but it is amazing that here we are on the last day of March and this is the first complete All Japan match included. I didn't think this was quite as good as the matches these two have had with each other in the past, but it was damn good with an excellent beginning and finish. They lost me a bit in a middle after they tussled on the outside. The draw felt predictably around 25 minutes in after the kickouts of the powerbomb but it was still on the table before then. ***3/4

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The 3/96 Taue bout is a decent watch. It's a bit like watching two tag partners try to prove who the better wrestler is without trying to maim one another. Kawada works from the top a lot as Taue sustains an early arm injury, which in itself is a bit too cutesy since the guy's big move is a chokeslam. I wouldn't really call it an aggressive performance from Kawada, but again I liked the way he's able to give his submission attempts a shoot like quality by making them seem like it's a fight to keep them locked. Taue sells a lot, and is okay in that role, but naturally when he tries to work his way back into the bout it's through the chokeslam. Loss described the Hansen/Taue fight as academic, but to me the shifts in momentum from Taue selling a lot to Kawada being stunned by a chokeslam are far more academic. It's not that the wrestling is bad; it's just that you know it's going to swing back and forth down the stretch despite Taue being injured for two thirds of the bout. They do a decent job of evening things up, and it's more staggered than in a lot of wrestling bouts, but it's kind of predictable in the way it unfolds.

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#252

 

Watched this again. I liked it, but the dynamic feels a little weird to me. I mean here you have this guy who is the spiritual heir to Baba and he's getting his ass kicked by his smaller tag partner for the majority of the bout. Now I realise that Taue was never an ace in the way that Baba or Jumbo were, but on size alone I don't recall Kawada kicking Jumbo's ass at any point in their matches. And even if Kawada is meant to be the superior wrestler that's his emforcer that he's punting around. Things even up in the final 10 minutes, but without checking the ins and outs of All Japan booking in 1996, I kind of wanted Taue to come from behind at the end. Good match, though.

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Certainly a great match by any reasonable standard, but I feel like it had a relatively weak middle portion between the great opening stuff and great closing stuff when the powerbomb teases started getting paid off. Taue getting the best of Kawada at the beginning was great stuff, and the increase in intensity at the end ended the match on a high note, although the time limit draw wasn't exactly suspenseful.

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I am kinda shocked at how lowballed this is getting. I am 15 minutes and loving it. I think this smokes Misawa/Kobashi from the same night. 

Toshiaki Kawada vs Akira Taue - AJPW 3/31/96

Outside of 12/6/96, I really dont know what to expect out of All Japan in 1996. This Champions Carnival is nowhere near as heralded as the 94 or 95 versions and shows that the mighty All Japan promotion is on the wane. I have only seen the first half of this match thus match but I feel this is tremendous. They are not telegraphing the draw at all (I know it is a draw because the video is 32 minutes long, I will be shocked if it is not a draw). There is no meandering. The work is purposeful. I love the struggle and how much everything is being earned.  

The beginning is great loved watching Taue bowl Kawada over, block all his kicks and then NODOWA~! Kawada escapes from the NODOWA OF DEATH with his Jumping High Kick but he cant save himself from Air Taue~! Red hot start! Taue clotheslines the ringpost. I dont know how wise it is to try to injure your championship tag partner's arm, but hey it is pro wrestling and usually these things dont translate to other matches. I loved the control segment that ensued. It seemed a lot of people didnt, but I dont know what they were smoking. I love Kawada's cutoffs anytime Taue showed signs of life by kicking him in the arm. I thought Kawada's control felt tenuous at best. Taue was always coming forward. He was always attacking and always resisting whether it be blocking suplexes or powerbomb attempts with his weight or using his enziguiri. He was making it tough on Kawada. On the flip side, I liked how Kawada would go for the arm when things didnt go his way like transitioning to a Fujiwara armbar when his suplex was blocked or going for a cross-armbreaker when he realized the powerbomb wouldn't happen. Things swung back in Taue's favor on the outside where Taue fought off a powerbomb attempt and his the NODOWA on the Exposed Floor! Honestly, I dont see a single flaw in this match. It looks like a dark horse candidate for AJPW 1996 MOTY. 

Ok the match does come down to earth in the second half. As it becomes more about bomb-throwing (attempts) than about the cool psychology an rhythm they had in the front half. I definitely liked this better than Misawa/Kobashi from the same night. They tease the Apron Nodowa again and again, nothing doing which was a pretty sure sign they were going to a draw. Kawada goads Taue into strike exchange which is smart because he is the better striker and he wins. He doesnt do much with his control and the first signs of a slowdown happen here. Kawada has a really great lariat and deserves more credit. It is very meaty and impactful. Stretch Plum, a choke and powerbomb attempt are the other noteworthy items. Taue starts to evade and throw Kawada off and hits a SUPER NODOWA~! which was the highspot of the match and best nearfall until the very end. Taue does try for his decisive finish the Dynamic Bomb but like Kawada cant get him up. They do a good job trading Germans, spacing it out and how they transitioned to Kawada's German. They also space out their powerbombs well. Kawada hits his after the head rocking German, but it more of a Tenryu style powerbomb as he does not deliver it with much force which protects the move. Taue does hit his Dynamic Bomb which is the best nearfall but Kawada kicks out and time expires. I still think was a great draw and entertaining throughout. I liked the front half more because it was pretty unique but than they just settled for Powerbomb teases and general draw-style wrestling which is fine, but not novel. ****1/4

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