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[1996-04-20-AJPW-Championship Carnival] Steve Williams vs Akira Taue


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  • 3 weeks later...

Doc's big comeback! I know this has been said before, but this match just re-emphasized to me how well the All Japan style could have gotten over in the U.S. since it was pretty much the same heavyweight style, only more modern. Incredibly heated, well-executed wrestling with tons of stiff shots and suplexes, and big nearfalls. The match is terrific, but the storyline is what puts this over the top. I kept wishing Jim Ross could be calling this.

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  • 3 years later...

It had been so long since I'd watched this that I'd forgotten all about it. I wouldn't have fully appreciated it back then because I hadn't followed Akira's story. This time was his coming of age, and not just because he won the Champion Carnival. He was headlining Budokan Hall as the top native for the first time, and the fans believed in him. Taue was so popular there wasn't even dai boo-ing in the usual spots.

 

Right off the bat there was a fevered atmosphere and intensity. It lasted over 20m yet felt like a sprint in parts. Williams may have taken a years 'sabbatical', but after a series of singles matches was back to his best. He had most of the offence, yet Taue seemed to get stronger the longer it went. The action was high impact and exciting. It would be remiss not to point out the execution problems, which were more than minor. In terms of pure enjoyment this is right up there for me, but I'd have to dock some marks for technical merit. The psychology was outstanding as Taue got a breakthrough win and looked like the man in doing so.

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  • 11 months later...

Doc hasn't missed a beat, or at least it doesn't seem like it here. Taue was the better worker of the two and really was the glue of this, but Williams put in a fine performance back in the spotlight. Both guys hit their big Moves of Death--the nodowa off the apron and the dangerous backdrop--and came back from the other, which really ramped up the drama factor. And Doc had beaten Misawa *and* Kawada in the round-robin stage so he was pushed hard from the start, which makes Taue's victory, the biggest of his career to this point, all the sweeter. Terrific match to wrap up the Carnival and possibly a dark-horse top-10 MOTY.

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  • 1 month later...

A match with an amazing amount of heart. Throughout the match, you had a feeling of it being one ill timed move or botch of being off the rails but it never does and keeps building up to Taue's big moment with the crowd in the frenzy. As an overall match, it probably isn't top 20 for AJ in the decade, but it is a personal favorite and tough not to have a smile on your face seeing Taue get his time to shine. Kudos to Doc to who felt like a bygone conclusion by this point. ****1/4

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  • 1 year later...

#224 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-250-201/2/

 

As soon as this starts off, I'm realizing I'm loving the chemistry here. Two big dudes just clobbering each other. They work this thing pretty stiff. Their chops and strikes are hard, and the battle of strength told well. Taue does a great job bumping and selling the impact of Doc's power moves. And, I thought Doc brought a really nice variety to his attack. Good moment with Doc trying to fight off the chokeslam to the outside. This is one hell of a big man match. I dig it. ****1/4

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  • 8 months later...

Oh damn this match was incredible. This was a nasty heavyweight fight. Everything was hard-fought sloppy in the best way possible. Crowd is super into Taue. Williams gets most of the offense for the bulk of the match, with Taue's brief comebacks getting big reactions. At one point he gets knocked off the apron into the barricade, ROARS and charges back into the ring with the crowd going nuts for him. Williams teases the dragon suplex which leads to Taue's comeback and he hits a succession of big moves. The homestretch is truly epic. Both Taue and Williams look like they're about one second away from throwing up and passing out. Each move feels like a deathblow, of particular note are Doc's gutwrench powerbomb and Taue's big kick right at the end. Taue's win feels truly significant.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1996-04-20-AJPW-Championship Carnival] Steve Williams vs Akira Taue
  • 1 year later...

Akira Taue vs Steve Williams - AJPW 4/20/96

Since beating Hansen for the title in May '95, Misawa has beaten every major native challenger (Kawada, Taue, and Kobashi) and the new gaijin on the block (Albright). Conventional wisdom says he drops next time he wrestles...the winner of the Carnival would be poised to take it. Doc was the one to beat Misawa in July of 94 to end his inaugural title reign and Misawa has not gotten that win back. Taue has been the king of the Carnival in recent years lets see what happens. 

The first five minutes of this is ugly in the most beautiful way possible. Two big behemoths just scratching and clawing for an advantage. Lots of testosterone. Bowing up to each other. No-selling. You dont see this type of dumb jock wrestling out of Taue at all so this was cool. After the Oklahoma Stampede, which got no heat, this became a more typical match and lost its luster. Doc did a Boston Crab, his big splash in the corner, Tiger Suplex and a Spinebuster. The Tiger Suplex finally got the fans to worry. I thought Taue's transitions have not been great, lots of DDTs, nothing definitive. I think they went to the Taue German just because Taue needed something after Doc hit the Tiger Suplex. They tease the Apron Nodowa but Doc comes out the better and hits top rope shouldertackle. In the most impressive feat of strength, Doc military presses Taue basically deadlift and javelin throws him on the top rope, giving Taue a taste of his own medicine. I really liked the aggression and the chaotic nature of the first five minutes after that it lost some of its charm, but I still appreciate the big, beefy highspots. 

Another bad Taue transition is he just shrugs off Doc's Dragon Suplexes attempts and now he is in control. Some of the blame goes to Doc's selling as he is overselling and should be fighting back and ensuring that Taue fights through his offense. Taue IN-Ring NODOWA~! AIR TAUE~! NODOWA OF DEATH~! Doc does not take it well, basically tries to land on his feet kinda defeats the impact of the move. Doc gets his last gasp after this hitting a Dangerous Back Drop Driver and a WICKED DOCTOR BOMB  for 2! Finally a good Taue transition when Doc hoists him up for the second Doctor Bomb Taue sits out on him and that looked like it could keep Doc down. DYNAMIC BOMB~! 1-2-NO! Again it was a shitty Dynamic Bomb because Doc kinda sandbagged him. Taue smokes him with a big kick to the head and a legitimately great NODOWA (Doc got up for this one) ends the match. 

It was a very good match no doubt about it, but it very sloppy and didnt have much heat to it. The transitions were not great. They really didnt build to anything. The Apron NODOWA is a Taue staple at the point but I didnt really feel there was a coherent narrative. This was a worse version of Hansen vs Kawada 2/28/93. If you want to see a great feel-good Taue match watch him beat Rikio for the GHC Championship in 2005, crowd goes nuts and you will be moved seeing him win. This was fine. ***1/2

 

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