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[1996-09-05-AJPW-Summer Action Series II] Stan Hansen vs Kenta Kobashi


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  • 1 month later...

I'm not sure I had ever seen this match, but it's a worthy addition to their great matches from earlier in the decade. Hansen turned in a great selling performance after posting his lariat arm. I appreciated how much he stuck with it and made it a key part of the finishing stretch. It felt character-appropriate, because he came off more as an aging gunslinger than the bionic cowboy of years past. It amazes me that some think of Hansen as a guy who made up for precision with stiffness. Watch the timing of his cutoff spots -- impeccable, even this late in his career. I also loved Kobashi's body punches as a response to Hansen's early-match potatoes. All in all, another testament to the greatness of All-Japan main events.

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Childs was right on. I expected this to be a good match, but didn't expect it to be great because I figured Hansen's time in the sun was mostly over. But this is maybe the best All Japan singles match of the year. Hansen, as Childs said, delivered a world class performance, between his selling, facial expressions and execution. These two just had tremendous chemistry. Was this Hansen's last great match? This feels like a legit MOTYC to me, which I didn't expect. This doesn't touch the '93 match, but it's a great match in a great year.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 5 months later...
  • 2 years later...

This was Stan's final TC match and he did himself proud. Going 26m was really tough physically at his point, but he produced a strong veterans performance. He outperformed Kobashi by far. Shin Champion had problems adapting to his new role. Some experimentation with Kawada-esque selling also backfired.

 

The burly Texan was the underdog. It never ceases to surprise me how good he is at this role with his excellent selling. Kobashi was able to survive a right armed lariat in a poorly done near fall by the referee. The title felt like it was in jeopardy. Overall it was uneven as only one participant brought their A game.

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Is this match 'Jipped' on the Yearbook? I know the COMPLETE version is on this 2012 Kobashi commercial release:

 

DVD 1
9/5/96 Kenta Kobashi vs. Stan Hansen 26:07 complete
10/23/99 Kenta Kobashi/Jun Akiyama vs. Misawa/Ogawa 27:25 complete
6/5/92 Kobashi/Misawa vs. Jumbo/Tsuruta/Akira Taue
9/3/94 Kobashi vs. Steve Williams

DVD 2
1/24/95 Kobashi/Misawa vs. Kawada/Taue
7/24/96 Kobashi vs. Taue
1/20/97 Kobashi vs. Misawa
7/25/97 Kobashi/Johnny Ace vs. Steve Williams/Gary Albright
10/21/97 Kobashi vs. Misawa
10/31/98 Kobashi vs. Misawa

DVD 3
3/1/03 Kobashi vs. Misawa 33:28 complete
7/16/03 Kobashi/Tamon Honda vs. Takayama/Shinya Makabe 27:13 complete
10/19/02 Kobashi/Shiga vs. Akiyama/Saito

DVD 4
4/13/03 Kobashi vs. Tamon Honda
8/26/03 Kobashi vs. Bison Smith
3/6/04 Kobashi vs. Takeshi Rikio
7/10/04 Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama
12/4/04 Kobashi vs. The Gladiator
6/4/06 Kobashi/Honda vs. Morishima/Mohammed Yone

DVD 5
1/27/91 Kobashi/Johnny Ace vs. Joe Deaton/Billy Black 16:46 complete
5/25/92 Kobashi/Kikuchi vs. Kroffat/Furnas 22:11 complete
******This match is considered to be a holy grail! They claim it is uncut on the box, but it seems to be 28 seconds short of complete. Based on my observations, I don't see any edits, and they have gotten times wrong before******
1/29/94 Kobashi/Misawa/Baba vs. Kawada/Taue/Fuchi 39:02 complete

DVD 6
5/1/98 Kobashi/Ace vs. Hansen/Vader 22:12 complete
5/2/99 Kobashi/Akiyama/Hakushi vs. Ace/Road Warriors 17:37 complete
7/4/99 Kobashi/Kentaro Shiga vs. Takayama/Omori 8:45 complete
12/7/02 Kobashi vs. Bison Smith 8:47 complete
1/26/03 Kobashi/KENTA vs. Misawa/Marufuji 16:18 complete

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  • 10 months later...

It isn't JIP, but there is a cut after Hansen levels Kobashi with the tope (or the power bomb on the floor--I forget which) and they go back to being inside the ring.

 

Anyway, yeah, this was spectacular and an out-of-nowhere MOTYC. And from the looks of it, Hansen's last great singles match. He's past the point of being able to take big bumps, so he and Kobashi rely on stiffness, timing, and smart work instead, to this match's credit. I've read criticism of Kobashi for not carrying himself as an ace, but he does that here--from the moment he jumps Hansen before the bell, he comes off as the aggressor and the champion here, while in a reversal for this feud Hansen comes off as the guy needing to prove something. He gets in his share of licks, though, and Kobashi does some fantastic punch-drunk selling. Then Hansen almost tops him when he accidentally Lariats the post, which is the turning point of the match. He gets in a super-hot near-fall when he hits Kobashi with a right-armed Lariat, but it's not the "correct" arm and it's not enough to put Kenta down. Kenta going for the Lariat at the end and Hansen having to play keep-away, and failing, is a wonderful, beautifully poetic capper to this match and this rivalry. It feels every bit as impactful and sea-changing as Aja putting down Bull Nakano with the guillotine legdrop. In comparison to the 7/93 and '94 matches, this seems like a Lost Classic.

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  • 4 months later...

Full match is up on Dailymotion and, though it's been too long since I saw the edited version to be able to say exactly what's new, it is as an awesome match in its complete form. The match starts really hot with both guys unloading on each other, but the full match shows them doing a great job both maintaining the heat and slowly turning the pace down for the stretch run as the toll of the match catches up to both guys. Between that, Hansen's stiff punches, and Kobashi's knockdown selling, the match takes on a similar feel to a heavyweight boxing fight. Down the stretch, you really get the sense that both guys had a puncher's chance at ending the match any moment.

 

Hansen's performance is, as mentioned, amazing, especially considering both his age and mileage by this point. I don't think he plays the role of the old gunslinger so much as that of a cagey veteran eager to test Kobashi to see if he has what it takes to hold the triple crown. He does upstage Kobashi a bit, but in the sense that you can tell he really wanted to get Kobashi over as a credible champ. Between bringing his classic stiffness and playing lots of great mind games before, during, and the match (love them circling each other during the intros), he truly manages to recapture and build off of the grittiness of their prior matches. Despite being 46, Hansen's performance gives the sense that Kobashi's victory was due to him simply having progressed into the better wrestler, as opposed to age having caught up to Hansen.

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  • 3 months later...

Complete lost classic for me. I don't see how watching this, you don't see some progression for Kobashi. He always will be an emotional worker but Hansen was that one bully that was roughing him up from the beginning and therefore him defeating him was important in establishing his dominance as champion. Hansen also for his part knows his best days are clearly behind him and this is his last shot at singles glory. This really felt like a climatic western shootout scene and was an absolute joy to watch. ****3/4

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  • 4 weeks later...

The 1996 Hansen/Kobashi match was... not very good. I was surprised by how many people liked this on the '96 Yearbook. It seems obvious to me that they didn't know how to work a match where Kobashi was the champion and Hansen the challenger. The commentator wouldn't stop mentioning how young Kobashi was, how he was the new champion and the fact Hansen was 47 and yet Kobashi looked worse here than he did in 1991-93 and the match was devoid of any new ideas.


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  • 10 months later...

It isn't JIP, but there is a cut after Hansen levels Kobashi with the tope (or the power bomb on the floor--I forget which) and they go back to being inside the ring.

 

It sucks if that's the version on the set because it cuts out the best part of the match: Hansen cackling manically after ramming Kobashi into the ringpost.

 

Anyway, it turns out that Hansen's last Triple Crown match was by far his best. As great as Hansen was, I've generally found his TC matches to be disappointing. Part of that was because the title was held so often by Jumbo and MIsawa, who he had no chemistry with, but even against guys like Kawada, he seemed to be holding back somewhat. He wasn't a pure technician by any means, but he did more working of holds and less brawling on the outside than usual. I suspect he had the idea that title matches were supposed to be clean technical affairs and tried to work accordingly, which neutralized his greatest strengths. I guess he figured that this was probably going to be his last shot, so he might as well go out on his own terms. And like everyone other than OJ said, this match is awesome. It's hard to believe that a promotion as thoroughly scoured as 90s All Japan could have some hidden gems (and a Kobashi Triple Crown match is pretty much the definition of hiding in plain sight), but here we are.

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  • 3 months later...

#310 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-350-301/2/

 

I like Chad's description of this. It really does have the feel of a shootout, and it makes it even more special knowing this is the last Hansen TC match. I do think was a great match. The powerbomb on the outside was sick! Yes, and "cackling manically" after ramming Kobashi into the ringpost is just awesome. One of my favorite moments was Kobashi's kickout of the lariat right at three, and the look on Hansen's face right after he does it.

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  • 6 months later...

Agree with ohtani's jacket here, this match was pretty mediocre. Though I will say I thought it featured an excellent Kobashi performance and a meh Hansen one (which I guess fits for me since I am a huge Kobashi fan and am so-so on Hansen). Kobashi attacking with tremendous focus in an attempt to prove himself while bumping huge for Hansen's offense was great. Those body shots (which he used in 1/20/97 as well) look amazing. I didn't think Hansen played the aging gunslinger role particularly well, he just did his usual stuff except at a slower pace. For the majority of the time, the match just plodded along. Ok thanks to Kobashi but super disappointing given the hype. ** 1/2

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  • 1 month later...

21st anniversary of this match! Don't think it's as good as their '91 or '93 encounters, but still an absolute perfect match to end the Kobashi-Hansen rivalry with. Every time Kobashi would get just a liiiiiitle bit closer to victory only to fall short, but this time Kobashi is Hansen's clear superior and has what it takes to take down his fiercest rival of all time.

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  • 3 months later...

Man this ruled. Kobashi very much works Hansen's match and it's a violent, messy slugfest in the best way. Before the match they're already staring each other down and ready to go, and they get right into it from the sound of the bell. They just beat on each other the whole match, so many awesome strikes. I especially loved Kobashi working Hansen over with body shots at one point. Lots of particularly cool spots like a really impressive delayed suplex from Kobashi and Hansens totally awesome shoulder block/sort-of-tope through the bottom ropes. The selling is great and very appropriate, as it goes on you really get that great war of attrition feel. Kobashi is pretty firmly in control once Hansen misses the lariat and slams into the ring post letting Kobashi work his arm over, but he still has a lot of fight in him and it takes a lot to finish him off. I do think this went a tad long toward the end but it's definitely a top notch MOTYC.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1996-09-05-AJPW-Summer Action Series II] Stan Hansen vs Kenta Kobashi
  • 1 year later...

Haters gonna hate. This match rocks! 

AJPW Triple Crown Champion Kenta Kobashi vs Stan Hansen - AJPW 9/5/96

One last shootout at the OK Corral for The Lariat! It is fitting that Kobashi's first Triple Crown Defense is Stan Hansen's last. Hansen was the last man standing from the 80s. Make no mistake about it, he may have been in the twilight of his career but he was still dangerous. He won the Triple Crown in 1995 and was a Tag Team Champion with Albright at the beginning of the year. The Hansen/Kobashi rivalry may be the greatest rivalry in the history of pro wrestling, it takes into account age differences, cultural differences, personality differences mixes it together into an amazing pro wrestling dynamic. We charted Kobashi's growth as a wrestler through his matches with Hansen ultimately winning in 1994. The feud laid dormant until right now. Could Hansen use his psychological advantage of historically being Kobashi's bully to intimidate or had Kobashi truly gotten the monkey off his back?

It is possible I am missing some matches but there has been no noteworthy matches since their 1994 Carny bout where Kobashi won. It is funny when people say there is no progression in this feud. That sometimes how psychology works especially the psychology of a bully like Hansen. He wants to you to remember those bad times to make you start doubting yourself and fall back into old habits. It is beneficial for Hansen to wrestle in that manner because he is a bully. Kobashi does not let himself be bulled but he does not have a winning record against Hansen so there has to be doubt in the fans' minds and his. Kobashi always wrestles forward. 

I loved the brawling start. Hansen dumping the attacking Kobashi over the top rope and they are just doing the Tasmanian Devil cloud of dust brawl. Hansen pops Kobashi good a couple times with a left. A really big closed fist wins him the advantage. He starts bullying with the Cowboy Kicks and wrestling him to the outside. Kobashi came back with body punches. AMAZING Selling by Hansen the way he doubles over and starts hollering. Kobashi is leg dropping Hansen across the ropes and railing. They trade lunging shoulder tackles at each other with Hansen getting the better of it. HANSEN TORPEDO! I love his bottom rope tope suicida he wipes Kobashi out. A memorable moment in almost all their matches is the Powerbomb on the Exposed Floor. Hansen THROWS KOBASHI DOWN! Kobashi looks like my sister when she wakes up from a nap...where the hell am I? Hansen throws hims into the ringpost gleefully. Hansen is in that comfortable, dominant position. Big middle rope reverse elbow and a suplex as Hansen is in full control at the halfway mark. Hansen is so good at using his weight and suffocating opponents with his full court press. The match was a pretty even brawl. Hansen was resorting to cheap closed fists, but Kobashi was not running away from it. It was two close-range lunging shouldertackles that changed the game. Weight and space. He used his weight and closed the gap quickly suffocating the opponent. Kobashi never had a chance against the second shouldertackle (tope suicida). Hansen with that killer instinct hits the Powerbomb to complete his advantage. Interesting he picked Kobashi up on the DDT. He wants to prove  a point. 

They are tussling on the apron when Hansen charges for a Lariat and wraps it around the steel ringpost! OW! Here we fucking go! Hansen sells like a million bucks and for five minutes Kobashi is laser-focused on that arm. I am not going to bother recapping because people need to see this. All-star performance from both. It works on two levels. Hansen's biggest weapon has been taken away and it has ground his offensive to a halt. Kobashi who was pretty much out on his feet now can gradually work his way back into the match and gets his whips about him. I love this style because it is not a flick of the switch. The next five minutes are pivotal making you believe in the credibility of the Kobashi comeback. 

Of course, we need some drama so Hansen needs some desperation offense. After a cross-armbreaker, which was a great climax to the arm work, Hansen catches a charging Kobashi with a wicked right elbow. Great transition as when you are charging your are vulnerable but you also have extra momentum it is a risk/reward calculation. Hansen won out. Hansen was looking to use his right arm to beat Kobashi into submission. Kobashi looking for that extra momentum took to the air. It was a top rope neckbreaker drop and a missile dropkick that got Kobashi back into the driver's seat. Bodyslam! Fist Pump! Moonsault! 1-2-NO! Great nearfall that I agree with...there's still life in this match. Kobashi MISSES a running leg drop. Again it is a charging Kobashi telegraphing a move and this case missing it giving Hansen opening. I LOVED MIssed Moves! Wicked Hansen right backfists! Lariat signal! Crowd goes nuts. Kobashi fights off, Hansen spins around...DECKS HIM WITH A EASTERN LARIAT (Since the Western Lariat is with his Left Arm, get it? Ok maybe not my best)! 1-2-NO! Limp shoulder raise. Hansen is incredulous. It was his non-dominant arm that he hit the Lariat with. I am assuming he goes to follow-up with a Powerbomb. He doesnt. Works a Back Suplex for 2. Western Lariat misses and Kobashi cant get the load up for a back suplex.  KOBASHI LARIAT! SECOND KOBASHI LARIAT! 1-2-3! The origins of the Burning Lariat! I believe this is the first match he won with a Lariat. I love the idea of him paying tribute to his greatest rival by taking the Lariat making it the Burning Lariat continuing the tradition of it being the most feared move in Japan. Tremendous match and it is official I think this is the best rivalry in the history of pro wrestling even better than Flair vs Steamboat. The beginning did meander too much for this to be a full 5 stars, but once Hansen shouldertackles this match is a stone cold instant classic. Hansen and Kobashi both were tremendous. ****3/4

 

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