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[1996-10-18-AJPW-October Giant Series] Toshiaki Kawada vs Kenta Kobashi


Loss
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  • 1 month later...

Your typical 25 minute All Japan main event is probably better, but I do enjoy matches like this for something different. It's fun to watch Kawada and Kobashi kill time because they are so good at working basic holds and selling. In that sense, this does feel like something you'd come across on a random All Japan Classics more than it does a big match in the 90s, but that's part of the charm.

 

That's not to say this feels antiquated, because it definitely doesn't. They still bring their best stuff, but the pacing of the match is not the usual 90s pacing. In some ways, this is a good thing, as there is more time between the big moments, giving them more time to sink in.

 

This feels more organic and less telegraphed (but probably still somewhat telegraphed) than your typical hour match. They do big nearfalls and big offensive moves within the first 20 minutes, just as they do within the last 20 minutes. But they're also able to really milk heat spots like the stretch plum for all their worth.

 

Kawada and Kobashi seem to be doing a bit of my turn your turn early on. Not in a bad way, but more just that both guys are fresh and it's hard for the other guy to keep his opponent in peril for very long. When Kobashi catches Kawada with a dragon screw leg whip, the crowd pops huge, Kawada's facial expressions sell the anguish amazingly, and it feels like the first real opening either guy has had.

 

They do some awesome attention to detail stuff, with Kobashi cinching in a half crab and Kawada using his free leg to try to kick his way out of it. I love that they think about these things, because it goes so far in getting holds over when the wrestlers don't just sit stationary while they're applied. Same for the way they work the figure four, which is a better worked sequence that does more to get over the hold than anything Flair did in the same decade.

 

Kobashi gets in a few awesome suplexes and a moonsault, and a few good nearfalls, and here it becomes obvious that they're building big to a Kawada comeback that will probably blow the roof off the place. Kawada comes back just 2-3 minutes later, and that kinda feels like a missed opportunity to really continue building heat on Kawada for a while.

 

To me, from there, the match doesn't quite hit the same level again. The selling is sublime and the action is great, and I popped big for Kobashi's desperation backslide near the end of the match, but it feels like they lost their chance to do something really special. It goes from being a potential classic to a great match at that point. I do still love it, but I can't help but be a little disappointed by it. Seems like a weird thing to say about a ****1/2 match, but I hope it makes sense.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 years later...

I'm closer to Tim on this, though I think I liked this more than their first draw. I liked both matches, actually, and yet I'd rather go to the dentist than watch either one of them again. Kawada hitting the backdrop driver in the opening minute or two kept this from being too excessively telegraphed as it immediately put Kobashi on the defensive, where he works best. He does do a great job of taking apart Kawada's knee, and we all know Toshiaki knows how to sell that, too. This is more of a match to admire than to love, as they had a good idea for what they wanted to do and how to enhance each guy's strengths over the course of an hour--it just didn't quite come together.

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  • 1 year later...

#143 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-150-101/

 

I was really feeling this at first (well, meaning I was thinking classic, but it later fell below that level for me). I loved how Kobashi sold the first suplex with the stagger. There wasn't really much feeling out in this, within 4 minutes they had hit each other with some really big moves and it felt like a real war. I think this was a little bit of a detriment to the match down the line. This was pretty brutal in the first half. You had Kawada kicking Kobashi's head on the ringpost causing Kobashi's ear to bleed. Then he works some nasty holds on the ear only to follow it up with a knee drop to the bleeding ear. I thought all that was great. I liked Kobashi's attack on Kawada's knee as well. By the time they hit the 45 minute mark, Kawada is dropped on his head twice, and I was wondering where else it could go. It just sort of felt like they had given us everything by that point, and what else could they do. I do think the performances, as far as acting and selling the drama, from both guys were stellar. The match itself, it just didn't build well for me and lacked a little in regards to a story to attach myself to. That being said, it's a great match, and it has lots of great moments. ****1/4

 

Thinking on it, it sort of reminded me of the Misawa/Kobashi match from 10/21/97. That match also started off really big with some my turn your turn etc., but I felt that one had a better progression, feel, and story to it. I went ****1/2 on that one. I think it's likely because they weren't trying to fill a full hour. Just to note, that landed at #162 on this Top 500 list by Loss.

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  • 3 months later...

I really enjoyed the opening here as Kawada fires off the back suplex but Kobashi does a great staggering sell job and is able to pull out the lariat to buy some time. Kobashi was just starting to really start getting the lariat over as a equalizer. This also set up a good tease that this was not going 60 like the January 1995 match that opened up with much more of a feeling out process. Kawada slowing things down and working the headlock worked by how it grounded Kobashi and the bloody ear. Around 20 minutes in we get another flurry of action that again really helps build the notion that this match isn't going 60. It is a delicate tight rope to walk and some of the stuff done here can be used as exhibits of the gratuitous head dropping that would plague a handful of matches from this point onward. That being said, I didn't think anything blatantly stepped over the line to ridiculousness that hurt the credibility of the match overall. Build to the stretch plum and Kobashi reaching the ropes felt like a critical point for him surviving the onslaught. He then goes on offense for a long time off of a dragon screw and once again I will praise believably of this being a finish. Moonsault gets a particular close nearfall as all of a sudden, I look at the clock and we are 35 minutes in and it doesn't feel that long to me. After the big powerbomb kickout by Kobashi, the match does slow down a bit and it feels like we are going towards a draw for the first time. That drops the match a bit for me from the MOTYC echelon. Things pick back up again with Kobashi boinking Kawada with a back suplex of his own. He seems to have the match in hand until Kawada does a call back to the arm and gets a near submission. Kawada's performance has gotten better as the match has progressed IMO with him selling the knee and progressively getting more desperate as the minutes slip away. Less than ten minutes left and the exhaustion is setting in. A no sell spot from a back suplex confirms that this match cant be in that upper pantheon of AJ matches for me as it felt unnecessary. Kobashi actually seems to be going more into a freeze out strategy locking on a headlock. It is a unique presentation of him as a worker but a neat caveat. He also does an ace crusher that I don't think he has ever done since. Kawada is game to bust out some different offense as he does a bombs away knee from the top right to the mush. Great selling by Kawada after he executes that hold. THe perpetual visual of Kawada's career is him needing ONE more powerbomb and we get that here as the time expires. Close but no cigar describes Kawada and this match in some ways feels like a changing of the guard with Kobashi now slightly ahead on the pecking order and that won't change until the NOAH split. Last couple of minutes are kind of odd with a northern lights suplex nearfall by Kobashi and not much happening as the bell sounds. A great match no doubt but as I have reiterated, this wasn't really a classic that I may have hoped for. I would like to rewatch the 1/95 match to see which one I prefer overall. ****1/4

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  • 8 months later...

Like many hour long matches, this is an incredible thirty minute match stretched to sixty by laying around and stumbling around a bit more than usual, and laying in some holds a bit more than usual. This is still a great match though, and definitely action packed for an hour draw. They do get a little awkward toward the end, but thanks to the consistently good selling throughout the match does come off as being a product of exhaustion, though I don't think it was all that, and even still they were able to bust out some great stuff in the last ten minutes or so, especially Kawada evading the lariat attempts with arm submissions. Lots of cool spots throughout the whole match. This was worked very evenly. Great match, decidedly hurt by being an hour long.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1996-10-18-AJPW-October Giant Series] Toshiaki Kawada vs Kenta Kobashi
  • 1 year later...

All Japan Triple Crown Kenta Kobashi vs Toshiaki Kawada - AJPW 10/18/96

Their previous Triple Crown bout went an hour Broadway with Kawada as the defending champion in January 1995 now almost two years has passed and not much has changed except Kobashi is the Champion. It is worth mentioning that Kawada beat Kobashi in May of this year meaning that Kawada was still nominally ahead of Kobashi on the totem pole.

First 15 minutes: I am missing about a minute to a minute and half, not a big deal given this is an hour Broadway. Once all the clipping is done, Kawada hits a massive Dangerous Back Drop Driver. Kobashi is on jelly legs but blocks the Jumping High Kick. He sticks around long enough to hit a Lariat and Kawada powders. We are 5 minutes into this match and they are selling like they have been wrestling for 30 minutes. This would not bode well for their typical 30-45 minute match and the prospect of 55 minutes of "epic" selling frightens me. Kobashi plays a little King of the Mountain and then slows it down with variants on the headlock. That's good. Major suplex struggle, Kobashi was nominally working over the head/neck with chops. Kawda ends up felling Kobashi with a massive overhand chop and then Jumping High Kick and that consolidates his lead. Kobashi is selling at 10 minutes like the match will end in the next 5-10 minutes, not in 50 minutes. Yeesh. Kawada kicks Kobashi in the head a lot on the outside. Credit where credit is due, Kawada kick to the head while Kobashi's head is right up next to the post was pretty sick and made Kobashi's ear bleed. Kawada starts to work submission holds like the Single Leg Crab w/ head stomp and facelocks. Too many bombs and way too much selling already. Not much of a narrative yet.  

Second 15 minutes: Kobashi wins control with high chops not to throat but more to the jaw. Kobashi consolidates with a Back Suplex. No Moonsault, but he does get the Powerbomb and even the Burning Lariat! Kawada kicks out! I believe that was the first ever Burning Lariat. Kobashi misses the second and Kawada nails a nasty Head Drop German Suplex. Jumping High Kick and now it is time for Kawada to run through his Greatest Hits. Back Drop Driver and some Stretch Plums. There was a particularly nasty Stretch Plum Variant that he should bust out more. Kobashi powders. Kawada bullies Kobashi in the corner with a ton of kicks. Kobashi catches a kick and Dragon Leg Screw! Thank Fucking God! This was terrible up until that point. It felt like every shitty Indy Epic from the 21st Century. Then clouds parted and the warm, life-saving sunshine of leg psychology saved me. Kobashi kicks ass working the knee and Kawada sells like a mutha. Kobashi steals Kawada's single leg crab including stomping the head. Figure-4 ends this segment and now they have something resembling a match. I have this theory around the middle of 1995 they realized two things they could no longer top themselves AND that the most over part of the match was the finish stretch. So why not start the match with THE FINISH STRETCH?!? Genius, right? NO! I covered this in my Kobashi/Taue '95 review and somewhat in my 10/15/95 tag team match and was even how the 10/25/95 Misawa/Kobashi match was laid out. but it worked in that match. This layout is essentially an inverted match structure because they eventually have to take it down a notch since they are not working a real sprint. This gives a feeling of long Falling Action which is not desirable. The leg psychology gives a feel of Rising Action and now I am a bit more excited.  

Third Fifteen Minutes: Well that did not last long. I feel like Meltzer would love this match. Lots of "action" and "selling". This feel very comparable to Omega/Okada I. Kobashi demolishes Kawada with a Back Drop Driver. Moonsault. Jackknife Powerbomb. We ran back through Kobashi's finish stretch. I guess Kawada's is coming up. Kawada starts chopping and hits a Jumping High Kick. Two Super Stacked Powerbombs. Kawada is not the offensive dynamo Kobashi is so he has to go back to the well to be EPIC~! Kobashi goes after the knee. Kawada cheapshot with a closed fist. There are good aspects to this match, but it just mired by so many bombs and bogged down by "epic" selling. Kawada knee gives out. Kobashi LARIATS Kawada so hard he starts selling his own arm. That was the coolest moment of this match. Greta nearfall and selling from Kobashi. Kawada nails a Koppou Kick. This match because Holy Overkill, Batman on the levels of Misawa vs Kawada '97. There are absolutely insane and gross number of head drops. I cant even remember who took the most. I think they were trading them. Kawada definitely took the last one. It was just sick and not in the good way. 

Last 15 Minutes: So of course, Kawada executes a Kensuke Sasaki style arm drag into a cross armbreaker. Hot nearfall one of the hotter ones of the match. Kawada tries for the Fujiwara Armbar. Kobashi comes back. Tiger Suplex! Kawada hits two big moves: Bombs Away Knee Drop and Dragon Suplex. The crowd knows they are going their distance and they are not biting anymore. Kobashi Northern Lights Suplex and Backslide. Kobashi was going for Powerbomb when time expired.

"Shitty Indy Epic" is hyperbole, but it is in that style of 21st Century epic that I have seen everywhere from a random dive bar in Worcester and the Tokyo Dome. Wrestlers think just because they "sell" general attrition and fatigue that means they have "psychology" and they are not doing a spotfest. "Epic selling" is just as lazy as spotfests and spots without consequence and meaning. They just needed to go an hour. They accomplished that. This reminded me very much of Omega/Okada I. There are enough good sequences and stretches but I never want to watch this again. ***1/4

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  • 1 year later...

One thing I liked about the match is that there is not much difference between this match and their usual match despite the length. There are no lengthy stall spots or some change in style for no obvious reason. There were a lot of ideas in their hands and it all played out in a pretty smooth manner. Even the slower parts of the match had some great wrestling, with Kawada being able to make his stretch plum and cross arm breaker into credible finishes for the match. There were plenty of great bomb fest sequences throughout the match, way more in the first half than you'd expect in a match as physically demanding as this. I think some of the fighting spirit spots were well implemented and added to the drama of the match, making the selling much more effective. They complimented the match in ways that Kobashi was most excellent in. The stretch before the closing bell was terrific - Budokan was bouncing and the commentary was going nuts. Great broadway. ****1/4

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