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[1996-11-16-AJPW-Real World Tag League] Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama vs Steve Williams & Johnny Ace

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Now this is a great wrestling match. It does drag a little at times, and truth be told, it's probably a little longer than it needs to be. But it hits so many positives from a wrestling and booking standpoint that it's hard to fault it too much. Misawa repeatedly saves Akiyama -- over and over and over again, as Williams and Ace are obliterating him. So Doc & Ace figure out that the best game plan is for Doc to voluntarily take out Misawa on the outside so Akiyama has no one to rescue him when they have him beat. It works to a degree, but Misawa finally mounts a comeback of his own, then comes in and tries to bring victory home for his team. But it's too late in the match to make a difference, as Doc and Ace still have too much in the tank. This is a war that goes to a 30-minute draw. Misawa has the upper hand on Ace when the bell sounds, but I think the booking point was that Doc & Ace were "supposed" to win, as they looked like the better team.

 

If you've only seen the regular TV version of this match, it was clipped to shreds. Here you see the full match from Samurai TV.

 

Of the three matches between these on this set (6/7 & 9/5), they do run neck and neck. Overall, 6/7 is probably the best match, and this one is really close in quality to the title change in September. It's little more basic in style, which I actually appreciate, as the Misawa/Williams matwork in the beginning is really enjoyable, and the pacing is a little bit slower than your usual big All Japan tag. But it works in getting over the big picture really well.

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(30:00) when the time limit expired.

 

There was a chilled out vibe and atmosphere to this one. Going the distance was nid. Consistently good quality action and very easy to watch. There weren't many highs and lows but the time flew by. A nice B show main event. Johnny Ace is the fucking man baby!

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Good match and Ace was AWESOME here. Just so much intensity and velocity to everything he did. Jun wrestles virtually the whole way, as again he's a target of abuse but still gets some moments to shine, thanks to Misawa knowing when to pick and choose his spots to showcase himself. What a great breakout year Akiyama has had. This really picks up when Misawa eats the backdrop driver, but he has enough to come back and attain a moral victory for his team by he and Jun going the distance. I have to confess I missed the pre-match graphic and thought this was a tag title match with a 60-minute time limit, so the final bell got to me. I knew they were going long, but I'll always appreciate it when a time limit draw happens that I don't see coming.

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These four guys have created a pretty awesome unheralded feud. This was really strong in the front half and back 7-8 minutes. The middle portion lost me a bit but everything with Ace throwing forearms at Jun and Misawa and Doc stretching each other out was extremely entertaining to me. I liked Ace escaping the Tiger Suplex at the finish too as that put him over as a player in the promotion and at least right now, he feels like he belongs. ****

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This was a very good ajpw real world tag league match. You could tell that misawa in particular was holding back and so were Jun and Williams. Ace however played a blinder in this match showing real grit and intensity in all he did.

 

Now one thing that hurt this match was the crowd, for an ajpw kouraken crowd I expect them to be loud for most of the match but here they only came alive for the last five mins, but good lord did they come alive.

 

There were periods of drag in the mid 10 mins of this match where it felt like they really were just filling in time to go thirty. But all four guys are such good wrestlers that they could carry through on three quarter speed.

 

Misawa not being involved all that much does not bother me as he is playing the big brother and knows perfectly well where to pick his spots.

 

The final stretch is magnificent with the nearfalls the saves and the struggle of akiyama. The backdrop driver was utilised very well with one of the most disgusting ever to misawa and Williams going for one on the outside was a real please god no moment.

 

In all I agree with zenjo that this was a very strong b show main event that could have done with a bit better crowd. ***3/4

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For a thirty minute draw this breezed by for me, and I never thought it dragged. These teams keep delivering and would have to be my feud of the year so far. This was a particularly rough match, with Williams especially dishing out some nasty, not-graceful offense directed toward Akiyama. The standout is a truly vicious lariat closer to the end. The long peril segment with Akiyama and the fact that this match doesn't go quite into the high end offense and extended run of dramatic nearfalls we got in their other matches made this feel like a bit more of an American style tag match. Doc teases his back drop drive throughout and after finally hitting it on Akiyama after a great extended struggle, is all about trying to hit it again at any opportunity for the rest of the match. A step down in quality from their other two big matches but to me those are a pretty damn high level of quality, this was still great and has a unique flavor among big All Japan tags.

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Steve Williams & Johnny Ace vs Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama - AJPW 11/16/96

Doc & Ace come into the Real World Tag League, the champions, but honestly I dont think they were the favorites. Misawa & Akiyama and the Holy Demon Army both had to my strong favorites going into it. Between 12/9/96 and 5/23/96, the Super Generation vs Holy Demon is the best feud and those are the best teams, but man Doc & Ace were awesome this year. To be third place doesn't seem good enough for such a great team, but Misawa/Akiyama and Kawada/Taue are two of the best teams ever.

To me this match really telegraphed they were going the distance. It was a workmanlike approach in the front half. It was solid sporting pro wrestling how I like it. Not every match has to be the greatest ever. It was four amazing wrestlers just plying their craft and working for an advantage. Nothing stuck for the most part because all four are great tag wrestlers and followed sound tag wrestling strategy. You get in trouble, get your ass out and tag out. Akiyama hits a High Knee to get himself out of trouble with Ace and a jawbreaker to avoid Doc taking over. Very sound. There was not Hero-Ball until Akiyama broke that rule. 

Ace came in and ran his ass over with a wicked flying European Uppercut that would make Cesaro jealous. Ace was definitely the one showing the most personality in this match thus far. Ace consolidated and tagged out to Doc. Akiyama did the smart thing which was quickly jump on the offensive and got in his High Knee and dropkick. You gotta make the tag. Akiyama played Hero-Ball. He stayed in even though he was not fresh and Ace had just beaten him up. Doc scooped him Military Pressed Him and Snake Eyes brutha. Ace roughed him up on the outside and we got ourselves a heat segment. Great Ace Crusher on the top rope. Doc & Ace are solidly in the lead. Lets see what happens from here. 

I love wrestling like this. It is not going to win any Match of the Year awards, but it is so simple & elegant. It stays true to the origins of the art, just trying to win a match. I would never complain if this is the quality we saw week in and week out. Doc & Ace are great in this. Ace is on fire and brings so much energy. I love him backing Doc up so he can really nail that Flying Clothesline. I am surprised how quickly the Ace Crusher and Top Rope Oklahoma Stampede were hit. Misawa has to bail out Akiyama and finally on the save before the Dangerous Back Drop Driver/Nodowa, Akiyama makes the tag. Misawa takes no prisoners and wrecks Ace's day. Huge Elbow Suicida! Ace is really good at selling. I am looking forward to checking out the Ace/Kobashi team. Akiyama comes back in and redeems himself. High energy Elbows and a Northern Lights Suplex. Tags Misawa back in and the good guys have consolidated their advantage. Misawa is thinking Tiger Driver, nope Tiger Suplex?!? Doc saves and Ace plants him with the DDT and now Doc starts in on Misawa. Nice powerslam. Doc wants to end this with a Dangerous Back Drop Driver but Akiyama saves and Misawa tags out. 

Instead. Doc drills Akiyama with the Dangerous Back Drop Driver and now Akiyama is fucked. Ace hits the Rocker Dropper Misawa saves. DOC DEMOLISHES MISAWA! The Dangerous Back Drop Driver is way too dangerous but that was a 9.9 on the Danger Scale. Misawa was super close to landing on his head. It is how Misawa takes the bump. He back flips so he tends to land on the front of his head and arms to brace it, but he under-rotated and he almost piledrove himself. Nasty. DOOMSDAY DEVICE~! Fucking love that they use that move. Misawa somehow saves. Ace goes for the Kobashi moonsault, but crashes & burns. Misawa kicks off the apron to drive Doc's head into the railing to stop the Back Drop Driver on the floor. Akiyama sit outs on a Powerbomb...EXPLODER~! Tag to Misawa! Frogsplash! Tiger Suplex! Tiger Suplex! No! No! No! Time Limit Expires.

I wish they did a Doc vs Akiyama singles feud similar to Kobashi vs Hansen. It would have been good for Akiyama. I am not saying it would be as good as Kobashi vs Hansen as that was amazing, but I think Akiyama and Doc had good chemistry and it would good learning for Akiyama. They accelerated Akiyama's growth as he became a Triple Crown challenger in 1997 only one year after playing with the big boys. I guess Kobashi did get his first Triple Crown shot in 1994, but it seem like they rocketed Akiyama up there. All four were great, I thought my boy Johnny Ace stood out here as a big offensive dynamo with a lot of personality. Really good meat & potatoes wrestling with some All Japan fireworks in the last 5 minutes. ****1/4

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