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[1996-11-29-AJPW-Real World Tag League] Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama vs Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue

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Amazing that these guys can have a match this great the week before the tag league final, and still not be out of new stuff to do when they get there. I knew I'd like this match, as I have liked all the matches between these teams. I didn't expect for this to be one of best matches of the year in its own right. This is more visceral and all-action than the other matches between these teams earlier in the year, which is really saying something. And I know the tag league final will take the top spot, but other than that, this is my favorite match between the teams.

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What I really enjoyed about this is the way it puts a spotlight on the potency of The Misawa Comeback. And you're right about it being distinct from the others. It adds yet another dimension to the year-long story.

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Watched this with Hoback today. He went nuts for it: five starring it and going off on how great it was.

 

What's kind of interesting is if this had happened at say the 9/96 Budokan as the semi to Kobashi-Hansen and what people would have thought of it. My guess is that it would have been way up the 1996 MOTYC list. Big match, big setting, well paced, big spots, great run to the finish. It doesn't overstay it's welcome as being too long, and leaves the "epic" vibe to the Kobashi-Hansen. Yeah, probably would have finished well up.

 

Then what's more interesting is that they then would have topped it with the Tag League Final. Really is kind of batshit crazy that you could have a match this good, that they not just top it, but blow it completely out of the water to the point that this is almost a throw away. No, it's not really a throw away since it helps play into the Tag Final to a degree. But the Tag League Final is really on another level. Pretty amazing.

 

John

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A week before the super classic, and this was one hell of a dress rehearsal. Bad blood between Taue and Akiyama early on. There was never any question that the two teams didn't hate each others guts. Misawa took a couple of big outside bumps and they did a really good FIP segment. I loved that when Jun came in full of energy he landed a few shots but didn't gain an advantage. Just think about it for a minute. Yes he's the fresh man, but it was still 1 vs 2 whilst Misawa was recovering on the outside. And yes it's going to take Misawa a while to recover from an extended beatdown. It's so much more thoughtful and sophisticated than pretty much any other wrestling. Kings Road, the connoisseurs choice.

 

They moved onto a hot finishing run where they displayed their familiarity by countering. Kawada got isolated for a spell and that led to his downfall. There were a couple of minor bits of selling from him and his partner that I particularly appreciated. Overall it was very well structured and paced. By only going 20m they left themselves a little something for the following week. It's crazy they could be holding something in reserve and still produce a top 10 match in such a great year.

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There were a couple of minor bits of selling from him and his partner that I particularly appreciated.

 

In particular, I'll mention Taue countering one of Misawa's elbow flurries with an enzuigiri, but then immediately grabbing his ankle that Misawa had worked on a little bit earlier and being forced to tag out. Just a neat little touch to get the opening matwork stuff over.

 

But that's a relatively tiny and inconsiderate portion of the match. What a fucking match it is. Misawa gets completely destroyed in the first 5 minutes, taking an amazing nodowa off Kawada's shoulders to the floor. Akiyama really feels like a peer in there--he'd already reached that level, but it's still notable to see him taking on Kawada and Taue by himself and actually holding his own. And the counters are out of this world--like the '93 Taue/Kawada Carnival match but quicker and even more numerous. At one point the HDA tries to execute a combo power bomb/choke slam on Misawa, but he huracanranas out of it in another holy-shit spot. Eventually Taue gets taken out and Kawada is left alone with Jun and Misawa and is overwhelmed. Cannot, cannot, cannot wait until 12/9 now.

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http://placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-150-101/2/

 

#108

 

This is one of my favorite discoveries on this countdown so far. I had not seen this and absolutely loved it. The action is great. All the creative spots and counters are excellent. Love the Taue/Akiyama exchanges in the beginning and that killer chokeslam spot on the outside. There is huge boot to Akiyama (in the corner) from Kawada that Jun sells so phenomenally. This is a match I could watch anytime when I just want something action packed, creative, and fun. I'll say ****1/2 for me. I'll want to come back to it though.

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An awesome match. Misawa is rocked in the early going and Akiyama has grown to where he is not a liability at all. Then we get the moment where Kawada gets his leg worked over a bit and then the big Misawa comeback to take us home. This plays into the final so well but as a stand alone, this is also super action and at 20 minutes, all action without letting up. ****1/2

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Wow, I wasn't expecting this match to be this good. Yeah, given the match-up and the feedback here I had very, very high expectations, but not THIS high! The three real canonical classic AJPW 90s tags -- RWTL 93, RWTL 96 and 6/9/95 -- are still in another league, but this isn't that far off. And at only 20 minutes it packs in a whooole lot of action. There's a nice, rough beginning with Taue and Akiyama and soon into the match Kawada and Taue get in control of Misawa and really give him a beating, including a Doomsday Nodawa on the floor(!) and a powerbomb on the floor. Misawa's extended comeback is so great with some intricate sequences, and they take their time paying it off. With Akiyama in the ring it soon becomes evenly matched and boy do they go balls to the wall right up to the end. Some really creative, intricate wrestling too. Akiyama and Misawa eventually go after Kawada's leg and it leads to his downfall. Kawada still puts up fight but his kicks get less and less effective as his leg gets more and more damaged, and Misawa takes him out with two Tiger Drivers in a row.

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Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Mitsuahru Misawa & Jun Akiyama - AJPW 11/29/96

DOOMSDAY NODOWA OF DEATH~! Holy Shit! I have a new favorite move that was badass. I know it is annoying nitpick, but it is kinda disappointing that it was just a transition to the heat segment and not the transition to the finish. 

This is their league match ahead of the finals on 12/6/96, growing up I would ignore these match and I would just skip to the Finals, with age comes wisdom and I am so glad I went back and watched this because this gangbusters. 

Taue and Akiyama are chippy to start. Both Taue and Kawada have no time for Akiyama's insolence. Taue bullies and pummels him in the corner at the very beginning of the match after an elbow form Akiyama. When Akiyama makes the hot tag around the 15 minute mark, Kawada takes Akiyama all full of piss 'n' vinegar scoops him up, bodyslams him and COWBOY KICK! The best part of both of these is that Akiyama's reaction is not of submission, but of ardent resistance in both cases he comes firing right back. I love when he dumps Kawada with a Northern Lights Suplex. Akiyama is not taking this lying down. 

It was interesting that when Misawa did come in, he chose to work on Taue's leg almost immediately. That's very rare from Misawa. He does not work limbs. It is Elbows or running through his stock spots. He hits Elbow Suicida and it is breaking loose in Sapporo (yes I looked that up :P )! Akiyama tries a plancha but Taue sidesteps. NODOWA ON THE FLOOR! Kawada DECKS Misawa with a Lariat simultaeneously! The complexion of the match has changed. This is when the aforementioned Doomsday Nodowa of Death comes into play. Kawada works the arm of Misawa, but Akiyama saves. Kawada Powerbomb on the floor! They go full American style face in peril with tons of hope spots for a Misawa tag. Misawa hits a lot of his trademark hope spots, catching himself on the top turnbuckle Snake Eyes,  firing off an Elbow, but Taue Enziguiris. Or the classic shoot Misawa off into the buckles, catches himself, springboards back with an Elbow. Taue SMOKES Akiyama with a Boot. Another great moment is when they go for the Dangerous Back Drop Driver/Nodowa Combination, but Misawa backflips out, Elbows and Taue just ducks under and THROWS HIM DOWN WITH A NODOWA! I love Taue! Kawada gets two. A spinning back Elbow finally gives Misawa enough freedom to tag out. Honestly, I love the back end of the FIP so much and how hard Misawa had to work for the hot tag, but I didnt like how they front-loaded with a lot of big bombs. I think they could have saved the Doomsday Nodowa of Death and even the Powerbomb on the Floor for later. 

Akiyama vs Kawada was classic and covered the best parts above. In the high-energy fracas, thanks to Taue's big boot, Kawada DEMOLISHED him with a Dangerous Back Drop Driver! After a brief glimmer of hope, Misawa/Akiyama looked fucked. Taue lands a Powerbomb, but it is not Dynamic. There's a great moment when Kawada has Akiyama in the Stretch Plum, and Taue comes over to cut Misawa off and Misawa slingshots over and hits an Elbow and goes full ass over tea kettle because he was so committed to the spot. Once Akiyama tags out, Misawa hits a Flying Bodypress, but soon after Kawada does his Bicycle Kick out of the German and the Holy Demon Army are poised to take the lead. They are going to do a Nodowa/Powerbomb Combo, but Misawa snaps off the Misawa-Rana! They go full Budokan style finish run. ROARING ELBOWS GALORE! Tiger Suplex! Two Tiger Drivers!

Wow! Incredible the only reason I imagine is not remember more is because it is overshadowed by 12/6/96 soon. This is excellent tag team wrestling. Tons of great action but driven by competition and anger. Those Akiyama exchanges were great. Loved the tension of the Misawa FIP segment. Misawa coming into bail out Akiyama was great. The finish run was them clicking on all cylinder. I love how the Holy Demon Army won control of the match twice because they were the better team. They had transformed the match into a handicap match and were forcing Misawa & Akiyama to wrestle singles. It was only when Misawa started helping Akiyama and the finish stretch that Misawa/Akiyama started wrestling as a team. Misawa came off as a stud in this match. Loved it! ****1/2

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This was a blast. Very much a match in two stages. The first stage was more methodical but had some nasty floor bumps for Misawa, one being a double-team electric chair/Ore ga Taue and the other being a Kawada powerbomb. The second stage was when the flip was switched and it was balls-to-the-wall action and desperation. And even with such a sudden change of pace, it felt earned. Taue and Kawada had given Misawa their best shots and yet he still wouldn't go down. Not to mention Jun was always there to spoil things for them.

Shame how overlooked this one is. ****1/2.

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