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[1993-02-28-AJPW-Excite Series] Stan Hansen vs Toshiaki Kawada

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Believe it or not, I had never seen this match before. Hansen going after Kawada with reckless abandon at the bell genuinely shocked me. Hansen doing a dropkick and then a TOPE THROUGH THE BOTTOM ROPE blew me away. This is a brutal match. Kawada's suplex after Hansen moves the padding around the ring is great. What puts this match over the top is not just the brutality, but that they sell it in a matter befitting the brutality of the match. The look on Hansen's face when he's in the stretch plum is my favorite example of that. But when he's in the driver's seat, Kawada gets a little cocky and starts slapping Hansen, which leads to a comeback. Little touches like lowering his kneepad to drop a knee are awesome. Kawada's multiple cutoffs of the lariat leading to Hansen hitting him so damn hard he knocks himself out of the ring ... wow. At this point, whoever gets in a good shot with the other guy in the right position is going to win. And that's what happens, when Hansen finally takes his head off for the win. What a classic.

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One of the classic slugfests in wrestling history. It's not perfect, but then the roughness sometimes adds to it. I had this 24th from AJ in the '90s, JDW 16th, and it finished 15th in the overall vote I ran. I don't think I've seen substantial disagreement about its quality, only a matter of to what degree people like it.

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Obviously this is great. I don't think it'd make my Top 20 '90s AJ list, but it's not too far removed. It's probably a good match to use as a barometer for Top 10 MOTYCs... anything equal/better is certainly Top 10.

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Wife and kid are gone, drinking beer on a Wednesday, too lazy too edit. Here are my notes from the match:

 

Its one thing to have kawada kick the shit out of you with padded boots, its another thing to have STAN HANSEN kick the shit out of you with fucking cowboy wrestling boots

 

Fucking brutal so far

 

Killer dropkick by hansen

 

holy shit dive by hansen when do you ever see a man that size, or anyone, dive through the lower middle rope

 

hansen eyes toward ref were great

 

fuck yeah lariat off the kick out of the ring, wow

 

finish is fucking tits

 

Sums it up well :)

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While this match is certainly a MOTYC, the thing that I remember being detrimental, was the first ten minutes or so. They seemed...directionless, but they soon found their direction and delivered an epic match in a truly epic year for the epic promotion.

 

This would likely make my top ten for the year, match wise.

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Very brutal and simple match. Just two guys throwing bombs. The lariat to the back of the head for the finish seems even more brutal to me now, knowing that blows to the back of the head are super dangerous.

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We have a new MOTY leader, for a few weeks at least. It was a brutal head-on collision with neither warrior taking a backwards step. It's amazing how hard they were hitting each other, and that was emphasized by the magnificent selling. It takes great skill to work this stiff without badly injuring your opponant, and that should be appreciated. Right from the start they laid into each other and it never let up. Yet it also had great pacing. Oh the sheer humanity of it all! The stretch was awesome with Hansen hitting the lariato with such force he flipped Kawada whilst also flying out to the floor himself. This teased an upset, but a clubbing rabbit lariat provided a fitting conclusion to this classic.

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Right off the bat they are brawling all over the place. Hansen hits a great shoulder charge through the ropes to Kawada on the outside. Love those overhead camera shots of Kawada looking like he is out cold. I think Kawada sells the Lariat from Hansen the best. Excellent match and so physical between them.

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Well, that was certainly different. Like a longer, drawn-out version of the Kawada/Taue brawl. The teases and counters surrounding the Lariat at the end are fucking top-notch. Hansen is in position to hit the thing 2 or 3 times, but Kawada is ready for it. Then when Hansen does hit it, he flies out of the ring and can't capitalize. Kawada gets in that one final comeback that he didn't get in their TC match in '92, but Hansen still manages to hit him in the back of the head with one final Lariat for the win. But just like Misawa in the spring of '92, it seems to be a matter of when, not if, Kawada can finally beat Hansen. Definitely one of the 3 MOTYs at this point.

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The "when" was the Carny right after this... which wasn't a TV taping, and has never turned up on handheld yet. Really sad.

Well, fuck.

 

That's actually earlier than I expected, though. I would have guesstimated a tag match, maybe during the RWTL.

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This came on a stream I was in and I loved it as much as any other past viewings so I'll give some thoughts.

 

The brawling early on is simple but incredible to see. Also love how it seems so spontaneous in any counters that do occur. Kawada stops some Hansen strikes and has a headlock on near a ringpost? Well, he'll just go ahead and ram Hansen's head right into it! And when the match does enter the ring the way they just seem to move around the ring and make something happen is great. Like Kawada will take some shots and go down and Hansen will just stroll over to the ropes and drop an elbow to him. Just feels really organic. Hashimoto/Tenryu '98, Regal/Finlay Uncensocred '96, and Hansen/Hennig have that same quality to their affairs that makes them great as well.

 

Also, I love that everything is felt. Every chop, every back club, everything has a reaction. Oh and the facials, can't forget about those. That zoom in on Kawada's reaction to getting a Hansen kick in the face is awesome. Even when Kawada gets a burst of energy late and tries to mount an attack after taking a nasty shoulder block, Hansen just swats him back down like a fly and almost forces him back to selling. Things like that just seem to excite me when I watch these matches besides just the stiff strikes.

 

And the finishing stretch is top work as well. It's like Kawada took notice of the crowd's momentary eruption when Hansen pulled up his elbow pad to signal the Western Lariat and he realized he had to mount an attack to survive. The flurries that follow had such a wild, desperate vibe to them and even looked like they were making some headway. He ducks one lariat attempt, and Gamengiri's Hansen when he comes for another attempt, but it's not enough as Hansen seems to just fling himself and that deadly lariat right through Kawada and even to the outside of the ring. And even that adds more drama to the affair. The final desperation back lariat that he hits a few minutes later really has a "last resort" vibe to it and feels like the only finish that could be had.

 

"Finlay/Regal with a proper finish" really is a perfect description for it. A classic and really I think the only match that tops it from '93 AJPW is 12/3/93

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Previously at PWO:

 

2/28/93: Stan Hansen vs Kawada

Now I will admit that i'm not the biggest fan of All Japan and Japanese wrestling. I"m more a Lucha guy. With that said, This match is awesome. Just brutal stiff action through out. The best thing about it was when one guy was ahead, the other guy would come back. There was no clear dominator of the match. Hansen Lariats Kawada about 3 times: once sending Hansen outside, another just making Kawada fall back and the last one to the back of the head. Kawada kicks Hansen in the head so much I'm surprised he's not bleeding. Great match that proved both are the best in the biz.

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Hansen attacks before the bell and the brawling spills outside where Kawada takes over with kicks until a Hansen shoulder tackle sends him *flying*. Both of their kicks and knees are just so stiff. Hansen goes for backdrop on the floor, but Kawada runs him into post. Kawada knocks him silly with kicks in the corner. Hansen gets rope break on Boston crab and attacks knee while still in it a neat twist. Kawada does a great job selling Hansen's kicks to face, but probably doesn't have to think too hard to do that here. Hansen with a dropkick & that dive through the ropes. Maybe I need to rewatch this again as its been forever and I'm relying on my notes, but outside of a few spots and the finish, this wasn't nearly as heated as I would've expected given the action and who was involved. A Kawada stretch plum brings the crowd back into it a bit. Kawada makes the mistakes of slapping Hansen as that's rewarded with a one punch KO. Great storytelling here of Kawada trying to take out the legend, but there's a reason this guy is a legend. Hansen power bomb, but Kawada has one last gasp that buy him some near falls. He cuts off one lariat with a jumping kick, but is turned inside out by the next lariat which sees Hansen fly to the floor. Hansen shoulder tackle and enzuilariato for finish. Told a great story, put over Kawada huge, and kept Hansen as the foreign ace.

 

****1/4

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A complete war in every sense of the word. This may not have the depth of the tip top matches from All Japan in the decade, but it is an engaging, visceral match that makes me sit up in my chair and take notice every time I watch. I think this match was also crucial to Kawada's development. Kawada at times didn't seem as aggressive going up against Jumbo and other AJPW legends. Here he didn't back down an inch and took the fight to Stan as much as he could. This set him up to join forces with Taue and reek havoc on the new appointed heir, Misawa. ****1/2

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I can only think of one other brawl that can compete with this match. This is (depending on the day) my favorite or second favorite match of all time. I know it's not the best, but I don't care one bit. If you ever wanted to ask me what I love about pro wrestling, watch this and Tully vs. Magnum Starrcade 85. I could try to answer you with words, but none of them would be as accurate as my two favorite wrestling matches. Something that stood out to me on this watching of it was how the 92 TC match was referenced with the Hansen legwork, as well as Kawada's great reversal of Hansen's earlier tit-for-tat wrestling with the lariat nearfalls during the finishing stretch. That and how great Hansen's tumble from the ring after the lariat was. I've read about Jeff Hardy's ability to make his falls look not like a guy who was trained to fall, but like a guy who is falling. That's what I got from Hansen falling out of the ring. One thing you always get from Hansen when he's on is that everything seems organic. That's something I think Kawada very much took from Hansen over the years.

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One of the rare times I will give out five stars. I truly epic brawl up there with Andre-Hansen.

 

Just a crazy destruction. I loved every second of this. The lariat where Hansen falls to the outside after, because he couldn't stop his momentum was the greatest move in the history of wrestling.

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Just a crazy destruction. I loved every second of this. The lariat where Hansen falls to the outside after, because he couldn't stop his momentum was the greatest move in the history of wrestling.

 

Fucking co-signed.

 

I decided to chuck this on after reading the hype around it recently, and Holy Shitballs. I've been struggling to sit through wrestling matches lately, and I was going to have this on while I practiced my chords, but then Hansen starting mauling Kawada from the get go and I was glued to the screen for the next however long this match went. I don't even know, it felt like five minutes. What a motherfucking war. War, war, war. Hard shot after hard shot. I was in love by the time Kawada rammed him into the ringpost, and when Hansen hit THAT MOTHERFUCKING LARIAT I realised that this is now my favourite match from the entire 90s so far.

 

I'm with Parv, I don't care what comes after this in the timeline, or before it, this match is amazing.

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So this is my favorite match of all time and the first Stan Hansen Japan match I saw and one of the first puro matches I saw. There's a moment earlier in the match when Hansen is kicking Kawada on the ground and I'll never forget the moment I realized he wasn't stomping when he kicked. That was a revelation and changed the whole match for me. Really disorienting and brilliant.

 

I play a lot of music and whenever I play at a place with video capabilities I always make the sound man project this match during our set.

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I am probably the only one on the planet who is not high on this match. I've seen it about 3-4 times to see what others see in this match but haven't been able to yet. It's still a good match with good selling, some cool moments and a great final few minutes. But I found the majority of the match to be kind of aimless and disjointed. In my opinion the best brawls ever, even the wildest ones, still maintain some sort of structure or progression. Here I thought everything was jumbled together and so I had trouble getting into it. *** 1/4

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This is the kind of match that shortens careers. Hansen didn't win it; he survived it.

 

I've seen very few matches that were this much of a fight. Each man had the other knocked silly numerous times, but when they'd go for covers would somehow find the strength (or maybe the orneriness) to kick out. Each man absorbed stiff shot after stiff shot and fought back, usually to knock his opponent for a loop.

 

I don't usually single out camerawork, but whoever shot this match went above and beyond the call. He captured closeups of almost every major blow, really showing the fans the struggle that these two were going through and making each move seem more impactful than it was, which was a feat when you stop to consider the kind of bombs these two were throwing at each other.

 

I looked at the March match list and saw that Kawada's challenging Misawa, so I thought this was the match that was used to set that up, with Kawada going over. This made the ending a surprise, but not a disappointment. This was so good that the result didn't matter, and I don't say that too often. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the fallout of this bout, whatever it is.

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I think this is the 3rd or 4th time I've rewatched this classic. May be the baddest slugfest ever. Any basic move like a stomp or kneedrop here felt like a potential KO and the fighting over basic holds and moves was awesome. Hansen gave this masterful performance of an aging behemoth who was slowly running out of energy but could still crush his opponent. Kawada's bumping was really great as he would just get drilled into the mat whenever Hansen smashed him. God damn Hansen's shoulderblocks were amazing. I guess some of Kawada's comebacks were a little easy, but what do you want. It's 24 minutes of some of the baddest pro wrestling on film. A Top 5 AJPW match.

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