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Charles (Loss)

[1993-12-01-AJPW-Real World Tag League] Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Steve Williams & Big Bossman

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Even better than the Misawa/Kobashi match a few days earlier. I do think, to Ditch's earlier point, that Bossman would have had to continue adapting to have performances this strong for any length of time, but in these two matches, he's terrific and works really hard.

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I think the thing with Bossman is to try to put him into the context of what was coming: the three Misawa & Kobashi vs Doc & Ace matches from 7/94, 12/94 and 3/95. Would he have made them better? Was Ace, for all his positives/negative, make a better fit with Doc given when AJPW was going in work?

 

John

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I fucking *hate* Ace and firmly believe there had to have been someone better for that role... but I don't think there's any reason/evidence to think that guy could've been Bossman.

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I'm not a massive Ace fan. He did click it off well with Doc from mid-1994 through 3/95, and did again from 3/96 through 12/96. Obviously they had some great opponents to work with (largely Misawa + Kobashi/Akiyma). But they did really mesh well together.

 

One of the key reasons to me in hindsight is because they aren't a Super Team. Doc's clearly the #1, and Johnny is the guy trying to hang. Johnny so clearly not being on the pecking order level with Misawa, Kobashi, Kawada and Taue makes it more firm in out eyes that Doc is the big swinger on the team who will have to kill guys dead. Johnny can bump and sell, but has enough offense where he can turn things around and help contribute to damaging the natives.

 

I think they screwed up to a degree that Kobashi was too far ahead of Ace that Johnny couldn't swipe a singles win or two off him in 1994 and 1995 for a little mini-rivalry. When they did rival them, my recollection was that it was via draws and Kobashi won the blow off. Then they did nothing to strongly highlight a Johnny-Jun rivalry later. Crap booking... which as I said in an earlier thread didn't magically happen when Baba got cancer. They weren't very sharp going back earlier. Anyway... I digress. :P

 

I think Ace fit better with Doc than anyone in Japan other than Gordy. It came at the perfect time when Doc looked like he was challenging Hansen for the #1 Gaijin spot and had taken the TC from Misawa. It wasn't the time for him to have a #2 who was as strong as Gordy (who was stronger than Doc in their partnership). Having his own "Jun" or "Kobashi" was the right move. Don't know who else could have fit the role. I don't think anyone working regularly in Japan at the time.

 

John

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I realized I never went through the last few disks of this yearbook. This was even better than I remembered. I just finished 1991, so what really struck me was Bossman's superiority to Gordy in a similar setting. I loved all of his uppercut variations, and he also bumped like a motherfucker. The work on Kawada's leg was excellent, and he did a great job balancing his selling with a really gutty effort to give Taue the space he needed to get the win. They had the crowd hanging on every move in the finishing stretch.

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I personally think it's fun to see Bossman in his WWF gear in an All Japan ring. However, he is clearly outclassed by Kawada & Taue. Also, Williams is clearly superior (even though this is not necessarily a top performance by Williams). I think Bossman certainly adapted well and definitely appeared to try hard, but he probably wouldn't have been interesting after an extended stay. As much as I dislike Johnny Ace, I think Bossman wouldn't have been better in the Johnny Ace role in All Japan.

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Boss Man has made Williams as a tag team wrestler so much more interesting. We are not seeing Gordy and Williams exchange lazy looking submission holds on their opponents. I enjoy Boss Man just throwing uppercuts like crazy. He has looked very good in both of these tag matches. I think he could have performed into early part of 94 at least and been better than Ace. He couldn't have matched Johnny's performance from the 12/10/94 match where Ace really stepped it up.

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So, Kawada's working with a bad wheel, both in real life and in storyline. Taue is forced to carry the work load, and here he decides to do that by going up to Bubba before the match and saying, "Just fucking punch me in the mouth as hard as you fucking can." And the Boss Man obliges--holy shit, does he oblige. He absolutely murders Taue with strikes here--this is the best BBM performance yet, and he's really a vicious animal working Taue over and Kawada to a lesser degree. He also throws in some classic weeble-wobble selling--I love his stagger-around-on-one-foot sell of big strikes. For such a big dude, Boss Man really did have some incredible body control. I have no clue if he could have kept adapting, or become a legitimate TC contender as a single, but this tour was certainly promising. Anyway, this is pretty much awesome on all levels--Doc works hard though I honestly thought Boss Man was more exciting, and this is a standout performance by Taue who's stepped up really nicely when he's had to.

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There's an alternate universe where instead of going to WWF in 1988, Bubba goes to All Japan and develops into a damn good worker by 1993. His work was really interesting in these two matches.

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This match has two overlapping stories: 1) Kawada and his knee injury and 2) the need for Taue to do the vast majority of the work by himself if he and Kawada are to advance in the tournament. Doc and Bossman destroy Kawada's knee to the point where I wonder how he was able to work the final at all just two days later. As for Taue, they really turn this into his show by the end, as Kawada's only job is to keep Doc occupied while Taue tries to finish Bossman off, which he finally does.

 

I loved Bossman after the match; he knows that he and Doc had a golden opportunity to get to the finals if only they could have either beaten a guy who was on one leg or a guy whom they had two on one for most of the second half of the match, and they couldn't manage either one. Doc comforts him, ostensibly by reminding him that Kawada and Taue are the toughest tag team in the world for a reason.

 

Could Bossman/Bubba have lasted in AJPW? Maybe or maybe not. But there's no reason he couldn't have kept coming over for events like this had he wanted to. The energy he brought to the two matches we saw was outstanding, and he could have brought it every year without necessarily challenging for the Triple Crown. Of course, he was probably paid better to do what he did in the States, and he may have worn himself thin even as an attraction; he wasn't as physically awesome or charismatic as someone like Andre, who could light arenas up all over the world just by walking down the aisle. Still, we have these two matches to prove how far Ray Traylor has come as a worker since the day seven years before when his claim to fame was that a Dusty Rhodes chair shot couldn't knock his hat off.

 

I haven't seen Kawada and Taue's match with Hansen and Baba yet, but seeing Stan in particular going nuts on Kawada's knee should be a treat.

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Great match and I can't help but knowing the tour long injury/story of Kawada's leg helped peg this a few notches above the Misawa/Kobashi vs Doc/Bossman match. This had a great slugfest feel and already Taue was trying to help his partner out by just going after the opponents to keep them away from the bad wheel of his partner. Bossman as a mainstay in AJ is interesting to contemplate as I am watching this along with the 1996 RWTL and Ace is also turning in sublime performances. ****

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