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[1992-01-21-AJPW-New Year's Giant Series] Jumbo Tsuruta vs Toshiaki Kawada

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This is awesome before any real action takes place. Kawada tries to catch Jumbo off guard by kicking his legs, Jumbo gets annoyed and slaps him hard enough to KO him. He lands a really stiff lariat and almost gets the win that quickly. Kawada is persistent in targeting Jumbo's legs, but can't string together any offense at first. Since Jumbo is a hard hitter, Kawada has to duck and run when he's on his feet, and try to keep him grounded. The whole match is wrestled that way. Kawada's Cactus Jack elbow to the floor on Jumbo is another highlight. Later in the match, Kawada wins a slugfest with Jumbo, gets a little overconfident, and again Jumbo knocks him to the ground. And almost just to make a point that if he wanted to, he could ground Kawada and beat him there too, Jumbo takes Kawada down with a sleeper. This leads to Kawada coming back and making great headway, including a beautiful slo-mo German suplex that gets a tremendous nearfall. Down the final stretch, neither can powerbomb the other, but Jumbo finally gets Kawada, but Kawada kicks out. He does the same after a DDT and even a backdrop driver, and that was a kickout that shocked me. A second backdrop driver finally does the job and Jumbo takes the match.

 

In just about any other promotion, this would be far more remembered. In WCW, it would be a top 20 contender for the decade. In All Japan, it's just another match on a list. I realize the 10/91 match is the one that has always gotten more attention, but this shouldn't be overlooked. Match of the month at this point.

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I definitely agree that this is a mostly overlooked gem. It's hurt by the fact that it isn't an important match, and they had a better outing three months earlier. But it's certainly a contender for the top 100 of AJ in the decade, and top 20 (10?) for Japan in '92.

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I haven't seen much of Jumbo but he was just awesome here. I liked the moves he did to the outside like the Piledriver and throwing Kawada into the ring barrier. He's like the less crazy Japanese version of Hansen.

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I loved this match as well, but I saw it different than Loss. I had just watched Will's AJ set prior to starting this, and it seemed to me that in the two year gap that Jumbo had aged noticeably and whereas he used to own Kawada (from my recollection anyway) Kawada had closed the gap and Jumbo had to fight his ass off to survive and collect the winner's share of the purse. I am fairly All-Japan ignorant outside of Will's set, so that may account for the difference in perspective.

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I thought this was great. Jumbo nails Kawada early with an open hand strike that knocks him down for the count. Jumbo is all annoyed as the ref scolds him but then kind of shrugs his shoulders to say "Yeah, I hit him pretty good when he was in the ropes." Kawada takes a bit of time to recover but after that I found it to be very even between the two. Lots of close falls at the end and I really liked to struggle to hit each other with a power bomb. Cool to see Kawada kick out of the first back drop driver.

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This was a nice continuation from the prior trios match that also saw Kawada try to take the fight to Jumbo. This also reaffirms my position as Jumbo being the best of all time. Misawa never had a match like this when he was the top dog in AJ or NOAH. He'd let Sano, Morishima, Rikio, Mossman, etc. tee off on him left and right and take the bumps, but he didn't actually put them over anywhere near what Jumbo does for Kawada. It helped that Kawada was so fired up and was busting offense I haven't seen him use much.

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1) It was veteran vs youngster. 2) Tsuruta had the height and leverage advantage. 3) Jumbo's leg was going to be the focus. 4) Kawada wasn't intimidated. 5) Jumbo slapped the taste out of his opponants mouth and was going to put the upstart in his place.

 

They'd established all of this within the 1st minute! Welcome to golden era All Japan.

 

Having perfectly set the scene they then delivered the match. Kawada had all his success when going after the wheel. Jumbo had lost some speed but was still as strong as ever. The ending built up very nicely. First Kawada went close to the win, and then he survived lots of damage before falling. Fabulous match. Top 15 for the year. Perhaps the only slight downside was that the middle wasn't quite up to the level of the start or finish.

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My #1 match of January. Just awesome. I think I prefer this to 10/91 but perhaps that's because this feels fresher. We've got the huge slap from Jumbo at the opening, the struggle for the power bomb later, and Kawada kicking out of backdrop suplex before succumbing to a second. Hell of a standout performance for Kawada as he rises to to become Misawa's top TC contender by year end.

 

****1/4

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This is probably my favorite of the Jumbo/Kawada series, because this is the first match where it feels like there's a real possibility that Kawada can win. Kawada asserts himself from the beginning, both with his opening kicks and not backing down after almost being slapped into unconsciousness, and the big German suplex kicks off an incredible stretch run. There's a palpable feeling that if Kawada could have just hit that power bomb, he would have taken the match. Kawada fights mercilessly to apply a Stretch Plum and Masa Fuchi is awesome on the outside selling this, teasing that he's just this close to throwing the towel in. Unfortunately Jumbo counters and despite a few comeback teases, that power bomb never comes. But Kawada had Jumbo on the ropes and also got to kick out of the first backdrop suplex--I have a feeling, however misguided, that Kawada would have gotten that pinfall on Jumbo not too long after Jumbo's illness aborted his career.

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Three excellent Jumbo matches in one sitting's probably too many for me, because I'm running out of words to describe the performances. Jumbo knocks Kawada silly before the bout can really start with one of the stiffest open-handed shots I've ever seen, and spends the rest of the bout trying to do it again, even breaking out things like a piledriver on the floor and his partner Taue's Golden Arm Bomber, also on the floor. Kawada counters by top-notch work on Jumbo's leg, which isn't as brutal as Hansen's but is just as effective. In fact, that's one of my biggest complaints with the finishing run; Kawada has Jumbo down to one leg midway through the bout, but abandons his handiwork in his zeal to get the win. Of course, most limbwork ends up being undersold like that, since we as fans want both wrestlers to be fighting hard at the finish of a match.

 

I liked Kawada's desperation to get the stretch plum on Jumbo, but he had to know he was too close to the ropes the last two or three times he applied it. Sure enough, there was Fuchi with a towel in his hand, although I doubt he would have used it.

 

The powebomb sequences were okay, but not nearly as memorable as Jumbo slapping Kawada into near-unconsciousness. I'd actually like to see that spot brought to the States at some point, though who would hit hard enough to make it work I have no idea. It's tailor made for someone like Ronnie Garvin, to cite one example.

 

Watching this bout along with the Hansen title change shows you just how ripe Jumbo was to be plucked when Stan beat him. Could the endless war with Misawa and friends (Kawada included) have taken its toll, and now that Jumbo may have lost the Triple Crown title at least in part because of them, what kind of payback will he have for them in the coming months? I can't wait to find out!

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#334

 

Jumbo vs. Kawada feels like a match-up I should enjoy more as some kind of gritty alternative to Jumbo/Misawa. I do like a lot of their exchanges in tag matches and six man tags where Kawada is doing his best impersonation of a lumberjack trying to chop down a redwood, but their singles matches have never clicked for me. I watched this twice and couldn't find the hook. Jumbo slapping Kawada was great, but he wrestled within himself for the rest of the bout. I was going to write something about how he looked like he was already past his best here in his grumpy old man phase, but that could just be me writing my own narrative for the bout. In many respects, this reminded me of Kawada's work with Hansen in '92. I also found that to be slightly lacking, and if I were to put my finger on it, I'd probably say there's a gulf between how good Kawada was in '91 and '92 compared to his peak years of '94 and '95. Misawa and Kobashi too. People used to talk about how much Taue improved in those years, but I think it's true of all four of them. I tried to view this as something smaller and look for a hook -- maybe some great matwork, some awesome strike exchanges, or a bear with a sore head performance from Jumbo -- but it felt more like Jumbo being pushed a bit in a bout he was expected to win and there was nothing about it that really seemed like a breakthrough for Kawada. It's probably unfair to call it a competitive squash but it sure was fashioned that way.

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http://placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-350-301/

 

#334

 

I sort of echo the thoughts of jasch. I too just completed the AJ 80s set, and I had some similar thoughts when watching the match. I didn't think Kawada came across as superior or that Jumbo had aged so much he couldn't hang, but I definitely got the vibe that they were equals and both knew Kawada was younger and likely was at a point he was now with the advantage in a matchup between the two. I enjoyed this. The slap was awesome at the onset, and Jumbo sold his leg well throughout. ****1/4

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A simple but beautiful match. Jumbo's face of can you believe this fucking kid at the start is excellent and the match carries a great storyline of Kawada being relentless in going after that leg and Jumbo being such a smart worker and wily that he isn't going to afford him that advantage. This felt like a callback to the Choshu vs Tenryu matches of the 80's with an updated move set. Once Jumbo does get attacked, I did feel like you got a sense that he was in danger while still retaining all of his aura and that he is firmly the ace. I think it was critical to have Kawada be seen as a threat but Misawa was going to eventually be the guy. This is probably the last super great singles match of Jumbo's career. ****1/4 (8.7)

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Easily my favorite of the Jumbo/Kawada matches. Kawada looks like a real threat to Jumbo in ways he hasn't before and the crowd buying into it is something else. Kawada delivers on a lot of the promise he has shown in the lastr year in spades here and Jumbo is more than willing to make him look great for it.

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