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[1992-08-22-AJPW-Summer Action Series II] Stan Hansen vs Mitsuharu Misawa

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My most recent writeup:

 

"Let me tell you about this match. When I was first getting tapes in 2001, I thought this was awful. A couple years later I still thought it was bad. But now that I understand things with a bit more context and backstory, there's a lot of good stuff in here. Misawa's facelock was just a year removed from submitting Jumbo, and if it doesn't do the job on its own then it still can set up a knockout elbow like his '91 match with Gordy. Meanwhile, Misawa is one month removed from a shoulder injury and Hansen does a really good job of working it over. Plus they even reference the finish of their '91 match. So yes, this is a fairly methodical match, and they use their ring smarts to make up for not doing three dozen finishers."

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Really not something I'd call a disappointing match unless I didn't already know before I watched it that it was a disappointing match. But it's very, very dull. Still, Misawa winning the TC for the first time is a tremendous moment.

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I thought this was good. It was a methodical bout. I thought the work was smart and told a basic story. Hansen was great working over Misawa's arm. The shoulder breaker on the guardrail was a great spot. The finish was a tad anti climatic though.

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The thing about Hansen's matches with Misawa is that they're not really Stan Hansen matches. Hansen's matches with Kobashi and Kawada were brutal brawls. His matches with Misawa, on the other hand, tend to be more conventional wrestling matches. From that perspective, this was fine. It's not remotely close to either guy's best match. It's not even their best match with each other. But I'm kind of surprised that it wasn't even nominated for Ditch's best of the 90s project. Knowing about Misawa's shoulder going in helps quite a bit, I think.

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Hansen works the shoulder on the mat and uses the guard rail outside for a shoulder breaker which was nice. Overall match wasn't much though. It's a nice moment for Misawa to finally win the TC but I felt the finish itself was flat. Misawa hits a forearm smash, takes a few seconds to recover and then makes the pin. Would have been more believable in a longer and more physical match. Plus Hansen pops right up after.

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It's not remotely close to either guy's best match. It's not even their best match with each other. But I'm kind of surprised that it wasn't even nominated for Ditch's best of the 90s project.

A bit late on this but what a confusing statement. I seem to be the main proponent of the match and I wouldn't put it in the top 100 matches for AJ in the '90s, let alone top 50. I doubt anyone would. So there's no surprise it wasn't nominated.

 

I'll add that none of the three matches they reference (which I run through in my writeup above) have come up yet on these sets. Without the full context I can understand not liking it... after all, I didn't like it for years.

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A bit late on this but what a confusing statement. I seem to be the main proponent of the match and I wouldn't put it in the top 100 matches for AJ in the '90s, let alone top 50. I doubt anyone would. So there's no surprise it wasn't nominated.

 

I'll add that none of the three matches they reference (which I run through in my writeup above) have come up yet on these sets. Without the full context I can understand not liking it... after all, I didn't like it for years.

It came in 37th in the DVDVR best of the 90s voting. I wouldn't go to bat for it as a top 50 match, but it wouldn't be horribly out of place either.

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The DVDVR vote was done as well as possible for just after the decade ended, but it did have some issues. I get a sense that many voters hadn't seen more than a couple dozen matches. JDW casually (and correctly) dismissed a TON of bouts in his pimping post that got votes, many even getting multiple. My vote had the benefit of time and cheaper web/DVD distribution. DVDVR vote really nailed the top tier, which is what matters most.

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Not a ton to add here, as I seem to agree with the consensus that it doesn't measure up to either man's best, which means its just a good match and a monumental moment. I always love Hansen yelling "ask him" at the ref to check if Misawa wants to quit while working over his elbow. Matches like this help build the elbow as much as all the times its used as a finisher because Hansen essentially treats it as as great a threat as the rest of the company always treated his Lariat. The finish was a little flat as there was a huge delay before the count that seemed to suggest it'd keep going.

 

***1/2

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I didn't like this at all the first time either, and that was while watching all of '92 AJPW. Looking at it now, it's not THAT bad, but they could have JIP'd this 10 minutes in and I don't think we would have missed a thing. It picks up once Hansen really goes after the shoulder in earnest, and his work there is the high point of the match. It gets better from there but is still a letdown from their matches earlier in the year, and the finish is an anticlimax. I would have preferred Hansen falling straight back and Misawa collapsing backwards on top of him for the pin, the way Hansen often pinned people after hitting a desperation Lariat. This is quite a historical card that deserved a better main event.

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I really loved this and it instantly became one of my favourite AJ matches. I'm one of those people who are bored by a lot of 90s AJPW so I guess it's a matter of preference. The opening work was tremendous. I enjoy watching talented workers battling over tight holds and they did a great job here. Even simple things like Hansen escaping a headlock or Misawa retaliating with a series of elbows to Hansen's arm felt really important. It also helped that Hansen just beat the shit out of Misawa throughout the match. His shoulder block might be one of my favourite spots ever - I mean just imagine this huge Texan with notoriously bad eyesight crashing his body into yours at full speed. The bit on the apron with both guys stubbornly battling for control and Misawa leaping into some kind of desperation elbow drop was also really great. The whole match was a hard stubborn battle for control really. Misawa trying to facelock Hansen with his weak arm then switching sides and almost putting him away was one of the coolest spots I've seen. The finishing run was also really great. It didn't have big bumps or anything but they really got you to believe they could put eachother away with basic submissions, and Hansen repeatedly crushing Misawa underneath him was brutal. The finish was the only real logical way for Misawa to beat this fucker and they had done a great job building toward it. You see so many shitty meaningless elbow exchanges these days that Misawa really looks like a GOAT contender just based on all his extremely well timed strikes that he lands with considerable smack. Great match, the bad rep is undeserved.

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I thought the finish of this helped put over the elbow even more than Jumbo already had. Everybody knew Hansen was a tough dude who liked to brawl. So when you put him away with an elbow, it means something. Also, I thought it drew the line between Misawa putting away somebody who wasn't really a challenge (early Kawada, Kobashi matches) with suplexes and tigerdrivers and how Misawa had to put away somebody who simply wasn't going to let him get his preferred finishers on them.

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Two years after his breakthrough Misawa becomes the ace and company leader. It would've occurred a bit later without Jumbo's illness. Baba certainly wasn't a progressive booker. It took a while to get going. Knowing that Misawa was coming off a shoulder injury was important. Hansen attacking the left shoulder wouldn't have made a whole lot of sense otherwise as Misawa does all his damage with the right arm. What this had in its favour were some brutal shots and a big match atmosphere. It felt important. In the end the elbow of death goes over and a new era begins. Good overall.

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I quite liked the 8/92 Triple Crown match. It was a nice blend of an older, more traditional build mixed with slightly more modern elements, and decidedly different from anything Hansen was doing with the other kids. Whoever raised the point about Hansen's matches against Misawa being deliberately different than against Kawada or Kobashi is spot on. The only thing I didn't love was the finish. Misawa knocking Hsnsen out with his elbow is a bit of a hard sell, but I really wish Misawa hadn't gone down afterward and teased the double knockout and rolled him over straight away or fallen on top of him after hitting the elbow. Everybody "feels" finishing stretches differently, but to me the pause before rolling him over was a false note. I can understand trying to milk the moment for all it's worth, but I would have bought the knock out blow more if Hansen hadn't stayed down for so long.

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Now that I know why there was so much armwork on Misawa. my opinion of this has gone up a bit. I still prefer Hansen the out-of-control brawler, but at least him slowing the bout down in order to target Misawa's bad shoulder makes a bit more sense now. It was well done in any case, as was Misawa's work on Hansen's lariat arm in return. But this really started to pick up when they started throwing forearms and kicks. The one knockout forearm from Misawa really took me by surprise, since he's been using the facelock as his finisher for quite some time.

 

I liked that you could actually hear Higuchi gibing commands, particularly to Stan. I especially liked him telling Stan "No more outside!" like he was talking to a naughty puppy. (Not that Stan listened to him, of course.)

 

It's nice to see Misawa as the new king of All-Japan, even if his "coronation" could have stood to be a lot more exciting. The question is: With Jumbo out of the title picture (and soon to be out of the promotion), who's going to be Misawa's top challenger after Stan gets his rematch?

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Yeah I really liked this. The call of Misawa and Hansen being stubborn with how much they wanted to gain control is perfect. Dual armwork from both with them trying to wiggle out of holds or just resorting to beating on eachother was well done and kept me intrigued. And I love how in between they'd just periodically kick or slap at the other guy to get across not only a sense of disdain but also desperation to get an advantage. That battle near the ropes with Misawa stuffing Hansen's shoulder blocks and then immediately diving on top of him after he created some space was awesome. But I will say I fall on the side of thinking the finish missed a count with how it was executed. I have no problem with Misawa KO elbow finishes but I feel like he should've been ducking a lariat or maybe just a little bit faster to get over for the cover. Either way, still a great match.

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On paper this was a good match but it lacked something. The dual limb attacks from both was a good idea on paper but it was so dull. There was no drama in the holds other than when Hansen held on after a rope break or something like that, you never bought them and considering the match was mostly full off them, it made the match disinterested. I liked the finish but that's really it. **1/4

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On 10/14/2018 at 3:30 PM, Makai Club #1 said:

On paper this was a good match but it lacked something. The dual limb attacks from both was a good idea on paper but it was so dull. There was no drama in the holds other than when Hansen held on after a rope break or something like that, you never bought them and considering the match was mostly full off them, it made the match disinterested. I liked the finish but that's really it. **1/4

Over a year later and my mind feels more soft towards this match, at least the finishing stretch. Everything prior was a chore. 

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All Japan Triple Crown Champion Stan Hansen vs Mitsuharu Misawa - 8/22/92

I have seen a couple of their matches and didnt think much of them at time and cant even remember which ones I have seen. At the very least, it is a monumental match as Misawa wins his first Triple Crown and basically replaces Jumbo as the Ace of All Japan. As is customary, it is gaijin doing the honors of transitioning the championship. 

I am surprised this match has such a bad rep. The first 15 minutes have been great thus far. It is really gritty and tight. Lots of effort. Everything feels like a struggle. Apparently, Misawa had a shoulder injury coming into the match which is why Hansen is targetting the left shoulder. Misawa is right hand dominant. They set the tone early. A very stiff exchange up against the ropes. I liked the holds early, really tight. Hansen really wrestled him down with the top wristlock and when Misawa POPPED him with that Elbow to the head there was no need to sell because that looked like it fucking hurt. We got a close up camera angle, he fucking rocked Hansen with that Elbow. Awesome, awesome side headlock by Misawa, super tight, great struggle. Loved Hansen's counter, moving his body so that he butt Misawa's chin with his head. It looked violent. Hansen knows how to get under a Japanese audience's skin they hate when he does moves when it should be a rope break. Again, we see Misawa use the Elbow to bail him out this time going after Hansen's arm with wicked shot. Hansen is really great at using his size to bully Misawa. He is not doing his Bull In The China Shop routine but he still uses his mass effectively. He really goes to town on the arm now. The shoulderbreaker on the guardrail popped me huge. Hansen is now in full bully mode. He wont let Misawa back in the ring and the crowd is pissed. Misawa is fighting from his back on the apron just throwing stiff knees to the head. This is a fucking fight. Slingshot back in for two. Misawa is trying to tear Hansen's arm off as revenge! Hansen pops Misawa in the head with a wicked elbow. Receipt! Yeah, people who call this a "chore", "Awful", "boring" or "lazy", I have no fucking clue what you are watching. This is a nasty fight where everything is a struggle and it is dripping with effort, but it has been only the first 15 minutes. 

Finish is very strong making this an easy slam dunk great match. I dont think it ranks high up in the pantheon of great All Japan 90s classic but in any other promotion this would be lauded as something special. The struggle over the arm psychology is really good around the 15 minute mark. Misawa is really trying to work that angle. Hansen and him end up in some really stiff fire fights standing up. I love how Misawa has to switch up so many strategies before he fully gets control which is realized when he smokes Hansenin the back of the head on an Elbow when Hansen was blocking an German. That was wicked! It is 1992 so we get FACELOCK! Misawa missed the frogsplash. Now we get the big Hansen finish stretch. He goes back to the shoulderbreaker and even busts out a Cross Armbreaker and when he does not relinquish upon a rope break, the Japanese crowd really lets him have it. I dont think I have ever heard the Japanese boo so loudly. He goes for another arm attack, but he leaves himself open for a wicked Elbow to the head. Hansen keeps coming and throws a kick, but he is not covering up and BOOM KO ELBOW! Hansen's sell is awesome! He totally puts Misawa and that Elbow over like death. 

I am shocked that people do not like this. It is not typical All Japan 90s workrate with a lot of strikes and bombs. It is grittier and more minimalistic. It was a strong Misawa formula match. Misawa took a lot of heat and had to dig himself out of a hole. Hansen was great at using his size, staying focused on the arm, creating a mountain for Misawa to climb and getting heel heat. Misawa just kept coming with that Elbow and withstanding all the punishment. I wouldn't say it was fluke per se. I would say this match showed that Misawa had a Puncher's Chance in any match he was in. He would go onto show he was the Ace, but it was firmly established that the Elbow was the key to victory. ****1/4 

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For years I did not like this match.  This viewing was different.

First, going in knowing about Misawa's left arm helps a lot.

Second, I have finally accepted that Hansen worked Misawa differently than he did everyone else and even kinda dug it this time.  Hansen doesn't want to get elbowed, plain and simple.  Despite being  wild Texas brawler he also wants to win.  So he is going after the match differently knowing Misawa's strength is in the elbow.

Third, great selling and struggle by both guys throughout.  It certainly is not your standard AJPW match, but if you look at it as just "a wrestling match" and judge it on the strengths and weaknesses of the wrestlers involved everything makes a ton of sense.

And there is a ton of small stuff that I missed before.  The kickass Hansen dropkick after eating a few elbows, then staying down just as long as Misawa.  Misawa showing a ton of fire (and a bit of temper) while going off on Hansen at one point.  Hansen's king of the mountain and Misawa's fight to get through the ropes with both guys fighting each other from the ground was amazing.  Hansen selling the facelock like death rocked too.  None of which is what you would think of as classic King's Road, but it all works within the match they wrestled. 

Maybe it is in the top 50 AJPW matches not wrestled like AJPW matches?  I would agree that it is not great when you think about what you want from Hansen/Misawa.  And I wish they had done one 15 minute balls-to-the-wall elbow vs. big Texan brawling sprint.  I truly do.  The fact that we didn't get one of those shouldn't make this match something less than what it is though.

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