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[1992-11-27-AJPW-Real World Tag League] Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada vs Kenta Kobashi & Giant Baba

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This is a great, unique match. What makes it work is that because Baba is limited, everyone works around what he can do. I think I like this better than the more talked about match in '93. Fun to see Kawada work some sequences with Baba, and I really like the side headlock stuff with Misawa. I think I like Kobashi and Baba as a team better than Hansen and Baba too, if only for the dynamic of the vet teaming with the overly eager young guy. Baba has a more global effect on the whole match, which is both good and bad. It's good because it gets the match over without burying Baba's contributions, but it's bad because they aren't going all out in the way they normally would with each other. Not the balls out 90s AJ match we've all come to love, but it's not something that should be overlooked either. There's something thoughtful about the way they put this together, because Kobashi going all out with Misawa and Kawada, then the match slowing way down every time Baba tagged in, would have given this a weirder, more inconsistent vibe than everyone slowing down and returning to basics. These guys keeping a lot of their big stuff in reserve are still doing more than most wrestlers worldwide in big matches. Kawada and Kobashi's extended time in together down the final stretch is awesome and takes the match to a different level, also allowing the leaders of each team to take a back seat and let the #2 guys have some spotlight. I love that there are no tags during this whole time. It's also an interesting foreshadowing of the more intense exchanges these two would have in singles, tags and six-mans the following year. Awesome match in a totally different way than you might expect, and one of my favorites of the year.

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I think the reasons why I liked about the 11/93 more was:

 

* there never was any doubt who was going down here

 

Kobashi was getting pinned. In 11/93, especially if you didn't know the result (I didn't at the time), you only know Misawa isn't getting pinned and Hansen highly unlikely to get pinned. It was possible that Baba could eat a pin here for Misawa like he did for Tenryu in the Tag League, and of course it was possible that Stan could chop Kobashi's head off. There was doubt in the result: draw possible, Kobashi losing for the "upset", and Baba getting pinned for the "holy shit that's kinda special".

 

* Misawa & Kobashi didn't seem to be "holding back" on Baba as much

 

Did it slow down? Yes, relative to Misawa & Kobashi vs Kawada & Taue. But it felt in 1992 more along the lines of holding back, while in 1993 it felt like Baba was "picking it up".

 

* exhibition vs competative

 

1992, as fab as it was, felt more exhibitiony. Kobashi was losing, Baba wasn't competative at the time, it's more a "fun" match.

 

1993 was worked more like Baba & Hansen had a shot to win. Like the old goats might pull one out of the air to shake up the expectations of the tag league (i.e. only Misawa & Kobashi vs Kawada & Taue mattered). Baba felt more competative in that he was helping his team inflict some damage and put Misawa & Kobashi on the ropes, while the year before... he was just a Special Attraction in the match.

 

I honestly can't remember the last time I felt that Baba was truly competative in the Tag League... that he and his team could do some "real" damage in it rather than "bullshit" damage like Baba & Andre winning matches because they were legends and it help keep things close down to the end. Probably back when Baba teams with Jumbo. That's a decade.

 

Baba & Kobashi vs Misawa & Kawada just never struck me as being much more than I expected it could be on the high end: Kenta would put on the Kobashi Show, Misawa & Kawada were great, and Baba wouldn't screw it up while the fans enjoyed him being a part of it.

 

Baba & Hansen vs Misawa & Kawada struck me as being much more than I expected: a competative match, Misawa & Kobashi and Hansen all working at the very high end of their very high abilities at that moment, and not just that Baba didn't screw things up... but that he added to the match in a not insignificant way.

 

The Kobashi show in this match... it was on display a lot in 1992-94. Perhaps a little special because it was one of the rare times prior to 5/93 that he was opposite one of his partners. But not really unique even in that sense, and not really beyond what you would expect out of him if he was dropped into this match.

 

I've recommended this match in the past. Pimping post:

 

I always thought this was a bit overrated. Great match, but this was right in the middle of Meltzer's "Give Every Kobashi Match An Extra 1/2*" period. The Misawa & Kobashi vs. Hansen & Baba from the following year is a much niftier match.

That pretty much still is my opinion. Dave had it this was:

 

Misawa & Kawada vs Baba & Kobashi ****3/4

Misawa & Kobashi vs. Hansen & Baba ****

 

I would have had it when writing the Pimping Post as:

 

Misawa & Kawada vs Baba & Kobashi ****1/4

Misawa & Kobashi vs Baba & Hansen ****1/2

 

And still like the 1993 match about 1/4* better.

 

 

John

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I thought this was tremendous. Even with Kobashi eating the pin the crowd loved him. I loved Baba's exchanges. Sure they slowed it down for him, but his facials are so awesome.

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My appreciation of Giant-o shot right up whilst watching the 80's set. He's as wooden as an oak but every bit as wise. The team with Kobashi worked so well with the young man carrying the workload. Baba was hugely entertaining just directing traffic on the apron. He was also so charismatic and charming in the ring. Lasted over 25m and a joy to watch. They took it as far as they could given the booking and physical limitations.

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Loss summed up perfectly why they had to slow things down and work basic here--I had eerily similar thoughts as I was watching. It greatly stands out in contrast to what was going on in AJPW in the early '90s but it would have seemed even more incongruous to go balls-to-the-wall only when Baba was on the apron and slow things down otherwise. I think AJPW was better off for when matches could still be worked this way instead of requiring every big match to be a bomb-throwing fest. But, oh, we do get a bit of that down the stretch, as the stuff with Kawada trying to put Kobashi away was great fun. I admit I got taken in a bit by the result, as I had this pegged as a draw despite Kobashi being the obvious sacrificial lamb here. I still think I liked the '93 match better, but it's not a fair comparison since I don't think that exists in full and we got some opening matwork here that verges on the slow side.

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It may be slower, but I loved Baba selling Kawada's chops here, as well as Kawada working overtime to sell Baba's knees and stretch. He probably loved putting on this show. Its always something to see how much support underdog Kobashi got when in with Misawa. Even here, with the various stories they can tell with Baba & Kobashi, Misawa's elbow is still the great equalizer in yet another reminder of why that was over as it was basically forever. Super finishing stretch with Kobashi surviving through a few big moves before a second power bomb puts him away.

 

****1/4

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Previously at PWO:

 

1992 Tag League: 11/29

Gordy & Williams vs. Taue & Akiyama, Misawa & Kawada vs. Kobashi & Baba

The first match is, as you'd expect, stiff and hard-fought. They go with the obvious storyline: Can the tough surly vet keep the big mean foreigners from killing his young partner? Everyone plays their role extremely well. Akiyama takes one hell of a beating, The MVC are cruel and unrelenting, and Taue is furious in his desire to even the score. It's pretty much a textbook example of this kind of match, leavened by several heaping scoops of Fire Pro level violence.

The second match is even more fun, if somewhat less well-structured. Misawa and Kawada sell their hearts out for Baba, who is clearly having the time of his life in the ring. In an entertaining twist, Baba also takes much of the beating for his team, allowing Kobashi to be Mr. Save the Day on more than one occasion. The build up to the finish is really hot, and they keep it going for an almost 5/21/94 Misawa & Kobashi vs. Kawada & Taue type of run. WON gave this ****3/4, which I don't really see... but this was still one of the best episodes of All Japan TV from 1992, which is really saying something. Check out Zander's review above for more evidence of this.

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I didn't see this one as slow at all. True, we didn't have guys doing topes all over the place and such, but not every match should be like that, even in Japan.

 

The finishing sequence between Kawada and Kobashi was really good, and those two should have quite a rivalry when Kawada switches sides in '93. These two were the real workhorses of the match, and Kobashi showed that he's ready to move up in the pecking order, which may be one reason why Baba switched Kawada to Taue's side of the fence.

 

We didn't see as much as Misawa as I thought we would, but it was intriguing to see him go up against Baba. I'm sure many fans at the arena that night left thinking about what a title match between the two of them would be like.

 

The old man made a good accounting of himself here. Remember, he was never Mr. Speed and Reflexes to start with. I liked watching him play the mentor role to Kobashi, directing traffic when needed. He looked like he was having a ball out there, finally back in the action if only briefly.

 

They weren't teasing tension between Misawa and Kawada quite yet, which I thought they would after their Triple Crown match; I guess they figured that there would be plenty of time for that in the new year.

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Giant Baba looks really big in this match. I know his name is Giant Baba but after not seeing him for ages, he looks so tall. Or maybe Kawada is just small. Anyway, its Baba’s time to shine against the current generation. Kawada threw a chop and Baba sold it in a way that was really funny but in a good way. I love facials when someone throws chops and he sells Kawada’s chops super well. The opening exchanges were fine, Baba has limitations and I’m fine to judge him within those limitations. He does a fine job, Misawa and Kawada bump well for the guy. Kobashi is a beast in this match with a big effort to help the load on Baba. Kobashi gets pinned, obviously but he puts up a hell of an effort as the fans were on his side. ***1/2

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