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[1995-03-04-AJPW-Excite Series] Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs Steve Williams & Johnny Ace

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Shows where the Triple Crown was a semi-main under Baba:

 

-3/6/90, Hansen/Tenryu vs MVC over Jumbo vs Windham (a good choice)

-6/8/90, Jumbo vs Misawa over Gordy vs Hansen (ditto)

-9/1/90, Jumbo vs Misawa over Hansen vs Willians (ditto)

-3/4/92, MVC vs Jumbo/Taue over Hansen vs Misawa (questionable)

-6/5/92, Jumbo/Taue vs Misawa/Kobashi over Hansen vs Kawada (leaning 'good choice')

 

This should have been the main event, even though it was long past the point where Misawa had elevated the title to legendary status. Kawada vs Hansen was plodding and served as a step back. This match, while somewhat of a rehash of the RWTL '94 iteration, leaves everyone in it looking better than they did going in; Kawada looked like crap in how he lost IMO. Plus, it would have served to further set up the 6/9/95 tag title as deserving of being on top of a de facto one-show card. That said, this isn't a near-flawless chunk of tag wrestling such that it's a crime to have it as the semi-main. It meanders at times, and for all the bombs tossed by the gaijin squad they only get like one good nearfall. But it's VERY GOOD, with lots of top-notch action and exchanges and cool moments. I rate this a hair below the more famous June '96 tag with Akiyama in Kobashi's place.

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The first three are more Main + Semi Finals while the other two plus this one are Double Main Events.

 

It fails here because Hansen-Kawada wasn't well thought out. They really should have gone just 15 minutes and kicked the shit out of each other. It became a massive flaw around this time that TC's had to go loooooooonnnnnnnggggggg. After Misawa-Kawada, they had a long stretch of TC's going about 15+ minutes too long, really for no good reason. The first to break out of that was the Misawa-Kawada in July, which was only short in the context of what the two could otherwise have done. But it's not like anyone learned from that as they went back to going longish.

 

Then when Budokan became little more than one match cards, there probably was an increased mentality of it having to be a long epic.

 

Sad. One does wish Hansen and Kawada had the vision and stones to go a different route.

 

John

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At the time, I'd say Dave overrated this match, but it's not one I generally hear people banging the drum too loudly for, so I probably won't ruffle any feathers by saying that. It is still an excellent match that seems to be focused on getting over two feuds -- Misawa/Doc and Kobashi/Ace. There is occasional crossover in the action, but those are the big rivalries the match is laid out to get over. I think this started off really strong with all the tempers flaring stuff on both sides. I dug the slapfests. But all of Doc's run-ins when he wasn't the legal man before the match built to a climax really annoyed me, and not in a "Wow, I hope this guy gets his comeuppance" way. I think one big thing I left this match thinking is how amazing a team Misawa and Kobashi were. Both Misawa and Kobashi work wonderfully with Ace, in a way where they aren't upstaging him even though it's obvious they're the ones carrying things. Kobashi's powerbomb on Ace really felt like it should be the finish, but I guess Kobashi doing the top rope legdrop made sense considering how loopy it made Ace just a few minutes before. Great match, but I couldn't get into Doc and Ace, so I had a tough time really connecting.

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Man Big Johnny looks huge here. Almost mid 2000's HHH level. The final 15 minutes of this were real good. I didn't care much for the early limb work, especially from Ace.

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This is another AJPW title match that runs a little too long, but it didn't overstay its welcome quite as badly as the late-'94 TC matches. It's an excellent match with a star-making performance from Ace. He's not GREAT here but he's booked strongly and comes off as the gutsiest bastard alive. He does lots of impersonations here too--he mocks Kobashi's moonsault taunt, does the Doc stomping taunt, and then mimics Kobashi's loopy selling of the backdrop driver when he gets hit with a legdrop. Kobashi and Misawa are spectacular together, busting out some sweet double-teams. That powerbomb+top-rope splash was so great that it was almost wasted where it was. That could have been used as a legit finisher or hot near-fall spot. Kobashi also assists Misawa with doing a double tiger driver. Doc got to be a bit of a nuisance, but his selling of the leg was pretty great and he was at least finding new ways to get involved. I don't see this as the MOTY even for the first 3 months, but it might be the All-Japan match I've enjoyed most so far in '95.

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#370

 

The first thing I noticed about this was that the file length was 44 mins long. That reminded me of back in the day when you'd order a 3 hour custom comp in EP mode and 44 minutes would take up a huge chunk of your comp. How times have changed. I have no idea whether I've seen this or not, but I do know that I really liked it. Long All Japan matches are an immediate turn off to me but this kept me engrossed for a good 35 minutes. Johnny Ace did an unbelievable job of sustaining his accuracy and level of performance over 30 mins+ , and while Williams didn't look in the best of health compared to his '94 run, he still brought a huge degree of intensity. Probably the best thing about the bout is something that doesn't work in every match in Japan but worked here, and that's the aggression and disrespectful attitude that the Americans brought. There are times when you watch a match like this and the Americans will trash talk and the Japanese wrestlers will ignore them and go through their thought processes, but Williams managed to rile Misawa and get his ire up. That added another wrinkle to All Japan (Misawa vs. Williams, that is) and was in all honesty more meaningful than anything Misawa vs. Hansen ever offered. Not sure I agree with Loss here that the match as split into the two feuds/match-ups. I thought there was an even amount of action between all four contestants and that it was an exceptionally well-worked tag match outside of the framework of native vs. native teams that dominated All Japan from the Choshu invasion onward. Better than any of the Wiliams/Gordy vs. Misawa/Kawada tags from memory and maybe the best native vs. foreigners tag of the 90s.

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High intensity and plenty of rivalry psychology to kick things off. With Ace, Williams and Kobashi in the same ring you had a 10 on the goofy machismo scale. The opening exchanges between Doc and Misawa were fun. They seemed to be building up a singles rematch. The second 10m section was underwhelming as the natives were worked over. The crowd were muted until the 20m announcement when the stretch kicked off.

 

And it really did kick off. Terrific action and excitement as the challengers land some boss offence. It turned into a semi-epic. Near the end Williams had his knee damaged and was desperately trying to save his junior partner. The psychology and storytelling were strong, and the American duo looked as good as they ever would. It's a shame Doc's prime ended here. This had many of the elements to be an AJ classic. But there were flaws too. The build being a bit lacking, odd execution mistakes, peaking 5m before the end. Still up there with anything so far this year.

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People need to recognize that after three stellar performances that Johnny Ace was a great wrestler. He should have been a consistent challenger to the Triple Crown. 

AJPW World Tag Team Champions Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs Dr. Death & Johnny Ace - AJPW 3/4/95

I really enjoyed their matches in 1994 especially Johnny Ace's performance lets see what we get. Kobashi and Ace start and Ace holds his own. Misawa tags in. Doc wants in bad. Pleading "Let me have him". I said it before and I will say it again the biggest difference in Doc is his confidence. He wants that spotlight and he wants to lead. Ace eats a dropkick and Doc will not take no for an answer. Ace tags in Doc. Misawa lands the most blows but Doc will not go down. They do a pull apart brawl with the Junior tag partners holding their senior compatriots back. The Budokan popped pretty big for this spot. Of course, Ace lets Doc go so he can club Misawa from behind, good cheapshot. It is back to Kobashi and Ace, but Doc is the difference maker as he lands a King-Sized Brainbuster on Kobashi and we go into heat. They throw Kobashi to the outside. Ace legdrops Kobashi on the ropes. They do a lot of neck cranks. In the first ten minutes, nothing super interesting besides how revved up Doc has been. Doc wants the Dangerous Backdrop Driver...Kobashi resists knowing that would spell doom for him...Ace interferes...ref breaks it up...allows Kobashi to get to his corner and tag in Misawa. That was a good example of heel interference backfiring and allowing the tag. 

Doc vs Misawa gets a big reaction. Misawa losing to Doc helped Doc's star power a lot. Did Misawa ever get his win back? They tussle, Doc starts using lopping jabs, Misawa goes for a punch of his own but misses and Doc sends him ass over tea kettle with a wicked over arm armdrag. They work Misawa's arm. It is solid top wristlock work. Again, the best part of this is Doc creaming his lungs out on the apron "Rip it off!". Ace gets a nice spin kick/DDT nearfall but it is just solid arm work. Misawa hits his own spin kick to tag Kobashi in. Solid Kobashi hot tag, but nothing too explosive. Halfway through this has not been as good as the 1994 matches, but it has been solid. 

Doc cheering "Ace! Ace!" complete with clap-a-long as if he was going to get the Japanese faithful to cheer on a Johnny Ace comeback. The best part of the Heel In Peril was the the Powerbomb/Crossbody combo. At around the 20 minute they really turned this on. Did Big Dave give this the fully monty? I feel like he would be bored by the first 20 minutes or so but the action has definitely picked up to Big Dave levels. Kobashi wants the moonsault and it does seem time. Ace fights back and Doc Helps out. Ace does the Kobashi Moonsault Fist Pump, but he does not snap it off like in December 1994. Doc helps him out and then he hits the moonsault. Doc throws Kobashi around with some vicious suplexes. They do a a Top Rope Belly 2 Belly spot that I am shocked didnt injure or kill one of them...totally out of control. I will say this again Barbarian in All Japan instead of Nitro would have been insane! Misawa bails out Kobashi with a Tiger Driver, but Misawa cannot cover because he is not legal! BOOOOOO! Big Kobashi chants ring out. The Budokan crowd has bit on this match and they are invested. Doc tags in Ace who steps on Kobashi and leaps onto Misawa in a great spot. Uncle Slam by Ace and then an Ace Crusher! Ace does the Doc Boomer Sooner Stomp! Ace goes for the Doctor Bomb but Kobashi reverses the weight and Ace falls backwards. Hot Tag to Misawa! Ace has really kicked into high gear down the stretch. Wicked big boot by Ace and Misawa says Fuck You with an Elbow and goes to Sleeper and then Facelock! Is it weird that I think the Gaijin have outworked the Japanese? Kobashi has seemed subdued. Misawa has been pretty good. Doc and Ace have been fired up for this. 

Misawa goes for a monkey flip out of the corner and Doc comes up from behind and sends him ass over tea kettle in the most insane spot of the match. Misawa landed squarely on his neck/shoulders that was wicked. They pay tribute to Ace's brother with a Doomsday Device! Misawa looks in rough shape all of sudden. Ace cant put him away. Doc, the illegal man, tried two different slams but each time Kobashi dropkicked the knee of Doc. Great selling by Doc who acted like his Knee had been blown out. They do a double team Tiger Driver, but Misawa was shot and he tags in Kobashi. I like how it was Kobashi who has to save Misawa as opposed to 12/3/93 when Misawa handed Kobashi the victory on a silver platter. The Kobashi moonsault only gets two, Ace was in the match for the last 10 minutes and looked great. If you remember he started on offense, but the last 8 minutes he took a great shitkicking. Fighting back to make Misawa & Kobashi earn but each time he got owned. Great Tiger Suplex by Kobashi. Doc would make saves but Misawa started to tackle Doc. I also really liked the tug of war over Ace with Doc and Misawa each pulling at a body part to try to drag Ace to their respective corner, nice spot. Misawa attacks Doc's knee after Doc lunged at Misawa. I dont think I have ever seen body part work on the illegal man and Misawa to pick up on that thread from Kobashi was genius. Doc has to watch Ace get Powerbombed to Hell by Kobashi. As soon as Doc breaks free, he attacks Kobashi but Misawa saves. Doc hits a MASSIVE PLANCHA on Misawa to the floor that takes himself out. Kobashi hits the top rope John Cena style leg drop for the win!

Johnny Ace took a helluva beating but he ate it like a champ and made Kobashi look like a champ. Ace looked great in this with his charisma shining in the middle and then playing tackling dummy for Misawa/Kobashi, which is bit of an exaggeration because he did make them earn it. Doc also looked like a world-beater in this. He came off as dominant and confident. The only reason Misawa and Kobashi won is they kept Ace isolated for 10 straight minutes. I liked Misawa & Kobashi playing defense against Doc by going after the legs. The first 20 minutes was just solid, but last 15 minutes is pretty incredible. I still prefer the 1994 matches, but yeah this picked up and kicked ass. ****1/4

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