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[1995-06-09-AJPW-Super Power Series] Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue

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In earlier Yearbook years I was lamenting that Japan had gotten away from being able to build a match around low blows and displaced turnbuckle pads like in the Liger-Norio Honaga matches.

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It wasn't an eyepoke. It was a blow to his orbital bone. As legal as a headlock but still a dick move.

 

For what it's worth, my favorite Taue moment from this match (and his career, for that matter) is when he chokeslammed Misawa onto Kobashi's injured leg. I can't even begin to describe how hard I marked out the first time I saw that.

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I can't believe it's been 20 years.

 

I just rewatched this for the first time in a long time. It still totally blows me away. Wrestling peaked here. I'm happy with that being the hill I'd go out on in wrestling.

 

I miss Misawa very much. He was a special person.

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On rewatch there is something else about the moonsault. Yes it is beautifully set up and yes it caps off an amazing Kobashi comeback, but I love another wrinkle to it. It kills Kobashi for the purposes of being useful in the match. His knee is shot after doing it. He spends the rest of the match crawling and hobbling around after utlimately killing the knee himself by trying to pull off the miracle win with the moonsault. He tries valiantly to use his own body to shield Misawa long enough to give him time for a comeback, but it's too far gone.

 

I do agree that at a certain point with Matt that what these four are doing has to implode because of how much they were already doing. And it did, in ways that I think Japanese wrestling is still dealing with today. But this match is an incredible piece of wrestling history, perfectly executed in so many ways and I'm almost willing to accept that it's matches like these that inspired the decadence that followed.

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As we get started, we get that strong strike tease as we do in any big 90's All Japan match. You know. One of the wrestlers attempts their big striking move early in the match and the other guy either blocks it or dodge it and they reach a stalemate. Taue goes for a flying big boot and Kobashi swats him away and they have a brief stare-down, adding so much more tension and atmosphere and sending the crowd into a frenzy.

 

Another factor in the match is Kawada's douchbaggery. In the first ten minutes, he's booted both Kobashi and Misawa from the apron when they weren't even tagged in. The fans and both Misawa and Kobashi are pissed now. Misawa pulls himself up and tags himself in and you know it's on now.

 

The main reason I love this match is Kobashi's performance. His knee problems are no secret to anyone. When a simple kick sends Kobashi to the floor, Kawada and Taue devise their strategy to tear his leg to shit. Kobashi takes so many nasty shots to his knees and he makes you wonder if he is actually hurt. In the last 10-15 minutes of the match, Kobashi is barely walking. He tries to save Misawa from a beating by protecting him and it's just brilliant storytelling.

 

This is tense, gripping and ripe with great storytelling. This is the greatest pro-wrestling match ever, in my opinion. I think I am going to struggle to find a match better than this.

 

★★

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As a hardcore WWF fan, but open to seeing good wrestling, I finally watched this match after listening to Chad and Parvs and Steve and Tims top 100 matches list podcast. I've seen some New Japan and know all of the big players from the 80's and 90's from All Japan, but just never watched any matches. After listening to numerous PWO-PTBN podcast's, I just had no idea where to start on All Japan and it just felt very overwhelming. I went into this match without any context of previous matches or any knowledge of the feuds. I watched this strictly as a wrestling match, and boy was I not disappointed. This match was just awesome. I loved the leg kicks to Kobashi's leg, Misawa constantly fighting back, Kawada kicking dudes off the apron and Taue's awesome chokeslam of Misawa on Kobashi's injured knee. This was definitely one of the best matches I've ever seen, and I dont know where Im going to go next, but the bar has been set extremely high

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I finally got round to watching this match. I've been working through the All Japan Excite podcast series but I'm hopelessly behind, (even more so than Parv and Steven themselves) however, I was particularly excited about this one after I heard Chad talking about it as his 'Christmas Day match'. I was not disappointed in the slightest. There is so much to love about this match. The continued attacks on Kobashi's leg and Misawa's cheek and the resultant selling, the continuation of the story of Taue's rise and the apron choleslam, Kawadas ongoing obsession with scoring a win over Misawa and the little things that played off previous matches. I really like feeling rewarded for watching the full story rather than a match in isolation. The match is paced perfectly too. It's three-quarters-of-an-hour and there is no time from start to finish where you can look away without missing something important.

There were tons of great spots in this match too. It goes without saying that the chokeslam on the leg is an all time genius spot, and the way Misawa has to set up the moonsault is very clever. The suplexes and slams were brutal as always too. One I've not heard mentioned though, that sticks in my mind though is the move Taue did earlier on to Misawa where he lifts him as if going for an atomic drop then just throws Misawa upwards as high as he can, letting him fall flat on his back from the rafters.

This really is an awesome, awesome match that lives up to its incredible reputation as the greatest tag-team match ever.

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http://placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-50-1/2/

 

#6

 

Well damn, going through this countdown I was so sure Misawa/Kawada (which Loss ranked at 7) would remain my MOTD. After watching this tonight (I had seen it prior, just not so closely together) ... I'm going to have to really think about it. The greatest tag match ever? Yes. GOAT? In the discussion (Clash 6 for me). This is a perfect match. My favorite moment is Kobashi laying over Misawa shielding him. *****

 

I will add I've never seen the tag Loss ranked at #1, so I'm really looking forward to it.

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I will never not mark out like a fool when Kawada boots Misawa off the apron to the floor. It's just so fast and unexpected, and Misawa sells it like death.

 

And then -- even though now you're expecting it -- when he does the exact same thing to Kobashi soon after, all you can say is, "&*$!, I love rasslin."

 

And that's just in the opening moments of the match.

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Once it became apparent that 1995 was going to be the final year of my journey back through the 90's, I knew this had to be the final match. It's fair to say that it finished on a high. This was the pinnacle of pro wrestling.

 

All four men played their roles to perfection. Toshiaki Kawada was the centrepiece as he gave one of the all time great performances. The years of jealousy and heartbreaking failure being redirected towards Misawa as hatred and rage. By himself he would've been consumed by anger, but in Taue he had a partner who fought only to win.

 

The start was incredible. Taue let Kobashi know that his taped leg was fair game. Then Kawada's overwhelming desperation to defeat his nemesis was laid bare for all to see. Following the initial skirmishes Taue took a few minutes punishment before the main build began, revolving around Kenta's injury. Within that was this 5m period of unreal wrestling that shot this up to MOTY level. An extraordinary sequence where Orange got Crushed. He had to recover on the outside as Misawa now took a beating. When Kobashi returned he was clearly hurting, but just decided to suck it up and fight through the pain. The stretch was a long and winding road. A key moment came when Akira delivered his devastating ring apron nodawa to Misawa. By this stage KK was too beaten to even deliver offence so crawled over to protect his partner. Tosh kept unloading all his artillery but once again; Kawada can't beat Misawa. Except this time he finally did. Fans were jumping in the aisles after his long awaited breakthrough.

 

Throughout the match you could sense the differing emotions of all four men and it was like having energy bars at the top of the screen. The pacing and structure were spot on, the wrestling quality sky high, the selling magnificent, the psychology off the charts. And the right man won. 100/100 perfection and the best tag match of all time.

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AJPW World Tag Team Champions Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue - AJPW 6/9/95

On the eve of the 25th Anniversary of the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever (I really wish Edge vs Orton was on 6/9, this comment will not age well), I am watching this match again for the first time in gosh at least ten years. I vividly remember the ending but I kinda forgot how they get there and the Kawada BLASTS Misawa off the apron and it all comes rushing back. This Misawa vs Kawada at their most heated. Kawada calmly lets Kobashi reverse his Irish Whip so that he could rule full steam ahead and nail Misawa in the bad eye. Watching all of '93, '94 and the front half of '95, I have found Kawada the hardest of the four to connect with, which is weird because when I was a teenager I was all aboard the Kawada express and that big boot teleported me back to High School watching this on Youtube. I thought that spot was so cool and at the time I didnt even know about the orbtial bone. Misawa is rightfully pissed after some selling (dont sleep on Kobashi being aghast at what happened) and demands to be tagged in. Kawada nails him with another boot, but Misawa keeps going. They do a great criss cross sequence and then Kawada nails Kobashi off the apron! Oh Hell Yeah! Corners clear and this shit is crazy. 

Things settle down and Kawada tags out to Taue. They work a short five minute heel in peril segment on Taue which I totally forgot about. Misawa looked pissed the whole time and was just ripping into Taue. Kobashi was also dishing out the leather. They work a great dive sequence. Misawa does his Tiger Mask distraction act and it is all diversion for Kobashi to nail a shouldertackle from the apron. Misawa SMOKES Kawada and then ELBOW SUICIDA! Great climax to the face shine. Kobashi misses a shoulder tackle from the middle rope perfect timing as the shine had peaked. Kawada wastes no time progressing the match to the next Act by rifling the injured leg of Kobashi with kicks (the thigh/knee was all taped up, my understanding is from a six-man tag on 4/15). 

Kobashi fights back because he is fucking Kobashi. He kicks Kawada in the face, but his bad leg is the plant leg and stumbles backwards and collapses. A great moment. I love that is a Kobashi move that actually cements Kobashi's own heat segment. Strong heat segment on Kobashi. Taue Scorpion Deathlock. I watched the 60 Minute Broadway from January which features a 19 minute heat segment on Kobashi so I was shocked how quickly this was over, but I know they come back to it. Taue goes for the Kneecrusher, but Kobashi chops his way out of trouble. Misawa dispatches Taue with Elbows but he wants his receipt on Kawada, Kawada drops down from the apron. Misawa lulls Kawada into a false sense of security and DECKS HIM! Misawa applies a Boston Crab on Taue with his back to Kawada who comes up from behind calmly and KICKS Misawa right in the bad eye. Was that an allusion to the Maeda shoot kick on Choshu?!? It feels like they are playing on shoot-y feelings in this match. All these words and we are only 15 minutes into the match! This match still does the trick. :)

The stretch after the Maeda-style shoot kick until Kobashi powders in agony is one of the best stretches in pro wrestling. Misawa had powdered after the kick to the face. Taue rolls Misawa in and tags out. Kawada kicks him in the face and Misawa bellows in pain. Kawada just pummels him in the corner, relentlessly. He throws the ref back. It is insane You get this feel he is shoot pissed off. Misawa FIRES UP! Elbows for everyone! Kawada sells so well. Taue needs to win Henchman of the Year for what he is abotu to do . Misawa is on a roll when Kawada BLASTS him with another kick to the eye. Here comes Kobashi to join the fracas. Taue eyerakes Misawa down and then dropkicks the injured leg of Kobashi to save Kawada. Henchman of the Year. Kawada stomps and stands on the injured leg. Misawa breaks free. Kawada kicks. Misawa NO SELLS! Kawada kicks! Misawa ELBOW BARRAGE~! Taue saves and THROWS MISAWA DOWN BY THE EYES! Taue sweeps Kobashi's leg and stomps the bad leg. Then in the greatest moment of the match thus far...Taue Nodowa on Misawa ON KOBASHI'S BAD LEG! HOLY SHIT! I FUCKING LOVE IT! KAWADA COMES CRASHING DOWN WITH BOTH KNEES ON KOBASHI'S BAD LEG! Three fucking glorious minutes of chaotic wrestling action. TAUE FUCKING RULES!

The heat segment on Misawa is really great. Kawada is such a fucking prick. Spinning Heel Kick! Forearm pressed against the eye or standing on it. Wicked lariat at one point! He is just out of cave in Misawa's face. Kawada hits the First Powerbomb at 20 minutes and Taue intercepts Kobashi and hits a kneecrusher. Kawada launches Misawa. 2 count. Should have been a bigger nearfall I just dont think Budokan thought this was only going 20 minutes. Great Stretch Plum on Misawa now Kobashi has recovered and attacks Kawada. Kawada clubs him with a right closed fist but they clothesline each other down. Misawa tags out to Kobashi. I thought Misawa/Kobashi were fucked. Kobashi holds his own against Kawada. Kawada sweeps the leg but tags out to Taue. Kobashi is able to actually get control of Taue and they hit a double Tiger Driver at around 25 minutes to a bigger reaction. Kobashi fist pumps but Taue breaks up the Moonsault. Here comes Misawa who is all piss 'n' vinegar. He is just fucking Taue's day up with this Elbow Onslaught. Tiger Driver for two. Kobashi detains Kawada as Misawa goes for the Facelock. I really love All Japan and think that comes through in all my reviews. I think what makes this match so special is how much hate there is in it. In 6/3/94, I saw the desire to win consume both men and the competitive spirit was very high. This is different this is anger and hate; it is translating into something really special. 

So every previous time I have watched this match, I cry at the end. I thought I was prepared. I knew what was going to happen. I just stopped crying and now I am thinking about it again. But man when they pull Kobashi off Misawa, it is too much man. Fuck Kawada and Fuck Taue! Man I cant believe the fucking bad guys won. I need to compose myself. I will finish this. But yeah this is the Greatest Match of All Time. 

I got some sleep and I am back to review the last 15 minutes. Kawada drills Misawa with a Dangerous Backdrop Driver after he pulled him off the Facelock. Kobashi charges across the ring and knocks Kawada off the ring apron to stop Taue from making the tag. Kobashi scores a German for two, but cant get the moonsault but Kawada attacks the leg and chokeslams him off the top. Kawada/Kobashi struggle for control and Kobashi shifts his weight on the Backdrop Driver. I have no clue how Kobashi and Misawa are still in this match. Back suplex by Kobashi but his leg is shot. I think that thats another thing that adds so much drama to this match is that Misawa/Kobashi's "lead" or "control" is tenuous at best and it is so fragile that any moment you know they could lose control, it builds a lot of tension in the viewer. Kobashi tries for the mooonsault two more times. First time Taue detains him, but Misawa says "Fuck this" and just Crashes down with all his body weight on Kawada from the top rope. Kobashi breaks free of Taue. Tries again. Again is detained so Misawa hits a Senton on Kawada. Kobashi lands the Moonsault but lands hard on his knee and he is in a lot of pain and he cant hold Kawada down. Great job by Kobashi selling and Misawa is in full fuck you mode. Kobashi tags out. 

Misawa comes in with assured look that he is going to end Kawada. Tiger Suplex, Kawada steps into the ropes. So Misawa folds him in half with German and SLUGS Taue with an Elbow. TIGER SUPLEX~! 1-2-NO!  Big Time heat at the 35 minute mark. Taue breaks up the pin on the Tiger Driver. 

TAUE CHOPS THE EYE! NODOWA~! SUPER NODOWA...KOBASHI SAVES...KAWADA SLIDING KICK TO THE BAD LEG...SUPER NODOWA~! Taue is the game change. The Chop to the Eye is very reminiscent to the Carnival Final. Kawada Clubs Misawa with a right to the bad eye, KOPPOU KICK~! Misawa rolls to apron. Oh shit that can only mean one thing NODOWA OF DEATH! Kobashi tries to save. Kawada SWEEPS THE BAD LEG! Kawada clubs Misawa in the back and it is the NODOWA OF DEATH~! We get out first instance of Kobashi crawling to place his body over Misawa to protect his friend. Taue clubs him and pulls him off and then throws him down. It is all just entertainment, Martin, it is just entertainment. Misawa log rolls out of the ring to avoid being pinned. Kawada cant wrangle him. He gets him back in and its only 2. The crowd didnt bite on that one. Then Kobashi crawls in and holds Misawa's leg in order to avoid him being Powerbombed. What a great moment! It is getting dusty in here. I do have a dust allergy. Iconic moment the stereo NODOWA and Powerbomb.  Misawa backdrops out of the powerbomb...theres life in the Ace. Kawada is stomping mericlessly in the bad eye. Kobashi crawls and puts his body on Misawa. They yank him off and Kobashi is struggling against their will to cover Misawa again. Fuck I am crying again. How the fuck does Chad watch this every year? DANGEROUS NODOWA/Back Drop Driver COMBO on Kobashi!  ROARING ELBOW~! ON TAUE! GO MISAWA GO! KICK THEIR ASSES! Jumping High Kick by Kawada for 2! Things look bad for our heroes. Elbow to Kawada...cmon...DANGEROUS BACK DROP DRIVER! 1-2-NO! Kobashi is dead to the world. Misawa is on his own. Jumping High Kick to the bad eye! POWERBOMB~! Taue holding Kobashi back 1-2-3!

Fuck I cant believe the bad guys won. Baba, why did you have to do me dirty like that.  I like being unique and I like being original. I really want to hold up a different match and say that is the Best of All Time. But no, this is the Greatest Match of All Time and I am not even sure it is close. Three things stand out to me that take the normal All Japan epic ***** baseline to a whole new level. 1. They ratcheted up the hate to pretty much as close as they could to shoot levels. The credit here goes to Kawada and Misawa. Kawada was the instigator, but the key was Misawa sold it very subtlety but if you watch enough Misawa you know he is fucking pissed. Misawa doesnt take cheapshots to opponent on the apron, he is focused on the win. Kawada had gotten under his skin. Kawada kept it going with the Maeda Shoot Kick to Eye and pummeling him in the corner. Kawada's obsession reached a fever pitch here and Misawa played his role perfectly.  2. Akira Taue's exponential improvement during the 1995 Carnival. This match would not be as good in 1993 or 1994 because Taue needed to find himself. He is best Henchman of All Time. Loyal, despicable, shameless. He will do anything for the cause which is to ensure victory for his team. In addition, the NODOWA Of Death (off the apron) is so critical and it was developed as a game-changer during Carny '95. It was Taue's Chop to the Eye that was the Point of No Return for Misawa/Kobashi. 3. Kenta Kobashi's emotional performance. Kobashi has amazing facial expression. The beauty of Kobashi is he is such a natural, organic actor. Nothing feels wooden, forced or hollow with him like it would with Shawn Michaels let's say. You truly believe that his only instinct is to get to his friend/mentor and put his body on top to stop the beating. I am getting choked up again just thinking about it. Four men with four distinctly different performances that come together to create the Greatest Pro Wrestling Match of All Time! It is 6/9/95. *****

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On 5/17/2016 at 1:03 PM, Microstatistics said:

Greatest match of all time. *****

I had never actually constructed a proper review for this match, until very recently.

Kawada’s desire to beat Misawa had become an obsession while Taue was determined to make amends for his crushing Champion Carnival final loss. Tag champions Kobashi and Misawa were both in their primes, but were coming in with leg and eye injuries, respectively, and hence were more vulnerable than usual. The manic start really set the tone for the match as it was clear that the Holy Demon Army (HDA) was going to do anything and everything to win. In the ‘worst’ segment of the match, the pace settled down slightly as Kobashi and Misawa asserted themselves. That was until the Holy Demon Army established dominance by savagely attacking their opponents’ wounded body parts. Misawa and Kobashi slowly fought their way back until it looked like Misawa was going to kill Kawada off yet again. But Taue stamped his authority, attacking the eye to setup the Nodowa Otoshi off the apron while Kawada kept a virtually immobile Kobashi at bay. Kobashi’s leg selling might be the best of all time and of course him covering Misawa was the standout moment. I like to think that initially it was to thwart the HDA and buy Misawa some time to recover. But later on, he couldn’t care less about the tag titles and simply wanted to protect his friend. Misawa teased an epic comeback, but Kawada’s singular objective was all-consuming and finally proved too much for Misawa to overcome. Everyone came out looking like a million bucks. Kawada exorcised his demons, Taue got his redemption, Kobashi was the biggest babyface in history and Misawa looked like the toughest wrestler ever. You can nitpick here and there, like a spot on the apron where Kawada could have kicked Kobashi in the knee rather than the chest. But, as a whole package, this is as close to perfection as you can get in pro wrestling. *****

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