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[1995-09-10-AJPW-Summer Action Series II] Mitsuharu Misawa vs Akira Taue

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Good match I guess, but really disappointing. I couldn't figure out what they were going for. At one point, Taue was doing all the face work, which felt like a given considering their previous match. The pair of snake-eyes (for lack of a better way to describe what that move was) looked great. Then, he switched to the knee and that became the focus of the match. Again, everything looked great. Then Taue abandoned that down the final stretch when they started throwing bombs. Then he'd jump back to the face or knee when he had the chance, then abandon it again. Misawa sold his ass off for Taue, but it seemed like this match was lacking focus. The entirety of 1995 has basked in the afterglow of the Carny final, and I didn't expect this to be at that level. But I was hoping for something a little more on point. This was a lot of really good wrestling with no overarching storyline hook or in-match narrative to bring it all together. Their 02/93 match was better than this, which is weird considering that was a total Misawa carry job and Taue is a much better wrestler by this time. Also, after losing to Misawa in such a grueling, epic match, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to take away from Taue losing again, in less time, and by putting up less of a fight than he did before. Compare it to Hansen/Misawa, which had Misawa getting closer to victory every time. Taue would win the Triple Crown eight months later, but this felt like a step back for him.

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I see it as "dynamic bomb + work over the face = loss" based on the carny final so Taue decided to add the leg work. Taue made cut-offs throughout using both methods. Neither got the job done. It ended up taking a 'bigger bomb' (the nodowa to Misawa coming off the top) for Taue to have his only significant pin on Misawa. 9/10 is more 'fun', 4/15 is more 'epic'. I can see being disappointed if you wanted 'epic'.

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I'm kind of scratching my head why throwing bombs was okay in Kawada-Misawa and Kobashi-Taue, but here you're expecting a repeat of the Carny Final. None of the guys were working at this point the way you want Misawa-Taue to work in this match. We're five months past the eye injury... it's kind of hard to build an entire match around it again. Hell, 6/95 wasn't even entirely around the eye since Kawada & Taue were... yeah... that's right... Throwing Bombs down the stretch to Kill Misawa Dead to try to finally pin Zombiesawa.

 

This struck me then, and still does, as the point where you could dump Taue into a Budokan singles and come to expect a great match on the level of dumping Misawa or Kawada into one. Not in the sense of needing Misawa to carry him (2/93) or being shocked to hell by it (4/95)... but instead *expecting* greatness.

 

My thought would be that if you want "disappointing", pop in the 6/96 Taue-Kawada at Budokan. After all the great Taue-Kawada matches that you've seen on the Yearbooks, and knowing how great Taue is at that point, there is your disappointing match.

 

Seriously don't know how one can watch this back-to-back with Mutoh-Hash and think that the NJPW match is better, unless one is cutting slack for the NJPW guys and knocking the AJPW guys for things that the NJPW guys do to an even greater degree. And that's coming from someone who has always loved and pimped the Hash-Mutoh for years when hardly anyone else did. :)

 

John

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I'm kind of scratching my head why throwing bombs was okay in Kawada-Misawa and Kobashi-Taue, but here you're expecting a repeat of the Carny Final.

Bombs would have been fine here too. My point was that alternating between working two body parts in the same match made neither have the impact it should have. It doesn't come across as Taue expanding on his strategy by adding knee work. It comes across as Taue drawing blanks and doing two, completely disconnected things.

 

None of the guys were working at this point the way you want Misawa-Taue to work in this match. We're five months past the eye injury... it's kind of hard to build an entire match around it again.

Kawada did that just six weeks or so before this match. Taue even targeted it here again, so obviously it wasn't a dead issue. If he would have stayed away from the face completely and just worked the knee, I would have been fine with that. I didn't like him doing both at the same time, or more accurately, staying away from one or the other for minutes at a time and coming back to it much later.

 

I think about Michaels/Foley from Mind Games. Part of that has Shawn working on Mick's hand and part of that has Shawn working on Mick's knee. But it works because he abandons the hand strategy and later goes for the knee when the opportunity presents itself. So I'm not opposed to shifting focus in a match. I am opposed to going back and forth between two match layouts, because it makes both points get lost.

 

Hell, 6/95 wasn't even entirely around the eye since Kawada & Taue were... yeah... that's right... Throwing Bombs down the stretch to Kill Misawa Dead to try to finally pin Zombiesawa.

 

This struck me then, and still does, as the point where you could dump Taue into a Budokan singles and come to expect a great match on the level of dumping Misawa or Kawada into one. Not in the sense of needing Misawa to carry him (2/93) or being shocked to hell by it (4/95)... but instead *expecting* greatness.

I had high hopes for this. And there were good things about this match. Had there been one match during this time period built around the eye/face work, and a separate one built around the knee work, with all the same stuff you see in either direction, I would have liked both.

 

Seriously don't know how one can watch this back-to-back with Mutoh-Hash and think that the NJPW match is better, unless one is cutting slack for the NJPW guys and knocking the AJPW guys for things that the NJPW guys do to an even greater degree. And that's coming from someone who has always loved and pimped the Hash-Mutoh for years when hardly anyone else did. :)

 

John

So you're saying Muto and Hashimoto were forgetting what match they were working in the G1 final and jumping back and forth between ideas, and that I ignored it?

 

Also, jdw, you're a tastemaker, everything you like gets picked up by everyone. Who are these other people that didn't like Hash/Muto? Dave obviously rated it very well.

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I was actually surprised at how scaled down this was the last time I watched it: it's your basic 3-part US-style match. After this, just about every match Misawa had with Taue was a sprint, which works because Taue's biggest strength was in throwing bombs. I'm half-way between Loss and John because on the one hand, it is disappointig after the Carnival Final, but that was a classic; on the other, I do think this is still pretty great and I prefer it to Mutoh/Hash. The reality is, and as much as people have realised the NJ heavies were, in fact, rather fucking good in the last x-years, people still expect a certain level from the AJ guys that they don't from their NJ counterparts and whereas Hash/Mutoh is right at the highest level of what they did, this isn't near the top level for AJ.

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4 out of 22 people in the DVDVR 90s poll had it in their Top 20. I'm not saying that no one didn't like the match. Just that it wasn't that much pimped, and I was one of the few people banging the drum on it over and over and over again. :)

 

If there's a probably about working two body parts, then eventually moving beyond them, I'm guessing that 6/94 is going to be a problem since Kawada worked on both the back/neck (which had Carny history) and the ear (which the genius that is Kawada happened to wisely pick up on). :)

 

I don't think these two forgot what match they were working. Single note matches are extremely rare in All Japan. I suspect when you see Hansen-Taue from Carny '94 you'll realize that the Carny '95 Final *isn't* truly a single note, single storyline AJPW match, and actually is quite a bit closer to a normal AJPW Big Match where they mix in some storylines that are at hand (Kobashi's knee, Misawa's neck, Kawada's knee, etc) while going about having their usual match. Hansen-Taue is *extreme* in storyline focus. Misawa-Taue at Carny isn't... not even close.

 

On the comp between this and Hash-Mutoh, my comments are more than Hash and Mutoh do their stuff early to kill time because they're going long for NJPW. When they pick it up and start building to the finish, they might harken back to it a bit here and there, but it plays no great role... certainly not at a 1996 Sammy-Ohtani level where they're going back to earlier stuff *is* the poin of the match.

 

9/95 Taue-Misawa like that is along those lines: they have their stuff to fill the match, go to bombs, might touch back on te eye or knee as cut off spot because they are damage points they've established either long term (eye) or in the match (leg), and then go back to throwing bombs. It's pretty much an All Japan thing.

 

John

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I watched Mutoh-Hash and this back-to-back, and I preferred this. The first half of Mutoh-Hash was a good version of NJ heavyweight time killing, but it still featured some unengaging groundwork by Mutoh (mitigated by Hash's selling). The match didn't really pick up until Hash started throwing bombs at about the 15-minute mark. The end run was really good, with both guys letting the big moments breath and Mutoh's win coming off as an epic conclusion. But Mutoh's just not a guy I see as a great wrestler, even in his good matches.

 

Misawa-Taue produced a hell of a lot more action, without sacrificing selling or lapsing into overkill. I didn't mind Taue's dual focus. The leg thing almost felt like "found gold." Taue did the initial damage with a nifty counter on the outside, and he kept going back to it more as a way to cut off Misawa's runs than as a way to win the match directly. And Misawa's selling put over the idea that it was a vulnerable target deep into the match. Why wouldn't Taue try to attack Misawa on multiple fronts? He was sort of grasping for a strategy after his big gun failed to bag the elephant in April. The end run was very different; instead of the layered Misawa comeback, we got them going blow-for-blow and staggering one another. I loved Taue's sell of the last Misawa elbow.

 

I guess Mutoh-Hash delivered more of a classic build, but Misawa and Taue started out with the intensity that their NJ counterparts reached mid-match, and they still had something left for the stretch.

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Put me in the Hash/Mutoh camp.

 

I liked this more than Loss, and in fact I thought it was pretty darn awesome overall. But...yeah, there are issues. The eye-or-knee debate didn't bother me as much as it did Loss, but it was an issue nonetheless. Though really my primary issue in that regard was Taue, having failed in doing the nodowa off the apron, goes to a rather half-assed scorpion deathlock as his follow-up as though he were paying tribute to Gordy & Doc. My bigger psychological concern was the opening...the work was really good and fast-paced and exciting, but I don't get why Misawa felt the need to bust out an elbow suicida, a tiger driver, and an attempted tiger suplex all in the opening two minutes. Taue's the challenger who's hungry for a win, shouldn't he be the one dropping bombs from the start? And lastly, this is the first chronological appearance of the "take a German suplex, pop up, hit a move, then sell it" spot. And, while I'm not going to automatically shit on such a spot, this is not an occasion where it really works. That it comes off Taue unleashing a head-dropping suplex makes it all the more galling.

 

Now, all that stuff is kind of picking nits. They execute their stuff really well and there is *some* good psych, but it mostly centers around Misawa constantly having an answer for the nodowa, which notably never hits here--whether in the ring or off the apron. After starting off so hot, they have the sense to wrap this up in 20 minutes instead of trying to stretch it out to 30+. But, the first half isn't particularly focused and as Loss says it feels like a step back for Taue. This results in a good--in fact a really good--match, just not really a MOTYC.

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#331

 

This was a recommended match back in the day, but it did come across as lightweight. At least it was breezy.

 

EDIT:

How does Misawa/Taue compete with the Hashimoto/Mutoh G1 Final? The answer is that it can't.

Misawa's selling is beautiful and everything is very orderly. The build progresses logically and all the little boxes are ticked, but the bout is hurt by Taue not hitting his chokeslam cleanly. All of the early work and the heat segment on Misawa is building to Taue hitting the chokeslam and he barely gets a hold of him. A Triple Crown match where Taue doesn't fire his best shot? There's no way that Taue misfiring is as dramatic as the G1 Final. Misawa's pop up on the german was not cool. And his superman punches were too much. We've all seen Misawa make comebacks where the natural order is restored and it's business as usual just like Jumbo before him but knocking Taue out like that sucked. Your elbows aren't that bloody strong, Misawa.

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

 

#331

 

I thought this was really good, but I prefer the Taue/Kobashi match that was ranked a little lower the thian one. Taue looked dominant in that and I thought Kobashi delivered a little more emotion (and with his selling) there than Misawa did here. I do think Misawa sold fine, but the ending fell a little flat with how easily he bounced back. I sound negative, but I did like this. I agree hitting the choke slam would have kicked it up. When he popped up after the German, he fell right back down after he hit his move, but I see the point.

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Years ago I had this down as a MOTYC. I can see why, but it was actually quite flawed. There were times when I thought the match was turning in one direction before abruptly changing course. The wrestlers weren't always on the same wavelength. Normally that comment would relate to execution lapses, yet that wasn't the case here. Misawa was selling the leg, but Taue didn't seem interested in working on it. He had to do so reluctantly at one point because the selling was so heavy. Instead he preferred to attack the face, but Misawa wasn't going that way. So the psychology was weird.

 

Taue inflicted more punishment by volume. The champions blows were more damaging. The challenger couldn't land the ring apron nodawa this time. The pacing was good and they kept it comparatively concise at 20m. Mitsy retained with the roaring elbow of death, sold hugely.

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AJPW Triple Crown Champion Mitsuharu Misawa vs Akira Taue - AJPW 9/10/95

Based on the first 15 minutes, this is on pace to be better than their Carny Final, jk, jk, just messing around after saying 7/24/95 > 6/3/94. This has definitely been really great thus far...dare I say excellent...I really like how they are changing up the format of King's Road. In the previous Kobashi/Taue match from 7/24/95, it was Taue that went on a tear and nearly ended the match in 5 minutes with a Dynamic Bomb. Here instead it is Misawa. This match actually serves to point out the greatness of the previous Kawada match. In the previous Kawada match, Misawa didnt have time to check his boxes, there were no Tiger Drivers, no Elbow Suicidas, no Sentons or Frogsplashes, he was in a fight for his life so it was all Elbows and Head Drops. In this match, this is Misawa in a groove on Cruise Control. Hitting his Diving Elbow and Spinning Lariat, and the senton. He climaxes with a Tiger Driver. It was a beautiful shine from the Ace who didnt need to shine and usually avoids the shine. A great wrinkle. 

I expected him to wipe out on a second Elbow Suicida since he landed the first but instead he misses a slingshot plancha and Taue kicks him in the knee. This leads to a lot of controversy in the match because Taue ends up going back to the eye later on. God Forbid, you work two body parts. The eye was a pre-existing injury (though he worked the wrong eye) whereas the knee is what was given to him and sometimes you have to take what was given to you. 

I like how Taue has to earn this control. He attacks the knee but Misawa is still powerful and on a Roaring Elbow attempt he catches him with a NODOWA for two. 

In the best moment of the match, Taue bearhugs Misawa twice and drops him eye-first on the top turnbuckle. More proof why Taue is awesome and I am surprised this was not talked about more. Great selling by Misawa and very innovative attack on the eye. Taue hits Air Taue and looks in command. He wants the NODOWA OF DEATH off the apron, but Misawa blocks so Taue just shoves him off into the railing...OWWWWW! Taue hits a normal Powerbomb for two. Nodowa off Apron + Dynamic Bomb > Shove off Apron + Normal Powerbomb, got it. Misawa hits a Roaring Elbow and a German Suplex to start a comeback but his knee gives out and it is back to square one with Taue swiping at the knee and Misawa rolling to the floor. It is high drama as they walk the tight rope again. Taue has lifted up the mats. The crowd heat for this is red hot. Misawa DECKS Taue with an Elbow and rolls back in, but get this...Taue covers Misawa off that! Now that's depressing as hell. That's how bad Misawa has it. Scorpion Deathlock to work on the knee and then DYNAMIC BOMB~! Great nearfall. So far loved the shine, loved the transition to Taue, loved Taue on top, and thought the two apron sequences have been very dramatic. They peaked perfectly with a Dynamic Bomb nearfall. Unless this totally falls off the rails, this will be a classic. 

Oh wow! This match was not long at all, only six minutes after the Dynamic Bomb, which I love. Taue shot his wad there was no point to dawdle. 

I liked the transition back to Misawa. Misawa is the king of the Extended Comeback and he puts on a great one here. He is not landing everything at the beginning. Taue is still evading, but Misawa starts landing those Elbows and German Suplexes, it really takes a toll on Taue. I love Misawa new style of going head-hunting with both Elbows and Headdrop Suplexes. Taue gets one more Nodowa, a Kick to the Knee and some Headbutts to the injured eye to keep him looking like have a chance but resistance is futile in the face of Misawa's relentless barrage of Elbows. Misawa eating a German Suplex only to come up Swinging with a Roaring Elbow is very All Japan for better or worse. It is a fist-pumping moment but undercuts the German. I can see it either way. Misawa starts throwing brutal back elbows and then BLOWS TAUE AWAY WITH A ROARING ELBOW! Taue's bump was excellent on the finish. 

Underrated match not quite as good Kobashi/Taue from the Carny or even 7/24/95 but this is a great groove match. Misawa and Taue hit their stock spots with vigor, struggle and a great layout. I thought everything up to the Dynamic Bomb was fabulous. Misawa's Extended Comeback was great but a bit by the numbers. No single spot stands out...really liked Taue's last bump. ****1/4

 

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