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[1995-10-15-AJPW-October Giant Series] Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue

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There's a strong case for this match being the best hour broadway since Steamboat vs Flair (Clash '89), and maybe even further back. My 4-year-old review:

 

 

Right away is plenty of drama and heat as some bombs get tossed, but there's also several awesome 'smaller' spots in the opening minutes that keep it lively, like Kawada countering Misawa's rope flip thingy and Taue cutting off a barely alive Misawa on the floor. That one in particular reminds me of one I noted from the 1/95 match, only there it was Misawa on Kawada. In both cases it's all about one team trying to dominate the other, which makes it more involved than just a standard peril section. Misawa gets cut off repeatedly to the point where he still can't make a full recovery for THIRTEEN MINUTES and it doesn't get boring. Aaaaaawesome. This is a more compelling TEAM match than 1/95. 20 minutes in and Kobashi is on the ropes and Misawa is barely with it and there's some mildly credible nearfalls, again something lacking in 1/95. Misawa finally gets the big hot tag and there's another thing 1/95 lacked. After the hot tag it's clear Misawa and Kobashi want the win, rather than going into limb work to kill time. Kawada finally bails things out in odd but effective fashion, leading to the first big nearfall just over halfway in. They're being conservative but not too much so.

 

This time when Kobashi gets worked over it's easy to go right to nearfalls afterwards, and it's fresh instead of another "Kobashi's leg gets hacked at". By the time Kobashi hits the moonsault the match could end any second and there's over ten minutes left! Things get a bit loosey at the end and they seem to rush a bit, not the way I recalled it. One last enormous nearfall in the last minute and they're out. I'm a bit torn on where to put this; I have it below 5/94 and ahead of 1/95. Is it better than 4/20/91 or 12/93? No. The closing minutes were too much 'big moves' and not enough teasing, struggling or striking. No match-spanning story. Lots of great work, a great match, just not 'top 5' great.

 

 

To clarify, I was comparing this to the best AJ tags of the decade, not to wrestling in general. I'd put this in the best 50 matches ever.

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Honestly, this felt like overkill to me. It was paced well and never boring, but they didn't do anything here that they couldn't have done in 30 or at most 40 minutes. It felt like they were just killing time the last ten minutes. I had a similar reaction when I saw the 9/30/90 tag match. I guess 90s AJPW time limit draws just don't do it for me. It seems to me that when they didn't have a specific climax they were building to, they tended to meander quite a bit.

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I enjoyed this quite a bit. For the four corners tags I've seen so far on yearbooks, only 6/9 is clearly better (I guess I just have 12/95 and 5/94 left). I agree with Ditch that it's better than their January match, which I guess is the least of their series for me so far. Kobashi in particular was far less over the top here than in the 6/9 tag. But this is a match I look forward to rewatching a few times, because I think I'll pick up on additional things worth liking about it over time. I like Kobashi getting his arm worked over as something different, just because it's a departure from the usual. In general, this felt more like a match about selling than a match about big offense, even though there is plenty of big offense. Misawa getting worked over so long, Kobashi's arm and Kawada's knee are the big themes.

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For the four corners tags I've seen so far on yearbooks, only 6/9 is clearly better (I guess I just have 12/95 and 5/94 left).

11/25/94 from the RWTL is also available in TV form (20+ of a 30:00 draw). I pimped it for getting on the 1994 Yearbook, and kind of hope it's not forgotten.

 

The only one of the nine matches that doesn't exist is 1995 RWTL "league" match, as opposed to the Final.

 

John

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For the four corners tags I've seen so far on yearbooks, only 6/9 is clearly better (I guess I just have 12/95 and 5/94 left).

11/25/94 from the RWTL is also available in TV form (20+ of a 30:00 draw). I pimped it for getting on the 1994 Yearbook, and kind of hope it's not forgotten.

 

The only one of the nine matches that doesn't exist is 1995 RWTL "league" match, as opposed to the Final.

 

John

 

No worries - that is on the list and won't be forgotten. We even intend to splice the first few minutes from handheld with the JIP TV version so it's complete.

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Oh God, I love All-Japan and I love these two teams, but enough of the fucking hour draws already. I get that all of them had to be included and this match in particular, but the draw for All-Japan is turning into a crutch, or a test of manhood, rather than a booking tactic.

 

The first 40 minutes are so are effective as a series of mini-matches: shine for the babyfaces, then Misawa getting taken out on the floor and Kobashi having to go it alone, then a Taue-in-peril sequence, then Kobashi and his hurt arm...but it seemed like they ran out of things to do after that and this limps along to the finish. Technically well-done, and objectively speaking probably a **** affair, but don't ever ask me to watch this again or put it on any kind of Best of '95 much less a Best of Decade list.

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#137 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-150-101/

 

What an incredible performance from Kobashi. He worked at least 90% of this match. He was the legal man the majority of the match, but even when he wasn't he was still working his ass off. There was a lot of great stuff here. The test of strength with Kobashi and Kawada, the idea to keep Misawa immobilized, Misawa's offense after the first hot tag (25 minutes in), and Kawada and Kobashi working over their injuries with about 15 minutes to go. I thought it was pretty brilliant how Taue had to give up a pin attempt because he was so driven to keep Misawa out of the match (in the early going after the choke slam to Kobashi). The ending lacked a little bit of a sense of urgency in my opinion, but hey, I know that had to have been exhausted too. I think I'd go around ****1/2 as well.

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The 4th and thankfully final Broadway of the Yearbook. It was the best of the lot too.

 

Exhausting to watch let alone compete in. Superb workrate, great execution, prime Kings Road action and a deep storyline. The only thing against it were the inevitable problems arising from the duration. The first half was MOTYC all the way. A surprisingly quick paced start with Kawada having his bell rung before Misawa gets destroyed by a ring apron nodawa. Kobashi then took a 20m FIP beatdown. It had no right not to drag and get boring at that length. Instead it completely ruled. They then moved into a false stretch. The 30m-40m period was a letdown with Kenta having his arm worked over. From 40m-50m it picked right up again. Some of the selling was divine. It was never realistically going to end in the final 10m.

 

Like 6/9 every man was on fine form and played an integral role. Given that you're going an hour with no falls, this was about as good as you could ever hope for.

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AJPW World Tag Team Champions Holy Demon Army vs Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi - AJPW 10/15/95

Besides the fact that this is an hour long draw, I have no idea what happens in this match. 

At the 15 minute mark, things look bleak for the Super Generation Army, Taue has DDT'd Misawa on exposed floor and Kawada powerbombed Kobashi on the floor. How did we get there? Well besides Misawa hitting Kawada with a Tiger Suplex at the outset of the match everything went the Holy Demon Army's way. Kawada did a great job selling this Tiger Suplex as a big deal, but the ante got upped. Taue and Kobashi were having a good wrestling sequence. Taue won a Greco-Roman contest while Kobashi won the Judo contest. AIR TAUE~! Misawa came to help with the Tiger Mask feint. Kawada kicked him in the head on the apron, this phased him enough for Taue to eventually his the NODOWA OF DEATH FROM THE APRON!!!! In 1995, thats typically a match ender! Kobashi is pissed and revvs himself up because he know he is in there two on one. Basically the next two minutes is a handicap match. Kobashi acquits himself well dumping both Kawada and Taue on their asses. Lots of Tests of Strength which I love. On the traditional All Japan Surfboard, Kawada decks him with an Axe Bomber. Big Mack Truck Lariat from Kawada. Taue wants the NODOWA but Kobashi successfully avoids it. Misawa makes an appearance on the apron and gets kicked in this face. This how we end up the stereo attack on the outside. Very auspicious start with lots of drama with the Tiger Suplex and Apron NODOWA early keeping the viewer on their toes. 

Fifteen minutes later and it has been an amazing reversal of fortunes for the Super Generation Army. Misawa has recovered enough to be a force in the match and now they have a commanding lead. Taue's & Kawada's heat segment was solid, but a bit uninspiring. I thought they had Misawa & Kobashi too thoroughly beaten and undercut the drama. The offense was good for the most part but could have used more hope spots. One has to wonder why Taue hits a normal Powerbomb when he could make it DYNAMIC~!?? After ten minutes of this, Misawa made his triumphant re-entry into the match and it was ELBOWS GALORE~! He looked great while still selling well, stretch that back out. Tiger Driver, nope, Elbows Kawada in the knee, great selling. Tiger Driver nope, pins anyways, nada. Labored breathing was a great touch from Misawa. FACELOCK~! Kobashi sleeper on Kawada! Kawada sells this really well having the young boys drag him off the battlefield. Misawa tags out and Kobashi hits a DDT on the floor and now it is Taue's turn to die. Kawada unconscious from the Sleeper and Taue was dead in the water. Looked like there was no hope for the Holy Demon Army. One last ditch effort from Taue saves himself from a powerbom, but Misawa SMOKES him with an elbow. Kobashi hits a powerbomb, but Taue rolls out of the way of the moonsault. Tag into Misawa, who hits a Frogsplash Not the most efficient match, but there have been momentous moments. 

DOOMSDAY NODOWA~! ALL THE STARS! That was wicked cool! Just as Taue was taking an asskicking of a lifetime, Kawada made a miraculous recovery and ran across the ring and smoked Kobashi with a big boot. Perhaps he was pissed about the Sleeper but he decides to try to break Kobashi's arm with a cross armbreaker on the floor. Misawa breaks it up and checks on Kobashi. Taue tags in Kawada. I dont remember why Misawa tagged in Kobashi but it doesnt seem like a good idea. Kawada goes after the arm. This was a wicked fun heat segment! Blows the one from 20 minutes ago out of the water. It is focused and energetic. Great selling especially verbally from Kobashi. Kawada goes after the arm with Cross-Armbreakers, kicks and a nice Fujiwara Armbar. Taue is in his wheelhouse as the despicable henchman attacking the arm inside and outside the ring. Kobashi tags out after about ten minutes of great work. Misawa comes in but is overwhelmed by the rejuvenated Holy Demon Army. This is when the Doomsday Nodowa happens! Misawa powders. Taue wants another Apron Nodowa, but Misawa hangs on and Taue crashes to the floor himself, I liked that, but it didnt lead anywhere as Kawada impedes the Elbow Suicida with an Axe Bomber. Taue hits NODOWA back in the ring. Just like the Holy Demon Army are back in control. Best Quarter of the match so far, which ends with Kawada holding Misawa in the Stretch Plum and Taue knocks the injured Kobashi off the apron. 

Someone has given Kobashi an elbow pad for his injured left arm! Japan Number One! Forever! Kawada Powerbomb...MISAWA-RANA! Kobashi tags in and Kawada kicks the bad arm. Kobashi catches his kick...death stare...elbows extended knee and dragon leg screw! Kawada sells like a champ. Dueling Limb Psychology! Kobashi is relentless and is chopping the shit out of both men! Kawada gets the opes on Dragon Suplex, Elbow Suicida for Taue! Kawada German but his leg is too injured to capitalize. Adding some great layers down the stretch. Taue saves the Geran and Misawa blows him away, MISAWA CLOBBERS KAWADA! Bodyslam...fist pump...MOONSAULT! 1-2-NO! Great nearfall! Kawada is trying to pull himself up using the ropes tag in to Misawa. Another fold in half German on poor Kawada who is dead weight. Another one! Kawada is taking a pounding. Kobashi looks like a video game character standing guard for a Misawa pinfall as Taue is too exhausted to even try. GREAT drama as Misawa is holding the ankle trying to prevent the tag but to no avail. Misawa elbows are not match for undeniable power of the NODOWA! Dynamic Bomb...MISAWA-RANA! YOU CANT POWERBOMB MISAWA BABY! Big time Elbow for two. Tiger Driver but Kawada saves at the last second great nearfall. The best nearfall of the match is next. Misawa hits a Tiger Suplex as Kobashi detains Kawada and I totally bit on it even though I knew it was a draw. The way Kawada was so helpless and the Tiger Suplex is a such  a big deal really sold it. Best spot of the match. The match there's another 7 minutes is an issue. The match peters out. Kobashi wants a moonsault this time on Taue, but Taue just rolls to the sanctuary of the ropes so Kobashi  legdrops him. Kobashi powerbomb. Taue makes it to ropes. Kobashi German. This has reached NOAH levels. They are just hitting bombs for the sake of it. It is a shame because they were rocking. Double Tiger Driver was cool. Misawa takes a page out of Jumbo's book and eats a Hotshot. Kawada tags in ok maybe this will freshen things up. Kawada Fucking Trucks Misawa with a Lariat! Kawada returns the favor and dumps Misawa on his head with a German and Misawa is dead weight. Jumping High Kick another German and Kobashi saves. Kawada tries to block tag but to no avail. Chop battle. KOPPOU KICK! Ok that was badass as was going for the Cross-Armbreaker on Kobashi. Heat has dwindled. Taue NODOWA on outside! All this feels like it should be more epic. Kobashi Nodowa's Taue on the floor! DRAGON SUPLEX! Great save by Taue. Two minutes to go. KAWADA SWEEPS THE LEG! Misawa vs Taue down the stretch. Elbow Flurry! 1-2-NO! One minute to go...SLEEPER SUPLEX...1...2...NO! Good heat on that. 30 Seconds left and nothing happens...Elbow nearfall..bell rings.  

I did some checking and this typically gets more love than the 60 minute 1/25/95 match and I can see why. This is more epic. This match was a portent of things to come in NOAH in how the stretch was just astronomical in the offense they dish out. There was some really nice shit they could not get me to care about like the Double Tiger Driver, Dragon Suplex (that Kobashi built so well to) and Sleeper Suplex. Part of it was they looked exhausted and things didnt look as urgent. I really did think the Tiger Suplex on Taue was money and a great spot. I remember really liking the 1/25/95 closing 30 minutes, if I recall it was like a 20 minute Kobashi face in peril that just rocked. There was so much I felt like I should have liked the big bombs early...Tiger Suplex & Apron Nodowa...Misawa's Hot Tag...Kobashi arm psychology...Doomsday Nodowa. It was mechanically sound and the plot/layout/narrative however you want to say it was well-constructed...it just felt I dont know flat. I am going to give it the same rating as the earlier Broadway because it is a great match and great effort, but yeah it falls a little short for me. ***3/4

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