Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
Sign in to follow this  
Loss

[1994-03-29-AJPW-Championship Carnival] Steve Williams vs Toshiaki Kawada

Recommended Posts

The Eagle tag was talked about as Doc's "Wow, he has really stepped up" performance when seeking recommendations, but for me, it was this match. He really looks like the best American born wrestler in the world and even sort of outworks Kawada. He targets Kawada's injured knee, which we have already seen a little of and I expect to see more of as the year progresses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad to see this on the yearbook, and that you liked it. The two really work well together, and more than just for tossing out big spots. Against Kobashi, at times it feels like the Kenta Show for either of these guys. Against each other, they just seem to play off each other so well.

 

It's also a good baseline for the Carny Final. They couldn't put each other away here. In the Final we got the finish, but he was a hell of a struggle/battle for either of them to get to the point of being able to finish the other.

 

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was the perfect appetite wetter for the Carny final. Doc's legwork and Kawada's selling of it were superb. And they conveyed some sense of how Kawada might put Doc away while leaving open the question of whether he could actually do it. The match would stand as an excellent draw on its own but is even better when viewed in context. Doc was a beast in '94. He was no less than excellent against any of his significant All-Japan opponents, and when in with the top-drawer guys, he delivered multiple classics. It's one of the elite years anyone had from the decade.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kawada getting dropped knee first on the table outside looked painful. Play by Play guy barely gets out of the way and looks composed as they try to switch out of headset while he still calls the match. Williams looks really great here. He shrugs of some of Kawada's kicks and has a very nice looking counter throw to the Stretch Plum. Kawada with his own nice reversal on a backdrop attempt and controls the remaining couple minutes. He comes close to winning at the end but a deserving draw earned for both guys.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, Doc is pretty great in this. Kawada has his knee targeted again here. I loved the finishing run and this is a great match to lead to the Carnival Final the next month.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really great use of setting the table up for bigger things to come. They gave away enough here for the crowd in attendance to be satisfied but left you wanting more. Kawada's facials were fantastic throughout. Doc made every move he did look strong and powerful and really conveyed vulnerability well in the ending stretch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to diminish it, but Gordy's OD seemed to have flipped a switch for Doc. He's been on fire ever since, and has had good performances against just about all the top AJPW guys, and matched up well with each one in a different, specific way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was okay. The finishing stretch was engaging. Didn't really care for the outside stuff early on, but that's typical All Japan in lieu of any matwork.

 

I liked the 3/94 Williams vs. Kawada Carnival bout a lot. In fact, it's probably the best Kawada bout I've seen since I started dabbling in his stuff. There were a couple of All Japan tropes that annoyed me like going to the outside early on and the even stevens, not quite my turn, your turn, flow to the bouts. But this was meant to be a bigger deal than the other Carnival bouts I've watched and Kawada's selling was several notches above his standard performance. That lift in selling seems to be a determining factor in how good a Kawada bout is going to be. A lot of back and forth in the finish, but I was hooked and I think if it wasn't a draw and had a definitive finish it would be remembered as more than just an extra in the build to the Carnival final.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JIP 8m. Outside brawling to start leading to a period of Doc working over the knee. No wonder Kawada was always hobbling around in 1994. Around 20m in it looked like a finish might be in order. A brief reset to the floor was a clear signal to the seasoned observer that the draw was a coming. I liked the work that they did around the Backdrop Driving in the closing minutes. Afterwards the fight continued as the feud had still to be resolved. A good match in itself and some nice build up for the final.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

#339 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-350-301/

 

I thought Kawada had a really good showing, and Doc displayed his power well. It'd be nice to have the entire match, but this was really good for what we do have. I liked the opening table spot and the finishing stretch. Loved the emotion coming out of Kawada. Also, really liked his big running lariat towards the end. It didn't hit great for me, but it was really good. It was awesome at the end how Williams wants to keep going despite the bell, he charges at Kawada then this great music kicks in. It sounds super happy go lucky/80s action movie ending credits or something.... and you can see them getting pulled apart as they are attacking each other while the credits roll... no sound but the music. Love it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Toshiaki Kawada vs Steve Williams - AJPW 3/29/94

It is the #2 Native vs #2 Gaijin, though you could make the case that Doc had overtaken Hansen at this point, but I dont think that was truly cemented until Dr. Death made the Carny Final. 

Baed on the time call, we are 8minutes JIP to Kawada kicking the tar out of Williams and playing a very effective King of the Mountain, Bockwinkel would be proud. The King falls off his perch when he kicks the ring post! Doc smells blood. He does a KneeCrusher to the Table and then wrenches the knee over the guardrail. Kawada's selling is sublime per usual. The face he makes when Williams elbows his knee on the railing screams pain. He makes another great wide-eyed face when Williams traps him in a leg lace. Kawada is so good at incorporating leg selling into how he moves and how it affects his strikes. It is him and Randy Savage that are my go-tos for leg selling. Speaking about how it affects his moves. Kawada never dies. He immediately tries to go to his bread & butter to turn the tide: that impressive spinning heel kick and his Mack Truck Lariat. You can see how each move doesn't hit with the same oomph and he can't capitalize. It is Dr. Death that makes to his feet first. To quote Jesse the Body, "That's gotta be depressing as hell".

A lot of people say Doc really picked up his game in late 93 and especially in '94 so what has changed? I think this match layout really helps Williams. Doc has the amateur pedigree he can go on the mat. I think people didnt like all the headlocks and guzzling on the mat. It is an effect kayfabe strategy to have your opponent carry your weight, but it is NOT an entertaining strategy. The fact that Kawada injured his knee gave Doc a body part to zero in on and use those mat techniques to stretch. Wrestling fans like when they think a hold as a point and is inflicting visible damage. That I think helps. The other I think Doc became a Man, a Mighty, Mighty Man. He was more sure of himself and more confident. No selling is such an underrated form of selling. It gets a bum rap because of the narrative Meltzer & Co. pushed in the 90s, but it can really supercharge a crowd. There's nothing quite like a Man All Bowed Up absorbing punishment, death stare and the exploding into fury. It works for a reason. It is pure masculine energy! We see that Kawada using his Jumping High Kicks and Williams just shrugging them off and exploding from a three point stance to bowl over Kawada. We get the splash in the corner. There was a great floatover suplex that would make Barry Windham jealous. The Oklahoma Stampede and Back Drop Driver were teased. The Back Drop Driver teases especially from Doc get such great heat. 

I loved Kawada's response to all this. He went head-hunting. He was using that Jumping High Kick, which is has been equated to Misawa's elbow, as a way to make in-roads. Yes, Doc gritted through it and MANNED UP through the first couple flurries, but eventually he did ring that bell and that set him up with time to recover and take advantage. It is shows the importance of commitment to a strategy from Kawada. He nailed his own Back Drop Driver again a head shot. He wanted the powerbomb, but Williams was too strong and I think the knee was not there yet. So he went to the Stretch Plum a great hold to sap the big man of his energy and recover. The levelling the playing field spot is on the outside Doc gets whipped into the railing, BUT explodes furiously into a lariat to trigger the count of both men on the floor. I have really, really enjoyed this thus far.  

Back in the ring, Williams is a little less worse for wear and hits a top rope shouldertackle. Williams is favoring his leg and clutching the back of his head. He doing a great job selling overall attrition. DoctorBomb is his big nearfall for two. The Back Drop Driver we see three counters: the scramble to the ropes, the weight-shift counter and a Fujiwara Armbar. We first see the Fujiwara Armbar takedown earlier in the finish stretch when Kawada applies it on a charging Doc, but a Doc who is charging gingerly due to his bum wheel. So thats how Kawada has the opportunity to take him down. I liked the Fujiwara Armbar I thought it was sold well by both men. The Second One as a counter to the Back Drop Driver was RAUCOUS! The way Kawada was wrenching it and selling it with his eyes had the girls in the front going wild! The crowd was wicked into it. I HATED that he released. Honestly, I thought Doc had either given up or the ref had called the match in Kawada's favor. I dont like when holds are just released for the hell of it. We see Kawada MASSIVE Mack Truck Lariat and the Powerbomb down the stretch. All nuclear nearfalls! The crowd was whipped into a frenzy at this point. Doc is saved by the bell and then tackles Kawada as the credits roll.

I think the story going into the match is Doc took all of Kawada's best shots: Lariat, Head Kicks, Fujiwara Armbar and the Powerbomb and Kawada still couldnt put him away. Whereas Doc did NOT hit Oklahoma Stampede or the vaunted Dangerous Back Drop Driver. If he could hit those, it could be lights out for Kawada. Sets up the Carny Final very well. Loved the work in this. Really made sense. Dr. Death look like a big time main eventer the way he was executing offense, choosing the right times to sell and no sell. Kawada sold the knee well and when it came time to make a comeback he chose smart transitions. I hate that this is JIP, but I liked it a lot. ****1/4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×