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[1994-04-11-AJPW-Championship Carnival] Stan Hansen vs Akira Taue

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Picking up where the Kobashi match left off, Taue goes right after Hansen's injured ribs. This is a good match, but Taue doesn't have enough variety in his offense. Then again, how many different things can one really do to work over ribs? It doesn't exactly lend itself to variety like knee, arm or neck work does. So Taue, who is limited to begin with, is mostly punching and kicking, with some occasional bigger moves mixed in. Hansen's performance within the match is far better than the match as a whole. He is absolutely great in this. I made the wounded animal analogy in the Kobashi match, but it really applies far more here. The match lacks heat though, and Taue's win seems like a fluke because of Hansen's pre-match injury, more than it does that Taue deserved to win because he was the better wrestler. The Kobashi match did a far better job of accomplishing something I cared about and believed to mean something with the result.

 

So to answer jdw's question from a few months ago: No. I do not want all wrestling to look like this. :)

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The Kobashi match is better, and is a nice cap on their trilogy over the past year. But I'm glad this made the set, and that you liked it. It's a very different match, and Hansen's performance is epic. And while Taue isn't perfect in it, my comment in recommending this was that there wasn't anyone else in AJPW that Hansen could have had this match with. The others would have had other Stuff that they wanted to do that would have gone off the page, and Misawa would have wanted to sell for half the match. :)

 

John

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For the entire length of the match? Not likely. He have worked in a fair number of his kicks to the head and the like. He probably would have also wanted to make Hansen look good in stretches, and find some logical ways to have Hansen get his "run". Suspect that they could have worked a really good match around this storyline, but different, not so one-note, and probably not as great of a peformance out of Hansen. Kawada > Taue, and that works 95%+ of the time. This is one of those rare times where Taue Being Taue allowed Hansen to totally dictate the match they were going to work on pretty much every level. Even when Taue went off the page, it was generally short and Hansen could reel him back in.

 

Of course Hansen's "attack" on the ribs would have been better/stiffer than Taue's, but I actually think that Taue's works well in the sense that it gets across how screwed up Hansen is: damn near anything Taue does busts Stan up.

 

John

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I've had a lot going on the last few weeks. Plan to restart tonight with the Misawa/Kawada (non) Carny match.

 

I'm glad to see with '94 that I'm not going it alone as much as in the past. Good to see Kevin Ridge posting, and shoe and Childs are always good for posting as well. I also see Doc Sarpolis posting some things, and others who don't have the yearbook are contributing in matches they've seen. I'm sure Tim Evans will eventually join us when he finishes '95.

 

It would be great to have even more people picking them up and chiming in on everything. jdw, it'll be fun when you eventually join the bandwagon too. :)

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I plan on posting my thoughts when I get the yearbook. Paypal had my address all screwed up so I am delayed. I am relieved you stopped posting for a little while because I was worried you would be in Sept before I even got mine.

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It would be great to have even more people picking them up and chiming in on everything. jdw, it'll be fun when you eventually join the bandwagon too. :)

Hoback was getting me one as a birthday present. Can't remember which one it was... possibly 1992, though I don't recall. :)

 

John

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I appreciated how straightforward the match was in picking up the thread from the previous night's Hansen/Kobashi. Stan left no doubt what the theme would be, shielding his ribs with his posture to start the match. Taue's attack to the ribs was less dynamic than Kobashi's, though I liked him standing on Hansen's midsection and dickishly grinding his foot. But the real takeaway for me was that Hansen could produce a very good match built almost entirely on selling. I can't say it enough in these yearbook threads; I think he was one of the top few sellers in wrestling history. He was absolutely convincing as a guy who was miserable to be out there but who couldn't bring himself not to fight. It was almost poignant. I'm really enjoying watching this Carny as a total story.

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To me this match was all about Hansen. From the opening bell he is already selling the ribs from the previous match. Great facials and selling by Hansen throughout the match. He looks like he is just laboring out there. Hits a powerbomb but due to his ribs he is unable to follow it up with the pin. Haven't seen it before but I still felt that Hansen would have a tough time winning this one. Whether that was the intent to stack the odds against him but it did kind of take some of the surprise away from when Taue actually picked up the victory.

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My thoughts from the Carny Pimping Posts:

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

4/11 Taue vs Hansen

 

This is probably about 85% a great match.. and by great I mean GREAT!!!! Seriously, no bullshit. 50% in the form of 100% of what Hansen does is great. This is Stan's "12/03/93 Kawada Is Sublime" performance, and Hansen's performance doesn't in anyway have to take a backseat to what I've spent 18 years pimping as one of the best performances of all-time. Hansen is great before the bell even rings, selling what happened the night before. As the match goes on... he's off the charts.

 

35% in the form of about 70% to 75% of what Taue does is great. He's extremely focused on what needs to be focused on, and really never loses the thread on it to go into "I've Got Stuff To Do" or "I'd Rather Do Cool Stuff" mode. Those are massive positives. There are some minor knocks: about half of his early stuff looks weak, he's too slam centric without theatrically drawing well into the storyline why those are useful, and he kind of ignores something obvious to the point that he only rolls it out as the Barry Windham Transition... which kind of sucks since using it would have really tied into the storyline. They may seem minor, but they add up a bit to keep this from being a perfect-great match.

 

On the other hand, once he gets past some of the early weak stuff, Taue does bring a ton of great stuff to the storyline and most of it is well done. Even some things like the Claw that doesn't work out to well at least had good thought behind them.

 

This is a helluva match. I'm not sure anyone else could have had this match with Stan at the time. Hard to imagine any of the other members of the Big 6 letting themselves work what is essentially a 17 minute Single Storyline Match. At some point, they'd go off the page to mix in some of their other Cool Things. Misawa would whip out the jumping lariat and the elbows to the head... a lot. As *stronger* as Kawada's attack to the injury would be, he would stil have used the high kicks to the head. Kobashi would have gone longer, and lost the thread a few times Doc faces Hansen a few nights later, and while I like that match a good deal, the injury storyline isn't as focused.

 

Taue... he seems to have followed Stan's lead to a T, stuck with it, etc. When he whips out the nodowa, it's not losing the thread: it's that he's fucked up Stan so much that the nodowa is there for the taking (or fits into a transition). Pretty much everything that doesn't directly tie into the injury is like that, with the injury sitting there still on display. Hell... I don't think 1996 Taue could have this match because he had some cooler stuff that he'd want to mix in, and was more confident in his work.

 

Yeah... this is one of those moment in times. Stan creating something the night before that keyed a major loss that he inturn could use the next night to key a second major loss... with probably the one guy in the Big 6 that would/could be drawn into working a Single Storyline Match.

 

85% of a GREAT match, when most of the quibbles are early... that's great match. One utterly exceptional performance, with another one that was very focused on what needed to be done and then picked up some steam as he went along.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

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Hansen is exceptionally great in this match. His performance throughout is something else. Taue's offense is very limited but it didn't really hurt this match because he did what was needed which was to focus on Hansen's ribs. However, Taue still has some weak looking offense even in targeting Hansen which downgrades the match some. I definitely prefer the Kobashi match as it is the match where Hansen is injured and Kobashi's offense seems and is more effective. This was still a great match with a phenomenal performance from Hansen.

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Felt like Hansen's One Man Show. Taue was out there to follow the storyline and not add input. He did a commendable job. I can't add much more comments about Hansen in this match. He is one of the greatest wrestlers ever and this match is one of his shining moments.

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Yeah, any thoughts that Hansen "peaked" on 7/29 are pretty much bullshit--he's still had it in every match I've seen this year. This is spectacular, with Hansen as the wounded underdog quasi-babyface. I wish Taue could have worked some holds in here, but that's never been his forte. He's along for the ride instead, but does a good job of following direction, at least. That said, his victory really doesn't seem to be as important as it should have been. It's not entirely fair, but compare the crowd reaction between this and Kobashi's win.

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Man, was that Taue match good. For a man the size of Hansen to sell that well was phenomenal. The thing that impressed me most was his comeback. One of my least favourite things in wrestling is when a guy takes a beating for what seems like an eternity and then the comeback starts and all of a sudden it's even stevens. The way Hansen worked his way back into the match here was as believable as it gets. He was basically like a wounded animal fighting and clawing his way out, Taue was fabulous as well. He could've easily oversold it, but instead he sold it just right, weathering the storm and not letting his opportunity to topple Hansen slip. Taue was on point in this bout. The opening exchange took me aback. What a great start to the bout. Almost like sumo brawling.

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If you want flashy and flamboyant then you won't find it here. A Stan Hansen slobberknocker with rugged brawling and great psychology? Step right in.

 

I absolutely loved how this played off the previous nights loss to Kobashi. Immediately it was clear that Hansen was hurting and on the defensive. The ever smart Taue wasn't one to pass up an opportunity as he targeted the ribs and dominated the opening 10m. A burly gaijin asskicker like Stan should never be able to get sympathy heat, but he's such a phenomenal seller. The Texan fought back with high impact and several shortcuts. It looked like he was going to take it home, yet Taue dodged the lariato and got a shock win with a chokeslam. I'd forgotten the result so it came as a big surprise. This might have been the first time Akira had beaten him? Whilst a big result for the man in red it wasn't a breakthrough triumph like with KK. The way it was presented was that Hansen was reeling from the previous loss and Taue was good enough to take advantage of his vulnerability. Outstanding booking and another incredible showing from Hansen.

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This might be a controversial opinion but I think this match is easily better than Stan vs. Kawada 2/93 and even better than Stan vs. Kobashi 7/93. Simply phenomenal selling of the bad ribs by Hansen, among the best I have ever seen for injured body part selling. The way he fought his way back and still looked like a force despite being vulnerable was also fantastic. But in no way was it a one man show. Taue gave an amazingly focused offensive performance, attacking the ribs at all sorts of angles. He also added awesome heelish touches I couldn't see any of his peers doing. I liked how he was a total dick while working over the ribs but near the end almost became a sympathetic underdog because even an injured Stan Hansen is so dangerous. Tremendous all around and a match I hope others take another look at. **** 1/2

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I can actually see someone saying this is their favorite 90s All Japan match because it is so different. I like the King Road's style generally so this would be a step down for me, but this is a fantastic match and in most promotions a match of the year candidate. Very shocked at how low Loss & others had this rated. 

Stan Hansen vs Akira Taue - AJPW 4/11/94

If there's anyone that can babyface Stan Hansen, it is Akira Taue. In the Hansen/Kobashi match a day prior, Hansen injured his ribs by doing a diving shouldertackle from the apron and connecting with the guardrail. When Hansen enters, there is only one whip of his bull rope and he is walking not running to the ring clutching his ribs. 

I will say this there's a talking point, which I believe to be asserted by JDW that no one else could have had this match by Taue which I believe to mean that he was absolutely laser focused on the ribs. I do take umbrage with that slightly as a Kobashi fan. I think Kobashi fan acquitted himself well the night before with a lot of body shots, kicks, dropkicks all to the ribs and even shouldertackles to the ribs to set up the moonsault. Were there leg drops and sleepers? Yes, but Kobashi was committed to the ribs until the very end of the match. Just like Taue used the ribs to set up his finish. Two very different matches and both phenomenal, but I just want to point this out. Kobashi is NOT this scattered-brain, "get my stuff in" wrestler that some people say. The criticism that Misawa could not work this match because he would want to sell and make his extended comeback I would agree with. I think Kawada would also be fine and well-suited for a match like this. This match is about Taue who is undersung anyways and we should let his spotlight get stolen by the other three. 

Taue and Hansen both rock pretty hard in this. I know Hansen lariats with his left hand but I am not sure if he uses an Unorthodox stance because I have seen him punch right. Anyways he uses an Unorthodox stance here to keep his left side (injured side) further away from Taue. I always love touches like that. Taue ultimately crowds Hansen in the corner. Hansen does his best to bully his way out, but the bully got bullied here and Taue started unloading on the left side with some good shots. If there is one thing that Japanese fans cant stand, it is when Taue "hotshots" opponents on the top rope or railing. It always draws boos. Even though they were chanting for Taue at the end, I found that interesting. Some great work here from that standpoint. Hansen is a big mutha trucker and for Taue to get him up and launch him in such a way that it was his abdomen that landed on the railing and top rope was impressive. That's a tough bump for Hansen to take even if his ribs arent actually injured. We of course get stomach claws and abdominal stretches. Hansen tried this cat and mouse strategy luring Taue to the outside and then getting back in the ring to the get the high ground. Still Taue fought through his King of the Mountain by attacking the left side. All in all, excellent work. I liked the transition to Hansen on offense. Taue misses an elbow drop from the top rope and then Hansen hits a trademark lunging shouldertackle that sends Taue flying to the outside. Perfect. Hansen BOUNCES a chair off Taue! Perfect. DDT on the exposed concrete. Perfect! Cant suplex him on exposed concrete because of the injured ribs so he settles for wrenching his head into the railing. Perfect, Perfect, Perfect!  

Hansen's selling through his comeback is sublime. You never lose sight of the fact he is in tremendous pain but that means he is also tremendously furious. Exposed knee. Two WICKED Stiff, Swift Cowboy Kicks! The way he has to gear himself up for the a suplex and then ultimately a Powerbomb. The sell after that powerbomb is tremendous. Hansen gets two and then tugs at the elbow pad to let everyone know whats coming. Taue kicks him right in the left side and gets a powerslam for two. NODOWA~! Great struggle there with Taue earning it. Hot nearfall and the crowd is clearly behind Taue. Hansen shifts his weight on a back suplex. Gnarly headbutts from Hansen and SMOKES Taue with a diving right elbow to the point where I bit on that nearfall even though the crowd didn't. I thought it was his way of doing a lariat without using his left side. He goes for the Lariat by holding Taue's head but Taue is able to punch the left side repeatedly and NODOWA~! 1-2-3!

If someone wanted to say this is their favorite 90s All Japan match or even the best, I would not bat an eye. King's Road is not for everyone. I happen to generally like the style and do think it is my personal favorite style. For those that like a more minimalist approach with heavy emphasis on body part psychology both from a laser-focused offensive perspective and a great selling perspective this match meets those needs. Hansen's stock is really rising in my book (he was already in my Top 5 wrestlers of all time) he has so many more layers than a Bull in the China Shop brawler, really effective seller and more than one-dimensional tool. Taue (also in my Top 25) really showed his ability to carry a singles match on top here. Taue is a man of efficiency. We saw that NOAH where he had great singles bouts with Misawa, Nagata and Kobashi. This was a very efficient and tidy match. It is not one of the more pimped matches so if you have not watched it ever or in a while, I definitely implore to give this a watch. ****1/2 

 

 

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I wasn't too high on this as I felt like this was lacking in heat for the majority of the match and Baba and company's golf commentary didn't help matters. Hansen is a master of selling though and Taue's awkward offence has always been endearing. Taue using his ringsmarts to parry a charging powerslam was a ingeniously cool spot. 

★★★

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