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[1994-07-22-AJPW-Summer Action Series] Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs Steve Williams & Johnny Ace

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Rare match that did not air on "30" TV and was not released commercially. It was recommended by jdw. Nice find. Ace holds his own here and looks really good. Doc is at his peak and nearly takes Misawa's head off with a lariat on the floor. Misawa is the one worked over for most of this while Kobashi is put in the position to save him. Kobashi takes his lumps too, but fares much better than Misawa. I guess that works, because Doc is challenging for the TC in six days, and Kobashi will be challenging Doc for the TC in about six weeks. This doesn't have the layers of story that your best AJ matches have (I say that still realizing it's a smart match), but it's a tremendous 27 minutes or so of great action, bomb throwing and nice tag team moves. All Japan's version of a balls out spotfest - and a great one. Ace kicking out of Misawa's Tiger Driver was a little much, as the flying lariat finish wasn't as good, but that's a small quibble in an otherwise really excellent match.

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Ace kicking out of Misawa's Tiger Driver was a little much, as the flying lariat finish wasn't as good, but that's a small quibble in an otherwise really excellent match.

Letting him kick out of the Tiger Driver showed Ace was worthy of being in the mix. Misawa let lots of people kick out of the Tiger Driver.

 

Instead, Misawa pinned Ace with the move that pinned *Baba* back in March: the diving neckbreaker drop. That's actually kind of cool.

 

There was a stretch in here where Misawa was trying to get that over as one of his various finishers. It's Misawa, so he doesn't always sustain a thread. But watch the finish of his dropping the TC to Taue in 1996. What's he trying to hit? Taue "sees it coming" and counters it... and the lights go out for Misawa for a flash finish far earlier than the fans would have expected. That's also pretty cool.

 

I can come across as critical of Misawa at times, and it needs to be done because none of the Gods of Work are perfect. But... I liked at the time, and like on running across it two decades later, where he went with something like the diving neckbreaker drop, flashed it just enough, and had two really nice moments with it:

 

* pinning Baba (as it's a more moder variation of Baba's own finisher)

* getting countered to get pinned by Taue (as Taue has the perfect counter when one things about it)

 

We're right in the period where AJPW started heading off into more head dropping and generally escalating the stiffness and danger. When one looks at the diving neckbreaker drop in hindsight, one really wishes they came up with more safer finishers like it that were regularly used and treated as "dangerous" finishers in the sense that if Misawa hit it, the opponent was in deap shit of getting pinned.

 

Anyway, glad this made it. Rare match despite being "shot for TV", and is a nice first shot in the Misawa & Partner vs Doc & Ace series of matches that took place in 1994-96 as a comp to not just the Misawa & Patner vs Kawada & Taue matches in 1993-97, but what other folks were doing in tags at the time (say like the Action Zone tag).

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I’m indifferent to Johnny Ace for the most part but this felt like a match that he really looked good in and was getting over with the live crowd also. Williams continues to look like a beast in 1994 and seemed to have Misawa’s number at times here. Overall this was a great match as never heard of it but had a lot of nice action. Last fifteen minutes were excellent and didn’t feel like an almost half hour match at all. Nice pace to it. Ace kicking out of the Tiger Driver didn’t surprise me much but I think is more to do with me viewing it as just another regular move over time. Crowd popped for him kicking out though.

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My first thought after watching this match was that Johnny Ace was really good in it. He held his own for sure. Doc has had a great year so far and continues to improve his resume with another great performance. Misawa is his usual self selling and taking a beating while Kobashi makes the saves and throws some bombs. This was an excellent bomb throwing style tag with an exceptional performance from Johnny Ace.

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One of the best examples I can think of off hand of All Japan having a tag match to lead into a Triple crown Singles Match. Doc looked like a beast here and established that Misawa beating him would be no easy task. Ace hung with people here and was good at picking his spots when necessary and staying out of the way otherwise. MIsawa after a kind of rocky start in the beginning of the year ( I don't think he was as bad as people say in the 3/5 tag, he just was not as good as usual Misawa) is starting to show some signiture performances.

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Really nice hidden gem of a match, giving us a glimpse of the upcoming TC without giving away too much. Misawa looks vulnerable with how much he's worked over, and Ace gets chances to shine, but it's still mostly double-teams that have him in real peril. I liked Ace's TD kickout--it wasn't even a kickout so much as a desperation shoulder raise, so you got the sense that he was pretty much toast anyway unless Doc was able to get back in and save.

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I enjoyed this a fair bit. I really liked Ace in this. it was made clear that he was William's apprentice, setting up moves, like the top rope powerslam or assisting with the stampede but at the same time, was given enough to shine on his own merits. I particularly liked the double team where Williams did the press slam into the snakeyes, and Misawa rebounded straight into Ace's back suplex. The best moment of the match was Williams' save after the Kobashi moonsault. The crowd were so hot here and the timing was perfect - it looked like pure desperation.

As much as I really liked this though, I just thought something wasn't quite right at the end. The crowd were popping for the kickouts but there wasn't any sustained heat leading to the finish, which meant it didn't really 'peak' like the really good All Hapan matches do and was a bit flat for me at the finish.

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Whilst watching this match I asked myself a question; and it's a question I feel every serious wrestling fan should ask themselves at least once in their lifetime:

 

Q. Is Johnny Ace the greatest wrestler of all time?

 

After an unduly long period of contemplation I decided that no, he is not.

 

The blonde bomber did hold his end up very well in this one however. With Ace, Doc and Kobashi in the same ring there was a risk that the goofy machismo would be overdone. It was confined to the early stages as it happens. Terrific workrate, going the best part of half an hour with no downtime. The Americans had more of the offence, although it certainly wasn't one sided. Consistent quality through the build, with the excitement naturally rising for the stretch. It went on a few minutes too long. Never threatened higher levels. Very good overall. Everyone contributed and I look forward to the rematch.

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http://placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-250-201/

 

#227

 

One of Ace's finer moments (that I've seen anyway). I loved the far away look in Kobashi's eyes after he took that sick powerbomb from Williams in the first half of the match. There were parts I felt this drug a little bit, but I really enjoyed it. Williams did have some greatly timed saves. ****

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All Japan World Tag Team Champions Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs Steve Williams & Johnny Ace - AJPW 7/22/94

I touched on this a little during the Carnival matches with Kawada, but the biggest difference between Williams in 93 and 94 is that confidence. He was just letting that crazy personality through. Sticking his tongue put, shaking the railing after a massive lariat, bowing up. Give me all that shit! I loved it all! 

I have seen much of Mrs. Baba's favorite wrestler in my day, but apparently I am watching one of his better performances according to my friends. It shows! Halfway through the match I was wondering if Johnny Fucking Ace is the lost superworker of the 90s. Busting out Cockscrew elbows, complicated DDTs and taking head drops. I loved his energy. He was getting all sorts of fucking macho with Kobashi and I was lapping it up. So far so good, lots of charisma from those three. 

This is the lead in to the famous Misawa vs Doc match. Loved the opening with Doc blocking the Roaring Elbow, showing he has it scouted. Misawa catches Doc at one point with an elbow that literally was a slobber knocker! The Williams vs Kobashi exchanges have been ELECTRIC! Excited to see them hook up in September. The way Doc won that suplex struggle, bullied Kobashi over and then THREW KOBASHI DOWN ON THAT POWERBOMB! Holy shit! Kobashi had the best "Where the fuck am I" look on his face. Then they beat the tar out of Misawa. That Lariat on the outside by Doc was sickkkk. Explosive Spinebuster in the ring. Loved Misawa trying to elbow his way out of the gaijin corner, but two on one was too much for the champ. Raucous front half to a great match! 

Johnny Ace as a Workrate God is something I need more of. Rushing in to scoop up Misawa off Snake Eyes to hit a Back Drop Driver. ACE CRUSHER~! It is crazy that all this craziness around that move started with Johnny Ace! Doctor Bomb! Crazy double teams! Dude rocked it in there! 

Doc was fucking awesome in this match! Trucking people left, right and center. He was a one man gang! When he broke a pin, he broke up a pin! Thats how you do it! I loved Misawa busting up the Oklahoma Stampede with a Elbow. That was sick. Watch Doc SNATCH Kobashi on that powerslam and then on the armdrag. That's crazy speed and strength. Misawa tries to free up Kobashi to put Ace away and he just made Doc mad! Dr. Death STEAMROLLED FOOLS! Great Double Team Oklahoma Slam from the top and then the double team Oklahoma Stampede. 

Eventually Ace gets left alone with Misawa. Ace shows some gumption kicking out of a Tiger Driver but a flying clothesline does him in. 

Definitely an unsung All Japan match! Absolute BANGER! I hope Johnny Ace and keep it up in the coming years. I am really looking forward to both Doc vs Misawa and Doc vs Kobashi. ****1/2

 

 

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An awesome lead into the Triple Crown title match. Williams looked like a badass and incredibly strong with Misawa struggling against him and showing great chemistry with Johnny Ace in the process. Misawa and Kobashi looked solid and cohesive as a unit as well. Johnny Ace proved his worth in the match as well. Not just a cog in the wheel. This followed wonderfully too. Everything got some shine and climaxed it well. ****

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