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[1994-12-10-AJPW-Real World Tag League] Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs Steve Williams & Johnny Ace

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Check out Johnny Ace in this match. Williams and Ace keep Misawa in their corner of the match putting him in various submissions. Kobashi will come in and try to break it up but this justs irks Ace and Williams to punish Misawa more. Misawa is in the ring for the longest time as Kobashi just remains on the apron. Kobashi tries to interfere more but gets a german suplex. Misawa takes on both Williams and Ace before Kobashi gets back in the ring.

 

It is around 15 minutes of match show time before Kobashi makes an official tag in. Ace kicks out of the moonsault which surprised me. But then Ace gets the upper hand and has two very believable close two counts only on Kobashi. Had me there. Misawa tags back in and Ace kicks out of a couple moves but losing to tiger driver. Excellent match where Ace looked very impressive overall. Quite the improvement since his Carnival match earlier on set.

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I like the bootleg that we dug up better than this, but not by much. This is by far the best I've ever seen Johnny Ace look. He's not Misawa or Kobashi (or even Doc), but he tries hard and for one night looks like a peer. I love the dueling moonsaults with him and Ace. That kickout from Ace felt like there was no way he was going to go down like that after Kobashi just kicked out of his own moonsault. but even more than Ace's performance, Misawa and Kobashi really look like the best tag team in the world here because of how in tune they are with each other. On more than one occasion, they give offensive moves to Doc and Kobashi in stereo, and Kobashi instinctively blocks Doc from interfering when he sees Misawa going for the Tiger Driver. For working coherently as a team, this is one of their better performances.

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I much prefer this to the July iteration, and think it's really underrated. My take from '07:

 

"Daaaaaaamn this rules. This isn't just [top 50], it's probably top 30. They establish the hate and intensity early on, then go through the really incredible heat sequence on Misawa with steady escalation and *actual* peril before the hot tag, then hope spots, then an extended comeback leading to a whole bunch of credible but non-overkill nearfalls. I think this has to go above Jumbo/Taue vs Misawa/Kobashi and I love that match. Jumbo-era matches had tons of heart but very basic moves. Misawa-era you get bigger moves but often lose a lot of the spirit; this has both in spades."

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Thought this was awesome. Misawa in real peril and his ranking as the ace feels in jeopardy, Misawa/Kobashi working amazing as a team, Ace hanging with great submissions and a moonsault, and Doc capping off a great year. The ending Misawa comeback is awesome and so was the build and aftermath of the backdrop driver by Doc. Great match.

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Can't ask for more out of a tag match than this. A LONG southern-cooked FIP segment on Misawa which is really well-done, with great sympathy selling from Misawa and perfectly timed teases and comebacks. Kobashi doing great work as the "saver" on the apron. A great dramatic twist as Doc levels Kobashi with a backdrop driver, taking Misawa's hot tag away and forcing him to make his own comeback. Then *Misawa* eats a backdrop driver and is saved only because Doc isn't legal and Ace is too slow to cover. Doc also has an awesome deadlift off the mat directly into the Oklahoma Stampede in here somewhere. Then to Southern Tag this up a little more, Ace does Kobashi's own moonsault and mocks him the whole way, complete with arm pump. Some truly fantastic stereo sequences here too, with Kobashi saving Misawa from Doc who was saving Ace from a tiger driver and then all the dueling tiger suplex attempts. Plus this match had me guessing the entire way through--Ace looked like job material from the start, of course. Kobashi's the clear #2 for his team. And Misawa took such a beating that I could actually see Doc pinning him, too. And of course there was the possibility of a draw. Possibly one of the 10 or even 5 best AJPW matches of the year.

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Clipping the first 5m or so out of a 25m match on the surface may not seem all that important, but it often is. Some of the selling in the middle of this threw me as it wasn't stacking up to what had been shown. Misawa spends a solid 15m in there without tagging, nearly all on the receiving end. It was like a handicap match with MVC levels of offensive domination. I didn't care for the structure at all.

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#342

 

This was a bit of a slow burner until Williams hit a pair of backdrop drivers on Misawa and Kobashi and the match kicked into another gear. Nothing they did really blew me away. It was more "predictably great" than anything else. Sometimes with these All Japan matches it's clear that they're being laid out to be great instead of getting there of their own accord. That may have been more pronounced with Ace involved, but it pretty much looked like everyone was sticking to the script. Misawa's selling was excellent as usual. He really was a beautiful seller around this time. Even when he was being rocked by big moves, you knew he was capable of a comeback that only the Man and company ace can deliver. This wasn't his most memorable comeback ever, but it was a solid tag and everyone worked hard to do their bit.

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

 

Ha, I love the first time Kobashi comes in and tries to break up the Sharpshooter that Ace has on Misawa. The ref turns around to back him out, and Williams goes in and starts stomping the shit out of Misawa's head. Then, when Williams quits, the ref turns around, and Kobashi comes in and strikes Ace anyway. I just like the protectiveness here of Kobashi over Misawa. When they hit the lariat on Misawa on the outside, Kobashi charges over. As mentioned above, he is continuously trying to break up the work over of Misawa in the corner of Ace and Williams. At one point, Kobashi catches a DDT on the outside from Ace. He eventually recovers, returns to the ring, and delivers a hard chop to the neck of Ace. He then falls over with exhaustion and tries to crawl towards Williams to save Misawa from more punishment. I really liked the way Kobashi sold the Fatigue instead of just bouncing right back into the action after taking a DDT to the floor. Overall, I thought this was really good. During the closing moments, I was just ready for Ace to be put away.

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Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs Steve Williams & Johnny Ace - AJPW RWTL 12/10/94

Between this and the July match, I don't know guys, I am starting to think Johnny Ace is pretty damn good at this wrestling thing. I was coming in expecting him to be Brutus Beefcake but he can keep up with the workrate and on top of that adds some nice American heel touches. The crowd doesnt bite but if he was in the South this would have killed. The Scorpion Deathlock, Kobashi comes to break it up, Higuchi sends him out so Doc kicks Misawa in the head while he is in the Deathlock is the most Southern thing I have ever seen in a Japanese ring. On top of that, we get Ace laying in shots while Misawa is stradling the ropes, we get a double team on the outside, Ace is the first to knock Kobashi off the apron then Doc follows suit and we get Ace setting up a Tree of Woe so he can go outside the ring and choke Misawa. It is top notch heel stuff. Like I said he can definitely keep up with the workrate and stiffness (at least in his chops) so definitely a worthy addition to these main event matches. 

Early on, they were really trying to push Doc/Misawa as a hot feud. Slapping the shit out of each other. They end up pulling each other's hair. They let Kobashi in for a minute and then it is Misawa vs Ace which seems like the biggest mismatch on paper but Ace gets a boot up and next thing you know we get like a 12 minute Misawa face in peril. I covered most of the heel shit they did to Misawa. Doc got some nice nearfalls on him with a Spinebuster and a top rope shoulder tackle. They were working holds and cheating for the most part. It was very Southern and very appreciated. Kobashi is great on apron. Kobashi is the most suited for American style wrestling because he is the most emotional. So he won't take any shit lying down and keeps coming over to protect Misawa even if it ends up hurting Misawa. He is very active and I like that. I feel like Kobashi was an easy sell on Doc/Ace calling an American style match even if the Japanese crowd is not reacting as strongly to this. 

JOHNNY ACE STOLE KOBASHI'S MOONSAULT SPOT COMPLETE WITH FIST PUMP!!! ALL THE STARS! LET THE SNOWFLAKES FALL! IT'S A BLIZZARD! I have long thought the Kobashi fist-pump->moonsault is the ultimate in babyface spots. I never thought someone should steal it for heel heat because that's just not how Japan works, BUT Ace doing that was so fucking awesome! I popped huge and was pissed at the same time. It was so perfect. He does connect (it is a damn good moonsault, not a sidesault), Kobashi kicks out. Amazing sequence! It is official Johnny Ace is my new favorite wrestler. 

There is a great sequence prior to this when Misawa fights out of being double team with WICKED Elbows! He was just nailing people. In the fracas, he grabs Ace into a Tiger Driver, Doc bowls him over. Kobashi comes in does his business, as he turns his back to go to his corner, Doc just SPLASH him with all his body weight and then chucks him with a WICKED GERMAN! WOW! Great stuff. Then Ace/Doc do a Double Team Back Drop Driver! Misawa is fucking insane. These Back Drop Drivers he is taking are disgusting. We all know what happens so it is hard to watch. Misawa does kick out. Kobashi shows us shades of 6/9/95 then way he desperately tries to save Misawa from the Oklahoma Stampede and the Second Back Drop Driver by grabbing Dr. Death's leg. I lap that stuff up with a spoon. After what I think was 20 minutes, Misawa finally tags out to Kobashi. 

I love that Kobashi's first thing is to measure Doc up for a HELLACIOUS LARIAT! The Lariat is approaching Burning. Then he immediately goes for the Moonsault. Fucking smart to start throwing bombs and red hot. Doc is not beat up enough to stay down and he bullies Kobashi in the corner. He tags out to Ace. ACE CRUSHER~! How do I know the move name because Ace is a Hip Hop OG and shouts out the name at the top of his lungs! Which is great marketing! This is when Ace does the Kobashi moonsault steal. Rocker Dropper and a DoctorBomb by Ace. Lost Super Worker of the 90s, Johnny Fucking Ace! Misawa saves. Kobashi hits his moonsault and Johnny Ace kicks out because he is a stud. Ace has kicked out of the Tiger Driver in July and the Moonsault now. Kobashi tags out. I smell Misawa smoking Ace en route to win. Ace teases Ace Crusher on Misawa after Doc interferes. Kobashi looks like he really rings Doc's bell with a Spinning Back Chop. The fans bite hard on Misawa German nearfall, Frogsplash + Tiger Driver win it for the good guys!

I was thinking I liked the July match a little more because it was more upbeat and then the Moonsault spot happened. I will give a nod to this match, but both matches are awesome and underrated. The July is more the standard great All Japan workrate tag. This one has more Southern elements, Kobashi desperately trying to save Misawa showing shades of 6/9/95, wicked hot finish stretch especially the Ace moonsault and the final hurrah! Dont sleep on this! ****1/2

 

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They had Budokan Hall rocking for this match. And the way they laid the match out, that’s no surprise. There was very little downtime with the match going at a very hot fast tempo. All while putting Misawa and Kobashi in the vulnerable position. Ace and Williams were the dominant team for the whole match, working over Misawa for such a long time which set up the eventual comeback climb perfectly. And then the dramatic closing stretch with a ton nail-biting nearfalls for both sides. This was just a superbly worked tag team match. ****

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