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[1991-04-20-AJPW-Fan Appreciation Day] Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada & Kenta Kobashi vs Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue & Masa Fuchi

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This is the height of the Misawa and Co. vs. Jumbo and Co. feud. That's not to say that there wouldn't be anything else worth seeing over the next 18 months but from an ring perspective, they peaked here.

 

I hadn't seen this match since 2007/2008 when Dan Ginnetty unearthed the "Midnight Special" version, which airs 48 of the 52 minutes. Having gone through the 1990 yearbook, you can see the growth in working a trios match over the 10 months leading into this match. I always remembered the 5/26/90 Misawa/Taue/Kobashi vs. Jumbo/Kabuki/Fuchi match as being more about the Misawa elbow angle on Jumbo than actually being a great match.

 

Revisiting it during the 90 Yearbook, you can see the seeds being set to take the standard trios match and make it multi-layered and as good as most single and tag matches. Step two comes on 10/28/90 when we get the first pairing of the regular six, Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi vs. Jumbo/Taue/Fuchi. Just under 30 minutes, it is a great "first" match of the regulars that brings out the other rivalries in the feud (Kawada/Taue, Kobashi trying to hang, Fuchi as a crazed veteran trying to earn his keep). It's what I thought of as the definitive version of this match until revisiting the 4/91 match last night.

 

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

 

I'm not a fan of long matches these days. Well, I can be a fan of long matches in the right circumstances with the right wrestlers but I don't have the time or patience anymore to sit through long matches that don't serve a purpose. So I went into this re-watch with extreme hesitation. 48 minutes? They are going to lose me at some point. My cynicism even lead me to watch the match WAITING for the moment where they lost me, so I could turn it off and go to sleep. Not a good way to go into anything. They never lost me.

 

These guys had so much they could do and do well, while stringing the crowd along the entire time. I've been going back through the late 90's/early 00's WON's recently and a re-occurring theme with Dave is when a match runs longer than 45 minutes, even if it is smartly worked, he will always mention that you can tell they were going long because of how they worked the early part of the match. Not necessarily the first five minutes, but from that point to the 30-40 minute mark. And that was said in respect to his "favorite" 60 minute match of all time, the 1/19/95 Kobashi vs. Kawada.

 

I was always of the mindset that if you work smart, I can ignore that it is clear you are going long. I watched Christopher Daniels and CM Punk do a 60 minute draw in July 2005 that live, didn't feel like they were working a different match. At about 40 minutes into that match, I turned to Phil and Tom and we all agreed they were actually going 60, something that might have prevented us from wanting to attend the show if we that booking beforehand. But it worked live and on tape, watching it again in 2012, it never had the blatant time killing spots. The 4/91 trios match has no dead time. Every submission attempt is with a purpose and even if it is to rest for a few seconds, it always fit the flow of the match.

 

Taue cheap shots Kawada THREE times early on, each one more aggressively until you are on the edge of your seat waiting for Kawada to finally get into the ring with him. Misawa and Jumbo deliver a few sequences to satisfy the crowd, but this match is more about Taue/Kawada, Kawada/Fuchi, and Kobashi/Fuchi than the number rivalry in the promotion. When Kawada finally gets his head clear, he charges into the ring and they do a shoot/is this real brawl with him and Taue while the other four try to break it up. Writing it, it sounds hokey but it comes off completely naturally.

 

The 30 minute call comes really fast, especially against my expectations. This is when I have convinced myself that they will lose me. Fuchi is doing something really dickish and Kawada stops him and gives him the finger as he returns to the apron. The crowd pops huge for this and Fuchi is pissed. Kobashi is in with him and Fuchi points at Kawada and then dropkicks Kobashi's knee. The crowd erupts.

 

The problem with some of the later trios matches if that they will do work like this, Fuchi works on Kobashi's leg, Jumbo goes after Kawada's back, but in a more technical sense. Here, it is done to get over the escalation of this feud. Fuchi is a master at stretching guys, so even when it doesn't have the great in match storyline to go with it, it is usually very good but it's also the time where I can often drift away. That doesn't come close to happening here. 10 solid minutes of ramming Kobashi's knee into the mat, into the guardrail, into chairs, and into tables. Kobashi gets cut off from the hot tag numerous times and when he finally makes it, it it to Kawada. And guess who is in the ring? Fuchi. Kawada goes nuts on Fuchi with forearms and the crowd erupts again. The mini in-match story is paid off completely and they go to the home stretch of nearfalls before Misawa takes it with a Tiger Suplex on Taue. Outstanding match.

 

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

 

The feud produced more good stuff after this match, no denying that. The 10/15/91 Misawa/Kawada/Kikuchi vs. Jumbo/Taue/Fuchi is three southern tag matches and an injury angle all wrapped into something really great. But this is really the high point of bringing together six wrestlers together and making everything in a 52 minute match work so well.

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I hadn't seen this match since 2007/2008 when Dan Ginnetty unearthed the "Midnight Special" version, which airs 48 of the 52 minutes.

Dan's unearthed version appears to be the full match. I think he walked through it somewhere, but there looked to be no cuts or anything... and instead it's quite possible that the time counter just got the match time wrong.

 

I think Dan may have a post about it hear, or on tOA walking through it.

 

John

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Excellent review, Tim.

 

Looking forward to revisiting it as well at some point. I think the full version blows away just about anything else in 1991. Amazing match.

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Tim did a great job of describing what made this a classic, so I won't elaborate too much. It has to be the shortest feeling 50-minute match in history. I had forgotten the actual finish, so I was surprised when it happened and I realized that much time had elapsed. They just did an incredible job of hitting all the key notes of the factional rivalry without any of it feeling old hat. The Kawada-Taue brawl at the beginning was a particular highlight, and this was probably Fuchi's best performance in the feud. This match epitomizes the greatness of early '90s All-Japan in a way that's distinct from the stuff produced by the Misawa-Kawada rivalry. We've talked about this in other threads, but there was a richness created by having so many interesting match-ups up and down the factions. I expected this to be my MOTY coming into the set and saw nothing to change that assumption.

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Just a remarkable match. I think everyone in this thread, especially Tim, has really summed up its greatness, so I don't have to say much else. What I will add is that it's probably a toss-up for me between this six-man and the 5/92 one which is the best. This one feels more definitive, but that's a pretty amazing match that deserves consideration too. This one stands out for furthering the Jumbo/Misawa and Kawada/Taue rivalries while Kobashi and Fuchi both step up and give great performances. Fuchi in particular was tremendous in this, as this was probably his finest (near) hour. This does feel like it encapsules everything to love about early 90s All Japan prior to Jumbo's retirement, and it's also my MOTY at this point.

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This really had everything. It had amazing heat, great moments, great performances, amazing story telling . Everything just clicked to make this a classic.

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What do I have to add besides "MOTY"? That's where this is sitting now and where it's likely to stay. Fuchi did jump out at me as having his standout performance out of any any of these Misawa Army vs. Jumbo Army matches, and Kobashi went through possibly the most agonizing FIP segment in wrestling history. Great payoff at the end, with Kawada getting payback for all those Taue cheapshots with the move that's become Taue's Achilles heel and Kawada's go-to weapon for the first half of this year. Misawa gets the pinfall but it really feels like Kawada got the victory.

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What a start with Taue just popping Kawada a couple times when he is on the apron. When Kawada finally gets a piece of Taue it is great as he levels him with kicks and headbutts. Misawa/Kobashi do a bit of screening of keeping Jumbo/Fuchi away from breaking it up. Kawada ends up taking a big beating to the point when he finally tags out he’s laying on the apron for a few. Totally feels like Fuchi spends barely any time in the ring but he’s all over the place outside. He's awesome at just getting in there at the right time and heeling things up. Great crowd who were chanting for everyone and what a match. Favorite of the year so far.

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Before watching this I'd specifically taken a month off watching AJ as I get burnt out on all promotions occasionally. Given that I seem to like 6 man tags less than any of the regular posters here and this went 50m I was slightly dreading it. So I'm happy to say that this is indeed the greatest AJ 6 man of the era. Given the drawbacks of the format and the extreme length this was as good as they could've realistically done.

 

The Kawada vs Taue rivalry was tasty in the early going. It would've been a strong 20m match as it had a false stretch at that time. The spell after that got a bit dull for me, the Taue beatdown in particular. The times when they lost me through the match were during the last 2-3 minutes of the beatdown phases. The final 15m was the highlight, particularly the finish after fans must have started wondering if they were going the hour.

 

There was never any bad phases, and it was high end in parts. There was a 45m draw from 9/30/90 that others liked but I didn't. That didn't have many lows or to my mind high points. Just consistent level throughout with no reason to justify it going so long. The length was necessary here to make it an epic, and that made the final stages and postmatch pretty awesome.

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This match is just chock-full of awesome moments. Here are a few that stood out to me when I rewatched it recently:

 

-Taue repeatedly cheapshots Kawada off the apron to the point where it becomes a Family Guy-esque running gag.

 

-Jumbo does an OH~! and then forces the audience to do it again after he decides they were insufficiently enthusiastic.

 

-Misawa has Taue in an Indian deathlock, and the two come to blows, so Misawa says "OK, I've got something for your ass" and tags in Kawada.

 

-Team Jumbo absolutely obliterates Kawada's neck during the Kawada-in-peril section, particularly with the spike piledriver.

 

-Fuchi runs in to break up a Kawada half crab, but Kawada flips him off and tags out.

 

-Fuchi returns the favor after taking out Kobashi's leg and then points to Kawada after another dropkick to the leg.

 

-Kobashi reverses a Fuchi suplex and tries to tag out, but Fuchi desperately grabs his ankle and drags him back to the middle of the ring. Greatest hope spot of all time.

 

-The ending, both for Taue getting his comeuppance and the callback to previous matches.

 

Yeah, this match is awesome.

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Everyone else has written up why this is amazing but it really is a superb match that would be a top 10 90's AJPW candidate. This felt like the 6 man equivalent of the 9/30/90 tag as in that match Taue and Kawada belonged but here I really felt like they were the stars. Kawada vs. Taue have had some extremely dickish interaction with each other and Taue knocking him off the rope had me salivating and the ensuing brawl with Kawada headbutting him. Let's not forget about Kobashi and Fuchi either. In that skirmish between Kawada/Taue, Fuchi gives one dick kick that is amazing and the flicking off of Kawada as he delivers a dropkick is super. Kobashi took his first beating in one of these matches that felt like one of his performances that we would see in tags for years to come. Jumbo and Misawa were also excellent and stayed out of the spotlight enough but still felt integral to the entire match. 50 minutes that flew by.

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THE legendary 6-man Japan tag. It's nearly an hour long and is INCREDIBLE. Taue cheapshots Kawada on the apron three times during the first ten minutes, after the third shot, i found myself shouting at the screen "That's three fucking times" lol. :o


Brilliant moment when Taue is in the ring with Kobashi, and Kawada has had enough and just storms into the ring and starts pounding on Taue, and the next couple of minutes turn into a sort of 'quasi shoot', where Kobashi/Misawa hold back Kawada, looks great and makes you think, due to the heat, if its real.


But my most favorite part, and one of my favorite bits in wrestling now is this:




Its magical. That air of grace and then 'Thwack' :mark:


I only watched the full match the other day, having only seen the JIP version up until now.

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Everyone else has gone into so much detail that there's really not much left to say that's new. Just a tremendous match where all six men not only shone on offense, but had peril sections that had the crowd rocking. Everyone knows about Kobashi's knee and Kawada's neck, but what's overlooked is Kawada nearly forcing Jumbo to tap to a Fujiwara armbar twice and Taue getting the beating of his life in the middle as payback for what happened to Kawada earlier. Even Misawa took a pounding toward the end; the only one not to take a lot was Fuchi, but he was so great as the sneaky heel who stirred things up that it didn't matter.

 

By the way, if this match becomes better known in the U.S. through this set, I expect the term for a babyface who takes so much punishment that by all rights he should be dead to become "playing Kenta Kobashi". What an FIP performance. I was screaming not only for Kenta to make the tag, but for Misawa and Kawada to reach out to him. Kawada delivered one almost as good early on, but the match ran so long that he couldn't possibly keep selling his neck and be an effective part of the bout.

 

This is the best six-man I've ever seen by such a wide margin it's not funny. Is it better than WarGames, my Match of the Year before now? Pillman's shoulder, Kenta's knee...........I'd have to say that WarGames' blood and cage setting allows it to stay narrowly ahead, although what's happened to Pillman since makes that whole angle feel like a waste.

 

I don't see how these guys are going to top themselves in the future, but it'll sure be fun watching them try!

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This was awesome and the time just flew by. At this point Taue and Kawada are the AJPW wrestlers of the year. For all the talk you hear about Jumbo being the man in 91, I haven't seen it so far. He brought the least to this match and didn't do anything particularly interesting. He was still good in his role though, everyone else was great though. At one point I thought Jumbo was doing the coolest spot I have seen him do, tying Kobashi's legs up in the ropes, but then I realized it was Fuchi. Speaking of Fuchi, I really wish he was this good in singles. That guy just does not how to structure a match but he does such awesome stuff.

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One thing that stands out to me that hasn't been mentioned. Fuchi has been leading the charge on most of the outside shit for his team. Taue gets tossed to the outside and who do you think comes running into the ring to complain that Kawada and Kobashi shouldn't be messing with Taue on the floor? That's right, Fuchi. :)

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This match rules -- easily my favorite six-man tag in All Japan up until this point. Kobashi’s stellar babyface in peril performance, the Taue/Kawada hate still bleeding into this match, Fuchi being a dick, and of course, the rivalry between Jumbo and Misawa continuing to unfold. Taue himself is quite the dick early on as he keeps harasses Kawada on the apron until Kawada finally kicks the shit out of him while Taue’s laid back in a cross armbreaker. Violence ensues, with Kawada pummeling Taue into the canvas with his little shitty headbutts. Jumbo and crew are such good heels here, especially Jumbo, who goes from playing to the crowd to either piledriving Kawada on the floor or just stepping on his face. Fuchi’s the dirty daddy crass technician, immediately working Kawada’s neck with the headscissors after he and Taue double teamed him with a second piledriver on the floor. Kawada’s finally able to get some revenge on Jumbo with his face kicks – I love that when Jumbo tries to hulk up, Kawada puts him right back down and continues pelting him with those shitty face kicks.


The young guns control for a while, isolating Taue, with Misawa launching Kobashi with a top rope plancha onto Taue outside the ring. Fuchi spoils the fun by getting the tag and immediately starts destroying Kobashi’s knee with great stomps and a knee crusher onto a chair. Terrific selling from Kobashi as he desperately tries to fight back but his knee is fucked and Fuchi takes advantage of it, using an STF and then just rolling back and cranking on the leg. Loved the look of intensity on Jumbo’s face as he’s wrenching on the single leg crab. They milk the teased tag outs by Kobashi with the crowd wanting nothing more than Kobashi to get the hell out of there but Jumbo and crew are absolute bullies, especially Fuchi, who ties Kobashi’s knee in the ropes and cheapshots him with punches. Kawada at one point enters the ring and kicks Jumbo, trying to help Kobashi out, but it ain’t happening. Kobashi FINALLY tags in Kawada, and while he and Misawa go at it with Fuchi, Fuchi’s such a badass that he fights off both and puts Misawa on the rocks against Jumbo. The final fews minutes of the match are incredible, with terrific nearfalls, a super hot crowd, and a hell of a pin break up by Kawada after the chokeslam from Taue. Once the ring has been cleared, Misawa’s up and he’s able to pick up the win with the tiger suplex hold. Fantastic!

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SAG vs Tsuruta-gun is simply fantastic. One of the best (if not THE best) six man tags of all time. Fuchi was amazing in this match. He was a great heel in this match, cheating whenever he could and being a slimy hateable dick. He sold excellent when he had too as well. Kobashi was the ultimate babyface, selling his arse off for 15 minutes but making some great comebacks. He gets the crowd behind him so well. In-fact, everyone was fantastic in the match. The only criticism I would have for this match is the length. There are many times where I drifted off and became disinterested but that's gonna happen when a match is 52 minutes long. *****

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Greatest trios match ever. Weaves the narratives of the October encounter flawlessly with a near 60 minutes of action without once feeling like it's overstayed its welcome. And Kawada flipping off Fuchi may be the greatest visual in wrestling history.

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With all the talent in this, it's a surprise that Fuchi gets a good showing and it's one of his best performances ever. He keeps breaking up pins and submissions, tearing apart Kobashi's leg and being an all-round dickhead. Kawada flipping him off caught me as I wasn't even aware flipping the bird was a thing in Japan. Taue and Kawada still hate each other and proceed to the rip each other to shreds whenever they're near each other. Tsurata's pride is still hurt from his loss from Misawa last year so he spends this night making everyone on Misawa's team pay. I liked the part where he's trying to disguise his chokehold on Kawada as a perfectly legal chinlock. What impressed me most about this was that they were able to keep the action fast paced and explosive for the majority of the match despite this going 50+ minutes. I wouldn't call this perfect as there's definitely times when I felt my attention fading (the 30 minute mark after Kawada's comeback and the Kobashi hot tag segment comes to mind), but I can't name a better six man tag better than this off the top of my head. 

★★★★¾

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