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Charles (Loss)

[1991-07-26-AJPW-Summer Action Series] Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs Jumbo Tsuruta & Masa Fuchi & Yoshinari Ogawa

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So jdw said he was interested in when we would get tired of six-man tags in All Japan. I'm not really tired of them necessarily. But this does feel like a promotion treading water. Misawa broke through, and there was a lot of excitement surrounding that. And nothing really important has happened in the promotion since then. These six-mans don't feel like they're accomplishing anything at all in the big picture, even if I would disagree with anyone who said that the matches are indistinguishable. Misawa is where he is, and Kawada is where he is. Jumbo is where he is. And I know some things are coming in fall like Jumbo submitting that will be interesting. But the promotion already feels a bit stale.

 

All of that said, this is another excellent match in the series. Kikuchi gets a lot of time to shine here and makes the most of it, and they seem to be heating up Jumbo vs Kawada as an issue, maybe in preparation for October. But the biggest difference between All Japan and New Japan to me is that there are far less New Japan matches that don't work to achieve some major point in the booking. There is occasional treading water, but not nearly as much compared to All Japan.

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I definitely didn't hit the 6-man-fatigue point with this one. I always love it when Kikuchi pops in. And again, one of the great strengths of these matches was that Jumbo had intense and distinctive exchanges with all of the guys from the other side. This one is a great case study of that, because he almost had mini-matches with each opponent. As Loss suggested, Jumbo's rivalry with Kawada seemed to gain intensity throughout the year, leading to their Triple Crown match. But then we had the rarity of the top guys squaring off at the finish, setting the table for Misawa's big moment on 9/4. I agree that this was mostly a placeholder match. It was just a damn entertaining one that kept those plates spinning.

 

On another note, was 1991 Jumbo's best year? It definitely wasn't his athletic peak or the year that featured his best match. But he was consistently great working up and down Team Misawa and across the singles, tags and six-mans. I'd say '91 or '89, but I think of '89 more as Tenryu's year.

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This was good but not one of the premier 6-mans in this rivalry. Jumbo's indignant shoving of Kawada is a highlight, and they book a semi-surprise finish--with Kikuchi and Ogawa in there you'd think the main suspense would be which of those two takes the fall. Instead, Jumbo uses some trickery to keep Misawa in the ring long enough to backdrop him into defeat.

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They actually break a table with the knee drop spot. Jumbo as the illegal man casually walks in the ring and punches Kawada in the face. Jumbo just as casually walks back towards the corner but Kawada hits him with a clothesline from behind. This leads to Jumbo completely ignoring a his teammate almost being pinned so he can deck Kawada on the apron. Enjoyed their exchanges. Kawada seems to really get under the skin of Jumbo and Taue. Jumbo turns it into another gear at this point and ends up getting a pin over Misawa which is surprising with Kikuchi out there.

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I didn't dig this much at all. It did feel like the same old stuff kind of being mixed in. I have always like Kikuchi but feel he is someone I'm usually lower on than most. Jumbo pinning Misawa here felt less like an accomplishment and more like the same old shit.

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At least it took three (or was it four?) backdrop drivers to beat Misawa this time. But Soup and Loss are right; the booking's stuck in a rut. This makes five six-man victories in seven tries for Jumbo's Army, and after a while you wonder why his side bothers to accept any more matches with Misawa's. Ogawa and Kikuchi provide a lot of energy, but that's not enough when the result's practically a foregone conclusion as it is here.

 

Misawa's big moment seems long ago and far away at this point. No one's suggesting that he should be dominating Jumbo, who at least at this time had quite a bit left in the tank. But more parity in the six-mans and regular tags would create some drama for the singles bouts when they come around, not just for Misawa/Jumbo but all the other combinations as well. As it is, I'm honestly not sure how they're keeping this feud even warm, as Jumbo's dominating Misawa like Flair dominated Luger in WCW.

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I'm with Childs on this one. I thought the action was great, and especially Jumbo's intensity. I guess the booking doesn't bother me too much. The crowd was on fire and they delivered a really good match here. I too feel like Jumbo has had an incredible 1991.

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Match is perfectly fine for AJPW around this time. Late 1990-early 1994 are to me, the peak years for All Japan as far as in-ring goes. And it is still one of my favorite wrestling styles ever. Jumbo destroying Kikuchi is ridiculous kinds of fun no matter how much I see it. The 4 backdrop drivers I think officially start the need to practically murder Misawa to get a pin on him. Which may have had a hand in later problems Misawa had just a little bit. Good match and I always love the trips back to AJPW, but it's nice to have other promotions in there to spice it up. Keeps things more fresh than watching 6-man after 6-man with a lot of the same themes.

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