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[2000-04-11-AJPW-Championship Carnival] Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kenta Kobashi

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Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kenta Kobashi - Champions Carnival 4/11/00


The point of interest in this bout is how Misawa works on top for most of the match. For a wrestler with as much offense as Misawa, you would expect him to work on top more often, but I have seen mostly work from underneath. Though I have found the wrestler who works underneath in Japan most likely wins thus since he won a lot it may have necessitated him working underneath. Reinforcing that conjecture is of course, Kobashi did win over arch-nemesis, Misawa in this bout. I thought Misawa was going through the motions in this match, which let's be honest is better than 95% wrestlers ever, but at the same time a pity. He has so much offense that the match is never boring, but he just is not wrestling with a panache. It is harder to discern with stoic Misawa if he is trying, but I feel like he was just there. He opened the match with a great array of aerial attacks that found their mark on Kobashi. In a HOLY SHIT~! transition spot, Kobashi hotshots Misawa off the apron onto the railing. He just lays in a beating on the outside to Misawa. Kobashi was definitely the more fired up of the two for this match, but that makes sense as he is younger and still hungry. Misawa starts coming back with a flying head scissors to counter the Kobashi powerbomb. It was nice to see struggle over a suplex on the apron as some of the match felt like they would use a facelock reset to move onto the next spot. Kobashi's selling and histrionics are the highlight in this match as he begin to take Misawa's best offense. Misawa may be peaking too soon and could the Emerald of All Japan be peaking too early in this match? I like the sequence of Kobashi hitting the 3/4 nelson suplex to level the playing field as he does not just pop up and do it, but rather earns it. I am a total mark for powerbombs onto the top turnbuckle and Misawa takes a wicked one. Misawa counters the Burning Hammer and begins to use his elbows to set up his finish stretch. Kobashi blocks Emerald Flowsion and only the ropes can hold him up. Kobashi hits a sleeper suplex for two and immediately follows up with an Axe Bomber and a Burning Lariat to get the duke. It is 2000 All Japan. You get a ton of high-end offense with a couple head drops with some Kobashi Fighting Spirit. It is good, but there is really nothing here to separate it from the pack. Misawa seemed uninspired even though it was refreshing to see him work on top. The only spot that really stood out to me was the Hotshot onto the Railing, which needs to be cribbed. It should have been a late transition spot for more impact in the match. This is a match that blends into All Japan portfolio, but still an entertaining watch. ***1/2

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Yawn. This isn't bad but the difference between the best Kobashi vs Misawa matches and this is pretty stark. Honestly, I think Kobashi and Misawa had maybe three great matches against each other and the rest are either boring or feature both guys sliding into their worst habits. This is on the boring slide as even though Kobashi is showing off his offense and Misawa is taking a beating it never gets to the next level. Standard 2000 AJPW match.

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Why can't wrestlers everywhere work a headlock like they do at the open here? You shouldn't gas out on it but try a little to make it interesting! Not a classic, but like Kawada/Misawa fromthe Carnival, they can still pull off something very good while operating in cruise control. The big moves are there, the emotion is there from Kobashi while you've got Misawa putting over a younger star once again. It also makes sense that this isn't as epic as February vs. Akiyama or what's standard for these two given the setting. Watching this crew you really appreciate great counter wrestling and how they can almost endlessly string together really complex, back & forth sequences and make it look so smooth and effortless.

 

***3/4

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I am an AJPW drum beater but I have been impressed with the variety they are throwing at us. Misawa vs. Kobashi like Misawa vs Kawada has evolved so much that there aren’t many stones to unturn. Instead of going the full bore sprint route that Misawa and Kawada did, these two decided to slow things down and utilize headlocks and control positions that worked into their final moments. A ton of great stuff to name revolved around chinlocks and other traditional rest holds. It culminates in the lariat being superior on this night to the iconic elbow of Misawa. Kobashi and Misawa even in 2000 are world class workers. ****

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I think that when a match with two guys going this hard, gelling this well, getting this reaction and getting so many details right is not seen as a standout match, and the main reason is because of the multiple times they topped themselves, it's an indicator of how spoiled we truly are on great matches. I almost want to forget about the Misawa-Kobashi series when discussing this and think about this in isolation, because I think looking at it in a greater context does make it seem far less impressive than it truly is. The common expression, and one I've used many times, is the inability to see the forest for the trees, the focus on details at the expense of seeing the big picture. I think not seeing this as a great match is the opposite -- the inability to see the trees for the forest. Misawa-Kobashi matches are really known for their action quotient, but all of the matches have very good fundamentals and this is no different, with the basic headlocks and such that have been mentioned in previous posts. I thought this escalated in a really organic way, and it was cool to see Misawa much stronger for longer stretches of this than he usually is. All I could think about watching this match was how much I love wrestling -- how fortunate are we that something this awesome isn't the peak of the genre and just sort of blends in? ****1/4

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I thought this was excellent. If you compare it to their epic matches like 1/97 you'll be disappointed but to be frank they were past the point of being able to work those matches. This was an excellent match in the context of April 2000 and the first four months of the year. It was a Carnival bout so it wouldn't have made sense to work a match that was as outstanding as a Triple Crown bout or a Carnival final. That said, the bout was still hugely competitive. Misawa looked a healthier here than he did earlier in the year. Perhaps he had some nagging injuries to start the season. The commentator made note of how "slow starter" Misawa took a more aggressive approach than usual and used a few moves rarely seen from him and throughout the match there were further signs of the power shift from 90s Ace Misawa to the current Triple Crown champion. Misawa's selling was exquisite as usual and the finishing stretch made Kobashi look like a giant of the modern game. Not only did he withstand Misawa's usual barrage of offensive, he countered with immense strength and powerful offense. Sasaki has been good in 2000 -- great even -- but Kobashi is separating himself from the pack here with Misawa stepping down from the Ace role and Hashimoto being treated like shit.

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This has been topped by some of their other matches, but this is still excellent. This match had a very good flow to it and escalated to a climax in a very good way. Just simply great storytelling in the context of the match. I can see some people being disappointed if they compare this to some of their classics, but this is still Misawa and Kobashi, so it is definitely worth checking out.

 

****1/4

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Misawa came out with such a varied offense, bringing some moves outside his regular repertoire. I liked Kobashi outsmarting him on the flip to the apron, turning it into a stun gun on the railing. Kobashi did a great job of grinding on the facelock. Kobashi brutalized Misawa with those half nelson suplexes, and Misawa hitting his head on the turnbuckle during the powerbomb hurt to watch. Great build to the end. Excellent match.

 

****

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I agree with Marvin that it was cool to see Misawa changing things up in the early goings, like that nice somersault senton from the top. I thought Kobashi working on the neck was good stuff, alternating between the neck-focused offense and grunty submission holds, which sort of played into the half nelson suplex teases until Kobashi was able to fire off two of them back-to-back. The escalation of the finishing stretch was built well, with the ultimate finishers being countered and the crowd biting onto the nearfalls. Really liked Misawa elbowing the lariat attempts so Kobashi grabs a sleeper and turns it into a nasty suplex to set up the game ending lariats. There were various points throughout that the action would play out and my eyes would sort of glaze over but when it was good, it was good.

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Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa - AJPW Champion Carnival: Day 12 (04/11/00)

 

This reminded me of Akiyama vs. Misawa from February -- with the same exact big picture concepts and in-ring story beats -- but just …. not nearly as good. It’s still a very good match, mind you, but the derivative-ness of it all, and the fact that Akiyama vs. Misawa is still fresh in my mind makes this feel comparatively unimpressive. Maybe it’s not fair to compare the two given the context, but that’s my immediate reaction to this match, and I’m finding it difficult to divorce myself from that takeaway while trying to rate this. Anyways, I semi-checked out during the bomb-throwing segments - which are always fun, but didn’t grip me a strongly as it did in the aforementioned match. Kobashi and Misawa countering each others’ super-finishers made for a cool moment, though, and both take some hellacious bumps in the finale. Strangely enough, the test-of-strength spots in the beginning were maybe my favorite moments of the match. My eyes were glued to the screen as Kobashi was powering out of holds, and overall his performance here was a very charismatic one. Also worth mentioning: Misawa’s offensive repertoire here is impressive as hell. Strikes, aerial maneuvers, bombs - everything he landed was stellar.

 

Rating: ***¾

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I cant remember a Misawa Kobashi match I dont like, but considering all of their other 5 star classics this feels like a good match, nothing great.  

***3/4

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