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[1998-05-01-AJPW-25th Anniversary Show] Kenta Kobashi & Johnny Ace vs Vader & Stan Hansen


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  • 2 months later...

It's Vader's debut in All Japan. When we were making tough cuts, this was one of the last matches we edited down. We needed to edit this, but I felt like just doing the finish here would have been wrong. If you're like me, you want to see how Vader looks in this environment after being wasted for so many years, not simply that he is now here. So we kept a decent amount of the match here. At this point, he seems to fit in like a glove, and All Japan doing their first non-interpromotional dome show seems like the appropriate place to debut him. This does make me want to see Vader-Kobashi, although I'll save what I thought of their 1999 matches for the right time. One thing that I guess could be seen as good but that I don't particularly like about his time in All Japan is that I think they overdo his size as a factor in matches. His best matches are against guys like Sting and Muto where he is a willing bumper yet still keeps his monster aura. So things like Kobashi struggling so much to get in a suplex would be great with any other monster, but when Vader is so physically talented, it seems like a waste of someone special to do such an ordinary thing.

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You know I love you guys, but clipping this is so like not cool. Admittedly I have this in full on DVD (or Youtube) so I'm not really suffering here. It was awesome seeing Vader in Zen Nihon. The fans instantly loved him and the maskadon looked as sharp as he had done in ages. It was like a prisoner getting out on day release. Being able to wrestle a proper match on a huge stage against top quality opposition. It was electric whenever he faced off against Kobashi, instantly establishing a strong rivalry. Johnny Fucking Ace held his end up and made me mark out semi-ironically. Old man Hansen also managed to contribute positively. The gaijin combo was monsterous. His reduced mobility was well protected. There was one great moment when he slipped on the top rope yet ended up landing in the perfect place by accident! Having a flash pin was just the right way to end this refreshing and exciting contest. The most fun I've had watching AJ so far this year.

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I didn't miss the cut footage at all, as the match meandered a fair amount. Vader looked fine, albeit slower and heavier than he had a few years earlier. I enjoyed his interactions with Kobashi. Not sure I would've used Vader's debut as the stage to remind everyone of Kobashi's resilience (how could we forget it), but that's OK. Hansen looked notably diminished from even two years earlier.

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Action looked pretty fun to me and it felt like a good way to build up Kobashi for the Triple Crown defense giving him a win over an aging Hansen. Hansen was certainly winding down by this point but was still able to use his charisma to overcome his shortcomings in certain aspects (dive from the top). I thought Vader mixed in well and especially threw around Ace well. By the way, Ace is someone I am not ready to call good but damn was he in a lot of good matches and he didn't bring the down in a way you might think on the surface. Pretty nice Dome card overall with this and Hase/Akiyama on the undercard.

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  • 1 year later...

A way fresh match-up for All-Japan. The negotations going into this Dome show were a compelling soap opera in and of themselves:

 

- Long and at-times comical negotiations with the WWF over the use of talent, with everyone from Austin and Michaels on down being named as possibilities to work the event. At one point there was consideration of allowing Vader to do a job for an AJPW guy in exchange for All-Japan returning the favor, with speculation that that would involve Akira Taue putting over the Undertaker (!).

 

- Talks involved Johnny Ace coming to the U.S. and working a Raw dark match. They turned sour when Gerald Brisco & Bruce Prichard made a trip to Japan. First, Baba was offended that he turned up for negotiations and not Vince. Second, AJPW's liasions explained very clearly (and correctly) that mainstream Japanese audiences had little knowledge of most U.S. stars besides Vader and Shamrock (the Road Warriors fit that description as well but no one seemed interested in them at this point). Unfortunately for AJPW, the day that Brisco & Prichard arrived in the country was the day that news of the Austin-Tyson angle broke in Japan, which was a huge deal and a front page sports story. Naturally, Gerald & Bruce saw Austin all over the place as being a sign that the WWF being bigger than ever worldwide and that they were fed a line of bullshit from the All-Japan office.

 

- Eventually AJPW decided to focus on an almost all-Japanese event and announced the top matches of Misawa vs. Kawada, Akiyama vs. Hase, Akira Taue vs. Koji Kitao, and Kobashi & Mossman vs. Hideki Hosaka & Mike Awesome. Fan reaction to this announced card was overwhelmingly negative and immediately sent AJPW scrambling into rebooking the show. Then Kitao naturally refused to do a job for Taue, which made the decision to cut ties with him all the easier. Negotiations re-opened with the WWF and they finally got a drawing card in Vader, which allowed them to move Kobashi into a match where he wasn't going to be completely wasted.

 

And a fun closing stretch of a match this is. Kobashi carries himself like the Man here and goes out to try to make this show special, even busting out the Moonsault successfully for the first time in a while (or so it seems). Hansen is Hansen, and even though he's lost a step or four his presence can still carry him a long way. Only Stan could fuck up a top-rope dive so badly and still make it look like it hurts in the end, which is all that matters. Kobashi manages to fight off Hansen and Vader down 1-vs.-2 and eventually puts Stan away with a series of flash pins. My first thought was for a guy carrying himself like The Man, Kobashi could have used a more decisive victory, but I think the circumstances of Ace being out and being alone against two monsters supports the finish they went with.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 years later...

Fun big boy tag at the Dome. Vader is EXCITED to be relevant again! Hansen beats the BRICKS off of these punks! Ace looks good & the Dome crowd gets really into him! Kobashi gets squished like a bug! Everyone gets thrown over the guardrail! Vader looked great here, just beastly, and so did Hansen to be honest. It's too bad Ditch didn't upload more 98 Hansen matches because I refuse to believe he wasn't great week in week out. Loved him going to town on Ace with the table aswell. I thought some of Kobashis and Aces comebacks looked too easy and prevented this from being something more special. For example Ace just hit an Ace Crusher and tagged out after absorbing a ton of punishment. Surreal finish.

 

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  • GSR changed the title to [1998-05-01-AJPW-25th Anniversary Show] Kenta Kobashi & Johnny Ace vs Vader & Stan Hansen

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