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[1998-09-11-AJPW-Summer Action Series II] Kenta Kobashi vs Akira Taue

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This wasn't as great as the Kobashi-Akiyama match, but it was still pretty great, and this match does a far better job of presenting Kobashi as a credible champion. Kobashi is the aggressor this time around, unloading on Taue with great strikes and kicks. They have a lot of great apron battles, and the floor nodowa gets a huge reaction when it finally happens because it has been teased in so many sequences throughout the match. I also like how Kobashi's lariat is being used as the great equalizer anytime Taue goes on a stretch of offense. Wonderful match.

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Man, Kobashi is going to be all over my year end top 100. This was super and featured stuff teetering on the edge of getting goofy at times with the no sell sequence and battle for apron spots, but they did just enough to make it forgiving in my eyes. The no sell spots are giving a few seconds of staggered selling to soak it in and the apron spot paid off with Taue getting the Nodowa. Speaking of Taue, this really feels like the last match he is a "pillar". What I mean by that is obviously he would have main events and even a GHC run after this, but I don't think Taue as a guy in the mix was presented as such a threat after this match. He throws most of his arsenal Kobashi's way and Kobashi is able to absorb that and put him away with the lariat. It feels like a fitting end and this show has as much of a reset feeling as you got from All Japan since 1990. ****1/4.

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The first two thirds of this were solid work yet uninspiring as nothing gripped me. The fans seemed to feel the same way as they saved their voices for the stretch. And what a stretch it was! It was mainly down to Taue as he sharply raised the quality level by about five notches in double quick time. This lit the spark and the Triple Crown magic was rekindled once more. The challenger busted out some cool moves and seriously threatened. In the end Kobashi's superior conditioning let him hold on and scrape through. The Champion didn't perform at his best, but his B game was plenty good enough with Akira delivering a fine showing. Such efforts would be more occasional from this time onwards, rather than the sustained excellence he'd shown through previous years.

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This might have been their best singles match from All Japan (I also loved their GHC title match from '04). I liked the way Taue survived what could have been a Kobashi finishing run about 15 minutes in and they almost went into a whole new match, with Taue the dominant entity and Kobashi fighting to survive. The apron battles were as good as you'd want from a big Taue match, and the actual finish was great, with Kobashi barely outstriking his tired challenger. This goes below Kobashi's matches with Kawada and Akiyama, but '98 was actually a damn good year for Triple Crown matches.

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I don't know if I'd put this up there as one of the great Triple Crown psychological masterpieces--this was basically a war of attrition, two big studs trading chops and a few bombs with one (Kobashi) outlasting the other. It's a very good Kobashi-as-"ace" match, though, weathering a flurry of offense from Taue but still coming off as a top guy in doing so. Against all odds, AJPW is turning out to have quite an enjoyable 1998 and I hope we can close out with a strong Tag League. It wouldn't last, but pieces seem to be moving to freshen the company's direction a bit...and one major piece is still to come.

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Really good stuff again. I definitely prefer their July 96 match featuring Kobashi's title win, however there was a lot to love about this. Soup23 is right that the no-sell sequences are just about forgivable, although I cringed a little when they did the 'I do a DDT, you do a DDT and neither of us sell' bit. The finish was awesome, just really well done and sold by both guys. My favourite moment of the whole match though was when Kobashi hits the spinning chop on Taue, who was on the apron and his legs just buckled like they were jelly.

 

The second half was also helped along a good bit by some super-enthusiastic girls in the front row opposite the camera. Their reactions were massive.

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Russian Daydream, If you pay attention really closely they actually both roll through those DDT attempts and I don't think them as much as no sells as there was no impact. It is one of those "Did the move hit or not?" spots that can really go either way. One of those times that either knowing Japanese or English commentary would be helpful. I noticed the "super-enthusiastic girls" too! They looked like they were having the time of their lives.

 

AJPW Triple Crown Champion Kenta Kobashi vs Akira Taue - AJPW 9/11/98

 

Kobashi is so versatile. We see him work great underneath against Kawada and Akiyama and now as champion he works so well on top against Taue. This is not easy for any wrestler to do especially still maintain babyface status.

 

Really well-worked Clash of Titans match everything was built around bombs and EARNING those bombs. Taue is the only Pillar that can match Kobashi in the power game due to his sheer size. He works a great headlock and it is very hard for Kobashi to escape. Taue goes for NODOWA~! early, but Kobashi freaks out and hits a big spinning back chop and then a delayed vertical suplex. I love that Taue is looking for the win early this freaks Kobashi out and motivates him into action. Kobashi works through his awesome, basic opening match offense and now he is ready to go for his bomb, the powerbomb. Taue is now pressed into action and takes a page out of his partner's book with a big spinning heel kick that wipes out Kobashi. AIR TAUE!!! So clumsy and so awesome! Taue using a lot of dropkicks to inflict damage and keep Kobashi off balance. Kobashi tries to escape to the apron. Bad idea as Taue is the greatest apron worker of all time. He wants the death blow: Nodowa From The Apron. Kobashi is like HELL NO! DDT on apron, but as he climbs the top rope Taue meets him and wants the Nodowa from the top to the floor (That would be the ultimate holy shit moment) Kobashi hits a spinning back chop and then a Powerbomb on the floor for his big bomb. He is the first to score. That transition took roughly 2.5 minutes. It made that Powerbomb feel so much more important. I thought Kobashi did a great job working through suplexes with struggle, another powerbomb before moving to the moonsault and again Taue is spurred into action to save himself and hits a Tenryu enziguiri as he scales the ropes. Taue clobbers Kobashi with a big kick to the head. Kobashi's great selling actually gets this over as a big nearfall. Seriously that move should have been a nearfall with no heat but Kobashi makes the spot. Greatest. Wrestler. Ever. TAUE HITS THE NODOWA FROM THE APRON TO THE FLOOR!!! If this was 1995, that would be a death knell for Kobashi and we would be seeing a new champion. NODOWA~! HUGE KOBASHI CHANTS!!! The Women in the front row are losing their minds. DYNAMIC BOMB~! Kick out. Yep, Taue is toast. Taue wants a running kick or something but if you give Kobashi an inch then he will take a mile and it is a Lariat. However, Taue is up first! To quote The Body "That's just depressing as hell." NODOWA/LEGSWEEP COMBO!!! LOVE IT! I liked how Taue looks progressively more and more fatigued with his sumo slaps. Taue misses the big boot in the corner. All Japan & modern wrestling in general needs more missed moves as transitions. Big fight breaks out and Kobashi wins with a Big Lariat. KOBASHI PUMPS THE FISTS! MOONSAULT~! Only two! BURNING LARIAT~! WOMEN LOSE THEIR MIND! 1-2-3!!!

 

Right up there with their 2004 GHC classic. The women in the front row having the time of their lives makes this match. Loved Kobashi being able to work so strong for the first 15 minutes and then play that classic underdog babyface that he does so well. Every bomb is earned. At first both try, but that spurs the other into action. Until finally the NODOWA FROM THE APRON HITS! now Kobashi has to come from behind and he shows resilience and it is not just one Lariat but he has to fight through Taue's offense to the bitter end before winning. Excellent match. ****1/2

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Russian Daydream, If you pay attention really closely they actually both roll through those DDT attempts and I don't think them as much as no sells as there was no impact. It is one of those "Did the move hit or not?" spots that can really go either way. One of those times that either knowing Japanese or English commentary would be helpful.

I am just going to point out that the goal of commentary is to cover up the screw-ups and you can still interpret the action differently than how the shills want you to. Mind you that doesn't mean that there aren't good arguments for either thing, just that maybe we shouldn't jump and use "the commentary said" as an argument.

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#182 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-200-151/

 

This was pretty fantastic. Loved all the back and forth action, and it really felt like an epic battle. Kobashi's bumping and selling in this match = incredible.

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I was surprised that this went by in a breeze. A little by the numbers AJPW epic, and Kobashi was certainly on cruise control for the opening portions, but I always enjoy watching Taue coming up with ways to damage his opponent. Kobashi powering through Taues feeble strikes early on only to get in trouble when Taue started with the clunky high kicks was cool and the apron stuff etc. was really cool. I also liked that at no point did Taue have Kobashi under full control so there wasn't any of that „guy does whatever he wants but still can't win“ stuff from earlier matches. Kobashi once again hangs on by a thread and dishes out the surprise lariats. Not as good as his previous matches but a very good match at minimum.

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