Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
Sign in to follow this  
Loss

[1998-10-31-AJPW-October Giant Series] Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kenta Kobashi

Recommended Posts

This was an incredible, classic match with a few moments of overkill that take it down ever so slightly. It's a shame because the first 20-25 minutes of this were both unusually reserved and absolutely spectacular, to the point that I think it was a better match body than their 1/97 match. The TD '91 on the floor - with Kobashi continuing - lost me momentarily. To their credit, everything after that was tremendous again. I even liked that Kobashi got so many kickouts because it did show some growth from their last match, so I didn't think that was excessive at all, even though they did lose the crowd with some of that. Misawa had to drill Kobashi repeatedly to get the win in the end. They went too far, yes, but only slightly. It wasn't nearly as over the top as I feared it would be. Kobashi is going to be all over my top ten for the year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fantastic match. The opening ten minutes is essentially a Kobashi squash. He is able to take over immediately and work over Misawa's arm which showed improvement from 1/20/97 when it was a Misawa mistake that Kobashi had to capitalize on. Misawa plays his role tremendously in this match and when he finally takes over after ten minutes, there is some great desperation in what he does. Misawa is doing twisting sentons to the floor, flipping cannonballs off the rope along with his signature spinning clothesline. It is quite sad really that Misawa tries to dazzle his way to the advantage and harbor back to his Tiger Mask days. The pupil has been schooling the teacher. This segment of Misawa on top is short lived as Kobashi comes back with bombs and gains even more of an advantage. There is a couple of sequences in the early going where Kobashi hits a running charge to gain back the advantage. This is countered and paid off beautifully later on when he tries again and eats a forearm smash from Misawa for a nearfall the crowd eats on. The crowd really got the sense that Kobashi is at worst even with Misawa in this match. This is why I honestly love the TD apron spot. Misawa needed something. The big dives weren't working, even his trusty elbow was falling short of the chops and attack of Kobashi. Kobashi had just unveiled a new super move in the Burning Hammer and Misawa knew that was the only thing keeping him in the match. However, the bravado of Kobashi for one fleeting moment got the best of him. Misawa didn't become the MAN resting on his laurels so he takes full advantage inflicting more damage than anyone has before. This apron spot was an equalizer. it wasn't supposed to be the death blow because up to this point Kobashi had consumed 80% of the match on offense. This was a super move by Misawa that turned the tide of the match and brought things back to a level playing field where he had a fleeting chance. The stretch run was sublime with now Kobashi having to reach down and kick out of the huge arsenal of Misawa. I appreciated the fact that the killer lariat wasn't used in this match. The ending stretch kind of caught the crowd off guard but showed that Misawa had been pushed farther than ever before and was relying too much on his old bag of tricks. Kobashi crumpling after the elbow flurry is beautiful and shows that he exasperated every bit of energy in his body and somehow it wasn't good enough. Misawa wins and regains his strap but he had to pull out some new tricks which is tough for an old dog to do.

 

The rating of this match is conflicting to me. I am more convinced that Kobashi should have went over here than Kawada on 6/3/94. I also thought there were slight things in the match that were a tad annoying. Two backdrops were used by Kobashi and then kicked out by Misawa. I would have liked to have seen one and then Misawa do his desperate roll to the outside. The kickouts were used a lot which on one hand I can see from traditionally Japanese sense of a fighting spirit man that refuses to escape by reaching the ropes. However, coming in cold to the match, it could be presented as excess. I will again defend the apron spot because the match was completely changed after it occurred and that is all I ask for in a high impact spot like that. Of course, the scene after the match is scary with a towel wrapped around Misawa's neck backstage and him looking completely gassed. There wasn't really much of anywhere to go from this. I don't think this was as good as 1/20/97 which I am on record saying is the best match of all time. However, I do think this was better than 10/97 which is a match I also adore.

 

Thinking and writing down my thoughts gave me more clarity to where I am prepared to do this.

 

***** and MOTY

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I watched this 2 nights ago after reading you guys comments and was completely blown by, thinking it was one of the greatest, if not the greatest match I've ever seen. This was completely unexpected as I had already seen this 4 or 5 times over the past several years and had it at "only" ****1/2. I've since tried to articulate in detail why that change in opinion happened and I just can't. The gist of it is that I think if you come in with a cold analytical mind that guys should sell certain moves certain ways or that there's a point where things can irrecoverably cross into "overkill" there's going to be a huge section of this match you'll miss out on. I don't think I've seen a better realization of wrestling's symbolic nature or more masterful usage of the "big match feel" than this epic. This was more than just Misawa/Kobashi IV, it was the meeting point between the old lineage of technical aces and Kobashi fantasy of starting a new era through heart alone. A lot has been about Misawa reaching into his Tiger Mask play book out of desperation, but I think even more important than that is how it degenerates into sloppiness as the match progresses, with Kobashi forcing him into fighting an ugly war that eschewed the cinematic finishes that Misawa's matches always seemed to have. The ending with much of the crowd greeting the pin with stunned silence rather than the usual celebratory role is a brilliant representation of that.That, more than any particular move he kicked out of, was Kobashi's great victory. This match wasn't about 2 superhuman so match as it was a human desperately trying to overcome a superhuman, in the process dragging him to the level of a human and, even in defeat, finding a way to carve out his own niche as a superhuman through sheer will. The post match is such an amazing climax.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I first watched this a long time ago I didn't like it for whatever reason. Because there are other incredible matches from this series I never felt compelled to give it a second chance. With both this and 6/12 it's been quite the All Japan re-education for me during this Yearbook.

 

Something I've pointed out at other times was how the fans would sit in silence through the build and then get involved later on. Here they were into it the whole time like they used to be. I dug the restraint in the opening half as they slowly but surely built up. Low power moves to medium to high. The second half was as full out and epic as you could ever hope for. Back and forth they battled. Kobashi unloaded a brutal array of head bumps, but crucially couldn't land the Burning Hammer. Misawa did the Tiger Driver off the apron where KK hit the floor so hard he bounced up in the air. Holy shit! Both survived so much damage and fought to the point of exhaustion. I was marking out so much that after the TD '91 I went down to the floor to dual count the pinfall. It was 2.9, so I had to watch the remainder and the postmatch from down there! Absolutely draining.

 

There was a wonderful moment 40m+ into the match that summed up Misawa's character so well. His brains were scrambled, his body battered and his opponent would just not be pinned after a barrage that would've felled any other man. Yet there was no emotional reaction. Through the fog in his head you could see him trying to think logically about move selection, and what might finally get the job done. Under any type of pressure or distress he remained the consummate professional.

 

You could argue certain things were overdone, but this was no time to hold back. A few moves may have been messed up, but that was only when they were deep in the 3/4 hour duration. It was the MOTY, and I'm so glad that I've come to realise that 16 years down the line. There are other outstanding matches during the year, yet this was the only one that blew me away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was going to come in here and write a full review of this match, but reading the comments above have made me think otherwise. The body of this match may be the greatest body of any match I have ever seen. Kobashi was on fire in the first ten minutes. He wrestled one of the best cautious, but effective opening segments ever. He may have been the champ, but until he can beat Misawa, he won't be the Man and that's he worked. He was confident, but did not want to make any mistakes. He wanted to smother Misawa and slowly build to a victory. Anytime, he was even in remote danger he pounced on Misawa. It was one of the best full court presses I have ever seen. I thought the transitions in and out of control segments were fantastic. Within control segments, everything progressed beautifully. Misawa wrestled in his groove perfectly. He was 3-0 against Kobashi and did not seem to sweat his early disadvantage sticking to his game plan of elbows and facelocks to set up his bigger bombs. The head drops were reasonable at first and made sense given the match flow. Now we come to the reason, I will not be doing a full review. The finish stretch was way, way overkill in my estimation. Nobody should have kicked out of that Tiger Driver '91. He dropped Kobashi right on his friggin' head. However, since a lot of people have argued for context in regards to this match and I have never watch their 10/97 match and have not watched the 10/95 match in forever, 1/20/97 is something I am very familiar and regard in the upper echelon of AJPW matches. I will table a full review until I can watch all four matches properly as deserved. Still, before the finish stretch, WOW! is all I can say. Really well-executed body.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definite MOTYC--1/97 is still the peak of '90s AJPW much less this rivalry, but I definitely think this is more epic and memorable than 10/97. If you'd have told me this match would have had Kobashi kicking out of the TD'91 and the match continuing for another 5-6 minutes complete with a full Kobashi comeback, I'd have rolled my eyes--but that's what they did, and damned if they didn't make it work. I'm as cynical as anyone about self-conscious epics and just ranted about them again in the Olimpico review, but this is an instance where even if these two guys do overreach a bit, I still feel like applauding the effort instead of shaking my head. I think it's at least partly because the matwork they did for the first chunk of this was so well-done and so technically sound. Just strong work around holds, no rote preplanned chain wrestling sequences or contrived faceoffs to applause.

 

I do find myself agreeing with what Chad said--Kobashi should have won this. He'd beaten Misawa twice already on this tour which sort of telegraphs this result, but if there ever was a time to change the AJPW formula, this was it. Yet, at year's end I could easily see this in the #1 spot. At the least, it's neck-and-neck with Kobashi's TC win over Kawada for the #1 spot for 1998 All-Japan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-50-1/2/

 

#16

 

*****

 

It's nice to be watching a lot of these 90's AJPW classics so closely together. I agree with the placement of this. A classic in its own right, but not the match that is come later in the countdown (that had already taken place on 1/20/97). I love the sum of all parts here ... the dominating Kobashi, fatigue, emotion, Misawa won't die, all elements that added up to this classic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This match was way better than I remember. These two know how to pace and build a super long match better than anyone. I have this at #3 in their singles feud (behind 1/20/97 and 3/1/03)

 

I really liked the growth from 1/20/1997: in that match Kobashi was trying to be dominant, in this he IS dominant. soup23 makes a good point about Misawa having to bust out fancy sequences and moves just to free himself. Still he gets eaten alive for most of the match though. But his resiliency keeps him in it and he takes advantage of a momentary lapse from a fatiguing Kobashi with the tiger driver off the apron and turns the match on its head. I also liked the "excess" with Kobashi continuing after the TD91 which also showed his growth. In 1/20/97, he was basically finished after the TD91 but here he is still able to mount a comeback. I used to dislike the finish (thinking it was anticlimatic) but thought it was great this time around with Misawa having to KO Kobashi with brutal elbows in, like fxnj said, ugly fashion and him barely scraping through rather than it being anything cinematic. **** 1/4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is probably one of the greatest matches I've ever seen and if it doesn't surpass their January '97 match, then it is at least on par with it. Great escalation and some absolutely incredible offensive sequences. They did a great job telling the story of Kobashi being on Misawa's level and perhaps on the verge of surpassing him when Misawa hit a huge move (the insane Tiger Suplex) that Kobashi could never fully recover from. The only criticism I would offer is that they probably could have ended the match after the Tiger Driver '91 and really hammer home the point that Kobashi had nothing left after the Tiger Suplex. Everything else afterwards felt just a tad excessive. But I can understand the need to make Kobashi look as resilient as possible, so mission accomplished.

 

All in all, an absolute classic and if not a contender from greatest match of all time, then at least a contender for greatest AJPW and 90's match. *****

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Simple story: Kobashi won't let himself be put down. Perfectly paced. Especially loved Kobashi's cut off spots like going back to his shoulder tackle to try and cut off Misawa's momentum. Then Misawa mounting some big offense by throwing Kobashi to the outside and tossing himself at Kobashi. All of it just leading up to that glorious Tiger Driver off the apron and into one of the best finishing stretches in pro wrestling history. When I consider the idea of "overkill," I think of something like Okada-Omega II where they peaked at 45 minutes and then just keep going to fill the hour. This match is the blueprint for what that match should have been. One Misawa hit that Tiger Driver, it was pretty much over for Kobashi but his resilience and selling kept the match alive. What a shock, an amazing match from All Japan in the 90s.

 

*****

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Classic, well executed slow burning epic which is only marred by once again overreaching with the absurd length (for a bombfest) and whacky overkill. I want to say they still did the best job they possibly could keeping things believable, as Misawa is the master of the comeback and Kobashi sold his downfall very well and the match never felt dragging, try-hard or overly bloated, so if it happened in 2018 it would probably warrant about 9 ¼ stars. Really enjoyed the early build with both guys busting out some more grounded wrestling moves such as a cool chickenwing crossface into russian legsweep or Misawa turning his facelock into a double armlock, liked Kobashi teasing an early fish with the Backdrops, liked Misawa getting caught hard when he went for a second dive sequence, liked how both guys would eat shit when they tried no selling a suplex, REALLY liked the consisent use of the turnbuckles and Misawa countering the Burning Hammer. Excellent pro wrestling that made sense but was ever tinged with absurdity and madness and that shade of self destruction you always get from watching Misawa get dropped on his head a bunch and lying motionless on the floor backstage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All Japan Triple Crown Champion Kenta Kobashi vs Mitsuharu Misawa - AJPW 10/31/98

I have watched this match twice before. Once, I thought the finish was overkill. The second time, I thought the whole match was insanely great and on par with 1/20/97. Neither time, I wrote a full review, which I am regretting now because it has been years since I have seen the other Kobashi/Misawa matches and I am worried that this will lose some luster going into cold, but I really want to knock this one out before the Greatest Match Ever deadline. Doing this stream of consciousness style because it is a long match. 

The crowd is molten for this and both men are insanely over. It seems like Misawa is more over. Even though, Misawa is the challenger, he has beaten Kobashi in every championship encounter. So Kobashi still needs to prove himself to Misawa, which creates an interesting dynamic not often the champion comes in the underdog. The opening sequence is very spirited, lots of blocking and ends up with Kobashi hitting the powerslam for the first cover. Kobashi is looking good early he counters again into a hammerlock and then bars the arm. Misawa is the King of the Comeback so while a hot start is important, you need to finish. Misawa clocks him with the first elbow. Kobashi roars back with a chop when Misawa rears back for an elbow, Kobashi wisely takes a step back. They have established Kobashi is not going to back down, but he is the young, dumb kid any more he is not going to take any unnecessary headshots. 

Kobashi takes him down with a drop toehold and back to the armbar. To me this is a wise strategy. Contain Misawa and then set up your offense from there. He is not working the Emerald Elbow arm by the way. He is working the non-dominant arm. Kobashi is looking for the Crossface Chickenwing, Misawa is forced to block and this leaves him susceptible to a Russian Legsweep. I love that type of wrestling. Kobashi goes the to All Japan standby of the Surfboard spot. I love tests of strength in wrestling. They serve as mini-battles and ways for wrestlers to earn small victories on the way to the bigger victory. They are like milestones. Misawa keeps trying, but Kobashi overwhelms him the first two times. Misawa gets closer on the third time, but Misawa mule kicks. KOBASHI LUNGES AT MISAWA WITH A SHOULDER TACKLE! I love the full court press. He is not going to let Misawa breathe. 

Chop in the corner. Irish Whip but Kobashi is following close behind and slams him in the corner. He holds onto the Irish Whip into the ropes for a kneelift and then a big suplex. Kobashi is not letting Misawa have any space to create offense. Lots of body contact. Love it. Big strong chops to the back and then a facelock again sapping the energy. This is an A+ strategy from Kobashi. Misawa gets a knee to head to escape but Kobashi immediately starts chopping the neck hard. Misawa starts to GROWL which you dont hear too often and he fires off one of his trademark elbows. Kobashi wins the first Elbow vs. Chop war with a barrage of spectacular spinning back chops to the neck. Nasty. 

Amazing spot! How many times do we see Misawa use the middle turnbuckle on an Irish Whip to hit a reverse crossbody or reverse elbow. Kobashi is follwing so close behind that Kobashi shoulderblocks his back as he attempts it. Full court press! Kobashi makes what could his first mistake in a mistake-free match as he places Misawa on the top rope. Never give your opponent the high ground. Misawa knocks him off the top rope and Kobashi takes a back bump. Misawa hits his first high spot. Missile dropkick. Kobashi gets up and immediately closes the gap with a shoulderblock but this does NOT bowl Misawa over. Crucial. That missile dropkick took a bit more out of Kobashi. Misawa hits an elbow and a spin kick to send Kobashi to the floor. Misawa dropkicks Kobashi into the railing and a spinning slingshot splash to the floor wipes out Kobashi. You have to wrestle a mistake-free match against Kobashi, but Kobashi made the first mistake. Misawa flicks the sweat from his brow in characteristic Misawa fashion. I missed Misawa. Somersault plancha from the top rope onto Kobashi. I love Misawa. Spinning clothesline. Before R-Truth emulated John Cena, he emulated Misawa, fun fact. Senton gets two. Misawa is in his groove. He is hard to beat when he is in rhythm. Misawa grabs a tight chinlock. 

The sound of flesh on flesh in a Misawa match is always riveting. He hits so hard. Misawa gets his trademark front facelock and transition into a Rings of Saturn like submission. Misawa is sapping Kobashi's energy and imposing his will on Kobashi. Elbow vs Chop War is just scintillating. Kobashi glazed over, glassy eye look is great. Kobashi ends up on the outside. Misawa flips over the top rope as Kobashi evades the head on dive. Misawa goes for the elbow off the apron, anti-air dropkick to the midsection by Kobashi. HUGE! The rout was on and Kobashi just quelled Misawa's run. Kobashi starts legdropping Misawa's neck repeatedly over the railing and then over the middle rope. Misawa is left clutching it. Kobashi knows after getting his ass kicked this is his chance. He hits two successive Back Drop Drivers for two. The crowd is chanting "Misawa" loudly. Kobashi went for broke there. Targeting the neck instead of the Emerald Arm is a sign he is playing to win instead of defensively. Kobashi grabs a front chancery/front facelock which works the body part and lets Kobashi recalculate. Misawa elbow leads to an immediate head drop German. Misawa comes up swinging and Kobashi FLIES into a sleeper! Wow! That was just insane in how quick and sudden everything was. Kobashi is trying to beat the living incarnation of Die Hard basically. I love Kobashi's response to any sort of Misawa's offense is to move insanely fast into an offensive move. He is trying to snuff out a rally as soon as it starts. He is taking no chances. Kobashi goes for the Powerbomb. I think to myself this is unwise. Trying to powerbomb Misawa is like trying to powerbomb Kidman. Misawa-rana...NO...KOBASHI BLOCKS BOSTON CRAB! HOW DID I FORGET THAT SPOT! MARK OUT CITY! I AM GOING CRAZY! 

Kobashi looks to make a mistake by charging corners as this gives time for Misawa to counter. Misawa jumps into a Half Nelson Suplex, nope Misawa blocks by lunging into the turnbuckles. Kobashi is trying to recover and quash the rally. Catches the foot, Misawa nails him in the mush with the free foot. ROARING ELBOW~! Misawa nails his trademark diving elbow. Again it is such small mistakes that make the difference when you wrestle Misawa. You have to wrestle a mistake-free match. 

Misawa nails a diving elbow from the top rope.  Now Misawa is thinking finish as he attempts the Tiger Driver for the first time. Kobashi back drops out. Misawa hits a German. Kobashi, out of desperation, lunges with the shoulder tackle MISAWA SWATS HIM OUT OF THE AIR WITH AN ELBOW! MARK OUT CITY! TIGER DRIVER~! 1-2-NO! Big Flying Bodypress gets two for the Ace. They do that awful double clothesline spot. One guy comes from the top rope and the other hits one from the mat. I didnt remember that at all. That was the first bad spot of a match that has just been aces thus far. I think that's the levelling the playing field spot going into the finish run. 

Kobashi is struggling to his feet. He needs the ropes. Misawa goes for a Monkey Flip? A curious decision. Kobashi hot shots him! HALF NELSON SUPLEX~! Kobashi cant capitalize but things have swung into his favor for sure! We are at the 30 minute mark and this match has just flown by. BUCKLEBOMB~! DDT! Dragon Suplex, but Kobashi does not hold on. He crawls for the cover, but it is only two. What will it take to beat the GOAT? Roaring Elbow, no Kobashi catches him with a lariat and then a suplex-slam for two. Kobashi is beside himself. Only one place left to go: BURNING HAMMER, but MIsawa blocks. Kobashi puts him on he top turnbuckle and he has him in position, but Misawa flips out. LARIAOTOOOOOOO~! 1-2-NO! He covers again incredulously. DDT! Man did he plant him. Legdrops the back of the neck. Top Rope Legdrop On The Back Of The Neck! Still only two. Kobashi goes for another cover. He is in disbelief. He tries to wrestle himself with the Burning Lariat. MISAWA ELBOW TO THE LARIAT ARM! WOW! Spinning Back Chops to the bad neck! This is insane! Kobashi Bucklebomb again no here is the MISAWA-RANA into the buckles. That looked dangerous as fuck. Misawa powders and Kobashi is up first. That has to be depressing for the challenger. Kobashi teases the Half Nelson Suplex on the apron, but the big apron spot is TIGER DRIVER TO THE FLOOR~! THIS IS GLORIOUS DECADENT PRO WRESTLING! They do a great job milking this spot for all its worth. 

SPINNING ELBOW! Misawa just starts landing somersault legdrops to back of Kobashi's neck as a Fuck You! TIGER DRIVER '91! HE SPIKED HIM ON HIS FUCKING HEAD! 1-2-NO! KO-BASH-I! KO-BASH-I! KO-BASH-I! Misawa charges with his elbow cocked LARIAOTOOOOOOOO! Cmon Kobashi crawl! Crawl! Right hand draped over Misawa 1-2-NO! Crowd didnt bite on that. Kobashi tries to press the advantage but Misawa roars back with a barrage of elbows! 1-2-NO! WHAT THE FUCK!?! Kobashi tries to find sanctuary with the ropes, but Misawa pries him off the ropes to hit a Tiger Suplex for two! MISAWA OBLITERATES KOBASHI WITH AN 1-2 ELBOW COMBINATION!

WOW! 46 minutes of pure awesomeness! This match is like Death By Chocolate. So rich, fudgy and decadent. Dont eat it all the time, but when you do it knocks your socks off. The body of the match is so insanely good. Kobashi was just all over Misawa to start. Definition of the Full Court Press. He was sniffing out and stuffing Misawa's offense at every turn. He had so many of Misawa's trademark counters scouted. I like that tiny mistakes he did make matter so much in this match. Against anyone else, you can recover, against Misawa it can spell doom. Kobashi's big finish run was spectacular and it was really well-built to the Burning Hammer which he couldn't hit. The Tiger Driver off the apron FELT HUGE! That was the game-changer. The overkill was just after that. The Tiger Driver '91 should have been the finish and Kobashi didnt need another nearfall, but still three minutes of excess does not ruin the match, it is just a little too fudgy. I am still giving it full marks because you be hard pressed to see such a great detailed-oriented match for 40+ minutes that Kobashi scouting strategy is what I live for in wrestling, just A+ wrestling psychology. I have this #3 behind 1/20/97 and 3/1/03, but unless Flair/Steamboat pull it off during their rewatch this will be the only twosome I have with three ***** bouts. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first exchange features a lot of quick countering leading to a stand off establishing that Kobashi is now on equal footing with Misawa. The first half of this match is them slowly building up to the molten finishing stretch with most of it seeing Kobashi schooling Misawa. Kobashi countering a Misawa hurricanrana with a crab was a brilliant spot that once again illustrates the fact that Kobashi has Misawa's number. I didn't see the overkill in the finishing stretch, but I did think the elbow finish felt a bit flat. A lengthy, physical epic that's well worth giving a watch. 

★★★★½

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×