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[1999-01-07-AJPW-New Year's Giant Series] Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama vs Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue

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Kobashi has his eye and forehead all bandaged up. This starts with Kobashi and Akiyama working over Kawada’s back and knee. Great looking offense here, with both guys really cinching in the half crab and making it look nasty. Taue makes a hot tag and goes on a rampage, DDTing Kobashi on the floor and then going right to the eye. No one in wrestling can fuck up a face better than Akira Taue, but Kawada gives him a run for his money when he drops some brutal jumping knee drops right on Kobashi’s eye, making Kobashi scream in pain. Akiyama attempts a save and Taue kicks his ass in quick fashion. Kobashi pulls out a pretty cool comeback before getting a hot tag to Akiyama, who cleans house only momentarily before Kawada dominates once again. Kobashi runs in to make a save, but Kawada and Taue run him off and kick him in the eye again. The match doesn’t feel fresh at all outside of Akiyama’s involvement, but everyone is pretty great in this. Kawada’s offense got a little repetitive, but overall, this was awesome stuff, and Kobashi’s performance in this one is the stuff of legend. My only gripe is that they did so many hot tags that they started to lose meaning by the end, but that alone isn’t really enough to detract from this much at all. Even though this is JIP, we still get a good 18 minutes of a 25 minute match, and what we see is pretty great.

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Very good work here. It's not one of the high tier AJPW tags and doesn't really have a particularly interesting structure, dynamic or transcendently great moments or exchanges, it's just damn good All Japan style action. Not something that's gonna stick in my mind I don't think when reflecting on the best matches of the year but it's great work.

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Great match and it may not being entirely memorable shows how great All Japan in the 1990's was. I loved the focused attack on Kobashi and he sold his ass off. I thought Taue in particular looked spirited here since at this point he was starting to be on the decline as far as relevance and probably was behind Akiyama. Akiyama and Kobashi continue to gel as a team and look good picking up a big win over the most established All Japan team of the 1990's. We are off to a great start in January 1999. (****)

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This was my leading MOTY contender for a week. Went 26m and the opening third was JIP. Annoying as ever. I'd say I was 90% into it rather than 100%. As there's incomplete information I don't know if that was a fault of the match itself or the clipping. The action was strong however with plenty of fun moments and multiple FIP segments. Kobashi's head getting worked over was good for the viewer, though not the participant. They went for it down the stretch as well. I'm looking forward to the final complete year of the Kings Road.

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Overlooked classic in my eyes. I wish we had the first 7-8 minutes but the rest is terrific. The work on Kobashi's face is brutal and incredibly focused and he sells it extremely well. Frantic pace and a great finishing stretch as well. **** 1/4

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AJPW World Tag Team Champions Holy Demon Army (Kawada & Taue) vs Burning (Kobashi & Akiyama) - AJPW 1/7/99

 

Pro wrestling is just the best, isn't it? This was incredible and just so much fun.

 

Burning defeated the Holy Demon Army at RWTL and went on to win the tournament so they naturally get a title shot. Unfortunatey we are JIP about 6-7 minutes in, Burning is working over Kawada's knee with solid work and Kawada is selling well. Kobashi has a giant bandage over his forehead kinda covering his right eye. Kobashi goes for a German on Kawada, silly Kobashi you cant German Kawada, who hits his enziguiri. He tags Taue. I know exactly what is going to happen. Taue zeroes in on that injured eye and it is glorious. Taue chops, kicks and rams that eye. Kobashi's selling is great. Taue is very energetic. Loved Taue slamming his head so hard into the table it breaks. Akiyama tries to save goes into the railing HARD, he threw himself into that. Kawada takes his fucking head off too with a kick. Kawada was definitely in a take no prisoners mood. He was looking to decapitate people with some of these kicks. After about 5 minutes, Kobashi gets a spinning back chop to tag in Akiyama who ends succumbing to a Taue DDT. Kawada tries to kick his head off. Holy Demon Army go for some of their finish sequence stuff on Akiyama like Nodowa/BDD. On Kawada powerbomb, the injured Kobashi saves. Kobashic catches the spin kick and blasts Kawada with a lariat. Electric! He is just so fired up. He has the ridiculous bandage, he is exhorting Akiyama to get his ass over here for a tag and is ready to rock. Hot tag to Kobashi! Taue meets him at the pass with a MONSTER DROPKICK! Ducks spinning back chop and HITS A REVERSE NODOWA ON THE FACE!!! FIVE FUCKING STARS1!! TAUE IS A GOD AMONG MEN!

DYNAMIC BOMBS GETS TWO! Nodowa off the apron, not Akiyama grabs the leg and Taue settles for DDT on the apron. Nodowa in the ring? Kawada kicks Kobashi in the head and taue this it, Akiyama saves. This is high drama! Spinning back chop breaks up Nodowa and Akiyama runs in for an Exploder. This is frenetic! Bodyslam...Fist Pump... Akiyama restrains Kawada...MOOOONSAULT...2. Kawada on apron...Burning Lariat! Awesome strike exchange where Kobashi is so fucking pumped to hit the Burning Lariat and Taue keeps blocking like a pesky jerk. Double LARIAT!!! Dramatic Cover. BURNING LARIAT!!! NEW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!!!

One of the best finish sequences of all time and super unheralded. Knee work on Kawada is fine. The face work on Kobashi awesome and really well sold. Holy Demon Army's run on Akiyama is great and fired up injured Kobashi is the best. Once it is down to Taue vs Kobashi it is just the fucking best. Just an incredible bomb throwing run...That NODOWA on the injured face is up there for greatest spot of all time. Kobashi just dying to hit that Burning Lariat was just so invigorating. We are missing a quarter of the match so I don't think I can go higher than ****1/4, but really fucking good.

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Man, Kobashi is awesome in this. He's one of my all-time favorites, and portions of this match are great examples of why. He is a sympathy magnet with his great selling. Everyone in this match delivers a really good performance. I do hate it's clipped, but this is just awesome. I love Taue's varied attack on the eye of Kobashi. Great finish. ****1/4

 

#441 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-450-401/

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#441.

 

I enjoyed this quite a bit. It followed a simple tag strategy of separating the partners from one another and working over the injured man, which is classic tag structure and classic All Japan structure. I thought Taue, in particular, did an excellent job of working this narrative and was the driving force behind laying it down. I can see how it must've been seen as a step down from the more grandiose tags of previous years, and to be fair the end result doesn't feel like a particularly big or important moment, but the work felt fresh at least for someone like me who doesn't watch a lot of All Japan.

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Well, this is your Match of the...Week, I guess. I loved that for the first 6-8 minutes of action that we see, there's very little here that isn't a punch or a kick to a damaged body part--either Kawada's knee or Kobashi's head. An indication that the AJPW style hadn't completely disappeared up its own ass yet. Jun makes one of the greatest house afire sequences you'll ever see after a hot tag and in the end plays a similar role that he did in the Tag League finals, making miracle saves and being Kobashi's wingman in the midst of a stirring comeback. I knew this was a title change and I was still in suspense down the stretch, wondering just how in the world Kobashi would make a comeback after being brutalized the way he was--that's some good working, right there.

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HDA assaulting Kobashi's face was pretty great. The work on Kawada's leg was utilized smartly and all l the twisting and turning exchanges down the stretch were really well done. It almost feels a bit like a Greatest Hits version of an AJPW tag as it seems these guys can do this stuff in their sleep at this point. Still, a very good tag that was a breeze to watch and hit all the right marks. Agree about Taue, this felt like his formula performance and showcases his coolness very nicely.

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