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[1999-01-22-AJPW-New Year's Giant Series] Mitsuharu Misawa vs Toshiaki Kawada

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It's the 7/95 match between these two that usually gets talk as being the most all-action match of their series, and one that's also relatively short in duration compared to your average TC defense at the time. But they seemed to have cut a harder pace here than there. I'm really over Misawa-Kawada as a feud by this time, especially considering the anti-climatic Kawada victory at the Tokyo Dome, but this was at the level of the secondary matches in their feud for me, 7/93 and 7/95 specifically. Definitely ahead of 6/97 and 5/98. I thought they did what they could to make this fresh in going shorter and sacrificing story for spots. Normally, I wouldn't support that, but this feud was shopworn and if they were going to have another match, it was more important that it be different than technically great. Of course the Ganso Bomb finish is legendary, but the match was cooking even before that. This isn't my match of the month, as January has been loaded, but in most months it would be. The Triple Crown is bouncing around a lot more than it did at All Japan's peak, which seems like a desperate attempt to heat things up. This is the match Baba called the best he'd ever seen, right?

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I think the 92, 93, 94 and 95 matches are all significantly better, at least going by memory for some of those, but this was no doubt a great, great match. I liked how Misawa's knee actually became a bigger deal as the match went on, and Kawada's spinning low kicks to it looked great. You get your standard (awesome) Misawa/Kawada style of hard-hitting match that really does 'wrestling as a sport' in a way that no other match-up quite does. So much of what they do makes sense in ways other matches don't try to think of and the selling is great. Loved Kawada trying to explode up after a Tiger suplex but collapsing half way, and another great spot in Misawa toppling into the referee after eating a gemengiri. The Ganso bomb is of course sick and the crowd responds huge for it. I actually like the left-field ending with the brainbuster, it's not a usual finisher for Kawada but Misawa had sustained so much damage beforehand that it did the trick here. Also interesting how few of their finishers they threw out in general here.

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It hasn't been mentioned yet but it has to be mentioned that Kawada broke his arm and still wrestled with a broken arm throughout the match. One of my personal favorites from 90s All Japan and one that stands up independent of the other matches.

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For Misawa/Kawada, this is just another match. For almost anyone else, this would be the peak of their career. I think that speaks volumes about what these guys were able to do years after this feud was dead in the water.

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I really enjoyed this but at the same time it made me angry. Kawada was just destroying Misawa with kicks and you could hear them hit his face. It's crazy that Kawada worked this match with a broken arm. Misawa however made me angry. His no selling of Kawada attacking his leg and the whole ganso bomb thing. How the hell was that not the finish? Why did he kick out of it? I'm guessing it was a mistake that it even happened? With that being said, this was great. It was long but didn't feel long like most of the All Japan 90's matches I've seen on these yearbook.

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So here is the first puro match I ever watched. I think people that are getting into New Japan now cant really understand the magnitude of not being able to watch this stuff on youtube and only have memories of someone like Liger in regards to Japanese wrestling. Thinking back now, I really have no idea how I as a 14 year old commandeered into getting this tape and whether it came from DVDVR or crazy max.

Anyway, the match holds a special place because of that but it is a great bomb throwing match that does have sprinkles of depth. It also has some annoying no sells and feels really dangerous to where they are now passing around the title and also elevating the action to diminishing returns. Still, this was the last match Baba watched with a smile on his face and Kawada gives a great performance on a broken arm. Still, 14 years later, Japanese wrestling can inspire me and me loving this match has a lot to do with that. Great stuff.

 

****1/4

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So here is the first puro match I ever watched. I think people that are getting into New Japan now cant really understand the magnitude of not being able to watch this stuff on youtube and only have memories of someone like Liger in regards to Japanese wrestling. Thinking back now, I really have no idea how I as a 14 year old commandeered into getting this tape and whether it came from DVDVR or crazy max.

 

Ha, I'm glad I came in on the tail end before footage was massively available online. I started buying tapes/DVDs (usually tapes, a lot of the sites I used still sold VHSs for cheaper than DVDs for whatever reason) in 2004. It really is a different kind of "connection" I think. Anyone who never paid 20 dollars for a VHS or DVD plus shipping and waiting two weeks to get it just to see ONE match shouldn't even be allowed to say they like Japanese wrestling :)

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This was Kawada as Kyle Reese and Misawa as terminator. Or just their usual beef. Misawa somehow keeping the selling while walking straight back into a match may be the main reason why he looks like the baddest dude on the planet. Pretending to not be hurt while looking like you're not hurt is stupid, Misawa pretending to not be hurt while walking like a beaten dog is an entirely different thing. Anyways, this feels almost one sided with how Kawada seals the deal on this match by taking out the legs. Actually liked the Ganso Bomb thing as it looked like Misawa fucked himself there with no comeback possible after that, and it wasn't one of those stupid deals where they do a shocking kickout of a deadly move and end it immediately after.

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Ha, I'm glad I came in on the tail end before footage was massively available online. I started buying tapes/DVDs (usually tapes, a lot of the sites I used still sold VHSs for cheaper than DVDs for whatever reason) in 2004. It really is a different kind of "connection" I think. Anyone who never paid 20 dollars for a VHS or DVD plus shipping and waiting two weeks to get it just to see ONE match shouldn't even be allowed to say they like Japanese wrestling :)

I used to have to go to the travel agent to get some US$. Then stuff it in an envelope and post it to America. If I was lucky then I'd get a tape or two the following month. Often with one match I wanted to see per show. Those were the days...

 

Kawada did indeed break his arm part way through, not that he worried about it until afterwards. This didn't have the narrative of their other TC battles. They'd resolved the holy grail storyline and weren't quite onto legends match territory. It was simply an excellent wrestling match. They fought so many times, but were always able to spice things up and avoid that repetitive feeling. They didn't remain tentative for long at the start, unloading all manner of brutally stiff offense. At times there was an element of 'your turn, my turn'. A couple of odd bits of selling too. Everything came together down the stretch. Dangerous K absolutely murdered him with a brainbuster and the Ganso Bomb. Quite rightly Misawa didn't come back from that. It would prove to be a bittersweet victory for Tosh as his injury forced him to forfeit the belts. That first victorious title defence would have to wait for another reign.

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I remember reading a review of this match online somewhere, in the early 2000s, and thinking I needed to check it out. I had already seen the 6/3/94 match between them, and the famous 6/9/95 tag as well. Anyways, I got my hands on a tape of this match, and I loved it. The Ganso Bomb was pretty awesome. It's been quite a while since I've seen it, but recently found it again on YouTube, so I might have to check it out again. I think I went ****1/4 or so when I originally watched it. I'm pretty sure this is the one where Kawada breaks his arm early in the match as well.

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AJPW Triple Crown Champion Mitsuharu Misawa vs Toshiaki Kawada - AJPW 1/22/99

 

Kawada breaks his arm about 10 minutes into the match on a Tiger Driver of all things. You can actually see him clutch on camera if you pay close attention. On the second Tiger Driver he pays closer attention to how he falls. He basically has not use of his right arm for the rest of the match. What a trooper.

 

Misawa is coming off his first loss in the series and it is important he gets out to a big lead. Kawada tries a leg attack (which worked in 98) and Misawa elbows through it. Nice diving elbow through the ropes. Nobody is better at this than Misawa. Kawda kicks him hard in the head as he is coming off the top rope. Misawa sells this so swell rolling to the outside writhing in pain. He is only topped by Kawada's selling of his foot. He sells it so well I thought Kawada broke his foot. I knew he broke something in this match but couldn't remember what. So I stopped the match to look up that he broke his arm. Now that's great selling. Kawada basically kicks Misawa in the face a lot like a lot and it is glorious. Wicked spinning back chop by Kawada to Misawa's back of Misawa's head. Misawa is pissed and rattles off a wicked Roaring Elbow. Misawa comes out with a pair of Tiger Drivers (arm-breaker is the first one) Kawada powders and he is clutching arm in pain. Somersault plancha and then a Tiger Suplex inside. OW! Kawada gets up and flops like a fish. Roaring Elbow misses and it is a BACKDROP DRIVER! Kawada looked like he was about to get squashed before that opening. He pounces on the leg with nasty roundhouse kicks to the knee. Misawa is able to keep Kawada at bay from applying a figure-4 or a single leg crab at first. Kawada hits a kneecrusher and Misawa is left standing elbows the shit out of Kawada and Kawada reverse the Tiger Suplex with ONE arm and hits kick to the knee to set up two stretch plums. The knee psychology has been really good to set up Kawada's headshots and bombs. It is not too overwhelming either. Misawa has established a certain level of selling and is sticking with it. I like the elbows, missile dropkick, only for Kawada to roundhouse kick the knee and get a figure-4. Basically it becomes can Kawada leverage the knee injury to a victory or can Misawa basically elbow through it to a win. They leave a lot of the Misawa and Kawada spots out of this. Misawa pissed at Kawada kicking his leg and starts furiously kicking Kawada's leg. Epic flick of sweat from the brow. Roaring Elbow but cant capitalize due to knee and he walks into a barrage of enziguiri, wicked spinning heel kick. Misawa has one last gasp with a German suplex but cant hold bridge due to knee. Kawada powers out of Tiger Driver with one arm and the Kappo Kick sets up the BRAINBUSTER!!! Misawa never really recovers. Here we go! Why this match is famous...GANSO BOMB~! It is every bit as sick as I remember it. Should have been the finish. I remember it as the finish. Kawada hits the Brainbuster to win after some token Misawa elbows (great sell of the enziguiri falls right into the ref).

 

Incredible match! I was expecting it to be all about the GANSO BOMB~! but this was a vast improvement over 1998. Kawada's whole objective was to kick Misawa's head off and if Misawa gets any momentum he just kicks him in the knee. The first transition was all because Kawada knows Misawa so well. Besides the one Misawa control segment around 1/3-1/2 point, this was all Kawada. Misawa looked like he was going to blow Kawada out of the water. Again Kawada knows Misawa so well and ducks the Roaring Elbow to hit the backdrop driver. Before using the knee for the rest of the match to set up his bombs and headshots. When Misawa is poised to make the world-famous comeback, he cant follow up the Roaring Elbow and he cant hold the German Suplex pin this leaves him open to the Kappo Kick and finally the GANSO BOMB~! Not a perfect match, but a classic nonetheless and early All Japan match of the eyar candidate for 1999. ****1/2

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I have to agree with Loss that this is a secondary match in the feud. Not only are he and I over this as a feud, but it kind of sounds like the crowd is as well. They pop for things down the stretch, but this is not the batshit crazy crowd that these two would draw in the mid-'90s. That said, Kawada's performance with one arm is amazing, and you have to be paying close attention to see that he injured his arm at all. The striking thing about this is that the Ganso Bomb--put over by the online community in the early '00s as the Ultimate Move of Ultimate Death--isn't really treated as a huge spot here. The announcer kind of loses his shit and the crowd pops for the kickout, but it seems to me that it was supposed to be a regular power bomb and is sold as such during and after the move. Still...I don't see this finishing as a top-3 MOTY and is only a real contender for the list because the U.S. is going to offer very little in the way of candidates.

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#117 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-150-101/2/

 

Kawada finishing this match with a broken arm is simply amazing. I think the match was great, but of course that certainly adds to the drama. You can see him having to work around it, and there is no telling how much pain he was in when he was getting dropped or hooked. I think if you take that out, you still have a great match here, so that really adds on to an unforgettable performance ****1/2

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So there's been a bunch of stuff said about this match. I'm sure everyone's read something positive and negative about this one. That's cool because it's a really great match. It' got a Champion's Carnival vibe to it because they go for broke with a sense of urgency. I think it's because it's 1999 and these guys aren't spring chickens anymore.

 

It kinda reminds me of the 1995 Champion Carnival match in that the desire is to not only win the match but, survive. Also, there is an allusion to the 1993 Real World Tag league finals too. I haven't read anyone else saying that but, I think it's there. Also this reminds me of the 9/02/95 Hokuto vs. Toyota match. If you're into those matches then, you'll dig this.

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