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Mitsuharu Misawa

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I ranked Mitsuharu Misawa #20 in 2016 and I'm fine with that. That Fuchi handheld I just watched the other day was really cool. I have nothing to add about Misawa. 

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One thing which I think diminishes my opinion of Misawa compared to the other pillars is his selfishness and/or awkwardness when working with new or unusual opponents. His later-period singles matches against Fuyuki, Koshinaka, Chono, Kojima, Hase and Tenryu are all major marks against him. They are remarkably bad performances from someone who was still capable of having good matches.

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Yeah veteran Misawa is kinda cool, but honestly he doesn't have a very strong run. He also doesn't have a very strong Jr, Tiger Mask run. If you think about it, Misawa's case is all about peak, but the fun thing is his peak is absurdly long.

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There's some real interesting discussion back in 2015 about who viewed who as heel or face in the 90s and it is pretty baffling to me. I've never even seen discussion that Misawa was a heel, or Kawada was a face. Granted, I did not have much puro exposure in the 90s as all this stuff was actually happening. However I did know most big names from video games and a handful of tapes in the early 00s before it became much easier to see stuff online. But even then I knew Misawa was the super face and Kawada (and Taue) was a real dick head, grumpy heel. 

 

But just because a wrestler is a heel doesn't mean they can't have a chase and have fans think it is cool when they achieve their goal.  Particularly in puro, where heel wrestlers generally aren't cartoonishly evil guys like they were in American wrestling for so long. Kawada finally being Misawa is a lot different than say, the Million Dollar Man buying the WWF Championship. 

 

Tiger Misawa mostly sucks, tbh. Starts off pretty hot with some lucha dudes to make him look great, then he goes on a years stretch of mostly bland boring shit with the occasional burst of someone pissing him off and getting some fire out of him. As he bulks up to heavyweight, he's even slower and more bland for quite a while. There's no way anyone watching Tiger Mask Misawa could see that guy and think future GOAT. Except Baba, I guess.

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Misawa is my highest ranked Japanese wrestler currently but his 2001 so far is diminishing the notion to me that he fell of a clip. More varied and top end matches than Kawada that year through June and he is top ten worldwide. Will see if it holds up but I didn’t expect that strong a finish from late era Misawa. 
 

In regards to late era Misawa’s singles matches, it’s a weak point for sure. The Hase match listed above is decisive but I think consensus has turned to think of it at least very good. The others are a mismatch of decent to good matches but almost are exclusively between past their prime workers. The biggest blemish I see is Tenryu bout. Tenryu was having an amazing run and that match is disappointing. 
 

Misawa first and foremost will be a peak candidate. He’s in my top 10 worldwide from 90-99. I don’t think I have anyone else with that distinction. It has been pleasant for me to revisit NOAH Misawa and find new wrinkles to enjoy from my favorite. . 

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Though I agree Misawa's case is carried by his sublime peak, he was good enough often enough during his brokedown phase that I don't hold that against him. I have more trouble with his Tiger Mask period, because it wasn't short, and he really never figured it out. Injuries played a part in it, but for somebody who was understood to have vast potential, he delivered precious few memorable performances. It is a trouble spot when I compare him to the small group of guys who were in his league overall. 

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21 minutes ago, ohtani's jacket said:

I have a problem with his facial hair during his broken down phase.

So perhaps he should have put the mask back on? Fat Tiger.

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I love Misawa, but I would say he’s decent at best in the WK3 tag and the match, as a whole, is kind of a mess. The other three work around 2009 Misawa’s limitations well enough, though yeah, Nakamura does absolutely blast Misawa with a spinning heel kick. I liked the finish of Goto finally being able to hold Misawa in check on the outside for Nakamura’s flash submission winafter Misawa held him for-freaking-ever during Sugiura’s ankle lock earlier; the first half of the match meanders a LOT though, including an exchange between Goto and Misawa that was depressingly loose.

I wouldn’t cite it as an achievement for Misawa, except that he was present and more active than, say, Tenryu lumbering around in his match with Okada. When you’re as good as Misawa was, though, isn’t that damning with faint praise?

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I'm a lot higher on Misawa's late 90s/ early 2000s than most here I'd assume. I'd still put him as one of the top 5 in the world in 2004 ish. He was having good tag matches up until about a month before he died. His last GREAT match was the 07 Kobashi return tag match. His last good singles match was probably early 08 against Morishima. His last GREAT singles match was probably 04 vs Kojima. 

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I don't want to waste time on canonical candidates, but the idea Misawa didn't have "great matches" as an older worker is just silly. Just in his last title run you have matches vs Marufuji, KENTA, Taue, Sano and Morishima that have had that rep. Honestly I'm not convinced Kobashi has a bigger resume of quality singles matches in NOAH.

If you're looking for weak spots, I think the idea he didn't "click" (i.e. find the solutions to work a match under the right dynamic) with everyone as he got older is much more fair. But I would punish him more for having a lackluster match with Rikioh than I would any of the matches mentioned, because that's when he absolutely should've performed. Nothing's gonna happen if you have a mid match with 2002 Chono, unless he's facing Hashimoto I'm not getting my hopes up. 

And honestly any good work he produced in 2008-2009 should probably count x2 considering Morishima nearly killed him in 2007.

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I agree with the belief that Tiger Mask is more of a blemish than post-04 Misawa. There were a few Tiger Mask matches that were fun (there's a match against Jumbo in particular, but big surprise, right?), but that's still a long time of not being a very notable worker. Compare that to Kobashi and Jun who picked things up much, much quicker. The last 5 years of Misawa's career aren't always easy to watch but I agree he still had a handful of really good matches. The '06 match against Morishima in particular is terrific.

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Like I said in a previous post, I think Misawa is by far the most "flawed" n°1 level candidate. His candidacy is all about peak (that you can still poke some holes, like mainly working the same people for 10 years) so I wonder if the narrative of him flips this time around and folk talk more about everything surrounding his peak and ends up putting him way lower than last time around. Then again, it will also depend in how many people "discover" or revisit 90's All Japan this time around too.

 

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16 hours ago, GOTNW said:

I don't want to waste time on canonical candidates, but the idea Misawa didn't have "great matches" as an older worker is just silly. Just in his last title run you have matches vs Marufuji, KENTA, Taue, Sano and Morishima that have had that rep. Honestly I'm not convinced Kobashi has a bigger resume of quality singles matches in NOAH.

If you're looking for weak spots, I think the idea he didn't "click" (i.e. find the solutions to work a match under the right dynamic) with everyone as he got older is much more fair. But I would punish him more for having a lackluster match with Rikioh than I would any of the matches mentioned, because that's when he absolutely should've performed. Nothing's gonna happen if you have a mid match with 2002 Chono, unless he's facing Hashimoto I'm not getting my hopes up. 

And honestly any good work he produced in 2008-2009 should probably count x2 considering Morishima nearly killed him in 2007.

I remember he sharply declined in 07ish. What exactly happened with Morishima? 

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