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[1996-03-02-AJPW-Excite Series] Mitsuharu Misawa vs Gary Albright

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Albright is a man ahead of his time, coming out to "Voodoo Child." No air guitar, though.

 

Definitely a match of value if just to see the other AJPW types work with Gary and compare them to what Kawada did in October. This is decent but not nearly as good--the opening is a total waste as Misawa doesn't seem to know how to really work Albright's style of opening mat-wrestling, so we get a lot of lock-ups, stalemates, and resets that's broken up when Albright unleashes a German suplex. Gary locks on a cross armbreaker on Misawa's rolling elbow arm and doesn't break when Misawa's in the ropes, providing an opening for another psychological road to go down, but they don't follow up on it aside from Misawa paying Albright back by doing the same thing. I can't really call this a spotfest--there's some token psychology involving Albright constantly going for a dragon suplex and Misawa constantly foiling it--but there isn't a ton of substance outside of the big suplexes. Albright does take a great flying bump off Misawa's rolling elbow at the finish, and overall I think he was as good or better of a worker in this match than Mitsuharu. Not a bad effort, but unless Gary was going to work Kawada every match, this is strong evidence that he wasn't going to be a great fit for the company.

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The main takeout for me was also that Misawa couldn't adapt as well as Kawada to the unique challenge of facing Allbright. They still did quite a nice job of mixing the two styles in this Triple Crown contest. It all revolved around the suplexes, which were incredibly over and generated a real sense of danger. Misawa cut out some of his flashier moves and concentrated on hard strikes. Had it's moments and there was some excitement. Ultimately they needed more ring time together. It's a shame there wasn't a rematch as I'd have liked to see where they would've gone.

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AJPW Triple Crown Champion Mitsuharu Misawa vs Gary Albright - AJPW 3/2/96

I think we have a lot of great examples of Kawada & Kobashi going outside their comfort zone, but not as much for Misawa. So I was very interested in watching this match. The fact that this was Budokan Main Event and a Triple Crown Title Defense and it is pretty much never spoken about was not a good portent. Albright coming out to Voodoo Child with the Japanese announcer saying "Voodoo Child" was badass.

Compared to the great All Japan epics and even the Kawada/Albright match of October, this definitely disappoints, but those are high bars to clear, this was still a fun way to spend 15 minutes. It was Elbow vs Suplex. All Japan is pretty anti-matwork especially Misawa so besides some takedown attempts by Albright and a long chinlock from Albright this is all stand up. There is not a lot of connective tissue in this match. It is pretty much will Albright hit his suplex or not? Or will Misawa Elbow's Down Albright or will Albright fight through? It is entertaining but pretty mindless. I enjoyed the beginning the most. When Misawa quashed a takedown attempt and was in the ropes, Albright POPS off a overhead belly to belly. It was one of those suplexes that you didnt have a choice in the matter, you were going for a ride whether you liked it or not. I liked Misawa's reaction is more surprise than anything about how strong and sudden that was. I liked the follow-up. Misawa just started to furiously Elbow and through the Barrage, Albright gets a hold of him and pops off another wicked suplex. Albright telegraphs a cross armbreaker, Misawa gets the ropes but Albright puts it on anyway to boos. I liked how once Misawa returned he changed it up with kicks instead of elbows to get Albright off his feet and applied a cross armbreaker in the ropes as payback. The Japanese true to form boo this. At least they are fair. 

Misawa goes for a Tiger Suplex, but Albright hits a powerslam. It looks like Albright really wanted a Dragon Suplex but couldnt negotiate it. I think they were building that as the killshot. Misawa took some crazy Germans. Misawa draws from Backlund and goes all "Anything you can do I can do better" as he busts out a lot of Suplexes down the stretch. The match was definitely very over. The end is nigh for Albright when he collapses on a German because Misawa's Elbows have rung his bell. Misawa SMOKES with a bunch of Roaring Elbows and it is a victory for the Ace. It felt different than most All Japan matches, but it was a very bare bones Elbows vs Suplexes match, but it was still fun. ***1/2 

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