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[1996-06-07-AJPW-Super Power Series] Toshiaki Kawada vs Akira Taue

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This was solid, but little more. The hot tag title match seems to have sapped the crowd of a bit of energy, though they're hardly dead, and this match had quite a bit to live up to. These two can sleepwalk through a lot of trademark sequences, but the finish doesn't really build well and comes off as an anticlimax. This is one instance where 16 or so minutes isn't long enough for the story they were telling.

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All Japan Triple Crown Champion Akira Taue vs Toshiaki Kawada - AJPW 6/7/96

A surprise Budokan Title match and one that has almost been completely forgotten about. Kawada defeated Kobashi to win the No. 1 Contendership and everyone assumed this meant Misawa vs Kawada for their annual Summer title match. Except on the same show, Taue shocked the world and upended Misawa to win the Triple Crown. Kawada vs Taue as a rivalry is not heralded they are mostly known as a great team. I think their most famous and best match came back in 1991 when Kawada was one of the good guys and Taue was in Jumbo's Army. Since they have had great matches in the '95 and '96 Carnivals so even though they were loyal tag team partners it was not like they were incapable of having a great match together. 

The first 2/3rds of this was great to the point where I was like why does everyone have a stick up their ass, but the last 5 minutes or so features terrible transitions and an anti-climatic finish. Lets start with the good. Kawada was full-bore into his shoot-style offense phase. Taue was going with the power game. Kawada tried to goad Taue into making a mistake by refusing to lock up and stretch instead. Taue is not Kobashi and did not fall for it. Taue would have waited the time limit out probably. Kawada threw some check kicks to the leg. Taue's response to mock Kawada's stretching routine which gets a nice reaction from the crowd. Taue throws some big boots to the mush and there is an early head drop German Suplex. Snake Eyes on steel railing and top rope. Taue is not fucking around. Tag partner or not he is out to win. He goes for the Nodowa, great Fujiwara Armbar takedown by Kawada and transitions nicely into the cross-armbreaker which he applies and Taue gets to ropes and powders. Great transition. Kawada works the arm well. Loved the frustrated Cowboy Kick when he couldnt get the Cross-Armbreaker a second time. Taue tries to block the Jumping High Kick but hits his injured arm and with his guard down. Kawada nails the next one. All Japan tends to use No-Sell/Hulk Ups as a transition which I dont have a problem with. When Kawada plays King of the Mountain, Taue gets pissed and Hulks Up. This leads to the most heated exchange of the match which Kawada wins with a sudden Koppou Kick! Nice! I love how Kawada's reaction is ok dont fuck this up...Powerbomb now...theres a bit of struggle and he nails it. Kickout. So I am thinking lets transition back to Taue, but this is when the match goes off the rails for me. 

Taue doesnt really Hulk Up. It is like the most casual one ever. A No Sell is visual expression you are absorbing the pain and working through it. A "No Sell" is a sell. He just plain stopped selling. Shoulder tackle, Neckbreaker Drop. Part of it is I just dont except the Neckbreaker Drop as an equal to the Roaring Elbow or Koppou Kick, but because it was Baba's finish, I think that's how it is treated because all of sudden after this one move Kawada is fucking dead. Apron Nodowa piques my interest because I love that, but Kawada kicks his way out of trouble. Terrible transition to the final finish run, Kawada hits his Jumping High Kick and Taue does the All Japan No Sell and Nodowas him. Ugh. Kawada never comes back. It takes a Dynamic Bomb, German and some Nodowas to win. They should have climaxed at the Dynamic Bomb instead of ending with Nodowa. 

I really enjoyed the first 15 minutes or so, but the end leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It is very short by All Japan standards, 18 minutes. I have no issue with the time, I dont think they needed more. Just needed a better finish run. ***1/2

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