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The Comprehensive All Japan 1990's Thread

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In the past few weeks, I have taken notice of BigBadMick, BenjaminKicks saying they are going through the 1990's in All Japan. Parv has his Excite Series run through with Steven who himself hasn't seen these matches in many years. Dawho5 did a great thread last year chronicling his journey through the 1990's but now he is going back with more focus.

 

I say all of this to claim that now is a great time to have a definitive guide of All Japan in the 1990's. I think All Japan for most was a "promised land" when first getting into tape trading and I know I dug in with as much fever as I could in 2001 chronicling the 1990's. In recent years, I have just watched select matches as I have went through the years of each worldwide promotions. I am hoping this thread can provide some neat insight where we can get recommendations on ALL the stuff from the 1990's that we need to see from All Japan as well as discussion on the workers, booking and overall landscape. There was a time when 1990's All Japan seemed like a really boring topic with no new ground to break but I think now with the mix of first time viewers, revisionists, and historians, this could be some great discussion.

 

 

So from 1990, what needs seeked out in addition to the following stuff listed below:

 

Toshiaki Kawada & Ricky Fuyuki vs. Fantastics (AJPW 1/3/90)

Jumbo Tsuruta & Tiger Mask vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Ricky Fuyuki (AJPW 1/14/90)

Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Isao Takagi (AJPW 1/20/90)

Jumbo Tsuruta, Kabuki & Mighty Inoue vs. Genichiro Tenryu, Toshiaki Kawada & Ricky Fuyuki (AJPW 1/25/90)

Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs. Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido (NJPW/AJPW 2/10/90)

Genichiro Tenryu & Tiger Mask vs. Riki Choshu & George Takano (NJPW/AJPW 2/10/90)

Vader vs. Stan Hansen (NJPW/AJPW 2/10/90)

Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi (AJPW 2/21/90)

Steve Williams & Terry Gordy vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (AJPW 3/2/90)

Tiger Mask vs. Kenta Kobashi (AJPW 3/6/90)

Steve Williams & Terry Gordy vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Stan Hansen (AJPW 3/6/90)

Steve Williams vs Yoshiaki Yatsu (AJPW 3/24/90)

Bret Hart vs. Tiger Mask (WWF/AJPW 4/13/90)

Randy Savage vs. Genichiro Tenryu (WWF/AJPW 4/13/90)

Hulk Hogan vs. Stan Hansen (WWF/AJPW 4/13/90)

Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Genichiro Tenryu (AJPW 4/19/90)

Tiger Mask & Toshiaki Kawada vs. Yoshiaki Yatsu & Ricky Fuyuki (AJPW 5/14/90)

Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, Great Kabuki & Masa Fuchi (AJPW 5/26/90)

Stan Hansen vs. Steve Williams (AJPW 6/5/90)

Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Terry Gordy (AJPW 6/5/90)

Stan Hansen vs. Terry Gordy (AJPW 6/8/90)

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (AJPW 6/8/90)

Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kenta Kobashi (AJPW 6/30/90)

Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (AJPW 7/7/90)

Masa Fuchi vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (AJPW 7/12/90)

Steve Williams & Terry Gordy vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Kabuki (AJPW 7/19/90)

Stan Hansen vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (AJPW 7/28/90)

Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, Akira Taue & Masa Fuchi (AJPW 8/18/90)

Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Kenta Kobashi (AJPW 8/31/90)

Fantastics vs. Joe Malenko & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (AJPW 9/1/90)

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (AJPW 9/1/90)

The Fantastics vs. Kenta Kobashi & Johnny Ace (AJPW 9/7/90)

Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kenta Kobashi & Johnny Ace (AJPW 9/29/90)

Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (AJPW 9/30/90)

Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue vs. Kenta Kobashi & Johnny Ace (AJPW 10/7/90)

Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada & Kenta Kobashi vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, Akira Taue & Masa Fuchi (AJPW 10/19/90)

Stan Hansen & Dan Spivey vs. Dory & Terry Funk (AJPW 11/15/90)

Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada & Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (AJPW 12/7/90)

Stan Hansen & Dan Spivey vs. Steve Williams & Terry Gordy (AJPW 12/7/90)

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The sense of hierarchy and gradual progression is amazing. I'm sure it could have been frustrating at the time, but in this boxset-loving age watching it play out is great.

 

I've gone through most of the tv from Jan-August 1990. Hansen had a match with Kobashi in Jan or Feb and murdered him. Just watched a slightly more competitive rematch from June. Every little piece counts.

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I love any of the Fantastics matches I've found, especially if Kikuchi is involved. I won't say that they are going to blow you away in All Japan terms, but they are great midcard warmups for the more serious main event stuff. I think that's one thing that can wear you out real quick if you just go through all the Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi/Taue/Akiyama stuff is that it's all very heavy and emotionally charged after a certain point. There's no light fare that's still good wrestling to change things up a little. I don't necessarily think something like the Fantastics vs. Kobashi/Kikuchi or Kroffat vs. Kobashi is an all time classic or even something superbly memorable, but it's nice to have those smaller matches peppered in between all the tags, six mans and singles matches that the big 5 and Hansen/Gordy/Williams/Ace/Vader worked that ended up being so great. It's almost like a wrestling show itself then, where you're not just getting big emotional matches over and over. You get a ten, fifteen minute spotfest that's easy to watch with enough cool stuff to keep you interested while not burning you out for the Kobashi/Misawa vs. Taue/Kawada tag that goes forty minutes.

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It's almost like a wrestling show itself then, where you're not just getting big emotional matches over and over. You get a ten, fifteen minute spotfest that's easy to watch with enough cool stuff to keep you interested while not burning you out for the Kobashi/Misawa vs. Taue/Kawada tag that goes forty minutes.

 

Years ago I started to make my way through all the AJPW TV, starting in '91. (I got to the first part of '93 when Benoit happened and my wrestling-watching was pretty much dead until I broke down and got started on the Yearbooks.)

 

I was quickly getting more excited to see an interesting-looking mid-card bout with less familiar names than another 6-man, as great as those 6-mans were. Plus the Puroresu NEWWWWS segments which featured other clips never seen before. I'm sure Kobashi & Kikuchi vs. Rusher Kimura & Mighty Inoue wasn't really that good, but it was *different.* So was really random shit like the State Patrol showing up for a tour, or King Curtis Iaukea's kid throwing a net on people.

 

So I agree with dawho entirely, and for the rest of the hour-long format era, there are quite a few fun hidden gems involving the Can-Ams, Kobashi & Ace, and Joel Deaton & Billy Black.

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AJ TV in the early 90's was so much fun, primarily due to the relative diversity of the undercard. You knew what you would get from the main events but there were truly enjoyable matches before the greatness. '93 AJPW is my favourite run of TV ever, so enjoyable from week to week.

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This is the type of randomness + same-old-same-old that people are talking about. Opening night TV taping at Korakuen Hall:

 

August 22nd 1993 (taped 8/20 Tokyo)
1. The Patriot & The Eagle vs Steve Williams & Tracy Smothers
2. Dan Kroffat & Doug Furnas vs. Kenta Kobashi & Satoru Asako
3. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue & Masa Fuchi vs Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi

 

Ah... so Tracy Smothers is in on tour. Let's see how he works out. He actually has a surprisingly good series, getting into two other TV matches:

 

August 29th 1993 (taped 8/23 Shizuoka)
3. Misawa & Kobashi & Kikuchi vs Williams & Smothers & Deaton

 

September 26th 1993 (taped 9/9 Omiya)
2. Hansen & DiBiase & Smothers vs Misawa & Kobashi & Akiyama

 

He actually looks *much* better than Ted on this series, though obviously there are limits to how hard they can push him. He looked good enough to get invited back for the Tag League, though in something of a thankless roll. Anyway... if you watched this series at the time, you're liking Tracy. The series before it had been Bossman/Big Bubba who showed up and looked good, which got him back for the series after this and climaxed in the Tag League where he was an interesting partner for Doc in some really good matches.

 

So Tracy Smothers... turned out kind of cool for a month of TV.

 

In the next match...

 

Kobashi was Misawa's partner now, he and Kikuchi had dropped the All Asia belts to Patriot & Eagle, and the Can-Ams would be chasing the belts and winning them on this series. But Kobashi has history with them, and it's a chance to give Asako some time on TV, so he's tossed in here. This could be okay... wait... the Can-Ams destroyed Asako's mouth? He showing the old fighting spirit, getting all Kikuchi in there? This is good shit! Can-Ams vs Kobashi isn't new, but they have an old shoe comfort of working together, and Asako was fresh.

 

Then you've got the six man main event, a regular thing at Korakuen Hall in the era, slightly changed up with Kobashi out of the mix and giving Misawa an unbalanced team opposite Kawada & Taue. We all could predict the likely outcome as we'd seen it often enough, but it's likely to be some solid good stuff... and Kawada & Taue vs Misawa & Co was only 3 series old at this point, kicking off the 4th series here. It's not at all played out at this point like Jumbo & Co vs Misawa & Co was in 1992. So... yeah... this is okay.

 

Random gaijin showing up in one match. A relatively fresh kid in the second. And a still fairly new feud in the main.

 

In another series the year before, Rick Rude showed up. It was interesting to see Joel Deaton and Billy Black develop. You get strange stuff like the State Police as mentioned, or the Blackhearts. With the one hour format, there were more tapings and matches tended to get more time to breath even if there was a lot of JIP going on.

 

Fun stuff to watch every week or two weeks in 1989-93 depending on which video store I went to they were either bundled two AJPW or NJPW together every two weeks or the NJPW+AJPW together on a tape each week. Easy to keep up with as well: just two hours a week. Sucked when it got cut down to 30 minutes.

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BigBadMIck posed these questions to me on a PM that I think would be interested for other members to chime in on.

 

Hansen - when did he start into this 'older, weary veteran' stage? Was it really with the young lions Misawa and co coming up? I ask because I got to the tail end of 86 in the ajpw 80s set and he was going strong there.

 

- Hansen as an older, weary veteran is an interesting question. I am not sure if by 1993 he is in that stage yet or not. Misawa is able to definitely put him away there establishing himself as the ace. In 1994, Doc is the most pushed gaijin and that might be the catalyst for the transition as Hansen is still a fixture but no longer the main gaijin to go along with the main native inside the promotion.

 

Gordy - is he more or less finished as a good-to-great singles star by 90? I enjoyed his Hansen and Tsurata Triple crown matches, moderately. Any decent matches I should be on the lookout for going forward?

 

- I can't think of many good Gordy singles matches post 1991, Kobashi 1993 is the obvious exception but that feels more like an liberation than the norm from Gordy in singles at that point.

 

Spivey - you boys were none too kind to him in WCW, any love for the team with Hansen? The few matches of their's that I've seen have been ok, and he's good in the role.

 

- Spivey is fine in All Japan in the lesser tag partner role. His dangerous (no pun intended) nature works well in All Japan's environment with individuals used to and willing to taking suplexes.

 

Kawada - when does he lose those God-awful blue tights? :)

 

- Do we have an exact date when Kawada is strictly Black and Yellow?

 

Also, how do you compare the promotion with New Japan in the early 90s?

 

- I think this is an interesting debate. Loss argues that 93 is really when the gap started to widen between the two promotions from a quality standpoint. I feel biased because All Japan is my favorite promotion of all time and I dislike 2 out of 3 Muskateers ( Chono and Muto) more times than not. So while 1990 and 1991 defintely had highlights for New Japan, I still think the high end stuff from All Japan (6/8/90, 9/30/90, 10/90 6 man, 4/20/91, 9/1/90) was generally better on average than the New Japan output. The exception to that is the 1991 G-1 final with Muto vs. Chono and I also really liked the Hase vs. Liger match. 1993 has actually been my favorite stuff following New Japan of the yearbooks I have watched so far due to the WAR vs. New Japan feud. That provides a great contrast to me to what All Japan was also doing excellently in that year.

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Kawada - when does he lose those God-awful blue tights? :)

 

 

- Do we have an exact date when Kawada is strictly Black and Yellow?

 

 

 

 

 

He wears them occasionally through at least August 1990 but it's sporadic after June 1990. Going on memory, he is yellow and black full time by September 1990. He does keep the Footloose music through at least early 1992.

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I'm into October and it's black and yellow Kawada and all is right in the world.

 

Of the four pillars, as of this point I see Misawa leading as a complete package, with very little space between the other three. Taue has really impressed/surprised me. And Kobashi - already! - is Mr Electricity.

 

Really glad I decided to go deep with this....

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Thanks for this Chad -

 

'Hansen - when did he start into this 'older, weary veteran' stage? Was it really with the young lions Misawa and co coming up? I ask because I got to the tail end of 86 in the ajpw 80s set and he was going strong there.

- Hansen as an older, weary veteran is an interesting question. I am not sure if by 1993 he is in that stage yet or not. Misawa is able to definitely put him away there establishing himself as the ace. In 1994, Doc is the most pushed gaijin and that might be the catalyst for the transition as Hansen is still a fixture but no longer the main gaijin to go along with the main native inside the promotion.'

....but what I really meant was I see a big difference between Hansen in 86 and 90. He's selling quite a bit more for Misawa than I could have envisioned him doing for a similarly positioned wrestler in 86.

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Also, how do you compare the promotion with New Japan in the early 90s?

 

- I think this is an interesting debate. Loss argues that 93 is really when the gap started to widen between the two promotions from a quality standpoint. I feel biased because All Japan is my favorite promotion of all time and I dislike 2 out of 3 Muskateers ( Chono and Muto) more times than not. So while 1990 and 1991 defintely had highlights for New Japan, I still think the high end stuff from All Japan (6/8/90, 9/30/90, 10/90 6 man, 4/20/91, 9/1/90) was generally better on average than the New Japan output. The exception to that is the 1991 G-1 final with Muto vs. Chono and I also really liked the Hase vs. Liger match. 1993 has actually been my favorite stuff following New Japan of the yearbooks I have watched so far due to the WAR vs. New Japan feud. That provides a great contrast to me to what All Japan was also doing excellently in that year.

I wish I was a little more familiar with New Japan in the 90s but I'll still say that they had so much variety during that era that even in weaker years there'd always be a few things to look forward to. I hate Mutoh and Chono too but Hashimoto is out of this world great. The interpromotional feuds are awesome, particularly NJPW vs WAR which also leads to Tenryu being part of the main event scene for much of the decade.

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Thanks for this Chad -

 

'Hansen - when did he start into this 'older, weary veteran' stage? Was it really with the young lions Misawa and co coming up? I ask because I got to the tail end of 86 in the ajpw 80s set and he was going strong there.

- Hansen as an older, weary veteran is an interesting question. I am not sure if by 1993 he is in that stage yet or not. Misawa is able to definitely put him away there establishing himself as the ace. In 1994, Doc is the most pushed gaijin and that might be the catalyst for the transition as Hansen is still a fixture but no longer the main gaijin to go along with the main native inside the promotion.'

....but what I really meant was I see a big difference between Hansen in 86 and 90. He's selling quite a bit more for Misawa than I could have envisioned him doing for a similarly positioned wrestler in 86.

 

I think this provides a deeper dive into 80's marginal stuff than what was presented on the 1980's set. Similarly, if a 1990's All Japan set existed, I wouldn't envision any Hansen match vs. young native to show up from 1990-1992 besides the KObashi September 1991 match. I did watch a quick sampling of a RWTL match from 86 with DiBiase/Hansen vs. Fuyaki/Ishikawa and Hansen does a bit of selling in the short 8 minute clip there for Fuyaki. I just think Hansen is the master of gradually giving up spurts of offense to young lions that can really grow a feud overall where you can see his opponent gaining each time out. The growth Kobashi takes from 1/91 to 9/91 to 7/93 to 4/94 is astounding for instance and really rewarding in retrospect.

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Hansen starts really kicking that stuff into gear in the 94 CC for sure with the rib injury. Then he falls off a cliff in 95 with the Misawa and Kawada TC matches that are not very good at all. Best you get after 94 is his 99 run through the RWTL with Taue as the fan favorite team with Burning (Akiyama and Kobashi) coming in as the bullies trying to keep the vets from winning in the final match. Which is possibly one of the most glorious Hansen matches you will ever see. The tag match against the MVCs on 4/18/91 is also a tremendous Hansen performance you should not miss. Spivey, Gordy and Williams are in the match and fine, but Hansen is on a completely different level.

 

The first time I saw Kawada's tights go to black & gold was 9/30/90. If you go back to the Tenryu days of All Japan he wore zubaz, which is a little trippy when you see it at first.

 

Gordy's singles matches are not great after 1990 for the most part and I've always wondered why. I like him a lot more than Doc during the 1990-93 time period for sure. He had a good singles match with Misawa on 6/1/91. It could be that Hansen was always casting such a big shadow that it was hard for Gordy. He may have been better off doing more of the Hansen out of control brawling, but they had that guy. Williams and Gordy were more technician/brawlers with a lot of weardown holds (that they sat in endlessly) and I wonder if that wasn't a little bit because of Hansen's status and style.

 

Spivey is actually really good in tags in 1991. I would take a Hansen/Spivey tag over a MVC tag in 1991 any day of the week. Spivey holds up his end well enough, but is still a level below most everybody in the matches he's in. But he's not taking the lion's share of the offense and killing the match in the process *cough Gordy and Williams *cough*.

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That he was a bit bland and didn't stand out much as Hansen's partner, which is fair. He didn't embarrass himself, but then he's not much more than solid in a lot of those matches. But it got pushed to ridiculous levels to the point where people were writing things like DiBiase was being carried by Tenryu and shit like that, as if Ted -- one of the best workers in the world for that decade -- needed to be carried by anyone.

 

I thought the criticism went way too far. And Ted was way more over in Japan than Jumbo or Tenryu were ever over in the US (for example), and had better matches.

 

I'll be watching some more Ted and Hansen soon when I get back to Dory watching, and hit some more Funks tags that were left off the set. But it goes without saying that I like the DiBiase / Hansen team and Funks 80s tags more than most of the committee.

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'That he was a bit bland and didn't stand out much as Hansen's partner, which is fair. He didn't embarrass himself, but then he's not much more than solid in a lot of those matches'

 

I'd agree with that.

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Ted vs. Tenryu was a really fun match and I thought both did their parts to make it what it was. I think a lot of Ted's problem in tags was similar to the one experienced by everyone they paired with Hansen. Hansen is such a force of nature both in-ring and character wise that it was hard for any westerner to stand out in any way as his partner. They all ended up being cowboys like Stan and not...themselves. Hell, it even happened with Gordy when he was Hansen's partner. I don't know if it was intentional or his partners just weren't able to step out of his shadow while being his partner.

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I see it as playing a role. Apart from Brody, there wasn't going to be anyone tagging with Stan who was going to stand out with their own identity, not in the way the Hansen team was packaged anyway. And I thought Ted did perfectly fine with the double team spots, and carrying his end of the load.

 

My main objection comes -- and it's not only Ted who applies here -- when people deify certain workers so much that they end up saying stupid things like we're watching a broomstick worker (like Ted) get carried. I can't remember who said it now and can't check because it was on the old DVDR board. But it was almost like they were making out Tenryu was about 15 times the worker Ted was. Okay then, but how would he have done in Mid-South or as the Million Dollar Man? Or whatever. Not just a Ted thing, by the way, I think everyone is guilty of putting certain guys on outrageous pedestals.

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Parv, how are you finding the four pillars so far? I got the impression Kobashi isn't impressing you yet?

If you listened to the last show we did (#5), you'll see I really turned around on Kobashi in that batch of matches. He undergoes an amazing transformation.

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That's mid-92. What took you so long?

 

I think he's very good in a tag with Joe Malenko v Can-Ams in early 90, then a tag with Tsurata v Hansen and Spivey (in April, I think).

 

Tsurata gives his credibility a nice bump on 31/08/90 and for there he's off to the races in tags for rest of the year.

 

Great exchanges with Kawada in Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kenta Kobashi & Johnny Ace (AJPW 9/29/90).

 

And doesn't seem out of place in the best 6 man I've seen from 1990 - Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada & Kenta Kobashi vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, Akira Taue & Masa Fuchi (AJPW 10/19/90)

 

Maybe I'm projecting a bit, knowing how good he becomes and I'm willing him towards that. But still.....

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