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[1996-10-12-AJPW-October Giant Series] Steve Williams & Johnny Ace vs Kenta Kobashi & The Patriot

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Slow start to this--not the usual Doc/Gordy/Ace kind of slow with a lot of laying in holds. Just deliberate. And there's good stuff to be found, like the little football tackle dick-waving contest between Doc and Patriot. This picks up and turns into a hell of a match, with a closing stretch that wouldn't be totally out of place among the great early-'90s All-Japan tags. Kobashi works as sort of the juniory, in-peril member of the team, which I could see being a source of criticism, but...well, that's what Kobashi does. And while Patriot is fine, he's best served as an apron cheerleader who just comes in to hit his big spots. There's lots of neat counter-wrestling in between all the big bombs and some cool double-teams. It's probably too long to have been included on a pretty loaded Yearbook in full but this is probably the best AJPW match not to make the cut.

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I just picked up the 96 AJPW season set & this was the first match I saw on the first disc I tossed in, great way to start a season I've never watched any of, I gave The Patriot a little more credit than you did & personally didn't care for Johnny Ace at all lol, but I thought this match was very good.

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I don't want to sell Patriot too short--his offense looked pretty good and I think he's a guy who tends to come off as too light for AJPW. Really liked his and Doc's struggle for him to apply the full nelson slam towards the end, too. Still, I think we can all agree that Kobashi was the best guy of the 4 at drawing sympathy...even if one could question a Triple Crown champion working that way.

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AJPW World Tag Team Champions Steve Williams & Johnny Ace vs Kenta Kobashi & The Patriot - AJPW 10/12/96

Pretty excited to see what The Patriot bring to the table, it is so weird that in less than a year, he would main eventing in the WWF against Bret Hart. In 1996, there has been a renewed focus on the tag belts since Doc has come back and reunited his team with Ace and now Misawa has formed a new team with Akiyama to combat Kawada & Taue. However, this left Kobashi out in the cold. I was thinking how cool would it have been if Kobashi formed a tag team with his former arch-nemesis Stan Hansen after the Budokan Triple Crown defense. That would have been a hellacious tag team. Baba would shift the tag teams around in 1997 with Doc trading Ace for Albright as a tag team partner and Ace would replace Patriot as Kobashi's full-time partner. 

Doc is an especially frisky mood at the beginning of this match, duck walking, taunting, antagonizing the Patriot, lots of middle fingers between the Americans. Do Japanese flip each other off in the same way or did they not realize what the Americans were doing to each other. I agree with others who have watched this match that the first half is a bit slow. It is more meandering. There's not much in the way of highspots. It is very 80s WWF tag. There is a long heel in peril to start the match with Ace taking a lot of heat. They are using vertical suplexes as highspots. There is some fun character work mostly from Doc who is just being a jock shithead in the match. The best part was Doc challenging Patriot to a three-point stance shoulder tackle match. Then they shoved a bunch and Doc just teed off with rights. As for The Patriot, he is a big boy. I liked the shouldertackle off the apron and then celebrating. He is competent and hits his stuff well. I think Doc and Ace have more personality. Kobashi hits a powerbomb on Ace and then Boston Crab. Doc comes in and saves. Dr. Death becomes a one man wrecking crew, clearing out the challengers. Surprisingly, Ace does not tag out, instead Doc hits an Oklahoma Slam off the top rope and Ace covers for two. Looks like business is about to pick up. Lets see what happens in the second half. 

Business picked way the fuck up in the latter half and this turned into quite the humdinger of a match. Ace whipped Kobashi into a big 'ol meaty Doc Lariat on the outside and then Ace Crusher on the Top Rope! Ow! Lets go Ace! Tag out to Doc who Military Presses Kobashi and just drops him. Kobashi sells the knee. Instantaneously, Kobashi is super over. I will say Patriot by extension was over like rover. I think the fans really wanted Kobashi to win the tag belts and there were a ton of Patriot chants. 

Kobashi fights out of the corner beating up both Ace/Doc. Tag. Patriot hits a beautiful dropkick on Doc. Patriot needs to put some more mustard on these strikes. He is hitting light as a feather. Doc gobbles him up and Spinebusters him! Ace beats Patriot from Pillar to Post. Patriot is a pretty animated wrestler, I enjoy that. He really gets into celebrations and let people know he is trying to get up. Patriot hits a weak back suplex and tags out. Kobashi tees off on Ace. Ace is always great at eating Kobashi's offense. He always does the right amount of struggle to make Kobashi look like a Destroyer. Kobashi unleashes some wicked Spinning Back Chops to set up a big time German on Ace. Oooooo a little Kobashi/Patriot double team with a shouldertackle/suplex combo. The crowd is really, really behind Kobashi/Ace and they do a double team Powerbomb. Double shouldertackle on Doc. Some nice continuity from the Global Energy Team. Kobashi TRUCKS Ace with a lariat but Doc saves. 

DAAAAAAAANGGGGGEEROUSSSSSS BACK DROP DRIVER ON KOBASHI! Wicked head drop. That grinds the babyfaces momentum to a halt. Big Kobashi chants ring out, but he is out cold. Glassy eyed sell. Doc always has that one big bomb in his back pocket that can change the match on a dime. Ace is struggling after taking so much punishment but he tags out. Doc has some wide eyes but Patriot chop blocks Doc from behind on the Powerbomb attempt that was a match saver. Tag into Patriot, BIG POP! Massive Top Rope Shoulder Tackle! NODOWA~! 1-2-NO! Crowd loves the Patriot! If they broke into a U-S-A Chant I would lost my mind. Patriot POWERBOMB! 1-2-NO! Crowd loves it but the Patriot is spent. PATRIOT CHANTS! This is crazy! Patriot goes up top probably looking for the Patriot Missile, but Doc meets him and just Overhead Belly 2 Belly Suplexes from the top, insane! I sense the end is nigh for the babyfaces. Kobashi saves Patriot from the DANGEROUS Back Drop Driver, Ace comes in and ACE CRSUHER~! DOOMSDAY DEVICE~! all on Kobashi! Kobashi is toast! They have The Patriot isolated. Double team Oklahoma Stampede only gets two. More Patriot Chants! Doomsday Device??? Kobashi yanks Ace down. Victory Roll! Good nearfall for Patriot! Doc charges...Uncle Slam...NO...Doc bucks him off...MACK TRUCK LARIAT! Kobashi saves, but that would have been a great finish. Ace has Kobashi detained. DoctorBomb should have been the finish because it'd be nice to have that move actually win a match...oh well...German Suplex and Tiger Suplex put Patriot down.

This being 90s All Japan it does go 2-3 moves too many, it was the Patriot, he didnt need that much protection. The last 15 minutes of this is absolute gangbusters. Doc has looked every bit as good in 1996 as he did in 1994. Confidence, power, explosiveness, charisma. First match where Ace took a back seat, he got worked on a lot. He is better as a stooge heel or working Southern Style Heat Segments on top. Kobashi was awesome especially selling. Patriot is a great offensive hoss. He has great highspots and is pretty charismatic but he is missing a lot of the connective tissue. Doc/Ace's finish run was just awesome, I am loving their use of the Doomsday Device! Cant go too high though the beginning of the match was just there. ***3/4

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