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Misawa vs. Kawada vs. Kobashi vs. Taue - Comparing the Four Corners

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Kawada, Misawa, Kobashi, Taue.

 

I don't think anyone in wrestling has ever come across as a bigger badass than Kawada. You could put him across the ring from Brock Lesnar and I'd say poor Brock.

Holy shit that is the craziest and most awesome dream match anyone has ever uttered!

 

prime Kawada vs today Brock!!!!!!!

 

Wait.. that still wouldn't be as good as Hansen-Kawada though.

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I'll go as far as rating the All-Japan natives like this.

 

Tenryu-Tsuruta-Kawada-Misawa-Kobashi-Taue-Baba.

 

Where abouts would Tsoyoshi Kikuchi be?

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I love Kikuchi as Tsuyoshi Kikuchi. Not sure its fair to anyone to compare him to the others given his role as tag/six-man underdog or jr. tag captain. He's great for what he is. Some guys are HOFers and others are elite role players.

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After reading some of the comments in the Misawa thread I feel like I've a new found appreciation for the guy. Him being the promotions ace isn't really something I kept in mind when watching his work before. Once you do you start to see his understated selling and stoicism in a new light.

 

But still, it goes like this . .

 

Kawada

Misawa

Taue

Kobashi

 

Taue shines like a motherfucker in the tags and the best matches of the period are the tags. Plus I like his 4/95 Misawa match more than any of Kobashi's singles against the natives. I really dug Kobashi at first. He stood out from the rest. But when the All Japan style starts to get annoying around 95 it feels like he's the main agitator.

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Kobashi by far

That would seem the obvious answer for sure, but I've seen a lot of criticism of post-2000 Kobashi.

 

Was wondering if anyone with those criticisms would rank any of the other Pillars' 2000s work above Kobashi's.

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These are my opinions remember, so they can't be right nor wrong.

 

Kobashi is my #1 by quite a bit. I know that for sure. Best baby face ever in Japan, like I can feel the crowd genuinely behind him better than Misawa, Tsuruta, Hashimoto. He's just reached greatness level far more times than the others to me. He's in a big part of my top 20 matches ever in Japan. He's in my #1 and #2 singles AJPW matches ever: vs. Misawa 01.20.97 and vs. Stan Hansen 07.??.93(you know, the one with th Lariat off the top backwards). He's in my #1 AJPW tag-team match ever w/ Kikuchi vs. Furnas & Krofatt.

 

But that's just me, I got into him first when I first watched Puro(02) and in 03 he took off with the big 2 year GHC Heavyweight Title run which I actually got to see somewhat as it was going on, so that by default is my favorite run of any of their careers. You of course have 03.01.03 v. Misawa and v. Akiyama 03 which are *****. Really good defense v. Suzuki and a bunch of guys I don't even think are good. Not to mention Akira Taue way past his prime in a really fun defense. And I love v. Mike Awesome defense 12.04.04, cuz fuck it i love me some Gladiator and Kobashi actually had a fun match with him. The running Awesomebomb from the ramp inside > Frog splash and the Super bomb ruled.

 

Akira Taue is an easy #4. Sure all four guys could have great matches against eachother in AJPW. As singles wrestlers, I think Kobashi, Kawada & Misawa were GREAT. I just want to clarify that GREAT means a 10/10, a no doubt Top ___ something. Brock Lesnar is great (hell if you believe Meltzer's line about MMA = Pro Wrestling than we don't even need a conversation, he's the greatest). Ric Flair is great. Rey Mysterio is great. Vader is great. Kobashi, Kawada, Misawa are great. To me there is a top level where the greatest of all time sit, and he is on that 2nd level. I don't like him very much at all before 1993. This is not a knock on him either because he did reach that greatness level. First off he is in by quite a margin, the greatest tag-team ever in Japan. And in my #2 and #3 best tag matches ever in Japan and probably a good portion of the top 20 if I was trying that hard. The Misawa Champion Carnival 95(I think?) match is ***** and only in their series did he step it up to those heights in singles matches. His fights vs. Kawada were always good but never that good(I would like some recommendations though because I would think they could pull *****. Some fun stuff as an old guy in NOAH.

 

So it really comes down to Kawada v. Misawa over the #2 spot. You gotta throw out their matches vs. eachother of course. This I could flip any day. Misawa had better matches with Kobashi, then again I haven't watched the Kobashi-Kawada 60:00 draw in years but I remember being blown away. Kawada was in the best tag team but often vs. Misawa. Kawada v. Hansen is f'n awesome while Misawa-Hansen straight sucks. Misawa sucked as Tiger Mask. Kawada vs. Tenryu in 2000 was awesome but Misawa vs. Tenryu in 2005 sucked but Tenryu aged a lot. I guess I'd go with quality over quantity and do Misawa for #2

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1. Kawada

2. Misawa

3. Kobashi

4. Taue

 

Though I might prefer watching a Taue match to a Kobashi match at the moment since it would challenge me to think about the work more.

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Mine looks the same as jdw's. That being said, I would much rather watch a Taue match than a Kobashi match. Especially if it's after 1995.

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Kobushi's last. Understandably, Kobashi is more expressive, hence, more relatable, hence, more accessible, hence, more "likable."

 

Doesn't make him better than the other three, though.

To be fair, I don't think expressiveness is the only reason you might rank him above the others. He's also arguably the greatest offensive wrestler in history.

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I just want to clarify that GREAT means a 10/10, a no doubt Top ___ something. Brock Lesnar is great (hell if you believe Meltzer's line about MMA = Pro Wrestling than we don't even need a conversation, he's the greatest).

 

Even if we pretend that shoot MMA matches are in line with worked Pro Wrestling matches, I'm not sure how the MMA stuff helps Brock. He had 8 fights. Exactly Zero of them were Fight of the Nights, let along winning a significant Fight of the Year award. Almost all of them were one sided ass kickings, including his loss to Mir (a rare one sided match when the ass kicker ends up getting caught).

 

They are important matches on a level because Brock was over huge. They all had a buzz... because Brock was over huge. But they weren't great fights.

 

An example?

 

Take this fight, with its ranking from the more-than-a-bit-goofy ranking on the UFC Top 100 fights dvd back in 2009:

 

78. UFC 76: Keith Jardine vs. Chuck Liddell

 

It's hardly the best fight in UFC history, and who knows if today it would be one of the Top 100 in a realistic ranking. But it's better than more than half the matches on that goofy set, and probably better than more than 2/3rds. That was a terrific, dramatic fight with a huge upset that screwed up the "booking" of the promotion.

 

Point: Brock never had an MMA fight remotely as good as a fight that might not be one of the Top 100.

 

Again, big buzz around his matches. But there never were very good due to being one sides.

 

If we count Brock's MMA as Wrestling, it doesn't help him as a worker. It just adds to his HOF candidacy as a Big Star.

 

Of course a lot of us could give a shit about MMA when it comes to a Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. ;) It means even less to "work".

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Kobashi

Kawada

Misawa

Taue

 

90's Kobashi is the GOAT babyface and his selling by performance in 6/9/95 is my favorite from any wrestler ever. Also a strong candidate for wrestler of the 2000's even with all the time he took off.

 

Kawada's badassery is something I never get tired of watching and I always find myself cheering for him (except when he's facing Kobashi).

 

The amount of great matches Misawa has been in is ridiculous. Probably been in more ****+ matches on tape than anyone else, and he did it without the long periods of inactivity taken by Kobashi and Kawada. Reason he's below those guys is I just don't find his character as compelling and they also seemed more creative in having great matches with lower ranked opponents and gaijin without relying as much on brutal spots for drama.

 

I honestly wouldn't fault someone for thinking Taue was the best of all they've seen was his best stuff. RWTL 1996 final and CC 1995 final are some of the best matches ever, and he certainly does look like possibly the best guy in the promotion in those. That said, he just doesn't have the same depth to his resume as the other 3 and he seemed to start declining much earlier than them as well. I'd agree that he's been doing passed by Akiyama at this point for his post-split work (and it just dawned on me that Akiyama is now at the same age that the other four were either dead or retired at and still cranking out epic performances regularly. Maybe the smartest guy to come out of 90's AJPW.)

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I imagine he was a witness to how what they were doing tore the other four up. Probably found ways of avoiding as much of the punishment as he could while still putting on the right kind of matches.

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I'd personally put it Kobashi > Misawa > Kawada > Taue, but with several qualifications. Such as, "oddly, although I like Misawa/Kobashi better individually, Taue/Kawada are clearly the better tag team" and "hmmm... do I feel like Kawada is better than Misawa today?" and "it depends kinda heavily on who their opponent is" and especially "but still, they're ALL better than like 99.999% of other wrestlers who've ever walked the aisle (or, on Dome shows, the ramp)".

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