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[2000-01-17-AJPW-New Year's Giant Series] Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama vs Vader & Akira Taue

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Really interesting structure for the New Year Giant Series this year as they loaded up two cards in 1/7 and this 1/17 show relatively big but all of the huge stuff in planning was saved for the Excite Series in February. Big contrast to what they have done the past few years. We have also seen TC matches reduced in length with the Vader run but now it floats over to tags. This was a 14 minute match that had a brisk pace and never really could wear out its welcome due to the length. It was also the semi-main of a card that is fairly perplexing with No Fear in a throwaway six man. I was glad to see Taue have a spirited performance here after giving close to nothing in the 1/2 tag. The writing is one the wall with the hierarchy though as he takes the pinfall pretty easily here. I would have liked to have seen a bit more dissension in the Akiyama and Misawa team leading to their match next month. It also looked clear here that a big Vader vs. Akiyama match was being teased. Stuff seems to be a little all over the place a the moment All Japan booking wise and knowing the internal struggle, that makes a lot of sense. This was a good but ultimately inconsequential tag match that is good to see in retrospect for the tinkering of the overall structure and what a semi main tag match in AJ can contain. ***1/4

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Vader-Misawa and Vader-Kobashi, while both had good matches in 1999, fell short of what I was hoping for. The Vader-Akiyama interactions in this are great, and between that and Chad's hype for their TC match later this month, I'm really excited about seeing it. Everyone else here is very good as always, but it's Vader who brings the freshest dynamic, and it's Akiyama who has the best chemistry with him. I thought Kobashi would be Vader's Sting in All Japan. Akiyama is his Sting if this match is any indication. Misawa and Taue crafted a nice parallel match with this one and I enjoyed it also, and Misawa even pinned Taue for the finish. But most of the spotlight was on the other pairing, and rightfully so. Very good match on the road to 1-23. ***1/2

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Akiyama did a fantastic job selling for Vader but at the same time putting up a fight. I have a real affinity for these types of All Japan matches where they restrain the excess of the style. Just a simple and entertaining match.

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Good match. My only negative comment on this one was early on when Vader was hitting Akiyama with the chair, Misawa didn't bother to come help his partner. Sometimes in All Japan, the teamwork seems lacking. Otherwise, the match had good selling and all the moves looked impactful. Taue had a nice performance, and the buildup for Vader and Akiyama has me ready to see the match.

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Vader looked better here than the smith match. Looking forward to him vs Akiyama. Taue doing the bumping for Vader is interesting. I always like Misawa better in tags and this wasn't a exception.Good finish too.

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Vader and Taue are still capable bruisers even past their primes. There’s a lot of great Vader/Akiyama interactions and, since we’re 21 years into the future, we all know this is a teaser for a big match down the line. (They’ll meet again on 01/23, but this time in singles competition.) Misawa seems content on letting Akiyama carry the brunt of the match, and occasionally pops in for a hot tag to fire off some elbows. That works for me.

***½
 

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