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[2000-01-23-AJPW-New Year's Giant Series] Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori

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This starts big with Taue giving a big throw to Takayama and overall showing more fire than he does at any other point in January. The crowd is really hot as all four of these men stare off at each other. No Fear takes over and this is a great showcase of them being the biggest bullies in the yard brutalizing the previous biggest bullies in the yard. After Kawada gets beat down including the big knee from Omori on the top, Taue has had enough of this shit and comes in with a house of fire. It isn’t enough though as No Fear gives him a double clothesline to send him to the outside. This awakes Kawada and he shows some fire kicking complete ass for a few seconds. Takayama goes for the eyes to a chorus of boos. This allows No Fear to take over again and Omori gets the HUGE pinfall on Kawada following a big lariat. Awesome showcase for No Fear here and this was a hell of a show for All Japan overall. The promo with H D A is amazing and really shows them questioning their identity and having to go back to the proverbial drawing board. ****

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Kawada and Taue. They've been to hell and back. They started their relationship with the most hate-filled rivalry in wrestling in the early 90s, then became arguably the best tag team of the decade, maybe even of all time. Kawada had just made a much-anticipated return from an eye injury and the crowd is incredibly excited to see him back. He and Taue are facing a team that is younger, bigger and hungrier. They don't steamroll Kawada and Taue, but it's obvious early the match is going to be a tough one. I loved Taue coming to his partner's rescue so many times. It wasn't just a wrestler saving his tag team partner. It was a show of friendship -- Taue, ever the junior partner, was letting his greatest tag team partner have his moment. Ultimately, we think we're seeing the Kawada of old when he slaps Omori in the face multiple times as he feels his momentum building, only to go for a big boot and eat a bigger one of his own. After No Fear isolate Kawada, Omori drills him with a lariat and pins him. The contrast in post-match promos give this even more gravity -- Takayama and Omori look ready to take on the world, while Kawada and Taue look completely lost. I don't know if everyone will see it this way, but this felt like a better version of Brock-Undertaker in terms of a devastating upset having lasting consequences. And just like Wrestlemania 30, some change was coming in the company, although it just wasn't quite the change foreshadowed by the results of the event. We still have two more Holy Demon Army tags coming, but that's it for the whole decade. That quickly, that decisively, in 14:44, Kawada and Taue are toast. Tragic and fitting all at the same time. ****1/2

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This was an excellent tag team match. Kawada and Taue look great in the beginning, but kind of fall apart in this match as Takayama and Omori do an excellent job of double teaming and cutting off the other team. Some great fire shown by Kawada and Taue in this put the other team just simply out wrestle them. Very somber promo by Holy Demon Army at the end of this one that really drives this devastating loss home.

 

****1/4

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They told an effective tale of the new-jack thugs taking down the former baddest boys on the block. I do think that story was a little diminished by the fact Kawada was still clearly the best wrestler in the match. Takayama and Omori took him down by fighting dirty rather than outwrestling him. Actually, Taue was the poignant figure in the match, because he desperately tried to fight fire with fire but just couldn't level the odds for his partner. The crowd seemed stunned by how decisive the finish was, which spoke well for these guys achieving their intended purpose. And they did it in unusually concise fashion. One of the best matches of the month.

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Effective storytelling and a good match. The opening segment with Taue throwing everything he can at No Fear but eventually getting overwhelmed was great. No Fear constantly going back to the eyes put over how much they were in control. Using such a simplistic finish added to the match as well.

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This was a nice brawl but I'm not sure I would call it a devastating loss. Nine times out of ten, you'd expect Kawada and Taue to win in the same amount of time it took No Fear to score the upset. But this time they lost. And while Kawada refused to make any excuses after the match, he was coming off an injury layoff and there was an element of rustiness to not only his performance but Kawada and Taue's teamwork. But it wasn't the end of the world. The promotion was trying to elevate midcard guys at the time. The timing of the upset was kind of odd considering No Fear had been jobbed out in the 1999 RWTL, but it wasn't a deathblow for Kawada and Taue. Come June they would stand triumphant with their record setting sixth title reign. So, I don't think this match marked the end. Not by a long shot.

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This was a hard hitting match with the kicks and big boots flying. Nice storytelling as the younger team overcame the greats. Takayama and Omori used their double teams effectively and executed a smart strategy of keeping Taue on the outside. Excellent match.

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I liked the dynamic of this, with Omori and Takayama being the young bruisers stepping to the old guard, not by using what made the old guard top dogs in the first place, but by just clawing their faces. Each time Takayama went to Kawada's eyes to break something the heat would go up a notch, and I liked Taue trying to give them some of it back only to be decisively thrown to the floor. No Fear really felt like a unit in this; one that didn't care for etiquette, fighting dirty when they needed to cut off Kawada or Taue's momentum. In contrast Kawada and Taue approached it like they normally would, except nothing clicked and they ultimately paid for it. I wouldn't have minded another few minutes, but I suppose the brevity added to the eventual payoff. Cool match.

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No Fear (Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori) vs. Holy Demon Army (Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada) - AJPW New Year Giant Series: Day 15 (01/23/00)

 

High kicks galore. I think the first few minutes of this match were Takayama, Omori, Taue, and Kawada booting the shit out of each other. This match had its moments, but ultimately failed to grab me. No Fear acted as traditional heels, utilizing a shit ton of eye rakes, and were in control for the majority of this match, but they weren’t exactly the most compelling duo despite showcasing strong teamwork and hard-hitting double-team manuevers. Taue & Kawada were solid, but nothing more.

 

Rating:

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Really good match. It grabs me. I like the fact that it''s a match between the young ones and the old guard. I like the doubleteaming of No Fear. They play dirty but in my mind it doesn't diminish their victory.

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