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[1997-10-11-AJPW] Mitsuharu Misawa vs Steve Williams


Superstar Sleeze
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AJPW Triple Crown Champion Mitsuharu Misawa vs Steve Williams - AJPW 10/11/97

A very odd Triple Crown defense for two reasons: 1. It was Doc's second challenge of the year, very unusual to have a man challenge for the Triple Crown twice in a reign especially twice in a calendar year 2. It comes just ten days before Misawa's title defense at the Budokan against Kobashi. This is in Fukuoka. Usually the title defense are more spread out throughout the year and usually at least 1-2 months apart. I would love to hear the rationale behind why this match even happened?

I would agree of the four big singles matches of the rivalry (1993, 1994 and 3/1/97) that this is the least. It is very Misawa by the number and follows the rhythm of that style of match. Doc gets Misawa in trouble with some leg work early. They did a lot of Greco-Roman standup grappling, but not much progressed in the first 5 minutes. I guess you could say Misawa had the nominal advantage so Doc popped him in the mouth then double legged him. From there he chop blocked him. I was excited like I was in 3/1/97 at the prospect of Misawa's leg being worked over but it was really just time filler. Misawa hit a DDT out of nowhere and he began his comeback. Elbow Suicida! Looked good. Doc planted him with a Spinebuster on the outside. The match then became about can Doc hit the move that won him the Triple Crown in 1994, the Dangerous Back Drop Driver. There were a lot of teases especially a great one on the apron that Misawa saved himself from. In the meantime, Doc ran through his usual offense, three-point stance, splash in the corner and the DoctorBomb. I thought when he finally hit the Dangerous Back Drop Driver, the steam was taken out it by Misawa bump and sell. Misawa looked to have blocked it with his arms, which is just sometimes how he takes it. He stood up and looked to not sell, but it turns out he was just doing a delayed sell, collapses through the ring ropes. He threw me, the announcer and the fans off by doing that. Poor choice in my book. Doc throws up the Diamond Cutter symbol to let us know he is down with DDP, the People's Champ (he was in a stable called the Triangle of Something with Albright and LACROSSE (I really want to see that gimmick, it is Jungle Jim Steele in a mask)). Doc gets his nearfall and it is off to the races for Misawa. Which is an odd sentence to type after someone just got nailed with the most beastly move in All Japan BUT everyone and their mother knew Misawa's comeback was imminent. Misawa just shrugs it off and ROARING ELBOW~! Doc charges into an Elbow and yep we are going home. Misawa busts out a Koppou Kick/Somersault Leg Drop thats pretty cool, so that was different. Misawa pours on the Tiger Drivers and Elbows and unlike 3/1/97 he does not need the Tiger Driver '91.

Solid match and if you are a fan of Misawa you will like this. Doc looked good in this but was kind of hamstrung by the formula. He comes off as just another challenger. He is no longer special like in 1994 when he had that one big move the most Dangerous Move in Pro Wrestling, the Dangerous Back Drop Driver. The beginning was tepid and the leg work and first Misawa comeback was perfunctory. The match really began in earnest with Doc planting Misawa with a Spinebuster on the floor. It then became about each man running through their Greatest Hits with the only drama being in if the Back Drop Driver would be hit and once it was hit, it was not even sold properly and from there Misawa did not even bother with a transition, he just lazily went into Elbows. After writing all this, I have downgraded the rating in my head. It is match that is barely above average and it is only because both are so good at offense that I give it ***.

 

 

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  • paul sosnowski changed the title to [1997-10-11-AJPW] Mitsuharu Misawa vs Steve Williams

I liked this but it's definitely a bit too slow going in the early stages. Sorta feels like a lot of the modern NJPW matches you see these days with a padded beginning and a strong second half. It definitely helps Misawa and Williams always had good chemistry, but I would agree it's the weakest of their series.

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