• Jumbo Tsuruta & Giant Baba vs. Dory & Terry Funk(AJPW Real World Tag League Finals 12.11.80)

Tsuruta & Baba were the dominant NWA International Tag Team Champs at the time. This was the fourth RWTL round-robin tournament and two of those were won by the Funk Brothers (’77, ’79) with Baba & Tsuruta winning the 1978 RWTL. I’m only guessing that Baba’s health isn’t the best by the end of 1980 because Tsuruta works the majority of the match. Tsuruta gets schooled by the Funk brothers to start. Baba tags in and switches the momentum around in favor of his team with chops and headlocks. In comes the much younger Tsuruta to try and maintain control. He quickly gets caught in the SPINNING TOEHOLD by Dory. The Funks work the leg for quite some time. The much crazier Terry Funk delivers some elbow drops, but he’s not crazy enough to forget about the legwork. Once the Funks change their mindset and work the back, Terry takes a backdrop over the top rope to the floor as Tsuruta counters a double-arm suplex. Back in, Terry is tangled up in streamers. Baba got the tag and starts whipping Terry from corner to corner. Baba grabs the ABDOMINAL STRETCH. Terry can’t possibly hip toss the boss over, so he winds up just turning him over to escape. Tsuruta gives Terry a backbreaker and then changes over to a camel clutch. Terry literally has to walk Tsuruta over with him on his back to tag in Dory. He now applies an Abdominal Stretch on Jumbo! Dory cradles him and tries for the pinfall, but no dice. Tag to Baba, he nails Dory with the Dropkick for two. Dory receives a bunch of Coconut Crushes, but it’s not enough to put Dory away. Dory counters a headlock with a back suplex and now the Funks control the Giant of the East. Baba kicks off the SPINNING TOEHOLD from Terry and chops Dory off him when he tries the same hold. Terry tries to draw Tsuruta in for some good old fashioned American tag team tactics, but then Terry remembers where he is and realizes its not a very noble thing to do. Terry unloads on Baba and covers him until Tsuruta comes in and stomps Terry on the head. He has had ENOUGH of this guy. This causes a real big problem between Terry and Jumbo for the rest of the match. Dory and Baba try to calm them down because this is supposed to be a friendly contest. Dory wrestles Jumbo to the mat with a headlock and its like were back to square one. Jumbo misses a dropkick and takes a double-arm suplex. Terry tags in and tries the same, but Jumbo breaks loose and reaches Baba. He gives Terry a Piledriver! Dory tags and catches Baba with a back elbow to take control. Terry delivers the Kiwi Roll to Baba for two. In comes Jumbo again to stomp the daylights out of Terry. Baba has enough of Dory’s European uppercuts and tags in Jumbo. He works a headlock a little too long as Dory stops him with a shinbreaker. Usually a set up move, but now it’s used to change the course of the match. Terry wants in and HERE WE GO! After a lockup, they run the ropes until Terry hoists Jumbo up in an airplane spin. Dory’s back in the ring and they go to work on the arm. Baba gets a tag as Jumbo backs Dory into his corner. Big Boot connects for two. Dory avoids the Dropkick as Tsuruta gets another tag. SPINNING TOE HOLD! Baba can reach the tag and kicks Dory off him for two. Tsuruta tags and tries a Flying Knee Drop on Dory, but Terry lays on top of him to take the blow on the back of the head. Terry rolls out to the floor in crazy pain. Meanwhile in the ring, Baba & Tsuruta give Dory a Double Big Boot for 1-2-NO! They try desperately to put Dory away, but nothing works. Not double-arm suplexes, not Russian legsweeps – nothing. Terry gets some water poured on his face by some of the younger All Japan wrestlers who want to help him out. He finally makes it back over to his corner looking like half a man. High Knee from Jumbo connects for 1-2-NO! Not enough a Piledriver will put Dory away tonight. Terry gets the tag. He brawls with Jumbo out to the floor where they fight into the crowd. Baba inadvertently knocks Terry off the apron when he tries to get back in the ring to beat the twenty count. Ahh, but Jumbo does. Ring the bell. (43:50) I really don’t care for the count out finish to a major tournament like this. There was a lot to like in this match like for example the anger between Terry Funk and Jumbo Tsuruta. Oh, you could feel it. Lots of wrestling in this one. You won’t see any real major moves outside of a suplex or a piledriver, but that’s what helps maintain its realism. ****¼

  • GHC Heavyweight Champion Naomichi Marufuji vs. KENTA(NOAH 10.29.06)

KENTA’s debut match was against Marufuji in 2000 in All Japan. When Pro Wrestling NOAH split All Japan, both soon became GHC Jr. Heavyweight champions with successful reigns, but KENTA more so than Marufuji. KENTA and Marufuji were the first-ever GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team champions together and held the titles longer than any other team even now in 2008. During one of KENTA’s many Jr. Heavyweight title defenses, he defeated Naomichi Marufuji on January 22, 2006 just nine months earlier. Nearly eight months after Marufuji’s loss to KENTA, he defeated Jun Akiyama to become the GHC Heavyweight champion. You could say that this match was over six years in the making. Does KENTA deserve a shot against Marufuji for the biggest prize in Japan? You bet he does. They do the bit where “I know what you are going to do before you do it” thing to start. Marufuji gets the better of KENTA when he tries a running boot in the corner. He dumps out and slingshot DDT’s KENTA on the apron! Well that will do terrible things for your neck. Marufuji clamps on a Randy Orton-like chinlock because it’s actually appropriate here. They go back on the floor where Marufuji dropkicks KENTA from the apron into the guardrail. Back in, Marufuji grounds KENTA and works the neck some more. KENTA gets in one swift kick on his abs and Marufuji has to go down. He sounds like he’s going to throw up! They head back on the floor where KENTA whips Marufuji’s abdomen hard into the guardrail. Back in again, KENTA drapes Marufuji’s across the top rope and then flies down on top of him knees-first to the lower back. KENTA applies a body scissors and then connects with a flying double knee drop to the stomach. That gets two. Back on the floor they go, Marufuji ducks a kick and then returns the favor by kicking KENTA into the front row. Marufuji pulls the guardrail towards the ring and then hits a CRAZY quebrada onto KENTA hitting him knees first in the head! That busts KENTA’s nose open pretty badly. KENTA makes it back in the ring at the count of fifteen. Just when you think Marufuji has KENTA right where he wants him, he flips out of a powerbomb and starts kicking. Marufuji blocks and levels KENTA with a capture suplex! That gets two. They fight over a superplex and when Marufuji tries a sunset flip powerbomb, KENTA puts on the brakes. That leaves Marufuji only one choice and that is to spring up and smash KENTA’s face into the ringpost. SICK! KENTA blocks a superkick and avoids a baseball slide right before he kicks Marufuji in the ribs again. Marufuji catches KENTA with a boot in the corner, but then springs back into a cutter! Springboard clothesline gets two. Good gosh he got some air-time on that. Marufuji runs the ropes right after KENTA and catches him with a sick clothesline. I love it when he does that. It’s such simple genius. Marufuji follows up with a powerbomb and a superkick to set up a SHIRANUI, but KENTA says screw that and sends Marufuji flying out to the floor. In an awesome spot, KENTA tries to suplex Marufuji from the rampway to the floor, but Marufuji counters. KENTA flips out and tries to German suplex Marufuji to the floor, but he lands on his feet and superkicks KENTA! Another SHIRANUI attempt is blocked as KENTA shoves Marufuji into the rampway. Marufuji tries to German KENTA from the apron to the floor and then attempts another SHIRANUI, but Kenta avoids it again and gives Marufuji a FALCON ARROW ON THE FLOOR! He follows that up with a Springboard Double Stomp! Oh yeah. As soon as Marufuji gets back in the ring, KENTA explodes on him with a Springboard Dropkick. KENTA charges in with a running knee strike to the back to set up a Tiger Suplex for 1-2-NO! KENTA Rush is followed by the BUSAIKU KNEE KICK for 1-2-NO! Marufuji avoids the GO2SLEEP and finally gets the SHIRANUI! Ahh, but he can’t capitalize. KENTA tries to stop Marufuji up top, but he leaps into a superkick! KENTA attempts to catch Marufuji in mid-air for the GO2SLEEP, but Marufuji slips away. Uh oh, its German Suplex time! Who will this continuing struggle of suplexes? KENTA flips out on one and roundhouse kicks Marufuji only to wind up with a superkick in the face! Both men are down! Another superkick sends KENTA flying into the corner. SHIRANUI! Cover, 1-2-NO! KENTA avoids the SUPER SHIRANUI and brings Marufuji down with a SUPER TIGER SUPLEX! Slow cover from KENTA gets 1-2-NO! After two more GO2SLEEP attempts, KENTA delivers! Marufuji’s near the ropes though and gets his foot on the bottom rope. KENTA runs into another superkick, but bounces off the ropes with the BUSAIKU KNEE KICK! Marufuji ducks KENTA’s roundhouse kick and kicks back. Reverse sweep kick to the head gets two. SHIRANUI KAI gets 1-2-NO! Holy crap. POLE SHIFT! Cover, 1-2-3! Marufuji retains. (35:31) Of the NOAH matches I’ve seen, this is definitely a top-five favorite if not top-three. These two put on a heck of a performance and KENTA looked awesome as always. I look at this and I say that by having your light weights wrestling in the main event for the top prize in the company, this is the exactly the kind of stuff that TNA should have always been trying to do with their X-Division. ****½

  • Takeshi Rikio & Takeshi Morishima vs. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA (NOAH 07.16.06)

It’s a rarity when none of these four men are holding titles in Pro Wrestling NOAH. In case you’re unaware, this is a most obvious big man vs. little man tag match. Rikio has little trouble with Marufuji to start. Morishima on the other hand has KENTA to deal with and that doesn’t go as well. KENTA unloads with kicks and hits a Fisherman’s Buster! Morishima comes back with a series of clotheslines and goes for the BACKDROP DRIVER, but Marufuji saves with a superkick. To the floor they go, as Marufuji tags and whips Morishima all around ringside. Back in, KENTA tags and kicks him down for a headscissors. Marufuji’s back in and splashes Morishima in the corner. He comes off the middle rope and gets caught for a belly-to-belly throw. Rikio tags and delivers a MUSOU for 1-2-NO! Marufuji and KENTA try to double-team, but Rikio levels them with clotheslines. Powerbomb to Marufuji gets two. Marufuji tries to block a back superplex with the SHIRANUI, but Rikio won’t go for that. Instead, Marufuji delivers the sunset flip powerbomb. KENTA tags and hits a springboard clothesline for two. Rikio blocks a tornado DDT and tries a fisherman’s buster, but KENTA slips out. KENTA slaps Rikio, so Rikio slaps him back even harder. Morishima tags and hits a handspring body attack in the corner! Awesome! Sambo Suplex to KENTA gets 1-2-NO! KENTA stops Morishima up top and gives him a superplex while Marufuji DDT’s Rikio on the apron. Great action. KENTA & Marufuji go for Poetry in Motion, but Morishima catches Marufuji in mid-air and slams him down on top of KENTA. That makes so much sense! Oh wow, now Morishima dumps them both out for a SUICIDE DIVE! Well that shouldn’t be allowed. Back in, KENTA gets dominated with power moves – including a spot where either Rikio or Morishima would stand on KENTA’s chest and then the other would hop up on the other’s back for extra leverage and weight. KENTA finally avoids a Rikio corner charge and gives him a back suplex. HOT TAG TO MARUFUJI! Dropkicks and clotheslines for everyone. Rikio takes a superkick and then battles back with a Running Headbutt. Tag to Morishima, he flies in with a missile dropkick that sends Marufuji flying into the opposite corner. Spinning side slam gets two. The big guys go for a Doomsday Device, but Marufuji ducks underneath the clothesline for a victory roll. Tag to KENTA, he hits a powerslam on Morishima, which seems impossible but its clearly not. Now we wants a powerbomb, which is going a little too far. KENTA kicks away a clothesline and surprises everybody with a Bridging German suplex for 1-2-NO! BUSAIKU KNEE KICK connects, as does a Tajiri Kick for 1-2-NO! KENTA goes for the finish by hoisting Morishima up for an electric chair drop as Marufuji looks for the SUPER SHIRANUI! They pull it off! GO2SLEEP! Cover, 1-2-NO! Rikio blasts both KENTA and Marufuji with clotheslines to slow them down a bit. BACKDROP DRIVER to KENTA! Cover, 1-2-NO! LARIAT to KENTA! Will that do it? Cover, 1-2-NO! NO! NO! KENTA blocks a second BACKDROP DRIVER and knees Morishima in the face until Marufuji runs by for the SHIRANUI! MUSOU from Rikio to Marufuji! KENTA nails Rikio with a BUSAIKU KNEE KICK! Another LARIAT by Morishima to KENTA gets 1-2-NO! While Marufuji and Rikio brawl out to the floor, KENTA counters a third BACKDROP DRIVER into a small package for 1-2-NO! School boy by KENTA gets two, but then he stands up into another LARIAT! Cover, 1-2-NO!! Neither man can pin the other as we come to the time-limit draw. (30:00) This started out a little slow, but it picked up and definitely delivered by the end. You had no idea who was going to pick the victory. ****½

  • WWWA World Heavyweight Champion Bull Nakano vs. Aja KongCage Match (AJW WrestleMarinpiad II 11.14.90)

I don’t even know the story between these two and I won’t pretend like I do. Right off the bat though, you know these two chicks hate each other and that’s all that matters. Before they even get in the cage, Aja Kong pokes a hole in Nakano’s forehead with a pair of SCISSORS! She’s already bloody! There’s no referee, so the only way to win is by climbing out the cage. Nakano takes over for a minute and the lights go out. Spot light, please. The lights come back on when Nakano hits a suplex. Madusa and Kyoko Inoue among others are at ringside. Aja Kong delivers URAKEN FISTS all around the ring. Someone at ringside throws in a piece of metal for Nakano to knock Kong down from climbing out. Nakano follows up and hits BULL’S POSEIDON! Another Joshi wrestler throws in a tin can intended for Kong, but Nakano intercepts and starts blasting Kong with it. Now Bull has nun-chucks! I’ve never seen nun-chucks used before, which seems like they would be used more often. Kong finally headbutts Nakano away and delivers a piledriver. Staying on top doesn’t last very long for Kong, as Nakano comes back with springboard leg lariats and knee drops. Kong stops Nakano from escaping and beats her in the leg with the steel weapon she had earlier and another tin can. Uh oh, Nakano has the SCISSORS again! She wants revenge for her forehead, I can assure you. She starts stabbing Kong in the ARM. Wow, this is getting nasty. Joshi girls are fighting on the floor and also trying to get into the cage to stop this. Alundra Blayze throws a looooong rope into the cage for Kong so she can HANG Nakano. Bull breaks loose and then ties Kong to the bottom rope to allow her to escape, but Kong gets out pretty easily and pulls Nakano back down to the mat. Another climb attempt is stopped by Kong. A THIRD tin can is thrown into the ring now for Kong to beat up Nakano. Kong stops to sell the arm that had been STABBED for like a minute or two straight a while back as another chick on the floor throws a chain into the cage for Nakano. Blayze tries to stop her by pulling the chain out, but it’s too late because Nakano already has the chain wrapped around Kong’s neck. With so much extra chain, Nakano tries to tie Kong again to the ropes for a seemingly easy escape, but once again Kong gets loose and stops Nakano by jabbing her in the leg with that piece of steel. Kong powerslams Nakano off the top and wants out of the cage, but Nakano beats her down with that steel thingy. Nakano delivers another BULL’S POSEIDON, but misses the FLYING LEG DROP. Kong hits a SICK German suplex and then gets a big long cane to swing at Nakano. This cane looks like five kendo sticks tied together. Kong wants to dive off the top to hit Nakano with the cane, but one of the girls who favors Nakano climbs up the cage and takes the cane away! Nakano slams Kong off the top and a third BULL’S POSEIDON sets up a FLYING LEG DROP OFF THE CAGE! That’s enough to leave Kong laying for a really long time as Bull Nakano climbs out the cage for the win. (20:54) Those Japanese women are crazy. Maybe it’s because of women’s wrestling here in the states, but sometimes its hard to watch women be involved in matches like these. I think I can appreciate it though, as it was pretty crazy. I mean, come on, scissors, nun-chucks and tin cans! I will admit though that It’s not for everyone. ****¾

  • AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Genichiro Tenryu(AJPW TV 06.05.89)

Both guys careers had paralleled each other for years including tag team title runs together and various singles championships and success in the states. Tenryu had his own “Revolution” stable (ten years ahead of Shane Douglas) and was now chasing the biggest prize in Japan that was just aptly named two months before when Tsuruta unified the three major belts in Japan: the All Japan Triple Crown championship. Big time stuff for Tenryu. As part of Tenryu’s Revolution stable, Stan Hansen watches on at ringside. Early on, they show just how well they know each other as Tenryu blocks a High Knee and levels Tsuruta with a German suplex. Tsuruta tries to wear Tenryu down with a cobra clutch for a large portion of the match. Tenryu blocks another High Knee, but runs into a big boot. That’s his problem: he sees Tsuruta running at him, but he can’t stop him from hitting him with a big boot. Back to the cobra clutch. Tenryu shocks Tsuruta with a running clothesline and leaps on him from the apron to the floor. Back in, Tenryu is in control and works the knee. Tsuruta hits a release belly-to-belly suplex and clamps on the cobra clutch. Tsuruta finally gets the High Knee. Tenryu backdrops a POWERBOMB attempt, but then gets caught in an abdominal stretch as possibly a dig at Giant Baba. I’m only guessing because the crowd is noticeably booing his actions. Tsuruta delivers a HARD elbow to the side of Tenryu’s head. He hits another High Knee in the corner and delivers a Swinging Back Suplex. Tenryu kicks off the turnbuckle and falls on Tsuruta’s head, but is still effected by the impact. Tsuruta hits a pair of Stan Hansen-like Lariats, but can’t get the three-count. He follows up with THREE dangerous looking flying knee drops to the head! Thesz Press gets 1-2-NO! Another Swinging Back Suplex to Tenryu. Slow cover gets 1-2-NO! Tenryu blocks a second Thesz Press with a hotshot and gets 1-2-NO! Dropkick by Tsuruta gets another nearfall on Tenryu. Tsuruta misses a High Knee in the corner as Tenryu rolls him up for 1-2-NO! Tenryu’s POWERBOMB attempt is countered with a backdrop. Tsuruta falls back on him for two. Tsuruta delivers another Lariat, but then avoids an elbow drop from the middle rope. Tenryu sidesteps another Lariat and hits a POWERBOMB! That gets 1-2-NO! Tenryu delivers a second one for 1-2-3! (24:06) There we go. To drive home the point of just how parallel these two wrestlers careers were, both men would go on to hold three Triple Crown championships. While their series of matches are the blueprint for all of the classic Triple Crown matches throughout the nineties, I don’t think it holds up as well just because the Misawa/Kobashi/Kawada matches were so much more improved upon the Tsuruta/Tenryu matches. And that’s not a bad thing. This is still a fantastic match. By the way, is 1989 not the greatest year for quality wrestling worldwide across the board? Think about it. ****

  • AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (AJPW TV 10.31.98)

You’re about to find out why I believe Tsuruta/Tenryu why it doesn’t hold up as well with these next two matches. This is from All Japan’s 26th anniversary show in Bukodan Hall. Kobashi doesn’t give Misawa an inch to move to start the match. The only problem with that strategy is once he gets hit with enough elbow strikes, will Kobashi be able to keep Misawa grounded. Once Misawa shoves off a superplex attempt and nails Kobashi with the missile dropkick, he pops right back up with a shoulder tackle. Now Misawa immediately gets on his feet and spin kicks Kobashi out to the floor. Misawa jumps out to meet Kobashi, blocks a boot, and levels Kobashi with an elbow. He follows up with a slingshot corkscrew splash on Kobashi. Back in, Misawa delivers a flying somersault body block for two. Misawa stays on the offense with a pretty flying mare into an Ace Crusher, which gets another two. Almost like a Super Stunner. Dropkick from Misawa puts Kobashi on the floor. Misawa fake dives out to the apron and dives at Kobashi, but he gets a boot up to block. Kobashi proceeds to viciously legdrop Misawa’s neck across the guardrail and the ropes. Back in again, Kobashi gives Misawa a pair of scary back suplexes on the head and neck for two. Misawa pops up after a German suplex, but runs into a sleeper. Kobashi tries a Powerbomb, but Misawa tries to counter with a rana, which is countered into a Boston crab! Brilliant! Kobashi chops away in the corner and charges into an elbow. Misawa tries to leap back onto Kobashi, but gets caught in a Half Nelson position! To escape the move, Misawa brings Kobashi head first into the corner. Roaring Elbow floors Kobashi long enough for Misawa to regroup. He knocks Kobashi off the apron and then connects with a suicide dive! Back in, Misawa hits a flying elbow smash! Slow covers gets him only two. Misawa wins an elbow/chop exchange and delivers a German suplex. When Kobashi pops up, Misawa puts him right back with an elbow. Awesome. TIGER DRIVER gets 1-2-NO! Frog Splash gets 1-2-NO! Misawa goes for a flying clothesline, but Kobashi catches him with a clothesline in mid-air as well! A flying double-KO spot? Kobashi blocks a Monkey Flip and drops Misawa face first on the top turnbuckle. He follows that up with the Half Nelson Suplex! Turnbuckle Powerbomb to Misawa! Release Dragon Suplex gets him 1-2-NO! There was more damage done to the neck in one minute than in some entire matches. ORANGE CRUSH to Misawa! Cover, 1-2-NO! Kobashi really wants the BURNING HAMMER, but Misawa keeps escaping it. Well, he doesn’t avoid the BURNING LARIAT! Kobashi covers for 1-2-NO! Kobashi to the top, Flying Leg Drop! He covers Misawa for 1-2-NO! More chops from Kobashi sets up another Turnbuckle Powerbomb attempt. He hoists Misawa up, but he counters with a rana that sends Kobashi head-first into the corner. Misawa rolls out to safety, but Kobashi brings him up on the apron for a Half-Nelson Suplex. WHAT! No, Misawa elbows him back and gives him a TIGER DRIVER to the floor! Once they’re both back in the ring, Misawa unloads with elbows and somersault legdrops. TIGER DRIVER ’91! Misawa lays back on top of Kobashi for 1-2-NO! Sorry buddy, not today. He charges at Kobashi, but runs into a BURNING LARIAT! Kobashi crawls over to Misawa and with one hand on top gets 1-2-NO! More elbows from Misawa sets up a Tiger Suplex for 1-2-NO! Running Elbow from Misawa. This should do it. Cover, 1-2-NO! Misawa dishes out more elbows to Kobashi until he ends up collapsing on the mat. I don’t think Kobashi knows where he is right now. He turns Kobashi over and gets 1-2-3. (43:22) Misawa wins his fourth Triple Crown championship. I can honestly say that this is one of the best matches I’ve ever seen. This was a smart and compelling match. They knew each other’s moves and intelligently defended against them. More importantly, the crowd knew that these two guy’s were extremely familiar, so there was no need to dumb it down for them. Just an incredible match with no flaws that I was able to see. *****

  • AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW TV 06.03.94)

I don’t think this crowd knows who they want to win this match. When Misawa’s down, they cheer him. When Kawada’s hurt, they chant his name. Kawada gets in a few hard kicks on Misawa to start. Misawa counters a headlock with a sick back suplex. Once Kawada goes to the floor, Misawa fakes out Kawada by flipping out to the apron. He dives at Kawada, but eats a forearm on the way down. Kawada catches Misawa with a clothesline that kills his neck to begin some neck work. Kawada controls with his famous kicks until Misawa starts kicking at his left knee. Misawa grounds Kawada and wrenches the leg to keep him capacitated. Misawa hits Kawada with his spin kick and goes for the TIGER DRIVER, but Kawada backs him into the corner. Gamengiri connects and looks to have KO’ed Misawa for 1-2-NO! Misawa avoids the GANSO BOMB, but Kawada dropkicks him in the back and connects with a flying knee drop. Kawada levels Misawa with some Kobashi-like chops to the neck. Misawa avoids another GANSO BOMB attempt and hits him with an enziguri. Kawada shakes off TIGER DRIVERS and Tiger Suplex attempts. Misawa blocks the Gamengiri and finally gets the TIGER DRIVER for 1-2-NO! Frog Splash gets Misawa another nearfall. Kawada catches Misawa coming off the top with a Gamengiri and tries several times for that GANSO BOMB, but Misawa will not budge. Kawada wins an elbow strike battle (with Misawa no less!) and connects with a running boot! He follows that up with a running clothesline. Dangerous Backdrop to Misawa! Kawada finally gets the GANSO BOMB for 1-2-NO! Another Gamengiri kick connects, as does a German suplex that has Misawa rolling out to the floor. Back in, Kawada delivers a second GANSO BOMB for 1-2-NO! An Eastern Stretch looks to be enough to put Misawa away, but he will not submit and he will not be pinned. All of a sudden, Misawa pops up and floors Kawada with an elbow. Make that two elbows. Kawada won’t take the Tiger Suplex, but he will take a German suplex! Okay, now he’ll take the Tiger Suplex for 1-2-NO! Kawada chops back and nails Misawa with the Rolling Kick! He hits Misawa with a second Rolling Kick! While Kawada unloads with kicks, Misawa fires back with one awesome elbow strike that sends Kawada flying. Roaring Elbow connects! Kawada tries to make one last comeback with a Rolling Kick, but Misawa blocks that and hits a Running Elbow! TIGER DRIVER ’91 gets the win. (35:50) Many call this the greatest match of all-time. I don’t know that I’d go that far, but it’s certainly one of the best considering the history not only between these two men, but it’s predecessors as well that make this match so important. Personally I prefer the Misawa/Kobashi matches over the Misawa/Kawada matches. I think the deeper we get into these SUSHI! SUSHI! columns, the more confident I’ll be to make ‘greatest of all-time’ comments. Crazy Japan. *****

  • AJPW Unified World Tag Team Champions Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs.
    “Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Johnny Ace(AJPW TV 03.04.95)

Steve Williams and Terry Gordy were two of the toughest sons of witches ever in wrestling – especially when they were a tag team together in the early to mid-’90s known as the Miracle Violence Connection. They ruled All Japan with an iron fist until Gordy overdosed on drugs and went back to the US. Enter Johnny Ace: last time I saw him, he was in a comically bad tag team with Shane Douglas that went by the name of the Dynamic Dudes who were fun-loving clean-cut babyfaces that loved to skateboard. Now Johnny Ace looks like a huge Barry Windham and tries to hang tough with Misawa and Kobashi. Can he do it? Ace wants to prove himself, but Doc demands he start the match instead. Are you going to argue with a guy named “Dr. Death”? I don’t think so. Doc tags and gets nailed with a bunch of elbows. That causes a pull apart brawl. Kobashi fights off a double-team attack and gets rid of Ace with a Burning Sword. He winds up tagging in anyway and levels Kobashi with a DDT. Tag to Doc, BRAINBUSTAAAH! Ace hits a pair of running corner clotheslines for two. Doc and Ace continue to work on the neck. Doc sets up the BACKDROP DRIVER, but Kobashi keeps hurdling himself to the ropes to avoid it. Doc and Ace go after Misawa’s elbow striking arm. Solid strategy that you’d think people would incorporate more often. Misawa breaks loose from the weaker Ace as he and Kobashi deliver a powerbomb/flying crossbody block combo! Ace stops Kobashi from hitting the MOONSAULT a time or two and then comes back with a back suplex. Running Forearm/German Suplex combo gets two on Kobashi. Doc helps Ace hit the Moonsault on Kobashi for 1-2-NO! Doc gets the hot tag and runs wild on Kobashi with an avalanche for two. Misawa cuts off a BACKDROP DRIVER attempt, but can’t stop Doc from delivering the AA Spinebuster to Kobashi for 1-2-NO! Whoa, Doc counters a belly-to-belly superplex with a double-arm superplex! Cover, 1-2-NO! All of a sudden, Misawa delivers the TIGER DRIVER to Williams! He’s not the legal man though. Ace cuts off the tag to Misawa and gives Kobashi a Full Nelson Slam for two. Del Wilkes is IN DA HOUSE! ACE CRUSHER! Kobashi falls back on what appeared to be a Doctorbomb attempt from Ace and makes the HOT TAG TO MISAWA! It breaks down as Misawa locks in a neck wrench on Johnny Ace. Doc misses his cue the first time to stop a Monkey Flip, but not the second one as he flips Misawa backwards in a BACKDROP DRIVER-like move. With Kobashi down on the floor, Doc and Ace deliver the DOOMSDAY DEVICE to Misawa! Delayed cover by Ace gets 1-2-NO! Kobashi comes back in and dropkicks Doc’s knee when he tries a BACKDROP DRIVER on Misawa. That really sucks for him. Ace dives at Misawa and gets clocked with an elbow. More elbows abound on Ace’s head. Misawa can’t get the TIGER DRIVER, so Kobashi helps out with the DOUBLE TIGER DRIVER. Doc breaks up the pin and goes for the OKLAHOMA STAMPEDE, but again Kobashi dropkicks the knee to stop him. Kobashi gets the hot tag and finally MOONSAULTS Ace for 1-2-NO! He goes for another one, but Ace brings him down. Kobashi hits the BURNING LARIAT on Ace for 1-2-NO! Kobashi counters an Ace Crusher with a Tiger Suplex for 1-2-NO! Misawa goes after Doc’s knee while Kobashi hits a POWERBOMB on Ace for 1-2-NO! Doc actually hits a pescado on Misawa while Kobashi delivers a Flying Leg Drop and gets 1-2-3. (36:07) Champs retain. One of the best gaijin/Japanese matches I’ve ever seen. This match elevated Kenta Kobashi and Johnny Ace to a higher level as a result. ****½

Final Thoughts: Much better selection than last time. We’ve got FOUR and a HALF hours of awesomeness with nothing under ****. These matches speak for themselves and if you want to see some of the best matches there ever was, this is a good start. Try the Dailymotion site for matches like these.

Coming Soon on Vol. 3: Marufuji/KENTA vs. Marvin/SUWA, a Tiger Mask/Dynamite classic, IWGP champion Nagata defends against Takayama, Yamasaki/Takada, Nagata/Mutoh, Tenzan/Mutoh, Terry Funk’s first retirement match and Mutoh/Tenryu! More New Japan heavyweights than usual.

Posted on October 20, 2008, in AJPW, AJW, NOAH and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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