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Thread: AJPW: The Golden Years

  1. #26
    Atodaso Strobe's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    Wow, thanks for that, Strobe. I feel pretty foolish now. Why did they put "no-show" in German on an English page? I legitimately thought "Nichtantritt" was a username
    Cagematch, being a German site, seems to have a few things like that. If you look at the link you'd posted, it says "Tag 8" rather than "Day 8" and "Aufzeichnung" (meaning recording) next to Broadcast Type.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    How do you know all this? Did you do this AJPW marathoning years ago as I am doing now?
    Not quite. Watched some of the uber-pimped matches first, long ago, when not many matches were available online (in those pre- and early YouTube days). Then bought a Misawa/Kawada comp from someone on the DVDVR forums, that took you through their entire rivalry (so knew from that and the description that their match during the CC '94 wasn't a tournament match). Then as more stuff started popping up online I would try to fill in the gaps and then could rewatch those big matches with more appreciation for the story.

    You are doing it the best way possible, in depth and in chronological order. The beauty of our time that we can do it so easily, for free. As I said in an earlier post, I do plan to do it all in order one day.

    While I knew Misawa was supposed to be hurt, I checked the PWO thread (they have all the matches/segments for their 90s Yearbook Sets indexed) for that Kawada match (http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.ph...rnival-041194/), to read what jdw had to say. That is John D. Williams, a guy that worked with Meltzer for years, attended matches with him in Japan back in the day and played a key role in shaping some parts of smark narrative at the time (he was Kawada's biggest fan and, more than anyone, pushed the idea that Kobashi wasn't a smart worker and needed to be lead to an extent and controlled by the likes of Misawa and Kawada). So when it comes to info like this, he is great, and that's how I found out the specific injury was a work, even though he was in bad shape overall.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdw
    The injury wasn't legit. It was a closely guarded secret at the time, to the point that once he found out, Dave wouldn't talk about it for quite some time in the WON. I don't know the first time Dave let the cat out of the bag. It certainly was in the Furnas obit. Might have been in the Misawa obit. Might have been mentioned earlier, but not much. I recall doing vague references online to it being worked, and at some point putting the quote marks around "injury".

    I think Dave talked about in the Furnas bio that it was done because he wasn't going to the finals and to avoid having him to do the jobs needed for in the math. The math really isn't a problem in the sense of avoiding the jobs. Just have him job to Hansen, and draw Kawada, Williams, Kobashi and Taue and he ends up with too few points. It actually would be a fine storyline as well: Misawa had a really shitty Carny where he couldn't put away any of the top guys. Other than Hansen, they couldn't beat him. But the killer Misawa of the past two years looks a little shaky.

    The math for the other guys isn't too hard either.

    I do think he was banged up a bit. His work in the series wasn't up to snuff before going out, and even with the rest it wasn't all that great later in the series. He seemed to be in better form come May and June.

    To me it was Baba taking an easy route to do two things:

    * Give Misawa a less intense Carny given he was banged up

    That's an assumption, but Misawa happened to be banged up all the time through the 90s, so it's not really a stretch and is consistent with his poor and indifference work in the Carny series.

    * eliminate Misawa to make for a simplified booking for Kawada & Williams getting to the Final

    It made things fairly easy: all the big boys got 2 points off Misawa via default, so you don't have to worry about who gets 2 or 1 or 0 points off him. Just easier to deal with given no one other than Hansen had a singles win over him at that point.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    Heading into 1994, Misawa is unquestionably the top dog. I don't think he has been pinned or submitted since winning the Triple Crown in August 1992
    Misawa had been pinned at least four times since winning the Triple Crown in August 1992; in January 1993 and thrice in the 1993 Carnival, all to Gaijin. I'll let jdw explain.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdw
    I've written this before... probably several times over the last 15 years. This is pretty much that match (Strobe note: Triple Crown defence against Hansen on 5/21/93) that made Misawa the Ace.

    08/92 - knocks out Hansen to win the TC
    10/92 - defends against Kawada
    12/92 - wins RWTL with Kawada over Taue & Akiyama
    01/93 - drops World Tag Title to Gordy & Williams (Strobe note: Misawa takes the fall, being pinned by Williams)
    02/93 - defends against Taue
    03/93 - Carny loss to Hansen
    04/93 - Carny loss to Gordy
    04/93 - Carny Final loss to Hansen

    I'm leaving out other matches that he "should" have won: non-title with Taue in 10/92, Carny wins over Kawada, Taue and Kobashi, along with a Carny win over Doc. But...

    * The RWTL win is lessed because Jumbo was out.
    * The two TC defenses are against lower ranked natives that he's never lost to.
    * Instantly dropped the Tag Titles to a regular, top team.
    * 0-3 in the Carny against former TC Champs

    So the match against Hansen to win the TC is starting to look like a fluke. He caught Hansen with a knockout elbow. He got lucky there, then lucky that he didn't have to defend against Jumbo.

    The belts on the line, he sucks it up and wins. This pretty much set the patern for him the rest of the year. He may lose some matches, but the next time he'd be in a TC match with someone who beat him, Misawa would show who the ace was.
    Fairly sure he hasn't taken a significant fall (maybe taken a fall or two on some untaped shows) since that 1993 Carny Final loss though.
    Last edited by Strobe; 07-12-2016 at 10:46 AM.

  2. #27
    is too sexy for you milopo's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    I am in love with this thread, I haven't watched most of these matches in a very long time but reading through emperor's and strobe's commentary really makes me want to go back and watch all of these matches chronologically again, just so I can fall in love with AJPW all over again.


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  3. #28
    Senior Member The Icon's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor View Post
    AJPW Champion Carnival 1994

    AJPW's Champion Carnival tournament is the longest-running singles tournament in professional wrestling. Giant Baba introduced the first edition in 1973, six months after founding the company. The first instalment of NJPW's G1 Climax would take place a year later (then called the World League), so the gap in longevity is very small. The tournament runs in a round robin format. Everyone wrestles each other once. Two points for a win. One point for a draw (reaching the time limit and double countout are the only ways to draw). Zero points for a loss. The top two wrestlers fight each other in the final. Champion Carnival typically has a single block round robin, in contrast to G1's two block system, although both tournaments have had editions using the other format. Champion Carnival 1994 is a single block. The participants are below.



    The usual suspects are there, some lesser gaijins, and a generically-named chap called Johnny Smith. No idea who he is, but he's been in AJPW since 1989, so good for him. Spoiler alert: Johnny Smith is not going to win this Champion Carnival or any other. It's interesting to note that out of the 12 participants, only five are Japanese. That is explained by the fact that large chunk of the Japanese roster are young boys, and more familiar names such as Masanobu Fuchi, Yoshinari Ogawa, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, and Takao Omori are Junior Heavyweights. I'm assuming Akiyama recently graduated to heavyweight status, perhaps after winning the Asako Cup. One could argue that AJPW is pretty weak on the top level as far as native wrestlers are concerned, but history tells us that the Big Four was more than sufficient to carry the company to great heights over the next 5+ years.

    I'm going to keep a running score, so that we can all enjoy the high drama of a Japanese tournament in 1994. We're going to be seeing a more matches than we have seen in previous tours, and a good chunk of the CC matches not featuring Johnny Ace, John Nord, Johnny Smith, Doug Furnas, and The Eagle. Sorry guys. You don't matter. You're just there to make up the numbers. Each show has three or four tournament matches. The first show has four. Three of those feature guys on that list I just listed. Four minus three is one. That means there's one match to watch.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Mitsuharu Misawa vs Jun Akiyama

    Let's face facts: Akiyama is good, but he's not going to win many matches (he might beat Johnny Smith, but we'll see). So perhaps it's a good thing that he gets his match against the Triple Crown Champion out of the way. Misawa hasn't been pinned or submitted in about a thousand years. Can Akiyama pull off one of the biggest upsets in history?

    Akiyama starts off strong, scoring two deep arm drags and a dropkick. Akiyama tenaciously works over Misawa's left arm. After three minutes of armbars, Misawa's had enough of the boredom and socks his stablemate with a forearm after a ropebreak. Misawa wins a very brief strike battle and hits a dropkick to take control. Misawa decides to focus on the head with a mixture of holds and clobbering. Smooth gutwrench suplex into a rear chin lock. Akiyama escapes with a jawbreaker and makes the mistake of chopping the champ. Misawa dispatches of him easily with forearms and chest kicks.

    Misawa picks up the pace with a leaping clothesline, a cross body and a backdrop. Akiyama blocks a vertical suplex attempt and catches the running Misawa with an arm drag suplex thing. He hits a Northern Light Suplex for a two count. The crowd heats up. Akiyama escapes a Misawa German suplex attempt and hits one of his own for another two count. Diving elbow by Akiyama! That's Misawa's move! Another two count. Misawa backdrops out of a powerbomb attempt, but is too weak to get up. Akiyama captalises with a nice dropkick to the back of Misawa's head. Akiyama hits a lariat. Powerbomb! One! Two! Kick out! I'm impressed they got a genuine near fall out of this match. Well done, gents.

    Misawa escapes the Exploder, then ducks a lariat and grabs the Facelock. Akiyama quickly makes the ropes and hits a lovely Exploder suplex, perhaps the first great one of his career. Misawa looks out. Akiyama hits a second! One! Two! Foot on the ropes! Akiyama chants from the crowd. Akiyama engages in yet another strike battle. This one is only slightly more competitive than earlier ones. Akiyama gets a couple of big hits, but Misawa hits a devastating combination, ending in a spinning back elbow and a roaring elbow. A Tiger Driver seals the deal. Misawa with a surprisingly challenging victory.


    ---------------------------------------------

    That match was nothing until the last few minutes, but they were a very exciting few minutes indeed. Misawa gave Akiyama a lot more than I thought he would. Two finishers and a foot-on-the-rope near fall. That says Akiyama could have pinned Misawa clean if the circumstances were a little better. A huge endorsement from the ace. I might have to take back my statement that Akiyama isn't going to win many matches. He could place fairly highly if he keeps that form up. Not above the main six, but conceivably above all the rest. Another pre-match comment I made is that Misawa hadn't taken a fall in a very long time. I decided to find out when exactly he took his last fall. Appropriately enough, he lost in the finals of the 1993 Champion Carnival tournament against Stan Hansen. He also lost to Terry Gordy and Stan Hansen in the round robin.


    Day 1 Results
    Steve Williams defeats The Eagle (4:13)
    Stan Hansen defeats John Nord (9:03)
    Toshiaki Kawada defeats Johnny Smith (9:31)
    Mitsuharu Misawa defeats Jun Akiyama (13:57)

    Standings
    2 points: Mitsuharu Misawa, Stan Hansen, Steve Williams, Toshiaki Kawada
    0 points: Akira Taue, Doug Furnas, John Nord, Johnny Ace, Johnny Smith, Jun Akiyama, Kenta Kobashi, The Eagle
    Johnny Smith was in Stampede before going to All Japan and was Chris Benoit's top rival. He was also the first guy I saw use the crucifix powerbomb, aka the Razor's/Outsider's Edge, drab name but a great worker.

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  4. #29
    Moderator Emperor's Avatar
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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    AJPW Champion Carnival 1994

    There's quite a large gap as we transition from Day 9 to Day 17. I'll give the intermediate results at the end. For now, we have two tournament matches and a six man tag team main event featuring the one and only Giant Baba. How delightful. The first match is Akiyama against Dr. Death. The expectation is that Doc will completely bulldoze Akiyama, but Akiyama has proved his mettle against Misawa in the first round, so we could be in for a surprise. The second match is Kobashi vs Hansen. Over the years I've written a lot about how I love this particular pairing, but it wouldn't be right if I didn't dedicate a few more words in my grand AJPW thread. Kenta Kobashi and Stan Hansen have the best chemistry of any two wrestlers I've ever seen. Every match they've had is a classic. Even when Kobashi wasn't even close to being in Hansen's league, they had great matches. I expect this match to be the match of the tournament by some distance. Kobashi has never defeated Stan Hansen. In fact, his singles record against the elite of AJPW is very poor. His only win against a top guy is when he defeated Terry Gordy in 1993. Otherwise, he's always come up short. Could this be the start of Kobashi's ascent to the elite, or will Hansen chalk up yet another victory against the embodiment of fighting spirit?

    ---------------------------------------------

    Jun Akiyama vs Steve Williams

    The first five minutes of this match are surprisingly respectful. Akiyama and Williams engage in some pretty high quality chain wrestling, both guys breaking clean at the ropes. At one point after a stalemate, Williams nods as if to show appreciation (perhaps in both kayfabe and reality) of the young Akiyama's skills. It's not quite Angle vs Benoit levels of glorious fast-paced mat wrestling, but it's not far off.

    The amateur wrestling ends when Akiyama shoves Williams to escape a side headlock, only to be ran over by a giant shoulder block. Akiyama takes a big bump, and the crowd reacts loudly. Williams starts the beatdown, but goes for a running corner splash too soon. Akiyama swiftly sidesteps and catches Williams with a German suplex for a two count. Akiyama keeps control, but it's not long before Williams hulks up, enduring Akiyama's various strikes. However, unlike many others, Akiyama prevents Williams from taking the advantage by whipping him and dropkicking him at the ropes, sending him to the outside. This time it's Akiyama who takes a risk that doesn't pay off, as he goes for a plancha that is dodged by Williams. Akiyama goes splat on the mat. Doc starts wailing on Akiyama.

    After a few minutes of beatdown, Williams decides to slap his young opponent in the corner. A fired up Akiyama immediately fights back with big forearms and a dropkick, showing excellent babyface fire to earn an Akiyama chant from the crowd. Akiyama's comeback is cut short when Doc hits a corner splash followed by a bulldog like move. From here on it's both guys trying to hit their big moves. Akiyama escapes the Backdrop Driver and manages to hit his Northern Lights Suplex for a near fall. Williams catches Akiyama as he tries a top rope cross body, but Akiyama drops down to avoid the Oklahoma Stampede. He counters the Doctor Bomb with a backdrop, but Williams soon catches him with a judo throw followed by a Backdrop Driver for the victory.


    ---------------------------------------------

    Solid match, further establishing Akiyama as a force to be reckoned with. I think Williams did a great job here in taking his opponent seriously at the start of the match, and the slaps starting a mini-comeback got across the point that Akiyama is not a guy to be taken lightly.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Kenta Kobashi vs Stan Hansen

    Like Williams, Hansen is relatively sedate at the start of this match, engaging in a bit of chain wrestling and breaking clean. It is Kobashi who starts the fight. After failing to knock his opponent down with a shoulder block, Kobashi quickly fires two thrust kicks at Hansen's face to get the big man down. Hansen is like "You wanna fight? OK, buddy" and drops Kobashi with a forearm. Kobashi gets his advantage back with a third thrust kick, but gets whipped into the guardrail on the outside. Kobashi fights back with chops, but a Hansen chop knocks Kobashi down. Hansen applies a camel clutch and a chinlock. Kobashi gets to his feet, walks to the corner and fires off some machine gun chops. Leaping shoulder tackle in the opposite corner, and Kobashi is in control. Impressively he is on equal brawling terms with the ultimate brawler!

    Kobashi fires off some chops and boots, but Hansen grabs Kobashi and launches him over the top rope. Hansen charges at Kobashi but eats yet another thrust kick. The thrust kick is Kobashi's equaliser in this match. Kobashi is all over Hansen, mounting him and slapping him in the face. Perhaps this is one step too far as Hansen nails a series of headbutts from the ground followed by slaps of his own. Kobashi is not done yet, however, hitting a chop and a kick to the gut to take Hansen down. Kobashi with two leg drops and eight minutes in makes first cover of the match. A two count.

    Hansen is as scrappy as ever, so Kobashi is never in control for very long, but he finds some creative ways to keep the advantage, such as hitting a legdrop while Hansen is draped on the middle rope. Moments later, Hansen finally takes full control, hammering Kobashi with fists while the latter is on the apron. He rams Kobashi's head into the turnbuckle, hits him with a chair, props a table against the corner, and whips Kobashi into the table. The table doesn't break. But that's fine. Japanese tables never break. Hansen gets in the ring, grabs the table, raises it high, and drops it on Kobashi on the outside. Hansen's not done yet. He goes back out and removes the padding. Powerbomb on the floor! Kobashi took the fight to Hansen for longer than he had before, but he succumbed to the tremendous Texan force eventually, and now he's knocked out on the floor.

    After a minute of inactivity, where Hansen is being held back by the referee, he steps on the apron as Kobashi is getting up. Hansen dives. Kobashi dodges! Hansen lands stomach first on the guardrail. Kobashi is still very woozy, but he's up before Hansen, who is laying at ringside clutching his ribs. Now the referee is holding back Kobashi as Hansen gets to his feet. Hansen gets up and walks around, agony written all over his face. When Hansen gets on the apron, Kobashi immediately punches and kicks the ribcage, and eventually suplexes Hansen into the ring. Kobashi goes for a top rope splash, but Hansen moves, avoiding a potentially match-ending move. Hansen goes for a suplex, but can't even come close to lifting Kobashi because of his injury, and Hansen is the one who is suplexed.

    Kobashi nails a lariat for the first near fall of the match. Hansen struggles to his feet, still clutching the ribs. Kobashi pushes him into the corner, hits a running knee to the gut and a DDT for another near fall. Kobashi effortlessly puts Hansen in a Boston Crab. I've never seen Stan Hansen this vulnerable. Moments later, Hansen catches Kobashi with a backdrop, his first offense in nearly five minutes. Hansen keeps selling, crawling to the cover, but only getting a two count. Hansen adjusts his elbow pad and tries a standing lariat. Kobashi ducks, goes for a sleeper hold, but Hansen backdrops out of it for another two count.

    Kobashi backdrops out of a powerbomb attempt, but Hansen quickly gets up and charges Kobashi to the mat with a shoulder tackle. Hansen goes to the apron as if to climb the top rope, then thinks better of it and instead gets back in the ring and drops an elbow. Hansen nails a folding powerbomb. One! Two! Kobashi kicks out! The crowd chants Kobashi's name, as they have been doing pretty much the entire match. Hansen decides it's time to climb the top rope. Big splash! Kobashi gets the knees up! Huge mistake by Hansen! Kobashi gets up, very woozy, and approaches his wounded foe. But Hansen surprises Kobashi with a slap and the LARIATTTOOOOOOO! Kobashi is out in the centre of the ring, but Hansen is lying by the ropes in great pain. Kobashi sits up, shaking his head several times to clear the cobwebs. Kobashi is barely able to stand, but manages to coordinate enough to hit a couple of running shoulders to the gut. Body slam! Kobashi climbs the turnbuckle. Moonsault connects! One! Two! Kick out! Kobashi immediately climbs again. Second moonsault! One! Two! Three! Kobashi wins!


    ---------------------------------------------

    Fantastic match. They told a brilliant story. Kobashi being more aggressive than he's ever been, going toe to toe with his ferocious opponent for close to fifteen minutes, but eventually being overwhelmed and destroyed on the outside of the ring. However, Hansen made a huge mistake, diving into the crowd barrier, and it was basically all Kobashi from there. He was able to keep control, exploiting the injury whenever possible, and eventually he did enough damage to end the match with not one, but two moonsaults. It's a great story because Kobashi's victory was partially due to circumstance, but certainly not enough to be considered a fluke. Both men came out looking better than they did coming in. Although Hansen was weakened, Kobashi still had to earn the victory, and he did just that, overcoming the huge damage done early in the match and recovering from the lariat to achieve victory. Meanwhile, Hansen was fighting until the end, managing to hit the lariat but not being able to capitalise. It's a bit of a tragic story for him. He did everything right except that apron dive, and it cost him everything.

    Both guys sold tremendously. After diving on the crowd barrier, Hansen never once stopped selling the ribs, almost constantly clutching them with a pained expression on his face. It had a clear impact on the rest of the match, with Hansen struggling to execute moves and rarely able to string two moves together because of the downtime. Kobashi also played his part. He was never quite 100% stable on his feet after taking the powerbomb on the floor, and the way he kept selling while on offense after being hit by the lariat was impeccable. These two wrestlers never fail to deliver against each other.

    Now I have to go from that to a Giant Baba match. Hooray. Hopefully he doesn't spend much time in the ring.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs Toshiaki Kawada, Giant Baba and Masanobu Fuchi

    Baba beats up Taue. Taue beats up Kikuchi. Fuchi tags in. It's Fuchi vs Kikuchi. Now I'm interested. Kikuchi's grown his hair longer than I'm used to. It's basically a bowl haircut. It looks silly. Unfortunately Kikuchi and Fuchi don't fight for long. Misawa tags in. Fuchi teases the tag to Kawada. And then he tags Kawada. The rivalry continues! Misawa forearms Kawada at the ropes, they trade blows, Misawa goes for the Irish Whip, Kawada counters with his awesome spin kick. Down goes the champion. Kawada drills Misawa's face with kicks in the corner. Taue tags in and drapes Misawa neck first on the top rope. That move can basically be considered cheap at this point because it's guaranteed heat. But it fits Taue's character and it looks good so he should keep doing it. Misawa catches Taue with a forearm and tags out. To Kikuchi, fortunately. Kikuchi hits his signature leg lariat and a sidewalk slam. Unfortunately, Baba tags in. He stomps Taue's gut in the corner. These strikes don't look as terrible as most of his offense. Baba compensates for that by hitting the world's worst brain chop. Taue responds as he should respond to terrible offense, by taking control. He hits some chops and slams Baba.

    Fuchi tags in and tries to grapple with Baba, a big mistake as he quickly finds himself in an armbar. Baba hits a admittedly beautiful armdrag before tagging Misawa. Not long after that, Kikuchi and Kawada are the legal men. Kikuchi takes the fight to Kawada but is easily dispatched by the heavyweight. Kawada has some fun kicking Kikuchi and stretching him out with a Half Boston Crab. Taue has some fun with the neck drape and a lariat. Fuchi has some fun kicking Kikuchi in the face. Kikuchi tries to hulk up but Fuchi just tosses him out of the ring. Taue slams him onto an unbreakable Japanese table. Fuchi now engages in his greatest pleasure of using the ropes to stretch Kikuchi as much as possible. Fuchi tags to Kawada and asks, "can you top that?" Kawada says, "Yes I can", picks up Kikuchi while on the apron, and hits a jumping body slam from the apron. For the record, he didn't top the rope stretching, but it was a cool spot nonetheless. Taue is next, locking in a torturous abdominal stretch, so torturous that Misawa is compelled to enter the ring illegally and break it up. Have I mentioned that this is basically the only reason Kikuchi exists? He's small, light and super flexible, so he exists to be stretched and slammed by Kawada and his cronies. And the crowd constantly chant his name while he's being dismantled. Dare I say that Kikuchi is the Ricky Morton of Japan?

    While I was typing that, Kikuchi made the tag to Baba. Well, he was sure to make the tag at some point. Baba does some decent offense against Fuchi. Taue runs in and has to sell the world's worst lariat. Kawada tags in and has to sell a mediocre knee strike. Misawa tags in. He grabs the Facelock, but Taue is in to break it up. Kawada dodges a Tiger Driver and a German Suplex. He boots Misawa in the face and tags Taue. They run around for a bit until Misawa catches him with a Tiger Driver. Fuchi breaks it up. Misawa tags Kikuchi. I get the feeling Kikuchi is about to be pinned. Kikuchi hits two leg lariats before Taue takes control. Fuchi activates backdrop spam mode. Kikuchi gets off lightly, only taking two backdrops before being pinned. Kikuchi kicks out at two. Kikuchi hits a leg lariat and a fisherman suplex for a two count. Misawa decides to come in and forearm Fuchi, allowing Kikuchi to hit a German suplex. The commentators laugh at this. Fuchi kicks out! Kikuchi hits a second, very weak, German suplex. Fuchi doesn't kick out! Kikuchi pinned someone! Holy shit!


    ---------------------------------------------

    That was moderately fun. A flat finish, but it was worth it because Kikuchi got the win! Go Kikuchi!

    I'm going to spoiler tag the results from now on because not everyone might be interested in them, and it will get annoying to have to scroll past them all the time. Misawa is out of the tournament, so I'll remove him from the standings, but I'll include his forfeit results because those points do count.

    Day 10-17 Results
    Spoiler


    The biggest news from these results is that Stan Hansen had eight wins out of eight before his loss to Kobashi. So Kobashi not only ended his personal un...victorious streak against Hansen, but he ended Hansen's unbeaten run! And how will Hansen's rib injury impact his remaining two matches?

    The other big news is that Doug Furnas won his first match on day 16! And he won the match after that! And he's still due the biggest win of his career against Misawa! Hooray! Furnas and Kikuchi should form a tag team. A tag team of winners.

    Some slightly less big news is that Johnny Ace and Jun Akiyama went the distance. You don't expect time limit draws in matches between guys who aren't at the top of the pack, so that's kinda cool. Probably the longest match Big Johnny has ever wrestled.

    Standings
    16 points: Stan Hansen (9)
    15 points: Kenta Kobashi (9), Steve Williams (8), Toshiaki Kawada (9)
    13 points: Akira Taue (8)
    7 points: Johnny Ace (9), Jun Akiyama (9)
    6 points: John Nord (10)
    4 points: Doug Furnas (9), The Eagle (9)
    0 points: Johnny Smith (9)

    Kobashi beating Hansen has made the race at the top extremely tight!

  5. #30
    Moderator Emperor's Avatar
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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    AJPW Champion Carnival 1994

    The show we are about to witness, day 18, is a huge night because the top five in the standings are all wrestling. Kobashi and Williams have good draws, facing Akiyama and Nord respectively. We won't be seeing Williams vs Nord here, so let me shock the world right now by announcing that Williams wins. Tournament leader Hansen has the most difficult draw as he faces Taue. Hansen is the favourite on paper, but it's not at all clear cut considering the injury sustained in his match with Kobashi the previous night. If Taue wins, he will be right up there with the top guys, so he will be extra motivated. Kawada would have had the hardest draw on paper, facing his arch nemesis Misawa, but as we know Misawa is out of the tournament so Kawada wins by forfeit. But at this point in time, Misawa has recovered from his "injury", so they are going to wrestle anyway in the non-tournament main event.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Jun Akiyama vs Kenta Kobashi

    Akiyama's match with Williams showed that he could wrestle with the best, but Kobashi and Akiyama decide to work some basic chain sequences before going into a test of strength. Akiyama is outmatched but manages to escape with a dropkick. Kobashi then gets the fight underway with chops, a running shoulder block and a vertical suplex. It's not long before they trade chops, and the match gets heated, Kobashi in particular turning up the aggression. Akiyama uses this to his advantage, catching a running Kobashi with a big arm drag followed by a leaping forearm from the apron to the outside. Back in the ring, Akiyama keeps control, even besting Kobashi in a chop battle in the corner, an impressive feat. Kobashi gets back into the match by catching a kick and knocking Akiyama down with a big clothesline. Kobashi wrenches an Abdominal Stretch like he was Taue.

    Akiyama regains control after a fast-paced running big boot battle, and we're into the final sprint. Kobashi is caught with a huge Exploder Suplex. Akiyama is all over Kobashi from here on, peppering Kobashi with chops and boots until he stops resisting the Northern Light Suplex, which he hits on his third attempt. Kobashi kicks out, and he kicks out of the high angle German suplex that follows. Akiyama tries a second German, but Kobashi escapes, and has a chance to breathe after reversing another Northern Lights attempt into a big DDT. Kobashi needs a lot of time to recover, but he gets up just before Akiyama. Kobashi has weathered the storm, it's time to unleash his own. Kobashi hits a lariat, a strange sit out pumphandle slam move, a neckbreaker drop and a powerbomb into a jacknife cover. Akiyama is able to kick out of everything, which surprised me as I thought the powerbomb would have ended the match, but it's clear that it's Akiyama's last gasp. Kobashi body slams the lifeless Akiyama and hits the Moonsault to get the three count. After the match, Kobashi solidifies his reputation as the ultimate good guy of All Japan, raising Akiyama's hand and shaking his hand.


    ---------------------------------------------

    A solid and entertaining match that further establishes Akiyama as a guy who is great, but not quite great enough to compete with the best of the roster (interestingly, the same could be said about Kobashi before his defining win against Hansen). Still, it's crystal clear that he's the chosen one of the young wrestlers, and justifiably so, as he has consistently delivered in the ring with spirited performances that have earned him the support of the crowd, even when facing the crowd favourites.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Akira Taue vs Stan Hansen

    The match has a rather unusual start. Rather than locking up, the two wrestlers stand some distance apart, throwing strikes as if they were in an MMA fight. The reason is clear. Taue is not being subtle about his strategy of getting at Hansen's ribs, aiming kicks and chops at the stomach. Hansen is playing defense, avoiding and parrying the strikes. The most striking thing is that Hansen is so passive. This becomes even more clear when Hansen backs into the corner, reluctant to come out. Taue doesn't have to think twice, repeatedly charging into the corner. Hansen is able to repel him for some time, but Taue eventually breaks down the defenses, scoring with boots and shoulder blocks to the stomach. Taue hits a body slam and Hansen is rolling on the mat in agony two minutes into the match.

    As events unfold, we see that Taue is the worst opponent Hansen could have faced the day after suffering a huge injury. Taue relentlessly pummels the ribs, even lifting Hansen up and dropping him gut first onto the top rope several times. Hansen uses his veteran cunning to stay alive, rolling in and out of the ring to catch Taue off guard. He succeeds several times, but Taue is willing to take a few shots to get access to the bullseye, and he keeps firm control. Taue applies an abdominal stretch for a while, props Hansen on the top turnbuckle chest down and boots the ribs, and then climbs the top rope. His elbow drop misses the mark as Hansen evades, and we finally see Hansen get some offense.

    Hansen makes the most out of his window of opportunity, dishing out some violent punishment on the outside of the ring. Taue is hit with a chair, DDT'd on the exposed floor, thrown over the crowd barrier and choked with the steel rails of that same barrier. Much like his Kobashi match, Hansen struggles to chain offensive moves together because of his injury, taking several seconds to recover after even fairly innocuous moves like an elbow drop. However, he succeeds in hitting a vertical suplex and a powerbomb after some effort. Following the powerbomb, Hansen decides it's as good a time as any to try and finish the match, but Taue counters the lariat attempt with a boot to the gut followed by an impressive powerslam.

    Taue seizes on his own chance, hitting a chokeslam, but it only gets a two count. Hansen counters a backdrop by landing on top of Taue, and peppers him with multiple closed fist punches in full view of the referee. After a running forearm scores a nearfall, Hansen tries the lariat again. This time Taue counters into the second chokeslam for the match. One! Two! Three! Taue wins! Hansen is not amused, and wallops Taue with a huge lariat post-match.


    ---------------------------------------------

    This is a great match, but perhaps a strange one if the viewer doesn't know the context. In that case, the start of the match would seem a bit off, with Hansen being unusually defensive and Taue dominating him with ease, which wouldn't happen in normal circumstances. However, given the context, the match was worked perfectly with a story that was highly effective in its simplicity and logical from start to finish. Taue ruthlessly attacking the injury with no subtlety, as fits his character. Hansen trying every trick in the book to take control, and unleashing some monster offense when he finally does get the advantage. All leading to a dramatic finish in which either guy could have won. Hansen rarely plays the babyface role, but when he does he's extremely good at it. It's incredibly rare to see genuinely good long-term selling, where an injured body part caused pain with every single movement as it should, but Hansen makes it look easy. And that's from a guy who is almost never has to sell for long periods of time.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Mitsuharu Misawa vs Toshiaki Kawada

    Misawa starts off in charge, working over Kawada's arm with arm bars and arm wringers. Kawada decides to lariat his way out of trouble, a big blow considering this is the first minute of the match. Both guys work each other's heads with chinlocks and strikes. The first big spot comes when Misawa dropkicks Kawada out of the ring. He then fakes a running dive, landing on the apron, changing direction, and leaping with a forearm strike. This is the same thing Akiyama did against Kobashi earlier in the night. Apparently Kawada was watching that match, because he saw it coming and countered with what I believe was a kick (the camera angle made it hard to tell).

    Thanks to his resourcefulness, Kawada is in control, and wears Misawa down with a half boston crab. Misawa continues to take Kawada's rough punishment, enduring a soccer kick to the back and an abdominal stretch. Misawa hip tosses out of it and tries a comeback, but Kawada charges him into the corner and starts stomping Misawa's face. The spin kick of death follows, but Misawa isn't dead yet, kicking out at two. Kawada starts lightly stomping on Misawa's back. Misawa calmly gets up, adjusts his tights, and looks at Kawada nonchalantly, stoic as ever. Kawada throws a chop. Misawa fires back with three forearms and an irish whip into a leaping clothesline. Misawa then hits a spin kick of his own, which is decent but nowhere near as good as Kawada's. A nice sequence follows where Misawa catches a Kawada boot, goes for the discus forearm, but Kawada dodges by hopping back a step, then running the ropes and connecting with the big boot. This is followed by a thunderous lariat for a two count.

    Kawada spends some time going for a powerbomb, but Misawa stubbornly resists. Kawada hits a well-placed chop to the neck of Misawa, sending the champion reeling, as Kawada has focused on that area for much of the match. Kawada seizes on the target, hitting some Kobashi-esque machine gun chops to the neck and a suplex. Kawada does something new and dropkicks Misawa, sending him to the outside in a mirror of an earlier spot. However, Kawada doesn't go for a suicide dive, instead dishing out his punishment by an irish whip into the guard rail and a body slam on the floor. The damage is done, as revealed when Kawada successfully powerbombs Misawa in the ring. One! Two! Misawa kicks out! Misawa stalls the onslaught with a forearm, but Kawada is up first, booting Misawa in the face and following up with the body slam/soccer kick combination. Stretch Plum! Misawa quickly escapes by throwing Kawada over his head, and decides to return the favour by soccer kicking Kawada in the back. Misawa runs the ropes but is met by a leaping gamengiri to the face. Kawada locks in a sleeper hold for a while, but Misawa is able to roll to the ropes. Again Kawada peppers Misawa with strikes, only for Misawa to rise, stoic as ever, and knock Kawada down with a big forearm. It's Kawada's turn to hulk up, firing some big forearms of his own. Misawa ends the standoff by whipping Kawada and catching him with a running forearm. Kawada rolls to the outside, and Misawa hits a suicide dive through the ropes. You don't often see that so late into a match.

    In the ring, Misawa scores with a top rope forearm. Misawa is unable to cover immediately due to the wear and tear on his neck, and that might have made all the different as Kawada kicks out at two. Misawa sinches in the Facelock! Misawa releases the hold when Kawada stops resisting. He appears to be out. Cover! One! Two! Kick out! Misawa duly applies the Facelock again. This time Kawada makes the ropes. Kawada tries to come back with a spinkick, but Misawa is alert and catches the kick before shoving Kawada to the mat. Misawa goes for the Tiger Driver. Kawada backdrops out of it. Misawa smoothly lands on his feet and grabs Kawada's arms for a Tiger Suplex. Kawada's shocked expression is perfect, but to his credit, he reacts quickly, backing Misawa into the corner. He whips Misawa to the other corner. Misawa cattily leaps on the turnbuckle and flies back at Kawada, but Kawada catches him in mid-air with a kick to the back.

    Now it's crunch time. Both men are going for their big moves. Tiger Drivers, Powerbombs, forearms and kicks. Kawada is the first to connect with a spinkick, but Misawa soon retorts with one of his own. Kawada bails, but there is no escape, Misawa acts quickly and hits a corkscrew plancha. Another big forearm on the outside, but in the ring Kawada stops Misawa on the top rope and hits a superplex for a near fall. Kawada swings his arm Hansen style. Lariat! One! Two! Misawa kicks out! Backdrop! No, Misawa floats over to land on top of Kawada! Kawada kicks out! Gamengiri from Kawada! Only a two count. They trade some reversals, Kawada again hitting the next blow with a release German suplex. Kawada is tired, so he takes some time to make the cover, and Misawa kicks out. Stretch Plum! Misawa stops responding pretty quickly. Kawada releases the hold and Misawa collapses. Cover! One! Two! Kick out! Misawa hip tosses out of the next Stretch Plum and hits a big forearm to take Kawada down. However, Kawada is up before Misawa has even moved. He picks Misawa up, but Misawa nails the discus forearm! One! Two! Kick out! Misawa hits the Tiger Driver! One! Two! Kawada kicks out!! The bell rings! Time limit draw! Excitement!


    ---------------------------------------------

    I believe this match is the forgotten chapter of the Misawa vs Kawada feud, because the match had no stakes and a much more significant match between the two occurs in the not-so-distant future. It's a shame, because the match is excellent. It isn't as heated as you might expect, but still had a little more venom than your average match. For me, this match established Kawada as on the same level as the godlike Misawa for the first time in his career. Sure, he didn't get the job done, but he went thirty minutes and had the majority of the offense. The way the finish was structured, the bell ringing after Kawada kicked out of the Tiger Driver, could suggest that it was a matter of time before Misawa would pick up the win, but that is far from clear as Misawa wasn't in a position to follow up immediately. Kawada kicked out of far more than he has ever kicked out of before, even withstanding some of Misawa's lethal forearms on several occasions. The match isn't perfect: there were too many near falls and as I said before the match should have been more heated, but they did a good job of mixing it up at the end by adding little sections and dives outside of the ring rather than the guys just trading big moves and counters in the ring for the last ten minutes. A genuinely dramatic finish.

    The next show we will see is the final day of round robin matches. I'll give all the results up to that show below.

    Days 18-20 Results
    Spoiler


    Standings
    19 points: Toshiaki Kawada (11)
    18 points: Stan Hansen (11)
    17 points: Akira Taue (11), Kenta Kobashi (10), Steve Williams (10)
    9 points: Jun Akiyama (11)
    7 points: Johnny Ace (10)
    6 points: John Nord (11)
    4 points: Doug Furnas (11), Johnny Smith (11) The Eagle (10)

    The first thing to note is that Johnny Smith got a win! And not just the free win against Misawa! He beat The Eagle! That secures him a last place, but at least it's a tie and he's not on a zero score. Jun Akiyama with an impressive standing as the winner of the non-top guys, but still the gap between him and the next place up is immense. I told you upsets are almost never seen in AJPW. The evidence is right there. The top five guys beat everyone they were supposed to beat. Kawada is guaranteed a spot in the final after beating his right-hand man Taue. Stan Hansen keeps himself in the race with a big win over fellow frontrunner Steve Williams. Those two matches would have been very interesting to see, especially the latter, considering Hansen's rib injury. However he had three days to recover since his match with Taue, so he was probably in much better wrestling shape than he was against Taue.

    The last two matches are Johnny Ace vs The Eagle and Kenta Kobashi vs Steve Williams. The first match is of little importance, but in all likelihood Ace will win and tie Akiyama as the best of the losers. Kobashi vs Williams is, of course, huge. The winner goes to the final with Kawada. If they draw, then we have a three-way tie in second place. I'm not sure how the tie would be broken. Kobashi beat Hansen, Hansen beat Williams, and Williams and Kobashi drew. I guess Kobashi would go through since he is the only one of those three not to lose to any of the other two. If we assume that to be true, it's a must-win match for Williams. But of course, Kobashi will be trying his hardest to win as opposed to trying to survive for 30 minutes. Williams is the slight favourite, but given that Kobashi has already defeated Hansen, anything is possible. An exciting match awaits us!

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    Atodaso Strobe's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    This is a great match, but perhaps a strange one if the viewer doesn't know the context. In that case, the start of the match would seem a bit off, with Hansen being unusually defensive and Taue dominating him with ease, which wouldn't happen in normal circumstances. However, given the context, the match was worked perfectly with a story that was highly effective in its simplicity and logical from start to finish. Taue ruthlessly attacking the injury with no subtlety, as fits his character. Hansen trying every trick in the book to take control, and unleashing some monster offense when he finally does get the advantage. All leading to a dramatic finish in which either guy could have won. Hansen rarely plays the babyface role, but when he does he's extremely good at it. It's incredibly rare to see genuinely good long-term selling, where an injured body part caused pain with every single movement as it should, but Hansen makes it look easy. And that's from a guy who is almost never has to sell for long periods of time.
    Yeah, this is top stuff, especially Hansen's performance. He shows how good he is at working wounded and with the Lariat you never doubt that he could always pull it out. Taue was perfect for this role, as you point out. Others in All Japan don't always go completely all-out at working over injuries, in a sense of sportsmanship, but Taue can't afford that. He hasn't got the natural talent or athleticism for that. If your ribs are hurt, basically all of his moves are gonna be at your ribs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    I believe this match is the forgotten chapter of the Misawa vs Kawada feud, because the match had no stakes and a much more significant match between the two occurs in the not-so-distant future. It's a shame, because the match is excellent. It isn't as heated as you might expect, but still had a little more venom than your average match. For me, this match established Kawada as on the same level as the godlike Misawa for the first time in his career. Sure, he didn't get the job done, but he went thirty minutes and had the majority of the offense. The way the finish was structured, the bell ringing after Kawada kicked out of the Tiger Driver, could suggest that it was a matter of time before Misawa would pick up the win, but that is far from clear as Misawa wasn't in a position to follow up immediately. Kawada kicked out of far more than he has ever kicked out of before, even withstanding some of Misawa's lethal forearms on several occasions. The match isn't perfect: there were too many near falls and as I said before the match should have been more heated, but they did a good job of mixing it up at the end by adding little sections and dives outside of the ring rather than the guys just trading big moves and counters in the ring for the last ten minutes. A genuinely dramatic finish.
    Yeah, this match has two ways to look at it: (1) Kawada was closer to beating Misawa and withstood more than he ever had before, yet (2) he still couldn't beat an injured Misawa.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    Kawada is guaranteed a spot in the final after beating his right-hand man Taue. Stan Hansen keeps himself in the race with a big win over fellow frontrunner Steve Williams. Those two matches would have been very interesting to see, especially the latter, considering Hansen's rib injury. However he had three days to recover since his match with Taue, so he was probably in much better wrestling shape than he was against Taue.
    Both matches are on the PWO 1994 Yearbook Set so they clearly were recorded, but I can't find them anywhere that I'd typically look.

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    Moderator Emperor's Avatar
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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Strobe View Post
    Taue was perfect for this role, as you point out.
    Do you think they booked this aspect of the whole tournament in advance? Hansen winning all his matches until suffering an injury against Kobashi that costs him his first match, the day before facing the perfect opponent for exploiting an injury? Or was it done more organically? Clearly Hansen winning all his matches was booked in advance, but it's possible that Hansen/Kobashi was called in the ring and they just rolled with it.

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    Atodaso Strobe's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor View Post
    Do you think they booked this aspect of the whole tournament in advance? Hansen winning all his matches until suffering an injury against Kobashi that costs him his first match, the day before facing the perfect opponent for exploiting an injury? Or was it done more organically? Clearly Hansen winning all his matches was booked in advance, but it's possible that Hansen/Kobashi was called in the ring and they just rolled with it.
    I'm not sure if it would've been entirely planned out as it was completely in advance. But I wanted to hold off on commenting too much about the booking until you were done with the tournament. I don't know if you know the results of certain big All Japan matches and tournaments and the like so I don't want to spoil anything.

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    Moderator Emperor's Avatar
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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Strobe View Post
    I'm not sure if it would've been entirely planned out as it was completely in advance. But I wanted to hold off on commenting too much about the booking until you were done with the tournament. I don't know if you know the results of certain big All Japan matches and tournaments and the like so I don't want to spoil anything.
    Fair enough. Generally I don't know the results of big matches, so cheers for that. I'll be reminding you of this once we're done though.

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    Senior Member cablegeddon's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Was 1997/98 the peak years in terms of popularity for AJPW in the 90s? I searched for AJPW-shows in stadiums and the only one I could find was the 25th Anniversary show in Tokyo Dome in january 1998.
    Bryan Alvarez on December 4 , 2006 : "CM Punk is NOT the best wrestler in the whole world"

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    AJPW has only done the Tokyo Dome three or four times ever. Stadium shows is not a good metric. I'm not sure what is. The second biggest venue they do is the Nippon Budokan/Budokan Hall. I believe they do Budokan a few times a year. If I wanted to know which the most popular AJPW year is, I'd be looking at average attendance over the year. Strobe might have some answers. He knows AJPW and he's into that kind of number stuff. Personally I don't care all that much. I mean, it would be interesting to know, but I don't care enough to delve into numbers.

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    Atodaso Strobe's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Business and popularity is tough for me to gauge in Japan. I have never looked into it with enough depth and I'd really love to one day, as it would add a feel for how big certain matches and guys truly were.

    I mean, we probably think that NJPW is very popular in Japan right now, but their TV slot is at like 2/3 in the morning and it is months behind. Apparently there is a pay TV channel specifically for wrestling that shows some new (including New Japan in a primetime slot) and old stuff but only like 15% of the population has it. This isn't to say that New Japan isn't doing good business, and obviously around the world the internet (New Japan has a streaming service) is becoming more and more the way that people access stuff. But this is just to show that wrestling isn't part of the mainstream as much as it has been in the past, as far as I know.

    In regards to mid-90s All Japan, my limited knowledge on the subject is that All Japan was very popular in Tokyo (whereas New Japan was very popular throughout the country) and Misawa had a tremendous record of selling out the Budokan. Here is a quick look at Budokan shows in the 90s:

    1990: 4 shows, all near sell-outs
    1991: 4 shows, 3 near sell-outs, final show (RWTL final) sell-out
    1992: 5 shows, 5 sell-outs
    1993: 6 shows, 6 sell-outs
    1994: 7 shows, 7 sell-outs
    1995: 7 shows, 7 sell-outs
    1996: 7 shows, 6 near sell-outs, final show sell-out
    1997: 7 shows, 6 sell-outs, final show near sell-out
    1998: 7 shows, 6 sell-outs, one near sell-out
    1999: 7 shows, 7 sell-outs

    As far as TV goes, I know that Choshu's invasion angle and feud in 1985 brought All Japan its first primetime TV slot since the 70s. By 1993, their slot was around midnight I think and I want to say it was during that year as well that it got cut from an hour to half an hour, which is why we have less footage from the rest of the 90s or stuff that has not yet been released in unclipped form. So All Japan likely was "bigger" in a national, mainstream sense in that 85/86 period but it wasn't drawing Budokan sellouts even with fewer shows. Then again I don't have any numbers on the non-Budokan shows.

    From the little I know, I think Misawa/Kawada could've been run on a Dome Show in 95 or 96 or 97 and done the same business they did in 98. I don't think we can use the Dome in 98 being run to show that All Japan was peaking.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    When you getting to these final few matches Emp, so we can discuss the booking?

    Also I'd be interested in hearing how you'd compare these Carnivals with the top matches from the recent G1s that you've watched (since we don't get all the matches from the Carnival, comparing to only the top G1 matches is fair).

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Strobe View Post
    When you getting to these final few matches Emp, so we can discuss the booking?
    As I'm sure you've seen, I'm foolishly watching all the G1 matches which is taking up all of my wrestling time. I'm going to cut down on the G1 now because the match quality is poor compared to last year. I'll try and finish Champion Carnival in the coming week.

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor View Post
    I'm foolishly watching all the G1 matches which is taking up all of my wrestling time.
    Nothing wrong with trying to be thorough. You'd be all over The Eagle vs. Johnny Smith if only we had it on tape.

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Strobe View Post
    Nothing wrong with trying to be thorough. You'd be all over The Eagle vs. Johnny Smith if only we had it on tape.
    I would certainly be all over it, and my illusion of AJPW being full of ****+ matches and nothing less would be brutally shattered

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    AJPW Champion Carnival 1994

    It's Day 21, the penultimate show of the tour, and the last day of round robin matches! Kenta Kobashi faces Steve Williams in a crucial match. The winner goes to the final to face Kawada! But before we get there, we have a very interesting six man tag team match on the undercard. Misawa, Akiyama and Kikuchi face the Can Am Express and Johnny Smith! This is a complete mismatch on paper. On one team we have the two tail-enders of the tournament in Furnas and Smith along with Furnas' tag team partner who is on a similar level. On the other team we have Kikuchi, probably on the same level as his opponents. But we also have Akiyama, who defeated both Furnas and Smith in the tournament, and the ace, Misawa. The mismatch is one reason for my excitement - I always find it interesting to see how such uneven matches pan out. And the six man tag format means an upset is not at all out of the question: pinning Misawa is not a requirement to win the match. In addition, I love the Can-Ams, and it's the first and probably only time we will see the incomparable Johnny Smith in action! I'm as pumped for this match as I am for Kobashi vs Williams.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs Dan Kroffat, Doug Furnas and Johnny Smith

    I hyped up the match so much, then I opened the video to see it is heavily clipped. The length is under eight minutes, less than half of the full match length. There is only one word to describe this situation. S! A! W! Tragic. On the bright side, the first thing we see is Johnny Smith's back as he lifts Akiyama into a Gory Special. Johnny Smith's tights have a UK flag on the rear. I failed to notice he was British until now. In fact, he is from Warrington, North England! He's a fellow Northerner! This knowledge makes me realise that The Can-Am Express and Johnny Smith might be the greatest three man team in the history of wrestling. The Can-Am-UK Express! Go, Johnny, go!

    Akiyama is taken to the Can-Am-UK corner, and manages to fight off all three gaijins for a moment, but the power of the West soon overwhelms him. Kroffat locks in a high angle Boston Crab, and the scummy Misawa enters the ring to break it up. Boo! The crowd agrees with my booing. They are smart. Yes, I am going full patriot on this match, even though only a third of the team is from my country. It's probably the only time we'll see Johnny Smith wrestle. Let me have my moment. Akiyama tries in vain to fight back, but his daring leap from the second rope is caught by Furnas as he transitions to a Fujiwara armbar. Both Misawa and Kikuchi now run interference. The Can-Ams take advantage of the chaos to double team Akiyama. Kroffat and Smith run to the opponent's corner in advance, anticipating yet another illegal interference, but Akiyama kicks out! Furnas tries to end things with a Tiger Driver, but Misawa does not approve of his move being used by another and breaks it up. Akiyama counters into a backslide and tags Misawa! Disaster strikes!

    Misawa cleans Furnas' clock with a flying clothesline, and grabs the Facelock. Kroffat and Smith interfere to break it up. This is justified and not at all scummy: they are owed at least three illegal run-ins. Smith tags in and ends up in the Facelock in a matter of seconds. The Can-Ams interfere and double suplex the champion. Kroffat tries to end things with a hurricanrana, but Misawa coldly drops his aerial foe with a powerbomb and tags Kikuchi. Kikuchi hits a diving headbutt for a near fall. Moments later, Kroffat catches Kikuchi with a powerslam! One! Two! Kick out! Kroffat continues with a dropkick and a release German suplex, flipping Kikuchi over so he lands on his face. Furnas tags in and hits the Tiger Driver! I'll be honest, it didn't look that good. Misawa is so insulted that he once again enters illegally to break up the pin. It's Johnny Smith's turn as the legal man. He body slams Kikuchi, climbs the top rope, and dives too far, barely connecting with Kikuchi. I can understand his excitement. Kikuchi kicks out.

    Akiyama shows he is as scummy as his teammates by running in the ring, giving Kikuchi time and space to tag out. Misawa stands in the ring long enough to be clotheslined by Kroffat, then tags out to Akiyama. What a wimp. Just so we're on clear, Smith and Akiyama are now the legal men. Akiyama hits the Northern Lights suplex but Furnas breaks it up. Misawa suddenly flies from the right side of the screen on top of Smith. I guess it was a Frog Splash. He springs to his feet and forearms Furnas out of the ring. OK, that was pretty slick. Well done, Misawa. Akiyama hits Smith with a second Northern Lights Suplex. One! Two! Three! Booooo!


    ---------------------------------------------

    That was an incredibly action-packed eight minutes. It was hard to keep track of what was going on at times because there were so many run-ins. A fun match made even more fun (for me, at least) by my silly heel commentary. Johnny Smith, it was nice watching you in action, but be proud in the fact that you left us doing what you do best: being pinned. Cue the English national anthem.

    In between this match and the upcoming match, there was another six man tag team match. Toshiaki Kawada, Akira Taue and Masanobu Fuchi defeated Stan Hansen, Giant Baba and Takao Omori. Personally, I'm glad we got to see the Can-Am-UK tag match, even a clipped version, over yet another Giant Baba six man tag.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Kenta Kobashi vs Steve Williams

    This is how the match starts.



    The referee is trying to separate the wrestlers before starting the match, but they refuse to budge, so the ref just rings the bell as they stand. This breaks the gladiatorial trance, and the action begins. Kobashi grabs a headlock, Williams pushes him away and is hardly budged by Kobashi's shoulder block. Kobashi runs the ropes again, as if to try a second shoulder block, but cleverly leaps into the air, staggering Doc with a surprise flying forearm. A lariat follows for a one count. Kobashi methodically takes control from here, wearing Williams down with various holds. Some of these holds last quite a long time, but they keep it interesting with Williams trying to muscle out of the holds and Kobashi struggling to keep him locked. At one point, Williams escapes a hold, gets behind Kobashi, and lifts him up for the Backdrop Driver, but Kobashi floats over to land on top. A wonderful spot that got the crowd to pop huge in the first few minutes of the match. It's worth mentioning here that Williams' Backdrop Driver is the most over move in AJPW right now. It's a brutal move, and the way his opponents react when he goes for the move, desperately scrambling to the ropes, further helps to cement the move's aura.

    Kobashi throws Williams to the outside and does some damage with the help of the guardrail. This is uncharacteristic of Kobashi, but we've seen his more aggressive side develop throughout the tournament, most notably in his big win against Hansen. Kobashi continues to dominate until the seven minute mark, where Doc catches Kobashi with a hard knee to the stomach. Williams pounds Kobashi with strikes, then hits a very impressive Gorilla press slam. Williams drops an elbow into the cover for a two count. He gorilla presses Kobashi again, this time dumping him over the top rope and onto the floor. He then lifts Kobashi in a fallaway slam position, rams his back twice into the ring post, and drops him on the apron. Back in the ring, Doc grabs a bearhug, a hold I don't see much these days. Kobashi eventually fights out and runs the ropes, only to be walloped with a lariat on the way back. Williams goes for the Doctor Bomb, but Kobashi reverses nicely into a gutwrench suplex. Kobashi is now back in the match. He hits a couple of DDTs and a powerslam for a two count. Kobashi climbs to the top but Williams meets him there and hits a beautiful top rope belly to belly suplex. Williams crawls to the cover. One! Two! Kick out!

    Williams fires up but the crowd is chanting Kobashi's name. He tries the Oklahoma Stampede but Kobashi hangs onto the ropes, forcing Williams to abandon the attempt. He stomps Kobashi and tries again, but Kobashi drops down the back, shoves Williams chest first into the turnbuckle and hits a German suplex for a near fall. Kobashi goes for the moonsault but Williams rolls away as Kobashi is climbing the turnbuckle. Kobashi hops down and runs at Williams, connecting with an inelegant but effective big boot. Kobashi hits a powerbomb! One! Two! Kick out! Body slam! The Moonsault connects! One! Two! Kick out!! The Moonsault is not one of those moves that's never kicked out of, but you don't see it survived very often. Kobashi is distraught and tries another cover, but Williams kicks out again. Kobashi slaps Williams and runs the ropes, but gets caught with a lovely judo throw. Not especially high impact, so Kobashi is up first. However, Williams manages to shove Kobashi into the turnbuckle, and goes for the backdrop to the frenzied screams of the crowd. Kobashi scrambles free, avoiding disaster.

    Williams has weathered the storm, taking all that Kobashi has to offer. Can Kobashi do the same? We are about to find out as Doc hits the Doctor Bomb! One! Two! Kick out! Kobashi ducks a lariat and hits a discus chop to the neck! Williams is down like a shot! Kobashi crawls to the cover, but that's not going to win the match. Both wrestlers get up, jelly-legged, and trade slaps. They end up on opposite sides of the ring, and they both charge. Double clothesline! Kobashi is up first, but he's using the turnbuckle to get himself up. Williams spring to his feet and body splashes Kobashi in the corner. He hits a running powerslam, the second half of the Oklahoma Stampede! One! Two! Kick out! Williams swings for the fences with a lariat. Kobashi ducks and grabs a sleeper hold. Williams quickly spins out and hits the Backdrop Driver! Williams is unable to capitalise, however. As he gets to his feet, we see a great visual of Kobashi trying to use the ropes to get to his feet, only to keep falling down. Impeccable selling. Williams puts Kobashi out of his misery with a second Backdrop Driver. One! Two! Three!

    Steve Williams is the victor, and earns his place in the final against Toshiaki Kawada. Williams is a gracious victor, helping Kobashi to his feet, shaking his hand and giving him a hug. A great way to end the round robin.


    ---------------------------------------------

    Brilliant match, exactly what a group stage final should be. Kobashi defeating Hansen showed that he could wrestle at an elite level. This match cemented Kobashi's place as one of the top guys on the roster. If you watch that match, Kobashi is not presented as the underdog. He is on equal terms with Williams, it's just that Williams happened to be the better man on that night. Williams giving Kobashi respect at the end is just the icing on the cake. As far as I'm concerned, Kobashi is right up there with Kawada, Hansen and Williams as a guy gunning for Misawa's spot at the peak of the company.

    Day 21 Results
    Spoiler


    Final Standings
    19 points: Toshiaki Kawada, Steve Williams
    18 points: Stan Hansen
    17 points: Akira Taue, Kenta Kobashi
    9 points: Johnny Ace, Jun Akiyama
    6 points: John Nord
    4 points: Doug Furnas, Johnny Smith, The Eagle

    The final standings shows how tough the competition was at the top. Stan Hansen went +9 -2, a score that would win most round robins convincingly, but here it's only enough for second place. The same can be said for Taue and Kobashi, who went +8 =1 (against each other) -2. It's particularly tragic for Hansen because if not for the rib injury, he would have most likely not lost at all, and won outright. To be honest, I'm not sure why the tournaments are constructed in this way because it's clear that the bottom guys don't stand a chance and only exist for the top guys to rack up a huge score. Why not have a five or six man round robin? Perhaps in conjunction with a second lower card tournament. At least in the G1 Climax, or the most recent editions at least, it's more of an even playing field, and upsets are quite common. It's true that the expected guys always make the finals in the G1, but there's always an outside chance an underdog might make it until the last few rounds.

  17. #42
    Senior Member cablegeddon's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Strobe View Post
    Business and popularity is tough for me to gauge in Japan. I have never looked into it with enough depth and I'd really love to one day, as it would add a feel for how big certain matches and guys truly were.

    I mean, we probably think that NJPW is very popular in Japan right now, but their TV slot is at like 2/3 in the morning and it is months behind. Apparently there is a pay TV channel specifically for wrestling that shows some new (including New Japan in a primetime slot) and old stuff but only like 15% of the population has it. This isn't to say that New Japan isn't doing good business, and obviously around the world the internet (New Japan has a streaming service) is becoming more and more the way that people access stuff. But this is just to show that wrestling isn't part of the mainstream as much as it has been in the past, as far as I know.

    In regards to mid-90s All Japan, my limited knowledge on the subject is that All Japan was very popular in Tokyo (whereas New Japan was very popular throughout the country) and Misawa had a tremendous record of selling out the Budokan. Here is a quick look at Budokan shows in the 90s:

    1990: 4 shows, all near sell-outs
    1991: 4 shows, 3 near sell-outs, final show (RWTL final) sell-out
    1992: 5 shows, 5 sell-outs
    1993: 6 shows, 6 sell-outs
    1994: 7 shows, 7 sell-outs
    1995: 7 shows, 7 sell-outs
    1996: 7 shows, 6 near sell-outs, final show sell-out
    1997: 7 shows, 6 sell-outs, final show near sell-out
    1998: 7 shows, 6 sell-outs, one near sell-out
    1999: 7 shows, 7 sell-outs

    As far as TV goes, I know that Choshu's invasion angle and feud in 1985 brought All Japan its first primetime TV slot since the 70s. By 1993, their slot was around midnight I think and I want to say it was during that year as well that it got cut from an hour to half an hour, which is why we have less footage from the rest of the 90s or stuff that has not yet been released in unclipped form. So All Japan likely was "bigger" in a national, mainstream sense in that 85/86 period but it wasn't drawing Budokan sellouts even with fewer shows. Then again I don't have any numbers on the non-Budokan shows.

    From the little I know, I think Misawa/Kawada could've been run on a Dome Show in 95 or 96 or 97 and done the same business they did in 98. I don't think we can use the Dome in 98 being run to show that All Japan was peaking.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    When you getting to these final few matches Emp, so we can discuss the booking?

    Also I'd be interested in hearing how you'd compare these Carnivals with the top matches from the recent G1s that you've watched (since we don't get all the matches from the Carnival, comparing to only the top G1 matches is fair).
    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor View Post
    AJPW has only done the Tokyo Dome three or four times ever. Stadium shows is not a good metric. I'm not sure what is. The second biggest venue they do is the Nippon Budokan/Budokan Hall. I believe they do Budokan a few times a year. If I wanted to know which the most popular AJPW year is, I'd be looking at average attendance over the year. Strobe might have some answers. He knows AJPW and he's into that kind of number stuff. Personally I don't care all that much. I mean, it would be interesting to know, but I don't care enough to delve into numbers.
    I love your info!

    I just finished reading Lion's pride and some things that are mentioned in that book are
    • There was a wrestling boom from 89-95 where a handful of promotions did extremely well. Including FMW, UWFi, Wings, AJW.
    • AJPW in the 90s was known for better heavyweights but NJPW juniors like Muta and Liger were more mainstream and household names
    • By the late 90s AJPW was widely considered stale with the same few wrestlers main eventing


    So my impression is that AJPW was 100% viable but struggling to maintain its popularity throughout the 90s. Why that anniversary show did so well I don't know.
    Bryan Alvarez on December 4 , 2006 : "CM Punk is NOT the best wrestler in the whole world"

  18. #43
    Atodaso Strobe's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    To be honest, I'm not sure why the tournaments are constructed in this way because it's clear that the bottom guys don't stand a chance and only exist for the top guys to rack up a huge score. Why not have a five or six man round robin? Perhaps in conjunction with a second lower card tournament. At least in the G1 Climax, or the most recent editions at least, it's more of an even playing field, and upsets are quite common. It's true that the expected guys always make the finals in the G1, but there's always an outside chance an underdog might make it until the last few rounds.
    Because you couldn't justify getting a whole tour out of it then, since you can't really run Kobashi/Smith, Kawada/Nord and Hansen/Eagle type matches without the reasoning of the tournament, so you couldn't just spread the matches out over the same number of shows unless you wanted to run certain matches too often, which could hurt certain people. So the Carnival would be over quicker, less shows, less money. Plus, it helps put the big guys over as elite and a different level from those lesser guys, since All Japan was big on hierarchy.

  19. #44
    Moderator Emperor's Avatar
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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    AJPW Champion Carnival 1994

    It's finals time! Kawada and Williams tied for first place, so they will do battle to crown the tournament winner. Before we get there, we shall get warmed up with a six man tag, featuring Takao Omori! The man we have not seen since he lost to Akiyama in the final of the Asako Cup. Oh, there's also Giant Baba.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama vs Stan Hansen, Giant Baba and Takao Omori

    The match is jump started when Hansen launches himself at Kobashi before the bell. The other wrestlers stand around, completely indifferent to the action. Hansen and Kobashi move to a neutral corner, and the referee decides to start the match here, shooing the other wrestlers out of the ring and calling for the bell. Hansen nails a DDT quickly and starts the beatdown. Hansen and Omori double team Kobashi. Omori hits a neckbreaker, and it's already clear that Kobashi's head and neck area is the target. Kobashi soon escapes to tag in Akiyama. The two smaller guys engage in a fast-paced sequence ending in a double dropkick, a standoff, and huge applause. This kind of thing wasn't so commonplace in 1994.

    Nothing noteworthy happens for the next while. It's standard unpredictable AJPW six man tag wrestling, with frequent tags and neither side able to gain a long term advantage. The highlight of this part of the match is the 60 second stretch where Kobashi and Hansen are the legal men. This time it's Kobashi wailing on Hansen in the corner, stomping a mudhole Austin style, before tagging out to Akiyama. Akiyama gets a few shots in but is soon cut off by the higher ranked wrestler, a standard feature. The next noteworthy moment comes a minute later when Baba and Kobashi have a nice chop battle at the ropes. Kobashi wins the chop battle, but he runs the ropes, allowing Baba to hit a knee to the gut. He follows this with a Russian leg sweep for a two count.

    Five minutes later, Kobashi and Omori are the legal men. Kobashi hits a leaping shoulder tackle on Omori, then runs to Hansen's corner to forearm him off the apron. Hansen quickly gets back up, and the foes stare each other down. Hansen is not the type to wait patiently for his turn to get a shot back, so he leaps in the ring and they tussle, allowing Omori to hit Kobashi with a backdrop. Finally one team has a concrete advantage. Baba tags in and hits three swinging neckbreakers followed by a piledriver. Kobashi is so close to the ropes he might as well be out of the ring, but Baba goes for the cover anyway. Apparently not every wrestler has the fabled ring awareness that commentators love to talk about. I'm sure Baba had it at some point, but he must have lost it in his elder years.

    Kobashi finally escapes to Misawa, and he grabs the Facelock on Baba right away. Misawa's partners prevent him from making the save. At least until Hansen breaks free of Kobashi's sleeper hold, allowing him to save the match. After a brief moment of chaos, Kobashi hits Baba with the moonsault! One! Two! Baba kicks out! It's interesting to see how the over-the-hill booker never takes a fall, while his equivalent in NJPW (Gedo) is seemingly making it a point to be pinned in every single tag match he wrestles on the G1 cards. This comparison is hardly fair, because Baba is a former ace while Gedo was never a big deal as far as I'm aware, but I thought it was an interesting thought to share. Back to the match.

    Kobashi spins Baba around with the Infinity Roll, but Hansen puts a stop to it before the referee can get down to start the count. Kobashi tries to suplex Baba, but gets suplexed in return. Baba is basically out, but Omori plays it smart and runs in to hold off Kobashi just long enough for Baba to tag in Hansen! Hansen with a fantastic spell on offense, pulling triple duty in beating the crap out of his rival while repeatedly dispatching both Misawa and Akiyama. He hits Kobashi with a powerbomb, Misawa makes the save, and Hansen DDTs him. Hansen signals for the lariat, Baba encouraging him from the apron, but Misawa runs in to hit an elbow! That's all Misawa had left, as he collapses to all fours, allowing Hansen to charge him out of the ring. Hansen makes a crucial mistake, tagging the weak link Omori late into the match. Kobashi tags to Akiyama, Akiyama and Omori have a nice sprint, Kobashi tags back in and powerbombs Omori for a near fall. We get a nice shot of Hansen whipping Misawa hard into the rail on the outside as Kobashi grabs Omori in a vertical suplex position. He lifts him up, then drops him in a sitout powerbomb position. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the debut of the ORANGE CRUSH!!!! The camera cuts to Misawa grabbing Hansen's leg as he's about to slide into the ring. Akiyama is preventing Baba from entering. One! Two! Three!


    ---------------------------------------------

    The best of the Baba six man tags we've seen so far, but nothing special. The closing stretch was great, but the 20-25 minutes before that was nothing special (relative to AJPW tags, even the medicore AJPW tags are miles better than the average tag match you see outside of AJPW), with only the Kobashi/Hansen sequences being exciting to watch. Interesting that one of Kobashi's super-finishers was debuted to beat a relative jobber in a throwaway six man tag.

    The final is up next! For those closely following, I recommend you watch the match before reading on. Watch it, make a judgment (even if it's just a star rating), and then read my review. Why, you ask? Because my evaluation of the match is the complete opposite of the general consensus, and I'm confused. It feels like I've watched a different match to everyone else, and I'd like some PW perspective. Also, interactivity is good! The link is below.

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x48is6r

    ---------------------------------------------

    1994 Champion Carnival Final
    Toshiaki Kawada vs Steve Williams


    This is it! The grand final! To commemorate this marvellous occasion, I'll show you the ring gear of the finalists. But only from the back. We get some nice shots of Williams standing in the back while Kawada makes his entrance. Entrances in AJPW are bare bones, so the best I can offer from Kawada's gear is an unflattering shot on the apron. I don't actually know if this is special gear or if it's what the guys always wear. This is one of those extremely rare occasions I actually watched the pre-match stuff.

    Spoiler


    Here's Doc from the front too, because his robe is badass.

    Spoiler


    The match starts off cautiously. They tie up. Doc pushes Kawada to the ropes. Clean break. Doc grabs a headlock. Kawada shoves him off. Shoulder block. And another. The caution ends here, as Williams goes for the Backdrop Driver very early! Kawada resists, slaps Williams in the face, and hits a backdrop of his own. Kawada takes a moment to recuperate and gets some offense going. Chops and kicks. Williams starts to shrug off the blows, and they stand face to face in the ring, much like Williams and Kobashi did before the bell rang in their match. Kawada throws some chops, but Williams no sells the lot. Kawada rattles his foe with a big forearm. Williams kicks him rather innocuously from the corner, but Kawada goes down with an exclamation of pain as he holds his ribcage. Kawada is soon back in the groove, hitting Williams with a number of chest kicks in the turnbuckle. A spinkick follows, and Doc drops to the floor. Williams is driven into the metal barrier but rebounds with a roar and a big lariat. He rolls Kawada in the ring and applies a sleeper hold. So far the match has been lackluster.

    As I say that, Doc gets the crowd going by screaming at Kawada and taunting him with light kicks. Kawada fires up a bit and connects with a rope-assisted kick to the head. Kawada grabs a chinlock, but Williams is next to the ropes. Kawada kicks, Williams no sells, and explodes from the corner with a lariat. The match has yet to click with me and the crowd. The wrestlers are struggling to find a good rhythm. Williams grabs a chinlock, transitions into a butterfly hold, lifts Kawada to his feet, and hits high angle Tiger Suplex! The commentators get excited. Kawada looks like he's out. One! Two! Kick out! Kawada wisely rolls to the outside. Doc patiently waits in the ring, but Kawada is not moving, and his patience runs out. Kawada is whipped into the rail but throws a kick at the charging gaijin, stopping the offense for a moment.

    Back in the ring, Williams decides that the Tiger Suplex isn't the only new move he's going to hit, and climbs to the top. Diving body splash! Kawada rolls out of the way! Kawada now on offense. He hits a string of low impact moves and grabs a Fujiwara armbar. Doc struggles to the ropes. Kawada kicks the arm a bit, then gets nailed with a spinebuster. Splash in the corner and a big powerslam for a near fall for Doc. They get to their feet and Kawada nails a few kicks. Stretch Plum! Williams gets to the ropes, strike exchange, Kawada is dropped with a closed fist punch. Doc hits a boxing combo for good measure. Kawada is gorilla pressed and dropped chest first on the top rope. Williams tries the backdrop, but Kawada escapes and hits a gamengiri!

    Both men are down. Both men get up. Kawada bounces off the ropes, seeking a lariat. Williams ducks and snaps off a Backdrop Driver! However, Williams is too worn down to make the cover. Kawada slowly rolls to the floor. Doc helps Kawada back in the ring so he can pin him, but Kawada is out at two. Doctor Bomb! One! Two! Kick out! Williams tries as hard as he can to drop Kawada on his head again, but Kawada resists with all his might, hits a spinning backchop and then a lovely rolling Liger kick for a near fall. Kawada struggles to lift Williams for a powerbomb, but he manages, and it looks alright. Not good enough to win the match, though. Stretch Plum! Williams is out. Kawada releases and pins. One! Two! Williams kicks out! Kawada hits a gamengiri and another powerbomb. One! Two! Kick out! Kawada can't think of anything better than to try again. After some resistance he nails it. One! Two! Three! Kawada wins the tournament!


    ---------------------------------------------

    I'll be frank. I didn't like the match. Almost thirty action-packed minutes but not one second of that action excited me. OK, maybe the surprise Tiger Suplex, but nothing else. I don't know how to explain my complete apathy towards this match, but I'll try. I guess the best way to describe it would be to compare the match to a video game wrestling match. Both guys just hit moves for no rhyme and reason. The transitions were too frequent and lacked meaning. One guy was in control, the other guy suddenly hits a move, and that's that. Williams would randomly enter his no-sell/Hulk up mode several times in the match, and it didn't amount to anything. Both wrestlers lacked their usual intensity. Kawada's selling was strange. He would randomly scream out in pain after random low impact moves. Perhaps too many aches and pains from the tour. At the end of the match they started selling as if they had been in a war, staying on the mat for a long time after each move. But it didn't feel right. Sure, they had been wrestling for a long time, but it felt like they hadn't really done that much. Bottom line, the match did not click with me at all. One of the worst AJPW matches I've ever seen. I'm going to attribute this to both guys being beat up and exhausted at the end of a gruelling tour. Neither of them are bad wrestlers. Their round robin match was fantastic.

    All that I just said. That's the opinion of one person. If this thread is anything to go by, everyone who's watched the match loves it. Everyone. I'm baffled by this, honestly. But don't take my judgment as gospel. Hopefully you've watched the match. You probably liked it. I'm pretty sure you didn't hate it. Tell me I'm full of shit, tell me the match is great. Sometime down the line, I may give it another chance, and I may love it.

    Let's not end the Champion Carnival on a sour note. Overall, it was a fantastic tournament which produced many great matches. Taue vs Kobashi. Kawada vs Williams. Akiyama vs Williams. Kobashi vs Hansen. Taue vs Hansen. Misawa vs Kawada. Kobashi vs Williams. That's almost every match I watched. Misawa vs Akiyama and the six man tags were also good matches. In fact, the tournament final is the only match I disliked.

  20. #45
    Atodaso Strobe's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    The final is up next! For those closely following, I recommend you watch the match before reading on. Watch it, make a judgment (even if it's just a star rating), and then read my review. Why, you ask? Because my evaluation of the match is the complete opposite of the general consensus, and I'm confused. It feels like I've watched a different match to everyone else, and I'd like some PW perspective. Also, interactivity is good!
    As you command. Time for a rewatch of a match I remember as being great. I'm going to watch this and note my feelings as it goes along. Then, in something I don't think I've done before, I'll edit my review in next to yours in appropriate chopped-up chunks, so we can easily see how we each felt about the different portions of the match.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    The match starts off cautiously. They tie up. Doc pushes Kawada to the ropes. Clean break. Doc grabs a headlock. Kawada shoves him off. Shoulder block. And another. The caution ends here, as Williams goes for the Backdrop Driver very early! Kawada resists, slaps Williams in the face, and hits a backdrop of his own. Kawada takes a moment to recuperate and gets some offense going. Chops and kicks. Williams starts to shrug off the blows, and they stand face to face in the ring, much like Williams and Kobashi did before the bell rang in their match. Kawada throws some chops, but Williams no sells the lot. Kawada rattles his foe with a big forearm. Williams kicks him rather innocuously from the corner, but Kawada goes down with an exclamation of pain as he holds his ribcage. Kawada is soon back in the groove, hitting Williams with a number of chest kicks in the turnbuckle. A spinkick follows, and Doc drops to the floor. Williams is driven into the metal barrier but rebounds with a roar and a big lariat. He rolls Kawada in the ring and applies a sleeper hold. So far the match has been lackluster.
    This is a big-time match, as the winner will be next in line for a shot at Misawa's Triple Crown. Kawada, having taken an admittedly injured Misawa to a draw, is desperate for the title shot at his former partner, whereas Williams is also trying to establish himself as top gaijin.

    We get some opening spots that get over Williams' superior size and strength, before an early Backdrop Driver attempt which Kawada fights desperately to avoid (helping establish it even further as the ultimate finisher in All Japan at the moment) before hitting a standard Backdrop of his own. Kawada nails Williams with some shots, but Williams shakes them off, starts no selling them (in the kayfabe mind games intimidation sense, not the "stop selling to get my shit in" one), goes forehead to forehead with Kawada, slaps him and laughs in his face. Williams is trying to intimidate Tosh here, but Kawada is not allowing himself to be and hits a few good shots and Williams is knocked back slightly and can't no-sell these.

    We get an awkward-looking kick away from Williams to Kawada, who is sent across the ring and clutches his side. Bit messy, but innocuous looking things can often be the worst (although in wrestling you want things to be the opposite of innocuous), so easy to let it slide.

    Things continue in an even vain, with each man getting some shots in, but no real advantage gained. There has been a deliberate pace up to this point, with both men cautious, understanding the significance of the match and Kawada especially knowing that he must avoid the larger Williams' big bombs at all costs.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    As I say that, Doc gets the crowd going by screaming at Kawada and taunting him with light kicks. Kawada fires up a bit and connects with a rope-assisted kick to the head. Kawada grabs a chinlock, but Williams is next to the ropes. Kawada kicks, Williams no sells, and explodes from the corner with a lariat. The match has yet to click with me and the crowd. The wrestlers are struggling to find a good rhythm. Williams grabs a chinlock, transitions into a butterfly hold, lifts Kawada to his feet, and hits high angle Tiger Suplex! The commentators get excited. Kawada looks like he's out. One! Two! Kick out! Kawada wisely rolls to the outside. Doc patiently waits in the ring, but Kawada is not moving, and his patience runs out. Kawada is whipped into the rail but throws a kick at the charging gaijin, stopping the offense for a moment.
    Williams again tries to intimidate Tosh with no selling and Kawada just kicks him in the head, causing Williams to realise that didn't work and he hits some offence to gain control and locks in a double chickenwing submission, which he then turns into a surprise Tiger Suplex (a move used by the man they both want to face - Mitsuharu Misawa), dumping Kawada on his head. All that cautious work for nothing, as while Kawada had been ready for the Backdrop Driver earlier, he was not expecting Doc to bust that out. After kicking out, Kawada needs to roll out the ring to recover, while Williams bounces cockily in the ring. Williams loses patience and comes out after him and sends him into the railing, before charging but Kawada manages to get a kick up and some vital more seconds to breath, as he is still shaking off the effects of that Tiger Driver.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    Back in the ring, Williams decides that the Tiger Suplex isn't the only new move he's going to hit, and climbs to the top. Diving body splash! Kawada rolls out of the way! Kawada now on offense. He hits a string of low impact moves and grabs a Fujiwara armbar. Doc struggles to the ropes. Kawada kicks the arm a bit, then gets nailed with a spinebuster. Splash in the corner and a big powerslam for a near fall for Doc. They get to their feet and Kawada nails a few kicks. Stretch Plum! Williams gets to the ropes, strike exchange, Kawada is dropped with a closed fist punch. Doc hits a boxing combo for good measure. Kawada is gorilla pressed and dropped chest first on the top rope. Williams tries the backdrop, but Kawada escapes and hits a gamengiri!
    Williams realises he hurt Kawada with that surprise move and goes for another, uncharacteristically scaling to the top for a big splash. This would likely be all over if he hits it, but Kawada rolls out of the way and is still grabbing the back of his head from that Tiger Suplex. Williams has knocked the wind out of himself and we now have Kawada on offence, still working at a deliberate pace, wary of making a mistake, which he almost does when he goes for a brainbuster and Doc tries to counter it into one of his own. Kawada realises this was a lucky escape and as soon as his feet hit the ground, he locks in a Fujiwara armbar, really cinching it in until Williams makes the ropes.

    Both men are back up now and Doc regains the advantage with a big spinebuster and, shortly after, he whips Kawada into the corner and as he comes out, picks him up for the Oklahoma Stampede. Kawada reacts much the same as he did to the Backdrop Driver attempt, fighting desperately to avoid it and managing to do so. Williams decides he needs to surprise Kawada again, so when he whips Tosh into the other buckle, he follows him in this time to hit a corner splash and now a dazed Kawada walks into a standard powerslam for a two-count. A Williams lariat gets another two and Tosh realises he needs to fire back as Williams has a grip on this at the moment and manages to hit a jumping enzuigiri and running boot to the face, before stumbling about briefly to regain his barrings. Kawada now locks in his favourite submission the Stretch Plum, but Williams is just so big that it isn't easy for Kawada to control him in it and Williams falls into the ropes to escape.

    Kawada Kicks and Doc agains tries to intimidate with no selling and Kawada is all "fuck you" and starts Kawada Kicking him again, only for Doc to try to no sell again. Kawada responds with a club to the back of the neck and Williams, pissed at his no-sell trick not working yet again, closed-fist punches Kawada in the face, which is an illegal move. Kawada sells the shot in his typically great manner, clutching his jaw and falling over like a ton of bricks, and the ref rightfully admonishes Doc. Williams isn't afraid to bend or even break the rules to win here. He follows it up with a nice, little punch combo that looked more like open fists, but the ref gives him a little warning anyway to make sure to keep those fists open. Doc really has the advantage now and shows off his strength with a big gorilla press slam where he drops Kawada throat-first over the top rope. He keeps the control with his own submission that evokes thoughts of the Stretch Plum. After one hit and one missed Lariat, Williams hits an elbow that allows him to attempt the Backdrop Driver - with Kawada again fighting like crazy to avoid it and hitting a Gamengiri. The crowd pops big every time they think the Backdrop Driver might be hit.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    Both men are down. Both men get up. Kawada bounces off the ropes, seeking a lariat. Williams ducks and snaps off a Backdrop Driver! However, Williams is too worn down to make the cover. Kawada slowly rolls to the floor. Doc helps Kawada back in the ring so he can pin him, but Kawada is out at two. Doctor Bomb! One! Two! Kick out! Williams tries as hard as he can to drop Kawada on his head again, but Kawada resists with all his might, hits a spinning backchop and then a lovely rolling Liger kick for a near fall. Kawada struggles to lift Williams for a powerbomb, but he manages, and it looks alright. Not good enough to win the match, though. Stretch Plum! Williams is out. Kawada releases and pins. One! Two! Williams kicks out! Kawada hits a gamengiri and another powerbomb. One! Two! Kick out! Kawada can't think of anything better than to try again. After some resistance he nails it. One! Two! Three! Kawada wins the tournament!
    Williams slowly gets to his feet and almost suckers Kawada in, who launches himself into a lariat attempt, taking that risk he has been avoiding the whole match, and Williams ducks, latches around Tosh's waist and dumps him on his head with the Backdrop Driver. Williams is not able to capitalise with the cover though. This may seem like Williams shouldn't be that hurt after one gamengiri, considering he'd been in control the last wee stretch of the match, but watch that sequence again. When Doc got hit by the gamengiri, he was face down on the mat afterwards. That was a great shot Kawada got in and Doc was rocked. He was only slowly making his way up and was on one knee and not looking steady, until he turns his head and sees Kawada readying himself on the ropes. It is as if he knows this is his chance to catch Kawada out, so gets to his feet before he is quite ready, manages to counter and nail the big shot, and then can finish his recovery. They probably didn't intend that at all and I'm reading too much into it, but it came across fantastically to me.

    Kawada manages to roll to the relative safety of the floor, as he has a great dazed look, trying to straighten himself out after such a blow. Williams has himself now managed to shake his own cobwebs loose and brings Kawada back in, but can only get two. Kawada is in serious trouble now though and it will be harder for him to be able to counter Doc's big bombs. A Doc Bomb gets 2 but when he goes for another Backdrop Driver, Kawada almost instinctively charges for the ropes and when he is dragged back to the middle, he tangles their legs up to prevent the move. Tosh manages to escape, nail a koppu kick and drag himself over for a cover that gets two.

    Kawada doesn't look steady on his feet and gets a Powerbomb but doesn't seem to get all of it, whether due to the effects of the Backdrop Driver or simply Williams' size. He locks in a Stretch Plum, as we can see his determination to get his huge win - winning the Carnival would be a career-defining moment up to this point for Kawada and he badly wants to face Misawa. Kawada only has enough energy to keep the hold on so long and hopes he has weakened Doc enough for a pin, but only gets two. Another Powerbomb attempt by Kawada but Doc escapes with a back body drop, before Kawada charges at Doc and receives another closed-fist for his troubles, but there isn't much force behind it. Kawada was hoping to hit Williams with a response gamengiri before he fell himself but Doc is already going down and Kawada improvises nicely with his kick. Williams is the one in real trouble now and he suffers a couple of jumping enzuigiris before Kawada hits a better Powerbomb this time but only gets 2 again. Kawada is going for the third Powerbomb and they botch it with Tosh unable to get Doc up, but given the stage of the match, how tired Kawada should be and how big Williams is, it actually works. Tosh fights through some more blocked attempts, before finally hitting the third Powerbomb for the big win.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    I'll be frank. I didn't like the match. Almost thirty action-packed minutes but not one second of that action excited me. OK, maybe the surprise Tiger Suplex, but nothing else. I don't know how to explain my complete apathy towards this match, but I'll try. I guess the best way to describe it would be to compare the match to a video game wrestling match. Both guys just hit moves for no rhyme and reason. The transitions were too frequent and lacked meaning. One guy was in control, the other guy suddenly hits a move, and that's that. Williams would randomly enter his no-sell/Hulk up mode several times in the match, and it didn't amount to anything. Both wrestlers lacked their usual intensity. Kawada's selling was strange. He would randomly scream out in pain after random low impact moves. Perhaps too many aches and pains from the tour. At the end of the match they started selling as if they had been in a war, staying on the mat for a long time after each move. But it didn't feel right. Sure, they had been wrestling for a long time, but it felt like they hadn't really done that much. Bottom line, the match did not click with me at all. One of the worst AJPW matches I've ever seen. I'm going to attribute this to both guys being beat up and exhausted at the end of a gruelling tour. Neither of them are bad wrestlers. Their round robin match was fantastic.
    Just a fantastic match. The deliberate pace demonstrated the importance both men were placing on the match and Kawada's wariness to avoid Doc's huge moves. When Doc went for his big moves they were put across as lethal by how Kawada reacted to them in a desperate panic to avoid them being hit. I loved Doc repeatedly trying to intimidate Tosh, who gave no fucks, and Doc ultimately got dirty with the closed fists. I loved Kawada having Doc scouted, so Doc would change it up to surprise him. I talked about that gamengiri into suckering Tosh in into Backdrop Driver into recovery from gamengiri sequence that I thought was fantastic. Kawada being allowed to survive the Backdrop Driver and come out on top put him over big, while the move was still protected, and Doc got put over by how much of a threat he was made out to be during the match. One of those rare matches where both men come out of it looking better.

    ****

    *After reading yours* I don't have much of an issue with a scream out in pain from a single move, sometimes initial pain and shock (and as you say, possibly very real pain at the end of a tour) can cause us to verbalise even if there isn't any lasting impact. If he'd been grabbing at his ribs for a good while just to randomly drop it, that would be different. I didn't think there was too much laying about on the mat, certainly not too much for the damage they'd been doing, but perhaps I've talked myself into the effects of that gamengiri on Williams. Was Kawada laying about a bunch before being hit with the Backdrop Driver? Not too much I don't think.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    Let's not end the Champion Carnival on a sour note. Overall, it was a fantastic tournament which produced many great matches. Taue vs Kobashi. Kawada vs Williams. Akiyama vs Williams. Kobashi vs Hansen. Taue vs Hansen. Misawa vs Kawada. Kobashi vs Williams. That's almost every match I watched. Misawa vs Akiyama and the six man tags were also good matches. In fact, the tournament final is the only match I disliked.
    Now, on to the booking, which I think was fantastic.

    Mitsuharu Misawa: Since he can't really be doing jobs for people at this stage, removing him from the tournament for a kayfabe injury (and to let real life aches and pains heal more by not having to work singles) was a smart move. Him and Kawada having a non-tournament singles match despite this injury (when Misawa was working tags on these shows) gets across the intensity of their feud and having it go to a draw shows that Kawada is getting closer and makes Misawa look double tough.

    Stan Hansen: They keep him strong as veteran and still-as-of-now #1 gaijin by having him beat everyone else while healthy, including both finalists (although I agree with you that the Kawada match should definitely have been worked more competitively).

    Toshiaki Kawada: Gets the huge tournament win, so he has been elevated, but we still have some great questions ahead of us: Can he beat a fit Misawa if he couldn't even beat a hurt one? Does Hansen still have his number overall?

    Steve Williams: Really strong #2 gaijin now and primed to take over as #1, after making the final and putting on such a strong showing.

    Kenta Kobashi: Got his first ever win over Hansen, albeit a hurt one, so he is elevated, but it still leaves questions for us going forward.

    Akira Taue: Basically the same as Kobashi - same points, drew with each other, defeated injured Hansen. Our seconds for our main guys are now in a stronger position.

    Jun Akiyama: Put in strong efforts against guys you'd expect to beat him easier.

    Kawada, Williams, Kobashi, Taue and Akiyama are coming out of this tournament the better for it, while Misawa and Hansen have been protected. Good work, Baba.

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    Moderator Emperor's Avatar
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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    It didn't click with me at all that Kawada was wrestling a counter striking hit-and-run strategy. It was clear that both guys were wrestling slowly and cautiously, but I failed to put a story to that, it just came across as slow and meandering and both guys phoning it in. I guess I just wasn't in the mood to watch wrestling last night. It's strange, because normally I can tell when I'm in in the kind of mood that makes me hate all wrestling, but perhaps I didn't recognise it.

    Agreed about the booking. As you say, it elevated everyone who needed to be elevated while not hurting the guys at the very top.

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    Atodaso Strobe's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor
    It didn't click with me at all that Kawada was wrestling a counter striking hit-and-run strategy. It was clear that both guys were wrestling slowly and cautiously, but I failed to put a story to that, it just came across as slow and meandering and both guys phoning it in. I guess I just wasn't in the mood to watch wrestling last night. It's strange, because normally I can tell when I'm in in the kind of mood that makes me hate all wrestling, but perhaps I didn't recognise it.
    Sometimes certain matches don't click with us. Maybe you just had a certain expectation for the type of match they'd produce as a Carnival Final and that wasn't it. You might have read my comments and when you rewatch it, you still don't like it. Definitely one to rewatch when you've finished 1994 I'd say.

    I imagine you aren't going to review all those JIP matches we have coming out of this show, like Bobby Fulton vs. Kentaro Shiga and the bizarreness of Abby/Kimala II (not Kamala) vs. The Heavenly Bodies in All Japan. So we will soon by getting to a match that really influenced the All Japan style and kept being felt all the way into NOAH. But I'm almost more excited for the review that comes after it, of a full-length 8-and-a-half minute Akiyama vs. Abdullah the Butcher match!

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Don't know if I should put this here or in the Match Review thread but the only wrestling I've watched over the past few weeks was when I stumbled upon my brother watching Hansen & Spivey (his version of Double Trouble....or at least Hoss Power) vs. Williams & Gordy from the 1990 Real World Tag League. The match itself was an overlong mess that just kept going and going and going BUT the pre-match RWTL hype video was a hoot with Jumbo Tsuruta being the clip form standout. I no longer understand why everybody is always talking about Stan Hansen's reckless lariats when Jumbo is RIGHT THERE. Dude gave no fucks. He'd swing that right arm at full speed. Sometimes he connected properly for a believable match ending clothesline. But other times, and these were the best times, he'd just nail dudes right in the face with more of a wild swinging punch. I'd hate to wrestle Jumbo Tsuruta but it makes for some entertaining viewing.

    And as a bonus my brother now knows who Misawa & Kawada are.

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    Atodaso Strobe's Avatar

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Baker's post has just made me take a look through teams from the past of the RWTL and while there are loads of super teams (Jumbo/Baba; Funks; Abby/Sheik; Mascaras/Caras; Hansen/Brody; Race/Bockwinkel; Misawa/Kobashi; Kawada/Taue; and so on), there are also some unexpected people and combinations.

    AJPW stalwart and Emperor favourite Johnny Smith partnered: Dynamite Kid, Dory Funk Jr. (for some reason), Rob Van Dam(!), Wolf Hawkfield (Baker probably knows him as "Jungle" Jim Steele), The Man They Call... Vader, Taiyo Kea & Yoji Anjo.

    Mike Shaw (the future Norman the Lunatic, Friar Ferguson and Bastion Booger) teamed with Tiger Jeet Singh in 1984 and scored ZERO points.

    The Can-Am Express were in the 1986 version, even though they'd already joined the WWF, obviously finishing up booked dates.

    Zenk left the WWF in mid-87 however (Tito stepped in and Strike Force was formed), so he was back for the 1987 Tag League and teamed up with The Terminator (Road Warrior Animal and Johnny Ace's younger brother).

    Snuka, who would soon return to the WWF, teaming with Tiger Mask II (Misawa) in 1988 feels a bit odd.

    Terry Gordy took a big downgrade in between Hansen in 88 and Steve Williams in 90 by teaming with Bill Irwin (the future Goooooooooon) in 1989. That edition also featured The Nasty Boys! Those guys taking on the likes of Hansen/Tenryu, Jumbo/Yatsu, Baba/Rusher and Abby/Singh would be interesting to see. And what'd'ya know...



    Those LOD-ripoffs* in the starting clips of that 1990 match Baker is talking about (4:15 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDo5w_shIS0) were Blade Butch Masters and Skywalker Nitron, the latter of whom you'll know better as Sabretooth in X-Men and Michael Myers in the Rob Zombie Halloween remakes.

    *They really look more like someone ripping off Sting (well, his look came from a LOD-ripoff tag team really) and Gladiator-era Mike Awesome (although I don't know if Awesome was doing the paint then).

    Shoot-stylist Gary Albright and Sabu in 1996 is maybe the most bizarre team yet.

    The fucking New Blackjacks, Bradshaw and Windham, were in the 1997 edition.

    Bart Gunn/Mike Barton then became a regular for a few years, teaming with Johnny Ace in 98 and 99, before being with Jim Steele (no Jungle here) in 00. 2000 winners Steve Williams and Mike Rotundo better have been called Death & Taxes or I'm going to be upset.

    I wonder who has had the best selection (just in terms of "name value" overall; irrespective of what they meant at the time) of partners in RWTL history. That could be a fun game. Just some examples.

    Baba: Jumbo, Dory, Rusher Kimura, Misawa as Tiger Mask II, Hiroshi Wajima (he of Tom Magee match infamy), Andre, Kobashi, Hansen & Tamon Honda
    Hansen: Brody, DiBiase, Gordy, Tenryu, Spivey, Johnny Ace, Baba, Gary Albright, Takao Omori, Bobby Duncum Jr, Vader & Taue

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    Default Re: AJPW: The Golden Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Strobe View Post
    I imagine you aren't going to review all those JIP matches we have coming out of this show, like Bobby Fulton vs. Kentaro Shiga and the bizarreness of Abby/Kimala II (not Kamala) vs. The Heavenly Bodies in All Japan. So we will soon by getting to a match that really influenced the All Japan style and kept being felt all the way into NOAH. But I'm almost more excited for the review that comes after it, of a full-length 8-and-a-half minute Akiyama vs. Abdullah the Butcher match!
    I'm going to watch and post about any match that is available to watch. When do these matches you are talking about occur? I don't see them in the CC finals show or the first show of the next tour. On another note, what does "JIP" actually mean? I always interpret it as a clipped match.

    Quote Originally Posted by Baker View Post
    Don't know if I should put this here or in the Match Review thread but the only wrestling I've watched over the past few weeks was when I stumbled upon my brother watching Hansen & Spivey (his version of Double Trouble....or at least Hoss Power) vs. Williams & Gordy from the 1990 Real World Tag League. The match itself was an overlong mess that just kept going and going and going BUT the pre-match RWTL hype video was a hoot with Jumbo Tsuruta being the clip form standout. I no longer understand why everybody is always talking about Stan Hansen's reckless lariats when Jumbo is RIGHT THERE. Dude gave no fucks. He'd swing that right arm at full speed. Sometimes he connected properly for a believable match ending clothesline. But other times, and these were the best times, he'd just nail dudes right in the face with more of a wild swinging punch. I'd hate to wrestle Jumbo Tsuruta but it makes for some entertaining viewing.

    And as a bonus my brother now knows who Misawa & Kawada are.
    Jumbo does have some crazy lariats, and he was dropping people on their heads with Backdrop Drivers years before Dr. Death started doing it. Kobashi also has some sick lariats, but not as consistent as Hansen or Jumbo.

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