It’s time to update the Greatest Wrestler Ever project. Continue reading
Misawa Week continues here on FightGameBlog.
Today we present an awesome match from June 9th, 1995 in Budokan Hall. This is a tag team match for the AJPW All Asian Tag Team Titles as Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi defend against Akira Taue and Toshiaki Kawada. What I loved about this AJPW booking was how things would twist around quickly, and it always made sense. Misawa and Kawada were tag partners for most of 94, feuding with the old regime. Kawada and Taue were feuding since Taue was Baba’s storyline trainee and Kawada and Misawa were school friends. Soon after Misawa got successful, Kawada wanted a piece. So he joined up with his enemy to face Misawa and Kobashi. It wasn’t like a typical WWE “turn” where one guy went from being a good guy to a bad guy and did dastardly things – he just wanted gold and to get out of Misawa’s shadow. Thus, this match happened. This was 40 minutes of orgasmic work.
Today I thought Iâ€™d share some of the late Mitsuharu Misawaâ€™s legendary moments in pro wrestling. I know that a lot of North American readers who read FGB might not be that familiar with Mitsuharu Misawaâ€™s body of work, so this is a good chance to catch up on some of the legendâ€™s great matches and moments. (My apologies to Alan for doing your gimmick lately.)
This first clip is from 1990 during a big tag team match on All Japan Pro Wrestling TV from Budokan Hall. Yoshiaki Yatsu and Samson Fuyuki battled Toshiaki Kawada and Tiger Mask II (aka Misawa). This was the infamous match where Misawa actually unmasked himself (something almost unheard of at the time) during the match. Normally when a masked wrestler unmasks, it is the beginning of the end of that worker (see Mexico). However in this case, this was the rebirth of a career, as unmasking himself was the first step in Misawa becoming the torchbearer for AJPW. After this match he challenged Jumbo Tsuruta to a match.
Yoshiaki Yatsu and Samson Fuyuki vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Tiger Mask II
On June 8th, 1990, Misawa battled Jumbo Tsuruta in Budokan Hall in what would be, to this day, the most legendary encounter of his career. Tsuruta found out mere moments before the opening bell that he would be dropping a fall to Misawa, something that didnâ€™t quite happen very often. You see, in that era, the tippy-top guys never lost. You didnâ€™t see the champions get jobbed out to punks like Randy Orton does on WWE PPVs. Tsuruta losing at Budokan was a big deal as he symbolically passed the torch to the man who would carry All Japan for the rest of the decade and turn the entire company around. Dave Meltzer gave this match 5 Stars and described the atmosphere as being like no other show he’d ever attended. Continue reading
It was the night that began the change of the landscape of Japanese wrestling forever. Mitsuharu Misawa defended his All Japan Triple Crown against Toshiaki Kawada in what seemed like their millionth encounter at Budokan Hall. The peak era that was mid 90s All Japan was dying down a bit. A huge portion of the Gai-jin that helped make it so big left and/or retired, but the company was still carried by the holy trinity that was Misawa, Kawada, and Kobashi (with Taue and a few others helping). Kawada suffered a broken arm during the match. Giant Baba, on his death bed, called this the greatest match he had ever seen and Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer commented on it in a recent audio show.
Here I bring highlights of the match.
It was shortly after this that Baba died, and because Misawa had “creative differences” with Baba’s widow, the “Grand Japanese Exodus” began as Misawa took all of All Japan’s top talents (except Kawada) and started Pro Wrestling NOAH.