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At long last we conclude Misawa Week here on FightGameBlog. Today we present one of the biggest matches in Japanese Puro history. This match is regarded as one of Misawa’s finest moments.
On May 2nd, 1999, All Japan Pro Wrestling ran the world famous Tokyo Dome in a tribute to the founder of the company and it’s primary mentor – Shohei “Giant” Baba, who passed away earlier in the year. A sell-out crowd of 55,000 fans witnessed history in the making. In the highly anticipated main event, the most feared gaijin, perhaps of all time, Super Vader, would defend his AJPW Triple Crown Title. Vader was a feared monster in Japan and the fans had seen him throughout the years lay waste to their grandest heroes. In his debut, Vader annihilated Antonio Inoki in seconds, something that had never been done. Then in the mid 90s, Vader defeated Nobuhiko Takada to win the UWFI’s “Original Pro Wrestling World Title”. Vader was unbeatable. On this day, he faced Mitsuharu Misawa, the other hero. Misawa was competing for his unprecedented FIFTH AJPW Triple Crown Championship. Could Misawa fight for his fallen mentor, vanquish the beast, and bring the AJPW Triple Crown back into Japanese hands?
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.