Here DRS2EBRaSAGG goes again on its own. Down the only road its ever known. And that road leads to Giant Baba’s All Japan Pro Wrestling. This time DRS2EBRaSAGG takes a look at all four 60 minute draws to occur in 1990s All Japan. As a bonus all four involved perhaps the two greatest wrestlers of all time, Kenta Kobashi and Toshiaki Kawada, facing off. As a further bouns Mitsuharu Misawa pops up and he may be the best wrestler ever. We are inundated with maybes here on this edition of DRS2EBRaSAGG.
AJPW 1/19/95 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)
Triple Crown Championship
Triple Crown Champion Toshiaki Kawada vs Kenta Kobashi
AJPW 1/24/95 (Yamagata City Gymnasium)
AJPW World Tag Team Championship
AJPW World Tag Team Champions Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi vs The Holy Demon Army
AJPW 10/15/95 (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium)
AJPW World Tag Team Championship
AJPW World Tag Team Champions The Holy Demon Army vs Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi
AJPW 10/18/96 (Tokyo Nippon Budokan)
Triple Crown Championship
Triple Crown Champion Kenta Kobashi vs Toshiaki Kawada
These reviews usually start out talking up some back story or intricate psychology going on. Fuck that. Let’s talk throat chops. Kenta Kobashi is famous for his chops. Toshiaki Kawada for his kicks. Mitsuharu Misawa for his elbows. That is not to say Kawada would not chop the shit out of you. In the first two matches Kobashi and Kawada would go back and forth with short arm chops then throw their opponent off the ropes into a chop. When Kawada did this to Kobashi instead of selling it Kobashi went all raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah and screamed in Kawada’s face. This did not please Kawada. You sell for Kawada or Kawada will make you sell. That poor bastard ended up getting chopped right in his fucking throat. Here at DRS2EBRaSAGG HQ there was much laughter. Then a mere five days later Kawada whips Kobashi into the ropes. Then comes the chop. Foolish Kobashi goes all raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah again. Chop right to the fucking throat. You sell god damn it. Although that was probably better than the bloody ear stomping he took in their second Triple Crown 60 minute match.
This would probably be a good place to explain what a Triple Crown is and what was going on in All Japan in the 1990s. The Triple Crown was formed when it became obvious as to the fate of the NWA. Once JCP consolidated all the NWA territories All Japan ceasesd getting dates on the champion. So they entered an agreement with the AWA that ended when Stan Hansen ran over the AWA World Title belt with his pickup truck and mailed it to Verne Gagne. So they needed to create their own World Title. So on April 18, 1989 Jumbo Tsuruta the NWA International Heavyweight Champion defeated Stan Hansen the PWF Heavyweight Champion and NWA United National Champion to unify the three titles to create the Triple Crown. The first major feud over the Triple Crown was Jumbo Tsuruta vs Genichiro Tenryu. Then a money mark gave Tenryu a bucket full of money to start his own promotion. So they need a new foil for Jumbo. That man was Mitsuharu Misawa. Misawa’s Super Generation Army, which included Kawada and Kobashi, feuded with Jumbo’s Army, which included Akira Taue, until Jumbo was diagnosed with Hep B and his career was basically over. So now Misawa needed a new foil. Kawada and Taue had a number of bloody brawling type matches. Then at the Champion’s Carnival in 1993 they had a regular All Japan style match that ended with them shaking hands and forming The Holy Demon Army. Kawada stopped teaming with Misawa and became his #1 foe leading to a Misawa and Kobashi against Kawada and Taue rivalry. Also the Tag Titles were created the same way as the Triple Crown. The PWF Tag Champs Jumbo Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu beat the NWA International Tag Champs The Road Warriors to unify the titles to create the AJPW World Tag Team Titles.
There are certain things you have to do to go 60 minutes even with the best of cardio. Unless your name is KENTA or Naomichi Marufuji it is not the kind of match where you can go at a breakneck pace the entire way. Even in the first Kobashi vs Kawada draw, which is the best 60 minute match I have ever seen, you get the ubiquitous side headlocks and head scissors to kill some time. The first two matches are most similar in the gimmicks used to kill some time. Which makes sense in that they came 5 days apart, but is a little counter intuitive given one is a singles match and the other is a tag. They use moves that were over like a sleeper or a stretch plum to kill oodles of time. There is a lot of leg work in the first two matches that led to long sequences involving half crabs and the figure four. The figure four served a dual purpose in the two singles matches. It killed time as well as put over Kobashi being the man with the most brute strength which was another theme. Kobashi would just run over Kawada, or do a delayed vertical suplex for instance. In the figure four there would be struggle sequences where Kobashi would drag Kawada away from the ropes and vice versa. What they’re really great at is the bursts of action. These burst eventually became the head dropping fighting spirit style. By the last match you can really see it evolving to that with Kobashi now using his lariat as a finish, guess he got sick of the knees destroying moonsault not working, and the popping up after head drop suplexes. The problem with that last match is that all the both guys laying down selling spots that are super boring. Especially when you are really tired watching the match at 3 in the morning. Another great thing Kawada and Kobashi did in the first two match was getting the crowd going with staredowns. You get them circling each other and a collar and elbow. Then Kawada would do something to piss Kobashi off. The crowd would pop. There would be a staredown and the crowd would go apeshit. They did next to nothing for two minutes and had the crowd the whole time.
The 10/15/95 match is weird. First it should be noted that this is the rematch of what many consider the greatest match of all time on 6/9/95. Here is the cliffnotes on that one. Kobashi has a bum knee. Kawada and Taue exploit that. With Kobashi out of the picture they beat the crap out of Misawa until he stays down. Back to the match reviewed here. Kenta Kobashi works like 45 minutes of it. Misawa is taken out by a Taue chokeslam off the apron and then a DDT to the exposed concrete. At first I assumed it would be the reverse of 6/9/95 and the idea would be to be at down Kobashi as Misawa can’t help him. He is not seen again until about 25 minutes in. Then he never stays in for to long and is clutching at his chest the whole time. His chest is never worked on in the match so I guess it is a legit injury. Then I thought the idea was for Kobashi and Taue to work most of the first half and Kawada and Misawa the second. It was mostly Kobashi which is nothing to complain about since he’s great, it is just that Misawa standing on the apron for 20 minutes after laying on the floor for 20 minutes is odd.
Kenta Kobashi has the best facial expressions in the history of pro wrestling. The look of incredulous betrayal that Kawada would use a rope break to kick him is amazing. He could not believe that someone would do that. Or the look on his face after Taue chokeslammed Misawa off the apron. The look of, you hurt my friend and now you will die, is something to be seen. Then there is Kobashi looking like the walking dead after Kawada managed to actually powerbomb him. Kenta Kobashi is the king of backdropping guys trying to powerbomb him, but after a couple dozen gamengiris it is hard to fight it off anymore I guess. Then Kobashi’s frantic desperate crawling to the ropes to try and avoid that one last huge move is just fantastic selling of the situation. The selling of these guys is great. And it is not just limb stuff. Like he kicked me in the leg now I must limp. No the selling here is selling the exertion of energy and selling the beating and selling how little they have left but are still fighting. It is dramatic as hell.
Triple Crown Champion Toshiaki Kawada fought Kenta Kobashi to a draw at 60:00 when the time limit expired. Toshiaki Kawada retained the Triple Crown Championship