Section 1- Results
New Japan: Jado & Gedo beat Mochizuki & Fujii in a title vs title (NJ junior tag vs WAR junior tag) match, Gedo pinning Mochi.
NOAH: The Briscoes are the new junior tag champs in a shocker.
Section 2- News
All Japan: Kojima is the next Triple Crown challenger, and will get his shot on 2/17. Kondo vs Nakajima will also take place there.
Dragon Gate: On 1/26, Mochizuki will take on Gedo in a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœsealing’ match for the WAR junior title.
New Japan: Among the names being thrown around as possible challengers for Tanahashi’s next defense are Chono, Kawada, and Shibata (who seems to have broken with Uei). Also, the next junior challenger will be determined on 1/27 when Wataru Inoue, Yujiro and Devitt square off over two matches. Simon Inoki is heavily promoting a NJ/WWE crossover but we know better.
NOAH: The rest of the 1/27 Budokan card has been announced. There’s yet another Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbig’ 6-man in the semi-main spot, and also the Briscoes will be challenged by Kotaro Suzuki & Ricky Marvin.
Section 3- Sharing the wealth
A look at the best moments of Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ06. Hey, I’m friggin’ quoted in Phil’s #1, how can I possibly NOT link this?!
Section 4- Misawa & Kobashi vs Kawada & Taue, June 9, 1995
I burned the match onto a CD in 2002 and sat on it when I opened up
the All Japan Archive. Why would I do this for a match I enjoy so much on both an emotional and intellectual level?
The match isn’t just some epic or cutting-edge stand-alone contest that tends to dominate MOTY voting; somehow the voters of the Wrestling Observer put this at #7 for 1995. The match, though stellar even by itself, has remarkable depth because it is built to by a large number of matches from years past. The closing moments are dramatic not only because of the 40 minutes of action leading up to it, but also because of the 60 months of wars these four men had gone through as they became the cornerstones of the company.
On one level, we have the individual wars. Taue is fresh off his great run in the Champions Carnival, where he beat Kawada and Kobashi and took Misawa to a draw before losing to Misawa in the hotly contested final. Misawa and Kawada are two years into their feud, and two months earlier Kawada broke Misawa’s orbital (cheek/face) bone with a kick. Kobashi and Kawada fought for the Triple Crown in January, going to a 60 minute draw. Misawa is the Triple Crown champion, one-half of the tag team champions, and had won the Champions Carnival, a combination which no other Japanese wrestler managed in All Japan before the split.
On a tag level, this is about proving who the tag aces of the company were. Kawada & Taue joined up at Baba’s request to combat Gordy & Williams, who were running roughshod over the tag division in the wake of Jumbo’s semi-retirement. Kawada & Taue won the titles and defended them against Misawa & Kobashi in June ’93. Misawa & Kobashi started to utterly dominate in the ’93 Tag League (going 6-0-1), where they beat Kawada & Taue on the final night. In that match Kawada’s legs got worked over and Kobashi pinned him with a backdrop driver. In May ’94, the teams hooked up again and set a new standard for heavyweight tags as it took 40 minutes before Kobashi pinned Taue with a moonsault. Misawa & Kobashi won the tag league again, going 7-0-2. The teams met in January ’95 and went to a 60 minute draw.
Not only does this match contain elements from their prior wars, but there are also hints at other tags from the past. One partner incapacitated on the floor while the other fights valiantly, leading to a desperate and exciting conclusion, can be seen in matches like Misawa & Kawada vs Jumbo & Taue from the ’90 tag league and Tenryu & Kawada vs Hansen & Gordy from ’88. The overall format and style of the match had evolved over the last decade.
It’s a match that has everything. Hard hits, big moves, heart-stopping nearfalls, athletic sequences, cheap shots, paybacks, meaningful psychology, superb big-match pacing and enough selling to befit the whole package. It might not be your favorite match, but it’s impossible to deny the greatness that it represents.
For the many lead-ins (of which I only highlighted the most important), head over here if you haven’t already. It’s worthwhile for any and all fans of professional wrestling, and there’s more greatness to come over the next few days.