A Modest Blog on the return of the Greatest Tag Team Ever

Columns, Features

There are a number of amazing tag teams in wrestling history. Many are huge draws, incredible workers, and even, sometimes, both. Unfortunately, even the best of teams often get bogged down in terrible feuds and matches, like the Legion of Doom being humiliated near the end of their career, the Midnight and Rock n’ Roll Express doing terrible, dangerous scaffold match, the Steiner Brothers facing the New World Order, and many many more. Only one team ever has been both a prolonged significant draw and put on numerous classics without a real misfire. That team is the Holy Demon Army of Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue.

Kawada is a wrestler who, to many, needs no introduction. For those that need it, however, Kawada was the toughest, best working badass in wrestling during the 1990s in All Japan. He was the legendary Mitsuharu Misawa’s main rival when Misawa was the ace and the only man considered to sometimes be the ace’s better in the ring. His intensity, brutal kicks, and amazing build to matches made him the ultimate #2 in wrestling history.

Akira Taue is probably the least known of All Japan’s “four-pillars.” With Misawa the ace; Kawada the in-ring general, top heel and consummate second; and Kenta Kobashi the secondary face and ace-in-training, Taue often falls between the cracks, even though he’s as good as those previously mentioned. This is because he took the Jumbo Tsuruta role in matches, without taking the status. He became the structure and emotion- a role without much glory unless you’re the man to go with it, even though he was spectacular at that role.

Combined, the brutal Kawada and clever Taue became the Holy Demon Army, the best team ever that was in the best match ever. That match, vs. Misawa and Kobashi on 6/9/95, must be seen to be believed. Besides Misawa and Kobashi, they also had classics against Kobashi and Kikuchi, Gordy and Steve Williams, The Can-Am Express, Kobashi and Akiyama, Misawa and Akiyama, and many more. Nearly every match would qualify for my Top 100 American Matches if they took place in the states, including that 6/9/95 match at number one.

And now, after almost a decade, they’re reuniting for the Misawa Tribute show on 10/3. At that show, they will face Jun Akiyama, the young, rising star of Misawa’s ace days and KENTA, currently arguably the best worker in NOAH. While the match might not be up to the standards of old, it will surely be great and a fitting tribute to the memory of Misawa.

Glazer is a former senior editor at Pulse Wrestling and editor and reviewer at The Comics Nexus.