All Japan Pro Wrestling on 5/21/94
review by PdW2kX

Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi vs. Akira Taue and Toshiaki Kawada

From the opening second, Kobashi and Kawada want to murder each other, as each man quickly brings out the big guns: chops for Kobashi and kicks for Kawada. Misawa wastes no time in elbowing Taue something fierce, and Kobashi keeps the offense going strong. Kobashi makes a pivotal mistake in trying to stiff Taue, which leaves Kobashi at the mercy of Kawada, who quickly picks him apart. Misawa saves Kobashi, then Kobashi comes back later on to get his revenge. Everything steamrolls from there: Misawa eats a knee to the spine after attempting a back elbow, and sensing some real damage being done, Kawada and Taue target Kobashi's long-held weak point: his knees. Taue borders on disqualification as he unmercifully weakens Kobashi's knees. Kobashi is saved by Misawa multiple times, ending with Misawa tagging in and going ape-**** on everybody. Kobashi nearly wins it with a Moonsault to Taue, but his knees finally and completely give out on him. After increasingly desperate killer moves and increasingly dramatic killer saves, Misawa and Kobashi win it when Kobashi hits a Moonsault.

Analysis: Breathtaking. Exhilarating. Stupendous. Fantastic. Simply put, everything you love about wrestling can be found in this match. I feel like kicking myself for procrastinating as long as I did to watch this. This is simply a beautiful match: tag team wrestling at its finest. Misawa and Kobashi had something to prove: they were the champions, and they were tired of Taue and Kawada always in their face and always being a thorn in their side. Kobashi and Misawa were quite simply angry that nothing they did could stop Kawada or Taue from being a major threat to their championships, so they wanted a firm defeat to send the challengers packing and get them off their backs. Kawada's hatred towards Misawa at this point was nearly biblical… Kawada simply wouldn't go down. Call it pride or stupidity, but he didn't care one single bit about any damage done to him- that's how badly he wanted a piece of Misawa. Taue? Taue just wanted to go along for the ride: Taue hated everybody anyway, and winning some tag team gold certainly seemed nice. The fact that such a multi-layered and progressive story is coupled with some simply fantastic wrestling makes the match even more breathtaking. All Japan broke new ground on epic main events during this time period, coupling fantastic wrestling with constantly-evolving yet easily-understandable storylines that felt larger than life. It's a true testament to All Japan's fantastic run in the 90's that this is just one of several incredible matches between four men that are considered four of the greatest wrestlers of all time, having competed in some of the best matches of all time. While this match isn't "Best of All Time" worthy, at least not to me, the simple fact is this: despite being nearly thirteen and a half years old… with commentary in Japanese (meaning most people have no idea what is being said)… and even with somewhat grainy footage…this match is still able to kick the crap out of most of what you see today. ****

Final Thoughts: Now comes the tough decision. With only one match, anyone would be asking themselves the following: should I really purchase this? Maybe I could just download it instead. Maybe I could float over to a message board and see if any tape-traders have a compilation out that has this match included in it. Maybe I could hit up YouTube or DailyMotion or even RapidShare and do some digging to see if I can find this buried gem. The match is excellent, the footage is a bit grainy but no major gripe, the match is excellent, the DVD plays fine, the match is excellent…did I mention the excellence of the match? So, here's the question: why buy one disc if it only contains one match? Simple: because it's easy.

Let's be honest: IVP is cheap as hell anyway. It's not like this thing is priced ridiculously. In a world where the quick hit is preferred over the lasting effect, who wants to roam the internet to find a match for free when you can just save the time and hassle and get it on DVD? Techies would say that finding this match online is easy…but they're speaking out of personal preference. Techies find everything on the internet easy. The average internet wrestling fan is the same as every other average sports fan that roams the internet: they've got a general idea of where to go and basically know how to find what they want, but the details of finding Website X with download Y at location Z that needs programs A, B, and C to run? Why bother with all the complicated mumbo-jumbo when you could just get the match on DVD anyway? It's a bargain-bin price to start with, so it's not like your wallet will take a pounding and you'll be kicking yourself over the fact that you chose the easy way instead of hitting up the message boards or the websites or the leet haxxor chatrooms to find a single match.

So, here's the deal: is the match great? Abso-****ing-lutely. Could you find it online? Probably. Do you know how to find it online? That's up to you. If you know where to go to get your mid-90's AJPW fix, this match should be simple enough to find. If you're breaking into Puro? There are a lot worse options out there, and that's including the fact that this DVD contains only one match. Why take your chances on a weird Puro show that may or may not pan out? All Japan during the 90's was the greatest wrestling promotion to have ever existed, in my opinion. Kobashi will steal your heart with his strong desire to never quit. Misawa is a bigger hero than most fiction books. Taue, you will love to hate. Kawada is more of a badass than most video game anti-heroes. So, here's the deal: the match is excellent. But in the end, it's only one match, so I'm docking a fourth of a point due to that fact. Second, a lot of people could find the match online and avoid purchasing this set. So, that's got to factor into the overall rating as well, which will cost the DVD another fourth of a point. That's the rating that will stand. Despite all its setbacks, despite all the other options you have in front of you that will lead to you watching this match…at the end of the day, 90's AJPW ages like a fine wine. This will find a welcome home in your collection if you decide to take the plunge and strike up a purchase.

Final Rating for All Japan Pro Wrestling- May 21, 1994: ***½

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