Misawa, Kobashi, and Hansen vs. Taue, Kawada, and Johnny Ace
Lost Classic #3
Promotion: All Japan in Weekly Pro Wrestling at the Tokyo Dome
In a time where it is difficult for even two large promotions to work together, the event that took place on April 2nd, 1995 was truly extraordinary. For the first and only time in puroresu history, 13 promotions joined together to put on a card sponsored by the magazine Weekly Pro Wrestling. With 13 different promotions, the action ranged from top notch to near backyard wrestling, and it was the first (and last) time that Uchu Majin Silver X, Shinya Hashimoto, and Kenta Kobashi all wrestled on the same card. The wrestlers only went against wrestlers in their own promotion, so instead of inter-promotional matches each promotion sent a match of its choosing as a sample of what their promotion provided. It was one of the most unique and special events that ever took place.
One of the most remarkable events leading up to the announcement of Weekly Pro Wrestling at the Tokyo Dome was the inclusion of All Japan. All Japan by 1995 was an isolationist promotion and hardly ever (if ever) worked with other promotions. To make matters more complicated, all the larger promotions (All Japan, New Japan, and FMW) wanted their wrestlers in the main event, but since New Japan was sending their champion (Shinya Hashimoto) to wrestle in a singles match they were chosen to headline the show. The promotions were given the time and permission to put on any type of match they wanted to however, which was evident by FMW's offering (exploding barbed wire) and the 15 minute defense of the Go Gudan Interplanetary Title in a Alien Death Match.
For their match, instead of doing a singles match like New Japan and FMW, All Japan sent all six of their biggest stars. At this point, Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi were the All Japan World Tag Team Champions and had won the Real World Tag League in 1994. Stan Hansen had recently won the Triple Crown from Toshiaki Kawada, which would be his last time with the championship. At this point Taue and Kawada as the Holy Demon Army had held the All Japan World Tag Team Championship in the past, and while in 1995 Johnny Ace was still seeking his first title win (he would get it in 1996), he was still considered a high level tag team wrestler. In other words, all six at this point were respected wrestlers and four (Misawa, Kawada, Kobashi, and Taue) were considered among the best wrestlers in the world, let alone in All Japan. But now in the Tokyo Dome they had the opportunity to dazzle the largest crowd that up to that point in their careers they had ever wrestled in front of. The stage is set.
Kobashi and Taue start things off. Tie-up, Taue pushes Kobashi into the ropes and they trade a strike until Taue backs off. Tie-up again, Irish whip by Kobashi but Taue shoulder blocks him down. Running big boot by Taue, Irish whip, reversed, and Kobashi hits a diving shoulder block. Delayed vertical suplex by Kobashi, cover, but it gets a two count. Kobashi chops Taue back into the corner, Irish whip, and he hits a jumping knee in the opposite corner. Another Irish whip by Kobashi but Taue kicks him as he charges in and Taue lariats him down to the mat. This gives Taue time to tag in Kawada, scoop slam by Kawada and he kicks Kobashi in the back. Chops by Kawada, cover, but it barely gets a two. Kawada picks up Kobashi and goes for a backdrop suplex, but Kobashi gets out of it and tags in Misawa. Misawa waits for Kawada to get up, tie-up, Kawada pushes Misawa into the ropes and gives him a series of hard chops. Misawa fires back with elbow strikes, Irish whip by Misawa and he delivers a jumping elbow. Kawada rolls out of the ring, Misawa goes to do a dive but Kawada runs out of the way so Misawa flips himself from the apron back into the ring. Kawada soon returns, elbows by Misawa, Irish whip, and Misawa connects with a cross body for a two count. Misawa goes for a submission, but Kawada quickly gets a foot on the ropes to break it up.
Misawa tags in Hansen, double Irish whip to Kawada and they hit a double shoulder block. Hansen then knocks Ace off the apron before giving Kawada a scoop slam. Elbow drops by Hansen, cover, but Kawada kicks out. Hansen picks up Kawada and goes for a powerbomb, but Taue breaks it up. Taue and Kawada then Irish whip Hansen and shoulder block him to the mat. Kawada tags in Ace who comes off the top turnbuckle with a lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. DDT by Ace and he delivers an elbow drop, cover, but again it gets a two. Irish whip by Ace, reversed, and Hansen hits a back elbow. Hansen kicks Ace in the back and makes the tag to Kobashi. Chops by Kobashi but Ace absorbs the blows and the two trade strikes. Irish whip by Kobashi and he hits a chop, but Ace returns with a dropkick. Tie-up, Ace pushes Kobashi into his corner and makes the tag to Taue. Irish whip by Taue and he gives Kobashi a lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. Taue drags Kobashi to his feet and goes for the Dynamic Bomb, but Kobashi blocks it and back bodydrops out of the hold. Kobashi tags in Misawa, and Misawa dropkicks Taue in the face. Misawa hits a pair of jumping kicks followed by a heel kick, cover, but it gets two. Misawa tags in Hansen, snapmare by Hansen and he applies a reverse chinlock on the mat. Hansen picks up Taue and makes the tag to Kobashi. Double Irish whip, and they hit Taue with double back elbows.
Kobashi picks up Taue and goes for a suplex, but Taue won't go over and hits a vertical suplex of his own. Taue tags in Kawada, Irish whip by Kawada and he applies a stretch hold. Kobashi muscles out of the hold and reverses it, but Kawada nails Kobashi with a back kick. Kawada tags in Ace who boots Kobashi in the head. Chop by Ace, Irish whip, and Ace connects with a spinning back elbow for a two count. Reverse chinlock by Ace, but Kobashi struggles back to his feet and hits a backdrop suplex. Kobashi tags in Hansen who hits an elbow drop, cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Hansen but Ace kicks him when he goes for a back bodydrop and hits a lariat. Hansen is up first however and delivers a DDT, cover, but it gets two. Hansen tags in Misawa, who elbows Ace in the back of the head. Misawa knocks Ace back into the corner, snapmare, and he applies a reverse chinlock. Ace gets to his feet and pushes Misawa into the corner, and he hits a series of shoulder tackles. Misawa gives him a hard elbow however and makes the tag to Kobashi.
Kobashi picks up Ace, Irish whip, and he knees Ace in the stomach. Another knee to the stomach by Kobashi, he drags Ace to his feet and chops him into the corner. Irish whip by Kobashi, reversed, but Kobashi moves when Ace charges in and hits a backdrop suplex for a two count. Kobashi goes up to the top turnbuckle but Taue grabs him from the apron, then Ace joins Kobashi on top and hits a superplex. Ace tags in Taue, who picks up Kobashi and drops him neck-first onto the top rope. Back up, Irish whip by Taue and he delivers a jumping big boot. Cover, but it gets a two count. Taue tags in Kawada, chops by Kawada but Kobashi returns fire. Kawada starts in with the kicks and gets the advantage, Irish whip by Kawada and he nails a back kick. Kawada tags in Ace, Ace covers Kobashi but Kobashi gets a hand on the bottom rope. Ace picks up Kobashi and hangs his neck over the second rope, he then goes out to the apron and hits a leg drop. Cover by Ace but Misawa breaks it up from the apron. Ace applies an abdominal stretch then delivers a lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. Ace tags in Taue and Taue throws Kobashi to the mat. Cover, but Kobashi kicks out. Taue picks up Kobashi and holds him while Kawada gets a running start on the ramp and kicks Kobashi in the face. Cover by Taue but it only gets two. Taue tags in Kawada, Kawada goes for the Scorpion Deathlock and gets it locked in. Hansen quickly breaks it up however and Kawada tags in Ace. Ace picks up Kobashi and hits a pump-handle slam, cover, but Kobashi kicks out. Ace tags in Taue, who kicks Kobashi repeatedly in the ribs. Clubs to the back by Taue, Irish whip, and Taue delivers the Japanese Drop. Cover, but the move that won Taue his first match doesn't get the job done against Kobashi.
Taue tags in Kawada, and Kawada hits Kobashi with a delayed vertical suplex for a two count cover. Kawada applies the Stretch Plum to Kobashi, Ace and Taue prevent his teammates from interfering, but Kobashi eventually fights to his corner and tags in Hansen. Kawada goes for his rapid-fire kicks to the head but Hansen isn't phased. Elbows by Hansen and he slams Kawada to the mat. Another slam and he delivers a shoulder block before nailing a powerbomb. Hansen picks up Kawada, Irish whip, but Kawada collapses to the mat. Ace runs in and elbows Hansen, but Hansen Irish whips Ace and back elbows him out of the ring. Hansen picks up Kawada but Kawada nails a back kick and manages to tag in Taue. Dropkick by Taue but Hansen tags in Misawa, and Misawa trades strikes with Taue. Irish whip by Misawa and he hits a lariat, he goes for the Tiger Driver but Taue gets out of it and hits him with a big boot. Taue goes off the ropes but Misawa ducks his attack and nails the Tiger Driver as the crowd cheers its approval. Cover, but Taue gets a shoulder up. Misawa tags in Kobashi, and both men hit dropkicks to Taue. Taue falls out of the ring, and Kobashi hits a baseball slide to knock him back. Misawa then goes off the far ropes and sails out onto Taue with an elbow suicida. Hansen walks over and gives Taue a hard kick to the back for no reason, Hansen picks up Taue and helps Misawa roll him back into the ring. Kobashi picks up Taue and hits a DDT, he then picks him up again but Ace runs in to hit Kobashi in the back. This brings all the wrestlers in the ring, with Kobashi and company hitting DDTs on all three of their opponents. German suplex hold by Kobashi onto Taue, but it gets a two count. Spinning chop by Kobashi, scoop slam, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the moonsault! Cover, but Taue somehow kicks out.
Back up, Kobashi chops Taue in the back and delivers a leg drop to the back of his head. Kobashi then slams Taue again and goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Taue knees him as he jumps off and makes the tag to Ace. Irish whip by Ace to the corner and he hits a lariat, followed by another lariat in the opposite corner. Cover, but it gets a two count. Ace Crusher by Ace, cover, but again Kobashi kicks out. Ace drags Kobashi to his feet and goes for the Doctor Bomb, but Kobashi blocks it until his teammates could break it up. Ace Crusher II by Ace, and he slams Kobashi in front of the corner. Ace goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a moonsault(!!!), cover, but again Kobashi won't stay down. Ace picks up Kobashi and chops him into the corner, Irish whip, and he hits a back kick. He goes for a DDT but Kobashi pushes him off and hits a jumping lariat. This gives Kobashi time to tag in Hansen, who hits Ace with a backdrop suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Hansen picks up Ace and delivers a powerbomb, cover, but it gets broken up. Misawa comes in the ring, Hansen throws Ace to Misawa and Misawa hits an elbow. Misawa then throws Ace to Hansen and Hansen nails the Western Lariat, but Taue storms the ring and drops Hansen with a Nodowa Otoshi!
Big boot by Taue onto Misawa and he drops him onto the top rope. Kawada is tagged in, and he drops a knee onto Hansen before kicking him in the back. Kawada goes for a powerbomb but Hansen blocks it. Kick to the face by Kawada and a lariat sends Hansen crashing to the mat. Kawada picks up Hansen and goes for a suplex, but Hansen reverses it into his own vertical suplex and delivers a dropkick. The announcer tells the crowd that only two minutes remain as Hansen makes the tag to Misawa. Irish whip by Misawa from the corner, reversed, but Misawa hits a rebound cross body followed by a jumping kick. Misawa goes for an elbow but Kawada blocks it and delivers the Gamengiri. This gives him time to tag in Taue, Taue picks up Misawa and drops him throat first onto the top rope. He then picks up Misawa and goes for it again, but Misawa elbows him back. Powerslam by Taue, but it gets a two count. Taue picks up Misawa and nails the Dynamic Bomb, cover, but again Misawa gets a shoulder up. Taue picks up Misawa and goes for a chokeslam, but Misawa throws him off. He goes for another Dynamic Bomb, but Misawa reverses it with a hurricanrana for a two count. Misawa tags in Kobashi, Taue kicks Kobashi, Irish whip, but Kobashi ducks Taue's lariat attempt and hits a diving shoulder block. As Kobashi picks up Taue the bell rings, and the time limit has expired.
The crowd, exhausted, lets out a slight sigh when the bell rang but soon began cheering, giving the All Japan wrestlers the ovation they deserved. With a 30 minute time limit and their top six wrestlers in the match, it seemed unlikely that a definite outcome would take place as most of All Japan's biggest matches went 30 minutes or longer and that is only with two or four wrestlers, let alone six. But they didn't hold anything back as each team had big moves hit and there were several close nearfalls. Oddly, it was Johnny Ace that came the closest to getting the pinfall with the moonsault while both of this teammates held their opponents back, but Kobashi managed to get a shoulder up and tagged out not long after.
Historically speaking, this was a big match for All Japan as it was the largest crowd ever that had witnessed an all All Japan match. All Japan had participated on one of New Japan's Tokyo Dome events in the early 90s, but the matches were inter-promotional, not an All Japan wrestler against another All Japan wrestler. All Japan of course packed Budokan Hall on a regular basis and was very popular in Tokyo, but oddly they didn't run the Tokyo Dome on their own until 1998.
Sadly, this match mostly got pushed under the rug and was never used for storyline purposes in All Japan. Even though it had a major sponsor and was at the Tokyo Dome, a commercial version of the event never was released, perhaps due to the fact so many promotions were on the card no agreement could be made. For years, the only version available was of a handheld camera pointed at the big screen, and most assumed that was the only version that ever made it out of the arena. Several years ago, a pro shot version suddenly emerged, which was the version I reviewed. No commentary was on the event and a few times during the show there is no audio, but since two camera angles were used it was clearly post-produced and not just a hand held. A solid card top to bottom, the All Japan match stuck out as the best on the event and it was a night that those in attendance likely won't ever forget.
review completed on 10/29/08