In Search of Five Stars Part Seven

This set of ten matches rated ***** by Dave Meltzer has a heavy Japanese influence as usual. The second half of the list is dominated by the four pillars of Misawa, Kobashi, Kawada and Taue, which is no surprise since the mid-1990’s are the glory period for that crew. There is yet another Liger classic and more fun with joshi. There is a rare *****-rated WWF match from this period on which opinions are very polarized. And two lucha matches round out the list, with one being a legendary match that holds up well.

61) 7/8/1994 Jushin Liger vs. Great Sasuke NJPW

This match is building off the great match these two had in April 1994 in the first Super J Cup. They tie up and both try to work each other’s legs.  Sasuke dropkicks Liger during the introductions then slaps him and knocks him outside with a kappu kick. Sasuke hits a tope. Liger returns to the ring and Sasuke stomps on him and drops some knees. Sasuke hits a koppu kick in the corner then works the arm. Sasuke applies a cross armbreaker and Liger gets the ropes. Sasuke gets the cross armbreaker again but Liger rolls over. Sasuke maintains arm control and rolls up Liger. Sasuke gets on top with an armbar and goes after a kimura and then another cross armbreaker attempt. Liger kicks him in the head but Sasuke gets the cross armbreaker. Sasuke moves to an armbar as Liger gets to his feet and punches his way out. Liger throws a palm-strike but is selling his arm. Sasuke whips him into the ropes and Liger hits a shoulder-block. Sasuke hiptosses Liger who catches Sasuke with a powerbomb. Sasuke kicks off Liger in the corner then hits a spin-kick. Sasuke goes back after the cross armbreaker but can’t get it. Sasuke stands up with an armbar and gives Liger several armbreakers. Sasuke goes for a single leg crab but switches into a cross armbreaker attempt with Liger getting his foot on the ropes. Sasuke headbutts Liger and gives him a tombstone. Sasuke goes up top and does a rolling senton but Liger gets out of the way. Sasuke does a handspring elbow and Liger goes outside where Sasuke gives him a quebrada from the apron. Sasuke gets back inside first and charges a returning Liger but gets a shoulder in the gut. Liger runs his head into the turnbuckle then hits a flying bodypress and a koppu kick. Sasuke rolls to the floor and Liger gives him a rolling plancha from the apron. Sasuke kicks Liger and runs him into the guardrail. Sasuke goes inside and then hits a plancha from the top rope. Sasuke returns to the ring as Liger crawls back inside. Sasuke shoulder-blocks him then hits a quebrada. Sasuke goes up top and hits a missile dropkick. Sasuke gives Liger a Niagara bomb. Sasuke bodyslams him but misses a moonsault when Liger rolls out of the way. Liger misses a clothesline and Sasuke attempts a victory roll but Liger gives him a release German suplex. Liger tombstones Sasuke then gives him a diving headbutt. Liger puts Sasuke on the top rope and gives him a top rope hurracanrana. Liger attempts a pin but Sasuke reverses into a pin attempt. Liger kicks him in the gut and gives him a brainbuster. Liger gives him a backbreaker and does a top rope dive but Sasuke gets his knees up. Sasuke grabs Liger in a small package. Sasuke goes up top but Liger follows and gives him a super fisherman buster for the pin. This was one of the best combinations of submission work and high-flying I have ever seen. I would say this was better than their match at J Cup and better than Sasuke vs Benoit. As such, I obviously agree with the five-star rating as I agreed with it for Sasuke vs Benoit. While the J Cup is considered a classic show, people should also seek this out for the continuation of the storytelling from that show and more importantly for a classic match.

62) 8/24/1994 Manami Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue AJW

This is a unification match between Inoue’s IWA Title and Toyota’s All-Pacific Title. To be clear, Dave wrote in the Observer that this was reported to be ***** match of the year candidate but I have not been able to find source material confirming that Dave watched it and reviewed it as *****. This does appear on a number of lists of his ***** matches though.

They start with a test of strength. Inoue gets the advantage and throws Toyota. Inoue whips her into the ropes but Toyota flips to the apron and then kicks Inoue from the top rope. Inoue dropkicks Toyota and whips her to the corner. Toyota comes off the second rope with a kick but misses. Inoue gives her a giant swing and then puts her in an Indian deathlock stretch. Inoue works the leg and applies a scorpion deathlock combined with an armlock which involves bending Toyota in an uncomfortable manner. Inoue applies a modified bow and arrow and then a camel clutch. There is some brief clipping to a pin attempt by Inoue who then attempts a piledriver. Toyota kicks her and does a Manami Roll. Inoue jumps to the ropes and Toyota dropkicks her to the floor and gives her a springboard plancha. Toyota takes her back inside and attempts a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex. She can’t get it but does give Inoue a German suplex. Toyota goes to the second rope but Inoue catches her in a flying headscissors. Inoue goes up top but Toyota cuts her and attempts a superplex but ends up kicking her outside. Toyota goes up top and does a missile dropkick on Inoue on the floor. They back inside and Toyota gives Inoue two missile dropkicks. Toyota bodyslams Inoue and misses a moonsault. Inoue goes up top and Toyota follows. Inoue gives her a powerslam from the top rope. Inoue applies a modified STF with an armlock. Inoue goes for a powerbomb but Toyota gets a Manami Roll. Toyota grabs Inoue in Japanese Ocean Suplex. Toyota goes up top but gets stopped by Inoue. Toyota backflips over Inoue and gives her a German suplex. Toyota hits a moonsault for a two-count. Toyota hits a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex but doesn’t get all of it so she does another one. Inoue kicks out and battles back with a clothesline. Toyota kicks Inoue and goes up top and Inoue gives her a belly-to-belly superplex. Inoue hits a Niagara Driver for a two-count. Inoue goes for another Niagara Driver but Toyota gets out. Toyota goes for a springboard move but slips on the ropes. Toyota goes for her straightjacket electric chair but can’t get it and Inoue backdrops her. Toyota bodyslams Inoue and gives her a top rope splash. Inoue whips Toyota into the ropes and Toyota does a springboard sunset flip for the pin. This is a good and possibly great match but it does not live up to a five-star rating. There were some issues with execution of moves, especially toward the end, that took it down a notch and I’d rate it ****1/4. It is a somewhat divisive match with some defending the slips on the ropes by Toyota. A comparison would be the Liger vs Sasuke match from J-Cup but that was a momentary slip-up from which Sasuke recovered well as opposed to a number of them in this match. It is still Toyota and Inoue, both of whom I like a great deal but it isn’t a five-star match for me.

63) 8/29/1994 Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart Cage Match WWF

This is WWF Escape The Cage rules. Owen attacks Bret as he enters the cage and runs his head into the turnbuckle. Owen clams his head into the mat then punches him in the corner. Owen gives Bret an uppercut and stomps him. Owen delivers a headbutt and chops. Bret gives him an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline. Owen knocks Bret down and stomps on his hand. Owen punches him and tries to run his head into the cage but Bret stops him and delivers a DDT. They trade punches and Owen hits the mat where Bret legdrops him. Bret starts climbing the cage but Owen stops him. Owen continues with strikes, a headbutt and an enzuiguri. Owen starts climbing the cage but Bret stop him at the top and gives him a back suplex off the top rope. Bret tries to crawl out the door but Owen stops him and kicks the leg. Owen whips Bret into the corner but Bret gives him a bulldog. Bret crawls to the cage door again but Owen drags him and jumps over him to try to climb out. They take turns trying to crawl out several times. Bret pulls Owen’s hair as he is in the door and grabs him in a facelock. Bret drags Owen into the ring and drops an elbow on his head. Bret tries to climb the cage but Owen grabs his ankle and slams him to the mat by his hair. Owen climbs the cage in the corner and gets over the top but Bret brings him back in by his hair. They trade punches at the top of the cage. Owen knocks Bret to the mat and hits him with a missile dropkick. Owen kips up and climbs over the top again but Bret pulls him back in and tries to crawl out. Owen hangs on to him and bights his forehead. They trade punches on the top rope and Bret knees Owen in the stomach. Bret rams Owen’s head into the cage and he falls to the mat. Bret tries to climb the cage but Owen drags him in. Owen backdrops Bret. They criss-cross and then both collapse after a shoulder-block. Jim Neidhart is shown in the crowd. Owen tries to crawl out the door but Bret pulls him in. Bret knocks Owen to the mat and drops an elbow. Bret climbs to the top but Owen grabs his ankle. Bret kicks Owen in the face but Owen still pulls him off the cage and crotches him on the top rope. Owen climbs to the door again but Bret has his foot. Owen kicks him in the chest but Bret drags him to the middle and headbutts him in the midsection. Bret gets to his feet, climbs to the second rope and does an elbow-drop but Owen rolls out of the way. Owen climbs the cage but Bret stops him and Owen is hanging on the outside by his hair. Bret brings him inside and slams him from the top rope. Bret climbs to the top but Owen grabs his foot, puts him in a torture rack and slams him back to the mat. Owen climbs the cage but Bret grabs him. Owen attempts to run Bret’s face into the cage but Bret blocks it and rams Owen’s face into the cage. Bret climbs and gets outside but Owen pulls him inside by the hair and gives him a back suplex off the top rope. Owen gives Bret a piledriver. Owen climbs the cage but Bret catches him yet again. Owen punches Bret to the mat and then falls. Bret crawls to the door but Owen grabs his leg. Bret almost gets outside but can’t fight off Owen. Bret’s hands touch the floor but he can’t make it. They roll inside the ring and trade punches. Bret slingshots Owen into the cage. Bret crawls to the wrong corner. He then climbs to the right one but Owen jumps and catches him. Owen whips Bret into the corner hard. Bret picks up Owen for a bodyslam but Owen escapes only to have Bret run him into the cage. Bret starts clutching his knee after it hit the cage. Bret climbs the cage and Owen initially collapses but then brings Bret back in by his hair. Owen whips Bret into the ropes and gives him a leg lariat. Owen climbs the cage but Bret grabs his foot. Owen gets outside but Bret pulls him in by his hair. They stand on the top rope and trade punches. Bret kicks Owen’s hand knocking him to the mat. Bret climbs over the top but Owen brings him fully inside by pulling his tights. Owen hits Bret with uppercuts. They criss-cross and hit a double clothesline. Owen gets up first and climbs the cage and gets outside but Bret grabs him and superplexes him from the top of the cage. Bret gets up first and crawls to the door. Owen crawls after him and grabs his foot. Owen puts Bret in the sharpshooter. Bret grabs Owen’s leg and reverses into his own sharpshooter as Davey Boy Smith is shown cheering Bret in the crowd. Bret climbs the cage and gets over the top but Owen jumps and grabs him by the hair. Owen punches Bret on the top rope and they both fall to the mat. Owen crawls over Bret and climbs the cage but Bret stops him and climbs over the cage as well. Bret rams Owen’s head on the outside of the cage and Owen falls with his foot tangled in the cage as Bret hits the floor to win the match. Neidhart then attacks Smith and knocks him over the guardrail. The other Hart brothers (Bruce, Ross and Smith) attend to Davey Boy as Neidhart and Owen lock the cage and double-team Bret in the ring. We get a great visual of Davey Boy and the Hart brothers trying to climb over the cage to rescue Bret but getting cut off. Davey Boy and Owen trade punches at the top of the cage and Davey Boy gets inside. The other Hart brothers get in as well and Neidhart and Owen escape to the outside. This is a match that I remember fondly from the time. Whether you accept it as a great match depends on whether you accept the cage escape stipulation as possibly making for a great match. In most cases it doesn’t for me but I loved this and thought Bret and Owen did the best possible job of maximizing their surroundings. The match was action-packed with big moves built in around the escapes. And every time they tried to escape the cage it felt like they were really trying which added to the credibility. The match itself is five stars for me and it is also added to by the post-match angle.

64) 10/9/1994 Takako Inoue and Kyoko Inoue vs Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada

This match is 2/3 falls and was the main event of Wrestlemarinpiad ‘94.

Kyoko hits Toyota with a lariat and a dropkick right off the bat. Kyoko kicks her into the corner. Takako comes in and hangs Toyota in the tree of woe and steps on her. Takako puts Toyota in the camel clutch and rubs her elbow into her head. Kyoko is in and she chops Toyota’s head. Kyoko bodyslams her and applies a single leg crab. Takako tags in and gives Toyota an axehandle off the top. Toyota gets her with a springboard crossbody. Yamada tags in and gives Takako a snap suplex and kicks her around the ring. Yamada gives her a sideslam and goes for a stretch muffler with Takako getting the ropes. Yamada applies a knee-bar with Takako eventually getting the ropes. Yamada bodyslams Takako who rolls her up. Kyoko tags in and does a test of strength with Yamada. Kyoko wins and they trade kicks and forearms. Yamada does a belly-to-belly suplex and kicks Kyoko. Toyota tags in and gives Kyoko a dropkick and drops her stomach-first on the top rope. Kyoko hits a springboard dropkick and applies a single leg crab. Kyoko releases it and applies a camel clutch and sits back in it. Kyoko drops Toyota stomach-first on the top rope. Takako tags in and misses a dropkick. Toyota tries to whip her into the ropes but Takako grabs her for a suplex only for Toyota to do a victory roll. Takako does a bridging German Suplex. Kyoko tags in, puts Toyota in the torture rack and throws her. Kyoko puts Toyota in a Boston Crab. Kyoko legdrops her and tags in Takako who applies a camel clutch. Takako gives Toyota a back suplex and whips her into the corner where Toyota hits a dropkick. Yamada tags in and kicks Takako to the mat. Yamada goes up top but Takako follows and armdrags her to the mat. The Inoue’s whip Yamada into the ropes but Toyota tags in and gives them a missile dropkick. Toyota misses a moonsault on Kyoko who gives her a flying headscissors. The Inoue’s whip Toyota into the ropes and she misses a crossbody. Toyota dropkicks Takako on the top rope and then does a plancha to Kyoko on the floor. Yamada and Toyota take Kyoko up top but Takako grabs Yamada and Kyoko gives Toyota a back elbow. Toyota and Yamada give Kyoko a float-over German suplex. Toyota puts Kyoko on her shoulders and Yamada gives her a kick off the top rope. Takako breaks up the pin but Toyota gets Kyoko in the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex and pins her.

The second fall starts with Toyota taking Kyoko down and putting her in a Boston Crab and then transitioning into a single leg crab. Toyota drags her to the corner and tags in Yamada who applies a stretch muffler. Kyoko crawls and gets the rope break. Yamada kicks her and applies a single leg crab with Kyoko again getting the ropes. Toyota tags in and legdrops Kyoko twice. Toyota butterflies her into a headscissors and then applies an abdominal stretch. Toyota rolls her up. Toyota bodyslams Kyoko and does a top rope splash but Kyoko gets her knees up. Takako tags in and gives Toyota a tombstone. Takako elbows her in the head and puts her in a facelock with Toyota getting her foot on the ropes. Kyoko tags in and gives Toyota a top rope DDT. The Inoue’s tag in and out giving DDT’s to Toyota. Kyoko gives her a bridging German suplex. Takako is in and Toyota dropkicks her. Yamada tags in and Takako armdrags her and gives her a suplex. Kyoko tags in and gets kicked by Kyoko. Toyota and Yamada whip Kyoko into the ropes but she hits a springboard back elbow. Kyoko gives Toyota a diving back elbow off the top. Kyoko goes for a powerbomb but Toyota escapes only to get caught on the second powerbomb attempt. Kyoko goes for a third but Toyota escapes and tags in Yamada who kicks Kyoko. Yamada kicks Takako off the ropes and gives Kyoko a series of German suplexes. Yamada bodyslams Kyoko and she and Toyota miss the double diving headbutt. Takako and Kyoko are both in and both apply crossfaces. Yamada gets a rope break. Kyoko attempts to powerbomb her but Toyota gives her a missile dropkick. Yamada goes up top and misses a diving kick. Kyoko goes up top and Yamada attempts to superplex her but Kyoko gives her a top rope powerslam. Kyoko then gives Yamada a Niagara Driver for the pin to win the second fall.

Yamada and Takako start the third fall and Yamada hits a superkick. Toyota tags in and gets Takako in the rolling cradle. Toyota hits two missile dropkicks. Yamada tags in and clotheslines and kicks Takako in the corner. Yamada knocks Kyoko off the apron and continues with kicks on Takako. Yamada whips Takako into a missile dropkick by Toyota then gives Takako a German suplex. Yamada applies a Boston Crab into a single leg crab. Takako gets the ropes and then gives Yamada a butterfly suplex.  Kyoko is in and slaps Yamada. Toyota tags in and she and Yamada hit the double diving headbutt. Yamada places Kyoko on the top rope and Yamada and Toyota give her a double float-over German superplex. Takako is in but Toyota throws her outside. Yamada grabs Kyoko but Takako makes the save. Yamada gives Kyoko a diving kick. Yamada goes for the reverse Gory Bomb but Kyoko gets out. Yamada kicks her and tags in Toyota who goes up top where Kyoko gives her a belly-to-belly superplex. Kyoko goes for a powerbomb but Yamada makes the save. Yamada bodyslams Kyoko and Toyota gives her a moonsault. Toyota goes for the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex but Kyoko gets out and hits a lariat. Kyoko gives Toyota a Niagara Driver but Yamada makes the save after escaping Takako’s grasp. Takako hits a missile dropkick on Toyota. Kyoko gives Toyota a powerbomb while Takako clotheslines her from the top rope. Takako goes up top but Yamada knocks her to the floor. Yamada drags Kyoko outside and Toyota gives her a missile dropkick on the floor. Takako grabs Toyota in a back suplex inside while Kyoko gives her a top rope diving elbow. Takako does a diving knee from the top on Toyota. Kyoko gives Toyota a Niagara Bomb combined with a flying knee by Takako for the pinfall. The Inoue’s win the WWWA Tag Team Titles.

This is definitely a great match that displayed two top-notch teams displaying their athleticism and workrate against each other. I also love the 2/3 falls stipulation for joshi tag matches as it works well within the psychology and build. I really liked the work around Kyoko’s Niagara Driver/Bomb moves. I don’t think this reached the level of being a five-star match as it didn’t quite have the intensity or peak of some of the matches at that level. It is safely at ****1/2 though and if you love joshi you won’t be disappointed.

65) 11/6/1994 Eddie Guerrero and Art Barr vs. El Hijo del Santo & Octagon AAA

This is from the AAA When Worlds Collide pay-per-view that was presented it in the U.S. by WCW. Santo’s and Octagon’s matches are on the line against Guerrero’s and Barr’s hair.

Guerrero starts against Santo who gives him an armdrag. Santo gives him a northern lights suplex and then works a wristlock. Guerrero starts snapmaring Santo and applies a chinlock. Santo snapmares Guerrero who rolls to the floor.  Barr and Octagon tag in and Barr boots Octagon in the gut. Octagon armdrags Barr who misses a senton. Barr shoves Octagon to the corner but Octagon fires back with a dropkick. Santo is in and Guerrero gives him a Saito suplex. Barr picks up Santo on his shoulders and Guerrero gives him a top rope hurracanrana for a pin. Guerrero takes Octagon to the top rope and superplexes him. Barr hits Octagon with a frog splash to get the second pin to win the first fall.

Santo and Guerrero start the second fall and Guerrero axehandles Santo and gives him a fall-away slam. Guerrero gives Santo a vertical suplex. Octagon tags in and Guerrero goes to his knees. Guerrero crawls begging for mercy but pokes Octagon in the eyes. Barr is in and slaps Octagon then hits him with two standing dropkicks. Barr gives Octagon a bodyslam and Guerrero gives him a rolling senton from the apron. Santo comes in and backdrops Guerrero. Santo Irish Whips Barr who gets clotheslined by Octagon. Santo hits Barr with a top rope elbow and then gives Guerrero a flying headscissors. Santo and Guerrero get whipped toward each other but Santo ducks and Guerrero clotheslines Barr. Santo and Octagon dropkick Guerrero and Barr to the floor and hit them with tope suicida’s. Santo sunset flips Guerrero in the ring. Santo slams Guerrero to the mat and goes up top but Guerrero gives him a hurracanrana for the pin. Barr and Guerrero double-team Octagon and gives him a double clothesline. Barr says “That’s made in America to taunt the Mexican-American fans.  Octagon gets whipped into the ropes but he gives Guerrero and Barr a double facebuster. Barr backdrops Octagon who gives Guerrero a hurracanrana for the pin. Octagon then gives Barr a side Russian legsweep and stretches him in a submission to win the second fall.

Barr tells Guerrero at the beginning of the third fall “Let’s win this for the United States.” Santo and Guerrero starts with Guerrero trying a powerbomb that Santo counters with a roll-up. Barr breaks up the pin and Guerrero applies a camel clutch that is broken up by Octagon. Santo then applies a camel clutch that is broken up by Barr. Barr goes for a bodyslam on Santo who rolls him up with Guerrero making the save. Barr applies a modified STF and Octagon comes in with kicks on Barr. Santo and Octagon give Barr a double back elbow. Santo gives Barr a vertical suplex. Guerrero makes the save and Santo rolls outside. Octagon comes in with kicks and a headbutt against Barr. Octagon goes for an armbar but Guerrero comes in and pokes him in the eye. Guerrero gets Octagon in the Gory Special. Santo breaks it up and gives Guerrero knee-lifts. Guerrero bodyslams Santo and goes up top where Santo gives him an electric chair from the top rope. Barr dropkicks Octagon outside and Barr and Guerrero hit tope suicida’s. Guerrero rolls Santo inside and takes him to the top rope. Guerrero goes for a superplex but Santo dumps him face-first to the mat. Santo comes off the top with a facebuster. Santo backdrops Guerrero to the apron and then gives him a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor. Octagon dropkicks Barr in the middle but he misses a second one. Barr gives him a spinning tombstone for the pin. It should be noted that the piledriver is outlawed in AAA but the referee’s back was turned. Barr clotheslines Santo into a bridging German suplex by Guerrero for a two-count. Barr goes up top and Guerrero gives Santo a superplex. Barr gives Santo a frog splash but Santo kicks out. Guerrero holds Santo who gets out of the way causing Barr to clothesline Guerrero to the floor. Santo dropkicks Barr and then gives Guerrero a plancha. Barr goes up top but Blue Panther (the second for Santo and Octagon) comes in behind the referee’s back and gives Barr a piledriver. Santo pins Barr to eliminate him. Octagon is being carried out on a stretcher as Santo rolls up Guerrero for a two-count. Guerrero gives Santo a sit-out powerbomb. Guerrero takes Santo to the top rope and gives him a belly-to-belly superplex. Guerrero takes Santo to the top again and gives him a hurracanrana. Guerrero gives Santo a dragon suplex. Guerrero goes for another dragon suplex but Santo rolls him up and pins him to win the match.

I absolutely loved this match when I first saw it a number of years ago. I watched it twice for this viewing and think it stands up to the five-star rating. There could be some criticism for the interference of Panther on behalf of the technicos taking away from babyface psychology. It fit in well with the piledriver storyline though and with the controlled chaos that was this match. What clinches the rating for the match is the third fall, both the section with Guerrero and Barr acting as a team and with Guerrero vs Santo. Guerrero was using workrate moves at a time they weren’t seen in American rings very often but he interwove them within entertaining storytelling. Great stuff here and an all-time classic.

66) 11/20/1994 Aja Kong vs. Manami Toyota AJW

I have watched this in years past but it was at a time when I was much less familiar with joshi. The match is from the Big Egg Wrestling Universe show at The Tokyo Dome and it is for Kong’s WWWA Title.

Toyota attacks Kong with a dropkick right away and then does a Manami Roll. Toyota goes up top but Kong punches her only for Toyota to do a sunset flip bomb. Toyota goes to the opposite corner and does a bodypress but Kong catches her and does an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Kong whips her into the corner and gives her a lariat. Kong kicks her around and then hits a flying elbow. Toyota bridges out of a pin and Kong puts her in a Boston Crab. Kong stomps on her back and applies a camel clutch and then sits back. Kong headbutts her in the back and kicks her some more. Kong gives Toyota a vertical suplex but she bridges out of another pin. Kong slingshots Toyota into the ropes and stretches her back across her knees. Kong applies a single leg crab and then slingshots Toyota into the corner. Kong kicks Toyota in the back and gives her a vertical suplex. Toyota bridges out of another pin. Kong hits forearms to Toyota’s back. Toyota does a springboard bodypress then does a dive from the top rope but Kong kicks her in the stomach. Kong gives Toyota a piledriver. Kong pops up Toyota who dropkicks her. Toyota starts kicking Kong who stands up and knocks her down with a head-kick. Toyota is back up kicking but Kong punches her down. Kong takes Toyota up top and superplexes her, landing on top like a jackhammer. Kong applies a Boston Crab again. Kong puts Toyota over her shoulder in a backbreaker then slams her into the corner. Kong then gives her an avalanche splash. Kong puts Toyota in another over-the-shoulder backbreaker, walks up the ramp with her and then slams her on the ramp. Kong then lays Toyota on the ropes and does a running start on the ramp to spear her in the gut. Kong gives Toyota two piledrivers in the ring. Toyota gets whipped into the ropes and she attempts a rolling cradle but Kong slams her. Kong gives Toyota a backdrop and lands on top of her. Toyota bridges out of yet another pin. Kong bodyslams Toyota and goes up top but Toyota kicks her to the floor. Toyota hits a springboard plancha followed by a missile dropkick to the floor. Toyota sets up a table and lays Kong on it. Toyota slaps her repeatedly in the face and then gives her a top rope splash through the table on the floor. Toyota bodyslams Kong in the ring and gives her a moonsault. Toyota gives Kong a Japanese Ocean Suplex. Toyota goes for another one but Kong drives her into the corner and then gives her a German Suplex. Kong gives Toyota a powerbomb. Kong bodyslams her and then splashes her from the second rope. Toyota bridges out of a pin. Kong goes to the top and Toyota gives her a Japanese Rolling Crotch Cradle for a pin attempt. Just so you know, I totally lifted the name for the move from Meltzer. Toyota then goes for a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex but can’t get Kong up. Toyota bodyslams her and does a moonsault but Kong gets her knees up. Kong puts Toyota on the top rope but Toyota knocks her to the mat and hits a missile dropkick. Toyota goes up top and attempts a sunset flip bomb on Kong but Kong lands on her in a sit-down splash. Kong goes for a German Suplex but Toyota floats over. Kong hits a spinning backfist. Kong gives her a falcon arrow for a three-count.

This was a fantastic match that is absolutely five stars for me. This is the kind of match that Shawn Michaels and Vader could have had without screwjob booking. I loved it the whole way through and was leaning toward five stars but that sit-down splash spot nailed it for me.

67) 11/30/1994 Rey Mysterio Jr. vs Juventud Guerrera AAA

Mysterio gets Guerrera’s back but Guerrera gets the armdrag into a hammerlock. Mysterio grabs a headscissors and Guerrera flips over. Guerrera gets a headlock but Mysterio rolls him up. Mysterio gets a drop toehold and applies a crossface. Guerrera gets a roll-up and a wristlock but Mysterio kicks him away. Guerrera gives Mysterio a spinebuster and works the legs. Mysterio grabs a headlock and gets up for a suplex attempt that Guerrera reverses into a vertical suplex. They do a test of strength. Guerrera monkeyflips Mysterio. Guerrera goes for a back suplex but Mysterio lands in a press. They criss-cross and Mysterio kicks Guerrera to the outside. Guerrera slowly gets back inside and they criss-cross again with Mysterio monkey-flipping Guerrera. Mysterio gets Guerrera in a hurracanrana for a two-count. Guerrera whips Mysterio to the corner and Mysterio puts Guerrera on the top rope and gives him a hurracanrana. Mysterio attempts a pin but Guerrera gets his foot on the ropes. Mysterio gives Guerrera a powerbomb for the three-count to win the first fall.

They circle each other to start the second fall and should-block each other. They trade slaps and Guerrera hits a dropkick. Mysterio backdrops Guerrera who hits a springboard dropkick knocking Mysterio to the floor. Mysterio returns inside and takes a heel-kick. Guerrera gives him a release powerbomb. Guerrera kick him in the back and gives him a chokeslam. Guerrera gives Mysterio a back suplex. They’re on their knees trading slaps. Guerrera gets up and kicks Mysterio in the back. Mysterio whips him into the ropes and gives him a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Mysterio attempts a suplex but Guerrera gives him a fall-away slam. Guerrera gives him a powerbomb for a pin attempt. Guerrera gives Mysterio a slingshot back suplex and a bridging German suplex for a pin to win the second fall.

Mysterio dropkicks Guerrera to start the third fall but Guerrera swats him to the ground. Guerrera hits a dropkick and Mysterio rolls outside. He makes his way back in and they criss-cross with Mysterio kicking Guerrera into the ropes. Mysterio gives him a butterfly suplex. Mysterio bodyslams Guerrera and hits a second rope rolling senton. Guerrera fights back and puts Mysterio in the Gory Special and rolls him forward into a pin attempt. Mysterio counters into a pin. Mysterio does a sunset flip and the puts Guerrera in the Romero Special. Guerrera gets up and throws Mysterio in the air allowing him to crash into the mat. Mysterio goes outside briefly then comes back in and Guerrera misses a dropkick in the corner. Guerrera rolls outside and Mysterio gives him a sliding dropkick. Guerrera is lying on the floor and Mysterio land on him with a big tope con giro. They’re both laid out and Guerrera is back in the ring first. Mysterio gets to the apron and Guerrera dropkicks him to the floor and hits a springboard rolling senton. They’re back inside and Guerrera pops up Mysterio who grabs him in a hurracanrana for a two-count. Guerrera leapfrogs Mysterio who rolls outside and Guerrera hits him with a tope suicida. They return to the ring again and Guerrera hits a splash in the corner. Guerrera charges again but hits the ringpost when Mysterio gets out of the way. Guerrera rolls to the floor and Mysterio nails him with a plancha. Mysterio does a Manami Roll in the ring. Guerrera gives him a German Suplex. Guerrera superplexes Mysterio but lifts him before the three-count. The referee is distracted and Fuerza Guerrera runs in and punches Mysterio. Guerrera goes for another superplex but Mysterio lands on top of him. Fuerza runs in behind the referee’s back again and gives Mysterio a low blow. Mysterio’s second Rey Mysterio Sr. runs in and press slams Fuerza. The referee raises Mysterio’s hand resulting in a title change.

This had all the greatness of great lucha matches. High-flying, great use of a 2/3 falls format and logical pacing. With a different finish I could easily give this *****. Unfortunately, the finish was pretty bad and weakened both guys, from Guerrera lifting Mysterio at the three-count to Mysterio not credibly winning to Guerrera needing interference. I would rate this ****3/4 and that for me is reflective of how great a match it is to be almost perfect other than the finish.

68) 1/19/1995 Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada AJPW

This is Kawada’s first ever Triple Crown title defense after winning the championship from Steve Williams. This is the second time I’ve watched this after first seeing it a few months ago. I have not tracked down a review of the match in which Dave said it was five stars. However, in the review of a match soon after, he said that match was better than any other five-star match that year except maybe this.

They circle each other and tie up twice. They start shoving each other and face off. Kawada grabs a headlock and Kobashi forearms him in the ribs. Kawada hits a shoulder-block and a boot to the face. Kobashi catches the next kick and hits a spinning forearm and a lariat. Kobashi goes for a flying shoulder-tackle but Kawada avoids it. Kobashi misses a dropkick and Kawada boots him in the face. Kawada misses another kick and Kobashi chops him. They separate and then engage in a test of strength that is back-and-forth until Kawada goes to his knees. Kawada kicks Kobashi in the knee to escape. Kawada gets Kobashi’s arm but Kobashi gets the ropes for a break. Kobashi takes Kobashi to the mat and grabs Kawada’s back but Kawada powers out. Kobashi gets his back again but Kawada takes Kobashi to the mat and hits forearms to the back of the head. Kawada gets Kobashi in a surfboard. Kobashi eventually manages to stand and Kawada headbutts him in the back. Kobashi reverses into his own stretching of Kawada’s arms. Kawada reverses and gives Kobashi a German Suplex. Kobashi is against the ropes and Kawada dropkicks his knee. Kobashi rolls to the floor where Kawada wraps his leg in the guardrail and kicks it.

They return inside where Kawada slams Kobashi’s knee into the mat twice. Kawada grabs a knee-bar but Kobashi chops his way out of it.  Kawada gets Kobashi down and grinds his knee into the back of Kobashi’s knee. Kawada goes for a knee-breaker but Kobashi elbows him in the back of the head then hits a spin-kick and a legdrop. Kobashi forearms Kawada in the back then drapes him on the ropes and legdrops him. Kobashi whips Kawada into the guardrail outside then legdrops him across the guardrail. Kobashi brings him back inside, attempts a pin and applies a chinlock. Kawada kicks Kobashi in the head but takes kicks to the back. Kobashi bodyslams Kawada and legdrops him again. Kobashi grabs a facelock but Kawada gets the ropes. Kobashi stomps on him, rams his head into the turnbuckle and chops his back. Kobashi snapmares Kawada then applies a headscissors. Kawada rolls and gets the rope break. Kobashi kicks Kawada in the back. Kawada fires back with a chop but Kobashi kicks him in the head. Kobashi applies a headlock and rides Kawada to the mat that Kawada can only get out of with a rope break. Kobashi chops Kawada against the ropes then gives him a flying shoulder-tackle. Kobashi puts Kawada in the sleeper. Kawada gets up and drives Kobashi into the turnbuckle but Kobashi holds onto the sleeper. Kawada drives him into the turnbuckle again then gives him a spinning chop to the neck.

Kawada chops away at Kobashi and then hits him with elbows. Kobashi reverses an Irish Whip and goes for a knee-lift in the corner but Kawada knocks him away. Kawada runs his head into the turnbuckle twice. They both try to suplex each other with Kobashi getting the vertical suplex. Kobashi goes for a tiger suplex but Kawada gets the ropes. Kobashi chops Kawada several times and runs his head into the turnbuckles twice. Kawada kicks Kobashi’s arm and dropkicks him. Kawada chops Kobashi around the ring. Kobashi starts to fire up but Kawada chops him in the throat. Kawada stomps on Kobashi who rolls outside. Kawada bodyslams Kobashi on the floor then double stomps him from the apron. Kawada rolls Kobashi inside and stomps him. Kawada bodyslams Kobashi then double stomps him from the second rope. Kawada applies a facelock then kicks Kobashi in the back. Kawada bodyslams Kobashi then kicks him in the back and applies a chinlock. Kobashi gets the ropes but Kawada drags him to the middle and applies a sleeper.  Kobashi gets the ropes and then Kawada kicks him in the face and powerbombs him. Kawada gives Kobashi a backdrop driver. Kawada knees him in the head then goes for another powerbomb but gets backdropped to the floor.

Kawada pulls Kobashi to the floor and whips him into the guardrail but Kobashi fires back with a shoulder-tackle. Kawada goes inside and Kobashi makes it to the apron. Kawada elbows him in the head and knocks him to the floor with a lariat. Kobashi gets to the apron again where he blocks a Kawada lariat and punches him in the face. Kobashi dives off the top rope but Kawada kicks him in the stomach then clutches his own knee and starts limping. Kobashi dropkicks Kawada in the knee and gives him two knee-breakers. Kobashi applies the figure four that Kawada reverses briefly until Kobashi regains it. Kawada tries to pull himself back toward the ropes and eventually does. Kobashi rolls Kawada outside and gives him a knee-breaker onto a table on the other side of the guardrail. Kobashi rolls him back inside and applies a single leg crab while standing on Kawada’s head. Kawada escapes with head-kicks. Kobashi works on Kawada’s knee with chops, trades slaps with Kawada and applies the Texas Cloverleaf. Kawada gets the ropes but Kobashi drags him to the middle and applies the Texas Cloverleaf again. Kawada powers his way to a rope break. Kobashi kicks him in the knee and works the ankle. Kawada gives him an enzuiguri and starts kicking him in the knee but Kobashi fires back with a kick to the knee.

Kawada bodyslams Kobashi then chops him in the chest and kicks him in the back. Kawada chops Kobashi repeatedly. Kawada goes for a powerbomb but Kobashi backdrops him. Kawada kicks Kobashi in the knee and goes for another powerbomb but gets backdropped again. Kawada gives Kobashi head-kicks but Kobashi lariats him and they’re both down. Kobashi picks up Kawada and chops him in the neck and chest then powerbombs him. Kawada tries to get up but stumbles into the ropes. Kobashi chops him against the ropes and tries to whip him across the ring but Kawada collapses and Kobashi gets a two-count. Kobashi gives Kawada a backdrop driver. Kobashi goes for another one but Kawada elbows him in the head and chops him in the neck. Kobashi dropkicks Kawada. Kobashi misses a lariat but gives him a bulldog and two legdrops. Kobashi bodyslams Kawada then goes for a moonsault but Kawada rolls across the ring. Kobashi DDT’s him twice then bodyslams him and misses a moonsault. Kawada rolls to the floor but returns to the ring and trades chops. Kobashi kicks him in the chest then chops him in the corner. Kawada chops Kobashi to the mat. Kobashi blocks a lariat but Kawada gives him an enzuiguri. Kawada picks him up and gives him another enzuiguri for a two-count. Kawada powerbombs Kobashi then kicks him in the head and gives him a backdrop driver.

Kawada goes for a stretch plum but Kobashi throws him. Kawada kicks Kobashi in the leg and applies the stretch plum and shakes Kobashi around in it. Kawada gets a two-count. Kawada applies the stretch plum again and gets another two-count. Kobashi blocks an enzuiguri but Kawada still hits with an elbow and a knee-kick. Kawada misses an enzuiguri and Kobashi hits a forearm strike. Kobashi kicks him in the face twice and applies a full nelson. Kobashi gives him an enzuiguri and goes for a back suplex but Kawada elbows him in the head. Kobashi gives Kawada a rolling cradle. Kobashi chops Kawada against the ropes. Kobashi blocks a leg lariat, throws Kawada to the mat and gives him a running neckbreaker for a two-count. Kobashi powerbombs Kawada and rolls over into a pin attempt. Kobashi bodyslams Kawada and gives him a moonsault for a two-count. Kobashi bodyslams Kawada again and misses a second rope legdrop. Kobashi applies a full nelson but Kawada gets the ropes. Kobashi applies the full nelson again but Kawada chops him in the neck and hits a back heel-kick. Kawada hits another back heel-kick for a two-count. Kawada applies a full nelson and gives Kobashi a dragon suplex. Kawada is limping and he gives Kobashi Kawada kicks. Kawada picks Kobashi up for a back suplex but Kobashi lands on top of him. Kawada tries a kick to the gut but Kobashi blocks and misses a spinning backfist. Kawada attempts a German Suplex but Kobashi reverses into his own bridging German Suplex. Kobashi goes for another German but Kawada gives him an enzuiguri and a scissor-kick to the head. Kawada gives Kobashi a German Suplex on his head. Kobashi crawls around the ring while Kawada tries to get his back. Kawada gives him another German Suplex on his head. Kobashi crawls around the ring again. Kawada chases and gets Kobashi in a powerbomb position. Kawada is struggling to get the powerbomb when the bell rings to signify the expiry of the sixty-minute time limit.

I thought this was a five-star match the first time I watched it without knowing it was a sixty-minute draw. I wasn’t sure for a while on this viewing but from the time that Kawada started collapsing around the forty0imunte match I was hooked. They gave each other everything they had. Kobashi looked strong by taking the new champ to the limit and Kawada looked strong by having Kobashi in a powerbomb position at the bell. Broadway matches can be tough to get five stars out of but they managed it here in my mind. These guys are amazing.

69) 1/24/1995 Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue AJPW

Kawada and Kobashi start and tie up three times and then Kobashi grabs a headlock. Kawada whips him into the ropes and Kobashi hits a shoulder-block. Kawada throws Kobashi outside and when he runs back in Kawada gives him Kawada kicks. Kobashi hits another shoulder-block but Kawada boots him in the face. Kobashi goes for a suplex but Kawada gives him an up-kick. Kobashi kicks and chops Kawada who chops him back. Taue and Misawa tag in and circle each other. They tie up and Misawa does a flying headscissors. They tie up again and trade wristlocks and Misawa giving Taue an armdrag. Misawa grabs a headlock. Taue sends him into the ropes and Misawa hits a shoulder-block and armdrag on Taue. Misawa dropkicks Taue out of the ring and misses a pescado. Taue kicks him outside and brings him back to the ring. Taue goes for a big boot but Misawa hits a flying elbow. Kobashi tags in and trades chops with Taue who slams him to the mat. Kawada tags in and trades wristlocks with Kobashi. Kawada hits a back heel-kick. Kawada chops Kobashi into the corner but Kobashi chops back. Kawada headbutts him and tags Taue who continues with headbutts. Taue knee-lifts Kobashi who fires back with a spin-kick. Misawa tags in and gives Taue uppercuts and then forearms to the back. Misawa gives him a flying bodypress and applies a chinlock. Misawa switches to a front facelock. Kobashi tags in and axehandles Taue. Kobashi chops him and then hits a flying shoulder-tackle. Kobashi applies a chinlock into a headlock and Taue gives him a back suplex. Taue drops an elbow and tags in Kawada who throws some Kawada kicks. Kawada chops Kobashi and hits a back heel-kick knocking Kobashi to the floor.

Taue steps on Kobashi’s head on the floor then rolls him inside. Kawada covers him for a pin attempt. Kawada runs Kobashi’s head into the turnbuckle then chops him in the head. Kawada climbs the ropes for a head-kick but Kobashi knocks him down. Kobashi hits a thrust-kick and tags in Misawa who throws some kicks and a leg lariat. Misawa gives Kawada a flying clothesline and a dropkick. Kawada rolls outside and Misawa hits a tope suicida. Misawa then holds Kawada and Kobashi gives him a sliding dropkick. Taue hits Misawa with forearms in the ring but Kobashi and Misawa give Taue a double dropkick. Misawa then does a corkscrew pescado on Taue on the floor while Kobashi gives Kawada a shoulder-tackle off the apron. Misawa attempts a pin on Kawada. Kobashi tags in and chops Kawada into the corner. Kawada kicks him in the head but Kobashi keeps on him with chops and stomps him into the mat. Kobashi goes outside and elbows Kawada in the face on the apron. Kobashi gives Kawada a vertical suplex in the ring. Kobashi then applies a single leg crab. Kawada kicks him in the head and then Taue boots him in the face to break it. Misawa tags in and kicks Kawada. Misawa applies a single leg crab but Kawada gets the ropes. Misawa kicks him in the knee then bodyslams him and hits a senton. Kobashi tags in but Kawada kicks him in the knee. Kobashi works over Kawada’s knee with chops and kicks. Kobashi does a spinning toehold and Kawada kicks him in the head. Kobashi kicks Kawada’s knee. Misawa tags in and continues to work the knee including applying another single leg crab with Kawada getting the rope break. Misawa and Kawada trade elbows in the corner. Misawa elbows him to the back of the head. Misawa whips Kawada to the corner and goes for a monkey flip but Taue shoves Misawa to the mat. Misawa elbows both Kawada and Taue. Kawada whips Misawa into the corner with Misawa leaping back and Kawada kicking him in the back.

Taue tags in and DDT’s Misawa. Taue throws him to the floor and drops him throat-first on the guardrail. Taue whips Kobashi into the guardrail. Taue brings Misawa back inside for a pin attempt and then works his neck. Taue scoops up Misawa and drops him throat-first on the top rope. Taue picks him up again and drops him face-first on Kawada’s knee in the corner. Taue attempts a pin and tags in Kawada who kneedrops Misawa in the back of the head. Kawada chops Misawa and kicks him in the back. Taue tags in and hits a big boot to Misawa’s face. Taue applies a dragon sleeper but Kobashi comes in and chops Taue in the back of the head. Taue applies a sleeper. Taue stomps on Misawa’s head and rams his head into the corner. Kawada tags in and rams Misawa’s head into the turnbuckle then chops him in the back of the head. Kawada kicks him across the chest and then gives him a head-kick. Taue tags in and rams Misawa’s head into the corner again. Taue rakes Misawa’s face and whips him into the opposite corner. Misawa goes for a clothesline but Taue slams him into the corner. Taue goes for a nodowa and Misawa elbows him and goes for a tiger driver. Taue goes for the nodowa again but Misawa gives him a butterfly suplex. Kobashi tags in and hits a shoulder-tackle off the top rope. Kobashi knocks Kawada to the floor then gives Taue a brainbuster. Kobashi takes Taue to the floor and whips him into the guardrail. Kobashi brings Taue inside and attempts a pin. Kobashi applies an abdominal stretch. Taue eventually hiptosses Kobashi but takes a missile dropkick from Misawa. Kobashi covers Taue and then grabs him in a facelock. Kawada comes in and kicks Kobashi in the face. Kobashi trades chops with Taue who is still on the mat. Kobashi gives him a legdrop. Misawa tags in and Kobashi bodyslams Taue allowing Misawa to slingshot into splash.

Misawa hits a flying forearm. Misawa elbows Taue to the back of the head. Taue fires back with strikes but Kobashi tags in and chops Taue in the corner. Kobashi goes for a knee-lift in the corner but Taue knocks him back. Kobashi throws chops abut Taue fights back with chops. Taue gets Kobashi on his shoulders and drops him throat-first on the top rope. Kawada tags in and trades knee-lifts with Kobashi. Kawada chops him in the throat. Kawada and Kobashi try to suplex each other with Kawada getting the vertical suplex. They kick each other in the knee. Kobashi misses a basement dropkick. Kawada leg-sweeps him. Taue tags in and stomps on Kobashi. Taue tags him outside, ties his leg up in the guardrail and slams the gate on it. Taue brings him back inside and puts him in the tree of woe and kicks his knee. Misawa gets Kobashi out of it. Taue drags Kobashi to his corner and tags in Kawada who continues to work the knee including using a knee-breaker. Kawada grinds his knee into Kobashi’s knee. Taue tags in and applies a knee-bar. Misawa comes in and kicks Taue in the head. Taue dropkicks Kobashi in the knee and attempts a Boston Crab but Kobashi kicks him. Taue punches Kobashi in the face and tags in Kawada who applies a figure four. Taue comes in and stomps Kobashi while Misawa comes in and stomps Kawada. Taue tags in and gives Kobashi two knee-breakers and applies a Texas Cloverleaf. Kawada tags in and puts Kobashi in a Boston Crab. Kobashi powers out and gets a rope break.

Taue tags in puts Kobashi in a single leg crab. Kawada tags back, kicks Kobashi in the knee and grabs a knee-bar. Kobashi gets a rope break and Kawada kneedrops his leg. Taue tags in and goes for a knee-breaker but Kobashi elbows him and hits a spinning backfist. Kawada comes in and keeps Kobashi from making the tag. Misawa runs in and Kawada kicks him in the face and gives him an enzuiguri. Kawada rams Kobashi’s head into the corner, whips him into a big boot by Taue and then gives him a lariat. Misawa has rolled to the floor. Taue gives Kobashi a running neckbreaker. Taue goes for a powerbomb but Kobashi backdrops him. Taue goes for a powerbomb again with Kobashi doing another backdrop while Kawada lariats Misawa off the apron. Taue slams Kobashi into the mat and tags in Kawada who hits a big boot in the corner. Kawada goes for a powerbomb but Misawa stops him with elbows. Kawada gives Kawada kicks to Misawa who fires back with elbows. Kawada does more Kawada kicks knocking Misawa to the floor. Kawada powerbombs Kobashi in the ring then goes outside and powerbombs Misawa on the floor. Taue drops elbows on Kobashi in the ring and Kawada returns for a pin attempt. Taue tags in and clotheslines Kobashi three times. Taue goes for a nodowa but Kobashi fights him off. Taue headbutts Kobashi and then gives him a nodowa chokeslam. Kobashi crawls to the corner but Misawa isn’t there. Taue clotheslines him in the back of the head. Taue goes for another nodowa but slams Kobashi into the corner when he can’t get it. Taue steps up on the bottom rope and gives Kobashi a nodowa. Kobashi rolls to the floor and Taue brings him back in for a pin attempt. Kawada tags in and chops Kobashi. Kobashi fires back with a chop and a snapmare but Kawada kicks Kobashi and grabs him in a sleeper. Kobashi rolls and gets a rope break but Taue legdrops him on the ropes.

Kawada gives Kobashi a backdrop driver. Kawada goes for a powerbomb and gets it after a struggle. Misawa breaks up the pin attempt. Kawada puts Kobashi in the stretch plum while Taue kicks Misawa in the face and slams him into the corner. Misawa gives Taue an enzuiguri. Misawa elbows Kawada in the head and gives him a running elbow. Kawada releases Kobashi while Misawa continues to elbow him. Kawada fires back with punches but Misawa punches him to the mat. Misawa returns to his corner for a tag after knocking Taue out of the ring. Misawa tags in and gives Misawa numerous elbows. Taue comes in and trades strikes with Misawa. Kawada attacks Misawa from behind but Misawa is throwing elbows at both Taue and Kawada. Taue tags in and clotheslines Misawa. Taue slaps him against the ropes and misses a big boot. Misawa hits both Taue and Kawada with rolling elbows. Misawa attempts a pin on Taue. While Misawa puts Taue in a facelock, Kobashi kicks Kawada through the ropes but misses a pescado. Misawa then dropkicks Kawada through the ropes and gives him a pescado headbutt.

Misawa returns to the ring and puts Taue in a facelock. Misawa snapmares Taue and puts him in the facelock again while Kobashi holds Kawada back from making the save. Misawa goes for a tiger suplex but can’t get it. He attempts a pin and tags in Kobashi who chops Taue into the corner. Kobashi tries to Irish Whip him but ends up chopping him in the corner. Kobashi then whips Taue into Misawa’s elbow. Kobashi kicks Taue and Misawa elbows him again. Kobashi legdrops Taue and Misawa gives him a senton. Kobashi attempts a pin. Kobashi bodyslams Taue and goes for a moonsault but Taue rolls out of the way. Kobashi charges Taue in the corner but takes a big boot. Kobashi lariats Taue. Kawada attacks Kobashi who gives him a spinning backfist. Misawa gives Kawada a tiger driver. Kobashi bodyslams Taue and legdrops him. Kobashi hits a moonsault on Taue for a two-count. Kobashi gets Taue to his feet and gives him a spinning backfist to the back of the head. Kobashi gives Taue a uranage. Kobashi hits the ropes but Kawada kicks him in the back and gives him an enzuiguri. Kawada tags in and gives Kobashi a big scissor-kick. Kawada applies the stretch plum but Misawa breaks it up. Kobashi gets Kawada in the rolling cradle. Misawa tags in and dives at Kawada who kicks him in the stomach. Misawa gets up and elbows Kawada and gives him a German Suplex. Misawa goes up top and hits a corkscrew diving elbow. Taue breaks up the pin attempt. Kobashi puts Taue in a sleeper while Misawa has Kawada in facelock. Taue breaks up Misawa and Kawada. Misawa goes up top and gives Kawada a frog slash. Misawa goes for a tiger driver but Kawada fights it. Misawa elbows him in the back of the head. Taue breaks up another tiger driver attempt by Misawa and the sixty-minute time limit expires.

This was an amazing match and is absolutely five stars. I would call it the third best match I’ve seen between these teams which makes it better than most other all-time matches. The fact that they managed to have such an extended peril segment with Kobashi and it worked with the crowd is a testament to their ability. Everything clicked at the fifty-minute mark and was at a high peak from there.

70) 3/4/1995 Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs. Steve Williams & Johnny Ace AJPW

Kobashi and Ace start and tie up, trying for holds and coming to a stalemate. Kobashi gives Ace a drop toehold and applies an armbar. Ace whips him into the ropes and they shoulder-block each other. Ace chops and armdrags Kobashi and they come to another stalemate. Misawa tags in and Williams asks for the tag but Ace stays in. They tie up and Ace throws elbows. Misawa dropkicks him. Williams tags in and ties up with Misawa and shoves him against the ropes. They tie up again and Williams shoves Misawa against the ropes again. Misawa throws elbows and then trades slaps with Williams. Ace comes in and Misawa hits him with elbows and does the same to Williams. Kobashi comes in and chops both Williams and Ace. Misawa knocks Williams down with elbows and then Kobashi and Ace hold Misawa and Williams back from each other. Ace releases Williams who attacks Misawa from behind. Misawa rolls to the floor. Williams and Ace double-team Kobashi who chops back at them. Ace tags in, boots Kobashi in the gut and slaps him in the face. Ace and Kobashi trade chops. All four men are in facing off and the referee keeps Williams and Misawa apart. Ace and Kobashi circle each other and tie up with Kobashi elbowing Ace in the gut and chopping him. Ace dropkicks Kobashi and Williams strikes at Kobashi from the apron. Ace DDT’s Kobashi. Williams tags in and knocks Misawa off the apron and gives Kobashi a brainbuster. Kobashi rolls outside as well but Ace runs him back-first into the guardrail. Ace rolls Kobashi inside and Williams puts him in camel clutch/sleeper combination. Kobashi gets to the ropes where Ace legdrops him.

Ace tags in and kicks Kobashi in the head. Ace lariats Kobashi in two different corners. Ace cranks away at Kobashi’s neck but Kobashi gets the ropes. Williams tags in and stomps and slaps Kobashi around the ring. Williams goes for a backdrop driver but Kobashi gets the ropes. Williams goes for it again but Kobashi again gets the ropes and throws punches. Ace and Misawa come in. Ace grabs Kobashi who elbows him away. It’s back to Williams and Kobashi but Misawa tags in. Williams goes for a takedown but Misawa nails him with elbows. Williams picks him up and drops him in an electric chair. Misawa goes for a takedown but Williams punches back. They both throw and miss strikes. Williams does an armdrag takedown and applies an armlock. Misawa gets the rope break. Williams stomps on him and tags in Ace who does the same. Ace whips Misawa into the corner and gives him a leg lariat followed by a DDT. Ace applies a modified hammerlock and then stomps on Misawa’s arm. Williams tags in and goes after Misawa’s arm but Misawa kicks him. Williams grabs an armbar, takes Misawa down and applies a cross armbreaker. Williams knee-drops Misawa’s arm and tags in Ace who again knee-drops the arm. Ace works Misawa’s wrist, elbows his arm and applies a hammerlock. Ace backs Misawa into the corner and elbows him. Ace misses an elbow-smash in the opposite corner. Misawa hits a spinning kick and tags in Kobashi who hits a flying shoulder-tackle. Kobashi knocks Williams to the floor and gives Ace a vertical suplex.

Kobashi puts Ace in a Boston Crab but Williams breaks it up with a lariat. Misawa tags in and gives Ace a flying clothesline. Ace punches Misawa in the stomach and Misawa kicks him in the chest. Ace rolls outside and Kobashi whips him into the guardrail. Kobashi rolls Ace inside and gives him a powerbomb combined with a flying bodypress by Misawa. Misawa elbows Williams off the apron. Kobashi bodyslams Ace and goes for a moonsault. Ace stops him only to get bodyslammed again. Ace still keeps Kobashi from doing a moonsault. Misawa comes in but Ace knocks him outside and gives Kobashi a backdrop driver. Ace gives Kobashi a German Suplex assisted by a lariat from Williams. Ace attempts a pin then bodyslams Kobashi and goes for a moonsault. Kobashi stops him and Williams attacks Kobashi. Williams knocks down Misawa and bodyslams Kobashi. Ace then hits a moonsault. Williams tags in and misses a lariat attempt on Kobashi but then hits the lariat. Williams whips him into the corner and hits an avalanche followed by an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Williams goes for a backdrop driver but Misawa runs in and Williams shoulder-blocks him. Williams gives Kobashi a spinebuster. Williams goes to the top rope but Misawa grabs him and keeps him from jumping. Ace brawls with Misawa on the floor. Kobashi goes for a superplex but Williams gives him a belly-to-belly superplex. Ace runs in and Misawa elbows him to the floor. Misawa gives Williams a tiger driver and all four men are down.

Williams and Kobashi crawl to their corners for a tag. Ace tags in and elbows Misawa off the apron. Ace gives Kobashi a tiger suplex and a short-arm clothesline. Ace gives him an Ace Crusher and a gutwrench suplex. Ace tries to keep Kobashi from making a tag but Kobashi gives him a spinning backfist. Misawa tags in and Ace whips him into the corner and gives him a big boot to the face. Misawa hits a back elbow off the ropes. Misawa applies a facelock. Williams breaks it up and Kobashi pulls Williams to the floor. Misawa snapmares Ace and applies a facelock. Kobashi attempts a sleeper on the floor but Williams throws him. Ace gets a rope break.  Misawa elbows him in the corner then jumps to the second turnbuckle but Williams gives him a backdrop driver. Williams knocks Kobashi to the floor with a shoulder-tackle. Williams puts Misawa on his shoulders and Ace gives him a doomsday device. Kobashi comes in and punches Ace but takes a dropkick from Williams. Williams grabs Misawa but rolls to the floor after Kobashi dropkicks him in the knee. Ace comes off the top rope but Misawa elbows him in the face. Misawa hits Ace with several elbows including a rolling elbow and gets a two-count while Williams is shown clutching his knee on the floor. Misawa goes for a tiger driver on Ace. Kobashi comes in for the assist and they do a double tiger driver. Williams breaks up the pin and picks up Misawa for a bodyslam but Kobashi dropkicks him in the knee again. Kobashi gives Ace a running knee-strike in the corner. Kobashi bodyslams Ace and hits a moonsault for a near-fall. Misawa legdrops Ace twice and tries to go up top but Ace stops him. Kobashi chops Ace who fires back with a boot to the face. Kobashi hits a lariat and then gives Ace a tiger suplex. Williams breaks up the pin. Kobashi goes after Ace but takes a shoulder-tackle from Misawa. Williams and Ace have a tug of war with Kobashi and Misawa takes out Williams’ knee. Kobashi hits a powerslam on Ace. Kobashi goes up top but Williams slaps him in the face. Williams and Misawa trade strikes and Misawa rolls outside where Williams gives him a pescado. Kobashi then gives Ace a top rope legdrop for the pin.

This was a fantastic match based on the second half. There was nothing wrong with the first half but nothing special either. The first half doesn’t drag it down from being a great match but keeps it from going over the edge to five stars for me. There were lots of great moments, particularly the doomsday device and the legdrops by Kobashi. Some might complain as well about the amount of run-ins to break up pins and submissions but it seemed to make sense to me in the context of the match. Williams had great intensity here as well. I would rate this ****3/4 which to me makes it more than worth your while to track down, especially since it feeds into their later match which is supposed to be even better.

Overall ratings:

1) 6/3/1994 Mitsuharu Misawa vs Toshiaki Kawada

2) 4/2/1989 Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat

3)7/29/1993 Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi AJPW

4) 4/2/1993 Akira Hokuto vs. Shinobu Kandori AJW

5) 5/21/1994 Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue AJPW

6)12/3/1993 Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi AJPW

7) 6/8/1990 Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jumbo Tsuruta

8) 5/7/1989 Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat

9) 6/5/1989 Jumbo Tsuruta vs Genichiro Tenryu AJPW

10) 12/16/1988 Toshiaki Kawada & Genichiro Tenryu vs. Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy AJPW

11) 1/24/1995 Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue AJPW

12) 5/25/1992 Dan Kroffat & Doug Furnas vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi AJPW

13) 1/28/1986 Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichrio Tenryu vs. Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu AJPW

14) 4/20/1991 Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada & Kenta Kobashi vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue & Masanobu Fuchi

15) 4/18/1993 Bull Nakano vs Devil Masami JWP

16) 1/19/1995 Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada AJPW

17) 2/14/1986 Ric Flair vs. Barry Windham (NWA Battle of the Belts 2) CWF

18) 3/20/1994 Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon Ladder Match WWF

19) 2/20/1989 Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat

20) 4/11/1993 Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki vs. Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada AJW

21) 7/8/1994 Jushin Liger vs. Great Sasuke NJPW 4/16/1994

22) “Wild Pegasus” Chris Benoit vs. Great Sasuke (Super J Cup ’94) NJPW

23) 12/10/1993 Kyoko Inoue and Toshiyo Yamada defeated Akira Hokuto and Manami Toyota 2

24) 2/24/1991 Ric Flair, Larry Zbyszko, Barry Windham, & Sid Vicious vs.Sting, Brian Pillman, Rick Steiner, & Scott Steiner WarGames

25) 12/6/1993 Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada vs. Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki AJW

26) 11/20/1994 Aja Kong vs. Manami Toyota AJW

27) 12/10/1993 Kyoko Inoue and Toshiyo Yamada defeated Akira Hokuto and Manami Toyota 1

28) 8/31/1993 Steve Williams vs. Kenta Kobashi AJPW

29) 7/31/1993 Dynamite Kansai & Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki & Hikari Fukuoka vs. Aja Kong & Sakie Hasegawa & Kyoko Inoue & Takako Inoue JWP

30) 8/22/1985 Lioness Asuka vs. Jaguar Yokota AJW

31) 4/2/1993 Kyoko Inoue & Takako Inoue vs. Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki AJW

32) 7/31/1987 Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff and Paul Ellering vs. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Lex Luger and War Machine War Games JCP

33) 10/19/1990 Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue & Masanobu Fuchi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada & Kenta Kobashi

34) 11/15/1989 Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk (“I Quit” Match, NWA Clash of the Champions IX: New York Knockout) NWA

35) 11/6/1994 Eddie Guerrero and Art Barr vs. El Hijo del Santo & Octagon AAA

36) 8/15/1992 Manami Toyota vs. Toshiyo Yamada AJW

37) 7/2/1993 Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama AJPW

38) 2/26/1987 Chigusa Nagayo vs. Lioness Asuka AJW

39) 1/20/1987 Ric Flair vs Barry Windham

40) 3/18/1989 Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat

41) 4/24/1992 Manami Toyota vs Kyoko Inoue AJW

42) 1/23/1991 Bull Nakano vs Yumiko Hotta

43) 1/31/1990 Jushin Liger vs Naoki Sano

44) 1/4/1991 Bull Nakano vs Akira Hokuto

45) 12/5/1984 Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Nobuhiko Takada UWF

46) 8/29/1994 Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart Cage Match WWF

47) 1/28/1989 Genichrio Tenryu, Toshiaki Kawada & Samson Fuyuki vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, Yoshiaki Yatsu/Masanobu Fuchi AJPW

48) 4/11/1987 Ric Flair vs Barry Windham JCP

49) 3/9/1985 Tiger Mask II vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi AJPW

50) 4/14/1993 Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kenta Kobashi

51) 4/21/1983 Tiger Mask I vs. The Dynamite Kid NJPW

52) 4/30/1992 Jushin Liger vs El Samurai

53) 1/29/1993 Rey Mysterio Jr., Super Calo and Winners vs. Psicosis, Heavy Metal, El Picudo AAA

54) 7/5/1992 Masanobu Fuchi & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Kenta Kobashi &Tsuyoshi Kikuchi AJPW

55) 3/4/1995 Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs. Steve Williams & Johnny Ace AJPW

56) 3/20/1987 Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada NJPW

57) 9/30/1990 Mitsuhara Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada vs Jumbo Tsuruta and Akira Taue

58) 3/7/1992 Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada vs. Yumiko Hotta and Suzuka Minami AJW

59) 5/17/1992 Sting, Nikita Koloff, Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, & Dustin Rhodes vs. Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, & Larry Zbyszko

60)11/30/1994 Rey Mysterio Jr. vs Juventud Guerrera

61) 5/22/1992 Jumbo Tsuruta & Masanobu Fuchi & Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi & Toshiaki Kawada AJPW

62) 1/29/1994 Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, & Giant Baba vs. Masanobu Fuchi, Toshiaki Kawada, & Akira Taue AJPW

63) 10/9/1994 Takako Inoue and Kyoko Inoue vs Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada

64) 8/24/1994 Manami Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue AJW

65) 8/3/1991 Cactus Jack vs. Eddie Gilbert (TWA)

66) 4/19/1986 Sheepherders vs. Fantastics (Bobby Fulton/Tommy Rogers) JCP

67) 12/8/1984 Stan Hansen & Bruiser Brody vs. Dory Funk & Terry Funk

68) 5/16/1992 El Hijo del Santo, Atsushi Onita and Tarzan Goto vs. Negro Casas, Horace Boulder and Tim Patterson FMW USA

69) 5/9/1993 Rock N Roll Express, Robert Fuller, Jimmy Golden and Brian Lee vs. Tazmaniac, Tom Prichard, Stan Lane, Killer Kyle and Kevin Sullivan Rage In A Cage SMW

70) 12/6/1987 Lioness Asuka/Mika Komatsu/Kazue Nagahori/Mitsuko Nishiwaki/Etsuko Mita/Sachiko Nakamura vs. Chigusa Nagayo/Yumiko Hotta/Mika Takahashi/Mika Suzuki/Yachiyo Hirata/Yumi Ogura AJW

Author: Dave Musgrave