In Search of Five Stars: Part Six

This list is comprised of five All-Japan matches, three joshi matches, a WWF match and a NJPW match. It is a list of variety with the consistency being that I consider almost every one of them to be worth a five-star rating. Not only that, but one is now the best tag team match I have ever seen and one is the best matches I have ever seen. I honestly had as much fun reviewing these ten matches as I possibly ever have watching wrestling. Please read on and/or track down the matches to join in the fun.

Check out Dave’s past work on this project: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five

51) 8/31/1993 Steve Williams vs. Kenta Kobashi AJPW

So this is another match I am ashamed that I have not seen previously. They tie up and struggle with each other around the ring. Williams grabs a headlock and Kobashi does a headscissors. They get up and slap each other. Kobashi hits Williams with shoulder-blocks to no avail and Williams gives him a spinebuster. Williams puts him in a surfboard but Kobashi gets to his feet and tries to power out but Williams maintains control. Kobashi gets Williams’ back and gives him a German suplex and then lariats him out of the ring. Kobashi DDT’s Williams on the floor and then gives him a flying clothesline from the top rope to the floor. Kobashi guillotine Williams on the guardrail and then takes him inside. Kobashi stomps on Williams’ head and then starts chopping him. Kobashi hits a lariat in the corner and then gives him a neckbreaker. Kobashi applies a facelock and kicks Williams in the back and the head. Williams gets to his feet and Kobashi chops him and gives him a vertical suplex. Kobashi applies another facelock but Williams snapmares him. Kobashi continues with a kick to the head and a legdrop across the ropes. They trade strikes and Kobashi kicks Williams to the mat. Kobashi kicks him in the head then runs his head into the corner and chops him. Williams whips Kobashi into the corner and then axehandles him. Williams chops Kobashi who hits him with a spinkick. Kobashi whips Williams into the corner and gives him a knee-strike in the face. Kobashi chops Williams around the ring and kicks and punches him but Williams fires up. Williams punches Kobashi then press slams him to the floor. Williams goes outside and axehandles Kobashi. Williams whips him into the guardrail and then hits him with a handspring elbow. Williams picks up Kobashi and rams him into the ringpost twice. Williams takes Kobashi inside and runs him into the corner. Williams gives Kobashi a vertical suplex. Williams kicks him and then stretches him out. Williams gives him a double-arm suplex. Williams kicks him in the head and chops him and they trade forearm strikes. Williams applies a full nelson and they both try for a roll-up. Williams drops an elbow and then goes for a doctor bomb. Williams axehandles him and goes for a backdrop driver but Kobashi grabs the ropes. Kobashi dropkicks Williams but takes a kick to the face. Williams chops him across the ring and headbutts him. Kobashi kicks him in the face and hits a shoulder-block in the corner. Williams tackles Kobashi and they start trading slaps. Kobashi throws Williams out of the ring and whips him into the guardrail. Kobashi steps onto the guardrail and DDT’s Williams on the floor. Kobashi charges Williams who powerslams him on the floor. Williams clotheslines Kobashi and goes for the backdrop driver on the floor but Kobashi grabs the guardrail. They trade strikes on the floor before returning to the ring where Williams chops Kobashi in the corner. Kobashi reverses an Irish whip, rams Williams’ head in the corner and gives him a bulldog. Kobashi chops and dropkicks Williams in the corner. Kobashi whips Williams to the opposite corner but Williams fires back with a dropkick. Kobashi applies a sleeper and Williams drops back on him with Kobashi holding onto the sleeper. Williams gets the ropes and then slaps Kobashi and gives him an enzuiguri. Williams gives Kobashi an avalanche in the corner then goes up top where Kobashi punches him and gives him a superplex. Kobashi DDT’s him. Williams gets to his feet and lifts up Kobashi who falls back into another DDT on Williams. Kobashi gives him three legdrops and a bridging German suplex. Kobashi bodyslams Williams and hits a moonsault for a near-fall. Kobashi does two more legdrops and a moonsault but Williams gets his knees up. Williams gets Kobashi with a shoulder-tackle then kicks him in the gut. Williams goes for a doctor-bomb but Kobashi floats over into a cover. Kobashi hits a lariat but misses a knee in the corner and Williams gives him the Oklahoma Stampede. Williams hits a lariat but Kobashi fights back with chops and a roll-up. Williams gets up and gives Kobashi a backdrop driver but only gets a two-count. Williams goes for the backdrop driver and can’t get it. He gives Kobashi a lariat and then hits two backdrop drivers to get the pinfall. I watched this a second time as I was not sure on initial viewing but I do feel the five-star rating holds up. It is a very different match from Hansen vs Kobashi in terms of build and pacing and stands on its own with the finishing stretch being especially strong. 1993 was quite a year for Kobashi and wasn’t over yet.

52) 12/3/1993 Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi AJPW

This is the finals of the 1993 Real World Tag League and the first of a few matches between the two teams to be rated five stars. Misawa and Taue start and circle each other and tie up. Taue chops Misawa who fires back with elbows. They tie up again and Misawa shoulder-blocks him. Taue attempts a suplex but resorts to a boot to the face instead. Taue gives Misawa an atomic drop and Misawa elbows him. Kobashi tags in and he and Misawa give Taue a double dropkick. Taue goes outside where Kobashi does a sliding dropkick followed by Misawa hitting a flying elbow from the apron. Misawa rolls Taue inside where Kobashi gives him a delayed vertical suplex. Kobashi chops Taue who then hits a lariat. Taue gives Kobashi knee-strikes and tags in Kawada who kicks and chops Kobashi. They trade chops and Kawada gives Kobashi a leg lariat. Taue tags in and dropkicks Kobashi. Kobashi fights back with a spin-kick. Misawa tags in and hits Taue with a flying elbow. Misawa applies a chinlock and a front facelock and tags in Kobashi who trades strikes with Taue. Taue hits overhead chops and gives Kobashi a release brainbuster. Kawada tags in, kicks Kobashi in the chest and hits a lariat. Kawada snapmares Kobashi and goes for a sleeper but Kobashi gets the ropes. Taue tags in and clotheslines Kobashi three times and throws him outside. Kawada whips Kobashi into the guardrail and bodyslams him on the floor. Kawada rolls Kobashi inside where Taue bodyslams him. Kawada tags in and kicks Kobashi in the head. Kobashi fires up as Kawada chops him. Kawada bodyslams Kobashi and applies a single leg crab. Taue tags in and gives Kobashi an atomic drop on the mat. Taue DDT’s Kobashi and goes for the chokeslam but Misawa cuts it off. Taue gives Kobashi a boot to the face and gives him a chokeslam. Taue drops Kobashi throat-first on the top rope and then drops him face-first on Kawada’s knee. Kawada tags in and kicks Kobashi in the face some more and chops him in the neck. They trade chops and kicks and Kawada starts selling his leg. Kawada hits knee-strikes and punches but is limping. Kobashi takes Kawada down and starts punching him in the thigh. Kawada kicks Kobashi and hits an enzuiguri all while clutching his leg. Taue comes in and knocks Misawa to the floor. Taue works on Kobashi but Misawa hits him with an elbow. Misawa tags in and elbows Kawada but Kawada fires back with knee-strikes. They trade forearms and Misawa gives Kawada a tiger driver. Misawa goes for a tiger suplex but Taue strikes him from behind. Kawada gives Misawa up-kicks and a lariat. Taue tags in and lawndarts Misawa in the top turnbuckle twice. Taue gets Misawa up on his shoulders and drops him throat-first on the top rope then does the same to Kobashi. Taue goes for the nodawa chokeslam but Misawa resists. Taue kicks him in the face and then Taue and Kawada do a combination nodawa/back suplex. Kobashi stops the count but Kawada throws him to the floor. Taue gives Misawa a powerbomb and then whips him into a clothesline by Kawada. Misawa fights back with elbows and Kobashi comes in and chops Taue. Kobashi hits Taue with a shoulder-block and two swinging neckbreakers. Kobashi drops Taue throat-first on the top rope, bodyslams him and gives him a legdrop. Kobashi hits a moonsault for a two-count. Kobashi and Taue trade chops and Taue gives him a running neckbreaker. Kawada tags in and gives Kobashi a back suplex and continues to sell his leg with the referee helping him stretch it out. Kawada gets to his feet and gives Kobashi another back suplex. Misawa tags in and kicks away at Kawada who fires back with a leg lariat. Kawada does a German suplex but can’t hold the bridging due to his leg. Kawada applies a dragon sleeper that Kobashi attempts to break up but Taue puts Kobashi in a sleeper. Kawada attempts a pin and gets a two-count. Kawada goes back to the dragon sleeper while Taue switches to an abdominal stretch on Kobashi who fights out, hits an enzuiguri and saves Misawa. Kawada kicks Misawa in the face and goes for a powerbomb but Misawa floats over. Kobashi tags in and dropkicks Kawada in the knee. Kobashi puts him in a single leg crab and Kawada tries to kick his way out. Kobashi puts him in a Texas cloverleaf while Misawa puts Taue in a sleeper. Kobashi powerbombs Kawada and rolls through into a two-count. Kobashi bodyslams Kawada then misses a moonsault. Kawada continues to clutch his leg. He trades chops with Kobashi and gives him some headbutts. Kobashi keeps him from tagging. Misawa tags in and knocks Kawada to the mat. Misawa hits a senton and a top rope splash. Misawa goes for a tiger driver but Kawada backdrops him. Misawa gives him a tiger suplex. Kobashi tags in and dropkicks Kawada and headbutts Taue to the floor. Kawada gives Kobashi two enzuiguris. Kobashi lariats Kawada and gives him a bridging German suplex while Misawa does the same to Taue. Kobashi goes for a powerbomb but Kawada backdrops him. Taue comes in and gives Kobashi a back suplex. Taue fights with Misawa who hits him with a rolling elbows and does the same to Kawada. Misawa gives Kawada a German suplex and hits a tope suicida on Taue. Kobashi gives Taue a backdrop driver and pins him to win the match.  This had all the intensity, psychology, execution and importance that a five-star match should have and more than lives up to the rating. What is nice is that they did it while still having a real simplicity to the match. If selling is the key to a great wrestling match, you get the perfect example of it here from Kawada. What a great match.

53) 12/6/1993 Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada vs. Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki AJW

This is the third match in the trilogy between these teams and for many people it is the least of the matches. Dave also based his rating on a televised version and said it was a ***** match but that the editing took it down to ****3/4. The version I am reviewing is unedited. Kansai gives Yamada a backdrop driver right away while Ozaki and Yamada scrap. Kansai is getting ready to do another move on Yamada when Toyota makes the save with a dropkick. Ozaki gives Toyota a German suplex and picks her up for a doomsday device from Kansai. Ozaki gives Toyota two DDT’s. Kansai tags in, kicks Toyota to the mat and drops an elbow. Kansai gives Toyota a vertical suplex, snapmares her and kicks her in the back. Ozaki tags in but Toyota gives her a bodypress. Yamada tags in and she and Toyota do a double sideslam and an atomic drop on the mat. Yamada picks up Ozaki in a stretch muffler and swings her around for several rotations. Toyota is in and she misses a dropkick. Kansai tags in and kicks Toyota several times and gives her a piledriver. Kansai snapmares Toyota and applies a chinlock followed by a dragon sleeper. Kansai has her in a bodyscissors and headbutts her before returning to the dragon sleeper and then an armlock. Kansai gets up and knees Toyota in the back. Ozaki tags in and does a rolling senton from the top on Toyota. Ozaki puts her in the STF and goes into an armbar. Ozaki powerbombs her and applies a single leg crab and then a full Boston Crab. Kansai tags in and starts kicking Toyota. Kansai whips her into the ropes but Toyota hits a dropkick followed by a missile dropkick. She misses a second missile dropkick and Kansai legdrops her and attempts a pin with Toyota bridging out. Ozaki tags in and misses a rolling senton hitting Kansai. Yamada tags in and knocks Kansai out of the ring and hits a big boot and a snap suplex on Ozaki. Yamada bodyslams Ozaki and drops an elbow. Yamada applies a facelock and Ozaki gets the rope. Ozaki hits a clothesline and Kansai tags in and kicks Yamada. Yamada avoids one and hits several kicks, an enzuiguri and a dropkick. Kansai goes outside and Yamada gives her a sliding dropkick. Kansai comes back inside and wins a test of strength with Yamada. Kansai elbows her and gives her a piledriver. Ozaki is in and applies a facelock and then gives Yamada a cradle suplex. Ozaki applies a camel clutch and Kansai kicks Yamada in the chest. Yamada transitions into a facelock. Kansai tags in and trades kicks with Yamada who gets the advantage. Toyota tags in and puts Kansai in the camel clutch while Yamada kicks her in the chest. Yamada gives Kansai a back suplex and Toyota tags in and kicks away at her. Kansai gives Toyota a sideslam and clotheslines her in the corner. Toyota jumps off the turnbuckle but Kansai catches her in her arms and hits an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Kansai places Toyota on the top rope but Toyota elbows her down and hits a moonsault. Ozaki sneak attacks Toyota with a dropkick. Toyota gives Kansai a Manami Roll. Toyota goes for the rolling cradle but Kansai escapes and tags in Ozaki. They double-team Toyota but Yamada makes the save and Toyota gives Ozaki a rolling cradle. Yamada and Toyota double-team Ozaki but Kansai makes the save allowing Ozaki to powerbomb Toyota. Kansai tags in and kicks Toyota around the ring. Kansai goes for Splash Mountain but Toyota escapes only for Kansai to give her a backdrop driver. Toyota bridges out of a pin and Kansai goes for Splash Mountain with Yamada making the save. Ozaki and Kansai hit a double shoulder-block on Toyota. Ozaki bodyslams her and Kansai does a top rope double stomp. Toyota bridges out of another pin. Kansai goes for Splash Mountain and gets it. Kansai picks up Toyota on her shoulders and Ozaki gives her a top rope bulldog but Toyota gets a victory roll on Kansai. Ozaki gives Toyota a facebuster and Toyota bridges out of another Kansai pin attempt. Kansai takes Toyota to the top rope and gives her a back superplex but Toyota twists and lands on top. Ozaki is in and Toyota whips her into the corner but she flips to the apron. Ozaki knocks Yamada to the floor and hits a tope con giro. Kansai picks up Toyota for the Splash Mountain/bulldog combination but Toyota kicks Ozaki to the floor. Yamada tags in and Kansai elbows her. Yamada misses a leg lariat but maneuvers out of Kansai’s suplex attempt into a pin. Yamada hits two spin-kicks and then seven German suplexes. Yamada whips Kansai into a boot by Yamada and hits an eighth German suplex. Yamada goes to the top and Toyota knocks Ozaki off the apron as Yamada hits Kansai with a diving kick. Yamada goes for the reverse Gory bomb but Kansai blocks it. Toyota hits Kansai with a missile dropkick. Toyota puts Kansai on her shoulders and Yamada gives her a diving kick. Yamada goes for the reverse Gory bomb on Kansai but Ozaki gives her a facebuster. Ozaki dives off the top at Yamada who kicks her in the stomach. Toyota and Yamada hit the double diving headbutt. Yamada bodyslams Ozaki and Toyota misses a moonsault. Kansai lariats Toyota and Ozaki gives her a head-and-arm suplex. Ozaki bodyslams Toyota and does a dive but Toyota gets her boot into her gut. Toyota picks up Ozaki for a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex but Ozaki does a victory roll. Ozaki whips Toyota into the corner and she dropkicks Kansai off of the top rope. Yamada then holds Ozaki and Kansai on the floor for a top rope moonsault by Toyota. Yamada and Toyota take Ozaki inside and give her a double float-over back superplex. Toyota then gets Ozaki in the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex for a two-count. Yamada holds Kansai on the floor and Toyota gives her a missile dropkick from the top rope. Toyota then returns to the ring and gives Ozaki a straightjacket electric chair (only name I could come up with for it) for the pinfall. I actually would call this five stars. I can’t imagine there not being a third match between these teams and this delivered as well as anything could. It played well off previous matches but was also quite different as it was only one fall. Toyota’s bridging out of pins was cool and Kansai looked great going for Splash Mountain and finally getting it. Ozaki was possibly the star of the match again. While I can agree that it is the least of the three matches, it more than holds its own and I rate it above other matches for which I agreed with a five-star rating.

54) 12/10/1993 Kyoko Inoue and Toshiyo Yamada defeated Akira Hokuto and Manami Toyota 1

So this is the first of two matches and this is the finals of a tag league tournament. If Hokuto and Toyota win or tie they win the tournament and if Inoue and Yamada win there is a tie. That’s what happens and the second match happens immediately after. It is interesting to see Toyota and Yamada across the ring from each other three days after they won the match mentioned above. The first match starts with Toyota dropkicking Inoue three times. Toyota and Hokuto hit a double dropkick and Toyota puts her in an octopus. Toyota rolls her up and tags in Hokuto who comes in with an elbow off the top. Hokuto gives Inoue two piledrivers and puts her in the scorpion deathlock. Toyota tags in and she Hokuto slam Inoue’s knees into the mat. Inoue gives Toyota a fall-away slam. Yamada tags in and kicks Toyota and gives her a snap suplex. Yamada continues with kicks and applies a knee-bar into a single leg crab. Yamada releases it but keeps on Toyota with leg-kicks. Inoue tags in and puts Toyota in a torture rack and throws her. Inoue puts Toyota in a Boston Crab. Yamada tags in and she and Inoue do a double boot to the face. They then do a double stretch muffler and swing Toyota before slamming her to the mat. Yamada legdrops Toyota and then works her leg. Toyota kicks away at Yamada who responds in kind. Toyota gets a roll-up but Yamada takes her down and then slams her by her hair. Yamada whips Toyota into the ropes and Toyota dropkicks her. Hokuto tags in and hits two spin-kicks on Yamada. Hokuto gives her a backdrop driver and puts her in the camel clutch. Toyota kicks Yamada in the face then tags in and applies her own camel clutch. Toyota misses a missile dropkick and Inoue tags in and puts her in the camel clutch. Yamada kicks Toyota and goes after Hokuto. Inoue then puts Hokuto in the camel clutch and Yamada kicks her in the chest. Yamada gives Toyota a German suplex and Inoue dropkicks her. Inoue goes for a powerbomb but Toyota does the Manami Roll. Toyota comes off the top but misses and Inoue gives her a giant swing. Inoue misses a clothesline and Toyota gets her in a rolling cradle. Toyota goes up top but Yamada kicks her to the mat. Yamada whips Toyota into a missile dropkick by Inoue. Yamada gives Toyota a German suplex and Inoue attempts a pin. Toyota gets Inoue on the ropes and charges her but misses and falls to the floor. Hokuto knocks Yamada from the turnbuckles to the floor. Hokuto goes up top but steps down. Toyota hits a tope as Hokuto goes up top and does a plancha. Hokuto goes up top and she and Toyota do a double missile dropkick on Inoue in the ring. Toyota goes for the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex but Inoue gets out and gives her a German suplex. Hokuto knocks Yamada off the mat but Inoue rolls up Hokuto. Yamada tags in and kicks Hokuto and hits two enzuiguri’s. Hokuto charges Yamada but knocks Toyota to the floor. Inoue and Yamada then hit a double missile dropkick on Hokuto from the same turnbuckle. Toyota hits a missile dropkick on Yamada and Hokuto powerbombs Yamada. Hokuto bodyslams Yamada and Toyota does a dropkick with Yamada getting her boots up. Inoue lariats Hokuto and does the same to Toyota. Inoue goes for a powerbomb but Toyota does a Manami Roll. Toyota misses a charge on Inoue and Yamada who then attempt a double powerbomb on her. Toyota strikes her way out and goes for a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex on Inoue. Inoue blocks it and gives Toyota a Niagara Driver for the pinfall to tie the tournament. So yes, five stars yet again for a great joshi match that I think will be made even better by the match that follows.

55) 12/10/1993 Kyoko Inoue and Toshiyo Yamada defeated Akira Hokuto and Manami Toyota 2

Before match two starts Toyota is on the mat and Hokuto attending to her. The match starts with Inoue and Hokuto locking up and Inoue charging her into the corner. Inoue brings Toyota into the ring and dropkicks her. Yamada tags in and gives Toyota five German suplexes. Hokuto breaks up a pin attempt. Yamada gives Toyota another German suplex but Toyota bridges out as Hokuto and Inoue brawl to the back and are shown near the concession stand. Yamada gives Toyota a snap suplex and a DDT in the ring. Hokuto is running back to the ring. Inoue tags in and takes a German suplex off the second rope by Toyota. Hokuto tags in and gives Inoue a bridging German suplex. Hokuto gives her a northern lights suplex. Inoue grabs Hokuto in a single leg crab and Hokuto gets the ropes. Inoue works the leg including legdropping the knee. Yamada tags in puts Hokuto in a swinging stretch muffler. Yamada elbowdrops Hokuto’s knee and applies a regular stretch muffler. Inoue tags in and grabs a knee-bar. Inoue gets Hokuto in a Romero Special. Yamada tags in and hangs Hokuto in the tree of woe and kicks her in the stomach. Yamada puts Hokuto in a single leg crab and Hokuto gets to the ropes. Toyota comes in and Yamada kicks her in the gut. Toyota hits her with a dropkick and two missile dropkicks. Toyota gives her a bridging vertical suplex followed by a bridging butterfly suplex. Toyota gives Yamada a backdrop driver. Hokuto tags in and is limping and Yamada hits her with a spin-kick. Yamada gives her an enzuiguri and a kick to the chest. Yamada goes up top and hits a diving elbow on Hokuto. Inoue and Yamada whip Hokuto into the ropes but she ducks them and Toyota hits them both with a missile dropkick. Hokuto and Yamada are on the floor where Hokuto attempts a tombstone but Yamada reverses and tombstones Hokuto. Inoue goes to the top and does a plancha on Hokuto and Toyota. Yamada takes Hokuto inside and goes for the Reverse Gory Bomb but Hokuto rolls her up. Yamada stomps on her head and hits the Reverse Gory Bomb. Hokuto kicks out and the fans are chanting for her. Inoue is in and she bodyslams Hokuto. Inoue does a top rope back elbow-drop. Inoue goes for the Niagara Driver but Hokuto floats through. Toyota tags in and gives Inoue a quebrada followed by a moonsault. Toyota bodyslams Inoue and hits a moonsault for a two-count. Hokuto does a plancha from the top to Yamada on the outside. Toyota gives Inoue a Japanese Ocean Suplex. Toyota and Hokuto both go to the top but miss the double missile dropkick on Inoue. Yamada is in and she goes up top and hits the diving kick on Toyota who bridges out of a pin. Inoue and Yamada whip Toyota into the ropes but she gets them with a bodypress. Hokuto is in and gets cut off on a suplex attempt. Inoue and Yamada put her on the top rope and give her a double superplex but she lands on top of them. Toyota goes up top and does a moonsault onto Inoue on the outside. Yamada goes for the Reverse Gory Bomb but Hokuto backslides her. Hokuto ducks a kick and gives Yamada a brainbuster for the three-count. I would also call this five stars and the better of the two matches. It is amazing that these two teams were able to pull off two matches like this in a row as I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. These women are amazing wrestlers and even though Toyota has her detractors I can’t see myself being one of them.

56) 1/29/1994 Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, & Giant Baba vs. Masanobu Fuchi, Toshiaki Kawada, & Akira Taue AJPW

So the version of this that Dave rated ***** was the tv version that aired the final 21:00. I watched that first but am recapping the full 39:00 match.

Kawada and Kobashi start and Kobashi hits a series of shoulder-blocks until Kawada kicks him in the face. Kawada bodyslams him and hits his own shoulder-blocks. They trade chops and Kawada hits a leg lariat. Fuchi tags in and grabs a kimura and rolls Kobashi into a pin. Baba tags in and gets Fuchi’s arm but Kawada runs in and kicks Baba in the head. Taue tags in and chops Baba who hits back and delivers a weak knee-strike. Taue lariats Baba, bodyslams him and drops an elbow. Taue goes for the abdominal stretch but Baba counters and applies one of his own. Fuchi breaks it up and Misawa tags in and dropkicks Taue. Misawa gives him a leg lariat and applies a chinlock. Kobashi tags in and he and Kobashi double-team Taue with elbows. Kobashi gives him a flying shoulder-tackle. Taue gives Kobashi a vertical suplex and Kawada tags in and kicks Kobashi. Kawada elbows Kobashi in the head and dropkicks him. Kawada whips Kobashi into the corner but Kobashi boots him in the face and hits a shoulder-tackle. Misawa tags in and gives Kawada uppercuts and a flying lariat. Kawada throws leg-kicks and Misawa throws elbows. Kawada gives him a head-kick and tags in Fuchi who kicks Misawa in the gut and chops him. Misawa fights back with strikes and tags in Baba who trades chops with Fuchi. Taue tags in and Baba knees him in the gut. Kobashi tags in and gives Taue a delayed vertical suplex. Misawa tags in, bodyslams Taue and gives him a senton. Misawa hits a bodypress and dropkicks Taue out of the ring. Kobashi gives Taue a flying dropkick and Misawa gives him a flying elbow off the apron. They’re back inside and Misawa hits a diving elbow off the top. Misawa is going for a tiger driver but Kawada cuts it off and Taue gives Misawa a nodowa chokeslam. Kawada tags in and gives him Kawada kicks and a backdrop driver. Fuchi tags in and comes off the top rope with a chop. Fuchi chops and stomps Misawa and applies a sleeper. Taue tags in and drops Misawa throat-first on the top rope. Taue gives Misawa a piledriver and then lawndarts him into the top turnbuckle twice. Fuchi runs in and stomps on Misawa. Kawada tags in, kicks Misawa in the chest and applies a headscissors. Baba saunters in and kicks Kawada somewhat gently. Kawada then kicks Misawa in the head less gently. Fuchi tags in and elbows Misawa in the head. Fuchi takes Misawa outside and he and Kawada give him a spike piledriver on the floor. Taue drops Misawa throat-first on the guardrail and rolls him inside. Fuchi stomps on Misawa and tags in Kawada who does the same. Kawada knees him in the face and tags in Fuchi who along with Taue gives Misawa a hangman in the ropes. Misawa grabs Fuchi in a front facelock but Taue kicks him. Fuchi hangs Misawa in the tree of woe and stands on his head. Kawada tags in and kicks and chops Misawa. Kawada gives him a lariat and then gives him a back suplex combined with Taue doing a nodowa from the second rope.

This is the point where the televised twenty-one-minutes of footage started. Kawada puts Misawa in the stretch plum and Kobashi attempts to make the save but takes a German suplex from Fuchi. Kawada and Taue then do stereo powerbombs on Misawa and Kobashi. Fuchi tags in and attempts to pin Misawa and then gives him an enzuiguri. Fuchi goes for a suplex but Misawa fights back with elbows. Baba tags in and trades chops with Fuchi. Baba gives him a boot to the chest. Kawada runs in but gets thrown outside and Taue does the same. Baba applies a cobra clutch to Fuchi and Kobashi and Misawa give sleepers to Taue and Kawada. Fuchi gets out and dropkicks Baba in the corner. Kawada tags in and lariats Baba and then he and Fuchi whip him into a nodowa by Taue. Kawada puts Baba in the stretch plum while Fuchi has Kobashi in a sleeper. Kobashi escapes and saves Baba. Kawada chops Baba against the ropes but Baba knees him in the gut. Kobashi tags in and trades chops with Kawada. They take turns chopping each other in the neck. Kobashi boots Kawada in the face and Kawada chops him in the face. Taue tags in and drops Kobashi throat-first on the top rope and then DDT’s him on the floor. Taue works over Kobashi in the ring and tags in Fuchi who gives Kobashi a German suplex. Kawada tags in and lariats Kobashi. Fuchi whips Kobashi into a nodowa by Taue. Fuchi scoops up Kobashi for a bodyslam but Kobashi lands on top of him. Taue tags in and gives Kobashi a release belly-to-back and then kicks him in the head. Kawada picks up Kobashi and gives him a tombstone. Fuchi tags in and trades strikes with Kobashi. Fuchi applies a camel clutch and tags in Taue who gives Kobashi three clotheslines. Taue gives Kobashi a Samoan Drop and tags in Kawada who chops Kobashi around the ring. Kawada runs his head into the corner and goes for a headkick but Kobashi punches him off and hits a lariat. Misawa tags in and hits Kawada with elbows. Misawa gives him a back suplex. Kawada kicks him in the head then hits some Kawada kicks followed by an enzuiguri. Taue tags in and DDT’s Misawa and drives Misawa’s head into his knee. Taue gives him an atomic drop but Misawa elbows him. Baba tags in and drives Taue’s head into his knee. Fuchi interferes and Taue gives Baba a vertical suplex. Taue charges Baba on the ropes but Baba boots him in the face and gives him a running neckbreaker. Kobashi tags in and chops Taue in the corner. Taue slams Kobashi to the mat but Kobashi fights back, hits a knee-lift in the corner and a second rope DDT. Kobashi goes for a powerbomb but Taue backdrops him. Kobashi hits a dropkick but Taue powerslams him. Fuchi tags in and gives Kobashi a Thesz Press. Fuchi steps on Kobashi repeatedly. Fuchi delivers an enzuiguri. Kobashi tries to chop him but Fuchi blocks it and they both try a German suplex. Kobashi gets Fuchi in the rolling cradle. Kobashi bodyslams Fuchi and legdrops him. Kobashi goes for a moonsault but gets stopped by Kawada. Misawa makes the save and Kobashi hits a shoulder-tackle from the top rope. Kobashi gives Fuchi a legdrop and then another legdrop from the top rope. Kobashi bodyslams Fuchi and hits a moonsault. Kobashi gets the pinfall while Baba and Misawa keep Taue and Kawada away.

This match certainly does not reach five stars for me in either the edited or unedited version. It had a lot of good action and I even enjoyed old Baba in this but it didn’t hit that certain level of being extra-special. It was however a good to great match that I would rate at ****1/2 and would say is worth seeing.

57) 3/20/1994 Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon Ladder Match WWF

This is the first WWF match that Dave rated five stars. There are two Intercontinental title belts hanging as both were claimants to the title. They criss-cross to start and Michaels tries a hiptoss but gets chokeslammed. They criss-cross again and Michaels gives Razor a neckbreaker. Razor boots him in the gut in the corner and shoulder-blocks him but gets thrown outside. Diesel clotheslines Razor for his only involvement ever in a five-star match. Diesel gets sent to the back by the referee. Michaels is on the ropes and Razor punches him. Razor whips Michaels into the corner and then clotheslines him to the floor. Razor punches him on the floor and rips up the protective mat on the floor. Michaels rolls Razor inside but takes a big punch and then a boot to the gut. Razor goes for the Razor’s Edge but gets backdropped to the concrete floor. Michaels walks up the aisle and brings a ladder back to the ring. Razor punches him and grabs the ladder on the floor. Michaels goes inside and does a sliding dropkick on the ladder into Razor. Michaels rolls Razor inside, brings the ladder into the ring and runs the end of it into Razor’s stomach. Razor is on his back and Michaels rams the ladder into his stomach. Michaels then slams the ladder across Razor’s back and then throws it into him against the ropes. Michaels sets up the ladder and climbs it but Razor pulls his pants down. Michaels knocks Razor down and drops an elbow on him off the ladder. Michaels sets up the ladder in the corner and then bodyslams Razor. Michaels climbs the ladder and splashes Razor from almost the top rung. Michaels then climbs the ladder but Razor knocks it over and Michaels lands on the ropes. Michaels whips Razor into the ropes but they collide mid-ring and they’re both down. Michaels gets up and sets the ladder up in the corner. Michaels Irish whips Razor but Razor reverses it and Michaels flies into the ladder and out of the ring. Razor goes outside and runs the ladder into Michaels against the ringpost. Razor does so again against another ringpost. Razor then slingshots Michaels into the ladder and Michaels falls back with the ladder on top of him. Razor rolls Michaels inside, follows with the ladder and knocks Michaels out of the ring with it. Razor sets up the ladder and climbs it but Michaels flies from the top rope and knocks Razor off the ladder and into the ropes. They set up the ladder and both climb at the same time and punch each other at the top. Razor suplexes Michaels off the ladder but Razor falls into the ropes and the ladder is damaged. Razor climbs it again and Michaels dropkicks the ladder causing Razor to fall to the mat. Michaels knocks the ladder over onto Razor. Michaels whips him into the ropes and misses a clothesline but hits a superkick. Michaels gives Razor a piledriver. Michaels takes the ladder to the corner and splashes it down on top of Razor. Michaels sets up the ladder and climbs it but Razor shoulder-blocks the ladder and crotches Michaels on the top rope. Michaels lands with his leg tied up and Razor sets up the ladder and climbs it to get the belts and win the match. There is no question that this was a five-star match in its context as this was the first time a WWF ladder match had been seen outside of home video. While I didn’t know if it would hold up given the ridiculous things that have been done with ladders since then, upon review it definitely stands up. It isn’t just a bunch of spots with a ladder, it is a psychology-filled match built around creative ladder spots.

58) 4/16/1994 “Wild Pegasus” Chris Benoit vs. Great Sasuke (Super J Cup ’94) NJPW

This is from the first ever Super J Cup and is the finals of the tournament. I first watched the Jushin Liger vs Great Sasuke match from earlier in the night and could easily rate it five stars as well but will hopefully review it further as part of a later project. It should also should be noted that like others, I have difficulty watching Chris Benoit, but have done so for other projects.

Benoit gets a front facelock to start and they trade wristlocks. Benoit grabs a hammerlock and then a cravate. Benoit blocks some kicks by Sasuke and Sasuke flips in the air. They tie up and Benoit grabs a hammerlock again. Benoit backs Sasuke into the corner and chops and punches him. Benoit whips Benoit into the corner and flips off his chest. Sasuke hits a spin-kick and Benoit rolls outside. Sasuke goes for a dive but stops short as Benoit sees him. Benoit is back in and grabs another hammerlock and then a headscissors. Sasuke maneuvers out and gets Benoit in a modified surfboard and then a bow and arrow. Sasuke stomps on his back and applies a surfboard and then armdrags Benoit. They circle each other and criss-cross with Benoit hitting a lariat. Benoit gives Sasuke a bridging German suplex. Benoit misses a lariat and Sasuke gives him a leg lariat and a head-kick. Sasuke bodyslams and then legdrops Benoit. Sasuke tries for a cross armbreaker but Benoit gets out and elbows him in the head. Benoit goes for a powerbomb but Sasuke armdrags him. Benoit hits a lariat and then picks up Sasuke for a suplex but drops him on the ropes. Benoit punches Sasuke on the apron.and jumps to the second rope and hits him with a plancha. Sasuke returns inside and Benoit gives him a dragon suplex. Benoit bodyslams Sasuke, goes up top and hits a diving headbutt. Benoit powerbombs Sasuke for a two-count. Benoit bodyslams Sasuke and applies a scorpion deathlock. Benoit gives Sasuke a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Benoit whips Sasuke into the ropes but misses a dropkick. Sasuke misses some offence on Benoit but hits a lariat. Benoit gives Sasuke a bridging German suplex. Benoit goes for a dragon suplex but Sasuke rolls him up. Benoit whips Sasuke into the corner but Benoit hits a bobdypress off the second rope. Sasuke hits a spin-kick and Benoit rolls outside where Sasuke hits a Sasuke Special. They both return to the ring and Sasuke does a spin-kick and a bridging German suplex. Sasuke does a fisherman suplex. Sasuke does a missile dropkick but Benoit gets out of the way. Sasuke rolls to the apron and Benoit tries to suplex him in but Sasuke blocks and suplexes Benoit to the floor. They return to the ring and Sasuke dropkicks Benoit who rolls outside. Sasuke then climbs to the top rope and hits a missile dropkick to the floor. They get back inside again and Sasuke kicks Benoit in the back and bodyslams him. Sasuke goes up top and moonsaults onto Benoit. Sasuke climbs the ropes again and Benoit follows but Sasuke elbows him to the mat. Sasuke gets up top but Benoit follows and gives him a gutwrench superplex for the three-count. This is absolutely five stars and is a classic match from a classic show. This will be the only appearance of Chris Benoit on this list.

59) 5/21/1994 Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue AJPW

This is the second match between these teams on the list. Kawada and Kobashi start with Kawada grabbing a headlock and Kobashi doing a shoulder-block. Kobashi misses a chop and Kawada misses a kick. Kobashi hits forearms, dodges a kick by Kawada and hits a shoulder-block. Misawa and Taue tag in and Taue grabs a wristlock. Misawa flips out of it and hits a dropkick. Taue gets the wristlock again and slams Misawa to the mat. Misawa elbows his way out and bodyslams Taue. Misawa gives Taue a senton and tags Kobashi who bodyslams Taue and legdrops him. Kobashi applies a facelock and then chops Taue. Taue fires back with an enzuiguri. Kawada tags in and kicks and chops Kobashi. Kawada gives Kobashi a leg lariat. Kobashi rolls to the corner for a tag but Kawada kicks Misawa to the floor. Kawada bodyslams Kobashi and applies a single leg crab. Misawa comes into the ring but is stopped by the referee. Taue tags in and legdrops Kobashi. Taue gives him two elbowdrops and a clothesline. Kawada tags in and chops Kobashi. Kawada gets whipped into the ropes by Kobashi but he boots Misawa in the face. Kawada puts Kobashi in the stretch plum but Misawa comes in and elbows Kawada. Misawa tags in and dropkicks Misawa. Kawada kicks him in the face but Misawa hits back with a spin-kick. Kawada rolls to the floor and then comes back and takes Misawa’s elbow strikes. Misawa applies a chinlock but Kawada armdrags him. Misawa catches a kick by Kawada and elbows him. Kobashi tags in and chops Kawada. Kobashi whips him into the ropes and hits a shoulder-block. Kobashi stomps away on Kawada and they start trading chops with Kawada getting knocked off his feet. Kobashi starts chopping him in the neck and then kicks him in the back. Kobashi tags Misawa and bodyslams Kawada allowing Misawa to hit a slingshot splash. Kawada whips Misawa into the corner and Misawa jumps off the second rope with a back elbow but Kawada kicks him in the back. Taue tags in and kicks Misawa several times. Taue appears to go for a nodowa chokeslam but throws Misawa in the corner. Taue gives Misawa a release vertical suplex. Taue applies an abdominal stretch and drives an elbow into Misawa’s side. Kawada tags in and puts Misawa in the stretch plum. Kobashi comes in and breaks it up with punches. Kobashi hits the ropes but Kawada lariats him. Kawada gives Misawa a senton and tags in Taue who again throws Misawa into the corner. Taue throws Misawa into a kick by Kawada in the corner. Taue goes for a vertical suplex but Misawa floats over and hits a spin-kick. Kobashi tags in and runs Taue’s head into the corner. Kobashi chops him but Taue whips Misawa into the corner and elbows him in the head. Kawada tags in and attempts a suplex but Kobashi blocks him and delivers a vertical suplex. Kawada starts kicking Kobashi in the knee. Taue tags in and throws Kobashi to the floor. Taue drops Kobashi knee-first on a ringside table. Taue then ties up Kobashi’s knee in the gate of the guardrail and kicks away at it. Taue brings Kobashi inside and slams his knee into the mat. Kawada tags in and continues to work Kobashi’s leg. Taue tags in and hangs Kobashi in the tree of woe and kicks his knee. Taue applies a scorpion deathlock but Kobashi gets the ropes. Kawada tags in and stretches out Kobashi’s leg. Misawa comes in and elbows Kawada but the referee pushes him back. Taue tags in, gives Kobashi a knee-breaker and applies a single leg crab that is broken up by elbows from Misawa. Taue lifts Kobashi for a knee-breaker but Kobashi punches his way out and hits a lariat. Kobashi tries for a tag but Kawada charges Misawa and knocks him to the floor. Kawada and Taue give Kobashi a double vertical suplex. Kawada tags in and kicks Kobashi in the face repeatedly. Kobashi chops him against the ropes and gives him an enzuiguri. Kawada goes for a backdrop driver but Kobashi fights back with a chop and a dropkick to the knee. Misawa gets the big tag and knees Kawada in the head. Misawa throws rapid elbows and goes for a tiger driver. Kawada backdrops him but Misawa lands on his feet and elbows both Kawada and Taue. Misawa knocks Kawada to the floor with a sliding dropkick and hits an elbow suicida on Taue. Kobashi gives Kawada a knee-breaker on the floor then rolls him inside. Misawa gives Kawada a tiger driver. Kawada gives Misawa up-kicks and an enzuiguri.

Taue tags in and drops Misawa throat-first on the top rope. Taue then drops Misawa face-first on the top turnbuckle. Misawa responds with an elbow but Taue gives him a facebuster and a DDT. Taue goes for the nodowa but Kobashi comes in and stops him. Taue kicks Kobashi’s knee leaving him clutching it on the apron. Taue misses a lariat on Misawa but hits a boot to the face and a bulldog. Kawada tags in and chops Misawa in the neck. A lot. Kawada kicks Misawa in the head in the corner and then puts him in a stretch plum. Misawa hiptosses him and blocks an enzuiguri. Misawa elbows Kawada who fights back with elbows and Kawada kicks. They start trading elbows and Kawada gets knocked off his feet. Kobashi tags in and trades chops and kicks with Kawada before knocking him down. Kobashi chops him in the neck and they both try to suplex each other. Kobashi chops him and goes to Irish Whip him but Kawada hits a leg lariat. Taue tags in and chops Kobashi and boots him in the face. Taue chops Kobashi in the corner and knees him in the gut. Taue hits overhead chops. Kobashi reverses an Irish Whip but takes a boot to the face. Kobashi lariats Taue and chops him in the corner. Taue throws him down but Kobashi chops away again before getting thrown to the mat. Taue goes for the nodowa but Kobashi throws him. Kobashi gives him two DDT’s and a legdrop. Kobashi bodyslams Taue and gives him a moonsault but ends up clutching his knee. Misawa tags in and gives Taue a flying shoulder-tackle off the top rope. Misawa gives Taue a flying lariat. Misawa goes for a tiger driver but Taue drives him into the corner. Taue Irish Whips Misawa into the corner but he jumps off the ropes with a back elbow. Misawa puts Taue in a facelock and Kobashi comes in and puts Kawada in a sleeper. Kawada escapes and kicks and elbows Misawa. Kobashi gets Kawada in a sleeper again and rolls outside with him while Misawa puts Taue in a facelock again. Kobashi whips Kawada into the guardrail but Kawada fires back with a lariat. Misawa bodyslams Taue in the ring and goes up top. Kawada grabs Misawa allowing Taue to superplex him. Kawada tags in and Taue whips Misawa into a Kawada lariat. Kawada whips Misawa into a nodowa attempt by Taue but Misawa throws him. Kawada rushes Misawa with a lariat and gives him a backdrop driver with Kobashi breaking up the pin attempt. Taue then gives Kobashi the nodowa while Kawada gives Misawa a folding powerbomb for a pin attempt. Kawada hits a Kawada kick and gives Misawa another folding powerbomb with Kobashi making the save again. Taue knocks Kobashi outside and attempts a suplex on the floor but Kobashi gets him in a vertical suplex. Kawada is going for another powerbomb but Kobashi lariats him. Kawada goes for a backdrop driver on Misawa who floats over into a pin attempt. Misawa hits Kawada with an elbow-strike and a rolling elbow. Kobashi tags in but Kawada dropkicks him in the knee. Kobashi kicks Kawada in the knee and gives him a backdrop driver. Kobashi goes for a rolling cradle but Kawada stops him with elbows and a legsweep. Taue tags in, dropkicks Kobashi and gives him a powerslam. Taue gets Kobashi on his shoulders but Misawa kicks him in the stomach and knocks Kawada to the floor as Kobashi gives Taue a German suplex. Kobashi whips Taue into an elbow by Misawa and clotheslines him in the back of the head. Misawa gives Taue a tiger driver but Kawada stops the pin. Kobashi tags in and bodyslams Taue then does a moonsault. Kobashi does another moonsault but Taue rolls out of the way and Kobashi is clutching his knee. Kawada comes in and gives Kobashi a backdrop driver. Misawa is elbowing Kawada who backdrops him to the floor. Taue and Kawada then give Kobashi the combination backdrop driver/nodowa chokeslam. Taue goes for another nodowa and gets it while Misawa elbows Kawada and gives him a German suplex. Misawa breaks up Taue’s pin attempt and trades strikes with him. Kobashi hits Taue with a running neckbreaker but Kawada stops the pin. Misawa gives Kawada a German suplex while Kobashi powerbombs Taue and rolls over into a pin attempt. Taue bodyslams Taue and does another moonsault for the three-count as Misawa holds off Kawada.

That was indeed a five-star match. I preferred it to the 12/3/1993 match-up between these teams and think it is the best tag team match I have ever seen. Kobashi’s selling of his knee was superb and the interplay between Kawada and Misawa was sublime. And I also loved Taue and everything he brought to the match, playing the nodowa attempts just right. Amazing stuff here.

60) 6/3/1994 Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada AJPW

This match was rated ***** (five stars) by Dave in 1994. He has reviewed it in the past year and it is now the first match he has rated as ****** (that’s right, six stars). The reputation of this match precedes itself and while I did watch it years ago I watch wrestling in a much different way now so this should be interesting. Oh, and this match is for the AJPW Triple Crown Championship.

They tie up twice and then trade elbows and chops. Misawa whips Kawada into the ropes and Kawada attempts a kick. They tie up again and Kawada throws some chops. Misawa whips him into the ropes and misses a kick. Kawada hits a front-kick and a spin-kick. Kawada attempts a suplex but Misawa floats over and hits a backdrop driver. Kawada is clutching his neck and Misawa gets his back. Kawada grabs an armbar. Kawada switches to a wristlock but Misawa elbows him in the face. Misawa dropkicks Kawada who rolls outside. Misawa flips to the apron then flips back in and hits a sliding dropkick. Misawa then does a dive from the apron but Kawada elbows him in the face. Misawa whips Kawada into the guardrail but Kawada hits him with a lariat. Misawa slowly gets back inside where Kawada elbows him in the back of the head and kicks him. Kawada applies a facelock and then does a sit-down splash on Misawa’s back. Kawada kicks Misawa around and chops him in the back. Kawada twists Misawa’s leg while standing on his head. Kawada kicks Misawa in the chest and hits him with elbows. Kawada drives his head into the turnbuckle and continues with kicks. Misawa rolls outside and his ear is bleeding. Misawa comes back inside to more kicks. Kawada applies a sleeper on the mat. Misawa gets up and takes a kick but starts kicking Kawada in the knee and Kawada is down. Misawa continues with several knee-kicks and applies a single leg crab. Kawada kicks Misawa in the face. Misawa grabs Kawada in a leg-lock but takes some kicks to the head. Misawa adjusts his position to avoid kicks and continues with the leg-lock. Kawada gets up and kicks Misawa in the knee but Misawa takes him down with more knee-kicks. Misawa continues to work the knee. Kawada tries again to kick Misawa in the head but Misawa secures the leglock. Kawada gets the ropes and is up and limping. Kawada kicks him in the head and continues with more kicks to the knee. Misawa grabs Kawada’s knee but Kawada knocks him down with an elbow to the head. Kawada starts dropping elbows and they both try to suplex each other. Kawada grabs Misawa’s arm but takes a leg lariat. Misawa goes for a tiger driver but Kawada drives him into the corner. Misawa throws elbows but Kawada chops him. Kawada whips him across the ring and kicks him in the head. Kawada whips Misawa to the other corner but takes an elbow to the head. Misawa attempts a dropkick but Kawada blocks it and kicks him in the head. Misawa throws an elbow but Kawada gives him an enzuiguri to the face. Kawada goes for a powerbomb but Misawa backdrops him. Kawada dropkicks Misawa in the back.

Kawada goes up top and drops a knee on Misawa. Kawada starts chopping him in the neck. Kawada goes for a powerbomb but Misawa blocks it. Misawa takes some Kawada kicks and a kick to the back. Kawada goes for a powerbomb but Misawa knocks him down. They get to their feet and trade elbows. Kawada catches Misawa on a leg lariat but Misawa hits an enzuiguri. Misawa goes for a tiger driver but gets backdropped. Misawa goes for a tiger suplex but gets armdragged. Misawa throws an elbow and Kawada does an enzuiguri that Misawa blocks. Misawa dropkicks Kawada and gives him a tiger driver. Misawa goes up top and hits a frog splash. Misawa applies a facelock with Kawada getting a rope break. They roll to the floor where Misawa throws an elbow and rolls Kawada back inside. Misawa dives off the top but Kawada catches him with a flying kick to the knee. Kawada goes for a powerbomb but can’t get it and he slaps Misawa to the mat. Kawada goes for the powerbomb again but still can’t get it and Misawa elbows him. Kawada throws several elbows, a boot to the face and a lariat. Kawada gives Misawa a backdrop driver and a folding powerbomb. Kawada gives Misawa two enzuiguri’s and a German suplex. Misawa rolls to the floor and Kawada brings him back inside and after a struggle gives him a powerbomb. Kawada goes for another powerbomb but Misawa gets to the ropes. Kawada applies a stretch plum and Misawa again gets to the ropes. Kawada drags him back to the middle and puts him in the stretch plum again. Kawada attempts a pin. They get to their feet but Misawa knocks Kawada down with an elbow. Kawada kicks him in the face but Misawa throws another elbow. Kawada gets up and Misawa gives him a flying elbow. Misawa goes for a German suplex and gets it after elbowing Kawada in the back of the head. Misawa gives Kawada a tiger suplex. Misawa goes for another German suplex but Kawada elbows him and hits a koppu kick. They get back up and Kawada does another koppu kick. Misawa rolls to the floor and when he comes back in they trade elbows. Kawada headbutts him and starts kicking him in the head in the corner. Misawa elbows him back and gives him a rolling elbow. Misawa continues with several elbows and another rolling elbow. Misawa goes for a tiger driver but Kawada fights him off and starts kicking his knee. Misawa throws elbows but takes another koppu kick. Misawa throws yet another elbow and then hits Tiger Driver ‘91 for the pinfall.

The question with this match is not whether it is five stars as it is so universally praised that it is hard to argue it. The question is where it lands among the greatest matches of all time. It built impeccably well, had great intensity and was perfectly executed. There was also great work on Kawada’s knee and they both put over constantly having to do that little something extra against a perfectly matches opponent. While there is question from some about the booking of Misawa going over instead of Kawada, this does not impact the structure of the match itself for me. The Flair-Steamboat series is classic for me and going into this I had their 4/2/1989 match at #1.  That match had the benefit of a 2/3 falls structure which I liked but it was also weighed down by an unclean finish which fortunately did lead to more business between the two. I think the decisiveness of this match and its importance and execution put it over the top and as such I am ranking this #1 for this list and in my all-time matches. On another note, I don’t agree with Dave developing a six-star rating and would prefer to just say something is five stars + which applies here. I say that because I doubt anything will rate five-and-a-half stars. At the same time, if you are going to have that system it does apply here as well.

Author: Dave Musgrave