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Toshiaki Kawada vs Kenta Kobashi (AJPW Super Power Series 06/12/98)

AJPW Super Power Series June 12 1998 Budokan Hall Toshiaki Kawada Kenta Kobashi Title Changes

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#1 Loss

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Posted 17 June 2014 - 12:00 PM

Talk about it here.



#2 Tim Cooke

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 09:30 AM

There was a time when I thought this match wasn’t just over rated, but was also just not that great overall.  Seeing it again in the context of the 1998 yearbook and also comparing it to the “great” New Japan heavyweight matches of 2013-2014, I was dead wrong on this being over rated. 

 

I generally think that great matches stand up on their own over the test of time and this one certainly does.  But the greatness of this match becomes even clearer when looking at it against the 1998 heavyweight landscape as well as the 2014 heavyweight scene.  I like to be positive in my reviews so we’ll start with the one negative before moving into everything right about this Budokan Hall match.

 

As All Japan progressed throughout the 90’s, it fell victim to an issue that is pretty common across wrestling.  How do you top yourself and make the crowd react to spots that they have seen over and over throughout the years?  The same issue happens with booking but I think it often affects the in ring stories more.  Instead of toning back and re-educating the audience that a face lock or stretch plum could end a match, they are simply rest hold filler at this point.  The theory that once you open Pandora’s box, you can’t close it may be true but there are small things you can do to work smarter.  Instead, All Japan went the route of just throwing bombs.  They threw them well and usually sold them okay, but when a burning hammer or tiger driver ’91 won’t end a match, what will besides death?  This match is far from the extreme end of this philosophy, but it is still there.

 

And now for the good.  Where to begin? 

 

In modern Japanese wrestlers, a lot of matches are built around strike exchanges that are very plain.  Two guys throwing forearm after forearm at each other gets repetitive fast and hurts a lot of matches for me these days.  Kawada and Kobashi mix up the striking so well that you forget they are having multiple striking segments in this single match.  Kobashi primarily relies on chops but will occasionally throw a forearm.  Kawada brings a great amount of variety (and does it all very skillfully), using chops, kicks to the chest, kicks to the leg, kicks to the face, and the occasional forearm.  The 6-7 striking exchanges would drive me crazy if they were both just trading forearms.  Here, it didn’t seem excessive at all. 

 

Kobashi came into this match with his knees wrecked.  Kawada had to work around this limitation, though to his credit, Kobashi worked as hard as ever.  They opened with non-traditional mat work, which would come up later in the match when Kawada got a near submission with a cross arm breaker after Kobashi almost ended the match with two big lariats.  The big moves were all sold very well, with transitions being out of this world.  Instead of just popping up after a backdrop driver (which was starting to happen with some frequency in All Japan and is certainly around today, especially in Shibata and poorer Ishii matches), Kobashi might get back to his feet after 6 or 7 seconds, but only because he was using every last ounce of effort.  Kawada had some of his spectacular selling here as well, which was organic and never once took you (or the crowd) out of the match.

 

The booking also made this match a challenge and that they were able to overcome it speaks volume to both, but especially Kawada.  This was Kawada’s first title defense since beating Misawa at the Tokyo Dome on May 1.  Since he was booked to lose here, he had to put Kobashi over fairly strongly while also making sure he didn’t look poor in defeat.  That is an extremely hard thing to balance.  Kobashi gets a definitive win by brute force while Kawada looks good in defeat (“if only I wasn’t facing this determined Kobashi today…).

 

Watching this over the weekend was the first time I ever saw it as a possible top 20 AJPW match of the 90's.  Just great and an awesome comparison match to the 6/27/98 Tamura vs. Kohsaka RINGS match from a few weeks later.



#3 Loss

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Posted 29 August 2014 - 02:02 PM

As much as I loved Wagner-Kanemoto, this blows it away. I've missed these All Japan matches since Misawa-Kobashi. There are definite flaws here with the excessive headdropping, but I think what makes the match for me is the ability to really work basic moves for maximum importance. All of the struggle over the vertical suplex and Kobashi's deadlift attempts to avoid being powerbombed were great and were the highlight of the match for me. Kobashi has an almost Fuchi-like ability to work holds when he chooses to do it. Those moments tended to get pops on the same level as the big bumps, which makes me wish they had done more in that direction. I love the simplicity of the finish as a parallel of how Kobashi lost the TC the first time around - all it took was an elbow from Misawa to lose it, and in this case, he won it back with a simple lariat. He learned from his loss the previous year. Classic match, only a notch below the very best All Japan matches of all time.



#4 soup23

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Posted 15 September 2014 - 06:41 AM

I had seen this numerous times before and adored it a good bit but watching it again now, I think it was even raised a notch above that where I have it as a 7-8 All Japan match of the decade which is high praise. The opening matwork was terrific and really set the stage that this match was going to be different in some ways. Tim spoke about the strikes and Loss spoke on the selling and both were fantastic throughout. I really marked for the cross-armbreaker spot and it felt believable as a finish based on the groundwork provided. The simplicity of the finish feels definite without feeling overblown and this is a great performance by both Kobashi and Kawada. I know there is some hyped stuff to come but this is one of the all time great All Japan matches and while it is hyped, it deserves closer attention for all the right it does in the midst of some things in the promotion going towards the other side of things. (*****)



#5 Childs

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Posted 17 September 2014 - 08:43 AM

Brilliant match, one that always meets or surpasses my high expectations on rewatch. They escalated the action so intelligently. They'd wrestle evenly for a few minutes, then one guy would briefly seize the advantage, then they'd go back to plateau. But each plateau featured higher impact offense than the one before it, and each transition seemed to carry higher stakes than the previous. So they packed a ton into 34 minutes without the match ever feeling like overkill. The last five minutes took it to a whole other level. I always mark out for the spot where Kawada sort of juked Kobashi and nailed him with a kick to the mush while Kobashi was still wrong-footed. Then the crowd popped huge when Kawada did a Volk Han-style leaping submission attempt. Kobashi insisting that he win with the arm Kawada had wrecked was a perfectly Kobashi thing to do. Because he was who he was and because he sold it, the whole thing came off as a noble expression of character rather than lazy crap. Any month that has this and Tamura-Kohsaka is OK by me. We'll see by the end of '99 if this really was the last true classic from All Japan.



#6 MJH

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 10:17 AM

Re-watching it today, I think this is the best worked match I've ever seen. Not The Best - there're other All Japan matches where the "work" is almost at this level and have much more of a "story" to them; but this is, in a sense, the best New Japan match ever, only nobody in New Japan has been able to work at this level. If there's a problem - and I use that word loosely - with whatever "classic" AJ match from the '90s you choose, it's that they're so well put-together, so well-composed, that the work almost predicts itself (obviously the "mirrors" structure of 10/21/97 is the most notable one for this); though, of course, because the matches are put together more complexly, it's less of an issue than your standard shine-heat-comeback/finish structure (and again, even if it's an issue to begin with). But because they essentially work this on a more aesthetic level - sure, Kawada takes most of it, you're rooting for Kobashi to fight through, but it's hardly the most involved match for either guy - there's a, not unpredictability per se, but a lack of predictability, an organic-ness, a [...] that those other matches lack. And above all else, the work is just incredible. It might be Kawada's best ever performance - and it's certainly more of "his" kind of match - but both guys are, for execution, for struggle, for "this is a war", for selling both in-the-moment and long-term body language, for every "surface level" facet there is in wrestling, simply sensational.     



#7 Zenjo

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 11:52 AM

This is the first match on the set that I'd consider a serious MOTYC. And finally after several viewings over the years I feel like this is a match I've come to peace with. Watching it in the context of it's time rather than comparing it to other Kings Road classics because it's so widely praised. It's not a match I'd rank in an AJ top 10 of the decade but it would now make my top 15. It may end up being my #1 overall pick for 1998.

The first half was quite restrained and fundamentally sound, providing a very solid base. They slowly built it up. The second half featured no end of big and brutal moves without feeling like overkill. The exhaustion and selling were so strong and at 34m it felt quite epic. Kobashi hit several lariats during the contest, but you just knew that the final one was going to end it.

#8 fxnj

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 11:44 PM

This was actually the match that got me into 90s AJ after some of the pimped 6-mans didn't do much for me (I was stupid). The way this builds is just incredible to watch and even though the matwork has never lit me on fire, I appreciate how uncooperative they make it look and how starting out slow makes what they do later feel even more brutal. I've been meaning to do a long write up explaining how life-changing this match is for me (along with the 20 other 90s AJ matches I'm a huge mark for) but the magic is kind of gone from the many times I've rewatched it.

#9 Superstar Sleeze

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 06:54 PM

All Japan Triple Crown Champion Toshiaki Kawada vs Kenta Kobashi - AJPW 6/12/98

 

Post got eaten, doing this in bullet form

 

-I always stop at 1/20/97 when watching AJPW so this is the first time watching this match

-Kawada is the ultimate choke artist. It is a great character dynamic

-Story of the match: Kawada opens a can of whoop ass, but again comes up short

-Early: opening matwork is more perfunctory to me than NJPW heavies. Past two matches were a one hour draw, I think this was to get fans thinking this would be a one hour draw

-Kawada's selling early was phenomenal. Loved how he crumbled on chop to neck and then knee to ab

-Kobashi looked like he was going to run away with the match early but some well timed kicks to the head and LARIATO by Kawada puts Kawada in the lead.

-Kawada is so vicious and such a dick in control. Kobashi selling and fighting from underneath is his bread and butter.

-Kobashi looks to turn the tide using a bomb.

-Why do people try to German Kawada? You are just asking for a kick to the head.

-Kobashi hits a half nelson suplex first headdrop and it is 17 minutes into the match.

-Kobashi looks for the moonsault. When he pumps the fist before the moonsault always makes me mark out.

-Kawada kicks him in the head as he is jumping off. Kawada really opens up a big lead.

-I love how everything is earned. Kobashi fight back less and less as Kawada is kicking more and more ass. Initially Kawada still needs to kick him in the head to cement his lead.

-Back Drop Driver - Kawada looks to have this in the bag. Powerbombs ensue and more kicks and now the Stretch Plum. Credit to them to getting a Kobashi chant started in the Stretch Plum, which has been killed off since like 93/94.

-It is about this point where you are like is Kawada actually going to be able to put Kobashi away?

-Kobashi is such an emotional babyface. Him crawling to the ropes while Kawada kicks him in the back of the head is gripping.

- The struggle over this Kawada power bomb is pro wrestling!

-Kawada drills Kobashi in the face with his that running high kick and Kobashi's glassy eye sell is incredible

-Kawada is running out of steam. Rope a dope? Kobashi catches foot -> dragon leg screw->LARIAT. Not the best Kobashi's lariat

-Big Kobashi chants! Kobashi trying to hulk up. If I was a Kawada fan, I would be like not again at this moment.

-MOONSAULT! KICK OUT! Kawada's selling is fantastic.

-Kobashi has been using that Lariat to control the match on his comeback so Kawada is attacking like he would Misawa's arm. Kobashi blocks high kick and hits a Lariat, but cant block second high kick to head. Levels playing field.

-Kawada drops into an arm scissors in to a cross-armbreaker, big reaction. This would be a huge coup for Kawada to stave off Kobashi and his onslaught.

-Kawada is kicking him, but you can feel that he has run out of ideas and steam. Kobashi dives at him with a lariat, but it is bad arm and he is left writhing in pain. Kawada has hope, but not much left in the way of offense. He has his high kicks, but he needs Kobashi to make a mistake. KOBASHI LARIAT AGAIN!

-Kawada cant even stand as Kobashi holds him up by the hair and BURNING LARIAT~! Count to three!

 

This match reminds me of the Federer vs Roddick Wimbledon final that went on forever with Roddick in the Kawada role and Federer in the Kobashi role. Roddick only had his serve and he was just delaying the inevitable. He would win his serve, but he was so tired, he was barley putting a dent into Fed's service games. Federer is the superior all around player and eventually won. Kawada was delaying the inevitable. By 1995, Baba had positioned Kobashi as Kawada's equal with the one hour draw and subsequently in 1996. Misawa was the best, but these two were 2a and 2b. Here Kobashi finally begins to turn the tide. Kawada was just outgunned in this match. He had his chances and opened up a big lead, but he didn't have the firepower to put away the best offensive wrestler in history. You could go as far as to say that Kawada was so hyped for the Dome match with Misawa where he came out guns blazing that he was going to have a let down and the fact he was facing Kobashi means he couldn't afford that. Kobashi was amazing in this match from selling to offense. This did not feel quite up there with the tippy top best of All Japan, but definitely an awesome match. ****1/2



#10 PeteF3

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 10:36 AM

So here's your MOTY to this point and I don't know what else to add. This was like a standout episode of Columbo--I knew Kobashi was winning the belts here, but you got sucked into just *how* they were going to get there. Kobashi weathers a ton and has to sort of buy time with big bombs, but Kawada keeps himself strong because he seems to have or at least figure out over time, an answer for everything Kobashi tries. Kawada wrestles smart, and Kobashi wrestles with heart--the more I think about it, the less I care that they worked a Kawada knee injury in the first 10 minutes or so and then sort of forgot about it, because if anything it would detract from that contrast in approaches. Kobashi is rarely ever going to be Mr. Pragmatic, either in real life or in storyline. And speaking of mirror approaches, the unique sort of "stagger away from the opponent to throw them off and then clobber them" spot was used brilliantly by both guys and served as a sort of poetic capper to the match.



#11 TravJ1979

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 11:24 AM

Nothing else to say.  Classic.



#12 Superstar Sleeze

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 12:25 PM

Rewatched this today and have not much to add to my original review, but I liked that Kobashi basically controlled the first ten minutes with his macho tactics (test of strength, strike exchanges), but that the champion ultimately got the best of him with a lariat. For the rest of the match Kawada wrestled like he was Ali, no body shots, everything was directed at Kobashi's head. This felt more American with the very extended heat segment by Kawada on Kobashi. After the powerbombs and back drop driver, you can feel Kawada running out of steam and the Kobashi train ready to pick up. Some really great selling by Kobashi just to plant a seed of doubt. I liked the desperation Kawada at the end trying to kick Kobashi's arm off, running around to escape, throwing wild kicks to head. This is the ultimate "NOT AGAIN" match. Gets the monkey off his back beating Misawa a month prior in the Dome, only to open a big lead against Kobashi here and choke. I was kinda not feeling wrestling when I first watched this (I was forcing myself to watch) that is the only explanation for the low ball rating.  Don't think it is 5 star transcendent, but it is an incredibly gripping, interesting and dramatic story. ****3/4



#13 fxnj

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 07:47 AM

This was actually the match that got me into 90s AJ after some of the pimped 6-mans didn't do much for me (I was stupid). The way this builds is just incredible to watch and even though the matwork has never lit me on fire, I appreciate how uncooperative they make it look and how starting out slow makes what they do later feel even more brutal. I've been meaning to do a long write up explaining how life-changing this match is for me (along with the 20 other 90s AJ matches I'm a huge mark for) but the magic is kind of gone from the many times I've rewatched it.

That moment of making a long write up for this match is today.

 

One of the best matches of all time and one that holds a special place in my heart. This is a match that saved my interest in wrestling, began my first deep dive into 90's AJPW, and which has played a huge role in shaping my tastes as a fan. Back in 2010 I was pretty close to leaving wrestling behind as a hobby between all the news about concussions that was coming out and the quality of wrestling around the world being in a rut. I saw a classics reairing of this match show up on Lynch's mailing list, though, and decided to order it on a whim to get a taste of 90's AJPW and see what all the fuss was about. When the DVD came and I popped it in I sat in awe for the duration of much of the contest as I watched these two warriors lay it into each other in a way that I'd never witnessed before in a wrestling match. The striking and selling on display was on a different planet than anything else I'd seen and the story of Kobashi's underdog victory over a Kawada at the top of his game really stuck with me.
 
I think this is a deceptively simple worked match. The consensus seems to be that it's a supremely well-worked match but one that is kept out of the true upper echelon due to lacking an epic story like you see in the top AJPW matches. I can't blame people for thinking that as the basics are extremely well-done in this match--as mentioned, it might the best worked match from a surface perspective out there--and the moves are kept pretty simple aside from a few big throws in the middle portion of the match. Yet as good as this match is from a surface perspective, I feel that the same depth that separates the truly great AJPW matches is present here if you look for it. The gist of the story is Kawada trying to knockout Kobashi with his kicks only to get worn down by Kobashi's ability to withstand an ungodly amount of punishment. Beyond that, they also play off both Misawa's reign and Kawada's victory the prior month with Kobashi going after Kawada's neck just as many challengers had done to Misawa before and Kawada employing a similar strategy of repeated cut-offs that had gotten him his Tokyo Dome win. As simple as the work might seem, I think it's a very ambitious match combining the high level psychology of peak AJPW with elements from boxing and MMA. 
 
I get why this match isn't as fondly remembered as the best Misawa/Kobashi or Misawa/Kawada. Whereas those matches are seen as happening at the peak of the company, this comes in a down period for the promotion and the decision to have Kawada drop the title on his first defense is one of Baba's most infamous decisions. Even in those conditions, though, Kawada gives a true performance for the ages--maybe the best of his entire career--as if to give a "fuck you" to Baba by showing the incredible matches we missed out on by not giving him a proper ace run at this point. As cool as Kobashi's 1998 run was, there's no question I'd give that up to see this version of Kawada fight Akiyama for the Triple Crown. 
 
You can tell you're in for something special from Kawada just by looking at him in the ring introductions. I think this and the Misawa match at the Dome might have been the only times I've seen him with visible abs. Playing off their prior matches that went the distance, they start things slowly to conserve their energy. The play-by-play commentator mentions something about the ace of the promotion and Baba runs through some potential challenger for whoever wins this. After a test of strength sees Kobashi the victor, they go to the mat and do some cool stuff. Highlights were Kawada getting Kobashi's back and driving his elbow into Kobashi's ribs and Kobashi later escaping into side control to attempt a keylock. It's pretty basic compared to the RINGS stuff from this period, but they make up for that with working in such a great sense of grittiness to it that I love it all the same. Kobashi solidifies his advantage with a headlock that he does an awesome job of wrenching in. It really looks like he's trying to rip Kawada's head off his shoulders. Kawada decides he's had enough and initiates a (great) strike exchange that Kobashi wins with a chop to Kawada's neck. It's hard enough that Kawada has to go outside for a breather. Back in and Kobashi goes back to work on Kawada's neck until Kawada gets some relief by putting everything behind a hard yakuza kick. It's as if Kobashi is saying with the neck work that if you want to be the ace you've got to take a beating like Misawa took when he was the ace. Kobashi manages to get back in control with a knee to Kawada's ribs that Kawada does an awesome sell for. They go back-and-forth for a bit until things break down into a slap exchange that Kobashi wins when a scores a knockdown on Kawada. It's been awesome watching how they've escalated things from the opening matwork. They're now far removed from wanting to conserve their energy and now it's just about seeing who's tougher. Both guys look to be going for the knockout.
 
First big momentum shift comes when Kawada manages to come back with a hard lariat. Kobashi looks rocked and Kawada follows up with some hard knees to the back of Kobashi's head. Kobashi manages to find his way to his feet, though, and we see the beginnings of his rope-a-dope strategy as he positions himself near the ring ropes and uses them to hold himself up in the face of an onslaught of kicks to the head from Kawada. Kawada manages to get a knockdown when he lands a kick hard enough to send Kobashi crumpling into the corner. Love Kobashi's selling and how they've been making such great usage of knockdowns so far to give it the feel of a big prizefight. Kobashi gets up again and Kawada does some kicks to Kobashi's good leg, which is interesting. The injured leg is right there as a target and would get attacked next month by Akiyama, but here I guess Kawada really wants to leave no doubt that he deserves to be the ace. Anyway, Kawada quickly goes back to kicking Kobashi's head while Kobashi keeps using the ring corners to hold himself up, and it's awesome with the kicks looking stiff as hell and Kobashi's selling on point. 
 
Kobashi mounts a bit of a comeback when he powers his way into landing a half-nelson suplex despite Kawada's attempts to block it. Kobashi looks like he can barely walk with his bad knee so, perhaps sensing the urgency of his injury, quickly follows up with a powerbomb and tiger suplex. Kobashi's comeback is short lived, though, as Kawada nails him square in the forehead with an enzuigiri to counter an attempted top rope shoulder block. I could see some bemoaning Kobashi not even getting a control segment off all those big moves, but Kawada's selling is so good and he looks like such a badass coming back that I barely care. Kawada goes back to work on Kobashi, landing more brutal kicks and a backdrop driver. Not looking good for Kobashi at this point. Kawada goes for his own powerbomb and they do a great struggle spot. Kawada hits it after softening up Kobashi with some kicks to the head while bending him over, but Kobashi kicks out. A second power bomb after more struggle and another kick out. Really seemed Kawada expected that to be the finish as he went for the same rape looking cover he used in his victories over Misawa. Kawada follows up with a stretch plum and the crowd noticeably dies down as no one expects that to be the finish, and it actually adds to the match to me by making Kawada feel that much more desperate in going for it. Backdrop driver after Kobashi reaches the ropes and stretch plum again, and people still aren't buying it. He keeps at it, though, and a Kobashi chant breaks out. He goes for a pin after Kobashi looks out of it, but Kobashi kicks out. Powerbomb attempt to follow and they do an amazing job of milking the struggle over it. It really feels like this is Kobashi's last chance to avoid losing. Kobashi keeps the hope alive when he finally reverses it, but Kawada stays in control by following up with another head kick before collapsing into the ring ropes. Incredible spot. Kawada is trying the same strategy that worked on Misawa of cutting his opponent off whenever he looks to be gaining momentum, but it might not be working quite as well this time. Kawada stays in control but he does an awesome job of selling his growing exhaustion and there's a feeling that the tide may be turning even as he continues to brutalize Kobashi. 
 
Kawada kicks Kobashi into the corner again and there's a great spot where Kyohei looks to be asking Kobashi how many fingers he's holding up while he looks glassy eyed. Kobashi's selling has been fantastic the whole way through so far. Kawada continues landing some hard kicks as Kobashi sits on the turnbuckle for more rope-a-dope and Kawada's facials are so good. It's as if with every kick he lands he's thinking "Just fucking die already!" When Kobashi grabs Kawada's leg it feels like the biggest moment in the match so far, which is quite the accomplishment given the head drops they've done already. Kobashi hits a dragon screw to Kawada's leg only for Kawada to try to fight through the pain and eat a LARIAT! HOLY SHIT! Kobashi only gets a 1 count but the crowd is going nuts. Awesome touch that Kawada is so intent on proving himself that he denies Kobashi of a 2 count even at this stage. Kobashi hits a few leg drops but seems to aggravate his injured knee. He goes up top anyway for the moonsault, but Kawada rolls out of the way before he can even attempt it. They do a chop exchange and Kobashi wins with a chop to Kawada's neck as a callback to the neck work from earlier. Awesome. Jackknife powerbomb from Kobashi gets 2. He follows up with another powerbomb and finally gets the moonsault, but Kawada kicks out. He slaps some feeling into his bad knee and fires himself up into standing position. In 6/9/95, hitting the moonsault with an injured leg was what took Kobashi out of the match, but he's grown since then. Kawada tries to fight his way back into the match, and they work an amazing sequence with him repeatedly trying to use his kicks to block a 2nd lariat until Kobashi hits it anyway. Kawada manages to muster just enough energy to stand up and fake out Kobashi to hit an enzugiri in another awesome sequence.  They both lay on the mat for a while and there's a great camera shot of Kawada where it looks as if he's wondering "is my ace run really ending before it begins?" Kobashi stands but Kawada catches him in a surprise arm bar in another awesome near fall that has the crowd going crazy. 
 
Probably my favorite moment of the match comes after Kobashi reaches the ropes and stands up. Kawada just unloads on him with some of the stiffest kicks I've ever seen, which is saying something as the match is full of really hard shots from him. It looks like he's putting everything he has into in a last ditch effort to take Kobashi down (but still refusing to hit the injured knee!), but Kobashi steam rolls him with a 3rd lariat using the same arm that Kawada just hurt. Kobashi collapses immediately afterward selling his arm, but Kawada definitely looks the worse for way. They get up and both look to be on chicken legs, but Kobashi is the more alert of the two manages to score a 4th lariat. Kawada kicks out, but he's clearly done. Kobashi signals to the crowd before lifting a Kawada who can't even stand on his own up for a 5th lariat. With that, a new era begins with Kobashi as the undisputed ace of the promotion for the first time.
 
This match has long been a favorite, but going through it as I've just done makes me think this might be the best singles match I've ever seen. Both guys give career performances here in their selling, struggle, and offense, whilst playing their roles to perfection. Some of the best exchanges and fight for control segments I've seen in a match, and it's masterful how organic they make the escalation feel. The storytelling is as compelling as any I've seen with Kawada pulling out everything to prove himself as the ace and Kobashi coming back from an ass whooping of epic proportions to seize victory. Kawada was great in selling his growing desperation as the match progressed and it's so poetic how he lost not long after Kobashi managed to eat the hardest shots he had. Also, I'm a fight fan, so I also loved all the little touches they worked in like the knockdowns, the rope-a-dope, and the fake-outs. No real flaws to speak of with even the excess of this period being worked into the match very tastefully and arguably even adding to the match. I love how after all those big head drops and a moonsault it's something as simple as the trusty lariat that serves as the main difference maker. Such a great match. Easy 5 stars.


#14 Jetlag

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 02:23 AM

The opening matwork may have been filler, but I still prefer these guys working amateur exchanges and fighting for armlocks over the usual sprint opening. This was, once again, a long, solid match, which I easily enjoyed more than any long AJPW match up to this point. The fighting spirit/no selling shit was also less prevalent. Enjoyed how Kobashi controlled early on with nasty neck cranks etc only for Kawada to start slowly getting the better and using him as a kicking bag. Lots of violent neck chops and boots to the face ensue. They dish out some insane punishment, to the point where the finishing run came across as chaotic messy. Once again I thought the match should've ended like 5-10 minutes earlier, but there was nothing egregious about it. Both guys had some crazy selling. Kawada doing his stumbling around then hit a kick to the face is like the only guy who can do that. So yeah, long, excellently worked, crazy crazy match. I don't mind there being not an epic story, but I thought the match inevitably lacked urgency as opposed to Hashimoto/Fujinami.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: AJPW, Super Power Series, June 12, 1998, Budokan Hall, Toshiaki Kawada, Kenta Kobashi, Title Changes

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