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Thread: Ed's Kings Road Journey

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    All Japan Pro Wrestling Ed's Kings Road Journey



    As some will know from my postings in the VIP area and my twitter feed, I've starting watching some 90s All Japan after modern Japan just isn't doing anything for me. I've really been enjoying it and it's my favourite thing to talk about right now, so I figured it would be more entertaining and interactive to actually have a thread about it. I don't want to write reviews for my old review thread because it takes too long and it allows me to watch matches quicker and not take notes, but this allows me to share what I've been watching, post some musings and talk about this promotion with others who know more about it than me. I'm trying to stick to somewhat of a chronological, but so far I have been going back on forth across a few years.

    ---

    What I've watched in the past few days:

    Jumbo/Misawa's big two matches in 1990, and then their title match in April 1991. I had previous watched and loved the 90s matches, but felt like it made sense to take an hour to go back and revisit the set up for both the 91 match and everything that would follow in Misawa's career. I think all 3 matches are excellent, the June 90 one holds strong as my MOTY for 1990, and seeing the 91 match for the first time, although it has much tougher opposition within the company I think it's up there too as one of the best matches of that year. I've had trouble in the past connecting with the famous Misawa/Kobashi matches the way other fans do, but I have no such issues with Jumbo/Misawa to the point where I feel he's Misawa's best opponent. Will be interesting to see if that changes over time to Kawada or Kobashi as I progress through this. I fucking love Jumbo on offence, in fact I'm so taken with Jumbo at the moment part of me wants to go back in time, not forward, and just check out his Tenryu matches again.

    The greatest six man ever? - Steve believes it is from 91 with Super Generation Army Vs Tsuruta Gun and I can't say he's all that wrong because it was a great six man that held my attention pretty much for 50 minutes. Taue and Kawada being the highlights, leading to...

    The Taue/Kawada 91 matches - FUCK YES. I've loved these, especially the January one where they're going at it outside the ring for a while, but I just got done watching the April match with Taue bleeding again and winning with a countout and thought that was great too. I think it's such a nice compliment to the Jumbo/Misawa matches that are in the main event spot and go 25-30 minutes, to have these younger guys going all out but in half the time. Taue is someone that already in this project that I'm having more of an affinity for and has gone up in my estimation. Previously I just thought of him as that awkward looking guy that's the weakest part of the famous four pillars tags, but now I'm really enjoying his younger days as a wrestler and think he brings a lot to the table

    Williams Vs Kobashi 93
    - This is what started off the interest in watching 90s All Japan. I was a bit bored for a podcast to listen to and put on WH's Park's podcast recapping AJPW in the 90s and they spoke about this match with such passion that I had to check it out. Maybe went a bit over the top with the finish, but I loved this.

    I'm in two minds on where to go next, I may watch some Tenryu/Jumbo while I'm on a Jumbo kick, or continue working on my 1991 list that Steve has sent me.
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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    I was coming on here today to ask about a jumping on point for 90’s All Japan, lo and behold this thread appears! I’ve been wanting to take a deep dive for a while now, I’ve seen a few matches in isolation but I’d like to take a chronological trip to thread the whole thing together, I think that would be the most rewarding way to watch it. Misawa/Jumbo seems like the obvious starting point, but is there any merit in starting earlier than this?

    I’ll be watching most of these matches for the first time, looking forward to keeping up with this thread!

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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    Glad to see you're enjoying.

    It's really old hat and tired to talk about great 90s All Japan is, because people have been doing it for the past 20 years or so, but it deserves it's rep as the greatest period in pro wrestling history. It's not just the elite workers there, but the long term stories told over years - Misawa surpassing Jumbo as the ace of the promotion, Kawada and Taue going from blood rivals to partners rivalling Misawa, Kobashi's trial of fire against the numerous gaijin, etc. I may join and rewatch some of this stuff as it's been years since I last did. As I said before, I just warn you that you won't have the stomach to sit through the current Japan scene when you see what it once was. Imagine watching Omega vs Okada after this and thinking that was the pinnacle of Japanese wrestling, yeesh.


    And Gilo - 1990 is a good starting point. You can go backwards into the 80s and what you have is the tremendous Choshu vs Jumbo/Tenryu and Jumbo vs Tenryu fueds, and the style evolved through the decade from the more 'old school' NWA style into the faster, more impact and strike-heavy style that was there in the 90s. The famous Jumbo vs Tenryu match from 6/5/89 is widely seen as the tipping point which galvanised the style of the 80s, and put into a longer, more epic title match with an actual finish, which then lead the way into what the 90s was. But in terms of the long-term storytelling, you can start with 1990 and that's when the Jumbo vs Misawa story kicks off.
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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    It's a bit of a cliché but while Taue is the 4th best of the Four Pillars, he is still someone who'd easily get into a 'Top 30 Wrestler Of All Time' List.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilo View Post
    I was coming on here today to ask about a jumping on point for 90’s All Japan, lo and behold this thread appears! I’ve been wanting to take a deep dive for a while now, I’ve seen a few matches in isolation but I’d like to take a chronological trip to thread the whole thing together, I think that would be the most rewarding way to watch it. Misawa/Jumbo seems like the obvious starting point, but is there any merit in starting earlier than this?

    I’ll be watching most of these matches for the first time, looking forward to keeping up with this thread!
    As someone who is currently chronologically watching 90s All Japan, I would recommend it. It has definitely helped in differentiating some of the matches. I always had trouble telling one Misawa vs Kawada match from another but watching it in a contextual timeline helps make certain spots and moments stand out a lot more.

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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    Thanks for the pointers gents. The 90’s is what I want to focus on primarily so I won’t delve too deep into the 80’s. Might start with Jumbo/Tenryu from ‘89 and go from there.

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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    90s all japan is also still my favorite stuff, I watched nearly the tail end when it was randomly on UPN when I was a kid, but it was Steve that got me really into it 12 or 13 years ago.

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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    What I watched tonight:

    Jumbo Vs Hansen January '91 - This was a triple crown title change back to Jumbo. This wasn't a match Steve recommended, but I wanted to check out the triple crown title matches even if they aren't the best. This might not be as spectacular as Jumbo Vs Misawa, but I really enjoyed the change of pace to see Jumbo in there with someone who was a match for his size, strength and experience level. It feels like one of the last main events of it's kind where Jumbo faces a gaijin and it's not a long match filled with excess as we move ever closer to it all being about the next generation. Smartly worked, really good big men match with some gritty moments, the only criticism I had was that the ending felt flat and a bit abrupt.

    Jumbo Vs Kobashi May '91 - JIP for the last 10 minutes of the match. From the looks of things, it was probably a great match where Jumbo throughout gave Kobashi enough shine to carry on getting over with these crowds. A blast to watch, and hopefully the full version of their 92 match is right up my street.

    Misawa Vs Terry Gordy June '91 - GREAT match, it must be the best Gordy singles match I've seen. The blood probably helps, but this was a fun heavyweight bomb throwing match. I'm not sure this facelock from Misawa is really doing it for me, I know it gives him another weapon and dynamic to his matches but I find it slows the matches down too much and isn't too believable.

    Jumbo Vs Williams July '91 - Another triple crown match, and eh it's the least impressive match I've seen so far since I've been watching early 90s AJPW. This didn't have the magic of William's performance against Kobashi from 93 for example.
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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    Jumbo vs Hansen is pretty good, not their best match, but it's still quality.

    Misawa vs Gordy is great, definitely Gordy's best singles match in Japan, maybe his best singles match period. You don't hear as much talk about either Misawa vs gaiin or Gordy as a top American in Japan, but it rules.

    I think that may have been my first reaction to Misawa's facelock, after seeing all the bombs, head drops and stiff strikes, finishing a match with a simple facelock feels a bit jarring. But his execution of it was usually pretty tight and they knew how to milk drama out of it like any good submission finisher, and as you say it's about building an arsenal of viable finishers, which is a staple of the King's Road style. When you have 4-5 moves that can believably end a match, but are also believable to survive, there's a tonne you can (and they did) do with that for building epic finishing runs.
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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    Quote Originally Posted by King Steventon View Post
    Jumbo vs Hansen is pretty good, not their best match, but it's still quality.
    Which one is their best one?

    I think that may have been my first reaction to Misawa's facelock, after seeing all the bombs, head drops and stiff strikes, finishing a match with a simple facelock feels a bit jarring. But his execution of it was usually pretty tight and they knew how to milk drama out of it like any good submission finisher, and as you say it's about building an arsenal of viable finishers, which is a staple of the King's Road style. When you have 4-5 moves that can believably end a match, but are also believable to survive, there's a tonne you can (and they did) do with that for building epic finishing runs.
    I watched the tag match the other day where Misawa submits Jumbo with the facelock which was supposedly the first time Jumbo had tapped out in the company which felt a big moment. Maybe it'll grow on me:

    Tonight's viewing:

    Misawa Vs Kobashi CC 1991 - This was a handheld match, and a really good one at that. Short and snappy 15 minute match, started off by the numbers but then Kobashi hits a running DDT and they go off from there. Two Tiger Drivers to win it seems excessive, but maybe that's setting the scene for what's to come with these two

    Misawa/Kawada/Kikuchi Vs Jumbo/Fuchi/Taue Oct 91 - What the fuck did Fuchi say in his promo because this match exploded into a wild start after his mic time. Felt like the old guard (and Taue) had had enough of these young guns trying to take their spot and so there was a lot of aggression in this one. I loved the story of Misawa's nose injury, he sold it amazingly well and then Jumbo booping on the nose got a huge reaction to keep the spark in their year plus rivalry - nose selling is something we don't see a lot of these days. As the match wears on it's all about Kawada being built up ahead of his Triple Crown shot against Jumbo.

    Jumbo Vs Kawada Oct 91 - I'm not just on some biased Jumbo high here am I, Jumbo was excellent in this match right? If you're gonna have a match with a bunch of headlocks and grounding strategies, doesn't half help to add some good facial selling and Jumbo's facials are tremendous I'm quickly realising. Jumbo is very giving in how much of the match he gives to Kawada even if Kawada doesn't have many moments where it looks like he can win, he never quite lands a killer blow. I'd have this a step below the Jumbo/Misawa matches because naturally there were more nearfalls and a sense of Jumbo really can get beat in that match, but I have it above the Hansen and Williams title matches in Jumbo's 1991 run. Wouldn't mind more of this in my modern wrestling though, you don't always have to go all out with 30 minute matches and excessive finisher countouts to put on a captivating title match; sometimes playing off a hierarchy on the roster and experience vs youth can be a captivating story all the same.
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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    Any thread praising Jumbo Tsuruta this much can't not be awesome.

    Keep in mind this guy was having some of the better matches in the world at the time in 1975 and good God he was still the best in the world in the early 90s. In every 6 man tag he was the straw that stirred the drink, whether the crowd sided with him or the SGA, he did so many little things in his matches to make them better. I adored every single one of these matches and I agree with you on June '90 with Misawa being MOTY for 1990 & the 6 man being MOTY in 1991 and he had real big drop in 1992...only finishing #2 on my list instead of number 1.

    It is really crazy to think about how much his sickness impacted things. In some ways it allowed Misawa to break free and all but he was always missing that signature win over Jumbo, and if he had survived on and taken on a Tanahashi-esque role in AJPW as a vet in the late 90s. He also would have gotten the spot Misawa got as the chairman after Baba died and he would have had a much better repoire with Mrs. Baba (and he probably would have made Misawa put over Akiyama sooner when he should have) and that means there's probably no split to NOAH, which changes everything.

    Seeing younger versions of Kawada and Kobashi is also a lot of fun during that time.

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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    Yeah Jumbo is an all-time great. Heck, when I got into puro like 15 years ago he was largely considered to be the best ever. I think that consensus has shifted slightly since then, but 90s Jumbo is universally regarded as an elite worker. This is part of the madness of all these new puro fans talking about Okada's supposed GOAT resume. Like, really? It's like someone calling Kenny Omega an all-timer when they've never seen a Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat match.

    In answer to you question on Jumbo vs Hansen - considering how often they worked each other they didn't actually have that many great singles matches. Plenty of tags, but as far as singles go they had a pair in '86 that are great, with the second of the 2 being the Hansen vs Jumbo match you really want.

    Also glad to see you are recognising the brilliance of Masa Fuchi. An all time great shit-weasel and torturer.

    Wouldn't mind more of this in my modern wrestling though, you don't always have to go all out with 30 minute matches and excessive finisher countouts to put on a captivating title match; sometimes playing off a hierarchy on the roster and experience vs youth can be a captivating story all the same.

    This x1000. These guys weren't going long because they were trying to put on an epic match for star ratings, they went that length because it was appropriate to the style and story they were working, and the whole match is quality rather than just killing time until the big end run. That is what a lot of these guys mastered, and no one in Japan has gotten or been able to do for years.
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    Re: Ed's Kings Road Journey

    Quote Originally Posted by Zero View Post
    Any thread praising Jumbo Tsuruta this much can't not be awesome.

    Keep in mind this guy was having some of the better matches in the world at the time in 1975 and good God he was still the best in the world in the early 90s. In every 6 man tag he was the straw that stirred the drink, whether the crowd sided with him or the SGA, he did so many little things in his matches to make them better. I adored every single one of these matches and I agree with you on June '90 with Misawa being MOTY for 1990 & the 6 man being MOTY in 1991 and he had real big drop in 1992...only finishing #2 on my list instead of number 1.

    It is really crazy to think about how much his sickness impacted things. In some ways it allowed Misawa to break free and all but he was always missing that signature win over Jumbo, and if he had survived on and taken on a Tanahashi-esque role in AJPW as a vet in the late 90s. He also would have gotten the spot Misawa got as the chairman after Baba died and he would have had a much better repoire with Mrs. Baba (and he probably would have made Misawa put over Akiyama sooner when he should have) and that means there's probably no split to NOAH, which changes everything.

    Seeing younger versions of Kawada and Kobashi is also a lot of fun during that time.
    Good to know I've got another year of Jumbo being great before illness catches up to him. I do intend for GWE to check out some of his 70s and 80s work, everything I've seen this week makes him seem like one of the best wrestlers in the world.

    I'd never considered the butterfly effect of him being healthy into the late 90s and how that could of prevented the split. Interesting stuff!

    Quote Originally Posted by King Steventon View Post
    Yeah Jumbo is an all-time great. Heck, when I got into puro like 15 years ago he was largely considered to be the best ever. I think that consensus has shifted slightly since then, but 90s Jumbo is universally regarded as an elite worker. This is part of the madness of all these new puro fans talking about Okada's supposed GOAT resume. Like, really? It's like someone calling Kenny Omega an all-timer when they've never seen a Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat match.

    In answer to you question on Jumbo vs Hansen - considering how often they worked each other they didn't actually have that many great singles matches. Plenty of tags, but as far as singles go they had a pair in '86 that are great, with the second of the 2 being the Hansen vs Jumbo match you really want.

    Also glad to see you are recognising the brilliance of Masa Fuchi. An all time great shit-weasel and torturer.

    This x1000. These guys weren't going long because they were trying to put on an epic match for star ratings, they went that length because it was appropriate to the style and story they were working, and the whole match is quality rather than just killing time until the big end run. That is what a lot of these guys mastered, and no one in Japan has gotten or been able to do for years. [/COLOR]
    What this project has already shone light on is how awesome the matches in-between big singles matches can be, whereas I cannot recommend any tag team/six man tag match of Okada's from the last 8 years despite more than half his matches in a year being tags.

    I'll be sure to check out that 86 match.

    With modern day matches, I feel like there's times where they're wrestling to a checklist of 'what makes a 5 star match' and it becomes all too predictable and formulaic, whereas these matches always keep their competitive, sports like feel edge and the matches feel different all the time and you can't be sure when then finish is coming.

    ---

    Recent matches:

    Misawa and Kawada Vs Jumbo and Taue Tag League - This was great, and one of the best examples of working a draw but not telegraph it's coming because I was shocked when the bell rang that we were at 30 minutes already, this was breezy. Moving on from an October six man where Misawa has a possible broken nose, Misawa in November comes into this with a bruised eye and that because a focus of Jumbo and Taue's attacks. Loving these body part stories that aren't just working over an arm or leg. Jumbo fantastic again.

    Misawa and Kawada Vs Gordy and Williams Tag League - I thought this was just ok, I can't say the pairing of Gordy and Williams did a lot for me and I only got excited towards the end. I feel like that's a team that suits shorter matches.

    Hansen/Kobashi 91 - rewatched this after first seeing it a couple of years ago to still see if it's my MOTY from AJPW with the context of seeing the other great matches of that year. It holds firm, I love this pariing and the finish still pops me as much as it did the first time I saw it.

    That's probably going to be it for my 1991 viewing:

    MATCH OF THE YEAR
    1) Hansen Vs Kobashi
    2) Jumbo Vs Kawada
    3) Misawa, Kawada, Kobashi Vs Jumbo, Fuchi and Taue (April)

    WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
    1) Jumbo (the glue in all the six man tags, especially for his team, and his singles matches deliver)
    2) Kawada (he's in pretty much every six man that bangs, the Taue feud carries my interest in the company in the first few months of the year, is great in his triple crown match, and him and Misawa look like the best team in the tag league)
    3) Misawa (He has the Gordy singles match on top of his great Jumbo match too, and then all the tags)

    But almost everyone I watched was good during this time.