Written by: Mike Campbell
OCTOBER GIANT SERIES 1995
October 25, 1995
Wrestling is always full of surprises, sometimes they’re pleasant surprises like Ricky Steamboat being Eddie Gilbert’s tag team partner. Sometimes they’re quite the opposite, like McMahon turning out to be the higher power.
Mitsuharu Misawa . . . has one of his worst matches with Kenta Kobashi (although they’d get worse in a few years).
Toshiaki Kawada . . . takes what was most likely a lame duck assignment, and makes the most of it.
Gary Albright . . . carries his weight, and isn’t just led by the hand to a great match.
MITSUHARU MISAWA © vs. KENTA KOBASHI (Triple Crown)
Misawa vs Kobashi wasn’t yet the legendary rivalry it would become later on, mostly because they were still partners. They had an excellent match during the 1995 Champions Carnival, and sadly, this match doesn’t follow suit. The match looks to start off okay, with Kobashi starting out with three big moves to weaken the champion and get a big advantage, first the Orange Crush, then a power bomb on the floor, then a Half Nelson suplex. Kobashi doesn’t really follow up though and goes after Misawa’s arm for some reason, maybe trying to do what worked so well for Kawada in the previous match (previous match on the card, not on the tape obviously).
In their tag matches, Misawa always helped Kobashi look good, by stepping aside and letting Kobashi reap the glory, Misawa looks to do the same in this match, by having Kobashi survive his big moves, but Misawa is really doing the Tiger driver and Tiger suplex just for the hell of it, and he’s not building to them at all. The crowd isn’t buying into Kobashi possibly losing, because they know its early and a simple Tiger suplex or Tiger driver won’t work, unless Misawa in facing some scrub like Kentaro Shiga or Masao Inoue. The crowd is pretty dead for this whole match, save for when one of them hits a big bomb. In a weird bit of throwback psychology to 12/3/93, Kobashi does a German suplex and loses the bridge on it, of course Misawa hasn’t really worked his leg over, so the psychology isn’t particularly warranted, unless the idea is that Kobashi is exhausted from dishing out the big moves and now he can’t take advantage and win.
Misawa and Kobashi don’t really do anything with a purpose, its some of the very early signs of the “delayed selling” that would plague AJPW in the late 1990’s, although the “top this” mentality of throwing out huge head drop moves hasn’t reared its ugly head. After a near fall, both of them will just be laying on the mat, for extended periods of time. At one point Kobashi can barely get up and has to grab the referee and the ropes, and then ten seconds later he’s able to absorb three elbows, and block another one, before hitting a charging lariat. Kobashi then falls back down again, he gets up and once again can barely stand, although he still attempts to do a backdrop and can survive Misawa repeatedly elbowing him in the neck, and then falls to the running elbow. Misawa is left on his feet and just like in July with Kawada and in September with Taue, Misawa knows its over and he has it won. Kobashi can’t even pick himself up, so a simple Tiger suplex or Tiger driver is more than adequate, but Misawa plants him with Tiger Driver ‘91, which is supposed to be his be all, end all finisher. It was Misawa and Kobashi, so it did have quite a few awesome moments, but it was still disappointing given the level they were both working at during the year. ***1/4
TOSHIAKI KAWADA vs. GARY ALBRIGHT
Kawada starts off kicking at Albright’s legs, and Albright goes for the German suplex early (to a huge pop in anticipation/fear) but Kawada blocks it, Albright tries again and Kawada takes him down into a leg bar. Seeing this type of action in AJPW is kind of surreal, because AJPW never really made a big emphasis on submissions. Albright connects a belly to belly suplex and attempts a juji-gatame, but Kawada is too near the ropes, so Albright does a vertical suplex and attempts a Fujiwara armbar. Kawada is trained in pro style and he’s taken hundreds of suplexes before, so no way that Albright’s standard UWFi bit will work, it’ll take more than a single vertical suplex to devastate Kawada.
Back on the ground and each man gets on top for a mount and palm strike, one may think Kawada would be at a disadvantage on the ground, since his style isn’t like that, but before he joined AJPW, Kawada was an amateur wrestler and he can take care of himself down there just fine. Kawada goes for some kicks (with huge heat for every one he hits) and Albright hits a belly to belly, and then does a body slam before going for a pin, once again Albright has forgotten that he’s not in UWFi and that Kawada is conditioned to take simple moves like that. Albright finally connects with his German suplex and Kawada does the greatest sell job in history, he’s absolutely motionless at first and then rolls to the floor to buy himself more time. Albright rolls him in, and drags him to the center and Kawada just barely gets his shoulder up, its times like that, that make Kawada the best seller in the business.
Albright puts on a headlock and Kawada hits the Dangerous backdrop, and then puts on the Stretch Plum, only to get thrown off, Albright mounts and puts on a chicken wing armlock, and then attempts the Juji-gatame, only for Kawada to reverse into his own and force Albright to tap out. The crowd pops huge as Kawada not only went toe to toe with the monster from UWFi, but actually beat him at his own game. A must see match here, as Kawada built a whole match around Albright’s UWFi style, to hide his weaknesses as a pro wrestler. ****½
Conclusion: Like the last tape, there is one match that is a must see, and one that you can live without, and like the last tape, the good in Kawada vs Albright outweighs the bad in Misawa vs Kobashi. Recommendation for All Japan October Giant Series 1995.