Welcome back to BRM’s Monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” Review Series. For our first All Japan review, I’ve picked what must be a giant show, because it assures me as such in the title, and we all know that Giant Baba is the most honest promoter in history (other than maybe Sam Muchnick) and thus would never lie about this being a big show. Without further ado, let’s jump on back to 1992 for AJPW October Giant Series 1992: Day 17!
MASAO INOUE & MITSUO MOMOTA vs. SATORU ASAKO & TAKAO OMORI - 4.5/10
Fine undercard stuff.
JOHNNY ACE & JOHNNY SMITH vs. PETE ROBERTS & NIGEL TOWERS - 6.75/10
This was a lot better than I was expecting. We got some fun grappling, a solid babyface-in-peril story, and a good comeback with fine 1992 highs pots for non-junior heavyweights.
HARUKA EIGEN, MASANOBU FUCHI, & MOTOSHI OKUMA vs. MIGHTY INOUE, RUSHER KIMURA, & RYUMA IZUMIDA - 5.5/10
Izumida was crawling around like a caterpillar while getting stomped on, and the heels just let him go to his corner. It was very weird. The match itself was otherwise non-descript.
ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER & GIANT KIMALA vs. DOUG FURNAS & DAN KROFFAT- 6.25/10
This was a lot better than I was expecting it to be. Furnas and Kroffat worked their butts of, Giant Kimala played his role as the guy doing the work so Abby didn’t have to very well, and Abby even took a monkey flip!
AKIRA TAUE & YOSHINARI OGAWA vs. JUN AKIYAMA & TSUYOSHI KIKUCHI - 6.75/10
This was mostly fun and exciting, but flew by very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that the finish felt like it came out of nowhere.
“DR. DEATH” STEVE WILLIAMS & DAN SPIVEY vs. KENTA KOBASHI & THE PATRIOT - 7/10
I got worried when Spivey and Patriot started off with this old territorial “I slowly break your full nelson to show off my power” stuff, but this quickly turned into something pretty great.
ANDRE THE GIANT, JUMBO TSURUTA, & TERRY GORDY vs. GIANT BABA, STAN HANSEN, & DORY FUNK JR. (w/Terry Funk) - 6.5/10
As you’d expect considering the date, Andre could barely move here. He couldn’t even make a bearhug look good. Baba seemed emaciated, but moved around relatively well. Everyone else was fine. Andre and Baba brawled on the floor. Terry Funk attacked Andre, but Baba didn’t seem too happy about this.
AJPW TRIPLE CROWN HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Mitsuharu Misawa(c) vs. Toshiaki Kawada - 9.5/10
They circle each other a bit and they lock up and HOLY F*CK KAWADA JUST DROPPED MISAWA RIGHT ON HIS HEAD.
Then Misawa got up and we had a quick strike exchange and then Kawada just started working the arm. It always surprises me when wrestlers do a huge, devastating spot like this early on in a big match and then don’t tell the story of the guy who got hit with the big move fighting from underneath the whole match. It seems like the natural thing to do, but every time I can remember the scenario coming up (here, Danielson vs. Corino from ROH Buffalo Stampede, and at least one other time also in ROH) they never seem to go that route.
Kawada worked the arm and Misawa worked the back but those often didn’t seem like stories so much as touchpoints in between them doing other stuff, which was mostly strikes to the head to cut the other off, but it was a lot of other stuff, too. It’s weird because this is the sort of match I would usually describe as feeling “disjointed,” but these two did everything which such a sense of urgency that everything they did felt like it flowed naturally from the last thing we had seen, and they never once felt like they weren’t trying to win. This feeling was helped by little things they would do that wouldn’t actually go anywhere in terms of story, but really added to the feeling of realism or to the atmosphere. Little things like Kawada being down and kicking at Misawa. Misawa sold the kick a bit and kept up on his offense and if the kick hadn’t happened it wouldn’t have effected the match in any way structurally (by which I mean it didn’t lead to a transition and Misawa’s knee being worked on was never a factor), but it a tremendous job of keeping up the intensity and making things feel less staged.
Kawada’s foot made contact with the ropes during the final pinfall. I don’t know if that was a mistake or if it was intended to set-up for a rematch, but it seemed like something worth nothing.
One more thing I have to say here: There was a spot early on Misawa was down and Kawada was standing above him and he gave him one short, hard kick to the back, and a second one, and then Misawa sprang up and turned to face Kawada and threw his hand up in a defensive position as quickly as possible. Kawada was being a bit of a dick but was still doing something effective, and Misawa got all fired up with an adrenaline rush and got back into a position where he could effectively fight back. This was SOOOOOO much better than the bullsh*t we get in every New Japan match where a wrestler will have his opponent down and instead of doing something effective, they do these stupid little taunting kicks or paintbrushes and essentially let the other guy get back up. That crap feels like people trying to creative a dramatic situation. This felt REAL and thus actually was dramatic, with no forcing necessary.
This was a pretty good show from All Japan. The undercard was less tedious than I expected, and the main event was tremendous. This was the first full All Japan show that I’ve seen from before the NOAH split, and while I have seen a lot of individual matches from the mid-90s, this was one of my first forays into anything before 1993 (I’ve seen the Jumbo/Misawa match, and some of the Jumbo/Tenryu stuff from 89, but that’s about it), and based off of this show , it will probably be an era that I seek out more stuff from. Next month on BRM’s Monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” Review Series, we return to our original purpose: BRM watches one of the many DVDs he paid money for almost a decade ago at this point but still hasn’t gotten around to watching.<