If you’re getting sick of seeing the same old same old, where the top guy always wins and nobody cares at all about the tag titles, then I’ve got the cure for you. What else? All Japan before the NOAH split! Misawa jobs not once, but twice! The World Tag Titles also see extensive action!

Mitsuharu Misawa . . . has a pretty bad tour, losing all of his titles and getting beaten up a lot.

Yoshinari Ogawa . . . winds up looking like a million bucks, compared to his tag team partner.

Kenta Kobashi . . . destroys everyone who dares to try to take the World Tag Title from him.


Watching this match makes me wonder if Misawa has watched this recently, he could certainly use this as a reminder of how he can get monster gaijin, or even the younger generation wrestlers like Morishima, over in NOAH. It’s not a great match by any stretch, but it’s fun to watch Vader basically decimate Misawa at every turn. The match itself isn’t much different than the Vader/Kobashi match from January. It’s Vader beating up Misawa, Misawa beating up Vader, and then Vader beating up Misawa more and winning. What it lacks is the fun filler, like Vader working over the big cut Kobashi had on his eye, and that’s somewhat expected with the crown jewel on the line, but the match as a whole feels more like a video game or some sort of exhibition of what they could do.

The one big thing Vader brings here, is that he shows he’s smart enough to beat Misawa. He doesn’t waste time trying to wear down body parts or to play out some elaborate strategy. Vader grabs Misawa and starts to throw him like a lawn dart with German suplexes, and high impact powerbombs. When Misawa starts to fight back, Vader simply takes the punishment, and then waits for Misawa to give him an opening, once the opening comes, he simply turns the heat up a little bit higher with his attacks, like a powerbomb on the floor. Misawa again tries to make a comeback and when Vader gets another opening he turns the heat up full blast. That’s enough to put Misawa down and give him the Triple Crown, and a good bit of revenge for back to back single losses to Misawa (during the Champions Carnival and at the Tokyo Dome).

For his part, Misawa is serviceable. To say he sold his shoulder after the back to back Germans would be to give him too much credit. Misawa was favoring when he landed, but not to any degree that made an impact and it was forgotten soon after and never seen again. His initial run of offense isn’t too bad. Misawa realizes really quick that he’s got to mount some offense and quick, and he unloads on Vader with a series of elbows, and then drops him with a missile dropkick, Vader rolls to the floor and Misawa unloads the elbow suicida. Misawa makes a mistake though and goes for a second one, and Vader boots him in the face, and then drops him with a powerbomb on the floor. Vader throws him back and in continues the onslaught with a big chokeslam, a few Vader Hammers, and a big splash. Misawa again starts to fight back, but this time he goes a little too far and starts to give Vader suplexes, and while they get the Budokan crowd fired up, it’s far from believable that Misawa can pull that off, especially when it looks so obvious that Vader is the one suplexing Vader. After two suplexes and a Tiger driver fail, Misawa goes to the top and leaps right into a powerslam. And Vader decides that’s enough and hits a huge powerbomb complete with folding cover and picks up the win. Despite some shortcomings in the ring, the result itself is impressive enough, Vader pinned Misawa for the Triple Crown, cleanly, in twelve minutes.

It’s apparently been a busy tour for Kobashi and Akiyama. First a clipped trios match of them and Shiga vs. Omori/Takayama/Fuchi, which was quite fun and hate filled, ending with Takayama pinning Shiga. Then they team with Kanemaru against Misawa/Ogawa/Marufuji, and Kanemaru’s bleach blonde head and lack of gear make him look like he belongs on some indy death match card. This was also fun, but less hate filled, and they win again, when Kanemaru pins Marufuji.


For a time when All Japan was allegedly on the decline quality wise, this sure is some quality wrestling going on here. The first half is sprinkled with a bunch of fun stuff, like Ogawa and Akiyama starting out with some chain wrestling, until Ogawa sucker punches Akiyama and starts to put the boots to him. A few minutes later they essentially hit reset and start the chain wrestling again, only for Ogawa to trip Jun and take him down. Both sides also get in their fair share of cheap shots, starting with an elbow from Misawa to the back of Akiyama’s head, and then Akiyama getting some payback when Misawa went for his usual fake out dive, and knocking him off the apron. There isn’t any shortage of intensity and flat out hate to be found here, especially when it involves Misawa and Kobashi.

The real oddball thing about this match is Misawa. Out of the four wrestlers, he’s the one who clearly looks like the weak link. It’s not due to his laziness, which we’d see in the following decade, but simply due to the booking and how the match itself played out. This would be the first time that Kobashi pinned Misawa for a title, and the next wouldn’t be for another three years. Akiyama was also a few months away from his first win over Misawa. So it makes sense to a certain degree that Misawa would be in trouble quite often, but who’d have ever thought Ogawa would be bailing him out and actually doing most of the work that keeps his team ahead? Look no further than the Misawa/Kobashi Irish whip spot to see that. Misawa had successfully sent Kobashi into the guardrails twice and was going for the hat trick, but Kobashi countered, but Ogawa saved the day with ‘a little dose do’ (as Gorilla Monsoon would have said) and Misawa hits an elbow. Ogawa’s performance is the real eye-opener here, aside from saving Misawa left and right, he adds quite a few fun heelish touches, the aforementioned cheap shots to Akiyama, a cheap shot at Kobashi on the apron, getting control of Kobashi via eye poke, and my personal favorite, tagging after Misawa wore down Akiyama with a face lock, and then locking in his own facelock. The only time the fans thought that The Untouchables really had a chance was when Ogawa was hitting Akiyama with everything he had in attempt to put him away, Misawa gets a somewhat similar run against Kobashi, but it wasn’t as long, and it lacked the heat and crowd excitement.

The home stretch here is more or less what you’d expect out of Misawa vs. Kobashi, and 1999 AJPW in general, an exhibition of big moves, and the devaluing of them in the process. It makes sense in a way, as Kobashi needed to show that he wouldn’t be put down this time, and that he’d need to dig down as much as possible to put Misawa away. But watching them just basically toss out the spots, made it difficult to really care. The crowd didn’t even wake up until Kobashi hit the Burning Lariat, and it was the Burning Hammer that the trick. Between this and the Vader match, it wasn’t a very good time to be Misawa, which also played a factor in the somewhat odd booking of him here. Whatever the case, this is still a very fun match and proof that even this close to the split, awesome wrestling was still alive in All Japan. ***3/4

Team No Fear wins another trios match over Burning, and this time they punk them out afterwards and leave them laying, now it’s on!


As fun as this is, it doesn’t quite hit the same level as the previous tag titles match, but it’s fun in it’s own unique way. The biggest reason this isn’t as good is because Takayama and Omori aren’t interesting at all with their offense. Takayama was a couple of years away from hitting his stride, and I’m not sure if Omori ever hit his. But aside from their double teams, and their signature moves, they’re just dull and plodding on offense. Luckily for No Fear, they’d managed to get their opponents quite miffed at them leading up to this, with the result being a pretty hate-filled match, that turns into a brawl on more than one occasion, and while they’re not the most exciting wrestlers, they’re pretty passable as brawlers.

Once again, this is all about the champions. They’re tired of No Fear getting the upper hand and they do everything they can to put a stop to it. In one of the cooler moments of the match, Kobashi backs Takayama into the corner and starts to fire off chops left and right, the referee tries to break up and Kobashi just tosses him aside, Akiyama tries to break it up and Kobashi tosses *him* aside too! It’s Omori who eventually gets Kobashi out of his trance, with a sneak attack, but that just leads to a brawl between him and Akiyama and the fight is back on. Even though they’re much higher in rank, and nobody thinks No Fear can win, they do try to make it seem possible. Akiyama gets planted with the Axe Bomber and spends plenty of time putting it over, and Takayama hits his running knee to the gut and Kobashi does a great sell job. The last run sees Kobashi morph into a complete 180 of the last match, he takes Takayama’s best kick and dares him to keep coming. He plasters him with a lariat, and then picks him back up, and hits an even bigger one to put him down for good. It was a bit annoying to see him blow off the head kick, but it did sort of make sense. No Fear’s lack of interesting stuff held it back a bit, but between the hate filled brawling and the fun finishing stretch, it’s still good stuff. ***1/4

The World Tag Titles aren’t the only titles seeing action. The tour also featured a tournament to crown new All Asia Tag Team Champions, after Misawa and Ogawa vacated them upon winning the World Tag Titles. All we get is some clips of the final, Tamon Honda and Masao Inoue beating Maunakea Mossman (Taiyo Kea) and Johnny Smith.

Conclusion: For the promotion and the decade, it’s a bit of a let down, all things considered. But there’s still lots of fun to be seen here, especially for Kobashi fans, definite recommendation for the October Giant Series 1999 commercial tape.