WWWA Sekai Tag Senshuken Jiai:
A workrate extravaganza that was exceptional for what it was. I certainly don’t like the direction this trilogy moved in, but even though they never topped the 11/26/92 match, it’s hard to argue with the quality of the successors. The situation reminds me a bit of the Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi series where the 1/20/97 match could not have been laid out better, so they didn’t even try, following it up with the 10/21/97 match that was hardly genius but an amazing spotfest. The difficulty with such a move is that you have to praise them because they’ve proven they can have one for the ages in two different styles, but you have to complain because it’s devolution and the long term risk exceeds the short term reward. That said, unlike Misawa & Kobashi who increasingly became simpletons, Kansai & Ozaki’s smartest matches were in the future. The style on display here - Toyota’s workrate style - would overtake AJW, but not for another two years, and not as a result of this particular match.
I always considered this the least great of the trilogy, but I’m no longer sure that’s the case. Watching them in succession, the second match seems like the transition match. There were essentially no submissions here and the match was not as stiff as either of the previous ones, but this at least made for a stylistically consistent match. Even though Toyota’s style it’s not the superior style, having everyone committed to it made it better than the previous match where whomever was on offense tried to dictate the style.
The final match had two big advantages. First, everyone but perhaps Yamada was a better wrestler at this point. Toyota was not only in top form, but her standing had improved to the point she was a legitimate threat to Kansai, not someone who seemed to only be able to get going by exploiting a lone advantage. Secondly, they had some good history to play off.
Right off the bat they playing off the 4/11/93 match. Kansai tried to pin Yamada in her splash mountain as soon as the bell rang. Over the long haul a one fall match is better because there’s no margin for error, but for a spot like this it’s worse because you know they aren’t going to charge big bucks to deliver a Don King ripoff.
They used some good logic. Toyota tried to keep knocking Kansai down with flying moves again, but this was early in the first fall. Kansai was fresher this time, so she got back to her feet quicker. Soon, she sidestepped a missile kick and soccer kicked Toyota.
Some of the original stuff was highly impressive. I loved the sequence where Yamada ducked Kansai’s high kick, somersaulted over her suimengiri, then kept kicking Kansai while she was trying to get up. The only problem was, Yamada willingly knocked Kansai to the floor, which allowed her to recover and make a comeback as soon as she reentered.
A particularly great sequence centered upon the splash mountain. Toyota slipped out, but Kansai kicked her and backdropped her. Kansai gave the sign again, so Ozaki ran and attacked Yamada in the corner, but Yamada got around her and broke it up with a kick. Soon after, Kansai gave the sign again and Ozaki knocked her to the floor, but Ozaki had to get back to her corner so Yamada was able to reenter in time to make the save. I’m not sure what Ozaki was supposed to be thinking here – was she cocky or was this just the best way they could think of to keep the match going – because she could have reentered and got in Yamada’s way.
Toyota, who was into her major punishment taking stage, was seriously abused here. She countered enough not to get overwhelmed, and like Ozaki in the previous match the end was the big thing for her, though Manami got enough impressive offense in to standout.
All the previous finishers were attempted. When Kansai & Ozaki tried the splash mountain diving neckbreaker drop 4/11/93 finisher, Toyota kicked Ozaki to the floor and Yamada made the hot tag. Yamada & Toyota attempted to match them, with Yamada delivering an elevated diving brain kick, but Ozaki saved.
Once again, there were some tremendous near falls and saves. I particularly liked Ozaki saving Kansai from the reverse Gori special bomb that beat her on 11/26/92. Ozaki didn’t have time to waste any motion, so she took the most direct route to Yamada. This route happened to be leaping over her stooped partners back and taking Yamada out with something of an inverted Thesz press.
Running 15 minutes less than the 11/26/92 match was the biggest downside. If you concede to the spot style, there are a few of Yamada’s suplexes and a couple of questionable decisions you could complain about, but those are nitpicks. This bizarre new finisher Toyota used might be enough for a deduction. It was like an awkward impactless sidewalk slam except Ozaki’s arms were trapped behind her own back and Toyota crunched down on Ozaki instead of releasing her. It was not exactly convincing, but Ozaki was already out of it so the way Toyota was able to tie wrap her body up was the important part, that and Kansai not being able to save. Major spot craziness, but not a dumb match because of the ways they incorporated the history. 25:33. *****