Meltzer’s Classics: Jumbo Tsuruta, Akira Taue, and Masanobu Fuchi vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi and Toshiaki Kawada, 20/4/91

We’ve seen this match before, haven’t we? Yes, a few months after this six-man combo got a five-star rating they went out and did it again. That first one stood the test of the time. Will the second?

Although it quickly becomes clear that it isn’t really the second match. It’s a continuation of the first with all the same feuds still very much evident. In the early-goings, it’s Akira Taue and Toshiaki Kawada taking all the attention. After Taue winds Kawada up by slapping and dropkicking him while he’s stood on the apron, Kawada finally snaps and comes charging into the ring. He proceeds to kick the shit out of Taue’s back and get down to some old-fashioned brawling. The rest of the competitors almost don’t know what to do, awkwardly milling around as these two men try and cause as much pain as possible. It takes Kawada’s team dragging him away to break up the fight.

Poor Kawada probably regretted his indiscretions as Jumbo’s lads spend a lot of time punishing him for it. He got dropped on his head, thrown into barriers and generally abused until he was able to finally tag out to Kobashi.  From that moment on, Misawa and Kenta get to show off a bit of their offence. You can instantly see why the Japanese crowd is drawn to them. They inject an element of high risk to proceedings that Tsuruta and co just don’t provide. In a fantastic spot, Misawa at one point literally throws Kobashi at Taue on the outside. It’s made all the better for how reckless it looks. Their sections of control see the crowd roar with approval as they do all they can to try and pick up the win.

Tsuruta, Fuchi and Taue aren’t ready to hang up their boots quite yet, though. They take a beating, but they’ve got that old man toughness (plus they weren’t actually that much older than their opponents) and keep coming back for more. When they finally turn the tide, they don’t need fancy shit either. Fuchi begins working over Kenta’s leg, and they go from there. Jumbo cutting off one comeback by stamping on it ruthlessly. They even employ a steel chair to help them out, much to the distress of the crowd.

This leg punishment goes on for a long time (perhaps too long), and poor Kobashi takes a bit of a pounding. Fuchi, in particular, seems to take great pleasure in punishing the younger man. While the crowd stays hot throughout, I would have probably cut it a bit shorter as the clock creeps towards the fifty-minute mark. That’s a minor quibble, though, and it’s all in aid of the moment where he finally escapes and gets to tag out, unleashing his now fresh partners.

Which brings us to the closing stretch, where chaos reigns. There are Powerbombs, Tiger Bombs, DDTs, Moonsaults and all the good shit going on. It’s just a case of who can survive the punishment and hit the biggest move first. The answer is Misawa. A scramble leaves him and Taue alone in the ring and one Tiger Suplex later the future legend gets the win.

A fantastic match and a worthy sequel to the one we discussed a few months ago. They interweave multiple storylines through it (Misawa vs Tsuruta, Kawada and Taue attempting to murder each other and Fuchi’s torturing of Kobashi) and yet never once lose sight of delivering entertaining wrestling. If anything, it’s better than the first one, and you can see why all six of these men achieved what they did.

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