AJPW Triple Crown Volume 1
Stan Hansen vs Jumbo Tsuruta 4/18/89
The first ever Triple Crown match, unifying PWF World/NWA United National/NWA International Heavyweight championships. Couldn't really get two doper dudes at the time to bring this new championship to life. stan goes after Jumbo's arm almost right away, and Jumbo fires back with chop and takes it to the mat. This venue seems cool as shit. Very open and echoy. Yo, wtf at Hansen dropping knee drops to the PELVIS to get out of a head scissors. What a legendary run both of these guys had. Around for so long as such a high level. Pretty crazy. Things get chippy from time to time, but it mostly stays on the mat, with Stan working a chin lock by just straight up lying on Jumbo's head. Then Jumbo starts LIGHTING STAN'S ASS UP with chops. There aren't a ton of spots or strikes, but when they land, they fucking LAND. A huge back drop from Stan changes the focus of the match to Jumbo's neck. A series of elbows to the fucking face bust Jumbo open. I mean, the chair probably helped. Stan has thrown so many elbows that it's noticeably getting swollen. Limp as hell finish, though: Stan misses the lariat, bounces off the ropes and falls, and Jumbo covers him. That's not a great way to ring in the new championship. I get keeping Stan strong, but that was a weak as fuck finish. Stan caused a ruckus after the match.
Stan Hansen vs Terry Gordy 7/7/90
Hansen had decrowned Gordy the previous month, and this is the rematch. They had tagged many times in the past, so they're both quite familiar with each other. Two unruly American HOSSES fighting for Japan's top title. It only takes about 30 seconds before they're chopping the shit out of each other. Stan slaps Terry in the face trying to chop him. Lol. It's pretty weird seeing Gordy get physical dominated, but here we are. Short bursts of blasting the hell out of each other followed by chin locks. Terry starts going after the leg, I guess hoping it will keep Stan grounded and not beating the shit out of him. Except Stan throws headbutts and chops even while in a knee bar. Terry hurts his own arm throwing a forearm, and that becomes Stan's focus. Steve Williams runs down to ringside to tape Gordy's elbow up. Lmao, for no reason at all, Stan kicks one of the young boys in the head. Rude as fuck. Doc trips Gordy so he won't get hit with the lariat, and as Stan was barking at Steve, Gordy hit the lariat himself. Oh shit, new champion! Gordy beats Hansen with the lariat!
Mitsuharu Misawa vs Steve Williams 7/28/94
Misawa is on day 705 of his title reign, which he won back in August of 1992. Doc is so fucking wide. His torso is built like a yam. After some stalemates on the mat, tempers flare and Misawa makes it clear he isn't going to be taking any of Doc's shit. This his is title, his company, his country. Misawa tries to wear Doc down with sleepers and chin locks, while Doc keeps trying to hit the back drop. The bombs start coming, with power slams and elbow suicidas. Misawa keeps getting pissy and throwing short elbows and moving on. Doc's suplexes and slams are legit as heck. Remember that one Clash where he was high as fuck rambling on a promo? Oh werd, ring post Oklahoma stampede. The awesome doctor bomb gets a 2 count and the crowd goes insane thinking it was over. You know, it just dawned on me that rolling elbow also being called the roaring elbow was due to the announcers in Japan not being able to pronounce the Ls. Doc kicks out of the tiger driver AND the frog splash, and Misawa doesn't know what is left to do. BACKDROP DRIVER! OUTTA NOWHERE! What the whole match has been building to. Misawa tries to power through and no sell, only to fall to the floor, apparently KO'd. Doc drags him back into the ring, and after a brief struggle, hits another backdrop. New champion! Steve Williams has ended the 705 day reign of Misawa!
Akira Taue vs Kenta Kobashi 7/24/96
These dudes in the first two minutes of the match throwing dueling stiff headbutts. Early focus of the match is chopping and kicking each other in the head/neck as often as possible. Lmao at Taue's shitty suicide dive. That goofy ass body. I bet Kobashi lifted over double of whatever Taue's maxes were. For reps. After the dive, Kobashi's back/ribs becomes the focus. But man, I swear Kenta's arms and legs are twice as thick as Taue's. There's a tease for an apron chokeslam, and I'm sure the Kenta of 2005 was wishing he had never teased those kind of bumps. These dudes fucking kill each other. Zero chill in just blasting each other full force. There's one boot from Taue that is so fucking stiff. WTF a diving fameasser to the floor. Kobashi won with, of all things, another diving fameasser. New champion.
Vader vs Kenta Kobashi 2/27/00
After Vader left the WWF for being a fat piece of shit, he went to AJPW and basically murdered everyone. And let us not pretend that Vader wasn't a fat piece of shit for years at this point. Not that there's really much wrong with that, but he hadn't been in peak shape since like...1993. Kobashi has his ribs pretty heavily taped coming into this, so you'd expect Vader to pepper in the strikes to that area. Instead, Kobashi immediately takes it to Vader, knocking him out of the ring, all around ringside, and DDTing him on the floor. He then throws Vader all around the ring like it ain't shit. Like he ain't a fat piece of shit. Of course, it doesn't take Vader long to call foul on that shit and lay Kenta out. Fuck yo ribs, you orange cream fuck. I imagine that's what Vader was thinking. Those ribs get THE BUSINESS. Multiple Vader bombs, splashes, suplexes, punches, the railing. All of it is fair game. Kobashi makes his big comeback and Vader ain't playing that shit, either. Until he's forced to. All of Vader's offense looks so brutal. I can't tell if it's Vader just going full bore or if Kobashi is doing an exceptional job bumping and selling them. Kobashi wins with a burning lariat. New champion! I picked this match because this is the last title change before the AJ/NOAH split. Kobashi's reign lasted 110 days and he had 1 defense before the title was vacated on June 16, 2000, when the split happened. That leads us to the next match....
Genichiro Tenryu vs Toshiaki Kawada 10/28/00
There's a lot of different backstories going on with this. First off, Kawada was an underling in Tenryu's Revolution stable in the 80s. Tenryu left AJPW in 1990 as arguably one of the top 2 stars to form his own promotion(s), and didn't make his return to the company until after Giant Baba died and the NOAH/AJ split went down. Kawada was 1 of 2 talents that stayed with AJ in the split (the other being Fuchi), so there's a lot of stuff going on here. Take all that stuff away and you still have two of the stiffest, grumpiest cunts in Japan about to beat the hell out of each other. It takes a few minutes before Kawada starts kicking the shit out of Tenryu and Tenryu is like "u fuckin srs bro". Can't wait until he chops Kawada right in the throat and then drops him directly on his head. Just a whole lot of fuck you stomps and kicks and chops. Exactly what you'd hope for. Tenryu doing leg work and shitty figure fours. Lol. JUST HIT EACH OTHER. Excuse me. I totally enjoy psychology and holds and have no interested in these two just hitting each other as hard as they can. Of course, this match is at its best when they're just hitting each other as hard as they can. Luckily, most of this match is them hitting each other as hard as they can. They even do it out on the floor, and Tenryu's old ass nose gets broken and busted open. I swear 90% of Tenryu's selling is "fuck you, I'm old". After a KO punch, Tenryu hits a northern lights bomb to win the match and his first Triple Crown championship in a decade.
Go Shiozaki vs Joe Doering 1/3/15
Go Shiozaki, former heir apparent to the NOAH empire, jumped to AJPW along with Atsushi Aoki/Jun Akiyama/Kotaro Suzuki/Yoshinobu Kanemaru after Keiji Mutoh led a mass exodus from AJPW to from Wrestle-1. Because wrestling is weird. Joe has a big size advantage. He reminds me a lot of Mike Enos, which probably isn't a good thing. They immediately go into a strike battle that Go wins. Lots of chops. LOTS of chops. A lot of fighting spirit, too. This shit is dull. Well, Joe is dull. His entire match consists of getting hit with 3 of the same move over and over, then doing goofy glassy eyed selling. I thought Go was going to hit a burning hammer, only for him to do a burning...reverse DDT? Go wins with a burning lariat. New champion. The legacy of Kobashi lives on.
Zeus vs Kento Miyahara 2/12/16
The is for the vacant title, as Suwama suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon the month prior. What a physique on Zeus. The power. The muscularity. The vascularity. All I know about Miyahara is he shamelessly took the Boma Ye and has become AJPW's new ace. But he ain't got traps like Zeus. Now, Zeus doesn't seem particularly good, but he's got a very stand out look in Japan. A big turning point in the match is Zeus hitting an atomic ball crusher on the guard rail. It's very easy to see why modern AJPW can't draw dick: Their current main event style is the blandest shit imaginable. It's as generic of "Japanese wrestling" as you can get, and then the finishing stretches is a dude hitting his finisher 3-4 times. Like in this match, where Miyahara hits multiple Boma Yes and German suplexes to win the match and title.