View Full Version : Five years without the Emerald King

June 13th, 2014, 9:31 AM

Mitsuharu Misawa passed five years ago today. Some random/disconnected thoughts.

- At first, he didn't grab me. Few of my favourites do. A friend put his bootleg Best of Stan Hansen DVD on and for the first few minutes of his match with The Lariat it seemed pretty standard fare. Then he dived off the apron to smoosh his opponent up against the railings. A few minutes later he Tiger Suplexed him out of his boots and onto his sweat-drenched head. He didn't win. I didn't care.

- It's difficult to explain what makes someone a star. On one hand I still can't explain Misawa. His face is usually stony and inexpressive until the match begins. Nothing about him to me yells 'star' until you see everybody in the crowd yelling for him. Undoubtedly, Misawa was a star. All of his consecutive Tokyo sellouts attest to it. People attribute AJPW's death to Baba dying: personally, I'd attribute an even sum of this to Misawa leaving. But it still remains a tough task to explain the austere, work-rate heavy stardom of Misawa to many, to sell the stories of his many battles to an increasingly impatient audience.

- Like they said on the last Cewshcast, wrestling can't really be like it was in 90s AJPW again. It was probably the divine meeting point between wrestlers wanting to go further to impress a crowd, greater media presence, a lack of medical science to prevent concussion, a talented generation of workers, increased interest in the business, great booking and the post-territorial slump in the US still meaning top-rated US workers were available. Did Misawa benefit from being in the right place? Would he eventually be a star player if he was 22 now? In a way the answer doesn't matter.

- Was he wrestling's equivalent of a great character actor? Playing roles as different as the impudent upstart to hero Tsuruta, the noble homegrown warrior against foreign invaders Williams and Hansen, the wily ring scientist against the marauding Kobashi, the brave good-guy against the ruthless Kawada, the master to many proteges with equal believability and aplomb? Is it because we didn't know much about him that we can project him in all of these roles?

- How did the crowd know Tiger Mask 2 was Misawa? Do we discredit audiences in the pre-internet era for their supposed lack of insider knowledge?

- Weird to think on the night that he passed away, Chris Hero and Bobby Fish were on the card. How transitory and fast a wrestler's life is.

- NOAH publicly invited Akitoshi Saito, who delivered the final bump, back to work for the company at the 5 year memorial. Saito cried in acceptance. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to carry that weight inside.

Any thoughts or favourite matches, join in if you like. My favourite is either the GHC title match v Kobashi in 2003, or one of those crazy tag matches with Kobashi against Taue & Kawada.

Nash Diesel
June 13th, 2014, 10:21 AM
First off, welcome!

Second, Misawa was someone who I mainly read about back in the 90's and never got to see him really wrestle until youtube started blowing up in the early 2000's and I would go back and watch some of the matches I had only read about in PWI, The Wrestler, etc. For me when I was growing up and having WCW expose me to talent like Great Muta, Chono, Tenzan, I was already interested in Japanese wrestling and the main 3 guys I would read about were Kenta Kobashi, Shinya Hashimoto, and Misawa. Always seemed Misawa was considered the man out of everyone in terms of in-ring ability, maybe like the Japanese version of a Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart/Ric Flair type.

The fact he died in the ring is almost bittersweet, like Dimebag from Pantera being killed on stage, died doing what they loved more than anything.

June 13th, 2014, 10:48 AM
Nice post. :yes:

Five years is ridiculous. Feels like three at most. Like you it took me a while to come round to Misawa when I started watching japanese wrestling. Initially he seemed to have less obvious character than the crazy gaijin, the charismatic and sympathetic Kobashi, evil jealous Kawada or even the frankenstein's monster Taue. He was undoubtedly a bad ass and a hell of a performer but he just didn't really look like the leading man star that we'd expect to see in America. He'd stand there with his fat grumpy frog face, never changing his expression and yet here were the fans going absolutely mental for him. Maybe that was it though. Completely unwavering and committed in his spirit. I could make a comparison to the Samurai but I think that would be a tad clichéd and embarrassing so I won't.

Meetings with the other pillars aside, here's a top 5:
vs. Jumbo, 6/8/90 & 9/1/90 - his breakout matches as a singles star
vs. Williams - Dr. Death takes the title :(
w/ Akiyama vs. Williams & JOHN LAURINAITIS - Johnny Ace the phenomenon.
vs. Vader, 99 - Misawa wins back the Triple Crown from Vader

Also just have to post SPARTAN X:


One of the best. Particularly with the fans chanting MI SA WA along with it.

Tainted Eclipse
June 13th, 2014, 7:54 PM
I'd pretty recently started watching wrestling again after a year or so break when he died. Awful stuff. One of my favorites since the very first match of his I saw, 6/9/95. I'm proud to say I bought the tape at just about the exact tale end of when buying VHSs from tape trading websites was still less expensive than DVDs! Ten years ago now. He stuck out in that match from the beginning for me. Well, they kind of all did, but I remember liking Misawa the most out of all of them at first. Very glad I got to see him in 2007 when he came to ROH.

Some of my favorite matches of his outside the obvious:
vs. Stan Hasen, 8/22/92
vs. Morishima, 2008
vs. Akiyama, 02/27/2000 (this one is just about on the level of the classic 90s AJPW bouts)
vs. Takayama, 09/23/2002 (and to a lesser extent their 2001 match)

The end of the first Jumbo match is one of my absolute favorite moments in wrestling. Misawa looking amazed, asking the ref if it was really a three count, while the crowd rush up to the barricades and their Misawa chants sync so well with his theme.

June 13th, 2014, 8:35 PM
Misawa was a definite Top 5 talent of all time. If anyone wanted to get into Japanese wrestling, I would most definitely pimp out the Misawa & Jumbo feud. I defy anyone to name a better feud on Japanese soil. Defy them.

Well, maybe Misawa/Kawada. Or Jumbo/Choshu. Or Fujinami/Choshu.