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That's great! I guess the pessimist in me just assumed something bad happened to him.

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On 01/02/2017 at 4:25 PM, NintendoLogic said:

He was forced to step down after one wrestler (TARU) had a locker room fight with another (Super Hate) and put him in a coma, and he left a few years ago to form Wrestle-1. All Japan's current president is Jun Akiyama, who was one of the guys who left to form NOAH but came back to All Japan after NOAH fired Kenta Kobashi because they couldn't afford his contract anymore.

The reasons for both those changes managed to completely pass me by, thanks.

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Going back to the origins of this thread... Some years ago, there was much discussion of the best of AJPW (it may well have been in reference to the tape/disk set that was created by goodhelmet, I don't recall the specifics, However, one of the most valuable posts on the topic was after the initial matchlist was posted when John D. Williams provided his critique of the entire list. Williams, for those who don't know, is probably the leading authority on AJPW. He doesn't seem to to post here or even on Wrestling Classics any more and Yohe tells me that he's lost his smile as far as the biz goes, for the time being anyway. However, I learned a hell of a lot from him and if you read the following, you will too. Enjoy!

AJPW Pimpin' Ain't Easy...
    Posted by jdw ( on July 23, 2000 at 01:27:20:
    I've put a NOTE in places where Other Phil should make a correction. 
    Triple Crown
    Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Genichiro Tenryu (Triple Crown ¬ 4/90)
    This has no business drawing a vote. The weakest of their matches, a sad end to a great rivalry. It's their matches in the *80s* that made the feud famous. This is like Flair vs. Steamboat from 1994 - time to move on.
    Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Mitsuahru Misawa (Triple Crown ¬ 4/18/91)
    Voters - don't get confused. Their two matches from 1990 are the great ones. They aren't for the TC. They're elsewhere on this list.
    Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Triple Crown ¬ 10/24/91)
    One of my all-time favorite matches. Super simple, but super smart. Probably won't make my Top 20 list because I don't let my fandom of Kawada get in the way of proper selecting.
    Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Triple Crown ¬ 1/21/92)
    NOTE - This isn't a Triple Crown match. It also has no business drawing votes. "Excellent" match, but not great like their match the prior October. 
    Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Stan Hansen (Triple Crown ¬ 1/28/92)
    This match isn't even ****.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Stan Hansen (Triple Crown ¬ 8/22/92)
    Nifty that Misawa won the title. Nothing very special, though. Their "great" match was the next May. Don't get fooled.
    NOTE: Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (Triple Crown ¬ 8/22/92) - this isn't a TC match as said before.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada¬ 20th Anniversary Show (Triple Crown - 10/21/92)
    Great match. I doubt Bret Hart has ever been in a match that can stack up against this when you analyze it move for move. Still... this is Misawa vs. Kawada and they've had a host of better matches. 
    Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (Triple Crown ¬ 2/28/93)
    Excellent performance by Misawa. It doesn't deserve any votes at their 4/95 and 9/95 matches are true MOTYC, while their 5/96 and 7/97 matches are miles better than this one. This one isn't even as good as the match the two had earlier this year. Don't get fooled here.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Stan Hansen (Triple Crown ¬ 5/21/93)
    Classic. If you have the urge to vote for a Misawa vs. Hansen, this is it. Still, for 1993 I wouldn't rate it above the Carny and TC Misawa vs. Kawada matches in the year, the 2/93 Kawada vs. Hansen, the 7/93 Hansen vs. Kobashi, or the Carny Misawa vs. Kobashi and Kawada vs. Kobashi matches. 1993 is a tough year to standout in All Japan. This stands out as a classic smartly worked match, but there were a host of other great ones in 1993.
    NOTE - the 7/29/93 Misawa vs. Kawada TC match is worthy of being on this list. Great match. I wouldn't vote for it simply because they have had better matches. But it's vastly better than the Taue vs. Misawa from 2/28/93.
    NOTE - I'm one of the few people who likes the 9/3/93 Misawa vs. Doc TC match better than the 8/93 Doc vs. Kobashi matches. Smarter worked match. I won't vote for it, and I wouldn't put it as one of the ten best AJPW matches of 1993... but then again, I wouldn't put the Doc vs. Kobashi in a 10 best list for 1993 AJPW either.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Triple Crown - 6/3/94)
    El Super Classico. So great that even though the Wrong Man Wins, it detracts nothing from the match and only adds to its richness. A Top 5 pick for my Ballot. Where in the Top 5, I don't know yet.
    Steve Williams vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (Triple Crown - 7/28/94)
    Nifty great match. It won't make my Top 20 Ballot, but a really nifty match. 
    Steve Williams vs. Kenta Kobashi (Triple Crown - 9/3/94)
    I think this match is another overrated Doc vs. Kobashi matches. I get the feeling watching those two match that Kobashi is stroking his wrestling cock and we're suppose to get off on it. I prefer his Hansen match quite a bit better as he is more under control. No Top 20 vote from me.
    Steve Williams vs. Toshiaki Kawada ¬ 22nd Anniversary Show (Triple Crown - 10/22/94)
    Won't get a vote in my Top 20. They Carny Final is much better and will. This thing should have been a good 10 minutes shorter.
    Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Triple Crown - 1/19/95)
    I'd vote for it if it had a finish. There is not good reason for Kawada not to pin him shortly past the 55:00 mark - it's Kawada's one "successful" defense in that reign. Add to the fact Kobashi crawling around the ring in the last few minutes as Kawada kills him dead. Fuck you Baba... fuck you Kobashi... you're not getting my vote. Kawada's work, though, is exceptional.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Triple Crown - 7/24/95)
    Underrated classic. Super fast paced heavyweight match where they throw bombs from the get go, and trade one true resthold as best as I can recall. If Michaels and Hart wrestled a match against each other that was move for move exactly like this, people would have called it the best match of the 90s... by a landslide. Since it's Misawa vs. Kawada, and they already had the decade's best singles match the year before, this was somehow "disappointing". Fuck the people who were disappointing and didn't know they were watching a MOTYC. 
    NOTE: 9/10/95 Misawa vs. Taue (Triple Crown)
    This match needs to be added. This is just as good as their Carny Final from earlier in the year. Taue made the big jump forward in the Carny, and then kept getting better as the year went along. Taue was more confident and better here. Probably not quite as great of a performance from Misawa as he had more confidence in letting Taue do his thing. A true forgotten classic.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi ¬ 23rd Anniversary Show (Triple Crown ¬ 10/25/95)
    This was so "not great" that it isn't even funny. Look - when a semfinal with Gary Albrihgt in it upstages a match, then that match has no business being on this list. People... don't confuse this with the matches Misawa and Kobashi had against each other from 1996 on forward.
    Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (Triple Crown ¬ 5/24/96)
    Nifty match. Not a MOTYC, and not worthy of a Top 20 choice. Their match
    Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Triple Crown -10/18/96 TV)
    The commercial version is great... but they've had better, and lack of a finish really hurts. I couldn't put it in the Top 20. 
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi (Triple Crown ¬ 1/20/97)
    A Top 5 pick. Next...
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Triple Crown ¬ 6/6/97)
    Overrated. Far too much head dropping... as if Kawada was throwing in the towel to the AJPW audience that was being conditioned by Misawa and Kobashi to pop for little else. "Aw fuck it... if you want head dropping, I'll drop him on his head a whole bunch you fucking bastards." The "work the neck by dropping Misawa on his head" psych pimping of this match has been overplayed over time, as getting dropped on his head isn't deep Misawa psych - it's his typical "I don't know how else to pop this crowd" spots much like Flair taking the bump into the corner. He was doing it before this match, and would do it after this match. On principal I wouldn't put this in the Top 20 on the Ballot, and since there are other Misawa vs. Kawada matches I prefer, I can leave it off on merits as well..
    Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (Triple Crown ¬ 7/25/97)
    Excellent match, but not as good as their 4/95 and 9/95 matches. Too many great AJPW matches in the 90s for this to get a vote.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi ¬ 25th Anniversary Show (Triple Crown - 10/21/97)
    Great, great, great match. I've been bored by their matches since, but this struck me as the climax to their rivalry. Not as good as their 1/97 match... but not a bad a Top 10 match. 
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jun Akiyama (Triple Crown ¬ 1/24/98)
    I'd rather get gang raped than vote for this match. The nadir of Misawa-By-Numbers. Since Misawa couldn't be bothered to try to figure out how to work with a younger wrestler, like Jumbo did with Kawada in 10/91, he basically lets Jun kill him seven ways to Sunday before going, "Well... that's enough of that... let's take it home."
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada - Tokyo Dome (Triple Crown - 5/1/98)
    Not one of their better matches. Lacking drama, lacking the emotion of Kawada finishing his five and a half year quest. Misawa was a cripple in the match. All in all, pretty sad to watch. Amazing that it was an excellent match, through.
    Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Triple Crown - 6/12/98)
    I think this was the last of the AJPW TC matches that was at the level of the once from 1993-97. Exceptional performance by Kawada, and I'll toss plenty of credit to Kobashi for being able to participate in a MOTY with freshly blown out knees that would put most humans on the DL. Easy Top 20 pick. Not sure where, though...
    Kenta Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama (Triple Crown ¬ 7/24/98)
    Excellent match. Not Top 20. Too much Kobashi goofiness, and the whole psych of Jun going after the knees leads to no serious threat to Kobashi losing the title. God would I have prefered to see Jun challenge Kawada at the 6/98 Budokan to see what Tosh could have down with Jun at that time. 
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi ¬ 26th Anniversary Show (Triple Crown - 10/31/98)
    Great match. But little things like half nelson suplexes on the floor that lead to nothing are auto deductions in my book. Not at the level of the 6/98 Kawada vs. Kobashi... and far behind the Misawa vs. Kobashi from 1997. Off my Top 20.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Triple Crown - 1/22/99)
    Overrated. That's from the biggest Kawada fan on the net. If I have to pick one of their spot-a-thons to go with the 6/94 match, than I'd go with the 7/95 match. Hmm... I note that their 7/99 match isn't on the list, nor Misawa's Dome win over Vader.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi (Triple Crown - 6/11/99)
    I've said it once, I'll say it again - this technically great match bored the shit out of me. Nothing fresh to this match beyond what we've seen in the past from them. I'd rate this well below the 1/97, 10/97 and 3/96 matches... all of which broke new ground in their rivalry in different ways.
    Vader vs. Mitsuharu Misawa ¬ 27th Anniversary Show (Triple Crown ¬ 10/30/99)
    I have no idea why this is even here. There may have been 100+ MOTYC in AJPW in the 90s. This wasn't one of them. 
    NOTE: 12/07/90 Misawa & Kawada vs. Tsuruta & Taue (Tag League)
    This was a MOTYC on the Final Night of the 1990 Tag League. Great match. Should be on the list.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kenta Kobashi/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (RWTL 91 ¬ 11/21/91)
    Was this even a MOTYC? Yeesh... this shouldn't be on this list.
    NOTE: 11/29/91 Misawa & Kawada vs. Jumbo & Taue (RWTL 91)
    General rule of thumb - when these two teams meet, it's a MOTYC. Better than the Misawa & Kawada vs. Gordy & Doc from the following week.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada vs. Terry Gordy/Steve Williams (RWTL 91 Finals - 12/6/91)
    This wasn't the RWTL 91 Finals - there was NO Final. This was simply the last round robin match for each team. Heck... if it was the Final, it's pretty hard to explain how Misawa & Kawada finished 5th in the tourny.  Anyway... great match, but not was good as the tag match between the top two native teams the week before.
    Kenta Kobashi/Giant Baba vs. Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada (RWTL 92)
    I always thought this was a bit overrated. Great match, but this was right in the middle of Meltzer's "Give Every Kobashi Match An Extra 1/2*" period. The Misawa & Kobashi vs. Hansen & Baba from the following year is a much niftier match.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada vs. Akira Taue/Jun Akiyama (RWTL 92 Finals ¬ 12/4/92)
    This has no business even being on the ballot - it's not even a MOTYC. These for have been in a whole lotta MOTYCs over the years... this ain't one of them. Also - this isn't a FINAL. There were no FINALS until 1995. This is like Joey Styles using "Tiger Bomb" - TINTB (This Is No Tiger Bomb). 
    NOTE: The following two matches should be on the list:
    * 11/30/93 Misawa & Kobashi vs. Hansen & Baba (RWTL 93)
    * 12/01/93 Kawada & Taue vs. Williams & Big Bubba (RWTL 93)
    The first is about as much fun as any AJPW match got in the 90s. From the 12/27/93 WON:
    "I know that Shohei Baba can't possibly wrestle a 30:00 long match of the year candidate. But my eyes told me that the 11/30 match with Baba & Stan Hansen vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada was tremendous. While the match wasn't quite at the level of All Japan's best singles matches of the year (Hansen vs. Kawada on 2/28 and Hansen vs. Kobashi on 7/29) or All Japan's definative six-man taf of the year (Misawa & Kobashi & Akiyama vs. Taue & Kawada & Ogawa on 7/2), I popped more for this match than any other tag match All Japan present during the year. Great spots, good pacing, solid psycology and an up crowd gave this match a special aura. All four deserve all the credit in the world for putting a match like this together in the midst of a clearly disappointing tag team tournament. Baba is not a good worker, but that is due more to his physical limitations rather than any lack of effort on his part. The credibility and respect he maintains with Japanese fans added far more to this match than his physical limitations took away. Frankly he seemed as fired up in this match as I can recall in years. Enough is said about Kobashi and there is no need to repeat it. But I must say that there are probably no two great workers in the business that are more consistently underrated than Hansen and Misawa. Each has pushed their work and psycholocy up this year and I would place both solidly among the ten best male workers in the world this year." -Some Asshole Letter Writer
    I may end up voting for that match in the Top 20 because it was so damn fun.
    The second match was a terrific match as well. If people want to ponder what could have been for Big Bubba/Bossman, they should get that one. He was plenty good in it, and quite a bit better worker than Johnny Ace was at the time. Bossman deciding to sign with WCW is the reason Ace became Doc's partner... who know what would have happened if Bossman stayed with AJPW.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Akira Taue/Toshiaki Kawada (RWTL 93 Finals - 12/3/93)
    Not the FINALS.  But this is a Top 5 match. The Asshole Letter Writer above had not seen this in 12/93 when he wrote the letter. When he saw this a couple of weeks later, his comment was - "This is the greatest mens match I've ever seen." A performance for the ages by Kawada, and a intricate multi-layered psychological finish. One of my handful of desert island matches that I couldn't do without.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Steve Williams/Johnny Ace (RWTL 94 ¬ 12/10/94)
    A really great forgotten match. I seem to recall either Kobashi or Misawa taking the match off for the most part because he was injured, with the other putting in a great performance to cover. Doc & Ace put on a excellent performance and showed they were truly ready to hang as a team with the Big Four in tag matches.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue (RWTL 95 Finals ¬ 12/9/95)
    Technically great. Poor laying out of the match, bad thinking... lack of heat. Shouldn't be on the list because of that.
    NOTE: There are one other match from the 1996 RWTL that are worthy of the list:
    11/24/96 (air date) Misawa & Akiyama vs. Kobashi & Patriot (Tag League)
    Great match. 
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue (RWTL 96 - 11/29/96)
    Nifty match. Won't make my Top 20 because the had better...
    Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue vs Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama (RWTL 96 Finals - 12/6/96)
    Top 5 match. Best mens tag match of all-time. Next...
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama vs. Kenta Kobashi/Johnny Ace (RWTL 97 ¬ 11/23/97)
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama vs. Hayabusa/Jinsei Shinzaki (RWTL 97 ¬ 11/27/97)
    Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue vs. Hayabusa/Jinsei Shinzaki (RWTL 97 ¬ 11/23/97)
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue (RWTL 97 Finals ¬ 12/5/97)
    Collectively, not of these will make my Top 20. All are nifty matches, though. The Final was a bit disappointing as those two teams didn't have a tag match against each other all year prior to tag leauge. This after having *five* tag matches from 5/23/96 to 12/6/96. You got the feeling they were saving the match for the tag league... but this didn't have that extra kick in the nads that one would have expected. "Great"... but just mising that extra something that makes for a memorable super classico. Given the talent invovled, I can't vote for it if it wasn't memorable.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Kenta Kobashi/Jun Akiyama (RWTL 99)
    Well... at least this is here rather than the 1998 and 1999 Finals that I've seen being pawned off as potential "Best of Budokan" cadidates. These guys had better matches elsewhere in the year... and since I won't be voting for them, I won't be voting for this. 
    NOTE: Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Carnival 93) - The date for this is 04/14/93.
    Great match... loads of fun... Kobashi is kind enough to do the job for Kawada. I'd vote for this above some of those TC matches I said had no business being on the list. But won't make my top 20.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Carnival 93 ¬ 3/27/93)
    Great match. They've had a number of matches better... so this will get left off. Flair hasn't had a better match than this in the 90s, though.
    Kenta Kobashi vs. Akira Taue (Carnival 93 ¬ 4/12/93)
    Shouldn't be on here. Excellent... not great.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi (Carnival 93 ¬ 4/12/93)
    Great match. I've always thought it was their best prior to 3/96. Kobashi knew his role better here than he did in their 1995 matches. Not good enough to get a top 20, though. 
    Toshiaki Kawada vs. Akira Taue (Carnival 93 ¬ 4/12/93)
    Another great match... but they had a better Carny match two years later...
    NOTE: This should be added - 04/16/93 Hansen vs. Kobashi (hand held)
    This match was on par with their 7/28/93 match... almost a test run for it. Rather than being at Budokan, this was infront of the Korakuen Hall hardcores... and Stan and Kenta were all fired up. I think Stan is sorta pissed off over having to do his first job to Kawada in the tourny, so he decided to take it out on Kenta. Also, there's an even better lariat at the finish of this than their 7/93 match - probably the Greatest Western Lariat Ever. And better yet, this is one of the better quality handhelds around - good clean shot at the ring, not annoying to watch. It's buried somewhere on Lynch's list. If you consider yourself a serious AJPW, this is one match that must be tracked down.
    Steve Williams vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Carnival 94 Finals ¬ 4/16/94)
    An easy Top 20 pick. I get an uneasy feeling when seeing the Doc vs. Kobashi matches getting pimped over this. This is pure hardcore wrestling, focused, well laid out, built smartly from start to finish, with the right guy winning.
    NOTE: Other Carny '95 matches to add:
    * 03/21/95 Taue vs. Kobashi (Carny 95)
    * 03/26/95 Misawa vs. Kobashi (Carny 95)
    * 04/06/95 Misawa vs. Kawada (Carny 95)
    * 04/08/95 Kawada vs. Taue (Carny 95)
    * 04/13/95 Kawada vs. Kobashi (Carny 95)
    These all have been rated at one time or another by people as ****1/2 matches.
    I'd cite two worthy of consideration for votes:
    The 04/06/95 Misawa vs. Kawada is the match where Misawa had his orbital bones crashed by sole of Kawada's right boot. Note that this was 30 seconds into the match. He had another 29:30 to work in the match... and did. This is his equiv of the 1/99 Kawada vs. Misawa where Kawada busted his forearm. Far more methodical than their later head-drop-a-thons... but I kinda like them that way. Misawa blows a few spots due to the injury... but it's a pretty amazing performance, and a great one by Kawada in carrying him through it.
    The 04/08/95 Kawada vs. Taue is the best singles match the two have ever had. People who are fans of Taue... this is the match for you. Basic premise:
    *backstage before the show*
    Baba: "Tosh... you're going to be putting over Akira tonight."
    Kawada: *nod*
    *backstage a little while later*
    Taue: "Baba-san said I'm going over."
    Kawada: *nod*
    Taue: "So... you're going to kick my ass all over the ring."
    Kawada: *nod*
    Taue: "Alright... I'm ready for it. Don't hold anything back."
    Kawada: *stares at him* "You sure?"
    Taue: *nods*
    Just a joy to watch these two partners work hardcore and intense, with it always bordering on getting out of control and the old rivalry being renewed... if I can borrow how the Japanese Wrestling Journal would have written it up.  I'll probably toss it in the Top 20. 
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Akira Taue (Carnival 95 Final ¬ 4/15/95)
    A true classic. Clear Top 20 candidate.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi (Carnival 96 - 3/31/96)
    A true classic. Clear Top 20 candidate. But I'm repeating myself.
    NOTE: You probably should add the 4/96 Doc vs. Taue Carny Final was a pretty fun and nifty match. As I said elsewhere recently, this was a better match than the highly rated Michaels vs. Nash 4/96 PPV match. I think Taue fans would enjoy this match quite a bit. It's Doc's last "great" All Japan singles match, and who would have thought it would be against Taue.
    NOTE: You should add the 1997 Kawada vs. Misawa Carny League match. Yet another one of their 30:00 draws... but this might have been their best 30:00 draw. It was better than the rest of these 1997 Carny matches getting nominated. 
    Kenta Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama (Carnival 97)
    Excellent match. But not in the league of the the best Carny matches.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Carnival 97 Finals ¬ 4/2/97)
    NOTE: These *are not* a "triangle match" and should not be rated together. They are three 30:00 matches exactly like the Carny League matches - it's nothing more than a mini-round robin. These are three matches:
    * Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi
    * Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada
    * Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kenta Kobashi
    Clean this up, and anyone who's voted for them collectively should be told to re-vote. It's not one match.
    Comments on the matches - the Misawa vs. Kobashi is a great match... but just a bit too much head dropping, as a sign of things to come. The Misawa vs. Kawada is an abortion. I like the Kawada vs. Kobashi as a change of pace from the dominant AJPW style of the late 90s. Most seemed to be disappointed by it.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Carnival 98 ¬ 3/29/98)
    Excellent match. Lack of finish is a downgrade... and they've had better.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jun Akiyama (Carnival 98 Finals ¬ 4/18/98)
    Shouldn't be on the ballot. Probably not one of AJPW Top 100 matches of the 90s... wait... maybe not one of the Top 150 or Top 200. 
    Vader vs. Kenta Kobashi (Carnival 99 Final ¬ 4/16/99)
    This is a joke?
    NOTE: These matches should be on the list:
    04/19/90 Gordy & Williams vs. Hansen & Spivey (World Tag Title)
    04/18/91 Hansen & Spivey v Gordy & Williams (World Tag Title)
    The first was the better of the two, but they were both rated in the ****1/4 - ****1/2. Both were super heated, and probably the best of the Gaijin vs. Gaijin tag matches in Japan in the 90s.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada vs. Terry Gordy/Steve Williams (7/24/91 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    Huh? This was like a ** match. Did someone get confused on this? Not a good match at all.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Toshiaki Kawada vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/Akira Taue (9/4/91 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    A great match... but wouldn't rate this ahead of their 1990 and 1991 Tag League matches, let alone their 09/30/90 match. The finish was great... but I try not to add full stars to a match simply for a great finish. A broken down Misawa having to be carried by his partner Kawada. Not worthy of a Top 20 spot.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Jumbo Tsurata/Akira Taue (6/4/92 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/Akira Taue (6/5/92 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/Akira Taue (7/92 - World Tag Titles)
    NOTE: These are all the same match. It was 06/05/92.
    Super great match that seemed to be forgotten for more than half the decade. It's nice to see it's gotten some pub online over the last year and a half. Not quite on the Top 20... but a good example of wrestling in that period. 
    NOTE: These World Tag Title matches should be on the Ballot:
    * 10/07/92 Jumbo & Taue vs. Gordy & Williams (World Tag Titles)
    * 01/30/93 Misawa & Kawada vs. Gordy & Williams (World Tag Titles)
    * 06/01/93 Kawada & Taue vs. Misawa & Kobashi (World Tag Titles)
    The first is Jumbo's last "competitive" big match. It's great. He's great. Meltzer's comments in the Jumbo Obit:
    Then, just as suddenly, his career, at least as a serious performer, was over. He became ill in the summer of 1992. It was said to have been an ankle injury, but when he came back to the ring six weeks later, he had lost a lot of weight, mainly muscle mass, and clearly was not the same. His stamina was no longer there and tag team partner Akira Taue had to carry the action in his matches, which were still headlining the shows."
    I have no idea how this notion got planted in his head, but Dave was in Japan when Jumbo returned after missing the July 1992 series. He saw his first *three* matches back live:
    08/20/92 - Jumbo & Taue & Ogawa vs. Misawa & Kawada & Kobashi
    08/21/92 - Jumbo & Taue vs. Kobashi & Patriot
    08/22/92 - Jumbo & Taue vs. Gordy & Williams
    His ratings of those matches? ****1/2, ****1/4 and ****1/4. Comments on Jumbo being carried? None. Rating of the 10/92 tag title match? ****1/2. Comments on Jumbo being carried by Taue? None.
    Er... something doesn't add up here.
    The second matches is a great tag title change, with Kawada carrying a gimpy Misawa.
    The third is the first Kawada & Taue vs. Misawa & Kobashi matches. It's at Budokan, and the crowd heat is molten as this is a match the fans had been waiting for all year since Baba started talking about Kawada teaming up with Taue. Old AJPW style, with lots of methodical work and exchanging of spots early, before kicking it up a notch for the last 10:00. Grat match.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue (5/21/94 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    Absolutely exceptional match. The psych of the 12/93 match (along with the sureal performance of Kawada) are better, and the 6/95 match has a far better Taue to work in it... but this was landmark at the time. They killed about the first 17:00+ smartly like they did in almost all the big match in the day. Then they picked it up and started building to the finish... and kept going... and kept going... and kept going... for over 20:00 of highspots. The 6/95 would do it as well, as would the 1/95, 3/95 and 10/95 tag title matches... but this was pretty much the first time heavies would work highspots for that kind of length. Mind bending match at the time. A Top 20 candidate for that. Probably won't make my list because I like a trio of their other matches better (12/93, 6/95 and 10/95)... but there would be no shame in voting for this.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue (1/24/95 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    One of the more overrated matches of the decade. Taue just wasn't any good. Of their 9 matches against each other from 6/93 to 12/95, this rates with the 12/95 Tag League Final as the least likely to hit my VCR at any point soon. I felt just like the crowd did every time Taue tagged in - "NO!?!? TOSH.... NO!!! STAY IN!!! AW FUCK!!!"
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Steve Williams/Johnny Ace (3/4/95 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    A really great match. Not a bad pick for the Top 20. A safe pick for the best Gaijin vs. Native tag match in the decade. Better than any of the Steiners matches in Japan against native... easily. Somewhere in my 15-30... so I don't know if it will make my list. But a very good candidate. 
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue (6/9/95 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    El Super Classico '95
    Top 5 pick.
    NOTE: The following match should be on the list - 10/15/95 Kawada & Taue vs. Misawa & Kobashi (World Tag Title)
    This is the 60:00 draw that is vastly better than the 1/95 60:00 draw between the two teams. Why? Taue sucked in 1/95. Taue was excellent by 10/95. This will probably make my Top 20... simply because I seem to be the only person who's seen it and is willing to pimp it. Someone needs to carry the flag for it against the heathens who think the 1/95 match is any good.
    Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue vs. Kenta Kobashi/Jun Akiyama (3/2/96 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    NOTE: This isn't a World Tag Title match.
    Excellent match... but I don't think I would put it among the Top 100 of AJPW, let along the Top 20.
    Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama (5/23/96 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    I've always thought this was a bit overrated. Excellent match... but not quite the masterpiece people pimp it up to be. Very smartly worked, but toned down a bit (most Misawa) so that they can tell Jun's story. Matches like this use to get ****1/4 to ****1/2 back in the days before everything considered a MOTYC was automatically given *****. I'd say ****1/4 or ****1/2 is reasonable. It's not close to their Tag League Final, and I like the more confident work displayed in their 7/96 rematch... not even getting to the Tag League "league" matches they had in 1996. 
    Steve Williams/Johnny Ace vs. Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama (6/7/96 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    Pretty choice match. Wouldn't be embarassing to be in the Top 20 at all.
    I noted the 7/96 Tag Title rematch between Misawa & Jun vs. Tosh & Taue. It wouldn't make my Top 20 or Top 50... but it's better than some matches mentioned.
    Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue vs. Johnny Ace/Kenta Kobashi (6/5/98 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    Pretty nifty match. Or is someone thinking about their 6/97 World Tag Title match?  Or their 1/98 World Tag Title match?  They're all pretty choice matches... wouldn't make my Top 20.
    Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue vs. Kenta Kobashi/Jun Akiyama (10/11/98 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    I liked the commecial tape version of this a good deal. Mostly as more proof that Kawada was the best worker in the world in 1998. Wouldn't make my Top 20.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Kenta Kobashi/Jun Akiyama (3/6/99 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Kenta Kobashi/Jun Akiyama (10/23/99 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    I like these less than most people. Ogawa in a World Tag Title match doesn't work for me. 
    Doug Furnas/Dan Kroffat vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (2/22/92 ¬ All Asia Tag Titles)
    NOTE: This wasn't a All Asia Tag Title match.
    Great match, though. Not quite Top 20, though.
    Doug Furnas/Dan Kroffat vs. Kenta Kobashi/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (5/25/92 ¬ All Asia Tag Titles)
    One of the Usual Suspects for the Top 20. I don't get too bent out of shape that not all of it aired on TV.
    Kenta Kobashi/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Masa Fuchi/Yoshinari Ogawa (7/5/92 ¬ All Asia Tag Titles)
    All of this did air on TV. Really great match... but I think rated a bit high at the time. Not in my Top 20.
    Kenta Kobashi/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Jun Akiyama/Yoshinari Ogawa (1/93 ¬ All Asia Tag Titles)
    NOTE: the date of the match is 01/24/93
    This was loads of fun. Not a Top 20 match, but anyone who would like their mind blown should check out this match and keep in the back of their mind that Jun debuted in 9/92. Pretty damn amazing to play a central role in your first MOTYC four months after debuting. 
    Six Men
    There are many six-man tags that got ****1/2+ from the famous 05/26/90 Misawa & Taue & Kobashi vs. Tsuruta & Kabuki & Fuchi match (which "started" the Jumbo & Co. vs. Misawa & Co. feud) on through 1993. I'll only add ones that are "musts" that might be missing as it's not likely any of the six-mans are going to get much by way of votes as I don't think many people have seen the run-of-the-mill six-man MOTYCs, and have only seen some of the more noted ones.
    J. Tsuruta/A. Taue/M. Fuchi vs. M. Misawa/T. Kawada/T. Kikuchi (10/20/91 TV)
    NOTE: I think this is mistaken. There's a 10/21/91 TV match that had Inoue and Kobashi in it in the place of Fuchi and Kikuchi respectively. ****1/4 star match by Meltzer rating. I don't recall it, as it was too close to the more memorable match the following week:
    J. Tsuruta/A. Taue/M. Fuchi vs. M. Misawa/T. Kawada/K. Kobashi (10/28/90 TV)
    NOTE: the match date was 10/19/90
    Great match with Kobashi breaking his nose and bleeds all over the place as Jumbo & Fuchi work over the nose like the Evil Bastards that they are. Not as cringeville as the Tenryu vs. Fujinami is to watch... but not easy to sit through. Great example of the Jumbo & Co. vs. Misawa & Co. six-man main events. Probably just off the Top 20 for me... close.
    J. Tsuruta/A. Taue/M. Fuchi vs. M. Misawa/T. Kawada/K. Kobashi (4/20/91)
    Famous for the length of it... super nifty... but not on my Top 20. 
    J. Tsuruta/A. Taue/M. Fuchi vs. M. Misawa/T. Kawada/K. Kobashi (1/24/92)
    Great... not Top 20. They had a great one earlier in the same series as well, with Ogawa in trather than Taue.
    J. Tsuruta/A. Taue/M. Fuchi vs. M. Misawa/T. Kawada/K. Kobashi (5/22/92)
    I always thought Meltzer overrated it by giving it *****. Nifty match... but didn't really stand out above other six-mans of 1992 as being the clear "best", which his rating would suggest.
    NOTE: you might want to add this one:
    08/20/92 Tsuruta & Taue & Ogawa vs. Misawa & Kawada & Kikuchi ****1/2
    This will allow people to see the "needs to be carried" Jumbo.
    G. Baba/J. Tsuruta/M. Fuchi vs. M. Misawa/T. Kawada/T. Kikuchi (9/17/92)
    Same card as Jun's debut... I don't remember it kicking enough ass to be on the list. 
    T. Kawada/A. Taue/Ogawa vs. M. Misawa/K. Kobashi/T. Kikuchi (6/13/93)
    I thought Kikuchi was pretty washed up by that point, which took this down a bit.
    T. Kawada/A. Taue/Ogawa vs. M. Misawa/K. Kobashi/J. Akiyama (7/2/93)
    Easy top 20 for me.... probably Top 10. This has ever since stuck in my mind as the best AJPW six-man main event I've seen. Terrific match, perfect use of the six-man tag concept to get across sotrylines.
    There was an exceptional 08/20/93 Kawada & Taue & Fuchi vs. Misawa & Akiyama & Kikuchi match... but not at the same level as the 7/2/93.
    G. Baba/M. Misawa/T. Kobashi vs. T. Kawada/A. Taue/M. Fuchi (2/13/94 TV)
    NOTE: The match date was 1/29/94.
    Great match. Not a top 20... but loads of fun.
    NOTE: I'd add the following: 06/30/95 Misawa & Kobashi & Asako vs. Kawada & Taue & Honda
    It's probably the last great AJPW Korakuen Hall TV six-man tag main event. I dug it a ton. Not Top 20... but worth tracking down for AJPW fans, and a good example of how the lower ranked workers are mixed in well in the six-man tag format. 
    M. Misawa/K. Kobashi/J. Akiyama vs. T. Kawada/G. Albright/J. Ace (4/20/96)
    A great performance by Kawada to carry the whole thing. Misawa couldn't be bothered to do much of anything that night... Gary was only good throwing his suplexes... Ace was sloppy as hell. Not anywhere close to a Top 20 match.
    Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (6/8/90)
    Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (9/1/90)
    A pair of great matches. I like the second one better... but both are reasonable picks for the Top 20 and higher.
    Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Kenta Kobashi (8/31/90)
    I'm thinking someone was confused here. This wasn't even a **** match... let alone a MOTDecade candidate.
    Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Kenta Kobashi (5/24/91)
    Terrific match. This wouldn't be a bad pick for the Top 20. Probably not one of mine, as I prefer the 10/91 Jumbo vs. Kawada TC match... but not a bad pick at all. 
    Kenta Kobashi vs. Dan Kroffat (4/18/91)
    Great match... but not a MOTYC, let alone something for this list.
    Fantastics vs. Joe Malenko/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (9/1/90)
    Terrific match. The Fans were such a great team... and promoters in the US just never seemed to get it after some point. Tommy Rogers was such a great worker... and promoters never seemed to get it after some point.
    M. Misawa/T. Kawada vs. J. Tsuruta/A. Taue (Baba 30th Anniversary Show ¬ 9/30/90)
    Super terrific 45:00 draw.
    Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Terry Gordy (6/1/91)
    They had a far better match in the 1993 Carny. I don't think this has any business being here. 
    Dan Kroffat vs. Masa Fuchi (10/24/91 ¬ PWF Jr. Title)
    Nifty match. The 1-2 punch on the 11/03/91 AJPW TV show of this and the Tsuruta vs. Kawada is one of the best ever. Not Top 20, or even close to it... but a really nifty match. Kroffat was such a great worker as well...
    Kenta Kobashi/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/Akira Taue (1/26/92)
    I've never seen this. I see in the JWJ that it was taped for a commercial tape, and he called it a match of the year candidate. Bad me for never going out and getting it.
    Jumbo Tsuruta/Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Mitsuharu Misawa/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (3/20/92)
    Not in the Top 100.
    Stan Hansen vs. Toshiaki Kawada (2/28/93)
    Terrific match. Top 20 easy. 
    Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi (7/31/93)
    See above. Top 5 candidate... but more likely to slip in at #6.
    NOTE: I would add - 08/20/93 Kroffat & Furnas vs. Kobashi & "Bad Mouth" Asako
    This is where Asako's mouth gets busted up. A terrific match. Sans the head dropping, this is the type of match people would go ga-ga these days. Kroffat and Furnas rudo it up... Asako plays Kikuchi-style face, and Kobashi plays his big brother. AJPW undercards were still capable of regular good to great matches in those days.
    Steve Williams vs. Kenta Kobashi (8/31/93)
    Not in my Top 20... I liked the Doc vs. Kawada from 05/21/93 a ton more.
    Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada ¬ 21st Anniversary Show (10/23/93)
    Great match. Damn 1993 was great.  Probably won't make my Top 20... but just a great match worked in the early 90s style. 
    Kenta Kobashi/Satoru Asako vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Takai Omori (Asunaro Cup 94)
    NOTE: The match date is 02/19/94. I also don't think is was a Asunaro Cup match.
    That said... I dig this match a friggin ton. This wasn't even a top of the card match, but it rocked.
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Steve Williams/Johnny Ace (7/22/94)
    NOTE: This is a World Tag Title match.
    Excellent match... but Ace wasn't quite into his "good" stage. I'd rate this well behind the 12/94, 3/95 and 6/96 Budokan matches of Doc & Ace.
    Toshiaki Kawada vs. Gary Albright ¬ 23rd Anniversary Show (10/25/95)
    Great match. I think there probably are 50 AJPW matches that were of better quality than this match... but Kawada's performance is so top flight that may force me to put it in the Top 20. Probably not... but it's a tough one not to recognize in some fashion.
    Kenta Kobashi vs. Hiroshi Hase (8/26/97)
    Ugh. Another match where there are a good 100 or more AJPW matches that are miles better than this. 
    Mitsuharu Misawa/Akira Taue vs. Kenta Kobashi/Toshiaki Kawada (6/4/99)
    Good match... but I don't think it's good enough to draw a vote from anyone who's seen a ton of AJPW.
    I'm somewhat amazed that no one suggested the 06/09/95 Kroffat vs. Rob Van Dam match. I wouldn't put it in my Top 100 of AJPW matches in the 90s... but I thought there might be some RVD marks around here.  
    I'm probably forgetting to add some matches... and I've avoided nominating matches that I dig a ton but won't put on my Top 20 such as the 05/21/93 Kawada vs. Williams and 07/09/93 Kawada vs. Akiyama matches. Hell... they're not Top 100, but I'd rather take that Kawada vs. Jun match to the desert island than watch Doc vs. Kobashi.
    Anyway... enough pimping. Opening comments to the contrary, this was several hours of writing and researching... it's 1:30 AM... and sleep is a good thing.
And here's his ballot.
AJPW Ballot] Taking the pimping home...
    Posted by jdw ( on July 29, 2000 at 22:40:42:
    Thought I'd toss up my tentative Ballot.
    I'm set on the Top Six, and their order. I'm fairly set on the inclusion of #7-14, but somewhat less set on their order.
    #15-20 is more of a crap shoot between them and another 22 matches that made it past my "first cut" of candidates.
    20. Toshiaki Kawada vs. Gary Albright (10/25/95)
    Technically AJPW had many matches that were better than his in the decade that I've left off. But it makes the cut for uniqueness of match in a AJPW setting, the sureal performance of Kawada, and having a match that Misawa and Kobashi couldn't follow. Whereas many of the matches that did not make the final cut blend in with others of their ilk (like the various Misawa vs. Kawada or Misawa vs. Kobashi matches), this one stands out as memorable half a decade later. Memorable and unique enough to make the cut.
    19. Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Kenta Kobashi (5/24/91)
    The definative Jumbo vs. younger, far lower ranked opponent.
    18. Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue & Masa Fuchi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada & Kenta Kobashi (4/20/91)
    The definative Jumbo & Co. vs. Misawa & Co. six-man tag. So many of their great six men tags blend together as the same level of greatness that it's almost impossible to pick one out to represent the group. I'll pick the Usual Suspect.
    17. Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Akira Taue (9/10/95 - Triple Crown)
    Just to be contrarian and vote for this rather than their Carny Final. They are essential equals.
    16. Stan Hansen vs. Toshiaki Kawada (02/28/93)
    Stan and Kawada set the tone for a great year not only by both, but also for the promotion.
    15. Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama vs. Steve Williams & Johnny Ace (06/07/96 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    Technically the 3/95 match between Misawa & Kobashi vs. Doc & Ace probably was better, but this had the better storylines and selling. 
    14. Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kenta Kobashi (06/12/98 - Triple Crown)
    For one last time, the Ghosts of All Japan Past get up and ride around Budokan.
    13. Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi (10/21/97 - Triple Crown)
    A perfect follow-up to their TC match earlier in the year.
    12. Dan Kroffat & Doug Furnas vs. Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (05/25/92 ¬ All Asia Tag Titles)
    An nod to the once great AJPW mid-cards. Heat, drama, moves... just exceptional. Two of the decade's very best teams peaking at the same moment.
    11. Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (06/08/90)
    10. Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (09/01/90)
    Point, counterpoint to Legend vs. New Star matches.
    9. Toshiaki Kawada vs. Steve Williams (04/16/94 - Carnival 94 Final)
    A near perfect match.
    8. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi (10/15/95 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    I happened to just rewatch this to figure out if my memory overrates this. Nope. I don't think any other four wrestlers could have worked this match. It touched on nearly every storyline element of All Japan's 1995 year, from the "work alone" storylines of the tags, to all of Taue's "growth", to Kawada foreshadowing his match with Albright by destroying Kobashi's arm and working for submissions on it deep into the match. The best 60:00 match in the decade... and probably any other decade.
    7. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue & Yoshinari Ogawa (07/02/93)
    The decade's best six-man tag, and the perfect example of what they once accomplished for the promotion with regularity.
    6. Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi (7/31/93)
    For ten months, the best mens singles match ever. 
    5. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi (12/03/93 - RWTL 93)
    One of the performances of the decade (Kawada's) helped make this the climax to the style of All Japan tag matches begun with the Choshu & Yatsu vs. Tsuruta & Tenryu matches. The following year the teams would create a new style where the "work to the finish" was stretched upwards of 20 minutes, and then beyond. The balance between simplicity and complexity of the work and storytelling keeps this on the top shelf of match I couldn't do without.
    4. Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (01/20/97 - Triple Crown)
    The last time All Japan kicked out a match worthy of being considered *the* Match of the Decade. If this isn't the match of the decade, it's not far off...
    3. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (06/09/95 ¬ World Tag Titles)
    42 minutes building to a finish 30 months in the making. At the time it seemed to be just a taste of what was to come when Kawada would finally get his climactic first singles win over Misawa. Instead the taste was far better than the climax.
    2. Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada (06/03/94 - Triple Crown)
    Wrestling as Art.
    1. Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (12/06/96 - RWTL 96 Finals)
    Simply the best mens match I've ever seen. For one last night, all was right in a decaying promotion.

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Yesterday I watched a Terry Funk v. Stan Hansen match that might be on of my five favorite matches I've ever seen. Jesus. It was from 1983, and glorious. 


No no real point to this post, but thanks to everyone that has replied. I'm officially more of an AJPW Mark than I am a Bill Watts mark. 

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