The End of the Four Pillars of Heaven. On December 3rd, 1993, the Four Pillars style of wrestling match first took place. Two years later, on December 9th, 1995, that style was shown for the last time as Misawa and Kobashi vs Taue and Kawada.
December 9th, 1995 marked the last time the Four Pillars – Misawa, Kobashi, and the Holy Demon Army, Kawada, and Taue – wrestled in the same two-on-two tag match together. After this, things changed for the company in terms of legendary match-ups. Kawada spoke out publicly against All Japan Pro-Wrestling, leading to his punishment and expulsion from main-event singles matches.
This led to Taue capturing the Triple Crown Heavyweight championship from Misawa, which set up Kobashi getting his first world title reign. And from then on, Kobashi stopped teaming with Misawa and struck out on his own. Misawa needed a new main partner and found one in Jun Akiyama, which led to an entirely new set of great matches. While the four men worked together in a two-on-two matchup four years later it simply wasn’t the same in terms of story, style, and substance.
Thus today, we look back on what is considered the last and final of the famed Four Pillars style matches.
‘On This Day’ is a commemorative article series. It is dedicated to specific events, matches, and occurrences in wrestling history. We revisit those key moments and look back at how they went down and what they meant to the wrestling industry. The End of the Four Pillars of Heaven between Misawa and Kobashi vs Kawada and Taue is that match.
The End of the Four Pillars of Heaven
A Wild Commencement
The match started far more wildly than their previous encounters. Instead of a protracted lockup and traditional wrestling, Kawada asserted control within seconds with a Backdrop Driver and a high kick to Kobashi’s face. Misawa tried to intervene, but he ended up on the receiving end of finishers from both Kawada and Taue. And to add more insult to injury, Kawada kicked Misawa in the eye, targeting his damaged orbital bone like he had done several times before.
Within the first five minutes of the match, Kawada and Taue all but removed Misawa from the match by dropping him with one big move after another, including a Doomsday Chokeslam from the apron (which looks exactly how it reads). With Misawa out, the Holy Demon Army could focus on Kobashi and target his arms and neck to make it even harder for him to mount any sort of offensive comeback. And they went all-in with that strategy, even going so far as to lock in simultaneous MMA-style armbars on Kobashi so that he couldn’t use either arm.
After that long stretch, Misawa managed to tag in and did what he does best: hit and hit hard. He drooped both Taue and Kawada with hard elbow strikes and tried to end Kawada with his patented Tiger Driver and Tiger Suplex. But this didn’t work, and soon he too found himself overpowered by a duo working together as a well-oiled machine. And Kobashi couldn’t really help him because he was trying to recover from his own encounter with the Holy Demon Army.
Recovery from The Holy Demon Army
However, Misawa gave Kobashi just enough time to recover. So when Misawa tagged him, Kobashi was able to make a great second comeback. After all, Kawada and Taue had attacked his arms but neglected to damage his legs. That allowed Kobashi to use some moves to greater effect, especially his moonsault finisher.
And from there, it became another classic AJPW-style rollercoaster of constant ups and downs. Each pinfall beyond that point could conceivably end the match. And since there was no restriction on how many times a partner could break up a pin, there was no telling how the match would unfold. Would Kobashi kick out of Kawada’s powerbomb?
Would Taue make the save when Kawada was getting pinned, or would Kawada kick out? What move would be the one to get the win? A high-angle suplex? A type of powerbomb? A stiff strike to the face? Or even a submission hold? There was simply no way of telling.
But in the end, it was something obvious yet logical. Kobashi won with a second moonsault, thanks to not having to worry about more damage to his knee or added pain from stiff Kawada kicks. And with that victory, Misawa and Kobashi won the World’s strongest Tag Determination League for a record third year in a row and the last Four Pillars match came to an end.
Misawa & Kobashi vs Taue & Kawada
Which Team Was Better?
So, after all, was said and done, which team was better? The Super Generation Army or the Holy Demon Army?
If we look at actual match results, there’s no clear answer. This was the ninth and final Four Pillars two-on-two tag match. The complete results between them were as follows:
- June 1st, 1993: Kawada & Taue won
- December 3rd, 1993: Misawa & Kobashi won
- May 21st, 1994: Misawa & Kobashi won
- November 25th, 1994: 30-minute draw
- January 24th, 1995: 60-minute draw
- June 9th, 1995: Kawada & Taue won
- October 15th, 1995: 60-minute draw
- November 21st, 1995: Kawada & Taue won
- December 9th, 1995: Misawa & Kobashi won
Nine matches, three wins for each team, three losses for each team, and three draws.
If we look at tournament wins, then those results clearly favor Misawa. He won it four times between 1992 and 1995. Three of those times were with Kobashi, and one was, ironically, with Kawada. The Holy Demon Army wouldn’t become the dominant tag team (at least from a tournament perspective) until 1996.
That leaves us with championship glory to look at. And in this department, Misawa and Kobashi win again. Although Kawada and Taue both had more individual tag team reigns (and were the actual champions going into this match), they didn’t have as much success as Misawa and Kobashi. They won the (vacant) titles in both the 1993 and 1994 WSTDL tournaments and technically didn’t lose them until June 9th, 1995.
And with that, the legendary Four Pillars stopped tagging with each other on a regular basis. Luckily, they still ended up having amazing matches with each other and others for the rest of the decade, continuing the great match streak that had begun all the way back in 1990.