This is a guest post from Chad Campbell. Chad is the Assistant Managing Editor of placetobenation.com and the co-host of the NWA/WCW Supercard podcast, Where the Big Boys Play.

No current pro wrestling hall of fame carries as much forethought and prestige as the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. Of course, there are numerous inductees I disagree with, but I firmly believe that more thought goes into filling out the WON HOF ballots by the voters than in any other pro wrestling hall of fame. I lay down that gauntlet as groundwork for the hypothetical question that inevitably arises with any hall of fame. What or who is the cutoff point? That murky area is when the hall of fame becomes the hall of very good. WON readers have combated this question by creating the “Gordy List” as a litmus test for candidates. However, this has not provided a definitive argument as to who should be inducted. Looking over the 2014 listing of candidates, I had strong opinions on most of the personalities on whether I would hypothetically vote for them if I had a ballot (Ivan Koloff, Rock N Roll Express), whether I could make a case for them as a candidate (JYD, Dick Murdoch), or whether I think they are not a good candidate for the WON HOF and should be dropped from the list (TenKoji, Owen Hart). One name perplexed me as to which bucket above he belonged to. That man was Akira Taue.
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Taue had been one of the more puzzling wrestlers I have followed on my twenty year wrestling fandom pilgrimage up to this point. Getting into Japanese wrestling in January 2001, I was exposed to a new world with only JDW’s 1990’s AJPW deathvalleydriver.com post to use as a guide map. This also was a time where VHS tapes cost upwards of $15-$20 which was a fortune for a hustling 15-year-old trying to string out his birthday and Christmas haul. These financial hardships made choices on what tapes I got extremely selective. The hype surrounding such All Japan 1990’s classics like Misawa vs. Kawada 6/3/94 and Misawa/Kobashi vs. Kawada/Taue 6/9/95 made those easy choices. Beyond that though, the main feuds that were always pointed to were Kobashi vs. Misawa and Misawa vs. Kawada. Even if you were seeking something different, you generally were referred to the start of the decade and the Jumbo vs. Misawa feud. Misawa, Kobashi, Kawada and Taue were named as the Four Pillars but it was clear who the #4 man of that group was. As a result, I enjoyed Taue in the tags but thought of him as more of a complementary player that had some “surprise” performances like his Champions Carnival 1995 final match vs. Misawa.

Then 6-6-03 happened. By this point, I had exhausted the 1990’s All Japan stuff that had looked great on paper and was ready to move onto Pro Wrestling NOAH. Thankfully, this was also when some more tape traders got into the game and footage became more affordable right as I got my first job. Akira Taue was in the semi-man of a Budokan card against a guy I had my eye on, Yuji Nagata. I was backing the wrong horse in this match as Taue turned in a masterful performance and opened my eyes to a new favorite wrestler to get behind. Throughout the rest of his career, I scolded NOAH when Taue was buried in the undercard multi-man match and cheered uproariously as he got a GHC Title run. I also got a further education on Taue and found a gold mine of great matches from the 1990’s vs. Hansen, Kobashi and Kawada. Taue is someone I am sympathetic for. This makes being objective difficult when conducting HOF research. Taue is like an old mutt that you find on your doorstep. He is unwanted and a little unkept but loyal to a fault and shouldn’t be underestimated. Taue much like the mutt will never have the athletic gifts individuals like Akiyama and Kobashi do, but he didn’t let that stop him from having a wildly successful career and overcompensated on heart, psychology and passion.

The criteria for the Hall of Fame is a combination of drawing power, being a great in-ring performer or excelling in one’s field in pro wrestling, as well as having historical significance in a positive manner.  A candidate should either have something to offer in all three categories, or be someone so outstanding in one or two of those categories that they deserve inclusion. I will now look at Akira Taue in each of these three categories.

Drawing Power

Drawing power in regards to Taue is a tricky subject. For the purposes of this debate, I am giving Taue a timeframe from September 30, 1990 (first Jumbo/Taue vs. Misawa/Kawada tag) to August 5, 2000 (first NOAH show with Taue in main event tag match) as a top performer in the business. I used a combination of prowrestlinghistory.com Japan stats, cagematch.com and an article by Chris Harrington at https://sites.google.com/site/chrisharrington/ajpw_crowds

Chris’ research reveals some interesting traits. The criteria for his analysis was to look at 154 AJPW events from 1973 to 2010 with 5,000 or more people attending (138 with 9k or more, 78 with 15k or more and 4 with 30k or more). He then notated the wrestlers on that show and whether they were in the last match.

Here are the competitors I took note of.

  • Mitsuharu Misawa (WON Hall of Famer): 92 matches (5k), 91 matches (10k), 43 main events
  • Toshiaki Kawada (WON Hall of Famer): 115 matches (5k), 104 matches (10k), 43 main events
  • Jumbo Tsurtua (WON Hall of Famer): 74 matches (5k), 73 matches (10k), 30 main events
  • Steve Williams (WON Hall of Famer): 68 matches (5k), 66 matches (10k), 16 main events
  • Stan Hansen (WON Hall of Famer): 81 matches (5k), 81 matches (10k), 24 main events
  • Jun Akiyama: 54 matches (5k), 54 matches (10k), 10 main events
  • Akira Taue: 74 matches (5k), 74 matches (10k), 24 main events

Note: I excluded Kenta Kobashi on this analysis because of the amount of drawing power that helps his HOF case rooted in his NOAH run.

Looking at the above candidates, it is clear to me that Misawa and Kawada are the cream of the crop both from a pure match quantity standpoint as well as their drawing ability in main events. They dominate the field.

Beyond that, I was struck at how well Taue hung with the rest of the field including Jumbo and Hansen. Taue was in as many main events as Hansen and wrestled as many matches in front of 5k+ fans as Jumbo. Jumbo does have 25% more main events than Taue but the number is not outrageously different especially when you take into account Taue’s NOAH run where he was in the main event of a few more shows that drew 5k+. This data essentially includes Jumbo’s entire career. Jun Akiyama is a candidate on the same HOF ballot as Taue and does have a better NOAH run on his resume but their output in All Japan has Taue clearly ahead. Steve Williams was inducted into the HOF in the Japanese region with less overall matches and 50% less main event matches as Taue did.

One argument against the amount of matches someone has in All Japan drawing a big crowd could be that the Budokan Hall shows in the 1990’s were insanely hot and sold out no matter where you were on the card. I looked at Taiyo Kea to test this theory.

Taiyo Kea: 70 matches (5k), 56 matches (10k), 8 main events

It is clear to see from the data above that Kea was able to ride the coat-tails of the hot All Japan wave in the 1990’s and be on a lot of high drawing cards. However, when asked to main event shows, the box office numbers don’t lead to a lot of financial success.

Budokan Hall was the mecca of All Japan Pro Wrestling in the 1990’s. I wanted to test Taue against the cards by showing his card placement of each Budokan Hall for his uprising and through his Triple Crown victory.

VoicesofWrestling.com - Akira Taue Hall of Fame

March 6, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 15,900 ($745,000)

  1. Samson Fuyuki & Toshiaki Kawada beat Mighty Inoue & Akira Taue (10:54).

– Not a bad undercard match to fill out a card but certainly not a heavy drawing aspect of the show.

June 8, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 14,800

  1. Samson Fuyuki & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi beat Akira Taue & Masao Orihara (11:41) when Kikuchi pinned Orihara.

– Another non-descript undercard tag for Taue.

September 1, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 15,300 

  1. Giant Baba, Akira Taue, & Rusher Kimura beat Haruka Eigan, Motoshi Okuma, & Masa Fuchi (10:35).

– Some big names but another undercard appearance for Taue even though by this time he was starting to formulate himself as Jumbo’s main tag partner.

December 7, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 15,600

  1. Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada beat Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (22:54) when Kawada pinned Taue.

– The first big spot for Taue in his career as a semi-main below an all-gaijin tag match for the Real World Tag League crown. He also gets pinned by Kawada in this match setting up their rivalry throughout 1991. This show presents a clear tonal shift in how Taue was presented on the major cards.

April 18, 1991 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 15,960

  1.  Akira Taue beat Toshiaki Kawada (15:53) via countout.

– A very strong show overall and Taue being able to work third from the top in his first feature singles match in Budokan. He even gets a countout victory over his main rival.

June 1, 1991 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 15,960

  1. All Japan World Tag Champs Stan Hansen & Danny Spivey beat Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (15:40) when Spivey pinned Taue.

– There we have it, Taue’s first main event along with a hotly contested Misawa vs. Gordy match underneath. This had to be tremendous news that the attendance stayed the same as the previous Budokan show.

September 4, 1991 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 15,650

  1. All Japan World Tag Champs Mitsu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada beat Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (26:34) when Misawa forced Tsuruta to submit.

– This is just a superb match with Misawa forcing Jumbo to submit in a big moment. I am a little miffed that the attendance is slightly lower than the last Budokan show.

December 6, 1991 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($800,000)

  1. Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue beat Stan Hansen & Danny Spivey (12:12).

– Back to semi-main status but still a marquee match and a big win for the tag team overall. This is the first Budokan show listed with a gate amount attached. Points wise, Jumbo and Taue were tied for second in the Real World Tag League for 1991.

March 4, 1992 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300

  1. Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue beat Terry Gordy & Steve Williams (31:18) to win the All Japan World Tag Title when Tsuruta pinned Williams.

– A big crowd on hand to see Taue’s career highlight up to this point as him/Jumbo capture the Tag Titles.

June 5, 1992 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300

  1. All Japan World Tag Champs Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue beat Mitsu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi (27:12) when Taue pinned Kobashi.

– Business as usual here and Taue gets a nice pinfall victory over a streaking up the ranks Kobashi.

August 22, 1992 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($840,000)

  1. Terry Gordy & Steve Williams beat Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (24:38) when Gordy pinned Tsuruta.

– Semi-main event on the card where Misawa wins the Triple Crown for the first time. This pinfall shows me that they knew something was “up” with Jumbo.

October 21, 1992 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300

  1. Akira Taue & Yoshinori Ogawa beat Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Jun Akiyama (11:31) when Taue pinned Akiyama.

– Weird show to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the promotion and Taue’s return to the midcard. He does at least get the pinfall over a recently debuted Akiyama.

December 4, 1992 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,000 ($840,000)

  1. Mitsu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada beat Akira Taue & Jun Akiyama (23:52) to win the 1992 Real World Tag League and the vacant All Japan World Tag Title when Misawa pinned Akiyama.

– Final match of the RWTL but kind of deceiving in the fact that Taue and Akiyama finished fifth for the tournament. Still, this was the match chosen to go on last and Taue was clearly the draw of his team for a card that was announced ahead of time and still drew a sellout to Budokan.

February 28, 1993 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($850,000)

  1. All Japan Triple Crown Champ Mitsu Misawa pinned Akira Taue (22:33).

– Super card with Hansen vs. Kawada and Spivey vs. Kobashi underneath but Taue’s first Triple Crown challenge in Budokan is a huge success. 

June 1, 1993 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($850,000)

  1. All Japan World Tag Champs Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue beat Mitsu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi (29:12) when Kawada pinned Kobashi.

– First ever match between these tag pairings and nuclear heat in Budokan. The Hold Demon Army has formed as Jumbo becomes a distant memory without any downturn in the business.

July 29, 1993 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($850,000)

  1. Akira Taue beat Bubba Rogers (8:31).

– This is a third from the top singles win for Taue, but a step down from where he has positioned on the last few cards. Keep this in mind as Taue goes through a little bit of a phase out period around this time.

September 3, 1993 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($850,000)

  1.  Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase beat Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (13:12) to win the All Japan World Tag Title when Hansen pinned Taue.

– This is a strong showing as Ted was on his last legs here and Dr. Death still wasn’t a huge draw but in the main event vs. Misawa. Taue getting pinned is disappointing as is the tag strap loss.

October 23, 1993 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($850,000)

  1. The Eagle & The Patriot beat Akira Taue & Yoshinori Ogawa (10:13).

– Taue’s worst Budokan showing in more than two years. Even though he didn’t take the loss, losing to this team is disappointing. This card was carried by Kobashi vs. Kawada and Misawa vs. Hansen on top.

December 3, 1993 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($850,000)

  1. Mitsu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi beat Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (23:24) to win the 1993 Real World Tag League and the vacant All Japan World Tag Title when Kobashi pinned Kawada.

– Huge crowd and Taue is back in the main event for this historic match to cap off the RWTL.

March 5, 1994 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue beat Takako Omori & Jun Akiyama (12:02) when Taue pinned Omori.

– Taue is in the second best looking match on an overall weak Budokan card built around Baba being in the main event and Misawa getting a pinfall over him.

April 16, 1994 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1. Akira Taue pinned Johnny Smith (6:34).

– Undercard match on the final night of the 1994 Carnival where Williams proves himself as a draw in 1994 and goes on the best run of his life.

June 3, 1994 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1. Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama beat Tamon Honda & Akira Taue (19:30).

– We all know what this show is all about but this a nifty tag match underneath to fill out the card where Kobashi and Taue take center stage.

July 28, 1994 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1. Toshiaki Kawada, Masa Fuchi, & Akira Taue beat Giant Baba, Kenta Kobashi, & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (22:42) when Taue pinned Kikuchi.

– A status-quo semi main event where they at least gave Taue the pinfall win.

September 3, 1994 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,100,000) 

  1.  Mitsu Misawa, Giant Baba, & Tamon Honda beat Toshiaki Kawada, Akira Taue, & Takao Omori (30:59) when Misawa pinned Omori.

– Ditto of the previous match. Taue seems to be in a bit of a rut currently with other individuals like Williams and Kobashi becoming more of a priority.

October 22, 1994 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 

  1. Mitsu Misawa & Stan Hansen beat Akira Taue & Kenta Kobashi (28:22).

– Really fun semi-main with unique pairings to compliment Kawada’s first Triple Crown win.

December 10, 1994 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1. Stan Hansen & Giant Baba beat Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (26:30) when Hansen pinned Kawada. As a result, Misawa & Kobashi ended up winning the 1994 Real World Tag League.

– Final match of the RWTL and once again Taue is this close to winning the whole tournament.

March 4, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1. Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta, & Jun Akiyama beat Akira Taue, Masa Fuchi, & Masao Inoue (17:27).

– This match is only unique for Jumbo and Baba being involved.

April 15, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1. Mitsu Misawa pinned Akira Taue (27:03) to win the 1995 Champion Carnival.

– Taue’s best performance to date both from a drawing standpoint and a match quality one. This match is a masterpiece in every way.

June 9, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue beat Mitsu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi (42:37) to win the All Japan World Tag Title when Kawada pinned Misawa.

– Speaking of masterpieces.

July 24, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1. Akira Taue drew Kenta Kobashi (30:00).

– A really nifty semi-main with them going back to the Kawada vs. Misawa well for the main event.

September 10, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1. All Japan Triple Crown Champ Mitsu Misawa pinned Akira Taue (20:50).

– Another great showing for Taue in what is becoming his overall best year.

October 25, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300

  1. Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta, & Stan Hansen beat Tamon Honda, Takao Omori, & Akira Taue (16:52) when Hansen pinned Honda.

– Third from the top with a loaded side going up against Taue and company.

December 9, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($1,000,000)

  1.  Mitsu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi beat Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (24:04) to win the 1995 Real World Tag League when Kobashi pinned Taue.

– Holy Demon Army come up short in the RWTL again as Taue finishes out the year strong from a drawing standpoint.

March 2, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 14,000 ($800,000)

  1. All Japan World Tag Champs Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue beat Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (20:42) when Taue pinned Akiyama.

– Semi-main slot for the lowest attended Budokan show in forever. Albright vs. Misawa flops on top and Taue still has Akiyama’s number.

April 20, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,000 ($1,000,000)

  1. Akira Taue pinned Steve Williams (21:41) to win the 1996 Champion Carnival.

– Taue’s strongest showing to date. Williams was on the severe decline and Taue gets his biggest win and a nice attendance jump over the previous show.

June 7, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 15,000 ($1,000,000)

  1. All Japan Triple Crown Champ Akira Taue pinned Toshiaki Kawada (17:41).

– Taue defeated Misawa in Sapporo to end his near one year Triple Crown reign and he gets a nice Budokan victory over his tag partner. 

July 24, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 15,000

  1. Kenta Kobashi pinned Akira Taue (27:25) to win the All Japan Triple Crown.

– Taue drops the strap ending the year of Taue.

September 5, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 14,500 

  1. Akira Taue, Yoshinori Ogawa, & Tamon Honda beat Toshiaki Kawada, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, & Masa Fuchi (17:24) when Taue pinned Kikuchi. 

– Third from the top nothing six man, but the attendance for Kobashi’s first Triple Crown defense in Budokan was weaker than Taues.

October 18, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 14,000

  1. Giant Baba, Dory Funk Jr., & Akira Taue beat Jumbo Tsuruta, Mitsu Misawa, & Jun Akiyama (15:36).

 – Tons of legends here and again Kawada vs. Kobashi this time on top fails to draw as good a crowd as Taue did vs. both men. 

December 6, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 

  1. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue beat Mitsu Misawa & Jun Akiyama (31:37) to win the 1996 Real World Tag League when Kawada pinned Misawa.

– Holy Demon Army finally gets their RWTL win as business returns to peak form.

On 1/20/97 in Osaka, Akiyama pinned Taue in just less than five minutes in a stunning upset. This in some ways spelled the end of Taue as a top guy as he lingered around the top of the card at times but never was consistently in the main or semi-main of the Budokan shows like he has been for each of the last five years. I will now only highlight the shows where Taue is in the main event match.

July 25, 1997 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300 ($850,000)

  1. All Japan Triple Crown Champ Mitsu Misawa pinned Akira Taue (20:25).

– Business as usual for these two bitter rivals.

December 5, 1997 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 15,500

  1. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue beat Mitsu Misawa & Jun Akiyama (30:52) to win the 1997 Real World Tag League when Taue pinned Akiyama.

– They had saved up this match throughout the year to pop a nice crowd and it does a good showing. Taue also gets his win back on Akiyama from earlier in the year.

May 1, 1998 in Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo Dome drawing 48,300 ($4,000,000)

  1. Akira Taue, Takao Omori, & Masao Inoue beat Gladiator, Tetsuhiro Kuroda, & Hideki Hosaka (17:43) when Taue pinned Hosaka.

– This shows the phase down of Taue somewhat as here he is being asked to carry a midcard  match with his star power on the biggest gate the company ever had up to this point.

September 11, 1998 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300

  1. All Japan Triple Crown Champ Kenta Kobashi pinned Akira Taue (25:39).

– Really strong showing for Taue given his placement on the cards and this overall Budokan card as a whole. This show is one of the biggest plusses in his argument as a draw.

March 6, 1999 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300

  1. Vader pinned Akira Taue (12:31) to win the vacant All Japan Triple Crown

– Hey, it happened again as Vader’s arrival in All Japan did have intrigue but they entrusted Taue to get him over.

May 2, 1999 in Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo Dome drawing 50,000 ($5,000,000)

  1. Steve Williams, Stan Hansen, & Akira Taue beat Gary Albright, Takao Omori, & Yoshihiro Takayama (16:10) when Hansen pinned Takayama.

– An argument can be made for this as third from the top on this show that was essentially build around the Baba Memorial.

September 4, 1999 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300

  1. Akira Taue pinned Hiroshi Hase (15:11).

– An intriguing match proving that Taue was still getting some quality singles wins.

December 3, 1999 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300

  1. Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama beat Akira Taue & Stan Hansen (20:15) to win the 1999 Real World Tag League when Akiyama pinned Taue.

– A great showing to end the RWTL and positioned to be a last hurrah of sorts for Hansen.

June 9, 2000 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,300

  1. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue beat Takao Omori & Yoshihiro Takayama (16:59) to win the vacant All Japan World Tag Title when Kawada pinned Omori.

– Last Budokan before the big split and the Holy Demon Army draw a big house.

As stated previously, I don’t consider Taue’s NOAH run as evidence of him as a top draw based on the way he was presented as an enhancement guy, comedy guy, chain smoker, Baba impersonates, etc. Taue did have some big NOAH matches though that is highlighted below. This evidence to me is “gravy” to his effectiveness as a draw.

June 6, 2003 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,000

  1. Yuji Nagata beat Akira Taue (15:53).

-This was second from the top with a GHC tag title defense being the last match and Misawa vs. Sano being one match below. I do think it is fair to say that both of these guys deserve a good bit of credit in drawing this house.

September 10, 2004 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 12,500

  1. GHC Champ Kenta Kobashi pinned Akira Taue (28:05).

– The most disappointing figure from all of the data compiled. It is not atrocious, but it is significantly less than most of the other Kobashi GHC title defenses.

September 18, 2005 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,500

  1. Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue beat Jun Akiyama & Genichiro Tenryu (19:20) when Taue pinned Akiyama.

– Big time semi-main event and a big redemption story for Taue starts with him pinning Akiyama.

November 5, 2005 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,600

  1. Akira Taue pinned Takeshi Rikio (20:43) to win the GHC Title.

– One of the three best cases of Taue being a draw in his career. A fabulous number and a great feel good story culminating.

January 22, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,800

  1. Jun Akiyama pinned Akira Taue (20:31) to win the GHC Title.

– Another great showing for Taue as he drops the strap to Akiyama.

March 5, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 16,600

  1. Naomichi Marufuji pinned Akira Taue (13:23)

– Don’t let the low match placement fool you as this was a new vs. old show with Taue helping Marufuji’s development tremendously.

July 15, 2007 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 8,000

  1.  GHC Champ Mitsuharu Misawa pinned Akira Taue (16:44).

-This number looks atrocious on paper but a weird thing happened in 2007. The Budokan crowds suddenly more accurately reflected the true attendance as the business was significantly on the decline. This number is consistent with others around this time and is actually more than a Misawa vs. Samoa Joe defense drew three months later.

September 27, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan
Budokan Hall drawing 18,000

  1. Kenta Kobashi & Yoshihiro Takayama beat Akira Taue & Keiji Mutoh (21:53) when Kobashi pinned Taue.

– Part 1 of the Misawa tribute matches.

Overall, I think the evidence is presented that Taue was a protected worker that was trustworthy to be put into a spot a draw consistently. While he is not at the level of the top talent of All Japan in drawing ability, there certainly was a steep decline when he was involved in the main event picture and he could be relied upon.

Click here to continue to Part 2 of Chad’s look at Akira Taue’s Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame case