Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa v Tatsumi Fujinami & Hiroshi Hase (WAR, 2/14/93)
Man the NJ/WAR feud was fucking great. Every Tenryu match has copious amounts of piss and vinegar by virtue of the fact it's a Tenryu match in the first place, but the inter-promotional stuff I've watched so far just ramps it up even more and I cannot get enough of it. And it's in fucking WAR where EVERYTHING is violent. How could I not love that? This has as much cheapshotting and hatred as you expect right from the get go, then Hase gets isolated and Tenryu and Ishikawa just take him to the cleaners. There's a ton of New Japan crowd support even though it's in WAR, and Ishikawa gets some huge heat at points. There's a great moment where he comes in illegally to drop a knee or an elbow on Hase, and a large section of the crowd goes totally nuts. Ishikawa's actually been one of the great discoveries that's come out of watching all this WAR stuff, and this is probably his best "big match" outing yet. There's some great Tenryu/Fujinami interactions here, too. Fujinami has Ishikawa in a dragon sleeper at one point and turns him around so he's facing Tenryu so he can taunt him while he chokes out his teammate. Of course Tenryu makes him pay for it later by punting and stomping him in the kidneys. Stretch run here is fantastic. Hase and Fujinami take Ishikawa out of play and reel off a bunch of NASTY suplexes on Tenryu -- there's a couple urunages from Hase that he takes right on his neck. Tenryu hanging tough long enough for Ishikawa to come back and clear house was amazing, and holy fuck can Ishikawa clear house; his last lariat to Hase to save Tenryu from another German suplex might have been the moment of the whole match. Even the post-match stuff in this feud is perfect. The build to an eventual Hashimoto/Tenryu match has been so great and I can't wait to see the payoff.
Ashura Hara & John Tenta v Haku & The Great Kabuki (WAR, 3/3/93)
The Tenta & Partner v Haku & Partner tag from 1/8 that I watched yesterday was pretty disappointing, but I figured there could be something really good with a little re-shuffling of the participants. This was it. Iaukea didn't do anything for me as Haku's partner in the 1/8 match, but Kabuki takes his place here and is not afraid to throw a mean fucking superkick. Kabuki's a guy that's never really had much of a rep for being good, but the Kabuki stuff I've watched on the Texas set, and now the stuff from WAR, says otherwise. He has these great uppercuts to the throat that look like he's really trying to smash your Adam's apple up into your mouth. Earthquake is your big oak tree as always and man does he take some nasty shots from Haku; giant chops and one crazy superkick right under the jaw. Hara is right there with Ishikawa and Kitahara as the top WAR discoveries and he does his thing again here. His headbutt exchange with Haku is the kind of thing I figured we'd see, and it didn't disappoint. This isn't something everybody will like. A lot of people will probably loathe it. But at this stage in my wrestling fandom, four lumpy dudes smacking each other around is something I can work with no problem.
Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa v Riki Choshu & Osamu Kido (WAR, 3/3/93)
Shockingly enough, this was really fucking good. Choshu and Tenryu are just great as your "team leaders" throwing down, but everybody really brings it here. Plenty of moments where one guy will rail off and punch or chop the opponent on the apron, and it culminates with Choshu winding up for a lariat on Ishikawa only to change direction at the last minute and nail Tenryu on the apron. That kicks off your crazy hot stretch run where Kido just explodes in a flurry of Fujiwara armbars and kneebars in an attempt to make someone tap out. He'll put Ishikawa in an armbar and Tenryu will kick him in the head to break it up, so he'll get up and put Tenryu in an armbar instead. Ishikawa will break that up so Kido will put HIM in an armbar. Tenryu stops that so Kido will grab his leg and hook a kneebar. Crowd is going freaking nuts and Osamu Kido is determined to submit a fool. Really awesome performance from him and I'm hoping there's a Kido v Tenryu singles match out there somewhere. Post-match is even better than the 2/14 post-match with the ring filling up and then you get an awesome shot of Hashimoto striding into the think of it like he just lives for this shit. Handheld guy forgets about the camera and it winds up tilting at an angle and this ring full of beef looks like the titanic is sinking. Then Hashimoto chucks a table so Tenryu gets on the mic and calls him out and then throws it at him. And I'm spent.
El Samurai v Ultimo Dragon (WAR, 3/7/93)
This felt like quite the Samurai carry job. Ultimo does his thing and isn't terrible or anything, but Samurai controls most of it and seems to be holding everything together. Match isn't spectacular, but I can say I'm glad I watched it. It's New Japan v WAR so there's at least the cool moments you probably wouldn't get if it wasn't inter-promotional, like Ultimo punching Samurai in the ear a bunch of times and Samurai getting great heat by acting like a dick that's above this WAR scrub. Didn't think they wasted a ton of time early with the perfunctory juniors matwork either, which was pretty impressive considering it goes almost 20 minutes. They even do a roll-up section towards the end that didn't annoy me. If anything, this makes me want to check out more Sammy in WAR.
John Tenta v Haku (WAR, 3/7/93)
This was fine, although I much preferred the tag from 3/3. There's the nasty shots I expected, but it felt kind of slow and plodding, and the stiffness wasn't enough to make up for it. I enjoy a lot of what these guys do in general, but I really wanted more from this. The post-match with Haku stalking Tenta with a table was probably the best part.
Koki Kitahara v Kuniaki Kobayashi (WAR, 3/7/93)
So these guys were a part of the 3/3 tag with Koshinaka and Orihara, which is a match I thought was a ton of fun, but I came away from it thinking Kobayashi dragged it down. The other three guys in the match were delivering the hate, but Kobayashi was just kind of there. Then this happens and holy shit was it great. Kobayashi is better here and you buy him as someone that hates the guy he's facing, but this is the Kitahara show all day long. He jumps Kobayashi before he gets to the ring and from there he just tries to kick the shit out of him. He spits on him, hurls chairs at him, punts him in the head Tenryu style, etc. In fairness to Kobayashi he gives about as good as he gets, but this was really at its best when Kitahara was bare knuckle punching him in his bloody forehead or kicking his face for a field goal. Kobayashi is really in the Kitahara role from the Kitahara/Ishikawa match I talked about a few days ago, where he's taking an absolute pasting and trying to hang on while the ref' considers stopping it. Kitahara is in the Ishikawa role where he's the one delivering the pasting and couldn't care less about whether the referee wants to check a cut or not. Ref' pushes him back, checks on Kobayashi, Kitahara gets restless and kicks him in the face some more. It was beautiful and violent and WAR in a nutshell.