Sunday, 14 October 2012

Jerry Estrada v La Fiera (Chain Match) (Monterrey, 1991)

This was fucking unreal. I had ludicrously high expectations that could really only be met if it turned out to be the greatest match of all time, and it wasn't quite that, but God damn was it still fucking awesome. The atmosphere is amazing in this. The mat is all torn up and within three minutes there's blood spurting out of Jerry Estrada's forehead, and it all kind of feels like human cock-fighting in a dimly lit, seedy arena. I've basically said this every time I've written anything about a Jerry Estrada match, but man, I fucking love Jerry Estrada. In a match with as much blood and brutality as this one, my favourite part of the whole thing might be Estrada just headbutting the referee right in the snout for trying to stop him from murdering Fiera. Estrada is also the king of the stumbling half-in-the-can tope, and he rolls out a topper in this. Fiera was amazing here as well, though. He comes out at the start wearing spiked gloves and punches Estrada in the face, then when the refs finally get him to take them off he wraps the chain around Estrada's throat and drags him all around the ring. There's this one bit where it looks like he's actually trying to castrate Estrada with the chain. Like, I can't even describe it properly. This also has the best 'guy suplexes himself and opponent over the top rope' spot I've ever seen. Fiera picks Jerry up for a vertical suplex, but he can't hold him properly and is unsteady on his feet (and after all the blood loss and psycho shit they'd put themselves through you can buy that being legit). He stumbles backwards and falls into the ropes, and Estrada drops like a bag of rocks to the floor, but he either holds onto Fiera or Fiera gets tangled up with the chain and he winds up tumbling out after Estrada. That description doesn't really do it justice, but it looked utterly insane and reckless and no wonder Jerry Estrada is in a fucking wheelchair. Finish is really weird and goofy and pretty crappy, but this is Monterrey and I'm pretty sure every match that's ever happened in Monterrey has some kind of horseshit finish, so whatever. That aside, this was just an absolute first class brawl.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Fear Cuts Deeper Than Swords. Tenryu Cuts Deeper Than Fear

Genichiro Tenryu v Tatsumi Fujinami (New Japan, 4/29/96) - GREAT

God damn this was great -- definitely one of the best sub-ten minute matches I've ever seen. Tenryu is just the absolute greatest cunt ever. Fujinami hits two topes early, then he tries a third one and Tenryu blocks it by punching him dead in the face as he's about to jump through the ropes. Fujinami's nose just explodes across his face. It's pretty much a geyser of blood and everybody within a sixty foot radius gets blasted by it. Couple sick visuals of him with Tenryu in the figure four and the blood just pouring down his chest, then later on he locks in the dragon sleeper and Tenryu's chest winds up covered in it as well. Fuck, Tenryu gets so much over him he tells the ref' to come close and tries to wipe it on him (which was fucking awesome. "Hey! HEY! Get the fuck back with that. GAWD"). Tenryu zeroes right in on it and starts punching and kicking him in the nose. He makes GREAT dickheaded facial expressions while he's doing it. Amazing moment where Fujinami gets fed up and starts potato punching him in the cheek bone and Tenryu sells it like someone just yanked his molars out with pliers, then he cuts Fujinami off by punching him in his broken nose with BOTH hands. AT THE SAME TIME. DOUBLE PUNCH! The post-match "You've got some blood on you" bit was so great as well. What an asshole. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if I had to pick one wrestler to watch for the rest of my life, I'd pick Tenryu.

Genichiro Tenryu, Takashi Ishikawa & Masao Orihara v Shiro Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura & Great Kabuki (WAR, 3/7/93) - GOOD

Not as violent as the amazing Hashimoto tag from the same show, but still a perfectly good way to cap off a Hell of a WAR card. Could've done with more Tenryu, but everything could do with more Tenryu so it's not much of a criticism. Besides, the Tenryu we do get is as good as you'd expect. He has a few particularly awesome exchanges with Koshinaka and Kabuki. 1992 potato farmer Koshinaka is so much more my thing than the Koshinaka I had to sit through on the New Japan 80s set. 80s Koshinaka generally bored me to tears, but this Koshinaka just punches guys right in the nose and comes across like a hateful, grumpy bastard. Every time he and Tenryu match-up you can buy the idea that they have no problem at all teeing off on one another, and Tenryu's lariat towards the end was ridiculously nasty, full force right under the chin. Tenryu and Kabuki only lock horns a couple times, and it's always short, but man do they lay into each other. There's this great exchange where Tenryu's throwing chops and Kabuki's throwing his awesome uppercuts, neither guy backing down, so Tenryu just hauls off and chops him in the throat. Kabuki sells it like someone did him with a pocket knife and he never forgets for the rest of the match. His revenge suprkick down the stretch felt like a fucking revenge spot. Orihara takes a total shit-kicking here and works THREE extended isolation segments. I thought he was pretty great working as your defiant underdog that refuses to give the invaders the satisfaction of beating him, and of course that prompts the invaders to lay it in some more. The final Kimura running knee he takes was just disgusting. 

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Jumbo Tsuruta & Hiroshi Wajima (All Japan, 1/24/88) - GREAT 

Tenryu's ring jacket says "CATCH US IF YOU CAN!" He starts this out by jumping Jumbo at the bell, but it backfires and he ends up being the recipient of a beatdown with a busted forehead. Wajima looks pretty decrepit here but he headbutts Tenryu about ninety times upon introduction to the match and that kind of ruled. I actually thought he was fine in general as the old geezer that was out of his league, especially with his willingness to get the shit stomped out of him. He isn't all that interesting offensively, but there's one sequence with Tenryu that culminates with him hitting a big backdrop that looked pretty swank. The Tenryu/Jumbo stuff ruled again and Tenryu appears to be REALLY putting it all together at this point. I'm probably overrating this by putting it just outside the top 20, but structurally it was way more up my alley than most of the tags before it and didn't suffer from being too long. Kept up a good pace, had a good layout, plenty of hate and ill will, stayed focused...yeah, this was good [EDIT: finished as my overall #45].

Genichiro Tenryu v Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 8/31/87) - EPIC

Hell of a way to kick off the Jumbo/Tenryu series. This feels like the closest thing to King's Road yet, from the early blocking of strikes to the general layout. I really liked how they started it out, with both guys clearly wary of getting too close to each other for fear of getting popped in the mouth. They know how each other ticks as a tag partner, but as a singles opponent it's a different ballgame and you can't be too careful. First great spot comes when Jumbo cracks Tenryu with a few nasty back elbows in the corner, so Tenryu responds by RIFLING off a slap right to Jumbo's ear and the look of utter contempt that Jumbo shoots him in return is glorious. I though Jumbo was really great here as the big man on campus, busting out a few of Tenryu's own signature moves and generally ramping up the violence because he refuses to give up his spot to the guy that used to play second fiddle to him. The first real stretch of offence comes when Jumbo tries to hit a lariat which Tenryu partially blocks, but the force still has him reeling enough that he staggers into the corner. Jumbo rolls down the knee pad and follows up with a high knee, and while Tenryu's blade job isn't the craziest thing you'll see, Jumbo goes to work on the cut anyway. They kind of tease a finishing stretch after Tenryu hits a German suplex, but Jumbo's still too fresh and keeps up the assault. That leads to him going for another high knee in the corner, but Tenryu knows it's coming and counters by ducking and ripping the turnbuckle pad away in the process so Jumbo winds up kneeing steel. That was a fucking awesome transition spot that I don't remember ever seeing before. Jumbo's comeback with the HUGE backdrop was fucking great as well. I don't dislike the fact they went with a count out for the finish, but I wish they hadn't made it so painfully obvious. Still, all of the bombs and shots they were throwing down the stretch ruled, and this wound up finishing as my #8 on the All Japan ballot (any my second favourite Jumbo/Tenryu match behind 6/5/89).

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 12/6/86) - GOOD

I probably would've liked this less if I didn't already have a pretty good idea that it was going to a draw beforehand, because it becomes pretty clear early on that these guys are killing time. It's worked almost 50/50 right down the middle in terms of how much each team take on offense and it's basically your turn/my turn the whole way through. Really, it's these four "doin' stuff" for half an hour. Not really a match dynamic I tend to get much out of, but these guys have a ton of shit to fill time with and the general level of hatred and intensity is always high. Basically, I liked what they were actually bringing to the table, if not the way they went about bringing it. Or setting said table. Whatever; the SICK strike exchange between Tenryu and Choshu is reason enough to watch this.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Chaos is a Friend of Tenryu's

Genichiro Tenryu v Yoshiaki Yatsu (SWS, 10/29/91) - EPIC

Well this was fucking awesome, and probably the best match in the short history of SWS. These guys are pretty much a perfect match-up to me personally, because they will hate each other to death and beat the absolute living fuck out of each other. First 8 or so minutes of this are entirely Yatsu, and I have no idea what Tenryu did to deserve such an unholy shitkicking. Yatsu blasts him right in the ear with a wild slap, nukes him with a sick lariat, elbows him in the ear, rains down mounted punches above the eye to cut him open, bulldogs him on the exposed concrete, etc. Just a complete mauling. Then he throws one slap too many and Tenryu decides he's had enough, and Tenryu beating on Yatsu might be even more harrowing than Yatsu beating on Tenryu. He gives him this look of utter contempt and chops him right in the throat (Yatsu clutches at it like it just broke his trachea), and I'm not sure there's anything better in wrestling than Tenryu chopping a fucker in the throat. Whole match is basically one guy taking a run on offence and unloading with as much nasty looking shit as possible, then the other guy taking over and trying to top it with even nastier shit. Tenryu's short punts to the face and eye are just brutal. Yatsu hits these crazy looking enziguris to the side of the head and face that probably concussed Tenryu. Yatsu torpedoes himself off the top rope and headbutts Tenryu in the cheek. Just moment after moment of violence. Tenryu's flurry of slaps before the finish felt like a receipt for every time Yatsu punched him in the face or kicked him in the ribs or stomped on his liver. And by the time Tenryu hits the powerbomb, Yatsu's out before he even hits the ground.

Genichiro Tenryu v Stan Hansen (All Japan, 3/9/88) - GREAT

Definitely my favourite Hansen/Tenryu match so far, and currently just inside my top 20. Starts out with both guys swinging wildly and Tenryu going right for the enziguiri, so Hansen just bowls him out to the floor with a shoulder block and beats him up. He works Tenryu's back from here on out and everything he does looks gloriously hurty. Hansen's kneedrops are the greatest, the way he jabs the knee right into the spine, and from time to time he'll just start punting Tenryu in the kidneys, which also ruled. Really liked the finish here too – Tenryu goes for a fisherman suplex and can't lift Hansen because his back is hurt, so he regroups and tries to hit a German suplex only for that to fail as well. Stan has Tenryu where he wants him and goes for the kill, but he lowers his head and Tenryu seizes the opportunity. He may not be able to lift him up for the big bombs, but he can still perform a small package. Post-match Hansen goes nuts, wrapping the bullrope around his arm and hitting the lariat on Tenryu, tearing up the ringside area, chasing after fans, etc. He goes back to Tenryu and Hara jumps in the way so he just cracks him with a cowbell and punts Higuchi in the liver. Then he leaves. Some guy tries to get an interview out of Tenryu and Tenryu's all "Dude...seriously, just fuck off." I eagerly await the rematch.

Genichiro Tenryu v Stan Hansen (All Japan, 3/27/88) - EPIC

Man, with a better finish this might have been fucking with my top 5. Someone picking their opponent's shoulders up off the mat during a pin attempt is a spot I don't like at the best of times, but when you're Stan Hansen and you've just drilled a guy with a Western Lariat (dead in the middle of the ring, which is pretty much a guaranteed victory) only to pick him up and then get DQ'd twenty seconds later, I tend to throw my hands up. The fact he tries to maim Tenryu afterwards is small salvation, but this was a total fucking slaughterhouse of a match that ended with the most deflating DQ finish on the set for me personally. Luckily what comes before it is as awesome as the finish is crappy. These guys seriously knock lumps out of each other, especially Hansen who is as violent as I've ever seen him. He looks like a rabid animal during the intros, pacing back and forth, itching to take a bite out of anyone that gets close enough. Tenryu charges him at the bell and gets a couple licks in, but Hansen sneaks in a big forearm and levels him with a punch right to the eye, and from that point on Tenryu is fighting an uphill battle. Hansen is just ridiculously vicious, focusing his entire attack on the cut above Tenryu's eye. There's a couple punts that would make the FUTEN boys grimace and there's a great spot where he blocks a powerbomb attempt by dragging Tenryu to the mat and nailing him with one of the nastiest kneedrops you'll see. This is worked more evenly than their last match. That had Hansen controlling the majority of it by working the back with Tenryu fighting back in spurts. Tenryu ramps up the violence this time out (he'd be dead if he didn't) and is willing to give just as good as he gets. Hansen starts punching him dead in the face, so he just grabs Hansen's fist to block it and uncorks with a huge left hand of his own before following up with a monster lariat. He also gears most of the nastiness towards Hansen's ribs, at one point running all the way across the ring and punting him so hard that he ends up flinging himself out the ring. Really, I know what I like in my pro-wrestling and THIS is it. I am super stoked for the next instalment on disc 11.

Genichiro Tenryu v Stan Hansen (All Japan, 7/27/88) - GREAT

I prefer their 3/27 match by a little, but this was still fucking great and currently sitting in my top 15. Tenryu's a guy that has taken the blade to his head a few times already, but it’s always produced a mere trickle of blood that's wound up being hidden by his fringe. Hansen jumps him in the aisle here and Tenryu BLEEDS like a faucet, and not even Cousin Itt's fringe could hide this. From that point on the story of the match is basically Tenryu fighting an uphill battle against this freight train of violence. Hansen just paints a bulls-eye on the cut like you'd expect, at one point throwing a couple back elbows that looked brutal as all get out, and Tenryu is great at eating all of this and stumbling around like he's half dead. Hansen eventually goes for the kill, but Tenryu manages to catch him in the ribs with a knee as he's charging in for the lariat, and that opens a window of opportunity. I don't know if Tenryu going after Hansen's ribs was supposed to play off their last match, but it was some cool continuity regardless. Tenryu goes for the elbow off the top to cap off a run of offence, but Hansen moves and just bowls him out to the floor with these nasty shoulderblocks before blasting him with a chair. Still, Tenryu keeps plugging away until Hansen manages to hit the lariat, and Tenryu takes a great bump by flying halfway up the aisle for the count out. Both guys were aces here and this rocked something fierce.

Genichiro Tenryu v Hiroshi Tanahashi (New Japan, 8/15/04) - GREAT

Oh Jesus, Tenryu is totally spectacular in this. Tanahashi's all shredded and has pretty boy hair and Tenryu tries to rearrange his facial features. Only goes about 7 minutes, but it's basically an extended squash for the most part. Tanahashi starts elbowing him in the face at the beginning and Tenryu seems almost amused, then amusement turns to contempt and he punches him directly in the face. A bunch of times. From this moment on Tenryu is a million shades of awesome. He really just abuses Tanahashi, and he's enjoying every second of it. He gives him a few Wanderlei Silva punts to the head, some vicious chops, a nasty rope-assisted DDT (kinda like the one Randy Orton does only from the top rope instead of the middle), a brainbuster on the ring apron, etc. Tremendous moment where Tenryu tells the ref' to put the ten count on Tanahashi, so naturally he starts counting, and Tenryu's got this amazing facial expression where you just know he wants to lay some more nasty shit on Tanahashi. The ref' wants him back so Tenryu's all "Alright, alright, I'll stay back." As soon as the ref' turns away the menace returns to his face and he goes and drops an elbow just because he wants to. Then he tells the ref' to count again and as Tanahashi starts to stir Tenryu absolutely nukes him with a kick full on dead in the face. He does the fake wiping sweat from the brow thing afterwards and words really don't do justice to how much I loved it. Tanahashi misses a dropkick at one point and Tenryu's "Look at this yahoo trying a dropkick and shit" expression had me stepping out of the room for a second. Finish is sort of unusual (not sure why Tanahashi hit the ropes before it), but I had a gigantic grin on my face the entire match and Tenryu is the motherfucking greatest. 2 million stars.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Saturday, 6 October 2012

There are No Men Like Tenryu. There's Only Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu v Riki Choshu (New Japan, 1/4/93) - GOOD

So this isn't for everybody. It's kind of "sloppy," and some of the things they do look like they barely connect. But everything they do looks reckless and violent, so when Choshu throws a lariat and it only grazes the top of Tenryu's head, it's because Tenryu was trying to duck out of the way of a wild lariat. The things that don't connect well don't not connect because they're throwing them lightly or because they look shitty. They look crazy, like they're thrown with complete disregard. Not everything in a fight is going to land perfectly. Sometimes you'll swing and miss. Some people would dislike that about this match. It's rough around the edges and...well, it's ugly. But that's part of what draws me into every match these two have together. The ugliness and roughness just appeals to me. It feels like an actual struggle. I don't want two guys performing pre-rehearsed sequences that look like street dance routines. I don't want everything to look pretty. I want two burly bastards to knock lumps out each other. And Tenryu and Choshu ALWAYS knock lumps out each other. The flubbed powerbomb right before the finish is what it is (although Tenryu looks fucking exhausted, so in a way I think it's kind of cool and adds to the whole deal), and the first big transition being a whiffed lariat is sort of jarring, but they stomp each other clean in the face and throw a million nasty looking shots, and that's about all I want out of Tenryu v Choshu. Isn't the best match they've had together (shit, it isn't even the best match they had together that year), but this is a match-up that I'm always going to get something out of.

Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada v Yoshiaki Yatsu & Tiger Mask (1/23/88) - GREAT

'88 starts off with a BANG! I dug the SHIT out of this! TENRYU! There's a lot to like here, but the palpable hatred between Tenryu and Yatsu is what really pushed this into my top 15. Tenryu is grumpy and agitated right out the gate, but he ends up going one step too far and Yatsu just fucking WASTES him with one of the stiffest slaps I've ever seen. Tenryu either sells it spectacularly – which wouldn't surprise me one bit – or Yatsu rung his bell for real – which also wouldn't surprise me – but whatever the case he swiftly tags out and tries to shake off the effects. You can see him brooding on the apron, itching to get in there so he can hurt someone, and from time to time he'll just waltz in and take a swing or kick a guy in the teeth. There have been better matches involving Tenryu on the set, but this might be my favourite Tenryu *performance* for the fact it most closely resembles the 90s Tenryu that made me a huge fan of the guy in the first place. It's almost surreal seeing Kawada and Misawa on opposite sides and *not* being the clear top dog of their team, but both guys are good as the underlings here. Kawada takes a pretty hefty beating after Tenryu goes down following that slap, then Yatsu and Misawa isolate him again a little later for another pounding. Misawa wiping out Tenryu towards the end with a dive off the apron taking them both over the guardrail was a great spot. Tenryu powerbombing Misawa on a table for his bullshit was a greater spot. I didn't have any problem with the finish here, either. I mean Tenryu and Kawada mugging a guy with a chair is as good an excuse for a DQ as any.

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Road Warriors (3/12/87)  - GOOD

I liked this a good deal. The Roadies hit their stuff and it all looks nasty, and Jumbo and Tenryu are willing to eat it all and make them look like a couple of dudes that ought not to be fucked with. Animal has a super cool looking flying shoulder tackle, Hawk's gorilla press slam on Jumbo was impressive as Hell, the Doomsday Device looked sweet, and there's a great spot where Tenryu whips Hawk into the ropes only for Animal to scoop Hawk up and launch him right back at Tenryu. There's a chinlock segment that kind of drags, but they do the "fake tag behind the referee’s back" shtick and I always dig that. I was probably a high voter on this.

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Giant Baba & Tiger Mask (11/28/86)  - FUN

I thought this was a lot of fun the last time I watched it, and my thoughts haven't changed much after this go around. I loved pretty much everything involving Baba, from booting Jumbo from the apron as he's running the ropes to the way he reacts to Tenryu and Jumbo cheapshotting him while he's minding his own business. Tiger Mask Misawa doesn't really set the world on fire, but I kind of dug him as the guy that would provide the flash and athleticism for his team (because Baba sure as shit won't) even though he's still the most likely target of a beatdown. Him flying around is all well and good when it's working, but if he misses then Jumbo and Tenryu won't hesitate to pounce. Tenryu mocking Baba at the end was great.

Genichiro Tenryu v Ricky Steamboat (2/23/84) - GOOD

Sort of a dream match – arguably the best Japanese wrestler ever against arguably the best American wrestler ever. I would rather have seen the match-up take place ten years later, but I've always been a fan of this. Like Jumbo/Harley it goes longer than it probably needs to, but I was way more interested in what these guys were doing the whole time than I was in what Jumbo and Harley were doing (again, you can credit the Tenryu love. And I like Steamboat way more than Race, too). Steamboat blocking an enziguiri with his "karate" early on was cool as shit. Made the spot later on when Tenryu manages to hit it successfully even better (and it's a great spot besides, thanks in part to the camera angle and Steamboat's awesome KO sell of it). The peaks in this probably aren't as high as the peaks in Jumbo/Race, and I can totally see someone thinking this dragged more in the early parts as well, but I find these sets far easier to rank based on pure enjoyment and I enjoyed this quite a bit. So there. Probably won't be top third, but top half is likely.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Friday, 5 October 2012

When You Play the Game of Tenryu, You Win or You Die. There is No Middle Ground

Genichiro Tenryu & Nobutaka Araya v Taiyo Kea & Kiyoshi Miyamoto (All Japan, 4/27/02) - EPIC

Amazing. About 4 months ago I watched the Tenryu/Fuchi v Kawada/Araya tag from '01, and I was surprised by how much I wasn't blown away by it. I was kind of in a wrestling slump at the time, but it didn't reel me in like a Tenryu match usually does. THIS, however, was everything I wanted it to be. Anybody that is a fan of Tenryu doing his thing needs to watch this, because he is just out of this world spectacular in it. Miyamoto has probably been wrestling for all of two weeks at this point, so the WAR lumpies fucking maul him like this was some sort of hazing for a cult of sadomasochism (without all of the creepy sexual undertones). Araya back elbows him in the face about two minutes in and breaks his nose, and it all really goes from bad to worse for him from there. Blood is streaming out of his snout so the ref' goes to check on him. Tenryu walks over to see what the deal is, then he just punts Miyamoto in the face and casually walks back to his own corner. There's about six Tenryu exchanges with Kea and Miyamoto that are seriously fucking great. Miyamoto slaps him across the face at one point and Tenryu shoots him this look of sheer contempt and you think "oh man he's gonna fucking SLAUGHTER this kid," then his expression changes from rage almost to amusement, mocking Miyamoto and telling him to keep bringing it. And the best part is Miyamoto actually comes out on top of the exchange. When he scoots over to tag in Kea you just know Tenryu is going to give him a receipt at some point...and fuck does he give him a receipt. Really, some of Tenryu's selling of strikes is just indescribable. He's the unequivocal master of this kind of match. Nobody touches him. I could spend two hours trying to talk about all of the amazing moments in this, but I don't have two hours to spare right now. Honestly, this was excellent and pretty much a perfect example of this kind of match. I need to watch Takayama/Misawa again, because I'm thinking Tenryu might be the WOTY for '02 now.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v The Great Kabuki & Masaji Aoyagi (WAR, 1/8/93) - GREAT

Now THIS is what I'm talking about. This is the first Tenryu main event tag I've watched from the WAR stuff so far [EDIT: this was originally written way back in February last year!] and it already feels like something I'm gonna love. Tenryu might be the best wrestler ever when it comes to conveying a sense of contempt; this wasn't on the level of the truly venomous Tenryu performances - although that is such a high bar - but holy fuck does Aoyagi earn his ire here. Aoyagi is yet another one of these WAR guys that I don't remember seeing before, but he kind of looks like current day Keiji Mutoh if he went dressed as Mr. Miyagi for Halloween. He's wearing a gi and ditches the top half when Tenryu starts throwing chops at his chest. Tenryu sees this as a slight and starts hitting him even harder, and before long he's kicking him in the eye and chopping him in the throat while Aoyagi is crawling around the ring bleeding. Hara is pretty great at throwing coconut headbutts, and he fits right in there as a Tenryu teammate. I mean, when you're a heavyweight teaming with Tenryu you really need to be able to throw down. He definitely throws down. Thought Kabuki was really good here, too. All of his uppercuts looked nasty, he catches Tenryu with a superkick to the throat, and is generally a good match-up with both Tenryu and Hara whenever he's called upon. There isn't a ton of him, but when he's in you can't really ask for much more. Post-match has a big pull apart and there's a moment where a chair comes flying into the shot. You notice Tenryu isn't in the ring and know who threw that chair. Tenryu's your star here (I didn't mention any of his selling, but man is that great as well), but everybody brought it this was just a ton of violent fun.

Genichiro Tenryu & Tiger Mask II v Riki Choshu & George Takano (New Japan, 2/14/90) - EPIC

All Japan are INVADING and this crowd is AMPED to the trillionth fucking degree. This was awesome. Absolutely any time Tenryu is in the ring things are incredible and the crowd is completely losing it for every exchange between him and Takano, and even more so between him and Choshu. The Tenryu/Choshu exchanges are especially great because they just obliterate each other. First time Tenryu gets in he charges at Choshu and Choshu is ducking out of the way and dodging him, and Tenryu's continually trying to change directions and grab hold of him so he can break his teeth. He's not so much running at him, but just recklessly bull rushing him in a pissed off fury of black and yellow. Choshu hits a few ridiculous lariats and generally lays a hellish beating on Tenryu. Tenryu throws chops that sound like a shotgun blast and whips out a few lariats of his own with complete disregard for Choshu's face. He kicks him in the eye, stomps on his nose and punts him in the neck. I mean this is just volcanic hatred. Tenryu also seems to have pissed in Takano's cereal because Takano keeps trying to rip his head off with leg lariats and shit. There's one point where he slaps him and Tenryu just starts laying into him with elbows to the face, so Takano literally shoves him on his ass and the pop for this shit is insane. Match actually takes a big dip any time fucking MISAWA gets in, so that tells you how great the Tenryu stuff is. Granted, Tiger Mask Misawa is a far cry from regular old Mitsuharu. He's good as the outmatched underdog hanging and banging with the enemy, though. Doesn't bring the same kind of barbarous stiffness that Tenryu or Choshu bring, but he'll rifle off a kick from time to time that looks real nasty. Also not shocking that he spends a chunk of time being worked over. Structure is sort of similar to the tags on the NJ 80s set that really wore me out, but I thought they were much better at working momentum shifts into this and they weren't nearly as go-go-go here, plus there were no tags on that set with the same amounts of monumental contempt as there is in this; hate is the selling point here. Lots and lots of hate. Stretch to the finish is amazing and I really can't do it justice. It's literally great moment after great moment with it all building to a huge fever pitch, guys trying to murder each other, crowd losing its collective mind, etc. Way too much to try and hit on it all, but the spot of the match for me is where Choshu goes to lariat Misawa in the corner, and Tenryu steps in front of it and just gets beheaded. Finish is arguably anti-climactic, but if you're gonna end it like that then having everyone vaporize each other beforehand is a great way to make it work. Just a terrific, terrific match.

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 1/24/87) - EPIC

Man, when this match-up is clicking it is fucking CLICKING. This was awesome and, to me, felt like the real coming out party for Tenryu on the set. He’s been in some good matches and some great matches (and one that reaches "transcendent" level), and he's had some good performances and some great performances, but this is the one where it seemed like he was well and truly Jumbo's equal. Before he still felt like "Jumbo's partner" to me. A Hell of a partner, no doubt, but I was still waiting for him to truly break through and hit that level that I've seen him hit so often. The Jumbo/Tenryu feud kicks off shortly, and after this I'm definitely buying Tenryu stepping up to "1a" from "number 2." The Tenryu love aside, all four guys rocked here. There is an amazing sequence where Tenryu runs full speed at Choshu and swings for the lariat, Choshu ducks it and comes back with an attempt of his own, Tenryu ROLLS under that, Choshu comes back with another attempt, Tenryu blocks that one, and finally takes Choshu down with a Russian leg sweep, moving right into a cross armbreaker. At this point you also start to pick up on the spots they like to roll out each time, like Jumbo putting Yatsu in a prison lock and repeatedly slapping him in the face or Jumbo and Choshu doing a double lariat KO spot. The new stuff they're busting out is great (like the aforementioned Tenryu/Choshu sequence), but the "signature" stuff rules just as much. Finish is a little weird, but I liked it if for no reason other than the fact it made Jumbo voluntarily pulling Choshu's shoulders off the mat during a pin attempt a tolerable spot. Not on the level of the 1/28/86 match, but of all the Jumbo/Tenryu v Choshu/Yatsu matches, this is my second favourite and currently in my top 10 [EDIT: finished as my #16].

Genichiro Tenryu v Riki Choshu (All Japan, 9/3/86) - GREAT

I dug the shit out of their '85 match so I was looking forward to this, and it didn't disappoint. The early matwork feels pretty gritty and manages to capture a sense of struggle, and well, this whole match basically feels like one big struggle. What they're doing on the mat isn't amazing or anything, but it's fought for and they even bust out some things I don't recall seeing from them before (Tenryu's bow and arrow, for a start). Once they hit the ten minute mark they switch gears with an awesome double lariat spot. They both wind up on the floor, and that leads to Choshu hitting a backdrop on the apron that looked suitably kidney-crushing. Tenryu beats the count so Choshu goes for the kill, but Tenryu manages to counter the lariat by just booting him in the ribs as he's rushing in. Tenryu working the ribs is the focus for the next few minutes, and Tenryu punting people up in down is something I can always get behind. Finish being the exact same as their first match was kind of a downer, though. Feels like a top 50 match.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Force Unleashed is Not to be Tampered With. The Force Unleashed is Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu v Keiji Mutoh (All Japan, 4/1/02) - GREAT

Been years since I last saw their '01 Triple Crown match, but after I watched this and thought it might be even better than it. Great match. Bit right at the beginning where Mutoh does something to annoy Tenryu (don't remember what now. Could've been anything) and Tenryu points at the ref' like "D'you see what he just did?" Mutoh looks at the ref' like "I didn't do shit," and when he's distracted Tenryu unloads with a flurry of chops and punches. Whole match is really smartly laid out, and it's a really simple story. Mutoh wants to chip away at Tenryu's leg so he can hit Shining Wizards. Tenryu takes one early and bails to the floor (after a sublime bit of selling), and when Mutoh tries to follow up with another, Tenryu ducks out the way and Mutoh flies into the ring post. Cool part of it is that he gets split open by smashing his head off the bolt that hooks the turnbuckle to the post, not the post itself. Doesn't really make much difference either way, but it's a nice deviation from the formula. Mutoh bleeds a fair bit, and Tenryu is the greatest shark in the water ever, so the story now becomes Tenryu doing his thing and trying to put Mutoh down, while Mutoh continues to chip away and find openings for the Shining Wizard before it's too late. The blood loss makes it seem desperate and almost frantic. Great bit where Tenryu pulls a row of seats out the ground and goes to chuck them at Mutoh. He gets talked down and drops them, but then he walks around to the other side of the ring, picks up a table, and launches that at his head instead. Mutoh "working the leg" is kept brief since he's basically always doing so as hope spots, so that eliminates the shittiness that is Mutoh spending 6 hours working body parts in mind-numbingly boring fashion. Bit where he tries to slap on a figure four and Tenryu punches him in the face rocked, primarily because Tenryu throws awesome punches. Tenryu also fucking spikes him with a spider German that looked all spine-breaky. Sub-15 minutes in length means there's practically no downtime, it's super smart, has blood and great punches, Tenryu acts like a cantankerous asshole...why would I not love this? Motherfucker, why would YOU not love this?

Genichiro Tenryu v KENTA (NOAH, 10/8/05) - GREAT

This is kind of similar to the awesome KENTA/Takayama matches. Don't think it's quite as good as those but KENTA/Takayama matches are about as perfect as you'll get with that kind of match. This is almost a pseudo squash, but nobody is better at working a pseudo squash than Tenryu (the Tak matches were sort of the same, but KENTA took more of them, especially the one from last year). Tenryu kills him. Punches him straight in the cheek and hurls brutal lariats. His short punt to the head is the greatest contemptuous and dickheaded strike of any wrestler in history. Love how he picks up a table and throws it at KENTA, then he goes and sits it back down where he got it. He pats it and looks at the timekeeper like, "There you go, I told you I'd bring it back." Timekeeper sort of nods like, "Well...I guess." Then Tenryu steals his hammer and whacks KENTA. So great. KENTA absolutely lays it in when he gets the chance, too. There's one punt to Tenryu's head that was just staggeringly brutal. Didn't look pulled at all -- you'd see this shit in PRIDE. Honestly, this was Wanderlie level nasty. KENTA punching above his weight against asshole heavyweights is SOOOOOO his calling in life. If he did that the whole year round he'd be top 5 in Japan every year. Tenryu is the greatest asshole heavyweight in history. Do the math.

Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa v Riki Choshu & Osamu Kido (WAR, 3/3/93) - GREAT

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 thick 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.

Genichiro Tenryu v Bruiser Brody (All Japan, 4/15/88) - FUN

I've had those Bruiser Brody DVDs that I bought from Highspots a few years back sitting around here collecting dust for quite some time now, so when I was looking for a Tenryu match to watch I came across that set and was intrigued as to how they'd work together in a singles match. I don't care for Brody one bit now, but if anybody's going to keep me interested in one of his matches, it's our boy Genichiro. It's pretty listless at points, but Tenryu's good and this is one of the better Brody performances I've seen, so I've got no problem calling it an okay match, all things considered. Probably went a bit too long, though. First ten or so minutes are pretty dull; as much as I love Tenryu, he's not the kind of guy that's going to make a ten minute matwork section with Brody work. Although I'm not sure who could. Brody getting fed up with this shit and dragging Tenryu out to the floor so he can beat on him with a television monitor was probably the best thing that could've happened at that point. Thought Brody was actually really good as this belligerent big bastard. Most of the Tenryu I've watched recently has been 90s Tenryu where he's clearly the defiant one that's ready and willing to throw an unnecessarily stiff punch here or a lariat there, but this is native babyface Tenryu up against foreign monster heel, and foreign monster heel is the one busting out ridiculous boots to the teeth. There's a great spot towards the end where Tenryu whips him off the ropes for a lariat, but Brody stops short and just creams him with a big boot. Afterwards he stands there, hands on his hips, staring out at the crowd with this look of complete disdain; "Fuck him, he's dead now." There's still a few instances where he'll stumble around the ring and shrug off Tenryu's offence in some crappy attempt at selling it without actually leaving his feet (when you're getting plastered by Tenryu, you leave your fucking feet), but he redeems himself with a couple badass King Kong Kneedrops at the end. Finish is... what it is. Trim some of the fat from this and it might be really good. I totally was not expecting to dig Brody as much as I did here, either.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy (3/5/88)  - FUN

"NOBODY POTATOES ME!" So this isn't a great match, but it may have the best "end" to any match on the set. Not necessarily best as in fitting or conclusive, but...well, I'll get to it in a second. The actual match leading up to it is more or less entirely controlled by Hansen and Gordy. At times it feels a little *too* one-sided, though, which is weird to say considering I can't think of much I'd rather watch than Stan Hansen cutting guys off and beating them up. Tenryu or Hara will start to fire back, Hansen or Gordy will shut them down within seconds, rinse and repeat. We're still talking about Hansen and Gordy here, so it's not like watching those guys beat somebody up is going to be much of a chore to sit through, but I would've liked for them to give the natives a little more offence. And then Tenryu and Hara hit Stan with a double enziguiri and Hansen goes dead weight and sells it like he's legit KO'd. When he wakes up he goes absolutely BALLISTIC, flinging chairs, breaking tables, swinging his bullrope, stiffing the daylights out of Tenryu and Hara (there's one shot to Tenryu that looked fucking disgusting), running through the crowd while fans part like the red sea, punching Higuchi in the head, etc. I mean you know he's going crazy when fucking GORDY is trying to talk him down. The match itself feels like a bottom half affair, but the Hansen insanity at the end will hurl it up the ballot some. The close-up camera shot of his face when he gets up and dives out of the ring to get at someone is seriously one of the greatest images in wrestling history.  

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Tenryu's Blood Runs Cold as Ice...and Burns With the Fire of a Thousand Suns

Genichiro Tenryu v Kensuke Sasaki (New Japan, 1/4/00) - EPIC

I had this in the GREAT pile when I initially watched it, but after a recent re-watch I'm tossing the full EPIC at it. It's the kind of thing I could just as easily see someone hating, but the striking is something everybody should be able to get behind. The PUNCHES: good grief. Vicious chops, stiff lariats; honestly, the striking is stellar. I guess I could see people being iffy on it structurally, though. Actually, structure might not be the issue, either -- it's just a really gritty and ugly match. There's the story of Tenryu being the cunt he always is, only this time Sasaki refuses to put up with any of his bullshit. Tenryu will throw nasty little corner punches, so Sasaki will haul off and straight crack his jaw. At one point Sasaki slabbers him and it leads to Tenryu sitting on the bottom rope, half in a daze, with this amazing "fuck my absolute life" look on his face. It's not a pretty match -- execution is rough and at times sloppy, but that really adds to it. It's similar to the Tenryu/Choshu matches in that respect. I love shit like that, so I was cool with it here. There's a brief segment early on where they hit the mat and lie in a headlock for a minute or two, but they get back up and instantly start thumping the shit out of each other again to make up for it. The stand up is Griffin/Bonnar while the ground work feels like exchanges between two guys that need any sort of respite from Forrest Griffin v Stephan Bonnar stand up. And well, if you're willing to put up with a couple minutes of Shamrock v Taktarov for thirteen minutes of Griffin v Bonnar, you should watch this. It's pretty much exactly what I want in a Tokyo Dome main event. Vegetarians need not apply (on account of the MEATINESS).

Genichiro Tenryu, Takashi Ishikawa & Mighty Inoue v Riki Choshu, Animal Hamaguchi & Isamu Teranishi (All Japan, 1/10/85) - GREAT

So Choshu and his army have arrived and the difference in style between this and a large chunk of the 50+ matches on the set up to this point is pretty clear (it's the first all-native match as well). This is paced a lot faster and there's a general sense of potential chaos that only the Hansen matches have really been able to capture (only with Hansen it's not "potential"). In some ways it's a taste of what’s to come, but it still stands up as a pretty great match in its own right. It's also the first sign of grumpy Tenryu as he and Choshu are the marquee match-up. He's not quite storming the ring to punt people in the eye yet, but he cheapshots Choshu while he's standing on the apron and the cocoon of nice guy babyface is beginning to crack. Lots of great moments, like the Teranishi/Inoue slap battle while Inoue has him in some leglock...thing, Choshu (who was probably my favourite guy in this) creaming Ishikawa with a lariat because he dares to rip off the Scorpion Deathlock, Ishikawa responding by breaking Choshu's own attempt at the hold by running him over with a shoulder tackle, and Tenryu chopping Hamaguchi in the throat as a partner save. I would've liked a longer FIP spell at some point to really sink my teeth into, and the finish is whatever, but this was a great intro to the feud and right now it's sitting in my top 10 [EDIT: it finished in my top 50 at the end, and top 50 on a set like that is nothing to scoff at].

Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada v John Tenta & Shunji Takano (All Japan, 1/5/89) - GOOD

This was a super fun sprint. It's been so long since I've watched any wrestling at all [EDIT: I initially watched and wrote about this after taking a multi-month break from watching and writing about anything...obviously] that I almost forgot how awesome grumpy Tenryu was/is. His exchanges with Earthquake were pretty great, really laying into the big guy with nasty chops while Tenta flings him around with suplexes and CLUBBERING. There's a cool spot where Kawada is being worked over and Tenryu gets in just to start some shit with Tenta long enough for Kawada to recover and tag out. The Tenryu/Kawada wheel kick/enziguiri combo on Takano looked BRUTAL here...probably the best version of that double team on the set. It was like two bumper cars crushing a watermelon. Tenryu running face first into a HUGE boot soon after wasn't much lower on the nutty scale. Finish was maybe a little anti-climactic, but overall I dug this a lot. Not "top 50" dug, but certainly not bottom 50, either.

Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada v Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 1/22/89) - GOOD

I liked the story here and they brought plenty of good shit to the table, but this went longer than it really needed to and dragged at points as a result. This is largely "Jumbo and Yatsu beat on Kawada while Tenryu's grumpiness festers like a horrible incubus." Kawada spends most of the match eating a shitkicking, and the moments where Tenryu throws his hands up and intervenes are really great. Jumbo has Kawada in an armbar or leglock or something and Tenryu just walks in, measures him and stomps him right in the face. Jumbo's "You son of a bitch, I can't believe you just did that" expression was awesome, as was him mowing Tenryu down with a lariat a little later. 36 minutes was a bit too long, though. I mean, there are peaks that are high, and this is absolutely a good match, but shave 10 minutes off (I'd say more Tenryu would've been welcome, and it would have, but that then kind of screws with the story of the whole I'm not sure) and we're looking at a top half lock. Right now, it's probably just outside that.

Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada v Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 2/23/89) - EPIC

So this basically does everything the first match did right, only WAY better. Also has higher/better peaks, loaded with hate, and doesn't drag at any point. And has a molten hot crowd. Feels like a real top 10 candidate, even with some of the great shit still to come. Kawada gets his ass handed to him again here, but he seems even more fired up when he's fighting back and Jumbo and Yatsu are better at dishing out the violence this time. Tenryu is just on another level with his contempt for the opponents. He and Yatsu REALLY hate each other and there's about a million awesome pissed off facial expressions. Great moment where Yatsu has Kawada in a prison lock while shit talking Tenryu, and Kawada is dragging himself and Yatsu's body weight over to the ropes while Yatsu continues the verbal ping-pong with Tenryu. Came across as such a dismissive, dickish move. The Tenryu/Jumbo exchanges are fucking supreme here as well. Bunch of moments where they both just forget about everything else and start laying into each other. At one point Tenryu drags him out to the floor, grabs him by the head and starts walking around the ringside area while punching him in the head. Then he picks up a chair and Jumbo literally has to sprint back into the ring just to get away. But of course Tenryu hurls it at him, anyway. Final few minutes have a few great nearfalls that I totally bought. Awesome match [EDIT: wound up as my #11 for the whole set].

Complete & Accurate Tenryu 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

No Friend is as Loyal as Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Atsushi Onita & Tarzan Goto (WAR, 3/2/94) - EPIC

Spectacular match, right on the level of your million star WAR/NJ affairs. I can't believe I used to think Tarzan Goto was just a fat ugly deathmatch dude that wasn't very good. I mean, he is a fat ugly deathmatch dude, but he's waaaay better than I gave him credit for years ago (and his fat-and-ugliness makes him even more awesome, because fat and ugly dudes are pro-wrestling, motherfucker). There's a Tenryu/Goto singles match on a Schneider Comp that I wrote about a couple years ago, and everything they do together in this is as good as everything they did together in that (and that match was fucking GREAT). There's one bit where Goto comes in to break up a Tenryu pin attempt, and Tenryu absolutely fucking mauls him for it. Chucks him out to the floor, throws him into the barricade, chops and punches the shit out of him. What's even better about it is that it basically serves as a transition spot as well. Onita had been worked over for the past few minutes (and bleeding as he was wont to), so Goto providing the distraction - intentional or otherwise - gave him a chance to recover long enough to hit Tenryu with an ugly looking DDT as he was getting back in the ring. It was basically a Randy Orton style rope-assisted DDT, but it landed Tenryu right on the side of his head and bent his neck at a super awkward angle. Right after this Goto gets his revenge by coming over with a chair and busting Tenryu open, and Tenryu's sell is amazing for the rest of the match, never looking quite right and half stumbling around at points like he doesn't know where he is. Hara was a blast here, too. He's one of my favourite lumpy WAR dudes, because he'll throw coconut headbutts and mow you down with lariats. He and Goto would just crack the shit out of each other here. At one point Hara takes a breather from beating on Onita, walks up to Goto on the apron and slaps him hard as can be for no reason at all. Then he stands there and glares until Goto slaps him back, also as hard as can be. Finishing run is really awesome stuff. Hara had been left on his own for a while after Goto beheaded Tenryu with the chair, and team FMW basically hit top rope fatboy splashes and headbutts until they break ribs into a million bits. So that leaves a half out of it Tenryu on his own while folks at ringside try to put Humpty Dumpy back together again. Tenryu will constantly try and fire back with lariats or reckless looking enziguris, but he's the one-legged man in the ass-kicking contest. Amazing moment where he finally manages to create some decent breathing room against Onita and charges into the corner to waylay Goto, but Goto sees it coming and puts a stop to it with an enziguri. The final powerbomb looked suitably vertebrae-shattering. This was incredible.

Genichiro Tenryu v Ted DiBiase (All Japan, 10/23/83) - GREAT

So I've watched a pretty hefty chunk of 90s Tenryu over the last 6 months or so. This is not 90s Tenryu. There is no seething hatred in this match. He doesn't kick DiBiase in the face or kidneys ONCE. This was a totally different kind of Tenryu. He doesn't even sneer in a way that SUGGESTS he's going to punch someone in the throat. But I'll be damned if this match isn't the fucking biscuits. I was actually really shocked at how slick Tenryu looked on the mat in the Mil Mascaras match a couple discs back, because when I think of Tenryu I think of the punting and stiffness and contempt, not the slick matwork. That match was obviously not a fluke because here he is again working the mat in a bunch of really interesting ways. He spends a decent amount of time in particular working Ted's arm, and as good as Tenryu is and as much of a Tenryu fan as I am, I was surprised at just *how* much I was digging all of it. I mean what he was doing isn't quite on the level of what Bock and Robinson or even Bock and Funk were doing in those two singles matches elsewhere on the set, but for someone that was always considered a step or two below Jumbo right up until they started feuding (and even then you'd probably find more leaning in favour of Jumbo), Tenryu struck me as being *way* more compelling working holds and doing basic things than Jumbo has at any point so far. You won't find him doing a bunch of shit that Volk Han will end up cribbing, but he keeps things moving along really nicely and has lots of neat ways to work holds. And I guess I'll take this time to mention that Ted does a really nice job selling the arm. After a while they start rolling out a ton of big offense and we hit another gear. Ted busts out a great looking powerslam, Tenryu splats him with a tope, there's nearfalls aplenty...and as much as I really should not be, I find myself being surprised at just how fucking boss this match is. Finish is kind of a letdown, I guess, but at the same time it's something one probably has to expect. Tenryu is the greatest and this should do well [EDIT: it finished right smack in the middle of my ballot, which is probably a little low in hindsight, but that was a fucking beast of a set with a TON of good shit on it]. 

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase (All Japan, 12/12/86) - EPIC

I fucking LOVED this! When it ended I initially thought it felt like the first half of a match that would've likely been my #1 had there been a second half as good as the first. But there wasn't a second half, so I settled on it being a terrific match for what it was and probably one of my favourite sub-ten minute matches ever. It's seriously getting to the point now where I find myself saying "that might be the best opening to any match on the set" whenever Hansen shows up. His opening charge at an unsuspecting Tenryu was truly epic and the following beating he and DiBiase dished out was great, with awesome cut-offs and nasty looking offense. This is about the closest thing on the set to a "traditional southern style" tag that I've come across, and well, southern tag style with Stan Hansen and Genichiro Tenryu is pretty much an instant hit with me. I thought Tenryu was making the tag for sure at a couple points, but then Hansen would run in and knee him in the face while he's crawling towards Jumbo and I'd legitimately mark out. When the hot tag does come, Jumbo is a fucking king sized house o' fire. He lariats DiBiase right in the chin and Ted takes a couple monster bumps just to make me fall in love with this match even more. Hansen trying to lariat Tenryu on the floor only for Tenryu to duck and Hansen to blast DiBiase instead was a great spot to lead to the finish. This isn't the best match on the set, but I don't know if I've enjoyed anything else as much as I enjoyed this and I'm gonna try and find a spot for it in my top 25 [EDIT: I did indeed find a spot for it in my top 25, btw].

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Complete & Accurate Genichiro Tenryu

So I fucking love Tenryu. Grumpy old bastards that hate everything are what pro-wrestling is all about, and Tenryu might be the greatest grumpy old bastard in pro-wrestling history. If I had to make a list of my favourite wrestlers ever, Tenryu would only be behind Eddie Guerrero. If I could only watch one wrestler for the rest of my life (should be about 10 years before the booze kills me), I'd pick Tenryu. I'm a fan of Genichiro Tenryu. 

I've kind of wanted to do a career retrospective on him for ages, but I figured I'd wait for Goodhelmet to drop a monster-sized Tenryu set before I started one. Then today I watched some Tenryu and...fuck it, I'll start early. I'm also going with the blatant thievery of the Segunda Caida 'Complete & Accurate' staple since I already used the "That Time I Got Drunk With Tenryu" header for another "project" (I never came up with that title, either...although that title was at least presented to me, as opposed to some more blatant thievery), and the whole Complete & Accurate thing just, like, WORKS. Same deal as that -- the goal is to watch everything and slot it into the EPIC, GREAT, FUN or SKIPPABLE category, and it'll all be compiled here. I'll also add a GOOD category so as to bridge the gap a little between GREAT and FUN, and maybe that way it won't seem like a TOTAL rip off. I've already written about a bunch of Tenryu matches here and elsewhere already as well, so over time I'll gradually C&P them and add them to the list (I wrote about a shit load of matches from the DVDVR All Japan 80s set, so there'll no doubt be a bunch of talk about "ballots" and "placement" in those write-ups).