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

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