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