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

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