Friday, 29 March 2013

Stan Hansen - STILL 'The Best to Ever Fucking do It'

Stan Hansen v Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 4/10/94)

So, this isn't quite on the level of the 7/93 match...but fuck me is it an absolute corker of a wrestling match in its own right. I mean, God damn. I thought Hansen was the GOAT before this, and I'm even more convinced after it. Has there ever been a better "wounded animal" in wrestling history? Really, Kobashi is excellent here and it's far from a Hansen carry job, but Stan is just everything I want in a pro-wrestler. Match starts out with Kobashi being as fired up as he was the last time, throwing some great looking kicks that hit Stan right under the chin. Hansen is Hansen and can turn a match with a single strike (and fuck does he drill Kobashi with a couple forearms), but Kobashi is younger and hungrier and keeps on coming. His chops are landing harder, he's got more in the tank, and he's got the bit between his teeth. He came so close in '93; in '94 he's a year more experienced. He's a year better. Hansen is a year older and a bit more broken down. He struggled the previous year and he's struggling even more this year. So he ditches the straight shit and just cracks Kobashi in the face with the greatest "fuck you" bar room headbutt ever. He might be a year older, but that makes him a year SURLIER. And holy shit does Stan just take Kobashi to the cleaners for the next few minutes, Tenryu punting him in the face, chucking chairs at him, elbowing him in the teeth, smashing tables over him and powerbombing him on the exposed concrete (which is how he managed to turn the 7/93 match in his favour). There's a close up of Kobashi post-powerbomb and he has this amazing dead-eyed stare into space. For the rest of the match he never looks quite right, kind of crawling around at points like his spine's been mangled. Hansen then tries a shoulder tackle off the apron, but Kobashi moves and Stan goes flying into the barricade injuring his ribs. This is where wounded animal Hansen kicks in. For the rest of the match he sells the ribs like a fucking KING -- you can buy him having a punctured lung off a cracked rib, but you can never count him out, either. He's Stan Hansen and he's always flinging fists and boots. If there's one guy in wrestling that won't go down without a fight, it's Hansen. Kobashi has a bunch of cool ways to target the ribs as well, throwing these nasty looking body punches in close and sort of throwing himself shoulder-first into the ribs while Hansen is in the corner. There's an awesome moment towards the end when Hansen gets desperate and tries a splash off the top, but Kobashi gets the knees up and Hansen just full force lands unprotected across both knees (looked brutal, plus Hansen is a beefy dude, so a bump like that is kind of nuts when you think about it). The Western Lariat even feels like desperation here; he hits it from a standing position, but he can't really capitalise on it because of the injury (Kobashi still sells it like it knocked him loopy, though). Crowd come completely unglued for the moonsaults at the end, and the pop for Kobashi finally putting him away after the second one is amazing. Really felt like this was the biggest win of the guy's career to that point (and it was), and the massive Kobashi chant while he stands there in the middle of the ring afterwards was a hell of a cool moment. Killer match.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Hey Yoji Anjoh, Play a Song for Me, I'm not Sleepy and There is no Place I'm Going To

Yoji Anjoh v Naoki Sano (UWFi, 8/13/93) - EPIC

From when I watched this 2+ years ago:

Man this was outstanding, probably the best UWFi match I've ever seen. I've been thinking for a while now that I really owe it to myself to watch more Yoji Anjoh, because everything I've seen him in has been at worst good. There's a bunch of Sano matches that I need to see as well, so I guess I could say the same for him, but he's a guy I came around to a long time ago and already knew how great he could be. Anjoh was someone I never paid much attention to in the first place, but there's no way I can ignore him anymore. He loses his tempter at a couple points here and it's awesome. They wind up in the ropes and the ref' calls for a break, but Anjoh's in the middle of sinking in a submission and isn't best pleased so he just stomps Sano in the gut. He takes Sano's back and Sano sort of clips him with a little elbow, so Anjoh calls over the ref' and points to his eyebrow like "Hey, fucker, look at that." Then he hauls off and starts elbowing Sano in the back of the head for his bullshit. This was worked mostly even the whole time and they were busting out some of the slickest takedowns and counters I've seen. I wish I could give some specific examples, but reading about it over the internet just doesn't do a lot of it justice. I could sit here and try and explain why Sano's chicken wing was spectacular, but I'd suck at it and it's something you're better off watching for yourself to appreciate. This whole match was fucking boss and feels like it's somewhere around the top 5 for the whole year.

On a re-watch it's just as awesome. Sano's chicken wing looks even better on repeat viewings and is just a ridiculously great finish, from the way he initially grabs the arm, to the takedown, to slowly shifting position...perfect. Anjoh losing his temper never gets old. Really, this was as great as I remembered and it might be the career match for both guys.

Yoji Anjoh v Victor Zangiev (UWFi, 4/13/94) - GREAT

Well this ruled. Match only goes about 5 and a half minutes, but they do a bunch of super neat stuff with the limited time they get. Zangiev wrestles every bit like the hairy beast he looks, chucking Anjoh around with awesome takedowns and absorbing all the knees Anjoh throws at his head and face. Anjoh nearly takes a full on Zbyszko powder at one point because Zangiev just keeps out-muscling and countering anything he throws at him (he fucking handsprings out of a borderline-triangle choke, fer fucks!). Zangiev takes Anjoh over with this NASTY judo throw where he almost had his arm in a kimura at the same time, then right after it he takes him down again with basically a shoot style Ricky Steamboat armdrag. Anjoh scoring the tap out by applying a sick armbar with his legs was an awesome finish, and Zangiev gets pissed because douchebag Anjoh kept the hold on a few extra know, because he's Anjoh. For a guy that was only in wrestling about 5 years, Zangiev could sure as shit GO.

Complete & Accurate Anjoh

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Man Might Befriend Tenryu, Even Break Tenryu, but no Man Could Truly TAME Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu v Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 4/20/89) - GOOD

Well this started out with all the hate and ill will you expected, and the first five minutes were just great. Tenryu throws meaty chops and a MEAN lariat and Jumbo responds by dropkicking him right in the face. Tenryu gives Jumbo a clean break in the corner and they have this amazing "I fucking hate you" staredown, then Tenryu slaps him clean across the face. Tenryu punting him in the kidneys after a rope break ruled as well and is reason #269 as to why Tenryu is the fucking man. Match takes a pretty big dip in the middle, unfortunately. They ditch the wailing on each other and Jumbo grabs a sleeper for like 2 hours, and neither guy seems all that interested in doing anything with it. They just kind of lie there. Then Jumbo tries to hit a backdrop and Tenryu blocks it and they sort of hug each other for a good 15 seconds. Then they take it back to THE MAT and oh it's another sleeper. Thankfully they pick things up again when Tenryu makes his comeback and hits an AWESOME beefy tope. Last few minutes have the stiffness and potato shots you want from a Tenryu/Jumbo match (Jumbo hits a few brutal big boots to the mush and Tenryu sells each one like it knocked out another molar), and you can tell they were gearing up for a big finish run before the botched powerbomb. I mean, it looks like it just about killed Tenryu, so for a makeshift finish it sure looks like it'd fucking finish someone, but it clearly cut the match's nuts off before they got where they wanted to go. Probably isn't even a top 5 singles match these guys had together, but the opening and closing stretches rocked while they lasted and definitely set the table for a bigger and better rematch (which we get aaaaaallllllllllll of a couple months later).

Genichiro Tenryu & Magnum Tokyo v Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima (Dragon Gate, 7/3/05) - FUN

I stuck this show on for the Triangle Gate Title match (yeah...I don't know, either) and had no idea this even happened. I watched it for the Tenryu, and wasn't disappointed. Isn't a great match or anything, but Tenryu does his thing and I'll enjoy that no matter what. The way he takes a blindside chop from Sasaki is spectacular. Always dig Tenryu/Nakajima interactions. Any young punk getting chippy with Tenryu is good times, especially when Tenryu gets so pissed off he'll start throwing shit at them. He picks up a chair and walks around the ring to the opposite corner just to chuck it at Nakajima. It's been ages since I watched any DG from this period (as in, going on 8 years), but IIRC this was part of a storyline where Magnum was trying to prove himself to the heavyweights. He tries to hold his own against Sasaki, but he really has no chance. Tenryu is GREAT on the apron firing him up. At one point he comes in and kicks his own partner in the head to wake him up, then when Magnum tries to make the hot tag Tenryu just slaps him across the face and tells him to go fight. Plenty fun, but not essential.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Monday, 25 March 2013

When Yoji Anjoh Talks, the World Listens

Yoji Anjoh v Wayne Shamrock (UWF, 10/25/90) - GREAT

Apparently this is Shamrock's UWF d├ębut (I''ll take the YouTube uploader's word for it), and I can't imagine he would've been doing the old pro-wrestling all that long at this point. Still, he was shockingly good in the PWFG stuff from less than a year later, and he looked fine here as well. Anjoh is rocking the purple and yellow tights and they look boss. This started out solid and got better as it went on, and the last couple minutes are quality. Starts out fairly even, but Shamrock doesn't have great looking strikes and you get the sense Anjoh is going to win that battle the longer it goes. Shamrock covers up and Anjoh will try and throw knees to the head from the clinch, but nothing is getting past Shamrock's forearms. I guess at that point you want Anjoh to just start digging Shamrock with body shots, but they don't really come. Although the stand up sections are pretty brief and Shamrock at least tries to go back to the takedown with a sense of urgency, so it's not a huge problem. Longer the match goes the stronger Shamrock looks, like he's gaining confidence while Anjoh is starting to have doubts. His strikes even start looking halfway decent and he's able to use his strength to control things on the ground. Then Anjoh catches him with a flurry of knees and palm strikes and we get an awesome 9 count. Finish is pretty spectacular -- Shamrock hits a fucking dragon suplex, but Anjoh is able to shift to the side upon contact and hook an armbar, and I'm thinking Shamrock is going to tap, but Anjoh's back is exposed so Shamrock is able to sink in a choke for the win. Probably one of the best undercard matches UWF 2.0 ran, which isn't HUGE praise exactly, but this was still real good stuff.

Yoji Anjoh v Billy Scott (UWFi, 12/5/93) - GOOD

I'd never heard of Billy Scott before, but this is the third time these guys fought and Scott had won the first two, so Anjoh comes out quick and isn't in the mood for losing three straight. After about a minute Scott has a big red mark on his forehead, which I'd assume was a result of a knee or palm strike. Great Anjoh moment where Scott gets to the ropes and Anjoh has to break, but before Anjoh gives Scott room to get up he gives him a kick in the spine, probably half out of frustration and half out of just because. Little later Scott returns the favour and the crowd do not like that shit at all (Anjoh smirks like it's just another day at the office, though). Scott is solid on the ground and looks like he can hang pretty well. Anjoh isn't really able to stretch out the way he could against Yamazaki or Sano earlier in the year, but Scott is certainly capable. Neat little sub-story of Anjoh almost painting a bullseye on Scott's leg and trying to rip it off at the knee. Finish is cool as well, and I get the impressions Anjoh is a guy that's excellent at making you think he's cracked the code and a second away from scoring a tap out only to have it snatched away from him right at the death. This is also from a Eurosport broadcast and maaaan I wish I knew when Eurosport was showing this stuff back whenever, because the English speaking commentators are a pretty great Goldberg/Rogan tandem (especially Rogan). I'd totally have stuck early 90s UWFi repeats on the Sky+ planner.

Yoji Anjoh v Masahito Kakihara (Kingdom, 12/14/97) - SKIPPABLE

This had a nice finish (and Anjoh finally wins one!), but the match went about four minutes and had three exchanges, and well, Ikeda/One has pretty much ruined every other sub-five minute match in history and these guys never smashed the shit out of each other in any kind of horrifically brutal way for it to match up. Is there any Kingdom worth checking out? Like, in general? You'd think a promotion that had guys like Sano, Takayama and Anjoh would've ran at least something worth tracking down.

Complete & Accurate Anjoh

Sunday, 24 March 2013

I'm Running Out of "Interesting" Titles for These Project Posts. This One is About Yoji Anjoh, btw

Yoji Anjoh v Masa Chono (New Japan, 12/10/95) - FUN

More of the same from these two, except this time Anjoh is the invader so his shitheadedness gets even more heat. And man does Yoji Anjoh just revel in an environment like this. His smile when he gets in the ring to a chorus of boos tells you he pretty clearly loves this shit. This time out Chono jumps Anjoh at the bell (role reversal from the first match), and Anjoh yet again takes a great bump off the Yakuza Kick. This is even shorter than the UWFi match, but it sort of feels like more of a straight up scrap and doesn't really have the 'douchebags trying to out-douchebag each other' feel. Although it's still a scrap between two guys that are willing to get dirty, which means you get awesome shit like Anjoh lifting Chono's leg off the ground so he's got room to punch him in the dick (which was as good as the knee to the plums in the first match). Chono of course gets him back by heel kicking him low, but then Anjoh tosses in another ball shot towards the end, and holy shit does Yoji Anjoh have a bunch of ways to hit you in the manhood. Did he ever wrestle Tajiri? Because I'd watch that just for the ball shots (and the fact it'd probably be awesome).

Yoji Anjoh v Norman Smiley (UWF, 8/13/88) - GOOD

This was rock solid, but it was pretty unspectacular and kind of lulled in points. Screamin' Norman looked fine, but he's not on Anjoh's level as a mat worker and there were points where Anjoh was clearly holding back. When they kicked into gear it got real good though, especially the spell where they were countering and counter-countering and the crowd totally ate that up. Anjoh was pretty restrained here as well. He was rarely the same kind of dickhead working shoot style as he was working inter-promotional matches against Tenryu or Chono, but in almost every Anjoh match you'll get a moment where he loses his temper or does something to earn someone's ire. This time the closest we got to that was a few body shots before breaking when the ref' tells him to (and the ref' even says "I said BREAK" in English! Maybe), and the rest of the time he managed to behave himself. Good match, but it needed more of the counter-countering and probably could've done with Anjoh being a cunt.

Complete & Accurate Anjoh

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Walk This Way, the Way of Yoji Anjoh

Yoji Anjoh v Masa Chono (UWFi, 10/28/95) - GOOD

This was a ton of fun. Before the bell Anjoh drops Chono with a high kick to the dome, and from there it's more or less about two douchebags trying to out-douchebag each other. And they go about doing that in really nasty ways. Anjoh will force a rope break and slither out to the floor to take a breather and rile everybody up, so the next time Anjoh grabs a kneebar Chono forces him to break it by gouging at his eyes and fish hooking him. Chono hits Anjoh low to counter a go-behind, so Anjoh gets him back by catching a Yakuza kick and kneeing him right in the plums, which was a fucking AWESOME counter/payback spot. Anjoh's sell of an earlier Yakuza kick was great as well, really whipping his head around like it gave him whiplash. I'm a mark for post-match riots in these inter-promotional feuds, and we get a big post-match pull apart here. Anjoh waiting until Tenzan is just about out of the ring before running over and booting him in the head is total Anjoh douchebaggery. 

Complete & Accurate Anjoh

Complete & Accurate Yoji Anjoh

So a few days ago I kind of made an offhand comment that Yoji Anjoh would make a great Complete & Accurate candidate. I didn't really have any intention of starting a Complete & Accurate Anjoh, but well, fuck it, here I go again on my own, going down the only road I've ever known.

Anjoh wasn't really a guy I paid a huge deal of attention to until a couple years ago. He was involved in a lot of matches I liked and he was always someone I dug, but he wasn't someone I'd get excited about watching. Then a switch must've been flicked, because at this point he's maybe one of my ten favourite wrestlers of all time. Charisma out the wazoo, incredible douchebag, killer on the mat; Anjoh is just a hell of a pro-wrestler. I also feel like there's bound to be a ton of stuff out there that nobody talks about, and I'd be stunned if there wasn't a few dozen gems in amongst it all. So the goal is to watch it all and stick it down here (under EPIC, GREAT, GOOD, FUN and SKIPPABLE).

Yoji Anjoh v Norman Smiley (UWF, 8/13/88) - GOOD

Yoji Anjoh v Wayne Shamrock (UWF, 10/25/90) - GREAT

Yoji Anjoh & Yuko Miyato v Kazuo Yamazaki & Tatsuo Nakano (UWFi, 5/10/91) - FUN
Yoji Anjoh v Tatsuo Nakano (UWFi, 6/6/91) - FUN
Yoji Anjoh v Kiyoshi Tamura (UWFi, 7/3/91) - EPIC
Yoji Anjoh & Jim Boss v Nobuhiko Takada & Kiyoshi Tamura (UWFi, 7/30/91) - GOOD
Yoji Anjoh v Gary Albright (UWFi, 8/24/91) - GOOD
Yoji Anjoh v Kazuo Yamazaki (UWFi, 9/26/91) - GREAT

Yoji Anjoh & Kazuo Yamazaki v Gary Albright & Jim Boss (UWFi, 1/9/92) - EPIC

Yoji Anjoh v Naoki Sano (UWFi, 8/13/93) - EPIC
Yoji Anjoh v Billy Scott (UWFi, 12/5/93) - GOOD

Yoji Anjoh v Victor Zangiev (UWFi, 4/13/94) - GREAT 

Yoji Anjoh v Masa Chono (UWFi, 10/28/95) - GOOD
Yoji Anjoh v Masa Chono (New Japan, 12/10/95) - FUN

Yoji Anjoh & Yoshihiro Takayama v Hiromichi Fuyuki & Gedo (UWFi, 5/27/96) - FUN
Yoji Anjoh v Genichiro Tenryu (WAR, 7/21/96) - GREAT

Yoji Anjoh v Masahito Kakihara (Kingdom, 12/14/97) - SKIPPABLE

Yoji Anjoh & Genichiro Tenryu v Taiyo Kea & Johnny(???) Smith (All Japan, 7/14/01) - FUN 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Laughter is Poison to Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu & Ultimo Dragon v Samson Fuyuki & Shinobu Kandori (WAR, 12/8/95) - FUN

This is the first time I've seen Tenryu wrestle a woman, and all of his exchanges with Kandori were pretty fun. He won't hit her because he's a gentleman even though she's slapping him about the face and trying to take him over with judo throws (which he doesn't budge for). He shakes her hand at the start, then he points to Fuyuki like "you aren't as lucky," then he spits on his hands and rubs them together, then he does what he always does when he spits on his hands and rubs them together and mauls someone. This time that someone is Fuyuki. Fuyuki has to be one of the most vocal wrestlers ever. He squeals like a wild animal and kind of makes monkey noises before he cracks Ultimo in the kidneys with a chair. He's always grunting really loudly as well, and it felt like he was constantly shrieking in pain whenever he was in the ring with Tenryu (probably because Tenryu was kicking the shit out of him any time he was in the ring with Tenryu). Makes you think a Fuyuki/Larry Zbyszko tag team would be the loudest team in history, all "AAARGGG"s and "OOH"s. Ultimo was super solid in this. He gives Kandori enough to make her look credible and dangerous, but not enough to the point where it looks like he's purposefully bitching himself out. There's a spot where he has Kandori's back so Kandori heel kicks him in the nads. Then Ultimo tries it when Kandori has his back, but it doesn't work as well on vaginas (although with Kandori I'm not sure she doesn't have...never mind). Not a great match, but it's a total WAR match, and that makes it charming if nothing else.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Demolition (SWS, 9/17/91) - SKIPPABLE

This was probably one of the better Crush-era Demolition matches, but...well, it's not really something anybody needs to go out of their way to see. Crush and Smash are pretty fun shit talkers here, especially Crush who calls fans stupid idiots here and there. I'm not sure the Japanese crowd understood any of it, but they booed like they were supposed to, anyway. Had Crush wrestled Flair at any point before this? Because if he hadn't then I can't imagine anybody would have chopped him harder in his career than Tenryu. This probably would've been a fun match-up a few years earlier when Eadie was still fit to go.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Old Tenryu is More Cunning Than You Think, or He Would Never Have Lived to See His First Grey Hair

Genichiro Tenryu & Masa Fuchi v Nobutaka Araya & Arashi (All Japan, 1/3/03) - GOOD

Tenryu v Araya delivers again! I have no idea what Araya did to make Tenryu hate him so, but every single time they're on the opposite side of a wrestling match Tenryu just beats the stuffing out of him. Tenryu ALWAYS abuses him (Araya will have these great "fuck sake man, what did I ever DO to you?" expressions), and that's really what makes it such a great match-up. Tenryu doesn't kick too many people in the face like he does Araya, and this time it sounded like someone threw a grapefruit off Tarmac. Fuchi throws Araya out to the floor so Tenryu tosses tables at him and whips him into the side of one of the stands, and Araya almost crushes some skinny lady that doesn't get out of the way in time (Tenryu really whips him into it). Then Tenryu does a fucking cross body OFF the stand! I don't think I've ever seen him do that before. Amazing moment where Araya is brawling with Fuchi on the floor and Tenryu comes all the way around and chucks a chair at his head. Fuchi is fairly ancient here (like a hundred and six) and his biggest offensive move behind the backdrop is a small package, and well Fuchi rolling tubbies up in small packages left and right is why Fuchi is the greatest. Tubbies coming back and putting a beating on the old man is your PERIL segment, and there's an awesome receipt of the early Tenryu mugging when he tries to come in with a chair only for Araya to boot it straight back in his face. And really, he totally had that one coming. Arashi is looking a whole lot like a fatter Takashi Ishikawa which totally appeals to the WAR mark in me. He throws meaty strikes which also appeals to the WAR mark in me. He comes in to stop Tenryu laying into Araya at one point (there were many points of Tenryu laying into Araya) and Tenryu gives him this amazingly disdainful "just fuck off, will you?" slap before clobbering him with a lariat. Finish felt a little anticlimactic, but Araya's moonsault kind of landed across Fuchi's legs and Fuchi sold it like it broke both of his kneecaps (or what he had left of kneecaps). Not one of your more spectacular grumpy old man Tenryu tags, but it was a hell of a grumpy old man Tenryu performance. Someone tell me he and Araya had a decent length singles match. Please.

Genichiro Tenryu v Mil Mascaras (All Japan, 2/4/82) - GOOD

Super nifty match. I love Tenryu and will pretty much enjoy anything he is in, but I didn't expect this to be as fun as it was. Tenryu isn't a guy I think of as being a great mat worker, but the stuff on the ground here was really cool and slick, and it built nicely to them throwing bombs at the end. Final few minutes are actually awesome with Tenryu hitting a tope and coming close to pulling out the upset. Finish isn't executed very well, but I liked the idea (and I was buying it being over after the cross body). Tenryu is the fucking greatest.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

When the Snows Fall and the White Winds Blow, the Lone Wolf Dies, but Tenryu Survives

Genichiro Tenryu v Yoji Anjoh (WAR, 2/21/97) - GREAT

If it wasn't already obvious, Tenryu is my favourite Japanese wrestler ever. Anjoh is probably like top 10, so this is basically a puro dream match for me, and for 11 minutes it was just an absolute truck load of fun. Anjoh is at his smug, douchy best here, grinning and pouting and acting like a shithead. He'll take a powder and stall and Tenryu's expression kind of goes from amusement the first time to annoyance the second time to disdain he third. And you just know he's going to let loose at some point. Then it looks like he's about to do just that, and Anjoh slides out for another powder...and Tenryu's glare would shrivel your testes. Tenryu has clearly had enough and tries to gouge Anjoh's eyes out. Then we get the face punching, which rules. God damn does Tenryu throw amazing punches, straight to the jaw and cheekbone. When Anjoh starts throwing them back Tenryu shoots the ref' a look like, "What the fuck is that all about?"Anjoh's strategy is basically to go for submission attempts and prevent Tenryu from punching and chopping him to ribbons, and the heat for each attempt just builds and build until you're thinking Tenryu is actually going to tap to a kneebar. Final minute or so is outstanding. Tenryu blocks a corner kick and fucking drills Anjoh in the teeth with a punch, a chop to the throat and a HUGE lariat. He hits the powerbomb, but Anjoh pops out of the cradle and grabs an armbar, and I'm right there with the crowd in genuinely buying Tenryu giving it up. He gets to the ropes and forces the break, and when he gets back up to his feet he decapitates Anjoh with another lariat right away. Seriously, this was Finger of God shit right here. Post-match rules as well, with Anjoh wanting a handshake and raising Tenryu's hand in victory before kicking him and making a break for it. Tenryu smiles like, "Oh I totally didn't expect that." I absolutely cannot wait to see their '96 match now (I'm about a month away on the '96 yearbook...although a month in yearbook time could take a year in Boozehound time). And Yoji Anjoh would make a hell of a Complete & Accurate candidate...

Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada v Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy (All Japan, 12/16/88) - EPIC

Pretty much a classic. Story is simple enough – Hara is gone and Kawada is stepping into his shoes as Tenryu's partner, but he's clearly not at the "#2" level yet. Hansen and Gordy are two of the greatest ass-kickers of all time (and at this point I'm convinced Hansen is the greatest wrestler ever, period) and will FUCKING KILL YOU. Tenryu is Tenryu. Kawada doesn't have the firepower to hang and bang with the likes of Hansen and Gordy, but he'll try all the same. For about ten minutes he gets the job done (and nukes Gordy's chin with a wheel kick). Then Hansen kicks him in the knee to break a pin attempt and it all goes downhill from there. Hansen and Gordy just destroy him and leave him out on the floor with one good leg to stand on, and Tenryu is left all alone against THOSE two. Kawada actually runs all the way around the ring to pick a fight with Hansen and God damn does Stan fucking eat him alive for his shit. There's a couple amazing moments where Kawada will desperately try to help his partner, like when Gordy powerbombs Tenryu in the middle of the ring and you just see Kawada leaping into the frame to break the pin. Of course Hansen is annoyed and cooks him. GREAT spot where Tenryu busts out a desperation kneebar on Hansen while Gordy is brutalising Kawada on the floor and you see him sprint into the ring to make the save. Hansen's expression at the end is perfect, like he had to dish out more punishment than even Stan fucking Hansen could ever imagine. Tenryu made him do this. He should've just stayed down. Seriously, this is as good as any tag match that happened during the decade and I'm going back and forth on whether or not to put it at #1 ahead of the 1/28/86 tag [wound up finishing as my overall #3].

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v John Tenta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 2/29/88) - GOOD

The commentator constantly referring to Tenta as "Big John Tenta" tickles me for some reason. This wasn't blowaway great or anything, but it's four big lumpy dudes throwing nasty shots and generally wrestling like they don't much care for their opponents. My first thought was that it was a sort of WAR midcard/Nitro style hybrid with guys that just give off that WAR vibe. It's mostly back and forth, but they don't bog it down by going long and cramming it with filler. I liked Tenta as a big brick wall here and there's a few nifty spots involving him. Tenryu chops him at one point so Tenta responds with a big clubber to the chest that lands Tenryu on his ass, and Tenryu's "Well...maybe I shouldn't have done that" look was great. Loved him dragging Tenta out to the floor and hurling him into the barricade as a receipt. Tenryu suplexing Tenta is an impressive looking spot, but as a finish it isn't all that great. Still, this was fun and will probably land somewhere in the middle third.

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 11/30/85) - FUN

This was really good in parts (Tenryu as FIP, Jumbo/Choshu exchanges, Yatsu's German suplex, etc.), but I thought it also had a fair bit of downtime that made it kind of obvious where they were going with it. I honestly don't think I’ve seen any of the Choshu/Jumbo matches, but the build that goes into a singles match between the two was great here. Tenryu is a bad motherfucker and Yatsu is tough as nails, but at some point Jumbo and Choshu are going to get a hold of one another and that's what it’s all about (at least that's what it felt like they were building to). Using Hansen/Ted v Jumbo/Tenryu as a comparison, the first two thirds of that was a better level of "solid" than the first two thirds of this, and the final third of that was "great" while the final third of this was "really good." That’ll go top half, but I don’t think this will.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

It's One Thing to be Clever and Another to be Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu, Jumbo Tsuruta & Terry Funk v The Destroyer, Jerry Blackwell & Ron Bass (All Japan, 9/14/82) - FUN

If nothing else, this match makes YOU want to see a Terry Funk v Jerry Blackwell match. Blackwell was pretty much awesome in this, and every time I see the guy the more convinced I am that he has an honest to goodness case for being the best obese wrestler ever (and yes, I'm including Vader in that). Terry, Jumbo and Tenryu all take turns grinding a headlock on him like they're trying to really cauliflower his ear, and when Blackwell finally manages to create some breathing space he does his weeble-wobble sell where he's standing with such a wide base for balance that he's almost doing the splits. He and Terry trade headbutts on all fours and it was probably the moment of the match. He also smashes Terry with GREAT elbow drops, right to the big old bandaged area of Terry's neck. He kind of comes down vertical on all of them, not from the side, and the point of the elbow goes straight into the collarbone. Terry is your FIP here and sure enough he's good in that role. The Blackwell interactions are the best, especially when Jerry will just jump through the ropes like a glorious fat man to stop Terry from crawling over to make the tag, but the exchanges with Destroyer don't make you think a Terry/Destroyer match would suck. Tenryu is more or less a bit part player in this -- in 1982 we had no super grump Genichiro Tenryu and he hadn't even started wearing the black trunks yet. Plus he looks lean and not chunky and doesn't have any sort of saggy cleavage. What he does do is eat a pasting for a bit and Jerry Blackwell CRUSHES him with the greatest Samoan Drop in history (is Jerry's Samoan Drop the best ever in general?). I totally dug the quasi-WAR-like randomness of this, which is appropriate given the fact one of the participants would be that company's founder and unquestioned cantankerous leader.

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 1/28/86) - EPIC

Tremendous match, as good a candidate for the overall #1 as any. Not only did I come away from this thinking it was the best match so far, but I thought it was the best performance from every guy involved so far as well. The early feeling out segment is great as the simmer leading to the inevitable boil. It sets the table really well. It starts out with Jumbo and Yatsu and they establish the fact Yatsu will slap you right in the fucking face and that Jumbo will have none of it. When Yatsu slaps him Jumbo's expression barely changes, but you can tell he's going to repay in kind, and when he does he's satisfied enough with that to toss Yatsu into his corner like a piece of garbage and demand that Choshu get in instead. Choshu comes in and subtly sells the bandaged ribs (that were busted up from a Jumbo and Tenryu attack not long before this) and that injury eventually becomes a big focus of the whole match. Tenryu's first appearance is awesome, circling Choshu and winding up within striking distance of Yatsu, so he casually chops him just for the Hell of it. They move into a Choshu in peril segment after a sweet double lariat spot and Jumbo and Tenryu are just great at working him over. Tenryu punts him in the ribs; Jumbo tears off his bandages and puts him in an abdominal stretch; while he's got him in the abdominal stretch he starts punching him in the ribs, etc. There's this great moment where Yatsu tries to come in to do something about the mugging, and while the ref' is trying to get him back out Tenryu just casually strolls over and slaps him in the face. Eventually Yatsu can't take any more and nails Jumbo with a double axe handle off the top, and that buys Choshu enough time to make the tag. I love how Choshu just lies face down on the apron after making the tag. I love Tenryu running around to throw him into barricades and blast him in the ribs with a chair even more. Tenryu's constant assault on Choshu is actually a really awesome little sub-plot all the way through this. There's times where he'll start laying into him for seemingly no reason other than the fact he hates him, and when things break down and all four guys are brawling he'll always zero in on Choshu. Choshu's sell job is probably the best of his career as well. There's an especially cool spot late on where he manages to get the Scorpion on Jumbo but has to release it because the strain is too much. He isn't really a guy that springs to mind when thinking of folks that add neat subtle touches to selling, but he even rules on that level here as well, at one point hitting a dropkick and selling the ribs because he landed on the side that's hurt. He and Yatsu finally manage to score an advantage by posting Jumbo. Jumbo bleeds and Tenryu tries to murder Choshu again, and this match pretty much fucking rocks. Jumbo gets worked over for a spell until Tenryu decides enough is enough, and JESUS does he go about shutting Yatsu down in the greatest way possible. Yatsu has Jumbo in the Scorpion and Tenryu is so pissed off that he forgets how to run the fuggin ropes properly. But he runs them anyway and just fucking nukes Yatsu with a lariat. That spot is right up there with Hansen and DiBiase trying to cut off the circulation to Terry’s brain with a bullrope. Yatsu's response by German suplexing him right on his motherfucking head was AMAZING and might be the best nearfall on the set. It had been so long since I had seen this that I had forgotten who even won, and that spot totally had me. Finishing run being capped off by one of the few clean and decisive finishes (up to this point) doesn't exactly hurt, either. I watched this twice over the last couple days and after the first watch I pegged it as a good shout for the top 10. After the re-watch I'd be surprised if it drops out of the top 5 [it wound up being my #1].

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 2/5/86) - GOOD

This starts out with Yatsu telling Tenryu to be a real man and get in the ring while Choshu shit talks Jumbo from the apron, and when Jumbo's attention is focused on Choshu, Yatsu dropkicks him to the floor where he and Choshu plant him with a spike piledriver. And well, that's a Hell of a way to kick off a rematch. It's not as good as the 1/28 match, but that might be a top 20 match of all time so it'd probably be unfair to expect something on that level. What it is, though, is a really fucking good match between two teams that are prone to having really fucking good matches. The opening mugging leads to a fairly lengthy Jumbo in peril segment. It's not as heated as any of the previous week's isolation segments, but Choshu is still nursing the bandaged ribs and there's a great moment where he locks in the Scorpion but still struggles to keep hold of it, so he tags in Yatsu who picks up the slack and puts Jumbo right back in the hold. Yatsu and Tenryu really hate each other. When Tenryu gets the hot tag he and Yatsu start a really potatoey exchange of slaps that practically devolves into them both repeatedly punching each other in the face. Neither guy backs down an inch (they just keep hitting each other) so it's left to Jumbo to actually come in and calm his own partner down. Choshu is pretty great at selling the injured ribs again here. He gets worked over for a spell much like in the last match, and Jumbo and Tenryu really zero in on them. One thing this does have over 1/28 is the finish. This has an AWESOME finish. Tenryu tries to behead Yatsu with a lariat and Yatsu manages to duck it and grab a waist lock. He's trying to get him over for a German suplex and Tenryu is clinging onto the ropes for dear life, so Choshu runs along the apron and blasts him with a lariat. Tenryu's grip is broken and Yatsu spikes him with the German while Jumbo flies out the ring in a fit of rage to get at Choshu, seemingly oblivious to the fact his partner just got dumped on his head. Won't finish nearly as high as the 1/28 match, but I'd peg it as likely finishing in the top 50 all the same [wound up as my #59, which says a whole lot about how great the '88-'89 run was...because there is a ton of matches from '88 and '89 in my top third].

Genichiro Tenryu & Samson Fuyuki v Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 8/25/86) - FUN
Fuyuki's trunks are truly spectacular. They're like the ones Austin would wear in the early 90s only more hideous. This had a decent enough first half, but it's the spot where Choshu lariats Fuyuki off the top rope leading to a CRAZY Fuyuki blade job that shoots it up the ballot. I mean Choshu hits him with another lariat later and you can literally see the coat of blood on his face explode on impact. The whole second half is basically Fuyuki getting his ass handed to him while Tenryu assumes the role of chief ass kicker teaming with a much lower ranked partner who is out of his depth against Choshu and Yatsu (and being bloodied to shit doesn't help, either). There's a great spot where Yatsu tries to bulldog Fuyuki only for Tenryu to come in and put a stop to it with a lariat. As far as "decent first half, much better second half" matches on the set go, this wasn't as good as the Jumbo/Tenryu v Hansen/DiBiase match from 8/31/85, but I still thought it was at least solid enough to land around mid-table.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 9/15/88) - GREAT

Fuck me, the opening stretch of this was loaded with some nasty, nasty looking shit. Tenryu and Yatsu just SHRED each other with chops and Yatsu starts cracking Tenryu in the head with horrendously unpulled forearms. He wasn't throwing them like pro-wrestling forearms; he was bringing his arm down full force in a kind of downward stabbing motion. Jumbo completely nukes Tenryu's face with a running dropkick as well. I thought his nose was going to be spread across his forehead. This didn't have the layout of the 8/30 match, but of all the outings this match-up has on the set, I'd probably put this one third. Finish was pretty crappy, though. Tenryu and Hara walking away like it ain't 'bout shit was pretty bossy, but still, walking away from a title match after that finish like it ain't 'bout shit might not be the best thing.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Monday, 18 March 2013

Just Sit Right There, I'll Tell You How Tenryu Became The Prince of a Town Called Bel Air

Genichiro Tenryu v Satoshi Kojima (All Japan, 2/24/02) - GREAT

So Kojima is fine and everything here. He hits a great tope, and from time to time will get fed up and start punching Tenryu in the face. But really, this was a Tenryu show. Story coming in is that Kojima has just recently jumped ship from New Japan, and this is him coming out to prove he belongs with the big boys in AJ. Tenryu gives zero fucks about what he's trying to prove and hates everybody no matter what. Kojima backs him into the ropes at the beginning and gives him a half-hearted overhand chop, just to let him know this'll be a fight. Tenryu looks at him with the faintest hint of a grin and does the "brush your shoulders off" bit. Then Tenryu backs Kojima into the corner and Kojima covers up expecting to be hit. Tenryu takes a step back and doesn't do anything, almost daring Kojima to make a move. During the first few exchanges Tenryu starts doing Mongolian Chops (aping Tenzan, Kojima's old partner in New Japan), and a little later he "winds up" for a chop the way Kojima does. Tenryu is basically in prick mode the entire match and it's fucking great. Bit where he blocks a Kojima lariat before punching him in the chin and crushing him with a brainbuster was killer. The crowd don't really seem to buy Kojima as a viable threat for a decent portion of this, which kind of takes the heat out of one or two nearfalls, but by the end they're rocking for him mowing Tenryu down with lariats. So I guess the match succeeded in its goal -- Kojima comes out of this looking like a guy that can hang, even in defeat. Tenryu also punches him in the face a bunch.

Genichiro Tenryu v Taiyo Kea (All Japan, 10/27/01) - GREAT

This is JIP which would normally annoy me, but we only miss the first couple minutes and when we actually join the match the first thing that happens is a Tenryu heel kick to the balls, so really, why would I complain about that? This was pretty much 10 minutes of two dudes that hit like hell, hitting like hell. It was plenty surly. Kea whips out a few crazy looking jumping axe kick-slash-enziguri looking things to the back of Tenryu's head, and I half expected Tenryu's eyeballs to pop out his skull. His sell of the first one is just spectacular -- he sort of does the thousand yard stare that we associate with Kawada, but he puts his arms out to the side and stumbles forward a bit like he's trying to grab onto something before falling on his face. The punch exchanges all looked super nasty as well, and after having seen these guys match up a few times now I'm convinced I could watch them smack each other around all day. Tenryu with the fucking red mist at the finish was just about the very last thing I expected to see, but damn if I didn't dig it. It's a low-end GREAT, but the face punching is enough to take it above GOOD level.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Takashi Ishikawa & Samson Fuyuki (SWS, 1/6/92) - GREAT

Man, Tenryu and Hara are such a killer team of beefies. This was more or less Tenryu and Hara working 90% of the match from above while Ishikawa and Fuyuki try not to get dead. Ishikawa can hang relatively well, but take a look at Fuyuki's tights and tell me he's not going to get punted up and down. You can't, and he does. Really, Fuyuki eats a man-sized shitkicking. Tenryu throws him out to the floor, chucks him over the barricade (Fuyuki hurls himself about 6 rows deep and it's pretty clear this guy is way the fuck better than his rep - or lack thereof - suggests) and launches a table at him. Hara potatoes him with coconut headbutts. Tenryu kicks him in the liver and face. And all the while Fuyuki has these great "aw fuck here we go again" expressions. Plus he will try and fight back like a pitbull and he's pretty much everything I want in an underdog working against a Tenryu team in a Tenryu fed. Ishikawa comes in off the hot tag at one point and throws about five dropkicks in a row that hit Tenryu and Hara RIGHT in the mouth. I'm not certain, but I think Hara actually loses a tooth (he definitely bleeds from the mouth). Crowd is pretty dead and looks like it's a kick in the balls off a dying days PWFG crowd, so you don't get the reactions to someone being punted in the chin like you'd hope, but this was meaty and manly and motherfuck do you want one of those 'Light My Fire' hoodies.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 12/5/87) - GREAT

As far as telegraphed half hour draws go, I liked this a good deal better than any of the Jumbo/Tenryu v Choshu/Yatsu matches. I mean I figured they were working to the bell eventually, but it didn't seem as obvious here and I definitely preferred the things these guys were doing to kill time. Jumbo and Tenryu playing mind games in the first half was really cool and I thought it built to Tenryu's big time cheapshot well. You knew it was only a matter of time before one guy REALLY let loose because they weren't satisfied with just throwing a slap or a chop here and there, and Tenryu pulling open the ropes while Jumbo was running into them was a great spot. Jumbo getting massively pissed off was also great. Lots of "burly dudes throwing down" stuff throughout, possibly culminating with Jumbo pasting Hara with a lariat. Tenryu in peril towards the end while Jumbo and Yatsu go to work on his cut forehead might have been my favourite spell of the match, and Hara mowing people down after the hot tag was pretty boss. I *might* have this in my top 40 [wound up with it at #39].

Genichiro Tenryu v Stan Hansen (All Japan, 9/20/87) - SKIPPABLE

Hansen flipping his lid and throwing chairs and chasing people around ringside for no apparent reason whatsoever was AMAZING. That was at the intros. When he calms down and they start the match for real Tenryu just goes right for him and winds up dropping him with a big palm strike to the ear. Unfortunately they slow it way down after that and, other than Hansen repeatedly shouting "ASK HIM," it never hit the level the opening few minutes promised. I mean they both work the arm and it's all solid enough stuff, but this is Hansen and Tenryu and this isn't the kind of bar fight you want out of them. Hansen going postal post-match was a nice return to form, but this was one of the more disappointing matches on the set.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Sunday, 17 March 2013

"There Must be Some Way Out of Here," Said the Joker to Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu & Masa Fuchi v Toshiaki Kawada & Nobutaka Araya (All Japan, 6/30/01) - EPIC

Well God damn. Totally spectacular Tenryu performance, totally spectacular Araya performance, Kawada and Fuchi being Kawada and Fuchi...yeah, this was great shit. Tenryu v Araya is your centrepiece here, and holy shit does it deliver in a huge way. Match starts out fairly civilised with Fuchi and Araya and then Fuchi and Kawada grappling and taking it to the mat. I don't think a single strike was thrown. Then Tenryu comes in and he and Kawada start knocking lumps out each other, and we're off to the races. When Araya comes in (after Kawada has to drag a dazed Tenryu up to his feet) he hits a corner lariat for a 2 count, and as soon as Tenryu kicks out he just stands right up and punches a hole in Araya's face. Araya starts bleeding instantly from a cut above the eye, so Tenryu does what you know he'll do and zeroes right in on it. Every exchange from then on out is about Araya refusing to take Tenryu's shit while Tenryu refuses to not be a cunt. At one point Tenryu just wastes him with a lariat (Araya winds up also bleeding from the mouth and I think it was that that did it) and follows it up by punting him in the head with maybe the nastiest Tenryu punt I've ever seen (and that covers a lot of ground). Sounded like someone threw a tennis ball off a wall. Araya is pretty much exceptional fighting from the bottom the whole time, throwing super stiff forearms in retaliation, and once or twice he even stoops to Tenryu's level and starts punching noses. Plus the facial expressions from both guys are amazing -- contempt, indignation, surprise, defiance; the whole nine. Fuchi is pushing 80 at this point and isn't really a viable threat to anybody, but he's fucking Fuchi and will point to someone's head like he's about to punch them in the head, then he'll punch them in the head. And really, you gotta love Fuchi. Kawada is fairly subdued and doesn't blast the shit out of folks the whole time, but you still get the Kawada moments where he'll eat a surprise enziguri and sell it all Kawada-like. Plus he squashes Fuchi's nose with an absolute motherfucker of a jumping kneedrop. The bit where he comes flying into camera shot and boots Fuchi in the head like a runaway truck was outrageous. This just ruled it all round.

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase (All Japan, 8/31/85) - GOOD

Fresh off their slaughter of Terry the Hobo with a Shotgun, Hansen and DiBiase team up against the two top dog natives. Thought this chugged along nicely for about two thirds, then Jumbo posts Hansen on the floor and DiBiase gets briefly isolated, and from there it gets awesome. Jumbo reels off a string of big bombs on Ted and Ted just tries to survive long enough for Hansen to recover, and when he does they drag Jumbo out to the floor and paint a bullseye on his lariat arm. They basically do whatever they can to break his arm while keeping Tenryu as far away as possible. Great moment where Tenryu comes in to try and break up a double team only for Hansen to murder him with a lariat that Tenryu takes an amazing, almost Rock-taking-a-Stunner, bump off of. When he's recovered a little later he gets back up on the apron and Hansen just pops him in the teeth with a punch that leaves him dead for a while longer. Finish was great, and unexpected to boot. This probably would've landed around mid-ballot if the last third was as solid as the first two thirds. But it goes from "solid" to "great" and that should keep it floating around the top 60.

Genichiro Tenryu v Ole Anderson (All Japan, 4/5/86) - FUN

This is pretty much the definition of "short and to the point." It goes about 5 minutes and has Ole pounding on Tenryu's arm before Tenryu decides enough is enough and kills him dead with a powerbomb. I liked how Ole would go about targeting the arm; punching him in the shoulder, throwing him into the post, waffling him with a chair, etc. He busts out quite a lot of stuff considering how little time they get. I won't have this terribly low, because I dug it for what it was, but I can't see it cracking the top half, either. 

Genichiro Tenryu v Stan Hansen (All Japan, 7/26/86) - GOOD

My thoughts of "I'm thinking they have a better match in them" at the end of Jumbo/Hansen mirrored my thoughts at the end of this, but the difference here was that I thought this was still pretty fucking choice in its own right. Hansen is back to his old ways and rushes Tenryu at the bell, which means we're already off to a good start. First half wasn't spectacular (although we get a great close-up of a NASTY Hansen kneedrop), but once Tenryu takes over and goes to work on Hansen's arm things pick up in a big way. I especially dug Tenryu kicking at the arm to shut down any momentum. Eventually Stan gets busted open, and the way he staggers around outside the ring is immaculate. I think Hansen is my favourite ever when it comes to selling exhaustion, stumbling around sucking wind with his mouth open wide enough to catch a seagull. He's awesome at selling blood loss here as well. Finish is whatever, but the desperation lariat was a GREAT spot to set it up, as was the way Hansen wound up hurling himself out of the ring after hitting it. Looked like he threw absolutely everything he had left into it. This isn't fucking with their matches from '88, but as a sort of "toned down" version of Hansen v Tenryu, I was happy enough with what I got. 

Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa v Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto (WAR, 4/2/93) - EPIC

Yet another WAR v New Japan tag, yet another violent masterpiece. I'm convinced Tenryu is the absolute best "Fuck you for I despise you" wrestler ever. I've seen a truckload of pissed off Tenryu performances where he just oozes contempt. Tenryu working as violent bastard with contempt for his opponent is one of my favourite things in wrestling. This is as rampantly pissed off as I can recall seeing him and my God is it a spectacular performance you want every second of. I mean it's not like he's carrying this on his back or anything, because all four guys seriously bring it here. Ishikawa is amazing at hurling cheapshots from the apron, running into the ring so he can plaster someone, refusing to be outdone by the three Rottweilers he's wound up in a match with. Choshu and Hashimoto are two all-time great ass-kickers and they're working a Tenryu fed so there is nothing to stop them from completely uncorking with all sorts of nasty shit. Really, there isn't much more you can ask for from those three. But Tenryu just takes it one step further. It's like being at a party with Keith Richards. You can snort all the cocaine you can find, but Keith will do all that, fuck a mountain goat and eat his weight in plasticine. You cannot out-debauch Keith Richards. Can't be done. You cannot out-violent Tenryu. Can't be done. The opening exchange with Hashimoto – the Tenryu/Hashimoto match-up is the main "storyline" of this in a lot of ways – feels like an honest to goodness fight, like two bikers rolling around on the piss-stained floor of a nightclub. When Choshu tags in, Tenryu never takes his eyes off Hashimoto and points to him like "You'll get yours, prick." When they next wind up back in the ring together they have a truly epic staredown and proceed to just thump the holy shit out of each other. Like the 3/7 tag where Ohara got bloodied and brutalised, things hit that next level up when Choshu gets cut open and Team WAR go to town on him. Tenryu is just ridiculously great at going right after him. It's like the shackles well and truly come off and he won't be content until his boot is covered in Choshu’s blood, repeatedly punting him in the eye and shoving the ref' on his ass when he tries to stop him. The crowd even starts booing him and you get the sense they're genuinely concerned that he might actually blind Choshu. Eventually Hash gets the hot tag (although Choshu making sure to blast Ishikawa with a lariat before tagging out was an awesome spot) and holy shit is this a hot tag. Tenryu tries to get in the ring to cut him off and Hash boots him clean in the jaw as he's stepping through the ropes. Tenryu also has this great "heavyweight boxer on the ropes" sell that he does for Hashimoto's kick flurries and there is an amazing visual of him eating a shot to the temple and making this face like he's about to throw up. Then Ishikawa says fuck it and starts throwing crazy cheapshots, and that leads to Hashimoto in peril. And this match goes up ANOTHER level. I'm not sure which shot did it, but before long Hash has a bloody nose and looks half dead. Hashimoto is a great seller, but can you imagine how much you'd need to thoroughly lay it in in order to make it plausible that a snowplough of violence like Hashimoto is in serious danger? A lot, that's how much. Finish is great and might feature the best Tenryu "blinded by rage" moment of the whole match as he just bull rushes Choshu in the corner and punches him senseless (Choshu wasn't the legal man and I'm not even sure he did anything that'd normally necessitate such a mugging), oblivious to the fact Hashimoto just planted his partner on his head with a DDT. Of course Tenryu isn't satisfied and instantly starts another fight, which leads to a huge pull-apart that these WAR v New Japan matches pull off spectacularly well. And then Tenryu gets on the mic and calls Hashimoto a punk bitch and Choshu a punk bitch and hurls the microphone at Choshu's face. And I'm pretty sure he tries to kick someone in the head just for standing near the ring. This was really terrific stuff.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Friday, 15 March 2013

Let the Trumpets Blow - Tenryu's Back

Genichiro Tenryu & Koki Kitahara v Kuniaki Kobayashi & Masaji Aoyagi  (WAR, 5/30/93) - FUN

I'm not really sure if this was part of the New Japan/WAR feud since I always thought Aoyagi was a WAR guy, but Kobayashi is definitely a New Japan guy and the crowd boo Kitahara like he pumped everybody's mother and...well, Kitahara ALWAYS gets booed relentlessly in this feud, no matter what he does or where he does it. So I'll assume this was a NJ guy coming in and finding a WAR guy who has beef with Tenryu and Kitahara for a partner. Kitahara and Kobayashi had a great little violent match on a WAR card a couple months prior to this and they pick up where they left off here. Right at the beginning Aoyagi and Kobayashi just mug Koki and drag him to the floor. Crowd cheers this because for whatever reason EVERYBODY hates Kitahara. When Kitahara throws a single kick in return they boo him. Eventually he seems to realise he'll be booed no matter what and goes "fuck it, I'll just spit on people instead." And so he spits on people and cares not a single shit about this crowd. There's a great moment late on where he breaks up a pin attempt by casually kicking Kobayashi in the eye with the toe of his boot, and I always love that as a way to break a pin attempt. Aoyagi got to look really strong here (kayfabe-wise), giving Kitahara nothing at points and once or twice he even shuts Tenryu down completely with kicks. Tenryu is fairly low key and doesn't REALLY let loose, but he will still haul off and chop you to shreds and he does that several times. His selling for everything Aoyagi and Kobayashi throw at him is pretty much immaculate as well. I genuinely bought him going down to a Kobayashi cross body, which is ridiculous and awesome at the same time.

Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa v Shinya Hashimoto & Michiyoshi Ohara (New Japan, 6/14/93) - EPIC

Ffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuck me this was terrific. Really, this just plays right into my wheelhouse with the nuclear heat and hate and underdog in peril and 'fighting against the odds to prove' a point story and did I mention the HATE? The pre-match staredowns in this feud even rule. Tenryu spits on Ohara and Ohara steps to him, so Tenryu backs him down like "why would you even try that?" The Tenryu/Hashimoto showdown to kick things off is amazing. Crowd is completely rocking, and if I was following Japanese wrestling at the time I would be PUMPED for an eventual singles match between the two (having seen both singles matches they have from '93 I can tell you they deliver everything they promise). Amazing moment after the first Tenryu/Hash exchange: Tenryu tags out to Ishikawa, so Hash hits the ropes as if he's about to charge him, instead changing direction and taking a sharp right so he can bounce Tenryu off the apron with a lariat. Ishikawa points like "what the fuck was that about?" and then blindsides Hashimoto because he's too focused on Tenryu. Crowd are of course livid with this because NJ crowds seem to despise everybody on the WAR roster (I'm not sure who they hate more, Ishikawa or Kitahara). Team WAR lay a beatdown on Ohara in this, and it is just an absolutely fucking spectacular mauling. He's in the ring for his team most of the match and gets about 6 seconds of offence in total. The rest of the time Tenryu and Ishikawa smash him to bits. There's two extended Ohara in peril segments and they're both completely awesome (crowd are 1000% behind him, too). Tenryu is even more vicious than usual here; he throws brutal looking knees from the clinch and nasty falling forearms right to Ohara's ear. Ishikawa was amazing as well, and this might be his career performance. He dickishly punts Ohara in the face while Ohara's crawling around the mat, cuts him off with stiff elbows and mows him down with lariats. Hashimoto is of course everything you want in a hot tag. He comes in and just cleans house, and at one point he enziguris Tenryu square in the face. Tenryu's take of it is off the charts great, going dead weight like a heavyweight boxer being KO'd in front of the ropes. Finish is great as well. Tenryu is sort of hovering around as if he's ready to pick a fight with someone, then when Hash tags Ohara back in Tenryu runs across the ring and wipes Hash out with a lariat - which is the perfect payback from earlier - while Ishikawa beheads Ohara with a lariat of his own. I'm also probably forgetting a bunch of other awesome moments. This feud just keeps on giving -- even on house shows they bring the goods every time out. And this'll probably sound really hyperbolic, but on first watch I honestly thought this felt like one of the best sub-15 minute matches I've ever seen. Greatest feud ever and you want every second of it.

Genichiro Tenryu & Koki Kitahara v Tatsumi Fujinami & Jushin Liger (New Japan, 8/3/93) - GOOD

Didn't think this was spectacular or anything, but fuck man, look at those guys and tell me it couldn't be real fucking good. Well, it was real fucking good. I'm not sure I've ever actually seen Kitahara before [I originally wrote this at the beginning of 2011 - I have since watched more than a few Koki Kitahara matches, but it's cool to see that this might've been first first, especially since I've come to think he's fucking boss and one of the more under-appreciated wrestlers ever], but he's wearing a WAR t-shirt and jeans and looks like some scummy asshole that just walked in off the street. Crowd really, really do not like this guy. Liger's a blast as the babyface junior, especially when he's punching above his weight against old man Tenryu. TENRYU is fucking Tenryu and that means you get him hucking lariats and chopping people in the throat and arrogantly kicking people in the face with the toe of his boot. Match only goes about 12 minutes and there isn't as much seething hatred as the Tenryu/TM II v Choshu/Nakano match I talked about a couple weeks ago, so this doesn't quite reach the promised land of sub-15 minute matches like it could have with the same level of contempt as the '90 tag, but what we do get is the kind of thing that you really can't be disappointed with either way. The way Tenryu sells for Liger is pretty spectacular, too.

Genichiro Tenryu v Riki Choshu (All Japan, 6/22/85) - GREAT

I really love this match-up. Almost everything they do together seems really uncooperative in a way that I dig the shit out of, and even when they mess up a spot here or there it adds to my enjoyment rather than detracts from it. The first half of this is paced much slower than the two '93 matches I watched recently, but I actually liked it a lot. Tenryu is really good at milking the Scorpion teases while working on Choshu's lariat arm. There isn't the same sense that they could get up and start cracking each other in the face at any moment that the '93 matches have, but it's a slow build that feels like it's leading to a big climax. And that's what we get when Tenryu drops Choshu right on his neck with a powerbomb. Momentum shifts when he hits a running bulldog out of the corner before trying another one only for Choshu to put the brakes on and plant him with a backdrop. There's this great moment where Choshu hits a lariat with the bad arm and "winds up" for another, but the first one has taken more out of him than expected and he's left buckled over in pain, like "Oh shit, that hurt me more than I thought it would." Eventually Tenryu gets busted open and Choshu zeroes in on the cut like a shark smelling blood. When the ref' tries to check the cut and Choshu starts manhandling him you know what's coming, but Tenryu's selling is pretty incredible and one guy stomping another guy into oblivion resulting in a DQ is a DQ finish I can always live with. 

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Riki Choshu & Killer Khan (All Japan, 8/2/85) - EPIC

Oh yeah, this was fucking GREAT. In some ways it felt like a precursor to the awesome WAR tags of the 90s, just full of piss and vinegar and palpable hatred. It starts out relatively civilised, but Khan and Jumbo slap the TASTE out of each other's mouths and the civility is soon tossed out the window. This is the Jumbo that had me thinking he was the best ever a few years ago. In the beginning he's content to try and grind it out with a headlock, but once Khan pisses him off with that slap he wants blood. Except he's the one who ends up bleeding all over the place. First he hits an awkward looking lariat with his bandaged arm and sells it like he's hurt himself, so Choshu and Khan go right to work on it. Then he gets posted and the blood FLOWS, so you've got Khan biting him in the head while twisting and pulling at his elbow. Tenryu's hot tag leads to the greatest slap flurry of ALL TIME. You can literally see the sweat flying off of Khan's entire face as Tenryu slaps the shit out of him. I thought Jumbo got tagged back in way too quickly considering he was covered in blood and had his face bitten off by a bald psycho and Tenryu had only been house o' fire for about a minute, but it probably made the finish seem more dramatic. Tenryu running in to save his partner and Choshu completely obliterating him with a lariat was an amazing cut-off. I'll be shocked if this leaves my top 40 [it didn't]. 

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Through Dedication, Blood, Sweat and Tears...One May Achieve Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu, Toshiaki Kawada & Ricky Fuyuki v Dan Spivey, Dan Kroffat & Doug Furnas (All Japan, 5/21/89) - GOOD

As a sort of set up to Footloose v Can-Ams, this was fine, and at points got pretty damn good. Tenryu spends most of the match in the background to let the tag feud be the primary focus, but any time he roughs it up it's great. His exchanges with Spivey all seem pretty stiff and uncooperative, and there's a bit where Tenryu breaks up a pin attempt in a particularly Tenryuish sort of way so Spivey just spears him in two (the pin attempt Tenryu broke up was after a Spivey powerbomb that dumped Fuyuki right on his neck). Furnas has an awesome sequence with Fuyuki where he does the fucking BEST leapfrog ever (TWICE), a backflip and a running shoulder tackle. It kind of falls under "hey, look what I can do," but I get the sense one of the goals of the match is to serve as a Furnas and Kroffat exhibition anyway, so whatever. Crowd got way behind it, at least.Was there ever a Tenryu/Spivey singles match? Because I'm kind of interested in seeing how that would turn out. If what they were doing together in this is any indication, I reckon it could be pretty good. 

Genichiro Tenryu v Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 10/28/88) - EPIC

This was pretty excellent. I slightly prefer the 8/31/87 match, but both are sitting in my top 10 right now. Only real complaint I have is that I thought it could've done with being trimmed by 5 minutes or so, because they started getting into "downtime" territory in the body of it. I didn't love the finish either, but I can't really bring myself to complain a great deal about Tenryu hauling off and punting someone in the balls before punching him into oblivion. I mean a good DQ is a good DQ, I guess. Finishing stretch – the match in general, actually – really managed to capture a sense of "epic" and both guys were totally selling the shit out of the exhaustion factor the longer it went on. Still, my favourite spot of the match might have happened in the first couple minutes. Tenryu launches Jumbo into the guardrail and tries to get back in the ring, but Jumbo jumps on him and tries to mount some offence. Tenryu is almost dismissive of this and just throws him back into the guardrail, but it only pisses Jumbo off as he responds by running after him and punching him in the kidneys. 6/5/89 is looming on the horizon and I'm eager to see how it holds up, because this has been a great series so far.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 8/29/88) - GOOD

The first half of this felt a little time-kill-y, but these four are generally good at killing time and there's still the kind of hate that you want from the feud, so it's better than a lot of time-killing segments on the set. About halfway through Tenryu and Hara zero in on Jumbo's knee for the first real heat segment of note. Jumbo is really good at selling it and at one point he hits a high knee that almost loses his team the advantage (because the knee's FUCKED). Then he hits another three dozen and keeps selling the damage to his own leg, and well, if my knee was giving me bother because I kept kneeing people in the skull, I personally would stop kneeing people in the skull. But that's just me. Tenryu kind of powerbombs Yatsu on the floor and that leaves Jumbo on his own for a little while, and the whole finishing run is just really choice in general. Match finishing with a roll-up was pretty boss, too. Feels like an upper half match.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 8/30/88)  - GREAT

I liked this better than the previous night's match, and right now it's sitting in my top 30. Both matches go about the same length of time, but I thought the first half of this, leading up to the first real heat segment, was way better and I never got the same sort of "killing time" vibe that I got from the other match. Tenryu and Yatsu trade slaps in the corner and Tenryu turns around and just LEVELS Jumbo with a slap out of nowhere. It was the greatest. They do another Jumbo in peril segment where Tenryu and Hara work over the leg, but Jumbo doesn't persist on throwing fifty running knees this time, and Tenryu smacks him in the knee with a table at one point so it was pretty awesome. They go into an extended Hara in peril segment after Jumbo fucking drills him with a lariat, and Hara might have the best lariat bump of any beefy guy in wrestling history. He totally leans into it like a pro and lands like a sack of potatoes. I thought they started to lose a little momentum/direction after Hara makes the tag, but they reel me back in again when Jumbo completely loses his mind and tries to murder Tenryu. Tenryu tries to get in the ring and Jumbo just waffles him with these super nasty looking clubbing blows right to the face, then he throws him over the barricade and starts beating the shit out of him with this big metal box thing while everybody in the vicinity scatters. This was like some "Hansen swinging a cowbell" shit; people just running for their lives, not wanting to get caught in the firestorm. The finishing stretch was pretty fucking great here, but there's one nearfall that was blown pretty badly (not sure whether it was the ref's fault, Yatsu and Hara's fault, or the fault of all three). Tenryu eating three nasty backdrops and Hara trying to save him by covering him with his body was a cool touch, as was Jumbo going ahead and just pinning both of them. Hell of a match.

Genichiro Tenryu, Takashi Ishikawa & Ashura Hara v Shinya Hashimoto, Keiji Mutoh & Akira Nogami (New Japan, 2/5/93) - GREAT

Ridiculously entertaining match. In a lot of ways it feels like a taste of what's to come, especially between Tenryu and Hashimoto, but they do a Hell of a job making you want to see a singles match. They're the focal point of this and everything they do together rules. Hashimoto is staring him down before the bell with this look of sheer contempt while Tenryu has the faintest hint of a smile, like "Son...just don't." Probably not surprising, but Tenryu was my favourite part of this. He doesn't necessarily do a ton of stuff, but what he does do is just classic grumpy Tenryu. The initial Tenryu/Hash exchange that starts the match off is as heated as you'd like and Tenryu is amazing at selling all of Hashimoto's kicks like a heavyweight boxer on the ropes. All of the New Japan guys give him at least one cheapshot while he's standing on the apron, and you can see it all building up to him getting some form of revenge. Mutoh throws a forearm at him early and when Tenryu gets the opportunity to extract some revenge later on he rifles off some trademark short punts to the head. Nogami turns around and plants one on his chin and as he's hitting the ropes Tenryu slips in an enziguiri to the back of the head, and his mocking celebration of this small victory is just great. Nogami was probably my second favourite guy in this, actually. He was one of the finds of the New Japan 80s set for a lot of folks and he continues his quest into our hearts by taking a real shitkicking here. Hara abuses him with headbutts, Ishikawa tries to take his head off with lariats, Tenryu chops him in the throat, powerbombs him on his neck and mocks him afterwards; pretty much the perfect recipient of a beatdown from a trio of guys from fucking WAR. And don't even get me started on the post-match riot.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Rey's the Body Dropper, the Heartbeat Stopper, Child Educator Plus Head Amputator

Rey Mysterio v John Cena (RAW, 7/26/11)

Great, great match. I haven't exactly watched a ton of WWE TV this decade, but has there been a better crowd for a WWE TV match since we hit 2010? Shit, has there been a better WWE TV match since we hit 2010, period? Actually, fuck all that; this feels like one of the best WWE TV matches they've ever put out. At least on RAW. All of Rey's early kicks to Cena's thigh looked and sounded nasty, and I loved how that remained a theme for the rest of the match. When Cena's really going above and beyond to sell a body part he is fucking awesome, and he was exactly that here. Cena coming back with the power moves was great as well. He isn't a guy with perfect execution on stuff, but I like that about him. Sometimes it'll look like he just muscles a guy in the air and chucks him. It doesn't really look like a wrestling move as opposed to a guy with freakish strength flinging someone halfway across a ring. There's a few spots in this that look like that, and all of them ruled. Rey tries to do a hurricanrana out of the corner, so Cena just launches him away in what might've been a powerbomb attempt, but Rey ends up going sideways and almost lands on his face and shoulder. Rey constantly countering or fighting out of the FU/AA is cool on its own, but Cena straight up muscling him into position to hit it in the first place made it even better. Rey's desperate to avoid it, Cena's determined to hit it. Cena's legdrop off the top to the bent over opponent is a little different here as well, and it was about as good as I've ever seen it. When Cena comes off the top Rey is already upright, so Cena just kind of legdrops his chest and it looked fucking killer. Cena countering Rey's STF (Rey's reversal of Cena's initial STF into one of his own was totally awesome, btw) by basically standing up on one leg while Rey clings onto his back was fucking amazing. And the moment of the match might've been Cena FINALLY looking like he's going to hit the AA only for the leg to buckle underneath him. Such a cool bit of selling. Honestly, this strikes me as maybe one of the very best sub-15 minute matches in company history.

Rey Project

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

First Things First, Man, You're Fuckin' With the Worst, Rey'll be Stickin' Pins in Your Head Like a Fuckin' Nurse

Rey Mysterio & Batista v MNM (Smackdown!, 12/23/05)

This is one of my favourite WWE tags of all time, and to me it honestly feels like one of the best tag matches the company had during the 00s. Starts out with Rey and Batista in control -- Dave is too strong, Rey is too fast. MNM basically climb all over Batista and Dave just dismissively tosses them aside. MNM take over when Rey goes for a springboard and Nitro catches him mid-spring with a superkick, and Rey takes a crazy bump onto the apron that looked like it burst his kidneys. MNM go to work on the leg after that and man is it great stuff. Even the pin attempts look like they're designed to hurt the leg with the way Rey's legs are all bent up during the cover. Mercury busts out the stretch muffler at one point and I'm all about a good stretch muffler. The cat 'n' mouse chase that leads to the hot tag is one of the better spots like that I've seen, and Dave looks killer coming in house of fire. Finish is the return of Mark fuggin' Henry so I suppose that's as good an interference finish as you'll get. Really, this is some great shit.

Rey Mysterio v Cody Rhodes (Falls Count Anywhere) (Extreme Rules, 5/1/11)

Thought this was a really fun around the arena brawl. Rey takes some nutty bumps in this, from getting hiptossed over the barricade and landing flat on his back to taking multiple flat back bumps on exposed concrete. Cody was good as well here. He took a few nasty bumps of his own and brought some cool shit to the table on offence, like some sort of springboard kick off a ledge (which Rey took a flat back bump on concrete off of). I also don't remember Rey ever having used the green mist before, but I'll be damned if I didn't mark for him using it here. Just so random and awesome. Like, why green mist? Where's the connection there? Fuck it, I dug it and I dug this match.

Rey Project

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Finlay Rode All Night and He Rode All Day, Eastward, Long on the Broad Highway

Finlay & William Regal v Matt Hardy & Gunner Scott (Smackdown!, 6/16/06)

Man, the Regal/Finlay combo was such a great short-lived team. This was a cracking little match, and Finlay and Regal are just kingsized in it. Everything they do looks totally brutal -- even being pinned by one of these guys has to suck. Their work over on Hardy was awesome here. Finlay backs into the corner and does the bit where he complains about having something in his eye, so the ref' tells Matt to stay back while he checks him, and while this is going on Regal sneaks in and blindsides him. Instead of that being being the transition to the FIP segment Matt fights back and hits a plancha on Finlay, then they transition for real when Hornswoggle (he didn't have a name at that point so he was still just the little bastard) pops out from under the ring and whacks Matt in the plums with the shillelagh before Regal comes around and hits a running knee to the head. At some point Matt gets a busted up mouth, and there's a great visual of him lying on the floor gurgling blood Fujiwara-style (he winds up on the floor in the first place because Regal runs across the apron and shoves him off the top rope). Matt's a really great FIP in general here. Dude was sort of quietly one of the best wrestlers in America for a few years there, maybe even the world. He's a trainwreck of a human being and he went and got fat and started videoing himself shooting his girlfriend with tasers and shit, but week in-week out he was consistently good-to-great during this run (think I've called him the Tito Santana of the 00s a few times...I should start a Tito Santana project. Tito of the Day!). Albright was fine as well. He didn't do a ton, but he got hit in the face a bunch and he caught Finlay with an awesome looking single-leg at the start. And that shillelagh shot at the end probably hurt like a bastard and he took that shit like a man. Also, was JBL drunk on commentary during this? Because he was fucking amazing. He literally gets up out his seat and looks absolutely overjoyed at the little bastard appearance. "It's the little bastard! Bring him back out! I want one. I've got money. I've got a black Amex card, I'll buy one. I want a little bastard." He tears into Cole the whole way through (and Cole rolls with it like a trooper) and says a bunch of sexist shit about Ashley Massaro and how women shouldn't say anything, period. This whole thing fucking ruled.

Finlay Project

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, There Walks Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada v Stan Hansen & Taiyo Kea (All Japan, 7/23/00) - EPIC

Good golly Miss Molly, this is EVERYTHING you want it to be. Three of the greatest ass kickers in wrestling history plus Kea who will hit like a fucking train, all kicking ass and hitting like fucking trains. Hansen is broken down like he's 80 years old at this point and completely RULES the universe. Tenryu is only about 2 years younger than him, but Tenryu is timeless beyond explanation and HE rules the universe as well. Kawada was probably the best wrestler in the world in 2000, so he rules the universe. Kea isn't a guy I've ever paid a great deal of attention to, but this is almost certainly the match of his life and...yeah, fuck it, for this night at least, he ruled the universe too. Every possible match-up just flat out works. This has to be the first time Tenryu and Hansen have been in the same ring in about 10 years and they just thump the shit out of each other. The first time Hansen drags him out to the floor there's a clear "oh shit it's going DOWN!" reaction from the crowd, then Tenryu ducks a chop and Hansen breaks every finger on his hand by chopping the ringpost like a total fucking psycho (I was hoping they'd do more with that afterwards, like some FINGER BITING or something, but it's whatever. Like, some finger biting would've made this twelve stars as opposed to just eleven and three quarters, but I can't really complain about an eleven and three quarter star match). Kawada and Kea thump the shit out of each other even worse than Hansen and Tenryu. Kawada is really exceptional at establishing the fact he's the big man on campus while simultaneously making Kea look like a killer. Doesn't hurt that Kea is just blasting folks left and right, but plenty of dudes in Japan these days blast folks left and right, and most of the time it looks like dudes are standing there hitting each other just because. Kawada actually makes it matter. Then towards the end he fucking nukes Kea with maybe the sickest roundhouse kick I've ever seen. I think Kea's brains squirted out his ears. "That's for every time you kicked me in the pancreas." Kea cheapshots Tenryu with a superkick at one point and Tenryu just stares at him like he's going to murder him. Kawada and Hansen punch each other dead in the face and Kawada does the out-on-his-feet/thousand yard stare sell before crumpling in a heap in the corner. Multiple times I thought Hansen had been smacked so hard he was going to have a stroke. Then he'd retaliate by smacking someone else even HARDER and I thought *I* was going to have a stroke when he hit that Western Lariat out of nowhere. God damn that was a fucking incredible spot. Final few minutes are amazing. There's the lariat spot, which was pretty much as good a spot as any in history, but Kawada nonchalantly coming in to break up the pin afterwards was awesome as well. And that finish. Did that break Kea in twelve or what? This is pro-wrestling, motherfucker.

Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa v Shinya Hashimoto & Tatsumi Fujinami (WAR, 5/24/93) - EPIC

Somebody needs to make a comp of this entire feud because it is honestly just about the fucking best thing ever. This doesn't have the same level of violence as the Hashimoto/Ohara v Hara/Fuyuki tag from 3/7 or the Hashimoto/Choshu v Tenryu/Ishikawa tag from 4/2, but the sub-story of Fujinami's arm being injured is a neat addition to the formula. Of course this IS motherfucking WAR, so there's still plenty of violence to sink your teeth into. The Tenryu/Hashimoto exchanges in this are just amazing. They start the match out and you can feel the hatred, from the simple stare-downs to the portions where they're leathering each other with kicks and chops. I love how they'll stop throwing strikes for a few seconds to shit talk each other. Hash backs Tenryu into the ropes and repeatedly headbutts him so Tenryu throws a huge chop just to create some distance, and he has this incredulous look on his face like someone would even try and fuck with him like that. Then he shouts something in Japanese and Hash kicks him in the leg. A little later on Hash is beating on Ishikawa, and when he hits the ropes Tenryu blasts him in the back of the head from the apron. That leads to a short Hashimoto in peril segment before he tags in Fujinami, who comes in and immediately slaps a dragon sleeper on Tenryu. Ishikawa jumps off the top to break it and that segues directly into an extended beatdown on Fujinami. For the next while team WAR go to work on him with the focus being the arm, and God damn does Tenryu rifle off some STIFF kicks to the shoulder. They sound like the ones a million dudes with kick pads throw, except there's no kick pads there to make that sound. This is just leather meeting skin in horrendous fashion. Fujinami takes exception and catches Tenryu's foot and Tenryu has this great "Aw shit" expression before being dragon screwed. Hashimoto is a total whirlwind of piss and vinegar when he gets the hot tag and there's an awesome moment where Tenryu breaks a pin attempt by kicking him in the eye, so Hash follows him back to the corner and beheads him with an enziguiri. Tenryu's KO sell of it is flat out amazing, going dead weight and hitting every turnbuckle on the way down. Finishing run is great, and for a change the violence wasn't my favourite thing about it (although that rocked as well). Ishikawa puts Fujinami in a Scorpion Deathlock, basically as a 'fuck you' to the New Japan team, so Hashimoto comes in like he's ready to cook a fool. Tenryu is having none of that and runs over and lariats him so hard he throws himself out the ring. Hash follows him out and they just start chucking chairs at each other and shit, while back in the ring Fujinami is back on top and locks in the dragon sleeper. Ishikawa breaks it by punching him in the bad shoulder (which was AAAAWESOME), so Fujinami regroups and goes back to it with the *other* arm, leaving Ishikawa no choice but to submit. And then post-match Tenryu and Hashimoto have another pull apart and I am ridiculously excited for the singles matches later in the year. I'm gonna try and come up with a top 50 or so matches of '93 when I get done with the yearbook, and I could absolutely see about 10 WAR v NJ matches in the top 20.

Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa v Tatsumi Fujinami & Hiroshi Hase (WAR, 2/14/93) - GREAT

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.

Genichiro Tenryu & Samson Fuyuki v Takashi Ishikawa & Great Kabuki (2/20/88) - GREAT

I really liked the dynamic of this. Fuyuki is outmatched against Ishikawa and Kabuki, but he's teaming with motherfucking Tenryu and doesn't much care as long as he gets to fight with people. Tenryu is of course Tenryu and a Hell of a guy to have watching your back. Ishikawa and Kabuki do the smart thing and isolate Fuyuki, which leaves Tenryu to basically feed off scraps, coming in from time to time so he can thump someone. Kabuki was awesome here, throwing his great looking uppercuts and working super stiff, and Ishikawa is starting to look like the surly little shitkicker he would become in WAR. When Tenryu gets the hot tag he comes in and does a Tito Santana-esque flying forearm right to Ishikawa's head, and then he repeatedly elbows him above the eye until he splits him open. Tenryu selling his own elbow after bludgeoning Ishikawa was fucking tremendous. The beatdown on Ishikawa is pretty short, but I can't really complain when it leads to Kabuki coming in and stiffing dudes. There's a great cut off later where Ishikawa lowers his head and Tenryu just pops him with the point of the elbow on the cut. I initially thought the finish was a bit of a downer, but it was timed well and Kabuki's superkick looked suitably nasty, so I'm not too bothered. This was really good stuff.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Takashi Ishikawa & Hiroshi Wajima (6/8/87)  - GOOD

Man, Hara just about looks like the greatest "enforcer" in wrestling history. Legs like tree trunks, barrel-chested, scowl that could make children cry...does a Hara v Masa Saito match exist? Because I feel like I need to see that. He's been awesome in all of the '93 WAR stuff I've watched, but he's 6 years younger here and a fair bit sprier as a result. He takes a monster bump off a lariat at one point that I rewound about 8 times. Tenryu and Wajima not being the best of friends is the story here and Tenryu screwing around with him in the early stages was great. He'll goad him into the ring then he'll tag Hara because Wajima is unworthy. Ishikawa is right there with Hara in all of the WAR stuff, but he's not quite as burly and bullish at this point. He's already learned how to eat a mean lariat, though. Really, this wasn't a great match, but all of the nigliness and moments of guys losing their tempers will launch it up past a good amount of the earlier stuff that didn't have a whole lot of content that sticks out to me, even if some of those matches are "better" as a whole.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Your Reign on the Top Was Shorter Than Leprechauns, You Can't Fuck With Rey, What Type of X Ya On?

Rey Mysterio v Cody Rhodes (Wrestlemania XXVII, 4/3/11)

So I wasn't really paying attention to WWE around the time of this Wrestlemania (I've barely paid attention to any current wrestling since current was 2009), but I'm pretty sure I at least watched some of the show. I couldn't even remember this match happening, though. They're feuding because Cody is/was beautiful and then Rey broke his face (accidentally, of course) with a knee brace and now Cody's hideous and wears a mask/face guard thing. I don't know how that played out on TV, but it gives one guy a reason to dislike another guy, and for that guy to attack the other guy on TV (with face guard-assisted head/facebutting!), which in turn leads to a match. And well, I can get behind that as a backstory. I dug all the stuff built around Cody's mask (I'm calling it a mask from now on rather than having to type out face guard every time) and Rey's knee brace here. Cody throws headbutts by connecting with the top part of the mask on Rey's cheek, then he rips off Rey's gigantic knee brace and chucks it away. At some point Cody's mask either falls off or is taken off by Mysterio, so Rey puts it on himself and starts throwing headbutts of his own. Then for the finish (which ruled), Cody takes a spill to the floor and lands next to the knee brace he chucked away earlier, and as Rey is about to hit a tope Cody nails him with the brace. Rey sells the shit out of it as well, getting hit as he's halfway out the ring and going totally dead weight hanging over the middle rope. Rey really bumps huge off an Alabama Slam at one point as well, and there's a great superplex spot where Cody keeps Rey vertical for about 15 seconds while giving the crowd this super smug look. Nifty match. There's a falls count anywhere match from whatever the PPV the following month was, so I'll have to check that out soon.

Rey Project