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

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