Saturday, 2 March 2013

Where the Wind Blows, Only Tenryu Knows

Genichiro Tenryu & Koki Kitahara v Keiji Mutoh & El Samurai (WAR, 1/5/94) - GOOD

Not on the level of your truly transcendent inter-promotional WAR tags, but I'm convinced that the WAR/New Japan feud is the best in-ring feud in wrestling history at this point, so I'll take everything I can get from it. Tenryu v Mutoh is the marquee match-up here, and it did more to make me want to see a Tenryu/Mutoh singles match than that six-man from February '93 did. This is the most I've enjoyed Mutoh in a long ass time, actually. He's always taking shots at Tenryu when Tenryu is on the apron minding his own business, and there's a great bit where he runs all the way across the ring (he's not the legal man), chucks the ref' out the way and starts stomping on Tenryu some more. Tenryu seems like he's trying to rise above it and take it easy for once, but a guy like that is only going to put up with so much. Eventually he just goes all "Aw fuck it, tag me!" and comes in to wreak havoc. Punts to the eye, chops to the throat; it's Tenryu being Tenryu. The Tenryu/Samurai exchanges were really cool as well. Samurai is punching above his weight, but he'll keep on coming until he's knocked down. So Tenryu fucking BLASTS him with the stiffest/loudest chop I think I've ever seen/heard. Kitahara is one of my favourite lumpy guys that never gets talked about, and he was winging kicks right under peoples' chin here. When you're working for Tenryu you need to be lumpy and know how to potato someone, and Kitahara ticks both boxes. Match won't set anybody's world on fire, but if someone were to comp the WAR/NJ feud (someone should do that) then this would slot in there just  fine.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Jumbo Tsuruta & Hiroshi Wajima (4/21/88) - GOOD

So Wajima is OLD and pretty rubbish at this point (although he was OLD and pretty rubbish the first time he showed up), but if you can handle copious amounts of "OLD rubbish guy getting his clock cleaned" then you shouldn't have a terribly hard time enjoying parts of this. I enjoyed the whole thing, but I get the sense I'll be a high-voter on it. Wajima takes three separate turns at getting beat down for an extended period of time, and while he's not nearly as compelling as Jumbo at eating a shitkicking, Tenryu and Hara still dish one out all the same. Tenryu looks like one of the best in the world at this point and everything he does has this contemptuous vibe to it. It's like everybody in the company decided to step up huge at the turn of '88 (even the guys that were already great) and Tenryu looks to have turned his shit WAY up. Hara is throwing some fucking brutal looking punts here as well; I expected old man Wajima's liver to fly out through his ribcage. Jumbo is really great as the pissed off ace that is simmering on the apron while being forced to watch his decrepit partner get beat from pillar to post. Any time he comes in he's a total house o' fire, throwing the stiffest knees and lariats imaginable. He catches Tenryu with a running knee that looked absolutely nuts and Tenryu must've been high to lean into it like he did. Count out finish is a count out finish, but Wajima wiping Hara out with a tope was a fine enough setup. Jumbo no-selling a Tenryu powerbomb was far more annoying than one more count out finish, anyway.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (6/4/88) - GOOD

Totally different dynamic from the last match in that it's Jumbo who's the one getting beat down most of the time. It starts early when Tenryu and Hara go after the leg, and while the leg work never truly pays off (that I can remember, anyway), it remains a focus for a large part of the match. There's a particularly great spot where Jumbo comes in and fucking wastes Tenryu with a high knee and sells the shit out of his own leg afterwards. He also obliterates Hara with a lariat and Jumbo is another guy that has seriously ramped it up since the turn of the year, just mowing guys down and taking zero shit from anyone. Moment of the match might have been Yatsu going for a bulldog only to be rammed into a knee in the corner. Totally came out of nowhere and looked great. I actually liked this a little less than the last match, but this was such a great disc that it's not out of the realms of possibility that every match on it, other than Jumbo/Brody, could finish in my top half.

Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Stan Hansen & Bruiser Brody (4/28/84) - SKIPPABLE

I watched this twice, but I couldn't really get into it either time. There's some good stuff here, like Jumbo playing FIP and having his arm torn up, Hansen and Brody being surly bastards (I actively liked Brody a fair bit), and some nice back and forth down the stretch. For the most part it felt pretty directionless, though. I mean what they were doing was fine, but it never seemed to be leading anywhere. And I mentioned I liked Brody, but there's a stupid spot where he gets whipped into the ropes and he just kind of throws himself out to the floor because he's gearing up for a juicing and wants someone to post him. Someone obliges, but he doesn't have the blade ready yet, so after he's thrown into the post he sort of shrugs it off, because if you can't cut yourself then who cares, right? You see him fidgeting around with his wrist tape, and when he's ready he has someone post him again. Then you see him cut himself. Would you need more than one hand to count the number of Brody matches where he DOESN'T bleed? His dropkick at the end looked really sweet though, as did Tenryu's head-first tumble off the apron. Feels like I might be missing something, but if I'm not sold after two sittings then I doubt I'll bother going for a third.

Genichiro Tenryu v Ric Flair (9/12/84) - SKIPPABLE

This was really disappointing. The first fall in particular just felt flat and I'd probably have enjoyed it more if it happened ten years later. They would've at least chopped the shit out of each other in '94. I've actually liked all of the early Tenryu stuff a good deal despite the fact it's been nothing like the grumpy Tenryu I'm used to, but I found myself missing that Tenryu here. Flair snapping and trying to break Tenryu's leg was a fine DQ finish, but I really wanted more from this.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

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