Tuesday, 8 October 2013

In Saint James Parish Tenryu was Born and Christened. Now he's got his Story Mister, ain't no Need for you to Listen. It's Just a Dead Man Talkin'

Genichiro Tenryu v Toshiaki Kawada (All Japan, 10/28/00) - EPIC

So, if you were to ask me what my idea of good Japanese pro-wrestling is, I'd probably just show you this match. Because this is exactly the kind of epic slugfest I want in my Japanese pro-wrestling. Match starts out with them sort of circling each other cautiously, taking care even when separating for rope breaks in case the other tries to sneak in a shot. Of course, you know where this is heading. How many clean breaks are you going to see before Tenryu punches someone in the nose? In this instance, two. Then they get to hitting each other REAL hard and pretty much never let up for the next twenty or so minutes. Kawada punts Tenryu in the spine, Tenryu chops Kawada in the throat, Kawada elbows Tenryu in the face, Tenryu punches Kawada in the jaw. Every punch Tenryu throws is just brutal, and this is Kawada eating punches so you get plenty of awesome crumpled up sells where he has the vacant look on his face, and really, nobody is better at "thousand yard stare" selling than Kawada. You just know there's only so many punches he'll take before he REALLY loses the rag, and the moment where he's had enough and decks Tenryu with a right hook is fucking spectacular. There's a spell of a few minutes where Tenryu goes after Kawada's leg, and it doesn't really go anywhere, but he digs his knuckles into Kawada's kneecap and it all looks nasty and surly, so it works fine as a pit-stop on the road to hitting each other in the face some more. Down the stretch Kawada goes to the backdrops, and Tenryu does this great stumble sell where he tries to stand up before falling through the ropes in a heap. Kawada then boots him off the apron and Tenryu's beak gets splattered across his face. Finish is amazing: Tenryu swings for the fences with a wild lariat that Kawada ducks, but Tenryu instantly turns and catches him in the temple with an absolute fucker of a punch. Kawada goes dead weight (there's a bunch of great moments of Kawada selling in this, but his sell of the final punch is the best of all), so Tenryu picks him up for one last powerbomb. If this match on paper interests you even a little, then watch it. Trust me, you want every second of it.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Tenryu's Been Ten Thousand Miles in the Mouth of a Graveyard, and it's a Hard, it's a Hard, it's a Hard, it's a Hard, it's a Hard Rain's a-gonna Fall.

Genichiro Tenryu & Jun Akiyama v Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue (NOAH, 9/18/05) - EPIC

Yeah, this is as great in practice as it is on paper. All possible match-ups are awesome here. I think the thing I love most about Tenryu v Kobashi in 2005 is that, for one of the only times in his career, Tenryu comes up against a shitkicker that will not only refuse to put up with him, but refuse to put up with him and then beat him into the ground in response...and Tenryu can't do a thing about it. He will hurl chops and try his best to hang, but he's an old man now. Defiance can only get you so far. Kobashi has no kneecaps and is borderline crippled (as opposed to now, where he's completely crippled), but he's still Kobashi at this point in his career, and any time he's in there with Tenryu he's GRUMPY Kobashi. Which is really the best Kobashi. Tenryu half hangs out the ropes and tells the ref' to get Kobashi away from him, then he full on Eddie Guerrero style begs off and scoots over to tag in Akiyama. That is literally the only time I've ever seen Tenryu stooging, and obviously I popped huge. This match came a couple months after Kobashi and Sasaki had their forty minute chop battle in the Dome, so Tenryu and Kobashi take a shot at re-enacting it here. Extended chop/strike battles are super goofy most of the time and are played out beyond belief at this point, but when two guys like Tenryu and Kobashi are doing it, it feels like it actually MEANS something. And this was a great chop battle. Tenryu makes amazing "why am I even taking part in this?" expressions as Kobashi chops him to ribbons, so Tenryu just dropkicks him in whatever's left of his knee, which is a great way to beat Kobashi in a strike battle. Taue was fucking amazing in this, and it might be my favourite Taue performance of the decade. He has even less patience for Tenryu's shit than Kobashi, and the first thing he does upon entry is sprint (or quickly jog) over and boot him in the head. At one point he DDTs Akiyama on the ramp and he sells the damage to his own head, which was an awesome little touch that the crowd picked up on as well (this crowd fucking loved them some Taue, btw). Stretch run has the crowd rocking like crazy, and the finish feels like a fucking finish. This really has Dream Match written all over it, and it absolutely delivered in spades.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu