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