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