Genichiro Tenryu & Stan Hansen v Jumbo Tsuruta & Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 7/15/89) - EPIC
I don't know how many matches Kobashi had under his belt as a pro by this point, but he's only been wrestling for about a year. He's a rookie, for all intents and purposes. This is Japan, and in Japan guys with around a year of experience tend to be slaughtered no matter who they're facing. When they're facing Tenryu or Hansen they will be slaughtered often and in harrowing fashion. When they're facing Tenryu AND Hansen...yeah. The Kobashi parts went about how you'd think, and of course they were great. Tenryu was motherfucking kingsized in this. Hansen is a guy who will just full throttle mow folk down and that's part of what makes him one of the best ever, but he didn't seem to want to give Kobashi anything here. It's not a huge criticism considering Hansen abusing someone is something I'll watch every day and not complain, but when you look at the bar Hansen and Kobashi set together in future meetings, this one left me a little wanting. Tenryu, on the other hand, gave Kobashi juuuuust enough to make him look like a prodigy, but then got pissed off like crazy and that led to the sweet Tenryu-on-rookie violence. One of Tenryu's strengths in general has always been his ability to sell for much lower ranked wrestlers and make it look like they're capable of actually hanging, and this is the perfect example of it. The way he grabs his ear after a hard slap, or how he staggers and bumps for Kobashi's wheel kicks -- it all feels like his armour is being chipped away at, but underneath that armour is still the grumpiest bastard ever and you know it's only a matter of time before that grumpiness boils over. Tenryu and Jumbo are coming off the heels of the June title match and naturally there's plenty of piss and vinegar to go around. There are moments where one will be in the ring and the other will be on the apron, and because they haven't hit each other in the face for a few minutes the guy in the ring will just go off on a madness and crack the one on the apron. At points I thought the match got a bit ragged and the control shifts felt kind of your turn-my turn, but you come for the rookie mauling and you stay for the rookie mauling. Jumbo booting folk in the mouth is a bonus.
Complete & Accurate Tenryu