Genichiro Tenryu, Hiroshi Ono, Ichiro Yaguchi & Shoji Nakamaki v Atsushi Onita, Mitsunobu Kikuzawa, Sambo Asako & Shigeo Okumura (No Rope Barbed Wire Street Fight Tornado Double Hell Match) (Onita Pro, 6/27/99) - EPIC
Man, I loved the opening to this. Tenryu and Onita take centre stage again and they immediately try to throw each other into the barbed wire. Onita whips him across the ring, but Tenryu pulls up short and stares like "not today, motherfucker." Then one of Onita's little buddies comes flying into shot and dropkicks Tenryu into the wire. It was a really cool little play on the norm. Tenryu was fucking incredible in this and I wonder if he never missed his calling as a deathmatch worker. I don't recognise most of the participants and there's something amazing about Tenryu in his dress shirt and tie (yes, he's wearing a dress shirt and tie, and no, I don't know why) potatoing nameless scuzzy indy scrubs and throwing them through tables. He's the guy nobody knows who shows up at the house party and smashes the coffee table and headers your gran. He just revels in madness and Onita Pro made for fecund soil in which to plant the seeds of bloody chaos. I think my favourite part was when he picked up a barbed wire board and flung it at a group of hecklers (god damn unbelievable), but he also monkey flipped Okamura from the ring onto a different barbed wire board and then pelted his face with chairs, so maybe that was my favourite. Someone from team Onita got wrapped in wire again and I love how Onita proceeded to use him as a barbed wire-coated battering ram rather than, you know, alleviate him of his suffering and remove the barbed wire. Always the pragmatist, is Onita. The five minutes of clipping is annoying because why would you not want another five minutes of this, but we got a solid ten minutes of action and it was wild and crazy and awesome like you'd hope.
Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka v Mitsuharu Misawa & Tekeshi Rikio (NOAH, 1/8/05) - GOOD
Remember when NOAH was really fun for a minute there? I thought Tenryu was pretty exceptional in this, in a subtle, low key sort of way. It was a match largely built around strike exchanges, but it was Tenryu's reactions to them that stood out (insert point here about those exchanges not just being rote "you hit me, I'll hit you" affairs, that they sold the strikes in interesting ways, that they injected personality into them, etc). Tenryu was 55 by the time he got to NOAH (this is his first appearance there, actually). He's a big name and still has pretty good mobility for a 55 year old who's been wrestling for nearly three decades. He can still go and he'll hit super hard (evident by Misawa's welted chest after a couple minutes), but he's breaking down and can't hang with the very top dogs like he used to. So he gets even more belligerent! And acts like an even bigger shithouse! There were a bunch of great moments in this where he'd be laying it in with chops, then later potato punches, and he'd be at least even in the exchanges...but then age would creep up on him and he'd be left in a heap somewhere. I love how he'd sell Misawa's elbows like molars had been knocked out, or Rikio's slaps like they'd scrambled his brains. It also led to him ramping up the cheapshots, like the knees and kicks from the apron, the short punts to the face, the casual interference. It could only get him so far, but he still had gas in the tank and he wasn't ready to accept that it might be time to step aside. Misawa was mostly elbows in this but good grief did they have some meat behind them. He hit one combo that even Tenryu's relatives felt, and later when he had Tenryu in a chinlock he took the time to measure one nasty little elbow to the bridge of the nose. Rikio and Koshinaka were fun understudies and for the eighty seventh time on this blog I'll reiterate how much more enjoyable old man Koshinaka is than prime Koshinaka. I haven't seen the Tenryu/Misawa singles match in about a decade, but I'm wondering if it's as disappointing as it was thought to be at the time. It certainly shouldn't have been based on this.
Complete & Accurate Tenryu