Genichiro Tenryu v Ivan Koloff (All Japan, 1/3/90) - SKIPPABLE
How very random. This was kind of surreal, not just because it's Ivan Koloff in 1990 All Japan, but because it started out with Tenryu being jumped by Takagi (I think?) and flung into the crowd and beat on with a chair. Ivan was well on in years here and not really in the mood to be bumping for anything, offering up a grimace and half-stagger for enziguris, maybe thinking about taking a knee after a lariat before deciding even that was too much effort. I think his one bump of the match came at the finish so I guess he maximised the moment.
Genichiro Tenryu v Don Fuji (Dragon Gate, 10/20/06) - GREAT
I'm overrating this for sure (I mean, probably), but look into these eyes and you'll find no trace of a fuck to be given. Fuji is Dragon Gate's resident bruiser and tries to out-Tenryu Tenryu by chopping him really hard and punching him in the jaw and whacking him with chairs. I fully expected Tenryu to dish out something fierce in return but he went beyond even that. The punches and Adam's apple chops were ungodly and he even hit a dive off the stage! Well, it was more of a jump, but still, off the stage! Fuji may be a bruiser among the little fellas of his home promotion, but he's a head shorter than Tenryu and made to pay dearly for his temerity. Tenryu was also great at getting into place for Fuji's offence, like setting up the shining wizard by falling to one knee after being whipped into the exposed turnbuckle, crawling around to set up Fuji's Cena-style legdrop off the top rope. It felt organic and didn't look like a guy blatantly setting up his opponent's move, which was like 70% of what Dragon Gate seemed to be by the time I threw my hands up on it (about a decade ago now). I thought the penultimate punch Tenryu threw was a corker, but my goodness did he top it with the final one. I figured Fuji's head was for getting Oberyn Martell'd all over the canvas.
Genichiro Tenryu v Tiger Mask (Real Japan Pro Wrestling, 3/18/10) - EPIC
The nursing home explodes! Sayama is another case of a guy I didn't care for in his athletic prime who got exponentially more interesting to me as he got older and fatter. Tenryu is sixty here and has to wear a weightlifting belt to keep his lower spine in place. Maybe they had a disagreement over who got the sponge bath off the hottest nurse. It actually started out fairly civil with a couple minutes of matwork, then Tenryu remembered Sayama spat in his oatmeal so he punted him in the face. Sayama looked at him like "you absolute prick of a man." It didn't matter that he was wearing a mask, you could see exactly what he thought of him. And then they just beat the brakes off each other. Sayama kicked the living shit out of Tenryu and you almost felt sorry for him as he lay there in the ropes like he was having a heart attack. I say almost felt sorry for him because you knew fine well what he'd do in response. This had two actual transitions in the whole match and both were amazing. The first came when Tenryu took a powder after being kicked senseless, as Sayama went for a plancha and Tenryu just flung a chair at his face. Pretty soon Sayama's pasty chest was red raw and Tenryu was punching divots in his face. There were moments where you could tell Sayama really did not want to be chopped anymore so he'd take a flat back bump for some respite. The second transition was even better than the first and legit one of my favourite spots of the decade. Sayama had tried to fire back once or twice with kicks, being his bread and butter and about the only thing that could save him, but Tenryu would inevitably cut him off with the face-punching. On this occasion Sayama caught him in the gut and Tenryu sold like it ruptured his spleen, then Sayama pressed home the advantage with a spin kick straight to the dick. It was fucking brutal and I thought they were actually going to do a ref' stoppage. Sayama then threw on a rear naked choke and when Tenryu regained consciousness he tried to murder him in a fit of pure pensioner rage. Beyond all the old man savagery I thought Tenryu's selling and reactions to everything were tremendous, and pushed something hugely fun into one of my favourite matches of the 2010s. One for the Tenryu enthusiasts.
Complete & Accurate Tenryu