Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta v Roger Kirby & Guy Mitchell (AWA, 2/10/79) - FUN
Young Tenryu with the wispy moustache! I figured this was going to be Jumbo and Tenryu as dastardly foreign heels, but in a refreshing twist it was Jumbo and Tenryu as plucky foreign babyfaces. Tenryu was still pretty raw here and threw punches that were more like forearm clubs to the chest, as opposed to potato shots to the cheekbone. He was armdraggy and dropkicky and his house o' fire didn't involve him punting anyone in the eye. It's not the Tenryu you know and love, but it's always cool to see him as a fresh-faced young twenty nine year old. The heel unit were pretty fun ruffians, especially Kirby who threw some nice punches and later on got huge height on a backdrop. He and Mitchell worked a fairly basic peril segment on Jumbo, running distractions so the ref' missed the hot tag twice, choking, standard double teams, etc., but it worked for what it was. Tenryu doing a Ricky Steamboat small package reversal to the scoop slam at the end was cool. In the eight thousand Tenyu matches I've watched over the years that might be the first time I've seen him do that.
Genichiro Tenryu v Katsuyori Shibata (New Japan, 8/13/04) - EPIC
Sensational five minutes of pandemonium. Shibata is basically the prototype for your chest-puffed, dick-swinging tough guy and Tenryu is an old man who doesn't have time for his shit. Tenryu has no interest in bragging about how hard he can hit someone, his interest lies in the hitting itself. The opening exchange was truly wonderful and ended with maybe the best double punch spot I've ever seen, followed by Shibata grabbing a guillotine and refusing to let go. It pretty soon spills to the floor and Shibata is such a smug prick beating on this pensioner, kicking him up and down the place, throwing him into ring posts, even threatening him with a glass bottle until the ref' talks him down. Of course this just sends Tenryu off on one and he cannot be talked down. The old man is pissed and about ready to glass someone. Shibata just keeps pushing it, though. Slaps Tenryu, punches him in the face, goads him because he thinks Tenryu won't use the bottle. Tenryu punches him back, but he still won't drop that bottle and the ref' is pleading with him because he obviously knows Tenryu better than Shibata does. I don't know if it was brinkmanship or blind stupidity. Maybe he thought riling Tenryu up was the easiest path to victory, but either way he cracked him once too often. Tenryu jabbing him in the throat with the bottle and smashing it over his head was about the greatest payoff to ninety seconds of build that there's ever been. Tenryu might be the king of the five minute match.
Complete & Accurate Tenryu