Thursday, 14 March 2013

Through Dedication, Blood, Sweat and Tears...One May Achieve Tenryu

Genichiro Tenryu, Toshiaki Kawada & Ricky Fuyuki v Dan Spivey, Dan Kroffat & Doug Furnas (All Japan, 5/21/89) - GOOD

As a sort of set up to Footloose v Can-Ams, this was fine, and at points got pretty damn good. Tenryu spends most of the match in the background to let the tag feud be the primary focus, but any time he roughs it up it's great. His exchanges with Spivey all seem pretty stiff and uncooperative, and there's a bit where Tenryu breaks up a pin attempt in a particularly Tenryuish sort of way so Spivey just spears him in two (the pin attempt Tenryu broke up was after a Spivey powerbomb that dumped Fuyuki right on his neck). Furnas has an awesome sequence with Fuyuki where he does the fucking BEST leapfrog ever (TWICE), a backflip and a running shoulder tackle. It kind of falls under "hey, look what I can do," but I get the sense one of the goals of the match is to serve as a Furnas and Kroffat exhibition anyway, so whatever. Crowd got way behind it, at least.Was there ever a Tenryu/Spivey singles match? Because I'm kind of interested in seeing how that would turn out. If what they were doing together in this is any indication, I reckon it could be pretty good. 

Genichiro Tenryu v Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 10/28/88) - EPIC

This was pretty excellent. I slightly prefer the 8/31/87 match, but both are sitting in my top 10 right now. Only real complaint I have is that I thought it could've done with being trimmed by 5 minutes or so, because they started getting into "downtime" territory in the body of it. I didn't love the finish either, but I can't really bring myself to complain a great deal about Tenryu hauling off and punting someone in the balls before punching him into oblivion. I mean a good DQ is a good DQ, I guess. Finishing stretch – the match in general, actually – really managed to capture a sense of "epic" and both guys were totally selling the shit out of the exhaustion factor the longer it went on. Still, my favourite spot of the match might have happened in the first couple minutes. Tenryu launches Jumbo into the guardrail and tries to get back in the ring, but Jumbo jumps on him and tries to mount some offence. Tenryu is almost dismissive of this and just throws him back into the guardrail, but it only pisses Jumbo off as he responds by running after him and punching him in the kidneys. 6/5/89 is looming on the horizon and I'm eager to see how it holds up, because this has been a great series so far.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 8/29/88) - GOOD

The first half of this felt a little time-kill-y, but these four are generally good at killing time and there's still the kind of hate that you want from the feud, so it's better than a lot of time-killing segments on the set. About halfway through Tenryu and Hara zero in on Jumbo's knee for the first real heat segment of note. Jumbo is really good at selling it and at one point he hits a high knee that almost loses his team the advantage (because the knee's FUCKED). Then he hits another three dozen and keeps selling the damage to his own leg, and well, if my knee was giving me bother because I kept kneeing people in the skull, I personally would stop kneeing people in the skull. But that's just me. Tenryu kind of powerbombs Yatsu on the floor and that leaves Jumbo on his own for a little while, and the whole finishing run is just really choice in general. Match finishing with a roll-up was pretty boss, too. Feels like an upper half match.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (All Japan, 8/30/88)  - GREAT

I liked this better than the previous night's match, and right now it's sitting in my top 30. Both matches go about the same length of time, but I thought the first half of this, leading up to the first real heat segment, was way better and I never got the same sort of "killing time" vibe that I got from the other match. Tenryu and Yatsu trade slaps in the corner and Tenryu turns around and just LEVELS Jumbo with a slap out of nowhere. It was the greatest. They do another Jumbo in peril segment where Tenryu and Hara work over the leg, but Jumbo doesn't persist on throwing fifty running knees this time, and Tenryu smacks him in the knee with a table at one point so it was pretty awesome. They go into an extended Hara in peril segment after Jumbo fucking drills him with a lariat, and Hara might have the best lariat bump of any beefy guy in wrestling history. He totally leans into it like a pro and lands like a sack of potatoes. I thought they started to lose a little momentum/direction after Hara makes the tag, but they reel me back in again when Jumbo completely loses his mind and tries to murder Tenryu. Tenryu tries to get in the ring and Jumbo just waffles him with these super nasty looking clubbing blows right to the face, then he throws him over the barricade and starts beating the shit out of him with this big metal box thing while everybody in the vicinity scatters. This was like some "Hansen swinging a cowbell" shit; people just running for their lives, not wanting to get caught in the firestorm. The finishing stretch was pretty fucking great here, but there's one nearfall that was blown pretty badly (not sure whether it was the ref's fault, Yatsu and Hara's fault, or the fault of all three). Tenryu eating three nasty backdrops and Hara trying to save him by covering him with his body was a cool touch, as was Jumbo going ahead and just pinning both of them. Hell of a match.

Genichiro Tenryu, Takashi Ishikawa & Ashura Hara v Shinya Hashimoto, Keiji Mutoh & Akira Nogami (New Japan, 2/5/93) - GREAT

Ridiculously entertaining match. In a lot of ways it feels like a taste of what's to come, especially between Tenryu and Hashimoto, but they do a Hell of a job making you want to see a singles match. They're the focal point of this and everything they do together rules. Hashimoto is staring him down before the bell with this look of sheer contempt while Tenryu has the faintest hint of a smile, like "Son...just don't." Probably not surprising, but Tenryu was my favourite part of this. He doesn't necessarily do a ton of stuff, but what he does do is just classic grumpy Tenryu. The initial Tenryu/Hash exchange that starts the match off is as heated as you'd like and Tenryu is amazing at selling all of Hashimoto's kicks like a heavyweight boxer on the ropes. All of the New Japan guys give him at least one cheapshot while he's standing on the apron, and you can see it all building up to him getting some form of revenge. Mutoh throws a forearm at him early and when Tenryu gets the opportunity to extract some revenge later on he rifles off some trademark short punts to the head. Nogami turns around and plants one on his chin and as he's hitting the ropes Tenryu slips in an enziguiri to the back of the head, and his mocking celebration of this small victory is just great. Nogami was probably my second favourite guy in this, actually. He was one of the finds of the New Japan 80s set for a lot of folks and he continues his quest into our hearts by taking a real shitkicking here. Hara abuses him with headbutts, Ishikawa tries to take his head off with lariats, Tenryu chops him in the throat, powerbombs him on his neck and mocks him afterwards; pretty much the perfect recipient of a beatdown from a trio of guys from fucking WAR. And don't even get me started on the post-match riot.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

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