Genichiro Tenryu, Nobutaka Araya, Nobukaza Hirai & Arashi v Keiji Mutoh, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroshi Hase & Jinsei Shinzaki (All Japan, 9/16/02) - GREAT
The WAR interpromotional multi-man tag is one of my favourite things ever in wrestling. This isn't quite the same as the WAR/NJ stuff from a decade earlier since WAR had already closed its doors a couple years prior, so there isn't the same sense of molten INVADER heat, but as a reunion tour for a group of grumpy, lumpy old rockers with a cult following, it did the trick. This is what it'd be like if Zeppelin wound up somehow playing support act to Motley Crue in the 90s but then rather than supporting them they just kicked the living shit out of them instead (there's a better music analogy there, but I'll be fucked if I can be bothered coming up with one). I had no recollection of Hiroshi Hase still wrestling in 2002. I thought he'd given it up and ran for congress or something. He's still rocking the trademark moustache, but he's traded in the yellow trunks for these purple Beverly Brothers-esque tights. He's still pretty spry, though; you get the sense ROH could've brought him in around the time and he'd have a super fun match with someone like Corino. Does Arashi have any teeth? Because he makes these pained facial expressions and it kind of looks as though he's like 90% gumsy. He's the beefiest guy in the match, and naturally he brings the beefy offence. His top rope splash looked like it might've crushed every one of Hase's ribs. Mutoh and Hakushi don't really bring a ton, but they're fine enough going along for the ride. Unsurprisingly I was digging this the most when Tenryu was in. Actually, fuck it, he didn't even need to be in; as long as the camera was on him he was doing something worth watching. Actually, fuck that as well, the camera didn't even need to be on him. At one point a water bottle gets hurled into view and you don't need a camera shot to know who chucked it. Mutoh throws these really crappy looking overhand punches that sort of graze Tenryu's jheri curl, then Tenryu gives him this amazing "fuck was that?" look and pops him in the cheek with what a real punch is supposed to look like. Kojima had been feuding with Tenryu for a minute and they have some killer exchanges in this. They shred each other with chops and Kojima isn't afraid to punch or be punched in the face by Tenryu. Awesome moment where Kojima dropkicks a chair into Tenryu's face and cuts him open above the eye, so Tenryu goes total fucking caveman on him with reckless chairshots, punches, and of course punts with the toe of the boot right to the eyeball. And Tenryu with the red mist at the end fucking ruled as well. Nobody did the interpromotional hatefest better than WAR, and this is a cool throwback to the epic WAR interpromotional hatefests of yesteryear (and a reminder of the wacky, wonderful world that was Wrestle and Romance. Oh how I miss thee).
Complete & Accurate Tenryu