Genichiro Tenryu v Nobuhiko Takada (UWFi, 9/11/96) - EPIC
You'd think this couldn't live up to the hype I had for it in my head. You'd be dead fucking wrong. First half is sort of cagey with only flashes of what would come later. Both guys seem a little reluctant to really throw down early -- there's some circling and maneuvering on the mat, but no real fireworks (although Tenryu throws a few nasty as fuck elbows from inside Takada's guard). Takada will throw a kick and Tenryu will chop him back, but they feel like shots that are made to test the waters more than anything. Tenryu's death stare would still shrivel your testes, though. Takada even exposes his back for a second and Tenryu actually refrains from kicking him in the spine. They tease a ringside brawl - which Tenryu instigates, obviously - but Takada thinks better of it by getting back inside while Tenryu casually strolls around the ring a few times. Great bit where Tenryu takes his time on a rope break, so Takada gives him a little kick and Tenryu walks away with a sly grin. Takada might be cool and collected, but Tenryu brings out the cunty side in all of us. Match eventually goes in the direction everyone knew it would, but it's Takada that sets the ball rolling by backing Tenryu into the corner and unloading with about fifteen brutal knees. Tenryu comes out with a busted eye, so you know what that means. He goes on a complete fucking rampage and it's everything that's great about him. He floors Takada with a straight right, then when Takada's on the deck Tenryu punches him so hard that his head bounces off the mat. Like, a bunch of times. I'm not a Takada fan, but occasionally he can pull off some really awesome bits of selling, and his KO sell of one Tenryu punch was totally amazing. The big strike battle ruled, with Takada teeing off with kicks while Tenryu chops him in the throat and slaps him in the ear. Finish is pretty shocking in that I don't think I've ever seen Tenryu submit before, and also a cool bit of booking since it leaves the powerbomb on the table for the rematch. Just a killer spectacle of a dream match between two charismatic powerhouses that absolutely delivered.
Complete & Accurate Tenryu