Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka v Shinya Hashimoto & Nobutaka Araya (New Japan, 6/1/98) - GOOD
I could count on one hand the number of match-ups in wrestling history of which I feel like I need to see every single second that made tape. Ikeda v Ishikawa is one. Rey v Eddie is another. Lawler v Dundee have been doing their dance for a thousand years, but it's always watchable (and on more than one occasion it's been absolutely transcendent). And then of course there's Tenryu and Hashimoto. This had some clipping, but I got about eight minutes of those guys leathering each other until the cows come home and I'll watch that every day of the week. Strike exchanges in Japanese wrestling kind of suck at this point. If you're one of the four people who've read any number of these blog entries in which I talk about modern day wrestling from Japan then it won't be much of a revelation to you that I think that, but watching Tenryu and Hashimoto slabber each other like this really rams home how wack a lot of guys today are at doing strike exchanges. This isn't some goofy back and forth 'you hit me and I'll hit you' exchange where nothing seems to have any consequence because nobody will sell anything. This is two guys throwing bombs trying to put the other guy down, but it's the selling that really makes it. I don't want to sound like one of those "wrestling sucks now, it was way better back in the day" people, but I've seen so many instances of rote forearm-trading where guys (some of whom I like, btw) just stare at each other and ask for another one while showing almost no emotion or reaction that it's like...why don't more people take a page from the Tenryu/Hashimoto playbook? I mean, this crowd is going apeshit for a strike exchange in the first five minutes because both guys make it seem like it actually has consequence. I couldn't tell you the last time I watched a match from Japan where fans reacted to a strike exchange like that in the first five minutes. I'm not expecting guys these days to be as good as Tenryu or Hashimoto, but it would be cool if more people tried to ape those two rather than whoever started the current trend (was it Kobashi and Sasaki? That probably had something to do with it, surely). Anyways, whatever, Tenryu and Hashimoto knock lumps out each other and it's everything right about the pro-wrestling. Araya kind of ruled as the dude punching above his weight here as well. He really tries not to put up with Tenryu's horse shit, but obviously he ends up getting abused. There's an amazing moment where Tenryu is beating on Hash with a chair down on the floor while Araya tries to put Koshinaka away in the ring. He drops him with a brainbuster and climbs up top to finish him off, so Tenryu just launches the chair off his head and Araya tumbles off the turnbuckle.
Complete & Accurate Tenryu