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[1996-12-13-WAR-Ryogoku Crush Night] Genichiro Tenryu vs Nobuhiko Takada

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Thrilling stuff here. They did a great job of establishing their key weapons right off the bat, with Tenryu particularly shining at putting over Takada's kicks. The match lost a little steam when they went to the mat, but even there, Tenryu kept things interesting with his selling and attempts to hook Takada's foot. The stretch run was just breathtaking with Takada landing huge kick after huge kick and Tenryu responding with his chops, punches and lariats. I loved the moment when Tenryu seemed on the verge of being knocked out only to bull Takada over with a desperation sumo charge. I also liked Takada kneeing his way out Tenryu's quasi-full-nelson submission attempt. These guys could have coasted by on star power alone but good lord did they beat the hell out of each other. One of my favorite matches of the year.

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Tenryu doesn't shake hands, Takada, you idiot! Well, to Takada's credit, he realizes the game being played quickly, and even uncharacteristically gets into the taunting and oneupmanship. I wish he wouldn't sell Tenryu's offense like an annoying alarm clock just woke him up, but what can you do?

 

This and the UWFI match are a good comparison. It's much easier to do things like grab chairs and vary the style a little bit more than normal, and even though Takada's drab matwork early on took me out of the moment a little, I still think this is the better overall match. There is tremendous drama over the submission attempts and kicks and strikes, and everything looks great. This is the best WAR match of the set, and if the '93 WAR matches are better than this, we're in for quite the treat.

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Not much to say that hasn't already been said. Didn't like it as much as the UWFI match but it's still a good brutal match. Tenyru following a kick with a Lariat was awesome. Really looking forward to Good Helmet's Tenyru set.

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This was so much better being held under WAR pro rules. I didn't think the UWFI bout worked at all. Dream match atmosfear. You don't remember the video board game? Anyway this was really good when they were laying in the strikes. Some meaty head kicks in particular. The submissions weren't so strong as this wasn't GenTen's area of expertise. A few pro moves too. Not blowaway but it certainly lived up to expectations. It was so great how Tenryu was able to instantly conjure up an intense rivalry against so many different opponents throughout the 90's.

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Chalk me up in the pro-UWFI match camp. In addition to Loss' criticisms of Takada's opening matwork, I think the result of the UWFI match pretty much gave away the result of this one--I don't know who could have gone into this expecting anything other than Takada returning the job. Still, they worked the drama great down the stretch and you can't argue with this kind of crowd heat, either.

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This was good when they stuck to strikes as there was a nice contrast between Takada's polished kicking technique and Tenryu bulldozing tactics, but the matwork was awful, and a reminder of just how useless Takada was on the mat. Tenryu did his best to sell the double leglock spot they did, but they laid around in that thing forever and even when Takada got the crowd back by working his way into a standing base there was no payoff. When Tenryu went for a leglock of his own, I thought "here we go again," but he at least tried to fight through Takada's guard to punch him in the face. They also lost the crowd on the armbar counter to Tenryu's lariat. A crowd as hot as that should have lost their shit over that, but Tenryu blocking it and Takada having to slowly break his grasp sapped all of the tension from the spot. Ordinarily, that sort of detail would be praiseworthy, but it was clear from the molten finish with the goofy but awesome punch drunk selling that the crowd just wanted to bombs and nearfalls. I did like Takada's counter to the WAR Special, however. Overall, it wasn't a bad match. Takada's selling sucked throughout as did his taunts and mannerisms, but in a way that added to the dynamic of him being an outsider and another UWF guy who thinks his shit doesn't stink. Tenryu had a great 1996.

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#222 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-250-201/2/

 

I love how Tenryu sells Takada's kicks in the beginning. I thought, thanks to Tenryu's animated selling, that the submission on his leg was pretty entertaining. I liked how Takada put over the damage to his head after taking some stomps from Kawada. It slowed him down, but he was able to gain advantage again. Lot's of great kicks following that. I see Tenryu as like the Terminator, and Takada's kicks are like bullets. They're slowing down the machine, but he keeps coming back. And, if he gets a hit in on you, it counts for twice as much damage. The chop and kick exchange towards the end of this is out of this world. I don't know... I thought this was pretty damn awesome... high end of ****1/4 for me.

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Genichiro Tenryu vs Nobuhiko Takada - WAR 12/13/96

 

Not as great as their UWFi classic, but few matches are. This one suffers from the same problem as the previous match but instead of taking 10 minutes to really kick into gear, this one took 15 minutes. It also featured "bundle of leg" lock spot, which I abhor especially after watch a ton of RINGS. Stuff like Tenryu trying to get his receipt for Takada bullying him in the corner by punching him in the head was great, but there just was not enough of this. Takada is really good at two things: kicking and selling Tenryu's potatoes. When Takada gets Tenryu backed into corner and starts throwing those knees to the head, you think Oh No, Here We Go Again, but then Tenryu powerbombs his ass. Great callback! Another great call back was Takada getting the armbar out of the powerbomb. Takada has a great headkick coming off the ropes and the cross armbreaker that are great false finishes. Takada was just overwhelming with the kicks until Tenryu's sumo charge knocks Takada loopy when his head bounces off the ropes. Takada sells well. I wish this led somewhere cooler than a sitting double chickenwing. These two are WAY BETTER at strike exchanges than anyone in modern puroresu. Their strikes are fierce and selling is epic. Ternyu's selling in this match is off the charts great, Maybe his best selling performance of his career. The desperation lariat by Tenryu is great. Tenryu just picks him up and powerbombs his ass. I felt like the finish was a little outta nowhere, but a good callback to the UWFi match Tenryu went for the powerbomb but it was Takada getting the armbar that cost Tenryu, this time he gets the powerbomb to win.

 

Beginning was a hit and miss, but these two settled into a groove and it got really good. Both guys don't get a lot of credit for selling capabilities but they were both great at selling here. I thought the callbacks enhanced this match a lot and the strike exchange was very dramatic. Finish felt anit-climatic, but overall the finish stretch was great. ****

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This is neck and neck with the UWFi match for me. It felt like a big heavyweight fight with two sluggers that weren't going down without unloading everything in their arsenal. Both knew what their strengths and advantages were but each was so strong as a defensive wrestler and had such overpowering offense at points that they were able to have sustained moments of feeling like the match was in their grasp. Tenryu in particular was just majestic firing away with chop after chop leading the match to a dramatic climax. ****

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This was plenty great whenever Tenryu was brutally assaulting Takada with punches and kicks to the face. He also did a phenomenal job putting over Takada's kicks and submissions, flying over the guardrail and going crazy when Takada put on his trademark weak leglock. Takada was plenty average and you get the sense Tenryu could have had this match against any kickpadded shootstylist. However, Takada's selling for the stretch run was okay enough and he did kick Tenryu in the chin a bunch to make for an epic enough finish, I have no idea why he went for those weak slaps, Takada being Takada I guess. He does get what's coming to him as punch drunk Tenryu just runs through him. Strong match but not in the same universe as Tenryu/Anjoh.

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1996 is packed with Japanese matches that have the real big match feel, and this is another. Crowd is going crazy the whole time and is super responsive to the big spots, and man were there awesome big spots. This has to be one of Takada's best performances, he's really unloading with those kicks. This was a war and both guys lit each other up. That strike exchange at the end has to be one of the best strike exchanges of all time, super stiff and Takada is hitting awesome double-hand knife edge chops. And it ends with a beautifully violent looking lariat. Tenryu is great as he always is in his big matches. Perfectly worked to live up to the big fight feel.

 

I agree the mat work (well, really, the leg lock, because the mat work was just a leg lock) wasn't the best but the crowd still popped big every time Takada really wrenched back on the hook.

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This was good but definitely not great like the UWFi encounter. The leg lock portion is easy to point to as the more boring portion of the match but really it's indicative of the bigger problem, Takada is lacking the urgency and fire (using that term loosely) that Tenryu beat out of him the first time around. This still felt big and had some great moments, but as a complete package felt much more disjointed to me than the pseudo shoot style that was so fascinating to see Tenryu work previously. I was glad to watch these matches back to back after never having them on my radar previously, enjoyed both, but I doubt I'll ever revisit this one.

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