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Charles (Loss)

[1993-08-08-NJPW-G1 Climax] Genichiro Tenryu vs Shinya Hashimoto

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"This may be my favorite match they've had together. It has consistent limb selling like the WAR match. Hash attacks the leg again but switches focus early and instead goes after Tenryu's lariat arm. I appreciated that this had great limb selling but didn't focus on guys "working over" a limb and instead saw Hash targeting Tenryu's arm with submissions attempts like a shoot style match. The hate was there in spades too. There was one intense stare down that ended in one of Tenryu's most brutal flurries of chops to the throat and face sending Hashimoto to the corner. This even had some bomb throwing and big nearfalls towards the end that were sold perfectly."

 

I wrote that when I first watched the match and now that I've watched it again I think it has a serious shot at being my MOTY (which is impressive in a year like 1993) and one of my favorite matches ever.

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If a match of this quality happened this decade it would be winning MOTY awards. As it was 20 years ago it's barely talked about, so surrounded as it was by greatness. Tokyo in the summer of '93 was wrestling heaven.

 

It was strange having this one day after the G1 Final, so that this was the biggest match of the tour rather than the tournament. In later years the G1 would become the centrepiece of the NJ calendar, but it wasn't yet established to that degree in 1993.

 

Comparing this to their June encounter is like comparing NJ to WAR. It was very much a traditional big match, with a cautious start slowly building up to a crescendo. There was no need to rush into anything as the fans were right with them from the start. It had interpromotional heat and a strong rivalry that they had built up. Both men brought their A game and executed the match they had set out to do. It satisfied all of my expectations. The only criticism is that AJ had raised the bar so high for heavyweight wrestling that NJ couldn't match it's top end.

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Tenryu coming in high with the chops and hitting Hashimoto in the throat. Tenryu seems especially stiff during this with the shots he was laying in. Those toe kicks to the face always seem nasty. I found it to be a pretty dominate performance by Tenryu with him just mauling Hash with stiff shots and big bombs. Entertaining match with some good near falls at the end.

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More great stuff, and yet I still found myself more impressed by the two Hase upsets. The hate here was nonetheless off the charts, especially the flurries in the corner with both guys going for each other's eyes, in a scene that really looked like it was about to get out of control before things settled down. Both guys start to bust out moves you don't normally see, and Hash throws a WICKED powerslam to transition to offense at one point. Tenryu finally powerbombs Hash into oblivion and picks up his biggest win of this feud yet.

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This was worked differently from how you'd expect heading into the bout. It threatened to erupt into a violent brawl, but Hashimoto went into the bout looking to keep a check on his emotions and for the most part this was worked like a slow burning marque fight. I had mixed feelings toward the bout. Hashimoto's strategy was interesting, but the fight was more cerebral than visceral. At certain points, it felt manipulative in terms of the selling and dramatisation. There'd be a bomb and a nearfall and then that slow, theatrical selling that's meant to be high drama but comes across as a Parv-like pregnant pause. But the crowd did bite on a couple of kick outs and the shot of a dozen or more fans punching the air was a cool visual. All's well that ends well and the final minutes delivered. I thought they could have delivered something better, but there were enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. One thing I've found is the more Tenryu you watch, the more you ignore his execution.

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Opening was real interesting as it is tentative with neither guy wanting to make a cardinal mistake. This opened up in a big way in the closing stretch and was highly dramatic but I loved how Hash still resulted back to the arm work he laid in the opening portion. That is a great continuity between the two halves from the match and made the match transfer from great to really great. I can see some beef about some execution things in the final portion but they didn't have any tremendous trainwrecks to take away from the tension of the story going on. Hash's final gasp just swinging wildly was awesome and Tenryu picks up a huge win when he is able to hit three powerbombs. Grand stuff. ****1/2

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I didn't see a classic here.

 

Tenryu was incredible, especially because he picked Hash up for so many powerbombs despite his bad shoulder, which to his credit he was still selling in the postmatch celebration. As for Hash, what work he did he did well, but he never really focused on the arm as much as most guys in his place would have. Whather that was a deficiency on his part or whether it was another case of the finish dictating how the match was worked (Tenryu needs to be able to pick Hash up for three powerbombs, so it would kill the match for Hash to do too much to his arm), I really can't say. It's probably a bit of both, since Hash is mostly about his kicks anyway.

 

If this was supposed to be bigger than the G-1 Climax, it missed the mark in my eyes. I know it was another chapter in Tenryu vs. New Japan, but it certainly wasn't one of the best. I would have much rather seen Tenryu in the actual tournament trying to win one of NJPW's most prestigious prizes as a hated outsider, which would have really ​added some juice to the feud.

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Is this the only match on any Yearbook with no comments from Loss?

 

Shinya Hashimoto vs Genichiro Tenryu - NJPW 8/8/93

 

The rematch takes place just days after the finish of the G-1 Climax and this time the match takes place on New Japan's turf so Hashimoto has home court advantage.

 

Hashimoto is much more in control here than at the beginning of the last match. He seems more confident that he can improve and get the win here. Tenryu seems more offensive-minded. He knows he eeked out a victory last time. Tenryu goes with Sumo Slaps to start and Hashimoto mostly blocks, they lock up and get tangled in the ropes. Reset. Each hits a shoulderblock knocking the other off their feet. Hashimoto favors his injured left shoulder. Is this the DDP injured ribs of Japan? Did it ever heal? Tenryu goes low though and gets a drop toehold looking to work the leg, but that goes nowhere. Upon standup, Hashimoto targets the leg he attacked in the first match with kicks and then a toehold. Rope break. Then they stare at each other for uncomfortably long period of time. Tenryu opens a can of whoop ass. Chops to the throat that are just wicked and when Hashimoto tucks his chin to block Tenryu CHOPS HIM IN THE FACE! WOW! Hashimoto opens a can in return and starts chopping the hell out of him and kicking him. Hashimoto ends up just smothering him. I didn't like Hashimoto going for a hold right after that. They should have kept rocking because they were finally letting loose. Tenryu makes the ropes. Wicked kick and then chops him repeatedly up high in the throat and face. Hashimoto goes down in a heap. Kawada kicks to the head. This is a great dick heel performance from Tenryu and a great Hashimoto selling performance. Top reverse elbow from Tenryu. He hits a big lariat for two. Goes for another and Hashimoto says DONT BE BRINGING THAT IN MY HOUSE when he throws him DOWN with an Urnage. Hashimoto wants the DDT, but cant get it so he settles for trying to pull Tenryu's shoulder out of its socket with an armdrag and works Tenryu's lariat arm. Great verbal selling and physical selling from Tenryu. Tenryu starts kneeing him in the head. Tenryu has been brutal in this match. Bodyslam by Tenryu and goes up for his top rope reverse elbow but you cant do the same move twice and Hashimoto gets the electric chair. Crawls desperately for the cover but only gets two. Cross armbeaker on the bad arm and Tenryu quickly gets the ropes. I will never get tired of watching Hashimoto kicking people. Those kicks to Tenryu's bad arm are ferocious.

 

Hashimoto runs the ropes and gets caught in a desperation powerbomb. Hashimoto charging in has cost him twice now (in the first match, missed jumping DDT was the beginning of the end). Tenryu goes for the powerbomb and Hashimoto backdrops out. The selling is off the charts here with Hashimoto really selling discombobulated. Hashimoto cements his advantage with the enziguiri and then the rainbow heel kick. Tenryu's selling is so good you can feel the match slipping from his grasp. Now here is Hashimoto's finish sequence. Tenryu almost blocks the jumping DDT in the same way but this time, Hashimoto gets an armbar takedown on the bad arm. Hashimoto hits his DDT. I loved the urgency on the cover but only gets two. Tenryu is grabbing his head as Hashimoto is frustrated. He grabs the hair of Tenryu and takes him over with a German suplex cover again and only two. The anguish on Hashimoto's face is great. He pulls on the hair again to pull him up this time for a powerbomb. Tenryu almost collapses, nice touch. He picks him up and Tenryu kicks him in the head. ENZIGUIRI! LOOK AT THAT SELL BY HASHIMOTO! WOW! Kappo Kick and Hashimoto is bowled over. In the last match that was the prelude to the powerbomb and the finish. Tenryu is selling his left arm but he grits his teeth and hits a lariat anyways. Tenryu is pissed. Big chops again from Tenryu, great offensive performance from Tenryu. Hashimoto powerslam! Hashimoto gnashing his teeth. Pulling Tenryu up by his hair, German? Tenryu goes wild with elbows and punches to the head. Total survival mode. Bulldog out of that position. Great enziguiri from Tenryu. Tenryu loads him up, powerbomb, 1-2-NO! HUGE POP! Here comes the Defiant Fighting Spirit last stand. Rainbow kick and then falling chops. Hashimoto can barely stand is just throwing chops. Powerbomb again for two. This time Hashimoto has nothing left and Tenryu hits the third and final powerbomb to put away the challenger to his throne.

 

I just want to get this out of the way early, I thought the beginning was too tepid to give this a full five. Now let me praise the match. The finish sequence would inspire generations to come. That defiant last stand by a young upstart is a common trope in 2000s puroresu. It is cinematographic but it works so well here. The way Hashimoto throws those chops after the first powerbomb is just great. In the first match, Hashimoto got caught with a kappo kick to the head in the middle of a fight. It was a flash loss. Here Hashimoto showed great resiliency but had a dug too much of a hole for himself. What makes this match so great is not the offense per se, but the selling. Not just selling of the offense, but the selling of the importance of the match. Hashimoto was selling how badly he wanted to win the match. So many wrestlers forget that is what pro wrestling is about, it is about winning. Hashimoto wanted to win this one so badly. It was completely engrossing watching him try so hard. The way he gnashed his teeth for every Tenryu kick out, how he pulled him up by the hair and how he threw those last chops, Hashimoto putting everything he had into the match. When a wrestler is invested in the outcome of the match, the fans will be invested. Hashimoto comes up short in the match, but in reality he was the true winner. ****3/4

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The WAR match was about Hashimoto taking Tenry out in his own house. This is in contrast about Hashimoto, the brave New Japan representative, putting on a wrestling match and Tenryu mauling him with cheapshots. He makes a pissed off rush at his adversary early on, but the rest of this is an almost US/Britain like babyface performance with how he refuses to stoop to Tenryu's level as he keeps getting kicked in the eye and chopped in the throat. Hash doing wrestling is almost as awesome as Hash unleashing his fury, and he is great here, softening up Tenryu with massive kicks, dumping him on his shoulder with awesome throws and almost snapping his arm with a lightning fast counter. Tenryu's selling was absolutely flawless and I echo everything Superstar Sleeze has said on Hashimoto selling his desire to win. He may be the greatest ever at portraying this kind of determination in the face of a loss and watching him going at Tenryu despite having nothing left was just magic. These two maybe the best matchup in puro history as their simplistic styles are just made for eachother. Tenryu should not be slept on as he may be the best ever at being a savvy bastard, almost KO'ing Hash with a bulldog, checking on his arm and kicking Hashimoto right between the eyes for his troubles.

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Epic, all-time level slugfest and probably my favourite of their epic, all-time level series. What a match-up this is. It's largely built around strikes, but if I'm going to watch two guys work 20+ minutes largely built around strikes then these are probably the two I want to see. Without going full old man yelling at clouds, nobody does strike exchanges like this anymore. The selling was obviously spectacular, but it wasn't just the selling when taking the strikes that was great, the selling while throwing those strikes ruled and it was that that really told the story. Tenryu was dismissive, ornery and frantic, depending on which stage of the match you chose to look at. Hashimoto was gutsy, defiant and relentless, depending on whichever depth of himself Tenryu's horseshit had pushed him to. It might actually be my favourite Hashimoto performance and that covers an absurd amount of ground. One of the best things I've ever read about him was written by OJ few years back now, I think during the GWE project. It was about how Hashimoto was a man of honour, how he had bushido, how he embodied traditional Japanese values and carried himself the way a samurai should. Tenryu couldn't give a shit about any of that and will make a fight as dirty as he needs to. Sometimes he DOESN'T need to, he'll just do it anyway because it's in his nature. That sort of comportment pushes most men to dish out receipts in kind, but besides one early moment Jetlag mentioned where he flew at Tenryu in a rage, Hashimoto held his head high and resolved to win on his own terms. I mean he still tried to kick Tenryu's pancreas into the twelfth row but at least he wasn't a prick about it. As an awesome counterpoint, Tenryu was a prick about everything, most of his offence for about three quarters being boots to the eye socket and Adam's apple chops. The hip throw to set up the arm work was a tremendous spot and set the back half on a tremendous roll. Those last ten minutes were sensational with Hash trying to kick and tear Tenryu's arm off while Tenryu has dig himself out of the hole his own bullshit put him in. Tenryu's desperation selling, the last ditch bulldog, Hashimoto gritting his teeth and shooting Tenryu this incredible "fuck you and everything about you" look before taking a koppo kick square on the forehead...all of it was great. That last slap flurry as he's dead on his feet was total Hashimoto. Phenomenal match, even better than I remembered. 

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