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Charles (Loss)

[1992-04-18-SWS] Ric Flair vs Genichiro Tenryu (2/3 falls)

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Wow, Flair never gets put over this strong. It's kinda weird, but it's cool to see this aggressive side of him. Tenryu puts on a nice selling performance and Flair seems to enjoy not having to make someone during a main event for a change. He takes 90% of the first fall and is on his way to doing the same in the second fall ... until he goes up top. It's like he never learns. Tenryu ends up taking the second fall with a press slam and a powerbomb.

 

This is different from 80s Flair in Japan. 80s Flair in Japan was a bit more stoic and wrestled by the rules most of the time. 90s Flair isn't afraid to swing a chair, yell at the ref or tell a Japanese fan that he'll take his wife home and make a woman out of her. He's not afraid to beg off. That they respond well to the American heeling is pretty cool. Tenryu rallying to turn over the figure four and failing gets an audible sigh of disappointment from the crowd each time. Finally turning it over gets a nice reaction because they built to it so well.

 

It's a strange complaint about a Flair match, but my only problem with this is that I wouldn't have minded seeing Tenryu get more offense. He does make a nice rally in the third fall and takes the match with a single powerbomb. And the crowd pops huge because he took such a beating for most of the near-25 minute match. So it's not even a major complaint. Call it more of a wish.

 

I'm really glad I saw this.

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Good match. Flair controled the match a bit too much. It was a physical affair here. I just thought it was a tad bit anti climantic. Though I enjoyed it. I thought it was in the 3 1/2* range.

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The entrance stairs seem very steep from the camera angle view. Little change of pace for Flair from what we have seen on yearbook so far. He looked really strong in the first fall and wins with the figure four! I was expecting a Flair flop off Tenryu's sumo rush but didn't get it.

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Another fancam which is fine if they're good quality. They often aren't. A solid enough 24m over the 3 falls. The pacing was pedestrian. Tenryu didn't show much offense at all as Flair just attacked the leg. Using the same finisher twice doesn't cut it.

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This was good for reasons other than what I would've expected, but never quite reached the levels I was hoping for. Then again if it had, it'd probably be a pretty well touted affair. Good chops early which is no surprise given who's involved. Flair works the knee and mixes in some heel spots much moreso than you'd think from Flair in Japan. After being pinned by the figure four in the first, Tenryu does a great job selling it the rest of the way. Flair's animation and character really shined in this setting. The pacing and story brought things down, even considering expectations coming into this.

 

***1/4

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Thought the first half of this bordered on actively bad--really slow pacing, and some weird miscommunication moments like Tenryu not being quite sure if he wanted to grab Ric Flair's leg, and Flair doing maybe the most delayed Flair flop in history. It got a lot better by the end--both guys looked like they'd gone through hell and Tenryu's rally out of the corner got a great reaction. Nonetheless, Tenryu is still coming off as a guy who needs a fire lit under his ass in the worst way. You'd think getting into the ring with Flair would be a natural remedy to that but I don't think he's quite there.

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Nonetheless, Tenryu is still coming off as a guy who needs a fire lit under his ass in the worst way. You'd think getting into the ring with Flair would be a natural remedy to that but I don't think he's quite there.

 

Disagree. To me this match is totally a matter of Tenryu adapting to Flair's pace, which is probably why he gave so much offense to Flair. There's no way Flair could have worked a regular Tenryu paced match. Good match, but you'd expect more out of these two working together. Flair's bumps out of Tenryu's enzuigiris were goofy as hell. It's telling that Tenryu had a better and more compelling match with Ashura Hara, which was a total stiffest, but with purpose, and even with Savage in 90 (better in term of pure spectacle). Here Tenryu made the most sense of out Ric Flair "figure four master", which is not something you'd see in the US since anybody can reverse the hold like it's nothing. The negative is that although it made a bit more sense, it was a dryer than the usual "Flair show". Odd match in the Flair body of work when you think about it.

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If ever you wanted to see the NWA World champion version of Flair again (with a bit of JCP-style heeling mixed in, of course), this was your match. Flair is as ruthlessly aggressive as he's ever been here, like he's pissed off about how the month of April's been going for him so far and he wants someone to pay the price. Tenryu could have stood to have a bit more offense, I suppose, but the story told here was so compelling as it was that I can't complain much. Other than the theme music, this was such a departure from the way Flair was being booked by the WWF at the time that I'm surprised Vince didn't have major issues with it.

 

I loved Tenryu the underdog fighting valiantly in the figure four, which was once again presented as the killer hold it should have been all along. This may be the best use of the figure four by Flair going back six or seven years, before Dusty and his friends started turning it over after what seemed like ten seconds every time.

 

I'm assuming that Zenjo had a problem with Tenryu using the powerbomb to pin Flair twice. I agree that he probably shouldn't have been trying to lift Flair with his leg in the shape it was in, but from a booking standpoint this would be like insisting that Hogan not use the legdrop twice in a two-out-of-three fall match. If that's the move Tenryu's known for and the move the fans want to see, then it "cuts it" quite nicely, whether it makes sense from a narrative standpoint or not. (Does the average Joe Fan who doesn't read boards like this even care about narratives as we "smart fans" define them?)

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Using the same finisher twice in a 2/3 falls match seems like a total lack of imagination. But then again out of the countless times I've seen this format it's very rare to see the same move used twice. The first fall finisher being kicked out of in the 3rd is a favourite. So maybe it was a deep and meaningful reference about pro wrestling tropes and expectations? Or finisher spamming had happened 20 years early?

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Maybe it's just my dislike of the presentation of Flair in the WWF talking right now.  I like this aggressive, dominant Flair who uses heel tactics when the opportunity arises, not as his only way of getting the upper hand.  Good match in an unexpected way.  I would definitely agree that this is "other" if you were going to categorize Flair matches.  While I get that the formula works and that's why he stuck with it, I like matches like these to show his range.

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