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Charles (Loss)

[1994-02-17-NJPW-Fighting Spirit] Genichiro Tenryu vs Shinya Hashimoto

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Weird that they didn't book this as an IWGP title defense. They didn't NEED it, but it would have been nice to have the only clean Inoki job in the last ____ years of his career be used to build an IWGP challenger, after Inoki vacated the title to begin with and then took Fujinami to a draw in '88.

 

Anyway, this is a very good match, though I'm probably cooler towards it than most. If anything it's about as good a BOOKING job as New Japan did in the '90s. Tenryu ran through the roster in '93, and though he lost to Fujinami he got that win back in December. So Tenryu then beating Inoki meant he'd won his last singles match against everyone he'd faced, and that in turn covered everyone but Mutoh: Hash, Inoki, Fujinami, Hase, Chono, Koshinaka, and assorted midcarders. For Hashimoto to win here and essentially end the feud put him over even more than winning the title in September.

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I love all the basic matwork in this. They aren't doing anything flashy at all, but there's an unrivaled intensity and crispness to it all -- the sense that we're watching something with high stakes -- that makes every move and hold work. Everything counts when these two lock up. Deliberate, punishing and hard hitting wrestling. I can dig it.

 

This match is super smart. Because they spend so much time on the mat not doing any highspots, Hashimoto's first big kick around the halfway point gets a massive pop. Tenryu coming back with the bootscrapes is awesome too, and suddenly, tempers have flared and the referee is having trouble controlling everything. Because of the history with these two, we knew that was going to happen, but they made us wait for it until they were ready to give us that moment because they're awesome and pros.

 

I'm predicting that this is far more basic than just about any high-end match of '94 anywhere in the world. But two guys this good at the basics can pull that off. I think this is my favorite match of theirs.

 

Outstanding match, and Hashimoto's triumph is one of those great emotional moments in wrestling history.

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I think what Ditch is getting at is that Tenry "beat everyone". He traded wins with Choshu and Fujinami because they're his peers, and he did it in the order it needed to be done:

 

* Choshu put him over first to get across this wasn't going to be a Squash WAR feud

* Tenryu put over Fujinami first because

1. Fujinami needed the win to squeeze two matches out of it

2. set up the rematch on a major *WAR* card

 

I've never been entirely sure why they didn't do Mutoh-Tenryu at the time. It doesn't really lessen the feud at all, and does highlight that the focus among the younger wrestlers is on Hash.

 

As far as the IWGP, my recollection was that Hash said he would vacate the title if he lost to Tenryu.

 

John

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As far as the IWGP, my recollection was that Hash said he would vacate the title if he lost to Tenryu.

Hmmm, why does that seem familiar... ;)

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This was great for me. Tenryu hits a clothesline and Hash comes immediately back with a great kick to the midsection. From there is just great back and forth action between the two. Lots of emotion between the two beating one another other. Best singles match for me so far.

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I loved this match. I dug the early mat work and thought it set the table for the brutality and stiff work that followed. Both guys worked hard. Tenryu took such a beating and Hash wasn't too far behind. Just an epic battle.

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I love these two when they get in the ring with one another. This is their last match and damn it was good. They beat the shit out of each other and Tenryu sells his neck the whole match after the first DDT. Hashimoto's victory is gigantically important and it's a great moment.

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Really felt like a heavyweight showdown with insanely great pacing, strikes, and emotion. Really everything I want out of a wrestling match. The crowd shot at the finish with the seat that goes flying is fantastic also.

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So this *wasn't* for the title? Hash had the belt with him, which guys in Japan usually don't do unless it's at stake. Well, no matter--Hash kept it anyway. This was a fine blowoff to the feud and it seems that Hash is pretty much definitively established as the company ace with this. Chono's been very marginalized of late and he just took the title from Mutoh. The presence of Chono and the other top NJPW and WAR guys at ringside adds to the atmosphere of this, and Hash's win is treated by the Sumo Hall fans and his peers like a Stanley Cup or World Series victory--a definitive final win for the "home team."

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This had been set up perfectly by Tenryu inflicting a very rare defeat on Inoki. Hash was fighting for the honour of New Japan with a rabid crowd firmly in his corner. It was bubbling under for the first 9m before it exploided in spectacular style for the final 6m. They were stiffing the shit out of each other with ferocious strikes. Excitement abound as the combatants fought with so much pride and intensity. As usual with Tenryu there were some execution issues. It also needed longer at the peak level to reach MOTYC levels. Overall this was an excellent match and an even better occasion. The fans were literally jumping for joy at the end.

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Here we go, the end of the road as far as it goes with Ditch's hosting. I kicked back and enjoyed this with a beer. Why don't people talk about this more? Everyone talks about the 8/93 bout, but you never hear anything about this. The commentator made a big deal out of it being a special non-title match at first, which was kind of annoying, but everything from the stomach kick onward was amazing. Tenryu going into the tsupari attack and drawing a little blood hard way and Hashimoto countering with the enzuigiri over the top of Tiger Hattori's head was amazing. The crowd picked up on the lift in intensity and responded with a huge chant. From that point on, the match was on a knife's edge. When Hashimoto countered with that gut wrench suplex, I may as well have been there in the building in 1994. I'm so glad I watched this so close to the anniversary of Hashimoto's death. Even if this was non-title, after two losses to Tenryu it validated Hashimoto's claim to the ace position and the emotion was palpable after the pin and during the post-match promo. The stretch run was the stuff of dreams and the selling was sublime. Nearfalls and delayed selling can be manipulative when you don't bite on them and there's nothing at stake for you, but with a bit of lubricant and the desire to be drawn in they are as fresh as the day this was wrestled. Maybe I'd feel different about this if I wasn't half-cut, but I can't understand why this isn't talked about more in terms of blowoffs.

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I watched this match for the first time today and immediately fell in love. It felt intense from the start and I was waiting for the bombs to start flying but they make you wait. Tenry kept facewashing Hashimoto, doing those little kicks to the head, goading him on until Hash finally explodes with that flying kick over the ref. That's when I lost it, so did the crowd. Their reaction to Hashimoto finally keeping Tenryu down is even better.

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Buzzed OJ is great! Why don't people talk about that more? :P

 

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinya Hashimoto vs Genichiro Tenryu - NJPW 2/17/94

 

Tenryu is coming off defeating Antonio Inoki at 1/4/94 in the Tokyo Dome, the last person to ever defeat Inoki. So to say the stakes are high in this match is an understatement. Hashimoto is 0-2 against Tenryu and Tenryu has defeated everyone on the New Japan roster. This is about pride.

 

If the first one is about psychology, the second one is about selling, this one is about sheer brutal offense. When you think of Hashimoto and Tenryu, you think of stiff, violent strikes, finally we get these two letting loose and ripping into each other on all their glory. Tenryu is chopping on rope breaks and Hashimoto is throwing wild kicks. Hashimoto takes him down to work the leg so Tenryu starts throwing nasty elbows into Hashimoto's side. Hashimoto throws the nastiest headbutt this side of Regal/Finlay totally out of nowhere. He just throws two more and a big kick. Then they just start firing into each other. Tenryu chops him in the throat and Hashimoto goes down in a heap. Tenryu goes for a rear naked choke. Hashimoto breaks loose and starts in on the arm. I loved how Tenryu got out by kneeing him in the head repeatedly. Tenryu is all about brutal strikes in this match. Knees and kicks to head. He constantly peppering these kicks to the head. Tenryu goes for the lariat and Hashimoto hits his armdrag and goes back to the arm and gets a cross armbreaker, but Tenryu's foot is on the ropes. Chop back to the throat. It is just violent watching this. Again, Jesus! Bodyslam and the top rope reverse elbow gets two. This has been a WAR!

 

Best part of the match: Hashimoto sick and tired of these chops to throat, kicks him low. Now Tenryu drops down in a heap as if he was kicked inthe fucking balls. The ref's reaction is great. He is so pissed Hashimoto did it. But there is a chance that Tenryu is faking but the ref is keeping Hashimoto back. Tenryu up on his feet and Sumo Slaps. Tenryu brutalizes Hashimoto in the corner. Now the ref is on Tenryu's case and Hashimoto LEAPS OVER THE REF AND NAILS AN ENZIGUIRI TO THE TENRYU'S HEAD!!! MARK OUT CITY! HASHIMOTO KICKS TENRYUS HEAD OFF! HASHIMOTO THE DESTROYER UNLEASHED!

 

Tenryu slumped down in the corner and Hashimoto seems very pleased with his corner. I loved Hashimoto finally letting loose and just letting the kicks fly and with most of them being aimed at the head. He hits an ugly version of his leaping DDT. After trying in previous matches, he finally gets it, but cant capitalize. Seems like he had his bell rung. Tenryu Kappo Kick! RUH! ROH! Tenryu hits an enziguiri. Tenryu slaps himself to shake out the cobwebs. POWERBOMB! But Tenryu is knocked silly. He cant capitalize due to all the shots to his head. Hashimoto is back up but Tenryu chops and kappo kick. Again his head is all messed up. Tenryu goes for a DDT, but Hashimoto throws him THE FUCK DOWN with an Urnage. DONT BE BRINGIN THAT IN MY HOUSE! HASHIMOTO DDT! 1-2-NO! CMON! FINISH HIM! Tenryu starts slapping the shit out of Hashimoto, he falls into a powerbomb. 1-2-NO! WOOOOO!!! Tenryu is slapping the shit out of Hashimoto. Duck. BELLY TO BELLY! HASHIMOTO ROUNDHOUSE KICK TO THE HEAD! DDT! YAAAAAAAHHHHHOOOOOOOO!!!! Chono & Hase in to celebrate with Hashimoto.

 

One of the best feel-good victories of all time, love these torch passing moments. They finally had the stiff, brutal war we wanted out of them. They beat the piss out of each other. Tenryu just ripped into Hashimoto with those chops. Hashimoto with the headbutts early and then those head kicks. Great Tenryu selling of the head kicks down the stretch. Amazing dramatic finish run. Hashimoto just would not be denied and Shinya Hashimoto is officially the Ace of New Japan Pro Wrestling! *****

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The first two matches were drawn out, tactical epics, this is the epic conclusion where everything goes haywire. In short, they beat the shit out of eachother and don't let up. Tenryu seemed to impose himself early on again, being more ruthless and coming at Hash like a train, but once Hashimoto hit that enzuigiri over Tiger Hattori it was clear he wouldn't let himself get blown away again. It was a great spot and may have made the whole match because it really served to escalate the situation. After that Hashimoto went all out and it was tough territory for Tenryu, folks sensing his downfall. While this wasn't as epic as the 1993 matches and I didn't love the weird "guy hurts himself doing a move" spots this is a great match in it's own right, one of the best blowoffs I've seen and one of the best "angry bears mauling eachother" matches for sure and a perfect conclusion to the trilogy.

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