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Charles (Loss)

[1991-12-12-SWS-Superwrestle in Tokyo Dome] Hulk Hogan vs Genichiro Tenryu

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Wow. This may be the best Hulk Hogan match ever. It could pass for a Wrestlemania main event. He doesn't rest on his personality here -- this is a great actual wrestling match. Not great for a Hogan match, or a great spectacle, but a great wrestling match. The matwork at the beginning was really inspired. Hogan did his usual matwork spots, but also sold the holds from Tenryu well. I loved him fucking up his knee on a high knee attempt to pay off Tenryu working on it in the early matwork. I also really enjoyed all the finisher teases. The ax bomber is hit partially a few times before he finally gets it in the end. The legdrop isn't enough to put Tenryu away. What a great performance from Hogan, and kudos to Tenryu for bringing out the best in him. We even see Hogan pull off an enzuigiri! Hogan found an extremely viable way to reinvent himself as U.S. wrestling changed toward the end of the decade, but I wish this was the guy who had showed up in 1994 WCW, because he would have fit in with where the promotion already was at that point, and they wouldn't have had to massively reinvent WCW as an 80s WWF retread if this was the type of Hogan we were getting.

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With no belt on Hogan, I was wondering about possible upset by Tenryu. I don’t know if I’d call it the best Hogan match but it is a worthy consideration on a best of comp for him. Hogan being able to adjust so well to Japan just makes you wish he’d have mixed it up more in the Sates. There different audiences but he could have done more. His finishes in US can be too predictable. Here I was guessing and really enjoyed the close counts. Tenryu kept getting up and Hogan had to give him everything to final put down. Great performance by both guys.

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With no belt on Hogan, I was wondering about possible upset by Tenryu.

I THINK a Tenryu win was the original plan at one point until Hogan got the finish changed. That could be my old anti-Hogan smark side coming out, though. Anyway, Hogan busting out the cross armbreaker to start with was a fun surprise, but the first half of this was plagued by what hurts a lot of Hogan-in-Japan matches: lots and lots of resets. It sort of shows Hogan's limitations in that he has a few rote takedown and mat sequences but never really learned how to put them together. So we get a cool Hogan takedown and hold you don't see in the U.S., an attempt at working it, then a crawl to the ropes and get up and start over again. This did get much better when Hogan hurt his knee, which was sold great and brought out a terrific, intense attack from Tenryu. I didn't really need two enzuigiri spots from Hogan but there was lots of drama towards the finish, with all the finishers getting kicked out of. The legdrop never puts anybody away in Japan but Tenryu kicking out of the Axe Bomber was huge, almost like somebody kicking out of Hansen's Lariat. Hogan has to hit him with 3 or 4 of the fuckers one after the other to finally put him away.

 

I think I liked the Hansen match better than this, as well as the LOD match, as they had more intense action throughout. That said, it seemed like Tenryu had a better shot to win this than Hansen did and it did end decisively, so that should count for something.

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Excellent match. Hogan really upped the quality of his offense in response to Tenryu's stiffness, and the whole thing had the Clash of the Titans feel you'd want. This was my favorite Hogan match of the year and quite possibly Tenryu's best as well.

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Guest TheGreatPuma

An incredible match with extra appeal to me due to me expecting a clean victory but yet knowing that Hogan and Tenryu just "never" lose. It's surreal to me to see one of these guys lose so that added a lot to the match for me. Plus I always like seeing Hogan wrestle in Japan a lot. Thinking about it, I still can't believe one of them won and one of them lost. It blows my mind.

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This was one of the promotions better matches, and that's a backhanded compliment. It didn't get going until the stretch which was quite interesting. Hogan kept hitting finishers and Tenryu kept kicking out before eventually succumbing. Given that he did the job this put GenTen over too.

 

Having now watched the 90,91 and 92 yearbooks I can hopefully say good riddance to SWS forever. I can't stand the promotion and haven't particularly liked any of its matches. It's whole philosophy was to just throw money about and hope things worked out. It had no identity, obviously no history and no soul. Aside from Tenryu it's talent recruitment was laughably bad. There was more dead wood than a ship wreck. It was hugely beneficial to the AJ roster as it got rid of a whole bunch of guys who would have been stinking up the midcard for years to come like Hara, Yatsu and Fuyuki. Okay so they lost Tenryu but that encouraged Baba to promote the new generation of stars. Ironically what looked like a potential disaster back in 1990 turned into a big positive for Zen Nihon. That was the legacy of SWS, it's utter incompetence helping others.

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This had an epic feel with the intros and opening hand shake with the buzz around the crowd. We get the mat work that only results from Hogan in Japan or pre-Shiek WWF. This match did have a good bit of resets but I liked it in the sense of neither man wanting to make a cardinal mistake. Hulk even gets a little punk slap against Tenryu's face to rile up the crowd. This opens things up and we are off to the races from there. Hogan using the big boot is something else and it transitions into him locking in a chinlock. Tenryu starts taking more chances with diving kicks and getting caught inside. Hogan hits a flying knee! but injures himself in the process which I absolutely adored. Tenryu seizes his chance and uses a chair on the outside. Now he has control and he works Hogan over with the crowd buzzing. This match isn't that long but tells a wonderful, complete story. Bombs start coming out and the nearfall with Hulk counting along had everyone biting as the finish. Tenryu catches the boot and Hulk does an enzuiguri which amazed me. Tenryu again makes him pay for being cocky by going after the injured limb. Hogan gets the best of an exchange and allows Tenryu to kick out of the legdrop which again shocked me. One more enzuguri from hogan and three clotheslines has Tenryu on dream street and allows Hogan the victory. Up there with the Desert Storm match, Flair at BATB, and the Backlund 80 match as the best Hogan matches I have seen. A match every North American fan should watch.

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I guess I was watching something different, because Hogan looked way out of sorts to me here, which isn't surprising considering that he was doing as little as he could get away with in the WWF by now and knew he'd have to work a thousand percent harder here. To his credit, we see lots of holds we rarely see out of him in North America, and I'd have never thought him capable of executing the enzugiri not once, but twice. Still, unlike in the Hansen match, you get the feeling that Hogan knew he was outside of his comfort zone and didn't like it much.

 

Tenryu gets way more than I thought he would, kicking out of the ax bomber once and the legdrop twice. in what may be my favorite spot from the last two Yearbooks, he even takes the ax bomber full force, but manages to get hold of Hogan's leg, take him down and apply a double toehold. Stuff like that never happened to Hogan in the WWF, and I don't think it ever happened in Japan before this either. Pete talking about how Hogan might have gotten the finish changed explains a lot; if Tenryu, the ace of SWS, was going to do the job for anyone, Hulk Hogan included, he was going to look like Superman doing so, especially since he was the one who was supposed to go over in the first place.

 

It's interesting to consider what they would have done if Tenryu would have refused to change the finish. It's not like you can promise fans Hulk Hogan, even in 1991, and replace him with just any guy wearing trunks and boots, especially for an event that you're calling Superwrestle.

 

I wonder if Earl Hebner worked any other matches on the card. I also wonder if Vince didn't insist on one of his own people as the referee so Tenryu wouldn't get any ideas about shooting on Hogan. For the record, I doubt very seriously that that thought entered Tenryu's mind. Then again, this is Vince we're talking about, and God only knows what enters his mind at times.

 

I feel like I need to clarify something before someone else jumps on me, When I say that Hogan did as little as he could get away with in the WWF, I mean that he did the bare minimum for each opponent. Flair let himself be dominated, so Hogan did just that, but he needed to work harder against guys like Sarge, which he did as well. He almost never went out and wrestled a good match just because, though.

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Hulk Hogan vs Geinchiro Tenryu - SWS Tokyo Dome 12/12/91

 

From a kayfabe standpoint, this is expertly worked given the styles of both men. Hogan knows he cant win a stand up game against the hard hitting Tenryu. His greatest strength is well his strength. If he cant use it standing up, he will have to take Tenryu down. We see that early with a flying cross armbreaker right at the bell. Of course, the one problem with Hogan's strategy is that his technique is lacking meaning Tenryu has not problem escaping. Tenryu is able to sneak in some chops much to Hogan's chagrin. Hogan is the one moving forward, but he seems nervous in a kayfabe sense because at any moment Tenryu could open a can of whoop ass. Hogan gets a palm near the eye of Tenryu. Tenryu complains to the ref and now Hogan is pissed because of the chops and thinks Tenryu is hypocrite. Hogan says fuck it and they start trading hands. Hogan cant win this game and starts raking the eyes repeatedly. Tenryu catches the Big Boot and gets a legbar. Hogan quickly escapes to the ropes. Hogan enters ring and hits a nice back elbow. Big boot lands, but only gets two. Back to chinlock and then his clothesline in corner to set up a Boston Crab. Everything is a quick move to set up a hold. It is all about containment. Tenryu tries for a rolling kappo kick, but Hogan easily avoids and I think the nonchalant Tenryu is annoyed. Hogan goes for a high knee, but lands wrong and hurts his knee! He powders, but Tenryu attacks the knee with a chair. Tenryu wraps up Hogans tree trunks for legs. Tenryu with the playful kicks to Hogan's head and POWERBOMB!!! Kick out!!! Hogan gets a quick thrust to the throat, what an ass. Bodyslam and ATOMIC LEGDROP~! Kick out!!! AXE BOMBAH~! He plays to crowd, but kick out! Hulkziguiri, but as Tenryu falls he wraps the legs up. Tenryu against with playful kicks and then wicked chops. They collide Hogan gets best of it. ATOMIC LEGDROP~! KICKOUT WHAT THE HELL!!! AXE BOMBAHS GALORE~! 1-2-3! I am shocked I shouldn't be it is Hogan, but I expected a fuck finish. Hogan destroyed Tenryu with that last AXE BOMBAH~!

 

Not the best Hogan match ever as that distinction goes to Backlund in Philly in '80 and I liked the tag match with LOD more and I think Desert Storm so I would say Top 5. Logically, this was great, but Hogan left something to be desired early on. I would have liked more heated exchanges too. They had a really good one early. The knee thing was really cool, but was dropped quickly. The Clash of the Titans ending was awesome. Just throwing bombs like mad between two of the biggest main eventers ever in the Dome is always going to get over huge. Flawed, but the positives outweigh the negatives with a cool strategy story early of Hogan avoiding the stand up game by working holds, the heated exchange into a good Hogan heat segment, a cool transition then a badass bombfest. Those Axe Bombahs were great! Definitely check this out! ****1/4

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#266 - placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-300-251/2/

 

This is a really cool moment. I'd probably go around **** for the match. Sure, it's not the best Hogan match ever, but it's definitely a fun watch. I love how it starts off with a Hogan takedown. That got me plenty hyped. The bomb throwing in the middle is awesome. I also thought it was great how stoked some of the crowd members were when Tenryu kicked out at two after a lariat from Hogan (towards the end). Obviously, everyone was feeling this matchup. I think I actually prefer the Macho Man/Tenryu match to this one, along with all the fun Sherri Martel adds to that encounter. But, hey, I'm a big Randy Savage fan, so that could be biased. This was great.

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#266

 

"Well, let me tell you something Tenryu..." Hogan busting out the cross armbreaker from the get-go was a surreal moment. I couldn't help but think of that Larry King interview where he said you had to defend yourself in Japan or they'd break your arm, brutha. In the cold light of day, it's true that Hogan doesn't have much of a clue what to do after he scores a takedown, but it's still a lot more interesting than your average Hogan match. I liked Hogan's reaction to Tenryu's chop, which isn't the sort of move he faced a lot Stateside. Going for the eyes was a bit of a bitch move, though. I half expected him to start doing back rakes and belt whips once he started down that route. The match stalled a bit until the knee injury and from that point there was a bunch of awkward bomb throwing. Tenryu really only got a look in with his powerbomb as he was never going to make Hogan submit. Hulk was pretty obsessed with the enzuigiri and axe bomber, but at least it was more brutal than the big boot. Fun match, but a bit high at #266 and I agree that the Savage match was better.

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Talk about wacky looking match ups on paper... Tenryu vs. Hogan sure is one of them, but they put on a legitimately amazing, classic match. Thought that this had a fantastic sense of urgency, loved the early exchanges with Hogan busting out some awesome stuff, the middle with them slugging it out, the brief leg work by Tenryu, which Hogan sold quite well, the bomb throwing. This ruled. ****1/2

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Hogan really brought his working boots for this match. Great story, surprising offense from Hulk and a truly great Tenryu performance. I wouldn't put it above the Desert Storm match but right at the level of the Hansen match for sure.

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This was great. Big match feel. Yellow and red Hogan doing an armbar is quite amusing. I dug how Tenryu didn't hold back and just blasted Hogan with the gamengiri's. Hogan popping out the Axe Bomber was cool as it was a nice throwback to his NJPW days.

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