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[2002-04-27-AJPW-Super Power Series] Genichiro Tenryu & Nobutaka Araya vs Kazushi Miyamoto & Taiyo Kea

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Tenryu & Araya vs Kea & Miyamoto, All Japan April 27th 2002

 

Background: Miyamoto, a young lion, seeks to prove himself against much larger competition. Tenryu shows no mercy whatsoever and Araya follows his lead.

 

Why I think it's underrated: As a small-show tag this didn't make headlines, but it's one of the best 'young lion shows fighting spirit' bouts of the decade. Kea might be the biggest heel in this by virtue of how quickly he tags out every time, no matter how much punishment Miyamoto has taken.

 

What it deserves: Top 100. It doesn't quite have the greatness of a top-tier bout, but they really accomplish what they were going for.

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Looked to me like this match had a very specific purpose in mind. Make it look like Kea could hang with Tenryu for short periods of time. So Tenryu/Araya would beat the shit out of Miyamoto with the youngster getting his hopespots in, then Kea would come in, look great for a few minutes and leave Miyamoto to his beating. Everything works fine, except I don't think they planned for Miyamoto being as game as he was and really making it the Miyamoto show. Won't make my ballot, but a fun watch nonetheless.

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It's a shame Miyamoto didn't live up to his potential because as far as rookies standing up to big bully Tenryu, he was one of the best. If you've never seen it, the Tenryu vs Miyamoto singles match from 2003 may be even better. As for the other two guys in this match, Kea is well protected in tags so this ends up being one of his best showings and I welcome any opportunity to watch more Araya.

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Genichiro Tenryu & Nobutaka Araya vs Taiyo Kea & Kazushi Miyamoto - AJPW 4/27/02

 

Tenryu excels in these environments with three career midcarders and making a special and memorable match. Araya goes from taking a beat from Tenryu to joining him in dishing one out on poor rookie, Miyamoto. Cant beat him, join him. Kea is a potential next big star in the shallow All Japan roster and wrestles at an urgent pace to prove himself to Tenryu. Without a doubt, the star of the show is plucky underdog, Miyamoto, who takes a licking, but keeps on ticking. Miyamoto actually shows up Araya early for a hot second, before Tenryu comes in and chops him. Araya busts Miyamaoto's nose open with a wicked reverse elbow. The story just tells itself. Tenryu comes in immediately and kicks Miyamoto right in the nose to a big reaction. What a prick! To Miyamoto's credit, he is not just selling magnificently, he is putting one of the best underneath fights. Bringing it right to Tenryu. After all, sometimes you just got to punch the bully in the mouth or dropkick him in the knee. If that does not work, jump on the announce table and elbow smash him. The constant struggle between the hope spots and cutoffs builds great drama and add the bully/underdog dynamic you have molten heat that I just love. When Kea does come in, he works with a great sense of urgency and Tenryu is very giving. Unfortunately, it seems Kea cares more about proving that he is Tenryu's equal rather than winning the match or Miyamoto's health. Kea does get to hit the TKO on Tenryu, but Araya saves. To Miyamoto's credit, he does not just fold up shop when he gets tagged back in twice. Tenryu goes for a punch to the face and Miyamoto traps him in a Triangle in an awesome spot, but Araya saves. Tenryu slaps the fuck outta Miyamoto and he is just humiliating him. Finally Kea saves him in a Texas Cloverleaf, but God he should not being throwing kicks. Miyamoto looks like he is about to get the best of Araya, but Tenryu punches Kea right in the face and throws a chair at him ruining Miyamoto's chance of tagging out. Araya goes for the moonsault, but Miyamoto hits a wicked GERMAN!!! PIN HIM, KID! 1-2-NO!!!!! Araya drills him with a brainbuster to end the Cinderella story. Kea was supposed to look great against Tenryu, but Miyamoto stole the show with one of the greatest single match underdog performances. This performance was only enhanced by one of the best, mean-spirited bullies of all time, Genichiro Tenryu. It all combines for an easy top 100 match of the 2000s in Japan lock. ****

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I didn't vote for this because I had this idea that rookie proving matches didn't belong on my ballot. But on rewatch, this is better than a lot of the stuff I had in my 70-100 range just for Miyamoto's performance. And that's leaving out Tenryu, Araya and Kea (who looks really good). The Miyamoto nearfall on Araya is fucking tremendous.

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This was 10 flavors of awesome. Araya appeared to break Miyamoto's nose with an elbow. The ref looked concerned and even Araya backed off. Tenryu wandered over to take a look and responded how? By punting Miyamoto in the face of course. Sweet, sweet Tenryu. The match would have made my list just for that, but then Miyamoto delivered a really spunky performance, Araya kept cutting him off by grabbing his nose and Tenryu and Kea hurled chairs at each other. So yeah, loved it.

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These WAR revival in AJPW Tenryu performance are always a highlight when it comes to 2000s puro. No dumb shit, just a lot of fire and disdain at play. Miyamoto wants to stand up to his much tubbier, bigger opponents and as a result gets his nose busted and kicked in the face a bunch. Bully Tenryu is always great, but Miyamoto looked seriously good here aswell. His selling was pretty nuanced – I mean he was probably legit taking a lot of pain, but he even made glancing individual blows look really hurty. His comebacks looked good, and he was able to pull off a parkour spot that actually looked cool. Kea is someone who just never reaches greatness, but he was energetic and always there to put a thudding kick on Tenryu when it counted. Tenryus facial expressions and selling were out of this world as usual, anytime he took a blow that knocked him off balance he would look like a teacher in a high school comedy that just got pie faced. Tenryu casually strolling over to teach Kea a lesson while Araya and Miyamoto were fighting is why he's special. I found it almost comical how cooled down Araya was compared to everyone else here like this was just another tuesday. He looked good raking Miyamotos bloody nose a bunch and taking a massive bump on a german suplex for a fat aging guy.

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