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[2002-10-06-AJPW-October Giant Series] Genichiro Tenryu & Nobukazu Hirai vs Satoshi Kojima & Kaz Hayashi

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Tenryu & Hirai vs Kojima & Hayashi, All Japan October 6th 2002

 

Background: Tenryu is SO ANGRY with Kaz Hayashi. That punk! Just look at him. And Kojima! Grrrrr!

 

Why I think it's underrated: As with so much of what I'll be highlighting, it's a tag on a smaller show. Nothing is on the line but pride. By now you should be familiar with Tenryu's eternally foul mood, and if you aren't then go back and start watching the Y2K matches. Hirai doesn't have many good performances to his credit but definitely brings it as much as he can. Kojima and Hayashi have the youth and spunk to be perfect foils for Tenryu.

 

What it deserves: Top 100 consideration / on the bubble. Fun, energetic, and ends when it should.

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Hayashi is the strawberry blonde incarnation of the bland masked wrestler from KDX, Hiryuu. And he's just as bland with the bleached rudo hair and middle fingers. Hirai is an old school All Japan type guy with nice suplexes and power moves that lack snap. Given time and the right environment (which I doubt he gets, given who gets over in 2000s Japan) he could be something. Tenryu's interactions with both members of the other team are incredible. Kojima is still a step behind the old man. And Hayashi...well, Tenryu really wants to hurt Hayashi. He tosses a chair right at his face on the outside at one point. Then while Tenryu is pinning Kojima late, Hayashi stomps on his head. Tenryu gets up and gives him this look as if to ask, "Haven't you learned yet?", then proceeds to destroy him yet again. Hayashi gets a revenge dive just as Kojima pins Hirai. This was all sorts of fun for the Tenryu vs. young blond-haired fancy guys aspect. It'll be somewhere in my bottom 50, probably in the 50-60 range.

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Take a wrestler I don't usually like and I will like them a lot more when Tenryu is beating the crap out of them. This is fun but there are better displays of Tenryu's malice out there so I'm not too confident that this will make my ballot.

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Genichiro Tenryu & Nobukazu Hirai vs. Satoshi Kojima & Kaza Hayashi - AJPW 10/06/02

 

Hirai looks like the nicest wrestler in the world. He just has a very pleasant aura about him, which is very peculiar in wrestling. I did not think match was nearly as good as the earlier Tenryu AJPW 2002 tag, which had the great work from Miyamoto. This match had great energy, but it was almost too much energy. Everybody was running around, but there was not much purpose or consequence to the action. I will say the Tenryu/Kojima interactions make me think I underrated their 2002 series because it was easily the best work in the match. Kojima coming in with tunnel vision to attack Tenryu leaving him prone to the double team was really well executed with Kojima showing some of his best fire of all time. The problem was transitions in and out. Kojima gets his ass kicked outside and then casually takes over on Hirai and tags in Hayashi. I hate inconsequential sequences.

 

Tenryu was out of fucking control in this match. Tenryu lines up to hit Kojima with a chair, but instead decides to whip it into the audience and attack Kojima. Anybody care to explain what the hell that was about? Then Hayashi cheap shots Tenryu on the apron. So Tenryu gets another chair and flings it at him when he is in the corner. It goes flying off the ring post into the crowd. He could have really hurt Hayashi or somebody. It reminded me of the recent cinder block throw that almost hurt Lawler and you could see how displeases Lawler was at the segment. It adds to the chaotic nature, but is almost too dangerous. Tenryu killing Hayashi is fun, but I have seen better. Just like before the transition out sucked as it was just Hayashi doing a backspring elbow on Hirai. For as bad as the transitions were, Kojima looked great and the Kojima/Tenryu work was electric. It felt much bigger than Tenryu/Kea because how over Kojima is and how much effort he was putting forth. Kojima is able to hit the lariat, but has to tag out. By contrast, Hirai/Hayashi just seems so unimportant like RAW 10:30 segment unimportant. Kojima back in hits a lariat to win the match.

 

What is weird about this match is that it feels like it is building to a major Tenryu/Kojima singles match except Kojima/Tenryu already happened twice. Kojima/Tenryu is great and I will go back and watch their singles series. Hayashi/Hirai is not. Tenryu is crazy dangerous in this match. In about a month from now, I guarantee the only thing I will remember is Tenryu throwing chairs in the audience. It is a good match with plenty of energy, but not great. ***

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Glad to see that this match is on here! It's a really good bout with grumpy Tenryu in effect. 2 of the 3 chairs he throws miss the intended target and go flying off into the audience. If that doesn't make you want to see that then, there's no helping you!

Energetic match all around Hiyashi gets chopped, punched, dumped on his head but, still he puts up a good fight. Kojima, who I really like, is doing his thing as the heavy hitter. I've never seen Hirai but, he's in that WAR mold so,  he can do the sequences and throw some hits, poppa Tenryu will take care of the rest.

2002 gets glossed over for puro but, dammit, matches like this remind everyone that they were still wrestling hard in Japan...even if it wasn't a banner year. Go watch this, you'll be glad you did.

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The first main event of Mutoh Era All Japan Pro Wrestling. But that's not really the hook of the match. Tenryu maliciously going after Kojima and Hayashi is the real charm of the match. He outright hates Hayashi, pumping him with some of his more violent strikes. Tenryu tries to past Hayashi's face by flinging a chair at him but thankfully it misses the first time but gets him later. Compare Tenryu to Hirai, and its no contest. Hirai's strikes are more standard in their intent. Hayashi is very stubborn though and tries to fight back in the way he can. Kojima gets his fair share of asskicking too but he fairs better and eventually scores the win over Hirai. ***1/2

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