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Genichiro Tenryu

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Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs. Masa Chono & Tatsumi Fujinami (NJ 7/14/93)

 

God, Masa Chono is the worst. Who's worse between Chono, Mutoh and Koshinaka? That should be the subject of a podcast. One of the best things about the WAR vs. New Japan feud (and man do I refuse to call it W-A-R and not War) is that you get to see Tenryu belittle these substandard New Japan musketeers. He was at his dickish best here. I loved the flick of the sweat off his pecs. Chono's selling was goofy as shit, but man did Tenryu lay those chops in, and his lariats were pretty brutal too. Of course with Chono selling so much, New Japan were bound to take this, but Fujinami dialed back to the clock with the tope to take Tenryu out and the flying knee out of nowhere to knock Hara's block off. Not one of the better entries in the feud because of Chono, but Tenryu was awesome once again.

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Tatsumi Fujinami, Masahiro Chono & Shinya Hashimoto vs Tenryu, Ashura Hara & Takashi Ishikawa (NJ 8/2/1993)

 

This was okay. The crowd were amped for Hashimoto vs. Tenryu and every time we got that match-up it was rad, but the rest of the match wasn't very interesting. There was a loose narrative of the New Japan crew being too distracted by Tenryu while the WAR guys focused on wearing down Chono, but it was Chono so who really cares. Fujinami got in a couple of neat shots at Tenryu. I don't know if he was re-energised by this feud or not, but he didn't look that bad to me. He just looked like an older Tatsumi Fujinami. He worked a style that looked worse the older he got, and I guess you could argue that he should have reinvented himself; but while he was no longer one of the best in the world and not the kind of guy I'd want to see in a singles match, he's better than a lot of the New Japan guys in this feud. Tenryu was again pretty cool even if he didn't contribute that much.

 

Also watched Liger/Fujinami vs. Tenryu/Kitahara (NJ 8/3/93). There's some value in watching Liger vs. Tenryu, but not much. Fujinami is again pretty feisty as though he's trying to reassert some natural superiority he felt over Tenryu in the 80s. Kitahara showed up dressed like it was a street fight (dunno if he regularly wore street clothes.) His bumping and selling sucked, but he was a vicious little shit on offence. The WAR guys are so rag tag, but the dynamic works well. Match was pretty short. Liger was shown a bit of a respect, but wasn't up to the level of the heavyweights and ultimately I don't think it was a good idea to have him in matches like these.

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Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinya Hashimoto (NJ 8/8/93)

 

This was worked differently from how you'd expect heading into the bout. It threatened to erupt into a violent brawl, but Hashimoto went into the bout looking to keep a check on his emotions and for the most part this was worked like a slow burning marque fight. I had mixed feelings toward the bout. Hashimoto's strategy was interesting, but the fight was more cerebral than visceral. At certain points, it felt manipulative in terms of the selling and dramatisation. There'd be a bomb and a nearfall and then that slow, theatrical selling that's meant to be high drama but comes across as a Parv-like pregnant pause. But the crowd did bite on a couple of kick outs and the shot of a dozen or more fans punching the air was a cool visual. All's well that ends well and the final minutes delivered. I thought they could have delivered something better, but there were enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. One thing I've found is the more Tenryu you watch, the more you ignore his execution.

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One thing I've found is the more Tenryu you watch, the more you ignore his execution.

 

That's very true. It's easier to forgive when you get used to someone you get to like. Then again, maybe it's not. In the case of Tenryu, it sure helps his case a lot.

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Really agreed with your thoughts on the Hash G1 match. As good as it was (very good) it felt like it had another gear that was never reached, especially with everything that led into it.

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Hiroshi Hase vs. Genichiro Tenryu (NJ 9/23/93)

 

There's not a lot about Hase that I like. I don't really like his look, I don't like his selling and mannerisms, and I don't like his moveset. He's not a guy whom I actively dislike, but he's not exactly an ideal opponent for Tenryu, and I think that came through at times during this bout. Having said that, as a professional wrestler you can't always spend your time wrestling guys you match up well with; sometimes you've got to take on opponents outside your bubble. I liked pretty much everything Tenryu did here on defence and attack; although after commenting on how easy it is to ignore his execution, he went ahead and did one of the worst sunset flip attempts on record. God, it was bad. The bout in general was a mix of good looking stuff and questionable offensive choices. I'm still not sure what that running body press thing was that Hase did and why he didn't just do a baseball slide, and the counter to his Golden Arm Bomber was a flat moment as well. On the plus side, the Scorpion Deathlock was great and the Golden Arm Bomber he hit was a fantastic moment. The punch drunk selling and refusing to stay down is the kind of thing that would get shat on if it happened in a New Japan ring today, and you could say the same thing about the chop exchanges no matter how hard they were. The finish was unique. It's the kind of finish you wish we'd see more of because it was a different point of attack from the usual finishers, but at the same time the crowd didn't get it, which makes it clear why workers use signature finishers in the first place. Still, as a hardcore it was cool.

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Hiroshi Hase vs. Genichiro Tenryu (NJ 9/23/93)

 

There's not a lot about Hase that I like. I don't really like his look,

 

Come on, you gotta love the stache.

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I go into every Hase match thinking its going to be a chore because of his look and the way he carries himself as someone who's about to deliver some weak sauce offense. Then the bell rings and for 15-25 minutes all is right with the world. Whether he's excelling on the mat, bringing the hate with blood and viciousness or shining on a hot tag I'm never left wanting with Hase. But, yeah, if you don't dig him then your mileage here will be limited.

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Hiroshi Hase vs. Genichiro Tenryu (NJ 9/23/93)

 

There's not a lot about Hase that I like. I don't really like his look,

 

Come on, you gotta love the stache.

 

 

HaseMutoh.jpg

 

Yeah... Hase has a great look. Between Hase's pornstache or Mutoh's bald spot, I'd take the stache any day. :)

 

Or Hase's look vs this goofball teammate's look:

 

sasakihase.jpg

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Kazushi Miyamoto once broke his nose in a tag match and Tenryu's instant reaction was shoot kicking it as hard as he could. He's a top ten guy for me for that moment alone.

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Shinya Hashimoto & Masa Chono vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara (WAR 10/1/93)

 

This was decent enough. Hashimoto vs. Tenryu is such a natural rivalry that you want to watch every match where they square off and their interactions here didn't disappoint. The match was mostly about Chono taking a massive amount of punishment and then submitting to the WAR Special to further put that submission over. I don't know if it's because of the matches Ditch chose to host, but my real gripe at this point is that the New Japan feud has no direction. Other than that, it's impossible to get sick of Tenryu punting people in the face.

 

 

 

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Osamu Kido (WAR 10/11/93

 

This was a good match that became electric once Fujinami bladed. Like I said, it's impossible to get sick of those kicks Tenryu does to the face and head area. They're almost like little jabs, and they bust Fujinami open here in glorious style. The match gets red hot after that. Kido is awesome as the old guy with a killer arm bar, and the part where he lashes out at Tenryu and does it from the apron is one of several brilliant moments. Mostly this match is about Fujinami unleashing his rage though. The finish is terribly flat, but we're left with an image of a bleeding Dragon screaming into the night. With a better finish this would have been an easy four stars. Hara continues to resemble one of Tenryu's ex-marine buddies. I'm surprised they didn't work a match where he goes full-on FIP, tells Tenryu to leave him behind, and Tenryu goes all platoon on everybody.

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Genichiro Tenryu vs. Ashura Hara (WAR 11/11/93)

 

This was probably the weakest of the matches I've watched so far. It wasn't terrible or anything, but if ever there was a match where guys where trying to hit each other as hard as possible without trying to hurt one another than this was it. Kind of pointless to see them fight after watching them go to war~! so often.

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Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinya Hashimoto (NJ 2/17/94)

 

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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Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinya Hashimoto (NJ 2/17/94)

 

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.

 

 

I'm with you. 8/93 is good, but not in the same league as 2/94.

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Genichiro Tenryu/Shiro Koshinaka vs. Shinya Hashimoto/Junji Hirata (6/1/98)

 

We fast forward a few years to see Tenryu reignite his feud with Hashimoto. It's a bit jarring how much older Tenryu has become, and takes some getting used to, though the lightning certainly didn't help. The match looked scuzzy in general, especially compared with those shows from the summer of '93 and their bumper crowds. You can always tell when you're watching post 90s peak Japan as it has a distinct look to it -- the workers are older or have filled out, the arenas are smaller or darkened, the crowds have shrunk, the action feels rehashed, and even the costumes seem less bright than before. You can probably chart the decline in Japanese wrestling by its visual look. Hashimoto and Tenryu were in full Wahoo McDaniel/Johnny Valentine mode here. It was cool, but not a patch on the WAR years. Wouldn't classify this as worth anyone's time.

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Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinya Hashimoto (NJPW G-1 Climax 08/01/98)

 

This was a pretty divisive match back in the day. It's strange how unimportant it seems these days. I guess it's like watching a favourite band go in a different musical direction. Moment to moment, there are a lot of interesting details and the selling is good, but the big picture doesn't have much sting to it. There's a bit too much of the Johnny Valentine/Wahoo McDaniel chop exchanges, and some of the stagger selling from those chop exchanges, particularly when they're on their knees wobbling and staring at each other, is as forced as any of the modern day cinematic storytelling tropes. Hashimoto was a fan of those kind of spaghetti western standoffs, though, and used them to great effect at times such as in the '95 G-1 final with Mutoh. I liked Tenryu breathing on his hand before launching into another round of chops, and I loved the spot where Hashimoto caught him coming off the top. Tenryu's selling is something to draw attention to. When you think of Ternyu, the first thing you think of his the poker face, and the arrogance and maybe some of the shitty heel mannerisms, but he also excelled at selling pain. And in many respects, it's Tenryu's selling that holds this together because it's really only Hashimoto breaking through Tenryu's defences that leaves you with anything to chew on and a bout that isn't as epic a threepenny opera as their previous bouts.

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Genichiro Tenryu/Shiro Koshinaka vs. Keiji Mutoh/Hiroyoshi Tenzan (10/18/98)

 

And things just got awful.

 

From a personal point of view I should know better than to watch a match with both Mutoh and Koshinaka in it, but I can cherry pick Tenryu later. For now, I'm taking a look at everything, and man "Mutoh hates Tenzan~! Tenzan hates Mutoh~! Neither wants to tag with each other" was done a million times better in Joshi, as was the spotfest to finish with. Tenryu could do little more than go with the flow.

 

I think the deal breaker for me was when Mutoh was squatting and posing on the ramp, and deliberating about whether he should head back to the ring or leave his partner to the wolves. When he finally screamed and charged toward the ring, he couldn't actually run... he literally duck arsed his way to the rescue.

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Genichiro Tenryu/Shiro Koshinaka vs. Shinya Hashimoto/Tatsumi Fujinami (12/4/98)

 

This looked promising on paper, but it began with a loose mat exchange between Koshinaka and Fujinami and was uneven after that. Koshinaka really sucked in this with his stupid jitterbug wrestling style. I don't know if it was intentional or just a nervous infection, but it made everything he did look tentative and amateurish. Unfortunately, they worked a riff between him and Hashimoto instead of giving us more of what we want -- Tenryu -- and they also allowed him to kill the finishing stretch dead after a pretty cool hot tag where Hashimoto cut loose and did some fat man cleaning house. Fujinami was sloppy with age and Tenryu was a passenger again. His return to New Japan has been underwhelming without the inter promotional element behind it. He comes across as just another player and it's been listless to say the least.

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Genichiro Tenryu/Shiro Koshinaka vs. Satoshi Kojima/Hiroyoshi Tenzan (1/4/99)

 

I've seen about as much of this Tenryu/Koshinaka team as I need to. For me this put to bed the idea that any and all Tenryu is worth watching. It's not that he was bad in this. He just couldn't stem the flow of late 90s shittiness. Tenzan and Kojima bludgeoned their way through the bout as you'd expect from two Japanese boofheads and there wasn't a single thing about them I'd consider interesting. The FIP segment on Tenzan was underwhelming from Tenryu and Koshinaka and poorly sold by the challenger. Kojima's hot tag lacked any heat and his no-sell of the diamond cutter led to a mini obsession where he hit the same move over and over again. (If it wasn't the diamond cutter, it was the lariat from behind.) Patchy finishing stretch, no real drama to the title switch, and Tenryu even did a ramp spot. C'mon, Tenryu. You're better than that.

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Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinya Hashimoto (6/8/99)

 

This wasn't a bad match by any means, but they really should have left this issue dead and buried in 1994. There was no point dragging it up again five years later. The dynamic worked well in '93-94 when Hashimoto was a rising star and Tenryu an established one, but Hashimoto as the Man vs. Tenryu the aging vet doesn't pack the same punch. Speaking of punches, was it just me or was Tenryu modeling himself after Terry Funk during this run? Every time he threw a punch it reminded me of Terry. The finish didn't really match my notion of Hashimoto being the Man. I guess post G-1 Climax 1998 he was never at that level again booking-wise. Physically, he had it all over Tenryu so it was hard to buy him jobbing.

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Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinya Hashimoto (6/8/99)

 

This wasn't a bad match by any means, but they really should have left this issue dead and buried in 1994. There was no point dragging it up again five years later. The dynamic worked well in '93-94 when Hashimoto was a rising star and Tenryu an established one, but Hashimoto as the Man vs. Tenryu the aging vet doesn't pack the same punch. Speaking of punches, was it just me or was Tenryu modeling himself after Terry Funk during this run? Every time he threw a punch it reminded me of Terry. The finish didn't really match my notion of Hashimoto being the Man. I guess post G-1 Climax 1998 he was never at that level again booking-wise. Physically, he had it all over Tenryu so it was hard to buy him jobbing.

Good ol' Inoki booking: Gotta get Hash paired up with Ogawa!!! So he was pushed down while Tenryu got groomed for the title win over Mutoh a few months later. Just hilariously inept.

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Genichiro Tenryu vs. Naoki Sano (UWF-i 8/17/96)

 

Backtracking a bit. This was okay in terms of the whole "shooter vs. non-shooter" element as Tenryu threw in a bit of matwork and his strikes were credible enough that he could compete. He also gave Sano much of the bout, presumably because he was going over (Tenryu was always a generous worker in that respect), but also to lend stylistic credibility to the bout. But the entire bout, I kept thinking about UWF-i's misuse of Sano -- potentially one of the most important shoot style artists of his generation -- and by the end I was pissed that Tenryu won with a powerbomb instead of modfiying the WAR special into a shoot style spot or something equally fitting. And it was just too short to be of any worth.

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Genichiro Tenryu vs. Yoji Anjoh (7/21/96)

 

There was a lot of novelty value in this -- I mean it's Tenryu vs. Anjoh, think about that for a second -- but what really impressed me was how good the bout was. There was a point during the early Anjoh stalling where I thought, "okay this is pretty good when they're striking, but I'm not sure they have anywhere to go from here," but Tenryu really aced this by making his strikes look about as unpulled as they can be in a pro-wrestling contest. He didn't have any real shooting ability on the mat, so he made up for that by throwing the hardest looking lariats in his career, continuously going for the legal (and sometimes illegal) punch to the eye, and raising his chops up around the throat; though to be fair, UWF-i matwork was mostly about guys lying around in submission holds milking rope breaks, which is what happened here anyway. Those nasty strikes worked in the contest of Tenryu being pissed at Anjoh, but they also put him on a level pegging with Anjoh's killing game, and while Anjoh rolling through the powerbomb attempts was a bit questionable, it was undeniably dramatic. Really enjoyed the flurries of nasty strikes in this and he killer lariats. The crowd was super hot and it was hard to believe this ran less than 12 minutes as engrossing as it was. I'm not sure Tenryu is a good enough singles worker to rate as highly as he does for some people, but this was one of his better single matches of the 90s and an excellent performance from a guy not afraid to mix up his style.

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