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[1989-11-29-AJPW] Giant Baba & Rusher Kimura vs Genichiro Tenryu & Stan Hansen


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We start this thing off with Tenryu diving through the ropes attacking Baba on the outside before he even takes off his robe! So, Kimura starts the match while Baba recovers on the outside. The guys are working with a lot of energy and lots of really stiff blows. Kimura gets busted open either from getting his head rammed into a table by Hansen, or from nailing Hansen with multiple impactful headbutts. Tenryu & Hansen go to work on the cut from there. Kimura gets multiple boots to the head that just look vicious. The chemistry with Baba and Tenryu is great once he makes it back to the apron. The facial expressions they trade with each other, and the wrestling (once Baba gets in the ring), are both really entertaining. Tenryu and Hansen both do a great job selling the blows from Baba. He's slow with delivery, but they look powerful thanks to those two. Tenryu and Hansen come away with the W in what is a very fun and great match!

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  • 1 year later...

I tracked this down because I wanted to see Tenryu pin Baba, and I'm glad I did. This was a masterclass in working with limited opponents. What do you do when half the participants in a match are old men who can't do anything convincingly? You stiff the hell out of them. You get blood on the face in peril. You bump like crazy during the comebacks. Great, intense match.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1989-11-29-AJPW] Giant Baba & Rusher Kimura vs Genichiro Tenryu & Stan Hansen
  • 5 months later...

This was a thing of beauty. What do you do when you're dealing with limited performers? Do what Tenryu/Hansen does best beat the piss out of them. Everything these two did had so much intensity to it from the stomps to the chops. Baba/Kimura had an excellent performance as faces in peril and their selling was top notch. 

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  • 2 years later...

Genichiro Tenryu & Stan Hansen vs Giant Baba & Rusher Kimura - AJPW 11/29/89

Got a little taste of the old man team in an earlier six-man that featured Tenryu beating Fuchi like he fucked his girlfriend. Baba was Baba, such an amazing presence. Kimura seemed fine, interested to see what they can do against this Superpowers tag team. Part of the Real World Tag League and this will be done in the stream of consciousness style:

TENRYU DIVES ON BABA WHILE BABA IS STILL IN THE KIMONO OUTSIDE THE RING AND KNOCKS BABA OUT COLD AGAINST THE RAILING! ALL THE STARS! What an awesome start! Kimura starts headbutting Tenryu grabbing his hair and trying to exact revenge and survive & thrive. Bulldog by Kimura for two and we are off to a red hot start! Hansen tags in. Kimura is all headbutts maybe an eye rake. Someone is checking on Baba. Lariat by Kimura on Hansen and Kimura tries to open up Hansen with punches. Hansen stymied by Kimura. Hansen tags in Tenryu. MACK TRUCK LARIAT ON THE OLD MAN! Tenryu is pelting him with shots. Kimura can only headbutt! He is tenacious and it is all he has. Kimura chants. Tenryu Enziguiri! Hansen in and throws Kimura out. He bashes Kimura's head into the railing. Sets up the announce tables and bashed Kimura head into that. Tenryu smashes the table into Kimura's head. Hansen does it again. This is a great strategy against man's whose sole offense is headbutts. Or it could backfire because his head is so hard. Hansen sticks with the bashing the head strategy. Cold spray on Baba! Kimura knows no PAIN! He makes his comeback with headbutts completely. Choking Hansen. To quote Kal Rudman THAT IS BLOOD! Kimura is bleeding not surprisingly. Tenryu attacks Kimura and it is two on one. Great heel shit against and old fucking man. Double teaming him. What a bunch of assholes. Tenryu big boots to the cut. BABA IS ON HIS FEET!!! Tenryu gets two in the ring. Tenryu runs Kimura's head into Hansen's elbow. Shouldertackle by Hansen great cover only gets two, big pop. Hansen kicks to the head. Tenryu chops. BABA IS ON THE APRON! Tenryu sees it and keeps kicking Kimura in the head. Baba stomps Hansen's head on a cover! That was awesome! Baba selling like a mutha on the apron. Tenryu is LIGHTING KIMURA UP! Tenryu STRIKES HIM DOWN! Baba is mobile. Top Rope Reverse Elbow for two! Kimura wont stay down! Tenyu's stomp to Kimura's head is fucking criminal. Hansen elbows Kimura's cut. Tenryus knees the cut. This is a mugging! Baba is winding up. Time to get involved, Big Fella! Tenryu Enziguiri. Tenryu Chops Baba on the apron. Baba tells him come back over here. Tenryu charges into the corner and  runs into Kimura's head. ALL TIME GREAT TRANSITION! THE MUTHA OF ALL HOT TAGS!

BABA TIME! Baba mows him down with a  big boot! Big Boot for Hansen. Russian Legsweep by Baba selling the ribs! Hansen elbow to break it up! Baba attacks Hansen but here comes Tenryu. They are double teaming Baba! Baba head into knee. Baba realizes there is no Kimura. Tenryu charges and eats the chop! Baba Neckbreaker Drop! Hansen breaks it up. Baba is lying clutching his ribs. Hansen jabs the chair into Baba ribs! Baba Abdominal Stretch! Baba is a stud! Hansen breaks it up to boos. Tenryu slaps the bad rips. Overhand Chop! Tenryu tags in Baba. Hansen torpedo lunge at the bad ribs. Baba eye pokes! Baba overhand chop and big chop. Tenryu tags in and forearms to the  bad side. This is kinda dragging, hate to admit it. It has been so damn good. They are belaboring the point. Hansen is tenaciously going after the ribs. Tenryu and Hansen double team chops. Baba Big Boot on a  charging Tenryu gets the crowd going again but only gets two! Baba neckbreaker for two! Baba armbar takedown but Hansen saves. Baba chops Hansen who is selling like Arn Anderson for Baba and foot on ropes. Cowboy Kicks!  Double Shouldertackle. Double Suplex on Baba. Tenryu tries the Reverse Top Rope Elbow but Baba Back Supelx for two! Hansen back on the bad side. Spike Piledriver! Baba had trouble with that but Bab kicks out! Kimura on his knees. They reign elbows down on Baba like Ziggler on Lawler, too soon? The Tenryu/Hansen Powerbmb double team and Baba looks down. Kimura trips Hansen! WESTERN LARIAT ON KIMURA! Well he dead. Baba kicks out. Tenryu Enziguiri on Baba. Tenryu really revs up gets a monster head of steam but eats the Big Boot! Hansen goes FUCKING FLYING on The Western Lariat! Baba back drop out of Powerbomb for two. Tenryu Powerbomb on Baba! I am terrified! 1-2-3! Holy Shit Tenryu pinned BABA~! GODDAMN HE LEFT THE COMPANY LIKE SIX MONTHS LATER! INSANITY! They are lucky Baba didnt break his neck. Tenryu powerbombs are scary under normal circumstances nevermind with old man Baba!

I really loved the beginning, the hot tag and the finish! That dive totally caught me off guard and I was immediately hooked. All the Kimura stuff was super engrossing. Loved the reliance on the head, working the head and for the transition to be head-related. We all knew it was building to the hot tag. The hot tag ruled! I think they could have been more efficient. Let Baba get all his big spots in and have them break it up. Do the two on one, have Hansen take Kimura's head off and Tenryu pin Baba. I think they did too much work the side over. Baba was not a good enough seller to keep it interesting. Lets not dwell on the negative because 90% of this match was excellent pro wrestling! ****1/2


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  • 2 months later...

I thought this was cool. Kimura and Baba teaming together in the tournament is huge by itself and the generational divide with them and Tenryu and Hansen elevates this. But I don’t honestly think that this is an all time classic, but this does have some shockingly great performances from Rusher Kimura, who wasn’t exactly a great wrestler in his prime. Kimura bleeds almost instantly with Tenryu not shy about punching the cut. Baba is hurt on the outside for most of it, leaving Kimura alone with Tenryu and Hansen who did exactly what is expected of them. The crowd rallies behind Kimura, who is a great FIP with his selling. Kimura is limited but it works in sparse moments like these. Baba is able to make a comeback and fares better offensively thanks to Tenryu willing to bump for the boss. Even Hansen struggled but they were able to just get the win via a Tenryu Powerbomb. A massive feat even in 1989. That’s Baba pinned, Inoki’s turn would come around 4 years later. . ****

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  • 8 months later...

Fucking hell is this an amazing bit of pro wrestling. The last time I watched it was over a decade ago, back on the DVDVR All Japan set. I had it as the 7th best All Japan match of the 80s then and honestly, that feels about 5 spots too low. Long story short, they worked one of my favourite match types in all of wrestling. That match type being the one that has you going from "these guys have no shot at actually winning this thing, do they?" at the beginning to "wait a second here, do they ACTUALLY have a shot at winning this thing?!" An awesome riff on that match type is one featuring a broken down semi- or fully-retired wrestler. Lawler/Miz from 2011 and Flair/Edge from 2006 are obvious WWE examples, where by the end of the match the audience is drawn in completely and they have you believing the old fella might just pull it out the bag. And this is the best version of that match ever, with two guys at their absolute peaks as wrecking ball bastards against two guys who look like they struggle to even exist, where general movements inside a wrestling ring look taxing beyond reason, where that crowd is just living and dying on every single thing those old guys do. 

I thought everyone in this was legit incredible. Every performance, start to finish. If Baba only had one good night left in him then he was going down emptying the clip and this might be the best example of his chops working on a level that very few strikes in history ever have. I don't care if they look a bit ropey, a thousand wrestlers today throw chops that sound like a shotgun blast - and probably hurt like one too - but none of them elicit the crowd reaction of Baba palming Tenryu in the head here. The Tenryu/Baba stuff works even better within the context of Tenryu's 1989. They matched up a few times throughout that year in six-mans and regular tags, and Tenryu showed nothing towards Baba but disrespect at best and contempt at worst. He didn't care for Baba's legacy and he showed it any chance he could, yet Baba would almost never bite, would never stoop to Tenryu's level no matter how far he was pushed. The tope at the beginning here is one of the best "you fucking WILL acknowledge me" moments ever, paying off about a year's worth of build. Obviously Baba's selling on the floor and then on the apron was amazing, rolling around like he's taken a gut shot from a cannon, milking every second of being incapacitated, selling that tope as he paces up and down the apron waiting for the tag. You knew the place would erupt when he got that tag, IF he got that tag, but Rusher got to take centre stage for a while first. For a guy at this point who can really only headbutt folk and eat chops you can't ask for much more. There were times where he was too broken down to actually move out the way of something, so instead he just braced himself as much as possible, grimaced and took whatever shot was thrown at him, sometimes defiant, sometimes too beaten to know where the shot had even come from. I love how the headbutts worked for a while until Hansen and Tenryu tried to take that head and just break it open like a coconut. The table shots looked brutal. The initial one even SOUNDED disgusting, then Tenryu came over while Rusher was sprawled on the floor and started ramming the table into his face. The beating Tenryu and Hansen laid on him mostly consisted of kicking and punching him in his cut open forehead and it would be hard to make a punch-kick heat segment on a 50-year old man any more compelling than this. They swarmed him, cut him off emphatically, wound up smeared in blood and none of it was their own, and after a while you knew all Rusher was trying to do was survive on the off chance Baba could halfway recover. There was an unreal bit in the middle of the beatdown where he blocked a Tenryu chop, grabbed him by the hair to throw another one of those headbutts that served him to well early, but this time Tenryu blocked it and walloped him with an overhand to the neck. It was a little thing but it was an amazing touch, one that reinforced how absolutely fucked the old man was. 

Then Tenryu tries to lariat him in the corner and Rusher just lowers his head and Tenryu runs face-first into it like a fucking maniac. Which was the perfect setup to the hot tag, but also highlighted a broader point of Tenryu being absolutely world class at eating strikes in this match. He made every headbutt, chop and big boot look like death, largely because he had no compunction about leaning ALL the way into them. There were four moments where he could've lost teeth because he was determined not to telegraph that he was about to be hit, so when Baba brought the foot up to counter the lariat Tenryu was taking that thing square in the face at fifty miles an hour (and the subsequent bump off it was indescribable). Every time Baba caught him with a surprise shot it actually felt like a surprise. Tenryu never slowed down before running into it, never changed the setup to whatever he was theoretically intending to do before Baba struck him, so those moments were some of the most immersive in the entire match. Like the beatdown on Rusher, Tenryu and Hansen working Baba's ribs was probably more compelling than it had any right to be. Partly it was down to Baba's selling but more than that it was because Tenryu and Hansen went full crowbar and tried to punt him up and down the place. The bit where they were taking turns dropping elbows on his sternum was almost disturbing. Baba stumbles into his own corner at several points after managing to survive onslaughts only to find his partner still sidelined, so the longer he needs to go it alone the less you believe he has a chance. 

Then Rusher goes down in a blaze of glory. In fact you can't even call it that, because blaze of glory makes it sound heroic, like he jumped on the proverbial grenade or took someone down with him, when in reality he did neither and had no say in the matter. The moment he trips Hansen from the floor makes you think he might've just bought Baba enough time, especially considering Baba had just eaten a double powerbomb (which was a great little piece of booking as it meant Baba didn't need to kick out of a death move immediately). When Rusher manages to drag himself back onto the apron you wonder if the crazy fuck might actually get back in the match. Hansen beheading him with the lariat before he's even upright was such an emphatic cut-off. You want your heroes to succeed, to pull it out even in the bleakest of situations, but you know what? Sometimes what you want and what the world gives you are at odds and you could practically feel the lariat rip the heart out that crowd. Baba ducking the next lariat and reversing the powerbomb was biblical, but in the end there was no chance. Even still, the struggle on Tenryu's face as he hoisted the big man up pretty well told the story. 

What a match. Selling, timing, NARRATIVE~, offence, heat, workrate, hope spots, cut-offs, whatever the fuck else -- it ticked all the boxes. One of the best of the decade.

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