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[1986-09-03-AJPW] Riki Choshu vs Genichiro Tenryu

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These two had a pair of singles matches in 1985 which were IMO the best matches to come out of AJPW in 1985 (well, the first one was *technically* for a JPW event, but whatever). This, however, outdoes them both, from the great struggle in the early holds to the escalation into the second half, with intensity and hate throughout. There are some great, great callbacks to their previous matches, both single and tag (I popped for the back suplex on the apron that Choshu used to win their first singles match by countout), and honestly, I think this deserves reevaluation as an early iteration of the King's Road match. The DQ finish is a repeat of their 6/21/85 match, sure, but while this might hurt one's opinion of the match (and I admit that the DQ finish is very un-King's Road, as much as the match layout anticipates it), I thought it was well done. It built from the June 1985 match, where the ref called for the DQ after Choshu pushed him away. This time, he doesn't call for the bell after getting pushed again, only for Choshu to punch him out. In context, this was also was a very effective way to establish that, after having become a babyface during his AJPW work, Choshu has snapped back into a heel in the wake of the blood feud with Ishingun defect Killer Khan. AJPW MOTYC, and as far as singles matches the company had held up to this point this is a top 10 candidate. And, as I've mentioned, a glimpse into things to come in its display of learned psychology. ****1/2

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PWF World Heavyweight Champion Riki Choshu vs NWA United National Heavyweight Champion Genichiro Tenryu - AJPW 9/3/86

These two have excellent chemistry and the 1985 series seems to be when Tenryu finally got it (I will say he had a terrific match with Ted DiBiase in 1983, but this was different). The 1986 is less heralded except for the review above, which is both excellent as a review and extols the virtues of the match well. 

Choshu comes out with his ribs taped up a result of the war with Killer Khan just a little over a month prior. Choshu returns to his typical heel roots against #2 babyface Tenryu. In a great display of Choshu drama, he rips off the tape in front of Tenryu and the crowd in defiance. The velocity by which they run the ropes and Tenryu BOWLS Choshu over with a shoulder tackle is very 90s All Japan as is Choshu catching Tenryu subsequently and hitting a Back Suplex! Tenryu powders to regroup. This would not be out of place in a 1996 Kenta Kobashi match. They trade side headlocks. Their lock-ups are ferocious. Choshu knows how to make every little detail so big. Excellent Fireman's Carry by Choshu whilst maintaining wrist control to seamlessly transition into a cross-armbreaker attempt. Genius wrestling. Love it. Great struggle over the hold. Choshu wins the Shouldertackle takedown and figure-4s the head as he is wont to do. Choshu has been in control of most of the match, early Back Drop Driver and controlling the action via tight holds. Tenryu is able to reverse into a Bow & Arrow and for the first time, Choshu is in retreat as he powders to regroup. Tenryu allows him back in and is another of those batterring ram lock ups. The first strike is delivered a Tenryu overhand chop. Choshu hits a reverse elbow in the corner. He has his back to Tenryu. Tenryu kicks him with the toe of the boot right into the injured midsection. Dick move by  man who hitherto was not known for his dick moves but would later become a King Prick. Tenryu does not continue the attack there, rather consolidates around arm work. The idea is perhaps that is more honorable and that that kicks to the injury was a desperation tactic and he was back to wrestling with honor. I LOVE how Choshu struggles to get out of these holds just throwing kicks from his back in the hold trying to connect with any part of Tenryu's body. They are doing a great job changing the holds as Choshu struggles, Tenryu repositions, rinse, lather, repeat for maximum entertainment value. Choshu bullies Tenryu into the corner to force a break but does not give one. Instead, he attacks Tenryu's knee and then delivers two WICKED, HEATED ELBOWS to Tenryu's head that pops the crowd. Tenryu's responds in turn with an AWESOME DROPKICK! Best exchange thus far!

Tenryu Mack Truck Lariat on Choshu wins the Criss-Cross battle. Kneedrop re-consolidates his advantage into an armbar. Showing Choshu's rally was really just a hope spot. Choshu feels more like the babyface and Tenryu the heel here, which probably suits their personalities better. I LOVED Choshu catching the High Knee, Sweeping The Leg and IMMEDIATE SCORPION DEATHLOCK! Great struggle to turn it over, slapping Tenryu's in the face, but too clsoe to the ropes and Choshu goes right back to it. But again too close to the ropes. Choshu takes full advantage of the count. Huge highspot when Choshu goes up top and Tenryu hits an Enziguiri wicked bump by Choshu to the apron. They battle on the apron! Choshu ducks the Lariat and nails his own to win the Apron battle. I like their Battling Ram Mini-Battles. Choshu is too injured to captialize. It is actually Tenryu, who is grabbing his jaw, that drags Choshu out by his hair into the railing. CHOSHU DANGEROUSSSSSSS BACKDROP DRIVER ON THE APRON! HOLY SHIT! This would not be out of place at all in mid-90s All Japan! Choshu is Winding-Up but Tenryu has a well-placed knee to the injured side of the charging Choshu. Choshu crumples into a heap. 

Tenryu turning full heel here is great. Choshu is writhing in pain as Tenryu delivers a series of standing elbow drops. Struggle over the Back Drop Driver, Tenryu breaks the clasp and kicks the injured side. SLINGSHOT SUPLEX BY TENRYU! WOW! This rocks! Tenryu applies The Octopus Stretch which pops the crowd but Tenryu loses his balance and they end up in the ropes. Toe kick to injured side. Choshu catches a kick and MUSCLES his way into a Scorpion Deathlock in the middle of the ring! Great heat for this! Choshu injured ribs force him to break the hold. Vertical Suplex by Choshu gets two.. Tenryu lunges at Choshu from his knees and attackes the injured side. Choshu MANS UP and fights through the pain and hoists Tenryu over in a Dangerous Backdrop Driver. Tenryu tries for a Top Rope Reverse Elbow. Choshu pulls him down with a Back Suplex! Tenryu moved too quickly to go up top in my opinion. Another Backdrop Driver and gets a heated nearfall for two. Choshyu hammerlocks Tenryu and drives him shoulder first into the post and then he BASHES Tenryu's head into the ringpost to bloody him. It is amazing how bloody All Japan was compared to the sterile 90s.  Choshu tees off on the open wound in typical awesome Choshu fashion with great punches. Tenryu collapses into the ring as Choshu winds up! MACK TRUCK LARIAT! I love how Tenryu doesnt budge initially to absorb all of the blow to make it extra meaty and then collapses. Choshu smashes him into the railing. Back in the ring he continues to brutalize Tenryu and he triggers a DQ in the only surefire way to trigger a DQ in 80s All Japan by attacking the ref. Tenryu nails an Enziguiri in the post-match but other than that Choshu is a man possessed punching Tenryu and Young Boys. 

I am shocked this placed #63. You have Prick Tenryu, Badass Rockstar Choshu fighting from underneath to overcome Tenryu's dickishness, you have the side injury, you have a ton of MOVEZ~! and blood. DQ finishes dont bother me too much and I thought this was a good one honestly. Choshu was seeing red. Tenryu had been a docuhe to him the entire match. He bloodies him and just starts teeing off. He cant stop, the ref does the right thing to protect Tenryu and Choshu does the right thing to signal to the audience how pissed he is by decking the ref. I really liked that Tenryu always had to use the injury to gain the advantage and as the match wore on he would become more & more focused on it. I didnt think the beginning (as much as I liked the early Backdrop Driver) was wrestled at a ***** level even though the later stages of the match got there for me. The Lariat battle on the Apron and the BackDrop Driver on the Apron were NUTS! The finish stretch was crazy! Call me crazy, but I liked this definitively better than Choshu/Killer Khan match. ****3/4

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I don't think this was particularly good. In fact, I'd say it completely falls apart in the second half, with frequently blown spots and miscommunications. Just real ugly, which sometimes can be great and work to a match's benefit, but I don't believe it did in this match. I'm also annoyed that, much like the Killer Khan match, the build up that seemed like it would be involved in the match is nowhere to be found. In the Khan match, it was Khan spending an entire month literally trying to hang Choshu with a noose on every show and then they have a death match where the noose doesn't make an appearance at all. In the case of this match, Choshu's ribs are all busted up because Tenryu beat the shit out of him with a chair a few days prior, and for it to end in a DQ and have a post match angle but no chair from Choshu bugged me. 

I would recommend it in that it's a pretty interesting spectacle match in a way that not many other matches are on AJPW at the time, but it's not even close to the best singles match either guy had in 1986. It's also not the best match they had against each other, either in a singles or tag. It's not even the best match they had against each other in 1986.

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Great match that felt much more cohesive than their 85 match I just watched. My main criticism here was the finish made Choshu look pretty dumb, and not in a hotheaded way because of the clear callback to the 85 match, where he was clearly getting a pass this time. I do appreciate the character development, where these guys come in and where they leave, and the great job the above posts do of outlining that. But I still hated this finish. That said, I loved everything else about this match, miscommunications and all, these two are rarely graceful and that's not what I'm looking for between them. Even more than the big moments I especially liked the build, the grappling, and the momentum shifts in this one.

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