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[1989-10-11-AJPW] Genichiro Tenryu vs Jumbo Tsuruta

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I didn't think this was in the real upper tier of Jumbo v Tenryu, but it's still Jumbo v Tenryu in 1989 so by the same token the floor on that is always going to be fairly high. It was more of a slow-burner than their match from June, and like that match you can see them bringing elements that the 90s crew would take and develop and use to create those epics that folk would write longform essays about. They both know each other inside out, they know what the other is likely to try and so early on you get a bunch of great moments built around scouted strikes and regrouping, neither of them wanting to overplay their hand. It's sort of tentative, but the way they use it to let the heat boil is pretty much perfect. Then we get the payoff when Tenryu chops Jumbo in the throat off a break and Jumbo goes batshit mental. He chucks the ref' away and smashes Tenryu with one of the all-time great dropkicks, punts him to the floor and throws a table at him because he's had just about enough of all this. And they give us lots of setups and payoff throughout, some of them little, some of them bigger, a few of them paying off previous payoffs and building upon the narrative and all that good stuff. My favourite of these is probably Tenryu waiting for his moment and absolutely making Jumbo regret introducing that table. They've both matched up about three dozen times by now as well, so we're at the stage of the rivalry where they need to start thinking outside the box for ways to catch the other off guard. The powerbomb has been a staple in the feud, but they both have it scouted by now and either of them actually hitting it becomes increasingly difficult. There are a bunch of awesome struggles over it during the match, where the person on the receiving end goes dead weight to fight it, or if they're lifted up off the ground they start flailing legs wildly until someone takes a heel to the eye socket. Tenryu has evidently decided to cut away with some of the setup and just hoist Jumbo onto his shoulders with a double leg lift (very technical term because I am very smart), so by the end there's that lingering presence of the powerbomb and the idea that Tenryu has more than one way of hitting it. Jumbo rolling through into a pin is such a cool finish, not just because it ties brilliantly into the story but because it's Jumbo Tsuruta hitting a fucking hurricanrana. Of course this was badass. 
 

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All Japan Triple Crown Champion Genichiro Tenryu vs Jumbo Tsuruta - AJPW 10/11/89

I disagree with the DVDVR voters and I think that this is the second best Jumbo vs Tenryu match not the inaugural 1987 match and I dont think it is very close to the 1988 match. I like the inaugural 1987 match as a #3 and then 1988 and the other 1987 are a gulf apart. Late 80s All Japan reminds me a lot of early 2000s Ring of Honor. It is very noisy wrestling. There is a lot of action, BUT it is definitely NOT a spotfest because there is so much struggle escalation, but at the same time there is not a hook or narrative that you can really sink your teeth into. I thought this match was more sticky than the others which is why I would rate it as #2.

They started the match off with scouting similar to what they did in the famous 6/5/89. These spots would serve as the bedrock for the greatness of 90s All Japan which took inter-match storytelling to its highest level. Jumbo was very expressive at the beginning of the match. He was none too happy when Tenryu did not give him a clean break and gave him a shove and expressed his annoyance to the ref. Jumbo looked very confused when Tenryu evaded the first High Knee. The second High Knee Tenryu blocked and slashed Jumbo with a chop which he fired out of. Tenryu tried to set up his Enziguiri with an elbow but that didnt help much. As Jumbo avoided that. They went to working holds on the mat. The next flash point was Tenryu chopped Jumbo high. Jumbo is left gasping for breathe and is pissed. He shoves the ref down. Then murders Tenryu with a dropkick. That extension was just explosive. Baseball slide and slings him into the railing and cracks him with a chair. Back in the ring, Jumbo justifies everything to the ref by reminding him this was all caused because Tenryu was chopped in the throat. My favorite part of the match by far. 

Jumbo heat segment is solid here, good Big Boot, Butterfly Suplex and Boston Crab. Wisely they transition out to the second best part of the match, Tenryu's heat segment on Jumbo. Jumbo charges and eats a knee to the midsection. He crumples and writhes in pain. In most promotion, this is inconsequential, in All Japan they love their "side", "abdomen" psychology. Jumbo is squirming too much so Tenryu kinda fucks up the first kick, second kick, he has a clear mark and COWBOY KICK! The side injury allows Tenryu to hit his Enziguiri and his fancy new move, a Double Leg Takedown Lift (hes doesnt use underhooks, think of it like someone trying to powerbomb someone who was standing upright). I wouldnt think much of it but @Matt D told me it was a thing and definitely becomes a thing. They brawl on the outside. They fuck up a crossbody reversal spot. Jumbo comes out of it and hits a Belly to Belly Suplex to go on his second run. THESZ PRESS FOR TWO! It is bomb throwing time! Another mistiming this time on a bodyslam! You know what was NOT mistimed...THAT JUMBO DEATH LARIAT! He SMOKED HIM! The plume of sweat! That was awesome! Next thing I remember clearly is Tenryu used an Enziguiri to start a comeback and hit a more ordinary Back Suplex. Tenryu tries for the Powerbomb of course, but Jumbo back drops out and does a Tenryu style stomp to Tenryu exposed head. Hows that for a taste of your own medicine, asshole! Jumbo's Bomb Away Kneedrop as Tenryu has his head slightly lifted in the prone position was cool.

Can I change my pick for my second favorite part of the match? Tenryu blasts Jumbo off the top with a Lariat and follows that up by running a table into Jumbo on the outside! Tenryu cannot negotiate the Poerbomb again try as he might. I love Powerbobm struggle spots. Tenryu just kinds dumps him on his head. Goddamn man! Jumbo goes for the Back Drop Driver! Tenryu shifts his weight shades of Martin's little brother! I always mark out for that spot! Jumbo DEATH LARIAT! He got all of that! Wow! DANGEROUS BACK DROP DRIVER! Too close to the ropes! Jumbo tries for a Powerbomb/Piledriver but cant negotiate it. Tenryu goes back to the Double Leg Takedown Lift and Jumbo does a Jumbo Hurricanarana for the win! In a move that inspired Misawa for decades to come! 

Loved Jumbo losing his shit! Enjoyed Tenryu working the side. I thought the finish stretch was a portent of things to come, Big Bombs that were timed perfectly, that felt earned and crescendo'd perfectly. ****3/4   

   

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