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Genichiro Tenryu


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#141 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 06 September 2015 - 02:44 AM

Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada vs. The Great Kabuki & Mighty Inoue (2/21/90)

 

This was pretty good, but in more of a "I can't believe these workers had a match this good" kind of a way as opposed to a "wow, here's a match from 1990 that nobody ever talks about" kind of way. Tenryu indeed brought a type of proto-WAR stiffness and attitude to the bout, particularly the way he smacked Kabuki about, but I thought the stuff involving Kawada was a bit rubbish. He was going through this gawky growth "spurt" as he transitioned from a lightweight into a heavyweight and it almost felt like his wrestling adolescence. He was too chunky to play the young ring boy any longer and was almost the same size as Inoue, so I didn't really buy this toothless, rat tailed heavy being the whipping boy he'd played so effectively from '88 to '89. Tenryu kicked enough arse to make up for that but even then his asskicking felt like proto-punk compared to his punk WAR days. Not bad, though. 



#142 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 10 September 2015 - 12:35 AM

Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Genichiro Tenryu (8/31/87)

 

I liked this a lot. Jumbo upped his physicality and kept the "my pace" holds to a minimum. The submissions he did use were incorporated into the bout well and in general I thought he did a did a good job of working like the beast he should have been and not the stodgy ace that Baba preferred. I mean look at the size of the dude, he should have thrown people around more and monstered guys. He brought as much of that as he could do this bout and it was all the better for it. Tenryu was solid here, but it felt like Jumbo was the one leading the bout possibly because of how much he changed up his style. Wasn't sure how I felt about the finish. I didn't see the need to put Tenryu over, and the way they did it was less than convincing and gave Jumbo an easy out. I would have preferred to see Jumbo re-stamp his authority with an aggressive new wrestling style and hold off on a Tenryu win til later. But like we talked about before, Baba probably didn't have a plan in mind for where this was heading.  



#143 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 11:34 PM

Ric Flair vs. Genichiro Tenryu (9/15/92)

 

Initially, I had no desire to watch this, but it got a bit of play in the Yearbook for being Tenryu's best match since he left All Japan and Flair's best match since 1990 so I felt compelled to watch it. It's almost Flair's best match by default given how seriously wrestling is presented in Japan. I've never really felt like Flair was all that over in Japan and the lukewarm response to his stylin' and profilin' here seemed further proof that the Nature Boy gimmick fell flat in Japan. It was interesting watch Flair take it to the mat as he wasn't really a great mat wrestler, but then again neither was Tenryu. Flair kept things moving enough that you could ignore the nuts and bolts of what he was actually doing, and mixed in enough strikes that Tenryu was able to put over the physical contest. There was nothing really gripping about the fall, but I loved the way Tenryu sold his jaw. The biggest revelation for me about Tenryu has been how good he is at those small details. Unfortunately, he has a tendency to whiff on the big stuff and I thought the finish to the opening fall was pretty bad. It started with a press slam off the top rope where Flair had to raise Tenryu's hand because it was out of position and followed up with some weak looking offense and another terrible powerbomb from Tenryu. Perhaps he had good reason to lay Flair down on a bed of feathers, but it kind of signaled to me that this wasn't going to be hugely physical. 

 

The second fall wasn't hugely compelling. Tenryu took a direct approach to begin with and the transition for Flair to take back control of the match was a poke to the eye, which I thought was lame for a match being held in Japan. Flair ran through a few of his suplexes, which went nowhere as they transitioned into a stand-up contest, and then there was a bunch of legwork from Flair leading into the figure four. The figure four passage took an age, but at least Ric got a submission out of it. Thirty minutes into the video and Tenryu had given most of the bout to Flair, which highlights a tendency that Tenryu had, which was to give too much of the bout to his opponent and work from underneath too much. I think we can agree that the Tenryu you want to see is the guy doing soccer ball kicks and punting folks in the face and not with his back to the canvas all the time.

 

Tenryu being Tenryu he sold the crap out of his leg in the most realistic manner he could think of. It's unlikely Flair ever faced an opponent who put that much effort into selling the effects of the figure four, especially since Ric rarely got a submission with it. There was another lengthy figure four passage, which I think you'd have to be reasonably invested in the match to enjoy. Flair strategy buffs would probably point to the set-up work Flair did throughout the fall, which is fair enough, but while Tenryu did a nice job of hobbling about and hanging on by a thread, I couldn't really get into the spirit of Tenryu taking a constant beating. The finish was straight out of Baba's playbook, though Tenryu desperately trying to get Flair back into the ring on a bad wheel was a novel twist.

 

I'd go about *** on this. Felt like a bit of a chore watching it. I can see whether other people are coming from, though, as Flair had nothing like it from WrestleWar '90 onward. Wasn't a particularly great Tenryu match for me, though. 

 

 



#144 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 15 October 2015 - 12:23 AM

I kind of want to put Tenryu to bed as there's other guys I want to watch, so here are some general thoughts on the man:

 

He reminds me a lot of Negro Navarro in the sense that he got better as he got older. In none of the Misioneros footage we have from the 80s or early 90s does Navarro look as good as the worker he molded himself into during the mid-00s, and the same is true for Tenryu prior to 1989. I'd put his peak at around 1989 to 1996, and I still think it's a crying shame that after the New Japan feud wound down in '94 there was that gap period where he did bugger all until the UWF-i feud began. 1994 and '95 seems like a significant chunk of his prime that was wasted. Nevertheless, he was an excellent worker during that period. His execution issues weren't nearly as bad as I thought. When he did have issues they tended to be clangers, but once I'd watched enough of his matches I tended to ignore some of the general sloppiness surrounding his work and appreciate other aspects of his work like his amazing selling. As mentioned above, the biggest revelation for me was how good he was at selling. I knew about his facials and his nonchalant heel attitude, but the nuanced selling was something I didn't expect. Selling could probably be broken down into various categories if people cared to take the time, but one of the major ones is selling pain, and outside of Mayumi Ozaki I'm struggling to think of anyone who sold pain in a more realistic manner than Tenryu. He was fantastic at grimacing and favouring a body part. When he stayed down hurt it looked like a sports broadcast. Such fine, nuanced work. 

If I have one criticism of him outside of giving too much of the bout to his opponent and working from underneath too much (regardless of how good he was at selling), it's that his performances were often better than his matches, and I think that's a huge problem when comparing him to his peers who were, more often than not, the driving force behind their matches. I think he worked intentionally smaller matches than the epics that were in vogue during the mid-90s, but how much of it was a deliberate point of difference is impossible to say. The end result is that while I think he was a fantastic worker, and one of the best sellers ever, there's only a handful of matches that I'd consider the cream of the crop. You mileage will vary on that, however. Offsetting that to an extent is the fact he participated in two of the all-time great in-ring feuds -- Jumbo vs. Tenryu and Tenryu vs. Hashimoto. To me the chemistry in those feuds was better than in rivalries such as Kawada vs. Misawa and Misawa vs. Kobashi even if the matches weren't. 

 

I'd probably put Tenryu in the second tier of Japanese workers, but I'd be comfortable putting him there. In many ways he was an overachiever who had an in-ring career that was better than it had a right to be. I don't think he was the most naturally talented athlete to grace a pro-wrestling ring even if had been a rikishi, and he got better because of smarts and not really by improving his technique as such. I'm not sure if others will agree, but the more he aged the more he seemed to work like Terry Funk with the punches and some of the selling tics. Anyway, an interesting candidate and one I'm sure will do very well. 



#145 DR Ackermann

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Posted 16 October 2015 - 01:31 AM

I really love everything you had to say about Tenryu, OJ, and feel like you summed him up very well. agree with the comparison to Funk and the selling talk. Though I would put him in the top tier of Japanese workers. One thing I would say about Tenryu that I think helps his case, is that he was surprisingly good before Choshu showed up. I always saw him as pretty weak before 85, but rewatched some stuff recently as was surprised by how good he was.

#146 El-P

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Posted 03 November 2015 - 04:17 AM

He had his shortcomings. He didn't reach the peaks of Misawa and Kobashi. But there's one thing, he worked a style that never required you to get dropped on your head like Misbashi did after the late 90's. It was stiff as hell, but safer. Well, not always safer when he would botch that powerbomb, Onita style. But he's been part of so many great matches. And not so great ones, but which were always fun to see, be it against Muta (broken bottle !), Fujinami (broken nose), Onita (broken heart…). Great personnality. And a former maegashira. What's not to love. He's my # 6. Yes, above Misawa, for reasons discussed earlier. Don't die for pro-wrestling, it's not worth it (big up to CM Punk BTW).



#147 Microstatistics

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Posted 17 January 2016 - 12:21 AM

#1 for me and pretty comfortably too I think. Everything said about his aura and ability to make everything feel big and special is so true. Incredible charisma and body language, and also a brilliant seller. Even though he is a natural heel and probably the best ever at projecting disgust and contempt and generally being a dick, he is really fantastic at working from underneath in the underdog/face role. Could work different styles and types of matches, was great everywhere he went, has a catalog of great matches against a variety of opponents over a 20+ year span. Did something interesting and compelling literally every single match. The more I watch of him, the more I am convinced he is the GOAT.



#148 WingedEagle

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Posted 17 January 2016 - 07:09 AM

One of those I'd love to make #1 but can't quite put him above a few names.  Glad some folks will have him there. 



#149 Childs

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Posted 17 January 2016 - 09:34 AM

#1 for me and pretty comfortably too I think. Everything said about his aura and ability to make everything feel big and special is so true. Incredible charisma and body language, and also a brilliant seller. Even though he is a natural heel and probably the best ever at projecting disgust and contempt and generally being a dick, he is really fantastic at working from underneath in the underdog/face role. Could work different styles and types of matches, was great everywhere he went, has a catalog of great matches against a variety of opponents over a 20+ year span. Did something interesting and compelling literally every single match. The more I watch of him, the more I am convinced he is the GOAT.

 

Interesting that you will have Tenryu No. 1 but likely not rank Hansen at all. That's probably a unique combination (not that those two guys are the same, but they'll both be top 5 for me and I imagine both top 10 for a lot of people).



#150 Microstatistics

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Posted 17 January 2016 - 08:33 PM

 

#1 for me and pretty comfortably too I think. Everything said about his aura and ability to make everything feel big and special is so true. Incredible charisma and body language, and also a brilliant seller. Even though he is a natural heel and probably the best ever at projecting disgust and contempt and generally being a dick, he is really fantastic at working from underneath in the underdog/face role. Could work different styles and types of matches, was great everywhere he went, has a catalog of great matches against a variety of opponents over a 20+ year span. Did something interesting and compelling literally every single match. The more I watch of him, the more I am convinced he is the GOAT.

 

Interesting that you will have Tenryu No. 1 but likely not rank Hansen at all. That's probably a unique combination (not that those two guys are the same, but they'll both be top 5 for me and I imagine both top 10 for a lot of people).

 

Yes I am definitely the odd man out when it comes to Hansen.



#151 GOTNW

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 11:03 AM

My problem with Tenryu isn't his sloppiness, I see that as part of his appeal, it's that he'll often go for moves he can't come close to hitting clean in crucial points in the match, you're hoping he'd Lariat someone into oblivion but instead he just does some weird Abisengiri and it will disturb the flow of the match. Mind you I still have him in my top five but that is a difference maker when I'm looking at #1 candidates.



#152 InYourCase

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 09:19 AM

Tenryu's career as a whole amazes me. The fact that he's had great matches dating back to 1983 (some could argue 1982 with the first Jumbo match) and just last year put in an inspiring performance against Okada is mind-blowing to me. Is his peak longer than anyone's? Hansen had great matches in four decades. Same with Liger. The same can be said for Tenryu. 

 

The WAR vs. NJ feud has been one of my favorite things I've watched for this project. It's not that he looks that much better working with the lesser WAR workers, but that he sticks with Hashimoto, Fujinami, Liger (8/9/93 is an awesome tag match), Hase, & co. and most of the time looks better than them. Him working with UWFi guys has been a real pleasure, also. Love the 7/21/96 match with Anjoh. He won me over with his selling during his time in All Japan but I fell in love with Tenryu after watching his stiff, sloppy offense in the 90s. 

 

HUGE fan of Tenryu's early 2000's stuff in both All Japan and NOAH. The Triple Crown matches with Mutoh, Kawada, and Kojima are all outstanding. He's the best guy in all of those matches. His NOAH run is outstanding. He and KENTA had one of my favorite matches ever in October 2005 in front of a red hot Korakuen crowd. It adds to both of their cases. HIs tag stuff with Kobashi/Akiyama/Koshinaka is a total blast. 

 

Long story short, his peak is incredibly high. I don't know if there's one year that you could point to and call him the best worker in the world, maybe 1989, maybe 1993, but I don't think there's a definite year. He's been good for so long, though. That's what blows me away. His bumping has gotten worse through the years because like I said, I think his bumping and selling was amazing in All Japan, but that stiff offense that made him seem rather annoyed with anyone who he was squaring off against is my shit. Top 5 guy for me. 



#153 KB8

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 11:28 AM

Going through the 1993 yearbook, I thought he was definitely the best wrestler in the world that year. Other than that I generally agree that there might not be one single year where he's an absolute slam dunk, runaway WOTY, even if he's in the discussion for some of those years. But in '93, man was he fucking tremendous. The New Japan/WAR feud is my favourite feud ever in wrestling and Tenryu was incredible against every single person he matched up with, from Hashimoto (who's also top 5 for the year) to Chono to Kido to fucking Michiyoshi Ohara. I'm pretty much echoing what you already said, but still, it bears repeating. If I had to whip up a top 10 matches for the year, I think Tenryu would be in five of them, and one would be my MOTY. 

 

You mention 1989 there, and you're dead right about him being great then. I watched the Tenryu/Hansen v Jumbo/Kobashi tag from July this morning and I thought Tenryu was fucking spectacular in it. It's about as good an example as any of him selling for guys much lower down the card than him. I mean, Kobashi might've been a prodigy, but Tenryu was so awesome selling down to his level and making him look like a young stud (while Hansen steamrolled him and gave him almost nothing at all). Then Kobashi would bite off more than he could chew and Tenryu would stare him down before slapping his teeth out. 

 

Fast forward thirteen years and here's Tenryu in 2002, at 52 years old, making another potential WOTY run, being a cantankerous old bastard towards guys like Kiyoshi Miyamoto and Kaz Hayashi, having a great match build around legwork and blood loss against a wildly inconsistent Mutoh, and doing modern day bomb throwing epics with Kojima. 

 

He's one of the three guys I'm left strongly considering for my #1 at this point, but if I could only watch one wrestler for the rest of my life then he'd definitely be top of THAT list. 



#154 Childs

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 11:29 AM

You won't find a bigger Tenryu fan than me, but I'm surprised how many people were stirred by his performance in that Okada match. He looked like he could barely move. At one point, Okada essentially had to power bomb himself. Honestly, I found it depressing.



#155 The Man in Blak

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 12:18 PM

You won't find a bigger Tenryu fan than me, but I'm surprised how many people were stirred by his performance in that Okada match. He looked like he could barely move. At one point, Okada essentially had to power bomb himself. Honestly, I found it depressing.

 

I'll second this. It looked like he had trouble getting into the ring before the match even started. There were a couple of moments (like the powerbomb in the corner) where I thought there was a chance of a legitimate injury because Tenryu barely had enough strength to do anything. There was a point where Tenryu "hit" an enziguiri on a kneeling Okada where his other foot didn't even leave the ground. When the match ended, I was more relieved than anything.



#156 InYourCase

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Posted 07 March 2016 - 01:28 PM

You won't find a bigger Tenryu fan than me, but I'm surprised how many people were stirred by his performance in that Okada match. He looked like he could barely move. At one point, Okada essentially had to power bomb himself. Honestly, I found it depressing.

I get that. In all fairness, it really was the Okada performance that made the match as enjoyable as it was, but Tenryu and his aura were still present and still magical. From an analytical standpoint, he was terrible. But from a pure spectator's standpoint, it was incredible. 



#157 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 13 March 2016 - 11:00 AM

I kind of want to put Tenryu to bed as there's other guys I want to watch, so here are some general thoughts on the man:
 
He reminds me a lot of Negro Navarro in the sense that he got better as he got older. In none of the Misioneros footage we have from the 80s or early 90s does Navarro look as good as the worker he molded himself into during the mid-00s, and the same is true for Tenryu prior to 1989. I'd put his peak at around 1989 to 1996, and I still think it's a crying shame that after the New Japan feud wound down in '94 there was that gap period where he did bugger all until the UWF-i feud began. 1994 and '95 seems like a significant chunk of his prime that was wasted. Nevertheless, he was an excellent worker during that period. His execution issues weren't nearly as bad as I thought. When he did have issues they tended to be clangers, but once I'd watched enough of his matches I tended to ignore some of the general sloppiness surrounding his work and appreciate other aspects of his work like his amazing selling. As mentioned above, the biggest revelation for me was how good he was at selling. I knew about his facials and his nonchalant heel attitude, but the nuanced selling was something I didn't expect. Selling could probably be broken down into various categories if people cared to take the time, but one of the major ones is selling pain, and outside of Mayumi Ozaki I'm struggling to think of anyone who sold pain in a more realistic manner than Tenryu. He was fantastic at grimacing and favouring a body part. When he stayed down hurt it looked like a sports broadcast. Such fine, nuanced work. 

If I have one criticism of him outside of giving too much of the bout to his opponent and working from underneath too much (regardless of how good he was at selling), it's that his performances were often better than his matches, and I think that's a huge problem when comparing him to his peers who were, more often than not, the driving force behind their matches. I think he worked intentionally smaller matches than the epics that were in vogue during the mid-90s, but how much of it was a deliberate point of difference is impossible to say. The end result is that while I think he was a fantastic worker, and one of the best sellers ever, there's only a handful of matches that I'd consider the cream of the crop. You mileage will vary on that, however. Offsetting that to an extent is the fact he participated in two of the all-time great in-ring feuds -- Jumbo vs. Tenryu and Tenryu vs. Hashimoto. To me the chemistry in those feuds was better than in rivalries such as Kawada vs. Misawa and Misawa vs. Kobashi even if the matches weren't. 
 
I'd probably put Tenryu in the second tier of Japanese workers, but I'd be comfortable putting him there. In many ways he was an overachiever who had an in-ring career that was better than it had a right to be. I don't think he was the most naturally talented athlete to grace a pro-wrestling ring even if had been a rikishi, and he got better because of smarts and not really by improving his technique as such. I'm not sure if others will agree, but the more he aged the more he seemed to work like Terry Funk with the punches and some of the selling tics. Anyway, an interesting candidate and one I'm sure will do very well.


Makes me long to see a full list of OJ's Japanese tiers a la his European one.

#158 Boss Rock

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 09:34 AM

Tenryu is one of those few guys whose peak wasn't limited to just a few years. In the 80's he had awesome matches with Jumbo and Hansen. In the 90's he had awesome matches with guys like Hashimoto and Onita. And in the 2000's he put on one of the greatest sprint matches I've ever seen against KENTA. When ranking wrestlers I really like to see longevity + peak. Not to say I'll discount someone who had an all-time great peak but a relatively short run, but the ability to put on such high level performances for multiple decades really screams "all-time great". It's true he was sloppy as hell and his enziguri, powerbomb, and even lariat on occasion could be downright awful, but the way he carried himself in a match almost made it inconsequential. For all his sloppiness, I struggle to think of a Tenryu match I didn't think was at least very good. And while I prefer him as the grumpy asskicker pounding away at the soul unfortunate enough to challenge him, he was also an incredible babyface who made his comebacks count every single time.






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