Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Volk Han vs Andrei Kopylov, (RINGS 11/22/94)

So who foresaw a promising start to this blog, followed by a barren spell where other interests dictated my time? That being said, Han has long been someone I've found consistently entertaining and who I'll always go out of my way to watch. I'd hazard he may not even have 100 matches on tape, yet any match he surfaces in he'll always leave you befuddled as to how he does half the things he does. He's truly one of the most awe-inspiring matworkers I've ever seen, and if you're not constantly rewinding Volk Han matches to see his expert and intricate counters, then something is amiss with you. This was a fine ten minute affair, with Han unleashing at least three moves I've never seen in my time, and of course he did it effortlessly with precision. That takedown some thirty seconds into the match...there are just no words and the way he instantly worked into a dual submission when Kopylov goes for the ropes typifies his creativity. Speaking of Kopylov, he was really impressive and more than held his own with Han. He didn't have the creative exploits of Han, but he had some practical and impressive counters and really worked some intriguing grappling exchanges where you bought into Han being in a struggle. This however was another Han masterclass, as despite shoot style operating a different dynamic to your typical pro-graps, he really understood how to work and lead as 'the ace' and he times all his rope-breaks perfectly, creating numerous little moments where you're hooked on how he'll escape a hold. Han also works more standup exchanges here, which isn't uncommon for him but hardly where his reputation originates from. Still, both men unleash some nasty slaps in this which serve as an acceptable alternative to the pure grappling exchanges. The finish is excellent and requires at least five rewinds before you can even pinpoint where Kopylov manages to secure Han in the perfect position.

Saturday, 7 September 2013


Genichiro Tenryu vs Shinya Hashimoto, WAR (6/17/93)

Well shit on a stick, just when you think your expectations may be too severe and hinder whatever enjoyment you can get out of a match, these two go and do their thing and wouldn't ya know rules. First few minutes really establish this Clash of the Titans atmosphere and both men sell the caution in their game remarkably well, the visual of Hashimoto in the corner not taking his eyes off of Tenryu as the ref drastically tries to force a break...god damn. They really pack a lot of explosive violence into short bursts to really get over the threat each other poses with their offence, but Hashimoto targeting the leg really creates an intriguing second half of the match with Tenryu rendered practically immobile and having to find a new gameplan to escape from his growing nemesis. A few people could argue the leg selling doesn't go anywhere near the end, i.e Hashimoto not going for submissions but I thought it served a great purpose in not only getting over the threat of Hashimoto but also in the way it forced Tenryu to have to pick his moments and really take an ass-kicking in a bid to win. Hashimoto also always using the leg as the base of any attack whether he was on the offensive or defensive also helped keep the limbwork relevant in the grand context of the match, and of course Tenryu sold it like death and really established the physical pain and battle he was in.

Last few minutes are just astonishingly dramatic and electric with very few kickouts. Both men's occasionally sloppy but always destructive looking offence as well as the resultant bumping really make you feel the match could end at any moment, and I loved how both men would use their striking to establish an opening to hit a bigger move: i.e Tenryu using his chops and kicks to ground and weaken Hashimoto long enough to hit the powerbomb. There were a couple of outstanding nearfalls that were sold superbly by both men, and Tenryu's facial expression immediately after the match is over perfectly summarised the preceeding 18 minutes of war he'd just gone though. Tenryu's pained facial expression mid powerbomb due to the strain his injured leg was being put under was also a really bossy little touch that added so much in the grand scheme of things I thought it would be rude not to mention it.


Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs Shinya Hashimoto & Michiyoshi Ohara, New Japan (6/14/93)

The first Hashimoto/Tenryu singles match takes place 3 days after this, so its really more aimed at making you want to see these two monsters lump seven shades of shit out of each other, but in amongst all the hatred and contempt for the other's existence they work a really great pseudo STF tag built on Ohara getting mercilessly mauled by Tenryu and Ishikawa. Tenryu's just an absolute cock to poor Ohara and lays into him with a barrage of stiff chips, knees, lariats, slaps and numerous other attacks. Hashimoto though isn't one to be outdone and he manages to connect with a few scorching kicks, especially one on Tenryu when he's against the ropes which looked to have dislodged a couple of teeth. Ohara to his credit sells everything well from the WAR team and really brings this overwhelmed by the occasion passion to everything he hits, and he and Ishikawa have this neat little sub story developing with Ohara looking to topple Ishikawa and allow Hashimoto entry into the ring. Last few minutes are pretty chaotic with Hashimoto roundhousing any motherfucker in sight, and Tenryu hitting one of the filthiest enziguri's of his career which looked like it bent Hashimoto's skull upon impact. Tenryu and Hashimoto fighting amongst themselves lead to a nice completion of the bubbling Ishikawa/Ohara sequences with Ishikawa just having a little bit more to put away the resilient Ohara.

Have to say as well the opening few minutes were about as good as I've seen the 'two guys blatantly ignoring the rules and just trying to fight one another' story done in a ring. The tension and atmosphere helped make the standoffs seem much bigger and Hashimoto taking the time to lariat Tenryu on the apron the minute he and Ishikawa are about to lock up just really cemented me wanting to see them fight like yesterday.


New Japan vs WAR - Genichiro Tenryu vs Riki Choshu, New Japan (4/6/93)

Overall this was really really good, atmosphere was absolutely fantastic whenever Choshu looked to be on top and him basically wrestling the match of his life to try and put an end to Tenryu was a really engaging story. First half of the match is rather tepid but its all about building to the explosion and making the crowd wait for them to start throwing bombs and lumping the shit out of each other. Tenryu's punts looked vicious and I love how during this time they're really put over as lethal and dangerous on top of his usual offence. Bit where Choshu slaps the shit out of him after an intial lock up was brilliant and Tenryu's shocked 'oh that's how we're gonna do it' expression just sealed it. Second half of the match really kicks into another gear like you want this to. Choshu lands a fucking hideous (in a good way) superplex which looked to have collapsed Tenryu's spine on impact, and he follows this up with some really good consistent lariats targeting Tenryu's damaged neck and head before hitting one of the nastiest knee drops I can recall seeing: looked absolutely filthy and Tenryu's superb selling just added to the horrific visual. Tenryu sort of progressively staggering after each blow and looking more and more hampered by his injury really added to the heated atmosphere and really got you behind Choshu, in many ways the way they explored this actually made me not hate Choshu's surprise backdrop after Tenryu hits his diving elbow: really felt like it was timed well enough to come off as an important spot to highlight Choshu's resolve and make him a continuing thorn in Tenryu's side.

Thought the way they teased the struggle in hitting the powerbomb was really well done, especially when Tenryu managed to hit it later on but got only get marginal impact because of the strain it put on his head and neck. Last couple of minutes are amazing, crowd loses their shit for everything Choshu throws at Tenryu who staggers and looks more and more beaten with every blow he takes and the finish is suitably satisfying for the crowd reaction alone (though from a booking perspective I probably do question the choice in winner).


New Japan vs WAR - February '93 - April '93

Genichiro Tenryu, Ashura Hara & Takashi Ishikawa vs Keiji Mutoh, Akira Nogami & Shinya Hashimoto, New Japan (2/5/93)

Oh christ, this right here is what its all about. Everyone bar Mutoh pretty much brings the hate necessary to get over the boiling hot feud, but man oh man is the build to Hashimoto vs Tenryu magnificent here. Both men are by far the two best performers in the match, they only lock up a few times but Hashimoto just beats the crap out of Tenryu with kick after kick and Tenryu bumps and sells like a saint for everything, the moment where he sort of stumbles into the corner reeling off of Hashimoto's onslaught whilst trying to give a bit back only to be unable to stand straight and have Hara and Ishikawa defend him was glorious. Their exchanges afterwards are pretty brief but they pack so much hatred into every blow it doesn't matter, moment where all of the New Japan team lay siege to Tenryu's fallen body on the mat was outstanding and was only bettered by Tenryu being a cocky prick when covering Nogami only to be caught by a fucking tremendous kick to the chin from Hashimoto which he sells like an absolute king collapsing into the corner whilst checking his jaw isn't broken.

Nogami was probably the 3rd best guy in the match, chock full of furry and a relentless babyface energy in defending his company from the invader scum, and he has some really great exchanges against Tenryu where Tenryu sells the audacity of Nogami to try and even touch Tenryu so beautifully. Ishikawa and Hara were pretty much in it for sporadic bursts of offence and to bump for the New Japan team, but Ishikawa in particular was really violent and just comes off as this coked up psycho ready to taste New Japan blood. Post match pull apart again builds beautifully to Tenryu/Hashimoto with Hash having to be restrained by guys who look terrified to be holding a 290 pound monster who's spoiling for a fight. Still, fuck a dumb Keiji Mutoh.

Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami, New Japan (3/23/93)

Another fine continuation in the ongoing saga here and a match which probably has me convinced this feud can't produce anything less than a good match. Choshu and Fujinami's interactions with Tenryu are the real highlight here, little things like Choshu entering the ring off a tag and taking the time to boot an already downed Tenryu on the apron even when he's not legal just add to the bubbling hatred. Loved the opening with Fujinami taking it to Tenryu and hitting a pretty amazing dive to the floor which had the crowd going bonkers. The bread and butter of the match really revolves around Ishikawa getting isolated and absorbing the onslaught of New Japan's diamonds in the rough and making you feel Tenryu's winning streak may be foiled by the opposition, only for him to hit a beautfiful kick to counter a second Fujinami dive late in the match and which served as a great callback spot to the early dive. Tenryu's selling was again off the charts great and was typified by the moment Fujinami caught him entering the ring to cheapshot him and reels off a string of stiff slaps which forces Tenryu to finally collapse to the mat in agony and looking almost like he was dribbling from his mouth.

There were also some really great subtle touches thrown in to keep the crowd alive, Choshu only going halfway into the spinebuster in order to stop Ishikawa having a clear way to cheapshot him was really bossy as was Ishikawa's heat tactics in stealing the Dragon Sleeper and Sharpshooter to further piss off the already irate New Japan fans. Finishing stretch is pretty fucking stellar, just tease after tease with the highlight being Fujinami countering a Tenryu lariat into an attempted dragon suplex only for Ishikawa to counter with a lariat to the back of the head and Tenryu to soon follow up with the devastating powerbomb which Fujinami never recovers from, and which soon leads to Ishikawa picking up one of the biggest wins to date in his career.

Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto, WAR (4/2/93)

Oh fucking hell, this was just in another stratosphere of greatness, violence and grandeur of hatred. Everyone puts in a stellar performance here, but once again its Tenryu and Hashimoto who shine brightest. The stare off when they enter the ring....fuck me. 6/17 cannot come soon enough in this feud. Ishikawa is excellent as the underdog scrapping for every bit of blood that comes his way, he just has this great ability to pick his spots and be like that scrappy little terrier that just will not quit until he's fully depleted his victim, his flurry of offence leading to Tenryu PASTING Choshu into the ring post to bloody him was incredible and from there the match just went to another level in terms of pacing and sheer insanity. I can't even begin to describe to you just how many fucking excellent moments we got in this match, they just created this perfect blend of chaos and batshit insanity in everything they did, and the continued tease to Tenryu/Hashimoto was just criminal with what they treated us to: that fucking bump Tenryu takes off the spinning wheel kick...just indescribeable how he flings himself at such a reckless pace into the ropes but shit on a stick if it doesn't look incredible everytime.

Tenryu was just a relentless prick going after Choshu's cut with repeated punts and stomps to the wound, and the visuals of the ref having to forcibly cling to Tenryu to get him to stop whilst he still kicked and flung boot after boot to Choshu was just beautiful. Hashimoto was equally destructive whenever he was in the match and they really booked him tremendously as the shining beacon of hope New Japan had in ending Tenryu's ever continuing rampage of destruction. Finishing stretch is absolutely bonkers with people clobbering each other left and right with chops, punches, slaps, lariats, suplexes and all sorts of brutality. Hashimoto finally scoring a win for New Japan in the feud really served as a huge moment in terms of his star rising, and not 5 seconds after the match is Tenryu slapping the piss out of him and engaging in another pull apart fight. Ending visuals of Hashimoto and Choshu bleeding with Tenryu looking on cocky as ever was incredible.


New Japan vs WAR - October '92 - December '92

Genichiro Tenryu & Koki Kitahara vs Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura, New Japan (10/23/92)

Oh man pretty much the beginning of the New Japan/WAR feud and Korakuen is fucking rabid throughout. Koshinaka and Kimura are just fucking bullies to the highest degree and beat the piss out of Kitahara throughout, and manage to create a nice underdog story with Kitahara trying to take the fight to both but ultimately needing TENRYU to bail him out of predicaments. TENRYU was just fucking godly in this, there's this incredible moment where Kimura walks round the ropes and tries to punk him out, and TENRYU just starts to ominously stride towards him and pushes the referee aside. TENRYU also gets cut hardway from some stiff punches, and he has at least 6 awesome blood soaked visualsa of him just looking on with both Koshinaka and Kimura with sheer contempt as blood pours down the side of his face. The seconds are also brilliant throughout in constantly trying to kill each other and in the process threatening to send the match into a wild and uncontainable massacre. TENRYU just casually murdering Kohsinaka repeatedly with powerbombs even after the match is over warmed my cockles, fuckin' TENRYU man!

Genichiro Tenryu, Takashi Ishikawa & Koki Kitahara vs Shiro Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura & Masashi Aoyagi, New Japan (11/23/92)

God damn, the heat for Kitahara was astounding. I know his tights were an insult to fashion but good grief Snitsky would have wished for this much heat when he punted a fake baby into the audience. Match is a really good addition in developing the piercing hatred that dominates both camps, feels incredibly chaotic and on the verge of a breakdown throughout with guys constantly chipping away at each other with every opportunity they get. Kimura looked to be legit wounded from an Ishikawa running knee as well, looked ridiculously brutal and appeared to be a misscommunication with Kimura leaving himself no chance to protect himself and Ishikawa running like a gazelle. Tenryu was used in small doses but what we got was the typical Tenryu greatness with some meaty strikes, incredible bumping and selling of his opponent's strikes and some pretty swank facial expressions, bit where he casually punts Koshinaka to break up a pin and then motions he'll beat the piss out of the ref if he even thinks of barking orders at him was tremendous. Tenryu's bump and shocked facial expression off of Aoyagi's spinning wheel kick near the end was inspiring, looked like he was about to fall flat on his arse out of the ring. Everyone played their part well and really got over the tension and hate that was to explode in the coming months and Tenryu got to look like the WAR world beater with the beating he was able to withstand followed by the powerbomb for the instant win. Powerbomb itself looked ridiculously brutal as well with the angle that Kimura's head snapped back off of the mat, all hail TENRYU!

Genichiro Tenryu vs Shiro Koshinaka, New Japan (12/14/92)

Really good match which made Tenryu look like a force to be reckoned with as well as giving Koshinaka a nice loyalist underdog story with him trying unsuccessfully to find ways to put down and contain Tenryu. Action is frantic and jam packed with meaty strikes and I loved how they had Tenryu take over and bloody Koshinaka without ignoring the earlier arm work which had seen Koshinaka control the opening portion. Tenryu's punts and general disgust at Koshinaka was supreme but I would have preferred to see him noticeably grimace a bit more when utlising the injured arm, and I really hated Koshinaka popping up from a DDT to continue the attack as it really didn't feel believeable even with the move being delivered by Tenryu's damaged arm. Tenryu taking the time to hold the arm after the powerbomb was a subtly nice touch however that gave a small glimmer of hope that Koshinaka's efforts had not been in vain, and the resulting crossbody roll through counter made for a tremendous false finish with Tenryu literally getting his shoulder up as the 3 count would have been made. Finishing stretch reflected the whole match with Tenryu looking impervious and well ahead of Koshinaka but still being succeptible to his own arrogance as well as the earlier arm work. Doubt it'll be close to Tenryu's best stuff in the 92-94 period but it serves as a nice continuation of Tenryu's emerging dominance over New Japan and Koshinaka being the latest victim to have no answer to the powerbomb and overwhelming destruction of TENRYU!~!




Between late 1992-early 1994, Japanese Wrestling in addition to being exposed to the wonderous All Japan 'Kings Road' formula found further infamy with the explosion of the inter-promotional dispute between New Japan & WAR. 

WAR was spearheaded by Genichiro Tenryu, one of All Japan's biggest stars by the end of the 1980s and suffice to say, his invasion of New Japan would give rise to one of the most acclaimed multi-year angles of all time. Tenryu was fast becoming the famed stoic and ruthless bastard we'd all grow to love, and with the rising emergence of Shinya Hashimoto as New Japan's prized ace, the inevitable Tenryu/Hashimoto matches promised incredible potential.

I'll be going through as many of the matches in chronological order as possible depending on my ability to track down links. Thankfully the bulk of the matches seem to be online in various capacity, so only my famed lax nature stands in the way of this becoming a recurring side project.

As with World of Sport, all links to matches & thoughts will be updated here. 



1. Genichiro Tenryu & Koki Kitahara vs Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura, New Japan (10/23/92) 
2. Genichiro Tenryu, Takashi Ishikawa & Koki Kitahara vs Shiro Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura & Masashi Aoyagi, New Japan (11/23/92) 
3. Genichiro Tenryu vs Shiro Koshinaka, New Japan (12/14/92) 
4. Genichiro Tenryu, Ashura Hara & Takashi Ishikawa vs Keiji Mutoh, Akira Nogami & Shinya Hashimoto, New Japan (2/5/93) 
5. Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami, New Japan (3/23/93) 
6. Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto, WAR (4/2/93) 
7. Genichiro Tenryu vs Riki Choshu, New Japan (4/6/93) 
8. Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs Shinya Hashimoto & Michiyoshi Ohara, New Japan (6/14/93) 
9. Genichiro Tenryu vs Shinya Hashimoto, WAR (6/17/93)