Triple Crown
Genichiro Tenryu (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima
July 17, 2002
AJPW Summer Action Series 2002 – Night 9

I absolutely love this match and I am very happy it was gifted to me. This match is what wrestling is all about. Just two people going to war with each other to find who is better. Who can last longer, who can dish out more damage, who has more heart than the other.

This match happened in what was arguably the most turbulent period of All Japan’s history. After Misawa led his exodus to form NOAH Tenryu was brought in to save the promotion and Kojima had just jumped from New Japan with his mentor Keiji Muto. Matches like this are the reason why I think this period of All Japan is underrated. It was in this match that Kojima became the man he still is today. If he had stayed in New Japan he would have likely had a very good career regardless. But leaving is what really allowed him to spread his wings and become an all time great.

I don’t actually want to go into too much depth on what happens in the match because honestly, you dear reader should be allowed to experience this match as unspoiled as possible. What I will say about the match is how unbelievably stiff it is. At times it feels like Tenryu is shoot punching Kojima in the face. Throughout the match, Tenryu is an absolute monster. The crowd is also insanely hot and is trying to have Kojima come back into the match by sheer force of will.

This is a match where the loser gained more in defeat than he would have gained in victory. Kojima pushed Tenryu to the absolute brink and fell just short. But it was also clear that Kojima was a guy now and that he was here to stay.

Sadly, this was the last singles match between the two as Tenryu would get cycled down the card after Muta ended his Triple Crown run three months later. Then again it is hard to fathom how they could have outdone this match.

Easy *****

As far as predicting who gifted this to me I am going with my fellow Emerald FlowShow host Gerard Di Trolio.