Tenryū Gen'ichirō

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Tenryū Gen'ichirō
Ring name(s) Tenryū Gen'ichirō
Real name Shimada Gen'ichirō
Nickname(s) "Fūun Noboriryū (風雲昇り龍?)" (Heavenly Rising Dragon)
Mr. Puroresu
Billed height 189 cm (6 ft 2+12 in)
Billed weight 120 kg (260 lb; 19 st)
Born 1950/2/2 (1950-02-02) (age 68)
Katsuyama, Fukui
Shishō Giant Baba
Dory Funk Jr.
Debut 1976/11/13
Retired 2015/11/15

Tenryū Gen'ichirō (天龍源一郎?) is a Japanese professional wrestler and a former rikishi. His real name us Shimada Gen'ichirō (嶋田源一郎?). At age 13, he entered sumō and stayed there for 13 years, after which he turned to puroresu. "Tenryū" was his shikona from the sumō days.

Because of his achievement in the world of puroresu, he is known as Mr. Puroresu.


Sumō career

As a sumō wrestler, Tenryū was ranked for 27 tournaments, 16 of them in the top makuuchi division. His highest rank was maegashira 1. He retired from sumō in 1976/9 at the early age of 26 after a dispute with the Japan Sumo Association over his transfer to a newly created training heya.

Professional wrestling career

All Japan Pro-Wrestling (1976-1990)

Scouted by Giant Baba, the All Japan Pro-Wrestling owner, Tenryū was sent to the Amarillo territory to get trained by the Funk family, and debuted in Texas in 1976, against Ted DiBiase. After returning to Japan, he stayed in the undercard, ranking under the third man of the promotion, Tiger Toguchi.

In 1981, Toguchi jumped to New Japan Pro-Wrestling. The match where he Tenryū teamed with Bill Robinson to challenge Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta for NWA International Tag Team Championship on 1981/7/30 became a memorable match for many fans, and Tenryū was gloomed to be the third guy of the promotion. It was around this when he started using enzuigiri and octopus hold, which were the signature moves of Antonio Inoki, Baba's promotional rival.

1984 saw Tenryū winning the NWA United National Heavyweight Championship as well as the NWA International Tag Team Championship with Tsuruta. Their combination was called "Kakuryu" (鶴 = kaku = tsuru (the "tsuru" in Tsuruta) + 龍 = ryū in Tenryū). The team feuded with Chōshū Riki & Yatsu Yoshiaki, who were the leaders in an "invasion" angle by the Japan Pro Wrestling promotion, an All Japan satellite made up of former New Japan Pro-Wrestling talent.

In 1987, following the departure of the Japan Pro talent, Kakuryu broke up after losing the tag team titles to the Road Warriors, which led to Tenryū forming his own stable, "Revolution", with former IWE wrestlers Ashura Hara and Samson Fuyuki, as well as All Japan rookies Kawada Toshiaki and Ogawa Yoshinari. Tenryū & Hara feuded with Tsuruta and his new partner Yatsu over the PWF World Tag Team Championship and later with its replacement, the World Tag Team Championship (a unified championship of the PWF and NWA International tag team titles). Hara was kicked out of the promotion in late 1988, and Tenryū replaced him with Stan Hansen, with whom he held the championship as well.

1989 was Tenryū's banner year. Tsuruta became the first Triple Crown champion on 4/18 of that year, and just two days later Tenryū became his first challenger. The Tsuruta-Tenryū series that ensued set the standard for all Triple Crown matches and feuds to follow. When Tenryū won the belts on 6/5, the match was so spectacular it was deemed Match of the Year by major Japanese publications. The same year saw him finally pin his mentor Baba, albeit in a tag match - but still a major success for a Japanese wrestler. Only Misawa Mitsuharu would follow him to that. In addition, Tenryū was chosen to be one-third of the NWA World 6-Man Tag Team Championship with the Road Warriors after the Road Warriors. However, Tenryū's increasing commitments to All Japan meant less time to wrestle in the United States, and this resulted in the six man championship being retired.

SWS & WAR (1990-1998)

Main articles: Super World Sports and Wrestle Association R

In 1990/4, Tenryū left All Japan to join the newly formed Super World Sports. After its collapse in 1992/6, Tenryū, aided by Takei Masatomo (brother of his then-wife Makiyo) formed WAR. WAR became his base from where he would take on top wrestlers from other promotions, such as Antonio Inoki, Fujinami Tatsumi, Choshu, Yatsu, Keiji Mutō, Chōno Masahiro, Hashimoto Shin'ya, Sasaki Kensuke, Kawada Toshiaki, Takada Nobuhiko, Fujiwara Yoshiaki, Kitao Kōji, Ōnita Atsushi, and Hayabusa, all of whom he defeated. He also won a singles match against Kandori Shinobu, who was known as the "strongest man in joshi puroresu" or "Mr. Joshi Puroresu". He is also the only Japanese wrestler to defeat both Inoki and Baba by pinfall.

As a freelancer (1998-2015)

In 1998, as WAR went into decline, Tenryū began an earnest comeback, this time in New Japan. He first allied with Koshinaka Shirō, and they won the IWGP Tag Team Championship from Chōno and Tenzan Hiroyoshi. In 1999/12, Tenryū made history as the first native to win the top two distinctions of professional wrestling in Japan (All Japan's Triple Crown and New Japan's IWGP Heavyweight Championship) by beating Mutō for the IWGP title. (The first man to win both titles was Big Van Vader, an American.)

In 2000, following the near-collapse of All Japan due to the Pro Wrestling NOAH split, Tenryū rejoined All Japan, eager to test his mettle against the remaining ace, his former disciple Kawada. Tenryū beat Kawada in the subsequent tournament for the vacant Triple Crown, winning the belts for a second time. In his second stay in All Japan, he would capture the belts a third time and also the World Tag Team Championship with Anjō Yōji.

In 2003, he joined Fighting of World Japan (WJ) for a few matches, but as it declined rapidly, he switched back and forth aimlessly between New Japan and All Japan.

In 2005, he entered NOAH, and began feuds with Misawa, Kobashi Kenta, and other wrestlers he knew from his first All Japan stint, as well as new faces he's never met in the ring before, such as Akiyama Jun. Tenryū also wrestled with the HUSTLE promotion and was apart of the main heel group led by “Generalissimo” Takada. During this time, he teamed with Kawada mainly. At HUSTLE Aid 2007, however, Tenryū was defeated by Razor Ramon HG and joined the main face group led by Razor Ramon HG. In 2010, he formed a new promotion called Tenryū Project.

On 2015/11/15, Tenryū wrestled his retirement match, losing to Okada Kazuchika.

See also

List of rikishi-turned pro-wrestlers

External links

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