Genichiro Shimada (嶋田 源一郎 Shimada Gen'ichirō, born February 2, 1950), better known as Genichiro Tenryu (天龍 源一郎 Tenryū Gen'ichirō) is a retired Japanese professional wrestler. At age 13, he entered sumo wrestling and stayed there for 13 years, after which he turned to Western-style professional wrestling. "Tenryu" was his shikona.
Professional wrestling career[edit | edit source]
Scouted by Giant Baba, the All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) owner, Tenryu was sent to Amarillo, Texas to be trained by Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk, and debuted in Texas in 1976, against Ted DiBiase. After returning to Japan, he stayed in the undercard until about 1982 when he began to get a slight push in that year's Champion Carnival tournament. In 1983, following a brief stint in Jim Crockett Promotions, his push began in earnest when Jumbo Tsuruta pursued the NWA International heavyweight title, now the main title in the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship.
1984 saw Tenryu winning the NWA United National title, now also part of the Triple Crown, as well as the NWA International tag team title with Tsuruta. Their combination was called "Kakuryu" (鶴 = kaku = tsuru (the "tsuru" in Tsuruta) + 龍 = ryū in Tenryū). The team feuded with Riki Choshu and Yoshiaki Yatsu, 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 Tenryu forming his own stable, "Revolution", with former International Pro Wrestling wrestlers Ashura Hara and Hiromichi Fuyuki, as well as All Japan rookies Toshiaki Kawada, and Yoshinari Ogawa; Tatsumi Kitahara would join the group upon his debut in 1988. Tenryu and Hara feuded with Tsuruta and his new partner Yatsu over the PWF (Pacific Wrestling Federation) tag team titles and later with their replacement, the World Tag Team Championship (a combination of the PWF and NWA International tag belts). Hara was kicked out of the promotion in late 1988, and Tenryu replaced him with Stan Hansen, with whom he held the World Tag Team Championship as well.
1989 was Tenryu's banner year. Tsuruta became the first Triple Crown champion on April 18 of that year, and just two days later Tenryu became his first challenger. The Tsuruta-Tenryu series that ensued set the standard for all Triple Crown matches and feuds to follow. When Tenryu won the belts on June 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 Mitsuharu Misawa would follow him to that. In addition, Tenryu was chosen to be one-third of the |NWA World 6-Man Tag Team Champions with the Road Warriors after the Road Warriors turned heel against their former co-holder of the title, Dusty Rhodes. However, Tenryu's increasing commitments to All Japan meant less time to wrestle in the United States, and this resulted in the six man championship being vacated and temporarily being abandoned until 1991, when it was temporarily resurrected as a World Championship Wrestling championship.
Tenryu's most high-profile North American match was for the World Wrestling Federation in 1991 at WrestleMania VII, where he teamed with Koji Kitao to defeat Demolition. He also appeared in both the 1993 Royal Rumble and 1994 Royal Rumble; in the latter he made it to the final five but was eliminated by eventual co-winners Lex Luger and Bret Hart. An angle had he and The Great Kabuki hired as mercenaries by Yokozuna's manager, Mr. Fuji, to attack Luger and prevent him from winning.
In April 1990, Tenryu left All Japan to form SWS. After its collapse in June 1992, Tenryu, aided by Masatomo Takei (brother of his wife Makiyo) formed WAR. WAR became his base from where he would take on top wrestlers from other promotions, such as Atsushi Onita, Nobuhiko Takada, The Great Muta, Shinya Hashimoto and Masahiro Chono, all of whom he defeated. He also traded victories with Tatsumi Fujinami and Antonio Inoki, thus becoming the only Japanese wrestler to defeat both Inoki and Baba by pinfall.
In 1998, as WAR went into decline, Tenryu began an earnest comeback, this time in New Japan. He first joined Heisei Ishingun, allied with its leader Shiro Koshinaka, and they won the IWGP Tag Team Championship from Team Wolf, Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan. In December 1999, Tenryu 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 title) by beating Mutoh 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, Tenryu closed WAR and rejoined All Japan, eager to test his mettle against the remaining ace, his former disciple Kawada. Tenryu 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 former WAR-UWFI feud rival Yoji Anjo.
In 2003, he joined Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling 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, Kenta Kobashi, 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 Jun Akiyama. Tenryu has also been with the HUSTLE promotion and was a part of the main heel group led by Generalissimo Takada. During this time, he teamed with Toshiaki Kawada mainly. At HUSTLE Aid 2007, however, Tenryu was defeated by Razor Ramon HG and joined the main face group led by Razor Ramon HG, HUSTLE Army.
In December 2009, following the folding of Hustle, Tenryu began running his own Tenryu Project promotion. He still makes forays into other promotions, still active even past age 60.
On February 7, 2015, it was reported that Tenryu had decided to retire from professional wrestling with his final match scheduled to take place later in the year. Tenryu held a press conference two days later to confirm the report, announcing that his retirement event would be taking place in November and would feature participation from All Japan, New Japan and Noah. On August 16, Tenryu made a surprise return to New Japan, having a confrontation with Kazuchika Okada to set up his retirement match on November 15. In the meantime, he embarked on a multipromotional "Retirement Road" tour, including matches in Kyushu Pro Wrestling, DDT, BJW, Wrestle-1 and Pro Wrestling FREEDOMS. On November 15, Tenryu was defeated by Okada in his retirement match.
In wrestling[edit | edit source]
- Finishing moves
- 53 Sai (Snap brainbuster) – 2003–2015
- Folding powerbomb
- Scoop brainbuster
- Signature moves
- Backhand chop
- DDT, sometimes to a rope hung opponent
- Diving back elbow drop
- German suplex
- Guh Punch (Jab to the opponent's jaw)
- Hangman's neckbreaker
- Kesagiri chop
- Swastika Hold (Modified abdominal stretch)
- Shoot kick to the opponent's face
- Standing or a leg-feed enzuigiri
- Suicide dive
- WAR Special (Seated double chickenwing)
- "Mr. Puroresu"
- Entrance themes
- "Thunder Storm" by Masayoshi Takanaka (AJPW/SWS/WAR; 1981–1990, 1991–2015)
- "Genichiro Tenryu SWS" (SWS/WWF; 1990–1991)
Championships and accomplishments[edit | edit source]
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- All Asia Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Masanobu Fuchi
- NWA International Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Jumbo Tsuruta
- NWA United National Championship (2 times)
- PWF World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- PWF World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Ashura Hara
- Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- World Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Stan Hansen (3), Ashura Hara (1), and Yoji Anjo (1)
- Champion Carnival (2001)
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (1984) – with Jumbo Tsuruta
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (1986) – with Jumbo Tsuruta
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (1989) – with Stan Hansen
- January 2 Korakuen Hall Heavyweight Battle Royal (1982)
- Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling
- WMG Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Riki Choshu
- Hustle Super Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Tadao Yasuda
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling/World Championship Wrestling
- NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Mr. Fuji
- NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with The Road Warriors
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #44 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
- PWI ranked him #14 of the 100 best tag teams of the "PWI Years" with Jumbo Tsuruta in 2003
- Super World of Sports
- SWS vs WWF Tournament (1990)
- One Night Tag Team Tournament (1990) – with Koji Kitao
- Tenryu Project
- Tokyo Sports
- Best Bout Award (1987) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta on August 31
- Best Bout Award (1988) vs. Stan Hansen on July 27
- Best Bout Award (1989) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta on June 5
- Best Bout Award (1991) vs. Hulk Hogan on December 12
- Best Bout Award (1993) vs. Riki Choshu on January 4
- Best Bout Award (1994) with Ashura Hara vs. Atsushi Onita and Tarzan Goto on March 2
- Best Bout Award (1996) vs. Nobuhiko Takada on September 11
- Best Bout Award (1999) vs. Keiji Mutoh on May 3
- Best Bout Award (2015) vs. Kazuchika Okada on November 15
- Best Tag Team Award (1983, 1985) with Jumbo Tsuruta
- Best Tag Team Award (1987) with Ashura Hara
- Fighting Spirit Award (1983)
- Lifetime Achievement Award (2015)
- MVP Award (1986, 1987, 1988, 1993)
- Popularity Award (1977)
- Performance Award (1981, 1984, 1996)
- Technique Award (1990)
- Wrestle Association "R"
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- 5 Star Match (1986) with Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Riki Choshu and Yoshiaki Yatsu on January 28
- 5 Star Match (1988) with Toshiaki Kawada vs. Stan Hansen and Terry Gordy on December 16
- 5 Star Match (1989) with Toshiaki Kawada and Samson Fuyuki vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, Yoshiaki Yatsu and Masanobu Fuchi on January 28
- 5 Star Match (1989) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta on June 5
- Match of the Year (2001) vs. Keiji Mutoh on June 8, Tokyo, Japan
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)