Tenryu wins Triple Crown
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling
New Triple Crown World champion Genichiro Tenryu.
In a major shocker, veteran Genichiro Tenryu defeated Toshiaka Kawada today in the finals of All Japan Pro Wrestling's
tournament to determine a new Triple Crown champion.
Tenryu defeated Kawada with his signature Northern Lights Bomb move in 26:28 before 16,300 fans at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall.
This is Tenryu's second title reign, having previously won the Triple Crown on June 5, 1989 from Jumbo Tsuruta
Tokyo. Tenryu held the title for four months before dropping it back to Tsuruta in Yokohama.
Prior to the start of the two-week tournament, Japanese media and wrestling pundits had pegged Kawada as the overwhelming favourite to win the title. In light of the fact that Kawada is All Japan's booker, today's victory by Tenryu comes as a major surprise to Japanese wrestling experts.
The Triple Crown title became vacant
this past June when former champion Kenta Kobashi left All Japan Pro Wrestling and joined
Mitsuharu Misawa's upstart Pro Wrestling Noah promotion. Tenryu left New Japan Pro Wrestling in July, returning to
All Japan ten years after he left the very same promotion to start up the WAR/SWS office.
The single-elimination, eight-man tournament kicked off on October 14 at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall. Kawada advanced to
the finals by way of a first round victory over Steve "Dr. Death" Williams and Shiro Koshinaka in the semi-finals.
Tenryu defeated Mike Barton (aka Bart Gunn in the WWF) and Stan Hansen in the semi-finals.
It is expected that Tenryu and Kawada will participate in New Japan Pro Wrestling's tournament to crown a new I.W.G.P. World
Heavyweight champion on January 4th at their annual Tokyo Dome show
. Former champion Kensuke Sasaki vacated the
title after losing a non-title match to Kawada
on October 9 at the Tokyo Dome.