Koji Kitao vs. John Tenta (WAR, 13 December 1996)

This was a rematch from their infamous SWS battle where Kitao refused to sell for Tenta, got disqualified for kicking the referee then shouted over the microphone about how wrestling was fake and he could kick Tenta’s ass in a shoot. That sent Kitao into a weird blackballed spiral until Tenryu threw him a lifeline. It was quite a thing. Tenta had basically finished with WCW by this point, having settled on his species towards the end of that run, and aside from an aborted return as one of Roddy Piper’s main men was about to enter a gap year (at least until South Park started). He’d started to grow a full head of hair back but also had a bizarre handlebar moustache. He looked like an inflated Sheriff George Woodman from Deadly Premonition.

Oh boy, this match. Kitao dominated the early exchanges, throwing kicks at Tenta and taking him down. Kitao threw so many kicks in this match and honest to God, they all looked like complete shit. It was like Kitao remembered he’d told everyone that wrestling was fake in his previous match with Tenta and was determined to prove that fact. Tenta seemed to be selling everything Kitao did to him out of a sense of obligation rather than simulating any actual damage. At one point they wandered outside, Kitao kicked Tenta and Tenta toppled backwards over a guardrail onto a table, creating a big beefy bridge between the two. Then he started kicking his legs around like an upside down tortoise. At least that was funny.

Once Tenta recovered from that awkward predicament he was able to actually start doing some stuff in the ring, including the Earthquake Splash (which Kitao kicked out of), before Kitao threw more kicks and pinned him with a lariat. Everyone booed this which only made it funnier. At first I thought this was because Kitao was a heel, but I don’t think he was. I think the match was just bad. One thing I adore about John Tenta in both this and their original match is his tolerance. He just went along with the Kitao show, regardless of the form it would take. This one lacked the surreal quality of Tenta having to process just what the hell Kitao was up to so it is an inferior sequel but it did make me laugh, albeit unintentionally. 1/4*

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