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KinchStalker

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About KinchStalker

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    Jumbo S(hr)imp
  • Birthday 08/04/1996

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    Milwaukie, OR

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  1. I can't say I know about any specific incident but I do know that the Ishingun era in general was a deeply frustrating time for AJPW's gaijin crop.
  2. The bio says he returned to the States in summer 1985. He was already married to Betty Niccoli I believe, and I seem to recall reading some claim that he did a bit of booking in Memphis or somewhere around this time. Vince hired him, as earlier written, to spearhead his vague plans for Japanese expansion.
  3. Well, that is a huge gap in my research. Thanks for plugging it in.
  4. The website was made posthumously, tying in with the nonprofit his widow ran and named after him.
  5. I don’t know you, above poster, but it’s an honor to have my thread pimped to jdw. Anyway, I rushed Part One and let some things slip through the cracks – perhaps I was wanting to prove that I’m not going to be a one-hit wonder after finishing the Jumbo bio, or maybe I was just really proud of my dumb “Two Princes” joke in the biography section – so I’m really going to take it slow writing Part Two. There is one big thing I missed at the end of that post that I need to address now. On November 1, 1990, SWS announced a new signing: the controversial retired yokozuna Koji Kitao, through Revolution. And in researching his pre-SWS career, I fell into a sumo history rabbit hole that fascinated me. So Kitao is going to get the extended biographical treatment here, as a stopgap release. The infamous incident against John Tenta had larger backstage ramifications in SWS than might be known in English-language narratives, so I think it’s worth going into detail on where he came from. ---------------- The broad strokes of Koji Kitao’s sumo career suggest either a talented athlete who let a perfect storm of political favoritism get to their head, or one who was already a problem child, but was given their opportunities in the misplaced confidence that they would straighten themselves out. The Wikipedia page in his native language makes it clear that Kitao was a case of the latter, because the warning signs were always there. The spoiled child of the head of a construction company, Kitao frequently complained during training, and would threaten to return home. He actually did so under the guise of a leave of absence after suffering a herniated disc during a tournament, but his father sent him back, and Kitao was punished with a year of latrine duty. It’s helpful to know what was going on in the broader world of sumo to understand why, by 1986, the fact that there was only one active yokozuna would make the Association desperate enough to promote someone like Kitao. -------------------------- The rank of yokozuna was long associated with the prominent Yoshida family. They were actually the first to issue yokozuna licenses, when in 1789 they awarded them to Tanikaze Kajinosuke and Onogawa Kisaburō, the fourth and fifth yokozuna (1-3 were posthumously declared as such). In the 1820s, another family would issue a pair of licenses, and in response the Yoshida family demanded that the Edo shogunate grant them authority to control the sumo world, and it was granted. The Goto family would continue to grant licenses but ended after the Meiji period and from what I gather these are now noncanonical. Anyway, the Yoshida family would be the arbiters of who was promoted to yokozuna until 1950, when strong criticism of those then active at the rank prompted the Japan Sumo Association to take action. Late the previous year, 39th yokozuna Maedayama was forced to retire by the Japan Sumo Association for dropping out of a tournament claiming illness, but then being photographed at a baseball game. Then, the January tournament saw the absences of all three active yokozuna: Azumafuji, Terakuni, and Haguroyama. Initially the JSA decided on a very harsh punishment, suspending all three for two tournaments and threatening demotion if they lost the tournament upon their return, but this was protested and reversed. In order to maintain the authority of the division, though, it was decided that yokozuna would no longer be promoted at the recommendation of the Yoshida family, but rather a committee of sumo experts. [1] On April 21, 1950, the Yokozuna Deliberation Committee was formed as an advisory body to the JSA, but the Yoshida family would continue to be involved with the Association. Legally they were a religious organization, so they remained integral to the ceremonial aspect of the yokozuna promotion. But then, in May 1986, the family was disgraced by scandal. While Nagataka Yoshida the 25th was in Tokyo, his clerical staff had gotten deep into baseball betting, and racked up an ¥800,000,000 (now about ¥943,000,000, or $8.6 million) debt in his name. Yoshida would work to pay it off, but in a meeting with the chairman of the board of trustees Kasugano, it was agreed that the family would sever relations with the JSA and entrust the ceremony to them entirely. (The two parties have never reached reconciliation. Ultimately Nagataka would pay off his debts by selling assets and borrowing from relatives, and paid that off with a loan using the family residence as collateral. In 2005, the property was auctioned off and demolished to build a condominium.) -------------------------- So it was that, at a point where there was only one active yokozuna, the Association felt the need in July 1986 to promote somebody. Kitao was one of five ozeki (penultimate rank), and had just had a pair of strong tournament performances. At the latest one his only losses had been to Hoshi, a sekiwake (antepenultimate rank) who was “already performing at the standards of an ozeki”, and to yokozuna Chiyonofuji in the playoff round after having defeated him in the tournament proper. Only committee member Osamu Inaba opposed Kitao’s promotion to the very end, stating that on top of having never won an upper-division tournament, the rikishi lacked the mind and spirit of a true yokozuna. To put it lightly, his peers should have heeded his warnings. As Kitao could not compete as a yokozuna under his family name, he would become professionally known as Futahaguro. This was suggested by chairman Kagusano, and was a portmanteau of Futabayama and Haguroyama, the respective 35th and 36th yokozuna, and both former members of Kitao’s Tatenami stable. On top of the new yokozuna’s dubious credentials, this name, at least in the opinion of writer Akira Komuro as cited by Japanese Wikipedia, was “too unnatural”. Sure enough, Kitao himself would fumble from the outset. At the first yokozuna promotion ceremony held independently of the Yoshida family, held at Meiji Shrine, Kitao would be criticized for his performance, both for adding an extra stance which was derisively compared to that of a traffic controller, and for making his footsteps from the wrong side of the ring. At some point – I am guessing in the middle of the September tournament, as he left halfway through – he was hospitalized for food poisoning and appendicitis, so his physical condition immediately came under scrutiny as well. Futahaguro would notch three runner-up performances over the next seven tournaments, but his other tournament showings were mediocre. Kitao’s English Wikipedia page gets the circumstances of his retirement right; junior stable members refused to serve him after he physically punished one of them, and he stormed out after an argument with his boss Tatsunami. What it doesn’t mention, though, is that this was preceded by an incident where all but one of them left the tournament after Futahaguro had shot his valet with an air gun. (All but one of those returned after an apology.) And the argument that led to his departure was over chanko. Tatsunami claimed that Kitao blew up over the underling in question using the wrong seasoning, while Kitao claimed it was because the kids couldn’t cook, and that he had repeatedly asked that they be taught. Regardless, Futahaguro would make history as the first yokozuna ever to be expelled without consultation with his stablemaster (though according to Japanese Wikipedia, Tatsunami did unsuccessfully try to locate him to do so) or a hearing with the Association. In the aftermath of Kitao’s disgracing of the yokozuna, the Yokozuna Deliberation Committee would enact a rule that two consecutive tournament victories as an ozeki was required for promotion. This would hold until the last two yokozuna promoted as of writing, Kakuryū Rikisaburō in 2014 and Kisenosato Yutaka in 2017. Reverting to his birth name as a public figure, Kitao would enjoy celebrity, mostly by starring in the television series Sports Adventurer, but a visit to the Monster Factory as part of this job turned his attention to becoming a professional wrestler. According to the June 12, 1989 Observer, he had a brief tryout with Larry Sharpe; I feel safe in presuming that was the premise of the TV episode. Interestingly, the comment he made to Tokyo Sports at this time was that, if he were to become a wrestler, he wanted to be signed on a tour-to-tour basis like a gaijin, rather than contracted fully to a promotion. Kitao actually had a little bit of history with NJPW. When he attended a show during junior high, wrestler and future referee Motoyuki Kitazawa invited him to meet Inoki in the waiting room and offered for him to join after graduation. The source doesn’t specify whether he met graduating junior high or high school, but as Kitazawa had (according to an uncited Japanese Wikipedia claim) previously been the one who helped Tatsumi Fujinami, who had entered the workforce as a mechanic after junior high, get into the JWA, I’m presuming it was the former. By this point, Kitao had already received an offer from the Tatenami stable, but I’m guessing the episode stuck with him. In 1989, Kitao consulted bodybuilder Mitsuo Endo, whose gym he had attended since he was a makushita, about entering professional wrestling. Endo’s connection to the business was that he had worked as a referee for late-period IWE – if you’ve dived into that footage, you have likely noticed a yellow-shirted referee who resembled nothing if not a Japanese Mr. Clean, and who not infrequently had the best body of anyone in the ring – and still had contact with Yukihiro Sakaeda, aka Tetsunosuke Daigo/Tokyo Joe [2]. On June 1, Kitao visited NJPW headquarters and received an unofficial invitation. The next day, he held a press conference to announce he would become a professional wrestler. Kitao spent two months training under Lou Thesz in Norfolk, Virginia. While he returned in August, Kitao would head to America again, working for the AWA through Masa Saito’s connection as the masked Monster Machine. According to (the free-to-read portion of) an interview with Apollo Sugawara, he also coached Kitao in Japan at Endo’s offer (Endo had gotten him connected with the IWE to begin his career), and would accompany him on the excursion, which is why he was not present for the second Pioneer Senshi event on October 26. Kitao had wanted to wrestle as Thunderstorm Kitao, but while this motif would linger in his gear and his absolutely incredible entrance music (“BREAK DOWN THUNDER STORM”) courtesy of Demon Kogure (now Kakka), this would not pan out. (I guess it’s fitting that he would eventually work for Tenryu, though.) And so it was that in February, Kitao would wrestle Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow in the Eggdome. From his elaborate entrance, clad in a badass Hokuto no Ken-inspired leather jacket, to the clear Hulk Hogan homage in his gear colors, mannerisms, and moveset, Kitao certainly tried to meet the occasion as spectacle, but his clumsy performance between the ropes would not be overlooked by the crowd. His performances would remain rough. During a later match, a six-man tag alongside Shinya Hashimoto and Masa Saito against Vader, Bigelow, and Steve Williams (either on 1990.05.24 or 1990.05.30), Kitao got his legs tangled up in the corner and fell down. From the beginning, Kitao had made it clear that he did not want to fully sign with a company, like Hiroshi Wajima had in All Japan. This request would be granted, as Kitao was signed not directly with New Japan, but as an “exclusive freelance contractor” through the Arms entertainment agency, but I think it’s safe to presume that this arrangement would have alienated his coworkers even if Kitao didn’t have personality issues. His crowd reception would not improve, and he didn’t help his case when, in an interview as part of the publicity campaign for the single release of his entrance theme, Kitao brushed it off as simply a manifestation of their frustration with how quickly his matches ended. Top this off with his lack of selling, and his difficulty with taking moves properly and consequent refusal to take certain maneuvers (he once injured his lower back landing wrong on a vertical suplex, or “brainbuster”, out of fear), and you had a man who nobody liked even before the incident you all probably know about. Kitao’s last match for New Japan was on 1990.07.22, and was also the last NJPW match of Kazakh wrestler Vladimir Berkovich. This is the least interesting part of the story to tell for me because everyone already knows it. One day, Kitao had a violent confrontation with booker and on-site supervisor Riki Choshu over skipped practice sessions, which culminated in his use of an ethnic slur against the Zainichi Korean. His contract was terminated, even if New Japan publicly claimed it was an amiable exit. In a later interview, Choshu remarked that no matter which organization took him on, Kitao would cause trouble for them. On November 1, 1990, it was announced that Koji Kitao had joined SWS through Revolution. It wouldn’t be long until Choshu was proven correct.
  6. KinchStalker

    Matches enhanced by their endings

    Fujinami vs Maeda immediately comes to mind. The necessary improvisation ended up suiting the theme of the match far better than a time-limit draw would have...even if the video of the match doesn't do the finish as much justice as this photograph, one of my favorites in wrestling history.
  7. I believe the official story is that Fujinami was in attendance at the 1990.05.14 AJPW show as a public display of their interpromotional cooperation, but this Igapro article on his hernia, recovery period and comeback claims that he was also there to send a message to SWS making his presence known. And yeah, I'm really dreading having to put everything together for part 2. I have to juggle the UWF politics with whatever was going on with FULL to get everything sorted out.
  8. I've heard stories about interactions between Tenryu and the AJPW guys post-departure when Hisame has mentioned them on her secondary Twitter dedicated to the Four Pillars - such as when a hammered Tenryu stormed the dojo with a baseball bat because he was under the mistaken impression that Kobashi had talked shit about him - but those two episodes are new to me.
  9. I don't think I ever heard that rumor, but I think I read something attributed to Misawa and/or Kawada that if Tenryu had asked they would have followed him.
  10. Ikiru likely would've gone much differently had it starred the emissary of the Great Muta. Imagine old-man Muta misting all the bureaucrats in his way to get that playground built.
  11. Honestly, I'm not sure. This is a story I've seen several times, from Meltzer to Eggshells, and I think you'd have to ask a Japanese journalist in the know (a connection I don't have - I guess I could ask Fumi Saito, but I'm getting to a point where my questions for him would be way, way too specific for the purposes of the Pacific Rim podcast) to get your answer. There are books about SWS out there on the Japanese market, but to be quite honest they're very low priority if I continue this transcription stuff.
  12. Thanks. I'll edit accordingly. (Also forgot to link a photograph in the main section.)
  13. He called Tanaka directly. As for the last point I'm not quite sure. Perhaps Mutoh wasn't as far along in his deal?
  14. I have completed the first of what I’ve planned to be a three-part series about SWS, but for this post I’m doing an experiment. You’ll notice numbers besides certain names. I have planned for this SWS narrative to span three posts, but at least this first one will feature wrestler biographies at the bottom. I learn a lot of cool things in my research efforts that don’t fit into the broader narratives that I’m trying to tell, and I want to create an outlet for those while also making this thread more accessible for those new to retro puro, who may not know a lot of these names. If it seems like I’m condescending to you guys, think about it from the perspective of a more casual fan that might lurk this thread on a whim. (For instance, the popular Irish wrestling video podcast OSW Review recently did a watchalong episode on the 1991.03.31 SWS/WWF Tokyo Dome show, and there’s a chance that somebody who sees that episode might somehow find their way here.) By the same token, while it would be quite easy for someone who doesn’t know about the Great Kabuki to get the basics without my help, writing a mini-piece about Kabuki gives me an avenue to share little tidbits that might not be well known even to those who are quite familiar with him. I won’t do bios for Tenryu and Yatsu because I’ve already covered a lot of what I would be paring down to compose them earlier in this thread, but I plan to do mini-bios for many of SWS’s contracted wrestlers, that will go up to the point that they enter the story. The SWS Part One: The Black Ship Approaches On November 23, 1989, Newborn UWF held U-Cosmos, the Tokyo Dome’s second professional wrestling event. Even without a Hisashi Shinma to negotiate a television deal, the promotion outdrew the preceding NJPW Battle Satellite, all on the allure of the revival of shoot-style. Well, that and the sponsorship of Hachiro Tanaka, president of eyewear manufacturer Megane Super. Tanaka had made a killing on the stock market during the Japanese asset price bubble, and he was a wrestling fan who allegedly wanted to run a promotion for the fellow wrestling fan that was his son. The May 7, 1990 issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter states that Tanaka made an offer to buy the UWF in 1989. President Shinji Jin was receptive of the offer, but top star and locker-room leader Akira Maeda shot it down, so Tanaka took matters into his own hands. Tanaka’s two agents were Kazuo Sakurada[1] and Ichimasa Wakamatsu[2], both of whom were veterans of the industry, but at that point didn’t have particularly close ties to any of the Japanese organizations. As is fairly well known by this point, the initial plan was to sign Keiji Mutoh – Tanaka’s son was a fan – as the ace of SWS. Sakurada knew Mutoh well, having worked with him during his first excursion in 1986 and then as stablemates during the 1989 Dragonmaster run. Mutoh was contractually freed up as far as Japan went, and the cancellation of the Muta/Flair main event at the 1990.02.10 Tokyo Dome show left him feeling "disenfranchised”, and influenced him to accept the offer. However, at least as I’ve seen the story told, when Mutoh met with Sakaguchi after his first retirement match, on March 23, and told him he was leaving, Sakaguchi made a call and blocked the sale. As mentioned in previous posts, Genichiro Tenryu found himself in friction with AJPW in early 1990, due to a dissatisfactory contract renewal offer as well as creative differences. He was scouted for the new promotion. Tenryu and Baba spoke on the matter when the former came to tender his resignation on April 23. In the mid-1980s, the “lonely” Baba, who by this point had not been president of the company he built for years, and whose career as an active performer was in an inexorable decline as the Hansen feud concluded, had opened up to Tenryu about his own feelings, to an unprecedented extent. He’d had paternal relationships with wrestlers, sure, but he’d never revealed himself so much as he did to Genichiro. It even seems that the claim which Terry Funk had made to the press after his 1983.08.31 “retirement” match – that Tenryu would be the next president, not Tsuruta (of course, Terry was probably unaware that Mitsuo Mitsune was then president, not Baba) – would have been borne out. Baba apparently made such an offer to Tenryu during their talks. Baba’s confidant Kyohei Wada has stated that he believes Tenryu would have taken the chair had he stayed, essentially stating that Baba had come to feel that Jumbo had “listened to him too much” over the years and now “couldn’t be trusted with All Japan”. Eventually, Baba relented. He couldn’t stop a man who had already made up his mind. He proceeded to call the editor of Gong, who had just printed Tenryu’s claim to reporter Kagehiro Osano that he would quit if he lost to Jumbo, on April 26. He confirmed that Tenryu was leaving, but requested that they hold off on “any crazy stories”. Baba wanted to keep the relationship amicable for later interpromotional arrangements. Tenryu tendered his resignation on the first of May, and Baba announced his departure to the press the next day. Baba still didn’t speak harshly of Tenryu, but Jumbo wasn’t so delicate. “My feeling is that no matter what happens in the future, I will never fight Tenryu again, and I will never share his views on life or his values.” (A few days later, Jumbo would say to Osano that Tenryu had called him, and he appeared satisfied with the explanation he was given.) Meanwhile, on April 27, NJPW held NJPW Shinto Fight STATION BAY N.K. in Urayasu, which was their first event since the AJPW/NJPW/WWF Wrestling Summit two weeks prior. Conspicuous by their absences were George Takano [3] and Naoki Sano [4]. The latter at least had the cover of having undergone a Canadian excursion (though there were rumblings as to the truth, as the April 23 Observer stated that Sano was “reportedly leaving for yet another new independent promotion”), but Takano would announce his intent to join the new promotion on May 7. (According to the July 2 Observer, Sano was by that point laying low due to legal action from New Japan.) On May 10, the formation of Super World Sports was officially announced at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo. This photograph dates from the press conference. Five days later, Wakamatsu announced he would join and become a dojo master – I’ll explain what this meant later on, when I get into SWS’s structure – and on June 5, it was announced that Takano would do the same. A temporary dojo was built in Yokohama, and a party to celebrate its completion was held on June 27. In attendance were Tenryu, Takano, Sakurada, Wakamatsu, Goro Tsurumi [5], and Akira Katayama [6]. On July 5, a wave of signings from All Japan was announced. The Japanese SWS Wikipedia page refers to them as “Shunji Takano [7], Samson Fuyuki [8], and five others”; I don’t know if the others were not mentioned as a prose choice or if the announcement had been that there had been five other signings who might not have yet been identified. Between the established timeline of other signees and the eventual roster, I’m guessing that Koki Kitahara [9], Shinichi Nakano [10], Masao Orihara, and Isao Takagi [11] were among them. Nine days later, it was announced that Takashi Ishikawa [12], who had retired from professional wrestling after Hiroshi Wajima ended his tenure with All Japan, would be returning to join SWS. On July 12-13, the first wave of auditions were held, and six wrestlers were accepted, including Hisakatsu Oya and Nobukazu Hirai. The largest wrestling publication in Japan, Weekly Pro Wrestling, began to consistently disparage Tenryu and SWS. As I mentioned in an earlier post in this thread, editor-in-chief Tarzan Yamamoto had offered his services to Baba as a creative consultant after much of JPW had returned to New Japan in 1987. Yamamoto would later admit that he had accepted payment from Baba to do so – it appears that Baba suspected Tenryu was recruiting his talent away, and poured gasoline on the fire in self-defense – but that he was proud to have been a partisan and that he “would rather have lost with Baba than won with everyone else”. Weekly Pro would continue to have a bone to pick, even criticizing SWS events for their high production values. It’s important to note that Tenryu only actively *recruited* one person from All Japan, rookie Masao Orihara. For instance, I’ve seen Meltzer persistently state that he “recruited” Yoshiaki Yatsu, and my suspicion is that this was a speculation at the time – most likely peddled by Weekly Pro – that was later cleared up in Japanese narratives, and has just never been corrected whenever Meltzer has written mini-bios for Yatsu as he’s made news. In actuality, Yatsu pursued a deal with SWS himself. He did not see the point in continuing to work for All Japan without Tenryu, and also allegedly had misgivings against Baba for not covering a surgery after he suffered an injury during his 1990.03.24 singles match against Steve Williams. His signing was announced on August 2, alongside the Great Kabuki [13], who was brought on as booker. Ryozo Yonezawa, who had long worked in AJPW foreign relations and as Baba’s right-hand man, was also appointed as a director that day. (Yonezawa apparently left because he was at odds with Motoko.) At some point, Tenryu secretly traveled to the United States to meet with his old co-worker Akio Sato. The nominal purpose was to ask for his assistance in the SWS launch, but Tenryu would confide in Sato about his reluctance to “kick sand in Baba’s face”. Sato told him that it was no use playing nice after he had already quit, and that, like it or not, he was now Baba’s competitor. On August 29, ex-sumo Ishinriki Kōji announced he would join SWS, and Fumihiro Niikura was also announced to be coming on board on a freelance basis. The next day, a party at the Hotel Okura would see the SWS announce the outline of their business. As I mentioned in the last point of my post summarizing Chapter 10 of the Jumbo Tsuruta biography, Tenryu adopted a heya (“room”) system modeled after sumo to structure the company talent. His heya – Revolution, named after his AJPW faction – consisted of those who had chosen to follow him from AJPW. George Takano’s Palaistra similarly featured ex-New Japan talent, and finally, Dojo Geki – headed by Tanaka’s agents Sakurada and Wakamatsu – generally consisted of freelancers and veterans of promotions like the IWE. This wasn’t an ironclad rule – Shunji Takano would join his brother, and Yoshiaki Yatsu and Shinichi Nakano would join Dojo Geki – but it was how a lot of it played out. The individual heya would even recruit and train their own talent. SWS held its debut event on September 29, but its real coming-out party would be a two-night event on October 18-19. Before that, on October 16, Don Arakawa, a longtime NJPW wrestler who had retired in March 1989, announced he would join SWS. On November 20, 1990, SWS announced a two-year partnership with the World Wrestling Federation. END OF PART ONE ---
  15. I still have three pages left, but the final section thus far seems to just be a conclusion summarizing the book and citing the interviewees, so I don’t feel too bad about ending things here. Thus concludes my posts culled from the Jumbo biography, and I can rest over Easter weekend. For reasons which should be obvious to anyone familiar with Tsuruta’s career arc, this is going to be light on wrestling tidbits and heavy on biographical information. 1. Tsuruta was hospitalized on October 31, 1992, the same day his second son was born. After the October Giant Series had ended, his liver functions spiked to thirty times that of normal human levels. The press conference announcing the cancellation of his RWTL appearance came a day before the tour began. Tsuruta’s weight dropped to 90kg, and one of the Babas remarked that “he seems to have returned to the Jumbo he was when he first joined us”. 2. Nikkan Sports revealed Tsuruta’s hepatitis in their May 28, 1993 issue, after Japanese reports had previously referred to it as a “visceral disease”. They reported that Tsuruta was retiring, having interviewed his physician, but a late edition of Tokyo Sports issued a rebuttal through a direct Tsuruta interview. 3. When Tsuruta was finally discharged on June 20, announcer Fumito Kihara had them play “J” at the hospital entrance. After an appearance at the 1993.09.24 Korakuen show, in which he did not participate but greeted the audience and stated his intent to return to the ring, he began to recover at home. During this time, he consulted Dr. Kijuro Nomura for advice on how to adapt his lifestyle. Despite improvements to his physical condition, Nomura’s guidelines were firm: tag matches only, never work to the point of exhaustion, and avoid strikes due to risk of liver or spleen rupture. Baba had reassured Jumbo that he was under no pressure to return, as “his life was more important to him”, but that he would be happy to accommodate him if he really wanted to continue. 4. During his hospitalization, Tsuruta read an article in a golf magazine about former pro golfer Fusako Masui, who was now pursuing a coaching degree in grad school at Tsukuba University. On October 18, 1994, he took the entrance exam for the master’s course in phys-ed at the same university, and his success was announced two weeks later. Admitted on April 6, 1995, Tsuruta began to attend the university twice a week after a three-hour commute by train and express bus. He completed his master’s thesis in 1996 (which actually was posted on Tsuruta’s old website back in the day, and is still accessible through the Wayback Machine), and graduated on March 15, 1997. 5. In the meantime, Tsuruta had other engagements, such as a one-day coaching session of the Tsukuba womens’ judo team in the summer of 1994, and a 1996 lecture at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, at the invitation of the Japan Sumo Association, where he gave advice to about fifty head wrestlers on how to train young rikishi integrating coaching and dietary science. Tsuruta became a lecturer at Keio University and at the Toin University of Yokohama in April 1996, and shortly after his graduation became a lecturer at his old alma mater Chuo. 6. Kawada makes insightful commentary about how Tsuruta’s approach to his career, resented as it was by the macho puro culture of his day, ended up being the way of the future: “The image of professional wrestlers has always been enhanced by their boldness, but when Tsuruta entered professional wrestling, he abandoned the image of a wrestler by saying, "I'm going to work for All Japan Pro Wrestling.” However, I don't see any wrestlers nowadays who are so bold. It was only me and Misawa who had that kind of wrestler's temperament. Today's wrestlers are harder than businessmen. They don't drink and they don't spend money. They are even better than the Jumbo Tsuruta of those days.” The biography also notes that since his retirement, Kobashi has essentially modeled his career after Tsuruta’s, making a living on the lecture circuit while also running a gym. 7. When he started lecturing at Chuo, Tsuruta began to aspire to move to America for research activities. The person who helped make it happen was Matty Suzuki, who had taken a liking to Tsuruta when he was young and had maintained contact, and who now lived in Oregon. An acquaintance of Suzuki’s was an alum of Portland State University, and he told them about Tsuruta, whom the university accepted. 8. The book makes no mention of the story that Meltzer had reported around Tsuruta’s departure from All Japan: that he had essentially given up his board of directors’ seat by ensuring Misawa inherited the presidency and incurring Motoko’s wrath. This is probably still true – Osano recalls that he “sensed a complicated background in Misawa's casual consideration “, though when he asked Fuchi about “[Osano’s] memory of that time”, he claimed not to have been aware beyond what little Yasuko Tsuruta had told him – but the story told here is less dramatic. According to the bio, Tsuruta resigned himself, and initially was planning to remain a part-timer at his current pace. Motoko secretly had Jumbo in mind as the next president, according to Wada, but of course if you’ve been reading along you know Jumbo wouldn’t have wanted it anyway. The issue was, Tsuruta had already been issued his J-1 researcher’s visa, and it would difficult to obtain a second one. So he retired completely, calling one wrestler after another to tell them personally. The interpersonal tension that is mentioned, though, is that an unnamed All Japan wrestler, who was then attending graduate school on his own dime, was under the mistaken impression that All Japan had paid Tsuruta’s tuition, and that now he was “going to America with All Japan’s money”. 9. Osano tells a cute personal story here. In January 1999, he moved from being Gong editor-in-chief to the head of the Japan Sports Publication editorial planning office. The first book he worked on was the Giant Baba memorial issue, and the next was the Jumbo retirement issue. Osano notes that he made the book to “repay the kindness he had received” as a reporter for All Japan, and with the hope that Tsuruta’s three young sons would understand and respect that their father was a great wrestler. It was to go on sale the same day the Tsurutas left for Portland, and Osano was unable to deliver the book personally due to work commitments, but he sent a Gong reporter to deliver a copy hot off the presses directly to Jumbo. 10. According to Fuchi, Baba had a plan for the 20th anniversary show on 1992.10.31 to finally give Tsuruta a pin over him, and even though his finally going over Dory had some resonance, I think that would’ve been a better moment for the occasion had it been feasible. (Then again, Jumbo should’ve pinned Dory in like, 19*82*, but what’cha gonna do.) 11. The circumstances of Jumbo’s death are more or less already known in English-language circles, but I guess there’s a couple things I can add. Tsuruta might have gotten the procedure in Korea instead of the Philippines, but all the eligible donors as per Matsunami Hospital were Zainichi Koreans (i.e. residing in Japan), and that would have broken Tsuruta’s condition for privacy. Matty Suzuki had known that Tsuruta moved back to Japan at the end of 1999, and had visited him, but kept his promise to Yasuko and kept the secret. American correspondent Jimmy Nakanishi, a friend of Tsuruta’s, was called by Yasuko and given the news the day after he died. The news came to Osano when he and others were attending the press conference announcing the Crush Gals’ reformation, and while nobody could report on it yet the information caused quite a stir in the press room.
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