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Found 3 results

  1. KinchStalker

    Kosuke Takeuchi

    Kosuke Takeuchi (竹内宏介) Profession: Journalist, Editor, Commentator (Color) Real name: Kosuke Takeuchi Professional name: not applicable Life: 1/6/1947-5/3/2012 Born: Atami, Shizuoka, Japan Career: 1965-2006 Promotions: International Wrestling Enterprise, All Japan Pro Wrestling (as commentator) Summary: Kosuke Takeuchi might have never worked between the ropes, but no chronicle of the history of puroresu is complete without him. The face of Gong magazine and a guru for generations of hardcore fans, Takeuchi was a pillar of puro culture throughout his forty-year career. [For a more detailed overview of the story of Takeuchi and Gong, see my blog post “Kosuke Takeuchi, Gong Magazine, and Various Maniax”, published on the tenth anniversary of his death.] While born in Atami, Shizuoka, Kosuke Takeuchi grew up in Tokyo's Taito ward. At the age of 8, he was hooked for life by JWA broadcasts on street televisions, and found his way to a job at Professional Wrestling & Boxing magazine in his senior year of high school. Takeuchi was frustrated by the magazine’s dry presentation—which was essentially an extension of the Daily Sports evening paper—and attempted to quit in 1966. He was promoted to the editorial department instead, and when the man who had gotten him that job and promotion, Yukio Koyonagi, left their parent company, Takeuchi was scouted for a new magazine. Left: Takeuchi goes on the mat with the man he made a star in Japan. Gong and Monthly Gong published content analogous to the Stanley Weston magazines of the West (that is, the “Apter mags”). It first hit shelves in 1968, and over the next decade, it would help make Takeuchi one of the most influential men in puroresu. Gong’s extensive coverage of Mil Mascaras, which began three years before he ever worked in Japan (and likely led to that even happening), was the most famous example of this. In the mid-to-late 1970s, a generation of superfans began to rally around Takeuchi, competing amongst themselves through their myriad fan clubs to win his favor. Simply put, his impact was massive. Through his fan club connections, Takeuchi could be relied on to help make the magic happen for an important match. For just one example, AJPW’s famous “Idol Showdown” of 1977, in which Jumbo Tsuruta defended his NWA United National title against Mil Mascaras, was supported by cheer squads which Takeuchi himself arranged on opposite ends of the arena (you can see them in cutaways during the match). While this was long unacknowledged in the West, Takeuchi is probably the primary source of unofficial footage of 1970s puroresu, whether that was through 8mm clips he had acquired (and had encouraged his biggest fans to shoot themselves) or the many home video recordings he had made of television broadcasts. These are just a couple of his many contributions to puroresu, though. Later on, he would be credited with giving Giant Baba the idea to license Tiger Mask for AJPW, as well as conceiving the name of FMW. Takeuchi began work as a commentator for AJPW and the IWE in the late 1970s, originally serving as a special guest for Mascaras’ matches in 1978. Over time, as Takeuchi scaled his Gong role back to an editorial advisor, he became more prominent in this role. However, Takeuchi’s regular commentary duties ended in 1992. He would continue to be a prominent figure in the wrestling journalism sphere for over a decade afterwards, and even returned to the magazine he had built during its darkest hour in the 2000s. Takeuchi suffered a massive stroke during a morning commute in 2006 and was left incapacitated until his death in 2012.
  2. KinchStalker

    Takao Kuramochi

    Takao Kuramochi (倉持隆夫) Profession: Commentator (PBP) Real name: Takao Kuramochi Professional name: not applicable Life: 1/2/1941- Born: Mitaki, Tokyo, Japan Career: 1972-1990 Promotions: All Japan Pro Wrestling Summary: Takao Kuramochi called All Japan Pro Wrestling for almost twenty years and remains one of puroresu’s best remembered play-by-play men. A graduate of Waseda University’s law department, Takao Kuramochi joined Nippon Television as an announcer in 1964. When NTV began airing AJPW eight years later, he was recommended as an announcer by Kazuo Tokumitsu. Kuramochi gradually took over lead broadcast duties from Tokumitsu and Ichiro Shimizu. By 1978, which is the first year of AJPW television that mostly still circulates today, he had settled into the head position. Kuramochi and reporter-commentator Takashi Yamada were the core duo of All Japan broadcasts for many years. In a 2022 column, Tokyo Sports reporter-turned-commentator Soichi Shibata praised Kuramochi & Yamada’s “rhythmic parroting” as a memorable combination to this day. Unlike his TV Asahi counterpart Ichiro Furutachi, who was informed on angles in advance, Kuramochi states that his reactions were genuine. Even in the case of May 2, 1980, which saw him attacked by the Sheik during a prolonged postmatch brawl against Abdullah the Butcher, Takao claims that only Baba and producer Akira Hara would have known about the plan. (Nippon Television declined to air the match for many years, while Kuramochi received a ¥200,000 bonus from the Babas.) Kuramochi also differed from Furutachi in his approach. Ichiro’s ten-year tenure for World Pro Wrestling set the template for the “screaming announcer”, a wildly successful style which anticipated later play-by-play men such as Kuramochi successor Kenji Wakabayashi. In contrast, Kuramochi preferred to convey his excitement through accelerating his speech to match the tone of the moment, allowing himself to be passionate but not histrionic. Kuramochi’s style may not have transcended language barriers in the manner that Furutachi and his successors could at their best, but that is hardly a fair metric to hold him against. Even if he may not have had a personal passion for wrestling, belonging more to a generation of television announcers that saw wrestling as a steppingstone to a job that they really wanted, he is very fondly remembered by his native audience. As far as I can tell without being able to understand him myself, that is justified. Kuramochi retired from the program in 1990 to take a job at the network’s business division. He received a warm farewell at the March 6 Budokan show. While he took a job at parent company Yomiuri Shimbun a few years later, Kuramochi continued to work in the television industry until his 2001 retirement.
  3. KinchStalker

    Takashi Yamada

    Takashi Yamada (山田隆) Profession: Commentator (Color), Reporter Real name: Takashi Yamada Professional name: not applicable, save for various pen names Life: 5/24/1933-9/8/1998 Born: Kitami, Hokkaido, Japan Career:1967-1989? (as commentator) Promotions: Japan Pro Wrestling/JWA, All Japan Pro Wrestling Summary: Takashi Yamada was one of puroresu’s most reliable commentators in a two-decade career for Nippon Television. Takashi Yamada was an eight-year veteran of Tokyo Sports when he debuted as a commentator in November 1967. Yamada would spend the next two decades working as an assigned reporter and color commentator. Yamada was not the first wrestling reporter to moonlight as a commentator, but his ability to provide background and overseas information on foreign talent codified the role of the reporter-commentator in puroresu broadcasting. His work for AJPW is his greatest legacy, as besides announcer Takao Kuramochi he was likely the most consistent broadcast presence across its first fifteen years. Takashi’s husky voice will be familiar to any connoisseur of Showa period All Japan, although from personal observation, his voice is sometimes mistaken for Giant Baba’s by Western viewers. While it is hard to find classic calls from Japanese announcers the same way that one might learn about famous soundbites from American ones, Yamada’s shocked reaction to Stan Hansen’s presence in the 1981 Real World Tag League final has been cited by online fans as particularly memorable. Yamada accompanied the promotion on tour, which leads us to another part of his function. His writing was constantly read by active fans of All Japan, whether they knew it or not. This ranged from articles printed in tour programs to contributions to puroresu magazines, which often saw him uncredited or under a pen name. (These can generally be identified by the presence of one of the characters in his family name, 山田.) Yamada was phased out around the end of the Showa period. A one-off return for AJPW’s 20th anniversary show would be the end of his broadcasting career. He died of cirrhosis in 1998.
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