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Tarzan Goto

Dylan Waco

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Das worker from early FMW days. A more solid base than pretty much everyone there, training with AJPW will do that to you. Although the first exploding deathmatches with Onita were experiments and the formula developped later, Goto brought a good amount of actual wrestling in those. Always fun to watch to me, would have had much more chances to deliver good matches if he didn't end up in the lower end of the Japanese indie-sleaze after the mid 90's. Got fat and more selfish with times too, but damn, he was like an angrier Kodo Fuyuki, or a sleazy-ass Tenryu. The IWA title match with Foley is easily Foley's best japanese match, the Bathhouses deathmatches are the most ridiculous and fun oddity I've ever seen, and Goto is godlike in those. I basically would have loved to see him come back in FMW in 97 or so, or work with WAR instead.

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I love Goto. Not sure if he has enough meat to make my ballot but I guess it's possible. That wild tag from 1990 is possibly my favorite FMW match. You know, the one with Dragonmaster and Kurisu wildly throwing chairs around trying to kill Goto and Onita, ending with Onita weeping and calling out Goto's name. He's also the best worker in the 12/12/93 Mpro vs FMW tag which is so demented and sleazy and wonderful.

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Watched a bunch of stuff the other day and he holds up well. I think the Tenryu comparison is actually pretty apt, as he has that shitkicker aura/charisma that can make a middling match good, or a good match great. I love the early explosion match with Onita, though I thought Onita outworked him in it. That said he looked awesome teaming with Onita against Karate fighters, v. Foley, v. Severn, v. Tenryu, et. Really he worked against a very wide variety of guys and typically had good matches against them, which is something I consider especially impressive given the common "rep" of him as just another death match guy (albeit a good one).

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  • 1 month later...

Been watching a bunch of FMW stuff with the intention of looking into Onita but this guy has impressed me more. Just absolute killer offense. Good sense of timing with hope spots and cut offs, plus some great transitions. His 1995 match with Cactus could've been MOTY in many years (although a large part of that is Foley being insane). Carried useless Mr. Pogo to a legitimately very good match. I think the biggest criticism I'd have from what I've seen so far is that he can eat his opponents up when he'd elicit a bigger reaction from a more Onita-style 'sell a bunch and come back' approach, but his offense is so fun to watch that it's hard to fault him too much for it, especially when he's working against limited opposition.

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  • 8 months later...
  • 5 years later...

I am doing a Tarzan Goto project on the blog:


I will predict he will end up coming out with a damn high number of EPIC ranked matches. He was running wild on the Japanese indy scene having great bloodbaths everywhere, and many of his matches weren't even aired. He is also really great when he is doing some actual wrestling, but his prized role is still fat grotesque psycho butchering people in really entertaining ways.

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  • 2 months later...

Tarzan Gotos work in his own promotion, Goto-Ippah, is absolutely insane. From the early 2000s onwards he was running shows at his restaurant - a concept itself that rules - in front of tiny crowds of maybe 70-100 people at most. And he is absolutely working his ass off on these shows. Not just "eh, he's being a cool guy doing some fun things in these matches", seriously, Goto-Ippah Tarzan Goto is arguably the most ambitious an aging fat guy wrestler has ever been. He's working honest to god 30+ minute epics with Kings Road style complex layout, and he's doing it all in those matches. Working the mat, throwing great worked punches, beating the fuck out of people, putting his opponents (usually tiny GUTS World-tier schmucks) over and always, ALWAYS cutting somebody up. God, has there ever been a more blood thirsty wrestler than Goto? Sometimes he'll bleed himself, and while he's usually working overdog (no shit, he's facing the lowest of the low), he always bumps for his opponents too and makes you respect them. Really fascinating stuff that only a handful of people have ever seen (the guy selling the discs to me made it sound as if somebody at Samurai TV is at risk of losing their job if they get in wider circulation). I know I may sound like I'm telling some carny tale here but it's true, and I wanna say Goto looks world class as late as 2009 and ruled at doing it all.

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I'm not saying its the best ever, but it's really good stuff and it adds a ton to Gotos case. And I'm not the only one who's allowed to see this, I just happen to know a guy, who knows a guy, if you have bought tapes from a few different people then you probably know said guy too, and the condition of selling and buying tapes is that they cannot be shared widely because that is the condition under which they were obtained in the first place otherwise the people in Japan who gave out the footage in the first place might stop giving out more footage and we don't want that. I wouldn't be surprised if Goto ends up cruising into my Top 20, so I'm just putting the disclaimer there in case folks get surprised by how high I'm placing him. I mean, it's the equivalent of discovering someone like Barry Windham working epic 30 minute matches against local yokels in a tiny indy company in the early 2000s, and Barry Windham selling you those tapes but also threatening to cut out your kidney if you put them on YouTube. Last time the rule was that if you saw someone wrestling you can rank them based on that even if there's no footage, so I'm guessing the same applies to footage you can only get from certain tape traders. I mean, there was that Robin Hood/Shu el Guerrero apuestas match that only one person was ever allowed to see, too.

FWIW here's the Goto results page with match times:


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  • 6 months later...

1.    What kind of candidate is this wrestler (Peak vs Longevity,Peak+ Longevity, Big Match Wrestler, Week to Week Performer etc) and what range would you consider ranking them?

I would say he is a case of a guy with both a case of insane peaks and insane longevity. You can find peak level performances as early as 1989, and as late as 2007 or even 2009, and plenty in the middle. Week to week he looks consistently solid in random house show and TV matches, with some insanely good handheld performance that were never meant to be released.

2.       What is your elevator pitch for this wrestler to be a Top 100 Wrestler? (Sum up their case in a short paragraph).

He's a guy who has everything I want in a pro wrestler. Can work lengthy technical epics and also violent graphic blood baths. Insane number of great matches throughout 3 decades in a variety of promotions, against opponents ranging from the top of the industry to borderline untrained indy scum.

3.        Were they ever the best wrestler in the world? Were they ever the best wrestler in their country? Were they ever the best wrestler in their promotion? Who were some of their competitors for the best wrestler in the world, country, and promotion?

He was probably never the best worker in the world or in his country from 1989-2000 due to insanely steep competition in the industry, but he was consistently among the best, especially in 1989, 1990, 1997, 1998. I suspect the main  reason he fell out of the picture in the early 2000s is lack of footage as he basically retired to his own promotion Goto-Ippa of which footage is very hard to come by. He might have been the best wrestler in the world in 2007 based on 4 or so matches that he had on tape then, he was incredible then. He was definitely always the best guy in the promotion when he worked deathmatch indies like IWA Japan or Big Japan, he probably was the overall best guy in WYF in 1997 too despite only working a few matches. When he worked WAR in 1997 he was second best to only Tenryu who worked more matches. He was a consistent contender for being the top worker in FMW along with Kurisu in 1990 and Onita who got all the big spectacle matches. If I had to book an ideal wrestling promotion I imagine he'd be the top heel.

4.       How many years were they a top worker (top worker being a candidate for top 10 wrestler in the world)? Who were some of the other top workers of this era?

I'd say he was absolute top for at minimum years see the years mentioned above. I've yet to fully dive into his 1991-1995 work but he has some fantastic matches in that period that I've seen. In those years I would only put him below absolute legends (El Dandy, Tamura, Tenryu, etc)

5.       Were they a great worker before their prime? Were they a great worker after their prime? How great were they (were they a best in the world, country, promotion candidate while before their prime/after their prime)

Considering he has prime level work in 1989 and 2007 there's only very few glimpses outside that. From what I've seen he was at minimum a fun worker. He still looked great carrying an untrained girl in 2009.

6.       Did they have the opportunities to produce a large body of excellent matches?

Yes, since he worked FMW, a promotion that had a ton of big shows that got filmed although often in a handheld format. He was also consistently a main program worker when he made appearances in other promotions, usually as an outsider heel.
6a Do they have a large body of excellent matches?

Yes, I've already written up over a dozen of his excellent matches and I'm nowhere near done.

6b Do they have a large body of excellent matches against a variety of opponents?

His opponents range from Japans top stars, to martial artists with little pro wrestling experience, to foreign brawlers and even luchadores, to sleazy indy undercarders, to borderline untrained girl wrestlers, and he has looked consistently excellent working with all of them. To be far it's not an insane variety for a Japanese indy guy since back then nearly everyone had to face a karateka at some point, but it's a huge variety compared to pretty much all non-Japanese contenders.

6c Do they have a large body of excellent matches in a variety of settings? (for example singles, tags, gimmicks, no gimmicks, brawls, technical, short matches, long matches etc)

Yes. I'd say much of his body of work is in tags due to booking circumstances but he has a number of top tier singles matches. Usually all his matches involve brawling, weapons and blood, but he also has matches where he does lots of technical work for extended time periods, and he looks great doing it.

6d How much of those excellent matches were a direct result of their performance?

Pretty much all of them. I can't recall a single instance where I thought he was carried or didn't add a significant amount to a match. Pretty much all of his best matches I can't imagine with someone else slotted in his role. Especially his heel performances in southern tags. No one else did bloodthirsty heel stuff on his level.


7.        Do they have a large body of excellent performances in a variety of roles (heel/face, undercard/midcard/main event, champion/challenger, underdog/favorite, younger/older etc)

I answered the previous question with yes, but I will answer this one too. The matches where he works underdog are few and far between, mostly in 1989 and 1990, but he looks great in them. Other than that he almost always works heel overdog, probably because you can't have a massive guy who cuts people up be the underdog. He does look great working rivals with Onita, too. He is pretty old in 2007 but he doesn't really acknowledge it, although his ranking/status plays a role in the matches.

8.        Do they work in a way that is consistent with the way they're booked & presented?

Yes. There's few people as consistant and recognizable as Tarzan Goto. I buy into him being a bloodthirsty psycho a 100%. He is also totally credible as a technically proficient veteran due to his AJPW background and being the FMW Dojo trainer.

9.        What are their standout traits? (For example, selling, psychology, offense, character work etc)

Excellent psychology in southern tags, wild brawls and slugfests, longer technical (but still violent) epics with complex structure, outsider heel invading a promotion, his character as being a bloodthirsty psycho who breaks beer bottles and cuts people up... admittedly he doesn't have many legendary selling performances due to working overdog a lot, but he looks great taking beatings opposite guys like Onita, Kurisu, and various karatekas.

10.   Did they make the people and workers around them better?

Yes, absolutely. I consider him Onitas best opponent, and a great rival to the likes of Tenryu. There's a litany of guys who don't have great resumes who owe their career matches to him, ranging from guys like Hisakatsu Oya, to Battle Ranger, to Masayoshi Motegi, to fucking Leon Spinks and some near untrained girl wrestler called Lemon. He's had great matches with indy scum guys I'd never consider to watch otherwise.

11.   Is there any reason to believe that this wrestler was better or worse than they appeared?

Better, because he could've been given a lot more main event time and singles matches in FMW, but was usually relegated to working undercard brawls. Worse, because he was often in a position to look (working as a threatening heel to the top guys in each company he appeared in). Most of his best performances appear in promotions where he had some influence (FMW, Shin-FMW, Goto-Ippah) so he could put himself in a position to look good, but he also looks great in promotions where he's an outsider.

12.   If you had to pick 5-10 matches (Or more) to sell someone on this wrestler what would they be? (Not necessarily the best matches but ones that are best representative of the wrestlers’ GWE case).

w Atsushi Onita vs. Jerry Flynn & Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, FMW 12/10/1989

vs. Atsushi Onita, FMW 2/26/1991

vs. Hisakatsu Oya, FMW 8/28/1994

w Mr. Gannosuke vs. Kendo Nagasaki & Bruiser Okamoto, BJW 7/25/1995

vs. Dan Severn, IWA Japan 8/20/1995

w Ryo Miyake vs. Masayoshi Motegi & Shinichi Nakano, WYF 7/16/1997

w Masashi Aoyagi & Azteca vs. Dick Togo & Shoichi Funaki & MENs Teioh, Indy World 7/22/1998

w Mr. Gannosuke vs. Soldier & Mineo Fujita, WMF 9/5/2005

13.   Feel free to recommend more matches here if you like!

My guide to Tarzan Goto (still a work in progress):


14.   Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Best bloodthirsty heel brawler in wrestling history, with surprising technical skills. Will be very high on my ballot. Also a lot of his matches are extremely rare to find but worth seeking out.

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