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Masao Ito

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Masao Ito (伊藤正男)

1223024553_itodeluxepuroresujan80.jpg.0bc12a4e39295d660b9069ea4716d78c.jpgReal name: Masao Ito
Professional names: Masao Ito, Mr. Ito, The Great Ninja, Oriental Connection
Life: 12/9/1948-
Born: Kabado, Hokkaido, Japan
Career: 1972-1986
Height/Weight: 178cm/120kg (5’10”/240 lbs.)
Signature moves: Leg drop
Promotions: Japan Pro Wrestling/JWA, All Japan Pro Wrestling
Titles: AWA International Heavyweight [CWA] (1x)

Masao Ito was one of the JWA’s very last alumni, and had a humble career as an under/midcarder thereafter.

Masao Ito joined the Dewanoumi sumo stable in 1964, after graduating from junior high. He only lasted two years before returning home to help the family business, but he continued to keep himself in shape out of a desire to make a living in the martial arts world. Finally, in January 1972, he joined the JWA, debuting that October.

In April 1973, Ito was one of the JWA’s nine remaining wrestlers when it collapsed, who were “taken into the custody” of Rikidozan widow and AJPW board member Keiko Momota. Like the rest, Ito signed a three-year contract with Nippon Television and began work for All Japan that summer. He remained a “front and middle” player throughout his tenure; the Japanese fanzine Showa Puroresu calls Ito a lesser version of Motoshi Okuma and “the most unremarkable wrestler in the history of the JWA”. Nevertheless, his peers recall him for his strength. In 2015, Masanobu Fuchi remembered how Ito would put him or Atsushi Onita in a headlock, lift them into the air, and then toss them a couple meters forward, over a decade before Jumbo Tsuruta began doing that same spot with Tsuyoshi Kikuchi. 

Ito first traveled abroad for a tour of Southeast Asia in mid-1977 and followed this with a tour of Australia and New Zealand the following spring. In autumn 1981, he embarked on his first long-term expedition, leaving for West Germany. He never came back, as Ito’s journey brought him through work in Canada, Tennessee, and Mid-South. In 1984, he won his only title, defeating Austin Idol for the AWA International Heavyweight title as a transitional champion to Tommy Rich. He would also work the second match on the second Starrcade, losing to Brian Adidas in 3:11.

In a 2015 G Spirits interview, the Great Kabuki claimed that Ito had called him in the mid-1980s. He had gotten a job as a chef in Montreal and was looking to get his green card. Ito reportedly married a woman he met through this line of work, and still lives there.


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