Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
KinchStalker

KinchStalker's Puro History Thread [UPDATE 2021.07.23: 2019 FOUR PILLARS BIO, CHAPTERS 2-3]

Recommended Posts

Yeah, I saw that, though I must admit that I wasn't thinking about the chikan phenomenon specifically. (I know I've heard of it before, but it didn't register.) There's this one guy who puts out comic strips of puro stories (sadly, his strip on the time Shinya Hashimoto did public Batman cosplay is the closest thing I can find to an actual picture) and I saw his about that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chapter 8 is nearly complete, by the way. I wish to let you all know that my output is going to slow a bit, because this biography is almost comically backloaded. Chapters 9 and 10 (of 11), which are about the Revolution and Chosedaigun (AKA Super Generation Army) era, are 87 and 97 pages respectively. While I could split these chapters into two parts, the fact that this biography isn’t really a beat-by-beat chronicle makes me feel that it’s best just to complete the chapters and knock out the interesting info in single posts. I intend to make up for the coming silence by making another post which will go into greater detail about JPW and Choshu and company’s return to NJPW.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here we go with chapter 8.

1.) There’s a linguistic note that I think is worth making about JPW’s name, as Japan Pro Wrestling sounds more generic than it originally came off when divorced from context. See, their name was *literally* Japan in katakana (ジャパン), rather than the Nihon (日本) that AJPW and NJPW had in their Japanese names.

2.) Choshu claims that Akio Nojima never directly tried to court him towards All Japan, though the biography maintains that All Japan was first to approach him. However, like Tsuruta his decision to join New Japan was perhaps influenced by his stomach, as he was treated by NET TV’s athletic director and future NJPW managing director to a top-class steak-and-sukiyaki dinner. ("Wrestlers eat like this every day?" "Uh, they sure do kiddo.") Whatever the case, it’s made clear as the chapter ends that, whatever RIki Choshu’s gripes towards Jumbo, Mitsuo Yoshida had genuine respect for Tsuruta from the beginning, and had even gotten second-row seats alongside the rest of his wrestling team to one of Jumbo’s first All Japan shows.

3.) I really wish this bio didn’t wait until halfway through to drop this trivia, but Jumbo’s jumping knee was inspired by that which was used by kickboxer Tadashi Sawamura. (Here’s a clip of the genuine article.) Sawamura was popular enough to receive his own anime, and he would later be immortalized in Pokémon as the original namesake of the species which players such as myself would come to know as Hitmonlee. [Note 2021.04.13: Three weeks after this post, Sawamura died of lung cancer at the age of 78.]

4.) The author, who was working for Gong by this time, recalled in January 1985 that All Japan vetoed their intent to put Choshu on the cover, since Jumbo is the ace of AJPW and don’t you forget it. (I was looking at the covers on the preview function of Weekly Pro Wrestling’s site, and had been puzzled by AJPW-era Choshu’s initial absence from covers despite objectively being the biggest story. This explains it.)

5.) There’s some really interesting stuff about Yoshiaki Yatsu here. While he was preparing for the Moscow Olympics, in which the US-led boycott would prevent him from competing, he worked at the Ashikaga Institute of Technology’s high school, where he was active in the coaching of Misawa and Kawada. He was broken into the business in a way that was unusually Americanized for a New Japan talent of the time. Instead of being sent to Gotch’s house, he was trained first by Pat Patterson and then Hiro Matsuda. From here he would work on-and-off in the Louisiana and Florida territories in the early 80s, where he ended up making the acquaintance of several All Japan guys, such as Kabuki, Sakurada, and Fuchi. A year-and-a-half before he made his debut in an All Japan ring, he worked on a World Class show in June 1983 where Baba, Jumbo, and Tenryu also performed, and Baba booked him and Jumbo to share a hotel room, where they talked until the morning about their careers.

6.) The Jumbo/Choshu singles match was originally scheduled for August 5, 1985, as part of JPW’s third tour, the Summer Dream Festival. (In kayfabe this appears to have been the result of a brawl that broke out between the two in a press conference leading up to the June 21 Budokan show, when Choshu got pissed about Jumbo’s reaction about not getting to wrestle Choshu in a singles match. Basically he saw it as emblematic of Jumbo’s air of superiority.) The bio doesn’t mention this, but my suspicion is that they wanted this match to happen on this tour because this was the first JPW tour to get Nippon TV coverage. (All we have of the first two tours are handhelds.)

In kayfabe this would be further delayed due to the events of the match on August 2, a KakuRyu vs. Choshu/Khan tag wherein the latter inflicted a worked injury on Tsuruta. On August 5, Tsuruta was admitted to the Keio University hospital. If you’ve watched through the 1985 AJPW television, you might have noticed that starting in late May, Jumbo began wearing a supporter on his right elbow. Here he learned the cause of the pain: acute osteoarthritis and delayed ulnar nerve palsy. That day, he underwent a three-hour surgery. His right knee joint did suffer a hematoma due to the August 2 match, but physical therapy was sufficient. These weren’t serious injuries, but it was during the blood tests that Tsuruta learned something far worse. He carried the hepatitis B virus, through matrilineal transmission. In late 1986, he began taking interferons to fight it off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before I go radio silent for a while to get the first of two mammoth chapters transcribed, here is a second post about JPW and what ultimately tore them apart. These are my attempts to chronicle events laid out in a series of Igapro posts, sourced from Vol. 47 of G Spirits magazine, the Nihon Sports Publications book Showa Pro Wrestling Restoration, and Kenta Tasaki’s biography of Choshu. This is by far the biggest headache I’ve ever had trying to write a coherent narrative in this thread, and I honestly doubt I pulled it off.

----------------

JPW formally joined AJPW as a satellite promotion in January 1985, and completed their Tokyo dojo around this time. It was at its opening where Naoki Otsuka and Riki Choshu’s respective positions as JPW chairman and president were announced. However, the real head honchos were Otsuka and Katsushi Takeda, the NJPW Entertainment investor I mentioned in the first JPW post, who had also footed the bill for everyone’s salaries. Choshu’s function was only really that of an on-site supervisor.

Neither Baba nor Choshu were in the loop when Otsuka grabbed the Calgary Hurricanes, and Choshu was not happy about it. He didn’t want JPW’s relationship with New Japan to go even more sour than it was already, and to him this went against Otsuka’s stated ideal for JPW to be “a ring not controlled by Baba and Inoki”. Baba became wary and made an aggressive move, demanding that JPW’s workers signed contracts with him in exchange for an increase in the NTV broadcasting rights fee. JPW resisted this at first, but their events were not successful despite having borrowed All Japan talent, and negotiations for their own television presence on TBS (yes, the network that originally carried the IWE) broke down. Alas, JPW had to accept AJPW’s conditions to make up for the hit on their business, as well as pare down their events to one-off shows.

On December 15, 1985, the 23rd anniversary of Rikidōzan’s death, Baba and Inoki met at his grave to sign an anti-pullout agreement between their respective promotions, with lawyers on both sides as witnesses. (Chikara Momota, grandson of Rikidōzan, shared a great photo from this meeting, with him in his father Mitsuo’s arms alongside Baba, Inoki, and Jumbo.)

As a result of this, the Calgary Hurricanes were forced to revert to technically being New Japan talent until their contracts expired in March. Even then, Otsuka’s intent to use them to make JPW an independent promotion was dashed when they too were forced to sign with All Japan through the collective JPW agreement.

In 1986, further cracks in the JPW-AJPW relationship formed. 1986 marked the beginning of the Japanese asset price bubble, whose bursting in 1992 would be a major factor in what would initially become known as Japan’s Lost Decade, although subsequent difficulties would lead some commentators to stretch this out to the Lost 20, and then 30 years. Anyway, as the value of the JPW headquarters building went up, and all that money went into Takeda’s pocket, the talent grew resentful of the fact that he was receiving money both from JPW and from the property. The higher-ups, meanwhile, were frustrated with the wrestlers because they already had higher wages than those which New Japan had paid them.

As these conflicts began, Choshu was approached by JPW managing director Kazuyoshi Kato, who was also the head of JPW’s entertainment division, which is what Riki Production had officially become. Kato and Otsuka had been sales rivals during their tenures in New Japan, but they had joined forces in the coup attempt and subsequent JPW formation as their interests aligned. However, he now bristled over not being allowed to use JPW’s head office, and became Choshu’s confidant.

After the Osaka show on September 3, 1986, Baba and Takeda held a meeting to determine what was to be done about their profits not increasing despite their number of events doing so. Takeda stated that he only needed Choshu and Yatsu, and would restructure the rest to desaturate the roster and improve match quality. Takeda wasn’t just unpopular with the boys for meddling in their financial affairs; now he was trying to exert creative influence as well.

Rumors had been circulating for as long as the infighting had begun in 1986 that Choshu was considering a jump back to New Japan. He publicly denied it, but had stated off the record that he had met with Fujinami around this time, and Inoki had even claimed that Choshu had wanted to participate in the October 9, 1986 NJPW event. Meanwhile, Baba was using Jumbo, Tenryu, Hansen, and most recently, Hiroshi Wajima to keep Choshu in check.

On January 8, 1987 Otsuka met with former NJPW external relations head Toyohisa Sugita at the JPW headquarters. New Japan’s partnership with the UWF did not do the business they had wanted, and World Pro Wrestling was moved from its Friday primetime slot to a worse Monday slot that often saw it preempted and taken off the air by special programs. They wanted help, and TV Asahi, by now in control of New Japan, probably wanted Choshu back. Otsuka did not answer due to his affiliation with All Japan, but he did accept Inoki’s request for a meeting when Sugita passed it along. Choshu was also invited, and accepted. Inoki’s original intent was to get all of JPW back, but when Otsuka and Choshu came to meet him at New Japan headquarters, his focus narrowed. Otsuka would regret bringing Choshu along as Inoki offered Riki 100 million yen to return. After this meeting, Choshu began to seriously consider returning home.

The day after their meeting, an NJPW director named Tetsuo Baisho, who was a drinking buddy of Choshu’s, approached Kazuyoshi Kato. Baisho had been deposed by Otsuka during the 1983 coup attempt, and while he had since been reinstated, he was determined to make sure Otsuka never worked for New Japan again. They began to plan to draw a separate line to bring Choshu back to NJPW through Sugita instead of Otsuka.

On January 17, after defending the PWF title against Curt Hennig in his hometown, Choshu made waves when he namedropped Fujinami on live television during his postmatch interview with Kenji Wakabayashi. He was supposed to meet with Fujinami and Sakaguchi in Fukuoka afterwards, with Otsuka, Eigen, and Sugita also present. Choshu suddenly claimed the meeting had been canceled, but this seemed to be a misdirection as he went to meet with Sakaguchi anyway. By this point he felt that he had gone as far as he could go in All Japan, and the returning Masa Saito’s intentions to join back up with New Japan were also a factor in JPW’s internal tensions.

Around this time Baba would learn from Haruka Eigen about what was going on inside JPW. On February 3, he made his move, and approached Choshu and Yatsu to sign directly with All Japan instead of through JPW, breaking their promise to Otsuka. Choshu would take a break from here due to poor health, but he would later state that he had been “weighing the scales’, waiting out to see what would happen between AJPW, NJPW, and JPW. By this time, though, he was trying to convince Yatsu to come with him back to New Japan. However, Yatsu had already decided to stay, as despite his membership in Ishingun and ostensible support of Choshu, he was personally wary both of him and of NJPW.

Outwardly, Choshu apologized to Baba for bailing before the Excite Series had ended, and promised to participate in the coming Champion Carnival tour, which as JPW president he was obligated to do. He also instructed Inoki to abide by the anti-pullout agreement.

However, Choshu announced at a JPW general meeting that while he would return for the Carnival, he would also end his affiliation with All Japan at the end of March to become a true independent. He professed that JPW would essentially return to its original intended form, as an independent promotion in which wrestlers from either promotion could participate due to series-by-series contracts with AJPW and NJPW.

Yatsu and Eigen protested, and accused Choshu of using this plan as merely a pretext to eventually just make JPW part of New Japan again. And needless to say, Baba was having none of it. JPW’s contract with All Japan stipulated that they were required to give six months’ notice if they declined to renew, and JPW were still considered All Japan talent under the anti-pullout agreement of 1985. So All Japan would have to be the ones to break their contract if JPW workers would ever be able to set foot inside a New Japan ring again. On top of this, there was no way that NJPW would agree to separate Otsuka and Choshu (despite Baisho’s attempts to the contrary).

The day before March 26, when Saito was slated to appear for New Japan once again, Choshu appeared at some reception and handed him a contract to withdraw from the Carnival. At this point Choshu himself was apparently still intending to participate in the Carnival. But then, Baba was told by Otsuka that it would be difficult for Choshu to do so, went to the JPW headquarters the day before the tour began. There, he demanded that Choshu and the others withdraw their independence and sign a new contract with All Japan, including Saito.

On the first day of the Carnival tour, as Otsuka and Takeda were out of town, Choshu holed up in the company headquarters intending to boycott with the following JPW employees: Saito, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Isamu Teranishi, Nobuo Yasunaga, Masanobu Kurisu, Shinji Sasazaki, Kensuke Sasaki, Tiger Hattori, Super Strong Machine, and Hiro Saito. Choshu did not want to lose his line with New Japan, so he was not going to acquiesce to Baba’s demands. The Calgary Hurricanes, while independent, were essentially a JPW subsidiary, and with the exception of Shunji Takano, whom Baba liked and was currently working in America, they felt they had gone as far as they could go in AJPW and were ready to return to New Japan.

But then, Masanobu Kurisu broke away and went to Korakuen Hall, where All Japan were to hold their show. He had no interest in returning to New Japan, and had only ever joined JPW in the first place due to his admiration of Otsuka.

On March 30, Otsuka and Takeda announced Choshu’s expulsion from New Japan. This left him free to return to NJPW, but now apparently he could not receive the 100 million yen which Inoki had promised. He had no bargaining power anymore, and had probably incurred a penalty fee for his actions, so he only got 10 million yen. (Choshu apparently denies this, for the record.)

Teranishi left Choshu’s faction. While Hamaguchi remained at Choshu’s side, he decided to retire as he “had promised he would retire if he caused trouble” when he joined JPW. Killer Khan was working in the WWF at this point, and was so disappointed by the news of JPW’s split that he retired. Hiroshi Hase, who was training overseas in Calgary, was asked by Choshu to return and come with him. His fellow JPW trainee on excursion, Fumisuke Niikura, was left behind because Eigen had invited him to join All Japan already.

When Choshu returned to New Japan, he did so through the base of Riki Production, which I guess was its own thing again (still headed by his buddy Kato). But as he did so without resolving matters with All Japan, both Baba and Otsuka hardened their stance. Apparently it was somehow due to this that World Pro Wrestling changed its timeslot once again to Tuesday nights, and they were unable to broadcast Choshu’s matches until October even though other ex-JPW guys gradually got back on television before him. Eventually Choshu and company signed directly with New Japan again, but Kato was unable to return alongside them and Riki Production was disbanded.

After Yatsu and the rest of the JPW holdouts signed directly with All Japan, Otsuka had no wrestlers left. They terminated their relationship with All Japan after the August 31, 1987 Budokan show, and after an AJW event that they had been contracted to promote, they disbanded entirely. Otsuka would leave the business entirely until, after the NOAH exodus, he offered his services to Motoko Baba as an outside consultant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Man, if you want to read about a wild dude, read up on Ikki Kajiwara, the creator of Tiger Mask. There's even a wrestling tie-in, since he once held Inoki captive in a hotel room after Inoki allegedly stopped paying for the rights to the Tiger Mask gimmick. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a fantastic thread!

Does anyone know how the transition from Baba to Jumbo happened exactly, given Baba never beat Jumbo?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, MoS said:

This is a fantastic thread!

Does anyone know how the transition from Baba to Jumbo happened exactly, given Baba never beat Jumbo?

 

Nippon TV's three-year plan saw the transition happen gradually and indirectly. I've never read anyone state this, but I suspect that part of why the Champion Carnival tournament was put on ice after 1982 (until 1991) was to avoid forcing Jumbo to face him directly again. Jumbo was retooled in 1982/3 to be the clearly ascending ace (between the black trunks to reference Rikidozan and adopting the signature moves of Thesz), but even in 1984 they were going to time-limit draws in tag matches. He only went over him in the 1984 RWTL because Rusher Kimura turned on Baba and the match was thrown out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a famous story that after Jumbo beat Brody for the NWA International Heavyweight Championship in '83 that Baba gave Jumbo his blessing in the locker room and told him he was the ace from that day forward. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m down to the last forty pages of chapter 9, but as a break and for a stopgap release I thought I could compose an extended post about the post-Rikidōzan transitional period of the JWA. The primary source is a pair of Igapro articles (1, 2) with various sources. TL;DR version is that there were some very shady people at the top of the JWA, and Kokichi Endo was a ruthless man. This is definitely some useful context for my JWA coup post near the beginning of the thread.

JWA: The Transitional Period

The day after Rikidōzan’s death, it was announced at a makeshift wake that his position would be taken over by the council of Toyonobori, who would become the ace in this transitional period, Yoshinosato, Kokichi Endo, and Michiaki Yoshimura. (When referred to as a collective I’ll just call them the council.) This was the decision reached by NTV, sponsor Ken Okubo (of Mitsubishi Electric), Japan Pro-Wrestling Association chairman Yoshio Kodama, and vice chairmen Kazuo Taoka and Hisayuki Machii.

----------------

We have to pause now to talk about the JWA’s connections to the criminal underworld, because I just dropped some *heavy* names. At some point – Haruo Yamaguchi’s 2019 Crowbar Press book Japan: The Rikidōzan Years states that it was after the June 1956 death of Shinsaku Nitta, Rikidōzan’s old sumo patron and initial co-financier of the JWA – Rikidōzan made connections with the aforementioned Kodama, an ultra-right power broker, as well as Liberal Democratic Party vice president Banboku Ōno, who would be named JWA commissioner. Ōno was tied to Nippon Television Network Corporation president and founder Matsutaro Shoriki, as both had worked in the pre-war Ministry of Home Affairs; I presume that this facilitated the connection. Ōno is referred to in Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld as “[one] of Japan’s most Yakuza-tainted politicians”, and in 1963 would make an infamous public address at a reception for Honda-kai godfather Katsuichi Hirata. The Honda-kai was a subgroup of the largest Yakuza organization, the Yamaguchi-gumi, which was then led by the aforementioned Kazuo Taoka. Taoka’s support was necessary for Rikidōzan because he was also head of the dominant Kobe Entertainment Company, and in turn the JWA would become a major revenue source for the Yamaguchi-gumi. Hisayuki Machii was the head of the Tosei-kai Yakuza organization, who was also Taoka’s protégé and one of Rikidōzan’s friends to share his Korean heritage. According to Weekly Pro Wrestling’s 2015 special issue History of Japan Professional Wrestling Case Vol.12, cited in both the Igapro posts this is mainly sourced from and the JWA’s Japanese Wikipedia page, any JWA events held west of Hamamatsu were under Taoka’s influence, Kanto events were Machii’s domain, and events north of Tohoku were the jurisdiction of Kodama’s ally Goichi Okamura.

When Rikidōzan died, many thought that professional wrestling in Japan was over, and that NTV would cancel and Mitsubishi would drop its sponsorship. Alas, beyond its viewership the JWA was too important to the criminal underworld to go down like that.

----------------

Back to the story. While the JWA was in the black, Rikidōzan’s Riki Enterprises was very much not, and changes had to be made. The first move was to fire booker the Great Togo, whose demands for large kickbacks were seen by some as extortive. He allegedly tried to take over the JWA himself, even booking himself in the main event against Buddy Austin on December 20, and resisted the firing at first by insisting Rikidōzan had been in his debt. The council disagreed, but reluctantly compensated Togo through solatium and wiped their hands of him, and temporarily instated referee Shikina Oki as booker. (Japan: The Rikidōzan Years mentions a rumor that this was in exchange for Togo’s oath never to work in Japanese wrestling again, but if this were the case he would break it in a few years with his early involvement with and failed coup of the IWE.)

In January 1964, Rikidōzan’s widow Keiko Momota, a stewardess he had only married the previous June, was appointed president. However, while this would not become public knowledge until the JWA’s demise, the council then established a separate company with a nearly identical name (日本プロ・レスリング興業株式会社, as opposed to 日本プロレスリング興業株式会社 – essentially “Nihon Pro-Wres” instead of “Nihon Puroresu”). The new company would get the box office and broadcasting rights, while Keiko was stuck with all her husband’s debts. She was only useful to the JWA in that the public appearance of Rikidōzan’s family’s cooperation was vital to continuing the NTV and Mitsubishi contracts, and the council hoped the new company would convince them that they had inherited Rikidōzan.

The book was transferred from Oki to Mr. Moto. This facilitated a shift in how the JWA did business with America. In Rikidōzan’s day, the JWA’s connections to America were facilitated by Honolulu’s Mid-Pacific Promotions (later and better known as Big Time Wrestliing), headed by Al Karasick, and NWA San Francisco, headed by Joe Malcewicz. Rikidōzan would lean more towards the latter as time went on, due to Karasick’s investments (assisted by theatrical company Yoshimoto Kogyo, now an entertainment conglomerate which represents most of Japan’s TV comedians) and schemes to take Japan over himself. In this new era, though, Mr. Moto would use his connections with the WWA, based in Los Angeles, to make that the JWA’s new go-between with the American industry.

The first snag against the wishes of the council was the return of Giant Baba from his American excursion. Toyonobori was not fond of Baba, but NTV overruled him on this one. Baba had been managed by Togo in America, but by this time Baba had distanced himself from him in distrust, so Toyonobori couldn’t use that as an excuse.

Soon though, a much bigger problem arose. Bamboku Ōno, who had been hospitalized since January, died of cardiac arrest that May. In February, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department began to spearhead what would be a five-year crackdown on the Yakuza, and while Ōno’s connections to the Yamaguchi-gumi had initially been a buffer between them and the police, now he was gone. The police knew that the JWA brought a lot of money to the org, and they set their sights.

Ōno’s LDP successor Shojiro Kawashima would also take his place as JWA commissioner, but while the two had similar backgrounds and politics he doesn’t seem to have been nearly as deep in the underworld. But Kodama, Taoka, and Machii were still problems, and the JWA’s personnel would be renewed in acquiescence with the pressures of law enforcement. All three men would leave their chairs in early 1965 as their terms expired.

Some crazy shit very nearly went down in response. You know that 1965.02.26 WWA title match between Toyonobori and the Destroyer? Well, what if I told you that 1,300 Tosei-kai members tried to storm the venue in protest of Machii’s resignation? They were met by riot police, but the fear that shots would be fired was a real one, and while nothing states this, the idea that Toyonobori and Destroyer might have gone to a broadway to give the cops as much kayfabe time as possible to get the situation under control cracks me up. Machii would be forced to disband the Tosei-kai that year, but its successor, the Toa-kai, is active to this day.

After the Toyonobori/Destroyer match, Keiko Momota stepped down from her position. This marked the beginning of a period where the WWA title essentially became the JWA’s top singles belt, as the NWA International Heavyweight and Asian Heavyweight championships still belonged to the Momotas. The council was no longer tethered to Rikidōzan. It was, alas, a perfect time for the beginning of their end.

Toyonobori had had a gambling problem since before Rikidōzan’s death. In fact, this had led to some financial troubles between the two towards the end, and it was at Kodama and Taoka’s behest that he became involved in the new regime, not because Rikidōzan had pegged him as a potential successor. When he became president he ended up passing his duties onto vice president Yoshinosato, while taking money out of the company vault to fund his addiction. He wasn’t the only sketchy one backstage. The accounting was sloppy; the future Great Kabuki told a story that when he was laid off and received a severance package, but was then kept on by Yoshinosato, the company refused to accept the money back. Kokichi Endo, meanwhile, was taking full advantage of the sloppiness to line his own pockets.

Toyonobori formed his own little squad within the JWA called the Hayabusa Corps, consisting of Takachiho, the Great Kojika, Kantaro Hoshino, and Ushinosuke Hayashi (best known as Mr. Hayashi). The Hayabusa Corps were at the center of a memorable episode pertaining to Endo. A printing company which worked with the JWA (I wonder if this is the same one that later allegedly tipped off Endo to the JWA coup attempt) was to promote a Ventures concert, but then Toyonobori got the rights and entrusted them to the Hayabusa Corps…before Endo intercepted, swiped the rights at the last minute and got the money. For his cunning, Toyonobori sicced the Corps on Endo, who beat the shit out of him and forced him to apologize. [2021.05.18 addition: according to an Igapro article about Tokyo Pro Wrestling, the younger wrestlers were the ones who were supposed to have received the profits from the concert.]

Toyonobori started acting up as WWA champion, refusing to defend the belt in its home territory because, while he could handle a flight to Hawaii, the continental US was just too much. The WWA began using a spare belt, the California State Heavyweight title, in response, and when the Japanese wrestling press reported on this, Toyonobori finally manned up and went to LA for a unification match. The first match saw him go over Luke Graham, but in a rematch, Toyonobori got disqualified and, over (presumably kayfabe) protests, the title changed hands. If the WWA title had remained in Japan, they might have jeopardized their WWA relationship.

After giving it up, the JWA planned to revive the promotion’s old title, but instead of Toyonobori, they chose Baba. Endo and the like didn’t share Toyonobori’s dislike of Baba, and now that Toyonobori was no longer WWA champion they decided to start getting him out of the picture. An embezzlement investigation led to Toyonobori losing favor and becoming isolated.

I can’t find out exactly what the JWA did to get the NWA International Heavyweight title back. The source I’m taking this from doesn’t state if they resolved their dispute with the Momotas, and also implies that they somehow went to the NWA itself (despite what the list of NWA territories Wikipedia page says, it appears that the JWA wasn't actually a full member by this point). Either way, Baba got the belt in November 1965 when he went over the man that Rikidōzan had wanted to bring over to Japan but hadn’t gotten in time: Dick the Bruiser.

The next January, Toyonobori was dismissed. Publicly the reason given was as kidney disease, but it was really his gambling addiction, and the likes of the just-as-dirty Endo turning on him. Vice President Yoshinosato would move up to the presidential chair. Meanwhile, Endo took this opportunity to start cleaning out anything that still bore Rikidōzan’s name, and proceeded to sell the Riki Sports Palace, which Rikidōzan had mortgaged to finance his business Riki Enterprises. It was this issue that led to sales manager Isao Yoshihara, who still believed that a permanent wrestling venue had value to the company, leaving the JWA to then form the IWE. Yoshihara had tried to buy the venue, but Endo sabotaged this by claiming that Yoshihara was going to do this to buy out the JWA itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As always your posts are very fascinating, we cannot thank you enough.

What I would like to know is if there has been information about the shows in Riki Sports Palace. Was it difficult not to run a deficit with those shows? I always thought it might be comparable to a venue like Arena Coliseo, meaning that it was a good way to have placefiller shows and an easy way to get TV footage on a quick notice. So I can totally see the value that Riki Sports Palace could have offered, but at the end of the day the question remains if it just wasn't feasible to have such a venue. Maybe for good reason that approach wasn't used afterwards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Igapro has another article about the Riki Sports Palace. It looks like it held weekly events, and became the default venue for televised material.

To directly answer your question, if the shows ran a deficit, then that deficit wasn't helped by the other things the Palace had fingers in. It also featured a bowling alley, a top-class restaurant and coffee shop, a sauna, a bodybuilding gym, and clinics and beauty salons, on top of Rikidozan's personal office and the Riki Enterprises headquarters. The Palace was rented out for boxing but I don't know how much that might have helped.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a big puro fan for the last 29 years, this is my favorite thread ever!  I can't express how grateful I am to you for your labors.

Thank you very much for all this.

Dan Ginnetty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally, I have completed transcription of chapter 9, about the Tsuruta/Tenryu feud. It starts with the broad strokes of Tenryu’s early wrestling career, but I think he deserves a bit more from me in this post than that. Tenryu’s autobiography is one of the books that I’ve considered doing a transcription of after the Jumbo bio (though a 2019 Four Pillars bio will probably be my next project if I do this again), but I’d like to add a couple tidbits about his pre-puroresu life.

Would any of you be interested in a detour post about SWS? I don’t know if the story of that company has been played out in English-language circles.

1.) Genichiro Shimada’s father, a farmer, responded to the inquiry of a Nisshonoseki stable patron for potential sumo recruits while they were at a barbershop. The future Tenryu would ultimately join in December 1963. Genichiro tried to balance sumo with schoolwork, but his stablemates found out and forced him to cancel his correspondence course. (One of Genichiro’s classmates in junior high was Yasumichi Ai, who became a master rakugo comedian now known by his stage name of San'yūtei Enraku VI. The two remained friends – apparently a Tenryu impression is part of the latter’s repertoire – and this is how Tenryu met Akira Taue.) His famous generosity took after that of two of his elder stablemates: namely, Taihō Kōki–one of the greatest rikishi of the 20th century, and at the time the youngest-ever yokozuna–and Daikirin Takayoshi. (Apparently, Flair took care of him when they crossed paths during his training excursion, which was another influence.)

2.) Tenryu’s decision to leave sumo and start a new chapter was motivated by the succession crisis that the death of his stablemaster created, but was also influenced by personal loss: namely, the death of his girlfriend. Motoko Baba gave him a second-row ticket to the 1976.06.11 Kuramae Kokugikan AJPW show, most famous for holding the Jumbo/Terry NWA title match. The show convinced Tenryu to become a professional wrestler.

3.) Tenryu has said that “Baba made me want to become a professional wrestler, but Jumbo made me want to remain one”. While their fundamental difference in lifestyles meant that they would never become the closest of friends, they hit it off quite well in Tenryu’s early days. Remember, the only relative peers Jumbo had were his three juniors, so someone just a year older than him was a welcome addition. (Here’s an adorable photo of Jumbo playing with Tenryu’s hair after his chonmage-cutting ceremony in December 1976and another one of the two from the following March in Amarillo.)

4.) However, Tenryu suffered in Jumbo’s shadow for years. Dory remarked that “after three months, he had nothing left to teach Tommy”, but Tenryu just wasn’t such a quick learner. As noted in an earlier post, the weird place Jumbo occupied in the 70s – a #2 guy from the beginning, never less but never more – was further accentuated by how slow the other top prospects (as opposed to guys like Fujinami who started from the bottom), Tenryu and Choshu, were at finding their groove compared to him.

5.) Tenryu and Tsuruta started to become less close around the summer of 1981, shortly after Tenryu settled in Japan for good. Even in the early 80s, Tenryu was the more ambitious one with regards to backstage decisions, and having disagreed with Sato’s reforms for some reason, he tried to get Jumbo to actually use his weight to help him change some things, but to no avail. A public acknowledgment of Tsuruta’s resistance to backstage involvement came in his response to an in-ring “this is no longer the era of Baba and Inoki” promo that Choshu cut in January 1985, where he said that “our era is expressed in our matches”.

6.) The lore around the split of the KakuRyu team states that it roots back to the postmatch of their June 1986 match against the Road Warriors, when Jumbo pulled his partner’s hair to get him back to his feet. Apparently Tenryu blew up at him for his ingratitude, basically stating that he was sick of being his Ricky Morton and getting no respect for it. (Tenryu has said that he also lost respect for Tenryu after a match where, if I read this correctly, Tsuruta was motioning to a photographer to get a good shot of his cobra twist.) After Choshu’s departure, Tenryu was frustrated with Jumbo’s lack of urgency in his work, and went to Baba and said that he was sick of watching Jumbo’s back and babysitting Wajima. It was a break in hierarchy, but uncharacteristically, Baba agreed with Tenryu and allowed him to split from Jumbo, in what would be called the first “bloodless revolution” in puroresu.

The bio does not mention this, but I have a speculation that there was possibly another factor in this creative decision. Around this time, Weekly Pro Wrestling head editor Tarzan Yamamoto began to work as an advisor to Baba, and even wrote an “All Japan Reform Proposal”. Yamamoto would later claim that he had convinced Baba to put Misawa over Jumbo – something which I cited in my extensive rewrite of Misawa’s Wikipedia page. (I’m not as proud of my work on it now that I’ve seen a bunch of other sources and the peer review process for good article certification took a lot out of me, but I put months of work into it, and the project that my research is going towards is basically the successor to it.)

Either way, there’s an interesting undercurrent around this time pertaining to the Japanese wrestling journalism scene. Kagehiro Osano, the writer of this very bio, was actually Tenryu’s reporter for Gong in the 80s, and he has commented that Tenryu was basically the only reason Gong had any real coverage of All Japan in his day. (Jumbo was a very professional and often boring interview, while Tenryu was far more able to give the press what they wanted.) In 1989, Tenryu had a secret meeting with Inoki in Los Angeles, and Osano got the exclusive scoop. Tarzan Yamamoto’s later use of Weekly Pro Wrestling to criticize Tenryu, SWS, and later WAR is well-known (well, about as well-known as any 1990s puro wrestling journalism politics are), and Yamamoto would in fact admit in his autobiography that Baba had paid him to print negative coverage (although Baba would apparently say that he never asked him to go as far as he did), but the tensions started here.

7.) Before the 1987-90 series of seven singles matches, Jumbo and Tenryu had had two prior singles matches which both went to thirty-minute draws. The first was for the 1982 Champion Carnival tournament, the last until 1991. The second happened during a CC tour show the following year, but received no television coverage. In fact, it was part of a card which Baba had hastily rearranged when he learned that network executives would be attending the show to evaluate its worthiness for prime time.

8.) Their 1987.08.31 match drew a 12.4 Nielsen. Their October rematch drew a 9.5, which was still impressive since news of Brody’s interference in the finish had widely spread by its broadcast.

9.) Speaking of Brody, the Budokan show that became the Memorial Night was originally a card that was to be determined by a fan vote. The votes came in, and the top matches were Brody/Hansen for singles, and Jumbo/Brody vs Hansen/Tenryu for tag. The bio claims that Baba was looking forward to going all in on this new matchup possibility, and whatever one might think of an alternate universe where Brody continues working for All Japan for a couple more years, it is an interesting display of the shift in puro fan mentality, and while the Hansen/Tenryu team would later happen on-and-off for eleven months it still feels like a road not taken.

10.) Baba and Sakaguchi met on January 4, 1990 to announce their cooperation. Baba, who had finally gotten the presidential seat back from Mitsuo Mitsune in April 1989, remarked that he was “celebrating his appointment as president” in this way. The common narrative around their meeting is that Jim Herd backed out of the NJPW/WCW Dome show, and that may be true, but there’s something really interesting in this telling of the story. Remember the anti-pullout agreement that Baba and Inoki had signed in December 1985? Well, that still applied, even to gaijins (hence why Dick Murdoch couldn’t ever come back to All Japan, and maybe why he ended up doing those Japan indie appearances later on), and even though AJPW had long since left the NWA by this point, Ric Flair was still considered an All Japan gaijin by its terms. Sakaguchi wanted Flair, while Baba wanted Steve Williams, and they made each other’s wishes happen, on top of the 1990.02.10 Dome show. (The writing about the show itself is mostly a recap of Jumbo’s match, but apparently Kengo Kimura received some training from Benny “the Jet” Urquidez in 1987?)

11.) The WWF/AJPW/NJPW Wrestling Summit was largely booked by Akio Sato, whom the WWF had hired the previous November as both a wrestler and a coordinator for their vague plans for Japanese expansion. (They had initially sent letters to AJPW and NJPW requesting their cooperation, but received no reply, and a later story claimed that the AJPW letter was accidentally sent to AJW.) Sato returned to work the New Year Giant Series tour in January, during which he also negotiated with Baba as Vince’s representative. Vince’s initial idea was to have the show be a WWF-AJPW coproduction, but it was Baba who proposed that he offer to let Sakaguchi in on it. It was at Choshu’s request, as he was working as NJPW’s on-site manager, that the NJPW wrestlers only wrestled each other on the card, as he wanted to “show their style”. Sato initially considered a Jumbo/Savage match, but instead opted for Tenryu.

12.) Kawada and Fuyuki returned to the “regular army” from Revolution in early 1990. Meanwhile, Tenryu’s tensions with the company increased. Immediately after the March 1990 Budokan show, Tenryu received his offer for contract renewal. He was dissatisfied with the increase in salary, and his attempts to raise the wages of the others who had worked alongside him (as in Footloose and the midcarders aligned with Revolution) fell on deaf ears. Another source of frustration was creative; Tenryu did not see the point in continuing the Jumbo program if Tsuruta was unwilling to escalate the matches further, specifically with blood. He was unaware that Tsuruta was just trying to protect him and others from his disease, and Kyohei Wada was unaware as well, so when Wada told Jumbo of his intentions, and Tsuruta told him to “tell Gen-chan to take it easy on me tonight”, Tenryu saw this as a maddening display of complacency. He would later state that he would have understood if he had been told what was really going on.

During the Champion Carnival tour (where Revolution was officially disbanded on the twelfth show), Tenryu was recruited by Kazuo Sakurada for what would become SWS. Three days before the last Jumbo/Tenryu match, in the waiting room of the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, Kagehiro Osano was with Tenryu, when he muttered “If I lose to Jumbo, I quit.” He told Osano that he meant he was “going out of business” as opposed to retiring, but told him not to tell anyone. However, this was too big for a reporter to ignore, and he was obligated to print it. The April 25, 1990 issue of Gong had this as its cover…six days after Tenryu lost.

The following day, the Gong editor-in-chief received a call from Motoko Baba. Shohei then took over, and rather than complain about the 4/25 story, told him and Osano that Tenryu was going to Megane Super, under the assumption that Osano already knew (he did not), but requested that they keep things quiet for now, since they had come to “a clean agreement”, and there was the possibility that AJPW and SWS could collaborate in the future through an interpromotional angle.

13.) I’d like to end with some more facts about SWS’s origin. As is known in English-language circles, Hachiro Tanaka’s original plan was to swipe Keiji Mutoh, but there’s a couple interesting things that this Igapro article states. First, Mutoh was approached by Tanaka’s agents in the industry, Kazuo Sakurada and Masa Wakamatsu. Second, the initial plan was not going to be an immediate new organization, but a training camp for young wrestling recruits to create a reserve force. (Former wrestlers would also be accepted during this time, and a percentage of SWS’s profits would be distributed to them as a pension.)

It looks like Tenryu wasn’t actively trying to take wrestlers from AJPW, but that “he couldn’t turn down anyone who wanted to come and leave them in limbo”. This led Baba to suspect that Tenryu was using money to destroy All Japan, and led him to pour oil on the fire by paying Tarzan Yamamoto. I do know that Yatsu and Kabuki left the company more due to problems with it than feelings towards Tenryu (even though Kabuki’s favoritism as SWS booker towards Tenryu would cause friction with its other “rooms” – Tenryu had launched a “room system” in SWS inspired by sumo and nonexistent elsewhere in puro – George Takano’s Palaistra and Nagasaki & Wakamatsu’s Dojo Geki).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Taking a break for a couple days before I start on the longest chapter. I've thrust myself so deeply into transcription that I've barely watched any wrestling since the start of February. However, I will leave you guys with a fun little nugget I just found on a post from Igapro's old blog (this article was reproduced on their current site but with this bit taken out): The 1981 RWTL final, where Hansen made his shocking AJPW entrance, was happening at the same time as Fujinami's wedding reception, so that is where Hisashi Shinma (and presumably the others) found out that All Japan had struck back at them. That's amazing, but I pity Fujinami's wife for having their special occasion probably be ruined by the stress of her new husband's coworkers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread is endlessly fascinating and the best thread on PWO. Looking forward to the follow-ups whenever you do them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Co-signed with El-P and I would absolutely love both a 4 Pillars project or a Tenryu bio! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Same. And thanks for introducing me to deepl--it kicks Google Translate's ass as far as translating Japanese into readable English. I've been using it to read random bios on Dr. Mick's showapuroresu.com site.

This has some pretty good info on the origins of SWS--I think it was originally posted on the Other Arena but it made its way to Classics sometime later. Some of the info from this thread contradicts it, but for 2000 this was as good first-hand info as we were gonna get.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally, I have finished the penultimate, nearly-100 page chapter of the Jumbo bio, about the Tsuruta-gun/Choseidaigun era. A lot of this chapter is match recaps (as well as stuff about the sorta-theory of the book that Jumbo was "the strongest wrestler" - as in, most innately gifted), and as this is some of the most extensively discussed wrestling in IWC history there’s not much that something like that can really add. Before we start, I do want to confirm that I’m also putting stuff together for an SWS post, but I want to get the story straight on the circumstances behind all the departures.

1.) It’s probably best if I get the backgrounds on the young guys taken care of now.

1a.) The story of Misawa going to the AJPW office to enroll whilst still in high school happened in 1979, during his sophomore year. The three people there were Motoko, Yoshihiro Momota, and Tsuruta, the latter of whom told him to finish his schooling. By the time of his graduation, Misawa was attracting so much attention as an amateur wrestler that somebody at the Japan Self-Defense Force academy called Tsuruta to ask that they reject Misawa’s application. In 1982, Misawa would become Tsuruta’s first valet; Baba had had valets since the JWA days, but it wasn’t until Kabuki suggested around this time that Jumbo and Tenryu should have valets as well that Baba decided to implement an attendant system. Misawa became close to Tsuruta during this time, who he regarded as a mentor and a brotherly figure. Since Jumbo wasn’t a social drinker, all Misawa really had to do was his laundry, but Tsuruta still took him out to eat good food while they were off duty. It appears that Tsuruta passed down some of what Baba had taught him about putting up the public appearance of a wrestler, while also telling jokes that Misawa said “weren’t very funny”. (Jumbo just has that dad joke air about him.) However, Misawa also became close to Tenryu, so much so that he wasn’t swayed by public opinion when the latter jumped ship.

1b.) Toshiaki Kawada lived with his paternal grandparents while in elementary school. At this point he was aware of professional wrestling but did not like it, always wanting to watch the variety show 8時だョ! 全員集合 on Saturday nights instead of the wrestling his grandfather watched. He would move out to live with his mother and younger sister after the death of his father. It was during this time, in his second year of junior high, that he finally began to warm up to wrestling. The initial catalyst was the August 25, 1977 "idol showdown" that was Jumbo’s United National title defense against Mil Mascaras. This wouldn't convert him, but he found it quite refreshing. While he would later remark that it wasn't his cup of tea in retrospect, it was the 1977 RWTL final, in which the Funks battled Abdullah the Butcher and the Sheik, that got him hooked. In the autumn of 1978, during his third year of junior high, Kawada sent his resume to All Japan but received no reply. He decided to try New Japan instead (he was actively watching both television shows at the time, so there wasn't a tribalist fan mentality going on), and went to their dojo for an entrance exam. He easily passed the physical fitness tests, but after he won a sparring match with a young wrestler, he got his ass whupped by Fujiwara before passing the test. A few days later, he passed an interview with Kotetsu Yamamoto at the company office, but was told to come after graduating high school. Kawada ended up joining All Japan because he went to his friend Misawa, now in the company and working as Tsuruta's valet, and Misawa took him backstage at a Korakuen show to meet Jumbo. He would then be granted an interview with Baba on February 4, 1982, where he was told he could join after graduation.

1c.) A translation of the first part of a 2020 interview, done by NOAH superfan Hisame, is probably as good a bit on Kobashi’s early life as you’re going to get in English, and I’m not going to crib from her here. I will add, however, that after his application was initially rejected in February 1987, he was reintroduced through the owner of the gym he used, where he was able to get connected with Baba. During his early years, he served as Tsuruta and Fuchi’s sparring partner. In an interview early in his career, Kobashi claimed that, in his style, he wished to bring together the stamina of Tsuruta and the spirit of Tenryu while still expressing his originality.

1d.) Akira Taue quit sumo before the July 1987 Nagoya basho. A fascinating detail that I’m finding on the Japanese internet is that this came from a dispute with his stablemaster, who was the same guy indirectly responsible for Tenryu’s departure from sumo. (When he left to form his own stable, Tenryu intended to follow him but the association intervened.) As mentioned in a previous post, he was connected to AJPW through the ragoku comedian now professionally known as San'yūtei Enraku VI. However, Taue was technically not an AJPW recruit. Baba was concerned about further damaging his relationship with the sumo association after having recently signed Hiroshi Wajima, John Tenta, and Isao Takagi, so Taue was officially recruited by Japan Pro in what was probably one of the last things the satellite organization ever did.

1e.) Tsuyoshi Kikuchi’s university wrestling instructor had trained alongside Tsuruta at the JSDF phys-ed school, and was introduced to Jumbo before the amateur nationals in August 1986. Tsuruta told him that he wasn’t tall enough to get in without performing exceptionally well, which Kikuchi did when he won in freestyle. He then sent his resume to no reply, but appealed to the company to let him join on March 28, 1987, when the Choshu-led JPW boycott left AJPW short on talent. The “three crows” of this crop of AJPW talent would be Kikuchi, Kobashi, and former Super Tiger Gym instructor Tatsumi Kitahara. Kikuchi was Tsuruta’s valet, and when Jumbo would take him out to the pub, he would turn red after only one or so beers and let his junior finish whatever he’d ordered while sipping oolong tea. The bio doesn’t make this connection, but Kikuchi’s nickname of “Fireball Boy” (火の玉小僧) was much earlier used by Michiaki Yoshimura. In the case of the original, the moniker was specifically a reference to how fiercely he fought gaijin heels whilst bloodied.

2.) During the 1990.05.14 show, the first major AJPW event without Tenryu, there were cries in the audience for Baba-san to “do something”. (Fun fact: Tatsumi Fujinami was in attendance. Here’s a photo of him with Baba, and here’s a brief shot of him in the crowd from a NOAH video package before his 2007 tag match with Misawa.) The bio claims that Misawa’s unmasking was “not a prearranged stunt”, and while this is a very bold claim to take at face value, I suppose there is a slim possibility. Misawa had publicly unmasked for a television interview on his wedding day, and the bio claims Misawa’s continued use of the Tiger Mask tights until 1990.05.25 as circumstantial evidence. Either way, Kabuki was working as guest commentator, and I can at least believe him when he says he wasn’t aware. (I am willing to believe that Misawa, Baba, and maybe Kawada were the only ones in on it.)

3.) There is acknowledgement here of Fuchi’s role as a road agent, as he recounts discussing how to lay out the 1990.05.25 match to display Misawa’s personality in contrast with Tenryu’s. No matter how much he talked about his mask, Misawa still “did not have a strong image at that time”. They decided on a match where Misawa “made Tsuruta-san angry and got him to take [him] seriously”, because he’d never be able to match Tenryu if he didn’t puncture Jumbo in this way. In the series of six-man tags leading up to this one, the only victory that Chosedaigun had managed was on 1990.05.21, when Misawa pinned Fuyuki with a bridging German.

4.) After the famed 1991.04.20 Fan Appreciation Day six-man tag, the crowd went into a Baba chant as he got up from the commentator’s desk to thank him for what they had just seen.

5.) I can actually add some insight on the 1991.05.24 Jumbo/Kobashi match, the one which is clipped to everyone’s chagrin. Alas, it looks like a lot of what we missed was an extended Kobashi headlock segment, which he claimed was a strategy he took from accounts of Baba’s 1966.02.28 match against Lou Thesz, i.e. using the headlock to contain someone intending to hit the backdrop. One could easily draw a line to the March 1988 Jumbo/Tiger Misawa match as well.

6.) Wada claims that, towards the end of his full-time run, Jumbo became “very strict” with Taue, as if he was grading himself. Taue felt that he couldn’t keep up with the other Pillars, but Jumbo was right there on his ass: “You’re just like them, so you’d better work hard! It’s not for me to beat Misawa, it’s for you! You do it!” (Taue speaks earlier in the chapter about how much Tsuruta and Fuchi taught him about putting matches together. The mileage he was able to get out of his match layouts in the NOAH era truly speaks to how privileged he was to work so closely with these two.) Wada notes that he believes Jumbo knew by this point that he didn’t have much time left.

Author Kagehiro Osano also believes this is the case. He didn’t actually cover All Japan during this period; due to his connections with Tenryu, Gong preemptively assigned another person to the beat to avoid tensions, and it wasn’t until Osano became editor-in-chief in 1994 that he started to cover the company again. But he was still friendly with all the guys, and when he spoke to Tsuruta for the first time in over a year at the 1992.01.04 Pro Wrestling Awards Ceremony, he was told by Jumbo that “according to [his] calculations, [he] had about five years left, so he needed to plan well and train his successor”.

7.) The official reason Jumbo was absent from the Summer Action Series tour was that he aggravated an old ankle injury during practice. I wonder if this was the same one that took him out of the 1974 Champion Carnival. Anyway, a story he told to reporters is so precious that it’s absolutely true in my heart. Since he couldn’t play-fight with his son physically, they instead did so by throwing imaginary Genkidamas at each other. Jumbo watching Dragon Ball with the kids is exactly the imagery I wanted to get from this book. Anyway, Osano claims that the media at large suspected something bigger was up. They didn’t know he had hepatitis, but it had been almost six years since the emergency operation on his right elbow, which gave them pause. The truth wouldn’t become public knowledge until 1993, though Jun Akiyama, who worked as Jumbo’s valet in early-mid 1992, claimed that he “secretly” sensed Tsuruta’s change as it happened. While driving with Jumbo in his Bentley, he was told that his mentor was “getting a little tired these days”. Akiyama notes that he was the last new guy to have wrestled a healthy Tsuruta, even if this was October 1992 Tsuruta.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, KinchStalker said:

while also telling jokes that Misawa said “weren’t very funny”. (Jumbo just has that dad joke air about him.)

I can totally picture Misawa totally no-sell a Jumbo unfunny joke now, with the usual stoic Misawa look. :lol:

Again, this is much MUCH appreciated.

6 hours ago, KinchStalker said:

Kobashi claimed that, in his style, he wished to bring together the stamina of Tsuruta and the spirit of Tenryu while still expressing his originality.

This is such a sumo-like interview ! 

One day there has to be a study on how much pro-wrestling in Japan has been heavily influenced by sumo. Hell, watching Rikidozan I just learned that his chop was basically a modification of the sumo harite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, El-P said:

I can totally picture Misawa totally no-sell a Jumbo unfunny joke now, with the usual stoic Misawa look. :lol:

There is a specific young Misawa photo this brings to mind.

tumblr_onv9xac64G1qcztrfo1_1280.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×