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A HISTORY OF THE INTERNATIONAL WRESTLING ENTERPRISE PART 5.1 (1976)

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A HISTORY OF THE INTERNATIONAL WRESTLING ENTERPRISE

PART 5.1 (1976)

[Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3.1 here, Part 3.2 here, Part 4.1 two posts above, and Part 4.2 directly above.]

ANOTHER YEAR BEGINS

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Above: Len Shelley holds Mighty Inoue in place for a Sailor White diving foot stomp, in their 1976.01.23 shot at Inoue & the Great Kusatsu’s IWA World Tag Team titles.

Spoiler

The 1976 iteration of the New Year Pioneer Series was a fifteen-date tour from 1975.01.04-01.25. An unremarkable gaijin crop was led by a returning Sailor White. Winter Hawk was Pepe Lopez working a Native American gimmick. Len Shelley was a Canadian wrestler who had previously been booked on a 1974 All Japan tour at the recommendation of Abdullah the Butcher. His Showa Puroresu minibio reveals that he was a last-minute substitution for Kim Klokeid, a Calgary police officer who wrestled in Stampede on the side as Karate Kid. [1] El Ciclon was a Venezuelan wrestler with over a decade in the business, mostly working Puerto Rico by this point; according to his Showa Puroresu minibio, his real name was Raul Jose Gomez. The joshi division got a returning Susan Greene to work with, as well as Kitty Adams.

Except…not really? The joshi division was clearly on its way out, after requests from the Great Kusatsu and even NJPW’s Kotetsu Yamamoto to phase out the intergender aspect. (I can’t find out why a competitor would have cared: was the joshi division reflecting poorly on mens’ puroresu as a whole?) Only seven dates featured a single womens’ match, and only two of those matches featured native talent. Terumi Sakura didn’t even get booked!

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Also notable about this tour was the return of Mr. Chin from his Calgary excursion. The most interesting part about this is that he was booked alongside gaijin as a heel, something we'd see on a much bigger scale later in the year.

Two title defenses took place on the tour’s antepenultimate and penultimate dates. On January 23 in Tatebayashi, Kusatsu & Inoue retained their tag titles against White & Shelley. The next day, Kimura defended his world title in Koshigaya against White. However, photographs shown in an article on the Showa Puroresu website confirm that Kimura’s January 18 singles match against Winter Hawk was a noncanonical title defense. I don’t know how often this old carny trick was rolled out in Japan, but it’s neat to get proof that it was happening in at least one promotion.

Six months after the tour’s end, on July 27, Lopez died in a Texas car crash, which also took the lives of fellow wrestlers Sam Bass and Frank Hester.

RUSHER VS JUMBO (AND SURROUNDING TOURS)

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Above: Publicity photos from an unknown source, displaying Rusher Kimura and Jumbo Tsuruta’s respective measurements.

Spoiler

After the Super Power Series, a nineteen-date tour from 1976.02.29-03.27, Kokusai would take part in an AJPW vs. IWE card at the Kuramae Kokugikan. We need to take care of the tour first, though. The gaijin crop starred a returning Tor Kamata. Carlos Colon, who had worked for Kokusai in 1971 as Chief Black Eagle, returned under his own name. Behind the scenes, Colon had established a partnership between the WWC and IWE since around the previous year, and the rest of the male gaijin this time around were products of that partnership: namely, Gene Marino – also known as Tomas/Eugenio Marin – who served as Colon’s bodyguard, and the Viking, or “El Vikingo” Salvador Pérez. Lastly, this tour booked Kokusai’s final joshi gaijin: the returning Paula Kaye and Joyce Grable.

On March 7 and 11, Kimura defended his world title twice against Kamata, the latter match being a wire mesh deathmatch. The March 13 show in Saiba saw Kamata and Colon lose their shot at the IWA tag titles, and Isamu Teranishi also retained his mid-heavyweight title in a rematch against Jiro Inazuma. Also on that Saiba show, Chiyo Obata & Terumi Sakura defended their IWWA Pacific Coast Tag Team titles for the last time, against Kaye & Grable.

----

As covered in one of my early thread posts sharing info from Kagehiro Osano’s 2020 Jumbo biography, Nippon TV held a fan poll in early 1976 to gauge interest in what opponents fans wanted to see Tsuruta wrestle. The Trial Series was not a new concept by this point, as this followed ten-match series which AJPW had booked for both Baba and the Destroyer. However, this was the first time that All Japan used this promotional gimmick to establish a young talent, rather than add to a well-established star’s pedigree. The concept would be revived numerous times in the following decades, mostly by AJPW and NOAH, but the Tsuruta Trial Series seems to be the best-remembered today. It established the perfect balance: it was meant to establish a newer talent, and thus had genuine importance to their arc, while still offering matchups of considerable star power spread out over multiple years, rather than just being a showcase held across a single tour. (The closest that either AJPW or NOAH ever came to doing something like this again was Tiger Mask II’s 1986-88 Trial Series, which saw him wrestle the likes of Ric Flair and Ted DiBiase as well as native stars, before it ended with the famous 1988.03.11 Jumbo match. NJPW attempted something similar with Tatsumi Fujinami starting in 1982, but the gimmick was abandoned early.)

Anyway, Rusher Kimura had placed ninth in the fan poll. Just eighteen days after the Trial Series began with a draw to Verne Gagne, Jumbo would wrestle Kimura.

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Before the Super Power Series, on February 20, Kimura attended a Shinjuku training camp for Japanese sambo wrestlers preparing for the World Championships. Here, he was given instruction by none other than Victor Koga, who alongside Ichiro Hatta had been a pioneering international exponent of the sport in the 1960s. Hatta himself was also present, as seen in this photograph. Kimura wouldn’t utilize sambo much in his wrestling, but he busted out an armbar against Jumbo, and would continue to incorporate it into his personal training regimen.

The AJPW vs IWE card was held on 1976.03.28, one day after the Super Power Series’ end, and seventeen days after AJPW’s Excite Series had concluded. 9,800 fans came to the Kuramae Kokugikan for a show which booked the two promotions equally on the page, with a record of 4-4-2. Snake Amami, Goro Tsurumi, and Jiro Inazuma won undercard singles matches against the “Three Crows” of AJPW: Masanobu Fuchi, Atsushi Onita, and Kazuharu Sonoda. Mr. Yoto and Tsutomu Yonemura put over Mitsuo Momota and Masao Ito, respectively, and the AJPW team of Mitsu Hirai & Kazuo Sakurada defeated Kokusai’s Katsuzo Oiyama & Tadaharu Tanaka. Animal Hamaguchi beat Munenori Higo in 8:25, while Samson Kutsuwada beat Isamu Teranishi. In the main event, Kusatsu & Inoue went to a draw with All Asia tag champs the Great Kusatsu & Motoshi Okuma. The Kutsuwada/Teranishi and double tag title matches wound up getting broadcast on Kokusai Pro Wrestling Hour, rare exceptions to the rule that, if a big match was going to come out of the AJPW/IWE partnership, then Nippon TV would ensure they had the rights to air it.

Of course, the only match that would be remembered was the antepenultimate one on the card. Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Rusher Kimura would be refereed by former JWA president Junzo Yoshinosato, making his first public contribution to puroresu in years – although unbeknownst to the public at the time, he had already facilitated another contribution to the IWE which would pay off later in the year. The match ended in a double pin draw off of a Jumbo German suplex, the same finish which would be used in Tsuruta’s 1982 NWA title shot against Ric Flair. At year’s end, its legacy would be secured when Tokyo Sports named it Match of the Year for their third annual batch of kayfabe press awards. It was the first time that the award had not gone to Antonio Inoki, and would be the first of three consecutive MOTYs for Tsuruta (who ended his career with seven total). Not counting the first Tokyo Sports MOTY winner – the first Antonio Inoki vs. Strong Kobayashi match, in which Kobayashi was performing as a representative of the publication itself and not as a freelancer having departed the IWE – it would be the only such award received by an IWE wrestler. You could probably argue that this is *the* most famous Kokusai match.

---

Starting in April, Kokusai Pro Wrestling Hour received coverage in the Fukuoka prefecture, courtesy of TV West Japan.

The Dynamite Series was a twenty-date tour from 1976.04.11-05.05. For this tour, the gaijin crop was exclusively masked wrestlers. The star this time around was the Undertaker: that is, Hans Schroeder. This gimmick was one that the German wrestler had rolled out in Calgary around a year earlier. Chin Lee and Jerry Christy worked as a unit, the masked Scorpions. The Zebra Kid was Ontarian wrestler Paddy Ryan; according to his Showa Puroresu minibio, his work during the tour damaged the reputation of the Zebra Kid gimmick, which had originally been used by George Bollas (Bollas had challenged for Rikidōzan’s title back in 1961). Finally, the Inferno was a one-and-done Japanese appearance; long speculated to have been Jose Ventura, the sleuthing of the Showa Puroresu fanzine revealed that it was actually his younger brother, Tito.

On April 13 in Iwase, Kimura won a title defense against the Undertaker with a double countout in the second fall. However, Rusher was unsatisfied with this result in kayfabe, and vacated his title to fight his opponent for it again later in the tour. Nine days later in Sendai, he went over in the wire mesh deathmatch. Meanwhile, the Scorpions got two shots at the tag titles: first in Osaka on April 14, and then in Maebashi on May 5.

On April 12 in Korakuen, the mixed-gender phase of the IWE concluded. Chiyo Obata defended her old IWWA Pacific Coast title against Terumi Sakura, which was broadcast on Kokusai Pro Wrestling Hour one week later. It appears that they had nowhere left to go; I can’t imagine that the puritanical AJW, on the cusp of the Beauty Pair boom no less, would’ve had room for two aging workers with roots in the “sleazy” first generation of joshi, which they wanted to “redeem” joshi puroresu from in the first place. Obata and Sakura retired and opened a bar, BAR Sakura. The former, at least, would receive some vindication on November 29, 1998, when she was among the twenty-six people inducted into the AJW Hall of Fame.

This wasn’t quite T12C’s last foray into joshi puroresu, though. In 1978, they premiered a women’s kickboxing program called Gekikotsu! Women's Martial Arts Grand War (激突!女子格闘技大戦争, Gekitotsu! Joshi Kakutōgi Dai Sensō), for which they also formed a new wrestling promotion called New World Women’s Pro Wrestling (ニューワールド女子プロレス, Nyū Wārudo Joshi Puroresu). They even got Kyoko Chigusa to come back. However, the promotion folded after about a month.

SPECKLED WOLF

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Above: A bloodied Umanosuke Ueda poses with his ill-gotten IWA World Heavyweight title. At right, he defends it against Rusher Kimura in the cage for a rematch on the following tour.

Spoiler

The Big Challenge Series spanned fourteen dates from 1976.05.23-06.12. Rip Tyler & Eddie Sullivan, both of whom had worked in Japan before but never for Kokusai, came to Japan as a tag team for the first time. Crazy Bobby Bass, the fake Canadian brother of Fred, Don & Ron Bass, made his first Japanese appearances. Pretty Boy Anthony was a Nova Scotian-born wrestler. Finally, Gigi the Greek was a one-and-done whose Showa Puroresu minibio calls “a Doraemon of a man”, but who apparently had a degree of athleticism unexpected of his 400lb frame.

But they weren’t what made this tour interesting. For on the first date of the tour, Umanosuke Ueda made his first appearance in a Japanese ring in nearly three years.

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Hiroshi Ueda had dropped out of high school in 1958 to enter sumo, but in 1960 he switched to professional wrestling, at the invitation of one-time stablemate Koichi Hayashi, who had jumped ship to the JWA the previous year. His stage name, a reference to Edo-period samurai and Shinsengumi (a special police force which served the interests of the feudal military government during its dying days of 1863-9) member Umanosuke Ueda, was the idea of Toyonobori, and was first used in the autumn of 1962.

While respected for his technical acumen (eventually, he would receive praise as a legit tough guy from Bob Roop), Ueda was a notoriously dry worker, and he eventually garnered derisive nicknames such as “Sleepy Kyoshiro” and “Toilet Time Ueda”. Ueda would frequently work abroad as a Japanese heel in the late 60s and early 70s, and his name was previously mentioned in these IWE history posts as having formed a successful tag team with Chati Yokouchi.

As I laid out in the second-ever post on this thread, Ueda was a central conspirator in the attempted JWA coup whose fallout saw Inoki cut out of the company. He had remained with the sinking ship that was the JWA until the very end, when the contract he had signed with Nippon TV made him a performer for AJPW. However, Giant Baba’s refusal to downscale his plans for Jumbo Tsuruta (by making one of the top ex-JWA talent, i.e. Ueda or Kintaro Oki, his tag partner) caused Ueda to walk out. With a three-year non-compete clause written into his NTV contract effectively barring him from working elsewhere in his home country until the spring of 1976, Ueda moved his family to Pensacola and worked further as a territory heel.

On New Year’s Day 1976, Ueda issued challenges to Baba and Inoki. Baba refused because Ueda had left All Japan of his own accord in 1973, but Ueda thought that Inoki might have more interest because of the programs he had worked with Strong Kobayashi and Kintaro Oki. By this point, though, Inoki was shifting his focus to the different styles fights promotional approach, and Ueda’s unrefined image during his JWA tenure, on top of Inoki’s lingering personal resentments over how he felt Ueda had betrayed him during the 1971 coup attempt, made NJPW disinterested. In search of a deal, Ueda consulted with final JWA president Junzo Yoshinosato, who suggested that he talk to Isao Yoshihara. By this point Yoshinosato and Yoshihara had restored their relationship, with the former having received an offer to provide commentary for Kokusai Pro Wrestling Hour. [2] Ueda was a good friend of both Rip Tyler and Eddie Sullivan, and it looks like his connection got them booked as well. Ueda and Yoshihara had mutual respect, but while Yoshihara might not have realized this at the time, Ueda’s ambitions for returning to Japan were ultimately bigger than just being a Kokusai guy.

Ueda returned with the tips of his hair bleached blond, which begat the nickname of “Speckled Wolf”. (When he went full-blond later, this changed to “Golden Wolf”.)

On June 7 in Fukuyama, Sullivan & Tyler won the IWA World Tag Team titles from Kusatsu & Inoue, after Tyler pinned Inoue in a onefall match. The natives got their belts back four days later in Koga, but as one belt returned to Kokusai’s hands, another slipped from their fingers. Ueda got his IWA world title match against Rusher, and he made the most of it. An evaded Ueda shoulder tackle led to a ref bump, upon which Ueda downed Kimura with a foreign object to get the pinfall.

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It might have seemed that this was the start of a much longer association between Ueda and the IWE. However, on June 26, the same date as Antonio Inoki’s infamous fight against Muhammad Ali, Ueda held a press conference reiterating his challenge to Inoki. Hisashi Shinma had shot Ueda down before because Inoki needed to concentrate on training for the fight, but now that it had happened, and Ueda felt he had earned as much clout as he could get from associating with Kokusai, he shot his shot once again. Shinma was more receptive this time, but the “radical instigator” of Showa puroresu had more diabolical plans. He stated that an Inoki match could happen, on the condition that Ueda first come to New Japan as IWA champion and defeat either Seiji Sakaguchi or Strong Kobayashi. If he could make Ueda run away while still champion, well, he might not have gotten him to throw the belt in the trash on live TV or anything, but he could still use this opportunity to delegitimize one of his competitors.

The Big Summer Series was a 23-date tour from 1976.07.04-07.31. Roger Smith made his first Japanese appearances (and his only ones until 1985) under the masked gimmick of the Super Assassin. Len Shelley returned as the masked Black Lockheed for his last Japanese tour.[3] Meanwhile, Bob Delaserra made his Japanese debut under the hood as the UFO. Luke Williams of the Kiwis/Sheepherders/Bushwhackers worked his second and last Kokusai tour, rebranded Sweet Williams. Jose Ventura was a return gaijin, while Indio Guacaul was a Colombian one-and-done gaijin.

This tour also saw some returns. The most prominent was Thunder Sugiyama. Since his transfer to AJPW in 1972, Sugiyama had transitioned into a part-timer role as a side career as a television entertainer gained steam. However, he left All Japan in March 1976 over a dispute with Giant Baba, and declared himself a freelancer. Also returning was Hiroshi Yagi, finally back from his excursion. A fan vote sponsored by Tokyo 12 Channel and Monthly Pro Wrestling bestowed upon him the ring name of Ryuma Go, although Takashi Kikuchi would later claim that this wasn’t actually the name he’d seen most in the postcards: two that he saw more was “Concorde Yagi”, a reference to the Concorde airliner which France had co-developed (Yagi had wrestled in France during his excursion), and “Hiro Yagi”, an homage to Hiro Matsuda. Whatever the legitimacy of its fan poll victory, they made the right call. The following year, when NJPW held a similar campaign to give Mitsuo Yoshida a ring name, he pleaded with the people involved to “give me a cool name like Ryuma Go”…which he got, with Riki Choshu.

At the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium on July 7, Ueda & Sugiyama joined forces for an unsuccessful shot at the tag titles. Three weeks later, in Choshi on July 28, it appears that Isao Yoshihara found a way to get the belt off Ueda which he agreed to. During an untelevised wire mesh deathmatch for the title against Kimura, Ueda knocked out the referee, and the whole thing blew up in a no-contest when the Super Assassin and Mighty Inoue each climbed in to interfere. It was said that Ueda injured his left shoulder, but Inoue called bullshit on this in subsequent years, believing this was fabricated by Ueda to prevent having to put Kimura over at the end of the tour. On the final show in Koshigaya, Kimura defeated the Super Assassin in a wire mesh deathmatch to win back the vacated belt. Also on this date, Kusatsu & Inoue retained their tag titles against Lockheed & the UFO, and Isamu Teranishi defended his IWA World Mid-Heavyweight title against Ventura.

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The shoulder injury, legit or not, kept Ueda from participating in the 1976.08.05 NJPW singles match against Strong Kobayashi, as had been planned. After the Inoki vs Singh main event, though, Ueda emerged and handed Inoki a letter of challenge. Inoki emphatically refused, slapping Ueda, and Ueda attacked in response. This angle planted the seeds for Ueda’s later NJPW runs, starting with the first tour of 1977.

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Ueda would return to the IWE as an invader heel in 1979-80, but I think that this is the best place to talk a little about the situation he had placed himself in. It seems that Ueda had not been entirely prepared emotionally to work as a heel in his homeland; that was a duty which gaijin performers had taken care of for the puroresu industry, and even though Ueda wasn’t quite the first native heel, he was the first one to regularly work as such. He was heartbroken when his young nephew, who wasn’t smart to the business, told him not to visit their home anymore. Ueda would make trips to an orphanage, whose children were overjoyed to see “Ueda’s uncle”, but when a journalist discovered this, he told them not to write about it for fear of undermining his image. I bring this up not because heels being nice guys outside the ring is a groundbreaking notion, nor even their efforts to keep that from reaching the public, but because this seems to have been the first time that a Japanese wrestler really had to reckon with the public aspect of playing a heel character in their own country. Puroresu had essentially started as a cathartic coping mechanism for the lingering memories of the occupation, after all, not a venue to tell narratives about good and bad guys who were both Japanese. At the very least, Ueda wasn’t actually living in Japan at this point; when Rusher Kimura earned the legit ire of Inoki marks in the early eighties, he was not so lucky, and his house received a lot of eggings for it. [4]

LATE 1976

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Above: Kimura hits a backdrop to G. Joe on the outside during a defense of his IWA World Heavyweight title, and Mighty Inoue gets a submission in the cage to retain his and Kusatsu’s IWA World Tag Team titles.

Spoiler

The Big Golden Series spanned 22 shows from 1976.09.05-10.02. The star was Wild Angus, making his first appearances for Kokusai since 1969. Gil Hayes was a returning gaijin. Puerto Rican wrestler Hercules Ayala was, at this point, only three or so years into his career. I am quite amused to learn that "Al Bourgeois" was an actual ring name; according to his Showa Puroresu minibio he was a 20-year old Quebecois wrestler who had been scouted by either Maurice Vachon or Jacques Rougeau. The Tempest was Quebecois wrestler Richard Charland under a mask. The crop was rounded out by British wrestler Pete Stewart.

This tour also saw the Kokusai debut of Mr. Seki. Better known to us as Mr. Pogo, Tetsuo Sekigawa had joined NJPW for its first tour in 1972 (alongside onetime schoolmate Hiroaki Hamada), but had been dismissed from the company after one tour because Kotetsu Yamamoto didn’t like him for some reason. This was his return to work in his home country after three years of US territorial work.

On September 20, the IWA tag titles were defended against Angus & Hayes, while Kimura defended his world title against Angus on the last show in Kumagaya.

---

Kokusai ended the year with the 33-date Yumo Series (Yumo=勇猛, “bravery”), a rare use of Japanese to name a tour, held from 1976.10.24-12.04. G. Joe made his return as the star gaijin. Gil Hayes carried over from the previous tour; the Tempest was expected to as well, albeit sans mask as Dick Charland, but he bowed out due to injury. Combat, the team of Pierre Martin & Mike Martel, also returned, but this time they brought none other than a young “Ricky” Martel with them. Finally, Bull Gregory was a Quebecois talent who had previously worked a 1975 NJPW tour.

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This tour also featured the return of Devil Murasaki. Traumatized by the accident which had ended his coworker Tetsunosuke Daigo’s career, Murasaki went down to EMLL after helping nurse Daigo back to health. Here he would work with Mitsuo Momota, then working in Mexico as Rikidōzan II, before Goro Tsurumi came from Europe to work EMLL himself. He traveled back to Europe with Tsurumi, where he performed under a mask, inspired by the luchadors he’d worked with. Murasaki had enjoyed the freedom of the journeyman wrestler’s life, but he began to miss Japan when Tsurumi was called back. As Murasaki had paid out of his own pocket to make his excursion happen, he realized that he needed to come back of his own accord if he were to work for the IWE again. Upon his return, he showed up at Isao Yoshihara’s office. Yoshihara was annoyed at the prospect of being saddled with another native worker due to Kokusai’s financial difficulties, but with the help of sales department employee Atsuaki Nukui, Murasaki came back as Devil Murasaki, donning the purple mask he had performed with in Germany. Booker Kusatsu had no intention of pushing him, but Murasaki was grateful to have a job back home even if it was in the under-to-midcard.

On October 30, Hideyuki Nagasawa wrestled his final match, putting over Tsutomo Yonemura in the curtainjerker bout. As I covered in my previous post, Nagasawa was the last active wrestler (in Japan) born during the Taisho period, and was given a job by Rikidōzan mainly to be a backstage mentor for younger talent. Nagasawa had accompanied Rikidōzan on the Brazilian trip where he met Kanji Inoki, and he had wrestled Inoki for his debut as Antonio. While he would receive a vice chairman seat in 1966, stuff I’ve read online gives me the impression that his role was somewhat marginalized after Rikidōzan’s death. Whatever the case, when the JWA folded Yoshihara offered him a job with the IWE. This would be his last dance in the ring, but Nagasawa remained an employee of the materials department until quietly leaving in 1980, as the company entered its darkest days.

Now, onto the title matches. Kimura and G. Joe wrestled three matches over the world title: the first on October 26 went 2-2 on two double-countouts and the second on November 1 went to a single-fall double-countout, before Rusher went over in the wire mesh on the tour’s penultimate show. Kimura also retained against Gil Hayes in a November 11 match. Elsewhere, Kusatsu & Inoue made two successful tag title defenses against Combat on November 14 and 15, and one more on the final date against Joe & Hayes. Teranishi defended his mid-heavyweight belt against Ricky Martel on November 14.

So that was 1976, as best I could tell it from the information I have.

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

Spoiler

[1] According to his Showa Puroresu minibio (assuming this isn’t a typo as far as the year is concerned), Klokeid would be scheduled to work the IWE once more in 1977, but had to back out due to injury. In 1979, after Stampede switched sides to an NJPW partnership, Klokeid would make his only Japanese appearance, and I mean only. With the managerial services of Mr. Hito, who the aforementioned SP minibio states is widely believed to have gotten Klokeid booked in Japan, Klokeid would be the decade’s final challenger for Antonio Inoki’s WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight title on December 13. Apparently, his karateka gimmick was not legit enough to work in the context of a different styles fight.

[2] I don’t know if replacing Tadao Monma was something that was being considered at this point, but it’s worth noting that Kusatsu’s tensions with Monma persisted after the joshi division was scrapped, as displayed in the story of one incident during the Big Challenge Series. One night at a hotel, Monma was drinking with Ueda, Tyler, and Sullivan. After Kusatsu, himself drunk, joined them, Monma made a comment on Kusatsu’s in-ring style, suggesting that he “drop the rugby stuff” and stick to a straighter pro-wrestling style. A furious Kusatsu lifted Monma up by his neck, and it took Ueda to make him stop.

 [3] The gimmick name was a reference to a contemporaneous political scandal involving the Lockheed Corporation. I’ve touched on it before, but I can do so again here, because it’s oddly fun for me to write small recaps of real-world goings-on when they come up in the periphery of my research.

The Lockheed Corporation, which became Lockheed Martin in a 1995 merger, was an American aerospace manufacturer and defense contractor which was deep in debt by the early 1970s. In 1971 it approached the US Senate for a loan guarantee, a deeply controversial proposal which barely passed into law due to VP Spiros Agnew’s tiebreaker vote. By the summer of 1975, when Lockheed had still not defaulted, investigations commenced. The following year, a Senate subcommittee led by Senator Frank Church disclosed that Lockheed had engaged in foreign bribery since the late 1950s.

Japan was one of several countries where Lockheed had conducted these activities. They paid 2.4 billion yen to major underworld figure Yoshio Kodama and the office of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka for assistance in securing contracts for Japanese airlines to purchase their L-1011 Tristar instead of competitor McDonnell Douglas’ DC-10. Information disclosed by the US President’s Commission on Organized Crime in 1986 revealed further bribery operations in Japan between 1969 and 1975 which were facilitated through Deak and Company, a foreign exchange operator owned by banker and CIA operative Nicholas Deak. The Lockheed scandal would remain on Japanese minds for years, as trials of those implicated would proceed into the 1980s. The wife of the treasurer of the prime minister’s office, who testified in these trials, is the woman who is leaning on Ashura Hara in my profile picture.

[4] For what it’s worth, Kimura was bothered less by the vandalism itself than what the experience did to his dog, which manifested in stress-induced shedding.

 

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