Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
Sign in to follow this  
KinchStalker

JAPAN PRO WRESTLING, PART ONE (FORMATION AND NJPW SPLIT)

Recommended Posts

JAPAN PRO WRESTLING, PART ONE (FORMATION AND NJPW SPLIT)

I’m about 10 pages into chapter 8, about the JPW era of AJPW, but as a lead-in to that post I thought that I should go into greater detail than the bio itself does about the story of JPW’s formation. My posts have tended to be more about the non-New Japan side of puro history, since my personal project pertains to All Japan specifically, but this post should help make up for that a bit.

What would eventually become Japan Pro Wrestling was a result of the extended fallout from the unsuccessful coup attempt in August 1983, when Inoki’s financial abuse of his position was revealed. I don’t know how well-known the actual affair is in English-language circles, so I’m going to go into it.

-----------

In 1980, Inoki founded Anton Heisel (I don’t know the meaning of the Heisel part, but I do know that Anton is derived from Antonio), a biotech startup with the cooperation of the Brazilian government focused on the production of ethanol from sugarcane bagasse. This had really taken off in Brazil in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis, when its government financed a program to phase out fossil fuels in automobiles. This manifested in the ethanol-gasoline blends now sold in the country. There were, as there continue to be, great concerns about the pollutant effects of bagasse conversion to ethanol (specifically the aldehydes produced in alcohol oxidization), but Inoki was convinced that they were manageable. Sure, livestock which are fed recycled bagasse are prone to diarrhea, but Inoki logic saw that as a good thing because that meant more fertilizer. Inoki could solve the food crisis!

He couldn’t. Japanese climates couldn’t facilitate the fermentation process of such organic fertilizer effectively. This enterprise ended up hitting Inoki’s wallet even harder due to Brazilian inflation.

To recoup the billions he had lost, Inoki got TV Asahi to pledge 1.2 billion yen in broadcasting rights as collateral, but it wasn’t enough. (The debt would eventually be transferred to Kiyoshi Sagawa, founder and then-chairman of delivery company Sagawa Express, in exchange for stock certificates.) What seems to have led to the coup attempt was NJPW’s June 1983 shareholders’ report, which reported a profit margin of a mere 26 million yen on nearly 2 billion yen in sales, with a carryover profit of 7.2 million and no shareholder dividends.

-----------

Back to the story. In December 1983, NJPW sales manager and coup conspirator Naoki Otsuka resigned from his post to form New Japan Pro-Wrestling Entertainment. The name was transferred to him by Inoki, which he did to “keep the New Japan name” even if the promotion itself was taken over by TV Asahi. Investors included Haruka Eigen and eventual JPW chairman Katsushi Takeda. Choshu would quickly become closer to Otsuka than New Japan proper, as his private production company, RIki Production, was entrusted to New Japan Pro-Wrestling Entertainment to operate.

Cracks soon formed in the relationship between the ostensible sister companies. Inoki was not present at NJPW Entertainment’s founding party, which led to distrust from Otsuka. NJPW Entertainment, rather than NJPW itself, organized a Fujinami/Choshu match on February 3, 1984. I can’t tell you exactly how they did this, but it clearly didn’t help their relationship, as Inoki began to suspect that Otsuka planned to take over event booking and monopolize profits.

Choshu’s own relationship with the company would deteriorate. The source I’m taking this from kayfabes it as manifesting in his interference in the June 14 Inoki/Hogan match, where he hit Hogan with a lariat. To put it mildly, the fans did not like that. However, I think it’s reasonable to suspect that this was true in a different way: namely, that Choshu did not like this angle or at least its result. Hogan got to go back to the WWF without any real damage, and Inoki’s kayfabe supremacy prevailed.

After this tour, NJPW Entertainment arranged an event at the Denen Coliseum on August 26, but New Japan cancelled. This is where Giant Baba enters the picture. Either Otsuka, who thought NJPW was harassing him, or Baba, who respected Otsuka’s acumen as a salesman, sought contact with the other through the go-between of Gong magazine’s Kosuke Takeuchi. Now, it must be made clear that this was not Otsuka jumping sides; as he ran an entertainment company, either he believed or Baba convinced him that he could play with both sides. But when the Denen event was revived as an AJPW event, NJPW obviously saw it as betrayal.

As NJPW’s Summer Fight Series began, Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Nobuhiko Takada jumped ship to the UWF. Choshu would also be offered a UWF contract, but Otsuka reported this to New Japan, who then moved to offer an exclusive contract with TV Asahi, in an attempt to both curb Shinma’s attempt and to separate Choshu from Otsuka.

Two months later on August 24, just after the company had returned from Pakistan, Otsuka was handed his notice by Inoki himself. After the scheduled events through Septemer, the two companies’ dealings would cease. Two days after the AJPW Denen show, Otsuka notified New Japan that he was leaving, and that he was going to pull everybody except Inoki and Sakaguchi with him. In fact, the day after receiving his notice, Kuniaki Kobayashi had asked Otsuka if he was quitting. After this, Otsuka received a call from Choshu to meet him at his apartment, and when he did so he found Kobayashi, Yoshiaki Yatsu, Animal Hamaguchi, and Isamu Teranishi were also present. It was here when Otsuka made his offer to Choshu to come along with him and “break new ground”.

Ishingun would proceed to participate in the Bloody Fight Series, but Choshu approached Sakaguchi to request that he and Yatsu take an expedition to the WWF to refresh themselves. At this point the cracks in the promotions’ relationship had obviously begun to form, but Vince hadn’t totally burned the bridge by jacking up the fee yet. So this appealed to Sakaguchi because Choshu would not only be separated from Otsuka, but could also help repair their relationship with what had been their most fruitful American partnership.

Sakaguchi announced backstage on September 18 that Choshu would be going on expedition, and Ishingun vowed to unite with Inoki. However, three days later, Ishingun held a press conference at the Capital Tokyo Hotel. (I believe this photo is from that conference.) Ten minutes beforehand, they had collectively submitted their notice to New Japan and announced they were joining Otsuka. Baba was not a part of the conference, but he showed up and stated that All Japan would be ready to accept them if they approached.

Then, even more of the New Japan roster would align with Otsuka. These included Eigen, who as previously mentioned had been one of NJPW Entertainment’s investors, and Otsuka’s friends Masanobu Kurisu, Nobuo Yasunaga, Shinichi Nakano, and Fumihiro Niikura. Killer Khan then joined at Otsuka’s invitation, and Masa Saito and referee Tiger Hattori did the same at Choshu’s request. Katsushi Takeda put up the money for everyone’s contracts. At this point, NJPW Entertainment merged with Riki Production to form Japan Pro.

Before Ishingun’s dramatic entrance into AJPW on December 8, 1984, Japan Pro also arranged the British Bulldogs’ ship-jumping to become AJPW gaijins, starting with the RWTL. The next year, they would also lure over the Calgary Hurricanes: Super Strong Machine, Hiro Saito, and Shunji Takano. (This is skipping ahead a bit, but I know that in late 1985 AJPW and NJPW would sign a no-pulling – or as machine translation hilariously puts it sometimes, no-pullout – agreement. This is why Dick Murdoch never came back to All Japan, even though he apparently wanted to.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to Inoki's Japanese Wikipedia page, his Brazilian biofuel venture was called アントン・ハイセル, which would be Romanized as anton haiseru. Maybe it's supposed to mean Highcell or something like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's nothing unusual about a Japanese woman quitting her job to get married. It happens all the time. The fact that she resisted marriage at the beginning was progressive enough for the times. I'm fairly certain that if she decided to quit her job and marry Jumbo that she was ready to leave the airline industry. Working again after Jumbo died doesn't really strike me as progressive. It seems tragic to me, as though it filled a gaping hole. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You’re right. I know it's a cultural norm. My perception of the story might have been colored a bit by some speculation I’ve seen on the Japanese web surrounding her actions, running with how the guy who arranged the surgery didn’t get all of the payment because the operation was a failure (and because the hospital director gave his medical opinion to the press), and his claims that Yasuko not only wasn’t present when he died, but was also exchanging business cards in the hospital that day, which made him suspicious of the foundation she started. Maybe she had wanted to work again?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not familiar with that story. When I first started trying to tap into Japanese info, there was a lot of sleaze thread level stuff, especially about Joshi wrestlers. Eventually, I lost interest. Personally, I'd take it  with a grain of salt like all of the Motoko Baba stories.

I'm intrigued by the idea of Jumbo not being Japanese enough. The salaryman quote is well known, but something changes around the time of the Misawa feud because all the salarymen are popping like mad for him. I guess they aged with him. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, ohtani's jacket said:

Personally, I'd take it  with a grain of salt like all of the Motoko Baba stories.

I always just assumed Motoko was the bad cop like JR/JJ Dillon/Johnny Ace would be for Vince. Everyone loved Baba so someone had to be the bearer of bad news. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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
On 3/4/2021 at 4:40 AM, NintendoLogic said:

According to Inoki's Japanese Wikipedia page, his Brazilian biofuel venture was called アントン・ハイセル, which would be Romanized as anton haiseru. Maybe it's supposed to mean Highcell or something like that.

Necroposting here, but it turns out you were right on the money. A feature from Monthly Puroresu (March 1982) reveals that it was romanized as Anton Hi-Cel.

FQBdHEXaAAAyMfS.thumb.jpeg.f480a119c64c474e78bd4258822f72fa.jpeg

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
Sign in to follow this  

×