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Takao Kuramochi (倉持隆夫)

kuramochi.jpg.cb9b301f13a881254b7e08493a7f3f8c.jpgProfession: Commentator (PBP)
Real name: Takao Kuramochi
Professional name: not applicable
Life: 1/2/1941-
Born: Mitaki, Tokyo, Japan
Career: 1972-1990
Promotions: All Japan Pro Wrestling

Summary: Takao Kuramochi called All Japan Pro Wrestling for almost twenty years and remains one of puroresu’s best remembered play-by-play men.

A graduate of Waseda University’s law department, Takao Kuramochi joined Nippon Television as an announcer in 1964. When NTV began airing AJPW eight years later, he was recommended as an announcer by Kazuo Tokumitsu. Kuramochi gradually took over lead broadcast duties from Tokumitsu and Ichiro Shimizu. By 1978, which is the first year of AJPW television that mostly still circulates today, he had settled into the head position. Kuramochi and reporter-commentator Takashi Yamada were the core duo of All Japan broadcasts for many years. In a 2022 column, Tokyo Sports reporter-turned-commentator Soichi Shibata praised Kuramochi & Yamada’s “rhythmic parroting” as a memorable combination to this day.

Unlike his TV Asahi counterpart Ichiro Furutachi, who was informed on angles in advance, Kuramochi states that his reactions were genuine. Even in the case of May 2, 1980, which saw him attacked by the Sheik during a prolonged postmatch brawl against Abdullah the Butcher, Takao claims that only Baba and producer Akira Hara would have known about the plan. (Nippon Television declined to air the match for many years, while Kuramochi received a ¥200,000 bonus from the Babas.) Kuramochi also differed from Furutachi in his approach. Ichiro’s ten-year tenure for World Pro Wrestling set the template for the “screaming announcer”, a wildly successful style which anticipated later play-by-play men such as Kuramochi successor Kenji Wakabayashi. In contrast, Kuramochi preferred to convey his excitement through accelerating his speech to match the tone of the moment, allowing himself to be passionate but not histrionic. Kuramochi’s style may not have transcended language barriers in the manner that Furutachi and his successors could at their best, but that is hardly a fair metric to hold him against. Even if he may not have had a personal passion for wrestling, belonging more to a generation of television announcers that saw wrestling as a steppingstone to a job that they really wanted, he is very fondly remembered by his native audience. As far as I can tell without being able to understand him myself, that is justified.

Kuramochi retired from the program in 1990 to take a job at the network’s business division. He received a warm farewell at the March 6 Budokan show. While he took a job at parent company Yomiuri Shimbun a few years later, Kuramochi continued to work in the television industry until his 2001 retirement.

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