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Takeshi Oiso

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Takeshi Ōiso (大磯武)
oiso72.png.197de226225ddf6a44ae2aad781e4f6b.png

Profession: Wrestler, Promoter, Trainer
Real name: Takeji Suruzaki (
摺崎武二)
Professional names: Takeshi Ōiso, Takashi Surazaki
Life: 4/8/1944-
Born: Shinimato, Toyama, Japan
Career: 1966-1974 (in Japan; range of years during Filipino phase unknown)
Height/Weight: 181cm/117kg (5’11”/257 lbs.)
Signature moves: Headbutt
Promotions: Tokyo Pro Wrestling, International Wrestling Enterprise
Titles: none

Summary: Takeshi Ōiso was a sumo-to-puroresu transplant who wrestled for eight years, joining Tokyo Pro Wrestling and then being subsumed into the IWE. However, he is most notable for his second life as a pioneering promoter of Filipino pro wrestling.

Takeji Suruzaki joined the Tachinami sumo stable in 1963, debuting in the July tournament under his real name. He would receive the shikona Ōisonami upon entering the makushita division in March 1965 but decided to retire after the May 1966 tournament. Suruzaki had submitted an application to the JWA after Rikidozan’s death, but the promotion had not been seeking new recruits and turned him down. This time, it would be Toyonobori who came to him, as the deposed president and ace was building a roster for his new enterprise, Tokyo Pro Wrestling. Suruzaki was one of five ex-sumo talent recruited for the promotion, alongside Tetsunosuke Daigo, Haruka Eigen, Katsuhisa Shibata, and Isamu Teranishi. He would immediately take a ring name which blended his real name (albeit tweaked) and shikona, Takeshi Ōiso.

After Tokyo Pro’s disastrous first shows in 1966, and their one joint tour with the International Wrestling Enterprise in January 1967, Ōiso was subsumed into the latter organization like most of the Tokyo Pro roster. Ōiso's IWE career was generally unremarkable, and he reportedly considered retirement until Jose Arroyo booked him for a Spanish tour in 1972. Ōiso spent the next year touring Europe and Africa before returning home for the 5th IWA World Series tournament in autumn 1973. Despite his expedition, Ōiso decided to leave the business shortly after his return, wrestling a retirement match on January 29, 1974.

njpw-apw.thumb.png.800f7b0e8871f379f970585a33cf32fc.pngLeft: An NJPW-APW joint show in February 1984. [Source: Weekly Pro Wrestling #31 (March 6, 1984) - picture included in free preview pages of digital copy]

None of this, though, is what is most interesting about Ōiso. As the story goes, one of Toyonobori’s obsessions was the Yamashita treasure, a mythical stash of Imperial war loot from their Southeast Asian campaigns named after general Tomoyuki Yamashita. While this treasure is now mostly considered to have been an urban legend (notwithstanding the absolutely buckwild legal drama between Filipino treasure hunter Rogelio Roxas and Ferdinand Marcos - yes, *that* Ferdinand Marcos - which began in the late 80s), Toyonobori was a believer who had approached several wrestlers about hunting for it. At some point, Ōiso took him up on that offer, and though it was clearly unsuccessful, the experience must have stuck with Ōiso. After his retirement, he decided to move to the Philippines to work as a trader, but he would bring professional wrestling along with him. At some point, Ōiso formed a promotion called Asian Pro Wrestling, for which he served as promoter and trainer. In February 1984, he returned to the ring for APW’s most notable shows: a pair of joint dates with New Japan Pro-Wrestling in Quezon City. These saw him team with disciples Harris Montero and Mario Matulac in matches against, respectively, Killer Khan & Animal Hamaguchi, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Osamu Kido, and APW won in both cases. APW folded sometime after this, but Ōiso protege Conrad Encinas eventually formed Reverse Pro Wrestling, which stated itself as APW’s successor. RPW has since moved its operations to France and become World Underground Wrestling, but continues to have a division in the Philippines.

 

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