Posts Tagged ‘AKIRA’

On October 10, my good friend Akira Nogami celebrates 30 years of active competition in the wrestling business with a special card dedicated to his imprint on our grappling industry, to be held in Tokyo at Shinjuku Face Arena.  A literal plethora of who’s who from the world of Japanese Puroresu will be on hand to honor our brother-in-arms, and I am stoked to be taking a part in this special evening of in-ring combat, by direct invitation of Akira himself.

Akira Nogami in 2010 (photo: SMASH)

Akira Nogami in 2010 (photo: SMASH)

Akira and I have a storied history together, both as adversaries and as tag team partners in our business.  If I could hand-pick my opponents, Akira would easily make the top five of that list on any given day.  He is smooth, flowing like water and moving like a panther inside of that ring.  I have often likened him to the legendary former NWA World and WWF Intercontinental champion, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, in terms of his fluid wrestling style.

Some of my best memories from Japan have been shared with my brother, Akira.  We have fought some amazing battles.  We melded like clockwork in a team called Synapse, alongside female standout, Syuri Kondou (a multi-time women’s wrestling and kickboxing champion).  Upon our inception in the summer of 2012, our trio was passionately compared to the classic 1996 nWo unit with Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in the belated World Championship Wrestling (WCW) organization.  We were cool baddies.  We kicked ass and took names, downing the competition all across Japan for much of 2012-2013.  In February of this year, on the same card where I won the WNC (Wrestling New Classic) championship from “The Japanese Buzzsaw” Tajiri, we disbanded our Synapse team, all going our separate ways.

SYNAPSE 2012

Akira, StarBuck, Syuri (photo: Kazuhiko Kato)

Akira started his legendary career in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), famous for hosting and organizing the world-famous 1976 wrestler vs. boxer match-up between Antonio Inoki and Muhammed Ali.  Akira was part of the same class of ’84 that saw the launch of Keiji Muto (aka The Great Muta), Shinya Hashimoto, Masahiro Chono and Masakatsu Funaki.  Nowadays, Akira grapples for Keiji Muto’s Wrestle-1 office in Japan.

My first encounter against AKIRA, from SMASH.8 in September 2010 in Tokyo

My first encounter against AKIRA, from SMASH.8 in September 2010 in Tokyo (photo: SMASH)

Akira first notable title win was the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship, defeating Jushin Liger in August 1991.  Since then, he has been a journeyman wrestler, both in Europe, the USA and Japan.  Akira took part in the NWA world tag team tournament in 1992, held under the Bill Watts regime as the head of WCW, teaming with Hiroshi Hase in the opening round.  Akira was injured, and could not compete a month later in the second round alongside Hase, so he was replaced by Shinya Hashimoto (Hase and Hashimoto would lose to Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes in the semi-finals of the tournament).  Akira is also a former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight tag team champion, alongside old foe Jushin Liger, and the first ever WNC champion from 2012, defeating Tajiri in the WNC title tournament finals.

I am proud to be taking part in this big card on October 10 in Tokyo to pay tribute to the career of Akira Nogami, a real friend and brother in this hard, dog-eat-dog business called professional wrestling.  He is someone who has always had my back, whether we have been against each other, or if we have teamed together.  We share a mutual respect and a bond of friendship, a warrior’s bond.  This is truly rare in any walk of life.

Akira-san, I salute you!  KAMPAI!!!

akira30th-poster2-2 akira30th-poster2-1

The other night I just landed back home after my latest tour of the “Land of the Rising Sun” this past week, wrestling in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.  The Wrestling New Classic (WNC) cards that I fought on with my team Synapse (StarBuck, AKIRA, Syuri) also featured some interesting new acquaintances: 62-year old legend Gran Hamada, Zero-1/ECW star Masato Tanaka, MMA star Koichiro Kimura, former NJPW Jr. Heavyweight Champion El Samurai and current WNC Champion Osamu Nishimura.

At 62-years of age, Gran Hamada is a legend in his own time (especially in Mexico)!

At 62-years of age, Gran Hamada is a legend in his own time (especially in Mexico)!

On May 24 in Tokyo, I teamed with AKIRA and Syuri to defeat the trio of WNC Champion Nishimura, TAJIRI and WNC Women’s Champion Lin Byron.  AKIRA pinned TAJIRI after a Musabi Press off the top rope, right after I hit the spike-piledriver on “The Japanese Buzzsaw”.  I have to say that Osamu Nishimura is a heck of a wrestler, and I thoroughly enjoyed wrestling against him, as our styles meshed very well.  Nishimura expressed interest in joining our Synapse contingent after the match, after some miscommunication in the six-man match, after TAJIRI mistakenly thrust-kicked Nishimura late in the bout.  We didn’t commit to his wish as of yet, but Nishimura did say that he is bringing my old arch-nemesis Michael Kovac of Austria to Japan next month.  Kovac beat me for the TopCatch European Championship back in September 2011, and there’s still a good deal of heat between our parties, so I am not too excited about the developments that Nishimura is looking to push with his personal agenda now…

A show of respect between WNC Champ Nishimura and myself after our match.

A show of respect between WNC Champ Nishimura and myself after our match.

We hit the road for Osaka on May 25, where AKIRA and I lost a heated match-up against The Big Guns (Zeus and The Bodyguard), who are almost like Japan’s version of The Road Warriors.  The Bodyguard pinned AKIRA after the opposition hit a double-chokeslam on my tag team partner and I was unable to break up the pin.

On the WNC tour bus, AKIRA awaits arrival in Osaka, where we have our next match.

On the WNC tour bus, AKIRA awaits arrival in Osaka, where we have our next match.

Former WNC Women's Champion Syuri washes some midnight laundry in Osaka.

Former WNC Women’s Champion Syuri washes some midnight laundry in Osaka.

May 26 saw us land in Nagoya, where I teamed with Syuri in a mixed tag encounter, against rookie Masaya Takahashi and Makoto.  I pinned Takahashi with my spike-piledriver in about nine-minutes to bring our team to victory once again.

Having a good time at Rikidozan's former chef's restaurant in Tokyo.

Having a good time at Rikidozan’s former chef’s restaurant in Tokyo.

I also had the pleasure of dining at the famous Hong Kong restaurant, headed up by the former chef of Rikidozan, Japan’s pro wrestling pioneer from the 1950s.  The photos on the establishment’s wall tell of the famous Antonio Inoki vs. Mohammed Ali match from 1976.  The real catch in that tale was the astronomous amount that New Japan Pro Wrestling, under whose banner the match was held, had to pay to Ali, to the tune of 10 billion Yen.  That equates to about 10 million USD.   New Japan paid off their debt a couple of years back, after over 35-years of carrying that financial monkey on their backs.  Talk about someone leveraging themselves into a huge personal win situation!

I will be leaving tomorrow for a WNC (Wrestling New Classic) tour of Japan.  I will be wrestling once again alongside AKIRA and Syuri in our SYNAPSE team, and at least one of the matches on the tour features our trio against that of “The Japanese Buzzsaw” TAJIRI, WNC women’s champion Lin Bairon and WNC champion Osamu Nishimura at Shinjuku Face arena in Tokyo.

The schedule reads May 24 in Tokyo, May 25 in Osaka and May 26 in Nagoya.  For all the fine folks and great wrestling fans in Japan, you can see the locations and venues on the poster below.

WNC summer tour poster 2013

I will be returning to Japan this coming weekend to wrestle with my SYNAPSE team (WNC champion AKIRA, WNC women’s champion Syuri, StarBuck) vs.  Holland’s Emil Sitoci, Ivan Markov of Russia and Russian female competitor Bonnie Ekaterina at the Wrestling New Classic event on March 31 at Shinjuku Face arena in Tokyo.

heels

Emil Sitoci, Ivan Markov, Bonnie Ekaterina

There will be an afternoon and an evening show at Shinjuku Face on the same day.  The six-person tag is in the afternoon, and in the evening I will have a singles encounter against either Akira Shinose or Koji Doi, both of whom are just out of their rookie year in the wrestling business.  Both Shinose and Doi will have a match against each other in the afternoon to see which one of them will get the “honor” of facing Yours Truly on the evening card.

Photo by Susumu Tobari 02

AKIRA, StarBuck, Syuri

It feels great to be returning to Japan after a half a year away!  Sou desu ne!!!

After dominating the WNC (Wrestling New Classic) title tournament finals last month in Tokyo, my SYNAPSE teammate and new WNC Champion, AKIRA, has cordially invited Big Japan Wrestling standout star Shinya Ishikawa to join our ranks.

shinya

I fought against Ishikawa in a physical match, which I won with my spike piledriver, back in May 2011.  I was told that my bout against the rising star was likened to a vintage Harley Race match, in terms of psychology, as noted by my good friend, Dr. Hiroaki Terasaki.  The one thing I do vividly recall of the match with Ishikawa is the fact that he hit like a mule, and his “Dropkick from Hell” was aptly named, leaving me feeling like I had been hit by a baseball bat.  Below are some of the pictures from that event (photos courtesy of SMASH).

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Shinya Ishikawa’s SYNAPSE debut will be on January 25 at Shinjuku FACE arena in Tokyo at the next WNC event.

So now, SYNAPSE is fourfold strong: WNC Champion AKIRA, WNC Women’s Champion Syuri, StarBuck and Shinya Ishikawa.

Welcome aboard the winning team, Ishikawa-san!

My SYNAPSE teammates were crowned champions in Japan today in Tokyo at Korkuen Hall.  AKIRA defeated “The Japanese Buzzsaw” TAJIRI to become the very first WNC (Wrestling New Classic) Champion in history in the tournament finals.  AKIRA defeated Adam Angel in the first round, former ECW World Champion Tommy Dreamer in the second round, and TAJIRI in the finals.

02 photo by Yuichi Kojima 03 photo by Yuichi Kojima 04 photo by Yuichi Kojima

Consecutively, Syuri became the first WNC Women’s Champion, defeating team DQN’s Nagisa Nozaki in the finals.  In the opening round, Syuri defeated Lin Bairon to advance to the second round, where she defeated FCF Wrestling’s gender bender Jessica Love, and then Nozaki in the finals.

05 photo by Yuichi Kojima 06 photo by Yuichi Kojima 01 photo by Yuichi Kojima

Big props and a huge salute to my SYNAPSE teammates on their dual victories in Tokyo today!

(Photos by Yuichi Kojima)

Syuri AKIRA StarBuck

On December 27 in Tokyo, Japan, history will be made as my SYNAPSE teammates AKIRA and Syuri vie for the WNC (Wrestling New Classic) Men’s Championship and WNC Women’s Championship respectively.

triad at gym

First off, I must say I am damn proud of my SYNAPSE partners, who more than deserve the top spots in Japanese professional wrestling, as champions.  AKIRA has wrestled an active career nearing 30-years in the business, and to this day he is one of the best in the country of Japan.  Syuri has worked her ass off to become one of the brightest female combatants in Japanese rings since her debut in 2010, also successfully doubling as an competitive kickboxer.

TRIAD collage

When AKIRA, Syuri and I joined forces to form SYNAPSE this past summer, we had a common agenda and end goal in mind: Total dominance.  It was clear from the onset, that we would go on to rule the wrestling world in Japan as a unit, and our united front has proven to be an awesome force to this day in all of our matches, both in terms of singles matches and tag team bouts.

This past October, I took part in the opening round of the WNC title tournament, losing in very controversial fashion to my former FCF teammate Hajime Ohara in a violent and spiteful encounter.  This marked Ohara’s first-ever win over me, and it also sent him straight into the semi-finals of the tournament.  AKIRA and Syuri also won both of their opening round matches, advancing to the semis last month in Tokyo, where AKIRA downed former ECW Champion Tommy Dreamer and Syuri defeated FCF Wrestling’s gender bender Jessica Love.

AKIRA vs Dreamer by Kengo Takahashi 01

AKIRA applies his Old Boy submission stretch on Tommy Dreamer (photo by Kengo Takahashi)

Now on December 27 at the infamous Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, the final round in the WNC title tournament sees AKIRA up against SYNAPSE arch-nemesis TAJIRI, as Syuri does battle with team DQN’s Nagisa Nozaki.  New champions will be crowned in those matches, and history will be written.

Last year, when SMASH held its championship finals in the men’s and women’s divisions, I faced TAJIRI in the men’s final and defeated him to become the first-ever SMASH Champion in history.  One month earlier, Kana defeated Syuri to become the first-ever SMASH Diva Champion.   I would go on to lose the SMASH Championship to Dave “Fit” Finlay in November 2011, whereas Syuri would get her comeuppance over Kana, winning the SMASH Diva Championship in February of this year, right before SMASH ceased operations.

Syuri (photo by Kazu Yanagi)

Syuri (photo by Kazu Yanagi)

I would have personally loved to have been able to make it to the finals of the WNC title tournament, but as the saying goes, “United we stand, divided we fall.”  In so saying, I can only wish for the best of luck to both AKIRA and to Syuri, both of whom I respect very much as teammates and competitors.  They are worthy of the gold.