View from the Rising Sun by Masanori Horie--Knight Errantry



 

VIEW FROM THE RISING SUN
by Masanori Horie

Knight Errantry

A lot of Japanese wrestlers have taken thorough experiences and training in the United States. This week's View From The Rising Sun takes a look at the early days of New Japan Pro Wrestling's Masahiro Chono, Kensuke Sasaki, Keiji Muto (The Great Muta), and Shinya Hashimoto in the USA. When they went abroad, it was just the last stage of the "territories of wrestling," in which fairly large and popular local promoters and their promotions had entertained fans in various regions for 40 years.


Masahiro Chono

Masahiro Chono
Masahiro Chono, November 1988
(Photo Credit: Steve Stogdale)

Masahiro Chono debuted as a wrestler on October 5, 1984. He left Japan for Europe on June 21, 1987 to appear on Otto Wanz' CWA "Catch-Cup '87" in Wien, Austria on June 23, 1987. After that, he traveled in Europe, the US, and Canada for two-and-a-half years.

After Austria, Chono went over to Bob Geigel's Central States territory in January 1989, where they promoted shows in Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa. After Jim Crockett Jr. promoted in Central States for a few months from 1986 to 1987, Geigel took back over and formed the WWA (World Wrestling Association) in 1988.

January 3, 1988---Des Moines, Iowa
WWA (World Wrestling Association) Television title match
Masahiro Chono beat Mike George---Chono won the title

February 25, 1988---St. Joseph, Missouri
WWA World Heavyweight title match
Masahiro Chono beat Mike George (23:42)---Chono won the title

March 17, 1988---Kansas City, Kansas
WWA World Heavyweight title match
Mike George beat Masahiro Chono---George won the title

Bulldog Bob Brown brought Chono to Emile Dupre's Atlantic Grand Prix promotion, presenting shows in the Canadian maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island) in June 1988. Chono won the Canadian International Tag Team title there.

Kokina, Alan West, and Chono
The Great Kokina (Yokozuna), manager Alan West (kneeling), & Masahiro Chono, November 1988
(Photo Credit: Steve Stogdale)

After AGP's summertime circuit, Chono went over to Continental Championship Wrestling, run by Ron & Robert Fuller and Bob Armstrong, on the Gulf Coast and in Eastern Tennessee in October 1988. He returned to Japan to appeared in New Japan Pro from November 11 to December 7, and he went over to the Continental area again.

May 5, 1989---Civic Auditorium, Knoxville, Tennessee
CWF (Continental) tag team title match
Masahiro Chono & Mike Davis beat Johnny & Davey Rich---Chono & Davis won the title

Chono appeared in the "Graz Tournament" in Graz, Austria (June 20 - July 8, 1989) and the "Wien Tournament" in Wien, Austria (July 10 - August 22, 1989) for Otto Wanz again. After Austria, he went over to Norfolk, Virginia to be trained by Lou Thesz on September 25, 1989. He got his famous finishing hold, the S.T.F. (Stepover Toehold with Facelock) from Thesz.

Masahiro Chono
Masahiro Chono, September 2, 2000

Thesz said, "The Japanese wrestlers spend lots of time in the dojo and want to learn all the wrestling moves they can. Chono came to Virginia when I had my school. He was terrific to coach."

Chono returned to Japan on October 4, 1989. He learned both European style and American style wrestling and met his future wife.


Kensuke Sasaki

Kensuke Sasaki
Kensuke Sasaki, January 4, 2000

IWGP Heavyweight champion Kensuke Sasaki debuted as a wrestler on February 16, 1986. He went over to Carlos Colon's WWC (World Wrestling Council) in Puerto Rico in January 1989, about six months after Bruiser Brody was killed by Invader #1 (Jose Gonzales). During the 1980's, the WWC was one of the most powerful promotions of the NWA, but the company just began to fall down in those days.

January 14, 1989---Caguas, Puerto Rico
Caribbean Tag Team title match
Ninja Express (Mr. Pogo & Kensuke Sasaki) beat Miguelito Perez Jr. & Hurricane Castillo Jr.---Pogo & Sasaki won the title

March 4, 1989---San Juan, Puerto Rico
Caribbean Tag Team title match
Mark & Chris Youngblood beat Ninja Express (Mr. Pogo & Kensuke Sasaki)---Youngbloods won the title

April 1, 1989---San Juan, Puerto Rico
Caribbean Tag Team title match
Ninja Express (Mr. Pogo & Kensuke Sasaki) beat Miguelito Perez Jr. & Hurricane Castillo Jr.---Pogo & Sasaki won the title

April 2, 1989---Dorado, Puerto Rico
Caribbean Tag Team title match
Batten Twins (Bart & Brad) beat Ninja Express (Mr. Pogo & Kensuke Sasaki)---Batten Twins won the title

Sasaki went over to the Hart Family's Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta in Summer 1989. Stampede Wrestling was the biggest bridge between Japan and Canada in those days. The Hart family started business with IWE (International Wrestling Enterprises) from 1975, when IWE's Tokyo Joe (Testunosuke Daigo), who had wrestled in Calgary and Montreal in the early 1970's, lost his right leg in a car accident. Joe became a booking agent to send wrestlers from Stampede Wrestling to the IWE. The business relationship was switched from IWE to New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Joe joined New Japan Pro in the early 1980's. A lot of Japanese wrestlers have trained in Calgary, and a lot of wrestlers from Calgary have brought the Japanese style home and arranged it. They created the great wrestling style with each other.

August 15, 1989---Red Deer City, Alberta, Canada
Stampede International Tag Team title match
Samurai Warriors (Kensuke Sasaki & Sumo Hara [Tatsumi Kitahara]) beat Bulldog Bob Brown and Kerry Brown---Sasaki & Hara won the title

September 29, 1989---Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Stampede International Tag Team title match
Black Harts (Tom Nash and David Heath [Gangrel]) beat Samurai Warriors (Kensuke Sasaki & Sumo Hara [Tatsumi Kitahara])---Black Harts won the title

Kensuke Sasaki
Kensuke Sasaki in the CWA, December 1989

Sasaki, as "Kendo Benkei Sasaki," went over to Otto Wanz' CWA in October 1989. He appeared in "International Catch-Cup'89" in December. He returned to Japan in March 20, 1990. It is said that he experienced numerous frustrations about the wrestling style differences in foreign countries, but he got a much tougher heart after one year.


Keiji Muto

Great Muta
The Great Muta, July 31, 2000

Keiji Muto debuted as a wrestler on October 5, 1984. He was sent to Duke Keomuka's CWF (Championship Wrestling From Florida) on November 4, 1985. CWF had run from five to seven nights a week, with weekly cards in Orlando on Sundays, West Palm Beach on Mondays, Tampa on Tuesdays, and Miami on Wednesdays, with spot shows in different towns each week in those days. Muto was trained by Hiro Matsuda and established himself as a future international star.

February 14, 1986---Eddie Graham Sports Complex, Orlando, Florida
Battle of the Belts II / NWA World Junior Heavyweight title match
Denny Brown beat White Ninja (Keiji Muto) (13:26 disqualification)---Brown kept the title

May 21, 1986---Sportatorium, Tampa, Florida
Florida Heavyweight title match
White Ninja (Keiji Muto) beat Kendall Windham---Ninja won the title

September 1, 1986---Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Florida
Battle of the Belts III / US Junior Heavyweight title match
White Ninja (Keiji Muto) beat Tim Horner (11:00)---Ninja won the title but the title was returned to Horner due to outside interference

Muta and Masanori
The Great Muta and Masanori, July 31, 2000

Muto returned to Japan in October 1986 and wrestled in Japan until the end of 1987. He left Japan for Puerto Rico on January 2, 1988. He, as "Black Ninja," created the original form of "The Great Muta."

January 30, 1988---Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Black Ninja (Keiji Muto) beat Invader #3

February 27, 1988---Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Gillette Cup Tournament '88
Black Ninja (Keiji Muto) beat Miguelito Perez Jr.
Dutch Mantel beat Super Black Ninja

April 2, 1988---San Juan, Puerto Rico
WWC (World Wrestling Council) Television title match
Invader #1 beat Black Ninja (Keiji Muto)---Invader won the title

May 14, 1988---Caguas, Puerto Rico
WWC Puerto Rican Heavyweight title match
Black Ninja (Keiji Muto) beat Miguelito Perez Jr.---Ninja won the title

August 6, 1988---San Juan, Puerto Rico
WWC Puerto Rican Heavyweight title match
Ricky Santana beat Black Ninja (Keiji Muto)---Santana won the title

Muto returned to Japan in July and went over to the Von Erich Family's WCCW (World Class Championship Wrestling) in Dallas, Texas. World Class had the Von Erich brothers and so many stars that they became one of the most popular wrestling companies in the 1980's, but they broke off from the NWA to become the World Class Wrestling Association in 1986.

October 15, 1988---Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
WCCW 5th Cotton Bowl Extravaganza / Handicap Mach
Super Black Ninja (Keiji Muto) beat four opponents (Tony Torres, Vince Apollo, and two others)

Muto was scouted by WCW (World Championship Wrestling) at the end of 1988.

Keiji Muto
Keiji Muto, December 25, 1989

April 2, 1989---New Orleans, Louisiana
Clash of the Champions VI
The Great Muta (Keiji Muto) beat Steve Casey (12:16)

May 7, 1989---Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee
WrestleWar '89 (PPV)
The Great Muta beat Doug Gilbert (3:03)

July 23, 1989---Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
The Great American Bash '89 (PPV)
NWA World Television title match
Sting drew The Great Muta (12:10 no contest)

September 3, 1989---The Omni, Atlanta, Georgia
NWA World TV title match
The Great Muta beat Sting (10:46)---Muta won the title

September 12, 1989---USC Carolina Coliseum, Columbia, South Carolina
Clash of the Champions VIII / Fall Brawl
Ric Flair & Sting beat The Great Muta & Dick Slater (19:16 disqualification)

September 16, Memorial Auditorium, Kansas City, Kansas
NWA World TV title match
Dick Murdoch beat The Great Muta (12:09 disqualification)

October 14, 1989---Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
NWA World Heavyweight title match
Ric Flair beat The Great Muta (23:06 disqualification)---Flair kept the title

October 28, 1989---Civic Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Halloween Havoc / Settling the Score
Thunderdome Match / Special referee: Bruno Sammmartino
Ric Flair & Sting beat Terry Funk & The Great Muta (21:55)

November 18, 1989---The Arena, St. Louis, Missouri
NWA World Heavyweight title match
Ric Flair beat The Great Muta (15:35)---Flair kept the title

December 13, 1989---The Omni, Atlanta, Georgia
Starrcade '89 / Future Shock: Night of the Iron Men (PPV)
Lex Luger beat Sting (11:31)
Ric Flair beat The Great Muta (1:55)
Sting beat The Great Muta (8:41)
Ric Flair drew Lex Luger (15:00)
Lex Luger beat The Great Muta (11:08 disqualification)
Sting beat Ric Flair---Sting won the "Iron Man" competition

Muto returned to Japan on March 17, 1990. He has always adapted himself well for American style wrestling, and he is a natural for entertaining us. He lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia now.

Christmas Night 1989
Charlotte Coliseum, December 25, 1989

Shinya Hashimoto

Shinya Hashimoto
Shinya Hashimoto, August 1998

Shinya Hashimoto debuted as a wrestler on September 1, 1984. He left Japan for Stampede Wrestling in Calgary on October 26, 1987. He started there as "Hashiv Khan." Hiroshi Hase, as Vietcong Express #1, was in Calgary and had great matches with Owen Hart in those days. Hashimoto and Shinji Sasazaki went over to Jerry Jarrett's CWA (Championship Wrestling Association) in Memphis, Tennessee in January 1989. CWA was one of the most popular territories in those days. Like other Japanese "bad guys," they were managed by Tojo Yamamoto. However, they were never pushed at all and had hard times on the TV show filmed at the WMC-TV studio. Perhaps this time period was like a nightmare for him. Hashimoto, as a typical Japanese favorite which suited Japanese fans' taste, was sent to Brad Rheingans' gym in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and he went over to Otto Wanz' CWA "Graz Tournament" in June 1989. He returned to Japan in July and then he quickened his steps to become a "strong style" performer.

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