Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The Great Sasuke: A Legacy of Innovation and Inspiration in Japanese Wrestling

As 2023 comes to a close and Michinoku Pro has almost completed its year-long celebration of Michinoku Pro's 30th anniversary, now is a perfect time to look at the many accomplishments and contributions of Michinoku Pro's founder, The Great Sasuke. His name evokes images of high-flying luchador-style action, innovative moves, and a fearless spirit that has redefined the boundaries of Japanese wrestling. For over three decades, Sasuke has been a constant force in the industry, inspiring generations of wrestlers and captivating audiences with his athleticism, charisma, risk-taking, and unwavering dedication to the professional wrestling business.

The Great Sasuke became a pioneer of the lucha libre-style in Japan early in his career. Sasuke learned the style while wrestling in Mexico, immersing himself in the culture and traditions of lucha libre. Upon returning to Japan, Sasuke introduced audiences to unique moves and dynamic energy that they had never seen before. His moveset included a cartwheel over the top rope suicide ("Sasuke Special") and a high-angle senton bomb ("Senton Atomico").

1993 was the year The Great Sasuke founded Michinoku Pro, to bring pro-wrestling to his hometown of Iwate. Sasuke was dedicated to his company, working both in the ring and in the office. Michinoku Pro became a platform and breeding ground for innovation, with Sasuke introducing the "Fukumen World League" tournament featuring masked wrestlers from around the globe. This unique event helped to establish Michinoku Pro as a leader in the industry and cemented Sasuke's reputation as a visionary leader.

Throughout his career, The Great Sasuke has captured numerous championships. He is a 3-time former Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Champion, and has also won titles in tag-team competition, holding the Tohoku Tag Team Championship on four separate occasions.

In 1996, The Great Sasuke became the original holder of the J-Crown, a unification of eight different titles from eight different companies worldwide. Instead of representing one company, the J-Crown simultaneously represented companies in Japan, America, and Mexico.

Three years later, he became NWA World Middleweight Champion and made it one of the most legitimate middleweight titles in wrestling- although its roots began in America's NWA, Sasuke was the longest-reigning holder of the Championship. He defended it many times in Japan at Michinoku Pro events.

The Great Sasuke also gave many American pro-wrestling fans their first exposure to the Japanese style of wrestling in the 1990s, by appearing in ECW and WWE with other wrestlers from Michinoku Pro.

The Great Sasuke's athleticism and in-ring skills are undeniable, but it is his unwavering commitment and respect for the industry that truly sets him apart, making him not only a champion of the ring, but also a role model for young wrestlers everywhere.

In April 2003, The Great Sasuke made history when he became the first masked wrestler to be elected to a public office in Japan. He won a seat in the Iwate Prefectural Assembly, making Sasuke a political leader, inspiring change beyond the ring. This achievement further solidified his status as a role model, demonstrating that the values of hard work and dedication can lead to success both inside and outside the pro-wrestling industry.

The Great Sasuke has even had an influence on popular culture. In 2011, he collaborated with musician/DJ Soichiro Saito to present a song of hope and support to those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred that year.

Today, The Great Sasuke remains an active competitor and continues to inspire young wrestlers. His impact on the world of wrestling is unquestionable, having paved the way for a generation of wrestlers. In fact, Not only is his legacy of innovation and inspiration, but is also one of influence, longevity, and international appeal. And it's an enduring legacy that will continue to inspire for years to come.

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