Saturday, December 30, 2023

WWE Legend Killer Khan Passes Away at Age 76

According to the Japan-based sports paper Sports Hoshi, WWE Legend Killer Khan (real name Ozawa Masashi) has passed away at age 76. He passed away on December 29 at 10:04pm after suffering a ruptured artery and losing consciousness at the counter of Kanchan's Jinjo Sakaba in Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo, which is a restaurant that Khan opened in March of this year.

Born in Tsubame, Niigata, Japan, he began wrestling in 1971 under his real name for the Japan Wrestling Association (JWA), which was the first pro-wrestling promotion to be based in Japan. After wrestling in the JWA for two years, he moved on to NJPW, where he wrestled for four years. After spending time wrestling in Mexico during the late 1970s, he began wrestling for Championship Wrestling From Florida where he had his first taste of championship success, winning the NWA Florida United States Tag Team Championship in 1979. Singles championship success came a little later in his career, when he won the Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship in 1984 while wrestling in Canada, known as Killer Khan at that point.

But it was towards the end of his career when Killer Khan received the most recognition, when he began wrestling for WWE in 1987.

Although it was for only one year, Killer Khan made a big impression during his time in WWE. With the devious Mr. Fuji as his manager, Khan would brutalize his opponents, before finishing them off by spitting blinding green mist in their eyes and delivering a flying kneedrop.

During this time period, it was common for a wrestler who was making a big impact upon their arrival in WWE to quickly want a shot at the WWE Championship, which was held by Hulk Hogan. Killer Khan was no different.

There was no doubt that Hulk Hogan and Killer Khan would soon cross paths, and that moment happened during an episode of Jake Roberts' interview segment, "The Snake Pit".

Killer Khan's attack on Hulk Hogan moved Khan to the front of the line for a shot at the WWE Championship. Making it to the main event scene of WWE was an accomplishment that few Japanese wrestlers achieved previously, making him a trailblazer for prominent Japanese WWE Superstars of today, such as Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka.

After Killer Khan's 1987 run in WWE, he retired from the pro-wrestling industry. But his days as an entertainer were not over yet, as he played the role of a bodyguard in the 1994 film, "3 Ninjas Kick Back" and also appeared in the 2006 series, "Lion-Maru G".

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