Sign in to follow this  
Kasutera

From Sumo to Puroresu

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone,

I was wondering if anyone had a definitive list of how many rikishi in ozumo history have ended up going into professional wrestling after their retirements. The ones that I can list off the top of my head are:

Rikidozan (naturally)

Koji Kitao/former Futahaguro

Genichiro Tenryu/former Tenryu

John Tenta/former Kototenzan

Akebono

I definitely know there are more, and I think it's an interesting thing to curate because I believe one of the reasons why pro wrestling has managed to keep the feeling of legitimacy as a sport in Japan for much longer than it has in the US is because of its long historical association with sumo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my father's hometown, St. Louis ... Sentoryu.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my father's hometown, St. Louis ... Sentoryu.

I think Sentoryu only did Mixed Martial Arts and kickboxing, not pro wrestling, am I wrong?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the list is correct, than there are less than I expected. Puro seems to be such a natural way if Sumo is not working out the way you want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are probably a lot more. At first thought former Yokozuna Azumafuji and Wajima come to my mind as well as former Juryo Tamakirin, who made a good career in Puroresu under his real name Akira Taue.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Puro seems to be such a natural way if Sumo is not working out the way you want.

I don't know about that. Pretty sure the initial coaching in puroresu is no less harsh than in Ozumo, and even though it's "fake fighting", I don't think the physical/athletic requirements are any less, there's just a different focus. And of course it's a performance art and not that many people are extroverted enough to thrive doing something like that - and that might be even more true for long-time rikishi who've spent years cultivating exactly the opposite demeanor (stoic and emotionless).

If by "not working out" you mean that a rikishi simply had (inter-)personal problems of some kind in Ozumo and had to leave because of that, sure, and I think that actually does account for many of the higher-profile switchers. But I don't think you can just take any mildly talented sumotori and mold him into a successful pro wrestler.

Edited by Asashosakari
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Which kind of begs the question, how many of those actually had a career in puroresu and didn't just appear for a few fights to capitalize on their sumo name?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Edit: Actually, it turns out there is an entire ja.wiki article about this, and a category.

Ooooh, fantastic, thank you for this!

I dunno if you can count this, but Yamamotoyama made a brief appearance in Indian pro wrestling federation Ring Ka King (as well as appearing in my avatar).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Puro seems to be such a natural way if Sumo is not working out the way you want.

I don't know about that. Pretty sure the initial coaching in puroresu is no less harsh than in Ozumo, and even though it's "fake fighting", I don't think the physical/athletic requirements are any less, there's just a different focus. And of course it's a performance art and not that many people are extroverted enough to thrive doing something like that - and that might be even more true for long-time rikishi who've spent years cultivating exactly the opposite demeanor (stoic and emotionless).

If by "not working out" you mean that a rikishi simply had (inter-)personal problems of some kind in Ozumo and had to leave because of that, sure, and I think that actually does account for many of the higher-profile switchers. But I don't think you can just take any mildly talented sumotori and mold him into a successful pro wrestler.

Oh don't get me wrong, I am as much of a sumo fan as I am a wrestling fan. And I know that the Dojos of New Japan, NOAH, or All Japan or whoever are as harsh if not harsher, at least from the amount you have to deliver phisically. Emotional expression, well, I don't know about that, Misawa is one of the greatest wrestler ever and he had exactly one facial expression. It depends on the way you work with it. But I see where you are coming from and in general you have a point^^

But Sumo is a legit background, which is usually quite important in Puro, and if you were in sumo you probably lerned to torture yourself (I don't think this expression is a thing in english, but I suppose you get what I mean^^), which is also quite important. And if you were "only" in the lower Maegashira ranks or deeper, you could be sure to make more money in Puro (at least back in the day), even if you stay forever in the undercard. And as seen with Akebono and Hama (who was sumo wise of course only Makushita, so no comparsion to Akebono) you can also make a gimmick out of it, if you have no different abilities in the ring.

And last but not least there are quite a few good examples that it can work out great, like Rikidozan (of course) or Tenryu and so on.

Sorry about all the wrestling talk, I don't know if anyone is interested in it anyway^^ But one thing I wish would have happened is Asashoryu in wrestling. That would have been gold. Heel Asa vs Tanahashi would sell out 3 Tokyo Domes in a day :D

Edit: Oh and one thing, I am not sure anymore if I asked this, but how is Tenryu able tzo keep such good relations to sumo, even though (according to Wikipedia) he had beef with Kyokai for them not letting him change his stable?

Edited by Monnodo
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Asashoryu's brother is a pro wrestler and goes under the name "Blue Wolf," if that's any substitute. However, I'm not sure how active he is in Japan anymore.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Asashoryu's brother is a pro wrestler and goes under the name "Blue Wolf," if that's any substitute. However, I'm not sure how active he is in Japan anymore.

He isn't for nearly 10 years anymore^^ I don't understand why, though, he was pretty good. Could have had a future in the bussines. But who knows what is going on in the wrestling bussines in japan. So much secret stuff going on. And even the stuff that is known nobody outside japan knows, since the Internet wrestling community has no dedicated translators like the guys we have here, which makes me really appreciate them big time^^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Edit: Oh and one thing, I am not sure anymore if I asked this, but how is Tenryu able tzo keep such good relations to sumo, even though (according to Wikipedia) he had beef with Kyokai for them not letting him change his stable?

The Kyokai is a lot of people, not just what's publicly presented through the rijikai. And everyone he may have had issues with is long gone - the guys running the ship for the last couple of decades are pretty much his contemporaries from back then.

Edit: In addition, I think that whole Nishonoseki succession battle / Oshiogawa split was very contentious and there were probably higher-ups who privately sided with him, even though they had to support the official Kyokai line in public.

Edited by Asashosakari
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Edit: Oh and one thing, I am not sure anymore if I asked this, but how is Tenryu able tzo keep such good relations to sumo, even though (according to Wikipedia) he had beef with Kyokai for them not letting him change his stable?

The Kyokai is a lot of people, not just what's publicly presented through the rijikai. And everyone he may have had issues with is long gone - the guys running the ship for the last couple of decades are pretty much his contemporaries from back then.

Thank you, that makes a lot of sense^^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Puro seems to be such a natural way if Sumo is not working out the way you want.

I don't know about that. Pretty sure the initial coaching in puroresu is no less harsh than in Ozumo, and even though it's "fake fighting", I don't think the physical/athletic requirements are any less, there's just a different focus. And of course it's a performance art and not that many people are extroverted enough to thrive doing something like that - and that might be even more true for long-time rikishi who've spent years cultivating exactly the opposite demeanor (stoic and emotionless).

If by "not working out" you mean that a rikishi simply had (inter-)personal problems of some kind in Ozumo and had to leave because of that, sure, and I think that actually does account for many of the higher-profile switchers. But I don't think you can just take any mildly talented sumotori and mold him into a successful pro wrestler.

Oh don't get me wrong, I am as much of a sumo fan as I am a wrestling fan. And I know that the Dojos of New Japan, NOAH, or All Japan or whoever are as harsh if not harsher, at least from the amount you have to deliver phisically. Emotional expression, well, I don't know about that, Misawa is one of the greatest wrestler ever and he had exactly one facial expression. It depends on the way you work with it. But I see where you are coming from and in general you have a point^^

But Sumo is a legit background, which is usually quite important in Puro, and if you were in sumo you probably lerned to torture yourself (I don't think this expression is a thing in english, but I suppose you get what I mean^^), which is also quite important. And if you were "only" in the lower Maegashira ranks or deeper, you could be sure to make more money in Puro (at least back in the day), even if you stay forever in the undercard. And as seen with Akebono and Hama (who was sumo wise of course only Makushita, so no comparsion to Akebono) you can also make a gimmick out of it, if you have no different abilities in the ring.

And last but not least there are quite a few good examples that it can work out great, like Rikidozan (of course) or Tenryu and so on.

Sorry about all the wrestling talk, I don't know if anyone is interested in it anyway^^ But one thing I wish would have happened is Asashoryu in wrestling. That would have been gold. Heel Asa vs Tanahashi would sell out 3 Tokyo Domes in a day :D

Edit: Oh and one thing, I am not sure anymore if I asked this, but how is Tenryu able tzo keep such good relations to sumo, even though (according to Wikipedia) he had beef with Kyokai for them not letting him change his stable?

While I was convincing YouTube's robots that I was Japanese, I twice stumbled on 'comic sumo'. Two heavy young guys in mawashi and another slim one in junior gyoji costume. The first time I was too snobbish to watch more than a few seconds, but the second time I watched to the end, because they were so supple and graceful (Marcel Marceau couldn't have done better), in spite of the fooling, that I wondered if they were 'real' rikishi. Can you tell me anything?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I was convincing YouTube's robots that I was Japanese, I twice stumbled on 'comic sumo'. Two heavy young guys in mawashi and another slim one in junior gyoji costume. The first time I was too snobbish to watch more than a few seconds, but the second time I watched to the end, because they were so supple and graceful (Marcel Marceau couldn't have done better), in spite of the fooling, that I wondered if they were 'real' rikishi. Can you tell me anything?

They are real rikishi, and the routine is included in almost every sumo jungyo/non-honbasho event. It is billed as a demo of illegal tactics. The crowds love it.
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Next one to join some kakutogi is former komusubi Kaiho. He decided to do it (also?) because the event takes place in the Kokugikan, on the 18th next month.

http://www.tokyo-sports.co.jp/prores/mens_prores/415391/index.html
7e0efefe894382aad46922ef231986e9.jpg
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20150626/fit15062605010001-n1.html
fit15062605010001-p1.jpg

ex-Kaiho who was also dismissed after refusing to resign has said that, while still unhappy about the way things went down, he is content with his new life as a gym owner and has no interest in getting involved with the Kyokai again by taking them to court.

and one quote as link to the yaocho thread

Also decided: kaiko for Tanigawa oyakata (Kaiho)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And while we're at prores in the Kokugikan:
"Mr. Prores" Tenryu, former maegashira 1, after 39 years in pro-wrestling has his intai event and last fight in the Kokugikan on November 15th. He suddenly retired after Aki 1976 and joined prores a few days/weeks later.
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/battle/news/2015/06/27/kiji/K20150627010618890.html
at a press conference at the Kokugikan on the 26th
bt-et20150627-1-w500_0.jpg

Apparently during the provincial basho the Kokugikan is pro-wrestling territory.

Edited by Akinomaki
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HUSTLE and DDT are two of the greatest promotions for absolute bizarre, basically Dadaist pro wrestling. DDT once had a ladder crowned hardcore champion because it fell on top of someone and "pinned" him.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HUSTLE and DDT are two of the greatest promotions for absolute bizarre, basically Dadaist pro wrestling. DDT once had a ladder crowned hardcore champion because it fell on top of someone and "pinned" him.

And who has beaten the ladder for the gbelt? Yoshihiko? :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
They are real rikishi, and the routine is included in almost every sumo jungyo/non-honbasho event. It is billed as a demo of illegal tactics. The crowds love it.

Thank you for your answer. I also stumbled on a video of makuuchi rikishi doing bouts with a giant screen behind them adding swirly visual effects to their movements. That irritated me, but I watched anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for reminding me why I'm fan of the more dignified version of combat sports.

(although several of the current Maegashira appear to disagree)

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for reminding me why I'm fan of the more dignified version of combat sports.

(although several of the current Maegashira appear to disagree)

Does your neck hurt keeping your nose turned so far up all the time?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this