Mitsuharu Misawa 三沢 光晴
Height: 185 cm (6 ft)
Weight: 110 kg (243 lbs)
Born: June 18th, 1962 in Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture
Death: June 13th, 2009 in Hiroshima.
Trained by Giant Baba, The Destroyer, Dory Funk, Jr., Jumbo Tsuruta, All Japan Dojo.
Debuted on August 21st, 1981 in All Japan against Shiro Koshinaka.
Main Signature Moves:
Elbow (Running Elbow, Rolling/Spinning, Repetition)
Tiger Driver (Double Arm Under-hook Sitout Powerbomb)
Tiger Driver ’91 (Double Arm Under-hook Head Drop Powerbomb)
Tiger Suplex ’84 (Chickenwing Tiger Suplex Hold)
Tiger Suplex ’85 (Sleeper Suplex Tiger Suplex Variation)
Diving Body Press
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (5 times) (10th, 14th, 17th, 20th, 23rd Generations Champion)
AJPW World Tag Team Championship (6 times) (17th, 20th, 24th, 25th, 29th, 39th Generations Champion)
With Kawada (2), Kobashi (2), Akiyama & Ogawa
All Asia Tag Team Champion (2 times) (51st w/Kobashi and 67th w/Ogawa)
PWF World Tag Team Championship (3rd Generation w/ Jumbo Tsuruta)
NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship (17th Generation)
Champion Carnival (twice) 1995 and 1998
World Tag League (4 times) (1992 w/Kawada – 1993, 1994, 1995 w/ Kobashi)
- Pro Wrestling NOAH
GHC Heavyweight Championship (3 times) (1st, 5th, 11th)
GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship (2 times) (2nd, 8th w/ Ogawa)
Global Tag League (2009 w/ Go Shiozaki)
Written by Charles Schaeffer (revised on June 12th, 2010)
This is something I had written years ago, when I first got back into puroresu, but after Misawa passed I did not do much with it, but I would like to share with you all what I had written for the late great Misawa and I have updated it with a bit more info today.
Mitsuharu Misawa was born on June 18, 1962 in Koshiyaga , Saitama, Japan. Misawa grew up as an amateur wrestler, even competing at 1980 freestyle World Championships. Misawa then moved onto professional wrestling. He was looked after and trained by Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer, Shohei Baba, and Dory Funk, Jr. He showed a lot potential and on August of 1981, when he made his debut for AJPW. Misawa continued to train and learn everything he could. It was not till around 1984 that he got his first break. He was chosen to be the next Tiger Mask. Misawa wore the mask from 1984 till around 1990. He saw minor success with being Tiger Mask, but he strived for more. After Misawa had his mask removed by, his partner at the time and long since rival, Toshiaki Kawada he has only seemed to have gotten better. Just weeks after Misawa had his masked removed he landed a major upset by defeating Jumbo Tsuruta. This was the point where everyone knew that Misawa would eventually become the future of the sport. After his win over Jumbo, Misawa earned the right to challenge for the then vacant Triple Crown Belts. It just so happened that his challenger would be Stan Hansen. Even though he seemed to give it his all it was not enough to beat the bigger and stronger Hansen. After the loss to Hansen he fought his way back up and fought Jumbo, who was now the champion, in a rematch. This time Jumbo was ready and he defeated Misawa to retain the Triple Crown. Misawa decided after to pursue the Real World Tag League. He teamed with his partner Kawada. They showed themselves to be a great tag team even beating the team of Jumbo and Taue, but in the end it still was not good enough and they ultimately placed third overall. On April of 1991 he challenged Jumbo again, but fell to synch the victory once more. Misawa that year continued on his journey of greatness by winning the AJPW World Tag Team Belts, with his partner Kawada. This led them to the historic day, at the end of September, when in their first title defense against Jumbo and Akira Taue. Misawa managed to submit Jumbo Tsuruta, and retain the AJPW World Tag Team Belts. This is by far one of his greatest achievements of all time.
After beating Jumbo with a submission Misawa would then finally go on to win the Triple Crown when he defeated Stan Hansen on August of `92. He would back up that win by yet again winning the AJPW World Tag Team Titles with Kawada. They would hold the titles for over a month till they were beat by Terry Gordy and Steve Williams. He would come back from the loss and on December 3, 1993 he partnered with Kobashi and they won the titles through the World Tag League. Misawa would loss both the Triple Crown and the Tag Titles in 1994, but he and Kobashi would regain the Tag Titles at the end of the year. On May of 1995 Misawa would win the Triple Crown for the second time when he again defeated Stan Hansen. A few weeks later Misawa and Kobashi would meet defeat by the hands of Kawada and Taue. Misawa would keep his the Triple Crown around his waist for a year, and on May of 1996 he would team with Akiyama to win the World Tag Team Titles from Kawada and Taue. A day later his Triple Crown Title would be on the line against Akira Taue, and after almost a year he finally met defeat. He would continue to battle for the Triple Crown and on January of 1997 he would yet again win the Triple Crown when he defeated long time rival Kenta Kobashi. He would be successful at defending the title until he met Kawada on May of 1998. He would climb back up the ranks and on October of `98 he would do battle with Kobashi again. After they managed to beat each other with ever move they could possibly do Misawa would get the win and become the Triple Crown Champion for the fourth time. Around this time Kawada was rising in the rankings and on January of `99 they would meet again. After a grueling and hellacious match Misawa seemed to be close to winning, but Misawa got caught and was driven on his head not once but twice in a row. Misawa lost the Triple Crown that night and that would be the last time he would ever hold the Triple Crown. Misawa would go on, with Yoshinari Ogawa, to hold the AJPW World Tag Team and the All Asia Tag Team Titles before the decade was over.
The beginning of the new decade started off on a bad foot for Misawa. The man in charge of regulating All Japan Shohei “Giant” Baba passed away. Misawa would become the new President of the company, but Shohei Baba’s widow Motoko Baba couldn’t agree with any decisions that he had and she had him removed from the All Japan Board of Executives in early 2000. Misawa would then leave AJPW and go on to create pro wrestling NOAH. The name was quite fitting since it was like a flood hit All Japan since all but three wrestlers followed him to his new endeavor. Pro wrestling NOAH would hold their first show on August 5, 2000. After being around for almost a year the GHC “Global Honored Crown” was introduced. There would be a tournament to see who would become the first ever champion. Misawa would make all the way to the finals and on April 15, 2001 Misawa would defeat Yoshihiro Takayama to become the first GHC Heavyweight Champion. Misawa would hold the title for only a few months losing to Akiyama in July. Misawa would continue to watch his comapny grow and in November of 2001 him and Ogawa would defeat Takayama and Omori for the GHC Heavyweight Tag Titles. They would hold the titles for 10 days when in a rematch with Takayama and Omori they would lose the titles back to them. He would win the GHC Heavyweight Title, for the second time, when he defeated Yoshihiro Takayama on September 23, 2002. He would hold on to the title till he faced Kenta Kobashi on March 1, 2003. In what is considered one of the greatest matches ever, if not the greatest ever. Misawa would return to AJPW, for the first time since his departure, and defeat Satoshi Kojima in July of 2004. He would return again in on October and team with Keiji Mutoh to take on Kensuke Sasaki and Hiroshi Hase in Dream Tag Bout. Misawa would finish out 2004 with many tag wins and on January 10, 2005, with Yoshinari Ogawa, they would defeat Yuji Nagata and Hiroshi Tanahashi and bring the titles back to pro wrestling NOAH. They would end up losing the titles at the end of the month to Scorpio and Doug Williams. Misawa would continue to wrestler in tag matches and keep active and on December 10, 2006 he would defeat the Jr. Heavyweight Naomichi Marufuji for his third GHC Title win. During his third reign as champion he would defeat the likes of Takeshi Morishima, Bison Smith, Akira Taue, and Marufuji in a rematch. On October 27, 2007 he would face the one and only Samoa Joe. After a great showing on both of their parts Misawa finally got Joe worn down enough to finish him off with a devastating elbow to the back of his head. Misawa would then make a rare appearance in the U.S. wrestling for ROH. The Event was the Glory By Honor IV weekend and he would wrestle on two consecutive nights. On the first night he teamed with KENTA to take on Marufuji and Morishima to thirty minute draw. The next day he would face KENTA in a GHC Title match with Misawa clinching the victory in the end. Misawa would come back to Japan and it would be almost four months until he would have to put the title on the line again. On March 2, 2008 Misawa would put the GHC Title on the line against Takeshi Morishima. Misawa would put up a great fight, but the bigger Morishima would be too much and Misawa would finally lose the title to him. Misawa held the title for almost fifteen months, and being forty five years of age that was quite an accomplishment, for anyone.
Misawa would start out the year of 2009 by wrestling in New Japan at the Tokyo Dome show teaming with Takashi Sugiura to take on Shinsuke Nakamura and Hirooki Goto. It seemed he was going to try and push himself that year and aim to keep his name as the top of pro wrestling as he did very well in the match. In the NOAH Global Tag League, Misawa would team with the his top student Shiozaki and together they would even go on to win the tournament, when they defeated Kensuke Sasaki and Takeshi Morishima in the finals. Not only was this a great showing from Misawa, but it seemed he was also aiding in the potential break out of Shiozaki, by letting him show off his talent for much of the tourney. Their win would set them up for a chance at the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, which was held at this time by Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith. This match was set to take on June 13th, 2009.
June 13th, 2009
The world of pro wrestling got handed some shocking news on the night of June 13th, 2009 in Japan. When Misawa was wrestling a standard tag match for his promotion of pro wrestling NOAH. Misawa was teaming with his young student Go Shiozaki against the team of Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith at Hiroshima Green Arena. During the match Misawa would take a standard fall with a Belly to Back Suplex from Saito, only Misawa would not be able to get up afterwords. Misawa was unconscious and was check by the ref before the match was stopped, and the medics were called in the ring. The video was posted soon after and one of the images I remember is Saito with the look of utter fear and sadness. No one could have predicted what just happened, and it is just one of those freak accidents that could happen to anyone at anytime. It was assumed that Misawa ruptured his spine and it caused himself to go into cardiac arrest. Misawa was quickly taken to a hospital where he died at 10:10 p.m. Japan time.
Misawa for a lot of us was the king of puroresu, and the wrestler who had the heart and spirit of wrestling that carried the sport to the heights of the 90′s. He always seemed to take the beatings during his matches, but in the end his opponents met their doom when he hit them with all his force and signed their defeat with a Tiger Driver or one of his viscous patented elbows. Over the years Misawa had developed into a legend and an icon of pro wrestling. He showed that a tremendous heart can be your greatest tool, and that you do not have to have muscles to clinch the victory. Misawa has beaten many wrestlers throughout his time from Kenta Kobashi, Jun Akiyama, Akira Taue, Toshiaki Kawada, and even Jumbo Tsuruta. I will always think of Misawa when NOAH holds a show, and I will forever hold his legacy as being one of the main reasons why I followed Puroresu throughout the years.
There are times that I wish he was not the gone, but we all eventually meet our deaths sooner or later. It is what we do in this life that makes us loved or revered but others living in this world. We all strive to do what we must to make others feel happy and to bring joy to the saddest times in our lives. Misawa obvious suffered his ultimate fate with what he loved doing, and for us the fans who loved him for what he had given to us throughout the years. I hope all is well for Misawa’s family and I wish to see Misawa’s passion and love for pro wrestling brought to fruition to the fullest.