Ōnita Atsushi

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Ōnita Atsushi
Ring name(s) Ōnita Atsushi
Mr. Onita
Great Nita
Real name Ōnita Atsushi
Billed height 181 cm (5 ft 11+12 in)
Billed weight 127 kg (280 lb; 20.0 st) (in prime)
Born 1957/10/25 (1957-10-25) (age 60)
Shishō Giant Baba
The Destroyer
Terry Funk
Debut 1974/4/14

Atsushi Onita (大仁田 厚 Ōnita Atsushi) (born 1957/10/25) is a Japanese professional wrestler and former politician. He is credited with importing, as well as innovating, the new styles in death match to Japan.

Since his idea was totally different from the traditional pro-wrestling, many people called his stuff an "evil way." Ōnita, however, responded, "an evil way? Fine! But if you take it away from me, what would remain!?" His idea and attitude toward the sport made him not only an idolized figure of death matches but also one of the most charismatic stars in the history of puroresu.


Professional wrestling career

All Japan Pro Wrestling (1974–1985)

He was the first true graduate of the All Japan Pro-Wrestling dōjō (Jumbo Tsuruta had debuted first, but he had trained in Amarillo, Texas, with the Funk family). In his early days he teamed with dōjō classmate Fuchi Masanobu, who debuted only a few weeks after him. He was a tsukibito to Giant Baba, who had accepted him into the dōjō despite not having graduated from high school. In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, he and Fuchi toured Memphis, Tennessee, winning the AWA Southern Tag Team Championship three times.

When the junior heavyweight boom started in Japan under Fujinami Tatsumi and Tiger Mask of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ōnita was picked as the ace of AJPW's makeshift junior heavyweight division. Baba was able to get Chavo Guerrero, who had been an early rival of Fujinami, over to AJPW's side, and Guerrero brought the NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship from New Japan with him, effectively establishing it as AJPW's junior heavyweight cornerstone. While not as spectacular as New Japan 's division, the feud between the two provided solid alternate wrestling to AJPW fans. In 1985 he had to retire due to accumulated injuries. By then he had already been replaced as the junior ace by Mighty Inoue, an older wrestler who once was the top star of IWE.

Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (1989–1998)

Main article: Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling

After being a talent for several TV shows, Ōnita came back to the ring in 1988. He wrestled Gran Hamada on a joshi puroresu card on 1988/12/3, Gō Ryūma on the opening card of Pioneer Senshi (Japan's first indenpendet promotion) on 1989/4/30, and then karateka Aoyagi Masashi on 1989/7/2 in a mixed martial-arts match. Finally in 1989/10, Ōnita founded the Frontier Martial-arts Wrestling.

In mid-1980s, the hottest thing in puroresu was UWF, which promoted the "shoot style" matches. The idea of UWF style was to eliminate everything that had kept the social status of puroresu low, such as using ropes, brawling outside the ring, illegal moves, and many other aspects of showmanship which made the matches less realistic. Earlier in 1989, Ōnita went to a UWF show with "a letter of challenge" but was refused at the gate by the UWF president Jin Shinji, who asked him, "do you have a ticket for the card?" For some people, this was Ōnita's victory over UWF because they refused Ōinta's challenge despite the fact they had been claiming to promote "real stuff". Instead, Ōnita's FMW went totally different direction from UWF's and chose the idea that everything should be included in puroresu.

on 1990/8/4, FMW promoted the first ever no-rope barbed-wire electric-explosive death match, where Ōnita defeated former AJPW comrade Tarzan Gotō. Ōnita's idea of death matches started growing stronger since then, and he came up with the crazy idea such as surrounding the ring with mines, using time-bomb, etc.. This resulted his career to give him more than one thousand sutures on his body.

Over the next few years, until 1995, he had several death matches against Gotō, as well as The Sheik, Terry Funk, Mr. Pogo and even boxer Leon Spinks. Also during this period, he starred in the movie Dan Gan (Japanese for "bullet"), which would later be adopted as the nickname for Onita's deshi, Tanaka Masato. His last defense, in 1995/5, saw him defeating Hayabusa, who succeeded him as the promotion's ace. Around that time, he occasionally wrestled as The Great Nita, a Muta-style gimmick. In 1999/8, The Great Nita and the Great Muta would finally battle each other in a much-publicized "No Rope, Barbed Wire, Barricade Electric Land Mine, Double Hell Death match".

After a sabbatical, Ōnita returned to the ring in 1996/12. In 1997, he became the leader of the nWo-like stable ZEN, by which he attempted to return FMW to its old death match ideology. Already, however, Arai Shōichi and Fuyuki Kōdō were toning down the death match content, which lead Ōnita to leave FMW altogether and promote is own ventures.

Freelance (1998–present)

He used the promotional names "USO" (all caps version of the Japanese word for "lie"), "Jadō" ("evil ways"; not to be confused with the wrestler of the same name), "Ōnita Pro" and "Project X."

In 2001 he returned to AJPW for one night only, at the Tokyo Dome, to team with Terry Funk against Abdullah the Butcher & Giant Kimala. Whereas AJPW fans had already known Funk and Abdullah's willingness to brawl, Ōnita also played a huge part in the match, and his team emerged victorious.

In 2002, following FMW's closure (he appeared in the last card to address the crowd, despite the promotion no longer being associated with him or his promotional ideology), Ōnita appeared briefly in WEW, run by Fuyuki. The storyline saw Ōnita blaming Fuyuki's "Entertainment Pro Wrestling" business strategy and supposed embezzlement of money for causing FMW to close, and appeared to be paving the road to an eventual match between Ōnita and Fuyuki before Fuyuki abruptly announced his retirement due to cancer that would eventually claim his life in 2003/3.

Ōnita attempted to resurrect the FMW name with another promotion (called Ōnita FMW since he did not own the rights to the FMW name), but the promotion would fold after only three months. Ōnita would retire once again on 2003/9/23, losing a death match to The Great Sasuke, but this would not last long. Onita fought yet another retirement match on 2005/3/26, teaming with Yaguchi Ichirō against Tenryū Gen'ichirō and Koshinaka Shirō. This also would be disregarded, as he would come out of retirement in 2008/5 and would begin promoting his own cards again in July.

Political career

Though he originally dropped out of high school, Ōnita returned to finish his Education when he was in his late-30's. In 2001 he won the 19th House of Councilors election as a representative of the Liberal Democratic Party, following Antonio Inoki and Hase Hiroshi to a seat in the Japanese Diet. One of his first major acts in office was to launch a post-9/11 humanitarian mission to Afghanistan, where he performed professional wrestling matches in crudely constructed rings made of sticks and rope, to benefit the children. This was all documented on film.

As a recently retired politician, he has his own game for Nintendo DS, "Atsushi Onita's Political Quiz".

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