International Wrestling Enterprise


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Kokusai Puroresu
International Wrestling Enterprise
Acronym IWE
Founded 1966
Defunct 1981
Headquarters Japan
Founder(s) Yoshiwara Isao

Kokusai Puroresu (国際プロレス?) was a puroresu organization which was founded by Yoshiwara Isao in 1966 and closed in 1981. The official name of the company was International Wrestling Enterprise.

By many longtime fans, IWE is said to be most innovative organization in the history of puroresu because of several reasons including:

  • Introducing Bill Robinson and Andrè the Giant to North American promoters
  • Featuring the death matches almost two decades before FMW was founded, and was first known to have both male and female rosters.
  • Usage of the entrance music for the first time in Japan even before Mil Mascaras made his "Sky High" famous
  • Showing interest in another non-Japanese grappling style such as sambo almost a decade before New Japan Pro-Wrestling and UWF started paying attention to it.

History

The 1963 death of Rikidōzan, who dictated the pro-wrestling in Japan, brought a drastic change to the industry. Hiro Matsuda, who was on bad terms with Rikidōzan and was not "allowed" to wrestle in Japan, announced his return in 1964 and started wrestling for JWA two years later. Meanwhile, JWA was continued by the four infamous directors: Yoshinosato, Yoshimura Michiaki, Endō Kōkichi, and thew new JWA president Toyonobori, who would be later kicked out and form Tokyo Pro-Wrestling with Antonio Inoki.

Yoshiwara was having a problem with the treasurer Endō and finally split from the company. In 1966/10, he announced the starting of a new pro-wrestling organization: International Wrestling Enterprise. It was Yoshiwara who helped Matsuda to return home, and he had the opening series in January of the following year with Matsuda as the top star of the new company. The first series was co-promoted with Tokyo Pro, which would eventually close down later in the year.

With no television coverage or big name stars, IWE was having poor attendances for its card, and Yoshiwara had to let Tokyo Broadcasting System to take the control of the company. TBS made several wrong decisions including assigning Great Togo as the booker, which caused various problems including Matsuda's departure from the company.

After split with Togo and his American wrestlers, Yoshiwara went to Europe for the source of the gaijin talents. The first IWA World Heavyweight Championship was won by Bill Robinson, a talented British wrestler who was not yet a familar face in North America. Robinson became the first and the only gaijin wrestler to be the top man of a puroresu organization. Also, through IWE's relationship with the European promoters, Japanese fans were introduced to not only the orthodox style of European wrestling but also many stars who were then unknown to North American fans including Billy Joyce, Albert Wall, and , a future legend who is better known as Andrè the Giant.

In 1970, IWE signed a working agreement with Verne Gagne's AWA, and IWE finally had a stable source of North American talents while keeping relationship with Europe. This would eventually lead Robinson and Roussimouff to get attention from North American promoters. Without IWE, there may not have been the legend of Andrè the Giant.

Also in the same year, IWE had the first ever steel cage death match in Japan, with Rusher Kimura, who would be later known as "Kanaami no Oni (金網の鬼?)", or "Oni of the Steel Cage", defeating Dr. Death (Moose Morowski). Two years prior to this match, IWE had the first hair match in Japan when Thunder Sugiyama & Kimura defeated Tank Morgan & Dory Dixon with the team leader Morgan shaving his head (though he was almost bald already at the time anyway). While keeping the classic style of wrestling with the wrestlers from Europe and AWA, they also started having death matches (e.g. the cage matches mainly by Kimura, Indian strap matches with the first one being Great Kusatsu vs. Wahoo McDaniel in 1973, etc.).

In spite of his creative idea, Yoshiwara never had a big name Japanese star, and he was also known as someone who was too nice to be a good businessman. He lost a lot of money through the deal with Gagne. Eventually IWE would lose its television spot and finally closes down in 1981. Kimura, Animal Hamaguchi, and Teranishi Isamu joined New Japan to start the famous "inter-promotional" feud, and others such as Mighty Inoue, Ashura Hara, Tsurumi Gorō, etc., went to All Japan Pro-Wrestling. Yoshiwara would be eventually hired by New Japan as a booker but passed away in 1985 at the young age of 55.

Championships

External links



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