Misawa Mitsuharu

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Misawa Mitsuharu
Ring name(s) Misawa Mitsuharu
Kamikaze Misawa
Tiger Mask
Real name Misawa Mitsuharu
Billed height 185 cm (6 ft 1 in)
Billed weight 110 kg (240 lb; 17 st)
Born 1962/6/18(1962-06-18)
Yūbari, Hokkaidō
grew up in Koshigaya, Saitama
Died 2009/6/13 (aged 46)
Shishō Giant Baba
The Destroyer
Dory Funk Jr.
Jumbo Tsuruta
Debut 1981/8/21

Misawa Mitsuharu (三沢光晴?) was a professional wrestler and promoter. He is also the founder of Pro-Wrestling NOAH. Many consider Misawa as one of the greatest wrestlers from Japan.



Amateur Wrestling

Misawa became a puroresu fan during his junior high school years. With a recommendation of his teacher, he entered Ashikaga Institute of Technology High School, which was famous for the wrestling team, in 1978. He did not like the amateur wrestling, and one day, he visited All Japan Pro-Wrestling office. Jumbo Tsuruta suggested him to finish high school because Tsuruta himself became a pro after graduating from college. Misawa continue to wrestle in high school, and in the senior year, he won the national championship and was also ranked 5th at the 1980 World Junior Championships in the 81kg class.

All Japan Pro-Wrestling (1981 - 2000)

Misawa finally joined All Japan in 1981 and won the "Rookie of the Year" of the Puroresu Awards in the following year. In 1983, All Japan held "Lou Thesz Cup", a league for the rookies. The final took place on 1983/4/22, and Koshinaka Shirō defeated Misawa. In 1984, Koshinaka and Misawa were sent to Mexico where they wrestled for EMLL (today's CMLL) as "Samurai Shiro" and "Kamikaze Misawa" respectively.

Misawa as Tiger Mask
Misawa was brought back later in the same year as the second version of "Tiger Mask", a gimmick based on the famous manga by Kajiwara Ikki. He had the "remakes" of the feuds against the former rivals of the original Tiger Mask such as Dynamite Kid and Kobayashi Kuniaki. In 1985, he moved up to the heavyweight division, which was, by many fans, believed to be a promotional mistake by All Japan.

The departure of Tenryū Gen'ichirō from All Japan in 1990 gave him a big opportunity. On 1990/5/14, he unmasked himself during a match, and on 1990/6/8, he pinned Tsuruta for the first time at Nippon Budokan. It was also around this time when he started wearing green for every match in tribute to Horst Hoffman, a legendary wrestler from Germany of whom Misawa was a fan.

In 1992, Tsuruta suffered liver problems and became inactive for a long period of time. This naturally made Misawa the top star of the organization. His tag team partner Kawada Toshiaki split from him in 1993, and the feud between the four main eventers, known as the Shitennō Puroresu, began with Misawa, Kawada, Kobashi Kenta, and Taue Akira.

On 1999/1/31, Giant Baba passed away. Misawa became the new president of All Japan, but the problems between some wrestlers and Motoko, Baba's widow, were about to come to the surface. In 2000/5, Misawa resigned as the president, around the same time Tsuruta, who had retired in the previous year, passed away. In the following month, Misawa and majority of the roster left All Japan and announced the start of a new organization.

Pro-Wrestling NOAH (2000-2009)

On 2000/8/5, Misawa's new group, Pro-Wrestling NOAH, had the first card at Differ Ariake. He teamed with Taue to face Kobashi & Akiyama Jun in the main event. NOAH instantly became one of the major puroresu organizations, and Nippon Television, which had been airing All Japan shows since 1972, started a weekly program with NOAH in 2001.

However, decline of the pro-wrestling popularity in Japan also impacted NOAH. Nippon TV cancelled its weekly program on the main airwave network after broadcasting weekly puroresu shows since 1957.

On 2009/06/13, Misawa teamed with Shiozaki Gō to challenge Saitō Akitoshi & Bison Smith for GHC Tag Team Championship at Hiroshima Green Arena. Around the 20-25min mark, Misawa received a belly-to-back suplex from Akitoshi. The referee asked Misawa whether he could move, to which he responded by saying, "ugokenai" (cannot move). He immediately lost consciousness and was taken to Hiroshima University Hospital, where his death was confirmed at 10:10pm.

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