|Ring name(s)||Rusher Kimura|
|Real name||Kimura Masao|
|Nickname(s)||"Kanaami no Oni" (Oni of the Steel Cage)|
"Maiku no Oni" (Oni of the Microphone)
|Billed height||185 cm (6 ft 1 in)|
|Billed weight||125 kg (280 lb; 19.7 st)|
|Died||2010/5/24 (aged 68)|
Rusher Kimura was a former rikishi and professional wrestler. His real name is Kimura Masao (木村政雄).
In Japan, he was the one who popularized the death matches in the steel cage.
After graduating from high school, Masao dreamed of being a professional wrestler. One day, however, his older brother took him to Miyaginobeya, a sumō stable. The brothers were treated with chankonabe (Japanese stew commonly eaten in vast quantity by sumo wrestlers as part of a weight gain diet) at the heya, and Masao was scounted by the stable. After being treated with meal, Masao could not resist the offer and became a rikishi. He never had an intention fo a long career in sumō but stayed only for a physical preparation to be a professional wrestler. He debuted in the ōzumō under the name Kinomura (木ノ村) in 1958/3. He went up to the higher rank in makushita, but because it would be difficult for him to quit once he moves up to jūryō, he left the Miyaginobeya and retired as a rikishi in 1964/9.
He joined Japan Pro-Wrestling Association and debuted against Takasakiyama Sarukichi in Takamatsu, Kagawa on 1965/4/2. Since Kimura was a tsukibito for Toyonobori, he followed his shishō who started Tokyo Pro-Wrestling with Antonio Inoki in 1966/10.
After Tokyo Pro was closed in 1967, Kimura once decided to leave for the United States with Masa Saitō to become a free lancer in a foreign land. Tokyo Pro was virtually merged into the newly-formed International Wrestling Enterprise, and the IWE president Yoshiwara Isao asked Kimura to stay in Japan.
IWE and the Cage Matches
In 1968/8, he was sent to the United States for the first time and toured in Georgia and Central States. He also challenged Dory Funk Jr. for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times. Kimura and Chati Yokouchi wrestled as the masked Invaders.
After wrestling in the United States for one year, he was brought back to Japan in 1970/8. Two months later, Kimura was involved in the first steel cage match to take place in Japan when he defeated Dr. Death (Moose Morowski) at Ōsaka Prefectural Gym on 1970/10/8. He never lost the cage matches and was known as Kanaami no Oni (金網の鬼). This was the company's idea to boost the popularity of both the promotion and Kimura. Though Kimura initially hesitated, he could not resist.
Kimura also won the IWA World Tag Team Championship with Sugiyama. Then, he went to Europe to wrestle there after 1972/5 for about a year.
After returning to Japan, he teamed with Great Kusatsu to win the IWA Tag Team Championship again in 1973/5. Finally on 1975/4/19, Kimura defeated Mad Dog Vachon for the IWA World Heavyweight Championship in Sapporo. Since then, he remained as the IWE's top star until the promotion closed in 1981.
On 1976/3/28, an interpromotional card between the IWE and All Japan Pro-Wrestling was held at Kuramae Kokugikan. Kimura faced All Japan's Jumbo Tsuruta. After each won a fall, both men pinned each other. It was voted for the Match of the Year in the Puroresu Awards.
Prior to the match against Tsuruta, Kimura and some of the IWE wrestlers joined a team of Japanese sambists to be trained by Victor Koga, a legendary sambo coach. It was almost twenty years before the New Japan competitors such as Iizuka Takayuki and Hase Hiroshi made the sambo maneuvers popular in puroresu. Since then, Kimura continue to train in sambo at least until the 1990s. However, he rarely showed his submission skills in the ring because he believed that sambo would conflict with his own puroresu style.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling
After the IWE closed in 1981/8, Kimura, Animal Hamaguchi, and Teranishi Isamu joined New Japan Pro-Wrestling as a heel stable of the former IWE stars, which was eventually named Shin Kokusai Gundan (新国際軍団) or "New International Army".
On 1981/9/23, Kimura and Hamaguchi appeared in the New Japan ring at Den'en Coliseum right before the main event between Inoki and Tiger Toguchi. Kimura, a heel, grabbed a mic and kindly greeted to the audience, saying "konbanwa (good evening)". It killed the tension and caused some laughters from the audience. This "incident" would make him a popular guy in the mid-card matches later in his career.
Kimura became one of the most hated heels in the history of New Japan through his matches with Antonio Inoki including lumberjack match, hair match, and handicap tag team match. With former IWE wrestlers who were already in New Japan, Strong Kobayashi and Gō Ryūma, the stable once had five members. Kimura, wrestling as "Mr. Toyo", teamed with Gō to win NWA Americas Tag Team Championship in Las Vegas, NV in 1982/7.
However, Kobayashi soon became inactive due to his bad back, and Gō returned to the main New Japan group. In the summer of 1983, Hamaguchi formed a tag team with Chōshū Riki and split from the IWE stable. When the new team grew to become another stable Ishin Gundan, Teranishi joined as well. This left Kimura alone, and he would team with gaijin heels including Bad News Allen.
Universal Wrestling Federation
Main article: Universal Wrestling Federation
In 1984/4, former New Japan business manager Shinma Hisashi started a new promotion, Universal Wrestling Federation. Kimura, along with Maeda Akira, Gran Hamada, Gō Ryūma, and another former IWE star Mach Hayato, was in the original roster.
Despite of many problems, the UWF's popularity started growing after Sayama Satoru joined the group. However, Kimura and Gō had disagreements with the management over booking of the gaijin talents and left the promotion for All Japan by the end of the year.
All Japan Pro-Wrestling
Giant Baba surprised the fans when his "mystery partner" for the annual Real World Tag Team League in 1984 was revealed to be Rusher Kimura. However, Kimura turned on Baba during the league. Soon, he and Gō formed Kokusai Ketsumeigun (国際血盟軍) or "International Blood-Sealed Army" with other former IWE wreslers who were already in All Japan: Tsurumi Gorō, Apollo Sugawara, and Takasugi Masahiko. During the feud between the IWE stable and the main All Japan group, Kimura would often grab a mic to provoke Baba. Due to the fact that Kimura was a very quiet person, and with the 1981 "konbanwa incident" from New Japan, his post-match promos made him popular for a comical reason.
The former IWE wrestlers, however, were eventually fired by All Japan, and Kimura was once again left alone. He teamed with Baba in the 1988 Real World Tag Team League, and they would become the mid-card comedy attraction until the death of Baba in 1999/1.
Kimura continue to wrestle in the prelim matches. In 2002, he broke the record of Baba as the oldest Japanese wrestler after he turned 61 (Baba passed away about a week after he turned 61). However, due to health issues, he would become inactive in 2003/3 and finally announced the retirement on 2004/7/10.
Kimura passed away on 2010/5/24 due to aspiration pneumonia at the age of 68.
Titles and Tournaments
- European Tag Team Championship
- TWWA World Tag Team Championship
- IWA World Tag Team Championship (2 times)
- IWA World Heavyweight Championship (5 times)
- NWA Americas Tag Team Championship
Tournaments and Leagues
- ^ a b "断わりきれなかった男伝説". たけし・さんま 超偉人伝説. Nippon Television. 1996-10-11.
- ^ "Kinomura rikishi profile". Sumo Reference.
- ^ a b c d The Wrestler Best 1000. Nippon Sports Publishing. 1996.
- ^ "発掘！ラッシャー木村のサンボ特訓". Dr. Mick's Showa Puroresu Research Room.
- ^ "【訃報】ラッシャー木村さんが逝去". New Japan Pro-Wrestling. 2010-5-24.
- ^ "訃報". Pro-Wrestling NOAH. 2010-5-24.