Tōkon Sanjūshi

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Tōkon Sanjūshi (闘魂三銃士?), or "Fighting Spirit Three Musketeers", was a Japanese professional wrestling trio, consisting of Mutō Keiji, Hashimoto Shin'ya, and Chōno Masahiro.


Mutō Keiji, Hashimoto Shin'ya, and Chōno Masahiro were part of the New Japan Pro-Wrestling Dōjō's Class of 1984, which included Nogami Akira, Yamada Keiichi, and Funaki Masakatsu. Hashimoto would be the first to debut on 1984/9/1, while Mutō and Chōno debuted against each other on 1984/10/5. Around this time, many wrestlers, including Chōshū Riki and Maeda Akira, left New Japan for new companies, Universal Wrestling Federation and Japan Pro-Wrestling, and it was urgent for New Japan to raise new stars. In the case of Hashimoto, he only had three months of training before his debut match. Eventually, all three were sent overseas just like other rookies.

Tōkon Sanjūshi, after their first match as a team on 1988/7/29

In 1988, during an excursion in Puerto Rico, Mutō, Hashimoto, and Chōno formed Tōkon Sanjūshi. Upon their return to New Japan in 1988/7, they had one match as a team on 1988/7/29, against Fujinami Tatsumi, Kimura Kengo, and Koshinaka Shirō. After the match, Mutō returned to North America for more seasoning, while Hashimoto and Chōno formed a tag team for a couple years, with their high point in 1990/2, wrestling in the main event against Antonio Inoki and Sakaguchi Seiji at the Tokyo Dome, before Mutō returned to New Japan that March.

In 1991, Tōkon Sanjūshi solidified their status as the new generation of New Japan at the first-ever G1 Climax tournament when Chōno defeated Mutō in the final. By 1992, the trio became more successful, but when Mutō and Chōno won World Heavyweight Championships, Hashimoto seemed left out in the cold until 1993/9, when he finally won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Chōno turned heel in 1994/8, shortly after the G1 Climax. Hashimoto was fired by New Japan on 2000/11/13. Finally, on 2002/1/31, Mutō left New Japan for All Japan Pro-Wrestling. Tōkon Sanjūshi seemed to have disbanded. However, between 2001 and 2005, the trio reunited in various non-wrestling appearances, occasionally with Misawa Mitsuharu.

Tōkon Sanjūshi was hit with a major blow when Hashimoto Shin'ya passed away on 2005/7/11, at the age of 40. Hashimoto's death dashed hopes of Hashimoto returning to New Japan. His death hit Chōno and Mutō very hard. Their last appearance together was on 2004/5/9 during a talk show "Sanjūshi Summit" at the Tokyo FM Hall.

On 2007/1/4, after defeating Tenzan Hiroyoshi and Kojima Satoshi in the main event at Tōkyō Dome, Chōno and Mutō paid tribute to Hashimoto by wearing his signature white headband and exiting out to Hashimoto's theme music.

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