Yamazaki Kazuo


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Yamazaki Kazuo
Ring name(s) Yamazaki Kazuo
Real name Yamazaki Kazuo
Billed height 188 cm (6 ft 2 in)
Billed weight 103 kg (230 lb; 16.2 st)
Born 1962/8/15 (1962-08-15) (age 54)
Tokyo
Shishō Sayama Satoru
Debut 1982/5/6
Retired 2000/1/4

Yamazaki Kazuo (山崎 一夫?) is a retired Japanese professional wrestler, trainer, and seitaishi.

He is best known for his work in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and many versions of the UWF.

Contents

Career

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1981-1984)

After graduating from high school, Yamazaki Kazuo joined New Japan Pro-Wrestling dōjō and debuted against Black Cat in 1982/5. He had many popular matches against Takada Nobuhiko in their rookie days. Just like other rookie matches, their bout usually took place as the first match of the card. Still, the fans went to see it anyway. They were so good that TV Aasahi once aired a match between them, which was rare for rookies back then.

He was also a tsukibito for Tiger Mask. Soon after Tiger Mask retired in 1983/8, Yamazaki left New Japan as well. He would eventually join Sayama's new "Tiger Gym" as an instructor.

Universal Wrestling Federation (1984-1988)

Main article: Universal Wrestling Federation

Few months after Universal Wrestling Federation formed, Sayama came out of retirement to join the new group, bringing Yamazaki together. Even after Sayama left the promotion in 1985/9, Yamazaki stayed with the group until it closed later in the year.

In 1985/12, UWF stars such as Maeda Akira, Fujiwara Yoshiaki, Kido Osamu, Takada, Yamazaki, and some rookies, returned to New Japan to start an "interpromotional" feud.

Yamazaki mainly wrestled in the junior heavyweight division as well as tag team scene. In 1987/9, he and Fujiwara won the IWGP Tag Team Championship.

After the infamous six-man tag team match on 1987/11/19 at Kōrakuen Hall in which Maeda broke Chōshū Riki's orbital bone with a legitimate kick into the face, Maeda was suspended indefinitely. In 1987/12, New Japan officially disbanded the UWF stable. Maeda was fired in 1988/2 for refusing to go on a excursion to Mexico. About a month later, New Japan's contracts with Takada and Yamazaki expired, and the two, along with then-rookies Miyato Shigeo, Anjō Yōji, and Nakano Tatsuo, left New Japan to follow Maeda.

Newborn UWF (1988-1990)

Main article: UWF (2nd)

When the new version of the UWF was launched in 1988/5, Yamazaki moved up into the card, facing Maeda, Takada, among others. Yamazaki was Maeda's opponent in the main event of the first card.

In early 1989, Fujiwara, along with his deshi Funaki Masakatsu and Suzuki Minoru, joined the company. Eventually, Funaki would gain a status as one of the main eventers over Yamazaki.

Despite the promotion's popularity, the philosophical differences among the competitors and management led the promotion to shut down in 1990/12, splitting into three groups.

UWF International (1991-1995)

As UWF International formed in 1991/5, Yamazaki was the second top star under Takada.

Despite having a lot of great matches against much of the talent, he was always overlooked for title shots at Takada's World Heavyweight Championship.

UWF International would soon be in a financial crisis. In addition, the tension between Takada and Yamazaki had grown. In 1995/7, the frustrated Yamazaki finally left the company.

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1995-2000)

Yamazaki returned to New Japan as a freelancer in 1995. His first match was against Gotō Tatsutoshi in a card promoted by Heisei Ishingun on 1995/7/25 at Yokohama Culture Gym.

Soon after, ironically, a feud between New Japan and UWF International started although Yamazaki did not want much to do with it, as he would train New Japan rookies the shoot style.

On 1995/12/30, Antonio Inoki held a card at Ōsaka Castle Hall. In the main event, Yamazaki teamed with Fujiwara to face Inoki & Takada in a two-out-of-three fall match. Yamazaki scored a pinfall over Inoki in the second fall. This was the last pinfall loss for Inoki in his career.

In 1996, Yamazaki officially became a member of the New Japan roster.

In 1996/6, he won his second IWGP Tag Team Championship with Iizuka Takashi. However, their reign lasted only a month. Over a year later, Yamazaki reclaimed the Tag Team Championship with a new partner, Sasaki Kensuke, before losing the belts just two months later.

In 1998, Yamazaki put on a tremendous showing at the G1 Climax tournament, defeating Fujinami Tatsumi, Sasaki Kensuke, and Chōno Masahiro (each with a different submission hold), before losing to Hashimoto Shin'ya in the finals. It also became Yamazaki's favorite match in his own career.

He would then team with other UWF-like wrestlers such as Kido Osamu (who was in the original UWF), Nagata Yūji, and Iizuka Takashi. The group was referred to as "Yamazaki-tai" (山崎隊?), or "Yamazaki Troop".

On 2000/1/4, Yamazaki wrestled his last match as an active wrestler, losing to his deshi, Nagata Yūji.

Retirement

Yamazaki Kazuo now works as a seitaishi in Ayase, Kanagawa as well as color commentator for New Japan's weekly program on TV Asahi. When Chōshū Riki became a booker for New Japan in 2005/10, he was assigned to be the coach at the New Japan dōjō.

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