Monday, 15 June 2009

RIP Misawa

As I logged on to the internet on Saturday evening, the first thing I saw was the sad news that one of Japan’s all-time great wrestling stars, Mitsuhara Misawa, had passed away. He was just 46 years old.

I first saw Misawa wrestle about five years ago, when the Pro Wrestling NOAH show was broadcast on the now defunct Wrestling Channel here in Britain. Although I knew very little about him, he impressed me a great deal, and I enjoyed watching his matches.

A year or so later Misawa wrestling in the six man tag team match at The Wrestling Channel’s International Showdown event at the Coventry Skydome. I was actually invited to that show (I used to write for The Wrestling Channel’s website), but I had to turn them down because of my commitments to another wrestling promotion. However, I got the chance to see the match when the DVD was released;

Disc two begins with the six man tag that everyone’s been talking about, as Doug Williams, James Tighe and Scorpio take on Mitsuharu Misawa, Tiger Emperor and Yoshinari Ogawa. The hype for this match, as well as the praise, was wholly justified. A great all round match with excellent showings from all six men, with Williams pinning the Emperor after the Chaos Theory suplex. This match earned a standing ovation, and rightfully so.

Last March I reviewed my first ever Pro Wrestling NOAH DVD, Autumn Navigation 2006;

Then it’s a return to six man action, with Mitsuhara Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa and Kotaro Suzuki going up against Yoshihiro Takayama, Takuma Sano and Takashi Sugiura. This is possibly the best six man tag match I’ve ever seen. Every man in this match put in a near flawless performance, and even though each man had their own style, these melded extremely well to produce a brilliantly executed match, with great ring psychology and great storytelling. I really can’t speak too highly about this match, and if I spent longer saying how good it was you, the reader, would probably get bored with me, so on to the finish. After over twenty five minutes of action, it was Sano who got the winning pin for his team, taking Suzuki, who had almost got the pin himself several times, with a northern lights bomb.

Last November I review NOAH’s First Navigation 2007;

Main event time, with Mitsuhara Misawa defending the GHC Heavyweight title Takeshi Morishima. A great way to end the show, pitting the youth and superior power of Morishima against the wily veteran that is Misawa. Morishima used his size advantage to simply overpower Misawa, which included a power bomb and a DDT on the arena floor, and it seemed that no matter what Misawa tried, he just couldn’t do anything to keep the younger man down. Eventually, though, the champion’s experience came through, and after a series of heavy blows and an almost botched tiger driver, Misawa took Morishima down with a running elbow smash to get the title retaining pin. This may not have been the best match on the show, but it was still damn good.

Misawa was teaming with Go Shiozaki against Saito & Bison Smith at NOAH’s latest show in Hiroshima. After taking a routine back suplex from Saito, Misawa was knocked unconscious, and was given CPR in the ring. Every wrestler on the show surrounded the ring, as the crowd chanted Misawa’s name. He died en route to the hospital.

Misawa’s passing is not just a loss for Japanese wrestling, but for the wrestling business around the world. We’ve lost another one of our great stars at such a young age.

Rest in peace Misawa.

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