I’m know there’s only one other guy in Miri that would know who Mitsuharu Misawa is, but I’m posting this anyway.
WRESTLING legend Mitsuharu Misawa has died in the ring aged 46.
Misawa, arguably Japan’s greatest modern-day grappler, was tagging with highly-regarded youngster Go Shiozaki in the main event of a show in Hiroshima
They were taking on Akitoshi Saito & Bison Smith for their GHC World Tag Team titles when he failed to get up from a moderately dangerous looking back suplex move, a staple of NOAH matches.
Misawa would have taken the move thousands of times before but this time he stayed motionless.
A hushed crowd watched efforts to resuscitate him, before he was taken out of the ring, still unconscious, on a stretcher.
Misawa was declared dead in hospital at 10:10pm local time on Saturday.
His career began when, as a national high school wrestling champion, he turned pro in 1981.
His first taste of fame came three years later as the second incarnation of Tiger Mask.
He dropped the gimmick in 1990 to wrestle under his own name and almost immediately became a main eventer in All Japan Pro Wrestling.
Misawa captured the Triple Crown (All Japan’s version of the World Heavyweight Championship) five times and had multiple tag title reigns with different partners.
All this led to him being regarded by many as the best wrestlers of the 1990s.
In 2000, he left All Japan, taking the vast majority of the roster with him, to form Pro Wrestling NOAH.
The green canvas used in NOAH is taken from Misawa’s familiar green wrestling tights.
NOAH was soon rated the No1 promotion in Japan, although it recently lost its TV coverage.
With Misawa’s death, speculation over its future direction will rise.
Misawa made two trips to the UK, most recently for NOAH’s first ever full show outside of Japan, European Navigation in June 2008 at the Coventry Skydome.
He teamed up there with Naomichi Marufuji to take on familiar foe Kenta Kobashi and Go Shiozaki.
Misawa’s sudden death, perhaps the most shocking since Owen Hart’s accident in 1999, leaves a massive void in Japanese wrestling as a whole and for Pro Wrestling NOAH as a company.
And it also highlights the fact that, while wrestling is pre-determined, wrestlers put their lives and wellbeing at risk every time they step into the ring.
Rest in Peace, Misawa-san. And thanks for all the great memories.