It’s been nine years since Japanese wrestling fans witnessed a major tragedy in Hiroshima.
Teaming with Go Shizaki, Mitsuharu Misawa lost consciousness after taking a belly-to-back suplex from Akitoshi Saito in a title match at Hiroshima Green Arena. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Reports were he died of cardiac arrest.
Misawa is not on earth anymore, but his spirit lives as Pro Wrestling NOAH fans remembered the late wrestler recently at the Hiroshima Green Small Arena, a smaller venue, during the annual Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial.
Misawa’s boots dipped in silver stood in the middle of the ring as fans clapped to his theme, while throwing silly string at the ring in honor of their Japanese hero. Saito, along with wrestlers from the United States like Chris Hero and Shelton Benjamin, shed tears during the 10-bell salute. Also, emotional fans stood on their feet chanting his name.
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Misawa was an eight-time world champion in Japanese promotions, including winning the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. He formed Pro Wrestling NOAH in 2000. He traveled to the United States for Ring of Honor and tagged with KENTA, currently Hideo Itami of WWE NXT.
Inside the arena, fans left flowers, soda and his favorite snacks to pay more homage to the late professional wrestling who many coined tsuyoi, which translates to ‘strong’ in Japanese.
Tsuiki Takeshi, a fan, said: “He always won the fights, and he was the most powerful fighter.”
Unlike pro wrestling in America, wrestling in Japan is treated like a sport, instead of sports entertainment. Those in attendance, for the most part, remain silent during the matches, until an over the top move occurs, where fans then clap in appreciation. Wrestlers show respect as they shake hands in the center of the ring on one knee, after a match. Quite different from the American version.
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Freelance Writer/ TV Producer-Reporter