88 Facts About Mitsuharu Misawa


Mitsuharu Misawa was a Japanese amateur and professional wrestler and promoter.


Mitsuharu Misawa is primarily known for his time in All Japan Pro Wrestling, and for forming the Pro Wrestling Noah promotion in 2000.


Mitsuharu Misawa is regarded by some as the greatest professional wrestler of all time.


Mitsuharu Misawa remained atop the company throughout the 1990s, and following the death of president Giant Baba in 1999, Mitsuharu Misawa inherited his position, but conflicts with widow and majority shareholder Motoko Baba led to his removal in May 2000.


Noah was successful in the first half of the decade, but as business declined and top star Kobashi left in 2006 for cancer treatment, Mitsuharu Misawa continued to work a full-time schedule, despite mounting injuries, for the company's survival.


On June 13,2009, during a tag match in Hiroshima with Go Shiozaki against Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith, Mitsuharu Misawa died after a belly-to-back suplex from Saito.


Mitsuharu Misawa was an eight-time world champion, having won the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship five times and the GHC Heavyweight Championship three times.


Fifty-three of the sixty-nine events at the Nippon Budokan that Mitsuharu Misawa headlined were sellouts, a drawing record that has been compared to Bruno Sammartino's run at Madison Square Garden.


Mitsuharu Misawa was named Wrestler of the Year by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter on three occasions, and at the time of his death held the record for most WON five star matches, with 25, including one as Tiger Mask, a record since tied by Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 17.


Mitsuharu Misawa is one of the eleven wrestlers to have been awarded a six-star rating by the publication, for his match with Kawada on June 3,1994, which has been specifically cited as one of the greatest professional wrestling matches of all time.


Mitsuharu Misawa was born in Yubari, Hokkaido, but the family moved to Koshigaya, Saitama as the coal mine where his father worked declined.


Mitsuharu Misawa had an older brother, who was favored by his father.


Mitsuharu Misawa won a long jump competition held by Koshigaya in elementary school, and joined the gymnastics club in junior high.


Mitsuharu Misawa was a fan of professional wrestling, especially AJPW, from an early age, and his first favorite wrestler was Horst Hoffman.


Mitsuharu Misawa attended the high school at the Ashikaga Institute of Technology in Tochigi on a scholarship, alongside Toshiaki Kawada, who was a year below him.


Mitsuharu Misawa wanted to drop out in his second year to begin training, but during an encounter with Jumbo Tsuruta, the latter convinced Misawa to complete high school education, and to concentrate on amateur wrestling if he was serious about professional wrestling.


Mitsuharu Misawa made his professional debut on August 21,1981, where he lost against Shiro Koshinaka in an outdoor show in Urawa.


Baba had intended to send the tournament winner on a foreign excursion, but while Mitsuharu Misawa lost the match, he was perceived as the superior talent, despite Koshinaka being three years his senior, so Baba decided to send them both.


Mitsuharu Misawa blew out his knee before the match, and still delivered a "great performance" in what wrestling journalist and historian Dave Meltzer called "the best match of the Tiger Mask era", but he would require surgery afterward.


The aerial style which Mitsuharu Misawa had been made to adopt under the Tiger Mask II gimmick strained his knees.


Mitsuharu Misawa entered his first World's Strongest Tag Determination League in 1986 alongside Baba, where his role was to lose pinfalls when they faced that year's star teams.


Mitsuharu Misawa transitioned into being Tsuruta's occasional tag partner as Tsuruta's feud with Genichiro Tenryu became AJPW's main program.


Mitsuharu Misawa won by countout, but the title did not change hands.


On March 8,1989, in the penultimate match of a card at the Nippon Budokan, Mitsuharu Misawa received an NWA title shot against Ricky Steamboat, which he lost.


Mitsuharu Misawa ruptured his left Anterior cruciate ligament during the match, and was inactive for the rest of 1989.


Mitsuharu Misawa returned after his injury by participating in a main-event battle royal at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on January 2,1990, the first date of AJPW's New Year Giant Series.


Mitsuharu Misawa teamed with Genichiro Tenryu in a victory by countout against George Takano and Riki Choshu, in an event that sold out the Tokyo Dome with 53,000 people in attendance.


Mitsuharu Misawa disagreed with Baba's creative direction, especially the booker's resistance to shootfighting influence on the All Japan product.


Baba was convinced in consultation with wrestling journalist Tarzan Yamamoto that Mitsuharu Misawa had to defeat Tsuruta by pinfall.


However, the momentum of Mitsuharu Misawa's push led All Japan to sell out every event they held in Tokyo after this until early 1996.


Mitsuharu Misawa teamed with Kawada to place third in the WSTDL, beating Tsuruta and Taue on the final day.


Mitsuharu Misawa then entered the 1991 Champion Carnival, held for the first time since 1982, and placed second in his block, with only one loss on April 6 to eventual second-place winner Stan Hansen.


At a Budokan event on March 4,1992, which drew a record attendance figure of 16,300 people, Mitsuharu Misawa unsuccessfully challenged Triple Crown champion Hansen for the belts.


Mitsuharu Misawa entered the 1993 Champion Carnival and reached the finals to face Hansen again, who defeated him for his second Carnival victory on April 21 in Yokohama.


Mitsuharu Misawa defended the Triple Crown three more times in 1993: against Kawada on July 29, Williams on September 3, and Hansen on October 23, during which Mitsuharu Misawa broke his breastbone.


On February 15,1994, Mitsuharu Misawa was issued an invitation to participate in UWF International's summer tournament through a press conference, but this was ignored by the isolationist AJPW.


Mitsuharu Misawa won via submission, but a Frankensteiner from Furnas was said to have badly injured his neck, and after trying to work a six-man tag two nights later sat out the rest of the tournament.


The next month, Mitsuharu Misawa participated in the penultimate match of the Weekly Pro Wrestling Tokyo Dome Show, a six-man tag in which he, Kobashi, and Triple Crown champion Hansen wrestled to a thirty-minute time-limit draw against Kawada, Taue, and Ace.


Mitsuharu Misawa won his first Triple Crown defense against Kobashi ten days later, but the two again entered the 1995 WSTDL as a team, defeating the Holy Demon Army for Mitsuharu Misawa's fourth consecutive win of the tournament.


On March 2, Mitsuharu Misawa defended the Triple Crown against Gary Albright, who had signed with AJPW in late 1995 after departing the UWFi.


On January 20,1997, Mitsuharu Misawa defeated Kobashi in the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium to win his third Triple Crown championship.


Unlike the previous two years, Mitsuharu Misawa reached the finals, with nine wins, two losses to Kobashi and Williams, and one draw against Kawada.


On May 31,1997, Mitsuharu Misawa had a six-man tag with Kobashi and Kentaro Shiga against Williams, Richard Slinger and Lacrosse which was billed as Mitsuharu Misawa and Kobashi's last match as tag partners.


Mitsuharu Misawa entered the 1998 Champion Carnival, and proceeded to the finals with eight wins, three draws against Akiyama, Hansen, and Kawada, and one loss to Taue.


Mitsuharu Misawa went into the match with two blown knees and a bad neck and back, and as he suffered a legitimate concussion during the match he could not remember the finish afterwards; Baba announced that Mitsuharu Misawa would take a break to heal.


Mitsuharu Misawa admitted that his knees were still a problem and that he only felt sixty percent healthy, but he considered his return necessary because the two tours without him had been the worst-performing in company history.


On January 22,1999, Mitsuharu Misawa lost the Triple Crown to Kawada in his first defense, but Kawada vacated it the next day.


Mitsuharu Misawa had not been aware of the severity of his condition, which was only known by Baba's innermost circle: his wife Motoko, older sister, and daughter, as well as referee Kyohei Wada and secretary Ryu Nakata.


However, Kobashi suffered a broken nose, and Mitsuharu Misawa was so fatigued that, for the first time, reporters were not allowed to see him.


Mitsuharu Misawa then entered the 2000 Champion Carnival, which he changed from round-robin format to a single-elimination tournament for the first time since 1974.


Mitsuharu Misawa was somewhat successful in that she ceased to have any creative influence when Misawa began booking.


Mitsuharu Misawa attempted to keep her content by maintaining the same salary that she had been paid when her husband was alive, but since she was the majority shareholder this did not change the power dynamic.


Mitsuharu Misawa was particularly intent on pushing the company's younger talent.


Mitsuharu Misawa was angry with Motoko over fiscal matters, as he had discovered that much of the company's merchandise sales did not produce funds for AJPW, but for a subsidiary that she had set up.


At some point, Mitsuharu Misawa approached Nippon TV with his plans to leave AJPW to start a new promotion, and told them that nearly everyone in the locker room would follow him.


Mitsuharu Misawa had wanted to modernize their contracts, providing wrestlers with full medical coverage, full injury pay, and possibly stock options.


All parties agreed to keep this news private until the end of the current tour, and Mitsuharu Misawa attempted to persuade Baba to give him her public blessings to start a new company, so as to smooth the public transition and preserve the legacies of Giant Baba and the recently deceased Tsuruta.


The next day, Mitsuharu Misawa announced the name of the new promotion: Pro Wrestling Noah.


Mitsuharu Misawa had not expected as much of AJPW's talent to join him in the exodus as they had, and financial difficulties caused Mitsuharu Misawa to cancel his insurance and borrow money from his home to fund their salaries.


In early 2001, Mitsuharu Misawa had his only two matches against Shinya Hashimoto, who had worked on the Great Voyage card.


On February 17,2002, at Nippon Budokan, Mitsuharu Misawa teamed with the returning Kobashi for a match against Akiyama and Yuji Nagata which Akiyama pinned Kobashi to win.


On May 5, Mitsuharu Misawa wrestled his first match for New Japan Pro-Wrestling since 1990, in which he faced Masahiro Chono for the Toukon Memorial Day event in the Tokyo Dome.


On September 23,2002, Mitsuharu Misawa defeated GHC Heavyweight champion Takayama to begin his second reign.


Mitsuharu Misawa said afterwards that this would be their final singles match, and with the exception of the opening match of Noah's 2004 Christmas Eve show, this would be honored.


Eight days later, Mitsuharu Misawa had his first AJPW match since July 2000, where he defeated Satoshi Kojima in the semi-main event of Battle Banquet.


Mitsuharu Misawa made several interpromotional appearances in the first half of 2005, including a UK tour.


Mitsuharu Misawa arranged Sasaki himself as a replacement for Kobashi, and the resultant event was a sellout.


Mitsuharu Misawa had planned to retire in 2007, but he was the only consistent top draw that Noah had.


Mitsuharu Misawa decided to put the world title on himself for Noah's survival, because he felt pressured to appear on every show at least until Kobashi returned.


Mitsuharu Misawa held the GHC Heavyweight Championship for 448 days, his longest championship reign since his fourth Triple Crown reign, and made seven successful defenses throughout 2007.


Mitsuharu Misawa himself was awarded Wrestler of the Year by Tokyo Sports, and received the Nikkan Sports MVP award as determined by fan voting.


On March 2,2008, Mitsuharu Misawa was defeated by Morishima for the GHC Heavyweight Championship.


Mitsuharu Misawa's injuries were accumulating, including osteophytes on his neck which caused pain during simple tasks, such as brushing his teeth and touching the collar of his gown, and a visual impairment in his right eye which was discovered in 2007.


Mitsuharu Misawa mostly worked mid-card tag matches where his partners did much of the work, which was how Giant Baba had remained an active wrestler until the last two months of his life.


Mitsuharu Misawa appeared at NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom III on January 4,2009, losing alongside Takashi Sugiura to Shinsuke Nakamura and Hirooki Goto.


Mitsuharu Misawa decided to set up Shiozaki as Noah's new ace as opposed to Morishima, whose championship reign had seen business decline, and whose weight had become a concern.


Four days before his death, Mitsuharu Misawa admitted to a Tokyo Sports reporter that he wanted to retire, and that "he couldn't do this until he was 48".


Mitsuharu Misawa was very private about his life outside of wrestling, to the point that wrestlers who had known him for decades were unaware that he had children.


Mitsuharu Misawa was said to have been an avid gamer, and at one point revealed to video game magazine Famitsu a list of his favorite video games.


Mitsuharu Misawa said that the green attire and boots he wore were influenced by Horst Hoffman.


On June 13,2009, Mitsuharu Misawa teamed with Shiozaki against GHC Tag Team Champions Saito and Smith in a title match at Hiroshima Green Arena.


The match was supposed to last 37 minutes, but around ten minutes before the scheduled finish, Mitsuharu Misawa took a back suplex from Saito.


Mitsuharu Misawa was motionless, and referee Shuichi Nishinaga stopped the match.


Mitsuharu Misawa was taken to the Hiroshima University hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:10pm JST, at age 46.


Mitsuharu Misawa's death was the leading story amongst the Japanese sports press.


At a tour bus meeting after Mitsuharu Misawa was taken to the hospital, Noah wrestlers were informed that he had died, but that the company could not afford to cancel the tour's remaining dates.


Mitsuharu Misawa's death spurred him to seek examination, and a hernia was found between his L4 and L5 vertebrae.


Mitsuharu Misawa's death caused several wrestling promotions to work toward a stronger approach to regulating professional wrestling in the country.