Wrestling / Naoya Ogawa

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Naoya Ogawa (b. 1968) is a Japanese Judoka, professional wrestler and Mixed Martial Arts fighter. He first started as a judo competitor in high school, moving to the Meiji University and eventually becoming the youngest All Japan champion ever when he was just a student. His career would become just more successful, winning four world championships again as the youngest champion ever, six more All Japan Championships and a silver medal in Barcelona 92, becoming one of the few judokas who have won the heavyweight and absolute in the same championship and the second greatest All Japan recordman ever only behind the legendary Yasuhiro Yamashita. In 1997, he left the sport and joined professional wrestling under the wing of Antonio Inoki as part of his UFO movement. Ogawa debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling defeating established star Shinya Hashimoto, and went to dominate the promotion, having a violent feud with Hashimoto, winning the NWA World Heavyweight Title belt and attracting the crowd’s ire with his arrogance and push. After eventually beating Shinya to his retire from NJPW, Ogawa also left and surprisingly joined his rival’s Pro Wrestling ZERO-ONE, becoming a mainstay fan favorite of the promotion, teaming with Hashimoto to become half of the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Title holders. Ogawa also main starred in Fighting Opera HUSTLE, leading the good guys against the evil Generalissimo Takada. In 2007, two years after Hashimoto’s demise, Ogawa left the promotion and returned to Inoki in his Inoki Genome Federation, leading as an usual wrestler until today.

As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.

"Tropes of Recklessness":

  • Aborted Arc:
    • He was going to feud with Riki Choshu in 2001 after beating Hashimoto, but the storyline was cut when Ogawa left NJPW to follow Hashimoto to ZERO-ONE.
    • The same year, Ogawa was going to have a feud with RINGS fighter Yoshihisa Yamamoto. An angle was laid where Yamamoto attacked Ogawa in a press conference and challenged him to a match, and it was put on date and event in RINGS. However, negotiations fell apart and the match never had place.
  • The Ace: Of HUSTLE, and also a co-ace in ZERO-ONE. He had more or less everything he needed to be an ace: was built big and handsome, was a significantly good worker with the right opponents, had connections with influential names, dragged along an almost godlike resume in a combat sport, and on top of everything had a massive aura all over him. Even in his personal life, at least after he became a full fledged wrestler, he was controversial enough to draw the press's attention and charismatic enough not to it to be all hate.
  • Airplane Arms: Infamously pulled out as a victory celebration after shooting on Hashimoto. The sign was suppose to represent an UFO to play the pun with the promotion's name.
  • All American Face: Imitated them during his one day reign as the ZERO-One United States Heavyweight champion.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent:
    • He was more or less to judo what Koji Kitao was to sumo. They both were immensely talented athletes who won grand championships in an amazingly young age, both became controversial for their bad attitude before and during their pro wrestling careers, and both finally gained some redemption after working with a Japanese legend.
    • In recent times, boxing champion Kazuhisa Watanabe has been compared to Ogawa due to his arrogance and tendence to mock his opponents in the ring, and even has received the nickname of "Bosou Boxing Oja" ("The Boxing King of Recklessness") in reference to Naoya. Amusingly enough, Watanabe won his match at the Ganryujima promotion via judo throws.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: After beating Hashimoto to his retirement, Ogawa uncharacteristically showed himself upset and sad about the loss of his enemy, and actually asked him to reconsider the decision, even offering him a place in UFO to continue his career.
  • The Apprentice: To Antonio Inoki. He was also trained by Satoru Sayama.
  • Arch-Enemy: Arguably, Hidehiko Yoshida, another world judo champion and medalist turned MMA fighter who was Ogawa's kohai in the Meiji University. Yoshida defeated Ogawa in what would have been Naoya's eighth All Japan Championship, upsetting him thoroughly (Ogawa was a heavyweight while Yoshida a middleweight), and also won the gold in the same Olympics Ogawa got the silver. They later faced in a MMA match in PRIDE, which Yoshida won.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: His gimmick and public persona upon coming to pro wrestling were these of a loud, disrespectful fighter like straight out from a martial arts manga. He famously refused to touch gloves with Fedor Emelianenko before their match, which turned against him most Wstern fans.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: He was not captain of the HUSTLE Army for nothing.
  • Badass Teacher: Teaches judo in his Ogawa Dojo nowadays.
  • Bash Brothers: With Shinya Hashimoto.
  • Big Good: Ogawa was the HUSTLE Army's strongest member, being originally able to go toe-to-toe with Generalissimo Takada. When he left the faction, they really never found a leader like him, and posterior figures like Hard Gay or Wataru Sakata were more like The Hero in comparison. The one who would have been nearest to him in power and importance was Magnum TOKYO, but he came in a time when the HUSTLE Army had became a Band of Brothers rather than an captained force.
  • Boring, but Practical: His STO finishing move was not hard enough to end and opponent in a single iteration, but it was simple and easy to execute, allowing him to perform it several times until knocking out the adversary.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: He reached the maximum level in judo in record time, basically faster than B.J. Penn in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and became the youngest champion ever at 19. However, his attitude problems were already clear by that time.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Although insanely talented and quite succesful, Ogawa was described by his judo coaches as lazy and little focused, which was also a common criticism in his late tenures in pro wrestling and even more in MMA. Supposedly, he even featured some special diets and weird vitamine complements, all in order not to hit the gym to keep his line.
  • Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: At the time of the first ZERO-ONE event, Hashimoto was still bitter towards Ogawa for their New Japan feud, but Ogawa for some reason decided he wanted to aid him in his war against Pro Wrestling NOAH and offered himself to team up with him. Hashimoto naturally told him to go to hell, but Ogawa nonetheless intruded in the event and got in a brawl with NOAH’s Mitsuharu Misawa after the match, only to aid his enemy.
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town: Played in HUSTLE, firstly as "Captain O" and later as "Judo O", to bypass Generalissimo Takada's ban on him for losing to Fedor Emelianenko.
  • Combination Attack: He and Hashimoto had the Oregotokarire (meaning something in the line of "You For Me Reap"), a combination of STO by Ogawa and German suplex by Hashimoto, and the Kariryuika (meaning "Reaping Dragon’s Rage"), which replaced the suplex for Hashimoto’s suimengeri spinning legsweep.
  • Convenient Replacement Character: Debuted in New Japan as a replacement for Ken Shamrock, and arguably became more than Shamrock would have ever been there.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Ogawa was a mainly an expert in standing technique during his judo career, with little work invested in his ground work, which naturally translates badly into MMA, as standing judo throws are difficult due to the absence of gi and instead groundfighting is much more appreciated. It is arguably inevitable, as the judo ruleset tends to favour this type of fighter, specially at the time of Ogawa's active career; contrarily to popular belief, his nemesis Yoshida featured the same problem, only he supplied it with toughness and hard work when he made his transition to PRIDE, something Ogawa never bothered to do.
  • David vs. Goliath: Routinely in HUSTLE against the Takada Monster Army giants. He also saw it in real life when he faced Giant Silva in PRIDE.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Initially wrestled in his judogi, with no footwear. He latter abandoned the custom when he switched to tights and boots.
  • Enemy Mine: How his tag team with Hashimoto started. They begrudgingly allied up when Ogawa intruded in the ZERO-ONE vs NOAH feud to give an unwanted aid to Hashimoto. After he was left without reinforcements, Shinya finally realized he needed him and allowed Ogawa and his lancer Kazunari Murakami to join his side.
  • Face–Heel Turn: When he was magically bribed by Generalissimo Takada to turn into Celeb Ogawa.
  • Fat and Skinny: The skinny to Hashimoto’s fat.
  • Fingerless Gloves: In this case, athletic gloves associated with another sport he competed in.
  • Finishing Move: STO or Space Tornado Ogawa (osoto otoshi), STO Bomber (a lariat transitioned into an STO), GTO or Grand Tornado Ogawa (a katahajime or half Nelson choke), and the classic shoot moves like chokes and armbars.
    • For his match against Kazuo Yamazaki, Ogawa also used a technique called Mitokorogatame in which he mixed a straight ankle lock and a back triangle choke.
  • Foil: To his mentioned Arch-Enemy Hidehiko Yoshida. Both were world judo champions who made their transition to mixed martial arts during the PRIDE boom, but while Yoshida was a collected individual who devoted himself to his MMA career, Ogawa was a bombastic performer who took it altogether as a sort of PR stunt and never trained seriously for it. Similarly, Yoshida was frequently thrown to the most dangerous opponents, while Ogawa was openly protected by The Powers That Be and received an infamously easy run through the PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix.
  • Four is Death: During the homage to Shinya Hashimoto in 2006, he was called one of the four protectors of Shinya's memory along with Shinjiro Otani, Keiji Muto and Masahiro Chono.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Passed from being a heel who inspired people to get up and exit the arenas in protest to someone able to pose as the Big Good of a promotion. His friendship with Hashimoto had much to do with it.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Shinya Hashimoto.
  • Hot-Blooded: Characteristically. One of the biggest in Japanese pro wrestling, in fact.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: His MMA career was pretty much like celebrity boxing, as he never showed much interest in becoming a full-fleded fighter.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Against Yinling the Erotic Terrorist, although it didn’t impede her from pinning him after her Takada Monster Army cronies had beaten him.
  • I Know Judo: Obviously.
  • Incompletely Trained: Or rather barely trained when it came to MMA. He mostly relied in his judo and in being Unskilled, but Strong.
  • Instant Expert: As told above, his trajectory in judo was meteoric. Naoya was the youngest of all the black belts of his promotion, and his success only skyrocketed after that.
  • Kick the Dog: He shot on Hashimoto during the infamous 1.4 Incident, bloodying him with strikes and then taunting the arena. In a literal example, he kicked the referee Tiger Hattori at the same match.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Was not above punting and stomping people in the head after grounding them as sign of disrespect.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Until Ogawa came to NJPW, few people could imagine their beloved wrestlers could face such a serious menace. When he destroyed Shinya Hashimoto, shit hit the fan.
  • Large Ham: Pieces from the ancient Japanese arenas were a part of his diet.
  • Like Father, Like Son: His son Yusei is also a judo champion.
  • My Greatest Failure: Reportedly, his defeat to a much lighter Hidehiko Yoshida in judo competition. By the time he was proposed a rematch in MMA, Ogawa was unprepared to try to extract his revenge. Ogawa's unability to win Olympic gold would also count, as it's the only field in which Yoshida's records beats him.
  • Odd Friendship: With baseball player Kazuhiro Kiyohara.
  • Passing the Torch: Arguably Satoshi Ishii is Ogawa's sucessor both in judo and MMA. Very much like Ogawa at his time, Ishii is a brillian judoka player albeit known for his quirky, fan-unfriendly temper, and critized for not taking his MMA career seriously. They are close friends, and Ishii donated his Olympic gold medal to the Ogawa Dojo as a sign of respect. Naoya even renamed Ishii's osoto otoshi as "Space Tornado Ishii" in reference to his own STO, and nicknamed Satoshi as "Shin Hakai O" ("The New King of Destruction") like his late friend Hashimoto.
  • The Quiet One: According to Hidehiko Yoshida, Ogawa was an incredibly taciturn guy during his career in judo, to the point Hidehiko was actually shocked when he watched Naoya in pro wrestling because he did not believe that he could talk so much.
  • Red Baron: "Bosou O" ("The King of Recklessness"), "O-chan", "Captain HUSTLE".
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red to Hashimoto’s blue, as well as the blue to Kazunari Murakami's red.
  • Religious Bruiser: He was shown praying in a temple before facing Matt Ghaffari.
  • Shrinking Violet: Believe it or not, Ogawa was all head down and flustered when he received the silver medal in Barcelona.
  • Shout-Out: To Hulk Hogan when wrestling with "Hulk Ogan" gimmick.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: As said above, the first tag matches with Ogawa and Hashimoto as partners were not nice. Shinya coulnd't resist to push and kick him away in disgust for having to team with him, and Naoya didn't take it well.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential: After losing the rematch against Hashimoto, Ogawa started a special training and learned MMA, ditching his gi for black tights, kneeboots and gloves.
  • Unknown Rival: With from Toshiaki Kawada, who was feuding with Hashimoto and intruded in a interpromotional tag match to kick Ogawa in the head. Kawada proceeded to challenge ZERO-ONE and proclaim its crushing, but Naoya only wanted to know how in the hell he was. Naturally, he said that he was going to kill him anyways for the kick.
  • Unwanted Assistance: From his teammate Kazunari Murakami. The guy attacked Hashimoto before a match at the Rikidozan Memorial in which Ogawa and Shinya were going to team up for a very special occasion in their feud; naturally, Hashimoto blamed Ogawa for the assault and attacked him during the match, which cost them the bout. Although Murakami repented after being berated by Naoya and Inoki, he still was always a bit too much eager to intervene in matches to aid Ogawa.
  • Verbal Tic: "Oioioi!" (which is tricky to translate; "oi" is a Japanese interjection used to demand attention from the listener, similar to the British "oy").
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: His wrestling moveset was not very wide, but he could do wonders with his STO and judo combinations.
  • The Worf Effect: Fedor Emelianenko was already known as a force to reckon, but if it was not clear enough, his victory over Ogawa in 0:35 enhanced it.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Ogawa fought the semi-finals of the All Japan Judo Championships in 1994 with a not fully healed knee surgery. He gave a hearty performance, but he was eliminated.
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