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 initiating 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.
    • In June 2001, Ogawa was going to work a feud with Yoshihisa Yamamoto, who had already challenged him to a match in RINGS back in May 1999. An angle was laid where Yamamoto attacked Ogawa in a press conference and challenged him again. However, negotiations fell apart and it never had place.
  • The Ace: He had more or less all the tools 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 excellent resume in a combat sport, and on top of everything, had a massive aura all over him. At the end, the only thing that stopped him from becoming a big name in puroresu was his own uninterest and lack of work ethic.
  • Airplane Arms: Infamously pulled it 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 at an amazingly young age, both became controversial for their bad attitude before and during their pro wrestling careers, both dipped in MMA, and both finally gained some redemption after starting 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 participated in a Ganryujima match (a fighting promotion who allows both boxing and wrestling) and won via judo throws of all things.
  • 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 at pro wrestling were those of a loud, disrespectful fighter straight out from a martial arts manga. He also famously refused to touch gloves with Fedor Emelianenko before their match, which turned against him most Wstern fans. Only at his tenure in HUSTLE he became more of a traditional hero.
  • 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, a personality comparable to Generalissimo Takada himself. They really never found a replacement for a leader like him when he left the promotion, 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 usually too soft to finish 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: he became the youngest All Japan 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 unfocused, 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 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 roughly "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 in the process he became more than Shamrock would have probably 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. This translates badly into MMA, as judo throws are difficult to pull on the ring due to the absence of gi and instead groundfighting is much more appreciated. Actually, this was hardly Ogawa's fault, as the IJF ruleset tends to favour this type of fighter; 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 shoot-style kneeboots.
  • Enemy Mine: His tag team with Hashimoto started when they begrudgingly allied up after Ogawa intruded in the ZERO-ONE vs NOAH feud to give an unwanted aid to Hashimoto. As he was left without other reinforcements, Shinya finally realized he needed Ogawa and allowed him 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 a STO), GTO or Grand Tornado Ogawa (a katahajime or half Nelson choke), and classic shoot moves like chokes and armbars.
    • For his match against Kazuo Yamazaki only, 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 used MMA as a PR stunt for his pro wrestling career 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: From being an obnoxious, spoiled fighter he became a true wrestler and ally of puroresu. 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 said 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 be screwed so much both in and out of kayfabe. 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: According to inside voices, his defeat to a much lighter Hidehiko Yoshida in judo competition and his inability to win Olympic gold (ironically unlike Yoshida himself) are Ogawa's greatest career torments. By the time he was proposed a rematch in MMA, Ogawa was unprepared to try to extract his revenge, but he tried nonetheless because it was his only chance.
  • Odd Friendship: With baseball player Kazuhiro Kiyohara.
  • Passing the Torch: Satoshi Ishii is Ogawa's sucessor both in judo and MMA. Very much like Ogawa at his time, Ishii used to be a brilliant judoka, though best known for his quirky, fan-unfriendly temper, and critized for not taking his MMA career seriously. Adequately, they are close friends, with Ishii having 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 shy, taciturn guy during his career in judo. Hidehiko was actually shocked when he watched Naoya playing a big mouth player in pro wrestling, because he did not know Ogawa 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 couldn't avoid pushing and kicking 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: Toshiaki Kawada became somewhat of one towards Ogawa. As Kawada was feuding with Hashimoto at the moment, he saw fit to intrude in an interpromotional tag match and kick Ogawa in the head, being Hashimoto's ally and such. Kawada then proceeded to bombastically challenge ZERO-ONE and predict the defeat of the company, but all Naoya wanted to know was who Toshiaki was and why had he attacked him (of course, he also said that he was going to kill him whoever he was).
  • Unwanted Assistance: From his teammate Kazunari Murakami, who attacked Hashimoto before a match at the Rikidozan Memorial in which Ogawa and Shinya were going to form a special team dring 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 both Naoya and Antonio Inoki, he still was always a bit too eager to intrude in matches to aid Ogawa.
  • Verbal Tic: "Oioioi!" (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 was eliminated.
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