"[...] Popular opinion in Japan was markedly different. Takada was still a hero to his countrymen. There was no shame in losing to a man largely regarded as the greatest jujutsu fighter alive. What's more, Takada continued fighting and took on the top heavyweights that are conspicuously absent from Gracie's fight record, like Mark Coleman, Mark Kerr and Igor Vovchanchyn. Sure, Japanese fans were disappointed when he lost, but they still loved and respected him because he took up the challenge instead of protecting his reputation. He was showing the courage and daring they expected from a hero."
—Black Belt magazine, April 2003
"Men among men, stand up!"
Nobuhiko Takada (b. 1962) is a JapaneseProfessional Wrestler and Mixed Martial Arts fighter, best known for his role in the existence of PRIDE and the Japanese MMA boom. He debuted in 1981 for New Japan Pro Wrestling and competed as a promising rookie, acting as Antonio Inoki's assistant and replacing Tiger Mask in a high-level event in Canada. Eventually he left with Akira Maeda, Sayama and other wrestlers to form Universal Wrestling Federation, pioneering the realistic shoot-style wrestling. Upon his return to New Japan, he and Maeda figured as the young leaders of the shoot movement, gaining the IWGP Tag Team Championship with him and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight and later IGWP Heavyweight Championship himself. They left again to form the second UWF, in which he was a main star until the promotion's demise. Then Takada founded the Union of Wrestling Forces International and made himself Japan's top Badass, giving legendary matches against Gary Albright and Super Vader. His star began to fade when he was obliged to take part in a hopeless MMA feud against Rickson Gracie, which killed UWF International, but it gave birth to PRIDE Fighting Championship and the rest of MMA ventures in Japan. After an ill-fated fighting career, he was appointed as PRIDE general manager and became its main executive figure along Nobuyuki Sakakibara. He also founded the over-the-top promotion HUSTLE, where he portraited the promotion's villain Generalissimo Takada until 2009.As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.
Determinator: One of the biggest in MMA. Despite facing hopeless opponents, Takada never gave up fighting, knowing that PRIDE needed him to stay afloat.
During the second fight against Rickson, Takada tried his heart off while mounted by Gracie, managing to dismount him a couple of occasions and even trying a leglock. Not even his comrade Masakatsu Funaki, who was a lightyears way better fighter, did that well against Rickson when the Brazilian took him down.
Face: As shoot wrestlers didn't use to be gimmicky, Takada wasn't a picture perfect hero, but was massively popular thanks to his badassery and poise.
Fake Ultimate Hero: UWF International was claimed to be a shootfighting company, so when Takada debuted in MMA, Japanese people expected him to being the best in the world like he had been in pro wrestling. Unfortunately, he couldn't live it up.
Finishing Move: Cross Armbar, Crossface Chickenwing and Kick to the Head.
Frickin' Laser Beams: One of the Generalissimo's powers, and they had many effects, including healing injured wrestlers.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the videogame Saikyou: Takada Nobuhiko, Takada's character is a Jack of All Stats, while Akira Maeda's one is mainly striking-based. However, reality is almost the opposite: in the ring, Maeda was the best rounded of the two, while Takada was the most kick-centric.
Heroic BSOD: Had one in real life after being submitted by Rickson Gracie in front of his people. He needed a year to got over it.
During his famous match against the no less famous Jerkass Koji Kitao, Takada broke the kayfabe and knocked him out with a kick to the head. This increased enormously his popularity and (no kidding) helped Kitao to reconcile with the crowd, as he bowed before them and shook Takada's hand despite the betrayal.
Takada featured a literal moment in a shootfight against boxing champion Trevor Berbick. Supposedly, Berbick had been too busy demanding more money from the UWF-i management and behaving obnoxiously before the fight to properly learn its rules, and he though leg kicks were forbidden. Unsurprisingly, Takada shoot kicked his legs off and Trevor ended running away from the ring.
The Lancer: To Akira Maeda during their common career. Even well after the UWF Newborn breakup and the foundation of UWF International, Maeda was always the most popular of the two. It took years for Takada to surpass him.
Mr. Fanservice: Was very popular with the female crowd, to the extent he received chocolate at St. Valentin Day from fans. Commentator Ichiro Furutachi even compared him to James Dean.
Overshadowed by Awesome/Sorry Billy, But You Just Don't Have Legs: Despite his losses in mixed martial arts, Takada is credited by Billy Robinson as being a fairly good striker in his UWF times, and one of his most athletic trainees. However, he knew nothing of grappling at a time in which it was the most important aspecto of MMA, he was weakened for many injuries, and above all, he lacked the adecuate mindset to face a fighting career, so his PRIDE tenure would be predictably disastrous. The fact that his opponents were the most dangerous in the world buried him definitely.
Red Baron: Actually many. "Saikyo" ("The Best in the World"), "Heisei no Kakuto O" ("The Fighting King from Heisei"), "Wagamama na Hikazoku" ("Egoist Kneecap") and "Seishun no Esperanza " ("The Hope of the Youth").
Self-Parody\Shout-Out/Homage: His Generalissimo Takada persona was a parody of his own career as a shoot fighter, out to rid the world of professional wrestling even though he's part of the reason why pro wrestling and mixed martial arts are treated with almost equal respect in Japan. The Generalissimo was also blend of anime villains. He had Yasunori Kato's powers, General Washikazi's mannerisms and Dessler's attire.
The Tyson Zone: Due mostly to the deep Values Dissonance between Japanese and international MMA, Takada is quite impopular to many Western fans, who consider him a phony with no ability who cheated his way through his career, and it has originated all sorts of outlandish anecdotes and stories which exaggerate his little in-ring skills to ridiculous degrees. Thereby it's said that he Girly Runned away from fistfights (which Keiji Muto could testify absolutely not), that he was tapped by BJJ white belts in schools (which sounds fairly improbable, even for him) and that Marco Ruas and Kazushi Sakuraba of all people used to harass him for being such a wuss (something utterly absurd), among others.
Vitriolic Best Buds: In real life with Keiji Muto. They settled their differences in Inoki Bom-Ba-ye 2000.
Worked Shoot: His pro wrestling career was based around this, competing in bouts which were claimed to be real fights. Also, the PRIDE management gave him worked wins to keep his popularity.