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Awesome / Jumbo Tsuruta

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  • These started even before Jumbo was Jumbo; despite never having competed in high school, Tomomi managed through sheer determination and force of will to remold his body, learn amateur wrestling, and absolutely clean up at the national collegiate circuit. His goal was to make the 1976 Montreal Olympics, but he ended up pulling it off four years ahead of schedule.
  • When he arrived in Amarillo in 1973, Dory Funk Jr. immediately booked him in a television match, having assumed that Tomomi already had experience. It was too late when he learned the truth; while Tsuruta had undergone a four-month training camp in Japan, he had never wrestled. And yet, he managed to pull it off.
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  • In his first match against European catch legend Billy Robinson, the 25-year old Jumbo managed to wrestle the master to a seventy-minute time limit draw, as a Take That! to Antonio Inoki after his one-hour draw against Robinson seven months earlier. Upon his death, Dave Meltzer claimed that it was the longest pro wrestling match ever held in Japan.
  • Jumbo's title defense on August 25, 1977 against Mil Máscaras might be one of the most important wrestling matches in modern history. While it would be historical malpractice to call it the first interaction between puroresu and lucha libre - Máscaras had taken bookings in Japan since 1971, and by this point Japanese wrestlers like Gran Hamada and Mach Hayato had received training in Mexico - the mainstream attention that this match received was an important step towards perhaps the most influential cultural exchange in the last fifty years of professional wrestling, which would essentially consolidate the modern junior heavyweight style in the following decade.
  • On February 23, 1984, Jumbo finally defeated Nick Bockwinkel after four unsuccessful attempts to become the first Japanese AWA champion.
  • Jumbo was the one to unify AJPW's three singles titles into the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship in 1989. The oldest of these belts, the NWA International Heavyweight title, had been created for Rikidozan some thirty years earlier, making this a story decades in the making.
  • He had EIGHT matches that received the Five Star Match rating from The Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
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    • His feud with Mitsuharu Misawa won Feud of the Year in 1990 and 1991.
    • Named Wrestler of the Year for 1991.
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