Masahito Kakihara (born April 29, 1972) is a Japanese
former Professional Wrestler
and Mixed Martial Arts
trainer. He debuted in UWF Newborn
as part of the shoot-style movement, and later became a bright rookie for the next incarnation, UWF International, under the teachings of Nobuhiko Takada
. He had feuds and big matches against foreign members of the company, and was one of the few who got with his aura more or less unscathed out from the interpromotional matches with New Japan Pro-Wrestling
, but was left free when UWF-i folded. He had then a short tenure in the similarly short-lived promotion Kingdom, but unlike his partners who turned towards PRIDE Fighting Championships, he stayed in pro wrestling and joined All Japan Pro Wrestling
. After some alliances with Mitsuharu Misawa
and fellow shooter Mitsuya Nagai
, Kakihara left for NJPW and became part of his junior heavyweight division, winning the Best of Super Juniors 2003. He competed for the company until he retired in 2006 due to a neck injury. However, he would make a return to wrestling from 2011 onwards for Satoru Sayama
's Real Japan Pro Wrestling as "Miyama☆Kamen", a gimmick he had used before.
- A Day in the Limelight: Modern New Japan fans might be surprised at learning Kakihara is a BOSJ tournament winner of all things due to how little impact he went to have in professional wrestling afterwards, in no small part due to his injury-prone nature and early retirement. Right after his win, he failed to get the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from Tiger Mask IV and was Demoted to Extra.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: His career has bizarrely mirrored that of Wataru Sakata, only for different promotions. They were both shoot-style wrestlers who at some point learned under Akira Maeda, later transitioned to traditional pro wrestling and achieved a big junior heavyweight tournament win, then switched to more gimmicky characters, and finally retired from main competition while relatively young. They even share the trait of having female relatives in the entertainment business.
- The Apprentice: Worked as tsukibito or assistant for Akira Maeda, later for Kazuo Yamazaki and finally for Nobuhiko Takada.
- Armor-Piercing Question: After his former partner Mitsuya Nagai criticized him for being injury prone, Kakihara in turn asked him whether he was with New Japan or with Black New Japan, as Nagai was by then balancing his membership of BNJ with a tag team with common friend Masayuki Naruse. Kakihara's question turned into the Arc Words, as Nagai ended up turning on Naruse. (Ironically, it would be Nagai's last action in NJPW, as he got injured and left right after.)
- The Artifact: Even after the demise of UWF, Kakihara still wore leg pads with the three letters of the company's name for a long time.
- Badass Family: His son Tsukushi debuted in wrestling at 5 years old (in a comedy match against Kikutaro, that is) and her daughter is not other than Ayano Kakihara from the idol band Backstage Soto Kanda Icchome.
- Badass Teacher: Was appointed trainer of the Los Angeles Inoki Dojo.
- Bald of Awesome
- Bash Brothers: With quite a high number of people. In UWF-i, with Kazushi Sakuraba; in AJPW, Yoshihiro Takayama and Gary Albright (as Triangle of Power) and later Mitsuya Nagai (as Team Strongs); and in NJPW, Minoru Tanaka and and Masayuki Naruse.
- Big Brother Mentor: To Yoshihiro Takayama.
- The Big Guy: Played this role in Mitsuharu Misawa's stable Untouchables, as he was the team's resident tough guy with real fighting training despite not being exactly big in size. Ironically, according to insiders, he was originally proposed to be The Lancer instead, but was passed over due to his small build.
- Bullying a Dragon: Notorious backstage troublemaker Takao Omori had a problem with Kakihara during the AJPW-NOAH transition, and apparently liked to hit him stiff during their matches. Kakihara eventually got fed, and when they had a trios match in the NOAH inaugural show, he came out ready for a fight (even wearing MMA gloves just in case) and blasted Omori with such a vicious body kick that it left him out of the match for minutes. Kakihara left and became a freelancer after that single match, while Omori's temper would also make him fell out of favor in the company the same year.
- Finishing Move: Kaki Cutter/Miyama Cutter (a STO or osoto otoshi), Kaki Cutter Kai (a variation while holding the opponent in a cobra clutch), Inazuma Leg Lariat (a jumping leg lariat, adopted from Kengo Kimura) and cross armbar.
- Friendly Enemies: With Masayuki Naruse after teaming up with him.
- Friend to Bugs: A big insect lover and collector, especially stag beetles. He wanted to explore the jungles of Brazil and North Korea during NJPW tours there just to gain some more pieces for his collection.
- Glass Cannon: Was very injury prone during his 2000 run in NJPW, and it eventually was the cause of the end of his career.
- Hero Killer: Submitted Kensuke Sasaki with a kneebar during the UWF-i-NJPW matches. Actually, Kakihara was pardoned from Riki Choshu's vicious booking because he was a rising rookie and it could have damaged his career too much (and because he was going to be booked to lose to Choshu himself).
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Masakatsu Funaki had a close friendship back in UWF Newborn. Even after the promotion folded and the two went to different companies, Kaki and him still used to spar together in a park near Masahito's house.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: Was considered UWF-i's best young fighter along with Kiyoshi Tamura, but he never took part in MMA, except a promotional fight as part of Antonio Inoki's entourage which might have been worked. Inoki also put Kakihara to train his own fighters in order to capitalize on his knowledge, and according to another of the trainers, Enson Inoue, Masahito would have been great had he ever decided to pursue MMA back when he was younger.
- I Know Judo: Some sources cite him as a 1st dan black belt since highschool, but this is disputed. In any case, he also trained in Catch Wrestling with Billy Robinson and Yoshiaki Fujiwara.
- The Jinx: Has joked about a possible Bad Luck Charm on him, as he gets injured easily and many of the promtions he competed in ended up folding or having inner trouble.
- Long Bus Trip: Actually lampshaded by Kaki. He told Misawa upon jumping from NOAH to NJPW that he was not leaving the promotion, but just going on a journey, like hoping to return someday. However, he never returned to NOAH, and did not even take part in the interpromotional matches between the two companies some time after.
- Magnetic Hero: Although he had a renowned solo career, Kaki enjoys the interesting ability of making big amounts of close allies and friends around him, both in kayfabe and real life (with notable exceptions like the aforementioned Omori). It became evident when he announced his malignant lymphoma in 2014 and a buttload of wrestlers struggled to take part in an aid event created for him.
- Masked Luchador: As Miyama☆Kamen.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Especially in All Japan, where he was constantly surrounded by heavyweights yet made up for it by aggression and technique.
- Power Stable: Untouchables, in AJPW.
- Red Baron: "Neppuji" ("The Child of the Hot Wind") or simply "Kakki".
- Retired Badass: Was the 2003 Best of the Super Juniors, but was forced to retire after injuries to his spine.
- Straight Man and Wise Guy: The straight man in his short-lived tag team with comedy wrestler Gran Naniwa.
- Teen Genius: Made his wrestling debut at 18 years old.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: In 2006, he humorously appeared under his masked persona in a CTU-promoted show posing along the rest of the masked CTU characters.
- ¡Three Amigos!:
- Ur-Example: He used the STO as a finisher before Naoya Ogawa debuted it.
- The Worf Effect: Was beaten by Kazuyuki Fujita in under two minutes in 2002 to show off how dangerous was the guy.
- Worked Shoot: Competed in shoot-style promotions and kept it as his wrestling style until his retirement.
- Worthy Opponent: His partner Minoru Tanaka. He and Kakihara clashed for the vacant IWGP Junior Heavyweight with Tanaka coming over, but they didn't lose their mutual respect.