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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 retirement from NJPW, Ogawa also left and surprisingly joined his rival's Pro Wrestling ZERO-ONE, in which he became a mainstay fan favorite and teamed with Hashimoto to become half of the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Title holders. Ogawa also main starred in Fighting Opera HUSTLE, where he led the heroic HUSTLE Army 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, having a handful of matches for them before retiring. He works now as a judo trainer and the coach of his son Yusei.

"Tropes of Recklessness":

  • Aborted Arc:
    • He was beginning a 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 the storyline was discontinued.
  • The Ace: He had more or less all the tools to be a Japanese pro wrestling ace: was big and handsome, carried along an excellent resume in a combat sport, was a solid worker with the right opponents, and on top of everything, had a massive aura all over him. At the end of the day, the only things that stopped Ogawa from becoming a big name in pro wrestling were a series of external factors (mainly Inoki's devious grooming in NJPW and Hashimoto's death) and his own uninterest on pursuing a career (after HUSTLE, he became essentially a guest wrestler and retired a few appearances later).
  • Airplane Arms: Infamously pulled it out as a victory celebration after shooting on Hashimoto. The sign was supposed 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.
    • Boxing champion Kazuhisa Watanabe was compared to Ogawa due to his arrogance and tendency to mock his opponents in the ring, and even 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.
  • Always Someone Better: Rumoredly, Ogawa met with legendary judo champion Willem Ruska while he was training pro wrestling with Inoki, and they engaged in a little sparring. Even although Ruska was 60 years old and was said to be drunk at that moment, Ogawa couldn't best him, and almost got choked out after a sound beatdown. Admittedly, it's possible that Ogawa was trying to play it easy with a much older VIP and found out the latter was stronger than expected, but this was still the outcome their respective reputations on the dojo predicted.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: After beating Hashimoto to his retirement, Ogawa showed himself uncharacteristically upset and sad about the loss of his enemy. He asked him to reconsider the decision and 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: Hidehiko Yoshida, another world judo champion and medalist turned MMA fighter who was Ogawa's junior 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 in 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 Western 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.
  • Awesome by Analysis: He took the effort to read carefully Takada's book Nakimushi before opposing him in the first event in HUSTLE, so he could understand him better. His conclusion, though, was just that Takada was a loser, so he was later seen tossing the book aside.
  • Badass Teacher: Teaches judo in his Ogawa Dojo nowadays.
  • Bash Brothers: With Shinya Hashimoto.
  • Battle Strip: He would sometimes start a match in his judo gi, then when he got pissed, he would strip down leaving him in his tights, shin pads, and kneeboots.
  • Big Good: Ogawa was the HUSTLE Army's strongest member, a personality comparable only to Generalissimo Takada himself. They never relly found a replacement for 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.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Captain O and Judo O were officially not Ogawa under the mask. Of course, Takada saw through both disguises very quickly.
    • After the Judo O affair, Ogawa introduced Mr. USA (Ryan Wilson) as his replacement, claiming him to be a disciple of Hulk Hogan. Kantoku Nakamura didn't believe it, so Ogawa showed him a photo of Mr. USA shaking hands with Hogan... only that Ogawa was covering Mr. USA with his thumb in the pic, making obvious it was all a lie.
    • Another case happened when Judo O finally unmasked himself, as Ogawa claimed he had simply impersonated Judo O because the real one was unavailable. He also made Mr. USA unmask himself and become HUSTLE Titus.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • In judo, he used a slow, cerebral style nicknamed "3-Funkan Judo" ("Three Minutes Judo") due to his usual strategy of investing the first three minutes to tire and frustrate his opponent before trying to score. Due to this, Japanese specialized press often criticized him as lacking heart.
    • In pro wrestling, his STO finishing move was usually too soft to finish an opponent in a single iteration, but it was simple and easy to execute, which allowed Ogawa to perform it any times he needed to knock out the adversary. He also repeated other moves if he saw it fit.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: He reached the maximum level in judo in record time, 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 participated in some special diets and weird vitamine complements in order to keep his line without hitting the gym so much.
  • 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 no matter what Hashimoto said. He offered himself to team up with Hashimoto, and although the latter naturally told him to go to hell, Ogawa intruded in the event anyway and got in a brawl with NOAH's Mitsuharu Misawa after the match.
  • 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.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He grabbed The Predator's long hair to headbange him against the turnbuckle.
  • Convenient Replacement Character: Debuted in New Japan as a replacement for Ken Shamrock, and in the process he became much more than Shamrock would have hoped to be there.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Ogawa was a mainly an expert in standing technique during his judo career, with little work invested in his groundfighting. This translates badly into MMA, as judo throws are difficult to pull on the ring due to the absence of a gi and instead groundwork is much more appreciated for his positional control and submissions. This was hardly Ogawa's fault, as the International Judo Federation ruleset tends to favor this type of judoka; his nemesis Yoshida featured the same problem, only that he supplied it with hard work when he made his transition to PRIDE, something Ogawa never bothered to do.
  • David Versus Goliath: Routinely in HUSTLE against the Takada Monster Army giants. He also did it in real life when he faced Giant Silva in PRIDE.
  • Determinator: Described this attitude, gained after losing to Fedor Emelianenko, in HUSTLE.
    "Hey, listen carefully. In the PRIDE ring I have learned one thing: victory and defeat don't matter when you are a hustler."
  • 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 Shinya. As he was left without other reinforcements, Hashimoto finally realized he needed Ogawa and allowed him and his lancer Kazunari Murakami to join his side.
  • Face–Heel Turn: When he was bribed by Generalissimo Takada (implied to be part brainwashing) to turn into Celeb Ogawa.
  • Fat and Skinny: The skinny to Hashimoto's fat.
  • 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. They were both 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 Mutoh and Masahiro Chono.
  • The Giant: Subverted. Being 1.93 meters tall, Ogawa is humongous by Japanese standards, and his wrestling style was generally slow, based on high impact and not terribly technical, all of which are traits associated to your typical wrestling giant. In fact, he is just as tall as Kohei Sato, who is billed as a Japanese giant as part of his character. However, Ogawa was not merely a tall bruiser, but a charismatic antihero that happened to be tall and could work quite well on the ring.
  • Heel–Face Turn: From an obnoxious, spoiled fighter he became a true wrestler and ally of puroresu. His friendship with Hashimoto had much to do with it.
  • Heroic BSoD: Kawada and Ogawa were in one after being ambushed and humiliated by the Monster Army in HUSTLE-9.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Shinya Hashimoto until the latter's death.
  • Homage: His STO finisher is possibly one to Masahiko Kimura for Kimura's deadly use of osoto gari.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Came to believe that Tadao Yasuda could be a sincere ally and HUSTLE, but the guy turned out to have failed to overcome his gambling addiction and betrayed Ogawa for Monster Army money. Justified a bit, as while everybody knew Yasuda was sleazy, few expected he went to that extent.
  • Hot-Blooded: One of the biggest in Japanese pro wrestling, which is absolutely not an easy feat.
  • Hulking Out: Literally, when impersonating Hulk Hogan himself as Hulk Ogan.
  • 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 stop 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 on his judo and on 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 as sign of disrespect after grounding them.
  • 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 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 loss 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.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Ogawa was uncharacteristically silent and stunned after being pinned by Yinling (although having previously splashed through a table by Giant Silva surely had something to do too).
  • Passing the Torch: Satoshi Ishii was 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.
  • Pet the Dog: This article, where he helped a Paralympics judoka named Shizuka Hangai who lost her home and job due to the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2012, by offering her a job as part of the administrative staff for his Ogawa Dojo support group.
  • The Quiet One: According to Hidehiko Yoshida, Ogawa was an incredibly shy, quiet 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.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Buddhist/Shinto example. He was shown praying in a Japanese temple before facing Matt Ghaffari.
  • 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.
  • Sadist Teacher: After Kawada betrayed the HUSTLE Army, Ogawa offered to replace him as Taichi Ishikari's mentor. When Ishikari, accustomed to be mistreated by Kawada, offered himself to be kicked by Ogawa, the latter was incensed and told him to forget about it... until Ishikari finally got on Ogawa's nerves, moment in which Ogawa kicked him just like Kawada.
  • Satellite Character: Even if Ogawa had his own solo tenure in HUSTLE, for many people he will always be just Hashimoto's sidekick.
  • Shrinking Violet: Believe it or not, Ogawa was all head down and flustered when he received the silver medal in Barcelona. He was known as a very shy person in judo, so jaws were dropped all around the world when Ogawa got in pro wrestling and turned out to be a massive, larger-than-life Hot-Blooded speaker.
  • Shoe Shine, Mister?: It was demanded in HUSTLE House Vol.8 that Ogawa would join the Monster Army and become Yinling's shoe polish boy if he lost in his desired rematch with Mark Coleman. Fortunately, he won.
  • Shout-Out: To Hulk Hogan when wrestling under the "Hulk Ogan" gimmick.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: To Yinling's quirky "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    Yinling: I will tell you what's a real entertainer. What's your body without that item down there? A body that isn't tight, a horn that is not pointy. Nothing of that can be sexy. Sexiness is a philosophy, and you don’t have philosophy in that body of yours. [Noblewoman's Laugh]
    Ogawa: And you, do you have that philosophy you talk about? Listen carefully. This body's philosophy is prepared and ready, and it's ready to shut up your mouth.
  • 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 either.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential: After losing the rematch against Hashimoto, Ogawa started a special training, learned MMA and ditched his gi for black tights, kneeboots and gloves.
  • Unknown Rival: Toshiaki Kawada became this when he targeted Ogawa too on the sole basis of being an ally to Hashimoto, Kawada's enemy at the time. Essentially, Toshiaki intruded in an interpromotional tag match and kicked Ogawa in the head before bombastically challenging ZERO-ONE, but it turned out Ogawa didn't even know who was Kawada and only wanted to know why had he attacked him (and of course, he added 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 remained a bit too eager to intrude in matches to aid Ogawa.
  • Verbal Tic: "Oioioi!" ("oi" being a Japanese interjection used to demand attention, 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.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Invoked against Yinling.
    Yinling: This time Arisin Z lost, but in Nagoya you will see my power.
    Ogawa: Well, we will see that power. Whatever your name is, Lingling or Langlang, don’t think I will hold back because you’re a woman.
    • True to his word, he choked Yinling inconscious in HUSTLE-12 as a revenge for being pinned by her.
  • 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.