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Wrestling / Rikidozan

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Mitsuhiro Momota (born Kim Sin-rak, November 14, 1924 December 15, 1963) was a Korean sumo and Professional Wrestler and promoter as Rikidozan. He is celebrated as the "Father of Puroresu", or Japanese pro wrestling. He started his pro wrestling career in 1951, defeating every American wrestler who came to Japan. While he was a huge Face in Japan, he was booked as a Heel in the U.S., especially coming less than ten years after the end of World War II. He established and held many titles in the JWA (Japanese Wrestling Association), the first Japanese pro wrestling promotion which would later continue on into All Japan Pro Wrestling. Among his achievements, he was a 4x JWA All Asia Tag Team Champion with Toyonobori, a 1x JWA All Japan Tag Team Champion with Toyonobori and a 1x NWA International Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Lou Thesz for that title and held it for over FIVE YEARS, right until his death from stab wounds on December 15, 1963. He also helped train Antonio Inoki, who would go on to establish New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and Giant Baba, who would create All Japan Pro Wrestling. He was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996.

"Father of Tropes":

  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Or regional equivalent to El Santo in Mexico. Or to Lou Thesz and Bruno Sammartino in America.
  • As Himself: In 1955's Yagate aozora and 1954's Otsukisama ni wa warui kedo.
  • Badass Teacher: To Inoki and Baba
  • Bash Brothers: With Toyonobori, Azumafuji, Masahiko Kimura and Bobby Bruns.
  • Biopic: 2004's Rikidōzan, starring Sol Kyung-gu as Rikidozan.
  • Bittersweet Ending: His 5 year championship reign ended abruptly when he was murdered at the age of 39. The NWA would vacate his title immediately after in a tribute show following his death. Giant Baba, who trained under him, would later defeat Dick the Bruiser to become the next NWA International Heavyweight Champion, continuing his legacy.
  • Captain Ersatz: A favorite for them in Fire Pro Wrestling. Sometimes they just name him outright.
  • Crossover: The JWA WWA World Championship Series, among others.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: With Lou Thesz.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: He shot on Masahiko Kimura in a pro wrestling match and beat him to a bloody pulp. The same Kimura that curbstomped Helio Gracie.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: He kicked the ass of his assassin, but died after his stab wound became infected because the yakuza member had pissed on his knife before using it, and Rikidozan had, despite his doctor's warnings, began drinking shortly after he got out of surgery to numb the pain, which did not help matters.
  • Finishing Move: Overhead chop, piledriver
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: In the U.S.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: In Tiger Mask
  • Living Legend: Rikidozan was to Japanese puroresu what Lou Thesz was to American pro wrestling and El Santo was to Mexican lucha libre.
  • Red Baron: "The Father of Puroresu"
  • Sketchy Successor: An unfortunate example with his son Mitsuo Momota, given Rikidozan wasn't really around long enough to guide him through the process.
  • Trope Maker: Professional wrestling had existed in Japan already, but the most prestige it could claim prior to the JWA were clubs dedicated to the sport. Most of it was Fanservice\Filler sideshow acts for other events. The JWA was the nations first promotion and the sport's retained it's respect in Japan partly due to the unprecedented televised ratings Rikidozan's matches attained.
  • Wrestling Family: Two sons. Mitsuo Momota debuted in 1972 and did not have much success beyond a brief run with the All Japan World Junior Heavyweight Title, though he is still competing in different promotions. Mitsuo's brother Yoshiro Momota had a run in All Japan in the 1980s but never had much success. He died of liver cancer in 2000 at the age of 54.