Puroresu Pulse, issue 189: Chris Hero Interview Part 2

Columns, Interviews

Section 1- Results

All Japan: Kono & Doering won the tag titles.

Dragon Gate: Pac retained over Tanizaki. Saito & Horiguchi won the tag titles. Mochizuki beat Brodie Lee.

IGF: Kimbo Slice ended up pulling out of his match, replaced by Bob Sapp.

New Japan: Kojima beat Makabe to earn the title shot on the 20th. Devitt & Taguchi retained the junior tag titles.

NOAH: Suzuki retained the junior title over Edwards. KENTA turned heel, joining Disobey.

Section 2- News

Dragon Gate: Blood Warriors will take on the other stables in a series of very complicated 4-on-4 elimination bouts, on the 27th, 1st and 4th. Richochet challenges Pac on the 1st. Also set for that show is Mochizuki vs Gamma, with the winner to face Yoshino at Sumo Hall.

New Japan: MVP debuts on the 20th and will likely become a regular. They had to do a lot of work for his visa because of his criminal record. He will also be on the US shows in May.

NOAH: Sugiura will defend against Bernard on the 5th. Suzuki defend against Hirayanagi on the 16th. Ogawa will face both Marufuji and Aoki in singles matches, which would point to him challenging for the junior tag titles, probably with Suzuki.

Section 2a- Meltzer News

New Japan: Kanemoto has signed a contract that will let him work fewer dates.

Section 3 – ~Death Match Shillvivor~

Pick up the new issue of Fighting Spirit Magazine to see an article I wrote about New Japan’s Tokyo Dome history.

The Roundedest of Tables.

Section 4- Media Corner


Hashi vs Rui Hyugaji, Futen 5/30/10. Hyugaji is a young-ish wrestler from MPro who knows he’s gotta bring it. Hashi can still bring it when given the opportunity, and he does so here. It goes under 10 minutes but they cram plenty of action in there.

Takeshi Ono & Takahiro Oba vs Mashimo Kengo & Manabu Suruga, Futen 5/30/10. Suruga used to wrestle as Manabu Hara. Ono is a shoot-style veteran who started in Battlarts. Oba has an unusual, caveman-esque clubbering approach to things. Lots of hard hitting and such being that it’s Futen.

I Love the ‘90s Part 15: I Love… Mutoh?!

Herein, a batch of not-All-Japan from the end of ’91.

Vader vs Mutoh, New Japan G-1 Climax 1991.

For no good reason I can think of, NJ didn’t tape this show. Thankfully there’s a watchable handheld tape of it, and this is a dandy. Vader is in fine form, beating the ever-lovin’ crud out of Mutoh. I see this as a template for Vader vs Sting, though Vader is perhaps a bit stiffer here. I’d certainly call this one of Mutoh’s best singles matches. Along with…

Mutoh vs Chono, New Japan G-1 Climax 1991 final.

The first G-1 final, this was hugely important as it really established them as having arrived. It’s also arguably the best match for both of them, and arguably the best G-1 match. Plus there’s a very memorable post-match scene. So, you might want to take a look.

Nakano & Tom Burton vs Tamura & Miyato, UWFi October 6th 1991.

Watching the introductions pretty much tells the story: size & power vs speed & skill. Burton recently passed away. Miyato is maybe the most obscure UWFi regular, and according to Meltzer he was a booker for the company at some point. I think this one works even if you’re not much into shoot-style just based on the story.

Tenryu vs Yatsu, SWS October 29th 1991.

Follow-up to the tag from July, this follows the usual “Hate ‘n’ Stiffness between burly men” formula that has made me develop such a huge man-crush on Tenryu. These two had a Triple Crown match two years earlier but this is a fair amount better.

Section 5- Chris Hero & Japan, part 2 of 2

Picking up where we left off…

Thoughts & Stories on the NOAH roster

-Misawa: Was initially the most intimidating because he was the boss. He became approachable once Chris got over that. Could “put you on your ass” with one elbow if he decided to. Chris relayed a story from when Misawa came to the US in 2007 to work two ROH shows. After the show, Chris went to Misawa’s locker room to give him a Hero t-shirt. When he went in, Misawa was surrounded by the Japanese contingent at the show (wrestlers & press). Chris felt awkward, but Misawa responded by taking his own shirt off and handing it to Chris.

-Kobashi: Happy, smiling. Always sweaty because he’s always working. His effort in the gym is unmatchable.

-Akiyama: Chris hasn’t interacted much with him yet and very much hopes to have a singles match down the line.

-KENTA: Chris says their match on ROH TV was a career highlight. Quiet/shy in person. They share a love of hip-hop.

-Marufuji: “Genius”, very creative, which should help him as a company leader. Has a good mind for the business and is in touch with the country’s youth.

-Morishima: Chris was stunned by Morishima having enough wind for a long match with Sugiura after such a long layoff. He was concussed in that match by a kick to the head but managed to finish. (In a previous interview, Chris talked about a certain type of gymnastic roll that Chris struggled to do for years, but that Morishima could do with ease despite his size, back before Morishima lost some of his girth).

-Rikio: Warm and generous. Hero’s first NOAH match was against him. Things were very different at the end of that tour when he faced the ex-sumo at Nippon Budokan, as Rikio worked with a bit more intensity and impact.

-Akitoshi Saito: “Scary looking” but kind. Because he wasn’t part of the original All Japan crew or a NOAH trainee, he uses the gaijin locker room. He was very affected by Misawa’s death, but managed to stay with it.

-Yoshinari Ogawa: Loves doing British style with Chris.

-Taiji Ishimori: Was among the Toryumon X students who slept at Hero’s house. He’s another person who is easy to work with because of Skayde training, though Chris notes he did a good job of adapting to NOAH’s style. Taiji mostly talks to Chris in Spanish.

-Ricky Marvin: Skilled linguist who speaks Spanish, Japanese, English and Russian. Because of that he’s in charge of taking care of NOAH’s gaijin. “Master” of crowd work. A “genius” who is hilarious in person. Chris hopes he can become part of ROH’s roster.

-Kotaro Suzuki: NOAH offered tryouts to hundreds of people for training in its first couple years, and Kotaro was the only one to be accepted. He’s very quiet in person. The fans were genuinely surprised by his title win over Kanemaru.

-Aoki: Spent some time in the military, so he has good discipline. That also goes for Sugiura. Chris is glad to see NOAH giving Aoki chances and Aoki does everything he can to take advantage.

-Yone: Good English speaker. “Underrated”, and it would help if he could be put in more sprint-style matches. Chris was able to chat with him about Yone’s time in Battlarts.

-Genba Hirayanagi: Loudest snorer Chris has ever heard. He’s found a niche for himself despite his small size. That lack of size led to a spot working ‘too’ well, as he was thrown up into the air during an 8-man tag and ended up going further than expected, as seen here.

-Nakajima: “Mr. Perfect”. He’s becoming a man, but still does hard training like a rookie. Hero adds that Kensuke Office young lion Miyahara will be a huge star and is filling out nicely.

-Taniguchi: Really coming along. He’s confident in the ring now, whereas he used to be lost at times.

-Masao Inoue: “Jovial”. Hero saw him working very hard to rehab after a broken leg, including lots of one-legged squats. He put all that effort in despite not being a serious wrestler, and that made Chris really respect him.

-Ryu Nakata: Quiet, professional and generous. “Good to deal with”. He makes sure NOAH takes good care of them.

-Bison Smith: Gruff exterior, but great once you earn his respect. Underappreciated. He knows how to work in Japan, and taught Chris how to do the same.

General Thoughts & Questions

-More on the blog: It helps him get feedback from Japanese fans. He was surprised by different people who read it, from Takayama to random girls who said hello to him on a train.

-On helping train Ricky Steamboat Jr at the NOAH dojo: He’s a natural athlete. Japan “blew his mind” because he didn’t know anything about it. Chris even used my websites to show some footage of Japanese style to him. Jr. learned a lot at the dojo.

-On ring names and why Steamboat Sr. wouldn’t use his birth name of Blood. Chris once again showed the depth of his wrestling knowledge by schooling me on the fact that Sr. used the name Steamboat because of a famous wrestler at the time named Sam Steamboat. I mentioned Chris’ decision to use Hero as a ring name, and he said it works because it’s memorable and helps his in-ring persona.

-On the NOAH dojo like. “Everything is there”. Arena, offices, gym, dorm, it’s very convenient. It makes for tough but effective training because there are no distractions. He was flattered to be able to stay there.

-On finally getting to Japan in ’04: Pondo called unexpectedly with news. Chris tried to relish it because he didn’t know if he’d be back. Between the two famous wrestling steakhouses, he prefers Matsunaga’s to Ribera’s. (Matsunaga is a former deathmatch worker. Ribera’s is famous for giving track jackets to wrestlers).

-On Sekimoto: Humble, modest. Deserves to be at a bigger promotion.

-On Men’s Teioh. One day, Hero was warming up in the ring. Teioh came in and they did chain wrestling for 20 minutes. He recognized the Johnny Saint influence in Hero’s style, because Saint had come to Michinoku Pro at one point and Teioh is big on western-style technical wrestling.

-On his first NOAH tour in 2007: “Intimidating”. Bigger venues than he normally worked at forced him to make some changes. He made an effort to experiment and see how to get crowd reactions while staying true to his style. The rural fans were especially hard to please, and the Nippon Budokan crowd didn’t get into his athleticism.

-On Kings of Wrestling’s first NOAH tour in ’08: This time it was Claudio’s turn to be intimidated, and it didn’t help that they hadn’t been teaming regularly before the tour. Now, Claudio is comfortable and popular. Chris says that fans want to cheer Claudio more, but “his name is too hard”.

-On winning ‘technique prize’ in the 2010 tag league despite going 0-3: They were ringside for the awards ceremony and it came as a “complete shock”. They think it was a consolation prize for giving a good effort.

Q: Do the Japanese have a sense of tape/DVD trading in the west, as being how their wrestlers are known overseas?

A: Yes, especially compared to how it was a few years ago. Chris spoke to Takayama about seeing a match he had against Sano, and Takayama was quite surprised that someone outside Japan would know about it. But in general, after seeing the response to various Japanese wrestlers in the US, the Japanese are aware. Chris then mentioned that there’s a similar ‘underground’ in Japan of fans who pass around US indy shows.

Q: Who in Japan, outside of NOAH, are you digging right now?

A: Takuya Sugi, aka. Yoshitsune in Michinoku Pro. He’s a spectacular athlete and Chris hopes he becomes a regular in NOAH.

Q: You’ve mentioned enjoying the “lucharesu” and heavyweight styles. Any thoughts on shoot-style?

A: Chris says that the style is no longer as popular in Japan, and he places much of the blame on the antics of Naoya Ogawa.

Q: Anything more you’d like to add?

A: Chris is grateful and thankful for his opportunities, and thanks everyone who continues to support pro wrestling.


My thanks to Chris. Hopefully we can do this again after a few more tours!