Scout Report Directory

Scout Report by Wrestlingscout

30 Men, 20 Years, 1 Country: Part 3

5. Genichiro Tenryu - Aptly called "Mr. Puroresu," Tenryu's accomplishments in the ring are only matched by his diplomacy outside of the ring. Coming out of sumo, perhaps not former rikishi has been a more gifted pro wrestler. His rise to fame came when he formed one of Japan's greatest tag teams with Jumbo Tsuruta, but it was the battles between the two that made Tenryu a superstar. When Riki Choshu left All Japan, Tsuruta had no heel opponent, so Tenryu stepped in and gave Jumbo much better matches than Choshu ever could have. He even captured the Triple Crown for the first time and scored an impressive win over the Giant Baba. Tenryu eventually left and became a free agent of sorts before signing with the short-lived Super World Sports. After the company's fall, Tenryu formed Wrestling and Romance (WAR), which utilized a number of foreign talents. WAR began a working relationship with New Japan and Tenryu reaped the benefits as he beat New Japan's top three stars: Choshu, Fujinami, and Inoki. He also did dealings with FMW and UWFI. WAR's lack of borders made their shows very good and their top star an even bigger one. Tenryu's success continued as he became the first native to win both the Triple Crown and IWGP Heavyweight title. He then made his return to All Japan, where he became the top dog and won the vacant Triple Crown yet again. He is currently the promotions top booker and leading an Invasion of WAR wrestlers in All Japan.

4. Tiger Mask - Probably the greatest junior heavyweight wrestler ever and unarguably the most influential, Satoru Sayama took junior heavyweights from under-sized nobodies, who could never become stars to being potentially the top stars in a promotion. He brought his well-traveled style back to New Japan and created a character based on a Japanese cartoon character - Tiger Mask. Tiger Mask's feud with his first opponent, the Dynamite Kid, helped build New Japan's Junior Heavyweight division substantially. Sayama captured numerous titles and wrestled all over the world under his new gimmick. Then out of nowhere, Tiger Mask retired. This was so Sayama could get involved in the emerging mixed martial arts scene as he became a major member of the new UWF. Competing under different names with lackluster results, Sayama abandoned pro wrestling to do Seikendo and the SWA, which focuses on striking. Though Tiger Mask's time was brief, he completely changed the role of junior heavyweights in the world of puroresu.

3. Jumbo Tsuruta - Tomomi Tsuruta went from a fine amateur wrestler, who even competed in the Olympics, to one of the greatest superstars in the world and especially in his homeland of Japan. He made the transition to the pro ranks quickly and was even teamed with the Giant Baba to get the rub. As time went on, Tsuruta moved out of Baba's shadow and established himself as All Japan's top star. Aside from his team with Baba, he formed teams with Genichiro Tenryu (Tsururyu) and Yoshiaki Yatsu (Olympians) that were major forces in All Japan. Tsuruta became Baba's most solid preformer putting on top notch matches into the mid-90s with young lions, namely Mitsuharu Misawa. He put All Japan's new breed over and after being stricken with Hepatitis B, he gradually bowed out. Jumbo Tsuruta became a college professor, but his life was cut short, due to liver and kidney problems. Though not a promoter, Tsuruta's place in puroresu is undeniable. He will be remembered as one of the most solid workers and dependable stars, not only in Japan, but in all of the world.

2. Giant Baba - Few promoters receive more praise than Shohei Baba, whose All Japan company became the most dependable company in puroresu. To put his long and great wrestling career into perspective: Baba was scouted from baseball to wrestle in the JWA; he did a lot of wrestling in the US and became a good draw; returned to the JWA and helped the company survive when Rikidozen died; left the JWA after conflicts with officials and formed All Japan; won the NWA World title four times; captured NWA International, PWF Heavyweight, All Asian Heavyweight titles; wrestled in six-man comedy matches for the remainder of his in-ring career. Though he was not a great wrestler, Baba never held down talent and was a very giving wrestler. His company was the most traditional and that is how he promoted and booked All Japan and for fans of that style, he never let them down. Baba's figure was so great that he merely had to walk to the ring and he was given a standing ovation. After his passing in 1999, All Japan fell apart in many ways, but people pulled together to help the company survivor in memory of the great Shohei Baba.

1. Antonio Inoki - Perhaps the closest person to Rikidozen in modern puroresu, Antonio Inoki's effect on puroresu is beyond comparison. From the Brazil to Japan, Inoki was another Rikidozan find, whose drive to lead became evident early in his pro wrestling career. He left the JWA to form Tokyo Pro, but after it folded returned to the JWA. After being held down by officials, he planned a coup that was foiled. He opted to start New Japan, which would eventually become the biggest promotion in the world some 20 years later. Inoki was the company's top star and had big matches with men like Karl Gotch, Shozo Kobayashi, Seiji Sakaguchi, Kinataro Ohki, among others, but they all pale in comparison to the fabled draw with boxing icon, Muhammad Ali. That match, despite the fact it was boring, did a great deal for promoting puroresu as a part of the Japanese sports community. Inoki became a worldly competitor defeating WWF champion Bob Backlund and organized the IWGP tournament, which included wrestlers from all over the globe. Inoki then shocked the whole wrestling world when he was elected to the House of Commons, which was a first for any pro wrestler. He accomplished a great deal with this position and became a credit to politicians as well as wrestlers. Inoki then accomplished an enormous feat when New Japan held two days of wrestling in North Korea in front of an unprecedented number of fans. Then following year, the World Wrestling Peace Festival was held in Los Angeles and incorporated athletes from all over the world. Antonio Inoki's final match was in 1998, when he defeated UFC great, Don Frye. Inoki's career in wrestling continued though as he formed UFO, became a matchmaker for Pride, and continued to have an unofficial role in New Japan. Antonio Inoki has many critics, who question his wrestling ability and promotion and booker decisions, but no one can question his importance. Inoki is a puroresu icon, who has done more for the genre than anyone this side of Rikidozan.

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