Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance
Acronym JWA
Founder(s) Rikidozan
Defunct 1973
Style Puroresu
Headquarters Japan

Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance or Japanese Wrestling Association (日本プロレス協会 Nihon Puroresu Kyōkai) was the first professional wrestling promotion to be based in Japan. It operated from 1953 to 1973.


JWA under Rikidōzan (1953–1963)Edit

Rikidozan, a former rikishi (sumo wrestling practitioner) who had debuted as a Western-style professional wrestler in 1951, decided in 1953 to establish a territory that would represent the National Wrestling Alliance in Japan.

In those early days, Japanese professional wrestlers came from out of the sumo or judo ranks; former sumotori usually used their shikona (Rikidōzan, Azumafuj, Toyonobori, etc.) while former judokas usually used their real names or modifications of them (Masahiko Kimura, Michiaki Yoshimura, etc.) Rikidōzan pushed himself as the top star of the promotion, first battling other Japanese wrestlers such as Kimura and Toshio Yamaguchi, but found a strong niche in feuds with American wrestlers such as Lou Thesz, The Destroyer and Bobo Brazil. In 1957 he defeated Thesz to win the title that would be the JWA's top title thereafter, the NWA International Heavyweight Championship. As a newly found hero to the war-weary Japanese masses, Rikidōzan expanded into several business ventures. Sadly it would result in his murder at the hands of a gangster in 1963, at the peak of his fame.

JWA after Rikidōzan (1963–1973)Edit

After Rikidōzan’s death in 1963, the company continued to operate as the nation’s premier (and only male) wrestling circuit until challenged in the late 1960s by International Wrestling Enterprise, which featured the first major World heavyweight championship based in Japan, the IWA title. The JWA's top stars, Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki left to form their own promotions (All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling, respectively) in 1972. With its top drawing cards gone, the JWA was therefore out of business the following year.


Championship Last champion(s) Date won
Japanese Heavyweight Championship Rikidozan December 22, 1954
Japanese Junior Heavyweight Championship Yoshinosato August 19, 1960
Japanese Light Heavyweight Championship Isao Yoshihara October 19, 1960
All Japan Tag Team Championship Rikidozan and Toyonobori January 1960
All Asia Heavyweight Championship Kintaro Ohki Febuary 2, 1971
All Asia Tag Team Championship The Great Kojika and Gentetsu Matsuoka March 3, 1973
NWA International Heavyweight Championship Kintaro Ohki December 4, 1972
NWA International Tag Team Championship Giant Baba and Seiji Sakaguchi May 19, 1972
NWA United National Championship Antonio Inoki March 26, 1971

Annual tournamentsEdit

Tournament Last winner(s) Last held Created Ended Notes
World Big League Giant Baba May 12, 1972 1959 1972 JWA's biggest annual tournament round-robin tournament.
World Tag League Seiji Sakaguchi and Akihisa Takachiho October 31, 1972 1970 1972 JWA's annual tag team round-robin tournament.


This is not an exhaustive list, as the JWA was the only Japanese promotion until 1966 and many wrestlers, both Japanese who competed for a brief time and then retired, or foreigners who came for a single tour, were booked.

  • Lou Thesz - first NWA World Heavyweight Champion to defend the title in Japan
  • King Kong Czaya
  • Tiger Joginder Singh
  • Dara Singh
  • Freddie Blassie
  • The Destroyer
  • Bobo Brazil
  • The Sheik
  • Bill Dromo
  • Fritz Von Erich
  • Gene Kiniski
  • Syed Saif Shah
  • Bruno Sammartino
  • Dory Funk, Jr.
  • Terry Funk
  • Abdullah the Butcher
  • Mil Máscaras
  • Crusher Lisowski
  • Dick the Bruiser
  • Wilbur Snyder
  • Danny Hodge
  • Karl Gotch
  • Johnny Valentine
  • Harley Race
  • Mike Sharpe Sr.
  • Ben Sharpe
  • Bobby Bruns
  • Harold Sakata

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