Kensuke Sasaki (佐々木 健介 Sasaki Kensuke, born August 4, 1966) is a Japanese retired professional wrestler and mixed martial artist who currently runs his own agency, Diamond Ring. He is the first of two men ever to hold all three of puroresu's major heavyweight titles (the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, and the GHC Heavyweight Championship), the other being Yoshihiro Takayama.
Professional wrestling career Edit
Early years (1986–1989) Edit
Sasaki debuted in Riki Choshu's Japan Pro-Wrestling - a satellite of All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) in February 1986. Sasaki follow Choshu as he returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in 1987. During that time, he teamed up with the likes of Osamu Matsuda and Kenichi Oya.
International excursion (1989–1990) Edit
In January 1989, Sasaki embarked on an excursion to North America, where he first started wrestling in Puerto Rico in World Wrestling Council (WWC), where he held his very first championship, the WWC Caribbean Tag Team Championship, with Mr. Pogo twice between January 14, 1989 and April 1, 1989.
In January 1989, he started splitting his time wrestling in the WWC in Puerto Rico, with Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling promotion in Canada, where he wrestled under the name Benkei Sasaki. He would also be trained in the Dungeon by Hart. During his time in Calgary, he won the Stampede International Tag Team Championship in August 1989, with All Japan loyalist Sumo Hara.
He also wrestled for Otto Wanz's Catch Wrestling Association in tours of Austria and Germany under the name Kendo Sasaki.
In December 1989, Stampede Wrestling closed its doors, and Sasaki wrestled for the Canadian National Wrestling Alliance.
New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling (1990–2002) Edit
Sasaki returned to NJPW in March 1990, and formed a popular tag team with Hiroshi Hase. The pair would have two reigns as IWGP Tag Team Champions, and had memorable matches with the Steiner Brothers. Two more tag title reigns followed when in late 1992, Sasaki assumed the name "Power Warrior" and teamed with Road Warrior Hawk. As the Hell Raisers, they dominated the tag team scene in New Japan. In October 1992, he also started wrestling periodically for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and would wrestle there on and off until December 1996.
In an incident in the New Japan Dojo in 1995, he was blamed for the death of a trainee, Hiromitsu Gompei. According to the book, Ring of Hell, he suplexed and worked over the trainee, who he thought was not making enough effort. No charges were ever brought against him.
Sasaki dropped the Power Warrior persona in 1995 (as he only revives the persona on special occasions, such as teaming with Hawk and Animal in six-man tag team matches) and began climbing the ranks in singles competition. He won his first major title, the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship on November 13, 1995, defeating Sting at a NJPW Event. This was the title's first title change outside of the United States. Sasaki lost it one month later to One Man Gang at Starrcade.
August 1997 skyrocketed Sasaki's rise to superstardom. On August 3, he won the G1 Climax tournament by defeating Hiroyoshi Tenzan in the final. A week later, he captured the IWGP Tag Team Championship with Kazuo Yamazaki. Finally at the end of the month, he captured the IWGP Heavyweight Championship by defeating long reigning champion Shinya Hashimoto, winning three major honors in a one-month span. Sasaki solidified his dominance in the heavyweight division by defeating both Masahiro Chono and Keiji Mutoh in his first two title defenses, thus defeating The Three Musketeers in three straight title matches. In April 1998, he lost the title to Tatsumi Fujinami. In March 1999, he won another IWGP Tag Team Championship with Shiro Koshinaka.
Sasaki won his second IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Genichiro Tenryu while wrestling with a 39 °C (102.2 °F) fever. He won the G1 Climax for the second time in August 2000 with a victory over last year's winner Manabu Nakanishi in the final, now holding both of New Japan's two heavyweight singles crowns. On October 9, 2000, Sasaki surrendered the IWGP title after he lost to Toshiaki Kawada in a non-title match at an All Japan vs. New Japan event called Do Judge. In a tournament final, Sasaki regained the title, defeating Kawada, at the January 4, 2001, Tokyo Dome show. In March 2001, Sasaki lost the IWGP Heavyweight Title to Scott Norton and in late 2002 he resigned from the promotion after a falling out with company management.
Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling (2003–2004) Edit
In the beginning of 2003, Sasaki joined his mentor, Riki Choshu, in his new Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling (World Japan) promotion. He became the only WMG Heavyweight Champion; however, tensions between him and Choshu over financial issues caused Sasaki to withdraw and the company to die a slow death.
Return to NJPW (2004–2005) Edit
When World Japan failed, Sasaki returned to NJPW in 2004, but this time as a "traitor heel." After heated feuds with Yuji Nagata and others, Sasaki enjoyed two more IWGP Heavyweight Title reigns and established himself as one of New Japan's most successful wrestlers ever. He played to the fans, and told them he would do anything to get back in their good graces. After receiving their forgiveness, he once again left the promotion, this time on good terms, however the behind-the-scenes animosity between Sasaki and Choshu proved otherwise.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2005–2008) Edit
After leaving New Japan, Sasaki went over to AJPW in 2005. Sasaki won that year's Champion Carnival, and lost to Kenta Kobashi at Noah's Destiny 2005 show on July 18, 2005 in the Tokyo Dome in an incredible 22 minute classic.
Kensuke Sasaki and Road Warrior Animal teamed up on September 1 at the Differ Ariake and they defeated "brother" YASSHI and Shuji Kondo. Sasaki wore face paint as Power Warrior, the same name he used when teamed with Road Warrior Hawk in the 90's and both men were billed as the Hell Warriors. Animal was billed as Animal Warrior in a similar move to Hawk being billed as Hawk Warrior when he teamed with Sasaki. (Hawk, Animal, and Sasaki were billed as The Road Warriors in six-man tag team matches in 1996.)
On August 26, 2007, Sasaki defeated Minoru Suzuki to become the Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion. Sasaki made his first defense against Toshiaki Kawada on October 18, 2007, and would go on to team with Kawada after Katsuhiko Nakajima suffered an injury on October 18 in the 2007 World's Strongest Tag Determination League. Sasaki and Kawada would lose a Finals Decision match against Satoshi Kojima and Suwama on December 9; both teams were tied, and opponents were needed for Keiji Muto and Joe Doering in the final of the League.
Sasaki successfully defended the Triple Crown Championship against Satoshi Kojima (on March 1, 2008). Sasaki participated in the 2008 Champion Carnival over five straight shows in the Korakuen Hall from April 5 to April 9, scoring 4 points after 1 win (over Joe Doering), 1 loss (to Minoru Suzuki) and 2 draws (with Suwama and Osamu Nishimura). Sasaki lost the Triple Crown Championship to Carnival Winner Suwama on April 29, 2008.
Pro Wrestling Noah (2008–2013) Edit
After losing the Triple Crown titles, he jumped to Pro Wrestling NOAH (Noah) and announced he would make it his full-time home promotion, while still operating the Kensuke Office. On September 6, 2008, he defeated Takeshi Morishima for the GHC Heavyweight Title, becoming the first person to hold the Heavyweight title in all three major Japanese promotions. On March 1, 2009, he lost the GHC Heavyweight title to Jun Akiyama. On September 21, 2009, he teamed with Morishima to win the GHC Tag Team titles from Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith. They lost the titles on December 6, 2009, to Takeshi Rikio and Muhammad Yone.
Sasaki teamed up with regular tag partner Takeshi Morishima to participate in the Global Tag League of 2010, which ran from January 9 to January 24. Sasaki and Morishima finished the league with a total of four points, losing out to A-Block winners Yoshihiro Takayama and Takuma Sano. Sasaki also participated in Pro-Wrestling NOAH's Global League Tournament of 2010 from March 28 to May 2. During the league, he defeated Jun Akiyama in a highly acclaimed contest. Sasaki finished with a total of seven points, losing out to eventual winner Yoshihiro Takayama.
Diamond Ring Edit
In 2005, Sasaki established his own agency, Kensuke Office. The agency is run by Sasaki's wife (former joshi wrestler), Akira Hokuto. Under the Kensuke Office agency, Sasaki and pupil Katsuhiko Nakajima toured other promotions, particularly All Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah.
In September 2006, Kensuke Office was announced as a member of the Global Professional Wrestling Alliance. Beginning in 2007, Kensuke Office has organised its own shows, and some of the talent featured on the shows include Minoru Suzuki, Jun Akiyama, Genichiro Tenryu, Yoshihiro Takayama, Kikutaro, Takeshi Morishima, KENTA and Catfish Man. In January 2012, Kensuke Office was renamed Diamond Ring. Currently, Diamond Ring serves as developmental territory of Pro Wrestling NOAH, featuring several of its superstars.
On February 11, 2014, Sasaki suffered his first loss to Katsuhiko Nakajima in the main event of a Diamond Ring event. Two days later, Sasaki held a press conference to announce his retirement from professional wrestling. Following Sasaki's retirement, Diamond Ring was left with only one remaining wrestler, Katsuhiko Nakajima, with Satoshi Kajiwara resigning and Mitsuhiro Kitamiya joining Pro Wrestling Noah.
Mixed martial arts career Edit
Between 2001 and 2003, Sasaki took a couple hiatuses from puroresu and focused on mixed martial arts. He has two fights under his belt, winning both by submission in the first round beating Dan Chase in 2001 and future UFC fighter Christian Wellisch in 2003.
During this period, he would alter his look, cutting his signature mullet (he would occasionally dye his hair different colors), wearing ring gear bearing the word, "Volcano", and adapting moves he learned in MMA training to expand his pro wrestling moveset.
Personal life Edit
Kensuke Sasaki married Akira Hokuto on October 1, 1995, after proposing to her on their first date. Together, they have two sons: Kennosuke (born November 1998) and Shinnosuke (born March 2003). Also, Kensuke has a strong bond with his protégé Katsuhiko Nakajima, whom he considers a member of the family.
In wrestling Edit
- Finishing moves
- King Buster (Three-quarter nelson suplex)
- Northern Lights Bomb (Scoop brainbuster) – adopted from his wife
- Strangle Hold γ / Power Special (Step-over head-hold armbar)
- Volcano Eruption (Kneeling half nelson driver)
- Signature moves
- Boston crab
- Dragon screw
- Frankensteiner – used on rare occasions
- Ipponzeoi (Rolling over the shoulder arm drag)
- Knee lift
- Knife-edged chop
- Military press slam
- Multiple suplex variations
- Tiger – used on rare occasions
- One-handed bulldog>
- Scoop powerslam
- Scoop slam, sometimes from the second rope
- STK – Space Tornado Kensuke (Clawhold STO)
- Thrust spinebuster
- Strangle Hold α (Head-hold cross armbar) – rarely used
- Strangle Hold β (Kneeling head-hold armbar) – rarely used
- Strangle Hold Ζ (Reverse step-over head-hold armbar) – rarely used
- Tornado Bomb (Leg trap one shoulder powerbomb)
- With Road Warrior Hawk or Road Warrior Animal
- Double Impact (Electric chair and diving clothesline combination)
- Sonny Onoo
- Akira Hokuto
- Entrance themes
- "Hot Point" (1986–1987)
- "Hurricanes Bam" (1987–1988)
- "Power" (1990–1995)
- "Hellraiser" by Ozzy Osbourne (1992–1995; used while a part of the Hell Raisers)
- "Take The Dream – Senko" (1996–1998)
- "Take The Dream – Infinity" (1998–2001)
- "Take The Dream – The World" (2001–2014)
- "Hellraiser"/"Iron Man" megamix by Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath (2007–2014; used while a part of the Hell Warriors)
Championships and accomplishments Edit
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- All Asia Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Katsuhiko Nakajima
- Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Champion Carnival (2005)
- January 2 Korakuen Hall Heavyweight Battle Royal (2007)
- SAMURAI! TV Cup Triple Arrow Tournament (2007) – with Katsuhiko Nakajima and Seiya Sanada
- BAPE STA!! PRO-WRESTLING a-k-a Tournament (2004)
- Dramatic Dream Team
- Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling
- World Magma the Greatest Championship (1 time)
- WJ Strongest Tournament (2003)
- Hawai'i Championship Wrestling
- HCW Kamehameha Heritage Championship (1 time)
- HCW Kekaulike Heritage Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Kenjiro Katahira
- Michinoku Pro Wrestling
- Tohoku Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Katsuhiko Nakajima
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship (5 times)
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (7 times) – with Hiroshi Hase (2), Hawk Warrior (2), Riki Choshu (1), Kazuo Yamazaki (1) and Shiro Koshinaka (1) 2000)
- G1 Climax Special Tag Team Tournament (1997) – with Kazuo Yamazaki
- Japan/United States All Star Tournament (1996)
- MVP Award (2000)
- Singles Best Bout (2000) vs. Toshiaki Kawada on October 9
- SKY PerfecTV! Cup (2001)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Pro Wrestling NOAH
- Stampede Wrestling
- Stampede Wrestling International Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Sumo Hara
- Tokyo Sports
- Lifetime Achievement Award (2014)
- Match of the Year (2000) vs. Toshiaki Kawada on October 9
- Match of the Year (2005)vs. Kenta Kobashi on July 18
- Outstanding Performance Prize (2008)
- Wrestler of the Year (2004)
- Toryumon Mexico
- World Championship Wrestling
- WCW United States Heavyweight Championship (1 time)1
- World Wrestling Council
- WWC Caribbean Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Mr. Pogo
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
1 Sasaki won the championship in Tokyo, Japan as part of an interpromotional card between New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling.
Mixed martial arts record Edit
|Professional record breakdown|
|2 matches||2 wins||0 losses|
|Win||2–0||Christian Wellisch||Submission (guillotine choke)||X-1||September 6, 2003||1||2:35||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||1–0||Dan Chase||Submission (armbar)||GC5: Rumble in the Rockies||August 19, 2001||1||0:36||Denver, Colorado, United States|