|Milano Collection A.T.|
|Milano in 2004|
Akihito Sawafuji (澤藤 章人 Sawafuji Akihito, born August 27, 1976), is a Japanese retired professional wrestler, better known by his ring name Milano Collection A.T. (ミラノコレクションA.T. Mirano Korekushon A.T.). As Milano, Sawafuji adopted the gimmick of an Italian fashion aficionado/supermodel, reflected in his ring attire. Milano is also known for walking to the ring with an invisible dog known as Mikeru. and he is a 6th Term graduate of the Ultimo Dragon Gym. After retiring from in-ring competition in 2010, Milano began working as a color commentator for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), a position he maintains to this day.
Terui made his debut in professional wrestling on May 13, 2000. Shortly thereafter, he took on the persona of Milano Collection AT, the initals inspired from Magnum TA. He modeled himself as an Italian fashion aficionado and supermodel, wearing lavish coats and trunks, showcasing an outrageous personality, and walked to the ring with an invisible dog named Mikeru.
When Toryumon 2000 Project was launched, it was quite apparent that he was the undisputed ace of the class. This culminated in his winning the T2P Strongest Merit Assessment League over Masato Yoshino on March 2, 2002, thus earning the NWA International Light Heavyweight Championship. Immediately following the match, he invited Yoshino, Stevie "brother" Tsujimoto, Takayuki Yagi, and Shuji Kondo to form a unit that would become known as The Italian Connection.
Part of the reason for the group's formation was a result from the harassment Milano was receiving at the hands of Don Fujii, who did everything from attacking him during his entrances to kidnapping Mikeru. Forming The Italian Connection would not only spark a proper feud against Fujii's unit Crazy MAX, but it would also be the foundation for a year-long rivalry between Toryumon Japan and Toryumon 2000 Project. Both the unit feud and the promotion rivalry reached its peek with the ABSOLUTAMENTE 2002 pay-per-view on September 8, 2002 when Milano, YOSSINO, and YASSINI defeated CIMA, Fujii, and TARU for the UWA World Trios Championship.
Not long after T2P was closed and its talent absorbed into Toryumon Japan on January 27, 2003, The Italian Connection began to experience a heated divide. Milano and YOSSINO were demanding clean finishes while the others were embracing their heel tactics. The group finally imploded on August 30 during the first 4-way 6-man tag team match in company history. Milano attempted to stop Shuji and YASSINI from viciously assaulting Venezia, the former mascot for YOSSINO turned Do FIXER supporter. He would instead receive a blue box attack, thus signifying the split within the group. Like most everyone else in the promotion, Milano and YOSSINO would feud with the new heel group that used to be their allies.
Milano and YOSSINO carried on The Italian Connection name alone before taking in Anthony W. Mori in early 2004. Once Dragon Gate was formed following the Toryumon split, Milano was recognized as one of the four pillars of the promotion along with CIMA, Masaaki Mochizuki, and Magnum Tokyo. The Italian Connection would become the first Open The Triangle Gate Champions on December 16, 2004. However, the unit would disolve suddenly in early 2005. Milano suffered an injury and shortly afterward left the promotion altogether, the timing of which was considered quite damaging since half of the roster had already been lost over the previous few months.
Shortly after leaving Dragon Gate, Milano would journey to the United States on a learning excursion. During this time, he would wrestle primarily for Full Impact Pro as well as Ring of Honor, which was being booked at the time by Gabe Sapolsky. At the urging of friend and then-World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler Shoichi Funaki, Milano received additional training at the Texas Wrestling Academy in San Antonino, Texas under Rudy Boy Gonzalez.
Milano would return to Japan by 2007 and join New Japan Pro Wrestling and hooking up with the RISE faction. His impact was felt immediately and was positioned as one of the promotion's top junior heavyweights, winning that year's Best of the Super Juniors Tournament. In 2008, he signed a contract to become a full-time competitor for New Japan. He participated in one show for DragonDoor, despite their attempting to build him into the promotion's focal point, and made guest appearances for El Dorado, which included sealing the Milanito Collection at gimmick, which 4th Class graduate Tsutomu Oosugi was wrestling as with Milano's blessing.
Also in 2008, he accepted an invitation to participate in the World X Cup for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as part of Team Japan, reuniting with Masato Yoshino as well as working again with Naruki Doi. Milano served as captain of the team and scored thier only victory in a second round singles match against Curry Man, who was representing Team TNA. Team Japan would place third, just ahead of Team International by one point.
In 2009, Milano started having eye problems after taking an excessively strong thrust kick by Gedo. Following attempts to fix the problem by surgery, he was diagnoised with inferior oblique palsy. On January 16, 2010, he announced his retirement from professional wrestling, with the final ceremony taking place on February 14. He was four months shy have having celebrated his tenth anniversary in the business.
- Finishing moves
- AT Lock (Headscissors kimura)
- IR - Italian Revolution (Cut-throat wrist-clutch bridging fisherman suplex)
- IR II - Italian Revolution II (Double hammerlock belly-to-back inverted mat slam)
- Paradise Lock (Over-rotated Delfin clutch)
- Victoria Milanese (Bridging leg hook saito suplex)
- Signature moves
- Armani Shoe Exchange (Middle rope springboard corkscrew senton)
- Emporio Armani Shoe (Middle rope springboard moonsault)
- Super Kick to a Kneeling Opponent
- Handspring Back Elbow Smash
- Milan-Gatame (Snapmare floated over into a modified cradle)
- Standing STF
Championships and AccomplishmentsEdit
- Dragon Gate
- NWA Florida
- Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup (2006)
- Toryumon Japan
- Toryumon 2000 Project
- Toryumon Mexico
- Young Dragons Cup (2000)
- Other Titles
- ICW/ICWA Tex-Arkana Television Championship (1 time)