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The World Big League, also known as World League was a professional wrestling tournament annually held by Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance from 1959 until 1972. The 1973 edition was not held as JWA folded that year.

Wrestlers from all over the world participated in the various editions of the tournament, as it was meant since its beginning to be a world tournament. It had been one of the most important pro-wrestling tournament of its time, because it was one of the very few (and for some years after its creation the only) pro-wrestling tournaments of its time to be considered representative of the entire pro-wrestling world.

In 1970 JWA created a tag team counterpart of the World Big League, known as World Tag League.

Its prestige led Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba to create in their respective promotions, New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling, tournaments which were presented as the direct followers to the JWA World League. Therefore, respectively, the G1 Climax for the NJPW and the Champion Carnival for the AJPW are the indirect descendant of the original World League.

Tournament historyEdit

In the early 1950s, wrestling got popularity mainly from street television, from the background that many Japanese were recruiting a sense of inferiority to the West in the postwar period, and Rikidōzan was defeating one American wrestler after another. This was shortly after World War II, and the Japanese needed someone who could stand up to the Americans. Rikidōzan thus became immensely popular in Japan. However, in the latter half of the 1950s, popularity gradually fell and it was forced to enter the recession.

In 1957 Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance signed a contract with Nippon Television to carry out the regular broadcast. At the same time, he began to invite Lou Thesz. On October 7th and October 13th the same year, Rikidōzan wrestled Lou Thesz in a sixty-minute draw for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. The match was a great suscess, having many spectators and drew an 87.0 rating in the top ten television programs of all time in Japan.

This led later the creation of the World League bringing wrestlers from all over the world participated in the various editions of the tournament, as it was meant since its beginning to be a world tournament. It had been one of the most important pro-wrestling tournament of its time. The format of the tournament was a round robin tournament in the past the japanese wrestlers were in one block and the gaijins.

This format was later adopted by JDStar wrestling at the League Princess and JWP Joshi Puroresu at their Open Class Challenge League.

Its prestige led Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba to create in their respective promotions, New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling, tournaments which were presented as the direct followers to the JWA World League. Therefore, respectively, the G1 Climax for the NJPW and the Champion Carnival for the AJPW are the indirect descendant of the original World League.

List of winnersEdit

Year Winner Total won
1959 Rikidōzan 1
1960 Rikidōzan 2
1961 Rikidōzan 3
1962 Rikidōzan 4
1963 Rikidōzan 5
1964 Toyonobori 1
1965 Toyonobori 2
1966 Giant Baba 1
1967 Giant Baba 2
1968 Giant Baba 3
1969 Antonio Inoki 1
1970 Giant Baba 4
1971 Giant Baba 5
1972 Giant Baba 6

1959Edit

The 1959 World Big League ran from May 21 to June 15, 1959. The tournament featured 10 wrestlers. The top four finishers advanced to a knockout round, with the top finisher receiving a bye to the final. The Japanese wrestlers did not wrestle each other in the round robin portion. The semifinal match between Jesse Ortega and Enrique Torres ended in a time-limit draw. The match was restarted and it was the same result. Ortega was the one who passed ito the finals due to having more points.

Final standings
Rikidōzan 4-0-3
Jesse Ortega 4-1-4
Mr. Atomich 4-2-3
Enrique Torres 4-2-3
Toyonobori 4-2-1
Kokichi Endo 3-2-2
James Blears 3-5-1
King Kong Czaya 3-5-1
Danny Plechas 2-5-2
Sandara Singh 1-8-0
Results Plechas Torres Blears Ortega Czaya Endo Atomich Toyonobori Rikidōzan Singh
Plechas X Double Countout Plechas Draw Czaya Draw Atomich Toyonobori Rikidōzan Plechas
Torres Double Countout X Draw Draw Torres Draw Draw Torres Draw Torres
Blears Plechas Draw X Ortega Blears Endo Atomich Blears Rikidōzan Blears
Ortega Draw Draw Ortega X Double Countout Ortega Atomich Toyonobori Draw Ortega

Czaya

Czaya Torres Blears Double Countout X Czaya Atomich Toyonobori Rikidōzan Czaya
Endo Draw Draw Endo Ortega Czaya X Endo Endo
Atomich Atomich Draw Atomich Atomich Atomich Endo X Draw Atomich Atomich
Toyonobori Toyonobori Torres Blears Toyonobori Toyonobori Draw X Draw Toyonobori
Rikidōzan Rikidōzan Draw Rikidōzan Draw Rikidōzan Atomich Draw X Rikidōzan
Singh Plechas Torres Blears Ortega Czaya Endo Atomich Toyonobori Rikidōzan X
Semifinals Final
      
1 Rikidōzan
3 Mr. Atomic
1 Rikidōzan
2 Jesse Ortega
2 Jesse Ortega Draw
3 Enrique Torres Draw

1960Edit

The 1960 World Big League ran from April 15 to May 13, 1960. The tournament featured 14 wrestlers. The top finisher advanced to the final match of the tournament, to face the winner of a two-wrestler round-robin semifinal round. The Japanese wrestlers did not wrestle each other in the round robin portion.

Final standings
Rikidōzan 8-0-2
Leo Nomellini 10-1-2
Sonny Myers 8-0-5
Toyonobori 8-1-1
Danny Miller 7-4-2
Frank Valois 7-4-2
Kokichi Endo 7-2-1
Michiaki Yamamoto 5-4-1
Lu Kim 4-8-1
Hombre Montana 3-9-1
Bob Orton Sr. 2-9-2
The Great Togo 2-10-1
Stan Lisowski 2-10-1
Hans Herman 1-12-0
Finals
Rikidōzan 2-1
Leo Nomellini 1-2
Nomellini Nomellini
(8:58)
Rikidōzan
(10:09)
Rikidōzan
(15:11)
Rikidōzan Nomellini
(8:58)
Rikidōzan
(10:09)
Rikidōzan
(15:11)

1961Edit

The 1961 World Big League ran from May, 1 to June 29, 1961. The tournament featured 12 wrestlers. The top finisher advanced to the final match of the tournament, to face the winner of a two-wrestler round-robin semifinal round. Rikidōzan was seeded to the final due to winning the previous leagues. It's unknown why some wrestlers had more matches than others.

Final standings
Mr.X 6-0-1
Karl Krauser 8-1-1
Michiaki Yoshimura 4-2-3
Toyonobori 4-1-1
Kokichi Endo 3-4-1
Ike Eakins 2-3-0
The Great Antonio 1-1-0
Ronnie Etchison 1-4-0
The Great Togo 0-1-0
Toshi Togo 0-2-1
Jim Wright 0-3-2
Hercules Romero 0-7-1
Finals
Rikidōzan 2-1
Mr. X 1-2
Mr.X Mr.X
(6:17)
Rikidōzan
(7:17)
Rikidōzan
(12:39)
Rikidōzan Mr.X
(6:17)
Rikidōzan
(7:17)
Rikidōzan
(12:39)

1962Edit

The 1962 World Big League ran from April 21 to May 25, 1962. The tournament featured 17 wrestlers. The top finisher advanced to the final match of the tournament, to face the winner of a two-wrestler round-robin semifinal round. Rikidozan was seeded to the final due to winning the previous leagues. It's unknown why some wrestlers had more matches than others.

Final standings
Lou Thesz 11-0-0
Dick Hutton 9-1-0
Buddy Austin 7-3-2
Mike Sharpe 7-3-2
Larry Hennig 6-3-1
Freddie Blassie 6-4-0
Toyonobori 5-3-1
Duke Hoffman 5-4-1
Michiaki Yoshimura 3-4-1
Mr. Atomich 3-5-2
Kokichi Endo 2-5-2
Arnold Skaaland 2-11-0
The Great Togo 1-0-1
Tosanohana 0-1-0
Hideyuki Nogasawa 0-2-0
Kanji Inoki 0-7-0
Kintaro Ohki 0-8-0
Finals
Rikidōzan 2-1
Lou Thesz 1-2
Lou Thesz Lou Thesz
(12:33)
Rikidōzan
(14:36)
Rikidōzan
(19:25)
Rikidōzan Lou Thesz
(12:33)
Rikidōzan
(14:36)
Rikidōzan
(19:25)

1963Edit

The 1963 World Big League ran from March 22 to May 17, 1963. The tournament featured 17 wrestlers. The top finisher advanced to the final match of the tournament, to face the winner of a two-wrestler round-robin semifinal round. Rikidōzan was seeded to the final due to winning the previous leagues. It's unknown why some wrestlers had more matches than others.

Final standings
Killer Kowalski 13.0
Haystacks Calhoun 10.5
Gino Marella 7.5
Fred Atkins 7.5
Pat O'Conner 7.0
Giant Baba 4.5
Toyonobori 4.0
Michiaki Yoshimura 4.0
Killer X 3.0
Sando Szabo 2.0
Bob Ellis 2.0
Kokichi Endo 0.0
Kintaro Ohki 0.0
Kanji Inoki 0.0
Mammoth Suzuki 0.0
Finals
Rikidōzan 2-1
Killer Kowalski 1-2
Rikidōzan Rikidōzan
(5:01)
Kowalski
(12:31)
Rikidōzan
(18:21)
Killer Kowalski Rikidōzan
(5:01)
Kowalski
(12:31)
Rikidōzan
(18:21)

1964Edit

The 1964 World Big League ran from April 3 to May 21, 1964. The tournament featured 14 wrestlers. The top finisher advanced to the final match of the tournament. It's unknown why some wrestlers had more matches than others.

Final standings
Toyonobori 7-0-0
Gene Kiniski 8-1-1
Calypso Hurricane 7-2-0
Giant Baba 5-1-1
Michiaki Yoshimura 5-2-0
Yoshinosato 4-2-0
Kintaro Ohki 3-2-1
Kokichi Endo 3-2-1
The Alaskan 1-6-0
Mr. Moto 0-2-0
Gene LeBelle 0-5-2
Bull Curry 0-5-0
The Mummy 0-5-0
Roy McClarty 0-8-0
Final
   
1 Toyonobori 2:45
2 Gene Kiniski CO

1965Edit

The 1965 World Big League ran from April 8 to May 21, 1965. This year the participants were splitted in two blocks the gaijins in one block and the japanese the other. The round robin part of the tournament consisted of the Japanese wrestling the foreigners. Toyonobori was seeded to the final due to winning the previous league.

Round one
Gaijin Japanese
Freddie Blassie 5.0 Giant Baba 5.5
Sweet Daddy Siki 4.0 Michiaki Yoshimura 4.5
Don Manoukian 4.0 Yoshinosato 3.0
Baron Gattoni 3.0 Mr. Moto 3.0
Jack Pesek 1.0 Kokichi Endo 1.0
Al Greene 1.0
Luke Graham 0.0
  Final
             
 
 Freddie Blassie Pin
 Toyonobori 13:55


1966Edit

The 1966 World Big League ran from March 25 to May 13, 1966. This year the participants were splitted in two blocks the gaijins in one block and the japanese the other. The round robin part of the tournament consisted of the Japanese wrestling the foreigners.

Round one
Gaijin Japanese
Wilbur Snyder 6.0 Giant Baba 7.5
Pedro Morales 5.5 Kintaro Ohki 6.5
Don Lewin 3.5 Michiaki Yoshimura 6.0
Arman Hussein 3.5 Yoshinosato 5.0
Lonnie Mayne 2.5 Mitsu Hirai 2.5
Billy Two Rivers 2.0 Mr. Moto 2.0
Jim Grabmire 1.0 Umanosuke Ueda 2.0
Kangaroo Kennedy 0.0
Results Grabmire Hussein Lewin Kennedy Mayne Morales Rivers Snyder
Baba Baba Baba Baba Baba Baba Baba Baba Draw
Hirai Hirai Hussein Double Countout Hirai Double Countout Morales Hirai Snyder
Moto Moto Hussein Lewin Moto Mayne Morales Rivers Snyder
Ohki Ohki Ohki Ohki Ohki Double Countout Draw Ohki Snyder
Ueda Ueda Hussein Lewin Ueda Mayne Morales Ueda Snyder
Yoshimura Yoshimura Yoshimura Yoshimura Yoshimura Double Countout Draw Yoshimura Snyder
Yoshinosato Yoshinosato Double Countout Double Countout Yoshinosato Yoshinosato Morales Yoshinosato Snyder
Finals
Giant Baba 2-1
Wilbur Snyder 1-2
Giant Baba Baba
(13:15)
Snyder
(18:39)
Baba
(20:14)
Wilbur Snyder Baba
(13:15)
Snyder
(18:39)
Baba
(20:14)

1967Edit

The 1967 World Big League ran from April 7 to May 17, 1967. This year the participants were splitted in two blocks the gaijins in one block and the japanese the other. The round robin part of the tournament consisted of the Japanese wrestling the foreigners.

Round one
Gaijin Japanese
The Destroyer 6.0 Giant Baba 6.5
Waldo Von Erich 5.5 Michiaki Yoshimura 6.0
Danny Miller 4.0 Duke Keomuka 3.5
Mike DiBiase 4.0 Kintaro Ohki 3.0
Butcher Vachon 2.0 Yoshinosato 3.0
Pampero Firpo 1.5 Umanosuke Ueda 3.0
George Harris 1.0 Mitsu Hirai 2.0
Ox Anderson 0.0
Finals
Giant Baba 2-1
The Destroyer 1-2
Giant Baba The Destroyer
(11:46)
Baba
(25:45)
Baba
(27:20)
The Destroyer Destroyer
(11:46)
Baba
(25:45)
Baba
(27:20)

1968Edit

The 1968 World Big League ran from April 5 to May 17, 1968. This year the participants were splitted in two blocks the gaijins in one block and the japanese the other. The round robin part of the tournament consisted of the Japanese wrestling the foreigners.

Round one
Gaijin Japanese
Killer Kowalski 7.0 Giant Baba 7.5
Jesse Ortega 6.0 Seiji Sakaguchi 6.0
Freddie Blassie 5.5 Kintaro Ohki 6.0
Tarzan Tyler 5.5 Michiaki Yoshimura 4.0
Dominic DeNucci 4.0 Masa Saito 2.5
Pat Patterson 4.0 Mitsu Hirai 2.0
Angelo Poffo 0.0 Kotetsu Yamamoto 2.0
Len Rossi 0.0 Duke Keomuka 2.0
Finals
Giant Baba 2-1
Killer Kowalski 1-2
Giant Baba Killer Kowalski
(9:26)
Baba
(13:23)
Baba
(16:26)
Killer Kowalski Killer Kowalski
(9:26)
Baba
(13:23)
Baba
(16:26)

1969Edit

The 1969 World Big League ran from April 4 to May 16, 1969. This year the participants were splitted in two blocks the gaijins in one block and the japanese the other. The round robin part of the tournament consisted of the Japanese wrestling the foreigners.

Round one
Gaijin Japanese
Bobo Brazil 6.5 Antonio Inoki 6.5
Chris Markoff 6.0 Giant Baba 6.5
Gorilla Monsoon 4.5 Kintaro Ohki 6.0
Pepper Gomez 3.0 Michiaki Yoshimura 6.0
Medico #2 3.0 Seiji Sakaguchi 5.5
Medico #3 3.0 Kantaro Hoshino 1.0
Bobby Duncum 2.0 Kotetsu Yamamoto 1.0
Tom Andrews 1.5 Motoshi Okuma 0.5
Semifinals Final
      
J2 Giant Baba Draw
G1 Bobo Brazil Draw
 
J1 Antonio Inoki Bye
J1 Antonio Inoki
G2 Chris Markoff 17:45

1970Edit

The 1970 World Big League ran from April 3 to May 29, 1970. This year the participants were splitted in two blocks the gaijins in one block and the japanese the other. The round robin part of the tournament consisted of the Japanese wrestling the foreigners.

Round one
Gaijin Japanese
Don Leo Jonathon 6.5 Giant Baba 7.0
Chris Markoff 6.0 Antonio Inoki 6.5
Dutch Savage 6.0 Seiji Sakaguchi 5.5
The Convict 5.0 Kantaro Hoshino 2.5
Nelson Royal 4.0 Michiaki Yoshimura 2.0
Tarzan Tyler 3.5 Kotetsu Yamamoto 2.0
Pampero Firpo 2.0 Motoshi Okuma 1.0
Paul Jones 1.5 Akihisa Takachiho 1.0
Finals
Giant Baba 2-1
Don Leo Jonathon 1-2
Giant Baba Jonathon
(25:51)
Baba
(30:09)
Baba
(33:35)
Don Leo Jonathon Jonathon
(25:51)
Baba
(30:09)
Baba
(33:35)

1971Edit

The 1971 World Big League ran from April 2 to May 19, 1971. This year the participants were splitted in one block of gaijins and the japanese the other. The round robin part of the tournament consisted of the Japanese wrestling the foreigners.


Round one
Gaijin Japanese
Abdullah the Butcher 13.0 Giant Baba 16.5
The Destroyer 13.0 Seiji Sakaguchi 16.5
Karl Kox 12.5 Kintaro Ohki 12.5
Angelo Mosca 7.0 Michiaki Yoshimura 11.5
Man Mountain Mike 7.0 Masa Saito 9.0
Gordon Nelson 6.0 Mitsu Hirai 7.0
Rey Mendoza 4.0 Umanosuke Ueda 7.0
Jos LeDuc 1.0 Kantaro Hoshino 6.0
Joe Turco 1.0 Shinya Kojika 4.0
Nikolai Volkoff 1.0
Semifinals Final
      
J1 Antonio Inoki DCO
G2 The Destoryer DCO
 
J2 Giant Baba Bye
J2 Giant Baba
G1 Abdullah the Butcher 21:20

1972Edit

The 1972 World Big League ran from March 31 to May 12, 1972. This year the participants were splitted in two blocks the gaijins in one block and the japanese the other. The round robin part of the tournament consisted of the Japanese wrestling the foreigners.

Round one
Gaijin Japanese
Gorilla Monsoon 14 Giant Baba 16
Abdullah the Butcher 13 Seiji Sakaguchi 15
Dick Murdoch 12 Kintaro Ohki 13
Calypso Hurricane 11 Michiaki Yoshimura 8
Mighty Brutus 7 Masa Saito 8
Canadian Lumberjack 6 Mitsu Hirai 6
Jose Lothario 4 Umanosuke Ueda 5
Tim Brooks 4 Kantaro Hoshino 4
Salvatore Lothario 2 Shinya Kojika 1
Finals
Giant Baba 2-1
Gorilla Monsoon 1-2
Giant Baba Monsoon
(10:58)
Baba
(14:40)
Baba
(17:07)
Gorilla Monsoon Monsoon
(10:58)
Baba
(14:40)
Baba
(17:07)

GalleryEdit

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