Working on a new story that involves the epic legacy of Rikidozan, the wrestling superstar of Japan. According to one source, Rikidozan was so popular that his matches became the catalyst for the Japanese TV industry in the post war era. If modern wrestlers like Santos, Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan are now bizarre folk heroes for Mexico, Canada and the US, Rikidozan was the biggest wrestling star Japan ever had.
Rather ironic, though, since he was Korean. According to one source, he turned to pro wrestling when his career as a sumo wrestler stalled because of his nationality. So, off to pro wrestling to change the face of Japanese culture forever!
The premise for his matches were simple and effective. He or his partners would get their ass kicked by giant American wrestlers, who always cheated. Then, Rikidozan would make an epic comeback, seemingly impervious to pain and with boundless energy, and use a barrage of “karate chops” on his victim until they could take no more and victory was counted one, two, three. For post-war Japan, his victories against the dastardly Americans were a recipe for cheers and treasure.
For those playing the home game, Hulk Hogan used this same modus operandi for twenty years. I’ve got no proof that the Hulkster was a fan of Rikidozan, but every match he does is an homage to the formula Riki made famous in Japan in the 1950s.
I watched some of his matches on youtube, and they were great! He went toe-to-toe with great Lou Thesz, the match ending in a draw so both men could walk away champs and victors or victims, depending on which country you were from.
Controversy remains on how and why Rikidozan died in 1963. The dramatic version is he ticked off the Yakuza, got stabbed with a urine soaked blade from one of their assassins, and then died of peritonitis. Whatever the truth, he was a hero to millions of fans and boosted the moral of a country rising out of the ashes the Second World War. Pretty damn cool.