I met him in 2008. I was at the outdoor show May 5, 2001 and watched Hayabusa and the Great Sasuke vs. Tetsuhiro Kuroda and Mr. Gannosuke in a 15,000 Volt Thunderbolt Octagon Cage Electric Bomb Death Match.
Oh man this is heartbreaking. I was not expecting to see this today. Hayabusa, along with Jushin Liger and the Great Sasuke, were my favorites from Japan in the 1990's. The tragic in ring accident that paralyzed him (which I unknowingly watched on a Hayabusa comp recently forgetting that it happened against Mammoth Sasaki) is so hard to watch even once. I wince every time I see Chris Jericho doing that same springboard moonsault.
When the video came out last year showing Hayabusa getting up out of his wheelchair and walking to the ring unassisted surrounded by his peers like Genechiro Tenryu you couldn't help but shed a tear. Rest in peace to the "Phoenix" and thanks for all of the great matches.
World Heavyweight: Buddy Rogers World Tag Team: Rock n' Roll Express International: Tyler Black Junior Heavyweight: Marty Scurll Tex-Arkana TV: Killer Kowalski Empress Ring: Jazz SHIMMER: Sara Del Ray SHIMMER Tag Team: Crazy Mary Dobson & Courtney Rush Heart of SHIMMER: Jordynne Grace IWA Heavyweight: Bryan Danielson IWA Tag Team: WALTER & Timothy Thatcher IWA J-Crown: ACH
The official cause of death is listed as subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is bleeding in the area of the brain and the tissues that cover the brain.
Hayabusa's most famous United States match came at ECW Heatwave 1998, when he teamed with Jinsei Shinzaki (Hakushi) to face Rob Van Dam and Sabu. Hayabusa suffered a career ending neck injury in 2001 and was confined to a wheelchair. He made news last year after being able to stand and walk into the ring on his own during a ceremony in Japan.