SUMO STAR AND PRO WRESTLER KOJI KITAO PASSES AWAY at 55
Koji Kitao, who was one of the biggest stars of his era in sumo, and went on to a less distinguished career as a pro wrestler, passed away on February 10, which had been kept secretive and was just reported today in Nikkan Sports in Japan.
Kitao, known at the time as Futuhaguro, was being groomed as sumo's new young superstar in the late 80s, promoted to Yokozuna level (only the 60th man in the hundreds of year history of that sport to reach that level) in 1986. But he was kicked out of sumo the next year for hitting the wife of his stable boss, who fired him and he was kicked out without a hearing.
His promotion to Yokozuna was controversial because it was done not so much because he had been dominant, although he was very good, but he was 6-foot-7, and 22 years old and those in charge felt the sport needed a new young superstar. He never won a tournament as a Yokozuna, the only sumo of his rank never to do so, but he did place second in his last tournament and was only 24 when he was kicked out.
Futuhaguro was still one of the biggest sports stars in Japan at the time.
New Japan Pro Wrestling saw his size and name value and signed him, and he was being
groomed to be the top star in the company at first. He actually did some matches in the U.S. under a mask first, but that was kept largely secretive in Japan, and his debut was on February 10, 1990, at the Tokyo Dome, which was the first time New Japan legitimately sold the Dome out. His short win over Bam Bam Bigelow drew 25 million viewers on TV-Asahi.
But he didn't last in New Japan. He was deemed lazy, and would complain that his opponents weren't selling enough for him. In particular, he and booker Riki Choshu didn't get along and New Japan fired him.
He was quickly hired by Genichiro Tenryu, himself a former sumo star, who Kitao had more respect for.
Still, he didn't last long there either. He was booked to lose to Earthquake John Tenta, and did the job. He was furious, because Tenta was a former sumo who was nothing in the sport as compared to Kitao. He felt that everyone knew in a shoot sport he was a superstar and Tenta was nowhere close. In a rematch two days later, he refused to do a second job and the match fell apart. The match turned into a weird semi-shoot standoff. Kitao kicked the referee to end it and then got on the mic and said that pro wrestling was fake. So he was fired again.
In 1992, UWFI signed him and had him beat one of their top guys, Kazuo Yamaszaki, with the idea of building to a big match with Nobuhiko Takada. Once again, he had issues with losing, so a compromise was reached for the match to be a draw, which made no sense since the company didn't do draws in main events. During the match, Takada purposely knocked him out with a kick to the head, which got Takada over huge to the Japanese fans, and Kitao again was fired.
But Kitao accepted the loss and eventually made amends with Tenryu and returned to his new WAR promotion.
Kitao then moved to MMA, including a match in UFC where he lost to Mark Hall, who was about 190 pounds, and who broke his nose with a punch. He also did a worked match on a Pride show where he defeated Nathan Jones, who later came to WWE.
His wrestling career ended in 1998. He worked that year with WAR, doing a number of tag matches against Abdullah the Butcher, and also worked with Lance Storm. He had a retirement match later that year and never came out of retirement.
Kitao worked on the 1991 WrestleMania show at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, teaming with Tenryu to beat Demolition (Barry Darsow & Brian Adams). At the time WWF had a working agreement with SWS, Tenryu's group, owned by a billionaire far richer than Vince McMahon, so to make him happy, they had Tenryu & Kitao get a win over one of their top tag teams at WrestleMania.
Al Wilson, Former WWE Character And Father Of Hall Of Fame Inductee Torrie Wilson, Has Died
Al Wilson, real-life father of Hall of Fame inductee Torrie Wilson, has died. Wilson reportedly passed away earlier this week, as confirmed by Pro Wrestling Sheet, only days before being able to see his daughter inducted as part of this weekend’s WrestleMania festivities.
Wilson is best known to wrestling fans as part of the build for a “stepmother vs. stepdaughter” match between Torrie and rival Dawn Marie back at the 2003 Royal Rumble. The angle involved lesbian blackmail, Al dressing up in a turkey costume at a Thanksgiving bikini food fight, a soap opera-style marriage, and even the on-screen death of the fictional version of Wilson, setting up a catfight at a funeral.
Big John Quinn, who died April 22 at age 78, from complications after an operation for a stroke, was always a little leery about getting into pro wrestling. He wanted to wrestle amateur and prove his skills. But workouts with Edouard Carpentier and Whipper Billy Watson proved to him that one could do both -- be a pro with a solid amateur foundation.
A cousin to the late hockey player and coach Pat Quinn, John Quinn was born October 15, 1941, in Hamilton, Ontario, and grew into a 6-foot-4 man, in part from the farm life he was surrounded by. "I was the biggest and toughest kid in my class. When I went to the farm, I was nothing. Guys next door who could do 100 chin-ups, 100 push-ups," he once explained. Both John and his cousin Pat tried out for football's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but their paths were destined elsewhere.
John Quinn took up amateur wrestling, and one day he saw a really big man in the gym go upstairs, and he followed. It was Al Spittles, a wrestler and trainer.
"He had a helluva career in Europe," recalled Quinn. "The man was a legend. He was one of the best. He didn't charge you hardly anything and he chose who he wanted to put into wrestling. I actually got in trouble with Al because I let a guy learn, and it turned out he never really was that good. Al Spittles had calibre. If you know the guys he trained, everyone of them was good."
Besides being Big John Quinn, he was also the Kentucky Butcher in Detroit for The Sheik in 1970, managed by Big Bad John, and was imported into the WWWF under that name. "I wasn't really a smooth worker. They liked the guys that didn't hit you in New York, even then. And Bruno and I had some problems," Quinn said.
In Texas, he worked as The Stomper and then later as The Masked Spoiler. In Georgia, he teamed with Grizzled Smith as a The Kentuckians, a relaunch of Smith's previous team.
Been English I remember John Quinn a great heel R.I.P
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Silver King, Lucha Libre Legend And Former WCW Star, Has Died
Silver King, the lucha libre legend and former WCW star known for his many appearances on Monday Nitro during the ’90s, passed away due to complications from his match with Juventud Guerrera in London on Saturday. He was 51 years old.
Per a video circulating on social media that we won’t be sharing here, King hit the ropes and connected with a flying clothesline on Guerrera. He got on all fours to make the cover, but when Guerrera kicked out, Silver King’s body appeared to shut down completely. CPR was administered in the ring and the remainder of the show was canceled.
Silver King — real name César Cuauhtémoc González Barrón — was the son of lucha legend Dr. Wagner and the brother of Dr. Wagner Jr., and had been competing since 1985. While he’d taken a lighter schedule in recent years to concentrate on promoting, the King competed in promotions around the world including from AAA, UWA, and CMLL in Mexico to All Japan Pro Wrestling and, of course, World Championship Wrestling. He’s also notable for his role as Black Tiger III, the third incarnation of the Black Tiger character, and for playing the role of Ramses, the golden masked luchador from the 2005 Jack Black film Nacho Libre.