Onita in February 2013.
October 25, 1957 |
Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Japan
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Atsushi Onita
The Great Nita
|Billed height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Billed weight||110 kg (240 lb)|
|Trained by||Giant Baba
|Debut||April 14, 1974|
Atsushi Onita (大仁田 厚 Ōnita Atsushi) (born October 25, 1957) is a Japanese former politician, an active professional wrestler and an actor best known for his work in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling. He is credited with importing to Japan, as well as innovating, the deathmatch style of professional wrestling.
Professional wrestling career
All Japan Pro Wrestling (1974–1985)
He was the first true graduate of the All Japan Pro Wrestling dojo (Jumbo Tsuruta had debuted first, but he had trained in Amarillo, Texas, with Dory Funk Jr. and Terry Funk). In his early days he teamed with dojo classmate Masanobu Fuchi, who debuted only a few weeks after him. He was known as a loyal ring attendant to Giant Baba, who had accepted him into the dojo despite not having graduated from high school. In the late '70s and the early '80s, he and Fuchi toured Memphis, Tennessee, winning the AWA Southern tag team title three times.
When the junior heavyweight boom started in Japan under Tatsumi Fujinami and the original Tiger Mask, Satoru Sayama, Onita was picked as the ace of AJPW's makeshift junior heavyweight division. Baba was able to get Chavo Guerrero, Sr., who had been an early rival of Fujinami, over to AJPW's side, and Guerrero brought the NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship with him, effectively establishing it as AJPW's junior heavyweight cornerstone. Onita and Guerrero's subsequent feud over the title spanned three promotions (AJPW, Jim Crockett Promotions and Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre), and, while not as spectacular as New Japan Pro Wrestling's junior division, provided solid alternate wrestling to AJPW fans. On January 3, 1985, he had to retire due to accumulated injuries, after a failed comeback attempt, which ended after his last match on December 2, 1984, against Mighty Inoue. He would be replaced by Masanobu Fuchi as the new junior heavyweight ace of AJPW.
Pioneer Senshi and Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (1988–1998)
After over three years recuperating from his injuries, Onita returned to the ring in December 1988 for Pioneer Senshi, and a year later, created his own promotion, FMW, basing it around death matches he had seen during his earlier stay in Memphis. His first "death match" was against martial artist Masashi Aoyagi, which he won. Over the next few years, until 1995, he had several death matches for FMW's heavyweight title, the World Martial Arts/Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship, defending it against former AJPW comrade Tarzan Goto, as well as The Sheik, Terry Funk, Mr. Pogo and even boxer Leon Spinks. Also during this period, he starred in the movie Dan Gan (Japanese for "bullet"), which would later be adopted as the nickname for Onita's pupil, Masato Tanaka. His last defense, in May 1995, saw him defeating Hayabusa, who succeeded him as the promotion's ace. Around that time, he occasionally wrestled as The Great Nita, a Muta-style gimmick. In August 1999, The Great Nita and the Great Muta would finally battle each other in a much-publicized "No Rope, Barbed Wire, Barricade Electric Land Mine, Double Hell Death match".
After a sabbatical (getting his high school diploma, as he had dropped out of high school when he was 16), Onita returned to the ring in December 1996. In 1997, he became the leader of the NWO-like stable ZEN, by which he attempted to return FMW to its old death match ideology. Already, however, Shoichi Arai and Hiromichi "Kodo" Fuyuki were toning down the death match content, which led Onita to leave FMW altogether in November 1998 and promote his own ventures.
He challenged Riki Chōshū to a barbed wire deathmatch in 2000: Chōshū accepted and went out of retirement to wrestle him.
In 2001 he returned to AJPW for one night only, at the Tokyo Dome, to team with Terry Funk against Abdullah the Butcher and Giant Kimala. Whereas AJPW fans had already known Funk and Abdullah's willingness to brawl, Onita also played a huge part in the match, and his team emerged victorious.
In 2002, following FMW's closure Onita appeared briefly in WEW, run by Hiromichi Fuyuki. The storyline saw Onita blaming Fuyuki's "Entertainment Pro Wrestling" business strategy and supposed embezzlement of money for causing FMW to close, and appeared to be paving the road to an eventual match between Onita and Fuyuki before Fuyuki abruptly announced his retirement due to cancer that would eventually claim his life in March 2003.
Onita attempted to resurrect the FMW name with another promotion (called Onita FMW since he did not own the rights to the FMW name), but the promotion would fold after only three months. Onita would retire once again on September 23, 2003, losing a death match to The Great Sasuke, but this would not last long. Onita fought yet another retirement match on March 26, 2005, being pinned by Genichiro Tenryu. This also would be disregarded, as he would come out of retirement in May 2008 and would begin promoting his own cards again in July.
Though he originally dropped out of high school, Onita returned to finish his education when he was in his late thirties. In 2001 he won the 19th House of Councilors election as a representative of the Liberal Democratic Party, following Antonio Inoki and Hiroshi Hase to a seat in the Japanese Diet. One of his first major acts in office was to launch a post-9/11 humanitarian mission to Afghanistan, where he performed professional wrestling matches in crudely constructed rings made of sticks and rope, to benefit the children. This was all documented on film.
Like fellow professional wrestler, Scott Steiner, Onita has also claimed to have broken Wilt Chamberlain's record of sleeping with 20,000 women. Coincidentally, his exit from politics was forced by a sex scandal in which he was alleged to have used government accommodations to host a threesome with a pornographic film actress and a female employee of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation. After retirement from politics, he lent his name and image to a Nintendo DS game, Atsushi Onita's Political Quiz.
- Signature moves
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- Continental Wrestling Association
- Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling
- FMW Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship (7 times)
- FMW Brass Knuckles Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Tarzan Goto (1), Mitsuhiro Matsunaga (1), Mr. Gannosuke (1), and W*ING Kanemura (1)
- FMW World Street Fight 6-Man Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Tetsuhiro Kuroda and Hido (1), Koji Nakagawa and Tetsuhiro Kuroda (1)
- Other titles
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Puroresu Hall of Fame
- Class of 1996
- Tokyo Sports
- Effort Prize (1979)
- Fighting Spirit Award (2014)
- Match of the Year (1990) vs. Tarzan Goto on August 4
- Match of the Year (1994) with Tarzan Goto vs. Genichiro Tenryu and Ashura Hara on March 2
- Outstanding Performance Prize (1991)
- Special Prize (1989, 1991)
- Wrestler of the Year (1990)
- Wrestle Association "R"
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Onita Atsushi FMW, a fighting game released in 1993 by Pony Canyon for the Super Famicom
- Itsu Demo Doko Demo: Onita Atsushi no Seiji Quiz DS, a political quiz game released by Milestone in 2007 for the Nintendo DS
- "Profile at Puroresu Central". Puroresu Central. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "【プロレス大賞：敢闘賞】邪道・大仁田２０年ぶり表舞台「でも、オレはB面」". Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). 2014-12-09. Retrieved 2014-12-09.