Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (January 2008)|
|Founded||July 28, 1989|
|Defunct||February 15, 2002|
Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) was a Japanese professional wrestling promotion founded on July 28, 1989 by Atsushi Onita that specialized in hardcore wrestling involving weapons such as barbed wire and fire. They held their first show on October 6, 1989. In the late 90s, FMW had a brief working agreement with Extreme Championship Wrestling, and as well had 14 DVDs released in the U.S. by Tokyopop.
In August 1990, Onita wrestled in the first ever exploding barbed wire match with Tarzan Goto. This match started a revolution amongst the small "garbage wrestling" organizations of Japan. From there, Onita recruited some of hardcore wrestling's most notable names, like Mr. Pogo, Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, Super Leather (Leatherface) and Kintaro Kanemura. In October 1990, they held Japan's first mixed tag team match. In 1995, Onita wrestled his retirement match with young talent Hayabusa in an exploding ring, barbed wire steel cage match. Hayabusa became the central star of the promotion winning its belt several times and battling most of the FMW roster. FMW also had a thriving women's wrestling division, led by Megumi Kudo who was one of FMW's biggest stars in her heyday. All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling talent feared them so much that they rarely had inter-promotional matches against each other, but the FMW women were successful in other feuds with LLPW and JWP. During this time FMW signed a contract to hold a major event every May 5 in the Kawasaki Stadium.
Under new FMW president Shoichi Arai, the promotion began to falter. Arai brought in former International Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling and Super World of Sports jobber Kodo Fuyuki as the new booker and he brought an end to the garbage/death matches in favor of an entertainment-oriented style based on that of the WWE. Although this saved the roster from further potential injury, it called into question the essence of FMW's wrestling. Onita began withdrawing further into the background, eventually leaving the promotion altogether to create his own death match ventures and to go back to high school to earn his diploma.
In 2001, in a match against Mammoth Sasaki, Hayabusa attempted a springboard moonsault—one of his signature moves—but slipped on the ropes and fell directly on his neck, breaking it and paralyzing him. He retired, but actually regained some control over his legs a year later. By the end of 2001, Arai owed about a million dollars to influential organizations in Japan, rumored to be connected to the Yakuza (or Japanese Mafia). Realizing that the promotion was going nowhere, he decided to finally close its doors. FMW came to an end with a final show on February 4, 2002 and Shoichi Arai declared FMW bankrupt on February 15, 2002. On May 16, 2002, Arai hanged himself by his tie in a Tokyo park to collect life insurance for his family to pay off his debt to the Yakuza.
The talent divided into two promotions: Kodo Fuyuki's WEW (World Entertainment Wrestling), the name of FMW's title governing body since 1999, and Mr. Gannosuke's WMF (Wrestling Marvelous Future). Some of the talent also made appearances on Onita's special shows.
- WWA Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship (1990-1991)
- WWA World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship (1991-1993)
- FMW Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship - later unified with the FMW Independent Heavyweight Championship (1993-1999)
- WWA World Martial Arts Tag Team Championship (1991-1994)
- FMW Brass Knuckles Tag Team Championship (1994-2002)
- FMW 6-Man Tag Team Championship (1996-1999)
- FMW Independent Heavyweight Championship -later unified with FMW Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship (1996-1999)
- AWA World Light Heavyweight Championship (1989-1992)
- WWA World Martial Arts Junior Heavyweight Championship (1992-1993)
- FMW Independent World Junior Heavyweight Championship (1993-1997)
- FMW World Junior Heavyweight Championship (1999)
- WWA World Women's Championship (1990-1997)
- FMW Independent World Women's Championship -unified with WWA World Women's Championship (1994-1997)
- FMW/WEW World Heavyweight Championship (1999-2002)
- FMW/WEW World Tag Team Championship (1999-2002)
- FMW/WEW 6-Man Tag Team Championship (1996-2001)
- FMW/WEW Hardcore Tag Team Championship (2000-2002)
- FMW/WEW Hardcore Championship (1999-2001)