Akiyama in August 2008.
October 9, 1969 |
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Jun Akiyama
|Billed height||1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|Billed weight||110 kg (240 lb)|
|Debut||September 17, 1992|
Jun Akiyama (秋山 準 Akiyama Jun?, born October 9, 1969) is a Japanese professional wrestler, currently working for All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he is the president, representative director and co-head booker. Akiyama is known for his serious style and outstanding, time-tested work as a tag team wrestler. He also gained notoriety for his innovation of the Blue Thunder Driver and the wrist–clutch exploder suplex.
In junior high school, Akiyama practiced swimming and in senior high school he did freestyle amateur wrestling and judo. After high school he went to Senshu University in Tokyo. There he joined an amateur wrestling team that produced other professional wrestlers Riki Chōshū, Hiroshi Hase and Manabu Nakanishi.
Professional wrestling career
All Japan Pro Wrestling (1992–2000)
Akiyama had great success as an amateur wrestler and was eventually scouted by All Japan Pro Wrestling. He made his professional wrestling debut in September 1992 in a match against Kenta Kobashi, which he lost. He gradually rose in rank, earning a trial series in January 1993. Afterwards, Akiyama started competition in tag teams. The tag team division soon became his specialty, teaming with Takao Ōmori against Kenta Kobashi and Mitsuharu Misawa. On more than one occasion, Dave Meltzer rated the matches they had together five stars. In 1995, he split with Taue, and was selected to be Misawa's partner after he split with Kobashi. The two teamed together successfully and won the World Tag Team Championship during 1996. Akiyama and Misawa also competed in the World's Strongest Tag Determination League tournaments in 1996 and 1997, but lost in successive years to the team of Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue. Akiyama then began closing in on the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, first challenging Misawa in September 1997, again challenging Misawa in January 1998, Kobashi in July 1998 and Vader in January 2000. He was unsuccessful on all occasions, and never managed to capture the championship.
After teaming with Misawa, Akiyama began teaming with Kenta Kobashi to form 'Burning'. The team won numerous tag team titles and competed against the teams of Mitsuharu Misawa and Yoshinari Ogawa, Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue, Yoshihiro Takayama and Takao Ōmori and others. Burning also won the World's Strongest Tag Determination League tournament in 1998 by defeating the team of Stan Hansen and Vader, and again in 1999 by defeating Akira Taue and Stan Hansen. Akiyama's last major victory in All Japan Pro Wrestling was on February 27, 2000, when he defeated former tag team partner Mitsuharu Misawa by pinfall in a heated and highly acclaimed contest.
Pro Wrestling NOAH (2000–2012)
After a controversy in AJPW over the direction and management, he left the company with Mitsuharu Misawa, and half the roster, for Misawa's newly created Pro Wrestling NOAH in mid-2000. Like many other members who made the jump, Akiyama gave himself a makeover, dropping his trademark blue and white trimmed boots and blue trunks for white boots and trunks and dyed his hair brown. He was quickly established as a top star of the company, winning both falls in the Main Event of NOAH's first show, choking out Kenta Kobashi in the second Noah show, and becoming the second GHC Heavyweight Champion, He had stellar title defenses in New Japan Pro Wrestling against Yuji Nagata and Hiroshi Tanahashi. But a lack of worthy contenders eventually forced Noah to abandon his push, using Yoshinari Ogawa to transition the title back to Misawa. He continued work in Noah as a tag team competitor again to critical acclaim, winning the GHC Tag Team Championship with Akitoshi Saito.
In April 2004, he created the GHC Openweight Hardcore Championship to get back into singles competitions, and adapting an attitude manifested by wearing trunks that were odd colors for him. These motives helped put him back into contention for the GHC title against Kenta Kobashi, which was voted as Match of the Year. Late 2004 and much of 2005 were highlighted by his feud with protégé Makoto Hashi where Akiyama used "tough love" to toughen up young Hashi. On January 22, 2006, Akiyama defeated Akira Taue to become the GHC Heavyweight Champion for the second time, defending the title against Minoru Suzuki on March 5 and Masao Inoue on April 24. Akiyama was defeated by Naomichi Marufuji on Noah's September 9 Nippon Budokan show in his third defense of the GHC Heavyweight Title.
Following his title loss to Naomichi Marufuji, Akiyama made good his promise to Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, going back to wearing blue trunks, and wrestling mainly in the undercard. He successfully redeemed himself by defeating Kikuchi and once again wore white trunks following that match. This put him back in line for success, which had him winning the tag titles a second time with Takeshi Rikio. However, due to an injury to Rikio, they were forced to vacate the titles. Akiyama competed at New Japan Pro Wrestling's third Annual "Wrestle Kingdom in Tokyo Dome" show, defeating Manabu Nakanishi.
On March 1, 2009, Akiyama defeated Kensuke Sasaki for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. On June 14, 2009, he was forced to vacate the title due to injury, in which left him out of action for the rest of the tour. After making his return later that year, Akiyama continued to wrestle sporadically whilst struggling with back injuries and the burden of post traumatic stress syndrome, following the death of Mitsuharu Misawa.
Akiyama participated in the first Global League Tournament, achieving a total of eight points with four wins and just one loss. As the Block B winner, he faced Block A winner Yoshihiro Takayama in the final match on May 2. Takayama won the tournament by pinning Akiyama with an Everest German suplex.
On October 23, 2011, Akiyama defeated Suwama to finally win All Japan's Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, the belt he couldn't win during his 8 year run with the promotion before leaving for Pro-Wrestling NOAH. Shortly after winning the Triple Crown, Akiyama adopted a new look as he shaved his head bald. On January 22, Akiyama and Saito defeated Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson) to win the GHC Tag Team Championship. He has successfully defended the Triple Crown against Taiyō Kea (twice), Takao Ōmori and Keiji Mutoh. Akiyama lost the Triple Crown to Masakatsu Funaki on August 26, 2012 in a match that lasted less than five minutes.
On December 3, 2012, it was reported that Akiyama had threatened to not re-sign with Noah after his contract expires in January 2013, when the promotion decided to release Kenta Kobashi from his contract. On December 19, Noah confirmed that Akiyama would be leaving the promotion following December 24. On December 24, Akiyama, working as "Mr. Christmas", defeated his trainee Atsushi Aoki in both men's final Noah match.
Return to AJPW (2013–present)
On January 26, 2013, Akiyama, Atsushi Aoki, Go Shiozaki, Kotaro Suzuki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru, all of whom had quit Noah at the same time, announced that they had joined All Japan Pro Wrestling, reforming the "Burning" stable, which he previously formed with Kenta Kobashi in the late 1990s. On March 17, Akiyama and Shiozaki defeated Get Wild (Manabu Soya and Takao Ōmori) to win the World Tag Team Championship. On April 29, Akiyama defeated Kai in the finals to win the 2013 Champion Carnival. On May 11, Akiyama made a one-night return to Noah to take part in Kenta Kobashi's retirement match, where he, Kobashi, Keiji Mutoh and Kensuke Sasaki defeated Go Shiozaki, Kenta, Maybach Taniguchi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru. On June 30, Akiyama received his shot at the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, which he had earned by winning the Champion Carnival, but was defeated by the defending champion, Suwama. On July 5, following a mass exodus led by Keiji Mutoh, it was announced that Akiyama, along with the rest of Burning, had signed an exclusive contract with All Japan. On October 22, Akiyama and Shiozaki lost the World Tag Team Championship to Evolution (Joe Doering and Suwama). During the next week, Burning was hit hard with Shiozaki, Aoki and Suzuki all announcing that they were quitting the stable. On January 26, 2014, Akiyama and Kanemaru defeated former Aoki and Suzuki to win the All Asia Tag Team Championship. Following the win, Akiyama, attempting to become the first wrestler in 15 years to hold the All Asia and the World Tag Team Championships simultaneously, formed another tag team named "Wild Burning" with Takao Ōmori. Akiyama and Ōmori received their title shot on February 8, but were defeated by the defending champions, Joe Doering and Suwama. On April 29, Akiyama and Kanemaru lost the All Asia Tag Team Championship to Keisuke Ishii and Shigehiro Irie at a Dramatic Dream Team event. Later that same event, Akiyama "accidentally" won the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship, after laying his arm on it during a backstage interview.
On June 4, it was reported that Akiyama was taking over as the new president of All Japan, effective July 1. All Japan confirmed the report with an official announcement the following day. Akiyama runs the new All Japan Pro Wrestling through a company named Zen Nihon Puroresu Innovation, while also serving as the promotion's representative director. On June 15, Akiyama was placed in a decision match to determine a new Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion, but was defeated by Takao Ōmori. On June 28, Akiyama and Ōmori defeated Joe Doering and Suwama to win the World Tag Team Championship. After successfully defending the World Tag Team Championship against Akebono and Yutaka Yoshie on October 22, Akiyama and Ōmori vacated the title the following day in time for the 2014 World's Strongest Tag Determination League.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- "Blue Thunder"
- Entrance themes
- "U.S. Final Battle" (AJPW; 1992–1996)
- "Shadow Explosion" (AJPW/Noah; 1996–2001, 2006)
- "Sternness" (Noah/AJPW; 2001–present)
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- All Asia Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Takao Ōmori (1) and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (1)
- Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Kenta Kobashi (2), Mitsuharu Misawa (1), Go Shiozaki (1), and Takao Ōmori (1)
- Asunaro Cup (1994)
- Asunaro Tag Cup (1998) – with Takao Omori
- One Night Six Man Tag Team Tournament (1999) – with Kenta Kobashi and Kentaro Shiga
- Champion Carnival (2013)
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (1998, 1999) – with Kenta Kobashi
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Pro Wrestling Noah
- Tokyo Sports
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- 5 Star Match (1993) – with Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi vs. Akira Taue, Toshiaki Kawada, and Yoshinari Ogawa on July 2
- 5 Star Match (1996) – with Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue on May 23
- 5 Star Match (1996) – with Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Steve Williams and Johnny Ace on June 7
- 5 Star Match (1996) – with Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue on December 6
- 5 Star Match (1997) – with Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue on December 5
- 5 Star Match (1999) – with Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa and Yoshinari Ogawa on October 23
- 5 Star Match (2004) – vs. Kenta Kobashi on July 10
- Match of the Year (1996) – with Mitsuharu Misawa vs Steve Williams and Johnny Ace on June 7
- Match of the Year (2004) – vs. Kenta Kobashi on July 10
- Rookie of the Year (1993)
- Tag Team of the Year (1996, 1997) – with Mitsuharu Misawa
- Tag Team of the Year (1999) – with Kenta Kobashi
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- "AJPW Unified World Tag Team Championship".
- "Purolove profile".
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- "GHC Tag Team Championship".
- "GHC Openweight Hardcore Championship history".
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