August 4, 1966 |
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Benkei Sasaki
|Billed height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Billed weight||115 kg (254 lb)|
|Debut||February 16, 1986|
|Retired||February 13, 2014|
Kensuke Sasaki (佐々木 健介 Sasaki Kensuke?, born August 4, 1966) is a Japanese retired professional wrestler and mixed martial artist who currently runs his own agency, Diamond Ring. He is the first of two men ever to hold all three of puroresu's major heavyweight titles (the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, and the GHC Heavyweight Championship), the other being Yoshihiro Takayama.
- 1 Professional wrestling career
- 1.1 Early years (1986–1988)
- 1.2 International Excursion (1988–1990)
- 1.3 New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling (1990–2002)
- 1.4 Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling (2003–2004)
- 1.5 Return To NJPW (2004–2005)
- 1.6 All Japan Pro Wrestling (2005–2008)
- 1.7 Pro Wrestling Noah (2008–2013)
- 1.8 Diamond Ring
- 2 Mixed martial arts career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 In wrestling
- 5 Championships and accomplishments
- 6 Mixed martial arts record
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Professional wrestling career
Early years (1986–1988)
Sasaki debuted in Riki Chōshū's Japan Pro Wrestling (a satellite of All Japan Pro Wrestling) in February 1986. Sasaki follow Chōshū as he returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1987. During that time, he teamed up with the likes of Osamu Matsuda and Kenichi Oya.
International Excursion (1988–1990)
In 1988, Sasaki embarked on an excursion to North America, where he first started wrestling in Puerto Rico in World Wrestling Council, where he held his very first championship, the WWC Caribbean Tag Team Championship, with Mr. Pogo twice between January 14, 1989 and April 1, 1989.
In January 1989, he started splitting his time wrestling in the WWC in Puerto Rico, with Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling promotion in Canada, where he wrestled under the name Benkei Sasaki. He would also be trained in the Dungeon by Hart. During his time in Calgary, he won the Stampede International Tag Team Championship in August 1989, with All Japan loyalist Sumo Hara.
In December 1989, Stampede Wrestling closed its doors, and Sasaki returned to Puerto Rico full-time in the WWC, until he was called back to New Japan.
New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling (1990–2002)
Sasaki returned to New Japan in March 1990, and formed a popular tag team with Hiroshi Hase. The pair would have two reigns as IWGP Tag Team Champions, and had memorable matches with the Steiner Brothers. Two more tag title reigns followed when in late 1992, Sasaki assumed the name "Power Warrior" and teamed with Road Warrior Hawk. As the Hell Raisers, they dominated the tag team scene in New Japan. In October 1992, he also started wrestling periodically for World Championship Wrestling, and would wrestle there on and off until December 1996.
In an incident in the New Japan Dojo in 1995, he was blamed for the death of a trainee, Hiromitsu Gompei. According to the book, Ring of Hell, he suplexed and worked over the trainee, who he thought was not making enough effort. No charges were ever brought against him.
Sasaki dropped the Power Warrior persona in 1995 (as he only revives the persona on special occasions, such as teaming with Hawk and Animal in six-man tag team matches) and began climbing the ranks in singles competition. He won his first major title, the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship on November 13, 1995, defeating Sting at a New Japan Pro Wrestling Event. This was the title's first title change outside of the United States. Sasaki lost it one month later to One Man Gang at Starrcade.
August 1997 skyrocketed Sasaki's rise to superstardom. On August 3, he won the G1 Climax tournament by defeating Hiroyoshi Tenzan in the final. A week later, he captured the IWGP Tag Team titles with Kazuo Yamazaki. Finally at the end of the month, he captured the IWGP Heavyweight Championship by defeating long reigning champion Shinya Hashimoto, winning three major honors in a one month span. Sasaki solidified his dominance in the heavyweight division by defeating both Masahiro Chono and Keiji Mutoh in his first two title defenses, thus defeating The Three Musketeers in three straight title matches. In April 1998, he lost the title to Tatsumi Fujinami. In March 1999, he won another IWGP Tag Team Championship with Shiro Koshinaka.
Sasaki won his second IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Genichiro Tenryu while wrestling with a 39 °C (102.2 °F) fever. He won the G1 Climax for the second time in August 2000 with a victory over last year's winner Manabu Nakanishi in the final, now holding both of New Japan's two heavyweight singles crowns. On October 9, 2000, Sasaki surrendered the IWGP title after he lost to Toshiaki Kawada in a non-title match at an All Japan vs. New Japan event called Do Judge. In a tournament final, Sasaki regained the title, defeating Kawada, at the January 4, 2001, Tokyo Dome show. In March 2001, Sasaki lost the IWGP Heavyweight Title to Scott Norton and in late 2002 he resigned from the promotion after a falling out with company management.
Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling (2003–2004)
In the beginning of 2003, Sasaki joined his mentor, Riki Chōshū, in his new Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling promotion. He became the only WMG Heavyweight Champion; however, tensions between him and Chōshū over financial issues caused Sasaki to withdraw and the company to die a slow death.
Return To NJPW (2004–2005)
When World Japan failed, Sasaki returned to New Japan in 2004, but this time as a "traitor heel." After heated feuds with Yuji Nagata and others, Sasaki enjoyed two more IWGP Heavyweight Title reigns and established himself as one of New Japan's most successful wrestlers ever. He played to the fans, and told them he would do anything to get back in their good graces. After receiving their forgiveness, he once again left the promotion, this time on good terms, however the behind-the-scenes animosity between Sasaki and Chōshū proved otherwise.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2005–2008)
After leaving New Japan, Sasaki went over to All Japan Pro Wrestling in 2005. Sasaki won that year's Champion Carnival, and lost to Kenta Kobashi at Noah's Destiny 2005 show on July 18, 2005 in the Tokyo Dome in an incredible 22 minute classic.
Kensuke Sasaki and Road Warrior Animal teamed up on September 1 at the Differ Ariake and they defeated "brother" YASSHI and Shuji Kondo. Sasaki wore face paint as Power Warrior, the same name he used when teamed with Road Warrior Hawk in the 90's and both men were billed as the Hell Warriors. Animal was billed as Animal Warrior in a similar move to Hawk being billed as Hawk Warrior when he teamed with Sasaki. (Hawk, Animal, and Sasaki were billed as The Road Warriors in six-man tag team matches in 1996.)
On August 26, 2007, Sasaki defeated Minoru Suzuki to become the Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion. Sasaki made his first defense against Toshiaki Kawada on October 18, 2007, and would go on to team with Kawada after Katsuhiko Nakajima suffered an injury on October 18 in the 2007 World's Strongest Tag Determination League. Sasaki and Kawada would lose a Finals Decision match against Satoshi Kojima and Suwama on December 9; both teams were tied, and opponents were needed for Keiji Muto and Joe Doering in the final of the League.
Sasaki successfully defended the Triple Crown Championship against Satoshi Kojima (on March 1, 2008). Sasaki participated in the 2008 Champion Carnival over five straight shows in the Korakuen Hall from April 5 to April 9, scoring 4 points after 1 win (over Joe Doering), 1 loss (to Minoru Suzuki) and 2 draws (with Suwama and Osamu Nishimura). Sasaki lost the Triple Crown Championship to Carnival Winner Suwama on April 29, 2008.
Pro Wrestling Noah (2008–2013)
After losing the Triple Crown titles, he jumped to Pro Wrestling Noah and announced he would make it his full-time home promotion, while still operating the Kensuke Office. On September 6, 2008, he defeated Takeshi Morishima for the GHC Heavyweight Title, becoming the first person to hold the Heavyweight title in all three major Japanese promotions. On March 1, 2009, he lost the GHC Heavyweight title to Jun Akiyama. On September 21, 2009, he teamed with Morishima to win the GHC Tag Team titles from Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith. They lost the titles on December 6, 2009, to Takeshi Rikio and Muhammad Yone.
Sasaki teamed up with regular tag partner Takeshi Morishima to participate in the Global Tag League of 2010, which ran from January 9 to January 24. Sasaki and Morishima finished the league with a total of four points, losing out to A-Block winners Yoshihiro Takayama and Takuma Sano. Sasaki also participated in Pro-Wrestling NOAH's Global League Tournament of 2010 from March 28 to May 2. During the league, he defeated Jun Akiyama in a highly acclaimed contest. Sasaki finished with a total of seven points, losing out to eventual winner Yoshihiro Takayama.
In 2005, Sasaki established his own agency, Kensuke Office. The agency is run by Sasaki's wife (former joshi wrestler), Akira Hokuto. Under the Kensuke Office agency, Sasaki and pupil Katsuhiko Nakajima toured other promotions, particularly All Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah.
In September 2006, Kensuke Office was announced as a member of the Global Professional Wrestling Alliance. Beginning in 2007, Kensuke Office has organised its own shows, and some of the talent featured on the shows include Minoru Suzuki, Jun Akiyama, Genichiro Tenryu, Yoshihiro Takayama, Kikutaro, Takeshi Morishima, KENTA and Catfish Man. In January 2012, Kensuke Office was renamed Diamond Ring. Currently, Diamond Ring serves as developmental territory of Pro Wrestling NOAH, featuring several of its superstars.
On February 11, 2014, Sasaki suffered his first loss to Katsuhiko Nakajima in the main event of a Diamond Ring event. Two days later, Sasaki held a press conference to announce his retirement from professional wrestling. Following Sasaki's retirement, Diamond Ring was left with only one remaining wrestler, Katsuhiko Nakajima, with Satoshi Kajiwara resigning and Mitsuhiro Kitamiya joining Pro Wrestling Noah.
Mixed martial arts career
Between 2001 and 2003, Sasaki took a couple hiatuses from pro wrestling and focused on Mixed Martial Arts. He has two fights under his belt, winning both by submission in the first round beating Dan Chase in 2001 and future UFC fighter Christian Wellisch in 2003.
During this period, he would alter his look, cutting his signature mullet (he would occasionally dye his hair different colors), wearing ring gear bearing the word, "Volcano," and adapting moves he learned in MMA training to expand his pro wrestling moveset.
Kensuke Sasaki married Akira Hokuto on October 1, 1995, after proposing to her on their first date. Together, they have two sons: Kennosuke (born November 1998) and Shinnosuke (born March 2003).
Also, Kensuke has a strong bond with his protégé Katsuhiko Nakajima, whom he considers a member of the family.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Boston crab
- Dragon screw
- Frankensteiner – used on rare occasions
- Ipponzeoi (Rolling over the shoulder arm drag)
- Knee lift
- Knife-edged chop
- Military press slam
- Multiple suplex variations
- One-handed bulldog
- Scoop powerslam
- Scoop slam, sometimes from the second rope
- STK – Space Tornado Kensuke (Clawhold STO)
- Thrust spinebuster
- Tornado Bomb (Leg trap one shoulder powerbomb)
- With Road Warrior Hawk or Road Warrior Animal
- Entrance themes
- "Hot Point" (1986–1987)
- "Hurricanes Bam" (1987–1988)
- "Power" (1990–1995)
- "Hellraiser" by Ozzy Osbourne (1992–1995; Used while a part of the Hell Raisers)
- "Take The Dream – Senko" (1996–1998)
- "Take The Dream – Infinity" (1998–2001)
- "Take The Dream – The World" (2001–2014)
- "Hellraiser" / "Iron Man" megamix by Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath (2007–2014; Used while a part of the Hell Warriors)
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- All Asia Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Katsuhiko Nakajima
- Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Champion Carnival (2005)
- January 2 Korakuen Hall Heavyweight Battle Royal (2007)
- SAMURAI! TV Cup Triple Arrow Tournament (2007) – with Katsuhiko Nakajima and Seiya Sanada
- BAPE STA!! PRO-WRESTLING a-k-a Tournament (2004)
- Dramatic Dream Team
- Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling
- Hawai'i Championship Wrestling
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship (5 times)
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (7 times) – with Hiroshi Hase (2), Hawk Warrior (2), Riki Chōshū (1), Kazuo Yamazaki (1) and Shiro Koshinaka (1)
- G1 Climax (1997, 2000)
- G1 Climax Special Tag Team Tournament (1997) – with Kazuo Yamazaki
- Japan/United States All Star Tournament (1996)
- MVP Award (2000)
- Singles Best Bout (2000) vs. Toshiaki Kawada on October 9
- SKY PerfecTV! Cup (2001)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Pro Wrestling Noah
- Stampede Wrestling
- Stampede Wrestling International Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Sumo Hara
- Tokyo Sports
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|2 matches||2 wins||0 losses|
|Win||2–0||Christian Wellisch||Submission (guillotine choke)||X-1||September 6, 2003||1||2:35||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||1–0||Dan Chase||Submission (armbar)||GC5: Rumble in the Rockies||August 19, 2001||1||0:36||Denver, Colorado, United States|
- "Pro Wrestling llustrated 500 – 2004 :72 Kensuke Sasaki". Pro Wrestling Illustrated (Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, United States: Sports and Entertainment publications LLC). October 2004. p. 26. December 2004.
- "佐々木健介が現役引退 妻北斗晶と会見". Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). 2014-02-13. Retrieved 2014-02-13.
- Randazzo, Matthew (2009). Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit & the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry. Phoenix Books. pp. 63–64. ISBN 1-59777-622-X.
- Strong Style Spirit ~ Your New Japan resource for six years
- Meltzer, Dave (2014-02-13). "2013 Hall of Famer announces retirement". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 2014-02-13.
- "本日の記者会見（今後のDiamond Ringについて）". Diamond Ring (in Japanese). 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-05.
- Kensuke Sasaki's Professional MMA record from Sherdog
- "Akira Hokuto Profile at Wrestling101". Retrieved 2007-06-16.[unreliable source][dead link]
- "James Phillips' Japanese Women Wrestlers Website". Retrieved 2007-06-16.
- "World War III report on November 26, 1995".
- "Puroresu Central profile".
- "Nitro report on November 13, 1995".
- "Finishing Moves List". Other Arena. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "Starrcade report on December 27, 1995".
- "Sonny Onoo profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-09-10.
- "AJPW All Asia Tag Team Champiosnhip history".
- "AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship history".
- "Road to Ryogoku 2days 2013" (in Japanese). Dramatic Dream Team. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
- "World Magma the Greatest Championship history".
- "HCW Heavyweight Championship history".
- "HCW Tag Team Championship history".
- "Tohoku Tag Team Championship history".
- "IWGP Heavyweight Championship history".
- "IWGP Tag Team Championship history".
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Japan: New Japan G-1 (Grade-1) Climax Tournament Champions". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 375. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- "2000 New Japan Awards". Strong Style Spirit. Retrieved 2011-04-28.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 500 – 1998". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Wrestling Information Archive. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 100 Tag Teams of the PWI Years". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Wrestling Information Archive. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 500 Wrestlers of the PWI Years". Wrestling Information Archive. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
- "GHC Heavyweight Championship history".
- "GHC Tag Team Championship history".
- "「グローバル・タッグリーグ戦2013」各賞発表". Pro Wrestling Noah (in Japanese). 2013-04-28. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "Stampede Wrestling International Tag Team Championship history".
- "Kensuke Sasaki's first WCW United States Heavyweight Championship reign".
- "WWC Caribbean Tag Team Championship history".
- Meltzer, Dave (November 6, 2013). "Nov 6 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2013 Hall of Fame issue with several new inductees". Wrestling Observer Newsletter (Campbell, California): 1. ISSN 1083-9593.