Universal Lucha Libre
Universal Lucha Libre (Universal Pro-Wrestling until 1991; Federación Universal de Lucha Libre afterward) was a professional wrestling promotion in Japan from 1990 to 1995. The name Universal Lucha Libre is used to differentiate the promotion from the Japanese UWF, which presented a very different style of professional wrestling.
The promotion was the first of its kind in Japan to be based around the Mexican style of professional wrestling, known as Lucha Libre (free fighting). Although since 1956 some Mexican wrestlers had appeared in Japanese promotions, their style had had to mix with the American-originated standard, and not many of them could rise above mid-card level because of their size, which on average was less than American wrestlers.
The first Mexican luchador (wrestler) to become a star in Japan was Mil Máscaras, who competed for the Japanese Wrestling Association and one of its successor groups, All Japan Pro Wrestling. The first Japanese to win a Mexican-based title was Mashio Koma, who also competed in JWA; he won the NWA World Middleweight Championship while on a tour of EMLL in 1970, and later co-founded AJPW with Giant Baba. However, the first Japanese to fully and truly adopt the gymnastics-oriented Lucha Libre style actually came from rival New Japan Pro Wrestling: Gran Hamada, who had gone on excursion several times to Mexico due to his lack of size and won many titles there. In 1990, after passing through New Japan, the original Japanese UWF, and All-Japan, Hamada decided to form his own promotion, with the aid of his disciple Yoshihiro Asai, his former New Japan boss Hisashi Shinma, and some Mexican wrestlers and Japanese rookies he had recruited.
In 1993, with Universal Lucha Libre on the decline, Sasuke, Taka and Yuga decided to form their own promotion, Michinoku Pro. Jado and Gedo moved to hardcore independent promotions such as IWA Japan, while Último Dragón joined Genichiro Tenryu's WAR. Hamada continued promoting shows until he himself joined Michinoku in 1995, which brought Universal Lucha Libre to an end.
Over the years, the roster of Universal's trainees would go on to become major stars in both the Japanese major promotions and the independents. Among Universal Lucha Libre alumni, they include:
- Yoshihiro Asai (later Último Dragón)
- Masa Michinoku (later The Great Sasuke)
- Monkey Magic Wakita (later Super Delfin)
- Bulldog KT/Crush (later Gedo)
- Coolie SZ/Punish (later Jado)
- Taka Michinoku
- Shiryu (later Kaz Hayashi)
- Mongolian Yuga (later Jinsei Shinzaki)
- Terry Boy (later Men's Teioh)
- Sakigake Gantetsu (later Dick Togo)
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Date won|
|UWF Super Middleweight Championship||Vacant||1995|
|UWF Super Welterweight Championship||Vacant||November 28, 1999|
|UWA/UWF Intercontinental Tag Team Championship||Vacant||March 6, 2005|
- Universal Wrestling Association
- Super World of Sports
- Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi
- Michinoku Pro Wrestling