|Birth name||Akihisa Mera|
September 8, 1948 |
|Children||Akiko Mera, Yukiko Mera, Hideo Mera|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||The Great Kabuki
Rising Sun #1
|Billed height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Billed weight||110 kg (240 lb)|
|Debut||October 31, 1964
vs. Kotetsu Yamamoto
|Retired||September 7, 1998 (semi-retired)|
Akihisa Mera (米良 明久 Mera Akihisa, born September 8, 1948), better known as The Great Kabuki (ザ・グレート・カブキ Za Gurēto Kabuki), is a Japanese professional wrestler. He was famous for being the first to blow "Asian mist" in his opponents' faces.
Professional wrestling career
Mera was born on September 8, 1948 in Nobeoka, Japan. He started wrestling in 1964 at the age of 16 for the Japanese Wrestling Association. He left Japan to compete in the United States in the 1970s. From there he wrestled all over the world, including All Japan Pro Wrestling, several territories of the National Wrestling Alliance including Jim Crockett Promotions, Mid-South Wrestling, Mid-Southern Wrestling and World Class Championship Wrestling under the name Akihisa Takachihō. He also used the name Yoshino Sato (copied from the original Yoshinosato, former sumotori Junzo Hasegawa, who lead JWA during its dying days), which was later shortened to Mr. Sato (not to be confused with Akio Sato, who later used the moniker in other U.S. territories).
Mera adopted the Great Kabuki persona in World Class in 1981. The character was created by Gary Hart, based on an old gimmick used by Filipino wrestler Rey Urbano. Kabuki kept his hair in a mop cut which kept his facial features mostly hidden; he also painted his face. The storyline went that his face was scarred in a bed of hot coals during his childhood. He was managed by most of the top heel managers of the 1970s and early 1980s, and he most often was a heel. When he was a baby-face, he was very unpredictable and could turn at any time. Kabuki had a pre-match ritual of showing his skills with the nunchaku that intimidated most opponents.
He was the first wrestler to blow Asian mist into his opponents' faces. When Keiji Mutoh debuted in Jim Crockett Promotions as The Great Muta in March 1989, Mutoh was billed, by manager Gary Hart, as Kabuki's son due to the similarities in style and the blowing of the mist. In reality they are not related, but did team under masks as "The Rising Suns" under the management of James J. Dillon in Crockett.
Some of his feuds were against Jimmy Valiant, Scott Casey, Abdullah the Butcher, Dusty Rhodes, Toshiaki Kawada, Chris Adams, Genichiro Tenryu, Bruiser Brody, and the Fabulous Freebirds. Kabuki's battles against Adams was billed as the battle of the superkicks, as ring announcer Bill Mercer often asked which kick was better: Adams' superkick or Kabuki's thrust kick.
In July 1990, he won the World Tag Team Championship with Jumbo Tsuruta, but within days, he joined Tenryu in creating the Super World of Sports promotion. In 1992, he joined New Japan Pro Wrestling's Heisei Ishingun, until leaving in 1996. From there he went on to be one of the co-founders of IWA Japan.
The Kabuki character would sometimes be portrayed in the early 1980s by another wrestler, Magic Dragon (a masked wrestler whom Kabuki teamed with in WCCW). No one would be able to tell the difference when it was done too. This would mainly happen in Japan, World Class Championship Wrestling, Jim Crockett Promotions, and in Georgia Championship Wrestling from 1981-84. It was also done mainly because of Gary Hart's commitments to a promotion that he and the real Kabuki that would not want them leaving to work elsewhere due to their drawing power. Gary Hart would create this as a deal to other promoters that also wanted Kabuki for a show that they would be doing. Magic Dragon as Kabuki would always be without Gary Hart and would do it that way until his death in 1987.
Kabuki retired in 1998. He had a series of retirement matches. On July 20, he would main event at the Tokyo Korakuen Hall in IWA Japan by teaming up with Kendo Nagasaki to wrestle Keisuke Yamada and Shigeo Okumura; his last bout in the independent circuit. On August 8 he teamed up with The Great Muta to defeat Michiyoshi Ohara and Tatsutoshi Goto for New Japan Pro Wrestling, one of the major Japanese circuits. (Giant Baba would not let him retire in All Japan Pro Wrestling due to his jump to SWS.) September 7 was the grand finale for Kabuki, as he teamed up with Terry Funk and Doug Gilbert to defeat Freddy Kruger, Leatherface, and Metalface - symbolically his last match involving foreign wrestlers.
The Great Kabuki has since made several in ring appearances for Genichiro Tenryu's promotion Tenryu Project. The last American wrestler he ever worked in the ring with was One Man Kru two weeks in a row for Niigata Pro and FTO in November 2012.
Mera appeared in a band's music video "The Emeralds" under his Great Kabuki gimmick.
On January 4, 2015, Kabuki made a special appearance for New Japan Pro Wrestling, taking part in the New Japan Rumble on the pre-show of Wrestle Kingdom 9. He was quickly disqualified upon entering the ring due to using the Asian Mist. Kabuki returned a year later, taking part in the Wrestle Kingdom 10 pre-show New Japan Rumble, where he was once again disqualified for using the mist.
- Finishing move
- Signature moves
- Entrance theme
- "Yankee Station"
Championships and accomplishments
- NWA Florida Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Mr. Saito
- NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Florida version) (2 times) – with Mr. Saito
- Popularity Award (1983)
- PWI ranked him # 154 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003.
- Shields, Brian and Kevin Sullivan (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK/BradyGAMES. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
- Johnson, Steven (October 21, 2009). "Help from friends and family got Gary Hart's book to market". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
- Johnson, Steven (October 17, 2007). "Original Kabooki faced tough foe". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2014-12-15.
- Hart, Gary (2009). My Life In Wrestling With A Little Help From My Friends. United States Of America: GEAN Publishing. p. 169. ISBN 0692000461.
- "Wrestle Kingdom 9 in 東京ドーム". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved 2015-06-05.
- Meltzer, Dave (2016-01-03). "Wrestle Kingdom 10 live results: Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 2016-01-04.
- Johnson, Steven (March 17, 2008). "Gary Hart: ‘With a little help from my friends’". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
- 東京スポーツ プロレス大賞. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-01-20.