|Birth name||Masanori Saito|
February 1, 1942 |
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Assassin #3
The Unknown Soldier
|Billed height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Billed weight||120 kg (260 lb)|
|Debut||June 3, 1965|
|Retired||February 14, 1999|
Masanori Saito (斎藤 昌典 Saitō Masanori?) (born February 1, 1942) is a retired Japanese professional wrestler better known as Mr. Saito or Masa Saito (マサ 斉藤?). He wrestled for several years in various promotions operated by the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). He later joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), where he teamed with Mr. Fuji to hold the World Tag Team Championship twice. He also won the AWA World Heavyweight Championship in 1990. In Japan, Saito wrestled for both All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Saito gained notoriety for his arrest in connection with fellow wrestler Ken Patera allegedly throwing a boulder through the window of a McDonald's restaurant in Waukesha, Wisconsin and for a match wrestled against Antonio Inoki on a deserted island in Japan that lasted for more than two hours.
- 1 Amateur wrestling career
- 2 Professional wrestling career
- 3 In wrestling
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
- 5 References
Amateur wrestling career
1964 Summer Olympics
Professional wrestling career
He began his pro wrestling career in 1965 and quickly established himself in both Japan and the United States. Nicknamed "Mr. Torture" for his punishing and sadistic style, Saito held numerous titles while wrestling in North America and Japan.
National Wrestling Alliance
On July 13, 1968, Saito won his first title, teaming with Kenji Shibuya to win the San Francisco version of the World Tag Team Championship. The following year, he defeated Dale Lewis to win the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship. After losing the title to Jack Brisco on February 10, 1970, he continued to team with Shibuya in the Los Angeles-based NWA Hollywood Wrestling, winning the NWA Americas Tag Team Championship three times in 1971 and 1972. While wrestling in Los Angeles, he also won the NWA Beat the Champ Television Championship twice in 1972.
Saito's next championship came in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he teamed with Gene Kiniski to win the Vancouver version of the Canadian Tag Team Championship. They held the belts for almost four months before dropping them to Ormand Malumba and Guy Mitchell on March 3, 1975. Saito regained the championship later in the year, however, teaming with Dale Lewis.
Saito next wrestled in NWA Florida, where he teamed with Ivan Koloff to defeat Rocky Johnson and Pedro Morales for the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship in 1977. After losing the belts, Saito and Koloff won them twice more. Their final loss, on January 25, 1978 was to Jack and Jerry Brisco. Saito regained the title, however, teaming with Mr. Sato to defeat the Brisco Brothers. They lost the belts back to the Brisco Brothers three months later but succeeded in regaining them from Mike Graham and Steve Keirn later in the year. While wrestling in Florida, Saito also teamed with Sato to win the NWA Florida United States Tag Team Championship on two occasions in 1978 and 1979. In 1979, he also won the Japan version of the North American Tag Team Championship, teaming with Hiro Matsuda to win the belts on April 5.
Wrestling in the United States again in 1981, Saito won the Alabama Heavyweight Championship twice, defeating Bob Armstrong and Ray Candy. That year, he was also involved in a controversy regarding the Florida version of the North American Tag Team Championship. The Assassins were stripped of the title when it was discovered that Saito was wrestling under a mask as a third member of the team.
World Wrestling Federation
Later in the year, Saito signed with the World Wrestling Federation. He formed a tag team with Mr. Fuji, which was managed by Captain Lou Albano. They began a feud with tag champions Tony Garea and Rick Martel, whom they defeated on October 17, 1981 edition of Championship Wrestling to win their first WWF Tag Team Championship, though it was Fuji's fourth individual reign. They began feuding with The Strongbows (Chief Jay and Jules) in the fall of 1981. This culminated in a title match on June 28, 1982 at Madison Square Garden (MSG) where Strongbows won the titles. On July 13 edition of Championship Wrestling, they defeated Strongbows in a two out of three falls match for Fuji's fifth and Saito's second WWF Tag Team Championship. The feud of these two teams ended after Fuji and Saito lost the titles to Strongbows on October 30 edition of Championship Wrestling.
According to police, on April 6, 1984, Patera was refused service at a McDonald's restaurant after the restaurant had closed, and threw a boulder through the restaurant's window in retaliation. The responding officers testified that later, when they arrived at Saito and Patera's hotel room to investigate someone matching Patera's description in connection with the criminal damage report, Saito was uncooperative and both wrestlers assaulted the officers, taking turns beating them until other officers arrived to subdue them. As a result of the incident, Saito and Patera were convicted of battery of a police officer and sentenced to serve two years in prison.
On November 16, 2012, Ken Patera was interviewed on KFAN radio based out of Minneapolis, MN. In describing the incident, he stated that he went to the McDonald's around midnight to get a burger, but found it closed. The lights were on because they were shooting a commercial, so not only Patera but another customer (who he described as a young adult) had arrived, thinking that they were open for business. The young adult threw a rock through the window, but Patera was blamed. Saito was never there. 
Following his release, Saito wrestled mainly in Japan, where he became involved in a feud with Antonio Inoki. To settle the feud, the two competed in an Island Death match on October 4, 1987. They were placed on Ganryujima Island and wrestled a match that lasted two hours and spread across the island. Ultimately, Inoki was victorious, defeating Saito by technical knockout. The following year, after leaving All Japan Pro Wrestling to return to New Japan Pro Wrestling, Saito won his first IWGP Tag Team Championship while teaming with Riki Choshu. He followed this with a second victory the following year, this time with Shinya Hashimoto.
Saito's final major title came in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), where he defeated Larry Zbyszko for the AWA World Heavyweight Championship in front of a hometown crowd of 63,900 fans at the Tokyo Dome on February 10, 1990. He lost the title two months later in a rematch with Zbyszko at SuperClash 4. While wrestling in the AWA, Saito also formed a tag team with Jesse Ventura known as the Far East-West Connection.
World Championship Wrestling
Saito had a couple short spells in World Championship Wrestling (WCW). His first came in 1990, which saw him team with The Great Muta for the Pat O'Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament at Starrcade '90: Collision Course, which they lost to The Steiner Brothers in the finals. It wouldn't be until five years later that Saito briefly returned, which included an appearance at Starrcade '95. Wrestling as part of a series of matches between New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling, Saito lost his match to WCW representative Johnny B. Badd by disqualification.
On February 14, 1999, Saito retired from wrestling. His last match was a loss to Scott Norton. Starting in 2006, Saito worked with the Diamond Ring promotion as a supervisor and manager/advisor to the promotion's younger talent. Diamond Ring ran its last show in February, 2014.
Championships and accomplishments
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- NWA All-Star Wrestling
- NWA Canadian Tag Team Championship (Vancouver version) (2 times) – with Gene Kiniski (1) and Dale Lewis (1)
- NWA Hollywood Wrestling
- NWA San Francisco
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) (2 times) – with Kenji Shibuya
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- "Wrestler Profiles: Masa Saito". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
- "Masa Saito". Genickbruch: Die Wrestlingseite des alten Europa (in German). Retrieved 2008-11-20.
- "Pro Wrestlers Patera, Saito, Found Guilty, Sent to Prison". Schenectady Gazette. June 15, 1985. p. 31. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
- Oliver, Greg. "From the Olympics to the Pros". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- Hauser, Tom (2002). Inside the Ropes With Jesse Ventura. University of Minnesota Press. p. 287. ISBN 0-8166-4187-0.
- "A.W.A. (San Francisco) World Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "Florida Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "N.W.A. Americas Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "Beat the Champ Television Title (Los Angeles)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "N.W.A. Canadian Tag Team Title (Vancouver)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "Florida Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "N.W.A. United States Tag Team Title (Florida)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "N.W.A. North American Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "N.W.A. Alabama Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "N.W.A. North American Tag Team Title (Florida)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
- "Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito Profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
- "W.W.W.F./W.W.F./W.W.E. World Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "WWF Show Results 1981". Angelfire. October 13, 1981. Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito (w/ Captain Lou Albano) defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Rick Martel & Tony Garea at 9:48 to win the titles when Saito pinned Martel after Fuji threw salt into the champion's eyes as Martel attempted a crossbody off the top, allowing Saito to roll through on the move to get the win
- "WWF Show Results 1982". Angelfire. June 28, 1982. Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
Chief Jay & Jules Strongbow defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito to win the titles at 9:48 when Jules pinned Fuji after Fuji missed a dive in the ring
- "WWF Show Results 1982". Angelfire. July 13, 1982. Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito (w/ Capt. Lou Albano) defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Chief Jay & Jules Strongbow to win the titles in a Best 2 out of 3 falls match; fall #1 - Fuji pinned Jules at around the 30-second mark after throwing salt into both he and Chief Jay's face while Saito distracted the referee
- "WWF Show Results 1982". Angelfire. October 30, 1982. Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
Chief Jay & Jules Strongbow defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito (w/ Capt. Lou Albano) to win the titles at 6:08 when Jay pinned Saito with a Thesz Press
- Williams, Steve; Tom Caiazzo (2007). How Dr. Death Became Dr. Life. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 143. ISBN 1-59670-180-3.
- "I.W.G.P. Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "A.W.A. World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- "New Japan Tokyo Dome Cards". Wrestling Information Archive. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
- "SuperClash IV". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
- Greenberg, Keith Elliot (2000). Jesse Ventura. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 39. ISBN 0-8225-4977-8.
- "Starrcade 1995". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
- Park, WH (2008-08-02). "Puroshop Talk - Observer Hall of Fame Japanese Ballot II". The Fight Network. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
- "Sonny Onoo profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-09-10.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 500 Wrestlers of the PWI Years". Wrestling Information Archive. Retrieved 2010-09-15.