The Great Sasuke

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The Great Sasuke
Great Sasuke 2.jpg
The Great Sasuke, at the Hustle event in Yokohama on May 4, 2009
Birth name Masanori Murakawa
Born (1969-07-18) July 18, 1969 (age 49)
Morioka, Tōhoku, Japan[1]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) The Great Sasuke
Masa Michinoku
Ninja Sasuke
Black Ninja
Sasuke The Ram
Billed height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Billed weight 82 kg (181 lb)
Trained by Kotetsu Yamamoto
Gran Hamada
Debut March 1, 1990

Masanori Murakawa (村川 政徳, Murakawa Masanori),[2][3] (born July 18, 1969[1]), is a Japanese professional wrestler, promoter and politician, currently wrestling for Michinoku Pro Wrestling under the ring name The Great Sasuke (グレート・サスケ, Za Gurēto Sasuke). Aside from professional wrestling, he is also a former Iwate Prefectural Assembly legislator. He has wrestled in Japan and in the United States in various professional wrestling promotions. He is said to have an incredible tolerance for pain, mainly in reference to the injuries he has had including a cracked skull on two occasions.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

In his early career, Murakawa wrestled under the name Masa Michinoku. Masa, from his given name Masanori, and Michinoku, after the alternate name for his Japanese home region, Tōhoku. He was characterized by wearing a cape and a traditional sandogasa hat. Taka Michinoku adopted a similar gimmick to parody him.

Later, on a tour of Mexico, Murakawa adopted the name Ninja Sasuke, a gimmick inspired by legendary ninja Sarutobi Sasuke, and completed it with a black uniform and mask and a wrestling style set between lucha libre and martial arts. Upon returning to Japan, he changed his name to The Great Sasuke and adopted a red, black and white mask patterned after kumadori makeup, reminiscent of the one worn by fellow Japanese wrestler Mach Hayato.

Murakawa is also the owner, and founder, of Michinoku Pro Wrestling, the first Japanese independent promotion not to be based around the Tokyo area. Instead, it was centered around the northern area of Honshu Island. The 2 prefectures in the northern area of Honshu are Iwate Prefecture and Aomori Prefecture.

As part of an agreement between Michinoku Pro Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation, The Great Sasuke was part of the tournament to crown the first WWF Light Heavyweight Champion in 1997. Although Sasuke was heavily pushed to be the winner of the tournament, he would later brag to the Japanese media how he would only defend the title in Japan had he won the title and would refuse to drop the title on WWF television. When the WWF heard of Sasuke's comments, he was fired as well as his working agreement with them terminated, although a former member of Michinoku Pro Wrestling, Taka Michinoku, would end up winning the title.

In 1998 he and Tiger Mask began feuding with the heel (villainous) clones of their respective gimmicks: Masked Tiger (Takeshi Ono) and Sasuke the Great (Masao Orihara).

In 1999 he won the NWA World Middleweight Championship vacated by old rival Ultimo Dragon. Although the tournament was promoted by Ultimo's Toryumon Japan promotion, Sasuke took the title to his base at Michinoku and styled himself a "traveling world champion" in the style of NWA World Heavyweight Champions from the 1960-80s.

In 2002, Sasuke briefly turned heel and started using the name SASUKE, using blue stripes on his mask instead of the red stripes. However, he again turned face (fan favorite) when Jinsei Shinzaki "brought him back from the dark side" by "exorcising the evil out of him".

Sasuke, Jinsei Shinzaki and Dick Togo at Chikara King of Trios in April 2011.

Sasuke still currently wrestles in Michinoku Pro Wrestling, although he left the running of the promotion to Shinzaki in 2003 to focus on his political career. In 2003 he lost the NWA title to Ultimo Dragon, who then vacated it and returned the belt to CMLL in Mexico, in preparation for his WWE career.

On April 15, 2011, Sasuke returned to the United States to wrestle for Chikara in the 2011 King of Trios tournament, where he would represent Michinoku Pro with Dick Togo and Jinsei Shinzaki. In their first round match Team Michinoku Pro defeated Team Minnesota (1-2-3 Kid, Arik Cannon and Darin Corbin).[4] The following day, Team Michinoku Pro defeated Jigsaw, Manami Toyota and Mike Quackenbush to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.[5] On April 17, Team Michinoku Pro was eliminated from the tournament in the semifinal stage by F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor, Icarus and Johnny Gargano).[6]

At the end of 2013, Sasuke took part in the classic "Great Space War" match, but his team lost the bout. He then called out the Brahman Brothers and said he knew they were attempting to protect the Earth like him, and asked them to join him to fight for the greater good. This led to the creation of Mu no Taiyo, a cult-like stable with Sasuke posing as the mystic leader of the group, turning heel in the process. Sasuke will return to England to take on Danny Collins on November 4 at Cheltenham Town Hall.

Other media[edit]

In 1999, Sasuke performed on Sasuke, the popular Japanese obstacle course competition. In the Third Competition, he got stuck at the Rolling Log and timed out on the Hill Climb. When the name SASUKE was translated into "Ninja Warrior" for the United States, the translators ignored his wrestling background and called him "The Great Ninja Warrior".

Sasuke is also part of the rock band Crazy Crew with Ricky Fuji and Ken45°.

Political career[edit]

On April 13, 2003, Sasuke won election to the Iwate Prefectural Assembly, making him the first actual masked legislator in history. He is the fourth Japanese wrestler to get elected to office. Antonio Inoki, Hiroshi Hase and Atsushi Onita preceded him, though all of them were elected to the Japanese Diet at the national level.

Sasuke lost in his bid to become governor of Iwate in the 2007 election.[7]

2009 arrest[edit]

On February 19, 2009, Sasuke was arrested for assault after kicking a 36-year-old man and grabbing him by the shirt collar. Sasuke was reported to be angry because his picture was being taken with a cellphone camera. The incident happened on a JR Joban Line train at Minamisenju Station.[8] However, all charges were dropped and was released from jail on February 21, after serving 40 hours in jail, after Sasuke apologized to the man.[9] The man who took Sasuke's photograph was said to not have known who he was and thought he was just some crazy person wearing a mask in public.[9]

Sasuke diving out of the ring in September 2012.
Sasuke performing a thunder fire powerbomb.
Sasuke holding Jushin Thunder Liger in an octopus hold.

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

1This championship is promoted by Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), it was on loan to them from New Japan Pro Wrestling when he won it. Also, despite the title still using the NWA initials, it is no longer recognized or sanctioned as a world title by the National Wrestling Alliance. The same goes for the NWA World Middleweight Championship.
2Despite winning the title twice, neither of the reigns are recognized by World Wrestling Entertainment. No reigns with the title prior to December 1997 are recognized by the WWE.[13]


  1. ^ a b Masanori Murakawa on IMDb
  2. ^ "The Great Sasuke profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2014-09-21.
  3. ^ "Profile at Puroresu Central". Puroresu Central. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  4. ^ Radican, Sean (2011-05-04). "Radican's Chikara KoT Night 1 DVD Review 4/15 - Team Michinoku Pro vs. Team 1-2-3 Kid, Quackenbush & Toyota & Jigsaw vs. SAT's". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  5. ^ Radican, Sean (2011-05-13). "Radican's Chikara DVD review series - "King of Trios 2011 Night 2" 4/16: F.I.S.T. vs. Osaka Pro, RDV tournament, Quackenbush & Toyota & Jigsaw vs. Michinoku Pro". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  6. ^ Radican, Sean (2011-06-05). "Radican's Chikara DVD review series: "KOT 2011: Night 3 4/17 - Kid vs. Generico, Toyota vs. Eagles, KOT tournament Finals". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  7. ^ The Japan Times Online Articles
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b Gerweck, Steve (February 27, 2009). "News on Kevin Nash, Booker T, Team 3D, and The Great Sasuke". Archived from the original on March 2, 2009. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  10. ^ "【後楽園リポート】トーナメント決勝戦は宮本裕向&木高イサミvs火野裕士&岡林裕二!!/インディー大賞MVPはHarashima/Takaのパートナーは小鹿". Dramatic Dream Team (in Japanese). 2014-12-31. Retrieved 2014-12-31.
  11. ^ ライガー、『ふく面ワールドリーグ戦』で大活躍!! 決勝進出もサスケの卍に敗れる!!. New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). 2012-09-03. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
  12. ^ "Michinoku Pro-Wrestling - "MICHINOKU TRIOS LEAGUE 2005"" (in German). Retrieved 2014-05-07.
  13. ^ WWE: Inside WWE > Title History > Light Heavyweight

External links[edit]