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TRS: Japanese Wrestling Moves



20 November 2007

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So for the past few articles I have been waxing lyrical about the history of Puro and its various different companies…

Hell I’ve still got to do Zero One, Dragon Gate and not to mention All Japan as well (even though part of that was covered in the NOAH edition…) which will be another two part article I believe as it has been open as long as New Japan and has had, like its former number one rival, a HELL of a lot of changes in its thirty five years of existence.

So I thought just to lighten up a bit I would tell you about the most famous moves in the world, invented in Japanese rings and them exported out into the world to be toyed with and modified beyond belief.

The Move also known as the Ace Crusher

When Johnny Ace, a.k.a. John Laurinaitis, a now WWE executive and former regular outsider member of the All Japan roster (as well as a four time AJPW and two time All Asian tag champion) came up with the idea of grabbing someone in a three quarter headlock and leaping forward, driving his foe into the mat face first he had little to no idea would he create a move that in its two forms would become one of the most over and copied move finishing moves in wrestling history

The Ace Crusher comes in two packages…

a) The ¾ hold and then dropping on to your back forcing your opponent down into the mat or…

b) Leaping into the air and sitting down so that on impact the jaw of you're foe snaps into and off your shoulder in a quick and violent fashion…

It has been the finisher for Stone Cold Steve Austin (Stone Cold Stunner) in it’s ‘B’ form as well as WWE and WCW champions in its ‘A’ form when Randy Orton (RKO) and Diamond Dallas Page (Diamond Cutter) took it as their finishing moves…

Since then variations came thick and fast as do the plagiarizers due to it’s ease of use and the basic but impactful nature of the move itself. Unfortunately for Ace you cannot patent or trademark wrestling moves otherwise the man would never need work again such would be the value his royalty cheques…

Then again this isn’t the only move invented in the Japanese ring that has gone around the world and back again…

The Shooting Star Press – Cartoons can become real

It was the mid-1980’s and a small Japanese wrestler by the name of Keiichi Yamada needed to set himself apart from the pack and establish himself and march through the door booted in for him and his type of wrestlers by Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kid…

After experiencing the manga ‘Fist of the North Star’ Yamada would see something that sparked the fires of his imagination and soon the Shooting Star Press was born, the forward motion rotating back flip taken from the screen and planted onto the prone bodies of his foes.

Since then and a gimmick change later (as he became manga inspired character Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger) the move has gone from strength to strength even though Liger phased the move out in the late 1990’s due to persistent ankle problems that meant his style had to be toned down.

Billy Kidman used it with great success to get over as a hot opening act and Cruiserweight champion in WCW during the Monday Night War using the name 'The 7 Year Itch' for a while for the move. It has also been mutated into several different versions with Springboard, Standing, Inverted, Corkscrew and Suicide Dive versions all appearing in numerous wrestlers arsenals over the years.

But no Shooting Star Press made as much impact on wrestling fans minds then that of near 300lb Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania XIX where ‘The Pain’ collided with Kurt Angle.

Lesnar was supposed to win with the move that he had used in OVW in an awesome show ending visual. However it all went wrong. Weighing some 30lbs of muscle more and also feeling the effects of a fast paced match that had gone on for over twenty minutes Lesnar tried to leap across three quarters of the ring onto the fallen Angle… however his legs didn’t give him enough spring and he landed head first on the mat in a sickening heap thus ruining the scripted ending and nearly breaking his own neck in the process…

Needless to say he has never done the move or even attempted it since…

That Japanese Move

In the early part of this century a living legend decided that enough was enough… his knees could no longer take performing Moonsault after Moonsault every night and he needed a change…

The change made by Keiji Muto spawned a move that has been ripped off some much that even if you have never seen the man wrestle you will have seen his finishing move regardless such is its spread across the globe.

Simple in its execution (the attacker runs at his rising opponent and boost’s off their knee/thigh to deliver a knee to the head of their victim) it has like all great moves attracted a great number of fans and variations and is used by so many wrestlers it has even been parodied in it’s name.

Now thanks to Muto we can see Yakuza Kicks (Shining Yakuza Kick/Shining Black - Chono), Axe Kicks (Rising Scorpion - Meiko Satomura), Enziguri’s (Glimmering Warlock/Shining Black - Arik Cannon and Gregory Helms), hell even crotch thrusting done from the same simple set up (Shining Hump - Danshoku Dino) as well as the move being done by Muto on aprons, off the top turnbuckle, off a chair and from behind as well… there was even a three on one simultaneous one performed by Tanahashi, Muto and Nishimura in All Japan as well.

Needless to say this is perhaps the next generations Ace Crusher, the move that every one will pull out for a pop from the smarks where ever they are…

Honourable Mentions

Also innovated in Japan and used wholesale in the US and beyond as well as numerous variations are…

- The Dragon Suplex popularised by Fujinami and used by Tanahashi, Muto, Hase, Benoit, Takayama, Kobashu, Taz, Eddie Guerrero, Jay Lethal and others.

- The Falcon Arrow which was brought to the fore by Hayabusa and later dubbed the Holly-Caust in the US by Bob 'Hardcore ' Holly.

- The Tiger Suplex invented by the Original Tiger Mask and used by Perry Saturn, all three future Tiger Masks including Misawa, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko amongst others.

- Northern Lights Suplex, as innovated by Hiroshi Hase and used by Akiyama, Nagata, Benoit and others.

-The Burning Hammer, invented by Kyoko Inoue and the made popular by Kenta Kobashi before being used by others including Dan Maff.

- The Tiger Driver and Tiger Driver ’91 brought to the world by Misawa and used in various forms by Dean Malenko, Jay Briscoe, Kid Kash, William Regal, James Gibson and many, many more.

- Emerald Frosion, also a Misawa creation and used by Samoa Joe as the Island Driver.

- Michinoku Driver (II) used by TAKA Michinoku and used by Rene Dupree, Juvi Guerrera (Juvi Driver) and variations employed by Marufuji(Pole Shift), Chris Sabin (Cradle Shock), Chris Chetti (Amityville Horror) amongst others.

- The Dragon Screw, popularised by Fujinami also and used by any one hell bent on giving someones knee a nice going over.

- The STO, a modified Judo move used first in wrestling by Naoya Ogawa and later by Samoa Joe, Kakihara, Steve Corino and others.

- Jackhammer, invented by Jaguar Yokota although many believe it was Dean Malenko who did. Later made famous by Goldberg.

- Blue Thunder Driver, used in different forms by Kikuchi and Akiyama before adopted by the likes of Christopher Daniels and John Cena (Killswitch/Protobomb).

- The Orange Crush innovated by Kenta Kobashi and used in various forms by Trent Acid and Samoa Joe in the past amongst others.

- Air Raid Crash as used by Mariko Yoshida and modified and used by Nova (Kryptonite Krunch), CIMA (Schwein) and Mike Modest (Reality Check) amongst others.

- The Kudome Valentine by Megumi Kudo now know as the Vertebreaker or Cop/GringoKiller.

- The Facewash as seen used by Kanemoto and Otani and then later Samoa Joe as the Ole Kick.

- The Go 2 Sleep as innovated by KENTA.

- The Tiger Feint Kick a.k.a. The 619 first used by the Original Tiger Mask

- Shiranui as used by Marufuji and then renamed and used by the likes of Spanky (Sliced Bread #2), Alex Shelly, Jimmy Jacobs (Contra Code) and more.

- Phoenix Splash as invented by Hayabusa.

- Fisherman Buster, popularised by Liger in the 1990’s and used by many more since including Jazz, HEAT/Minoru Tanaka, Chris Jericho.

- Moonsault, the original rounding version was used by the Original Tiger Mask whilst Muto used the now standard version that was know in the US for a time as the Mu-Sault.

- Mist Spitting as used first by the Great Kabuki later used by his 'son' The Great Muta, Tajiri and others.

- Anaconda Vice as popularised from a judo move by Hiroyoshi Tenzan and adopted as a finisher by CM Punk amongst others.

- Sharpshooter, invented and named originally as the Sasori-Gatame or Scorpion Hold by Riki Choshu before being made famous in the 1990's by Bret Hart in the WWE as the Sharpshooter and also in the late 1980's/90's by Sting as the Scorpion Death Lock.

As you can see the list of moves is extensive and there are even more but the message is clear… as far as innovation in moves and modification is concerned the other wrestlers of the world with the exception of Mexican’s are far behind their Japanese brethren and without this constant one up man ship and desire to be different who knows what professional wrestling around the world would be like now?

Until next time Puro-Heads.

Robert Heard





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