Legacy of Hayabusa; This Week in Puro

Added by Luke Hickey

This past Thursday, the 29th of November, would have been the 49th birthday of Eiji Ezaki, most famously known as the masked wrestler, Hayabusa. Hayabusa passed away as a result of a cerebral haemorrhage on March 3rd, 2016. Fourteen years prior to his death, he became paralyzed following a botched springboard moonsault in a match against Mammoth Sasaki at FMW Power Splash 2001. FMW, would fold in 2002, many attribute this to the loss of their Ace, Hayabusa from in ring competition. Regardless, of his injury and the folding of FMW, both he and the company would remain dear to the hearts of many fans.

Despite initially training at AJPW Dojo, he would go onto join FMW’s Dojo which was led by Tarzan Goto at the time, and from 1991-1993, he would wrestle under his birth name in the undercard of FMW events, losing many of the matches that he was involved in, as Young Lions tend to do. The changing point in the career trajectory of Ezaki would come when, the current owner and Ace of FMW, Atsushi Onita, would send him on an excursion to Mexico to learn the lucha libre style.

During 1994, he would begin wrestling as Hayabusa in CMLL and other Mexican promotions, he would return to Japan for two matches bringing his new character, Hayabusa with him, returning to his home promotion, FMW for Summer Spectacular 1994 against Sabu in a winning effort, and taking part in Super J Cup 1994 in New Japan in a losing effort to Jyushin Thunder Liger. It would be in this year also that his loyalty to FMW would be tested for the first time, rejecting a contract offer from IWA Japan and rejecting a try out with WWF.

After his return, FMW would go on to position him as the man to replace Onita as the Ace, the face of the promotion, in the times of Onita’s first ‘retirement’, Tarzan Goto was meant to wrestle him but had left the company, while Onita wanted his opponent to be his successor, Hayabusa was chosen. Despite losing to Onita, he became the companies figurehead.

At first, Onita’s long fanbase struggled to come around to the new man, but Hayabusa’s style and innovation won people, fans and the media around. In the next couple of years, he would be the face of the company, largely feuding with the top heels/groups and other companies. Terry Funk, W*ING, but its his feud with long time friend but in ring rival Gannosuke, a rivalry that would continue for the rest of his career.

During his time with FMW, he would win multiple championships, FMW Double Championship (3x), WEW Heavyweight Championship (2x), FMW Brass Knuckles Tag Team Championship (2x), WEW Tag Team Championship (2x), FMW Six Man Street Fight Tag Team Championship (2x) and WEW Six Man Tag Team Championship (2x) but as with most legends of Puroresu, he would transcend FMW but remain loyal, wrestling a number of times for All Japan, and at one point holding the All Asia Tag Team Championship with Jinsei Shinzaki, and wrestling against the likes of Mitsuharu Misawa.

Due to the arising complications of injuries suffered throughout his career, he would change his wrestling style and character, as Hayabusa was associated with the innovation of the Junior Heavyweight style, he would start being more focused on mat wrestled, a storyline and tour would soon develop, known as Goodbye Hayabusa and he would begin wrestling as H. for a time. He would later revive Hayabusa, a year or so following this, the career ending injury occurred, retiring one of the greatest, most beloved wrestlers in the process.

His legacy never died though, an innovator of both a style and moves. He continued working, doing other jobs despite being confined to a wheelchair, being a part of Dragon Gate’s initial expansion into the US, serving as founder of his own promotion and executive of a relaunch attempt of FMW. A great friend to many in the business, Gannosuke, Masato Tanaka, Jinsei Shinzaki and Thunder Liger, despite falling out in 1996 after he turned down a contract to NJPW! His legacy and storied career will live on in the hearts and minds of foe, friend and fan alike.

R.I.P Hayabusa.

This Week in Puro;
All Japan Tag League:
1. Joe Doering & Dylan James [10]
-. Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa [10]
-. Parrow & Odinson [10]
4. Takao Omori & Manabu Soya [8]
-. Kengo Mashimo & KAI [8]
6. Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu [6]
-. Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai [6]
-. Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto [6]
-. TAJIRI & Gianni Valletta [6]
10. Zeus & The Bodyguard [4]
11. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi [2]

Big Japan: Strong BJ will be challenging Hama & & Yasufumi Nakanoue for the BJW Tag Team Title on 12/9. Big Japan and DDT teams for New Year tournament are:
Yasufumi Nakanoue & Kazusada Higuchi
Takayuki Ueki & Mike Bailey
Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuki Iino
Yoshihisa Uto & Sanshiro Takagi
Ryota Hama & Antonio Honda
Abdullah Kobayashi & HARASHIMA
Ryuji Ito & Yuki Ueno
Tatsuhiko Yoshino & Tetsuya Endo
Minoru Fujita & Soma Takao
Daichi Hashimoto & Daisuke Sasaki
Brahman Brothers & Masahiro Takanashi
Great Kojika & Sammy Guevara
Takuya Nomura & Kazuki Hirata
Yuji Okabayashi & Yukio Sakaguchi
Yuya Aoki & MAO
Yuko Miyamoto & Konosuke Takeshita

Dragon Gate: Yosuke Santa Maria appeared to injure her ankle on the 30.11 on the first day of three in Sapporo. The match with Kanda ended in referee stoppage.

Dramatic Dream Team:
D-Oh Grand Prix

A Block

1. Go Shiozaki (6)
2. MAO (4)
3. Puma King (2)
-. Daisuke Sasaki (2)
-. Akito (2)
-. Kazusada Higuchi (0)

B Block

1. Tetsuya Endo (4)
-. Sammy Guevara (4)
3. Shinya Aoki (2)
-. Mike Bailey (2)
-. Masahiro Takanashi (2)
6. Konosuke Takeshita (0)
-. Soma Takao (0)

NJPW World Tag League:
1. “King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA [14]
-. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano [14]
-. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa [14]
4. Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. [12]
-. Juice Robinson & David Finlay [12]
6. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi [10]
-. Beretta & Chuckie T [10]
-. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb [10]
9. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka [8]
10. Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi [6]
-. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima [6]
-. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare [6]
13. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi [2]
14. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino [0]

Tables and teams gathered by information from Dramatic DDT, Puro Love.

Luke Hickey