6 Ways Japanese Wrestling Makes the WWE Look Sane
Professional wrestling is crazy by nature -- you can't get fans to tune in for a couple of guys pretend-fighting for an hour; you need to spice it up. In America, this is done with gimmicks and outlandish personalities and openly silly story lines. In Japan, this is done with utter insanity.
For instance ...
They Set the Damned Ring on Fire (And Almost Killed Everyone)
Back in 1992, one of Japan's biggest professional wrestling organizations was facing a serious dilemma regarding whether or not to use explosives and rigged "land mines" in their matches. Oh, not because of safety concerns -- they had actually been using explosives in their matches for years. The problem was that they were having financial issues and could no longer afford them. But fans had grown accustomed to seeing shit catch on fire while nearly naked men grappled with each other and would settle for nothing less.
Clearly, a solution was needed. This is what they came up with ...
Step One: Replace the ring ropes with barbed wire. Wrap the barbed wire in rags soaked in flammable paraffin.
Which was admittedly safer than their original plan: Build an entire ring out of expired napalm canisters.
Step Two: Insert wrestlers.
Step Three: Light shit on fire.
"OK, maybe fifth."
Step Four: Wait for this to happen (after approximately two minutes) and flee the scene in terror.
"Is it even on the list?!"
This fiasco was known as the Hellfire Death Match and, thankfully, nobody died as a result of it. Although one participant (who also happened to be 68 years old) was hospitalized with serious burns and fell into a heat-induced coma for a while.
In short order, the people who bring you Japanese professional wrestling learned an important lesson about the dangers of cutting corners to save money when putting on an event that combines sport and fire. After the Hellfire Death Match, order was restored and Japan returned to keeping their explosive devices and their barbed wire in separate parts of the ring.
Rings Full of Scorpions, Piranhas and Cactuses
The problem with promoting a wrestling event as a "death match" is that it rarely lives up to the violent possibilities promised to us by the name. Naturally, we're glad that wrestlers aren't murdering each other for our entertainment, but watching participants brave serious injury is pretty much the entire point of the death match. Otherwise, it's just slapstick.
Japan understands that referring to something as a death match implies a certain level of entertainment value. That's why, over there, you'll see stunts like this on a regular basis:
What you're looking at is a Japanese wrestling death match in which the loser was whichever wrestler was unable to avoid having his head dunked in a tank full of piranhas. Don't worry, the red stuff in the water is just human blood. But what fun is a tank full of piranhas if you don't have any compelling scenery to go with it?
That's a great question that was resoundingly answered by whoever came up with the Scorpion and Cactus Desert Death Match. It's the same premise as the piranha tank match, but this time, the tank is filled with scorpions and there are actual cactuses in the corners of the ring.
"This is the year that Japan sweeps the Bad Idea Olympics!"
At this point, you're probably thinking, "Yeah, that's cool and all, but do they ever wrestle on a plank of wood suspended above the ground over a net made entirely of barbed wire?" That's a stupid question. Of course they do.
One Japanese wrestling gimmick stands tall above all others, though. When you want a death match that really lives up to its name, accept nothing less than a Fluorescent Light Tube Match. It's everything you love about wrestling, with one very basic added twist.
It goes like this. Need to headbutt someone? Grab a few fluorescent light tubes!
There is elegance in simplicity.
Boom! Now it's a fluorescent light tube headbutt!
There's an old Japanese saying: "Lacerations are better than concussions."
If you're in the mood to see all of the bloody highlights from the historic match depicted above (and let's be honest, you are), here's the video:
You may be tempted to say, "Well, it's still all 'fake,' though, nobody is really in danger up there. Otherwise they wouldn't let them do it!" On one hand, that makes sense; on the other, did you see the ring on fire earlier? We have a feeling that the only safety precaution is something to the tune of "Make sure you close your eyes when he smashes the glass tubes across your face."
Staged Sexual Assault
Staged sexual molestation is a major source of comedy in Japanese wrestling, and most other forms of Japanese entertainment. The most recognizable practitioner of this most provocative of wrestling moves is a man who goes by the subtly homosexual name of Hard Gay.
That's him in the middle.
The wrestling persona of comedian Masaki Sumitani, Hard Gay is the embodiment of every offensive gay stereotype you've ever heard, wearing an S&M fetish outfit meant to make him every heterosexual's worst nightmare.
And, as you can see, the entire match is one prolonged excuse for the other wrestlers' faces to wind up hilariously glued to Gay's crotch:
Behold, the subtle intricacies of Japanese humor.
Compared to his fellow wrestler Danshoku Dino, however, Hard Gay is a rank amateur in the art of staged sexual assault. Like Hard Gay, Danshoku Dino's stage persona is that of a sexually aggressive homosexual. But -- unlike Hard Gay -- Dino is a lot more direct about ramming his junk in other people's faces. Among the devastating maneuvers you can see Dino employing on this compilation video of his greatest hits are ...
The Danshoku Nightmare, which involves Dino pulling down his wrestling trunks to reveal a tasty thong and then teabagging his opponent into submission:
Yeah, we can see how this might take the fight out of you.
The Shining Dick, which involves Danshoku showing his opponent what we can only assume is his shining dick:
And, of course, the Danshoku Driver, in which he puts his opponent's head inside his underwear and then lands a pile driver:
If he were wearing a thong, this would be felony assault.
Some of the Wrestlers Aren't Human (Literally)
Yoshihiko is a top Japanese wrestler. He's built a successful career and even has his own comic book. His tale is an inspiring one, because Yoshihiko has a handicap that separates him from most wrestlers. Yoshihiko ... is a blow-up sex doll.
Which doesn't really count against you in Japan.
For the record, the doll is the aggressor in the above picture. The move ends like this:
In his seven-year career, Yoshihiko has needed to be replaced three times, but don't take that to mean that this doll can't kick some ass. Here's a video of Yoshihiko in action. We shit you not, one of his "greatest moves" involves another person just kind of wadding Yoshihiko up and throwing him in the gut of another wrestler:
Other noteworthy characters of Japanese wrestling include several small children, somebody who calls himself Super Shit Machine and a miniature Dachshund named Cocolo. Oh, and a table wrestled a ladder once.
The floor won.
But things really took a turn for the brilliant when a wrestler named Misuteru made his debut appearance. Well, "appearance" is probably the wrong word to use here, because Misuteru is completely invisible.
We'd provide some screenshots for those who can't watch the video, but would they really do you any good? The guy could be in the process of launching a sneak attack in that table vs. ladder match and we wouldn't even know. He's invisible!
Other Wrestlers Are Little Girls
If horror movies have taught us anything, it's that small Japanese girls are terrifying. They drown under tragic circumstances, and then spend their afterlife cursing things and making strangers die horrible deaths, all the while dripping stagnant water all over the carpet.
But if you ask Japan, they'll tell you that little girls also make incredible wrestlers. Take President Ramu, for example. She's a preteen who runs around in makeup that makes her look like the girl from The Ring while wrestling men over twice her size. Her finishing move is apparently to squat at the head of her victim and emit a high-pitched scream:
A move she stole from Muhammad Ali.
In other words, she's every kid ever. Also, she claims her wrestling ability is owed to demonic possession.
Lest you think that little girl wrestling is reserved for just one novelty act, we'd like to direct your attention to ICE Ribbon, a female wrestling organization from the Saltama prefecture in Japan that trains primary-school-aged girls to be professional wrestlers. One of their younger trainees, 9-year-old Haruka Kumagai, became Internet famous when a video of her "defeating" junior heavyweight champion Kenny Omega went viral:
ICE Ribbon is currently promoting another talented 11-year-old named Kurumi ("Walnut") who can already pull some seriously badass moves, like this German suplex:
In case you're unaware, the move performed in the above video is one of the most dangerous in all of wrestling. A bad landing can permanently break a wrestler's neck and spine. So these girls must train for years to ensure that they know exactly what they are doing and don't inadvertently hurt each other, right?
Nope. Kurumi had been training for less than a year before that match. On top of that, the training system is virtually nonexistent, and wrestlers can come and go as they please, without any set training, because -- according to the president of the NEO Women's Wrestling -- females lack the discipline and personality attributes to train using traditional methods.
"... so we went ahead and substituted hairstylists for safety trainers."
For our part, we say that probably has something to do with the fact that female wrestlers have to do shit like this ...
The Magical Rape Baby Story Line
The Japanese wrestling promotion HUSTLE was created as an industry experiment to see whether American-style pro wrestling could find a market in Japan. Like the WWE, HUSTLE includes dramatic storytelling; there are faces and heels (good and bad guys), as well as ongoing sagas and feuds that compel their audience to return week after week. And because HUSTLE is Japanese, it was no time at all before a family saga story line featuring an implied rape, bizarre alien biology and secondhand death by obesity was ready to go.
The saga began when Yinling the Erotic Terrorist fought Muta the Great, one of Japan's most influential and beloved pro wrestlers. Muta's signature finishing move was the Green Mist, which he squirted out of his mouth to blind his opponents. When Muta defeated Yinling, though, he held her down and sprayed her square in the vagina:
Apparently his green mist contains sperm, because this caused Yinling to become pregnant. So anyway, Yinling laid an egg in the ring, of course ...
This actually makes complete sense in Japan.
... and that egg hatched into 514-pound wrestler Monster Bono.
So that's what a rave for obese Asian men would look like.
Thus was created a family dynamic that feels ripped straight from the Game of Thrones universe, the three fighting match after match together as a loving family unit. Muta was the gruff but loving father, as evidenced by this adorable picture of him rubbing Bono's head affectionately:
This loving family continued to fight alongside each other until Yinling and Bono had a falling out, which lead to Bono challenging her in the ring. Yinling fought valiantly, but Bono won. Tragically, Bono's finishing blow -- jumping on top and crushing his opponent with his massive bulk -- accidentally killed Yinling. As she died, he held her in his arms and the two were reconciled.
Via tender breastfeeding.
It's a tale of love and the harsh beauty hidden within the daily struggle of life; it's a tragic exploration of the way shortsighted concerns can lead us to harm the people we love the most; it's the Yinling egg-rape family saga, and you can relive it all here:
Get some tissues ready.
For more wrestling insanity, check out The 8 Most Insane Moments in Professional Wrestling and The 9 Most Unintentionally Depressing Pro Wrestling Gimmicks.