Saturday, March 28, 2009

Great Sasuke

In his early career, Masanori 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 ( Taka Michinoku later adopted a similar gimmick, in part to parody him ). On a tour of Mexico, Murakawa took on the mask, uniform, and name Ninja Sasuke. This was the predecessor to the Great Sasuke gimmick he would adopt upon returning to Japan, and use for the rest of his career.

Murakawa is also the owner, and founder, of Michinoku Pro Wrestling, the first Japanese independent promotion not to be based around the Tokyo area. 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.
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.

It was said that when he showed up at his first day in office, he was asked to present an unmasked photo of himself, and a security guard had to check that it was indeed under him under the mask. Why wrestlers have never thought to take this measure, and spare themselves against attacks from masked doppelgangers, is beyond me.

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