WWE & Beyond: A Tribute to Akira Hokuto, One of the Greatest Pro Wrestlers Ever
Black Division: Chinmay vs. I am D Real Deal Yo
Topic: Greatest Japanese Female Wrestler
A rose in hand and swagger of tongue have often defined a classic woman. For all their endurance, which comes with the womanhood, we have never really related women with deeds that draw blood.
Even as pro wrestling fans, to be particular WWE fans, we know women as “Divas” not as “wrestlers.” “Diva” is a term that goes well with our age, which has associated women with soaps, shampoos and silicon more than anything else.
However, there is one land that escapes orbit of our awareness sometimes. It is a land which has the greatest tradition of female wrestling that goes back to pre-World War II days. Yes, I am talking about Japan.
Joshi Puroresu (a.k.a. female wrestling), has been the integral part of its rich pro wrestling heritage. Japan has seen some of the greatest female wrestlers, who will be remembered as the best of either gender.
Choosing one of them was a test of wits and instincts.
Manami Toyota, the most decorated and widely regarded as the best female wrestler, could have been a natural choice. Jaguar Yokota, the greatest women's champion of all-time was another logical choice. Jumbo Miyamoto with five WWWA (World Women’s Wrestling Association) world titles was a great choice, too.
I had a tough time in making up my mind. I decided to go for someone whose passion for the business, emotion, endurance and art transcended everything I have seen till this day. It was Akira Hokuto, who mesmerized me.
Akira debuted at the tender of 18 in All-Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling in 1985. It was in the same year, she won the prestigious award of Rookie of the Year. In 1986, she not only won the AJW Junior Championship, but also participated in a tag match which was AJW Match of the Year.
In 1987, she won the top tag title with Yumiko Hotta. Shortly afterwards, they lost their titles to the Red Typhoons in a two-out-of-three falls match. But that match had the first moment that truly defined Akira as the world now knows her.
However, before I go into that, I will just quickly highlight the remaining career highs of Akira.
In 1991 and 1992, she won the All-Pacific Championship. In 1993, she defeated Shinobu Kondori in a match which has gone down in the annals of history as probably the greatest women’s match of all-time. The match was rated as a perfect five-star match.
In the same year, she won Japan Grand Prix to become the No. 1 contender for the world title. The championship match was the second moment that signified the true legacy of Akira.
Later in the 1993, she married to a Mexican wrestler, Antonio Gómez Medina, and consequently moved to Mexico. There, she debuted in the renowned CMLL (Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre) and won the coveted CMLL World Women's Championship. Her reign lasted for a whopping two years, until she decided to go back to Japan.
Who is the Greatest Japanese Female Wrestler?
In her second stint at Japan, she had some legendary battles with Aja Kong and Manami Toyota. Her match with Manami is her second five-star match.
In 1995, she debuted in WCW. She was the top stars of the short-lived women’s division of WCW and she is the only women’s champion in WCW history. She left WCW in 1997.
In 1999, she made her return to Japan, but in a new promotion, GAEA. However, now her schedule was much lighter with increased family obligations. After three years, she finally retired from the business in 2002.
In the meanwhile, she received one of the greatest honours in the pro wrestling world, as she was inducted in the Wrestling Observer’s Hall of Fame in 2000.
In pro wrestling, the number of titles or other such achievements cannot be held as the true parameter of legacy. In a scripted business, “how” matters much more than “what.” Akira gallops ahead of the rest right here.
There are three aspects that have truly defined Akira as a legendary pro wrestler. First of all, she is one of the most complete performers this business has ever seen. The aforementioned “first moment” and “second moment” are the remaining two.
Akira’s arsenal had lethal submission moves like the Cloverleaf Leg Lace, Boston Crab and Corner Foot Choke. She was apt at stunning aerial offence. Her mastery over Plancha, variations of moonsault, was simply enchanting.
If this is not enough then her variations of pile drivers, Northern Lights Suplex and Northern Lights Bomb were equally jaw-dropping.
Let me remind you that it is not a case of “jack of all trades,” it is a case of “master of all trades.” I would request you to see the videos embedded with the article. You will realize yourself what I am talking about.
Now let us come to the “first moment.”
In Akira’s match with the Red Typhoons, she broke her neck while performing a moonsault during the second fall. A mortal would have chickened out of the match, but the 20-year-old tender girl carried on and completed her match with a broken neck.
Even later in her career, she wrestled with numerous injuries. She would often come out in bandages, so much so that people called her “Mummy” at times.
Endurance was a defining hallmark of Akira’s career. However, it also is a second side of the curse that hindered her career. It is the curse of injuries.
At every juncture when she was booked to meet the ultimate glory, a severe injury robbed her of it.
In 1993, when she was booked to win the title against Aja Kong, she sustained another injury. Albeit a serious injury, she competed in the match. Not only that she competed, but she won the bout as well. But, she did not win the title.
The AJW world title still remains the diamond missing from this empress’s crown. However, it is the reason why she did not win that takes us to the “second moment” and truly one of the greatest gestures I have ever come to know in my life.
Although Akira was booked to win, she HERSELF requested AJW honchos to make this match a non-title bout. She explained that an injured woman winning such a prestigious title would be an insult of the belt and all previous holders.
What do you write about such a passion and such a respect for art? It just transcends your senses and all you could feel is the rawest form of respect that rises from deepest realms of your mind.
Let me highlight one fact: that she would have joined one extremely elite club of women to have won premier titles in Japan, Mexico and U.S., the three biggest lands of pro wrestling had she chosen otherwise.
She was not an ordinary wrestler; she was a devotee of this art. She never once considered herself above the game in spite of her immense popularity and grand stature.
Once in a generation, some individuals are born with a spirit superior to others. They dream and choose to follow it. They walk on a road immersed in passion and its pains. They create a spectacle, they set an example and all we could do is gasp in awe. We look at them with marvel, but often forget that they are born amongst us, just with an extra ounce of will.
Akira Hokuto belonged to such a clan. It was my privilege and pleasure that I had an opportunity to write on a divine artist.
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