Hayabusa, Former Japanese Wrestling Star, Dies at Age 47

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2016

The faces of North Koreans are illuminated by stage lighting as they watch pro wrestlers enter the arena, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Koreans got their first look at pro wrestling in about 20-years on Saturday when former NFL lineman Bob
Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

Japanese wrestling great Hayabusa died Thursday at the age of 47 from complications brought on by a subarachnoid hemorrhage.  

Tokyo Sports (h/t Sean Ross Sapp of WrestlingInc.com) was the first to report the death of the masked legend, who spent time with New Japan Pro Wrestling, Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling, as well as ECW in the United States.

Per Sapp, Hayabusa spent the last 14 years of his life in a wheelchair due to paralysis brought on by two cracked vertebrae suffered in a match against Mammoth Sasaki.

Even so, he shocked the world in 2014 by taking some steps with the help of a cane and some fellow wrestlers:

While Hayabusa held multiple championships in Japan, he is perhaps best known by American fans for his tag team match alongside Jinsei Shinzaki against Rob Van Dam and Sabu at ECW Heat Wave in 1998.

Despite his relatively short stint in the States, Hayabusa left a lasting impression due to his unique look and high-flying style.

Tommy Dreamer, who worked with Hayabusa in ECW, remembered the worldwide star fondly:

The same goes for current WWE Diva Natalya, who spent a great deal of time honing her craft in Japan:

NXT Superstar Samoa Joe also did some tours of Japan early in his career, and he shared his appreciation for everything Hayabusa accomplished:

Aerial wrestling is commonplace across the wrestling world currently, but it can be argued that Hayabusa was among the first to truly popularize it.

Many have followed suit since his debut in 1991, and because of that, he will always have a special place in wrestling history.

Related

    TNA Loses Its TV Deal in the UK

    Pro Wrestling logo
    Pro Wrestling

    TNA Loses Its TV Deal in the UK

    Corey Jacobs
    via Wrestling News

    Twitter Reacts to Top Stars and Moments of Clash of Champions

    Pro Wrestling logo
    Pro Wrestling

    Twitter Reacts to Top Stars and Moments of Clash of Champions

    Erik Beaston
    via Bleacher Report

    Clash of Champions Highlights and Low Points

    Pro Wrestling logo
    Pro Wrestling

    Clash of Champions Highlights and Low Points

    Anthony Mango
    via Bleacher Report

    Biggest Stars of Clash of Champions

    Pro Wrestling logo
    Pro Wrestling

    Biggest Stars of Clash of Champions

    Kevin Wong
    via Bleacher Report