Friday, August 7, 2020

Hayabusa, Japanese Wrestling Icon, Passes Away At 47

https://youtu.be/Iz1gyGw7dOU

Tokyo Sports and a number of pro wrestling websites have reported that Eiji Ezaki, best known as Hayabusa during his pro wrestling career, has passed away at 47 years of age. According to the Tokyo Sports report, he suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage in his brain, though it’s not clear yet if the brain bleed was a spontaneous event or if he had hit his head in a fall.

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There were two phases to Ezaki’s career professional wrestling. The first, as a performer, really kicked off 1994, when, at the famous Super J-Cup one night junior heavyweight tournament, he debuted the Hayabusa gimmick in a losing effort against Jushin Thunder Liger. He quickly became one of the top stars in the company, becoming the lead babyface when company founder Atsushi Onita retired (for the second and far from last time) a year later. Under Hayabusa, while FMW still had its fair share of crazy brawls and exploding barbed wire matches, it become a more wrestling centric promotion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTbOv9mZqt8

The second phase, as a promoter, began in 2001, when he was paralyzed in the ring after a freak accident where he slipped performing a quebrada (Lionsault) in the ring, landing on his head. As he grew depressed in the hospital, his friend Hiromichi Fuyuki, the FMW booker and his in-ring rival who was dying of cancer, told him that while he himself didn’t have much time left, Ezaki still had the rest of his life and couldn’t give up. Last year, in the above ceremony at Korakuen Hall, in front of a crowd of hardcore fans and fellow legends he walked unassisted in public for the first time since his injury 14 years earlier.

In the United States, Hayabusa would be best known for his ECW pay-per-view appearance in 1998, where at Heatwave, he and Jinsei Shinzaki (Hakushi of WWF fame) lost to Sabu and Rob Van Dam. He spent a lot of time in Mexico, as well, mostly during the period in the early ’90s were he was fine-tuning the Hayabusa gimmick before debuting it in Japan. While best known for his high flying and participating in the crazy gimmick matches that  Onita had made famous, he was a very well-rounded worker and had a number of great matches. FMW was one of the best promotions in the world in the late ’90s, and Hayabusa was key to that, along with Fuyuki, Masato Tanaka, Mike “The Gladiator” Awesome, Mr. Gannosuke, Tetsuhiro Kuroda, Yukihiro Kanemura, Gedo, and Jado. When the promotion veered into a more “WWF-style” direction, he even experimented with a new unmasked persona, “H,” which was inspired by The Rock, even using the Rock Bottom as a finisher dubbed the “H Effect.”

For probably the most detailed Hayabusa biography you can find online, check out the one at BAHU’s FMW fan site.

Various Japanese wrestlers are expressing their condolences on Twitter, including long-time friend and in-ring rival Masato Tanaka:

Rest in peace.

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