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All Japan

AJPW - All Japan Pro-Wrestling (1972-) 
    Giant Baba was the superstar that helped JWA resurrect after nearly dying following Rikidozan's scandalous death. He had so much appeal and the company made him their focal point. Television contracts led to problems and Baba's eventual departure. Working with Rikidozan's sons and Nippon TV, Giant Baba started his own company, opposite of Antonio Inoki's upstart New Japan promotion. An early signee by the company was a former Olympian, Tomomi Tsuruta, who was named "Jumbo" by the fans. Baba cleverly made himself the drawing card, but pushed Tsuruta for his ability and became a key character when Baba could not be top star anymore. While he and Inoki feuded throughout the 1980s by raiding talent, Baba usually came out on the better end with his stars often returned (with fresh interest) and he was able to utilize stars more effectively. 

    As the 1990s rolled in, All Japan was able to transition wonderfully. Baba was still appearing on the undercard, Jumbo Tsuruta had an excellent feud with Genichiro Tenryu, who left the company suddenly to headline for a new group. Tsuruta was able to spend the last years of his career working with the deep talent pool that was coming up and the  company had secured the best gaijin talent. Mitsuharu Misawa was put over by Tsuruta and given a big push and his supporting cast over the next decade was highlighted by: Toshiaki Kawada, Kenta Kobashi, Akira Taue and Jun Akiyama. Gaijin talent in the first part of the 1990s was formidable as well: Stan Hansen, Steve Williams, Terry Gordy and the Can-Am Express (Dan Kroffat and Doug Furnas). While New Japan had innovative angles and more well-rounded cards, All Japan's traditional style (referred to as the "King's Road") was producing far superior matches that perhaps no promotion will rival. 

    In 1999, Giant Baba passed away and his wife and Misawa took over the company. Problems between the two led to Misawa leading an exodus of pro-wrestlers and staff members that threatened to kill All Japan Pro-Wrestling. Mrs. Baba took control, supported by Kawada and long-time undercarder and trainer Masa Fuchi. The company began relying heavily on outside talent and brought back Tenryu who brought in his allies from his own promotion. The weakened All Japan aligned itself with New Japan and began running inter-promotional matches. Keiji Muto had completely revitalized his career and turned his focus to All Japan before officially jumping and taking over the presidency of the company. Muto has worked to reestablish All Japan by stabilizing the roster, developing gaijin talent and allowing the promotion to stray from the "King's Road."  

After ten years, All Japan had several substantial shifts with changes in ownership, management and the roster.  Talent that Muto had brought in left for Wrestle-1 and a group came in from Pro-Wrestling NOAH.  Jun Akiyama took over as the head of the company and brought All Japan back to being a level of success it had not enjoyed for many years.  While still a distant second on the puroresu landscape, All Japan Pro-Wrestling continues to put out a quality product while still rebuilding.


Akebono
Jun Akiyama 
Motoko Baba
Shohei "Giant" Baba
Riki Choshu 
Tsuyoshi Kikuchi  
Kengo Kimura
Kenta Kobashi
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