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Rusher Kimura (1941-2010)

  

Real Name

Masao Kimura

Lifespan - 6/30/1941 - 5/24/2010

6'1" 275 lbs. - Nakagawa, Hokkaido, Japan


Athletic Background

Sumo (Makushita)


Teacher(s) - Toyonobori, Billy Robinson, 

Professional Background

JWA(`64-`66), Tokyo Pro(`66-`67), IWE(`67-`81), New Japan(`81-`84), Los Angeles(`82), Stampede(`83), UWF(`84), All Japan(`84-`00), NOAH(`00-`04)


Groups - International Blood Army, Family Gundan


Aliases

Masao Kimura, Mr. Toyo, Mr. Sun, Crusher Kimura


Peak Years`74-`81

Place in HistoryRusher Kimura had a lengthy career that went through many ups and downs along with the puroresu scene itself.  A former sumo like Rikidozan, Toyonobori and Michiaki Yoshimura, who were JWA's top native stars, he started when the sport was enjoying its initial boom in Japan.  Kimura gained experience in the midcard before leaving for Antonio Inoki’s short-lived Tokyo Pro after a failed coup.  After its fall, most of the wrestlers joined the IWE, with whom Tokyo Pro had been running joint shows. Toyonobori and Strong Kobayashi were the top stars for the IWE while Rusher began gaining traction.  He was a strong supporting player as a tag wrestler and got his first singles push when he won IWE's annual round robin in 1972.  Rusher succeeded Kobayashi as the featured star and while not the most polished or athletic pro-wrestler, Rusher Kimura was a strong performer who consistently won the Japanese media's "performance award" in the 70s.  He became known for his brawling style and the king of cage death matches having battles against "hardcore legend" Gypsy Joe.  In late 1970, Kimura had the first televised cage match in Japan and TBS refused to let another air, but the violent matches became the signature of IWE throughout the next decade.  The provincial champion, Rusher mainly battled foreign stars, often from the AWA, making him one of the most popular pro-wrestlers in the late 70s.  His star power kept the company afloat before their closure in 1981.  Rusher, representing the IWE, invaded New Japan and had two notable matches against Antonio Inoki.  The first was a DQ win over Inoki and second was a 3-on-1 match where Inoki beat Animal Hamaguchi and Isamu Teranishi, but was counted out against Kimura.  After that run, the aging Rusher struggled to find a spot.  All Japan brought him in and he settled into light-hearted undercard matches with Giant Baba and other popular veterans who were past their physical primes.  Rusher continued this role for years, even for a few more years in NOAH becoming the oldest active wrestler at 61.  Rusher Kimura retired in 2004 and passed away several years later.  The man known as the "monster of cage matches" in his prime years popularized a type of bloody and gimmick-heavy style of pro-wrestling that preceded the death match boom of the 1990s.  He used his notoriety from that time to become the "monster of the microphone" whose popular post-matches done in his gravelly, deep voice were well-received by old and young fans alike.  

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