Koji Nakagawa

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Koji Nakagawa
Born (1968-06-26) June 26, 1968 (age 49)[1]
Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan[1]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Koji Nakagawa
Goemon
Billed height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[1]
Billed weight 90 kg (198 lb)[1]
Debut March 20, 1992[1]

Koji Nakagawa (中川 浩二, Nakagawa Koji, born June 26, 1968) is a Japanese semi-retired professional wrestler best known for his work in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) between 1992 and 2002. He is perhaps best known for his “Hitman” character, heavily inspired by Canadaian professional wrestler Bret Hart. Nakagawa also wrestled as Goemon between 2000 and 2002, a dark thief character that was eventually killed and turned into a ghost in storyline.

Career

Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling

Early years (1992–1994)

An amateur wrestler in his scholastic years, Nakagawa debuted for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) on March 20, 1992 in a losing effort against Eiji Ezaki.[2] After two months in the lower card, he wrestled his very first main event match by teaming with Atsushi Onita to defeat Sambo Asako and Mr. Gannosuke in a tag team match on May 31.[3] As a rookie, he was utilized in opening matches against fellow rookies during the early years of his career and would often put over major stars. The first win of Nakagawa's career was an eight-man battle royal on August 23.[4] His first big match took place at the company's 3rd Anniversary Show, where he teamed with Eiji Ezaki against Chris Jericho and Kevin Faule in a losing effort.[5] He picked up his first win in singles competition against Ezaki on October 17.[6] His next major show appearance was at the 4th Anniversary Show from Kawasaki Stadium on May 5, 1993, where he lost to Eiji Ezaki in the opening match.[7] He defeated Chiaki Matsuyama via submission at Summer Spectacular on August 22.[8]

Nakagawa participated in a tournament for the newly created Independent World Junior Heavyweight Championship, in which he defeated Eiji Ezaki in the opening round but injured his arm, which put him out of action and Ezaki replaced him in the semi-final round. Nakagawa returned to FMW on November 19 by losing to Masato Tanaka. At the 5th Anniversary Show, Nakagawa teamed with Battle Ranger Z and Masato Tanaka to defeat the Michinoku Pro Wrestling's team of The Great Sasuke, Hanzo Nakajima and Shiryu.

Independent World Junior Heavyweight Champion (1995–1996)

In 1995, Nakagawa would adopt the "Hitman" persona, reminiscent of Bret Hart, wearing similar ring attire to Hart and receiving a theme song similar to Hart’s theme, "Hart Attack". On March 30, Nakagawa defeated Hideki Hosaka to win his first title, the Independent World Junior Heavyweight Championship. The title was vacated later that year for unknown reasons. In the summer of 1995, Nakagawa participated in the Young Spirit Tournament, featuring the new generation of wrestlers that represented FMW after the departure of Atsushi Onita. On November 20, Nakagawa defeated Ricky Fuji to win his second Independent World Junior Heavyweight Championship. The following month, Nakagawa went to the United States to wrestle three matches for Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), which included losses to El Puerto Ricano and Taz at Holiday Hell and a title shot against Mikey Whipwreck for the ECW World Television Championship, where Whipwreck retained the title.

In early 1996, Nakagawa began feuding with Kaientai Deluxe after Kaientai DX members Taka Michinoku and Shoichi Funaki stole Nakagawa's Independent World Junior Heavyweight Championship title belt after a match on February 23. Nakagawa successfully defended the title against Funaki on April 21 before losing the title to Michinoku at the 7th Anniversary Show. Nakagawa would then participate in a tournament for the newly created Independent Heavyweight Championship, losing to the eventual winner W*ING Kanemura on June 27. Nakagawa would then fight as a fan favorite alongside FMW to feud with W*ING Alliance, Puerto Rican Army and Lethal Weapon. He was also promoted as an off-screen booker of FMW. On June 28, Nakagawa teamed with Masato Tanaka and Tetsuhiro Kuroda to defeat Super Leather and The Headhunters to win the World Street Fight 6-Man Tag Team Championship. After the title win, Nakagawa spotted Hayabusa watching the match backstage and confronted him for leaving FMW to fight Puerto Rican Army when FMW needed him. As a result, both men competed in a match at Summer Spectacular, which Hayabusa won. However, the match was considered a disappointment and both men competed in a rematch on August 23, which Nakagawa won. Nakagawa, Tanaka and Kuroda lost the World Street Fight 6-Man Tag Team Championship to Hisakatsu Oya and The Headhunters on November 16 and failed in a rematch on February 19, 1997.

ZEN and Team No Respect (1997–2000)

Nakagawa began feuding with Katsutoshi Niiyama, after Niiyama joined the Funk Masters of Wrestling and the two competed in a match at 8th Anniversary Show, which Nakagawa won. After the match, both men embraced and Niiyama left FMW. Nakagawa won his second World Street Fight 6-Man Tag Team Championship by teaming with Hayabusa and Masato Tanaka to defeat Hisakatsu Oya, Mr. Gannosuke and The Gladiator on August 31, 1997. They lost the title to the newly formed stable ZEN (Atsushi Onita, Hido and Tetsuhiro Kuroda) on October 14. Nakagawa grew upset with his position in the company as FMW President Shoichi Arai had promised him of a push but he was restricted to wrestle in the undercard. On December 13, Nakagawa attacked Hayabusa after Hayabusa praised FMW and screamed at him for praising the company after it had lied to him for giving him the push. On the final day of the Super Extreme Wrestling War tour, Nakagawa joined ZEN by rescuing Atsushi Onita from an assault by his teammates Mr. Gannosuke and Yukihiro Kanemura after Onita had lost a WarGames match to Hayabusa, Masato Tanaka and Jinsei Shinzaki.

On January 7, 1998, the team of Atsushi Onita, Koji Nakagawa and Tetsuhiro Kuroda defeated Mr. Gannosuke, Yukihiro Kanemura and Hido at ZEN's first promoted show. After the match, Gannosuke, Kanemura and Hido, along with Fuyuki-Gun attacked ZEN and merged to form Team No Respect. On February 13, Onita, Nakagawa and Kuroda defeated Gannosuke, Kanemura and Jado to win the World Street Fight 6-Man Tag Team Championship. Nakagawa competed against Hisakatsu Oya and Chris Chetti in a three-way dance at FMW's first pay-per-view event 9th Anniversary Show on April 30, 1998, where he was the first to get eliminated. They lost the title to TNR's Kodo Fuyuki, Hido and Yukihiro Kanemura on May 5 in a match which stipulated that ZEN would be forced to disband after Nakagawa suffered a shoulder injury. On May 31, Nakagawa teamed with Onita to challenge Fuyuki and Kanemura for the Brass Knuckles Tag Team Championship. Nakagawa turned on Onita by smashing Go Ito's crutch on Onita's back and helping Fuyuki and Kanemura retain the title. Nakagawa turned villain for the first time in his career and revealed that the injury was a ruse to end ZEN and then joined Team No Respect. Go Ito gave him the nickname "Mr. Double Cross" on his betrayal of Onita.

A day later, Nakagawa teamed with Fuyuki and Kanemura to defeat Hayabusa, Masato Tanaka and Hisakatsu Oya to win the vacant World Street Fight 6-Man Tag Team Championship. The following month, on July 10, Nakagawa pinned Hayabusa in an eight-man elimination tag team match, which led Hayabusa to challenge Nakagawa to a match at the Welcome to the Darkside pay-per-view, where Nakagawa defeated "Darkside of Hayabusa" with the help of Mr. Gannosuke. This earned Nakagawa, a title shot against Hayabusa for the Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship and the Independent Heavyweight Championship on October 6, where Hayabusa retained the title. The World Street Fight 6-Man Tag Team Championship was retired on November 20 and awarded to the departing Atsushi Onita as a tribute by Shoichi Arai for establishing FMW. Nakagawa then participated in the Over the Top Tournament to become the #1 contender for the Double Championship, losing to eventual winner Mr. Gannosuke in the opening round.

In 1999, Nakagawa teamed with TNR teammate Gedo to participate in a tournament for the vacant Brass Knuckles Tag Team Championship, where they scored ten points and qualified for the play-off, where they lost to Masato Tanaka and Tetsuhiro Kuroda on May 3. On June 13, Nakagawa and Gedo defeated Tanaka and Kuroda to win the title. They successfully defended the title against Sabu and Super Leather on June 15 and the title was replaced with the WEW World Tag Team Championship on June 16, with Nakagawa and Gedo being crowned the first WEW Tag Team Champions by Kodo Fuyuki. They also won the new WEW 6-Man Tag Team Championship with Fuyuki by defeating Hayabusa, Masato Tanaka and Tetsuhiro Kuroda in the final of a tournament on July 31 during the Goodbye Hayabusa tour. At Hayabusa Graduation Ceremony, Nakagawa and Gedo lost the WEW Tag Team Championship to Tetsuhiro Kuroda and Hisakatsu Oya. At Last Match, the team of Kodo Fuyuki, Koji Nakagawa and Gedo successfully defended the WEW 6-Man Tag Team Championship against Tetsuhiro Kuroda, Hisakatsu Oya and Yoshinori Sasaki. They lost the title to Masato Tanaka, Tetsuhiro Kuroda and Hisakatsu Oya on September 23.

At 10th Anniversary Show, Nakagawa teamed with his Team No Respect teammates Jado and Gedo to take on Ricky Fuji, Flying Kid Ichihara and Chocoball Mukai for the vacant WEW 6-Man Tag Team Championship, which the latter team won. However, Nakagawa, Jado and Gedo defeated Fuji, Ichihara and Mukai in a rematch to win the title on December 11. Following the departure of Kodo Fuyuki from TNR, the rest of the group turned fan favorites and feuded with the ECW Japan group. On February 25, 2000, Nakagawa and Gedo defeated the team of Hideki Hosaka and Yoshinori Sasaki, Hisakatsu Oya and Naohiko Yamazaki and Jado and Kintaro Kanemura in a four-way match to become the #1 contenders for the WEW Tag Team Championship, which they won by defeating Kodo Fuyuki and Kyoko Inoue on April 1. At Night in Shibuya Backdraft Eve, the team of Nakagawa, Jado and Gedo lost the WEW 6-Man Tag Team Championship to Kodo Fuyuki, Kyoko Inoue and Chocoball Mukai, but regained it in a rematch on May 3. They successfully defended the title against Willie Takayama, Willie Williams, Bouzu and Megane at 11th Anniversary Show. Nakagawa, Jado and Gedo lost the title to Kodo Fuyuki, Kyoko Inoue and Chocoball Mukai on May 28 after Nakagawa hit Gedo with the title belt and turned on Team No Respect to leave the group and join Fuyuki's group, which would be called Shin Fuyuki-Gun.

Goemon (2000–2002)

After joining Shin Fuyuki-Gun in 2000, Nakagawa debuted a new gimmick on May 30 named Goemon, a dark thief character based on the historic Japanese thief Goemon Ishikawa. Under the new persona, he began feuding with Onryo, a ghost wrestler. Goemon defeated Onryo in their first singles encounter on October 10. Onryo later brought an item called the Belt of Curse and put it on the line in their feud, revealing it was a cursed object which would be granted to the loser and would slowly kill him if he held it, and that it was what killed Onryo in the first place and turned him into a ghost. After losing to Onryo at Deep Throat, Goemon was handcuffed to the belt and it started to kill him, weakening him and making him cough up blood during his matches. He also started to wear a half mask to hide the fact that half of his face was turning white like Onryo's. Goemon lost rematches to Onryo on November 28 and December 10, and was forced to keep the belt and eventually died in storyline after bleeding profusely. He returned as Onryo's mystery tag team partner on December 20 against Shinjuku Shark and Naohiko Yamazaki, explaining he was now a ghost too and that they both had shared a bond in dying, which would turn Goemon into a fan favorite. During this time, Nakagawa was promoted to head trainer at the FMW Dojo.

On January 7, 2001, Goemon and Onryo defeated Hideki Hosaka and Mammoth Sasaki to win the WEW Hardcore Tag Team Championship after Hosaka turned on Sasaki. They lost the title to Kintaro Kanemura and Ryuji Yamakawa on February 23. On April 15, the team of Goemon, Onryo and The Great Sasuke lost to Team Kuroda (Tetsuhiro Kuroda, Mr. Gannosuke and Mammoth Sasaki). At 12th Anniversary Show, Goemon and Onryo defeated Super Crazy and Crazy Boy to win the vacant WEW World Tag Team Championship. After a four month reign, Goemon and Onryo dropped the title to Gannosuke and Sasaki on September 5. The titles would later be won by the team of Hayabusa and Tetsuhiro Kuroda, who vacated it on November 5, after Hayabusa’s career-ending injury. Goemon and Onryo participated in a tournament for the vacant title by losing to Mr. Gannosuke and Tetsuhiro Kuroda in the first round on December 21. Nakagawa's last FMW match took place on February 4, 2002, in which he teamed with Kintaro Kanemura and Mammoth Sasaki to defeat Mitsunobu Kikuzawa, Paul DeLuc and Vic Grimes. This would turn out to be FMW's last show as Shoichi Arai closed FMW due to bankruptcy on February 25.

During his time in FMW, Goemon also wrestled in Michinoku Pro Wrestling, BattlARTS, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and W*ING Reunion shows.

Freelance (2002–present)

After FMW folded in February 2002, Nakagawa became a freelancer, alternating between his real name and the Goemon character. He wrestled for various promotions including Wrestling Marvelous Future, Fuyuki Army Promotion, 666, and Kaientai Dojo.

Personal life

Nakagawa is married to female professional wrestler Yoko Ikeda, who also wrestled for FMW during her career. Together they have one daughter, Haruka Nakagawa, a former member of the idol groups AKB48 and JKT48.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Cagematch Profile". 
  2. ^ "FMW results - March 20, 1992". Cagematch. Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  3. ^ "FMW results - May 31, 1992". Cagematch. Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  4. ^ "FMW results - August 23, 1992". Cagematch. Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  5. ^ "Fall Spectacular 1992 results". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  6. ^ "FMW results - October 17, 1992". Cagematch. Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  7. ^ "FMW 4th Anniversary Show results". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  8. ^ "Summer Spectacular 1993 results". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved 2017-12-16. 

External links

  • Koji Nakagawa's Bio at FMW Wrestling
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