The Great Sasuke
The Great Sasuke is the founder and owner of Michinoku Pro and a 19-year veteran of puroresu. He is also another wrestler who was also a politician, he was a former legislator in the Iwate Prefectural Assembly. In the ring he has competed in several promotions over his career but calls Michinoku Pro home.
He started out as Masa Michinoku, a combination of part of his real name and the alternate name for his home region, Tohoku-it’s also called Michinoku. During a tour of Mexico he became Ninja Sasuke, incorporating a mask and uniform into his gimmick. He changed his name to The Great Sasuke when he returned to Japan. In 1996 he became the first J-Crown champion, unifying 8 separate Jr. Heavyweight titles as one. He then founded Michinoku Pro and entered into a working agreement with WWF that saw him be part of the tournament to crown the first WWF Light Heavyweight Champion in 1997. Although Sasuke was heavily pushed to be the winner of the tournament, he would later brag to the Japanese media how he would only defend the title in Japan had he won the title and would refuse to drop the title on WWF television. When the WWF heard of Sasuke’s comments, he was fired as well as his working agreement with them terminated.
After this he began teaming with New Japan star Tiger Mask 4 as they began a feud against the evil clones of their respective gimmicks-Black Tiger and Sasuke The Great. Sasuke himself turned heel in 2002, changing his ring name to SASUKE. But he soon turned face again thanks in part to Jinsei Shinzaki “exorcising the evil out of him”. It’s part of Shinzaki’s gimmick. In 2003 Sasuke stepped down as promoter/head of Michinoku Pro to focus on his political career, turning control over to Shinzaki, although he continued to compete. On April 13, 2003, Sasuke won election to the Iwate Prefectural Assembly, making him the first actual masked legislator in history. He is the fourth Japanese wrestler to get elected to office. Antonio Inoki, Hiroshi Hase and Atsushi Onita preceded him, though all of them were elected to the Japanese Diet at the national level. More recently, Sasuke lost in an election to become governor of Iwate.
On February 19, 2009, Sasuke was arrested for assault after kicking a 36-year old man and grabbing him by the shirt collar. Sasuke was reported to be angry because his picture was being taken with a cellphone camera. However, all charges were dropped and he was released from jail on February 21, after serving 40 hours in jail, after Sasuke apologized to the man. The man who took Sasuke’s photograph was said to not have known who he was and thought he was just some crazy person wearing a mask in public (it is not uncommon for masked wrestlers to wear their masks even when not wrestling).
Sasuke also debuted a new gimmick in 2009, Sasuke The Ram (pictured, above right). This gimmick is based on the character “Randy ‘The Ram'” featured in the movie “The Wrestler”, and Sasuke even uses Randy’s finishing move, Ram Jam. He remains active today in Michinoku Pro and occasionally makes appearances in other promotions, usually alongside other legends of the ring in Dradition and the occasional indy appearance.
Stats & Info:
Real name: Masanori Murakawa
Weight: 216 pounds/96 kg
Experience: 19 years
Finishing move: Asai Moonsault, Thunder Fire Powerbomb, others (as Great Sasuke), Ram Jam (as Sasuke The Ram)
Current affiliation: Michinoku Pro
Alternate gimmick: Sasuke The Ram
1-time J-Crown Champion
1-time FMW Independent Jr. Heavyweight Champion
1-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion
1-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
1-time NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Champion
1-time NWA World Middleweight Champion
1-time NWA World Welterweight Champion
1-time UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Champion
1-time WWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Champion
1-time Osaka Pro Tag Team Champion
2-time British Commonwealth Jr. Heavyweight Champion
2-time Tohoku Jr. Heavyweight Champion
2-time Tohoku Tag Team Champion
2-time UWA/UWF Intercontinental Tag Team Champion
2-time WWF Light Heavyweight Champion (not recognized by WWE)
1-time WWA World Middleweight Champion
1-time WAR International Jr. Heavyweight Champion
1994 One Night Captain’s Fall Tournament
1995, 1997 Michinoku Pro Tag League
1999 NWA Middleweight Title Tournament
2005 Michinoku Trios League
Ranked #92 In PWI 500 Best Singles Wrestlers Of “PWI Years” In 2003
2 Wrestling Observer Newsletter 5 Star Matches
1994 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Best Flying Wrestler Award
1994 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Best Wrestling Maneuver Award
Official website (Japanese):