AKIRA is a 25-year veteran who is now affiliated with SMASH after a couple of stints with New Japan. He spent the first 20 years of his career in New Japan before jumping to All-Japan, then returned to New Japan in 2007.
AKIRA joined the New Japan Dojo after graduating from high school in 1984, debuting just a few months later as his real name, Akira Nogami. In 1990, he left on an overseas learning excursion to Europe in Otto Wanz’s Catch Wrestling Association and returned to NJPW a year later, and developed his AKIRA persona. Akira scored a big win over Jushin Thunder Liger in August 1991 to begin his one and only reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. After losing the title to Norio Honaga in November 1991, he graduated to the heavyweight division. In June 1992, he teamed up with Hiroshi Hase to participate in the NWA World Tag Team Championship tournament, held by World Championship Wrestling. They defeated the Headhunters in the first round, but Akira suffered an eye injury and was replaced by Shinya Hashimoto for the remainder of the tournament. In 1993, he formed the Japanese Jollyjacks with Takayuki Iizuka. After proving that the team was no threat to the IWGP Tag Team Championship, the J-J-Jacks disbanded in 1996, as Iizuka teamed up with Kazuo Yamazaki, with whom he won the titles, while Nogami floundered in the mid-card.
Nogami suffered a serious eye injury in 1998 and returned in February 1999, wearing face paint, sporting blond hair, and returning to his AKIRA persona. From 2001 onward, he wrestled mainly in the junior heavyweight division and engaged in some classic matches. After failing to reach a new contract agreement with New Japan in 2004, Nogami declared himself a freelancer and began competing only part-time. He then made regular appearances in All-Japan until 2007, when he returned to New Japan for the C.T.U farewell show. On February 24, 2008, he and Liger won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, Nogami’s first title in over 16 years. He is currently part of the Legend stable with Jushin Liger, Masa Chono, and Riki Chōshū.
AKIRA has also done some acting during his career-he had a recurring role in the 2000 Japanese TV show “Kamen Rider Kuuga” as the character “Zu-Zain-Da”. He also did a regular amount of other acting work during his All-Japan years.
AKIRA is no longer with New Japan as of May 2010, but continues to appear in the promotion as an outsider. As of June 2010 he is now affiliated with SMASH.
Stats & Info:
Real name: Akira Nogami
Weight: 198 pounds/90 kg
Experience: 25 years
Finishing move: Musasabi Press
Current affiliation: SMASH
Ring entrance theme: “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” by The Doors, “Tokyo Road” by Bon Jovi, “Silence Actor”
1-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion
1-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
1996 1 Night Tag Team Tournament