Riki Choshu

One of the most popular and successful wrestlers in New Japan history, if not slightly polarizing, Riki Choshu is a 35-year veteran of wrestling as a wrestler, booker, and promoter among other things. He is of Zainichi Korean descent, as he was born in Seoul, South Korea but is a permanent resident of Japan.
Choshu started wrestling on a major scale in 1972, when he represented South Korea in the Munich Olympics as Kwak Gwang-ung (his Korean name). He then joined New Japan in 1974, but was sent to the US soon after to gain experience. Wrestling under his real name, he appeared in George Cannon’s “Superstars of Wrestling” promotion as a heel, managed by Superstar (or Supermouth) Dave Drasen. Chōshū had a brief feud with the fan favorite of Cannon’s promotion, Luis Martinez.  In 1983, upset at not being selected for the inaugural tournament for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, he turned on Tatsumi Fujinami during a match and formed his own stable, Ishin-gun (Revolutionary Army), which was the core for the later Japan Pro-Wrestling promotion that “invaded” All-Japan Pro Wrestling. This made Choshu the first “traitor heel” in puroresu. He returned to New Japan in 1987 as part of the Takeshi Puroresu Gundan. After NJPW split ties with Takeshi Kitano over the December 27 Sumo Hall riot, Chōshū slowly climbed back up into the main event picture. In July 1989, he won his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Salman Hashimikov of the Soviet Union. Two more title reigns would follow between August 1990 and January 1992. He went on to win the G1 Climax in 1996 before retiring in 1998.
His retirement was short-lived however, as fellow frequent retiree-turned-unretiree Atsushi Onita lured Choshu out of retirement in 2000 with a challenge of a barbed wire deathmatch. Choshu then balanced wrestling and booking until retiring again in 2002. After this second departure, he founded Fighting World Of Japan Pro Wrestling, which later was renamed Riki Pro. It lasted until 2005, when Choshu returned to New Japan for a 3rd time.
Since his return this time, he has aligned himself with the Legend faction of some of the promotion’s most veteran wrestlers, while still doing some booking and other work as well as some freelancing on the side. He frequently appears in Tatsumi Fujinami’s Dradition promotion, sometimes appears in the Real Japan promotion, and sometimes he still promotes his own shows under the “LOCK UP” label. He also returned to All-Japan in the second half of 2009 for a couple of tours. He also has been parodied in Japanese entertainment, namely through a  comedian who performs as Choshu look-alike “Koriki Choshu”. This Koriki character also has appeared several times on the Japanese game show “Sasuke” (Ninja Warrior in the US) and is famous for almost never completing the first obstacle on the first stage.

Stats & Info:
Real name: Mitsuo Yoshida (Japanese), Kwak Gwang-ung (Korean)
Age: 58
Height: 6′
Weight: 264 pounds/120 kg
Experience: 35 years
Finishing move: Riki Lariat, Sasori-Gatame (Sharpshooter, a move he invented)
Current affiliation: New Japan, also appears in Dradition and other promotions
Ring entrance theme: “Power Hall” by Susumu Hirasawa

Titles won:
3-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion
3-time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
1-time NWA International Tag Team Champion
1-time NWA North American Tag team Champion
1-time PWF Heavyweight Champion
1-time UWA Heavyweight Champion
1-time UWA Tag Team Champion
1-time WMG Tag Team Champion
1-time WWF International Heavyweight Champion
1-time Greatest 18 Club Champion

Tournaments won:
1989 World Cup Tournament
1992 Super Grade Tag League
1996 G1 Climax
2003 WMG Tag Team Title Tournament

Other accolades:
Ranked #30 In PWI 500 Best Singles Wrestlers Of “PWI Years” In 2003
1992 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Best Booker Award
1995, 1996, 1997 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Promoter Of The Year Award
1987 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Wrestler Of The Year
Inducted Into Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall Of Fame In 1996
1977 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Effort Prize
1979 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Fighting Spirit Prize
1983 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Bext Bout Award (vs. Tatsumi Fujinami)
1983 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Distinguished Service Prize
1984 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Best Bout Award (vs. Antonio Inoki)
1985 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Best Bout Award (vs. Jumbo Tsuruta)
1986 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Fighting Spirit Prize
1988 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Fighting Spirit Prize
1989 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Fighting Spirit Prize
1993 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Best Bout Award (vs. Genichiro Tenryu)
1997 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Service Prize

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