Akitoshi Saito is a 20-year veteran who has been in NOAH since the beginning. He is also one of only 2 wrestlers that debuted in the Pioneer Senshi promotion, the first-ever indy in Japan, that is still active today (Kintaro “W*ING” Kanemura is the other). He also spent about 6 years in New Japan but didn’t really accomplish anything. In NOAH he first teamed with one of his trainers, Masashi Aoyagi, then aligned with Jun Akiyama in 2001 and his career took off.
Obtaining success like never before, he won the GHC Tag Team Title with Akiyama in September 2002, his first championship belt in his 12-year career. Akiyama and Saito proceeded to hold the titles for more than 8 months before losing them to Kenta Kobashi and Tamon Honda in June 2003.
Saito would go on to form his own stable, Dark Agents, with Takashi Sugiura, Masao Inoue and former Heisei Ishingun stablemate Shiro Koshinaka. He awarded himself the GHC Great Happy Christmas Championship in 2004. The title is defended only once a year, on Christmas Eve. He would also challenge for the GHC Heavyweight Title on two separate occasions, in 2004 against Kenta Kobashi and in 2005 against Takeshi Rikioh. On May 23, 2008, Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith defeated Naomichi Marufuji and Takashi Sugiura to win the GHC Tag Team Titles. Their reign lasted nearly 16 months.
Saito’s career took a tragic turn on June 13, 2009 in a tag team match against Mitsuharu Misawa & Go Shiozaki. At one point in the match, Saito delivered what looked like a normal high-angle backdrop suplex to Misawa, but the impact caused Misawa to suffer internal injuries and he died a short time later. While Misawa’s death was not Saito’s fault (he did nothing wrong) it did have a significant emotional impact on him, which was evident during the subsequent Misawa Memorial events held later in the year. Saito could be seen visibly breaking down during a end-of-show 10-bell salute to Misawa.
Saito comtinues to compete primarily in tag team action, winning the 2011 Global Tag League with Jun Akiyama. It’s the second time Saito has won the tournament in his career.
Stats & info:
Age: Believed to be 46
Weight: 270 pounds/123 kg
Experience: 20 years
Finishing move: Sickle Of Death
Current affiliation: NOAH
Ring entrance theme: “Deathtiny – Fate Of Dead God -” by unknown
2-time GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
2008 Global Tag League
2011 Global Tag League