Takeshi Rikioh is a 10-year veteran who has spent his entire career in NOAH. He is one of several wrestlers who competed in sumo before making the transistion to puroresu, and as a result he is one of the biggest wrestlers in NOAH.
Rikioh began competing in sumo in 1988, starting out at the same time as famed sumos Takanohana & Wakanohana. He initially trained at the same stable as these two, Futagoyama-beya, but when former yokozuna Takanosato branched off to set up Naruto-beya in March 1989 he followed. He also changed his shikona, or fighting name, from Futagozakura to Rikio. In July 1993 he was promoted to the second highest juryo division, becoming the first wrestler from Naruto stable to reach elite sekitori status. He was demoted from that division after just one tournament, but returned to juryo in May 1994 and was promoted to the top makuuchi division in July 1996 after winning his second juryo yusho, or tournament championship. In September 1997 he was promoted to his highest rank of maegashira 4, but he did not take part in the tournament. This was initially said to be due to a liver disorder, but it was later revealed that relations with his stablemaster had broken down, and Rikioh was forced to retire from sumo. Due to the dispute he was unable to have a formal retirement ceremony, but some of his friends in the sumo world organized an informal one for him in early 1998, with Akebono and Konishiki Yasokichi among the attendees.
Rikioh then began training in All-Japan, but Mitsuharu Misawa’s mass talent exodus to form NOAH happened before his debut, and Rikioh was part of it. He broke through in March 2005, ending Kenta Kobashi’s 2-year reign as GHC Heavyweight Champion for his first title win. His reign lasted 8 months. Since losing the title, Rikioh has mostly focused on tag team wrestling, first winning the titles with Jun Akiyama in 2006 but their reign was cut short due Rikioh suffering an injury. He later won the titles a second time as part of the “Double Takeshis” team with Takeshi Morishima, then struggled after dropping the titles before aligning with the Disobey faction, which more recently led to a 3rd title reign with Mohammed Yone. Today Rikioh continues to see primarily tag team action.
Rikioh is inactive as of June 2010 due to a neck injury. It’s not known how long he’ll be out.
Stats & Info:
Real name: Takeshi Inoue (Note: He is not the same Takeshi Inoue as the one who is an MMA fighter)
Weight: 275 pounds/125 kg
Experience: 10 years
Finishing move: Muso(u)
Current affiliation: NOAH (Inactive since June 2010-injured)
Ring entrance theme: “A Passage In Time” by unknown
1-time GHC Heavyweight Champion
3-time GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
Sumo record: 54-49-15 (won-lost-absent)
Highest sumo ranking: West Maegsashira 4