Akitoshi Saito (斎藤 彰俊, Saitō Akitoshi, born August 8, 1965) is a Japanese professional wrestler who is best known for his work in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and Pro Wrestling Noah (Noah).

Akitoshi Saito
Born (1965-08-08) August 8, 1965 (age 54)
Sendai, Miyagi
ResidenceNagoya, Aichi
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Akitoshi Nyanzawa
Akitoshi Saito
Super Akira Taue
Billed height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Billed weight105 kg (231 lb)
Trained byMasashi Aoyagi
Yoshiaki Fujiwara
DebutDecember 20, 1990

Early lifeEdit

Before pro wrestling, Akitoshi Saito was trained in karate by Masashi Aoyagi. Saito seconded Aoyagi in his matches against Atsushi Onita in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling in 1989. He was trained for pro wrestling by Aoyagi and Yoshiaki Fujiwara.

CareerEdit

Early years (1990–1991)Edit

Saito made his pro wrestling debut in Pioneer Senshi and spent much of his early career in W*ING, a small promotion where he enjoyed moderate success.

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1991–1998)Edit

He joined New Japan Pro Wrestling in December 1991, along with his mentor Masashi Aoyagi, feuding with Shiro Koshinaka and Kuniaki Kobayashi. In 1992, the four formed a faction later named Heisei Ishingun, but left the promotion in 1998.

Pro Wrestling Noah (2000–2012)Edit

After a lengthy hiatus, Saito made his surprise return to pro wrestling in October 2000 for Pro Wrestling Noah, teaming up with longtime mentor Masashi Aoyagi.

In 2001, he joined Jun Akiyama's STERNNESS faction as second-in-command and his career skyrocketed. 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, a title that was 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 Rikio.

From March 29 to April 27, 2008, Saito and partner Bison Smith featured in NOAH's inaugural Global Tag League. The pair ultimately won the tournament defeating Mitsuharu Misawa and Yoshinari Ogawa in the final.[1] As a result, the duo became number one contenders and on May 23, 2008, Saito and Smith defeated Naomichi Marufuji and Takashi Sugiura to win the GHC Tag Team Titles.[2] The pair's first championship defense came five months later where the two defeated Jun Akiyama and Takeshi Rikio.[3] On November 28 the pair made their second defense against Akira Taue and Takeshi Morishima.[4] Shortly thereafter, Saito received a title opportunity against GHC Heavyweight Champion Kensuke Sasaki, however on December 7, Saito lost that title match.[5] To finish the year, Saito won a two-night tournament simply named 'The Tournament' where he wrestled five matches with ten-minute time limits in the two nights with the result decided by judges if the time limit was reached. Saito defeated Masao Inoue in the final where the judges ruled in his favor 5-0.[6]

As tag team champions, Saito and Smith took part in the second ever Global Tag League. The pair finished fourth in the eight-team block missing out on a spot in the final by only having lost to second place Takeshi Morishima and Kensuke Sasaki. The champions faced off with the tournament winners Mitsuharu Misawa and Go Shiozaki on June 13, however tragedy struck and, in the defense, Misawa suffered a spinal injury after a high-angle backdrop suplex from Saito and was later pronounced dead at the hospital at 10:10 p.m. JST.[7]

The pair of Saito and Smith did not defend the championships again and their next attempted defense would occur on September 21 where they would ultimately lose the titles to Morishima and Sasaki.[8] Shortly after, on September 27, Saito received another GHC Heavyweight Championship match against Shiozaki at the 'Great Voyage in Tokyo' event, which was also subtitled 'Mitsuharu Misawa, always in our hearts,' however Saito came up short in his effort to win the championship.[9]

Saito won the 2011 Global Tag League becoming the first man ever to do so twice. Saito and partner Jun Akiyama received their title shot on May 8 against Takuma Sano and Yoshihiro Takayama, though the pair ultimately fell short in the attempt to win the championships. It was reported on December 29, 2011, Saito's contract with NOAH will not be renewed after it expires in January 2012. After his contract expired, Saito became a freelancer.

Freelance (2012–2014)Edit

On January 22, Saito and Akiyama defeated Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson) to win the GHC Tag Team Championship.[10] Since becoming a freelancer, Saito has lost a lot of weight, slimming down from 123 kg to 105 kg. On March 11, Saito wrestled his first non-NOAH match in All Japan Pro Wrestling, teaming with Atsushi Aoki and Akiyama to defeat Hiroshi Yamato, Keiji Mutoh, and Shuji Kondo. On May 23, Saito went to Tenryu Project, teaming up with fellow Heisei Ishingun member The Great Kabuki to defeat KAMIKAZE and Onryo. On June 3, he lost to Takeshi Morishima in an attempt to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship. On July 22, he and Akiyama lost the titles to TNA's Samoa Joe and Magnus, ending their reign at exactly seven months to the day. On October 26, he won back the GHC Tag Team Championship, this time with Go Shiozaki, from KENTA and Maybach Taniguchi, ending their 18-day reign.

Return to Noah (2014–Present)Edit

On June 13, 2014, Noah announced that Saito had re-signed with the promotion.[11] That year, Saito partook in the 2014 Global League, which was his fifth in a row. Saito won six points defeating Takeshi Morishima, Katsuhiko Nakajima, and Satoshi Kojima, however he finished four points away from eventual block winner Daisuke Sekimoto. In April and May 2015 Saito partnered with Quiet Storm in the 2015 NOAH Global Tag League. The pair finished with four points having defeated the team of Mitsuhiro Kitamiya and Super Crazy as well as Colt Cabana and Chris Hero. They finished four points out of the block lead behind block winners Killer Elite Squad, a team compromising of Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith, Jr. In November 2016, Saito, after a year not involved, participated in the Global League. This tournament proved to be unsuccessful as Saito won only one match, defeating Takashi Iizuka via disqualification, gaining two points in the tournament. On Noah's December 24 Winter Navigation tour show, the final show of the year for the company, Saito filled in for the injured Quiet Storm as Muhammad Yone's partner. While scheduled to be a title match against the GHC Tag Team Champions Go Shiozaki and Maybach Taniguchi, Storm's withdrawal from the match resulted in this becoming a non-title match. Saito and Yone were ultimately defeated by the heavyweight tag team champions.[12]

Saito took part in another Global Tag League, this one with Yone as his partner. The tournament proved only mildly successful for the team as they finished sixth in the eight team block, however, the team did defeat GHC Heavyweight Champion Katsuhiko Nakajima and Masa Kitamiya on the final day of the tournament to prevent their team from a potential opportunity in the finals. On July 28, 2018, Saito and Naomichi Marufuji defeated The Aggression (Katsuhiko Nakajima and Masa Kitamiya) to win the GHC Tag Team Championship.

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト | PRO-WRESTLING NOAH OFFICIAL SITE". プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  2. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "NOAH Northern Navigation '08 - Tag 5 « Events Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". www.cagematch.net. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  3. ^ "プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト | PRO-WRESTLING NOAH OFFICIAL SITE". プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  4. ^ "プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト | PRO-WRESTLING NOAH OFFICIAL SITE". プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  5. ^ "プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト | PRO-WRESTLING NOAH OFFICIAL SITE". プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  6. ^ "プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト | PRO-WRESTLING NOAH OFFICIAL SITE". プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  7. ^ Misawa Passes Away After Backdrop in Hiroshima Match Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online, June 13, 2009
  8. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "NOAH Exceeding Our Dreams 2009 - Tag 5 « Events Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". www.cagematch.net. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  9. ^ "プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト | PRO-WRESTLING NOAH OFFICIAL SITE". プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  10. ^ "Great Voyage 2012 in Osaka". Pro Wrestling Noah (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
  11. ^ http://www.noah.co.jp/news_detail.php?news_id=6196
  12. ^ "プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト | PRO-WRESTLING NOAH OFFICIAL SITE". プロレスリング・ノア公式サイト (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2018-06-30. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  13. ^ ""PWI 500": 101–200". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. 2011-08-08. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
  14. ^ Global Tag League 2009 (11.04.2009 bis 06.05.2009). Purolove.Com. Retrieved on 2012-05-30.
  15. ^ http://www.purolove.com/noah/profiles/akitoshisaito.php
  16. ^ Tokyo Sports Puroresu Awards Archived 2012-10-16 at the Wayback Machine. Purolove.Com. Retrieved on 2012-05-30.

External linksEdit