Takashi Sugiura (杉浦 貴 Sugiura Takashi, born May 31, 1970) is a Japanese professional wrestler, currently working for Pro Wrestling Noah. Sugiura, an accomplished amateur wrestler, joined Noah's dojo in 2000, making his professional debut on December 23, 2000, and thus becoming the first wrestler to make his pro wrestling debut in Noah. He has also competed in mixed martial arts with a notable victory over Giant Silva. Sugiura wrestled as a junior heavyweight in his earlier pro career and is a former GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion. Sugiura moved up to heavyweight and became the second longest reigning GHC Heavyweight Champion, having held the title for 581 days between December 2009 and July 2011. As of September 2011, Sugiura is the chairman of Noah's Wrestler's Association and holds the concomitant position on the promotion's board of directors.
Takashi Sugiura as the GHC Heavyweight Champion in 2011
|Born||May 31, 1970|
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Santa Claus|
|Billed height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Billed weight||104 kg (229 lb)|
|Trained by||All Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo|
|Debut||December 23, 2000|
Sugiura was an accomplished judoka in high school and narrowly missed the cut representing Japan at the 1996 Summer Olympics. He then became a self-defense instructor and was recruited to the All Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo by Tamon Honda, who (along with Yoshihiro Takayama) oversaw all of Sugiura's training.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
Sugiura made his debut in December 23, 2000, when he partnered Masao Inoue and Takeshi Rikio in a tag team match against Takeshi Morishima, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Kentaro Shiga. Initially a low-card wrestler, Sugiura's American-influenced style became popular with fans and eventually he formed a tag team with Kanemaru nicknamed "SugiKane". Within a few months the two defeated Naomichi Marufuji and KENTA for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship ending the team's long & historic run. Sugiura owns the distinction of being the only wrestler in Pro Wrestling Noah to have been a double champion on two separate occasions. In recent years, he has made a name for himself in the heavyweight division receiving a title shot against then GHC Heavyweight Champion Takeshi Morishima in a highly regarded match and winning the GHC Tag Team Championship along with Naomichi Marufuji from the bigger & stronger team of D'lo Brown and Bull Buchanan. At NJPW Wrestle Kingdom III he pushed New Japan Pro Wrestling representative Shinsuke Nakamura to his limit in a cross promotional tag team match with Mitsuharu Misawa and Hirooki Goto as their respective partners, but came up short and tapped out to Nakamura's Cross Armbar finish. Nakamura then stated that there would be a singles match between them soon, as he felt he was embarrassed by a wrestler below his standards. The two met again later in the year in a cross-promotional match, this time Sugiura teamed with blue-chip prospect Go Shiozaki & Nakamura teamed with then-RISE stablemate Milano Collection AT, who was also returning from injury. Shiozaki/Sugiura picked up the win & Nakamura demanded a rematch against the duo with Hirooki Goto as his tag team partner.
Sugiura also participated in the 2009 G1 Climax. With his rival Nakamura in his block, a long anticipated singles match came to pass. Although he lost the match he still managed to finish second in his block & advanced to the semi-finals losing to the tournament eventual winner Togi Makabe. On December 6, 2009, Sugiura pinned Go Shiozaki to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship. On January 4, 2010, at Wrestle Kingdom IV in Tokyo Dome Sugiura successfully defended the title against Hirooki Goto.On 28 February,he retained his title against Togi Makabe and then on 10 July against Yoshihiro Takayama. On October 1, 2010, Sugiura travelled to Tamaulipas, Mexico to defend the GHC Heavyweight Championship, defeating Chessman at Lucha Libre AAA World Wide (AAA) event Héroes Inmortales IV. Sugiura returned to New Japan on January 4, 2011, at Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome, where he and Yoshihiro Takayama defeated Hirooki Goto and Kazuchika Okada in a tag team match. On May 15, 2011, Sugiura defeated Claudio Castagnoli in Oberhausen, Germany to make his fourteenth successful GHC Heavyweight Championship defense, breaking the record for most defenses, set by Kenta Kobashi. On July 10, Sugiura lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship to Go Shiozaki, ending his reign at 581 days. On January 4, 2012, Sugiura returned to New Japan at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, where he was defeated by Hirooki Goto.
In early 2014, Sugiura formed the Dangan Yankies tag team with Pro Wrestling Zero1's Masato Tanaka. The duo worked in both Noah and Zero1, winning the GHC Tag Team and NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Championships in May 2014, the Furinkazan tournament in December 2014, and the Global Tag League in both 2014 and 2015. In addition, Tokyo Sports named Dangan Yankies the 2014 tag team of the year. On December 23, 2015, Sugiura turned on Noah and joined the villainous Suzuki-gun stable. On January 31, 2016, Sugira defeated Naomichi Marufuji to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship for the second time. He lost the title to Go Shiozaki on May 28. Sugiura regained the title from Shiozaki on July 30. He lost the title to Katsuhiko Nakajima in his third defense on October 23. On December 2, Sugiura turned on Suzuki-gun, after Minoru Suzuki had unsuccessfully challenged Nakajima for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. In January 2017, Sugiura formed an alliance with Kaito Kiyomiya, almost serving as a mentor. The two began regularly teaming together, and were eventually joined by Kenoh, who turned on his tag team partner Masa Kitamiya during a match against Sugiura and Kiyomiya, aligning himself with Sugiura in the process. On March 12, 2017, Sugiura and Kenoh defeated Muhammad Yone and Kitamiya to win the vacant GHC Tag Team Championship. They lost the titles to Naomichi Marufuji and Maybach Taniguchi on April 14.In June, he went on hiatus so he could get open-heart surgery as he had irregular heartbeat for a long time, which was successful. He returned on October 28, where he teamed with Kenoh to defeat LEONA and Katsuhiko Nakajima. On March 11, 2018, he defeated his tag team partner Kenoh to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship for the fourth time, making him the only man to have held the title four times. On April 29, he defeated Atsushi Kotoge to make his first successful defense and afterwards offered Naomichi Marufuji the next shot at the title, which he accepted. This led to a match exactly one month later on May 29, where he defeated Marufuji for his second successful defense. On June 26, he defeated Kenoh in a rematch to make his third successful defense. After the match, he issued a challenge to Go Shiozaki, who had pinned him in a tag match two weeks earlier, which he accepted. They would face off yet again on August 18 in Kawasaki, where he defeated Shiozaki to make his fourth successful defense and was afterwards challenged to a title match by Masa Kitamiya, who he would defeat on September 2 to make his fifth successful defense. Then on October 4, he defeated Kitamiya's tag team partner Katsuhiko Nakajima to make his sixth successful title defense. Sugiura then participated in the 2018 Global League, where he finished with a record of four wins and three losses, including one to eventual tournament winner Kaito Kiyomiya. This led to a match on December 16, where Sugiura lost the title to Kiyomiya in his seventh defense. Sugiura participated in the 2019 Global Tag League, teaming with Kazma Sakamoto where they went on to win the tournament. During the tournament, he formed a stable named "Sugiura-gun", with Nosawa Rongai, Hideki Suzuki, Sakamoto and Kinya Okada, while Sugiura was positioned as the leader of the stable. At the Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial Shows, Sugiura first challenged Kaito Kiyomiya for the GHC Heavyweight Championship on June 9th, losing. Then, Sugiura challenged the team of Go Shiozaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima for the GHC Tag Team Championships on June 13th, winning the titles for the fifth time with Kazma Sakamoto.
Mixed martial arts careerEdit
Sugiura also dabbled in mixed martial arts, given his amateur background. His first fight was against the Brazilian rookie Daniel Gracie, which saw Takashi giving a strong impression. The Japanese wrestler dropped Gracie with a right punch at the first round, defended a back mount for a long time and blocked all of Daniel's submissions. He event tossed Gracie to the ground with an amateur throw and held top position over the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist. At the end, however, after Gracie dominated the final round from his guard, he was given the split decision over Sugiura.
Takashi's second fight was against another pro wrestler, Giant Silva, who had a 160lbs weight advantage over him. However, Sugiura dominated the bout, taking him down and throwing knee strikes until the referee brought the stoppage. The fight featured a controversial moment afterwards when Sugiura cut a promo which moved Silva to try to attack him with a wood club, having to be restrained by a team of officials. The brawl is cut from the DVD version distributed in United States, and is believed to be a professional wrestling angle or promotional stunt.
He also participated in the Pancrase Heavyweight Championship Tournament but was eliminated by Ryuta Noji. Sugiura's final match was against Alexandre Ribeiro in Sengoku, being finished by strikes and stomps at the third round.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- Nikkan Sports
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Pro Wrestling Noah
- GHC Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Yoshinobu Kanemaru
- GHC Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Naomichi Marufuji (2), Masato Tanaka (1), Kenoh (1) and Kazma Sakomoto (1)
- Global League (2014)
- Global Tag League (2014, 2015, 2019) – with Masato Tanaka (2) and Kazma Sakomoto
- One Night Junior Heavyweight Six Man Tag Team Tournament (2003) – with Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Makoto Hashi
- Best Bout Award (2014) vs. Daisuke Sekimoto on November 8
- Global League Outstanding Performance Award (2013)
- Global Tag League Fighting Spirit Award (2010) – with Shuhei Taniguchi
- Global Tag League Technique Award (2013) – with Atsushi Kotoge
- Pro Wrestling Zero1
- Tokyo Sports
- Westside Xtreme Wrestling
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