Akira Maeda (前田 日明, Maeda Akira), born Go Il-myeong (Hangul: 고일명, Hanja: 高日明), is a Japanese mixed martial artist and retired professional wrestler of Korean descent, also known as Kwik-kik-Lee for his time on the British Wrestling show World of Sport. He helped develop the shoot-style of professional wrestling during the late 1980s.

Professional wrestling career[edit | edit source]

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1978–1984)[edit | edit source]

Maeda entered the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) dojo in 1978 and debuted the same year. Like many other New Japan stars before and after him, Maeda embarked on a foreign tour to the United Kingdom, where he adopted the Kwik-kik-Lee moniker. In 1983, he participated in the first International Wrestling Grand Prix tournament, won by Hulk Hogan. He was one of three Japanese entrants to the international tournament, alongside Antonio Inoki and Rusher Kimura.

Universal Wrestling Federation (1984–1985)[edit | edit source]

In 1984, Maeda, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, and other New Japan defectors formed the Japanese UWF. It was during his time in the first incarnation of the UWF that his willingness to show his displeasure in the ring became known; he quarreled with Satoru Sayama (the original Tiger Mask) over the direction of the UWF, as Maeda wanted the promotion to feature wrestling and grappling holds, while Sayama (a kickboxer before he went into wrestling) favored kicks. Some in the UWF were also reportedly resentful of Sayama's booking himself to win all his matches, where others, Maeda included, "jobbed" in the worked matches. The promotion folded a year later, and Maeda returned to New Japan, where he became one of the promotion's biggest stars.

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1985–1988)[edit | edit source]

Maeda became involved in a real-life feud with New Japan booker and top star, Antonio Inoki, refusing to work with him in what could have been a huge moneymaking program. In April 1986, he was involved in one of the most surreal moments in wrestling history during a match with André the Giant; neither man could agree to losing the match, and Maeda proceeded to shoot kick André's legs and then back off, while the giant repeatedly blocked Maeda's attacks and threw him out of the ring. After 30 minutes of this, André voluntarily laid down to be pinned (in spite of being assured that Maeda would lose the match), but Akira refused to do so. Inoki eventually came to the ring and demanded the match to end, much to the bewilderment of the audience. On November 19, 1987 during a six-man tag team match, as Riki Choshu was putting his opponent, Osamu Kido, in a Sasori-gatame, Maeda delivered a legitimate kick to Choshu's face, breaking his orbital bone. The resulting injury would sideline Choshu for well over a month, and Maeda was immediately suspended for his actions. In February 1988, the final straw came when Maeda was fired by New Japan for refusing to go on a training excursion to Mexico.

Newborn UWF (1988–1990)[edit | edit source]

In 1988, Maeda formed Newborn UWF with Nobuhiko Takada and others, this time as its number one star, using the notoriety he gained in New Japan to draw large crowds. Maeda's UWF became the first promotion to hold a show at the Tokyo Dome, drawing 60,000 to watch Maeda defeat Willy Wilhelm in the main event. In December 1990, Newborn UWF dissolved due to disagreements over the direction of the company.

In wrestling[edit | edit source]

  • Finishing moves
    • Bridging capture suplex
    • Cross armbreaker
    • High speed roundhouse kick to the head of a seated or kneeling opponent
  • Signature moves
    • Arm trap single leg Boston crab
    • Crossface chickenwing
    • Heel hook
    • Kimura lock
    • Multiple kick variations
      • Repeated stiff shoot to the opponent's chest and legs
      • Rolling wheel
      • Roundhouse
      • Soccer to the opponent's face
    • Multiple suplex variations
      • Capture
      • Belly-to-back
      • Belly-to-belly
      • German
    • Palm strike
    • Piledriver
    • Rear naked choke
  • Entrance themes
    • "Katana" (NJPW)
    • "Dunbine Tobu" by MIQ (NJPW)
    • "Captured" by Camel (UWF/UWF Newborn/RINGS)

Championships and accomplishments[edit | edit source]

  • European Union
    • European Union Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Fighting Network RINGS
    • RINGS Battle Dimensions Tournament (1993–1996)
  • New Japan Pro Wrestling
  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated
    • PWI ranked him #40 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
    • PWI ranked him #13 of the 100 best tag teams during the "PWI Years" with Nobuhiko Takada in 2003
  • Tokyo Sports
    • Best Bout (1986)- vs. Tatsumi Fujinami on June 12
    • Effort Prize Award (1981)
    • MVP Award (1989)
    • Special Grand Prize (1988)
    • Technique Award (1983)
  • Universal Wrestling Federation
    • UWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • World Wrestling Federation
    • WWF International Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
    • Promoter of the Year (1989)
    • Wrestler of the Year (1988)
    • Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
  • 1.0 1.1 1.2 Akira Maeda . SherDog. Retrieved on 2009-11-27.
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