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  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 and Pro Wrestling NOAH.

Before pro wrestling[]

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.


Early years (1990–1991)[]

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)[]

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)[]

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. 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 Rikio. Saito utilizes a unique form of wrestling, combining martial arts kicks and power moves. With his skill and ring presence, he remains one of Noah's top stars and a prospect for the GHC Heavyweight Title.

On May 23, 2008, Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith defeated Naomichi Marufuji and Takashi Sugiura to win the GHC Tag Team Titles.

Tragedy struck on June 13, 2009 when in a title defense against Mitsuharu Misawa and Go Shiozaki. 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.[1]

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)[]

On January 22, Saito and Akiyama defeated Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson) to win the GHC Tag Team Championship.[2] 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)[]

On June 13, 2014, Noah announced that Saito had re-signed with the promotion.[3] 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.[4]

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.

In wrestling[]

  • Finishing moves
    • Death Brand (Vertical suplex piledriver)
    • Sickle of Death (Jumping high kick) – adopted from his mentor, Masashi Aoyagi
  • Signature moves
    • Death Cloak (Side slam lifted and dropped into a chokeslam)
    • Death Collector (Vertical suplex stunner)
    • Death Punish (Spinning headlock lariat)
    • Lariat
    • Multiple kick variations
      • Scissors
      • Spinning wheel
      • Roundhouse
    • Multiple suplex variations
      • Death Landing (High angle belly to back)
      • Death Tornado (Twisting belly to back)
      • German
      • Straitjacket belly to back
    • Powerbomb
    • Right–handed knockout hook
  • Entrance themes
    • "Lonely Tropical Fish" by Rin and Lin Kagamine (Pioneer Senshi, 1990–1991)
    • "Destiny" by McAuley Schenker Group (W*ING, 1991)
    • "Martial Romance" (NJPW, 1992–1994)
    • "Enter The Karasutengu" by Seikou Nagaoka (NJPW, 1994–1998)
    • "Ghost of the Navigator" by Iron Maiden (NOAH, 2000–2002 / 2002-2004)
    • "T2" (NOAH, 2002)
    • "Deathtiny" (NOAH/Freelance, 2004–present)

Championships and accomplishments[]