Hiroshi Hase (馳 浩 Hase Hiroshi, born May 5, 1961) is a Japanese politician who currently serves as the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology under current Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. Prior to his appointment in the Cabinet, he also served as a member of the House of Representatives of the National Diet, representing the 1st district of Ishikawa Prefecture.
He is also a retired professional wrestler who worked for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW). During his affiliation with AJPW, he also served as the chairman for the Pacific Wrestling Federation (PWF), which is the governing body for all championships in AJPW.
Early years (1986–1987)[edit | edit source]
Originally trained by Riki Choshu, Hiroshi Hase began his pro wrestling career in February 1986, at Carlos Colón's World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico. Later that year, Hase went to Calgary, Canada, where he was trained by Stu Hart and Mr. Hito. He would wrestle in Stampede Wrestling, under a mask, in a tag team known as the Viet Cong Express with Fumihiro Niikura, with whom he held the Stampede International Tag Team Championship. By 1987, he started to wrestle under his name and unmasked in Stampede Wrestling. By the end of 1987, Hase would return to Japan.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling (1987–1996)[edit | edit source]
When he returned to Japan, Hase wrestled for NJPW's junior heavyweight division, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship twice. He defeated Kuniaki Kobayashi on December 27, 1987 and held it until May 27, 1988, losing the title to Owen Hart. His second reign began by defeating Shiro Koshinaka on March 16, 1989, and held it until May 25, 1989, losing it to Jushin Liger. In June 1989, Hase and Takayuki Iizuka went to the Soviet Union to be trained in sambo, where he learned one of his signature moves, the uranage. He would also become one of the only wrestlers, Japanese or American, to successfully graduate from the junior heavyweight to heavyweight class.
In the 1990s, Hase had many memorable encounters with famous Japanese talents first in New Japan, and later All Japan. In June 1990, Hase had a near-death experience in the ring, after being knocked out by a backdrop from Tatsutoshi Goto. Hase would form a successful tag team with Kensuke Sasaki in March 1990, winning the IWGP Tag Team Championship twice. On November 1, 1990, Hase and Sasaki defeated Masahiro Chono and Keiji Mutoh to win the title and held on to the titles until December 26, 1990, losing them to Super Strong Machine and Hiro Saito. Their second reign came by regaining them from Machine and Saito on March 6, 1991, but lost the titles on March 21, 1991, to The Steiner Brothers. Hase was involved in a classic December 14, 1992 encounter with The Great Muta, in which the "Muta Scale" was created, due to the incredible amount of blood shed by Muta, which was payback for Muta bloodying Hase on September 14, 1990.
Hase and Mutoh were also regular tag team partners; they won the IWGP Tag Team Championship twice. Their first reign began on November 5, 1991, defeating Rick Steiner and Scott Norton in a decision match. They would hold on to the belts until March 1, 1992, losing them to Big Van Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow. Hase and Mutoh won the Super Grade Tag League in November 1993, defeating The Jurassic Powers in the final. On March 16, 1994, Hase defeated Rick Rude to win the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship, and he re-lost the title to Rude on March 24, 1994. Hase and Mutoh won their second Super Grade Tag League in October 1994. On November 25, 1994, Hase and Mutoh defeated The Hell raisers to win their second IWGP Tag Team title. They would hold on to the titles until May 1995, as they vacated the titles after Mutoh won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
The following year he announced his retirement from New Japan, only to jump to the rival All Japan Pro Wrestling. His last New Japan bout as a New Japan wrestler was against Kensuke Sasaki on January 4, 1996. He wrestled one more match for NJPW on July 26, 1996, teaming with Sasaki, losing to Riki Choshu and Yuji Nagata.
One of the main reasons Hase left New Japan Pro Wrestling, was the death of Hiromitsu Gompei. Gompei was a young amateur wrestler who Hase recruited to NJPW in 1995, following assuring Gompei's parent he would lookover Gompei and keep him safe. Sometime after an altercation with Kensuke Sasaki at the New Japan Dojo, Gompei died, forcing Hase to be the bearer of bad news to his parents. Hase claimed there was a giant cover-up in the young man's death.
All Japan Pro-Wrestling (1997–2006)[edit | edit source]
After a brief hiatus, he made his return to pro wrestling in All Japan Pro Wrestling in January 1997. In All Japan, Hase did not contend for any top titles despite his name recognition, as he made politics his full-time job.
In 2000, he founded the multi-promotional Bad Ass Translate Trading stable with Mutoh, Taiyō Kea and Jinsei Shinzaki; Hase and Mutoh reformed their team to battle Jun Akiyama and Yuji Nagata on October 8, the rising stars of their respective promotions (NOAH and NJPW), and were defeated in a ceremonial passing of the torch match that highlighted the advancement of professional wrestling in Japan.
When Mutoh (along with Satoshi Kojima and Kendo Ka Shin) jumped to All Japan the following year, Hase was seen as having influenced them (if not Mutoh at least) in their decision. Antonio Inoki, who had once preceded Hase to the Japanese Diet, blasted Hase and suggested that he resign his position in the Diet, but nothing came out of this.
Hase's final match occurred on August 27, 2006. He tagged with Katsuhiko Nakajima & Satoshi Kojima to face TARU, Kohei Suwama, & "brother" YASSHI of the Voodoo Murderers. He pinned YASSHI with a Northern Light Suplex for the victory, ending his in-ring career after 20 years. A week later, he was elected into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.
Retirement[edit | edit source]
On July 10, 2007, Hase took over the duty of the PWF chairman, after Stan Hansen (who held the position since 2000) voluntarily resigned from the position.
In wrestling[edit | edit source]
- Finishing moves
- Northern Lights suplex – innovated
- Signature moves
- Big boot
- Cross-legged STF
- Folding powerbomb
- Giant swing
- Scoop powerslam
- "Tatakau Kokkaigiin"
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments[edit | edit source]
- Nikkan Sports
- Match of the Year (2001) – with Keiji Mutoh vs. Jun Akiyama and Yuji Nagata on October 8
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Stampede Wrestling
- Stampede International Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Fumihiro Niikura
- Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Tokyo Sports
- Rookie of the Year (1988)
- Technique Award (1991)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
1The championship was won in Tokyo, Japan as part of an interpromotional card between New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling.