Mitsuo Yoshida (吉田 光雄 Yoshida Mitsuo?, Hangul: 곽광웅 , hanja: 郭光雄 , Kwak Gwang-ung, born December 3, 1951), better known by his ring name Riki Choshu (長州 力 Chōshū Riki), is a Korean-Japanese professional wrestler who is most known for his longtime work in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) as a wrestler and a booker. He is considered one of the most influential wrestlers in Japan in the 1980s and 1990s and known as the first wrestler to popularize the Sasori-Gatame, better known in English as the Scorpion Deathlock or Sharpshooter. After Choshu left NJPW in 2002, he formed Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling (WJ). In October 2005, he returned to New Japan as a site foreman, a booker, and a part-time wrestler.
Amateur wrestling career[edit | edit source]
1972 Summer Olympics[edit | edit source]
Kwak Gwang-ung represented South Korea in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, as a wrestler. He didn't place in the tournament
Professional wrestling career[edit | edit source]
Early years (1974–1987)[edit | edit source]
He debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in August 1974. In the mid-1970s, Choshu was sent to North America to gain experience. Wrestling under his real name, he appeared in George Cannon's "Superstars of Wrestling" promotion as a heel, managed by Superstar (or Supermouth) Dave Drasen. Choshu had a brief feud with the top fan favorite of Cannon's promotion, Luis Martinez.
Choshu was the first "traitor heel" in a Japanese promotion. In 1983, upset at not being selected for the inaugural tournament for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, he turned on Tatsumi Fujinami during a match and formed his own stable, Ishingun (Revolutionary Army), which was the core for the later Japan Pro-Wrestling (JPW) promotion that "invaded" All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW).
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1987–1998)[edit | edit source]
Upon returning to NJPW in 1987, Choshu was a part of the Takeshi Puroresu Gundan. After NJPW split ties with Takeshi Kitano over the December 27 Sumo Hall riot, Choshu slowly climbed back up into the main event picture. In June 1988, he won his first IWGP Tag Team Championship with Masa Saito, with whom he had also partnered during a brief stint in the American Wrestling Association. At the same time, he feuded with Tatsumi Fujinami over the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. On May 27, the match ended in a no contest, in which the title was held up. Fujinami won the rematch on June 24.
In July 1989, he won his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Salman Hashimikov of the Soviet Union. The same month, he would also win his second IWGP Tag Team title with young up-and-comer Takayuki Iizuka. Two more IWGP Heavyweight title reigns would follow between August 19, 1990 and January 4, 1992.
In August 1996, he won the G1 Climax, winning every single match in the tournament. In 1997, he won his third IWGP Tag Team title with Kensuke Sasaki. In January 1998, he retired from the ring; for his retirement match, he wrestled five matches in one night, winning four out of five matches. He would focus on booking matches for NJPW.
Comeback (2000–2019)[edit | edit source]
Retirement did not last long, as Atsushi Onita challenged Choshu to a barbed wire deathmatch in 2000. Choshu accepted and wrestled Onita. He then balanced wrestling and booking for NJPW, until his departure in 2002, stemming from the departures of Keiji Mutoh and Satoshi Kojima, among others, to AJPW, which caused his position of head booker taken away.
After leaving NJPW, he formed Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling in 2003, which would later changed to Riki Pro, after the failure of some of their big shows. He ran Riki Pro until 2005 when he returned to NJPW as a site foreman, booker, and wrestler. In 2007, Choshu joined the Legend stable with Masahiro Chono, Jushin Thunder Liger, and AKIRA.
Choshu also promotes an occasional series of events called "LOCK UP", which feature talent from New Japan and other promotions. New Japan supported this financially until 2008 before withdrawing.
In 2012 Riki was booked in a series of matches for LEGEND The Pro Wrestling and Dradition.
In wrestling[edit | edit source]
- Finishing moves
- Sasori-gatame – innovated
- Signature moves
- Bare knuckled punch
- Belly-to-back suplex
- Crucifix pin
- Dragon sleeper
- German suplex
- Kitchen Sink (Running knee strike to the gut of the opponent)
- Reverse chickenwing
- Scoop Powerslam
- Side headlock
- Toe kick
- Vertical suplex
- "Kakumei Senshi"
Championships and accomplishments[edit | edit source]
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling
- WMG Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Genichiro Tenryu
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- Greatest 18 Championship (1 time)
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Masa Saito (1), Takashi Iizuka (1), and Kensuke Sasaki (1)
- NWA North American Tag Team Championship (Los Angeles/Japan version) (1 time) – with Seiji Sakaguchi
- WWF International Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- G1 Climax (1996)
- G1 Tag LeagueSuper Grade Tag League (1992) – with Shinya Hashimoto
- Six Man Tag Team Cup League (1988) – with Antonio Inoki and Kantaro Hoshino
- World Cup Tournament (1989)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #30 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Tokyo Sports
- Best Bout Award (1983) vs. Tatsumi Fujinami on April 3
- Best Bout Award (1984) vs. Antonio Inoki on August 2
- Best Bout Award (1985) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta on November 5
- Best Bout Award (1993) vs. Genichiro Tenryu on January 4
- Distinguished Service Award (1983)
- Effort Award (1977)
- Fighting Spirit Award (1979, 1986, 1988, 1989)
- Service Award (1997)
- Technique Award (1981)
- Universal Wrestling Association
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- 5 Star Match (1986) with Yoshiaki Yatsu vs. Jumbo Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu on January 28
- Best Booker (1992)
- Promoter of the Year (1995, 1996, 1997)
- Wrestler of the Year (1987)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)