Takao Yoshida (吉田 貴男 Yoshida Takao) (born October 26, 1973), better known by his ring name Taka Michinoku (TAKAみちのく TAKA michinoku) is a Japanese professional wrestler who has wrestled all over the world as well he was a former mixed martial artist. Michinoku is known in North America for his work for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) where he had the first ever WWF Light Heavyweight Championship reign recognized by the North-American promotion. Michinoku is the founder and owned Kaientai Dojo where he wrestled until 2019. In 2019, Michinoku started another promotion, Just Tap Out Professional Wrestling (JTO). Michinoku has also appeared for New Japan Pro-Wrestling since 2011 where he is a member of Suzuki-gun.
Having held championship titles in Japan, North America, Mexico and Europe, Yoshida is known for his long title reigns. He held the FMW Independent World Junior Heavyweight Title for a combined duration of more than 15 months, the WWF Light Heavyweight Title for a then record-setting 10 months and the WEW Six-Man Tag Team Title for almost a year. Yoshida has held the World Junior Heavyweight Championship, Michinoku Pro Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Championship and Kaientai Dojo Champion of Strongest-K simultaneously for almost 10 months. During his reign, he has defended his titles against both AJPW and independent circuit talent to increase his base of opponents, and thus has increased the reach of the World Junior Heavyweight Championship, which was closed off to outside competition in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.
- 1 Professional wrestling career
- 2 Personal life
- 3 In wrestling
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
- 5 References
Professional wrestling career
Taka Michinoku took his name as a sign of respect for his mentor The Great Sasuke, who was the owner of Michinoku Pro Wrestling and had been the first to use Michinoku as part of his ring name. He debuted Wrestling International New Generations and Michinoku Pro Wrestling joint event by teaming up with Great Sasuke, they lost to Super Delfin & Terry Boy. He would later move Federacion Universal De Lucha Libre and debuted by beating the team of Mongolian Yuga & Shiryu with Buffalo Chohe. Then he debuted for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling in a six-man tag team match at FMW Summer Spectacular 1993. Michinoku would primary compete at MPW, UWF and FMW in his early career.
His debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling came during Super J-Cup 1994 and was eliminated from the competition in the first round by Black Tiger. He competed in Best of the Super Juniors 1994 and only gained two points therefore losing the tournament. He also went up against Super Delfin for the CMLL World Welterweight Championship and had a J-Crown Title #1 Contendership match with Koji Kanemoto, both of which he lost.
Michinoku's first title reign came in the form of the FMW Independent Junior Heavyweight Championship, which he won by defeating Koji Nakagawa on May 5, 1996. He would lose the title to El Satanico after holding the title for one year and one month and defeating fellow young wrestlers Minoru Tanaka, Naohiro Hoshikawa and Hayato Nanjyo, he would later regain the championship two months later. He would vacate the championship to focus on the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.
Kaientai Dojo (2002–2019)
After departing from the WWF (by now renamed World Wrestling Entertainment) in early 2002, Michinoku returned to Japan to rehabilitate a serious shoulder injury.
On May 19, 2002, Michinoku debuted for Kaientai Dojo at K-Dojo New Talent Presentation where Michinoku had several matches with four new K-Dojo talents and won all four matches. In June, Michinoku took part in CLUB-K Super Take tournament and would be knocked out by Daigoro Kashiwa. In March 2003, Michinoku teamed up with Mr. X5 to take part in UWA/UWF Intercontinental Tag Team Championship number one contendership tournament and were eliminated in the second round by MIYAWAKI and Ofune.
On January 10, 2005, Michinoku defeated Kaz Hayashi for the Strongest-K Championship, the highest honor one can achieve in Kaientai Dojo. Michinoku started a feud with Kazma, which led to several championship matches between the two where Michinoku would come out on top. He would go on to beat Bambi in the finals of Strongest-K 2005. The beginning of 2006 proved to be a problem for Michinoku as on January 6, 2006, he would lose the Strongest-K Championship to JOE, holding the championship for almost one year and making him the longest Strongest-K Champion up to that point.
However, after losing the championship, a few months later on June 4, 2006, Michinoku teamed up with TOMO Michinoku to beat Shiori Asahi and Makoto Oishi to win the WEW Hardcore Tag Team Championship and would lose the championship to Apple Miyuki and YOSHIYA almost a month later on July 8. K-DOJO was separated into two distinct sides, GET and RAVE, which ran separate shows but often joined together during large shows and tours and GET was led by Taka Michinoku while RAVE's leader was Hi69. Michinoku participated in the GET block of Strongest-K 2006, Michinoku gained four points and therefore did not progress forward. Michinoku teamed up with TAKU Michinoku to take part in a four way match for the WEW Hardcore Tag Team Championship and lost.
2007 kicked of for Michinoku in the form of a New Year battle royal, which was won by Boso Boy Raito. Michinoku teamed up with Kazma to take part in the GET block part of K-DOJO Tag League 2007, the pair reached the final before being eliminated by Makoto Oishi and Shiori Asahi. After Hi69's departure, Taka Michinoku became commissioner of RAVE and 296 became commissioner of GET. On April 22, 2007, RAVE ran its last show; the two brands merged and now run joint shows. Michinoku would go on to win Strongest-K 2007 after defeating Yuji Hino in the final. With this win, he went on to take on Strongest-K champion Kengo Mashimo in September and lost.
Michinoku would bounce back from this defeat by teaming up with JOE and defeated Kengo Mashimo and Madoka to become the Strongest-K Tag Team Champions in November. Michinoku and JOE would begin calling themselves Handsome. At the same time Michinoku and Dick Togo became the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions for New Japan Pro Wrestling and Handsome and Strongest-K Tag Team Championship was put on the back burner somewhat. In the beginning of 2008 Handsome took part in K-DOJO Tag Tag League 2008 and were eliminated in the first round by Kazma and Yuji Hino. During this time, Michinoku and Togo lost their championship and Handsome would compete a lot more because of it. They would defend their championship against other factions such as Omega and Gekirin. However, on June 20, 2008, Handsome would lose the Strongest-K Tag Team Championship to Omega's Kazma and Miyawaki. Handsome would regain the championship a few months later on August 31. They would lose it to Omega once again with Makoto Oishi & Shiori Asahi defeating them on December 14. Handsome would take part in K-DOJO Tag Team League 2009 but didn't progress further. Michinoku won Strongest-K next challenger tournament and went on to beat Kengo Mashimo to become a two time Strongest-K Champion. Michinoku finally lost the championship to his longtime rival Kazma on October 10, 2009. In late 2009, Handsome went separate ways.
Michinoku teamed up with Taishi Takizawa in K-DOJO Tag League 2010 and reached the final before being eliminated by Daigoro Kashiwa and Kengo Mashimo and would lose to Kengo Mashimo again in Strongest-K 2010. Michinoku would be part of multiple number one contendorship matches for the Strongest-K Championship and also participated in Strongest-K tournament 2011 but lost all. Michinoku and Quiet Storm took on Ryuichi Sekine & Saburo Inematsu in a match for the Strongest-K Tag Team Championship and lost. Michinoku teamed with Kengo Mashimo to become the Strongest-K Tag Team Champions and would go on to win the K-DOJO Tag League 2012. Michinoku and Kengo teamed with Isami Kodaka to become the Chiba 6 Man Tag Team Champions. They would lose the Strongest-K Tag Team Championship to Saburo Inematsu and Yuji Hino. He would lose to Taishi Takizawa in the semi final of Kaio Tournament. On October 14, 2012, Michinoku celebrated his twentieth anniversary in professional wrestling with a six-man tag team match, where he, Cima and Funaki were defeated by Minoru Suzuki, Nosawa Rongai and Taichi. On April 14, 2013, Michinoku defeated Yuki Sato to win the UWA World Middleweight Championship for the first time. On May 11, he defeated Nanjyo Hayato in a title vs. title match to also win the Independent World Junior Heavyweight Championship for the third time. Michinoku lost the UWA title to Ryuichi Sekine on August 11. On November 10, he once again became a double champion, when he and Kaji Tomato defeated Kazma Sakamoto and Kengo Mashimo for the Strongest-K Tag Team Championship. They, however, lost the title to Hiroshi Fukuda and Shiori Asahi just six days later. Michinoku and Tomato regained the title from Fukuda and Asahi on January 26, 2014. On March 2, Michinoku and Tomato lost the title to Hiroki and Yuji Hino. On September 6, Michinoku lost the Independent World Junior Heavyweight Championship to Teppei in his seventeenth title defense. On July 12, 2015, Michinoku won the Strongest-K Tag Team Championship alongside Men's Teioh. On January 19, 2019 it was announced that Michinoku will leave the promotion at end of January due to an extramarital affair that he had. On January 27, Michinoku made his last match for the promotion teaming with Kengo Mashimo losing to Taishi Takizawa and Ayato Yoshida.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2003–2010, 2017)
Michinoku debuted for All Japan Pro Wrestling in August 2003. `He would quickly join the stable called Roughly Obsess and Destroy (RO&D). He would regularly team up with The Gladiator and Gigantes, which led to Michinoku and Gigantes gaining a shot at the World Tag Team Champions Arashi and Keiji Muto on September 6 at AJPW Summer Action Series II. Michinoku would go on to team up with D'Lo Brown to take part in World's Strongest Tag Determination League 2003 and gained a total of six points, not enough to progress to the next stage. At AJPW Excite Series 2004, Michinoku took on Kaz Hayashi in a match for the vacant World Junior Heavyweight Championship, which Kayashi won. On January 10, 2005, Michinoku took on Hayashi in an all or nothing match where the Strongest-K Championship and World Junior Heavyweight Championship were on the line and Michinoku won. With this win and many more successes, RO&D would dominate AJPW, which led to an AJPW vs RO&D best of three falls match, which RO&D won. Michinoku teamed up with RO&D honorary member PYSCHO to take part in All Asia Tag Team Championship tournament and reached the second round before being eliminated by Katsuhiko Nakajima and Tomoaki Honma. On October 22, 2005, Michinoku would lose the World Junior Heavyweight Championship to Shuji Kondo. Michinoku would team up with RO&D enemy Kaz Hayashi to take part in World's Strongest Tag Determination League 2006 but with only five points the pair didn't progress to the next stage. Michinoku gained only four points in the AJPW Junior League 2006 and therefore didn't progress. In late 2006, RO&D disbanded. After RO&D Michinoku participated in World's Strongest Tag Determination League 2006 and teamed up with former RO&D member Taiyo Kea and gained only five points and didn't progress further.
Pepe Michinoku (Taka Michinoku), El Nosawa Mendoza, and Miguel Hayashi Jr formed a team during the AJPW Champion Carnival called Mexico Amigos. El Hijo del Araya Segundo (Nobutaka Araya) joined the team after Six-Man Action between Mexico Amigos and Araya/Fuchi/Hirai at the Carnival's final show. After multiple bouts against Minoru Suzuki, Nosawa (NOSAWA Rongai) offered Suzuki an invitation into Mexico Amigos, to which he declined. This resulted in the group changing multiple assets. Their name was changed to Mexico Amigos Black, the previous worn Mexican Flag attire became Black and Gold attire, and Nobutaka Araya was kicked out of the group. At the AJPW's December 16, 2007 "Fan Appreciation Day" show, The Mexico Amigos teamed with "Ray Suzuki" and defeated Ryuji Hijikata, Kikutaro, T28 and Ryuji Yamaguchi. After the match, Ray Suzuki revealed himself as Minoru Suzuki and stated the starting next year he would throw his Amigos tights away and return to Nosawa Rongai, then kidnapped him to start early training. This led to Pepe and Miguel stating they would return to Mexico, but Kaz and Taka would return come the new year. After one last "Viva Mexico" Mexico Amigos disbanded.
Between 2008 and 2009, Michinoku would sporadically compete at All Japan, which included Nobutaka Araya retirement show. In 2010, he lost to Kaz Hayashi in a match for the World Junior Heavyweight Championship and would also participate in AJPW Junior League 2010. At AJPW Summer Explosion 2017, Michinoku made his return to AJPW and won the All Asia Tag Team Championship with Black Tiger VII. But they would lost the titles to Naoya Nomura and Yuma Aoyagi on September 30.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2007–2015)
In the beginning of 2007, Michinoku would team up sporadically at New Japan events with Kaientai Dojo wrestler Dick Togo. On May 2, 2007, Michinoku and Togo would beat tag team legends Gedo and Jado to become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. The pairing would defend the championships on both New Japan events but also Kaientai events too. Although holding the championships for several months, Michinoku and Togo would rarely compete for New Japan and only wrestled in matches for the championships, however, the pair would still regularly compete for Kaientai Dojo. After several defences against the likes of Koji Kanemoto and Wataru Inoue, the pair finally lost the championships to Control Terrorism Unit members Prince Devitt and Minoru.
In late 2010, Michinoku returned to New Japan and began teaming up with Satoshi Kojima, Nosawa Rongai and Taichi to form Kojima-gun in early 2011. On February 20, 2011, at The New Beginning, Michinoku took on Prince Devitt for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, which Devitt retained. Michinoku teamed up with Taichi to take on Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and lost. After Satoshi Kojima lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom V, Kojima suffered another big loss against longtime rival Togi Makabe on May 3 and following the match, Michinoku and Taichi entered the ring and attacked Kojima, who quickly took care of both of them. This led to the surprise return of freelancer Minoru Suzuki, who appeared behind Kojima and locked him in a sleeper hold, before leaving the ringside area with Michinoku and Taichi, who proclaimed Suzuki as their new leader and renamed the stable "Suzuki-gun". Michinoku participated in Best Of The Super Juniors XVIII and gained eight points but not enough to progress to the semi final. Michinoku and Taichi became a tag team in New Japan's junior heavyweight tag team division. On September 11, 2011, the pair would take on Apollo 55 for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and for the second time running lost. At Power Struggle, Michinoku for the second time took on Devitt for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and for the second time lost. At Wrestle Kingdom VI In Tokyo Dome, Michinoku and Taichi teamed up with Atlantis and Valiente to lose to Jushin Thunder Liger, Kushida, Máscara Dorada and Tiger Mask.
Both Michinoku and Taichi participated in Best of the Super Juniors XIX, however, neither progressed to the semi final. After their elimination from the tournament, Michinoku and Taichi had set their sights on the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, but were, on June 16 at Dominion 6.16, defeated by Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask in a match for the vacant championship. In August, Michinoku and Taichi began blaming each other for their recent losses, which led to the two agreeing to a match, where the loser would be expelled from Suzuki-gun. The match took place on August 22 at Michinoku's Kaientai Dojo promotion, but ended without a winner as Minoru Suzuki interrupted the match and got the two men to make peace with each other. Taka and Taichi participated in Super Junior Tag Tournament 2012 and made it to the semi final before losing to the Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and Kushida). From late May to early June 2013, Michinoku took part in the 2013 Best of the Super Juniors. After originally failing to advance from his block, Michinoku was given a spot in the semifinals, after original block winner Ryusuke Taguchi suffered a hip injury. He was eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals on June 9 by Alex Shelley. On July 20, Michinoku and Taichi received another shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, but were defeated by the defending champions, the Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero). On September 29 at Destruction, Michinoku and Taichi failed to earn another shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, when they were defeated in a number one contender's match by Time Splitters. However, when Alex Shelley was sidelined with an injury, Michinoku and Taichi were given the title shot and, on October 14 at King of Pro-Wrestling, defeated the Forever Hooligans to become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Michinoku and Taichi made their first successful title defense on November 1, defeating Gedo and Jado at their self-produced independent event. After a reign of only 26 days, Michinoku and Taichi lost the title to The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) on November 9 at Power Struggle.
Pro Wrestling NOAH (2015-2016)
In January 2015, Suzuki-gun entered a storyline, where the entire stable invaded the Pro Wrestling Noah promotion. Michinoku and El Desperado won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship on March 15 by defeating Choukibou-gun (Hajime Ohara and Kenoh) and No Mercy (Daisuke Harada and Genba Hirayanagi) in a three-way match. They lost the title to Atsushi Kotoge and Daisuke Harada in their fifth defense on October 4. Suzuki-gun's Noah invasion storyline concluded in December 2016.
Second return to New Japan Pro Wrestling (2017-present)
On January 5, 2017, Suzuki-gun, Taka included, returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling. In May, Michinoku took part in the 2017 Best of the Super Juniors, where he finished second to last in his block with a record of two wins and five losses. From March 2018 until May 2019, he was the manager and occasional tag team partner of Zack Sabre Jr.
In May 2019, Michinoku participated in the 2019 Best of the Super Juniors. Going winless in his first 5 matches, he injured his ankle during his 6th match against Shingo Takagi. He would then forfeit his remaining matches, finishing the tournament with 0 wins and 9 losses. Michinoku would disappear shortly after to focus on starting his new promotion, Just Tap Out Professional Wrestling. He still remains on New Japan's website.
Just Tap Out Professional Wrestling (2019-present)
On April 12, 2019, Yoshida announced that he would be creating a new promotion, called Just Tap Out Professional Wrestling (JTO).  They held their first show on July 8, 2019 in Korakuen Hall, where Yoshida (still wrestling as Taka Michinoku) was defeated by Minoru Suzuki. Although the second and later rounds were delayed due to the 2019-20 Coronavirus pandemic, on August 14, 2020, Michinoku won the Only Give Up Tournament by defeating Tamura Hayato.
On November 11, 2018, it was reported by the Japanese magazine Flash, that Yoshida had an extramarital affair and the woman with whom Yoshida had an affair also said in the course of the publications that he was a "groovy man", leading Kaientai Dojo employers being concerned about the future fanzism and sometimes criticized Yoshida's behavior. This also led to K-Dojo to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him and as a result being forced to resign from his post on the board of the directors and being not paid for a full year and would leave Kaientai Dojo at end of January 2019.
- Finishing moves
- Michinoku Driver(Double underhook brainbuster) – 1991–1993
- Michinoku Driver II(Sitout body slam piledriver) – 1993–present; Innovated
- Michinoku Driver II-B(Sitout reverse body slam piledriver) – 2000–present; Innovated
- Just Facelock (Seated crossface) – 2002–present
- Just Facelock 2006 (Wrist lock rear naked choke) – 2006–present
- Signature moves
- Back to back double underhook piledriver
- Dick Killer (Arm trap bridging cobra clutch)
- Death Valley driver
- Heavy Killer #1 (Triangle choke rolled over into a rana pin)
- Heavy Killer #2 (Double arm trap straddle pin)
- Heavy Killer #3 (Cross-legged cross armed inverted over-rotated Delfin clutch)
- Multiple kick variations
- Multiple moonsault variations
- Springboard corkscrew, sometimes to an opponent outside the ring
- No-handed over the top rope suicide dive
- Overhead belly-to-belly suplex
- Over the shoulder back-to-belly piledriver
- Powerbomb, sometimes sitout
- Springboard into either a dropkick or a knee drop
- Shining wizard
- Step-up high knee to a cornered opponent
- Straight jacket sitout powerbomb pin
- Tornado DDT
- "Blue Playmaker"
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- DDT Pro-Wrestling
- Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling
- Independent Wrestling World
- IWW Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Kaientai Dojo
- Chiba 6 Man Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Isami Kodaka and Kengo Mashimo
- FMW/WEW Hardcore Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with TOMO Michinoku
- Independent World Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Strongest-K Championship (2 times)
- Strongest-K Tag Team Championship (6 times) – with Handsome Joe (2), Kengo Mashimo (1), Kaji Tomato (2), and Men's Teioh (1)
- UWA/UWF Intercontinental Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Ryota Chikuzen
- UWA World Middleweight Championship (2 times)
- Strongest-K Tournament (2007)
- STRONGEST-K Next Challenger Tournament (2009)
- Kaientai Dojo Tag League (2012) – with Kengo Mashimo
- Tank Nagai Cup Tag Tournament (2017) – with Men's Teioh
- Tag Team Match of the Year (2013) with Kaji Tomato vs. Kazma Sakamoto and Kengo Mashimo on November 10
- Just Tap Out Professional Wrestling
- Only Give Up Tournament (2020)
- Michinoku Pro Wrestling
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #191 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Pro Wrestling Noah
- Tokyo Sports
- Technique Award (2005)
- World Entertainment Wrestling
- World Wrestling Federation
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- 2013年4月14日（日）Kaientai Dojo11周年記念大会 Club-K Super evolution11［東京・後楽園ホール］ (in Japanese). Kaientai Dojo. Retrieved on 2013-04-14.
- 2013年5月11日（土）Club-K Tour in Osaka［大阪・ナスキーホール梅田］ (in Japanese). Kaientai Dojo. Retrieved on 2013-05-12.
- 2013年8月11日（日）Club-K Super in Blue Field(千葉・Blue Field) (in Japanese). Kaientai Dojo. Retrieved on 2013-11-10.
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- Road to Kingdom ～Battle X'mas!～ (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2012-08-25.
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- 吉野家Presents Kizuna Road 2013 (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2013-07-20.
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- Taka&タイチが自主興行でジュニアタッグ王座防衛！ 次の防衛戦の場所はなんと会場規模200人の北千住。相手はヤングライオンを指名！ (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling (2013-11-01). Retrieved on 2013-11-01.
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- 衝撃! なんと鈴木軍フルメンバーがノアのリングを占拠! みのるが宣戦布告! 小島はGHCに手が届かず……丸藤の前に轟沈!【1.10ノア結果】 (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling (2015-01-11). Retrieved on 2015-03-15.
- Great Voyage 2015 in Tokyo (in Japanese). Pro Wrestling Noah. Retrieved on 2015-03-15.
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- ja:【ノア】鈴木軍撤退で方舟マットどうなる？ (in Japanese). Tokyo Sports (2016-12-05). Retrieved on 2016-12-05.
- Cite error: Invalid
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- Powell, John 1998-03-30. Austin wins WWF World Title at WrestleMania . SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved on 2009-09-22.
- Taka Michinoku at Cagematch .
- NJPW 40th anniversary Tour Best of the Super Jr. XIX ～The door to the glory～ (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2012-06-16.
- NJPW 40th anniversary Tour Best of the Super Jr. XIX ～The door to the glory～ (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2012-06-16.
- TAKA Michinoku at Cagematch.net .
- K-Dojo News (in Japanese). Kaientai Dojo. Archived from the original on 2014-01-06. Retrieved on 2014-01-06.
- ja:東京スポーツ プロレス大賞 (in Japanese). Tokyo Sports. Retrieved on 2014-01-20.
- Taka Michinoku's reign . World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved on 2009-09-22.