Growing from the origins of Armerican wrestling, Puroresu (Professional Wrestling) has become rather big in Japan. Forming it’s own style, more based on “Fighting Spirit” and the wrestlers are know for their full contact strikes and less theatrics. This also makes for much more professional medical assistance next to the ring.
The first ever person to involve himself in wrestling was the former sumo wrestler Sorakichi Matsuda (born 1859), he became a feature attraction in America but failed to bring the sport to Japan. It wasn’t until 1951 that Japanese Korean Rikidōzan became the ‘Father of Wrestling’ in Japan. Rikidōzan bought nightclubs, hotels, condo’s and boxing promotions and started the very first professional wrestling promotion ‘Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance (JWA)’ in 1953. His death came early in 1963 at age 39 after he got in an altercation with a Yakuza member, who stabbed him. Rikidōzan could have survived if he had followed the doctors orders after surgery. Drinking and eating rapidly made him ill and he developed an inflammation of his abdomen which took his life. After his death many more wrestlers joined the scene and the matches have always been televised greatly in Japan.
Of course there are a variety of rules within the puroresu, which varies in each country though there is a general standard to avoid confusion.
Matches are held between two or more sides (“corners”). Each corner may consist of one wrestler, or a team of two or more. Most team matches are governed by tag team rules (see below).
The match is won by scoring a “fall”, which is generally consistent with standard professional wrestling:
- Pinning an opponent’s shoulders to the mat for the referee’s count of three.
- Submission victory, which sees the wrestler either tap out or verbally submit to their opponent.
- Knockout, the failure to regain composure at the referee’s command
- Countout, the failure of a party to return to the ring at the referee’s command, which is determined by a count of twenty (some federations use ten, but in Japanese wrestling they use twenty).
- Disqualification, the act of one wrestler breaking the rules.
Additional rules govern how the outcome of the match is to take place. One such example would be the Japanese Universal Wrestling Federation, as it does not allow pinfall victories in favor of submissions and knockouts; this is seen as an early influence of mixed martial arts, as some wrestlers broke away from traditional wrestling endings to matches in favor of legitimate outcomes. Another example is that most promotions disallow punches so a lot of wrestlers utilize open handed strikes and stiff forearms.
Besides these rules there are different types of wrestling, Shootstyle (Full contact), Lucha Libre (Mexican form of freestyle wrestling with colorful masks) and Hardcore (Most rules don’t apply to hardcore wrestling, often taking place in unusual enviroments and ‘weapons’ such as tables, hammers, glass and other items are allowed.) are the main divisions withing the promotions.
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