As we approach the historic Joshimania shows, presented by CHIKARA, Dirty Dirty Sheets will present a number of articles in hopes of increasing fan awareness and knowledge about both the past and present of Joshi Puroresu. Today we present a spotlight of one of the greatest and most intense Joshi wrestlers of all time, Akira Hokuto.
She then went on to team with Yumiko Hotta, and defeated the Glamour Girls of Judy Martin and Leilani Kai to capture the vacant WWWA World Tag Team Titles in April of 1987 [2. See Hokuto & Hotta win the WWWA tag titles here.]. They lost the titles shortly afterward to Yumi Ogura and Kazue Nagahori, the Red Typhoons, in a 2/3 falls bout. It was in this match that Uno’s career took a potentially tragic turn. Ogura gave Uno an avalanche-style tombstone piledriver from the second rope and broke Uno’s neck [3. See the match where Hokuto’s neck was broken.]. Uno was pinned and screamed in pain between rounds, but valiantly fought on and somehow managed to wrestle the second and third falls! Regardless of her visible pain, she refused to stop fighting; a trait that would be seen regularly in her career.
Put out of action for the next eight months, she trained harder than ever to make her return [4. Watch Hokuto train to come back from her broken neck.]. When she had her return match on January 4, 1988 [5. See Akira Hokuto return from a broken neck against Yachiyo Hirata.], she had a renewed vigor, new ring gear, and a new name honoring her idol, Akira Maeda (though she was still recognized by AJW as Hisako Uno for several more months).
She formed the team of “The Marine Wolves” with Suzuka Minami, and they won the WWWA World Tag Team Titles on two occasions. On April 29, 1991, Hokuto defeated Minami for the All-Pacific title[6. See Akira Hokuto and Suzuka Minami battle for the All-Pacific Title.], and held it for 5 months before losing it back to her tag team partner. Hokuto won the All-Pacific title again in November 1992 from Kyoko Inoue.
During this time the injuries that Hokuto carried began to mount up. She had trouble with her shoulder, arm, knee, back and neck once again. She would continue wrestle with abandon though, showing little regard for her own personal safety, always determined to win at all costs. She formed the infamous faction, Las Cachorras Orientales. It originally consisted of Hokuto, Mima Shimoda, Etsuko Mita and Suzuka Minami. The LCO proved to be one of the longest running factions in wrestling history as it existed, in the tag team of Mita and Shimoda, until just a few years ago when Mita retired.
With 1993 came the era of inter-promotional Joshi Puroresu super shows. These massive events brought Joshi from multiple promotions together under one, usually domed, roof to fight for supremacy in front of tens of thousands of fans. In leading the charge for AJW, Hokuto was able to have perhaps the best year in-ring that any wrestler has ever had. Her feuds with JWP president Masatoshi Yamamoto, AJW rival Aja Kong and, most notably, LLPW star Shinobu Kandori are simply legendary.
On January 24th, the team of Hokuto, Mita and Shimoda defeated the LLPW team of Eagle Sawai, Harley Saito and Miki Handa. Hokuto showed little respect for the LLPW wrestlers and after the victory, grabbed a microphone and called out Kandori who was watching from ringside. Kandori tried to climb into the ring but was held back, setting up a match between the two for Dreamslam I on April 2nd.
The press conference [7. Here is the Dreamslam I press conference] for the match was insane. Kandori wanted the match to take place then and there, while Hokuto talked more trash threw a glass of water at Kandori, starting a huge scuffle. This set the stage for a wildly intense brawl on Dreamslam. The action was a brutal, non-stop, all-out war. Hokuto bled to the point where he face was indistinguishable, and kept going. The match amazes to this day and it is with good reason often called the greatest professional wrestling match of all time [8. The must watch Dreamslam I – Akira Hokuto vs. Shinobu Kandori match].
On August 21, 1993, Hokuto won AJW’s annual Japan Grand Prix tournament finals to become the number one contender to Aja Kong’s WWWA World Title. Her shot at the title was scheduled take place on October 9th[9. See Akira Hokuto vs Aja Kong Japan Grand Prix Final.], but an injured knee forced her to have surgery on her meniscus and PCL just two weeks before the match. Hokuto hobbled her way to the ring and told Aja that, in her current physical condition, she was not worthy of a title match and wanted the match to be non-title. Aja dominated, kicking and wrenching on Hokuto’s leg, and was able to easily defeat her. Afterwards Aja, in tears, told Hokuto that she was the toughest and most courageous wrestler she had ever faced.
JWP President Masatoshi Yamamoto was known for his wholesome passion for his company; their slogan was Pure Heart Wrestling. Hokuto saw this sincerity as a sign of weakness, and regularly berated Yamamoto while proclaiming AJW’s superiority. Things came to a head on November 18, 1993 as Hokuto appeared on JWP’s Thunder Queen Battle show to face Mayumi Ozaki in what was promoted as “Pure Heart meets The Dangerous Queen, One Time Only [10. Watch Akira Hokuto vs Mayumi Ozaki.].” The match turned out to be fantastic and, once again, Hokuto got the better of Yamamoto.
Continuing her battle with LLPW, Hokuto faced Kandori in a rematch on December 6th [11. Watch the rematch, Hokuto vs Kandori II.] at AJW’s St. Final show. The rematch was in the unenviable position of being a follow-up to the best match ever, but both wrestlers gave amazing performances and this time Kandori came out on top. A few months later, Kandori and Hokuto actually teamed to face Aja Kong and Bull Nakano [12. See Akira Hokuto & Shinobu Kandori vs Aja Kong & Bull Nakano.]. Hokuto and Kandori bickered and fought with each other but overcame their differences to win, as Hokuto pinned Aja after hitting her patented Northern Lights Bomb finisher.
Perhaps no single wrestler has ever drawn as much emotion from fans, colleagues, and opponents as Akira Hokuto. This was most apparent when, after becoming engaged to luchadore Mascara Magica in mid 1993, Hokuto announced her intentions to move to Mexico. Fans and wrestlers alike expressed their desire for her to stay and she was named MVP of 1993. Hokuto did eventually leave for Mexico and took up the masked persona Reina Jubuki. She won the CMLL World Women’s Title from La Diobolica on July 30, 1994. However, shortly there after she divorced and returned to Japan.
On November 20, 1994, AJW put on the massive “Big Egg Universe” show which drew over 42,000 fans and $4 million to the Tokyo Dome (known as the “big egg”). The main attraction of 8-plus hour show was the V-Top Woman Tournament. Besides featuring an all-time great match between Manami Toyota and Aja Kong, the finals saw Hokuto face the then WWWA champion Aja Kong once again [13. See Akira Hokuto vs Aja Kong V-Top Tournament Finals.]. This time, it was Akira Hokuto who came out on top. Having lost this non-title match, Aja said that she no longer felt worthy of being champion and placed the WWWA World Title before Hokuto as a sign of respect. Hokuto was once again named AJW MVP in 1994.
In May of 1995, Hokuto met New Japan star Kensuke Sasaki and the two married later that year in October. During this period lots of personnel from AJW shifted to new promotions and, in 1996, Hokuto left to join the GAEA promotion (founded by Crush Gal Chigusa Nagayo). She also began to wrestle in the United States and defeated Madusa to win the Women’s World Championship in December 29. She held that title until she learned that she was pregnant. On November 6, 1998 she gave birth to her first son, Kennosuke.
Hokuto returned to the ring in 1999, and eventually she and old rival Mayumi Ozaki teamed to defeat Sugar Sato and Chikayo Nagashima to win the AAAW Tag Team Championship in GAEA. Hokuto and Ozaki held the titles for four months. She also had an acclaimed match with rising star, and JoshiMania participant, Meiko Satomura [14. See Akira Hokuto vs Meiko Satomura here.]. It would prove to be the last great Hokuto singles match.
On April 7, 2002 Akira Hokuto wrestled her final match [14. See Akira Hokuto’s retirement match.]. She teamed with Meiko Satomura to defeat Chigusa Nagayo and Ayako Hamada. This was followed by a traditional ten bell salute[15. Watch Hokuto’s retirement ceremony]. Hokuto was showered with streamers and walked up the aisle where she met her son and husband. As a family, they walked backstage to symbolize Hokuto’s final match as an active professional wrestler.
After retirement, Hokuto and Sasaki had another son, Shinusuke. She’s kept busy by running her husband’s wrestling promotion “Kensuke Office” as well as appearing ringside to support him and Kensuke Office wrestlers on many occasions. Still as dangerous as ever, Hokuto has often threatened, harassed, and physically attacked the opponents of her family from ringside with her handy Kendo stick.
Hokuto and Sasaki were voted one of Japan’s top celebrity couples[16. See a music video featuring Hokuto and her husband, Kensuke Sasaki], and she regularly appears on talk shows and variety shows, enjoying success as both a wrestling and pop culture icon many years after her in-ring dominance.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at the career of one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Below we’ve uploaded a special two-part spotlight featuring matches from her historic run in 1993. We’ve also footnoted the bouts and events referenced above, so check those out as well. Peace!
Akira Hokuto Spotlight Part 1
- Akira Hokuto vs Debbie Malenko – 1/4/93 (All Pacific Title match) (VG-)
- Akira Hokuto/Yumiko Hotta vs Bull Nakano/Aja Kong – 4/16/93 (handheld)
- Akira Hokuto/Bull Nakano vs Toshiyo Yamada/Takako Inoue – 4/24/93
- Akira Hokuto/Kyoko Inoue vs Aja Kong/Bull Nakano – 6/3/93
- Akira Hokuto vs Yasha Kurenai – 6/11/93
- Akira Hokuto vs Suzuka Minami – 7/4/93 (Japan Grand Prix)
Akira Hokuto Spotlight Part 2
- Akira Hokuto/Etsuko Mita/Mima Shimoda vs Eagle Sawai/Harley Saito/Miki Handa – 1/24/93
- Akira Hokuto/Aja Kong vs Shinobu Kandori/Eagle Sawai – 4/11/93
- Akira Hokuto vs Toshiyo Yamada – 5/3/93 (Japan Grand Prix)
- Akira Hokuto/Toshiyo Yamada vs Yumiko Hotta/Manami Toyota – 5/8/93