Friday, March 4, 2016

RIP Hayabusa 1968-2016

Story time

I'd read bits about Japanese pro wrestling for years through PWI mags. Always wanted to see it but I didn't know about the internet in the 90's. I'd read about Misawa and Kobashi and wondered what these guys were about but didn't know where to see them.

My interest in wrestling waned for a bit until I caught Rock/Hogan having a confrontation a few weeks before Mania 18. My interest in wrestling then returned and exploded. I started watching indys on local tv and came across XPW. I found their DVD's in the store and one day spotted a new promotion - FMW. King of the Deathmatch? Explosion matches with fire and a cool Sabu looking wrestler? I'm in.

As I watched, I was an instant fan of Hayabusa and Megumi Kudo. Through puroresufan, dvdvr and bahufmw, I was able to enter the world of puroresu fandom around 2002. I started looking for videos and came across highspots and Ebay, which sold FMW COOPS. I bought tons of FMW videos, with them becoming my favorite promotion.

I went to a local indy show and ran into a guy who did wrestling tours to Japan. I was only 13 or so, but for over 3 years, my goal was to get there. I worked for 3 summers and was able to afford it. Along the way, I picked up Hayabusa shirts and figures and he was an immediate hero for me.
I was able to take my first japanese wrestling tour in 2008. Going to Japan to see shows was pretty awesome, but the icing on the cake was even sweeter - a Q&A with HAYABUSA. I couldn't believe it, I was going to get to meet him. I saved up my money working two summers to afford the trip, and it was worth it.

Hayabusa was an amazing guest. Even though he was in a wheel chair, he signed well over 200 items while answering every stupid question we could come up with. He was extremely nice to us and wasn't a big shot celebrity. Although he was in pain, he smiled and was graceful. I had him sign a suitcase full of programs. At the end, he put on the mask and we all took photos with him. Of course, others noticed him too and he attracted quite the crowd. He ended up posting about the experience which made us feel even better. That was one of the best days in my life.
I will never forget Hayabusa's kindness that day and I will never forget him. I ended up running into him again years later at a Dragon Gate show and he was still as kind as could be. He's always been my hero and his toughness and love for wrestling is unrivaled. He changed my life and had I not discovered him or Muta, I may have never even went to Japan.

A good man was taken today and remember - The Phoenix never dies. We love you Hayabusa.

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