Atsushi Onita: Hardest of the Hardcore

Atsushi Onita is generally credited with bringing the deathmatch style of professional wrestling to Japan.  Most American pro wrestling fans are familiar with Japanese deathmatch wrestling thanks to Mick Foley (competing as Cactus Jack), who famously took on Terry Funk in the finals of IWA’s King of Deathmatch tournament on August 30, 1995 at Kawasaki Baseball Stadium, but Onita was having deathmatches in Japan as far back as 1989, even going so far as to create his own promotion, the legendary Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, or FMW.  FMW might be the very first hardcore wrestling promotion, as ECW didn’t go “extreme” until 1994 and Combat Zone Wrestling wasn’t even founded until 1999.

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