Atsushi Onita Shoot Interview

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RF VIDEO finally did it, we got one of the most requested shoot interviews of all time.  We flew Onita into our headquarters all the way from Tokyo Japan.  He is the death match innovator and the man who changed the landscape of professional wrestling in Japan in the 90’s.  His charisma, and innovative ideas had wrestling fans world wide talking about FMW in what will go down as one of the wildest companies of all time.  Before there was FMW, Onita worked for all of the major companies in Japan and in the states and during this interview you will see how he climbed up the ladder and became the wrestling god that so many hardcore fans call him!!! ONITA!!! ONITA!!! Onita!!!!

Onita will talk about starting out as a fan of comics and how he broke into the business.   You will hear how he entered the All Japan dojo and what it was like working for Giant Baba.  He shared the locker room with some of the biggest legends and has stories on them all.  Onita recalls some very funny locker room stories and who could forget about his time in Memphis when he did the wild Concession Stand Brawl which later became a match that would shape and mold FMW.

Onita also talks about working in Florida, Mexico and some of the other companies he learned his craft in.   We talk about how he first met Terry Funk in 1982.  What it was like being in the ring with Misawa in 1982, working with Kawada and all of the top legends of All Japan Wrestling when they were all greenhorns.   

Onita talks about his injury that saw him sit out of the business which led to being a key founder of FMW.  He talks about how he came up with some of the wild gimmick matches in FMW with the barbed wire and explosions.  This is by far the best part of the interview.  We cover everyone like Sheik, Sabu, Tanaka, Mike Awesome and all the classic big matches that he had that of course everyone watched from tape trading.

Was there ever real life heat between Onita and Hayabusa, find out when you watch this interview.   What really happened with the angle that went no where with Jose Gonzalez.  Why did it get squashed?  What happened when Onita came to ECW and why didn’t anything ever come out of that angle at the ECW arena with the Sandman?  Did he feel ECW stole his ideas in America.

Why did he leave the company and return and what was his relationship with the FMW president.  We talk about Dark Side of the ring as Onita sets the story right and you will hear his side of the story.  

Some of the other hot topics are his Kfabe meeting with Vince McMahon about the possibility of doing a explosion match at Mania between Foley and Funk.  Thoughts on Hayabusa injury, XPW angle and so much more.

This interview covers everything that any wrestling fan would want to know about this Japanese legend. Want to hear about his crazy death matches with Mr. Pogo you got it!!  Want to hear his thoughts on AEW and the explosion match with Moxley and Omega, you got it!!!  Why he worked as a heel in New Japan, working for CZW and of course politics.

This interview is a must for any hardcore wrestling fan as nobody has ever sat down with him before like this.  Onita himself said that this was the best interview he has ever done and he was shocked at how much knowledge we had.  I had a blast conducting this interview and we can’t wait for you to view it.

You discovered pro wrestling in a comic book, Giant Typhoon.  What are your memories of that story and why do you think it had such an impression on you?

That comic featured Giant Baba, who ran All Japan, where you first broke in.  What are your memories of Baba and how he ran his company?

What did you learn from him about creativity and promoting professional wrestling?

 Did Baba live up to the fictional version you first encountered in the comic book?

How do you first get into pro wrestling?  How did one go about getting noticed by All Japan?

Who were your primary trainers and what was it like in the All Japan dojo?  

What was the hardest part of going through the dojo?

How much pride do you carry being the first person who trained and graduated the dojo as Jumbo Tsruta trained in Texas?

Memories of your first match?

Memories of the following from all japan in the 1970s

Masao Ito
Jumbo Tsrtruta
Shiro Koshinaka
Mr Hayashi
Mitsuo Momota
Kazuharu Sonoda aka Magic Dragon
Kim Kwang Sik

Memories of your great matches with Masa Fuchi?

What was Fuchi like behind the scenes?

When you are working the undercard for Baba, is your goal to do what he wants or do what you think is best to make your own name bigger for the fans?  How does someone in that position stand out so they can move up the card?

Wrestling the following in All Japan and memories of their time in Japan:

Destroyer Dick Beyer
Mil Mascaras
Dos Caras
Dick Kernodle
Great Kojika
Kim Duk
Rick Martel,
Don Muraco
Ted DiBiase
Kevin & David Von Erich
Dutch Mantel

Memories of wrestling Robot R2 and Robot 3P0 in All Japan when Star Wars first became popular?  (These were Luchadors from Mexico doing the gimmick)

In 1982, you tour The United States and Mexico - how did that come about?  Baba?  Why are you chosen to go on the tour?

First impressions of the United States fans vs. Japanese fans?

Do you like coming to the States or do you miss Japan?

How did you have to change your style at the time?

Memories of beating Jerry Lawler and Tommy Rich for the CWA Tag Team titles in Memphis?

You have wrestled in so many famous Japanese buildings but fans might be surprised to learn you wrestled the Mid-South Coliseum.  Any favorite memories of wrestling in that Memphis arena?

Was wrestling on live TV in Memphis different for you?  

Memories of:

Tommy Rich
Dream Machine
Eddie Gilbert
Austin Idol
The Nightmares
Tojo Yamamoto
Plowboy Frazier
Koko Ware

Favorite memories of living and traveling the Memphis territory?
Memories of the 1981 Concession Stand Brawl?  Ricky Morton, Eddie Gilbert vs Masa Fuchi, Atsushi Onita.   How much of that moment was planned vs. it just got out of hand?

You said in Dark Side of the Ring that a woman kicking you during the brawl inspired your vision of what hardcore wrestling could mean to the fans.  Why do you think hardcore wrestling brings out such a deep, rapid reaction?

Could you have ever imagined that night would change your life and outlook on pro wrestling?

Who were your favorite people to travel with in Florida?

Did you like playing heel in the United States?

Memories of the following:

Wahoo McDaniel
Gerry and Jack Brisco
Jimmy Garvin
David Sierra (future Cuban Assassin)
Cocoa Samoa
Butch Reed
Sweet Broad Sugar
Magnum TA Terry Sllen

You go to Mid-Atlantic and win the NWA International Junior Heavyweight title in Mexico, beating Chavo Guerrero.  What did that moment mean to you?

Memories of feuding with Chavo Guerrero?

Memories of working in Mexico in 1982?

How do you compare the fans there to Japanese fans?

Was it hard to figure out the lucha libre style?

Any memories of the following wrestlers you faced in Mexico:

Halcon Ortz
Sangre Chicana
Perro Aguayo
Gran Hamada

You return to All Japan in 1982.

Memories of wrestling Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steambioat.

Memories of teaming with Baba against Ric Flair and Dick Slater.

Memories of wrestling The High Flyers, Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell.

Memories of wrestling Tenryu?

You teamed with Terry Funk for the first time in 1982.  What was he like behind the scenes at the time?

Why do you think he look a liking to you and mentored you?

Favorities memories of the Funks in that era?

You teamed with Terry and Dory Funk Jr. at different times.  How are they similar and different?

Larry Zbyszko
Victor Rivera
Akio Sato
Jimmy Snuka
Rocky Jones
Jim (JJ) Dillon

Memories of teaming with Great Kabuki

Memories of wrestling a rookie Mitsuharu Misawa in 1982?

Memories of wrestling a young Toshiaki Kawada?

Could you see they were going to be big stars?

Memories of the night you shattered your kneecap leaping off the ring apron.

Had you been having issues with the knee before that?

What was it like going through such a tough injury?

What do you think your life would have been like if that hadn’t happened?

When it appeared your career was over, what did that do to you?

What were you doing in the years before you returned to the ring as a wrestler?

Where did the initial idea of feuding with Masashi Aoyagi come about?

How did Aoyagi adapt to professional wrestling?  Was he receptive to it given he was coming from a martial arts background?

What was your original vision for FMW and how did it change over time?

What led to you going from Steet Fights to using the Barbed Wire?

What did FMW give fans that All Japan and New Japan gave to fans in the early 1990s?

Did you ever get any feedback from Baba on the promotion as it got more wild and over the top?

What were the relationships like between the promotions in the early 1990s.  Obviously there was no trading of talents but how often were the promotions in contact with each other?

What's the best and the hardest part of being the booker?

Would it have been easier to just be the talent or would FMW not have been as successful if you weren't in the office?

What led to you bringing in Dick Murdoch so often?

Where does the idea for the first No Ropes Exploding Barbed Wire Death come from?

How hard was it to figure out how to pull it off technically and to get venues to allow it?

FMW was famous for its creativity and all sorts of insanity involved in the big explosion matches.  Was there ever an idea you thought would have gone too far?  Was there a moment you think FMW pushed the envelope too much?

There were rumors for years that you wanted to wrestle Invader 1 playing off of the murder of Bruiser Brody.  Was there ever any truth to this as the story is you flew to Puerto Rico to shoot an angle but the match never happened as Jose Gonzalez could not travel to Japan.  You've never been given a chance to address this story, so what happened, if anything?

Memories of the following and what they meant to FMW

Mr Pogo
Tarzan Goto
Ricky Fuji
Jim Backlund
Sambo Asako
Grigory Verichev
Horace Boulder
Rick Titan
Mr Gannosuke
Dr. Luther & Dr. Hannibal
The Great Punk
Hideki Hosasa (just passed away in August)

First memories of The Gladitor Mike Awesome?  How important was he to FMW?  How would you like to see him remembered?

Why did you decide on Wild Thing for your theme song?

In 1991, you bring in the Original Sheik?  What did that mean for FMW?

Sabu comes into FMW and credits you with "giving him life" in pro wrestling.  How does that make you feel?

What made Sabu so special?

You’ve said that what made ECW was Sabu bringing FMW tapes back from Japan to the States.  When you first saw the rise of ECW here, did you feel they were stealing from FMW?

In 1992, you bring in boxer Leon Spinks to FMW?  How does that come about?   Was it hard to get him to take part in professional wrestling?  How quickly did it take him to get accustomed to the pro wrestling world?

Memories of the FMW Fire Death Match with Onita and Goto vs The Sheik and Sabu?

Was there concern after the match that you had pushed too far and the promotion could get in trouble with authorities?

Where did the idea come to bring in Terry Funk for the 1993 FMW Anniversary Show?

Was it hard to get Terry to be willing to do the explosion match?

You’ve said in interviews this was probably your favorite match and the moment where jump on Terry to save him from the exploding ring is universally loved - what was the inspiration of the story?

What was it like being in the middle of that exploding ring?

What’s your favorite thing about Terry Funk?

You and Terry later teamed in FMW, but why was there never a rematch?

The undercard of the show featured Michinoku Pro and women’s wrestling during a time period where larger promotions didn’t usually work together or feature women on their cards - what led to you breaking those traditions?

FMW was running a regular schedule with you in main event bout in big brawls with explosions and lots of blood.  How were you feeling physically doing such a schedule?

May 1994 Memories wrestling Genichiro Tenyru in a No Ropes Exploding Barbed Wire Cage Death.  How did that experience compare to wrestling Funk the year before?

Where did the idea for The Great Nita come from?

What made you decide to retire in 1995?

Memories of that bout against Hayabusa?

Why was he the right opponent at the time?  

Was there ever a feeling that someone else might have worked better on that position?

What made you decide to go over in the last match?

At the time, did you ever plan on returning to the ring?

Why was Shoichi Arai picked to take over FMW?

Why didn’t you just continue running the company yourself, just not wrestling?

You had the chance to make several movies after retiring, did you enjoy acting?

How long did it take you before you were missing wrestling?

You come back in 1996, why do you make that decision?

What was the company’s reaction when you decided to come back?

Did you ever want to take over control of the company again from Arai?

Thoughts on Masato Tanaka, who rises as a star during your time away?

Do you feel it was harder for the other talents to be main eventers with you as part of FMW?

How did you feel when the decision was made that you needed to leave the company again?

Thoughts on the end of the company and the death of Arai?

In the Dark Side of the Ring documentary, Arai’s daughter said she feels you are partly to blame for his death.  The documentary did not show your response to this, so perhaps they did not make you aware.  Do you wish to respond to her comment?

In 1998, you came to ECW in Philadelphia and appeared as a surprise.  Why, on that night, did you not come out in the leather jacket like the Onita everyone knows and instead came out on the kimono and slippers?

he Dudleys (Big Dick Dudley, Buh Buh Ray Dudley & D-Von Dudley) defeat Atsushi Onita, The Sandman & Tommy Dreamer
ECW - Event @ ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Memories of that building?

That night, you and The Sandman had a press conference to do an explosion match.   Why did it never happen?

What were your dealings like with Paul Heyman?

Were you disappointed it didn’t happen?

What was the purpose of your meeting with Vince McMahon in Connecticut?

On his podcast, WWE’s Bruce Prichard, when discussing the meeting, said the bombs maytch was “one of the silliest, stupidest things I’d ever seen in my life.”  Do you have any response to Prichard?

At one point, WWF did plan to do Terry Funk vs Cactus Jack Exploding Death match for Wrestlemania 14, but decided not to do the match.  Were ever aware they wanted to do this?

At one point, you came to the United States to do an angle with XPW for exploding barbed wire match with Sabu in Los Angeles - what were your dealings with XPW and why didn’t the match happen?

Memories of Kodo Fuyuki and what you thought of him as a wrestler and booker?

Memories of Victor Quinones and what he brought to FMW?

What did it mean to bring exploding barbed wire to New Japan vs. Masa Chono in Tokyo Dome?  Memories of that match?

Thoughts on Hayabusa’s injury?

Favorite memories of Hayabusa and of Eiji Izaki the person?

At one point, there were rumors of an FMW exploding ring match taking place on the deck of a U.S. Navy air carrier in Japan, but it never happened.  What was the truth to the story and why didn’t the match take place?

What made you decide to go into Japanese politics?

What were you hoping to accomplish?

Memories of going to Afghanistan in 2002 and wrestling there as part of your poltical career?

How different was that world from professional wrestling?

Do you care to comment on the circumstances that led to your exit from politics, as you were alleged to have used government accommodations to host a threesome with a porn actress and a female employee of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation.  Did this happen?

Do you regret leaving the political world?

What advice do you have for someone getting into politics?

Memories of teaming with Terry Funk vs. Abdullah and Kimala for All Japan in Tokyo Dome?

What did it mean to you to reunite as a team with Masa Fuchi in 2016 for All Japan?

Where did you come up with the idea for the Bat Blast match?

How did the original deal for the CZW match with Matt Tremont come together?

Why did that match turn into a six man tag team match?

Were you aware fans in the United States were disappointed with the match changing?

You called the CZW explosions cheap in the ring after the match - why was it important for you to do that?

Thoughts on DJ Hyde?

What led to you bringing Tremont and DJ Hyde back to Japan for (9/10/17    No Ropes Barbed Wire Current Blast Death: Atsushi Onita, HASEGAWA, Hideki Hosaka, Masahiro Sase & Raijin Yaguchi vs. Chainsaw Tony, DJ Hyde, FUJITA, Matt Tremont & NOSAWA Rongai

Memories of wrestling in 2300 Arena for CZW - Atsushi Onita & Matt Tremont vs DJ Hyde & MASADA at Cage of Death 20?

You were interviewed in the build for Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega’s AEW Exploding barbed wire match - how did you get involved?

Did AEW ask for assistance or advice on the match?

AEW invited you to attend the match.  Why did you not travel to the United States for it?

You have said in interviews you felt responsible for the AEW Explosion match not working and fans being let down.  Why did you feel responsible for something you had zero control over?

What would be your advice for AEW if they ever decide to do another Explosion match?

Why do you think so many other companies have struggled with explosion matches?  What mistakes are they making?

What is it about the United States that makes it harder to do explosion matches vs. Japan?

How do you feel about Jon Moxley using Wild Thing as his theme song?

What led to you deciding to launch FMW-E in Japan in July 2021?

What makes FMW-E different from previous incarnations of FMW?

How would you rate the success of FMW-E thus far?  Is it harder building a new company now vs. the 1990s?

Is it harder in 2021 to have the sort of wild FMW style that was created in the 1990s?

Where did the idea for the Jado rocket come from?

Do you expect other companies to steal the idea?

What led to Shadow WX taking on the persona of Mr. Pogo?

Many Death Match and FMW veterans including Abdullah Kobayashi and Ricky Fuji have come to FMW-E.  What other stars would you like to see compete there?

Who are the FMW-E stars fans should keep an eye on as they grow as wrestlers?

Thoughts on the passing of Hideo Hosaka?

Would you like to make FMW-E more available to fans in the United States?

How did your Double Hell match with Matt Tremont come about?

What do you see in Matt Tremont that makes him stand out from other American wrestlers?

What does it mean to you to finally have an explosion match the way you envisioned in the United States?

If this goes well, would you still want to do more matches in the States or do you see this as your last stand?

You have retired several times, so How much longer would you like to wrestle?

Is there anyone you would still want to wrestle but haven’t had the chance?

Are there any venues you would still like to wrestle in?  Perhaps Madison Square Garden?

What do you think is the legacy of FMW and Onita?

Would you ever write a book about your life?

Who would play Onita if the movie of your life is made?

What is the best part of professional wrestling for you?

What message would you like to send to the fans who have supported you over the course of your career?