|The Great Kabuki|
|Birth name||Akihisa Mera|
|Born||September 8, 1948|
Nobeoka, Miyazaki, Japan
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Akihisa Takachiho|
The Great Kabuki
Rising Sun #1
|Billed height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Billed weight||110 kg (243 lb)|
|Trained by||Giant Baba|
|Debut||October 31, 1964|
|Retired||September 30, 2018|
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Akihisa Mera (米良 明久 Mera Akihisa, born September 8, 1948), better known as The Great Kabuki (ザ・グレート・カブキ Za Gurēto Kabuki), is a Japanese retired professional wrestler. He was famous for being the first to blow "Asian mist" in his opponents' faces.
Professional wrestling career
Mera was born on September 8, 1948 in Nobeoka, Japan. He started wrestling in 1964 at the age of 16 for the Japanese Wrestling Association. He left Japan to compete in the United States in the 1970s. From there he wrestled all over the world, including All Japan Pro Wrestling, several territories of the National Wrestling Alliance including Jim Crockett Promotions, Mid-South Wrestling, Mid-Southern Wrestling and World Class Championship Wrestling under the name Akihisa Takachihō. He also used the name Yoshino Sato (with authorization from his mentor the original Yoshinosato, former sumotori Junzo Hasegawa, who lead JWA during its dying days), which was later shortened to Mr. Sato (not to be confused with Akio Sato, who later used the moniker in other U.S. territories).
Mera adopted the Great Kabuki persona in World Class in 1981. The character was created by Gary Hart, based on an old gimmick used by Filipino wrestler Rey Urbano, a former partner of Hasegawa's in the U.S. Kabuki kept his hair in a mop cut which kept his facial features mostly hidden; he also painted his face. The storyline went that his face was scarred in a bed of hot coals during his childhood. He was managed by most of the top heel managers of the 1970s and early 1980s, and he most often was a heel. When he was a baby-face, he was very unpredictable and could turn at any time, making him somewhat of an anti-hero, or tweener. Kabuki had a pre-match ritual of showing his skills with the nunchaku that intimidated most opponents. in WCCW he joined H & H Limited while managed by Arman Hussein & Gary Hart and tagged with Magic Dragon while building on his singles work but was Injured and in 1983, he joined Skandor Akbar's Devastation Inc.
He was the first wrestler to blow Asian mist into his opponents' faces. When Keiji Mutoh debuted in Jim Crockett Promotions as The Great Muta in March 1989, Mutoh was billed, by manager Gary Hart, as Kabuki's son due to the similarities in style and the blowing of the mist. In reality they are not related.
Some of his feuds were against Jimmy Valiant, Scott Casey, Abdullah the Butcher, Dusty Rhodes, Toshiaki Kawada, Chris Adams, Genichiro Tenryu, Bruiser Brody, and the Fabulous Freebirds. Kabuki's battles against Adams was billed as the battle of the superkicks, as ring announcer Bill Mercer often asked which kick was better: Adams' superkick or Kabuki's thrust kick.
In July 1990, he won the World Tag Team Championship with Jumbo Tsuruta, but within days, he joined Tenryu in creating the Super World of Sports promotion. In 1992, he joined New Japan Pro Wrestling's Heisei Ishingun, until leaving in 1996. From there he went on to be one of the co-founders of IWA Japan.
He participated in one World Wrestling Federation (WWF) match in 1994: the Royal Rumble where he was eliminated by Lex Luger after he helped take out The Undertaker in the previous match of the night.
The Kabuki character would sometimes be portrayed in the early 1980s by another wrestler, Magic Dragon (a masked wrestler whom Kabuki teamed with in WCCW). No one would be able to tell the difference when it was done too. This would mainly happen in Japan, World Class Championship Wrestling, Jim Crockett Promotions, and in Georgia Championship Wrestling from 1981-84. It was also done mainly because of Gary Hart's commitments to a promotion that he and the real Kabuki that would not want them leaving to work elsewhere due to their drawing power. Gary Hart would create this as a deal to other promoters that also wanted Kabuki for a show that they would be doing. Magic Dragon as Kabuki would always be without Gary Hart and would do it that way until his death in 1987.
Kabuki retired in 1998. He had a series of retirement matches. On July 20, he would main event at the Tokyo Korakuen Hall in IWA Japan by teaming up with Kendo Nagasaki to wrestle Keisuke Yamada and Shigeo Okumura; his last bout in the independent circuit. On August 8 he teamed up with The Great Muta to defeat Michiyoshi Ohara and Tatsutoshi Goto for New Japan Pro Wrestling, one of the major Japanese circuits. (Giant Baba would not let him retire in All Japan Pro Wrestling due to his jump to SWS.) September 7 was the grand finale for Kabuki, as he teamed up with Terry Funk and Doug Gilbert to defeat Freddy Kruger, Leatherface, and Metalface - symbolically his last match involving foreign wrestlers.
The Great Kabuki has since made several in ring appearances for Genichiro Tenryu's promotion Tenryu Project. The last American wrestler he ever worked in the ring with was One Man Kru two weeks in a row for Niigata Pro and FTO in November 2012.
Mera appeared in a band's music video "The Emeralds" under his Great Kabuki gimmick.
On January 4, 2015, Kabuki made a special appearance for New Japan Pro Wrestling, taking part in the New Japan Rumble on the pre-show of Wrestle Kingdom 9. He was quickly disqualified upon entering the ring due to using the Asian Mist. Kabuki returned a year later, taking part in the Wrestle Kingdom 10 pre-show New Japan Rumble, where he was once again disqualified for using the mist.
Kabuki wrestled his final match at a Pro Wrestling Noah show on December 22, 2017, teaming with his Heisei Ishingun teammates Shiro Koshinaka and Akitoshi Saito to defeat Go Shiozaki, Yoshinari Ogawa and Masao Inoue.
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Central States Wrestling
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- NWA Florida Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Mr. Saito
- NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Florida version) (2 times) – with Mr. Saito
- Japan Wrestling Association
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- Mid-South Wrestling Association
- National Wrestling Federation
- NWA Los Angeles
- NWA Mid-America
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him # 154 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003.
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
- Class of 2020
- Tokyo Sports
- World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
- World Class Championship Wrestling
- Western States Sports
- Philip Kreikenbohm. "Great Kabuki". Cagematch.net. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- Shields, Brian and Kevin Sullivan (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK/BradyGAMES. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
- Johnson, Steven (October 21, 2009). "Help from friends and family got Gary Hart's book to market". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
- Johnson, Steven (October 17, 2007). "Original Kabooki faced tough foe". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2014-12-15.
- Hart, Gary (2009). My Life In Wrestling With A Little Help From My Friends. United States Of America: GEAN Publishing. p. 169. ISBN 0692000461.
- "Wrestle Kingdom 9 in 東京ドーム". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved 2015-06-05.
- Meltzer, Dave (2016-01-03). "Wrestle Kingdom 10 live results: Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 2016-01-04.
- "６９歳 ザ・グレート・カブキ リングに別れ「これで毒霧を噴かなくていいかな」". Daily Sports Online (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-12-22.
- 東京スポーツ プロレス大賞. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-01-20.