Iím writing this FMW book not because I changed my mind particularly.
So many things have happened during those few years as a top permanent wrestler in the promotion.
Maybe Iím feeling like I need to make a finishing point as I had a cancer
operation, and I am now retired.
When I was in FMW, there were so many people coming and going.
I was working as a top wrestler and was in charge of the match making. I had a different stance to our CEO and thought about our company, but there were lots of strangers who were trying to be in charge.
Iíd like to tell you the truth all about including those troubles. You know,
Arai published his book, right?
Not just him, but FMW wrestlers and staff are telling twisted stories these days, but all of them know nothing!
Listen, there are so many things that only Arai and I knew.
As a grown man, I kept quiet... I cared about Arai, but he committed suicide.
I thought I shouldnít say anything about a dead person, but I would like to tell you the true story behind the scenes for FMW fans, because you supported us. I want to tell you what had really happened in FMW, what sort of things Arai did.
So many stories which nobody knows. Even Hayabusa doesnít know. Only Arai and
To help FMW, we arranged and sorted many things behind the scenes.
Arai wasnít quite my friend. He was a 100% business partner. I donít think I kept in touch with him in our private lives.
I had funded shows for FMW after it went bankrupted in Spring 2002, but it was a íjobí to be able to eat. Wrestlers are harder nosed people than you think.
I thought all the fans disappeared after FMW went bankrupted.
I could see their shows were not as popular as before, so I just thought fans were all gone including Original FMW fans, but I heard the fans response was huge when Arai published his book. Some fans bought the book in bulk. I am very thankful, but Iím telling you now, not all of his stories are true.
He was a nice guy. That's true, but in the business he wasnít. He was
You might find some parts of my book sounds to sound too harsh about Arai or other staff members.
Iím sure you will understand the meaning of it after finish reading my book.
If you really loved FMW.
-Having different opinion with Arai-
In Araiís book, he says the reason why our popular faded was he gave me the job as match maker and I didn't want to do it.
Thatís kind of true, but that wasnít the only reason. I was so patient with him when dealing with human relationships, when dealing with money.
Maybe I was stubborn at the time because I kind of knew FMW was in danger and
that might cause trouble between him and I, but we never argued. He was always
nodding and saying, íYes,Yesí
I never know what he was thinking really, but saying 'Yes' all the time could have lead to troubles.
You canít say YES to everyone. Listening to all wrestlers and staffís opinion and agreeing to their idea doesnít generate business. It's good to listen though, but that's it. You can not win.
There were many occasions that I got very frustrated with Arai.
The biggest problem was, he had zero talent for business management from the beginning.
He made no progress of management, shows, matches.
A guys who worked along side with Atsushi Onita for 10 years didnít learn anything. Very unusual.
-My Pro Wrestling Philosophy-
I wouldn't say that ĎThere is no other pro wrestler who knows the truth of wrestling other than me...í,
But many doesnít still understand even nowadays?
A wrestling show consists with a audience. We should make the maximum effort
to get the audience.
Do you know why I think about wrestling so much?
Though I retired, my only job I had was wrestling until now. I lived with
wresting ,and I am thinking I am going to end my life in wrestling. Without
wrestling, I wouldnít be in this position and I cannot work outside of the
I know I would fail if I did another job. I only know about wrestling, and wrestling is the only tool that I can be in better position than the others. I would be just a fat man if I got a normal job.
I have worked for the major promotions, but my main territory was indie promotions.
So I think my rivals are major promotions like New Japan or All Japan.
How can we beat them? Thatís what all the indie promotions are thinking all the time.
To tell you the truth, there are several ways. Thatís why it has been fun to
achieve those one by one.
I created the entertainment pro wrestling. Redundancy Match, Dog Food Match, Fighting Dinner Show Match, Naked Man Match, Public Execution...we did so many.
If you say 'that's not wrestlingí, then you are stupid. It doesnít matter,
wrestling is a SHOW.
If there was only 1% of possibility to win against the major promotions, I would do it.
I always searched for new things and tried in our wrestling. We just needed to squeeze out the ideas to beat the major promotion who have a TV DEAL.
A TV deal is what you want. For example, if FMW had a 3 month run TV show instead of New Japan, our situation would be swapped over completely.
The wrestling business is simple. It doesnít mean anything if you on who is
the strongest wrestler or who is the fresh new promotion. The most important
thing is that you can run the show properly or not. Itís not only to strengthen
your body to have more than 100 matches annually, also to be able to entertain
the audience is the key to be successful.
MMA has become huge. It's getting less popular than before, but it still attracts many.
What do I think of it? Iím just the same as a fan. I just think íOh wow! Heís strong!í Nothing else.
I think itís a great way to draw many audience, but I wouldn't want to take part of it. It would turn out to be just a fight if I had a MMA match. Well, if the money was good, maybe...Iím joking.
I donít have any rivalry between MMA fighters. Not like some wrestlers, but why can they pack the Tokyo Dome with such a boring matches? Maybe because they gained TV audiences and they want to come to the show. It's a huge advantage that people recognize the fighters face on TV if you run the show.
Itís a same system that Kick Boxing used when they became huge long time ago.
K-1 might face difficulty soon because they donít have a strong Japanese fighter.
PRIDE also might fail if Fujita and Sakuraba are gone. I think they want to push Hidehiko Yoshida.
Anyway, using TV is the best to run shows. But you need enough money and
FMW closed because they ran out of that. The rich will win after all.
-The box office is all about collecting funding-
First of all, we need Money. Nothing else but money. Without money, we canít
even borrow a chair for the venue.
If you become a part of the management team, youíll understand how money is so important.
You must get funding before the tour. Having attractive cards (matches) sells more tickets. It's simple. On contrary, having bad cards wonít make a penny. Well I like the way how simple it is.
There is a limit to sell tickets by yourself or selling tickets to relatives.
You need to be able to get customers from the general public.
I heard that long time ago, K-1 or Pride tried all sorts of unreasonable things to sell tickets including some shady tactics, but thatís the way it is. Including the Sumo business, the Ďrope-walkingí is common for a Country side tour. I have known some faces from all sorts of backgrounds. Itís rooted in Japanese culture.
When it was in a middle of the boom, there were companies who bulk buys wrestling tickets. Sometimes, half of the tickets were sold to company buyers. But it wonít happen from now on. We just need to attract normal customers with the good cards and continue the PR steadily.
Sometimes we donít reveal what the matches will be until the last minute. Even some major promotions do this.
It must be so frustrating as a fan, but I know exactly how the promotion feels. As a promoter, they want a show with the best card possible. They negotiate until the last minute. They do it for fans.
They are professionals. They also have a substitute card in case they fail to bring the one they wanted. I have done the same before, but we donít want to use a substitute card, so we try very hard to negotiate. We have to use great tactics for match making process and that takes opinions of the audience, wrestlers & promotions.
Unfortunately, Arai didnít know how to handle it. He couldnít do anything. His knowledge was the same as a fan, and his capacity of job accomplishments was the same as an ordinary office worker. He wasnít creative. He could only do things what heís been told to do.
He didnít change even after when he became CEO of FMW. He wasnít capable. He was just so determined of his position and sometimes he was causing trouble in the complicated negotiations. He originally asked ME to do all match makings and setting up the angles etc, but he started interfering in my job.
We argued like ĎDonít interfere my job! You do your CEO job, Iíll do mine!í very often. He was getting in my business and taking over my job without my knowledge, I sometimes told him to just do it himself, but then he failed and I had to clean up his mess.
We got in many arguments when the wrestlers were not around. I think it could
have been so much better if I was the boss and he was a employee.
If there was an offer, Iíd definitely taken it, but I donít think Arai suggested such a thing. Iím sure Arai felt his lack of ability as a CEO.
He wasnít that stupid not to realize it. But he was very desperate for his position. I understand that he had so much debts, but it was nothing to do with us. If he was so prepared to be a CEO with huge debts, he could behave more CEO-like, I wanted him to be more confident and firm. I wanted him to be reliable anytime.
He let anyone into the company. Whoever suggested anything, he was saying ĎYes, itís ok.í even if you donít know they are trustworthy. He trusted everyone. He was the complete opposite of me. I tried to teach him my knowledge, but he was against me. If I didnít work at FMW, FMW might have gone in a different direction. But I am sure they had a destiny to fade away anyway. When I was working at FMW, there were many young wrestlers who didnít know what is going on around them.
Pro-wrestler isnít a life long career. I was always telling Arai that when the wrestlers body deteriorated and got married and eventually have kids, what can you promise them? Donít talk about dreams, you should teach them what they need to expect to happen in the reality and sort things out by themselves.
I said to him that you will need to retire them, look for their new jobs...it may be cruel and could be troublesome, but itís a management obligation that to look after young talentís life. If the time is right, fire them, let them go whoever if you think you can not use them anymore.
As a company management, it is normal to do so. I know itís brutal. Not only for FMW, but also for any other Japanese company. Arai was useless. He would ask me to fire them. I said no I told him to tell them because he was the company boss and they are companyís employees.
I told Arai ĎTell him if they are injured or sick and not able to wrestle, we
cannot afford to pay you so please leave. Arai never said that to any wrestlers.
I cared about the FMW people and suggested many things to Arai. I worked so hard.
So many strange people started to work at the office when the ĎEntertainment Pro Wrestlingí began. Iíll tell you about this later.
Then DirecTV went bankrupted. That was the main reason why FMW went bankrupted. The news broke on Yukan Fuji newspaperís front page. FMW lost their regular income and went down hill. Money was everything. I donít know what Anti-Onita is about though. It was FMW = Onitaís power
If Onita isnít there, we canít get the funding. Ask people on the street. ĎWhat is FMW?í Iím sure theyíll answer ĎItís a wrestling promotion Onita made.í 100%. Onita is a influencer.
FMW wanted to beat Onita then let me join them and make it become a
entertaining wrestling promotion.
If they wanted me to be a part of it, they should have let me be in charge.
I think Arai was using me, but he realized I was too much to handle and gave up on me? I am usually very quiet.
I donít say much, so people think I am a good listener and an easy person. In
reality, if I decided I don't like it, I donít listen at all. Letís not talk
about me. Anyway, what Iím saying is that money is better than your dream in
wrestling business. You can't sell dreams without money.
-Think about wrestlerís future-
Pro-wrestling promotions should care about wrestlerís future after their retirement. To be honest, companies shouldnít really care too much after a wrestler leaves the company. But they once dedicated their body and fought for us.
We should take care of them even after their retirement and we all should care as human being. Iím a very compassionate person, so I totally agree with that.
To be able to do that in FMW, they should make new positions for those
retired. For example, PR, coordinator, or even a wrestling trainer.
I was always thinking to make work environment for them. You know, you can let them work in the match somehow (as a manager? a second?) even if they have injuries. There are always the way somehow.
Hayabusa has spinal injury and now he has to be in a wheelchair. It will be so difficult for him to come back to the ring, but I would like him to get involved in our promotion.
Gannosuke made a promotion called WMF with ex-FMW wrestlers. Hayabusa must be feeling very awkward that he is getting paid without doing anything. I donít mean to be sarcastic though. I know how hard it is to be alive by someone elseís money, not your earnings because Iím a pro-wrestler.
If FMW the entertainment wrestling was still able to continue, I could give opportunities to all of our wrestlers. Even if you are injured, retired, they can still entertain the audience with so many ways. Getting paid for work is the best. No one wants to get paid for doing nothing.
In FMW, I wanted to make the wrestling job opportunities for wrestlers if they canít wrestle anymore in the ring...because wrestlers doesnít know outside of the wrestling world.
It's impossible for them to get up early, catch the train, check in with the
time card and sit on the computer all day.
When I was a young trainee, another trainee guy who started at the same time as me told me.
ĎHey, Fuyuki. You can not work like this in general society. You shouldn't be here.'
I was young and inexperienced. I had no idea what he meant and why he looked
like in crisis, but he was right. Now I know.
Wrestlers can learn about wrestling, but they canít learn about out side of wrestling. You have to be smart.
If you are worried about your ignorance, you can not be a wrestler either.
You have to have strong mentality in the wrestling business.
And as I guessed, the trainee guy had left.
I think the time has come for whole wrestling industry to change wrestlers future seriously. There are not many wrestlers who join the promotions as a manager, are there? Also, some donít feel comfortable after a few years and just leave the company I guess.
If you really want to employ wrestlers, you need to create suitable positions
for everyone. if they donít like it, let them leave. Pro-wrestlers are likely to
focus only for wrestling matches. They should look at the outside world more. I
wanted to make changes in FMW including this.
-Things I learnt from US-
When I was working at All Japan in 80ís, I toured in the United States. It was the most enjoyable time in my wrestling life. I had quite good experience and I think its a good experience for young wrestlers, too.
In Japan, young wrestlers are at the bottom of the promotion and they are under strict rule at the match venue or in their private time. In US, they are not like like that. You are told to be ĎBossyí.
It means donít hesitate, be brave no matter how long your career is because
you are wrestling alone.
The dressing room is very different to a Japanese dressing room.
You can sit anywhere. But in Japan, there are seats or desks for high profile wrestlers and you are not allowed to be closer to them unless you are called. The worst case, you canít change your costume in the room sometimes.
In the US, you have to greet equally with everyone even with top wrestlers.
You can only care about wrestlers who you like.
But thereís something important.
Not like in Japan, you can not get treated better even if you give them a
good impression. They donít do anything for you.
For example, Iíve been told that when you were asked to come to the dinner, be prepared to pay for your meal. If you were invited for Sukiyaki, you need to bring meat. Thatís a very common system in US.
Some young wrestlers donít get used to their custom and sometimes they go missing. I wouldnít say all about US is good, but we need to change our system. I think the old system which are coming from Sumo culture has bad roots.
They still have seniority rule, and they even eat Chanko (A sumo meal) during
the training break. Japanese Pro Wrestling was started by ex-Sumo Wrestler,
Rikidozan. FMW had a sumo system when I joined. Onita was from All Japan, so FMW
had a lots of Sumoism.
For example the long career wrestlers have priority to take a shower first...they were very strict.
I stopped it when I became a management because I donít like the old system. I like the equal relationship no matter how old they are, how long their career are. But it is difficult to ditch them all together because a whole Japanese box office system has Ďthe traditioní. You need to learn the system as long as you are a part of it especially when you go on tour, you need to know the rules. I teach young wrestlers what to follow.
There are physical punishment in some promotions still now. I donít like it
and I teach them how to behave properly.
Itís not healthy that if people rampage the old customs in any industry. It gives wrestling Multi-Faceted evaluations.
Like those no-that-good wrestlers booked for the show because they work hard
to setting a ring up or being nice at the backstage. They let them have a match
and audience didnít like it, but they say to the wrestler not to worry at the
Thatís disgusting. Wrestlers should be booked for their ability on the ring, not because of their behavior.
Thatís the quickest way to be successful.
Donít you think Iím right? But there are quite a few people against my ideas.
I see some people are still misunderstanding like, íI am a great wrestler!í.
ĎHow much can you draw with your match?í Thatís the question. At the end of the day, drawing a big audience is all about the wrestling business.
Doesnít matter if you are a strong wrestler or belong to the big cliques.
For example, Naoya Ogawa.
We donít know if he is strong or weak, and he only wrestles once or twice a year, but he draws tens of thousands of people for the Tokyo Dome. This is the right figure of pro wrestler. Itís a Box Office. Sometimes considering the tradition is important, but only caring about tradition doesnít make the box office successful.
Shoot Fights, MMA, Gracies...itís all about entertainment. You must not misunderstand.
Performance comes first, then genre. Itís exactly the same as in US.
Giving attention to tradition or customs, making Ďnot-so-good in the ring but strong in the dojo' wrestlers is arrogant.
Well they might have a position as a trainer and they might be good at teaching, but they should get better at actual wrestling in ring first. They are entertainers. They punch each other, but they should be able to show the fight which you can charge the money.
Youíll really understand that theory if you become a top of the company. I heard Shinya Hashimoto became very soft after he established Zero1. Maybe he realized what is more important for touring.
If you become a boss, you cannot fight with anybody like before. Fighting only will cause a disadvantage. If you are a young wrestler, you can run freely, but if you are a top of the company, you have to be wise.
Of course itís ok to be wild in the ring though. Just as mentioned, I can add something more about Hashimoto.
I saw him at New Japan a few times, but in fact, he was a nice guy. He wasnít fierce. He greeted everyone. He had a very different image to what I thought. New Japanís atmosphere? I felt some kind of stiff manner in there. Wrestlers, management, they seemed like they were pulling each others leg, but I guess it is New Japanís traditional atmosphere.
There are so many ambitious wrestlers and they didnít work as a team unless
itís a group battle over different promotions. I think itís a good thing. Thatís
why New Japan has always been a top of the industry. But you can not have a
promotion that consists only of competitive guys.
Chono, he had a very wide visions and when I was working at New Japan, he had quite a reputation within a company. Hashimoto had left, Muto is very mad...they were very different to FMW. New Japan had very unique faces.
-Young generations who want to wrestle-
Both Major or Indie promotions have open vacancies regularly. Itís a lie that
a few hundred people apply to them. Itís only dozens. When I was at All Japan, I
remember we had about 10 applicants.
They are also wrestling fans. Promising young talent who already has a body for sports are usually hunted by scouts and go to Sumo, Baseball or Soccer. Wrestler is a left over position.
Itís a sad reality!
I think Kobashi is the last wrestler who got trained from zero sports experience.
New Japanís Nagata and Nakanishi were from amateur wrestling and Akiyama was also. Oh, Kojima and Kensuke Sasaki didnít have sports background, neither did Hayabusa. Thatís how difficult non-sports experienced wrestlers became top wrestlers.
It doesnít matter how strong you are. Itís a show business. Youíd better be big and good looking. Physical appearance will change eventually, but not the height.
When I joined IWE Pro-Wrestling, I was less than 180cm (5'10) and not suppose to pass the entrance exam because of my height. The reason why I passed was they just needed one more trainee to help with chores. Only one guy passed the exam. His name was Nobuyoshi Sugawara (Later became Apollo Sugawara), he was a bodybuilder and had a amazing body. I was standing next to him at the exam.
There werenít much useful young trainees back then. A coach told us to take it easy and weíll be just fine, but we couldnít do it at all. When I was grappling, I was told to stay still and that was it. But, I guess I had the stamina. I could keep it up somehow.
Weight shouldnít be heavy because itís likely to damage your knees and back. You canít jump much and do many moves and theyíll see your lack of variations. You should know your own strengths and have to have toughness.
Young wrestlers are popular with girls wherever they go. I was popular too. I got my first fan letter at IWE Pro-Wrestling.
But the attention stops when you get married. When Misawa was Tiger Mask, he was so popular, but since his marriage, he stopped getting any Valentines Chocolates.
I remember Hashimoto told me ĎFuyuki-san, if you get married, itís all over!í but Tenryu was different. He was always so popular with girls even after he got married. Young wrestlers should take advantage of being popular and enjoy themselves until they marry someone.
Some wrestlers were womanizer in old days.
I heard a rumor there were women lined up at the hotel for them and sleeping around. Choshu, Terry Funk, Mil Mascaras were very popular.
On the contrary, wrestlers nowadays they donít play around.
This is my opinion about sleeping with fans...I wouldnít say fuck them, I just think itís ok to let them play a bit because they will get bored and leave us soon. Some young wrestlers happily spoke ĎI used an escort!í, I think itís a waste of money.
You can escape to America if you get into trouble with fans.
There arenít many players in wrestling anymore. Maybe itís because MMA is becoming more popular and fans wants to see the stoicism. MMA fighters are strict with themselves to win the match. Only one purpose of the fight is victory.
Wrestling is different. It can be glorious even the fight was lost. I think wrestling is definitely more interesting.
But unfortunately, there arenít many applicants for wrestlers. Perhaps they need to put the wages up to attract them, but the funds are getting low. I guess we carry on scouting someone well built from different sport backgrounds.
Click here for Part 2 of Kodo Fuyuki's book