I visited Ricky Fuji's Endo's Gym on June 26, 2012 in Chiba. The gym is opened from 11 AM to 11 PM but usually the gym is empty until about 5PM. Ricky ends up just sitting back on a couch and watching television at the gym as a result so when I asked if I could visit his gym and interview about he was very happy to do so.
I didn't really plan much going into the interview with only one question really in mind I knew once I got started I would not be able to stop talking about FMW questions and the interview turned into us talking for three hours about his career, FMW, and pro-wrestling in general.
Ricky originally joined the New Japan Dojo in 1985 and although he left the New Japan Dojo in the middle of the night it wasn't because of how tough the Dojo was
like many believe but it was because it was in his words he was "young and dumb"
and while he was there he decided he wanted to be a UWF fighter instead back then. Once he was unable to to make it into the UWF he knew he had blown his chance at ever starting back up in Japan and thus moved to Calgary
broke where he joined the Hart Family Dungeon and was trained by Mr. Hito who
trained Bret Hart. He came up with the Ricky Fuji name while in Canada as every good worker back then was named Rick (Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, and Ricky Morton) and his last name because he was Japanese and wanted a Japanese name that the fans would know about and decided on Fuji from Mount Fuji. He saw Phil Lafon while in Canada do the Kamikaze move and thought it was a really cool that got over every time he did it so he stole it from Lafon which he told me was the first time he was ever telling anybody that information.
He got a call in 1990 to come back to Japan for a new start up promotion called FMW which allowed him to go back home so he took the offer and started up on May 12, 1990 in Aomori Towada which he was beyond impressed that I knew all about his FMW debut. I asked him about his ring attire in the early 90's which he states he got from Chris Jericho after Jericho toured in FMW in October 1991. I told him about Chris Jericho description of him in his book about Ricky Fuji's giant fanny pack back then that could fit chop sticks, cigarettes, and a wrench. Ricky was very embarrassed that the only thing many fans in America only know him as a guy with a giant fanny pack. It was a big time thrill for him to work with Terry Funk in 1993 and while Terry was applying the Spinning Toe Hold to him the whole time he was marking out to himself and going "oh my god Terry Funk is putting the spinning toe hold on me!"
He enjoyed going to Mexico and USA a lot in 1992 but did not
understand Lucha Libre at all during his match in Tijuana as he kept losing
track of who his partners and opponents were during the match and did not know
it would be a two out of three falls match until once the start of the second
Ricky's two favorite matches are his Super J Cup match with Jushin Thunder Liger because he really didn't know Liger back then and was so nervous for the match and for him to have a good match at that big of a stage was a big deal to him. Another match would be his one hour match with Men's Teioh in 2004 as he told me a story about he was telling Liger 15 years ago that he would be in the best shape of his life at 50 which Liger just laughed at but Liger recently called him to tell him that he was right and that Ricky is in the best shape of his life 46 he will most likely continue that into his 50's. Liger also recently called him that he missed and in the voice mail that he had a girl he met telling him how sexy she thought Ricky was with Liger just saying he told her she was wrong and then hung up.
I asked Ricky if there were any good FMW stories with him telling me two one which I was told years back that Hayabusa denied but Ricky told it the exact way I had heard that the heels got one hotel and the babyfaces got a hotel right next to it. Ricky looked out the window at the next hotel over and saw a young Eiji Ezaki having sex with a fan after the show and then afterwards Ezaki began posing and flexing in the mirror which resulted in Ricky getting on the phone and calling Ezaki's room to let him know everything he had just seen. Ricky also told a story how they were like rock stars back then and one night Mike Awesome opened the window of the heel bus to see tons of women wanting to get with the wrestlers and Mike shouting out the window "I fucking love this job!"
Ricky believes the story of Onita having sex with hundreds if not thousand of women are true but every woman he ever saw Onita with was always really ugly. He also did not like Onita growing up because Onita as All Japan's Junior Heavyweight was always compared to New Japan's Junior Heavyweight in Tiger Mask with Ricky believing Sayama was much better than Onita. I informed him about what Big Titan was doing these days which I had to explain what a motivation speaker is to him which is actually kind of hard to explain to somebody that does not know what it is. I explained to him the depressing details that lead to Mike Awesome's suicide. I then asked him about Tarzan Goto and Mr. Gannosuke leaving FMW right before Onita's Retirement. Ricky stated that even though Onita did not want to job to Goto on May 5, 1995 that Goto felt deep down that him on top would be a bust because he always did the same thing every match and fans would see through that with him always on top. He also thought Goto would have a hard time putting over younger guys like Hayabusa who the company wanted to be on top as well. Ricky was actually happy that Goto ended up leaving the company as a result.
Ricky's favorite era of FMW is the Hayabusa FMW. He loved the Lethal Weapon group he was in and he loved seeing Hayabusa become a bigger star every month. Ricky told me a story about how Eiji Ezaki when he was a young boy would tell Ricky that he would be the top guy of FMW one day and that Ricky just took it as him just talking but sure enough he backed up his words and became a huge star. I asked him about how he felt of Mr. Gannosuke's return to FMW in 1997 and he stated that the locker room at first was skeptical of accepting him back but after a couple of months he was just one of the boys again. He didn't particularly like Team No Respect and the Brief Brothers although they were over he didn't like the type of direction where the top heels aren't that serious and making the fans laugh.
He hated Fuyuki's FMW. It was the opinion that many on the internet share of Fuyuki's booking style. He felt Arai bought FMW from Onita just so that FMW could keep going but he had no idea how to actually run the promotion. He ended up just listening to Fuyuki when it came to everything. He especially thought the Ricky Fuji Wedding Battle Royal on November 23, 2001 was really stupid. He thought about leaving FMW around this time but felt he needed to stay loyal to the company because he had been there for so long.
The spot where he always has his pants pulled down started in a Battle Royal he was in as Koji Nakagawa went to school boy him for a pin and ended up pulling his pants all the way down to show his ass on accident ended up getting a huge pop so he ended up just incorporating in almost all his matches as a result.
I asked him about certain wrestlers he thought working Mr. Pogo was always easy because you didn't have to move around that much. Megumi Kudo had great charisma and he did not know she was even dating Hido when it was announced they had been married with Ricky only thought about that being "Why Hido?" He stated that Masato Tanaka and Kaori Nakayama broke up because Tanaka was too much of a playboy and that Koji Nakagawa married FMW women's wrestler Yoko Ikeda with Ricky feeling that Nakagawa who worked for the FMW office lost his hair at such an early age because of FMW going under. He also feels that Garuda's career was stopped short because he never could live up to the pressure of him suppose to be the next Hayabusa.
Ricky was watching the Hayabusa vs. Mammoth Sasaki match on October 22, 2001 with Nakagawa on the monitor. After Hayabusa slipped both Ricky and Nakagawa began discussing if he was going to be okay or not. After a couple of minutes of him not moving they both decided to head to the ring. Ricky really did think that Hayabusa would manage to get up and when he didn't get up he would be able to return in a couple of months but now its been 10 years and his condition is what it is. Ricky believes that FMW would still be alive if Hayabusa's accident hadn't occurred. I brought up Gannosuke's injury two months later also being a nail in the coffin but Ricky disagreed because Gannosuke was always getting seriously injured and missing time back then and FMW always kept going without missing much of a beat.
Ricky was then called to come to the office in February 2002 to be told that FMW was closing down. He got a call to join Michinoku Pro right away which he did but then he ended up going to WMF because it was the most like FMW and Hayabusa had joined it. He considers FMW a family and thus whenever he is called upon doing an FMW reunion like show he will always be there for one.
I asked him about his three promoted shows with him stating they all ended up making a small profit after all was said and done but once the Takenotsuka Battle Sphere closed down which is where he ran the shows and Shin-Kiba 1st Ring became the building all independents ran its costs for rent and it was too expensive for him so he stopped promoting his own shows.
I asked him about last years Earthquake which he was involved
in due to his location at the time of it as he was located in Iwate. He lived in
an abandoned Kindergarten for three days as a result. It wasn't so bad though as
the The Great Sasuke was with him so the Michinoku Pro roster would come by and
feed them and the others staying there throughout the day. He would watch the
television and see all the problems of people going without food while eating so
it wasn't that bad. He actually gained weight during the ordeal.
He feels a problem with wrestling today is how quiet the wrestling fans are for shows which I agree with. He sometimes thinks during a match when he's getting no reaction and wants to just ask what exactly do you fans want to see if you're not reacting to anything you're seeing. He felt Nanjyo's FFF promotion is just a way for Nanjyo to finally be in the main event and have barbed wire death matches because he was too small in FMW to ever be in a main event and have a barbed wire death match (he did end up having one match where he was the star of the match). He still watches New Japan every week on television where he enjoys seeing Masato Tanaka and Gedo and will text Tanaka to let him know if he did a good match with Tanaka always replying back right away to thank him. He likes Hiroshi Tanahashi but feels like there is something missing with him that other superstars have had much like John Cena in WWE currently.
Ricky joined Kaientai Dojo this year because TAKA Michinoku for a long time had been asking to join his promotion with Ricky finally agreeing to it. He says its good for him because it means he gets to wrestle
at least once a week where as before he might only wrestle once a month plus most of K-Dojo's shows are right in Chiba and it's easy to make the drive right over there and work at his gym. He wishes he could still work for FREEDOMS as well but ever since he joined K-Dojo they have not been interested in booking him anymore.
He then had to go pick up his 5 year old daughter from school so he had to leave for an hour. I ended up working out and talking to Ryuichi Sekine and Yoshiyuki Sudo who is the drummer of Ricky's band called Heavy Weighters for the following hour until Ricky came back and brought his daughter into the gym. I ended up getting a picture taken with Ricky and heading on my way back to Tokyo after a great interview.
Ricky ended up writing two blogs about our interview afterwards. They are both in Japanese but can be found at here and here.