International Wrestling Association of Japan, more commonly known as IWA Japan, is a Japanese professional wrestling promotion operating since 1994.
It was formed by Victor Quiñones as a successor to the W*ING promotion which was folding at the time. Most of the wrestlers jumped ship to Quiñones' new IWA Japan group. He found a sponsor in Tatsukuni "Kinroku" Asano, a business man who owned several restaurants in Tokyo and had bought and run several wrestling shows prior to IWA Japan.
They had their first show in Yokosuka, Kanagawa on May 21, 1994 which was taped for TV. The early shows often featured many ex W*ING wrestlers like Yukihiro Kanemura, Shoji Nakamaki, Nobutaka Araya and the Head Hunters. They would also get the fans to fill out questionnaires about the shows and sometimes gave away freebies.
Quiñones would book talent from all over the world to compete in IWA, among them would be Cactus Jack
and Terry Funk
who would engage in some of their most famous bouts.
1995 King of the Death Match Tournament
With IWA getting more popular due to the charisma of some of their wrestlers, they decided to produce a show called Kawasaki Dream
, which was held on August 20
, 1995 at the Kawasaki Baseball Stadium. The main attraction of the show was the first ever 8-man single elimination deathmatch tournament, which featured Cactus Jack, Terry Funk, Shoji Nakamaki, Hiroshi Ono, Leatherface, Tiger Jeet Singh, Terry Gordy and former FMW wrestler Mr. Gannosuke. The show also featured an NWA World Heavyweight Championship
defense, as Tarzan Goto (Masaji Goto)
challenged then-champion Dan Severn
for the title.
The standout in this tournament was the three matches in which Mick Foley wrestled. The first one was a "Barbed Wire, Baseball Bat, and Thumbtack Match". The second was a "Barbed Wire Board Spike Nail Match". The third was a "Barbed Wire Rope, Exploding C4, and Time Bomb Match".
- Keisuke Yamada & Keizo Matsuda defeated Yoshihiro Tajiri & Taisuke Tagami via pinfall (11:44)
- Kyoko Ichiki defeated Emi Motokawa via pinfall (10:24)
- Tiger Jeet Singh defeated Mr. Gannosuke in a Barbed Wire Board & Chain Match via pinfall (7:11)
- Terry Funk defeated Leatherface in a Barbed Wire Board & Chain Match via pinfall (8:54)
- Cactus Jack defeated Terry Gordy in a Barbed Wire Baseball Bat & Thumbtacks Match via pinfall (6:58)
- Shoji Nakamaki defeated Hiroshi Ono in a Barbed Wire Baseball Bat & Thumbtacks Match via pinfall (7:19)
- Takashi Okano defeated Flying Kid Ichihara via pinfall for the WWA World Light Heavyweight Championship (17:01)
- Iceman defeated Kamikaze via pinfall (9:45)
- Terry Funk defeated Tiger Jeet Singh in a Barbed Wire Board & Glass Match via pinfall (6:04)
- Cactus Jack defeated Shoji Nakamaki in a Barbed Wire Board & Spike Nail Match via pinfall (9:49)
World Championship Bouts:
- The Headhunters defeated Los Cowboys via pinfall for the IWA World Tag Team Championship (17:39)
- Dan Severn successfully defended the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Tarzan Goto via submission (11:35)
- Cactus Jack defeated Terry Funk in a No Rope Barbed Wire, Exploding Barbed Wire Boards & Exploding Ring Time Bomb Death Match via pinfall (13:21)
King of the Death Match Tournament winner: Cactus Jack
Quiñones would leave IWA at the end of 1995, along with the NWA affiliation. Goto and Gannosuke would follow suit in mid-1996 to rejoin FMW. Subsequently, IWA started to go downhill after losing much of the talent that Quiñones booked.
- Natives: Great Kabuki, Tarzan Goto (Masaji Goto), Mr. Gannosuke, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Shoji Nakamaki, Nobutaka Araya, Daisuke Taue, Takashi Okano, Yoshiya Yamashita, Ryo Miyake
- Foreigners: Dick Slater, Terry Funk, Cactus Jack, Tracey Smothers, Dr. Death" Steve Williams, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, The Headhunters (Headhunter A and Headhunter B)