Wrestler of the Week: Akira Hokuto

Kimberly Schueler
Akira Hokuto (source: WWE)
Akira Hokuto in her WCW entrance gear.

RondaRousey.com’s Wrestler of the Week series profiles significant wrestlers from the past and present. 

Japanese wrestler Akira Hokuto only had a brief career in the United States, wrestling just fifteen matches for WCW in the nineties and becoming their only Women’s Champion. However, just as her championship reign was a small part of WCW history, it was a minor aspect of her long and legendary international career that included several classic matches, and inspired future wrestlers like Sasha Banks.

The Dangerous Queen

Before her career even began, Hokuto’s passion for pro wrestling exceeded everything else. She organized Bull Nakano’s fan club, and, inspired by the hugely popular female tag team the Crush Gals, dropped out of high school to start training at the All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (AJW) dojo. She was one of their most promising rookies ever and quickly made accomplishments as both a singles and a tag team wrestler.

However, Hokuto’s career was almost ended only two years after her debut, when her neck was broken during a match. She and Yumiko Hotta were defending their tag titles against the Red Typhoons in a two out of three falls match, and Hokuto was pinned for the first fall after a tombstone piledriver from the second rope. Literally holding her head in place with her hands, Hokuto wrestled the remaining two falls. She and Hotta lost the match and Hokuto obviously had to take time off to recover but came back with a reputation as one of the toughest in the business. Her greatest accomplishments were still ahead of her.

After another serious injury, one to her knee that left her unable to complete a match against Manami Toyota in 1990, Hokuto returned to the squared circle with a new persona, the one that would earn her the nickname “Dangerous Queen.” She grew her hair long, bleached it blonde, and wore makeup stylized to be reminiscent of demons. At times, she even wore a traditional Japanese demon mask while carrying a sword to the ring. In 1993, she feuded with Shinobu Kandori of Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling and had some of her most acclaimed and exciting matches at inter-promotional crossover shows.

The Undefeated and Only Champion

Most American wrestling fans at the time probably first saw Akira Hokuto at her United States debut match at WCW’s World War 3 1995 pay-per-view in a tag team match with Bull Nakano (her teenage idol) against Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki. The next year, she left AJW and joined Chigusa Nagayo of the Crush Gals’ new promotion, Gaea Japan. That soon brought her back to America, as WCW’s tournament to crown their first Women’s Champion was made up of all Japanese wrestlers from Gaea, except for Madusa (Alundra Blayze in WWF).

Hokuto competed in the tournament as both herself and her masked “Reina Jabuki” persona, under which she had held the CMLL World Women’s Championship for over two years. She lost under the mask but won the whole tournament as Akira Hokuto by defeating Madusa in the finals at Starrcade in 1996.

Hokuto had the skills, charisma, and experience to carry a division as champion, and viewers could expect a reign of terror from the “Dangerous Queen” who came to the ring in a fright wig and gas mask. But sadly, women’s wrestling was not a priority for WCW. Her most notable match for the company after winning the championship was defeating Madusa in a retirement match at the 1997 Great American Bash. It was effectively Hokuto’s “retirement match” from WCW as well, because it was the last time she appeared on their programming, and that was the last time they even mentioned the WCW Women’s Championship.

Hokuto wrestled only 15 matches for WCW and was their only Women’s Champion. She stayed in the public eye as a celebrity in Japan after her retirement in 2002 and accompanied her husband, fellow accomplished pro wrestler Kensuke Sasaki, to the ring in multiple promotions. Akira Hokuto is a head-scratcher of a footnote in North American wrestling, but an important influence on women’s wrestling worldwide, and widely recognized as one of the all-time greats.

You can watch Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa at WCW Starrcade 1996  on the WWE Network.

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