Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling
Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling was a Japanese professional wrestling promotion founded by Ōnita Atsushi, which lasted from 1989/7 to 2002/2.
In 1988, after spending three years out of wrestling, former All Japan junior heavyweight star Ōnita Atsushi decided it was time to make a comeback. His first match since 1984/12 was against Gran Hamada during a Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling card at Kōrakuen Hall. On 1989/4/30, Ōnita wrestled against Gō Ryūma in the main event of the first card by Pioneer Senshi, which is considered to be the first modern-day "independent" promotion in Japan. In early 1989, Ōnita went to a UWF show with "a letter of challenge," but was refused to at the gate by UWF President Jin Shinji, who asked him if he had a ticket for the show. For some fans, it was Ōnita's victory over UWF because they refused his challenge.
At a press conference on 1989/7/28, Ōnita announced he was starting up a new promotion: Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling. The company's initial asset was only fifty thousand yen.
The early days (1989-1995)
FMW held their very first card on 1989/10/6, with the main event seeing Ōnita lose by knockout to Aoyagi Masashi. The original roster also included Tarzan Gotō, Asako Fumiharu, Tokuda Mitsuteru, Monkey Magic Wakita, Coolie S.Z., and Kurisu Masanobu as well as karateka Matsunaga Mitsuhiro and Saitō Akitoshi, who were Aoyagi's deshi.
In its early days, FMW featured the competitors from other sports such as karate, jūdō, boxing, kickboxing, and taekwondo. It was also the first intergender promotion since the International Wrestling Enterprise.
The year 1990 saw the addition of a former New Japan Pro-Wrestling trainee and Stampede Wrestling star Ricky Fuji and former All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling rookies Kudō Megumi and Combat Toyoda to the FMW roster. They also had a dojo to train upstarts like Honda Masashi and Ezaki Eiji. It was during this time, that Ōnita came up with innovative death matches with barbed wire, explosives, electricity, and time bombs. On 1990/8/4, the first ever "no-rope barbed-wire electric explosive death match" was held between Ōnita and Gotō.
In 1991, Victor Quiñones and Ibaraki Kiyoshi, the bookers for the gaijin talent, left FMW to form W*ING with Mr. Pōgo, who was at the time the top heel of the promotion, as well as the former FMW fighters Saitō and Tokuda. However, because of the bad management by Ibaraki, W*ING would be in a financial crisis by 1993, and some wrestlers including Pōgo returned to FMW.
FMW had its first Kawasaki Stadium card in 1991/9 and would hold six more cards at Kawasaki. On 1994/5/5, Tenryū Gen'ichirō defeated Ōnita in a match, where the loser must retire a year after the bout. Over the next year, Ōnita wrestled a retirement tour. Initially, his opponent in the retirement match was planned to be Tarzan Gotō; however, Gotō, along with Mr. Gannosuke and Ōnita Jr., left FMW. Ōnita named Tokyo Pro-Wrestling's Ishikawa Takashi as his last opponent; however, right before the official signing of the match, FMW's new superstar Hayabusa challenge Ōnita for the match.
Finally, Ōnita's retirement match against Hayabusa took place on 1995/5/5 at the Kawasaki Satdium.
Neo FMW (1995-1998)
After Ōnita retired, Arai Shōichi took over as the president. Although many would say, "FMW will die within three months without Ōnita", the promotion survived with the younger stars such as Hayabusa, Kudō, Tanaka Masato, Matsunaga Mitsuhiro, Kanemura Yukihiro, and The Gladiator. On 1996/5/5, FMW had a successful Kawasaki Satdium card with Hayabusa & Tanaka vs. Terry Funk & Pōgo in the main event.
In 1996/12, Ōnita returned, but many fans were already behind the younger generation.
After Kudō Megumi retired in 1997, the women's division started going downhill. That same year, Arai brought in Fuyuki Kōdō to help tone down the death match content and develop a new identity for FMW. Remembering his days in SWS, working with the WWF, Fuyuki introduced sports entertainment-style booking in FMW. Arai and most of the roster eventually demended Ōnita to leave. After a Yokohama card on 1998/11/20, Ōnita finally left the promotion for good.
FMW Entertainment Pro-Wrestling (1998-2002)
With Fuyuki in power as the booker, FMW was beginning to falter faster. In 1999/5, they abandoned their junior heavyweight division. In 2001/2, it was clear the FMW were in a financial crisis and Arai Shōichi offered releases to wrestlers. Tanaka Masato, Jadō, Gedō, Hosaka Hideki and a female wrestler Nakayama Kaori left the company.
The beginning of the end for FMW occurred on 2001/10/22, when Hayabusa suffered a career-ending neck injury during a match with Mammoth Sasaki. It did not end there, because on 2002/1/6, Mr. Gannosuke broke both his legs during a six-man tag team match. With Hayabusa and Gannosuke injured and with over 3 million yen in debt mainly from the yakuza, FMW declared bankruptcy and shut down on 2002/2/15.
After FMW shut down, Arai, who remained hiding from the debt collectors, published a book on the fall of the FMW in 2002/4. However, on 5/16, Arai was founded dead, hanging himself in a park.
In 2009/11, Tarzan Gotō held his 30th anniversary card under the FMW name, teaming with Ōnita to face Mr. Pōgo & Leatherface (who turned out to be Yaguchi Ichirō).