Friday, March 4, 2016

RIP Hayabusa

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Hayabusa, shoot name Eiji Ezaki, passed away last night at the age of 47 of a subarachnoid hemorrhage. He had been paralyzed from an Asai moonsault attempt that went awry in 2001, but he regained use of his legs in the last year. Hayabusa was one of the most innovative professional wrestlers of all-time. Along with Sabu, he influenced a large number of modern high-flying wrestlers with his dazzling and sometimes reckless style. He innovated moves such as the Falcon Arrow and the Phoenix Splash.

Hayabusa began his career in the Frontier Martial Arts promotion in 1991, a place where he'd call home for the duration of his career. He was considered the heart and soul of the promotion, due in large part to his memorable feuds with Mike Awesome (as Gladiator), Mr. Gannosuke, and Atsushi Onita. Hayabusa also made excursions into other companies, including Extreme Championship Wrestling, both major lucha libre companies in Mexico, and All-Japan Pro Wrestling. He also participated in the acclaimed 1994 Super J Cup Tournament.

Hayabusa spent his post-retirement career as a recording artist and ambassador for wrestling. He announced that he was bringing back FMW in 2015, shortly after he took his first public steps since his accident in 2001. The fact that he even regained used of his legs was nothing short of inspiring. It's unknown whether the hemorrhage was a complication from the injuries suffered, but regardless, 47 is far too young an age to die.

I admit I didn't see a whole lot of Hayabusa live. The most exposure I got of him was as "Hannibal" in WCW vs. nWo World Tour for the Nintendo 64. But in addition to being one of the last huge stars of the tape-trading era, his influence reached far and wide. Nearly every junior heavyweight wrestler in existence today owes some kind of gratitude to the man, whose career much like his life was far too short. Rest in peace, Hayabusa. Rest in power.