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Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling
founded in July 1989 by Atsushi Onita Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling is popularly known by its acronym FMW, and was a professional wrestling promotion in Japan which lasted until February 2002.
The Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling promotion was quite different from the others since it involved the use of weapons such as barbed wire and fire during the wrestling matches. The first exploding barbed wire match was held in august 1990 between Tarzan Goto and Onita. This was the revolution that allowed Onita to recruit different hardcore wrestlers such as Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, Mr. Pogo, and Leather Face.
Onita retired in 1995 with a match between him and young Hayabusa. The match was held in an exploding ring with a barbed wire cage. After this Hayabusa became a huge star in FMW by battling most other competitors in the promotion and winning the belt several times. Just like other wrestling promotions in Japan, the FMW had a female version. This promotion was led by Megumi Kudo a major star in the FMW. Just like the men's matches, the female FMW matches included the same bloody death matches, which made the FMW female wrestlers to be feared by wrestlers in other promotions such as the All Japan Women's Pro-wrestling. This also meant that FMW could not hold inter-promotional matches with the other promotions.
Popularity of Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling
To make the promotion more successful, FMW signed a contract to hold major events every fifth of May in the Kawasaki stadium. They also had a new president Shoichi Aria under whose watch the promotion began to fail.
To regain its popularity, Aria recruited an international pro-wrestling jobber, Kudo Fuyuki to act as FMW's new booker. Among other strategies, Fuyuki brought a policy that ended the death matches and replaced them with entertainment-oriented styles derived from other famous promotions in the world such as WWE.
This was a high as well as a down moment for the Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling. This is due to the lower risk of injury to the wrestlers but at the same time the questioning of the essence of the new form of FMW matches.
Due to these changes, the original founders such as Onita withdrew further into the background before leaving the promotion for good. Onita went back to high school to get a diploma and also start his own death match ventures. Another down moment for FMW happened in a 2001 match between Hayabusa and Mammoth Sasaki when Hayabusa attempted one of his signature moves, the Springboard Moonsalt, but slipped on the ropes landing on his neck and breaking it. This led to paralysis and his early retirement.
Apart from loosing popularity, Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling was suffering from financial problems. Aria owed about a million dollars by the end of 2001 to various influential organizations in Japan, which had a link to the yakuza. This led to the closure of the organization after a final show in February 4th 2002. Later Aria hanged himself in a Tokyo park to collect life insurance money that was used to pay off the yakuza.
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