Japanese wrestling legend Masa Saito has died aged 76.
Saito was best known for his early 80s run in the WWWF alongside Mr Fuji and for his feud with Antonio Inoki in New Japan Pro Wrestling which included a famous Island Death Match in in 1987 when they wrestled for two hours all over a Japanese island with no audience!
The stocky suplex master, whose most famous move was called the Saito Suplex, also held the IWGP Tag Team Titles, teaming with Riki Choshu and Shinya Hashimoto, and also defeated Larry Zybyszko for the AWA Title in 1990.
Saito also represented Japan in freestyle wrestling in the 1964 Olympics.
Under the management of Captain Lou Albano, Saito and Fuji won their first WWWF Tag Team Title from Tony Garea and Rick Martel in 1981. After losing the belts to The Strongbows, they regained them in a two out of three falls match in 1982 to begin their second and final reign.
Saito, who wrestled in North America for much of his career, was involved in an infamous incident in 1984 when fellow wrestler Ken Patera threw a boulder through a McDonalds restaurant window and his hotel room-mate Saito was later arrested and jailed for assaulting a police officer who came to question them.
He passed away after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Shinsuke Nakamura led the twitter tributes to Saito.
The new WWE United States Champion wrote: “Rest in Peace the legendary Japanese wrestler Masa Saito #goforbroke.”
And Bubba Ray Dudley said: “RIP Masa Saito. One of the first wrestling matches I ever saw was Fuji and Saito vs The Strongbow.
“From that day, I knew I wanted to be a tag team wrestler. Thank you for the inspiration. Ganbatte Kudasai.”
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