Weight 115 kg
Name Naoya Ogawa
Education Meiji University
|Years active 1997 - 2005 (MMA)|
Role Professional wrestler
Children Yusei Ogawa
Height 1.93 m
|Born March 31, 1968 (age 55)
Suginami, Tokyo, Japan (1968-03-31) |
Other names "O-chan", "Captain Hustle", "The King of Recklessness"
Movies Pride FC: Final Conflict 2004
Similar People Shinya Hashimoto, Kazuyuki Fujita, Hidehiko Yoshida, Mirko Filipovic, David Douillet
NWA World Title Match Naoya Ogawa vs Dan Severn - NWA -SW
Naoya Ogawa (小川 直也 Ogawa Naoya; born 31 March 1968) is a Japanese Olympic and world champion judoka, professional wrestler, and mixed martial artist. He won a total of seven medals at the All-Japan Judo Championships (second only behind Yasuhiro Yamashita), and set a record of seven medals at the World Judo Championships. Ogawa won the silver medal in the +95 kg judo weight class at the 1992 Summer Olympics.
- NWA World Title Match Naoya Ogawa vs Dan Severn NWA SW
- Life and judo career
- Professional wrestling career
- New Japan Pro Wrestling 1997 2001
- Pro Wrestling Zero One and other promotions
- Mixed martial arts career
- In wrestling
- Mixed Martial Arts
- Professional wrestling
In professional wrestling, Ogawa was two-time National Wrestling Alliance world heavyweight champion.
Life and judo career
Ogawa first started in judo in his high school years. He continued on in college attending Meiji University in 1986. In his second year at school he became a world freeclass champion, youngest in the history of Judo. He won many more championships before graduating from the College of Business Administration at Meiji University. Ogawa was Silver medalist in judo of 1992 Summer Olympics, and placed fifth at the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Ogawa runs a judo school in Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, where he trains potential Olympians and Paralympians in his network of dojos.
Professional wrestling career
In 1997, Ogawa was recruited by Antonio Inoki, chairman of New Japan Pro Wrestling, for his UFO (Universal Fighting-Arts Organization) project. He was put to train under Satoru Sayama, legendary professional wrestler and mixed martial arts pioneer.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1997-2001)
Ogawa made his debut in NJPW on April 12, 1997 at the Tokyo Dome, replacing the stipulated Ken Shamrock as the opponent for Shinya Hashimoto, then IWGP Heavyweight Championship titleholder. In a shocking upset, Ogawa defeated Hashimoto by choke, which put him in the spotlight and gained him a title shot at May 3. This time Ogawa was defeated by kick to the head, with Shinya retaining his title. This marked the beginning of their feud, which would extend for years.
Through 1997 and 1998, Ogawa wrestled for NJPW as part of "Different Style Fights", meeting wrestlers with legit backgrounds like Ogawa and Hashimoto themselves. He defeated shoot-style wrestler Kazuo Yamazaki, arm wrestler Scott Norton, Ultimate Fighting Championship exponents Brian Johnston and Don Frye, and Dutch martial artist Erwin Vreeker. His only loss came from The Great Muta, via Muta's signature Asian mist dirty trick. In March 1998, Ogawa took part in the Inoki Final Tournament, but he was eliminated by Frye at the finals after beating Johnston and Dave Beneteau. In order to bounce back from the defeat, he started a special training, and ditched his trusted judogi for black tights, boots and fingerless gloves.
On January 4, 1999, Ogawa was involved with one of the most controversial moments in NJPW history. During his anticipated rubber match with Shinya Hashimoto, Ogawa broke kayfabe and shot on Hashimoto, attacking him for real and leaving him downed and bloodied with kicks and stomps. The NJPW and UFO crews flooded the ring and a legitimate fracas erupted, with Ogawa's cornerman Kazunari Murakami having to be hospitalized by a beatdown by Takashi Iizuka and Naoya himself being slapped by NJPW executive Riki Choshu. During all the brawl, Ogawa taunted the crowd and the wrestlers, having to be accompanied out of the arena by his bodyguard Gerard Gordeau. It was never cleared out how of the incident was real and how it was scripted, but it's believed that Ogawa was ordered by Antonio Inoki to attack Hashimoto in order to hijack the match and increase his popularity.
In May, Ogawa traveled to United States and defeated Gary Steele to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Hashimoto followed him to the country and attacked him (kayfabe this time) in a press conference, challenging him to a title match in Japan with Tatsumi Fujinami as special referee. Naoya toured through United States, retaining the title before Dan Severn, Doug Gilbert and Biggie Biggs, trading it with Steele in a three-way match that also involved Brian Anthony on September 25, 1999, and finally coming back to Japan to meet Hashimoto. They faced on October 10 at the Tokyo Dome, with Ogawa winning the bout.
On January 4, 2000, one year after their incident, Ogawa and Murakami faced off against Hashimoto and Takashi Iizuka in a special match. Unfortunately, it became a real fight again when Murakami knocked Iizuka out legitimately with a stiff head kick, causing the teams to brawl in the ring again. Under Antonio Inoki's eye, the match was restarted, with Ogawa's team losing when Iizuka choked out Murakami.
After a tense alliance between them formed for the Rikidozan Memorial, Hashimoto challenged Ogawa to a last match, in which Hashimoto would retire from professional wrestling if he lost. Ogawa and Hashimoto fought the last time of their careers on April 7 at the Tokyo Dome, where Naoya defeated Hashimoto by KO after several iterations of his Space Tornado Ogawa technique. His opponent carried out and performed a retirement ceremony, while Inoki and other tried to convince him not to do it; even Ogawa declared in a segment that he repented having finished off the career of his rival.
Ogawa vacated the NWA title on July 2, 2000 in order to focus on his fight with Rickson Gracie, which never happened at the end.
Pro Wrestling Zero-One and other promotions
In 2001, after Shinya Hashimoto founded Pro Wrestling Zero-One, Ogawa left NJPW and moved in, forming a tag team with his former rival which was called "OH Gun". Their beginning together was harsh, but they eventually got along and won the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Championship from the UPW team of Jon Heidenreich and Nathan Jones. Ogawa and Hashimoto, along with the rest of native wrestlers of Zero-One, entered in a feud with the foreign wrestlers, led by Tom Howard and Steve Corino.
In 2004, Ogawa became a mainstay of HUSTLE as part of the HUSTLE army, from their beginning until mid year of 2007, when Ogawa left to sign with Antonio Inoki's new promotion, Inoki Genome Federation.
Mixed martial arts career
Ogawa had his first MMA fight the same year of his debut in NJPW, taking part in an event promoted by Chris Dolman in Holland in which he faced Rens Vrolijk. Ogawa submitted him relatively fast, throwing him to the mat and choking him out.
His first high level match, however, would be for Pride Fighting Championships at the event Pride 6 against the kickboxer and Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Gary Goodridge. Naoya evidenced his lack of MMA experience, receiving heavy blows and almost failing his first double leg takedown, but he eventually took Goodridge down. Ogawa immediately tried several submissions and captured his back, while Goodridge spent his energy trying a reversion until the round ended. At the second one, Ogawa swept Goodridge down and locked a keylock, making him tap out.
It was rumored that Goodridge had been paid to throw the fight, but Gary himself said in an interview that, although he was effectively proposed an anonymous money bribe to let Ogawa win, he rejected it and fought for real, losing legitimately to Ogawa.
In 2000, Ogawa took part in negotiations with Rickson Gracie for a match between them at the Colosseum promotion, in which Gracie had just defeated Masakatsu Funaki. The fight was scheduled for the next year, and Ogawa vacated his NWA World Heavyweight Championship in order to focus in his fight with Gracie, but all the plans were suspended upon the news of the death of Rickson's son Rockson, and the event never had place.
Ogawa returned to Pride at Pride 11 - Battle of the Rising Sun, facing world karate champion Masaaki Satake in which was called a classic style vs. style matchup. Satake had recently defeated Kazunari Murakami, Naoya's former teammate, so it also had a shade of revenge. During the match, Satake opened the action with punches and kicks, avoiding Ogawa's takedowns but at the same time being unable to land decisive blows, while Ogawa threw punches as well in an attempt to keep the pace. At the second round, however, Ogawa took over, cutting the karateka's eye with a punch and swiftly taking him down for a rear naked choke.
In 2002, Naoya participated in the first event of Universal Fighting-Arts Organization against another Olympic medalist, the Greco-Roman wrestling champion Matt Ghaffari, who had claimed that he would knock Ogawa out with knee strikes. However, the match was quite differente, as although Ghaffari did take Ogawa down in an instance, Ogawa controlled the standing exchanges and landed a right punch which made Ghaffari stumble and fall. The wrestler tapped out before receiving further damage. Rickson Gracie attended the event and was invited to train with Ogawa, and again talked about the possibility of a match with Naoya, but it did not happen.
Two years after, Ogawa took part in the PRIDE Grand Prix tournament as a representative of his home pro wrestling promotion HUSTLE. His first opponent was K-1 veteran Stefan Leko, who was doing his debut in MMA. Shockingly, Naoya knocked Leko down with a punch, locking then an arm triangle choke for the win. Ogawa's next match was against fellow HUSTLE wrestler Giant Silva, who outweighed him by 130 pounds, but the judoka took him down and overcame and rained ground and pound for the referee stoppage. His last match would be against a different kind of opponent, the Russian Fedor Emelianenko, a match especially asked by fan voting. Fedor overpowered Ogawa and submitted him by armbar in just 54 seconds, giving him his first MMA loss.
Ogawa's last fight in mixed martial arts was at PRIDE Shockwave 2005, facing the man who took from him the world judo championships the last time they fought, Hidehiko Yoshida. The bout was highly anticipated, and was one of the most expensive fights in MMA history, being both Ogawa and Yoshida paid $2 million USD. The fight was a difficult perspective for Ogawa, as was clearly behind in training and experience: while Yoshida had focused in MMA since 2002, Ogawa had fought only occasionally aside from his work in the pro wrestling circuit. However, Ogawa accepted the fight, and made his entrance to the arena with the hachimaki and music theme of his late friend Shinya Hashimoto as a tribute and proof of motivation. Started the battle, Yoshida threw punches and took Ogawa down, and then a long and aggressive exchange of reversions and ground and pound happened. At the end, Ogawa looked to have dominant position, but Yoshida locked an armbar from the guard by surprise, making his judo rival submit.