A sad end to The Voodoo Murderers gimmick - All Japan's lead heel faction of the last six years. (Wikimedia Commons)
A hugely underreported story so far on the American wrestling websites, given that it is mainstream news in the Japanese sports media and provides yet another lesson in the dangers of head trauma in professional wrestling, is the scandal that has engulfed Keiji Mutoh's All Japan Pro Wrestling due to the circumstances leading to veteran Nobukazu Hirai's (aka Super Hate) brain bleeding. Coverage has largely been restricted to Dave Meltzer's short lead story in the subscriber's only June 2nd Wrestling Observer Newsletter and updates by Zach Arnold on his Puroresu Power message board.
Things to focus on: why won't the police arrest TARU? Their public line is that until Hirai gives them a statement that they can't do anything. Well, how the hell is he going to give a statement when he's nearly dead in a hospital bed? In my opinion this is classic cover-up stuff.
The beating. TARU beats the guy up in front of the Japanese guys but chases the gaijin away (Joe Doering & Rene Dupree). Tokyo Sports paper says he whacks Hirai, then is heard screaming allegedly 'bring the pipe!" and the attack is stopped when Kyohei Wada (greatest ref of all time) rushes in to stop everything.
The debate in Japan has been on many issues. Hirai is an old-school veteran. He worked for Genichiro Tenryu in WAR for goodness sakes. Hirai was always the bland undercard guy who was serviceable for 2-3 star matches. Now he's stuck in TARU's group as a Japanese Goldust with MMA gloves and board shorts instead of spandex. The motive: What happened? There are two rumors in the tabloids: 1) TARU got mad at Hirai's match performance. 2) More likely, TARU got mad at Hirai over business dealings. It has long been rumored over the last couple of years that currency for All Japan wrestlers is often tickets. Like some US independent groups, you sell tickets and get paid that way. Did that happen here? There was public notation that TARU & Hirai had heat from All Japan's May tour series in Kyushu (Western Japan).
Also, take note that Minoru (long time veteran), Masayuki Kono, and MAZADA (another veteran) all basically watched. The standard line is that they didn't attack or do anything. In the end, this was a gangland-style beating on Hirai, who then 'reconciled' with TARU afterwards and TARU went out as the guy's ring second for a bout. Hirai wrestles, goes backstage, starts vomiting blood and dark projectile, collapses, has stroke, then the craniotomy, and is now nearly dead.
Another thing: TARU shows up at presser saying he is voluntary stepping down from All Japan. Really? Interesting that there are murmurs of a 'settlement' between TARU & Hirai's family. What's the cover up here? Hirai is suspected to be poor/middle class. It's not like TARU is raking in the bucks, here. Hush money? Too late now -- this thing dominated the front page of the Japanese sports papers all week long. It's a huge scandal and the timing couldn't be worse since it's almost 2 years to the date of Mitsuhara Misawa's death (due to a cervical spinal cord injury).