Jun Akiyama (October 9, 1969) is an Japanese professional wrestler who currently works for Pro Wrestling NOAH. Akiyama is known for his serious style and outstanding, time-tested work as a tag team wrestler. He also gained notoriety for his innovation of the Blue Thunder Driver and the wrist–clutch exploder suplex.

Before wrestling

In junior high school, Akiyama practiced swimming and in senior high school he did freestyle amateur wrestling and judo. After high school he went to Senshu University in Tokyo. There he joined an amateur wrestling team that produced other professional wrestlers Riki Chōshū, Hiroshi Hase and Manabu Nakanishi.

Professional wrestling career

All Japan Pro Wrestling (1992–2000)

Akiyama had great success as an amateur wrestler and was eventually scouted by All Japan Pro Wrestling. He made his professional wrestling debut in September 1992 in a match against Kenta Kobashi, which he lost. He gradually rose in rank, earning a trial series in January 1993. Afterwards, Akiyama started competition in tag teams. The tag team division soon became his specialty, teaming with Takao Ōmori against Kenta Kobashi and Mitsuharu Misawa. On more than one occasion, Dave Meltzer rated the matches they had together five stars. In 1995, he split with Taue, and was selected to be Misawa's partner after he split with Kobashi. The two teamed together successfully and won the AJPW Tag Team Titles during 1996. Akiyama and Misawa also competed in the Real World Tag League tournaments in 1996 and 1997, but lost in successive years to the team of Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue. Akiyama then began closing in on the Triple Crown Championship, first challenging Misawa in September 1997, again challenging Misawa in January 1998, Kobashi in July 1998 and Vader in January 2000. He was unsuccessful on all occasions, and never managed to capture the championship.

After teaming with Misawa, Akiyama began teaming with Kenta Kobashi to form 'Burning'. The team won numerous tag team titles and competed against the teams of Mitsuharu Misawa and Yoshinari Ogawa, Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue, Yoshihiro Takayama and Takao Ōmori and others. Burning also won the Real World Tag League tournament in 1998 by defeating the team of Stan Hansen and Vader, and again in 1999 by defeating Akira Taue and Stan Hansen. Akiyama's last major victory in All Japan Pro Wrestling was on February 27, 2000, when he defeated former tag team partner Mitsuharu Misawa by pinfall in a heated and highly acclaimed contest.

Pro Wrestling Noah (2000–2010)

After a controversy in AJPW over the direction and management, he left the company with Mitsuharu Misawa, and half the roster, for Misawa's newly created Pro Wrestling NOAH in mid-2000. Like many other members who made the jump, Akiyama gave himself a makeover, dropping his trademark blue and white trimmed boots and blue trunks for white boots and trunks and dyed his hair brown. He was quickly established as a top star of the company, winning both falls in the Main Event of NOAH's first show, choking out Kenta Kobashi in the second Noah show, and becoming the second GHC Heavyweight Champion, He had stellar title defenses in New Japan Pro Wrestling against Yuji Nagata and Hiroshi Tanahashi. But a lack of worthy contenders eventually forced Noah to abandon his push, using Yoshinari Ogawa to transition the title back to Misawa. He continued work in Noah as a tag team competitor again to critical acclaim, winning the GHC Tag Team Championship with Akitoshi Saito.

In April 2004, he created the GHC Openweight Hardcore Championship to get back into singles competitions, and adapting an attitude manifested by wearing trunks that were odd colors for him. These motives helped put him back into contention for the GHC title against Kenta Kobashi, which was voted as Match of the Year. Late 2004 and much of 2005 were highlighted by his feud with protégé Makoto Hashi where Akiyama used "tough love" to toughen up young Hashi. On January 22, 2006, Akiyama defeated Akira Taue to become the GHC Heavyweight Champion for the second time, defending the title against Minoru Suzuki on March 5 and Masao Inoue on April 24. Akiyama was defeated by Naomichi Marufuji on Noah's September 9 Nippon Budokan show in his third defense of the GHC Heavyweight Title.

Following his title loss to Naomichi Marufuji, Akiyama made good his promise to Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, going back to wearing blue trunks, and wrestling mainly in the undercard. He successfully redeemed himself by defeating Kikuchi and once again wore white trunks following that match. This put him back in line for success, which had him winning the tag titles a second time with Takeshi Rikio. However, due to an injury to Rikio, they were forced to vacate the titles. Akiyama competed at New Japan Pro Wrestling's third Annual "Wrestle Kingdom in Tokyo Dome" show, defeating Manabu Nakanishi.

On March 1, 2009 Akiyama defeated Kensuke Sasaki for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. On June 14, 2009 he was forced to vacate the title due to injury, in which left him out of action for the rest of the tour. After making his return later that year, Akiyama continued to wrestle sporadically whilst struggling with back injuries and the burden of post traumatic stress syndrome.

Retirement (2010)

At the beginning of 2010, Akiyama announced that he would retire from professional wrestling if he did not win the upcoming Global League Tournament. Akiyama performed well during the tournament, achieving a total of eight points with four wins and just one loss. As the Block B winner, he faced Block A winner Yoshihiro Takayama in the final match on May 2. Takayama pinned Akiyama with an everest style German suplex, thus ending Akiyama's career.

It is not known at this point if Akiyama's retirement is legitimate or kayfabe. Given his serious back injuries and alleged issues with post traumatic stress syndrome, it is not known if Akiyama will compete again. After this, Akiyama competed on a Kensuke Office show, and was announced for all the Navigation with Breeze 2010 cards, showing he is not retired, at least not yet.

In wrestling

  • Nicknames
    • "Blue Thunder"
    • "Supernova"
    • "Sternness"

Championships and accomplishments

  • New Japan Pro Wrestling
  • Nikkan Sports
    • Match of the Year (2001) with Yuji Nagata vs. Keiji Mutoh and Hiroshi Hase on October 8
    • Match of the Year (2004) vs. Kenta Kobashi on July 10
    • Match of the Year (2007) with Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi and Yoshihiro Takayama on December 2
    • Match of the Year (2011) vs. Suwama on October 23
    • Outstanding Performance Award (2000, 2001)
    • Fighting Spirit Award (1998)
  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated
    • PWI ranked him #6 of the 500 best singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2012
    • PWI ranked him #90 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
  • Tokyo Sports
    • Best Tag Team Award (1999)
    • Fighting Spirit Award (1998)
    • Match of the Year Award (2004)
    • Newcomer of the Year Award (1992)
    • Outstanding Performance Award (2000, 2001, 2011)
    • Technique Award (2003)
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
    • 5 Star Match (1993) with Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi vs. Akira Taue, Toshiaki Kawada, and Yoshinari Ogawa on July 2
    • 5 Star Match (1996) with Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue on May 23
    • 5 Star Match (1996) with Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Steve Williams and Johnny Ace on June 7
    • 5 Star Match (1996) with Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue on December 6
    • 5 Star Match (1997) with Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue on December 5
    • 5 Star Match (1999) with Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa and Yoshinari Ogawa on October 23
    • 5 Star Match (2004) vs. Kenta Kobashi on July 10
    • Match of the Year (1996) with Mitsuharu Misawa vs Steve Williams and Johnny Ace on June 7
    • Match of the Year (2004) vs. Kenta Kobashi on July 10
    • Rookie of the Year (1993)
    • Tag Team of the Year (1996, 1997) with Mitsuharu Misawa
    • Tag Team of the Year (1999) with Kenta Kobashi

External links

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