Masanori Murakawa (July 18, 1969), is a Japanese professional wrestler who is best known by his stage name The Great Sasuke. As well as a former Iwate Prefectural Assembly legislator. He has wrestled in Japan and in the United States in various wrestling promotions. He is said to have an incredible tolerance for pain, mainly in reference to the injuries he has had including a cracked skull on two occasions.
Professional wrestling career
In his early career, Murakawa wrestled under the name Masa Michinoku. Masa, from his given name Masanori, and Michinoku, after the alternate name for his Japanese home region, Tōhoku. Taka Michinoku adopted a similar gimmick to parody him. Later, on a tour of Mexico, Murakawa adopted the mask, uniform, and name Ninja Sasuke. This was the predecessor to the Great Sasuke gimmick he would adopt upon returning to Japan.
Murakawa is also the owner, and founder, of Michinoku Pro Wrestling, the first Japanese independent promotion not to be based around the Tokyo area.
As part of an agreement between Michinoku Pro Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation, the Great Sasuke was part of the tournament to crown the first WWF Light Heavyweight Champion in 1997. Although Sasuke was heavily pushed to be the winner of the tournament, he would later brag to the Japanese media how he would only defend the title in Japan had he won the title and would refuse to drop the title on WWF television. When the WWF heard of Sasuke's comments, he was fired as well as his working agreement with them terminated, although a former member of Michinoku Pro Wrestling, Taka Michinoku, would end up winning the title.
In 2002, Sasuke briefly turned into a heel and started using the name SASUKE, using blue stripes on his mask instead of the red stripes. However, he later turned into a face (fan favorite) when Jinsei Shinzaki "brought him back from the dark side" by "exorcising the evil out of him".
Sasuke still currently wrestles in Michinoku Pro Wrestling, although he left the running of the promotion to Shinzaki in 2003 to focus on his political career.