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Sonny Onoo Talks About Repairing WCW-NJPW Relationship

In a recent interview with the Two Man Power Trip, former WCW manager Sonny Onoo talked about repairing WCW-NJPW relationship, the original invasion of WCW in 1995 & more. Below are the highlights:

How WCW repaired its relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling:

“I went to Japan with Eric not knowing or having any idea about wrestling whatsoever. The Japanese wrestlers like Masa Saito who was a ’64 Olympian for Japan, Sakaguchi who was an Olympian at Judo and a towering man who is like 6 foot 8 and then you have the meanest looking man you ever want to know a guy like (Riki) Choshu. When I sat down in a meeting with them for the first time, Eric told me that I didn’t have to say anything and just sit and translate for him. But there was a guy named Tiger Hattori who actually still works for New Japan and even though his english is very good, Hattori tells me to translate. My Japanese was ok but not up to par and as Eric is explaining his plans, Masa and those guys have no expression on their faces except that they just want to kill us.”

Why the relationship soured prior to Bischoff’s arrival:

“New Japan had paid prior WCW management upwards of $400,000 to do a talent exchange program so that WCW talent could go to New Japan and do some of their tours. It turns out that they took the money and never sent the talent. So the guy who used to have Eric’s position took the money and never sent the talent, no wonder they looked like they wanted to kill us.”

The original invasion of WCW in 1995:

“When you think about it and you use the word “invading” you think of what the nWo did. When Eric and I flew back from Japan I said that it was too bad that you couldn’t do some kind of unifications between wrestling championships like you could in Boxing. So that is what we decided to do with New Japan and we made it so Bobby Heenan sold me the Saturday Night show because the character I played of Sonny Onoo was a rich Japanese businessman and at that time the Japanese economy was at the height of the bubble and the Yen was strong. So to play up that angle we used reality as a base and I bought Saturday Night and started bringing in all the Japanese talent. I am so glad we got to do all that and show some of those talents. Show how stiff they work. There is no 3 minute match in Japan, the matches are 20 or 30 minutes. They don’t format things and all those guys are such amazing physical specimans. Working with those guys and being able to go on a tour with them and become friends with them was the opportunity of a lifetime. Eric was smart enough to take some of that talent that was under contract to New Japan and hired talents like Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit), Black Tiger (Eddie Guerrero) and Dean Malenko and put those “Americans” on the WCW payroll.”

The Great Muta and Masahiro Chono joining the nWo and nWo Japan:

“The nWo Japan angle for New Japan made an amazing amount of money for that company. In the summer of 1998 we sold upwards of five million dollars worth of t-shirts. It was amazing. I’m sure the wrestlers didn’t see any of that money but the company definitely made money. The nWo Japan was Chono and Muta, they were like the Kevin Nash of nWo Japan. Chono double crosses me on Nitro and the next week I bring Muta to avenge me and Muta turns on me. In retrospect I am so glad I played part in the birth of nWo Japan and you look at history 15 or 16 years ago and how it all developed I am so grateful to just have been apart of the height of viewership in American pro wrestling and the height in popularity of Japanese pro wrestling.”

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