In Memoriam: Atsushi Aoki

Atsushi Aoki
Photo / All Japan Pro Wrestling

It’s never easy writing an obituary for anyone but today is the day for one. Today we found out that 41-year-old and current AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Champion, Atsushi Aoki has passed away in a motorcycle accident. The only thing we know right now is that his bike failed to curve and crashed into a wall. Despite how you feel about certain wrestlers, any death is tragic and nobody wishes to see a human life taken away so suddenly. I want to talk a little bit about the life and career of Atsushi Aoki.

Atsushi Aoki was born on September 25th, 1977 in Tokyo, Japan. He began wrestling in high school and won a championship in 200 for his weight class of 152 pounds. Sometime in May of 2005, he would enter the world of professional wrestling as he joined Pro Wrestling NOAH as he would be trained by Jun Akiyama. He would make his debut on Christmas Eve that year where he would team up with Yoshiniro Ota. They lost in a tag match against Akira Taue and Mitsuharu Misawa. Aoki would win his first title in 2010 when he and Go Shiozaki would defeat Takashi Morishima and Taiji Ishimori to win the AAA Tag Team Championships. They would hold them for about two weeks. He also won a few junior tag tournaments such as the VolcanoxSEM Tag Team Tournament in 2008 with Akihiko Ito, Nippon TV Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League in 2010 with KENTA, and the NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League in 2011 with Kotaro Suzuki. During his last couple of years in Pro Wrestling NOAH, he would finally win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships twice. Once with Naomichi Marufuji and then the other with Kotaro Suzuki.

On January 26th, 2013, he would leave the promotion and then sign a contract with All Japan Pro Wrestling. On the same year, he would win All Japan’s Junior Hyper Tag League with his old partner, Kotaro Suzuki and they would also win the All Asia Tag Team Championship on April 25th of that year, holding it for 276 days. 2014 would be different for him as he starts to go for a solo run instead of tag teams and on May 29th, he defeated the legendary Ultimo Dragon to win the World Junior Heavyweight Championship, having a total of 5 successful title defenses in 302 days. He also won the Junior Tag Battle of Glory three years straight from 2014 to 2016 with his partner, Hikaru Sato. He also finally joined a faction called Evolution which was formed by Suwama and Joe Doering in 2014.

Atsushi Aoki
Photo / AJPW

In 2016, he would take a couple of cracks at the heavyweight division as he participated in the Champion Carnival and the Royal Road Tournament which he has failed to win them even tried again recently at this year’s Champion Carnival but would also fail to win there. He did win the All Asia Tag Team Championships two more times with his partner, Hikaru Sato in both 2016 and 2017. He was also someone that was considered to be an ace of their junior division as he won it a total of four times, with his last one being recently on May 20th, 2019.

On June 2nd, 2019, he wrestled his last match during the Super Power Series Tour in a six-man tag match and on June 3rd (4th in Japan), we find out he has tragically died in the motorcycle accident. I gotta admit, it really was heartbreaking to find out about him passing away, especially when you’ve just recently watched him wrestle in that ring not too long ago. Another upsetting thing is that he just won that title back too in a great match against Koji Iwamoto. I’ll post some matches down below for people that haven’t seen him or some that people wanna remember. My condolences to his family and loved ones during this difficult time and he’ll be missed in the world of professional wrestling as everyone mourns for him. Thank you, Atsushi Aoki, and may you rest in peace.

Atsushi Aoki vs. Kento Miyhara

Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Aoki vs Takashi Sugiura & Daisuke Harada

Atsushi Aoki vs. Minoru Suzuki

Katsuhiko Nakajima & Satoshi Kajiwara vs Atsushi Aoki & Kotaro Suzuki