‘On This Day’ is a commemorative article series. It is dedicated to specific events, matches, and occurrences in wrestling history. We revisit those key moments and look back at how they went down and what they meant to the wrestling industry. The Birth of The Ganso Bomb is that moment.
On January 22nd, 1999, the most dangerous wrestling move of all time was created. It happened completely by accident due to one wrestler suffering an injury early on in a match. That resulting injury led to the inadvertent creation of a move so horrifying that it was only ever used three times. It also became symbolic of how far All Japan Pro-Wrestling had gone to one extreme, and how it signaled the peak of that company’s legendary 1990s run.
On this day, AJPW ace Mitsuharu Misawa defended his Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship against his bitter archrival Toshiaki Kawada. The two of them had met many times before, but Kawada struggled to beat him in singles competition. In fact, in their thirteen previous matches, Kawada only managed to win twice. In this match, he hoped to beat Misawa again and reclaim the title he thought was his.
The Birth of The Ganso Bomb
To do that, Kawada had to do what he was taught to do in AJPW: hit extremely hard. The 1990s AJPW wrestling style, called King’s Road, was famous for being the most physically-taxing style in all of pro wrestling. It was characterized by lengthy, brawl-style matches with stiff strikes and increasingly-dangerous moves layered on top of each other over time. By this point in time, both Misawa sand Kawada had become famous for their ability to dish out and absorb inhuman amounts of punishment, which usually came in the form of brutally stiff strikes and high-angle suplexes. And on this night, Misawa would suffer both.
About seven minutes into the match, Misawa tries to fight out of a rear waistlock and Kawada answered by delivering a stiff spinning backfist to Misawa’s head. But in doing so, Kawada broke his ulna, a bone in his forearm. If you watch in the video above (around the 12:50 mark), Kawada grabbed his arm right away. It’s subtle, but something was wrong there. Yet Kawada, being the badass that he was, continued as if nothing had happened.
Fast forward fifteen minutes later and Kawada attempted a powerbomb. But because one of his arms was broken, he couldn’t lift Misawa up all the way for it. And Misawa was so exhausted by that point that he couldn’t escape the move via Frankensteiner, which was something he did often. Unable to hold Misawa up any longer, Kawada dropped to his knees.
And dropped Misawa directly on his head.
With this move, the most dangerous move of all time came to be. The Ganso Bomb was the ultimate head spike finisher. It was an unprotected bump that risked doing serious or possibly fatal damage to the person taking it. Because of that, it brought the crowd to their feet. They had just witnessed quite possibly the craziest, sickest wrestling bump in history.
And it marked the true peak of AJPW’s golden decade.
Up to that point, promoter Giant Baba (who, incidentally, passed away shortly after this, making this the last pro wrestling match he ever saw) had a vision in mind for his product. He saw the in-ring stories as part of a larger narrative that spanned years. So keep the story engaging, he encouraged his wrestlers to do whatever was necessary to tell a deeper story. To that end, his wrestlers – including Misawa and Kawada – adopted a ‘can you top this’ mentality. As time wore on, their risk had to be greater and greater. What ended a match in 1994 wasn’t enough in 1999. Thus more and more head-spiking super-finishers were created. Most people thought that this mentality peaked when Kenta Kobashi created the Burning Hammer. But Kawada went another step further with the Ganso Bomb.
And yet, despite all of that, the Ganso Bomb never ended a match. It was a mistake in this first match here, but was brought back two more times. Kawada decided to bust it out to callback to this match, but he never managed to win a match with it.
Luckily for everyone, this move has only been used three times and has not been widely adopted. But for now, it remains an infamous move born of one wrestler’s fanatical zeal to beat his bitter archrival.
The Birth of the Ganso Bomb took place on this day in 1999.