Originally published at Tarzan Goto passes away at 58
CORRECTION: An earlier version stated Goto’s first name was Seiji, which was listed incorrectly on Wikipedia. His first name was Masaji, per an All Japan program from 1981. We apologize for this error.
Masaji “Tarzan” Goto, an instrumental figure in the rise of FMW, died on Sunday at the age of 58.
He was born on August 16, 1963, in Shimada in the prefecture of Shizuoka.
Goto had a background in sumo before making the move to professional wrestling and coming up through the All Japan Pro Wrestling system.
He debuted on February 19, 1981, in a losing effort to Shiro Koshinaka and would be named Rookie of the Year by Tokyo Sports in 1983 while still recognized as a rookie during that period.
It was in All Japan that he first met Atsushi Onita, a figure that would have a huge impact in his career years later.
Goto was a prelim wrestler in All Japan and was sent to the United States in 1985 where he worked several territories including Central States in Kansas City, Jim Crockett Promotions in the Carolinas, and a notable stint in Memphis for Continental.
Along with fellow AJPW wrestler Akio Sato, the two formed ‘The Oriental Express’ and won the promotion’s version of the tag titles on five occasions throughout 1986. They exchanged the belt with Jeff Jarrett & Pat Tanaka and later Jarrett & Paul Diamond begore losing them for the final time in December to Diamond & Tanaka.
Goto would work in Puerto Rico for WWC and settled in Florida after marrying fellow wrestler Despina Montagas and purchasing a home with her and their three sons.
With Goto removing himself from wrestling during this period, he was persuaded by Onita to return to Japan to be part of the launch of FMW in 1989.
Goto returned to Japan and after seeking approval from Giant Baba to leave All Japan, he joined the upstart company.
In August 1990, Onita and Goto were part of the first-ever Exploding Barbed-Wire Death Match as FMW began to find its identity and concept matches built around the charismatic star in Onita. The match would earn Match of the Year honors from Tokyo Sports and help put FMW on the map.
Goto had a role in the development of talent within FMW including assisting with the training of Hayabusa and Mr. Gannosuke.
The following year, they had an exploding steel cage match with Onita winning both matches against Goto.
As a team, Onita & Goto became the first FMW WWA Martial Arts Tag Team champions in December 1991 winning the World’s Strongest Tag Team Tournament and beating Grigory Verichev & Koba Krutanize in the final. Goto won the belts a second time in May 1992 teaming with Verichev and beating Sabu & Horace Boulder.
Goto won the Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship in January 1992 defeating the late Ric Titan (Rick Bogner) and lost the title to Olympic gold medalist Leon Spinks on March 25th.
In March 1994, with FMW working with WAR, Goto & Onita had a match with Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara that was named Match of the Year by Tokyo Sports, which is a huge distinction given the match quality that year in the country.
A fallout occurred in 1995 that led to Goto departing FMW and happened one month before Goto was set to be Onita’s opponent in the latter’s retirement match at Kawasaki Stadium.
Goto would move to IWA Japan and wrestled regularly for the group through late 1996.
That same year, he went to Pennsylvania and work two shots with ECW at Ag Hall in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and the Heat Wave event in Philadelphia – losing to Axl Rotten on both nights.
Goto would bounce around with Big Japan, WAR, and launched his own group, Super FMW, and would reunite with Onita in a tag match for the group.
He came back to All Japan for a pair of one-offs by participating in the Jumbo Tsuruta Memorial Battle Royal in May 2001 and the following year, teamed with Tomoaki Honma losing to Abdullah the Butcher & Terry Funk at Budokan Hall as part of the promotion’s 30th anniversary.
After his first marriage ended, he re-married in 2016 and had his last wrestling match in 2018.
Credit: @BAHUFMW FMW Stories Episode 2: Tarzan Goto