Having achieved his every goal...
...in wrestling in a career spanning a spectacular 38 years, and wishing to devote time to his other interests, it was logical that Kendo would seek to bow out of wrestling at some point - but how to stage his final match? It was decided that the event should be structured in two parts, an afternoon event and the final Battle Royal. The setting was to be on Saturday 22nd December 2001, at the Victoria Hall in Hanley, Stoke On Trent. This choice of venue brought Nagasaki full circle, for it was in this very hall in 1966 that he defeated and unmasked Count Bartelli, a crucial event which had set him on the road to wrestling fame.
The afternoon event was attended by some 40 fans who had travelled from as far afield as Bath, Edinburgh, Dorset and Hull. Lloyd Ryan was in very talkative mood as he entertained those assembled with stories from his career in wrestling and also show-business. There was a highly entertaining question-and-answer session, which included some great barracking from Mad Eli Collins. Pictured left are Kendo and manager, Lloyd Ryan.
The moment everyone had waited for arrived: to the sound of Lloyd Ryan's 70's single "Kendo's Theme", in walked Nagasaki himself. Resplendent in black mask, he was presented on behalf of his fans around the country with a special Kendo Nagasaki clock and one of Kendo's fans, illustrator Mike Furniss, presented the great man with a superb painting depicting moments from Nagasaki's unique career. Although retaining his usual dignified silence, it was evident that Kendo thoroughly appreciated the warm welcome from his most loyal supporters. Pictured right are the artist Mike Furniss and Kendo.
Later in the evening, Kendo entered the wrestling arena for the last time, looking very menacing in his full Samurai outfit together with his entourage which included representatives of the Keepers of the Salt, Nagasaki's official followers (pictured below left: Ian Wilshaw, Paul Douglas, and Rob Cope).
The final match was a four-way elimination table-top contest. In the opposing corners were 2Xtreme, "Anarchist" Doug Williams and popular James Mason. It would be folly to suggest that Kendo's tactics were strictly legal all the way through, use of the ceremonial salt to blind 2Xtreme in order to gain an elimination fall caused controversy. In the final session of the contest it was Nagasaki against Mason. Despite being one of Britain's brightest young stars in the wrestling world, Mason's valiant efforts were no match for Nagasaki who unleashed a devastating Kamikaze Crash before slamming Mason through the table erected in the ring and gaining the winning fall.
The packed crowd at the Victoria Hall saluted Nagasaki, the official Wrestler of the Millennium, as the historic night drew to a close. It was a sad moment for those who had followed Kendo Nagasaki's career over the years, but as Lloyd was at pains to point out, although this might be the end of Nagasaki in the ring, you certainly haven't seen the last of the masked Samurai. No-one can ever predict where and when Nagasaki will appear - as Nagasaki himself has repeatedly shown us over the years, it's wise to expect the unexpected!