What can be said about this Japanese sensation who blends wrestling, comedy, and philanthropy into one crotch propelled, leather clad gay icon? We've inducted in to this year's Hall of Fame him for his mix of bringing comedy into wrestling with his HG (Hard Gay) Razor Ramon persona. Then transforming it into a successful comedic career and doing "social awareness" deeds around Tokyo by helping people (solicited or not) and solving problems with loud noises and crotch thrusts.
Ian covered the actual moral contention of his character here: In Defense of Hard Gay to where gay rights advocates disagree with the intention of Masaki's character. We like Hard Gay, we respect Hard Gay and beneath the silly get-up and wild catchphrase is ... well ... just that. Hard Gay is what you make of him.
|"Give Up" Sumitani with the Splash|
His debut was against Yin Lin the Erotic Warrior. No clue whats happening with the egg.
The beginning of his career was received with mixed response. Even though, the Japanese are famously bizarre and perverted they are still very conservative on homosexuality. Sumitani was booked as the underdog in his matches early on. The idea being people will either love the scrappy underdog or like seeing a controversial character take a beating.
HG just kept on cultivating his character and refining it to become the underdog face that people were not only cheering for but wanting to win. He was booked with match after match against insurmountable odds to the point where it became the centerpiece of their shows. Will Hard Gay this undersized, goof ball just win ONE MATCH?
With the help of ECW legend Tajiri he did.
Since then he was a main staple in Japanese Wrestling culture. He climbed to be named Pro Wrestling Illustrated #129 in their annual Top 500 of the year. His merchandise was selling like crazy, anything you can put his trade mark hat and shades on sold. He began teaming with wrestling legends Tajiri and The Great Muta giving him the credibility he needed to be the star he always wanted to be. He transcended wrestling and his infectious personality infiltrated popular culture and landed him a spot on the Bakusho Mondai no Bakuten!which is a variety show aired on Saturday afternoon in Japan.
This is where we became familiar with the comedy styling of HG Masaki Sumitani. His act first began as him making an appearance with his trademark "Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooo" and wild pelvic thrusting. Then turned into Hard Gay Social Awareness skits that would take up a majority of the show. HG would run around Tokyo solving problems, helping people, and promoting positive behavior around the city. Sometimes his help was solicited, sometimes not but the result was always comic gold.
There was a special night that Ian and I enjoyed Hard Gay (not even sorry for that sentence). I was visiting him in Chicago for the first time and on the very first night I got some pretty troubling news from home. It was enough to completely stun me and make me sick. One of the things I brought with me to Ian's place was an entire CD booklet filled with gore soaked, strange and perverted Japanese films. We both were in no mood to watch anything like that, so Ian chose to watch a DVD just called Hard Gay. I explained it as a Japanese live prank show not knowing the full scope of Sumitani's talents.
After about 15 minutes we were hooked (and very, very drunk) we loved what we saw. It was funny and if you look passed the layers of PVC clothing you saw someone dedicated to his arts who is trying his best to make the world around him a better place. Not knowing his background in wrestling, we appreciated the mix of bringing a fearless, honorable, gay person to conservative Japan and seeing him turn people from polite rejection to simple comradere. Plus it was very, very funny.
This is why we induct "Hard Gay" Masaki Sumitani to Construxnunchux Hall of Fame this year. A man of many talents who took what he knew what worked for him and challenged every outlet he got involved with. He didn't pigeon hole himself into one medium or change his character to fit what was expected of him. He was good enough to where people made him an exception to any rules they had placed on prude morals.
Take him for what you want comedy relief, a success story of a self-made man, an accomplished wrestler, a gay rights advocate, a good will ambassador, or a morbid curiosity I have a feeling Masaki's intention would be to embrace it all and take solace in the fact that you are smiling.