Yusuke “Wally” Yamaguchi has passed away with news coming out Saturday of his death at the age of 60.
Yamaguchi played a major role with Gong Magazine at the height of its circulation and influence within the industry during its heyday among the pro wrestling magazines. Their rival was Weekly Pro Wrestling, a magazine that continues publishing to this day.
Gong would also cover American wrestling including Jim Cornette working as a photographer from 1977-1982 with photos from the Memphis territory featured in the magazine.
The magazine fell dramatically in popularity with the rise of Mixed martial arts in the early 2000s. Former Gong managing editor Katsuhiko Kanazawa estimated that the magazine once sold as many as 120,000 copies in one week in early 1999. Circulation fell by more than 50%, according to his estimates by 2004.
In North America, he will be most remembered for his tenure with the World Wrestling Federation in 1998 as the spokesman for Kai En Tai. The group consisted of Men’s Teioh, Sho Funaki, and Dick Togo, and later added Taka Michinoku. Their biggest angle occurred in the summer of 1998 when Yamaguchi threatened Val Venis and said he would “choppy choppy your pee pee” leading to a scene where it appeared Val Venis has his penis cut off. The reveal came a week later that Venis was saved by John Bobbitt in one of the more ridiculous angles during a period where the bar was very high (or low) for such a distinction.
Longtime photographer Jimmy Suzuki has announced that he will stage a Wally Yamaguchi Memorial event next Wednesday at Shin-Kiba through his Tokyo Championship Wrestling company.
Yamaguchi had also suffered a stroke in late 2017.
Yamaguchi was the older brother of current WWE Japanese announcer Shun Yamaguchi.