Saki Akai recounts turning down Sanshiro Takagi’s initial offer to become wrestler for DDT

Photo Courtesy: DDT Pro-Wrestling

Becoming a pro wrestler was not in Akai’s sights initially. 

Coming up on November 12th, as a part of DDT’s Ultimate Party show at Ryōgoku Sumo Hall, Saki Akai is going to have her final match as she is opting to retire from pro wrestling. 

Dating back to earlier this year, a retirement tour has been mapped out for Akai that has lead to the 11/12 date. Weeks removed from it, she was interviewed by Nikkan SPA! for an in-depth conversation about her career. She told the outlet about initially not wanting to become a wrestler. 

Akai was in the entertainment field prior to wrestling and when DDT co-founder and CyberFight President Sanshiro Takagi approached her about venturing into DDT, she turned him down.

At the time (when I first had the opportunity to get involved with wrestling), I had the impression that entertainers who had done something ‘cool’ made their debuts. I had never been involved in pro wrestling at all… I didn’t watch pro wrestling because I didn’t like it, but I started watching it because of my job with ‘Radio New Japan Pro Wrestling’. It’s totally different from what I thought it would be… ‘This athlete is fantastic!’ I changed my mind 180 degrees and became hooked. Wrestling is not for everyone. If many people become interested in wrestling, their lives will be enriched and broadened. Anyway, I wanted everyone to know about it. But I am not able to express my feelings in interesting words like a comedian… It was at that time that President (Sanshiro) Takagi approached me. But at first, I had no intention of becoming a wrestler. I grew up in a family of fighters and I was told not to touch championship belts. The number of ropes is different between wrestling and boxing, but I was taught that the ring is a sacred place. Therefore, I thought it would be disrespectful for me to enter the ring, and at first, I turned down President Takagi’s offer.

In the interview, she shared that it wasn’t until halfway through her time with DDT that she realized it was an all-male promotion for the most part. There are women that compete for DDT, but it is not their home promotion. For Akai, DDT has been her home promotion since 2013. She added that she never wanted to be treated any differently than the other talents on the roster. 

I didn’t realize until about halfway through that DDT was all male wrestlers (laughs). Of course I knew that women’s wrestling existed, but I joined because I liked DDT and got into wrestling… I later realized, oh, by the way, all these people are boys (laughs). And I’m sorry, but I didn’t look at DDT members as the opposite sex from the beginning (laughs). I look at DDT wrestlers as characters; strong, thin, big, small, flying, punching, and so on… Me being a girl is also a character and an individuality as an athlete, so I don’t want to be treated like a special girl or like a princess. I did the ring setup just like everyone else.

Looking back at her retirement tour, she touched on the 10th Anniversary Show that DDT presented for her on 8/13 at Korakuen Hall. 

Akai was part of a six-woman tag that featured the trio of herself, Maya Yukihi and VENY taking on Rina Yamashita, Takumi Iroha and Shoko Nakajima. She asked for Nakajima to be a part of the event because she wanted to introduce her to DDT viewers that may not tune into Tokyo Joshi Pro. 

It was my desire to connect with Shoko Nakajima of Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling that led me to ask her to participate in my 10th Anniversary event on August 13th. I wanted to introduce her to DDT fans who had not usually watched Tokyo Joshi Pro before. It is up to Nakajima to do her best there. I want to do everything I can.

In Akai’s final match, she’ll be tagging with fellow members in Eruption, Yukio Sakaguchi and Hideki Okatani. They’ll be facing Kazusada Higuchi, Naomichi Marufuji and Miyu Yamashita. 

Akai, Sakaguchi and Okatani are the reigning KO-D 6-Man Tag Team Champions. They’ll relinquish the titles after the match and a one-day tournament to crown new champions will take place on November 16th.

About Andrew Thompson 8613 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.