The latest Puro in the Rough, reviewing DDT Judgement and glancing over upcoming cards.
This editorial is the latest in a series of spotlights on current-day puroresu wrestlers. Check out the other spotlights, as well as Jahmale’s co-host work on Puro in the Rough at wrestlingwithwords.com/realhero.
Yuji Okabayashi was a member of the Japan Self-Defense Forces who had a sports background in Judo and Weightlifting. He was discovered by Daisuke Sekimoto when he came to watch a Big Japan show. He made his debut in June 2008 against Katsumasa Inoue. He made his US debut working CHIKARA Pro on the Global Gauntlet Events.
It didn’t take him long to make an impression on Sekimoto, so Sekimoto decided to start teaming up with him as “Strong BJ”. They won the BJW Tag Titles from Isami Kodaka and Masashi Takeda on July 27, 2009 and had a 5 month reign before losing to Shinya Ishikawa and Yoshihito Sasaki. He and Sekimoto ventured to Osaka Pro Wrestling in an unsuccessful attempt to win the OPW Tag Titles from Hideyoshi and Masamune. They came back to CHIKARA for the King Of Trios bringing along Kankuro Hoshino where they made it to the semifinals before losing to the BDK (Ares, WWE’s Cesaro and Tursas). Tokyo Sports awarded Okabayashi with its Best Rookie award in 2010.
2011 began what would be an eventful year for Okabayashi as Strong BJ started working dates regularly for All Japan Pro Wrestling. They feuded mainly with “es” (Manabu Soya and Seiya Sanada) over the All Asia Tag Titles with Strong BJ winning the belts twice at Sumo Hall. They would hold on to the All Asia Tag Titles until July 2012 when they lost it to SMOP (Akebono and Ryota Hama). They won Tokyo Sports Best Tag Team Award for 2011.
Okabayashi participated in the Ikkitousen 2012 ~ Strong Climb tournament that featured a who’s who of those who competed in the Non-Deathmatches for BJW including Sami Callihan. He finished 3rd in his block A group with 6 points.
He focused his efforts on winning the newly formed BJW Strong World Heavyweight Title but came up short against Yoshihito Sasaki on June 21, 2012. However 2012 wasn’t a lost year altogether as he won the BJW Tag Titles this time with a makeshift partner in the “Sex Bomber” Shinobu in July before losing to Isami Kodaka and Yuko Miyamoto in the BJW Tag League Finals. He failed once again to capture the Strong World Title as he lost to long time partner Sekimoto in March 2013.
2014 pretty much was a down year for Okabayashi as he suffered left shoulder injury while performing his Golem Splash finish at wXw against Robert Dreissker. He didn’t return to action until December 21 at DEATH VEGAS 2014 teaming up with Kohei Sato to defeat Sekimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani when he pinned Kamitani with the Golem Splash. He got a Strong World Title shot against Shuji Ishikawa on February 2 but came up short on the losing end. He teamed up with Yuji Hino (“W Yuji”) in a losing effort to gain the BJW Tag Titles from Kohei Sato and Shuji Ishikawa (“Twin Towers”) on March 21 when Ishikawa pinned him once again with the Splash Mountain Bomb. Strong BJ won the DDT KO-D Tag Titles from “Happy Motel” Duo of Konnosuke Takeshita and Tetsuya Endo on February 15 at SAITAMA SUPER DDT 2015. They would hold on to the titles until RYOGUKU PETER PAN 2015 losing to “Golden Storm Riders” Duo, Kota Ibushi and Daisuke Sasaki.
Okabayashi picked up his 1st-ever singles win over his mentor/trainer Daisuke Sekimoto at RYOGUKUTAN 2015 at Sumo Hall to become BJW Strong World Heavyweight Champion with the stiffest powerbomb one would ever seen in a regular match. He defended the belt against the likes of Kamitani, Ryota Hama and Shuji Ishikawa before losing the belt to Kamitani at RYOGUKTAN 2o16.
Strong BJ started making regular appearances for All Japan again in 2016 as a result of a new partnership between the two shows that had joint shows being put on at Shin-Kiba 1st ring on a monthly basis for the year 2016. Okabayashi defeated one half of the AJPW World Tag Team Champions, Zeus on May 25 at Korakuen. 3 weeks later on June 15, Strong BJ defeated The Big Guns to become the AJPW World Tag Team Champions. They would hold on to the tag titles until losing the belts back to The Big Guns on November 27 at Sumo Hall.
Strong BJ won the Saikyo Tag League back to back in 2015 and 2016 respectively. They won Tokyo Sports Best Tag Team Award for the 2nd time for 2016. They defeated Twin Towers to win the BJW Tag Titles on January 2, 2017 for the 3rd time.
I wouldn’t be remiss if I don’t mention the fact he portrays Poseidon several times a year in the Poseidon Adventure Splash Matches. One of them got popular enough that it trended on Twitter consistently when the match made air.
Yuji Okabayashi’s Best Matches
- Strong BJ vs. Junior Stars AJPW RWTL 2012
- with Shinya Ishikawa vs. TMDK aka TM61, NOAH, 1/5/14
- Strong BJ vs. GET WILD, BJW DEATH VEGAS 2012
- Strong BJ vs. Bad Bones & Shinya Ishikawa, BJW 12/30/12
- Strong BJ vs. Team 246, W1, 9/8/13
- Strong BJ vs. es, AJPW 6/19/11
- Strong BJ vs. es, AJPW 10/23/11
- W Yuji vs. Yankee Two Gun, 12/31/14
- Suwama & es vs. Yuji Nagata & Strong BJ, AJPW 6/12/11
- Emblem vs. Strong BJ, Z1 4/15/13
- Tenryu & Okabayashi vs. Sekimoto & Sasaki, BJW 5/4/10
- Big Guns vs. Strong BJ, AJPW 6/15/16
- Hamakami vs. Strong BJ, BJW 12/30/15
- vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani, BJW 7/24/16
- with Go Shiozaki vs. Sekimoto & Yuji Hino, Fortune Dream 6/14/16
- Strong BJ vs. Evolution, AJPW 8/27/16
- Strong BJ vs. Big Guns, AJPW 7/23/16
- Strong BJ vs. Twin Towers, BJW 10/31/16
- Strong BJ vs. Yankee Two Gun, BJW 10/31/16
- vs. Shuji Ishikawa, BJW 5/5/16
- vs. Ryota Hama, BJW 1/24/16
- Strong BJ vs. Hideki Suzuki & Takuya Nomura, BJW 9/23/16
- Strong BJ vs. NEXTREAM, AJPW 8/6/16
- Strong BJ vs. Big Guns, AJPW 11/27/16
- Strong BJ vs. Jun Akiyama & Daichi Hashimoto, AJPW 8/20/16
- vs Shuji Ishikawa, BJW 2/2/15
- vs. Shuji Ishikawa, BJW 3/6/16
- with Shigehiro Irie vs. Happy Motel, DDT 12/23/15
- Strong BJ vs. Twin Towers, BJW 5/28/15
- with Yasufumi Nakanoue vs. new WILD order, W1 7/29/16
- with Yasufumi Nakanoue vs. Yuji Hino & KAZMA SAKAMOTO, W1 6/8/16
- Hamakami & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Twin Towers & Yuji Okabayashi, W1 6/29/16
- vs. Daisuke Sekimoto, BJW 6/29/09
- vs. Daisuke Sekimoto, BJW RYOGUKUTAN 2015
- Strong BJ vs. Golden Storm Riders, DDT RYOGUKU PETER PAN 2015
- vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani, BJW DEATH VEGAS 2015
- vs. Shigehiro Irie, DDT OSAKA OCTOPUS 2015