Deaf Sports Events5th March 2014
Sean Midnight Taking a Japanese Crown
Midlands based Deaf wrestler Sean Midnight takes the Champions crown after a successful trip to Japan and the Philippines
It is a little known in the UK that wrestling is big business in Japan. So much so in fact, that it is common to find shops dedicated to wrestling, along with wrestling pubs and even wrestling restaurants. When Deaf wrestler Sean ‘Midnight’ Noone from the Midlands was invited to appear in a wrestling show in Tokyo and the Phillipines, he jumped at the chance.
“They take wrestling very seriously and it is major sport entertainment,” Sean explained, “Occasionally the Japanese host big wrestling events at some of the biggest venues in Tokyo, such as the Tokyo Dome which is similar to the O2 Arena in London.” With thousands of people attending these events, travelling to Japan for the February competition was a big opportunity.
The wrestling event had been arranged by a Japanese pro-wrestling company called Touroumon. Sean felt it was a huge honour to be invited to take part and flew to Japan on the 30th January. Travelling alone, Sean met up with a camera crew who were there shooting for a documentary on wrestling they are making. Proving that the world is a small place, in the first part of his trip Sean stayed in a local wrestler’s apartment along with the American Deaf wrestler Louis Long (The Silent Warrior) who we have also featured in the SLFirst magazine.
With little knowledge of the schedule before his arrival, Sean was impressed with the professional attitude to training and the bouts. Sean told me, “During the pre-event training, the trainer was serious with all the wrestlers, with no time for playing around or having fun. There was also a strict schedule for the bouts during the show and I think that is one of the reasons why wrestling is so popular there.” Commenting further on the position in the Philippines where Sean went for the second part of his booking, he said, “wrestling is not as popular there, but the audience just loved it”.
A day before the first show was due to start, Sean learned that he was being put into a tag team for his first fight, partnering a Japanese wrestler against two other Japanese fighters. In what appears to be a punishing schedule he was then put in a main event bout that was a 10 man tag team match. The following day Sean took part in a ‘Triple Treat’ match that sees three wrestlers in the ring together, competing to become the Touroumon Japan Pro Wrestling Champion, with a one pin-fall winning the match.
In comparing wrestling in the UK with America and Japan, Sean tells me that the wrestling scene in the UK gets far less support, and even the bouts that do take place do not get the level of promotion wrestling gets in these other countries. He also learned a great deal from US professional WWE wrestler, Awesome Kong, about remaining in character throughout training as well as in bouts. “I thought it was strange at first, but having seen it all, it makes sense,” Sean said. “I mean, if the only time you are in character is when you’re in the ring performing, it restricts your time to hone your mannerisms”. This advice proved invaluable to Sean whilst in Japan, as he was asked by the promoters to play the ‘heel’ (the bad guy), a role Sean enjoys.
Taking in his place in his first tag bout alongside Ushigami Liger against Raiden & Kisarazu Kid, Sean won the bout for his team using his ‘finishing’ move, ‘Midnight Strike”, a DDT move in which the wrestler has the opponent in a front facelock/inverted headlock, and falls down or backwards to drive the opponent's head into the mat. Pleased to win his first bout, Sean’s success did not continue into the 5 man tag team event, where he was on the losing side. However, after that first day of competition Sean was summoned into the promoter’s office. Fearing he had let someone down or done the wrong thing, he was delighted to be told that the promoter really liked his style and he wanted him to return to fight in Japan for the next two years. As if that wasn’t good news enough, he was also invited to take part in the three man championship bout the following day. This was great news for Sean.
Competing against Sawaterio and Dark Sawa Monasterio for the title, Sean won the bout making him the champion. “I was honoured to be asked to take part in the championship match. I am so proud of what I achieved. I am really honoured to become a champion and representing the United Kingdom, but at the same time I am now a representative of the Touroumon Japan Pro Wrestling when I am back in the UK.”
Before departing to the Philippines for the second part of his trip, Sean was able to take in some of the local culture. It was an experience he will not easily forget. “The people out there are so friendly, respectful and approachable,” Sean outlines. “Sign language in Japan is completely different, so we tended to get by using international sign, but I also learned some Japanese sign language whilst I was there.” With a beaming smile when recounting his experience, Sean told me that he also learned that it s against the law to walk and smoke at the same time.
However, he also learned something about immigration procedures too, as he faced difficulty when making arrangements to travel from Japan to the Philippines as his passport had less than 6 months to go before it expired. Being told he could not travel on that passport, Sean had to get to the British Embassy in Tokyo where he had to pay £105 for an emergency passport.
Successfully defending his newly earned Champion’s Crown in the Philippines against another Japanese wrestler Yoshiya, Sean went on to have one more bout before returning home on the 10th February. Reflecting on his experience and nursing a bruised shoulder, abs and sporting a black eye, I can understand why Sean describes the Japanese fighters as brutal and tough, “They certainly know what to do when they get inside that ring,” he told me.
Overall, Sean found his trip to Japan and the Philippines a wonderful experience, learning about the local culture and of course coming back with a Championship under his belt. His success in Japan earned him 200 new friends on Facebook within a few days of his return, on top of the supporters he has in the UK. “I am extremely grateful for all the support I get, and I owe a lot of my success to Lee Hunter, Jim Hunter and Dave Mastiff, who have worked so hard to train me.
With Japan again beckoning next year, Sean has more planned this year with possible trips to Mexico and Canada. There is also a chance of him getting involved in promoting a UK based event as well.
A keen ambassador for deaf achievement, Sean got involved in deaf culture whilst in Japan and the Philippines, visiting people’s homes, going out to restaurants and learning about their culture and lifestyle. Still young, Sean is hopeful that greater awareness of who he is and how good a wrestler he is, will improve his world ranking and open up new opportunities for him. For now, it’s back to training.
Article by Sarah Lawrence
posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Events
5th March 2014