Tragedy struck pro wrestling as Shinjiro Otani, one of the most underrated in-ring performers of the last 30 years, remains paralyzed after taking a German suplex into the turnbuckles in a match with Takashi Sugiura on 4/10 at Sumo Hall.
Otani was diagnosed with a cervical spinal cord injury that thus far has left him paralyzed. He was in intensive care, remained conscious throughout the ordeal and can speak. He underwent spinal cord surgery on 4/13 to attempt to prevent further deterioration.
His condition remained unchanged as of 4/15.
Otani, 49, had been acting president of Zero-1 from 2007 until recently, a promotion that was running its biggest show in years, as the 21st anniversary show.
Otani was part of a golden age of New Japan junior heavyweight wrestling, as the frequent tag team partner of Jushin Liger in an era that included Black Tiger (Eddy Guerrero), Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit), Dean Malenko, David Finlay and Koji Kanemoto as regulars plus outsiders like Great Sasuke, Ultimo Dragon, Gran Hamada, Chris Jericho and others, and he had many classic matches in famous tournaments like the Best of the Super Juniors, the J Crown and the Super J Cup. Due to being a babyface during the Liger era, as a junior heavyweight he was limited to peaking at the No. 2 position on the native side, but with his explosive springboard dropkick and great technical skills, insiders would easily have him among the best workers of the 90s. While less high profile after leaving New Japan, he remained a top level worker in the 21 years since he left the promotion.