One year ago today, the Southern California wrestling scene lost one of its own when James Itow, who wrestled under the name Rising Son, passed away.
Born on January 10, 1982, about the same time Jimmy started to get into wrestling he met Ron Rivera (American Wild Child) who was one of his sister’s friends. When Ron opened up Rudos Dojo (the school that would spawn Revolution Pro), Jimmy jumped at the chance to join up. He made his debut as Jimmy Hardcore on Revolution Pro’s second show and faced Super Dragon. Sometime later he took the name Rising Son and within a couple of years became one of the most popular cruiserweights on the West Coast. His feud with Super Dragon in 2001 took place all over SoCal and culminated in what I still believe was the finest moment in Revolution Pro’s history, when Rising Son defeated Super Dragon in the finals Spirit of the Revolution tournament.
Rising Son’s high flying and innovative offense is part of what made him so popular. He was doing the 619 long before Rey Misterio (and I recall him being pretty upset when Rey Misterio debuted it on WWF tv, he was certain Rey saw him do it on a Rev Pro tape). He wasn’t always crisp in everything he did, but he wasn’t afraid to take risks. People are just now starting really grasp the influence that Revolution Pro had on wrestling, and he was a big part of that.
The first time I met Jimmy was probably in 2000 at a Revolution Pro show. I think Super Dragon was injured at the time and Rising Son was being treated as the top guy while waiting for Dragon to come back. Revolution Pro at that time did not draw very many people. They’d be lucky with 30 people for some shows, so it seemed like everyone in the crowd knew each other. After a show I was talking with a group of people and Jimmy came up and introduced himself. I talked to him for a few minutes and mentioned I enjoyed his match. He acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about, despite there not being another Asian person in the whole building.
One year we had a SCU fantasy baseball league and he joined and managed to not win a single game. It wasn’t like he never set his lineup and didn’t try, he just wasn’t very good at fantasy baseball. Towards the end of the season he changed his team name to The Setting Sons which I thought was funny.
One thing that really sucks about wrestling is the number of people involved in it that pass away before their time. Covering indy wrestling you get to meet people like Rising Son, Dynamite D, Paul T., The Drunken Irishman, Tech IX, Bad Boy Basil among others. All we can really do is keep remembering them. I’ll never forget Rising Son.