Milano Collection A.T.
Milano Collection A.T..jpg
Sawafuji as Milano Collection A.T. in June 2007, after winning the 2007 Best of the Super Juniors
Birth nameAkihito Sawafuji[1]
Born (1976-08-27) August 27, 1976 (age 45)[2]
Morioka, Iwate[2]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Milano Collection A.T.
Masked Italiano
Billed height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)[2]
Billed weight85 kg (187 lb)[3]
Billed fromMilan, Italy[2]
Trained bySkayde
Magnum Tokyo[3]
Último Dragón
Rudy Boy Gonzalez
Texas Wrestling Academy
DebutMay 13, 2000[2]
RetiredJanuary 18, 2010

Akihito Sawafuji (澤藤 章人, Sawafuji Akihito, born August 27, 1976),[1][2][3][4] is a Japanese color commentator and retired professional wrestler, better known by his ring name Milano Collection A.T. (ミラノコレクションA.T., Mirano Korekushon A.T.). As Milano, Sawafuji adopted the gimmick of an Italian fashion aficionado/supermodel, reflected in his ring attire. Milano is also known for walking to the ring with an invisible dog known as Mikeru. After retiring from in-ring competition in 2010, Milano began working as a color commentator for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), a position he maintains to this day.

Professional wrestling career

Sawafuji debuted in 2000 in Toryumon, where he later adopted the persona and ring name of Milano Collection A.T., an Italian fashion aficionado/supermodel, wearing lavish coats and trunks and walking to the ring with an invisible dog named Mikeru to much more success, and upon his arrival in Japan, he was the ace of Toryumon's T2P class. In 2002, he won the T2P Strongest Merit Assessment League defeating Masato Yoshino and received the NWA International Light Heavyweight Championship for the win. He then went on to form the Italian Connection with YOSSINO and YASSINI.[5] The unit eventually added members Pescatore Yagi, Condotti Shuji and mascot Venezia. With the closure of T2P in July 2003, he joined the Toryumon main roster. In mid-2006, he began training at the Texas Wrestling Academy in San Antonio, Texas at the urging of WWE's Shoichi Funaki, and trained under Rudy Boy Gonzalez. During his tenure in the TWA, he held the Television Championship for 8 months. He also wrestled for many other American wrestling federations, including East Coast Wrestling Association, Ring of Honor (ROH), NWA Anarchy, Chikara and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, where he took part in the 2008 World X Cup as part of Team Japan, winning his first and only singles match for TNA against Curry Man, gaining 2 points for his team.[6] He then competed at Victory Road in the third round, which was a four team triple elimination match, dominating early in the match before getting eliminated.[7]

After returning to Japan full time in 2007, he began working for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), as a part of the R.I.S.E. faction. He received his first title opportunity in New Japan on November 6, 2006, unsuccessfully challenging Tiger Mask IV for the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship.[8] He achieved his greatest success in both New Japan and as a professional wrestler in 2007 when he won New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Best of the Super Juniors tournament, defeating Wataru Inoue in the final.[9] In August, he took part in the G1 Climax, finishing with 2 wins and 4 points. In November, he teamed with Hirooki Goto as R.I.S.E in the G1 Tag League, making it to the semi-finals where they were eliminated by Hiroshi Tanahashi and Koji Kanemoto.[10]

On January 18, 2010, Sawafuji announced his retirement from professional wrestling because of inferior oblique muscle palsy, brought on by an excessively strong thrust kick to the eye by Gedo. A retirement ceremony was held on February 14.

Sawafuji remains with New Japan as a member of the IWGP Championship Committee and a color commentator.

Championships and accomplishments

  • ICW/ICWA Tex-Arkana Television Championship (1 time)
  • PWI ranked him #61 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2007[11]
  • TWE Television Championship (1 time)

References

  1. ^ a b 食いっぱぐれない技術に憧れた. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). 2012-06-13. Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "ミラノコレクションA.T." New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Milano Collection A.T. profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  4. ^ a b c d "Profile at Puroresu Central". Puroresu Central. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  5. ^ "Italian Connection". Cagematch. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  6. ^ Sokol, Bryan (2008-07-04). "Impact: Bad dates and Sting's return". SLAM! Sports. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  7. ^ Kapur, Bob (2008-07-13). "Main event mars Victory Road". SLAM! Sports. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  8. ^ "NJPW Circuit 2006 Explosion ~ G1 Tag League ~ - Tag 13 « Events Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". Archived from the original on 2021-12-16.
  9. ^ https://www.cagematch.net/?id=1&nr=12012[bare URL]
  10. ^ "NJPW 35th Anniversary Tour ~ Circuit 2007 New Japan Truth ~G1 Tag League~ - Tag 10 « Events Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". Archived from the original on 2016-01-21.
  11. ^ "Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) 500 for 2007". The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
Preceded byMinoru Best of the Super Juniors winner 2007 Succeeded byWataru Inoue