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Pro-wrestlers battle on Japan scenic train in bid to help region rebound off the ropes

Passengers inside a JR Tadami Line train are seen reacting with excitement to the arrival of a pro-wrestler, on Oct. 3, 2020. (Mainichi/Yukio Itahana)

MINAMIUONUMA, Niigata -- The fourth edition of the onboard train pro-wrestling tournament, in which muscled participants put on a pugilistic show for passengers on a moving train, was held on the JR Tadami Line that travels across Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast and Fukushima Prefecture in northeast Japan on Oct. 3.

    The Tadami Line prefectural borders' pro-wrestling executive committee organized the event as part of efforts to support people living along the line, which is expected to be completely repaired in 2022. Parts of the line closed in 2011 following damage from heavy rain.

    At just past 9 a.m. on Oct. 3, around 40 wrestling fans boarded a Tadami Line train at Echigo-Suhara Station, in the city of Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture. The train set off, and just as it was about to cross into Fukushima Prefecture, five Niigata-affiliated pro-wrestlers appeared one by one and began to battle. Passengers raised their voices in surprise and awe as they watched the wrestlers exchange a series of chops, and witnessed high-level techniques such as dynamic body presses involving the wrestlers leaping through the air and over the seats.

    One man aged 36 who came from the east Japan city of Numata in Gunma Prefecture to see the show told the Mainichi Shimbun excitedly, "This was my first time seeing a pro-wrestling match, and it was totally gripping. I'm absolutely a pro-wrestling fan now."

    Koji Meguro, the 36-year-old head of the executive committee, said, "We'll continue to run this program which brings together the soul of wrestling, which is never to lose or give up, with the Tadami Line. I think the people who came here today are now not just wrestling fans, but Tadami Line fans, too."

    (Japanese original by Yukio Itahana, Minamiuonuma Local Bureau)

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