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By Mike Johnson on 2021-09-27 17:34:00 is sad to report the recent passing of former WWE and Wrestling Society X star Ryan Keiji Sakoda on 9/2.  There is no word on the cause of death as of this writing.  Sakoda was only 46 years old.  He had been most recently working for Disney at their Grand California Hotel.   

Originally born in Japan, Sakoda migrated to California where he was Ryan attended an All-League Linebacker for Glen A. Wilson High School.  He began training to enter pro wrestling under Billy Anderson and Jesse Hernandez and became a regular for for Rick Bassman's UPW in California, where he worked initially as Keiji Sakoda in 2000.  At the time, Sakoda teamed and/or wrestled against The Prototype (John Cena), Samoa Joe, Frankie Kazarian, Mike Knox and Donovan Morgan, among others.  He and Kazarian worked as a team on WWE Jakked, putting over Kaientai.  

Sakoda was picked up by Jimmy Hart's XWF in 2001, working their TV tapings under the ring name Vapor, where he wrestled against names like Norman Smiley, Lex Lovett and Jimmy Snuka Jr. 

Bassman's UPW opened the doors for Sakoda to wrestle for ZERO-ONE in Japan.    In ZERO-ONE, he and Samoa Joe held the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Titles.  During that run, Sakoda worked with Steve Corino, Nathan Jones, Spanky and more.

In 2003, Sakoda started to pick up more bookings as an enhancement talent for WWE in the Southwest and by the fall of that year, he was signed,

In WWE, Sakoda had a short run on the main roster on the Smackdown brand paired with Akio (James Yun aka Jimmy Yang) and Yoshihiro Taiji.  As a team, he and Akio worked with The Dudley Boyz, Rikishi & Scott 2 Hotty, Paul London & Spanky, The World's Greatest Tag Team and The FBI (Nunzio and Johnny Stamboli), among others.  Sakoda was never given any sort of consistent push as a singles star or as part of his team with Akio and was released in August 2004.  

After his time in WWE, Sakoda returned to ZERO-1, where he was a member of Team Emblem alongside Shinjiro Otani and Masato Tanaka.  He popped up in the HUSTLE promotion as Quick Cook Lee as well.

Sakoda was also part of the MTV Wrestling Society X series that aired for a single season.  In WSX, Sakoda came in and kidnapped Team Dragon Gate with the idea he had re-programmed them.   The plan had been for Sakoda to have a more active role in the second season had the series lived on with the plan being Team Dragon Gate vs. The Cartel vs. a Team of comprised of Nigel McGuinness & Fergal Devitt (WWE's Finn Balor) managed by Prince Nana and possibly Jade.

After WWE and WSX, Sakoda continued to wrestle in the California wrestling scene until September 2007.

In 2015, Sakoda filed a lawsuit alongside fellow former WWE talents Luther Reigns and Russ McCullough, alleging they were seriously injured during their time working for the company. Ryan Sakoda alleged in the suit that WWE was operated by "intimidation and abuse" and that the company disregarded his health and safety, and that of others, to a degree that left him "traumatized."

In the lawsuit, Sakoda alleged that he and others were "forced to wrestle injured or you lost your job" and that concussions were not discussed or treated.  When he suffered a concussion after being knocked out by a superkick in 2003, Sakoda claimed in the lawsuit that WWE medical staff simply told him not to go to sleep or he might die. In the suit, Sakoda alleges that in 2015 was suffering from "numerous symptoms including but not limited to headaches, severe migraines, memory loss and severe depression."

Sakoda's case was moved to the State of Connecticut and later dismissed.  Like a number of similar cases that revolved around CTE-related allegations against WWE that were all combined into one massive case.  The cases were all eventually permanently dismissed by The Supreme Court. sends our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Ryan Sakoda.

An online obituary for Sakoda can be found at this link.

If you enjoy you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more by clicking here!

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