Month long speculation of a major shake up in Japan came to full fruition today as word officially came out that All Japan Pro Wrestling President Mitsuharu Misawa resigned from the company.

The former five-time Triple Crown champion had been at odds with owner Motoko Baba ever since the passing of her husband Giant Baba last year over the direction of the company. Misawa claims he felt handcuffed by Motoko ever since Baba’s death, stifling his creative control of the company and booking decisions. Misawa was also upset over money and resented the fact that she would not relinquish part of her 85% controlling interest in the company.

Misawa is scheduled to hold a press conference on Friday where he is expected to announce the formation of his own wrestling promotion. A television deal to air his new promotion with NTV is also said to be in the works which could leave All Japan without a network to carry their TV program.

Also leaving the company were Triple Crown champion Kenta Kobashi, Jun Akiyama, Mitsuo & Yoshihiro Momota and Akira Taue, all wrestlers with the company who occupied seats on the promotion’s board of directors. Also leaving was Ken-ich Ohyagi of NTV, a representative from All Japan’s TV outlet.

Misawa handed in his formal resignation on May 28th at a board of directors meeting at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall. Both Misawa and the promotion agreed to remain silent about the resignation until the completion of All Japan’s current tour.

Misawa had been rumoured for months to have considered making this move. He was to have resigned last month but decided to put it off temporarily in the wake of the death of Jumbo Tsuruta.

Considered by many to be the best wrestler in the world, Misawa’s departure leaves All Japan in critical condition. With their top wrestler gone, their roster depleted (including their World Heavyweight champion) and their TV deal in jeopardy, All Japan may be on in it’s last legs.

Remaining with the company is top star Toshiaki Kawada, who becomes the new President, Masa Fuchi and the entire front office of All Japan. The status of All Japan’s foreign contingent is unknown. All Japan’s next tour runs from July 1 to July 23 and Motoko Baba has offered the foreign talent an opportunity to stay.

Motoko Baba is expected to hold a press conference by the end of the week.