Big In Japan: Joe Doering Wins Triple Crown Following Brain Surgery

Photo: AJPW

On October 21, 2017, Joe Doering captured his 2nd All-Japan Triple Crown – the top singles title in one of Japan’s oldest promotions – at AJPW Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori 25th Anniversary Show in Yokohama, Japan. A quick scan of Doering’s pedigree from a decade of competition with All-Japan makes that seem like something he’d be used to. After all, he’s held the belt before and he’s a 4x AJPW World Tag Team Champion, including one run with the legendary Keiji Mutoh (aka The Great Muta). But this victory caps off an amazing comeback year, as Doering returned to the company in January after over a year off recovering from surgery from a brain tumor that nearly took his life.

Big In Japan: Joe Doering Wins Triple Crown Following Brain Surgery

From Wisconsin, Joe Doering got his big start in Windsor, Ontario, Canada in 2004. Trained by famed wrestling trainer Scott D’Amore (who’s now the Vice President of International Relations for Impact Wrestling as well as Creative), he started out in Border City Wrestling and then, following a stint in Puerto Rico with WWC in 2006, headed to All-Japan in 2007, where he’s become one of the promotion’s top gaijin wrestlers of the 2000s. He had a brief stint with the WWE’s developmental at Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), facing future WWE Superstars like Bray Wyatt, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel and teaming briefly with Fandango (then Johnny Curtis), but after 10 months he was back in Japan.

Photo: AJPW

On July 27, 2014, Doering finally achieved a lifelong dream of winning one of the world’s most prestigious championships, when he defeated Suwama for the All-Japan Triple Crown championship in Tokyo, Japan, becoming just the 6th foreigner to capture All-Japan’s top title since the company was formed in 1972. He held the title for 160 days, before losing it to Go Shiozaki in early 2015.

But just as Doering was preparing his battles to reclaim his title, he was hit with devastating news. On February 25, 2016, he was diagnosed with a tumor stemming from brain cancer. He was rushed into the hospital and on March 4, it was removed via surgery. What followed next was rounds of chemotherapy and recovery that kept Doering away from the industry that he loved so much. Wrestlers, promoters and fans around the world began to show their love and support for Doering, with fundraisers set up at shows and online to help Doering cover the mounting hospital costs to treat his condition. Thankfully, the treatments and support were a success and Doering returned to action with All-Japan at the beginning of the year, culminating in the greatest way possible and returning to the top of the company he’d been a part of for the past decade. It was announced his first title defence will occur November 9, 2017 at Korakuen Hall against former WWE Superstar and NJPW favorite Yoshi Tatsu.


Scott D’Amore recently spoke to us about his overwhelming joy at his former pupil’s return to the ring and his good friend’s return to good health. “What an amazing feel good story for Joe to overcome cancer – and the long road of recovery – to reach the mountaintop of our sport,” D’Amore told us. “This is about so much more than winning a match or a belt. It’s about championing the human spirit. Joe is an inspiration to anybody who feels like they are in a bad spot and don’t see a path back to success and happiness.”

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Jamie Greer is the Managing Editor and lead writer for Last Word on Pro Wrestling. A lifelong wrestling fan who started with the WWF in the early 80's, he now follows everything from the smallest indie to WWE. He's also written for WrestleZone, The Windsor Star, Windsor Independent and other publications. He lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and son.