In his first barbaric deathmatch since fighting Onita, Hayabusa teamed with Masato Tanaka and Koji Nakagawa to take on the W*Ing Team. He was severely cut open after being thrown in to a barbed wire net with glass in it. He was forced to be hospitalized, and he finally got some proper sleep thanks to the medication. At this time, the doctor announced his many injuries:
- Left knee collateral ligament damage
- Right shoulder joint sprain
- Elevated level of phosphate in blood
- Left ulner nerve palsy
- Right knee sprain
- Finger joint sprain
- Left eye iritis
- Traumatic glaucoma
They told him he needed to take at least a year out of action. Surgery immediately afterwards made it impossible for him to walk right away. While resting in bed, he read a headline saying Onita was returning to FMW. He felt like a failure, as he was unable to do what he’d promised for the fans. He felt like he needed to get back by May at least, as there was a big show. Instead, he returned less than three months later on March 30th. Still visibly injured, he got back in to the feud with the W*ING stable. In May, he went up against a team including Terry Funk in a deathmatch. Onita got in his face and told him he had to win for FMW’s honour.
He lost and it came at a price. Onita publicly berated an unmasked Ezaki backstage. Onita told him he needed to grow up and take life like a man. Ezaki had to go back to the hospital .. this time for 110 stitches, only 1 stitch away from Onita’s record of 111. He had stitches all over his body and needed another couple of months off. While resting, Jushin Liger invited him to come see what WCW and New Japan were doing; which sparked rumours he was looking to sign for New Japan. When he returned to FMW to watch some of the action, it created tension between him and one of his stablemates (Nakagawa) so much he had to leave the arena in a taxi.
He returned in August to face Nakagawa in a match, but due to his injuries the match was messy and ended with Hayabusa only just managing to get up to avoid the 10 count. Unhappy with how the match transpired, Ezaki demanded a rematch. Nakagawa won the rematch, and Ezaki earned his respect back. During a W*ING promoted event, he went up against Hido as a default heel. He was unmasked and made to bleed from the forehead. He fought back though, and showed sadistic tendencies as he bit the head of the bloodied Hido. The dark side of Hayabusa was on show.
At the end of 1996 he got back in to the swing of things as his injuries healed. Still feuding with the likes of Oya, Funk, Gladiator, and other W*ING members, he continued defending FMW. They also did some cross promotion with Michinoku Pro, so he got to work matches against the likes of Taka Michinoku and The Great Sasuke. But in November it was announced Onita was returning the next month, and it saddened Ezaki. The effect was immediately felt, as he was booked in more mid-card matches til the end of the year. On December 11th, he picked up an excellent win over The Great Sasuke, while Onita returned to the main event and reclaimed the title of Ace of FMW. It was a tough time .. but there was a lot more to come for Eiji Ezaki. The post match interview shows a dejected looking winner, and the image of him limping away is a powerful reminder of the extremes some wrestlers go to for our entertainment.