Tatsumi Fujinami

Tatsumi Fujinami
Fujinami in February 2020
Born (1953-12-28) December 28, 1953 (age 69)[1]
Kunisaki, Ōita, Japan
Spouse(s)Kaori Fujinami
ChildrenLeona Fujinami (son)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)
  • Tatsumi Fujinami
  • Dr. Fujinami
Billed height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Billed weight103 kg (227 lb)
Trained byKarl Gotch
Antonio Inoki[1]
Roy Wood
DebutMay 9, 1971
Japanese name
Kanji藤波 辰爾
Hiraganaふじなみ たつみ
RomanizationFujinami Tatsumi

Tatsumi Fujinami (藤波 辰巳, Fujinami Tatsumi, ring name: 藤波 ) (born December 28, 1953)[2][3] is a Japanese professional wrestler currently signed to WWE on a legend's contract. Fujinami is most well known for his long tenure with New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), where he was a six-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion. He was famously nicknamed "The Dragon", and is credited for inventing the dragon sleeper and the dragon suplex.

He is also the owner and founder of the Dradition wrestling promotion. In 2015, Fujinami was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, while also becoming an ambassador for the company. Bret Hart said of Fujinami: "I always wanted to be the great wrestler that Tatsumi Fujinami was".[4] He is a nine time World Champion, winning world titles in NJPW, NWA, UWA and WCWA.

Professional wrestling career

Japanese Wrestling Association (1971–1972)

Fujinami started in the Japanese Wrestling Association (JWA) under Antonio Inoki's wing at the age of 17. When Inoki was fired from JWA in 1971, Fujinami and a few others followed him in forming a new promotion, New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Inoki, Fujinami, Osamu Kido and Kotetsu Yamamoto are recognized as NJPW's founding fathers.

New Japan Pro-Wrestling (1972–2006)

In those early days, he served as opponent for debuting rookies, such as Mr. Pogo, Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Gran Hamada. Fujinami, Fujiwara, Hamada and three other rookies competed in the 1974 Karl Gotch Cup (a tournament for rookies, forerunner to the later Young Lions Cup).

In the late 1970s, Fujinami was sent abroad, to Mexico's Universal Wrestling Association and to Jim Crockett Promotions in the U.S. In the late 1970s he went to the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) where he first made a name for himself. He won his first title, the WWWF Junior Heavyweight Championship, on January 23, 1978, by defeating José Estrada in Madison Square Garden,[1][5] and brought it to Japan, establishing it as the premier junior heavyweight title in Japan. In 1981, he was moved to the heavyweight division to make room for Tiger Mask in the junior heavyweight division.[1] Fujinami would be the first wrestler to be successful in both the junior heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.

1988 proved to be Fujinami's banner year. On May 8, he defeated Big Van Vader by disqualification, to win the title vacated by Antonio Inoki. However, within days, the title was held up after he fought Riki Choshu to a no contest; he would win the title back a month later in the rematch. In October, he won the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship, and he ended the year by winning the WCWA World Heavyweight Championship in December.

1989 proved to be a heartbreaking year for Fujinami. In April, he vacated the title to be determined in a tournament at New Japan's first Tokyo Dome show; he would lose to eventual winner Big Van Vader in the semi-finals. In June, during a match with Vader, Fujinami suffered a severe back injury and pulled a hernia. He wouldn't wrestle at all until he returned in September 1990, changing his kanji from "辰巳" to "辰爾" (both are pronounced Tatsumi).

In December 1990, he regained the title he never lost, the IWGP Heavyweight title from Choshu. His reign was short-lived, as he lost the title to Vader a month later. Fujinami rebounded by regaining the title two months later. Within days, Fujinami made history, as he defeated Ric Flair to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, making him the very first man to hold the IWGP and NWA World titles simultaneously.

His "most remembered" match in the U.S. was when he defended his NWA World Heavyweight title against Ric Flair in a title vs. title re-match at the first ever WCW SuperBrawl I in Florida after a controversial match in Japan that March. Flair retained his WCW Championship and regained Fujinami's NWA title by a school boy pin with a handful of tights.

In 1993, Fujinami won the G1 Climax tournament, defeating Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Osamu Kido, Keiji Mutoh, and Hiroshi Hase to win the tournament. In April 1994, he defeated Shinya Hashimoto to win his fifth IWGP Heavyweight title, but lost it back to Hashimoto three weeks later. In January 1997, he reunited with Kengo Kimura to win the IWGP Tag Team titles from Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan. They would hold onto the belts for over three months before losing them to Riki Choshu and Kensuke Sasaki. In April 1998, Fujinami won his sixth and final IWGP Heavyweight title by defeating Sasaki. He would hold onto the belt for over four months, before losing the title to Chono.

Fujinami decreased his work load upon being named President of NJPW in 1999 (he was nevertheless ousted in 2004). His last title reign in NJPW was an IWGP Tag Team Championship with disciple Osamu Nishimura in October 2001, and his last title shot ever was a Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship bout against Keiji Mutoh in December of the same year (Mutoh had not affiliated himself exclusively with AJPW at the time).

In 2006, after nearly 35 years in the company, Fujinami left NJPW, after giving an ultimatum of either Riki Choshu leave or Fujinami leave. New Japan stuck with Choshu, causing Fujinami to leave. Another veteran and Fujinami's long-time tag team partner, Kengo Kimura, would follow suit.

Late career (2006–present)

In 2006, Fujinami and Nishimura began running their Muga promotion again, focusing on pure catch wrestling. In a tag team dream match, Fujinami, along with his close friend Nishimura beat Mitsuharu Misawa and Go Shiozaki in the main event of the first "Muga World" show. The name of Fujinami's new promotion was later changed to Dradition, after the departure of Nishimura.

Fujinami returned to NJPW in 2008 where he would teamed up with Riki Choshu, and Masahiro Chono in tag team matches. On June 27, 2008, he teamed with Takao Omori in the Yuke's Cup PREMIUM One Night Tag Tournament where in the first round they defeated Kohei Sato and Shiro Koshinaka, then in the second round they lost to Jushin Liger and Manabu Nakanishi.

On August 18, 2012, Fujinami won his first title in eleven years, when he took part in Budokan Peter Pan, during which he and Mikami defeated Kudo and Makoto Oishi for the KO-D Tag Team Championship.[6][7]

On March 19, 2015, it was announced that Fujinami would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2015.[8] Fujinami was inducted by Ric Flair at the ceremony, which took place on March 28 in San Jose, California.[9] On July 12, it was announced that Fujinami had signed a "Legends" deal with WWE. The contract effectively made him an ambassador for WWE, but did not restrict his Japanese bookings.[10][11]

On January 4, 2020, Fujinami was a part of Jushin Thunder Liger's team for the first of Liger's retirement matches at Wrestle Kingdom 14. On January 4, 2022, he was a part of Wrestle Kingdom 16 as a surprise entrant in the New Japan Ranbo battle royal.

On January 4, 2023, Fujinami was part of an Antonio Inoki memorial 6-man tag. He teamed with Minoru Suzuki and Tiger Mask in a losing effort against Togi Makabe , Satoshi Kojima , and Yuji Nagata. It was the last match of the Wrestle Kingdom 17 pre show.

Personal life

Fujinami is married to a woman named Kaori.[10] Fujinami's son Leona made his professional wrestling debut for Dradition on November 19, 2013.[12] He received a WWE tryout in July 2015.[11]

Video games

Fujinami appears as a gang member in the 2017 video game Yakuza Kiwami 2, alongside Riki Choshu, Masahiro Chono, Keiji Mutoh, and Genichiro Tenryu. He is a playable wrestler in WWE 2K16 as DLC and in WWE 2K17 and WWE 2K18 as unlockable content.[13]

Championships and accomplishments

Fujinami at the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Oliver, Greg (2017-04-20). "10 questions with Tatsumi Fujinami". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  2. ^ "Tatsumi Fujinami profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2014-10-12.
  3. ^ "Profile at Puroresu Central". Puroresu Central. Retrieved 2014-10-12.
  4. ^ Bret Hitman Hart – The Dungeon Collection (Documentary film). U.S.A; Canada: WWE (2013).
  5. ^ "Untitled Document". www.pwi-online.com.
  6. ^ a b "武道館ピーターパン~DDTの15周年、ドーンと見せます超豪華4時間SP~". Dramatic Dream Team (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
  7. ^ 藤波が11年ぶり戴冠!武道館で躍動. Sports Navi (in Japanese). Yahoo!. 2012-08-19. Archived from the original on 2012-08-23. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  8. ^ Caldwell, James (2015-03-19). "WWE HOF news: Japanese legend official for 2015 Hall of Fame (w/Video Announcement & Bruce Mitchell cameo)". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2015-03-20.
  9. ^ a b Caldwell, James (2015-03-28). "WWE Hall of Fame report 3/28: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of 2015 Ceremony - Randy Savage inducted, Nash, Zbyszko, Schwarzenegger, Flair, Michaels, more". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2015-03-28.
  10. ^ a b "藤波がWWEと日本人初レジェンド契約". Daily Sports Online (in Japanese). Kobe Shimbun. 2015-07-13. Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  11. ^ a b "藤波がWWEとレジェンド契約". Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). 2015-07-13. Retrieved 2015-07-13.
  12. ^ "船木に決めたドラスクは父の真似ではなく蛇の穴直伝の技!藤波玲於奈改めLeonaがデビュー!憧れの藤波に金本が一騎打ちを直訴!". Battle News (in Japanese). 2013-11-19. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
  13. ^ "『龍が如く 極2』武藤敬司・蝶野正洋・長州力・天龍源一郎・藤波辰爾 VS 桐生一馬・真島吾朗が実現!?【TGS2017】". Famitsu (in Japanese). September 21, 2017. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  14. ^ "Induction Weekend 2022 | Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame".
  15. ^ Hoops, Brian (January 18, 2019). "Pro wrestling history (01/18): Ivan Koloff defeats Bruno Sammartino for WWWF title". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  16. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "(Dallas) Texas: WCWA World Heavyweight Title [Von Eric]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 266. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  17. ^ "WCWA World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  18. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Japan: New Japan G-1 (Grade-1) Climax Tournament Champions". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 375. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  19. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Japan: New Japan G-1 (Grade-1) Climax Tag Tournament Champions". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 374. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  20. ^ "HEAT UP Universal Tag Team Championship". Cagematch.net (in German). Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  21. ^ a b c d e 東京スポーツ プロレス大賞. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  22. ^ a b c 東京スポーツ プロレス大賞. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  23. ^ WWE Hall of Fame 2015, every inductee!, retrieved 2020-01-27[dead YouTube link]

External links

Preceded by MSG Tag League winner
With: Antonio Inoki
Succeeded by
Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura (IWGP Tag Title League)
Preceded by
Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami (MSG Tag League)
IWGP Tag Title League winner
With: Kengo Kimura
Succeeded by
Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Japan Cup Tag League)
Preceded by Japan Cup Tag League winner
With: Kengo Kimura
Succeeded by
Tatsumi Fujinami & Big Van Vader (Super Grade Tag League)
Preceded by
Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura (Japan Cup Tag League)
Super Grade Tag League winner
With: Big Van Vader
Succeeded by
Preceded by G1 Climax winner
Succeeded by
Title last held by
Antonio Inoki
2nd IWGP Heavyweight Champion
May 8, 1988 – May 27, 1988
Title held up after defense against Riki Choshu ended in a no contest.
Title next held by
Tatsumi Fujinami
Title last held by
Tatsumi Fujinami
3rd IWGP Heavyweight Champion
June 24, 1988 – April 5, 1989
Vacated so the title could be decided in a tournament.
Title next held by
Big Van Vader
Preceded by 9th IWGP Heavyweight Champion
December 26, 1990 – January 17, 1991
Succeeded by
Preceded by 11th IWGP Heavyweight Champion
March 4, 1991 – January 4, 1992
Succeeded by
Preceded by 14th IWGP Heavyweight Champion
September 20, 1993 – April 4, 1994
Succeeded by
Preceded by 22nd IWGP Heavyweight Champion
April 4, 1998 – August 8, 1998
Succeeded by