Hiroshi Tanahashi

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Hiroshi Tanahashi
Hiroshi Tanahashi at BCW East Meets West.jpg
Tanahashi in May 2014.
Birth name Hiroshi Tanahashi
Ring name(s) Hiroshi Tanahashi
Masked Devilock[1]
Tanahashi[2]
Billed height 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)[3]
Billed weight 103 kg (227 lb)[3]
Born (1976-11-13) November 13, 1976 (age 37)[3][1]
Ogaki, Gifu[3][1]
Trained by NJPW[1]
Keiji Mutoh[4]
Kensuke Sasaki[4]
Tatsumi Fujinami[4]
Debut October 10, 1999[3][1]

Hiroshi Tanahashi (棚橋 弘至 Tanahashi Hiroshi?, born November 13, 1976)[3][1] is a Japanese professional wrestler who works primarily for New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he is a former six-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, one-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion and two-time IWGP Tag Team Champion. Tanahashi shares the record for most reigns as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion with Tatsumi Fujinami, while his fifth reign holds the record for most successful defenses, with eleven.

Early life[edit]

Before entering the world of professional wrestling, Hiroshi Tanahashi was a baseball player in high school.[1] He started wrestling while attending Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto and was fairly successful. During this time he was noticed by New Japan Pro Wrestling talent scouts and was invited to try out for the New Japan Dojo.[1] His tryout was successful and he was accepted as a trainee.[1]

Career[edit]

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1999–present)[edit]

After graduating from the New Japan Dojo, Tanahashi made his debut in October, 1999 in a match against Shinya Makabe.[1] He became viewed as a big prospect and was given big wins over lucha libre legend Negro Casas in July, 2000 and American Scott Hall in September 2001.[1] His star continued to rise and in the 2002 G1 Climax (one of New Japan Pro Wrestling's most important annual tournaments) Tanahashi pinned Kensuke Sasaki in under two minutes.[1] After this Tanahashi was paired with Kenzo Suzuki in a tag team named the Kings of the Hills.[1] This pairing was popular but came to an end after a real life incident. In November, 2002 Tanahashi was stabbed in the back by Hitomi Hara (a TV Asahi news reporter he had dated for a brief amount of time).[1] Tanahashi was hospitalized, but would recover. Ironically this incident may have been the best thing to happen to his career. The stabbing was widely reported across Japan and a strong interest to see Tanahashi return was created.[1] On February 16, 2003 Tanahashi returned as a singles wrestler to a sold out crowd in Tokyo in a match against Manabu Nakanishi.[1]

His career began to rapidly climb from this point. In the later half of 2003 Tanahashi captured the IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship and the IWGP Tag Team Championship, the latter on two separate occasions. In August 2004 he made it to the finals of the G1 Climax and on January 4, 2005 he headlined the Toukon Festival: Wrestling World 2005 show in Tokyo Dome in a match, where he dropped the U-30 Openweight Championship to Shinsuke Nakamura.[1] In 2005, Tanahashi also made an appearance in the 15th SASUKE competition on July 20.[1] He was eliminated in the first round. On June 18 Tanahashi defeated Toru Yano in a tournament final to regain the U-30 Openweight Championship.[1] He would go on to defeat Masahiro Chono by Sling Blade in the first round of the New Japan Cup (determining a No. 1 contender against IWGP Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar) on April 16, 2006 in Korakuen Hall, and Hiroyoshi Tenzan by Dragon suplex hold in the second round on April 25 in Omuta Citizen Gymnasium before falling to Yuji Nagata's wrist-clutch Exploder in the semifinal on April 29 in the Tottori Industrial Gymnasium.[1] Tanahashi also defeated Tiger Mask on May 13, 2006 in the first ever main event of the new WRESTLE LAND brand (a promotional experiment by New Japan with "sports entertainment"), debuting a modified side buster finish.

On June 7, 2006, Tanahashi vacated the U-30 Openweight Championship in order to fully focus on his upcoming match against Brock Lesnar for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.[1] When Lesnar failed to show up for the match, he was stripped of the title and Tanahashi was placed in a tournament for the vacant title.[1] On July 17, 2006, Tanahashi won his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship when he defeated Giant Bernard in the finals of the tournament for the vacant title.[1] He showed the belt on his second appearance on SASUKE, during the 17th competition, where he was again eliminated in the first round. After holding the belt for almost 9 months (270 days), and defending the title against the likes of Taiyō Kea, Shinsuke Nakamura and others, Tanahashi lost the title to Yuji Nagata, who had won the 2007 New Japan Cup to become the #1 contender.[1] Tanahashi managed to come back from this by winning the 2007 G1 Climax, where he defeated Nagata in the finals, and successfully challenged his rival to a rematch on October 8, 2007 where he pinned Nagata to regain the title.[1] On January 4, 2008 Tanahashi was defeated at New Japan's annual Tokyo Dome show, titled Wrestle Kingdom II in Tokyo Dome, by Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Heavyweight title in the night's main event.[1] In February's New Japan ISM Tour, Tanahashi successfully defeated A.J. Styles in a highly anticipated rematch of their 2006 bout in TNA.[1] Following this, Hiroshi Tanahashi was entered into the coveted New Japan Cup tournament in which the winner would face off against the then-IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Shinsuke Nakamura, as the number one contender. With a win over Giant Bernard, Tanahashi became the first two-time winner of the New Japan Cup.[1] Mid-February, he was embroiled in a contract dispute with New Japan. While negotiations were ongoing Tanahashi took advantage of his free agent status to compete in All Japan Pro Wrestling's Champion Carnival. He came in as a heel and was given the "Block from Hell" as he had to face nearly all of All Japan's top talent including Taiyō Kea, Satoshi Kojima, Toshiaki Kawada, and his mentor Keiji Mutoh. He went undefeated and advanced to the finals where he was finally subdued by Suwama.[1]

On January 4, at Wrestle Kingdom III in Tokyo Dome, Tanahashi defeated his mentor Keiji Mutoh to become the 50th IWGP Heavyweight Champion, beginning his third reign.[1] Following his victory, when asked who he would like his next challenger to be, Tanahashi called out generation rival Shinsuke Nakamura, who accepted. At New Japan's ISM tour on February 15, Tanahashi defeated Nakamura with the High Fly Flow in his first title defense.[1] After the match he declared himself "the ace of the universe" and was challenged by Kurt Angle. Tanahashi defeated Angle April 5 at New Japan's "Resolution 09" with two High Fly Flows.[1] His next opponent was Hirooki Goto, whom he defeated on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2009 with a High Fly Flow.[1] Just days later, Tanahashi was defeated by Manabu Nakanishi on May 6 at "Dissidence 2009".[1] He regained the Title from Nakanishi on June 20 at Dominion 6.20 for his fourth reign.[1] He successfully defended the title against Pro Wrestling Noah's Takashi Sugiura on July 20, the first ever NJPW vs. NOAH match for the IWGP Heavyweight title. During a post-match interview, Tanahashi was interrupted by TAJIRI, who then sprayed Tanahashi with Green Mist.[5] Tanahashi would vacate the IWGP Heavyweight title on August 17, due to an eye fracture injury he suffered in a match with Shinsuke Nakamura, in the semi-finals of the 2009 G1 Climax Tournament.[1] On November 8 at Destruction '09 Tanahashi returned to challenge for the belt he was forced to vacate, but came up short against the reigning champion Nakamura.[1] On December 5 Tanahashi would avenge the loss he suffered during the G1 Climax Tournament and end his feud with TAJIRI by pinning him in a singles match with the High Fly Flow.[6] Afterwards Tanahashi made a challenge to Pro Wrestling Noah and on January 4, 2010, at Wrestle Kingdom IV in Tokyo Dome he defeated Noah's Go Shiozaki in a match that was billed as "Ace vs. Ace".[7] Since then, Tanahashi would begin a feud with Toru Yano, starting with Yano upsetting Tanahashi in a tag team match on January 30, where he teamed with Manabu Nakanishi and Yano with Shinsuke Nakamura.[8] On February 14 Tanahashi avenged his loss in a singles match with Yano, but was jumped after the match by Masato Tanaka, after which Yano proceeded to cut off some of his hair.[9] After Yano defeated Tanahashi in a singles match at Wrestling Dontaku 2010, New Japan booked the two men in a Hair vs. Hair match for June 19.[10][11] On June 19 Tanahashi defeated Yano and was afterwards assisted by former rival TAJIRI and KUSHIDA in taking care of Yano's ally Takashi Iizuka and shave his opponent's hair.[12] In August Tanahashi entered the 2010 G1 Climax tournament and made it all the way to the finals, after four wins and a draw in the round robin stage of the tournament.[13] However, in the finals Tanahashi was defeated by freelancer Satoshi Kojima.[13] In October and November 2010, Tanahashi teamed with TAJIRI in New Japan's 2010 G1 Tag League. After a strong start in the tournament, Tanahashi and TAJIRI were defeated by the IWGP Tag Team Champions Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson) on November 6, the last day of group stages, and slipped to third place in their block, narrowly missing the semifinals of the tournament.[14]

After scoring back–to–back pinfall victories over top contender Hirooki Goto and Tetsuya Naito on December 11 and 12, Tanahashi was granted a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Satoshi Kojima on January 4, 2011, at Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome.[15][16] At the event Tanahashi defeated Kojima to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the fifth time.[17][18] On February 20 at The New Beginning, Tanahashi made his first successful defense of the title, defeating Kojima in a rematch.[19] Tanahashi went on to successfully defended the title against New Japan Cup winner Yuji Nagata on April 3 and Shinsuke Nakamura on May 3.[20][21] In May 2011, Tanahashi took part in the Invasion Tour 2011, New Japan's first ever tour of the United States, during which he successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Charlie Haas on May 14 in New York City.[22] After another title defense on June 18 against rival Hirooki Goto, Tanahashi was challenged by IWGP Tag Team Champion Giant Bernard. However, Tanahashi answered this with a challenge of his own, suggesting a match for the IWGP Tag Team Championship between Bad Intentions and himself and Goto.[23] On July 3 Tanahashi and Goto failed in their attempt to capture the IWGP Tag Team Championship from Bad Intentions.[24] On July 18 Tanahashi made his sixth successful defense of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Giant Bernard.[25] In the following month's 2011 G1 Climax, Tanahashi led his block for the majority of the tournament, but an upset loss on the final day of the tournament against Tetsuya Naito, caused him to narrowly miss advancing to the finals.[26] On September 19, Tanahashi made his seventh successful IWGP Heavyweight Championship defense against G1 Climax winner Shinsuke Nakamura, despite losing a tooth during the match.[27] On October 10, Tanahashi avenged his loss from the final day of the 2011 G1 Climax by defeating Tetsuya Naito to make his eighth successful IWGP Heavyweight Championship defense. With Tanahashi now edging closer to Yuji Nagata's record of ten successful defenses, Nagata came out after the match to challenge him for the title. However, after Tanahashi had accepted the challenge, he was attacked by Toru Yano, who proceeded to steal his championship belt.[28] In the 2011 G1 Tag League, Tanahashi teamed with Hirooki Goto as "The Billion Powers".[29] After picking up two wins and two losses in their first four matches in the group stage of the tournament, Tanahashi and Goto defeated the Beast Combination (Satoshi Kojima and Togi Makabe) on November 4 to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.[30] On November 6, Tanahashi and Goto were eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by Bad Intentions.[31] On November 12 at Power Struggle, Tanahashi regained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt from Toru Yano by successfully defending the title against him, after which he was again challenged by Yuji Nagata.[32] On December 4, Tanahashi defeated Nagata to make his tenth successful IWGP Heavyweight Championship defense, tying Nagata's record in the process.[33] On January 4, 2012, at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, Tanahashi broke the record by successfully defending the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Minoru Suzuki.[34] On February 12 at The New Beginning, Tanahashi lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Kazuchika Okada, ending his reign at 404 days.[35] On June 16 at Dominion 6.16, Tanahashi defeated Okada in a rematch to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the sixth time, tying Tatsumi Fujinami's record for most reigns with the title.[36] Tanahashi made his first title defense on July 1, defeating Togi Makabe at an event co-promoted by New Japan and All Japan.[37] All reigns combined, this was Tanahashi's twenty-first successful defense of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, which was another New Japan record.[38] Tanahashi made his second successful title defense on July 22 against Masato Tanaka.[39] The following month, Tanahashi took part in the 2012 G1 Climax tournament, where he won five out of his first seven matches, but a loss to Karl Anderson on the final day of the tournament caused him to narrowly miss advancing to the finals.[40] On September 23 at Destruction, Tanahashi successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Pro Wrestling Noah's Naomichi Marufuji, avenging a loss suffered during the 2012 G1 Climax.[41][42] On October 8 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Tanahashi defeated Minoru Suzuki for the fourth successful defense of his sixth IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign.[43][44] The match received rave reviews,[45] including a five star rating from Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer.[46] On November 11 at Power Struggle, Tanahashi made his fifth successful title defense against Yujiro Takahashi.[47][48] Later in the month, Tanahashi took part in the 2012 World Tag League, teaming with Captain New Japan under the team name "Captain Ace".[49] The team lost all six of their matches with Captain New Japan being pinned in each match.[50] On January 4, 2013, at Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome, Tanahashi made his sixth successful defense of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against the previous year's G1 Climax winner, Kazuchika Okada.[51][52] At the following pay-per-view, The New Beginning on February 10, Tanahashi made another successful title defense against Karl Anderson, avenging his loss from the 2012 G1 Climax.[53] On March 3 at New Japan's 41st anniversary event, Tanahashi defeated IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Prince Devitt in a special non-title main event.[54] On April 7 at Invasion Attack, Tanahashi lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship back to Kazuchika Okada.[55][56] On June 22, Tanahashi attempted to earn another shot at the title, but was defeated in a number one contender's match by Prince Devitt, following interference from Devitt's new Bullet Club stable.[57] On July 5, Tanahashi teamed with Jushin Liger to defeat Bullet Club member Tama Tonga and El Terrible for the CMLL World Tag Team Championship.[58] From August 1 to 11, Tanahashi took part in the 2013 G1 Climax,[59] where he opened by losing three of his first four matches.[60] He, however, bounced back to wrestle IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada to a time limit draw and winning his other four matches to win his block and advance to the finals of the tournament.[61] In the finals on August 11, Tanahashi was defeated by Tetsuya Naito.[61][62] After returning from a tour of CMLL, Tanahashi and Liger lost the CMLL World Tag Team Championship on September 14 to Bullet Club members Rey Bucanero and Tama Tonga, following outside interference from the rest of the group.[63] Tanahashi's rivalry with Bullet Club leader Prince Devitt built to a Lumberjack Deathmatch on September 29 at Destruction, where Tanahashi was victorious. With the Devitt rivalry behind him, Tanahashi once again set his sights on the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, challenging Kazuchika Okada at the end of the event.[64] Tanahashi failed in his title challenge on October 14 at King of Pro-Wrestling.[65] In a post-match interview, Tanahashi bid farewell to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship as he had proclaimed that he would not challenge for the title again, should he lose to Okada.[66] Tanahashi then entered the IWGP Intercontinental Championship picture, after being nominated as the next challenger by champion Shinsuke Nakamura, setting up the first title match between the two longtime rivals in over two years.[67] In November, Captain Ace reunited for the 2013 World Tag League. Much like the previous year, the team lost their first five matches, but on the final day they finally picked up a win over Bad Luck Fale and Prince Devitt, costing the Bullet Club team a spot in the semifinals.[68][69] On January 4, 2014, Tanahashi defeated Nakamura in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship for the first time.[70][71] A rematch between the two took place on February 9 at The New Beginning in Hiroshima and saw Tanahashi make his first successful title defense.[72][73] After Nakamura had won the 2014 New Japan Cup, another title match was booked between him and Tanahashi for the April 6 Invasion Attack 2014 event, where Tanahashi was defeated in his second title defense.[74][75] Afterwards, Tanahashi formed a tag team named "Ace to King" (Japanese for "Ace and King") with Togi Makabe to after the IWGP Tag Team Championship.[76] In May, Tanahashi took part in NJPW's North American tour, defeating Ring of Honor's Michael Bennett in an interpromotional match at War of the Worlds on May 17.[77] On May 25 at Back to the Yokohama Arena, Tanahashi and Makabe defeated Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata to earn a shot at the IWGP Tag Team Championship.[78][79] Tanahashi and Makabe received their title shot on June 21 at Dominion 6.21, but were defeated by Bullet Club's Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson.[80][81]

Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (2005, 2010–2013)[edit]

Tanahashi wearing the CMLL Universal Championship belt in September 2013.

Tanahashi made his North American debut in September 2005 when he and Nakamura went to Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre in Mexico. There, they feuded with Los Guerreros del Infierno and successfully defended their IWGP Tag Team Championship against Rey Bucanero and Olímpico. Tanahasi returned to Mexico and CMLL in May 2010 to join La Ola Amarilla (Spanish for "the Yellow Wave") with fellow Japanese wrestlers Okumura, and Taichi. On May 7, 2010 La Ola Amarilla defeated El Hijo del Fantasma, La Máscara and Héctor Garza to win the CMLL World Trios Championship in the main event of the weekly Friday night Super Viernes show.[82] Ola Amarilla's reign as Trios champions only lasted two weeks as they were defeated by La Máscara, La Sombra and Máscara Dorada on May 21, 2010.[83] Following the show Tanahashi returned to Japan for the next tour of NJPW, but intended to return to CMLL between tours of NJPW.[84] In August 2011, Tanahashi returned to CMLL and, as the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion, was allowed to enter the promotion's annual tournament of champions to crown the Universal Champion.[85] Tanahashi entered the tournament on September 9; after eliminating CMLL World Welterweight Champion Máscara Dorada in his first round match, Tanahashi himself was eliminated from the tournament in the second round by CMLL World Tag Team Champion Último Guerrero.[86] Tanahashi returned to CMLL on August 24, 2012, again taking part in the Universal Championship tournament, winning his block to advance to the finals.[87][88] On August 31, Tanahashi was defeated in the finals of the tournament by CMLL World Heavyweight Champion El Terrible.[89] Tanahashi finished his CMLL tour on September 7, when he teamed with Namajague, Okumura and Taichi in a Japan vs. Mexico torneo cibernetico, where they faced Black Warrior, La Máscara, Negro Casas and Valiente. In the end, Tanahashi pinned La Máscara, following interference from Taichi, to win the match for the Japanese.[90][91] Tanahashi returned to CMLL a year later on August 23, 2013, when he teamed with Namajague and Puma in a six-man tag team match, where they were defeated by Marco Corleone, Máximo and Shocker.[92][93] Tanahashi worked the tour as rudo, opposing Atlantis.[94] On August 30, Tanahashi entered the 2013 Universal Championship tournament, where he won his block by defeating La Sombra in the finals, with help from Volador Jr., to advance to his second Universal Championship final in a row.[95] On September 6, Tanahashi defeated Rush to win the tournament and become the 2013 Universal Champion.[96][97]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2006, 2008)[edit]

He debuted in the United States with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling on January 14, 2006, at Final Resolution. He was defeated by A.J. Styles.[98] He was also featured in a match against Roderick Strong that was taped for TNA Xplosion a few days later.[99]

Tanahashi returned to TNA in 2008 for an excursion. On the October 30 episode of TNA Impact! losing in a tag team match with Volador, Jr. against The Motor City Machine Guns. After the match they were berated by Sheik Abdul Bashir.[100] On the November 6 episode of Impact! Tanahashi teamed with Volador again in a 4-way Ladder Match for number 1 contendership for Beer Money's TNA World Tag Team Championship against Team 3D, Matt Morgan and Abyss and The Latin American Xchange, which Matt Morgan and Abyss won.[101] At Turning Point, Tanahashi participated in a 10-man X Division seeding match where he came fourth.[102] Following the announcement of his IWGP Heavyweight title match against Mutoh, Tanahashi cancelled the rest of his TNA dates to return to New Japan Pro Wrestling full-time.[1]

In wrestling[edit]

Tanahashi performing a cloverleaf on Tomohiro Ishii.

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Tanahashi wearing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt during his sixth reign as the champion.
Tanahashi celebrating with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt after victory.
  • PWI ranked him #3 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2013[122]

Lucha de Apuesta record[edit]

Wager Winner Loser Location Date Notes
Mask Hiroshi Tanahashi Makai #2 Osaka, Japan August 28, 2003 Hair vs. Mask match[135]
Hair Hiroshi Tanahashi Toru Yano Osaka, Japan June 19, 2010 [12]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]