December 28, 1953 |
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Tatsumi Fujinami
|Billed height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Billed weight||103 kg (227 lb)|
|Trained by||Karl Gotch
|Debut||May 9, 1971|
Tatsumi Fujinami (藤波 辰爾 Fujinami Tatsumi?) (born Tatsumi Fujinami (藤波 辰巳 Fujinami Tatsumi?)) is a Japanese professional wrestler who is famous for his gimmick as "The Dragon." He is credited for inventing the dragon sleeper and the dragon suplex. He is also the owner and founder of the Dradition wrestling promotion.
Japanese Wrestling Association (1971-1972)
Fujinami started in the old Japanese Wrestling Association 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 WWWF where he first made a name for himself. He won the WWWF Junior Heavyweight Championship on January 23, 1978. and brought it back to Japan, establishing it as the premier junior heavyweight title in Japan. In October 1981, he graduated to the heavyweight division. 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 Chōshū 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 Chōshū. 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 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 recent years Fujinami has 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 Chōshū leave or Fujinami leave. New Japan stuck with Chōshū, causing Fujinami to leave. Another veteran and Fujinami's long-time tag team partner, Kengo Kimura, would follow suit.
Muga / Dradition (2004-present)
Recently he and Nishimura began running their Muga promotion again, focusing on pure catch wrestling which seems to have been relegated by NJPW. 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 has since been changed to Dradition, after the departure of Nishimura.
On August 18, 2012, Fujinami won his first title in eleven years, when he took part in Dramatic Dream Team's 15th anniversary event in Nippon Budokan, during which he and Mikami defeated Kudo and Makoto Oishi for the KO-D Tag Team Championship.
Fujinami's son Leona made his professional wrestling debut for Dradition on November 19, 2013.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- "Honoo no Hiryū"
- "The Dragon"
- Entrance themes
- "Dragon Suplex" (1978–1985, 1987–1988, 1998–present)
- "Macho Dragon (Instrumental)" (1985–1987)
- "Rising" (1988–1989)
- "Rising - Epilogue" (1990–present)
- "Super Dragon" (1997–1998)
Championships and accomplishments
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship (6 times)
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Kengo Kimura (4) and Osamu Nishimura (1)
- NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WCWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWF International Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWF International Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Kengo Kimura
- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- G1 Climax (1993)
- Super Grade Tag League (1991) – with Big Van Vader
- Karl Gotch Cup (1974)
GJP Heavyweight Champions (he immediately award the title back to 吉田充宏)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #31 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Tokyo Sports
- Best Bout Award (1983) vs. Riki Chōshū on April 3
- Best Bout Award (1986) vs. Akira Maeda on June 12
- Best Tag Team (1981) with Antonio Inoki
- Distinguished Service Award (1978)
- Fighting Spirit Award (1984)
- MVP Award (1985)
- Outstanding Performance Award (1980, 1982, 1987, 1988)
- Rookie of the Year (1974)
- Technique Award (1979)
- World Wide Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Federation
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Untitled Document
- "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). Retrieved 2012-08-18.
- "藤波が11年ぶり戴冠！武道館で躍動". Sports Navi (in Japanese). Yahoo!. 2012-08-19. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
- "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.
- 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.
- 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.
- "東京スポーツ プロレス大賞". Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "東京スポーツ プロレス大賞". Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-01-20.