Naomichi Marufuji

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Naomichi Marufuji
Marufuji in November 2007.
Born (1979-09-26) September 26, 1979 (age 36)[1][2]
Kōnosu, Saitama, Japan[1]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Naomichi Marufuji
Billed height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)[1][2]
Billed weight 90 kg (200 lb)[1][2]
Trained by All Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo[3][4]
Mitsuharu Misawa[3]
Debut August 28, 1998[1]

Naomichi Marufuji (丸藤正道 Marufuji Naomichi?) (born September 26, 1979)[1][2] is a Japanese professional wrestler who competes for Pro Wrestling Noah, with occasional appearances in other professional wrestling promotions including New Japan Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and Ring of Honor. Marufuji is a former three-time GHC Heavyweight Champion, as well as the only man to win Junior Heavyweight Championships in all three major Japanese promotions. In 2009, he was appointed to the position of Vice President of Pro Wrestling Noah,[4] and has retained the position since, being reappointed in September 2011.[4]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Pro Wrestling Noah[edit]

Marufuji pursued amateur wrestling and basketball during his high school days before joining All Japan Pro Wrestling, and trained in Satoru Sayama's Super Tiger Gym.[5] His debut match came on August 28, 1998 against Yoshinobu Kanemaru.[1] For the first two years of his career, under Giant Baba and Mitsuharu Misawa's isolationist policy, he was a jobber; one of the few rare interpromotional matches he worked was in Michinoku Pro Wrestling in 1999, a lucha libre six-man tag match, gave him a chance to shine. After the Noah secession, he joined the upstart promotion and became an integral part of its Junior Heavyweight division, impressing many with his high-flying style and charisma. He would go on to form a successful tag team with KENTA, as well as win the 2004 Super J-Cup.[6] On March 5, 2006, Marufuji pinned former Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion and former GHC Heavyweight Champion Akira Taue.

On September 9, 2006, Naomichi defeated Jun Akiyama for the GHC Heavyweight Championship at the Budokan Hall, utilizing the Perfect Inside Cradle. In doing so, he became the first wrestler to win all five GHC titles in Noah and became the lightest GHC Heavyweight Champion of all time. A little over a month later, Marufuji's successfully defended the title against his tag team partner Kenta on October 29, 2006. The match received critical acclaim and Tokyo Sports named the match "Best Bout of 2006". On December 10, 2006, Marufuji lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship to Mitsuharu Misawa in his third defense.

On July 5, 2009, Marufuji was appointed to the position of Noah's Vice President alongside Kenta Kobashi by Noah's current President Akira Taue in the wake of Misawa's death.[4]

On July 5, 2014, Marufuji won the GHC Heavyweight Championship for the second time, defeating Yuji Nagata.[7] He lost the title to Minoru Suzuki on March 15, 2015.[8] He regained the title from Suzuki on December 23, 2015.[9] On January 31, 2016, he lost the title to Takashi Sugiura.[10]

New Japan Pro Wrestling[edit]

On June 10, 2003, Marufuji made his debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), teaming with Kotaro Suzuki to unsuccessfully challenge Jushin Thunder Liger and Koji Kanemoto for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.[11] Marufuji returned to the company on December 9, failing in his attempt to win the IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship from Hiroshi Tanahashi.[12] On May 3, 2004, Marufuji would make his final appearance for NJPW in over five years in a six-man tag team match, where he, Heat and Tiger Mask were defeated by the American Dragon, Koji Kanemoto, and Último Dragón.[13]

On December 22, 2009, Marufuji made his return to NJPW, defeating Jushin Thunder Liger in the first round of the 2009 Super J-Cup.[14] The following day he defeated Tigers Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi, and finally Prince Devitt in the finals, to win the Super J-Cup and earn a match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.[15] On January 4, 2010, Marufuji represented Noah in the New Japan vs. Noah match series at Wrestle Kingdom IV in Tokyo Dome, where he defeated Tiger Mask to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.[16] With his victory Marufuji became the first person to hold the three major Junior Heavyweight Titles in Japan (All Japan, Noah, and NJPW). On June 19 at Dominion 6.19, Marufuji lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Prince Devitt.[17]

Marufuji's next appearance for NJPW was on January 4, 2012, at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, where he and Go Shiozaki defeated CHAOS Top Team (Shinsuke Nakamura and Toru Yano) in a tag team match.[18] Marufuji returned to NJPW that August to take part in the 2012 G1 Climax tournament.[19] After a slow start, which saw Marufuji lose two of his first three matches, he bounced back by defeating reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi on August 5 and afterward made a challenge for his title.[20] After four wins and three losses, Marufuji was eliminated from the tournament on August 12, after losing to Toru Yano in his final round-robin match.[21] Following the tournament, Marufuji was named the number one contender to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.[22] On September 23 at Destruction, Marufuji unsuccessfully challenged Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.[23][24]

On September 29, 2013, Marufuji returned to New Japan, challenging Shinsuke Nakamura to a match for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.[25] Marufuji failed in his title challenge on October 14 at King of Pro-Wrestling.[26] Marufuji returned to New Japan on December 20, 2014, when he, along with fellow Noah wrestlers TMDK (Mikey Nicholls and Shane Haste), was revealed as one of Toru Yano's tag team partners at Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome on January 4, 2015.[27] At the event, the four defeated Suzuki-gun (Davey Boy Smith Jr., Lance Archer, Shelton X Benjamin and Takashi Iizuka) in an eight-man tag team match.[28]

Foreign excursion[edit]

In early and mid-2005, Marufuji toured through Germany and Austria, competing for world Xtreme wrestling and Rings of Europe. Along with Minoru Suzuki, they were the first talent-delegation which was sent over that began the Noah/European Talent Trade Partnership.

Ring of Honor[edit]

As part of his foreign excursion to the United States, along with Kenta Kobashi and Kenta, Marufuji challenged Bryan Danielson for the ROH World Championship on December 17, 2005, in Edison, New Jersey. Danielson retained his title, but the crowd gave Marufuji a loud ovation after the match.

Marufuji returned to the United States to wrestle for Ring of Honor on the main event of the "Best in the World" show on March 25, 2006 show in New York City, teaming with Kenta for the first time in the United States against the team of Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson; the team of Marufuji and Kenta won after Kenta pinned Danielson, but after Marufuji tried and failed to lift Joe.

Marufuji returned to Ring of Honor for a third tour, along with Kenta. Both started off the tour with a win, teaming up to defeat the Briscoe Brothers at Glory By Honor V: Night 1. The following night at Glory By Honor V: Night 2, he successfully defended the GHC Heavyweight Championship against Nigel McGuinness. Marufuji also appeared at Ring of Honor's first pay-per-view, Respect Is Earned, where he defeated Rocky Romero.

Marufuji was scheduled to return to ROH in May 2013 for the Border Wars 2013 pay-per-view as well as a Ring of Honor Wrestling television taping, but was forced to pull out of the events after suffering a knee injury the previous month.[29]

Return to AJPW[edit]

On September 28, 2008, ten years after his original debut in All Japan Pro Wrestling, Marufuji returned to AJPW and won the World Junior Heavyweight Championship from Ryuji Hijikata. He would go on to successfully defend the title against Shuji Kondo in a match that won the Tokyo Sports Best Bout of 2008 award and Takashi Okita before losing it to Kaz Hayashi.

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]


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External links[edit]