Tetsuya Naito

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Tetsuya Naito
TETSUYA NAITŌ.jpg
Naito in February 2012
Born (1982-06-22) June 22, 1982 (age 33)[1]
Adachi, Tokyo[1]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Tetsuya Naito
Naito
Billed height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)[1]
Billed weight 102 kg (225 lb)[1]
Trained by Animal Hamaguchi[1]
Takada Dojo[1]
New Japan Pro Wrestling[1]
Debut May 27, 2006[1]

Tetsuya Naito (内藤 哲也 Naitō Tetsuya?, born June 22, 1982) is a Japanese professional wrestler trained by and currently performing for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), where he is a former NEVER Openweight Champion and an IWGP Tag Team and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion with former partner Yujiro Takahashi, with whom he teamed as No Limit. He is also a one-time winner of New Japan's premier singles tournament, the G1 Climax, having won it in 2013.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Tetsuya Naito began training for a professional wrestling career in 2000, initially training under Animal Hamaguchi.[1] In 2004 he won the "Takeda Dojo Submission" tournament, which landed him a contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) to train in their dojo.[1]

New Japan Pro Wrestling (2005–2009)[edit]

On November 3, 2005, Naito passed a public audition held by NJPW in Korakuen Hall, graduating from the dojo and earning a spot on the promotion's roster.[1] After half a year of further training, Naito wrestled his debut match on May 27, 2006, losing to Takashi Uwano.[1] He picked up his first win on October 29 over Mitsuhide Hirasawa.[1] In 2007 Naito participated in the 2007 Best of the Super Juniors tournament, replacing a wrestler who was unable to compete due to injuries.[1] Naito finished last in Block B, earning four points by defeating Gedo and El Samurai, losing the other four matches in his block.

In February, 2008 Naito formed a tag team with fellow rookie Yujiro Takahashi called "No Limit". In March, the two went to fifteen-minute time limit draws with former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship teams such as Koji Kanemoto and Wataru Inoue, and Minoru and Prince Devitt, and Yujiro pinned veteran Super Strong Machine in a trios match.[2] All of this led to a junior tag title challenge for the duo, facing Machine's Legend stablemates Jushin Thunder Liger and AKIRA, in which NO LIMIT came up short when AKIRA pinned Naito. Yujiro would then participate in the ongoing feud between New Japan and Pro Wrestling Zero1, teaming with Koji Kanemoto and Manabu Nakanishi in two separate tag team matches, losing to ZERO1's Masato Tanaka and Tatsuhito Takaiwa in the former, and defeating Takao Omori and Osamu Namiguchi in the latter.[3]

In May 2008, Yujiro and Naito underwent a five-match series with some of New Japan's top tag teams, dubbed "NO LIMIT GENERATION SMASH", held in the various Zepp clubs across Japan. The teams included Jado and Gedo, Togi Makabe and Toru Yano, Wataru Inoue and Koji Kanemoto, Shinsuke Nakamura and Hirooki Goto, and Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi. NO LIMIT lost all five matches.[4] A special sixth match in the series took place in ZERO1 on May 29, 2008, Yujiro and Naito defeated ZERO1's Osamu Namiguchi and Shito Ueda.[5] In June 2008, Yujiro entered the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, going winless in his first four matches before defeating Minoru in his final bout to finish with two points.[6] The following month, both Naito and Yujiro participated in a single-elimination tournament to decide the new holder of the recently vacated IWGP Junior Heavyweight title. Naito lost to Yujiro in the first round of the tournament.[7] On October 13, 2008, at Destruction '08 Yujiro and Naito defeated Devitt and Minoru to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. On January 4, 2009, at Wrestle Kingdom III in Tokyo Dome The Motor City Machine Guns of Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin defeated them to win the tag team title.[8]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2009)[edit]

Shortly after losing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Yujiro and Naito traveled to North America for a "developmental tour", something often done with young Japanese wrestlers to expose them to other styles of wrestling and help them develop into better wrestlers. No Limit worked mainly for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), while also making an appearance for both Team 3D's wrestling academy and Jersey All Pro Wrestling, although Naito wasn't able to wrestle in JAPW due to an injury and was replaced by the team's TNA ally Sheik Abdul Bashir.[9] Yujiro and Naito worked for TNA approximately two months, receiving another unsuccessful shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.[10] No Limit's final appearance for TNA was a handicap match on the May 14, 2009, edition of Impact! against Kevin Nash, which the team lost.[11]

Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (2009–2010)[edit]

No Limit made their debut for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) in Mexico City, Mexico on May 29, 2009 teaming with Dos Caras, Jr. to defeat Héctor Garza, La Sombra and Volador, Jr.. No Limit were presented as "Anti-Mexican" heels ("bad guys") and soon began teaming with Okumura under the team name La Ola Amarilla (Spanish for "The Yellow Wave"), in matches against Mexicans. On July 10, 2009 No Limit teamed with Black Warrior to defeat the team of Héctor Garza, Toscano and El Sagrado, After the match Black Warrior made a challenge on behalf of Yujiro (as Yujiro does not speak Spanish) for a "hair vs. hair" match with Garza.[12] This led to all men being involved in a 15-man steel cage Luchas de Apuestas match at Infierno en el Ring that Naito won by pinning Toscano, forcing him to have his hair shaved off.[13] Following the match No Limit's focus was on Black Warrior, who had turned on them during the cage match. When Jushin Thunder Liger toured Mexico in September, 2009 he joined the "Anti-Mexico" faction, teaming with No Limit and Okumura to defeat Team Mexico (Último Guerrero, Atlantis, Black Warrior and Héctor Garza) at the CMLL 76th Anniversary Show on September 18, 2009.[14] The following week Yujio teamed with Okumura to win the 2009 Gran Alternativa tournament, defeating Toscano and Rouge in the first round, Héctor Garza and Ángel de Plata in the second round and Místico and Ángel de Oro in the finals.[15] The storyline feud between No Limit and Black Warrior reached its conclusion on October 16, 2009 as Black Warrior faced Yujiro in a Lucha de Apuesta, hair vs. hair match that Yujiro won two falls to one, forcing Black Warrior to have his hair shaved off after the match.[16] After the storyline with Black Warrior ended No Limit began working with the team of El Texano, Jr. and El Terrible in a feud that led to a Lucha de Apuesta hair vs. hair match between the two teams that was the main event of CMLL's Sin Salida show on December 4, 2009. After being successful throughout the summer and fall No Limit finally lost to Texano, Jr. and Terrible at Sin Salida and were both shaved completely bald after the match per Lucha Libre traditions.[17] While Yujiro has not returned to CMLL since their return to NJPW on January 4, 2010 Naito returned in January and has stated that he would like to work in Mexico between NJPW tours. Naito teamd up with Okumura and is expected to team up with Taichi, a NJPW rookie who will be travelling to Mexico to gain experience.[18]

Return to NJPW (2010–present)[edit]

Naito in November 2011

On December 5, 2009, NJPW announced that Yujiro and Naito were returning to Japan as part of their annual January 4 Tokyo Dome show called Wrestle Kingdom IV in Tokyo Dome.[19] At the event Yujiro and Naito defeated Team 3D (Brother Ray and Brother Devon) and Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson) in a three-way hardcore match to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship.[20] No Limit had their first title defense on February 14, 2010, defeating El Texano, Jr. and El Terrible to retain the title.[21] On April 4 at New Dimension No Limit joined New Japan's top heel stable CHAOS, led by the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinsuke Nakamura.[22] On May 3, 2010, at Wrestling Dontaku 2010 Naito and Takahashi lost the IWGP Tag Team Championship to Yuji Nagata and Wataru Inoue of Seigigun in a three-way match, which also included Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson).[23] After losing the title, Naito began breaking out on his own, scoring pinfall victories over the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Togi Makabe, IWGP Tag Team Champion Karl Anderson and former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Manabu Nakanishi and wrestling four-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi to a 30 minute time limit draw during the 2010 G1 Climax tournament, while also having another strong showing against Tanahashi in a losing effort at Destruction '10 on October 11.[24][25][26][27][28] On October 24 No Limit entered the 2010 G1 Tag League.[29] After three wins and two losses, they finished first in their block and advanced to the semifinals.[30] On November 7, after defeating Manabu Nakanishi and Strong Man in the semifinals, No Limit was defeated in the finals of the tournament by Yuji Nagata and Wataru Inoue.[31] On December 11, 2010, No Limit picked up a major win by defeating the TNA World Tag Team Champions, The Motor City Machine Guns, in a non–title match.[32] On January 4, 2011, at Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome, Naito unsuccessfully challenged Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.[33][34] On May 3, No Limit failed in their attempt to regain the IWGP Tag Team Championship from Bad Intentions. After the match Takahashi walked out on Naito.[35][36] In May 2011 Naito took part in New Japan's first tour of the United States, the Invasion Tour 2011. On May 13 in Rahway, New Jersey, he entered the tournament to determine the first ever IWGP Intercontinental Champion, defeating local worker Josh Daniels in his first round match.[37] The following day in New York City, Naito was eliminated from the tournament in the semifinal stage by MVP.[38] Upon their return to Japan, Takahashi turned on Naito on May 26, effectively dissolving No Limit and turning Naito face.[39]

On June 18 at Dominion 6.18, Takahashi defeated Naito in the first match between the former members of No Limit.[40] On June 28, Naito returned to CMLL for a one month stint.[41] Upon his return to Japan, Naito faced Takahashi during the first day of the 2011 G1 Climax, with Takahashi once again emerging victorious.[42] Naito then went on to win six out of his eight remaining matches, including picking up big wins over Giant Bernard, Yoshihiro Takayama and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, to win his block and advance to the finals of the 2011 G1 Climax. However, in the end, Naito failed to win the tournament as he was defeated in the finals by Shinsuke Nakamura.[43] On September 19, Naito defeated Takahashi in the third singles match between the two, after which he made an official challenge towards Hiroshi Tanahashi and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.[44] On October 10 at Destruction '11, Naito failed in his attempt to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Tanahashi.[45] On January 4, 2012, at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, Naito faced All Japan Pro Wrestling's Keiji Mutoh in a losing effort.[46] From late 2011 to early 2012, Naito was involved in a feud with Shinsuke Nakamura, which built to a singles match on February 12 at The New Beginning, where Naito was victorious and in the process became the number one contender to new IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada.[47] Naito received his title opportunity on March 4 in the main event of New Japan's 40th anniversary event, but was defeated by Okada.[48] During the next months, Naito began having problems with Hiroshi Tanahashi, after he was chosen over Naito as the next challenger for Okada.[49][50] In August, Naito took part in the 2012 G1 Climax tournament, during which he picked up a big win over Kazuchika Okada.[51] However, a loss to Hirooki Goto on the final day of the tournament meant that Okada managed to overtake him in the standings, causing him to get eliminated from the tournament.[52] Despite suffering a legitimate knee injury during the tournament, Naito continued wrestling regularly afterwards.[53] On October 8 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Naito was defeated by Yujiro Takahashi, when the referee ended the match due to Takahashi punishing Naito's injured knee. Following the match, Naito was stretchered out of the arena.[54] Naito underwent reconstructive knee surgery on October 16 and was expected to miss eight months of in-ring action.[55]

Naito in March 2014

On May 3, 2013, Naito made an appearance at New Japan's Wrestling Dontaku 2013 event, announcing that he would be returning to the ring on June 22, while also naming the NEVER Openweight Championship, held by Masato Tanaka, as his goal.[56] On June 22 at Dominion 6.22, Naito defeated Takahashi in his return match.[57] On July 20, Naito failed in his attempt to capture the NEVER Openweight Championship from Tanaka.[58][59] From August 1 to 11, Naito took part in the 2013 G1 Climax.[60] Finishing with a record of five wins and four losses, Naito clinched the number one spot in his block and advanced to the finals after a win over Karl Anderson on the final day. In the finals, Naito defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to win the 2013 G1 Climax and earn a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Naito, however, announced that he first wanted a rematch with Masato Tanaka for the NEVER Openweight Championship.[61] The following day, Naito was given a contract, which granted him a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on January 4, 2014, at the Tokyo Dome.[62] On September 29 at Destruction, Naito defeated Masato Tanaka to not only retain the contract, but to also win the NEVER Openweight Championship.[63] On October 14 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Naito successfully defended both the title and the contract against Yujiro Takahashi.[64] On November 9 at Power Struggle, Naito defeated Masato Tanaka to retain the NEVER Openweight Championship and solidify his spot in the main event of the January 4 Tokyo Dome show.[65] Naito and reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada faced off on November 23 during the first day of the 2013 World Tag League in a match, where Naito and Mexican wrestler La Sombra were defeated by Okada and Yoshi-Hashi.[66] Naito and La Sombra finished the tournament on December 6 with a record of three wins and three losses, failing to advance from their block.[67] Following a disappointing fan reaction to a confrontation between Naito and Okada, New Japan announced that fans would get to vote whether they or Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship would be the true main event of the Tokyo Dome show.[68][69] When the results were released on December 9, Naito and Okada had gotten only half the votes Nakamura and Tanahashi had gotten and, as a result, lost their main event spot for New Japan's biggest show of the year.[70][71] On January 4, 2014, at Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome, Naito failed in his title challenge against Okada.[72][73] The following day, Naito entered a new feud with Tomohiro Ishii, who announced his intention of becoming the next NEVER Openweight Champion.[74] On February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka, Naito lost the NEVER Openweight Championship to Ishii in his third title defense.[75] From July 21 to August 8, Naito took part in the 2014 G1 Climax, where he finished fifth in his block with a record of five wins and five losses.[76][77] On October 13 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Naito unsuccessfully challenged Okada, whom he had defeated during the G1 Climax, for his IWGP Heavyweight Championship number one contender's contract.[78][79] The following month, Naito reunited with La Sombra for the 2014 World Tag League.[80] The team finished in the middle of their block with a record of four wins and three losses.[81] In May 2015, Naito took part in the NJPW/Ring of Honor (ROH) co-produced tour of United States and Canada, during which he unsuccessfully challenged Jay Lethal for the ROH World Television Championship at Global Wars '15.[82]

Naito representing Los Ingobernables in August 2015

While the rest of NJPW workers returned to Japan, Naito remained in North America, returning to Mexico and CMLL for a tour,[83] during which he continued teaming with La Sombra as part of his Los Ingobernables stable.[84][85] His tour culminated with him and La Sombra unsuccessfully challenging Negro Casas and Shocker for the CMLL World Tag Team Championship on June 21.[86] Naito returned to NJPW the following week with a new look and persona,[87] while also announcing that he now represented Los Ingobernables also in NJPW.[88] From July 20 to August 14, Naito took part in the 2015 G1 Climax.[89] Despite big early wins over A.J. Styles and eventual tournament winner Hiroshi Tanahashi,[90][91] Naito finished third in his block with a record of five wins and four losses and thus failed to advance to the finals.[92]

In wrestling[edit]

Naito performing the Stardust Press on Tama Tonga

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Luchas de Apuestas record[edit]

Winner (wager) Loser (wager) Location Event Date Notes
Naito (hair) Toscano (hair) Mexico City, Mexico Infierno en el Ring (2009) July 31, 2009 [Note 1][13]
El Texano, Jr. and El Terrible (hair) No Limit
(Yujiro and Naito) (hair)
Mexico City, Mexico Sin Salida December 4, 2009 [17]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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