Birthdate: December 28th, 1953
IWGP Heavyweight Championship (Held 6 Times):
IWGP Tag Team Championship with Kengo Kimura (Held 4 Times):
IWGP Tag Team Championship with Osamu Nishimura:
NWA Heavyweight Championship:
NWA International Jr. Heavyweight Championship (Held 2 Times):
WCWA Heavyweight Championship:
UWA Heavyweight Championship:
WWF Jr. Heavyweight Championship (Held 2 Times):
WWF International Heavyweight Championship (Held 2 Times):
WWF International Tag Team Championship with Kengo Kimura:
Other Signature Moves:
A true legend in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Fujinami dominated both the Jr. Heavyweight and Heavyweight divisions during his long and accomplished career. One of the first true pupils of Antonio Inoki, Fujinami followed his master from JWA to New Japan and during his career had an influence not only in the ring but behind the scenes as well. During his 30 year career in New Japan, Fujinami not only helped revolutionize the sport in the ring but also trained countless numbers of new wrestlers to help New Japan at one time become the most successful wrestling promotion in the world.
At the age of 17, Tatsumi Fujinami already knew that he wanted to be a professional wrestler. Fujinami had grown up watching Rikidozan battle the Americans, but the wrestler that Fujinami would pattern himself after was the popular Antonio Inoki. In 1970, Fujinami became the first disciple under Inoki, as Inoki trained him hard to help him grow into a wrestler that Rikidozan would have approved of. Before Fujinami even got started, however, Inoki and JWA parted ways and Inoki started New Japan. Fujinami naturally went with him, and on the debut event of New Japan Fujinami lost in the opening match to El Furioso. In such a modest way one of the greatest wrestlers in New Japan history made his start, but it wouldn't take long for Fujinami to make a serious impact in the promotion.
A Jr. Heavyweight during the beginning of his career, in the early 70s the young Fujinami slowly began working his way up the card. By 1974 he was already a notch higher then the other wrestlers his age, as in 1974 he defeated Masashi Ozawa (who would later become Killer Kahn) to win the Karl Gotch Cup. His successes would continue from there, as in 1978 he won his first major championship: the WWF Jr. Heavyweight Championship. At the time New Japan did not have a Jr. Heavyweight Championship of its own (and wouldn't until 1986, after Fujinami was no longer a Jr. Heavyweight), and thus they wrestled for other Jr. Heavyweight Championships from around the world. Until he graduated to a Heavyweight, Fujinami had held the WWF Jr. Heavyweight Championship twice and the NWA International Jr. Heavyweight Championship twice as he defended the titles around the world, and even fought Chavo Guerrero for the WWF Jr. Heavyweight Championship in front of over 50,000 fans in Shea Stadium. During a time that the Jr. Heavyweight division was just gaining popularity, Fujinami was a trail blazer as he wrestled in America, Mexico, and Europe, winning titles along the way.
But by 1981, Fujinami had graduated from the Jr. Heavyweight division to the Heavyweight division. Fujinami first found title success in Mexico, where he defeated the great El Canek for the UWA Heavyweight Championship. He also won the WWF International Heavyweight Championship twice, including a victory over future rival Riki Choshu. In the early 80s New Japan also didn't have a Heavyweight Championship (and wouldn't until 1987), so Fujinami was forced to win championships owned by other companies which helped spread the word of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Fujinami also won the WCWA Heavyweight Championship from Kerry Von Erich and the NWA Heavyweight Championship from the legendary Ric Flair, leaving his mark on the industry all across the globe. While wrestling all over the world Fujinami was still having success in New Japan, as he participated in the MSG League from 1978 to 1982, with his best finish coming in third.
As Fujinami slowly progressed as a singles wrestler, his success came much quicker as a tag team wrestler. Teaming with his friend Kengo Kimura, Fujinami was the first ever holder of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in 1985, defeating Inoki and Sakaguchi in the tournament final. With Kimura he would hold the title four times (he also won it one other time with Nishimura), and they had many battles with the UWF during the inter-promotional feud of the mid-80s. Outside of New Japan, Kimura and Fujinami also won the WWF International Tag Team Championship.
As Fujinami was peaking as a wrestler, in 1987 New Japan crowned its first IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Fujinami quickly asserted himself as a future challenger for the title and he got his chance on May 8th, 1988 when he battled Big Van Vader. Against a much larger opponent, Fujinami wrestled with speed and craftiness and defeated the big man by DQ. He wouldn't hold the title long, however, as after a heated No Contest with Riki Choshu the title was held up. Fujinami would quickly get it back by defeating Riki Choshu and this time he would hold the title for almost a year. Fujinami would hold the IWGP Heavyweight Championship a total of six times, the last time being in 1998 at the ripe age of 44. His six reigns is the most in New Japan history, and is more then Shinya Hashimoto and Masahiro Chono combined.
As Inoki's top student, Fujinami's influence on the promotion went beyond what fans saw from him in the ring. As Inoki was too busy to focus on training, Fujinami became one of the head trainers in the New Japan Dojo. Fujinami trained numerous wrestlers, one of which was future star Osamu Nishimura. Fujinami's style of wrestling and training would later lead to the popularity of MUGA. Fujinami had his first MUGA event in 1995 and continues promoting the style to this day. Closer to a "catch-style" of wrestling, MUGA focuses on submissions and quick pins rather then high risk moves. Nishimura is Fujinami's primary pupil of MUGA, and the style has helped Nishimura have a long and successful career.
As Fujinami's career winded down, in 2000 he began to have a countdown to his retirement in a similar fashion that his trainer Antonio Inoki had earlier. Unfortunately, due to limited interest and a general downturn for the business, in 2001 Fujinami began wrestling full-time again. Fujinami finally retired in January of 2003 after a match against Nishimura and began focusing on his new role as President of New Japan, a duty that he had gotten in 1999. In 2005, Fujinami made a surprising return to the ring and began an active career in New Japan once again. A pioneer in the style of MUGA and once of the most important trainers in New Japan history, Fujinami left a lasting imprint in New Japan and he will always be remembered for his impressive accomplishments and his willingness to pass on his knowledge to others.