Awards and Recognition
Tokyo Sports Grand Prix:
Best Newcomer Award (1985)
Outstanding Performance Prize (1994)
Pro Wrestling Illustrated:
Highest Rank was #8 Wrestler in the World in 2000
Puroresu Central Awards:
Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Member
Rookie of the Year (1984)
Best Wrestling Maneuver (1987 and 1988)
Best Gimmick (1989)
Best Flying Wrestler (1989 – 1993)
Best Technical Wrestler (1989 – 1992)
Most Outstanding Wrestler (1990 – 1992)
Match of the Year (1990 vs. Naoki Sano)
5 Star Match vs. The Great Sasuke on July 8th, 1994
May 25th, 1989 vs. Hiroshi Hase
January 31st, 1990 vs. Naoki Sano
February 8th, 1992 vs. Norio Honaga
January 4th, 1993 vs. Ultimo Dragon
July 8th, 1994 vs. Great Sasuke
January 4th, 1996 vs. Koji Kanemoto
October 20th, 1996 vs. Great Muta
January 4th, 1997 vs. Ultimo Dragon
February 7th, 1998 vs. Shinjiro Otani
April 10th, 1999 with Great Sasuke vs. Kendo Kashin and Dr. Wagner Jr.
January 4th, 2004 vs. Takashi Sugiura
March 25th, 2007 vs. Don Fujii
February 17th, 2008 with AKIRA vs. No Limit
June 16th, 2012 with Tiger Mask vs. Taichi and TAKA Michinoku
Liger poses in the corner
Liger with a Brainbuster to Ken Kid
A Shotei by Liger
Liger in his original mask, 1989
Liger in his heavyweight attire, 2005
Career Recap (through 2011):
The character of Jushin "Thunder" Liger was born April 24th, 1989. Upon his transformation, Liger would go on to become one of the most popular and revolutionary wrestlers of the 1990s. Liger would defeat Hiroshi Hase on May 25, 1989 to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. In the next two years, Liger would defeat Black Tiger, Naoki Sano, Villano V, and Pegasus Kid and would hold the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship on multiple occasions, dominating the Japanese scene. In 1991, Liger would travel to the states to wrestle for WCW. Liger was a breath of fresh air for WCW and quickly became a fan favorite with his high flying style. On December 25th, Liger would defeat Pillman in a classic match for the WCW Lightweight Championship. This helped progress his career in Japan as he had proven he was an International success, and when he returned he would continue leading New Japan's Jr. Heavyweight Division. In 1994, Liger united the greatest Light Heavyweights around the world to hold the first ever Super J Cup tournament. As the booker, Liger had himself be defeated by the younger Great Sasuke, proving that he was willing to give the rub to less experienced workers. Unfortunately for Liger, in September of that year he would suffer a horrific ankle injury while simply running under a leapfrog. The injury would keep him out for almost a year, and it would force him to limit the number high flying style in his matches. This did not stop Liger, however, for he became stronger and adjusted his move set to a more grounded and power based style.
In 1995, Liger would participate in the Super J Cup once again, this time defeating Gedo to win the tournament. In 1996, Liger had another scare when a tumor was found in his brain. Luckily, the news was good, for the tumor was benign. After it was removed, Liger quickly returned to the ring to continue his dominance. On January 4th, 1997, Liger would win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship for the 8th time by defeating Ultimo Dragon. In 2000, Liger showed that he could still wrestle with best of them, as he won the third Super J Cup. In the same year, he would join El Samurai to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Over the next few years Liger would use a variety of costumes, including an all black costume that he used when he was wrestling as a heel. In 2001, Liger would win the Top of the Super Juniors tournament.
A true living legend, in 2005 Liger led CTU (in union with Black New Japan) as he continued his heelish ways that had begun in 2004. Liger challenged for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship in 2005 (a shot he earned on 1/4), but would be unsuccessful. At the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament, Liger came in third in his block, barely missing the semi-finals. In October, Liger was left off the Tokyo Dome Show for the first time in his career. Still, he is arguably the most popular junior heavyweight in Japan, and he still can put on entertaining matches even though he is getting older.
2006 was a bit of a revival year for Liger as he continued leading CTU. To start the year at the Tokyo Dome Show, CTU fought Masato Tanaka, Kintaro Kanemura, and BADBOY Hido, but CTU would fail to pick up the victory. Liger went nuts at the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament, truly showing his old form. He won his bracket (defeating just about everyone in the process), but lost to Tiger Mask in the semi-finals when Tiger Mask used a sunset flip for a quick pinfall. For the CTU 2nd Anniversary Show, Liger transformed into Kishin Liger for the first time in 10 years to defeat BADBOY Hido. At the 2006 G1 Climax, Liger came in 4th place in his bracket, but he did score a pinfall victory over Manabu Nakanishi. In the G1 Tag League he teamed with Tenzan, but the team's only victory was against Manabu Nakanishi and Naofumi Yamamoto.
Still leading CTU, Liger did not have any title matches in New Japan during 2007 but he did wreck havoc in other promotions. On March 25th, Liger would invade Dragon Gate and win the Open The Dream Gate Championship from Don Fujii. He would hold the title for several months before losing it to CIMA on July 1st. Back in New Japan, Liger did participate in the yearly Best of the Super Jr. Tournament. Liger would defeat Ishikari, Inoue, and Yujiro in the tournament but would barely miss the semi-finals. In the summer, Liger made a shocking announcement when he said that CTU, one of the most successful groups in Japan, was disbanding on August 26th. On the Last of CTU event, Liger teamed with AKIRA but lost to Jado and Gedo, who had turned on Liger soon after his announcement. This helped lead to Liger forming a new faction called Legend-gun, joining together many of the veterans of New Japan. Towards the end of the year Liger successfully teamed with Chono in a number of main events, proving that the old guard wasn't prepared to relinquish power just yet.
Liger stayed an important part of New Japan in 2008, winning his first IWGP title since 2003. On February 17th, he teamed with AKIRA to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship from Minoru and Prince Devitt. They would successfully defend the titles against NO LIMIT in April before losing the titles back to Minoru and Devitt on July 21st. In singles action, Liger did take part in the New Japan Cup but lost to Taguchi in the first round. In the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament Liger would defeat Yujiro and Takaiwa, but came in 4th place in his bracket. Liger did not participate in the G1 Tag League.
Even though Liger failed to win any titles or tournaments in 2009, he remained an integral part of the New Japan Jr. Heavyweight division. After celebrating his 20th Anniversary at the Tokyo Dome, Liger challenged Tiger Mask for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship on February 15th, but Tiger Mask would retain the title. Liger participated in the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament, but he lost to Kota Ibushi on the last day which kept him out of the Finals. After teaming with AKIRA and Chono for much of the fall, in December he participated in the Super J Cup, but he lost to eventual winner Marufuji in the first round.
In 2010, Liger did not accomplish much in New Japan but instead opted to conquer a different country: Mexico. Before leaving for Mexico, Liger did get a shot at the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship in April but would fall to the champion Marufuji. On May 3rd, Negro Casas visited New Japan and put up the CMLL World Middleweight Championship against Liger, with Liger defeating Casas to win his first CMLL title. In the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament, Liger did well but fell to La Sombra on the last day to keep him out of the Semi Finals. Liger spent some of the summer and fall in CMLL while also wrestling in New Japan, and in August he won the CMLL Universal Championship (a yearly tournament). Liger ended the year mostly wrestling in New Japan, but he was set to have a CMLL match at the Tokyo Dome on the first show of 2011.