This is going to be something completely different than anything else on Wrestling With Words. Some people might read this and it might sound like I am kissing Fujiwara’s ass figuratively which I don’t have a problem with because this man deserves an award for the stuff he has done the past week. The 230 pound man has been working the craft known as professional wrestling for 44 years being a full time New Japan guy in the 70s and 80s. In the early 90s he started up his own promotion simply named ‘Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi’, it was more of a grapple/shoot style promotion, they used guys like Wayne Shamrock (Ken), Minoru Suzuki, Masakatsu Funaki, Joe Malenko and even a young Glenn Jacobs who would be Kane in later years. He balanced running a promotion whilst also working for other companies like New Japan, SWS and FMW, 1996 Fujiwara Gumi closed it’s doors and a 46 year old Yoshiaki Fujiwara would continue wrestling sporadically for AJPW and NJPW even competing in Antonio Inoki’s second to last match teaming with Jushin Thunder Liger against the original Tiger Mask and Mr. Inoki. In 2000 to 2004 he competed semi-regularly for All Japan and Shinya Hashimoto’s Zero-1 promotion but in 2005 he tampered back a fair bit and wrestled very rarely. In 2010 he started wrestling more often becoming a rarity in Japanese wrestling, facing guys like Demoltion Ax, Abdullah The Butcher, Tatsumi Fujinami, Tajiri and even teaming with WWE’s Asuka — with all of this being from 2010-2014! In 2015 Fujiwara worked 10 matches all being multi-man tags, but don’t discredit that at all. Listen to this match that took place in Zero-1 on 8/15/15:
Atsushi Onita, Hideki Hosaka & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. KAMAKAZE, Leatherface & Takuya Sagawara in a Current Blast Deathmatch!!
At Genichiro Tenryu’s retirement show in November he teamed with Yoshihiro Takayama to face Minoru Suzuki & Kazunari Murakami in a legit four star match. Now we are in year 2016 as Fujiwara starts off the year with three matches in three consecutive days. Let’s get right to it.
His first match of 2016 was held at All Japan Pro Wrestling against 38 year old veteran Atsushi Aoki. This is the only match on the the list I’m yet to view only because it has been shown on Gaora TV yet. I can’t comment much on the match because I haven’t seen it obviously but it is very note worthy because this is Fujiwara’s first singles match since December of 2013 when he faced Masaaki Mochizuki at Tokyo Gurentai. Hikaru Sato as the special guest ring announcer and though it was a 15:00 time limit draw, Fujiwara showed respect to the younger Atsushi Aoki. I am really excited to view this match and I will discuss it on a podcast soon.
The next night he didn’t work in front of a weak Korakuen crowd, he worked at the god damn Tokyo Dome in front of 25,000 fans! Just like last year Fujiwara was in the opening battle-royal and he was one of the highlights of the match for sure. He entered at number two and for only 60 seconds unfortunately he grappled with Liger and I think I squealed like I won the lottery. He was just a great addition and made the match for me personally. He was in the match much longer than last year and did a lot more, even slapping the shit out of Cheeseburger! If you don’t pop for shit like that I feel sorry for you. It made me feel good inside when he no sells offence from geeks and slaps the taste out of their mouth, oh it was glorious. He eliminated Captain New Japan for god’s sakes. It was great to see him back in the dome.
My dreams were answered, all I wanted from New Year Dash was for Fujiwara and Haku to work the show and they both did! Fujiwara opened the show with his music and all. He lead his team of Yohei Komatsu, Tiger Mask, Jushin Liger & Cheeseburger to the ring as they faced Shiro Koshinaka, Sho Tanaka,Rysuke Taguchi, Manabu Nakanishi & Yugi Nagata. What’s even better is that he grappled Sho Tanaka for the opening two minutes! Fujiwara has been wrestling nearly two times longer than Sho Tanaka’s age. If you haven’t read my Dash review, do so, as I am just going over the greatness that was Fujiwara. Who would of ever imagined in their wildest dreams Cheeseburger would team up with Yoshiaki Fujiwara? Nobody, that’s who. Cheeseburger was even slapped and ate a headbutt from his 66 year old team mate at a point in the match, Fujiwara slapped and headbutted everyone in sight. The last topic I wanted to touch on for this match was the effort he puts forward in these matches. He is a dignified legend and could get away with doing nothing, but instead puts forward effort every time and that’s all I ask for in wrestling. That match was the final match of this three day run for Fujiwara and he made the best of working in front of a sold out Korakuen.
That was the weird, wacky, and wonderful week that Yoshiaki Fujiwara had. Fujiwara is one of those guys that puts a smile on my face even though I know he is probably in so much pain whenever he performs. I really hope New Japan brings Fujiwara back for big events to work in random multi-man matches because he is a ton of fun and he deserves all the money in the world. I love Fujiwara, I hope you love Fujiwara. Can we just all love Fujiwara? The world would be a better place. I am going to say now that I promise to review every 2016 Fujiwara match that makes tape. I look forward to it.