|Ring name(s)||Fujinami Tatsumi|
|Real name||Fujinami Tatsumi|
|Nickname(s)||Honoo no Hiryū (炎の飛龍) (Dragon of the Flame)|
|Billed height||186 cm (6 ft 1 in)|
|Billed weight||104 kg (230 lb; 16.4 st)|
Fujinami Tatsumi (藤波 辰爾) is a Japanese professional wrestler. His real name is Tatsumi (辰巳). He is the pioneer of the junior heavyweight division in puroresu.
Japanese Wrestling Association (1971-1972)
Fujinami joined the Japan Pro-Wrestling Association under Antonio Inoki's wing in 1970/6 at the age of 16 and debuted against Hirokatsu Shinkai on 1971/05/09 in Gifu. He became Inoki's tsukibito. When Inoki was fired from JWA in 1971, Fujinami and a few others followed him in forming a new promotion, New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Inoki, Fujinami, Kido Osamu and Yamamoto Kotetsu are recognized as NJPW's founding members.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1972-2006)
In those early days he served as opponent for debuting rookies, such as Sekigawa Tetsuo, Fujiwara Yoshiaki and Hiroaki Hamada. In 1974, New Japan held Karl Gotch Cup, a league for rookies. In the final, Fujinami defeated Ozawa Masashi, who had, along with Kimura Takashi, followed Sakaguchi Seiji from JWA to join New Japan. He and Kido were sent to West Germany and then to train with Karl Gotch in Florida. After returned to Japan, Fujinami wrestled in the Mid-Atlantic area and then in Mexico.
On 1978/1/23, Fujinami defeated Carlos Jose Estrada at Madison Square Garden to win WWWF Junior Heavyweight Championship. He brought the title back to Japan, where he established it as the premier junior heavyweight title while maintaining to defend the title in the WWWF and Los Angeles territories frequently. He also won a version of the division's NWA World Championship, which was renamed NWA International title in All Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1982. Fujinami vacated the NWA title in 1980/6 due to injury but kept the WWF championship until moving up to the heavyweight division in 1981/10.
As a heavyweight, he won WWF International Championship on 1982/8/30, again at the Madison Square Garden. His feuded with Chōshū Riki over the title established one of the most famous and popular rivalries in the history of puroresu. Their championship match on 1983/4/3 won the Puroresu Awards' "Match of the Year".
However, Tiger Mask's retirement in 1983, the departure of Chōshū and his Ishin Gundan stable in 1984, and the formation of the original UWF with former New Japan wrestlers including Maeda Akira in the same year put New Japan in crisis.
Fujinami decided to stay in New Japan. On 1985/12/12, Fujinami & Kimura Kengo defeated Inoki & Sakaguchi in the final of IWGP Tag Team League, by pinning his shishō Inoki with dragon suplex. Fujinami won the MVP of the Puroresu Awards for the year.
He won the "Match of the Year" in 1986 for his match against Maeda, who, along with other UWF wrestlers at the time, had returned to New Japan earlier in the year, on 6/12.
In 1987/4, Chōshū and some of former Japan Pro guys returned to New Japan, but this time, Chōshū teamed with Fujinami, Maeda, and Kimura to start an inter-generation feud against Inoki, Sakaguchi, Masa Saitō, etc.
Fujinami defeated Big Van Vader on 1988/5/8 at Ariake Coliseum to win IWGP Heavyweight Championship which had been vacated by Inoki, but on 1988/5/27, the title was held up after a match with Chōshū ended as a no-contest. Fujinami defeated Chōshū to reclaim the title in the rematch on 1988/6/24. On 8/8, Inoki challenged him in a title match which ended as a 60-minute time limit draw. After the match, Inoki put the belt on Fujinami's waist, which brought the tears to the eyes of many longtime fans who are familiar with the history between the two.
Later in the year, he also won the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Title from The Grappler on 10/15 in Portland, Oregon and the WCWA World Heavyweight Title from Kerry Von Erich on 12/9 at Korakuen Hall in Tōkyō.
However, Fujinami injured his back during a match against Vader on 1989/6/22, and due to hernia, he was forced to be out of action for a year and three months. When he returned to the ring in 1990/9, he changed his name from "辰巳" to "辰爾" (both pronounced "Tatsumi").
Fujinami defeated Chōshū on 1990/12/26 to win the IWGP championship once again, but lost the title to Big Van Vader in 1991/1. Two months later, Fujinami regained the IWGP title and within days, put the belt on the line in a double title match against NWA World champion Ric Flair on 1991/3/21 at Tokyo Dome. At this point, Flair was referred to as "WCW" world champion while still being recognized by National Wrestling Alliance as the world champion. The match had a controversial ending, and Fujinami was recognized as NWA world champion in Japan while Flair continued to defend his WCW title in the United States. The dispute ended on 1991/5/19 in St. Petersburg, Florida when Flair defeated Fujinami by pinning with a "school boy" with a handful of tights.
In recent years Fujinami has decreased his work load upon being named President of NJPW in 1999 (he was nevertheless ousted in 2004). His last title reign in NJPW was a IWGP Tag Team Championship with disciple Nishimura Osamu in 2001/10, and his last title shot ever was a bout against Keiji Mutō in December of the same year for All Japan's Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship.
Fujinami resigned New Japan on 2006/6/30.
Muga / Dradition (2006-present)
Fujinami wrestled on the first card of Muga World Pro-Wrestling, founded by Nishimura and former New Japan ring announcer Tanaka Hidekazu. Fujinami soon became the president of the new promotion, but Nishimura, who had "Muga" copyrighted, eventually left the company and joined All Japan, and Fujinami's promotion was renamed "Dradition" since then.
On 2007/1/28, he wrestled Gran Hamada for the first time in almost 30 years.
Titles and Tournaments
- WWWF Junior Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- NWA World Junior Heavyweight (International) Championship (2 times)
- WWF International Heavyweight Championship
- UWA World Heavyweight Championship
- WWF International Tag Team Championship
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (5 times)
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship (6 times)
- NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship
- WCWA World Heavyweight Championship
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship
- CWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship