|Ring name(s)||Fujiwara Yoshiaki|
|Real name||Fujiwara Yoshiaki|
"Kansetsu-waza no Oni" (Master of Submission Holds)
|Billed height||190 cm (6 ft 3 in)|
|Billed weight||102 kg (220 lb; 16.1 st)|
Ezuriko, Waga, Iwate
Fujiwara Yoshiaki (藤原 喜明) is a Japanese professional wrestler, trainer, and actor.
Professional wrestling career
New Japan Pro Wrestling and the original Universal Wrestling Federation (1972–1989)
After graduating from high school, Fujiwara worked as a company employee and later as a chef. In 1972, he joined New Japan Pro-Wrestling and debuted against Fujinami Tatsumi on 11/12 in Shirahama, Wakayama. Since his rookie years, Fujiwara was trained by Karl Gotch and learned wrestling and submission.
Fujiwara would eventually be assigned as a bodyguard for Antonio Inoki during Inoki's trips to overseas because of his tremendous grappling skills. However, he was always a prelim/midcard competitor due to lack of charisma.
The biggest break in his career came on 1984/2/3 in Sapporo. Fujinami was scheduled to wrestle Chōshū Riki for the WWF International Heavyweight Championship. During Chōshū's entrance, Fujiwara attacked him on the aisle and left him in a bloody mess. The match was "no contest", and Fujiwara joined New Japan's regular force in a on-going feud against Chōshū's Ishin Gundan. With his unique wrestling style and look which was easy to be remembered, Fujiwara was now on TV Asahi's New Japan television program almost every week.
In 1984/6, Fujiwara followed his students such as Maeda Akira and Takada Nobuhiko to join the newly created UWF (original). Addition of Fujiwara and Takada, as well as Sayama Satoru to its roster, the UWF would go on to a direction of eliminating the showmanship of pro-wrestling. This would later be established as a shoot style.
However, Sayama had a different philosophy from other wrestlers. With the conflict within the roster, plus a murder of the sponsor, UWF lasted only a year and half. Most of the wrestlers returned to New Japan in late 1985 to start an "interpromotional" feud.
In 1987, Chōshū and some of his Japan Pro-Wrestling stars returned to New Japan. Soon afer an inter-generational feud started. Chōshū teamed with Fujinami, Maeda, Kimura Kengo, Super Strong Machine, and Takada to form the "New Leaders". Inoki, along with Sakaguchi Seiji and Masa Saitō, formed "Now Leaders". Despite his age (not much older than Fujinami or Chōshū), Fujiwara was assigned as a member of the Now Leaders because of his older look and the fact that he was a shishō for Maeda and Takada.
New UWF and Fujiwara-gumi (1989–1995)
After being fired from New Japan on 1988/2/1, Maeda started the new UWF. Due to his television exposure from the New Japan days, the newborn organization was successful from the beginning, as the tickets for the opening card was sold out in 15 minutes. Fujiwara, along with his New Japan students Funaki Masakatsu and Suzuki Minoru, joined the UWF in 1989.
Despite the popularity of the organization, the UWF split in 1991 into three groups: UWF International, Fighting Network RINGS, and Professional Wrestling Fujiwara-gumi. Fujiwara, Funaki, Suzuki and rookie Fuke Yūsuke formed Fujiwara-gumi (Gumi [組] in Japanese means "group", but it is used in the yakuza lingo to mean organized crime family. Fujiwara styled himself kumichō [組長], literally, the gang leader). Although it was a shoot style promotion, Fujiwara had agreements with SWS whereupon he would send talent to compete in them (but not much in return, with the exception of Sano Naoki, in order to keep the shoot-style "feel" to his promotion). Fujiwara-gumi had a big supercard at the Tokyo Dome in 1992, involving all the great talents in the promotion: Fujiwara, Funaki, Suzuki, Fuke, Takahashi Yoshiki, Ishikawa Yūki, and others.
Problems involving the collapsing Japanese economy and the essence of Fujiwara-gumi's wrestling, however, forced its roster to assess their individual futures. Funaki, Suzuki, Fuke and Takahashi, apparently unsettled by the "performing" direction Fujiwara was taking, left the group in late 1993 to form Pancrase. Fujiwara had some back-up talents - Ishikawa, Ikeda Daisuke, Usuda Katsumi, Tanaka Minoru, Okamoto Mamoru, Muhammad Yone, and Funaki Shōichi. In 1995, however, the sponsor of Fujiwara-gumi ordered terminations of a big part of its roster.
In late 1995, the sponsor of the Fujiwara-gumi decided to fire some of the wrestlers. In protest, Ishikawa and the rest of the roster left the group and formed their own promotion, BattlARTS. Unlike Pancrase, the Battlarts wrestlers stayed in good terms with Fujiwara. Since 1996, Fujiwara, the only remaining member of Fujiwara-gumi and thus a de facto free agent, has competed in several promotions, mostly in legends matches. New Japan, Fighting Networks RINGS, All Japan Pro-Wrestling, Wrestle Association R, Pro Wrestling ZERO-ONE, and several independents have seen his presence.