Fuji in the 1980s
|Birth name||Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara|
|Born||May 4, 1934|
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
|Died||August 28, 2016 (aged 82)|
Clarksville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Professional wrestling career|
|Billed height||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)|
|Billed weight||270 lb (122 kg)|
|Trained by||Nick Bockwinkel|
|Debut||June 15, 1965|
|Retired||August 4, 2004|
Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara (May 4, 1934 - August 28, 2016) was an American professional wrestler and manager, known professionally by his ring name Mr. Fuji. He was famous for often throwing salt in the eyes of fan favorite wrestlers. Notable wrestlers and stables managed by him include the Legion of Doom, Yokozuna and Demolition.
Fujiwara made his professional wrestling debut on December 15, 1965 in his native Hawaii under the ring name Mr. Fujiwara. He won his first championship, the NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship, with King Curtis Iaukea on January 7, 1966. He shortened his ring name to Mr. Fuji and toured many territories, including Don Owen's Portland, Oregon based NWA Pacific Northwest Wrestling where he won many championships.
Fuji debuted in Vince McMahon, Sr.'s World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1972 as a heel. He formed a tag team with Professor Toru Tanaka and the duo were managed by the Grand Wizard. Tanaka provided his physical massive strength and Fuji brought his devious ring psychology to the team, which earned him the nickname "The Devious One". Fuji used to throw salt in his opponent's eyes, which earned him victories. They defeated Sonny King and Chief Jay Strongbow on June 27, 1972 for their first World Tag Team Championship. They quickly ascended to main event status, defending the titles against WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino on several occasions, throughout the year. During the feud, Fuji earned a shot at the WWWF title against Morales on August 22 but lost by count-out. They reigned for eleven months, making them the third longest reigning WWWF World Tag Team Champions in history. They would lose the championship to Tony Garea and Haystacks Calhoun on May 30, 1973.
They continued to feud with Garea and Calhoun for the titles before defeating them on September 11 in a rematch to win their second WWWF World Tag Team Championship. With their title recapture, their feud with Garea and his new partner Dean Ho continued. On November 14, Fuji and Tanaka lost the titles to Garea and Ho. After failing to recapture the title from Garea and Ho, Fuji and Tanaka left the WWWF in 1974.
After WWWF, Fuji went on his own to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Wrestling from 1974 to 1975.
He reunited with Tanaka and debuted in Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW) in August 1975. On September 19, 1975, they participated in a four-team tournament where they defeated former WWWF rivals Tony Garea and Dean Ho in the finals to win the vacant NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship. They would lose the titles to Bob Backlund and Jerry Brisco a month later. Shortly after their title loss, they left GCW and toured other territories and won several titles.
In 1976, Fuji went on his own to work for Big Time Wrestling in California. He won the NWA San Francisco United States title defeating Pat Patterson on February 7 in San Francisco. He held the tile until leaving the territory in February 1977.
Also in 1976 he worked for World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas while champion in California.
Fuji and Tanaka returned to WWWF in 1977. They took on Freddie Blassie as their manager. On September 27, 1977, they defeated Larry Zbyzsko and longtime rival Tony Garea in the finals of a tag team tournament to win their third WWWF World Tag Team Championship. They wrestled in many six-man and eight-man tag team matches during their third reign. They would eventually lose the titles to Dino Bravo and Dominic DeNucci on the March 14, 1978 episode of Championship Wrestling. Shortly after, they left WWWF again.
Fuji and Tanaka continued to tour the territories in 1979 where they won titles again. Later that same year, they stopped teaming and began wrestling individually. Fuji had success, winning several singles titles in many promotions including World Wrestling Council, NWA New Zealand and Maple Leaf Wrestling.
Fuji returned to World Wide Wrestling Federation, then known as the World Wrestling Federation, in 1981. He formed a tag team with Mr. Saito, which was managed by Captain Lou Albano. They began a feud with tag champions Tony Garea and Rick Martel, whom they defeated on the October 17, 1981 episode of Championship Wrestling to win their first Tag Team Championship, though it was Fuji's fourth individual reign. They began feuding with The Strongbows (Chief Jay and Jules) in the fall of 1981. This culminated in a title match on June 28, 1982 at Madison Square Garden (MSG) where the Strongbows won the championship. On the July 13 episode of Championship Wrestling, they defeated the Strongbows in a two out of three falls match for Fuji's fifth and Saito's second WWF Tag Team Championship. The feud of these two teams ended after Fuji and Saito lost the titles to the Strongbows on the October 30 episode of Championship Wrestling.
Fuji was mainly used in singles competition and teamed on and off with Tiger Chung Lee, but they had little success in the ring. In a brief angle, Fuji turned on Chung Lee in a match at the Philadelphia Spectrum against The Wild Samoans in 1984. In a grudge match to settle the feud, Fuji defeated Chung Lee. Afterward, Fuji continued to wrestle on his own until his in-ring retirement and Chung Lee remained as a preliminary jobber.
Fuji retired from wrestling in 1985 and became a heel manager and wrestled occasionally. As a manager, Fuji would "blind" his opponents by throwing salt in their eyes, or he or his wrestler(s) would hit their opponent with his ever-present cane. He wore a black tuxedo and bowler hat, akin to the James Bond series character Oddjob, and would carry a little bag of salt on his person. His first client was George Steele. Fuji would team up with Steele and would lose to Hulk Hogan & "Mean" Gene Okerlund with Okerlund pinning Fuji. However, Steele would go on to become a fan favorite and left Fuji. Fuji's next client was Don Muraco. They both formed a popular heel duo and appeared in a video package called "Fuji Vice", which was a mockery of Miami Vice. Fuji and Muraco then began a feud with Ricky Steamboat, resulting in Steamboat defeating Fuji in several matches during the feud. Fuji briefly managed Jim Neidhart, whose contract he later sold to Jimmy Hart. In 1987, he bought the contract of Demolition (Ax and Smash) from Luscious Johnny V. Demolition would sometimes call Fuji "Master Fuji" and he then managed Demolition to the Tag Team Championship. Fuji was also known for bringing Killer Khan and Sika back to the WWF. Fuji would also acquire Kamala from The Wizard managing him both in singles as well as in a tag team with Sika, and also simultaneously managed "Cowboy" Bob Orton (whom he would often have team with Muraco, his other client).
At Survivor Series, he turned on Demolition and began managing Demolition's rival tag team, The Powers of Pain (Warlord and Barbarian). Interviewed after the contest, Fuji claimed that he had turned on Demolition because, since winning the championship, they had become insubordinate and disrespectful towards him, whereas the Powers would be utterly obedient and loyal apprentices. For their part, Demolition denounced their former manager as a parasite, labelling him "Fuj the Stooge."
At WrestleMania V, Fuji teamed with the Powers of Pain in a 3-on-2 handicap match against Demolition for their Tag Team Championship. Fuji and Powers were defeated after Ax pinned Fuji following a Demolition Decapitation. Fuji sold the individual contracts of Powers of Pain to managers Slick and Bobby Heenan and brought The Orient Express (Pat Tanaka and Akio Sato) to the WWF. Orient Express got involved in a feud with The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty), whom The Orient Express defeated by count out (thanks to Sato throwing the salt in Janetty's eyes) at Wrestlemania VI. Orient Express got involved in Demolition's feud with the Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal). Fuji reunited with Demolition (who by this time had a third member, Crush) at that point. Demolition was phased out while the Orient Express took on Legion of Doom in matches. Fuji then managed The Berzerker in late 1991 until early 1993. His last match in WWF was teaming with Kamala as they lost to The Undertaker in a handicap match on July 26, 1992 at a house show.
Fuji's greatest success and popularity as a manager came in November 1992 when he introduced the mammoth Yokozuna to the WWF. Under Fuji's tutelage, Yokozuna won the 1993 Royal Rumble match and two WWF World Championships, first from Bret Hart at WrestleMania IX, and again from Hulk Hogan at King of the Ring. Later that year, Fuji was joined by "spokesman" James E. Cornette. In late 1993, Fuji once again began managing Crush after he turned on Randy Savage. During this time he again changed his appearance, abandoning the tuxedo and bowler hat in favor of a traditional Japanese kimono and carrying the Japanese flag.
Fuji was last seen accompanying Yokozuna to the ring for a six-man tag team match involving Yokozuna against "Camp Cornette" at WrestleMania XII. By this point Yokozuna had fired Cornette and became a fan favorite; Fuji joined him in the endeavor, even carrying the American flag at times. Fuji left the WWF shortly after and retired from the pro wrestling business.
On August 4, 2004, Fuji returned to wrestling at the age of 70. He wrestled his first match since 1992 where he teamed with Demolition Krash as they lost to the Titus Brothers (Timmy and Tommy) at Blue Water Championship Wrestling in Chesaning, Michigan. This would be Fuji's final match.
After leaving wrestling, Fujiwara retired to the city of Knoxville, Tennessee. In 1997, he sued the makers of the video game WCW vs. nWo World Tour, claiming that the character "Master Fuji" was based on him. The lawsuit was settled in Fujiwara's favor.
Mr. Fuji was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007, by his former charge and Fuji Vice co-star Don Muraco. Mr. Fuji was in a wheelchair at the time of the induction, due to nine knee operations.
Daughter Kelli Sloan, representing the estate, is part of a class action lawsuit against WWE in which it was claimed the promotion did not protect its employees from head trauma, with the litigation being a byproduct of the 2007 Chris Benoit double-murder and suicide. After his death, attorney Konstantine Kyros claimed that Fujiwara had been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. In September 2018, US District Judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant dismissed the lawsuit, which is currently being appealed by Kyros, who has represented former NFL players in similar litigation.
WWWF World Champion Pedro Morales defeated WWWF Tag Team Champion Mr. Fuji via count-out
Tony Garea & Haystacks Calhoun defeated WWWF Tag Team Champions Prof. Toru Tanaka & Mr. Fuji to win the titles
Mr. Fuji & Prof. Toru Tanaka defeated WWWF Tag Team Champions Tony Garea & Haystacks Calhoun to win the titles when the referee stopped the match, ruling Calhoun unable to continue after Tanaka threw salt into the champion's eyes and choked him with his own horseshoe
Tony Garea & Dean Ho defeated WWWF Tag Team Champions Prof. Toru Tanaka & Mr. Fuji to win the titles
WWWF Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals: Prof. Toru Tanaka & Mr. Fuji (w/ Freddie Blassie) defeated Larry Zbyzsko & Tony Garea to win the titles
Dino Bravo & Dominic DeNucci defeated WWWF Tag Team Champions Mr. Fuji & Prof. Toru Tanaka to win the titles when DeNucci pinned Tanaka with an airplane spin that knocked down Fuji in the process
Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito (w/ Captain Lou Albano) defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Rick Martel & Tony Garea at 9:48 to win the titles when Saito pinned Martel after Fuji threw salt into the champion's eyes as Martel attempted a crossbody off the top, allowing Saito to roll through on the move to get the win
Chief Jay & Jules Strongbow defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito to win the titles at 9:48 when Jules pinned Fuji after Fuji missed a dive in the ring
Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito (w/ Capt. Lou Albano) defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Chief Jay & Jules Strongbow to win the titles in a Best 2 out of 3 falls match; fall #1 - Fuji pinned Jules at around the 30-second mark after throwing salt into both he and Chief Jay's face while Saito distracted the referee
Chief Jay & Jules Strongbow defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito (w/ Capt. Lou Albano) to win the titles at 6:08 when Jay pinned Saito with a Thesz Press