Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara (May 4, 1934 – August 28, 2016) was an American professional wrestler and manager, known professionally by his ring name Mr. Fuji (or Master Fuji to his protégés). He was famous for often throwing salt in the eyes of fan favorite wrestlers. Notable wrestlers and tag teams managed by him include Don Muraco, Yokozuna and Demolition.
|Birth name||Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara|
|Born||May 4, 1934|
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
|Died||August 28, 2016 (aged 82)|
Clarksville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Mr. Fujiwara|
|Billed height||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)|
|Billed weight||270 lb (122 kg)|
|Billed from||Osaka, Japan|
|Trained by||Nick Bockwinkel|
Professional wrestling careerEdit
Early career (1965–1971)Edit
Fujiwara made his professional wrestling debut in 1962 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.
World Wide Wrestling Federation (1972–1974)Edit
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 lost 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.
Mid-Atlantic and Georgia Championship Wrestling (1974- 1975)Edit
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 lost the title 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.
California and Texas (1976-1977)Edit
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 title until leaving the territory in February 1977.
Also in 1976 he worked for World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas while champion in California.
Return to the WWWF (1977–1978)Edit
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 lost the belts to Dino Bravo and Dominic DeNucci on the March 14, 1978 episode of Championship Wrestling. Shortly after, they left WWWF again.
Touring the territories (1979–1981)Edit
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.
Second return to the WWF (1981-1996)Edit
Teaming with Mr. Saito (1981–1982)Edit
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.
Singles competition and Tiger Chung Lee feud (1982–1985)Edit
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 stayed with the WWE until 1988 in the lower mid-card to preliminary wrestler.
Managerial career (1985–1996)Edit
Fuji retired from wrestling in 1985 and became a heel manager and wrestled occasionally. As a manager, Fuji often "blinded" his opponents by throwing salt in their eyes, or he or his wrestler(s) 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 carried a little bag of salt. His first client was George Steele. Fuji teamed with him to lose to Hulk Hogan and "Mean" Gene Okerlund when Okerlund pinned Fuji. Steele soon became a face 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 started calling him "Master Fuji" and he managed them to the Tag Team Championship. Earlier, he brought Killer Khan and Sika back to the WWF. He acquired Kamala from The Wizard, managing him in singles or tag matches with Sika, while also leading "Cowboy" Bob Orton (who often teamed with Muraco).
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 to 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.
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.
Fujiwara operated a training dojo out of Jefferson City, Tennessee, and Dandridge, Tennessee until 2001. He was a part-time usher at Knoxville Center's (formerly East Town Mall) movie theater.
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.
Fujiwara died of natural causes, aged 82, on August 28, 2016, in Clarksville, Tennessee. He was survived by his seven children — Tyran Wong, Teri Deettula, Tami Nelson, Kimberly Brewster, Toni Will, Kelli Fujiwara Sloan and Kevin Fujiwara — as well as 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Daughter Kelli Fujiwara Sloan, representing the estate, was 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.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- Continental Wrestling Association
- Georgia Championship Wrestling
- Maple Leaf Wrestling
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- New England Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2013
- NWA Mid-Pacific Promotions
- NWA New Zealand
- NWA San Francisco
- Pacific Northwest Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Ranked No. 445 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Southeastern Championship Wrestling
- World Championship Wrestling
- World Wide Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment
- World Wrestling Council
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- "OWOW profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
- "Mr. Fuji, WWE star, dies at 82 of unknown causes". Global News. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
- "Mr. Fuji bio". WWE. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
- "Cagematch profile".
- Slotnik, Daniel E. (August 29, 2016). "Harry Fujiwara, Wrestling Villain Mr. Fuji, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Batista, Dave; Roberts, Jeremy (2007). Batista Unleashed. WWE Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-4165-4410-4.
- "Mr. Fuji, a prankster in and out of the ring, dies at age 82". Public Radio International. August 29, 2016. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- Mazza, Ed (August 29, 2016). "Mr. Fuji, Iconic Pro Wrestler And Manager, Dead At 82". HuffPost. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- "Hawaii Tag Team Title". The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
- "Mr. Fuji & Toru Tanaka Profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
- "WWWF Show Results 1972". Angelfire. June 27, 1972. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved May 8, 2008.
- "World Tag Team Championship official title history". WWE. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
- "WWWF Show Results 1972". Angelfire. August 22, 1972. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
WWWF World Champion Pedro Morales defeated WWWF Tag Team Champion Mr. Fuji via count-out
- "WWWF Show Results 1973". Angelfire. May 30, 1973. Archived from the original on April 23, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
Tony Garea & Haystacks Calhoun defeated WWWF Tag Team Champions Prof. Toru Tanaka & Mr. Fuji to win the titles
- "WWWF Show Results 1973". Angelfire. September 11, 1973. Archived from the original on April 23, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
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
- "WWWF Show Results 1973". Angelfire. November 14, 1973. Archived from the original on April 23, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
Tony Garea & Dean Ho defeated WWWF Tag Team Champions Prof. Toru Tanaka & Mr. Fuji to win the titles
- "N.W.A. Georgia Tag Team Title". The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
- "WWWF Show Results 1977". Angelfire. September 27, 1977. Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
WWWF Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals: Prof. Toru Tanaka & Mr. Fuji (w/ Freddie Blassie) defeated Larry Zbyzsko & Tony Garea to win the titles
- "WWWF Show Results 1978". Angelfire. March 14, 1978. Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
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 Profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
- "WWF Show Results 1981". Angelfire. October 13, 1981. Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
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
- "WWF Show Results 1982". Angelfire. June 28, 1982. Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
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
- "WWF Show Results 1982". Angelfire. July 13, 1982. Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
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
- "WWF Show Results 1982". Angelfire. October 30, 1982. Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
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
- Post-match interview with Mr Fuji, Survivor Series 1988 Pay per view broadcast, Titan Sports transmitted November 24, 1988
- "Mr. Fuji Pro Wrestlers Database". Retrieved June 13, 2022.
- "Mr Fuj the Stooge! How's that, stooge?" In-ring comments by Ax, Demolition vs Powers Of Pain match segment, The Main Event, NBC transmitted February 3, 1989
- Pre-match interview with Demolition, WrestleMania V Pay per view broadcast, Titan Sports transmitted April 2, 1989
- "WrestleMania V official results". WWE. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
- "Mr. Fuji, former star wrestler and manager, dies at 82". Archived from the original on September 1, 2016.
- Stedman, Alex (August 29, 2016). "Mr. Fuji, WWE Hall of Famer, Dies at 82". Variety. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
- "WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Fuji passes away". WWE. August 28, 2016. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
- Collins, Dave (September 19, 2018). "Judge throws out lawsuit against WWE by ex-pro wrestlers over concussions". The Denver Post. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
- Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2006) [2000.]. "(Memphis, Nashville) Tennessee: Southern Tag Team Title [Roy Welsch & Nick Gulas, Jerry Jarrett from 1977]". Wrestling title histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Waterloo, Ontario: Archeus Communications. pp. 185–189. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- "Southern Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
- "Cagematch title listings".
- "NEPW Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on July 6, 2013.
- "PWI Years 500". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Wrestling Information Archive. Archived from the original on May 15, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
- "World Tag Team Championship history".
- Meltzer, Dave (January 26, 2015). "Jan. 26, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2014 awards issue w/ results & Dave's commentary, Conor McGregor, and much more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 30. ISSN 1083-9593.