Masakatsu Funaki (b. 1969 as Masaharu Funaki) is a JapaneseProfessional Wrestler and Mixed Martial Arts fighter, founder of the proto-MMA company Pancrase. He debuted in 1985 for New Japan Pro Wrestling, being a Yoshiaki Fujiwara trainee along with Minoru Suzuki. When Fujiwara left for the shoot-style promotion UWF Newborn, Funaki and Suzuki got a permission to follow him, and they became part of the UWF roster. The promotion fell afterwards and his faction, led by Fujiwara, formed Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, but it was short-lived as well. Funaki and his colleagues realized that Japanese crowds really would pay for see "real" matches with non-worked outcomes and launched Pancrase, the second MMA promotion in history. Using the catch wrestling roots they had learned from Fujiwara, which they called "hybrid wrestling", Funaki and Suzuki became the aces of Pancrase and had legendary fights with names like Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten and Guy Mezger, with Masakatsu gaining the King of Pancrase title twice. During this time, Funaki was worshiped as one of the three shoot-style aces, along with former mentors Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada. Towards the end of his career, severe injuries took his toll on his body and he was forced to retire after a defeat to Rickson Gracie, passing the torch to his trainee Yuki Kondo. He then returned to professional wrestling for Keiji Muto's All Japan Pro Wrestling, later following him to the new WRESTLE-1.As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.
"Yes, We Are Hybrid Tropes":
Ambiguously Brown: Had a more tanned skin in comparison with fellow Japanese natives.
Bratty Half-Pint: Entered in the New Japan Dojo at 15. In Japanese pro wrestling history, only Katsuhiko Nakajima started his career at a younger age.
Broken Ace: He always sought to become to MMA what classic "aces" were to puroresu and pushed himself too hard during his Pancrase career, breaking down his body fight after fight and never backing up.
Curbstomp Battle: Some of his fights, specially the first ones, were fast leglock wins.
Determinator: Refused to tap out in Rickson Gracie's rear naked choke, which rendered him unconscious. His acceptance to fight him was another determinating gesture as well, as he was too injuried and age-worn to face the better conditionted Rickson.
Finishing Move: Cross Armbar, Heel Hook, Kick to the Head and the Hybrid Blaster.
Heroic BSOD: Had one after being defeated by Rickson, and according to him, had one during the fight which contributed to the loss.
Hot-Blooded: His external behavior could not suggest it, but he was it indeed.
I Know Kung-Fu: Was a fan of martial arts films, and learned kung fu later on his life.
Incompletely Trained: Notably, he lacked a real fighting background before training in pro wrestling, but he compensated him with heart and pure skill.
Kick Dude: Not as good in kicking as some of his fellow shooters, but had sharp kicks indeed.
Made of Iron: During his second fight against Bas Rutten, he endured an impressive amount of damage before getting knocked out. Rutten himself was astonished Funaki got up after every strike regardless how hard they were. Even after eating a hard knee to the face which ended the fight, Masa could be seen talking to the referee as if nothing, showing he was still conscious after all.
Mr. Fanservice: Had a significative female fanbase, which was the reason behind the classic speedo tights used in Pancrase.
One-Hit Kill: Until Funaki and Suzuki created Pancrase, worked shoot matches used to be long and slow in order to maintain the crowd entertained. However, when the two implanted their real matches concept, proved when the first Pancrase event lasted only 28 minutes, the Japanese crowds loved it and coined the word "byosatsu" (秒殺, "instantly finished") to refer this kind of exciting battle. Even so, the two used to carry weaker opponents to not to give a too short fight.
Opposing Combat Philosophies: One of the reasons Funaki was not succesful in MMA outside of Pancrase was that, while he was indeed a great fighter, his fighting style was developed entirely under Pancrase's environment (no punches, no ground and pound, rope escapes, and more entertaining than pragmatism in the ring) and never was meant to be used in full vale tudo. His fights under MMA rules evidence this lacking.
Eventually, Pancrase started to adopt the vale tudo format in 1998. Currently, the hybrid wrestling has almost completely disappeared.
Unrelated Brothers: A non-tag team example. Some sites erroneously claim that ex-WWE wrestler Shoichi Funaki is Masakatsu's real life brother. Actually, not only they are not related, they have never worked together despite both being Yoshiaki Fujiwara trainees.
Worf Had The Flu: In retrospect, his defeat in Colosseum 2000 doesn't look very surprising, as while Rickson only had had ten professional fights with relatively little action, Funaki had had about 200 bouts in a highly body-destructive style. One well timed kick to his most injuried knee was enough to incapacitate him.
His fights against Sakuraba and Tamura avert this, as they were so battle worn as him, or even more.
Worked Shoot: His fight again Suzuki was notorioulsy worked, and it's rumored that his rematch against Frank Shamrock was a work too.