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Wrestling: Masakatsu Funaki
"He beat me up for [another] 30 minutes, armbarred me, everything."
Ken Shamrock, about his first training with Funaki

Masakatsu Funaki (b. 1969 as Masaharu Funaki) is a Japanese Professional 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.
  • Arch-Enemy: Arguably Bas Rutten.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: According to some, he was one in real life, always motivated to prove himself as the best at any price. These same voices cite this as one of the reasons of his downfall at the end of his MMA career.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Was the head of Pancrase (along Minoru Suzuki) and the only hybrid wrestler who bested all the rest of fighters.
  • Badass
  • 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.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Always wore lime green or black tights.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The reason behind his fight with Kazushi Sakuraba.
  • 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. He actually prefered to die rather giving up.
    • During his second fight against Bas Rutten, Funaki endured an impressive amount of damage. 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 and trying to keep the fight going.
  • Finishing Move: Cross Armbar, Heel Hook, Kick to the Head and the Hybrid Blaster. He also used the Triangle Choke and the Backdrop Suplex as finishers upon his return to wrestling.
  • Heroic BSOD: Had one after being defeated by Rickson, and according to him, had one during the fight which contributed to the loss.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Minoru Suzuki. According to Suzuki, however, their friendship is somewhat distant nowadays.
  • 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: Unlike most of shoot-style practitioners, he lacked a real fighting background before training in pro wrestling, but he compensated him with heart and pure skill.
  • Just Toying with Them: Back in his Pancrase days, he used to toy with his opponents by allowing them submission attemps to make the fight more interesting, someting called "carrying". This once backfired when he allowed Jason Delucia to leglock him and he discovered he couldn't escape the hold, which made him tap out to Jason.
    • It could be an Enforced trope during his fight with Rickson Gracie. While having a guillotine choke secured in the corner, you can see Funaki looking at his cornermen and being told something before releasing the hold.
  • 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 avoid 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.
  • Passing the Torch: To Yuki Kondo, though Yuki never got the same level.
  • Perma Stubble
  • Red Baron: "Yomigaetta Samurai" (Revived Samurai).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Funai may look like the blue to Minoru Suzuki's red, but reality is another - despite his cooler persona, Funaki was much more passionate and wild than him.
  • Start My Own: Pancrase, along Suzuki.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: He used to do a backflip from the turnbuckle before or after the fights.
  • Unrelated Brothers: A non-tag team example. Some sites (even official ones) erroneously claim that ex-WWE wrestler Shoichi Funaki is Masakatsu's real life brother. Actually not only they are not related at all, they have never worked together despite both being PWFG trainees.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Before facing the well conditioned Rickson, Funaki had endured a years long career in a highly body-destructive style and resented from leg injuries. Some well timed upkicks to his most injuried knee were enough to make him fall and render him unable to use his legs to fend Gracie off. Moreover, an interview with Funaki had him stating that he was actually scared going into his fight with Rickson, and that he believed his lack of confidence was a big factor in his loss.
    • His fights against Sakuraba and Tamura subvert this, as they were so battle worn as him, or even more.
  • Worked Shoot: His fight against Suzuki was notoriously worked, and it's rumored that his rematch against Frank Shamrock was a work too. Nowadays many people believe they weren't his only worked fights, but as it's Pancrase what we are talking about, we will probably never know it.
Giant SilvaThe NinetiesThe Corporation
Jim FullingtonProfessional WrestlingTerry Funk

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