Takaaki Watanabe (渡辺 高章, Watanabe Takaaki, born January 26, 1987) is a Japanese professional wrestler, better known by his ring name Evil (stylised EVIL). He wrestles for the promotion New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), where he is the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, IWGP Intercontinental Champion, and NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion. After debuting in NJPW in 2011, Evil competed in the United States on excursion,
Watanabe trained under Animal Haniguchi, where he would meet someone who's fate would be intertwined with his, Tetsuya Naito. After competing his training, he enrolled in the New Japan Dojo as a Young Lion, debuting for the promotion in 2011. As is the tradition with Young Lions, he spent most of his time taking losses and competing in opening matches to gain experience. As is the custom, after his training he graduated and was sent on an excursion, wrestling primary in The United States for Global Force Wrestling (GFW) and Ring of Honor (ROH) from 2014 to 2015.
Two years later, Watanabe had undergone a transformation when he made his return. Gone was the kind young man eager to learn how to wrestle. Instead there was something else. Something Dark, Something Wicked, Something... Evil. Takaki Watanabe was no more, there was only now EVIL, The King of Darkness. Looking like The Grim Reaper himself he returned to New Japan at Destruction 2015 as he aligned with Naito becoming the first member to join Los Ingobernables de Japon and as his right hand man.
EVIL quickly found success in New Japan Pro Wrestling in both singles and tag action. Along with SANADA, he became a two time World Tag League Winner, IWGP Tag Team Champion, NEVER Openweight Singles Champion, and NEVER 6-Man Tag Champion. The brotherhood of LIJ would continue to win, but SANADA and EVIL made it clear that they, like Naito, would challenge the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champions, whoever they may be.
Eventually, an inter-LIJ challenge was unavoidable. Naito was at the top of the mountain in New Japan after winning the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships at Wrestle Kingdom 14. As the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 resulted in almost every non-Japanese wrestler (barring only Gabriel Kidd and Zack Sabre Jr.) unable to enter Japan, the 2020 New Japan Cup saw three members of LIJ in the semifinals, with Hiromu losing to Okada, and EVIL displaying an even more vicious streak then usual, using whatever means necessary in order to win. Before his Quarterfinal match his opponent didn't even get a chance to enter before EVIL attacked him with a chair and destroyed his knee forcing the match to end in only two minutes. in the semifinal against his partner SANADA, EVIL showed no remorse or mercy eventually defeating him in 20 minutes. In the finals EVIL would face The Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada, with the winner going on to face Naito. During the match, Bullet Club's Gedo and Yujiro Takahashi attacked and distracted Okada, seemingly a random reignition of their old feuds with their former CHAOS ally. This gave EVIL his chance to win the match and the tournament.
After winning it, Naito came down to the ring and impressed, calling for the LIJ fist bump. EVIL raised his hand.
But he had a different symbol instead he was showing, changing his raised fist to the Two Sweet symbol of Bullet Club. EVIL had defected against the very faction he co-founded, to challenge his fellow cofounder for the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles. And with the help of his new stablemates he won, bringing both titles to the club with him, alongside his new manager, freelancer and former IWGP Tag Team Champion Dick Togo.
"This! Is the Tropes! Everything! Is the Tropes! Subete wa... TROPES!":
- Acrofatic: Relative to his peers, anyway. His build and athleticism mirror those of Charles Wright or D'Lo Brown in an era where smaller guys are typically the norm, giving him the agility to keep up with his rivals and the size to overpower them.
- Arch-Enemy: As SANADA's teammate in LIJ, Bullet Club's Guerrillas of Destiny would become this, as the two teams frequently butted heads in World Tag League finals and Wrestle Kingdom tag team championship bouts, usually with EVIL and SANADA winning. And then EVIL switched out on his group to spearhead the post-COVID Bullet Club, reversing the dynamic as former LIJ brother Hiromu Takahashi would explode into a psychotic mess aimed at taking him out.
- Bash Brothers: With SANADA to and a lesser extent Bushi, as multiple time tag and trios champions. Ironically, ending this relationship made him a triple champion. His title match following the New Japan Cup took place literally a day after betraying LIJ, giving no time for his NEVER Six-Man Tag Title reign with Bushi and Takagi to even be addressed before he took the Intercontinental and Heavyweight IWGP titles from Naito.
- Beard of Evil: Yes, the beard literally belongs to EVIL.
- Big Bad: Appropriately for his name, he is the first top heel in post-COVID New Japan after his Bullet Club heel turn and double championship victory over Naito.
- Broken Pedestal: To Hiromu Takahashi after he turned on LIJ.
- Came Back Wrong: When Takaaki Watanabe left on excursion, he was just an ordinary Young Lion. Then he came back, and, well...
- Card-Carrying Villain: He became obsessed with themes of death, darkness, and evil to the point Tetsuya Naito decided that was his name, to which he just absolutely reveled. For example...
- Catchphrase: "This is EVIL! EVERYTHING is EVIL! Subete wa...EVIL!"
- Combat Pragmatist: To EVIL, winning is to be done by any means necessary. Whether it's using chairs, low blows or even biting his opponent, there's no line he won't cross.
- Dark Horse Victory: In tournament competition, EVIL has a reputation for scoring shocking upset victories. The most infamous of these came during the 2017 G1 Climax, when he defeated Kazuchika Okada himself, handing Okada his first singles loss in over a year and earning himself an IWGP Heavyweight title match.
- After NJPW started airing again during the COVID 19 pandemic, he would terrorize his way into winning the 2020 New Japan Cup, culminating in beating Okada again... making him a rightful challenger for Naito's double belt... which he WOULD ALSO WIN.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Tetsuya. You not only brought the man in knowing how much he'd changed, you literally proceeded to have him be called EVIL going forward. Did you really think he would not come after you and completely upend your dreams someday?
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: He tends to score victories against talents that are likely not to lose such as Kazuchika Okada in tournaments.
- Eviler Than Thou: While LIJ had started off as Heels, the group had been leaning towards Tweeners over the years with Hiromu all but being an out and out Face. EVIL however still employed his ruthless tactics which lead to him joining Bullet Club.
- Evil vs. Evil: has this dynamic with Jay White. Despite his new alliance with BC Evil made it clear that he doesn't follow Jay's leadership. Although will they come to blows or not remains yet to be seen.
- FaceHeel Turn: He was a kind young lion, then he joined Naito and all that kindness was replaced by a darker and more sinister persona. Then Naito's group became kinder... except for him. Which he reminded everyone of when he ruthlessly cheated to win the 2020 New Japan Cup, then attacked Naito and joined forces with another faction... Bullet Club.
- Finishing Move: Everything is Evil (STO).
- Friendly Rivalry: With SANADA, as they sometimes faced each other in tournaments, yet seem to not harbour any bad feeling towards another... that is until New Japan Cup 2020.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: If he's facing an opponent who's just as hammy as he is, expect this to happen. Most notable in his feud with Tomohiro Ishii.
- It's Personal: At New Japan Cup 2020, a competition between him and Naito becomes this when EVIL betrays him and LIJ to the Bullet Club. After he defeated Naito and took the double gold he started a feud again with Hiromu Takahashi. Time will tell if he will continue to feud with other LIJ members i.e BUSHI, SANADA, and Shingo Takagi
- Large Ham: Yup, he really likes to ham it up. Just watch any of his segments.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Currently the closest thing to a supernatural character NJPW has on their roster.
- Meaningful Name: When one of your best friends renames you EVIL, odds are you're not a good person. Tragically, said best friend would forget that he too needed to watch his fucking back.
- Neck Snap: A variation of this. He likes to put a chair around his opponents neck, then he swings another chair at it, snapping the chair and his opponents neck in the process.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: His Grim Reaper gimmick is almost comical since NJPW doesn't concerns themselves with superstitious plots and keeps storylines realistic. So his gimmick tends to get called silly, especially since he alligned himself with Los Ingobernables de Japon, but then he gets into the ring and...
- Obviously Evil: Gee, I wonder if the name gave it away... Or maybe his entrance.. or his attire..or his theme.. or that big ass Scythe he carries around.
- Power Stable: First Los Ingobernables de Japon, then Bullet Club.
- Purple Is Powerful: He wears black tops with shades of purple and he is also one of NJPW's great superstars.
- Red Baron: King of Darkness.
- Sacrificial Lion: Him getting beaten by Chris Jericho showed how much of a danger Jericho was to Naito... and NJPW in general.
- Shaped Like Itself: His name is EVIL.
- Sinister Scythe: His entrance has him carrying one to the ring.
- Signature Move: A really hard lariat, and a fireman's carry sitout slam dubbed Darkness Falls.
- Skunk Stripe: Has two blonde streaks in his hair.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: Tends to shout in the middle of his promo, usually his catchphrase above.
- The Brute: As part of LIJ.
- Wham Shot: At the end of New Japan Cup 2020, after he defeated Okada, EVIL proceeds to call out Naito, who comes out and congrats him, hoping that they will have a great match together. Naito then invites him to an LIJ fist bump which EVIL accepts,.. but at the last second change his hand into a very familiar gesture.