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Wrestling / Mr. Fuji

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Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara (May 4, 1934 – August 28, 2016) was a Japanese-American professional wrestler, manager and trainer from Honolulu, Hawaiʻi who is best known for his work in WWE as Mr. Fuji. He debuted in 1965 in Hawaii and would go on to compete for a variety of territories. He switched from wrestling to managing in 1985 and would continue in that role until he retired in 1996. Among his in-ring achievements, he was a 5x WWE World Tag Team Champion, a 4x NWA PNW Tag Team Champion, and a 1x IWA (Australia) World Tag Team Champion. As a manager, he led Demolition to their first WWE World Tag Team Title reign and Yokozuna to his two WWE World Heavyweight Title reigns.

During his post-wrestling career—one that did see him continue to occasionally wrestle—one of Fuji's most famous acts was teaming with his protege, the Magnificent Muraco, for a series of television parodies that aired on the WWF's USA Network program Tuesday Night Titans. The whole thing was a classic Abbott- and Costello-esque storyline of a bad acting duo wanting to break into the movies and looking for their first big break; among the shows featured in these parodies were Miami Vice and General Hospital.

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But Fuji's most memorable contribution to 1980s wrestling fans was that of manager. At one point in 1987, he managed seven wrestlers at one time, more than any then-active WWF manager (including Bobby Heenan, during André the Giant's mid-1987 sabbatical from the ring note ); those wrestlers who were simultaneously under Fuji's tutelage in the spring and early summer of '87 were Sika, Kamala, Killer Khan, Demolition (Ax and Smash), the Magnificent Muraco and "Cowboy" Bob Orton. Besides Demolition, whom he managed as Tag Team Champions (during the early months of their reign), Fuji's most successful protege was Yokozuna, a Polynesian wrestler using a sumo wrestler gimmick; Yokozuna was WWF World Heavyweight Champion for nine months in 1993 and 1994, successfully defending his title against Bret Hart, Lex Luger, Razor Ramon, Bob Backlund, Randy Savage and The Undertaker before dropping the title to Hart at WrestleMania X.

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"The Devious Tropes":

  • Bash Brothers: With Toru Tanaka, as they teamed and held gold in many promotions.
  • Face/Heel Double-Turn: Was the central figure in causing one at the 1988 Survivor Series, when he double-crossed his successful tag team, Demolition, to side with the then-face The Powers of Pain. The storyline explanation, made known shortly after the event, was that Fuji felt that Demolition — who by the fall of 1988 was the most popular tag team in the WWF, despite being pushed as heels — was no longer listening to him, so he secretly conspired with the Powers of Pain (a power-brawling, The Road Warriors-esque tag team that wasn't quite getting the desired fan response) to teach his team a lesson. Of course, Demolition became even more popular as a result, and despite Fuji's guidance, the Powers of Pain continued to flounder before being relegated to mid-card matches.
  • Large Ham: In Real Life. Probably one of the most prolific and elaborate ribbers in the business.
  • The Master: Referred to at times during the 1990s, by the Berzerker among others, as "Master Fuji."
  • Power Stable:
    • (in Australia): Big Bad John's Army.
    • (in the WWF, 1987): See bio, but managing seven wrestlers simultaneously. During 1987 alone, four of those wrestlers all received matches against WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan for the title, with Killer Khan, Sika and "Cowboy" Bob Orton Jr. all on television. The fourth — Kamala — received non-televised house show shots after Fuji took over the manager's role (following the departure of King Curtis Iaukea, aka "The Wizard"). Also, Demolition was a mid-card team at this point but was quickly gaining enough of a following to earn upper-card matches against teams like The British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith) and The Rougeau Brothers (the top face tag teams that weren't Tag Team champions). And the Magnificent Muraco still gained heat, just by his association with Fuji (and Orton).
  • Red Baron: "The Devious One"
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