The WWE lost a member of its family today as Harry Fujiwara, professionally known as Mr. Fuji, died at the age of 82.
Sunday, 28 August 2016 21:28
Carving his niche as an evil Japanese wrestler/manager, Mr. Fuji was actually born in the United States, specifically Hawaii. Born in 1935, he would get his start in his native Hawaii in the mid-60’s and would win his first title within a year, specifically the NWA Hawaii Tag Team Title with King Curtis Iaukea. The late 60’s and early 70’s would see Fuji win regional singles and tag titles, most notably in Oregon with NWA Pacific Northwest. While those accomplishments were solid, it was a move east to then named Worldwide Wrestling Federation that would make him far more known.
Along with his regular tag team partner, Professor Toru Tanaka, The duo would enter the WWWF and with their manager, The Grand Wizard they would defeat Chief Jay Strongbow and Sonny King for the WWWF World Tag Team Titles. Holding the titles for 11 months, Fuji would also receive WWWF World Heavyweight Title shots and was in many main events in the territory. They would have a second reign (though much shorter) but after their loss Tanaka and Fuji would leave the WWWF in and venture south winning other titles.
Returning in 1977, Mr. Fuji and Toru Tanaka now had Freddie Blassie as their Manager and would defeat Larry Zbyszko and Tony Garea in a tournament final for their third WWWF World Tag Team Title. This run would last seven months before losing to the belts to Dino Bravo and Domenic DeNucci. This time the team would split up and Fuji would go on to try his hands at a singles career in other territories.
Mr. Fuji would notably travel to Puerto Rico, winning the North American Title and would also win the NWA New Zealand Championship. Closer to home, he would defeat Angelo Mosca for the NWA Canadian Championship in Toronto.
In 1981, Mr. Fuji would return to the WWWF, now with a new tag team partner, Mr. Saito. With Captain Lou Albano as their manager, Fuji won his fourth WWWF Tag Team Title defeating the tandem of Rick Martel and Tony Garea before losing it to the Strongbows nine months later. Saito would leave the WWWF shortly after and Fuji would descend into the mid-card for a couple of years before he became a manager himself.
Fuji would align with “The Magnificent” Muraco and feud with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat for nearly a year. Fuji was still wrestling part time, often losing to Steamboat in singles and taking the loss in tag team matches but what was most remembered for this period were the skits performed by Fuji and Muraco on the TNT program where Muraco was trying to flex his “acting chops”. Fuji was the straight man in the bits, but always got the laughs in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way.
In 1987, Fuji took over the contracts of Demolition and would take them to WWF World Tag Team Championship at Wrestlemania IV. He would turn on his team at the Survivor Series, siding with the Powers of Pain and would attempt to help his new team win the belts at Wrestlemania V where he was allowed to be part of a 3 on 2 handicap match for the belts. Following the loss, Fuji was never really part of a major program until 1992 when he was paired with Yokozuna.
Yokozuna would win the 1993 Royal Rumble and would go on to win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from Bret Hart at Wrestlemania IX. While he would subsequently lose the strap to Hulk Hogan (that night), he would regain it at King of The Ring and Mr. Fuji would be cemented as one of the rare heel managers who was in control of the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
In theory, it was short lived as Jim Cornette was brought in Yokozuna’s American spokesman, and Fuji was in the background for the next two years. Following Yokozuna’s extradition from Cornette’s stable, Fuji was briefly seen in Yokozuna’s corner, though now carrying the American flag. He was last seen on WWE television in 1996 and went into retirement.
While Mr. Fuji was off of television his legacy lived on and in 2007, The Magnificent Muraco inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame.
We here at Notinhalloffame.com would like to extend our condolences to the friends and family of Harry Fujiwara at this time.