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Yoshiaki Fujiwara


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Major number 1 candidate for me and I know I'm not alone even if it isn't a majority opinion.


I find myself hooked every time I watch him perform. He is capable of a wild violent brawl, strategic mat wrestling, and even comedy. He is great as a supporting player in a tag and fantastic when pushed into the spotlight. His selling is incredible. Probably some of the most realistic selling I've ever seen. Just about every one of his opponents comes out of a match with him looking better, even if they didn't win.


I think a good approach for someone new to Fujiwara is to check out his big NJPW matches first and then move onto his UWF stuff. His 1989 UWF matches with Maeda and Yamazaki are 1980s MOTDCs and for me he is the star of the NJPW vs UWF feud in 1986. That's probably my favorite feud in the history of wrestling so I mean that as high praise.

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He got a classic series of matches out of Sayama. That's a top-10 qualification right there.


He's the one wrestler I've seen who really made defense feel like a vital, exciting thing. In a way, his signature is shielding his body in the corner, eating strikes and waiting to snare his overly aggressive opponent. But yeah, the NJPW stuff showcases how good he was in a more traditional setting, just with facial expressions, ramping up the aggression of a match, etc. As I recall, he was unbelievable in the 1986 5-on-5 gauntlet. His '87 match with Choshu is one of the great brawls of all time.


Also might have been Inoki's best opponent.


His best shootstyle stuff is my favorite shootstyle stuff ever, from the Sayama series in '84-'85 to the '89 matches Crackers mentioned to his semi-carry jobs with Takada in '90. His PWFG stuff is shorter on classics but shows his adaptability.


Love that guy.

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Fujiwara is someone that took me awhile to really appreciate. I watched a few of his matches and thought he was good, but didn't get the possible GOAT talk. Then I was listening to a podcast (don't remember which one) and Phil Schneider said that when something happens in a match with Fujiwara that becomes the focus of the match, ie. blood. Somehow that made everything click and in the last two weeks I've been watching as much Fujiwara as possible and loving most of it. I think he's someone you have to get a feel for to really appreciate and people owe it to themselves to do so because he's definitely a GOAT contender and he's my favorite shoot style wrestler. He's also one of the few guys along with Terry Funk who I can watch and watch and watch and not get tired of.

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The guy who I can't wait to watch more of. Digging into some PWFG stuff right now, and I can hear arguments for #1 overall all the way to him being off the ballot. From what I've seen, the most unique wrestler in the proceedings, some of the greatest facial expressions in history and one of the best workers I've seen. Need to see more to see just how high I can put him, though.

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Ok, why the heck did the crowd start laughing at poor Smiley when he tried to put that leglock on. Even Fujiwara seemed a bit baffled (if not amused) by it.


One of Fujiwara's signature spots is reversing leglocks. He capitalizes on the mistake his opponents make by putting themselves in the position for him to put on his own leglock, which he is typically much better at than his opponents. Its kind of like headbutting JYD (or Fujiwara for that matter), but more intricate and legitimate since its shoot-style and they're just going with the flow until the finish.


The crowd knew what was coming next and he was saying, "Oh, really? You're putting ME in a leglock? OK, we'll see..."

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There was a match against Hase from 93 on youtube and one against Liger from 94 that I would have recommended but it looks like they've been taken down.


Here are 3 matches from 3 distinct periods of his career. The first is from the original UWF, the place where he had his first chance to main event, taking on the original Tiger Mask. The second one is from one of the first PWFG shows when he was right around his peak. The third is from last December. It's a brief glimpse of what he is still capable of at 64.


vs. Super Tiger 9.11.85


vs. Wellington Wilkins Jr. 5.11.91


vs. Masaaki Mochizuki 12.4.13

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Ok, so I have seen Fujiwara pimped for years and I can't think of any Fujiwara match I've ever seen. If you were going to give me 3 matches I could find on youtube to watch, what would they be?


Boy I wonder where one could find some Fujiwara recommendations?



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