Top 10 Japanese Pro Wrestlers Who Made An Impact In The US

Jun 29, 2022 - by Steve Gerweck

Japanese Wrestlers Bring Something Out Of This World To The WWE

Outside of America, the WWE is most popular in Japan. In fact, Japan has its own Pro Wrestling league and tournaments. Which we sadly don’t get to see enough of over here.

It is the same with MMA – you can find the best sports betting lines and MMA odds here.

Every now and then a superstar from the Japanese wrestling scene makes it over to the WWE and they inevitably cause chaos for the American champions.

Some of the most exciting wrestlers in the last 40 years have come from Japan and today, we wanted to sing their praises.

We are going to look at the most exciting, impactful, and memorable Japanese wrestlers that we have watched over the last few decades.

One thing that we can say with confidence about Japanese wrestlers is that they are never, ever boring.

#10 – Tiger Mask

There have been many Tiger Masks in Pro Wrestling, it is a title that has been passed on between Japanese wrestlers.

Coming in at number 10 on this list is Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask who started off this tradition.

#9 – Kairi Sane

Sane was once one-half of the deadly Kabuki Warriors, along with Asuka (more on her later). Together they were the longest reigning Women’s Tag Team Champions.

Sane may be talked about because of her zany pirate outfits, but she will be remembered for being an incredibly brutal and hardcore athlete.

And there is still so much more to come from this amazing woman.

#8 – Kota Ibushi

Ibushi never officially signed for the WWE but he did take part in a few of their tournaments, back when they let independent wrestlers in.

We still think about that tournament when he knocked out Sean Maluta, Cedric Alexander, and Brian Kendrick only to be beaten by TJ Perkins in the final.

#7 – Último Dragón

If the Último Dragón wasn’t your favorite wrestling growing up then you weren’t watching enough wrestling.

This man was so beloved by fans around the world that at one point he held 10 concurrent titles internationally.

#6 – Jushin Thunder Liger

The Thunder Liger traveled back and forth between Japan and America many times during his career. While he only officially fought for the WWE twice, he had taken part in many of their tournaments.

He was so adored that he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the year he retired.

#5 – Mr. Fuji

You may have not fought about Mr. Fuji when you saw the title of this article but we are sure you’re as pleased as we are to have him on this list.

This man has been one of the most feared managers for decades now – he managed Don Muraco, Yokozuna, and Demolition, threw salt in the eyes of all your favorite wrestlers, and made an enemy of the Legion of Doom.

#4 – Antonio Inoki

Antonio Inoki wrestled in a time when the WWE didn’t have so much of a chokehold over the American professional wrestling. He didn’t spend much time with the company but made a huge impact everywhere else.

He was the first WWF Heavyweight Champion – although the WWE does not recognize his reign. And he founded one of the biggest wrestling companies in Japan.

After leaving wrestling Inoki went on to be a politician and even negotiated the release of Japanese prisoners of war during the Gulf War.

#3 – Hideo Itami

Hideo Itami was criminally underused in the WWE. When he announced he was leaving Japanese wrestling for the American company it made the national news.

We are glad to say that since leaving the WWE, Hideo Itami has gone on to enjoy more success in the world of wrestling.

#2 – Shinsuke Nakamura

Shinsuke Nakamura is a one-time Royal Rumble winner, two-time NXT Champion, and one-time Intercontinental champion.

Many herald his joining of the WWE and his SPECTACULAR match with Sami Zayn in 2016, as a door opener for the company to bring in new talent from all over the world.

If you haven’t watched that Nakamura vs Zayn match, watch it as soon as you finish this article.

#1 – Asuka

It is hard to believe that Asuka has only been part of the WWE for the last 7 years. She has been such a huge feature of the women’s roster over the past 2-3 years, that it feels like she’s always been with us.

Asuka signed with the WWE in 2015. She fought her way up through the ranks for NXT before moving over to Raw. She has since become the Raw Women’s Champion, Women’s Tag Team Champion, and she has been Money in the Bank Champion multiple times.

She was part of the legendary Kabuki Warriors duo with Kairi Sane (another Japanese wrestler) for around 9 months but the pair made a big splash.

Asuka is famous for the poisonous green mist that she sprays from her mouth and her submission move – the Asuka Lock.

When you watch her in the ring, you can’t take your eyes off her – she is a deceptively good athlete who is full of charm and energy. She makes it all look so easy.

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