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Masato Tanaka (born February 28, 1973) is a Japanesemarker professional wrestler, best known for his appearances with Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling in Japan and in Extreme Championship Wrestling in the United States. He is currently working in Pro Wrestling ZERO1.


Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling (1993–1999)

Tanaka trained under Atsushi Onita, and debuted on July 23, 1993 in Saga City, facing Ricky Fuji. He quickly began working for FMW, widely regarded as the most hardcore professional wrestling promotion in Japan. Wrestling in matches featuring explosions and barbed wire, Tanaka earned a variety of scars, and the nickname "Dangan", which he would often shout during his matches. By 1996 he was one of the promotion's major stars, and had feuded with such luminaries as Mr. Pogo, Mr. Gannosuke, Terry Funk and Mike Awesome. His feud with Awesome would eventually span ten years and two continents. In December 1999, he left FMW for ECW, after he and Tetsuhiro Kuroda lost to H and Mr. Gannosuke.

Extreme Championship Wrestling (1998–2000)

ECW owner Paul Heyman became interested in Tanaka, and eventually hired him. Tanaka debuted in ECW on March 1, 1998 at Living Dangerously, defeating Doug Furnas. In July 1998 he reprised his feud with Awesome, who he defeated at Heat Wave 1998.

Tanaka formed a short-lived tag team with Balls Mahoney, and at November to Remember on November 1, 1998 they defeated the Dudley Boyz to win the ECW World Tag Team Championships. The Dudley Boyz would regain the titles five days later, and Tanaka returned to Japan to attend the wedding of his friend Sabu in December.

Tanaka returned to ECW in 1999, this time vying for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. On September 19 at Anarchy Rulz, Taz, about to leave ECW for the WWF, defended the ECW World Heavyweight Championship against Awesome and Tanaka in a three way dance. After just two minutes Taz was eliminated by a combined assault at the hands of his opponents. After a further eleven minutes of brawling, Awesome pinned Tanaka with a top-rope powerbomb to become the new ECW World Heavyweight Champion.

Tanaka faced Awesome for the title at November to Remember on November 7, but was defeated once more. He finally overcame Awesome on December 17, 1999 at a ECW on TNN TV Taping in Nashville, Tennesseemarker, becoming the first ECW World Heavyweight Champion not to be an American citizen. After the match, Awesome shook Tanaka's hand and fastened the belt around his waist in a show of respect, then attacked him as he left the ring and powerbombed him through a table. Awesome would regain the title at the next weeks TV Taping in White Plains, New Yorkmarker on December 23.

Continuing his rivalry with Awesome, Tanaka joined forces with Tommy Dreamer to face Raven and Awesome. Dreamer and Tanaka defeated the Impact Players for the ECW World Tag Team Championship on February 26, 2000, but lost them to Awesome and Raven on March 4, 2000. This led to a tag team three way dance at Living Dangerously on March 12, with Tanaka and Dreamer facing ECW World Tag Team Champions Mike Awesome and Raven and the Impact Players. Tanaka pinned Awesome, costing him the tag titles, but lost the match after Dreamer was pinned by the Impact Players.

Tanaka's feud with Awesome was brought to an abrupt end when Awesome left ECW in April 2000. He remained with ECW until mid-2000 before returning to Japan.

Return to Japan (2000–present)

Tanaka returned to FMW in 2000, briefly feuding with H, before joining forces with H (by now back under the Hayabusa persona) to feud with Team No Respect, until leaving in 2001, allegedly as a result of animosity between him and the owner of FMW, Shoichi Arai, mostly over Hiromichi Fuyuki's role as booker. Before departing FMW, Tanaka formed the "Complete Players" stable with former Fuyuki proteges Gedo and Jado, as well as real-life sweetheart Kaori Nakayama. They would work on the Japanese independent circuit, making appearances for Pro Wrestling ZERO-ONE and All Japan Pro Wrestling. Tanaka wrestled Shinya Hashimoto on the March 2 ZERO-ONE anniversary show, impressing Z-1 officials and earning himself a job.

In January 2002 Tanaka formed a tag team named "Emblem" with Shinjiro Otani, with whom he twice won the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Championships. In February 2004, he turned heel and sided with the "Apache Army". In September 2004 he formed his own stable, "Team Erotics", continuing his feud with Otani. In late 2007, he was chosen to lead a new stable named "Sword Army", the name was chosen by fans in a contest. Takao Ōmori was also given a stable named "Axe Army" to compete against Tanaka.

In mid-2009 Tanaka returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling as an outsider. He reformed the Complete Players with Jado and Gedo, and he participated in the 2009 G1 Climax tournament, although he failed to advance past the block stages.

Return to the United States (2002–2006)

On November 9, 2002, Tanaka wrestled at Ring of Honor's All Star Extravaganza show, teaming with Shinjiro Otani to defeat Steve Corino and Low Ki.

On June 12. 2005 Tanaka revived his feud with Mike Awesome at the WWE produced ECW One Night Stand 2005 reunion PPV. He was defeated after Awesome delivered a running Awesome Bomb through a table outside the ring and followed up with an Awesome Splash. He returned to WWE one year later at ECW One Night Stand 2006, losing to Balls Mahoney. On October 26, 2007, Tanaka beat Takao Ōmori for the AWA Superstars of Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

  • Premier Wrestling Federation
    • PWF Universal Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Shinjiro Otani

  • Pro Wrestling WORLD-1
    • WORLD-1 Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

1This title is not to be confused with the NWA United National Championship, an NWA singles title that has been integrated into and is now part of the AJPW Triple Crown Championship.



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