Yujiro Kushida (櫛田 雄二郎 Kushida Yūjirō, born May 12, 1983) is professional wrestler and mixed martial artist. He is better known for his work with New Japan Pro Wrestling as KUSHIDA (stylized in all capital letters). He is a former five-times IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and two-times IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, alongside Alex Shelley as the Time Splitters. He also won the 2015 and 2017 Best of the Super Juniors and 2016 Super J-Cup tournaments. Through a working relationship between NJPW and Ring of Honor (ROH), Kushida also makes appearances for the American promotion, where he is a ROH World Television Champion. He won the ZST Genesis Lightweight Tournament and AJPW's U-30 Tag Team Tournament in 2008 with T28. He is also undefeated in mixed martial arts competition.
Career[edit | edit source]
Early years[edit | edit source]
Kushida trained at Nobuhiko Takada's Takada Dojo to be a professional wrestler since he was in junior high school. He debuted at ZST in a fight against Kenji Mizuno in January 2003. He won the ZST Genesis Light Weight Tournament in 2004. Around the same time, he held a part-time job with the Tokyo Sports magazine.
Kushida was offered to continue on in the MMA field, but his dream was to become a professional wrestler and he went out to do just that. Soon after he would embark to Mexico and Canada with money borrowed from his mother, Sachiko, and began training for a career in professional wrestling.
Hustle[edit | edit source]
Kushida would return to Japan and on February 10, 2006, being signed by his trainer Takada's promotion Hustle after being scouted by Tajiri and Hiroshi Nagao. Tajiri eventually took Kushida under his wing completely as his apprentice. He debuted as a pro wrestler on September 7, 2006, with Tajiri to take on Red Onigumo and Blue Onigumo. Kushida quickly earned the title "Hustle Supernova" and became one of the top up and comers of the babyface faction Hustle Army, forming a team with Tajiri and his other apprentice Banzai Chie. Kushida and Chie got in a feud with heel Monster Army member Giant Vabo, being assisted by guest model Hitomi Kaikawa, but they were mostly unsuccessful. Moreover, their alliance with Tajiri broke up when he was in storyline brainwashed by Yinling and turned into a Monster Army, so they enlisted Ryoji Sai in order to snap him back to his former self. They eventually got him back in 2007, returning to their trios matches.
In 2009, Kushida got into a heated rivalry with his Monster Army counterpart, NWA International Junior Heavyweight Champion Ray Ohara. Kushida faced him several times for his title, but he got defeated every time despite Tajiri's best efforts to help him. Ohara allied himself with Minoru Fujita as his mentor to counter Tajiri, and stipulated a last title match in which Kushida should put his Hustle career in line. Kushida accepted, but he was defeated by a miscommunication with Tajiri, being forced to abandon the Hustle Army and the promotion itself.
All Japan and Osaka Pro (2007-2008)[edit | edit source]
Kushida started competing in All Japan Pro Wrestling in July 2007, wrestling against Ryuji Hijikata and T28. In February 2008, Kushida teamed up with T28 to participate in the U-30 Tag Team Tournament, a one night tournament that featured AJPW's top young wrestlers. The team defeated CJ Otis and Mototsugu Shimizu in the first round, Kaji Yamato and Taishi Takizawa in the second round and the team of Daichi Kakimoto and Manabu Soya in the finals to win the U30 Tag Team tournament. The team would go on to compete in AJPW's 2008 Junior Tag League, the team ended up tied for last place with only four points for two victories and three losses.
Kushida and Tajiri competed in Osaka Tag Festival 2008 and reached the semi final of the tournament but were knocked out by Daisuke Harada and Zeus. Kushida also competed in the Mondo 21 Cup 13-man battle royal. On 12 June, Kushida won his first three-way dance against Kuishinbo Kamen and Kanjyuro Matsuyama. After teaming up with Billyken Kid and defeating Takoyakida and Tigers Mask, Kushida went on a winning streak at Osaka Pro Wrestling in both singles and tag team matches which is still intact today.
Touring North America (2009–2010)[edit | edit source]
In March 2009, Kushida faced Rey Ohara in a match that was a turning point in his career as he lost and was forced to leave Japan. Kushida went on to compete in wrestling promotions in Canada, Mexico and America, most notably in Chikara and Border City Wrestling. Kushida participated in a steel cage match for BSE Suicide Six Pack title and was defeated by Tyson Dux. On November 3, 2010 while competing for Canadian Wrestling's Elite, he received a CWE Championship match against the then champion AJ Sanchez but lost. Kushida won his last match in Canada defeating Michael Von Payton at Capital City Championship Combat in March 13, 2010. In October 2010, Kushida made two appearances for American promotion Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW).
Smash (2010–2011, 2012)[edit | edit source]
Kushida was the main event for Smash.1 where he defeated Hajime Ohara, he then went on to pair up with Lin Byron to defeat Ohara and Syuri for the main event of Smash.2. He lost to Prince Devitt on Smash.3 main event. Kushida went up against Isami Kodaka in a world tryout match on Smash.4. He then went on to lose his next three matches. He ended his losing streak when he teamed up with Tajiri and Akira Shoji against Ohara, Jessica Love and Kageman Guro on Smash.8. At Smash.9, Kushida went up against Mike Mondo for the OVW Heavyweight Championship but lost. At Smash.10 Kushida participated in his first hardcore match with Super Crazy & Isami Kodaka against Hajime Ohara, Heimo Ukonselkä & Jessica Love which his team won. Kushida's run with Smash ended on March 31, 2011, at Smash.15, where he was defeated by Ohara in the main event of the evening. On March 14, 2012, Kushida returned to Smash to compete in the promotion's final event, before ceasing its operations. In his return match, Kushida defeated Yusuke Kodama.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2010–2019)[edit | edit source]
Kushida participated in the annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament, which began on May 30, 2010. He participated in seven matches winning four out of them, giving him a total of eight points, just coming shy of the semi finals. Kushida also participated in the new tag team tournament called Super J Tag Tournament, Kushida partnered with Gedo. The pair first went up against Kota Ibushi and Austin Creed, Kushida pinned Austin to advance to the semi final. However the pair lost to Ryusuke Taguchi and Prince Devitt in the semi final so were out of the tournament. Kushida then went on to team up with Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tajiri to compete in J Sports Crown Openweight 6 Man Tag Tournament 2010, the team beat CHAOS to progress to the finals where they were eventually beaten by Hirooki Goto, Prince Devitt, and Ryusuke Taguchi. Kushida participated in Super J Tag League teaming up with Akira in block B, the pair won two matches and lost two matches amassing a total of four points, missing out on the final by two points.
On February 25, 2011, it was announced that Kushida, with Tajiri's blessing, would be leaving Smash and becoming a full-time member of the New Japan roster, beginning on April 1. On March 19 Kushida unsuccessfully challenged Prince Devitt for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. On May 26, Kushida entered the 2011 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. After winning five out of his eight round robin stage matches, he finished fourth out of the nine wrestlers in his block, narrowly missing the semifinals of the tournament. Kushida then went on to compete in J Sports Crown Openweight 6 Man Tag Tournament 2011 with Hiroshi Tanahashi and Máscara Dorada, however the trio were beaten in the second round by Jushin Thunder Liger, Karl Anderson and Giant Bernard. On August 27, 2011, he participated in the Destroyer Cup, a special battle royal at All Together. On September 19, Kushida was set to challenge Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, but a week earlier, Ibushi was forced to pull out of the match and vacate the title, after dislocating his left shoulder. Kushida was then booked in a decision match against former champion Prince Devitt to determine a new champion. On September 19, Kushida was defeated by Prince Devitt in a match for the vacant IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. On November 12 at Power Struggle, Kushida and Tiger Mask unsuccessfully challenged Davey Richards and Rocky Romero for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.
At Wrestle Kingdom VI, Kushida participated in his first match on January 4 Dome Show by teaming up with Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Tiger Mask IV and Mascara Dorada to defeat Atlantis, Valiente and Suzuki-gun (Taichi and Taka Michinoku). Liger won the match by pinning Valiente. On January 21, Kushida returned after the NJPW break period to take part in the Fantastica Mania 2012 events, teaming with Hirooki Goto, beating Máscara Dorada and Rush The second night Kushida lost to Máscara Dorada in a match for the CMLL World Welterweight Championship. At The New Beginning, Kushida along with Seigigun (Wataru Inoue and Yuji Nagata), Tiger Mask & Togi Makabe were defeated in a ten-man tag team elimination match by Suzuki-gun (Lance Archer, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Taka Michinoku and Yoshihiro Takayama). On 27 May, Kushida entered the 2012 Best of the Super Juniors tournament, after a strong start beating three of his first four opponents, which included Prince Devitt, Kushida would go on to lose most of his remaining matches which, in the end, gave him eight points, once again narrowly missing out on the semi final. On July 22, Kushida picked up a big win, when he defeated IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Low Ki in a non-title match. However, Low Ki was first scheduled to defend his title against Kota Ibushi and when, on July 29, Ibushi became the new champion, Kushida stepped up and challenged him to the title match originally scheduled for September 2011. On August 26, Kushida returned to the United States, when he wrestled at a Sacramento Wrestling Federation (SWF) event in Gridley, California, battling SWF Champion Dave Dutra to a time limit draw.
During the American trip, Kushida also formed a new partnership with Alex Shelley, saving him from IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Forever Hooligans of Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero. On September 7, Kushida took on Ibushi in a match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and lost. On October 8 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Kushida and Alex Shelley unsuccessfully challenged Forever Hooligans for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. On October 21, the Time Splitters entered the 2012 Super Jr. Tag Tournament, defeating The World Class Tag Team (Gedo and Jado) in their first round match. On November 2, Kushida and Shelley defeated Suzuki-gun (Taichi and Taka Michinoku) to advance to the finals, where, later that same day, they defeated Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi) to win the tournament and become the number one contenders to the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. On November 11 at Power Struggle, the Time Splitters defeated Forever Hooligans in a rematch to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, Kushida's first title in New Japan. On November 15, Kushida participated in the NEVER Openweight Championship tournament and was eliminated by Masato Tanaka. Time Splitters made their first successful title defense on February 10, 2013, at The New Beginning, defeating Forever Hooligans in the third title match between the two teams. Their second successful defense took place on March 3 at New Japan's 41st anniversary event, where they defeated Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask IV.
On April 7 at Invasion Attack, Time Splitters defeated Apollo 55 for their third successful title defense. On May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2013, Time Splitters lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship back to the Forever Hooligans in their fourth defense.
From late May to early June, Kushida took part in the 2013 Best of the Super Juniors, where he managed to win four out of his eight matches with a loss to Kenny Omega in his final match on June 6 costing him a spot in the semifinals of the tournament. On June 22 at Dominion 6.22, Time Splitters failed in their attempt to regain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship from the Forever Hooligans. On July 18, American promotion Ring of Honor (ROH) announced that Kushida would be making his debut for the promotion on August 3 in Toronto, Canada Kushida defeated Adam Page in his debut match for the promotion. Back in New Japan, Kushida and Shelley defeated Suzuki-gun (Taichi and Taka Michinoku) on September 29 at Destruction to earn another shot at the Forever Hooligans and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. However, Time Splitters were forced to back out of the title match, after Shelley was sidelined with a back injury. Shelley returned from his injury on January 4, 2014, at Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome, where the Time Splitters unsuccessfully challenged The Young Bucks for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in a four-way match, which also included Forever Hooligans and Suzuki-gun. Time Splitters were victorious in a non-title rematch the following day, after which they asserted themselves as The Young Bucks' next challengers. They received their title shot on February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka, but were again defeated by The Young Bucks. In March, Kushida took part in German promotion Westside Xtreme Wrestling's (wXw) 16 Carat Gold weekend. On April 12, during New Japan's trip to Taiwan, Kushida unsuccessfully challenged Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Championship. Time Splitters received another shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship on May 10 a Global Wars, a special event co-produced by NJPW and ROH in Toronto, but were defeated by The Young Bucks in a three-way match, also involving Forever Hooligans. At the second NJPW/ROH event, War of the Worlds on May 17, Kushida unsuccessfully challenged Jay Lethal for the ROH World Television Championship. On May 30, Kushida entered the 2014 Best of the Super Juniors tournament, where he won his block with a record of five wins and two losses, advancing to the semifinals. On June 8, Kushida defeated Taichi to advance to the finals of the tournament, where he was defeated by Ricochet. On June 21 at Dominion 6.21, Time Splitters defeated The Young Bucks to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship for the second time. On July 4 at Kizuna Road 2014, Kushida became a double champion, when he defeated Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. On August 10, Time Splitters made their first successful defense of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against the ROH tag team reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly). On September 21 at Destruction in Kobe, Kushida lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Ryusuke Taguchi in his first defense. Two days later at Destruction in Okayama, Time Splitters made their second successful defense of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Taichi. On October 13 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Time Splitters made their third successful title defense in a three-way match against Forever Hooligans and The Young Bucks. On November 8 at Power Struggle, Time Splitters lost the title to 2014 Super Jr. Tag Tournament winners reDRagon. On December 7, Kushida returned to ROH at Final Battle 2014, where he and Shelley unsuccessfully challenged reDRagon for the ROH World Tag Team Championship. Time Splitters received a rematch for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship on January 4, 2015, at Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome, in a four-way match also involving Forever Hooligans and The Young Bucks, but were again defeated by reDRagon. On February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka, Time Splitters received another title shot in a three-way match, but were this time defeated by The Young Bucks, who became the new champions.
In May, Kushida entered the 2015 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. He finished his block on June 3 with a record of six wins and one loss. Despite others in the block having as many as two matches left to wrestle, Kushida secured the top spot in the block and a place in the finals. Kushida's early qualifying to the finals happened due to his Time Splitters partner Alex Shelley being forced to pull out of their last scheduled match against each other due to a foot injury. On June 7, Kushida defeated Kyle O'Reilly in the finals to win the 2015 Best of the Super Juniors and earn a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. On July 5 at Dominion 7.5 in Osaka-jo Hall, Kushida defeated Kenny Omega to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the second time. He made his first successful title defense on August 16 against the winner of the 2014 Best of the Super Juniors, Ricochet. On August 21, Kushida returned to ROH, losing to Matt Sydal in a non-title match, after which he agreed to defend his title against Sydal. On September 23 at Destruction in Okayama, Kushida lost the title back to Kenny Omega. Four days later at Destruction in Kobe, Kushida and the returning Alex Shelley unsuccessfully challenged reDRagon for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. On January 4, 2016, at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in Tokyo Dome, Kushida defeated Kenny Omega to regain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. He made his first successful title defense on February 14 at The New Beginning in Niigata against BUSHI. Kushida's second title defense took place on March 12 at an ROH event in Philadelphia, where he defeated ACH. On April 10 at Invasion Attack 2016, Kushida defeated the debuting Will Ospreay for his third successful defense. His fourth defense took place on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2016, where he defeated veteran wrestler Jushin Thunder Liger. Later in the month, Kushida entered the 2016 Best of the Super Juniors. Finishing with a record of four wins and three losses, he was eliminated from the tournament after losing to Bushi in his final round-robin match. On June 19 at Dominion 6.19 in Osaka-jo Hall, Kushida defeated Best of the Super Juniors winner Will Ospreay for his fifth successful title defense. On July 20, Kushida entered the 2016 Super J-Cup, defeating Pro Wrestling NOAH representative Taiji Ishimori in his first round match. On August 21, KUSHIDA first defeated another NOAH representative, Kenoh, in the second round and then two Suzuki-gun representatives, Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru, in the semifinals and finals, respectively, to win the 2016 Super J-Cup. On September 17 at Destruction in Tokyo, KUSHIDA lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to BUSHI. He would regain the title from BUSHI on November 5 becoming four time champion. He lost the title to Hiromu Takahashi on January 4, 2017, at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in Tokyo Dome Kushida received his title rematch against Takahashi on April 9 at Sakura Genesis 2017, but was defeated in less than two minutes. The following month, Kushida took part in the NJPW and ROH co-produced War of the Worlds tour. On the final night of the tour, May 14, Kushida defeated Marty Scurll to become the new ROH World Television Champion. Upon his return to Japan, Kushida entered the 2017 Best of the Super Juniors, where he won his block with a record of four wins and three losses, advancing to the finals. On June 3, Kushida defeated Will Ospreay in the finals to win his second Best of the Super Juniors. On June 11 at Dominion 6.11 in Osaka-jo Hall, Kushida defeated Hiromu Takahashi to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the fifth time. On September 22, 2017, at Death Before Dishonor XV, Kushida lost the ROH World Television Championship to Kenny King. On October 9 at King of Pro-Wrestling, KUSHIDA lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion to Will Ospreay. KUSHIDA received a rematch on January 4, 2018 at Wrestle Kingdom 12, taking in a four-way match, which he failed to win the title. On April 1 at Sakura Genesis, KUSHIDA was nominated to be Ospreay's next challenger for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. KUSHIDA received his title match on May 4 at Wrestling Dontaku, unsuccessfully challenging Ospreay for the title. Later that month, KUSHIDA entered the 2018 Best of the Super Juniors tournament, finishing the tournament with a record of four wins and three losses, failing to advance to the finals of the tournament, due to losing to Hiromu Takahashi in their head-to-head match. On August 20, it was announced that KUSHIDA would take part of a four-man single elimination tournament to crown a new champion, after Hiromu Takahashi was forced to vacate the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship due to a neck injury. On October 8 at King of Pro-Wrestling, KUSHIDA defeated Marty Scurll in the finals to become the new champion, becoming a six time champion. From October 16 until November 1, KUSHIDA and Chris Sabin took part of the Super Jr. Tag League, finishing the tournament with a record of three wins and four losses, failling to advance to the finals of the tournament. During the tournament, KUSHIDA was pinned by Taiji Ishimori and Ishimori later attacked him cost him a match, when he pretended to be injured and mad his intentions of challenging KUSHIDA for his title, leading KUSHIDA to lose the title to Ishimori on January 4, 2019 at Wrestle Kingdom 13 in Tokyo Dome. On January 7, 2019 he announced he would be leaving New Japan Pro-Wrestling where his last match was against Hiroshi Tanahashi on January 29, which Tanahashi defeated him.
Mexico (2016)[edit | edit source]
On June 1, 2016, the Mexican Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) promotion announced Kushida as a participant in the 2016 International Gran Prix. On June 25, Kushida made it to the semifinals of Lucha Libre Elite's World Championship tournament, before losing to Volador Jr. On July 1, Kushida took part in the 2016 International Gran Prix, from which he was eliminated by La Máscara. On July 8, Kushida unsuccessfully challenged Volador Jr. for the NWA World Historic Welterweight Championship. On July 12, Kushida and Marco Corleone won a one-night tag team tournament, defeating Rey Escorpión and Shocker in the finals. The tournament concluded his Mexican tour.
In wrestling[edit | edit source]
- Finishing moves
- 9469 / Kushida Lock (Crossface with a knee to the opponent's back) – 2010–2013
- Back to the Future (Small package driver) – 2017–2019
- Hoverboard Lock (Kimura lock) – 2014–2019
- Midnight Express (Corkscrew moonsault) – 2010–2019
- Supernova Press (Moonsault onto a standing opponent) – 2006–2010
- Supernova Rana (Hurricanrana, sometimes from the top rope) – 2006-2010
- Signature moves
- Buzzsaw Kick (High-speed roundhouse kick to the head of a seated, kneeling or rising opponent) – adopted from Tajiri
- Cross armbreaker – adopted from Nobuhiko Takada
- Diving crossbody
- Double knee backbreaker
- Handspring back elbow – adopted from Tajiri
- Jumping double knee strike
- Masahiro Tanaka (Wind-up punch)
- Moonsault sometimes while standing
- Rolling Elbow (Discus elbow smash)
- Somersault topé through the second and top ropes
- Springboard overhead chop
- Standing corkscrew moonsault
- Standing shiranui
- With Alex Shelley
- Double team finishing moves
- I-94 (Sitout powerbomb (Kushida) / Sliced Bread #2 (Shelley) combination)
- Outatime (Falling neckbreaker (Shelley) / Moonsault (Kushida) combination)
- Double team finishing moves
- "Hustle Supernova"
- "New Japan (Junior) Supernova"
- "Time Splitter"
- "The Ace of the Jrs"
- Banzai Chie
- Entrance themes
- "Jump" by Van Halen
- "Keep On Burning" by Yonosuke Kitamura
- "Kushida Makes You Rock" by Yonosuke Kitamura
Championships and accomplishments[edit | edit source]
Professional wrestling[edit | edit source]
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- AJPW U-30 Tag Team Tournament (2008) – with T28
- Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre
- Cuadrangular de Parejas (2016) – with Marco Corleone
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #34 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2015
- PWI ranked him #48 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2016
- PWI ranked him #20 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2017
- Ring of Honor
- ROH World Television Championship (1 time)
- What Culture Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling World Cup (2017)
- Pro Wrestling World Cup: Japanese Tournament (2017) – with Hiromu Takahashi
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
References[edit | edit source]
- Destruction in Tokyo (in Japanese). New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved on 2016-09-17.
- Johnson, Mike 2017-05-14. Major ROH spoiler from Philadelphia . Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved on 2017-05-14.
- Meltzer, Dave (June 12, 2017). "June 12, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Extreme Rules and Best of the Super Juniors finals reviewed, tons of news". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 21–22. ISSN 1083-9593.