Seiya Sanada (真田 聖也 Sanada Seiya) (born January 28, 1988) is a Japanese professional wrestler best known for his work in All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he was the first Gaora TV Champion when he won a tournament, a two-time All Asia Tag Team Champion, and a one-time World Tag Team Champion after winning the 2011 World's Strongest Tag Determination League. Sanada is also known for his time in the Japanese Wrestle-1 and American Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) promotions, performing in the latter as The Great Sanada and becoming a one-time TNA X Division Champion. He is currently working for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) as Sanada (stylized in all capital letters). In NJPW, he is a currently one-half IWGP Tag Team Champion on his third reign while also being a former three-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions and the winner of the 2017 and 2018 World Tag League.
Professional wrestling career
In 2005, Sanada tried to earn a training spot in the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) dojo, but failed to pass an introductory test. Sanada took the test alongside future NJPW wrestlers Tetsuya Naito and Yoshi-Hashi. Afterwards, Sanada began looking to other promotions for a training school.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2007–2013)
Sanada was eventually trained by Keiji Mutoh's All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) affiliated Mutohjuku school and turned pro on March 13, 2007, in a losing effort teaming with Ryuji Hijikata against Katsuhiko Nakajima and T28. Within a few months into his career, Sanada won his first honor when he teamed with Kensuke Sasaki and Nakajima to win the Samurai! TV Triple Arrow Tournament on May 29, 2007. Following the tournament victory, Sanada spent the next two years in opening match wrestling other up-and-comers and began teaming with Manabu Soya. By 2009, Sanada began moving up the card as he took part in his first Champion Carnival but finished last with no points. Later in the year, Sanada broke up with Soya and briefly teamed up with Osamu Nishimura with the two entering the 2009 World's Strongest Tag Determination League with Sanada even getting a pinfall victory over the tag team champions: Taiyo Kea and Minoru Suzuki but the team's run ended when Sanada suffered the flu and had to withdraw from the tournament.
In 2010, Sanada once again entered the Champion Carnival but the results were the same as he finished last in his block with no points. By the spring, Sanada helped form the New Generation Force stable with Suwama, Masayuki Kono, Ryota Hama, and Manabu Soya. On August 29, 2010, at Pro Wrestling Love in Ryogoku Vol. 10, Sanada and Soya defeated Taru and Big Daddy Voodoo to win the All Asia Tag Team Championship. Sanada and Soya entered the 2010 World's Strongest Tag Determination League in the fall where they finished in 6th place with 7 points. Sanada and Soya would lose the All Asia Tag Team Championship to Daisuke Sekimoto and Yuji Okabayashi on March 21, 2011. During the year 2011, Sanada reached his full potential by reaching the finals against Yuji Nagata, but loss to him in the finals. He also entered in 2011 World's Strongest Tag Determination League with KAI and won the tournament by defeating Masayuki Kono and Masakatsu Funaki in the Finals. They then challenged the All Japan World Tag Team Champions Dark Cuervo and Dark Ozz for a title shot but came up short. They then faced each other in a singles match, which led to Sanada winning that match. After the match t,hey both had an interview and Sanada decided that they should part ways and move on with their Tag Team which Kai also agreed on. In 2012 he then challenged All Japan ace Suwama to a 60-minute match but also fell short in that match. He then challenged his former trainer Satoshi Kojima to match but also fell short after a Lariat by Kojima, during the Match he sustained a right knee injury but still wrestled and took a little time off to heal his knee. He then participated in 2012's Champion Carnival and lost to his former tag partner Manabu Soya. But he then won his first match against Manabu Soya's brother Takumi Soya and debuted a new finisher called "This Is It". On May 20, 2012, Sanada and Joe Doering defeated Soya and Takao Omori to win the World Tag Team Championship. Sanada and Doering lost the title back to Soya and Ōmori on June 17. On October 7, 2012, Sanada defeated Yasufumi Nakanoue in a tournament final to become the inaugural Gaora TV Champion. After reaching the semifinals of the 2013 Champion Carnival, All Japan announced on May 1, 2013, that Sanada would be leaving on a learning excursion to Moncton, Canada, where he would train under Emile Duprée. During the excursion, Sanada lost the Gaora TV Championship to René Duprée on May 27.
On July 1, while still in Canada, Sanada announced his resignation from All Japan, taking part in a mass exodus caused by Nobuo Shiraishi becoming the promotion's new president. Following his resignation, Sanada traveled to Mexico on his own expense to continue his training. Though Sanada was not announced as part of Keiji Mutoh's splinter promotion Wrestle-1, he did make a surprise appearance at the promotion's inaugural event on September 8, losing to Kai in a singles match. Sanada and Kai had a rematch in the main event of Wrestle-1's second show on September 15; this time Sanada was victorious. On September 24, Wrestle-1 announced that Sanada had signed a contract with the promotion. Sanada wrestled his first match under a Wrestle-1 contract on October 6, losing to Kai in the main event of the promotion's first event in Korakuen Hall. As a result, Kai won the series between him and Sanada 3-2. On November 16, Sanada unsuccessfully challenged visiting American wrestler A.J. Styles for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
In early 2014, Sanada was offered an opportunity to earn another shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but he instead opted to go for the TNA X Division Championship. On February 15, Sanada defeated nineteen other men in a battle royal to become the number one contender to the title. On March 2 at Kaisen: Outbreak, Sanada defeated Austin Aries to become the new TNA X Division Champion. The following day, Wrestle-1 announced Sanada would be leaving Japan to work for TNA indefinitely. Sanada continued making sporadic appearances for Wrestle-1, defending his X Division Championship against Seiki Yoshioka on March 22 and against Christopher Daniels on April 17, while also losing to The Great Muta in the main event of Wrestle-1's second Ryōgoku Kokugikan event, Shōgeki: Impact, on July 6. The following day, Wrestle-1 and Sanada held a press conference to announce that he had signed a contract with TNA, giving him a dual contract between Wrestle-1 and the American promotion.
Sanada returned to working for Wrestle-1 full-time in October 2014, when TNA went inactive for the rest of the year. The following month, Sanada teamed up with Hiroshi Yamato for the First Tag League Greatest tournament, set to determine the inaugural Wrestle-1 Tag Team Champions. The team finished their block with a record of one win, two draws and one loss, narrowly missing advancement to the semifinals. On December 22, Sanada unsuccessfully challenged Keiji Mutoh for the Wrestle-1 Championship. On May 13, 2015, Sanada held a press conference in Japan, where he announced that he was leaving Wrestle-1 once his contract expired two days later, so he could continue working in the United States full-time as a freelancer.
Independent circuit (2014–2016)
On May 6, Global Force Wrestling (GFW) announced Sanada as part of their roster. He made his debut for the promotion on July 11, teaming with Takaaki Watanabe in a tag team match, where they were defeated by Bullet Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson). Though now living in the United States, in July Sanada flew back to Japan to take part in a WWE tryout held by William Regal. He participated in BJW's Ikkitosen Strong Climb 2016 tournament. In August, Sanada teamed with Minoru Fujita and Mazada to defeat the team of HARASHIMA, Kotaro Suzuki and Masato Tanaka at a Tokyo Gurentai event.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2016–present)
On April 10, 2016, SANADA, now with a mohawk and an edgier appearance, made a surprise debut for NJPW at Invasion Attack 2016 by interfering in the main event and helping Tetsuya Naito defeat Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, joining Naito's Los Ingobernables de Japón (L.I.J.) stable in the process. The following day, NJPW announced SANADA's new ring name; his family name stylized in all capital letters. Though he started working for NJPW full-time, Sanada remained a freelancer. Sanada wrestled his first NJPW match on April 17, when he and his L.I.J. stablemates Naito, BUSHI and EVIL defeated Gedo, Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii with him submitting Gedo for the win. SANADA's first big match in NJPW took place on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2016, where he was defeated by Okada. On July 18, SANADA entered the 2016 G1 Climax, opening his tournament by scoring a major win over Hiroshi Tanahashi. He finished the tournament on August 12 with a record of four wins and five losses. At the end of the year, SANADA took part in the 2016 World Tag League, teaming with stablemate EVIL. The two finished second in their block with a record of five wins and two losses, tied with block winners Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma, but failed to advance to the finals due to losing the head-to-head match against Makabe and Honma. On January 4, 2017, at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in Tokyo Dome, SANADA, BUSHI and EVIL won a four-team gauntlet match to become the new NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions. They lost the title to Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi and Ryusuke Taguchi the next day, before regaining it on February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka. They lost the title to Tanahashi, Taguchi and Ricochet in their second defense on April 4, before regaining it on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2017. During the summer, SANADA took part in the 2017 G1 Climax, where he finished with a record of four wins and five losses. In December, SANADA and EVIL won their block in the 2017 World Tag League with a record of five wins and two losses, advancing to the finals of the tournament. On December 11, they defeated Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) in the finals to win the tournament. Six days later, SANADA, BUSHI and EVIL lost the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship to Guerrillas of Destiny and Bad Luck Fale in their fourth defense.
On January 4, 2018, at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in Tokyo Dome, SANADA and EVIL defeated the Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship for the first time. They lost the titles to The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) on June 9 at Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall. From July 14 until August 11, SANADA took part in the 2018 G1 Climax, finishing the tournament with a record of four wins and five losses, failing to advance to the finals of the tournament. From November 17 until December 7, SANADA and EVIL took partinf the 2018 World Tag League, finishing the tournament with a record of ten wins and three losses, advancing to the finals. On December 9, SANADA and EVIL defeated reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) to win the 2018 World Tag League, becoming the second ever team to win the tournament in two consecutive years.
On January 4, 2019, at Wrestle Kingdom 13 in Tokyo Dome, SANADA and EVIL defeated the Guerrillas of Destiny and The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) in a three-way match to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship for the second time. They lost the titles to Guerrillas of Destiny on February 23, 2019, at Honor Rising: Japan. The following month, SANADA made it to the finals of the 2019 New Japan Cup, before losing to Kazuchika Okada. Afterwards, Okada promised SANADA an opportunity for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship after he won the title. On May 4 at Wrestling Dontaku, SANADA unsuccessfully challenged Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. From July 6 until August 10, SANADA took part in the 2019 G1 Climax, where he finished the tournament with a record of four wins and five losses, failing to advance to the finals of the tournament. During the 2019 G1 Climax on August 3, SANADA picked up a major win over reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada in a rematch from the 2019 Wrestling Dontaku. On August 31 at Royal Quest, after Okada successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Minoru Suzuki, SANADA challenged Okada to a match for his title, which he accepted. On October 14 at King of Pro-Wrestling, SANADA unsuccessfully challenged Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. From November 16 until December 8, SANADA and EVIL took part in the 2019 World Tag League. SANADA and EVIL entered the final day with a chance to win the tournament, but a loss against Juice Robinson and David Finlay cost them the chance to win the tournament. Afterwards, SANADA began feuding with Zack Sabre Jr., after Sabre attacked SANADA due to losing to him. due to being furious about losing to him twice. At a press conference the following day, Sabre walked out of the press conference after feeling to be disrespected by SANADA. On December 19, SANADA and Sabre faced each other in a tag team match, where SANADA teamed with EVIL and Sabre with his Suzuki-gun stablemate Taichi. The match ended with Sabre pinning SANADA for the victory. The following day, SANADA returned Sabre the favor, after pinning him during their tag team match, leading Sabre to be furious for losing to SANADA for the third time.
On January 5, 2020, on the second night of Wrestle Kingdom 14 in Tokyo Dome, SANADA unsuccessfully challenged Zack Sabre Jr. for the British Heavyweight Championship. From June 16 until July 3, SANADA took part in the 2020 New Japan Cup, being eliminated from the tournament by his Los Ingobernables de Japon stablemate EVIL in the semifinals on July 3. In August, SANADA took part in a tournament to crown the provisional KOPW 2020 Champion. In the first round, SANADA and Sho proposed a submission match as part of their match stipulation for the KOPW 2020. In the match on August 26, SANADA defeated Sho to advance to the finals of the tournament. Three days later, at Summer Struggle in Jingu, SANADA failed to become the inaugural and provisional KOPW 2020 Champion, after Toru Yano won the four-way match to crown the provisional champion. From September 19 until October 17, SANADA took part in the 2020 G1 Climax, finishing the tournament with a record of six wins and three losses, advancing to the finals of the tournament. On October 18, SANADA was defeated by Kota Ibushi in the finals of the 2020 G1 Climax. From November 15 until December 6, SANADA and Shingo Takagi took part in the 2020 World Tag League, finishing the tournament with a record of five wins and four losses, failling advance to the finals of the tournament. In March 2021, SANADA took part in the 2021 New Japan Cup, losing in the quarterfinals to Will Ospreay on March 18. On July 11, SANADA and Tetsuya Naito defeated Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.) to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship for his third time in the process only to lost the titles to Dangreous Tekkers on July 24.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Bridging dragon suplex
- Destino (Somersault reverse DDT) 2017–present; adopted from Tetsuya Naito
- German suplex
- Japanese leg roll clutch
- Missile dropkick, sometimes while springboarding
- Paradise Lock (Over-rotated Delfin Clutch) – 2017–present; adopted from Milano Collection A.T.
- Rolling cradle
- Standing moonsault
- TKO (Fireman's carry cutter)
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- All Asia Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Manabu Soya
- Gaora TV Championship (1 time)
- World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Joe Doering
- Gaora TV Championship Tournament (2012)
- Samurai! TV Cup Triple Arrow Tournament (2007) – with Kensuke Sasaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (2011) – with KAI
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #66 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2014
- PWI ranked him #144 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2016
- PWI ranked him #153 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2017
- Tokyo Sports
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The reason Regal was in Japan . . . was due to doing the tryout session. They had six men and two women at the session, which included . . . Seiya Sanada, who still lives in the U.S. but flew to Japan to get a tryout. . . .
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