Naomichi Marufuji (September 26, 1979) is a Japanese professional wrestler who competes for Pro Wrestling Noah, with occasional appearances in other professional wrestling promotions like Ring of Honor, All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling, among others. Marufuji is the first of only two Grand Slam Champion in Pro Wrestling Noah history. He is also the only man to win Junior Heavyweight Championships in all three major Japanese promotions. In 2009, he was appointed to the position of Vice President of the promotion.

Professional wrestling career

Debut and Pro Wresting Noah

Marufuji pursued amateur wrestling and basketball during his high school days before joining All Japan Pro Wrestling. For the first two years of his career, under Giant Baba and Mitsuharu Misawa's isolationist policy, he was a jobber; one of the few rare interpromotional matches he worked was in Michinoku Pro Wrestling in 1999, a lucha libre six-man tag match, gave him a chance to shine. After the Noah secession, he joined the upstart promotion and became an integral part of its Junior Heavyweight division, impressing many with his high-flying style and charisma. He would go on to form a successful tag team with KENTA, as well as win the 2004 Super J Cup. On March 5, 2006, Marufuji pinned former AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion and former GHC Heavyweight Champion Akira Taue.

On September 9, 2006, Naomichi defeated Jun Akiyama for the GHC Heavyweight Championship at the Budokan Hall, utilizing the Perfect Inside Cradle. In doing so, he became the first wrestler to win all five GHC titles in Noah and became the lightest GHC Heavyweight Champion of all time. A little over a month later, Marufuji's successfully defended the title against his tag team partner Kenta on October 29, 2006. The match received critical acclaim and Tokyo Sports Grand Prix named the match "Best Bout of 2006". On December 10, 2006, Marufuji lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship to Mitsuharu Misawa in his third defense.

On July 5, 2009, Marufuji was appointed to the position of Noah's Vice President alongside Kenta Kobashi by Noah's current President Akira Taue in the wake of Misawa's death.

New Japan Pro Wrestling

On June 10, 2003, Marufuji made his debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling, teaming with Kotaro Suzuki to unsuccessfully challenge Jushin Liger and Koji Kanemoto for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Marufuji would return to the company on December 9, failing in his attempt to win the IWGP U-30 Championship from Hiroshi Tanahashi. On May 3, 2004, Marufuji would make his final appearance for NJPW in over five years in a six-man tag team match, where he, Heat and Tiger Mask IV were defeated by American Dragon, Koji Kanemoto and Último Dragón.

On December 22, 2009, Marufuji made his return to New Japan Pro Wrestling, defeating Jushin "Thunder" Liger in the first round of the 2009 Super J Cup. The following day he defeated Tigers Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi and finally Prince Devitt in the finals, to win the Super J Cup and earn himself a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. On January 4, 2010, Marufuji represented Noah in the New Japan vs. Noah match series at Wrestle Kingdom IV in Tokyo Dome, where he defeated Tiger Mask IV to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. With his victory Marufuji became the first person to hold the three major Junior Heavyweight Titles in Japan (All Japan, Noah and New Japan). On June 19 Marufuji lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Prince Devitt.

Foreign excursion

In early and mid-2005, Marufuji toured through Germany and Austria, competing for world Xtreme wrestling and Rings of Europe. Alongside with Minoru Suzuki, they were the first talent-delegation which was sent over that began the Noah/European Talent Trade Partnership.

Ring of Honor

As part of his foreign excursion to the U.S. along with Kenta Kobashi and Kenta, Marufuji challenged Bryan Danielson for the ROH World Championship on December 17, 2005, in Edison, New Jersey. Danielson retained his title, but the crowd gave Marufuji a loud ovation after the match.

Marufuji returned to the United States to wrestle for Ring of Honor on the main event of the "Best in the World" show on March 25, 2006 show in New York City, teaming with Kenta for the first time in the United States against the team of Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson; the team of Marufuji and Kenta won after Kenta pinned Danielson, but after Marufuji tried and failed to lift Joe.

Marufuji returned to Ring of Honor for a third tour, along with Kenta. Both started off the tour with a win, teaming up to defeat the Briscoe Brothers at Glory By Honor V: Night 1. The following night at Glory By Honor V: Night 2, he successfully defended the GHC Heavyweight Championship against Nigel McGuinness. Marufuji also appeared at Ring of Honor's first pay-per-view, Respect Is Earned, where he defeated Rocky Romero.

Return to AJPW

On September 28, 2008, ten years after his original debut in All Japan Pro Wrestling, Marufuji returned to AJPW and won the World Junior Heavyweight Championship from Ryuji Hijikata. He would go on to successfully defend the title against Shuji Kondo in a match that won the Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Best Bout of 2008 award and Takashi Okita before losing it to Kaz Hayashi.

In wrestling

  • Entrance themes
    • In Noah, Marufuji uses a Noah produced theme song titled "Hysteric", a song that is molded after the popular trance version of techno music in Japan. In ROH, he, like Morishima, uses an unnamed techno theme produced in-house by ROH, which has also been used on the English release of Noah DVDs.

Championships and accomplishments

  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated
    • PWI ranked him #27of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2007
    • PWI ranked him #52 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2010

External links

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