Rionne Fujiwara is a member of the Wrestle-1 promotion in Japan, which is run by the legend The Great Muta. If you haven’t seen any Wrestle-1, then now is the time!
For those of us the UK who don’t know who you are, could you describe yourself?
My name is Rionne Fujiwara, the only non-Japanese wrestler for Wrestle-1, which is run by The Great Muta. I was born in Australia to an English father and Australian mother and also hold citizenship for both the UK and my native Australia.
You were trained by some legends Akira and Tajiri, how did that opportunity come about and what was the experience like?
My story is rather unique. I was kickboxing here in Tokyo and one of the students in the gym was a fortune teller. She offered to read my palms and do my tarot cards. I don’t believe in that kind of stuff but since she was offering it for free, I thought why not? She went on to say that the path I was taking in life was not the right one and asked me what I really wanted to do. I had always been a wrestling fan since I was a little kid, so I said “well, I always wanted to be a pro wrestler”. It turns out she was friends with Akira and introduced us. The rest is history.
Who did you face in your first match and in hindsight, how do you think it went?
I wrestled a guy call Yoshihiro Horaguchi. The match went really well, and Tajiri was very happy with it.
Your wrestling career has been in Japan, what’s your opinion on the scene there?
Japan is an amazing place to learn your craft. The fans are amazing and the level of competition is so high. Being from the West and growing up watching WWE, I would like to find a nice happy medium between American Pro-Wrestling and Puro Wres though.
New Japan in particular, has been pushing for more recognition in the West, in your opinion, is that a good thing?
It can definitely only be a good thing in my opinion.
Wrestle-1 is your “home” promotion at the moment, what’s it like rubbing shoulders and grappling with some of the greats?
It’s absolutely brilliant. The training is brutal, as it is old school Japan style (Wrestle-1 traces its roots back from Giant Baba’s All Japan promotion) but I love it.
In your career, you’ve teamed with and also faced talents such as Keiji Mutoh, Tajiri, Akira, Matt Hardy, Jiro Kuroshio, Gran Hamada, and many more. Has there been a match with any of those opponents that sticks in your mind?
Obviously teaming with Muta and Tajiri was a massive honour but also working with Matt Hardy was amazing. I’ve been very fortunate so far.
Last year, TNA staged their annual Bound For Glory event in conjunction with Wrestle-1, what’s your opinion of the event?
I wish I was on that show! It was great exposure for our promotion and was really cool to hang out and chat with the TNA guys.
Since then, a talent swap with 2CW is upcoming, are you excited to work with some fresh faces that aren’t already a “name” ?
I personally, am really looking forward to it. It’s a chance to work with some North American talent. Their first match in Wrestle-1 is with me. We team up in a 6 man tag match so that will be lots of fun.
The scene in the UK is booming at the moment, would touring the UK be something that interests you?
I really want to tour the UK. Being half English, I have been there many times before but would love to go there and actually wrestle. Some of the greatest wrestlers to have ever stepped in the ring came from the UK, so it would be a massive honour to head over there.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Just to work hard in training and bust my ass in matches. Onwards and upwards!
Is there anything else you’d like to say, add or plug?
Just my twitter account @IAmRionne
Thanks to Rionne for taking part in this interview.