Mr. Fuji, an iconic WWE manager who rose to mainstream fame during professional wrestling's big 1980s boom, and known for managing the Magnificent Muraco, Ax and Smash from Demolition and later in his career, Yokozuna, died on Sunday. He was 82.
As a manager, Mr. Fuji played the role of a devious Japanese conniver, always scheming to undermine his clients' opponents, cheating to help them gain an advantage. He frequently threw salt into the eyes of wrestlers when the referee wasn't looking, allowing those he managed to get the win.
Mr. Fuji was born Harry Fujiwara, and enjoyed a successful career as a professional wrestler before he made it big as a manager.
Fuji often wrestled with no shoes, teaming with Toru Tanaka, to form one of the most memorable heel tag teams of the early 1970s.
As a wrestler, Mr. Fuji was a great "bumper," meaning he could fall with ease and make the moves look real. On offense he threw wicked chops, particularly in his younger days, and mastered the art of squeezing pressure points around his opponents' necks to inflict pain.
Fuji wrestled all over the country with Tanaka, but when that tag team grew stale, he formed a new team with Mr. Saito, returning to the WWF in the early 1980s. Although not as successful, Fuji and Saito became familiar faces as the then-WWF was about to embark on its expansion nationwide. Fuji became a singles wrestler and feuded with Tiger Chung Lee, but he earned most of his accolades as a WWE manager, appearing on the WWE's "Tuesday Night Titans," as a manager to heel wrestlers.
In one of his most famous angles, he and Muraco appeared in segments mocking "Miami Vice," calling themselves "Fuji Vice." Watch Mr. Fuji in all his glory here:
Mr. Fuji often wore a black, penguin-like suit, and a top hat, and would occasionally take a bump off the apron as a manager.
Fuji defeated many an opponent by throwing salt into their eyes, but the move backfired against Fuji and his client, Yokozuna, at Wrestlemania IX in Las Vegas. Fuji, after Yokozuna had just defeated Bret "Hitman" Hart for the title, challenged anyone from the back to come out and wrestle his new champion. Hulk Hogan emerged and challenged Yokozuna. Fuji, attempting to throw salt into Hogan's eyes, missed, and hit Yokozuna, allowing Hogan to get the victory.
Mr. Fuji even took a right hand from Hogan after the salt blunder, proving that he could still bump at 60 years old.
Even in defeat, it was what Mr. Fuji did best. He played the role of evil manager perfectly, and left an indelible mark on wrestling history. Every kid that grew up in the 80s, knows and remembers Mr. Fuji.