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March 29, 2023


Shoichi Funaki, also known as “Kung Fu Naki,” is a wrestling superstar from Japan who has achieved success both in the United States and his home country. Despite starting as a WWE star, Funaki’s passion for wrestling has allowed him to become a legend in Japan’s wrestling scene with his unique in-ring skills and showmanship. In this blog post, we’ll take a storytelling approach to explore Funaki’s journey from wrestling in America to becoming a Japanese wrestling legend.

Section 1: Early Life

Shoichi Funaki was born on August 24, 1968, in Tokyo, Japan. Growing up, Funaki was an active child, practicing martial arts, which allowed him to develop the skills that would later make him a successful wrestler. At the age of 15, Funaki began watching wrestling and was immediately drawn to the sport. He soon realized that he wanted to become a wrestler, which led him to pursue his passion.

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Section 2: WWE Career

In 1997, Funaki made his professional wrestling debut in the WWE, where he became a regular member of the “kaientai” stable, a group of wrestlers that hailed from Japan. There, he gained worldwide recognition due to his fantastic performances in the ring. Funaki reached the pinnacle of his WWE career in 2004 when he won the Cruiserweight Championship by defeating Spike Dudley on Smackdown.

Section 3: Return to Japan

After his success in the WWE, Funaki decided to return to his home country to continue his wrestling career in Japan. There, he joined the promotion company, All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he initially struggled to make an impact. Seeking more opportunities, Funaki left All Japan Pro Wrestling and joined another promotion, Wrestle-1, where he started to gain attention with his high-flying moves and martial arts skills.

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Section 4: Rise in Wrestle-1

Funaki’s skills propelled him to new heights in Wrestle-1. He became a three-time champion in the promotion, winning the Tag Team Championship, the Cruiser Division Championship, and the Wrestle-1 Championship. Funaki’s success in Wrestle-1 gave him renewed popularity in Japan’s wrestling scene.

Section 5: Return to All Japan Pro Wrestling

In 2018, Funaki made a triumphant return to All Japan Pro Wrestling where he teamed up with another wrestling legend, Jun Akiyama, forming a tag team named The Bomber. The team quickly became a fan favorite.

Section 6: Wrestling Style and Signature Moves

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Funaki’s wrestling style was a combination of high-flying moves, martial arts skills, and showmanship. His signature move was the “Shotei,” a palm thrust that he used to knock out his opponents.

Section 7: Hall of Fame Induction

Funaki’s legendary status in Japan’s wrestling scene was acknowledged in 2021 when he was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. It was a well-deserved recognition for his hard work and dedication to the sport of wrestling.

Section 8: Legacy and Impact

Funaki’s impact and legacy live on in Japan’s wrestling scene as he continues to inspire a new generation of wrestlers with his unique style and showmanship. His popularity in America also paved the way for other Japanese wrestlers to earn respect and recognition in the WWE.

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Q1) What was Shoichi Funaki’s wrestling nickname?
A1) Shoichi Funaki’s wrestling nickname was “Kung Fu Naki.”

Q2) Did Shoichi Funaki win any championships in the WWE?
A2) Yes, Shoichi Funaki won the Cruiserweight Championship in the WWE.

Q3) What is Shoichi Funaki’s signature move?
A3) Shoichi Funaki’s signature move was the “Shotei,” a palm thrust that he used to knock out his opponents.

Q4) When did Shoichi Funaki make his professional wrestling debut?
A4) Shoichi Funaki made his professional wrestling debut in 1997.

Q5) Was Shoichi Funaki only successful in Japan’s wrestling scene?
A5) No, Shoichi Funaki was also successful in America’s WWE scene.

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Q6) What promotion company did Shoichi Funaki join after leaving All Japan Pro Wrestling?
A6) Shoichi Funaki joined Wrestle-1 after leaving All Japan Pro Wrestling.

Q7) What is the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame?
A7) The Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame is an annual recognition awarded to professional wrestlers who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport of wrestling.


Shoichi Funaki’s journey from the WWE to Japan’s wrestling scene is an inspiring story of dedication to his passion. His unique style and showmanship made him a fan favorite, and his impact on the sport will continue to inspire wrestling fans worldwide. Shoichi Funaki is a true legend in Japan’s wrestling scene, and his recognition in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame is a testament to his hard work and dedication to the sport of wrestling.

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